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Friday, February 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By Alan Liere Correspondent

Fly fishing

Both Medical and Sprague lakes have been kind to fly anglers at times recently, but there have also been days when the big trout were ignoring everything. There were a lot of chironomids hatching at Sprague this week. The most consistent fly fishing has been at Amber and Lenore.

Trout and kokanee

Sprague is a big lake and the trout are spread out. Some days anglers find them, some days they don’t, but the lake is finally getting the attention it deserves. Although shore anglers throwing bait had a slow week, boat anglers trolling Rapalas close to the surface netted a lot of trout running 16-22 inches. The limit at Sprague is five trout, but only two can be more than 20 inches.

Coffeepot Lake trout numbers seem to be up over last year and anglers are bringing in some large fish. The narrows section of the lake is reported to be quite shallow.

Downs Lake tiger trout are providing consistent action for anglers floating worms under a bobber. Downs Lake bass are also beginning to hit.

Good kokanee reports outnumber good trout reports out of Lake Roosevelt. The majority of action is between Hansen Harbor and Spring Canyon. The lake elevation at midweek was 1,281 and dropping slowly.

Kokanee in Idaho’s Dworshak Reservoir have an earlier cycle than most kokanee. Fishing there is already picking up substantially.

Spectacle Lake, southwest of Tonasket in Okanogan County, opened April 1 for rainbow trout fishing. But WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist Bob Jateff of Twisp said ice cover on Spectacle has been thick this year, so anglers should check with local resort owners about conditions before heading out. When Spectacle does thaw, Jateff expects good fishing for rainbow trout 10-12 inches, with carryover fish to 16 inches, as well as a few brown trout.

The past week was a good one for macks on Lake Chelan with small fish coming at a steady clip. Guide Anton Jones of Darrell and Dad’s Family Guide Service reported catching at least a couple of 6- to 7-pounders each day. Surface water temperature at Chelan is approaching 50 degrees. When it gets there, the annual kokanee bite should begin.

Roses Lake in the Okanogan continues to provide some fast fishing. Most fish are 11-13 inches, but there are some 5-pound-plus brood stock too. Trolling one-eighth-ounce Roostertails in either green or black at about 2 mph has been deadly, as has bank fishing with Power Bait.

A gradual warm-up at Rufus is expected to improve the fishing. Bait fishermen have been doing better lately than boat fishermen.

Liberty Lake is still booting out a few browns and rainbows, but the bite has been over by 10 a.m. Trolled Rapalas in bright colors has been effective.

The Seep Lakes, south of Moses Lake, had a good turnout last weekend, with the top lakes being Heart, Windmill and Canal. These lakes are always popular on the opener for 11- to 13-inch rainbow. Larger but fewer trout were caught at Corral and Blythe, which are just across the road from Mar Don Resort on Potholes Reservoir. Power Bait was the most effective.

Hayden Lake has kicked out some really big rainbow (to 12 pounds) recently. Anglers tossing nightcrawlers from shore do well, as do boat fishermen trolling plugs or spoons.

Steelhead and salmon

Chinook fishing has been decent this week on Lake Coeur d’Alene. The biggest fish reported, a 141/2-pounder, came on helmeted herring, but some fish have also been taken on the Firetiger Rapala. Try East Point, Powderhorn, Rockford or Sunup from the surface to 30 feet.

The Coeur d’Alene Spring Salmon Tournament is Saturday and Sunday. Entry fee is $20. First place is a guaranteed $1,000. Entry forms are available at Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene and Skipper Bills in Spokane.

The best steelhead fishing remaining is in the Salmon River system where the water from Whitebird Creek to Vinegar Creek is producing a fish every three or four hours.

Last week’s Columbia River catch rate of 0.50 chinook per boat was higher than the same time last year (0.42 chinook per boat). Bonneville Dam adult spring chinook counts are increasing although still behind this time last year.

Spiny ray

Coeur d’Alene northern pike are slamming dead herring and smelt in bays around the lake. Bank anglers drifting their offerings under a bobber have taken fish more than 20 pounds recently. Cougar Bay is the most popular, but Carlin and Wolf Lodge bays are also producing. For smaller pike, Killarney in the chain lakes has been excellent.

A two-person Coeur d’Alene lake pike tournament will be held April 18-19. Contact Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene for details (208-667-9304).

Idaho lakes to the north of Coeur d’Alene still have some ice. Fernan Lake is still partially frozen. Reports of 10- to 11-inch crappie at the back end of the lake sent a friend there this week, but he fished several hours without success. The water is not high enough yet in the chain lakes for good crappie fishing.

Reports of walleye success trickle in from anglers playing the waters of the Snake River near the mouth of the Palouse. Lake Roosevelt in the vicinity of Seven Bays has also produced some decent fishing days. Some big walleye were taken off the Alder Street Fill in Moses Lake this week.

Long Lake (Lake Spokane) is stained, but water temperatures in places are approaching 50 degrees and smallmouth bass are beginning to bite. The fish are in schools, holding along the rocks in 15-20 feet of water.

Other species

The 22nd annual World-Class Westport Crab Races, Feed and Derby runs April 18-19. Besides live music, crab races and a crab banquet, Westport’s commercial crab fishermen have seeded the Westport Marina with ocean-run Dungeness crabs for the public crab-catching derby that begins at 8 a.m. Saturday and runs through noon Sunday. Cash and other prizes await derby winners who catch the largest crab specimens. For information, call the Westport/Grayland Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Center at 1-800-345-6223.


The Washington turkey season begins Wednesday. Though birds have been on wintering ranges at low elevations, they are moving up as the snowpack diminishes. Numbers are down from two years ago, but the northeast district still has the highest density of turkeys in the state. It will likely again provide two-thirds of the state harvest.

In the southeast part of the region, where the state’s second-highest harvest of turkeys traditionally occurs, district wildlife biologist Pat Fowler of Walla Walla said the season should be comparable to those in the past few years. He said that despite the long winter, turkeys are “gobbling and doing their thing.”

Spring black bear hunting begins Wednesday in several northeast and southeast Washington game-management units, but only for those who drew a special permit last month. General fall black bear hunting begins in September.

You can contact Alan Liere by e-mail at

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