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Monday, May 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 61° Partly Cloudy

Fly fishing

Rocky Ford has been good during the inclement weather, and you’re not likely to have much competition from the West Side. Scuds and midges have been effective, and you can’t go wrong stripping a Wooly Bugger.

There have been some good hatches of midges on the Big Spokane this winter between Sullivan and Mirabeau Park when the temperatures get into the upper 30s.


Rock Lake trout are still cooperating and the road is open again. Sprague Lake ice fishermen say the ice is up to 5 inches thick and the rainbow fishing has been good for anglers tipping small jigs with maggots. The gate at Hog Canyon is locked and the road is unplowed. Fourth of July is accessible with four-wheel drive, but fishing is poor and so is the ice.

Boat ramps at the upper end of Lake Roosevelt are in bad shape, but the one at Spring Canyon is useable and trollers are finding 16-19-inch rainbow and a few big kokanee at about 15 feet. A Muddler Minnow with a small piece of added worm is still the No. 1 choice for Lake Roosevelt trollers. Bank fishing has been good using slip weights and long leaders with worms and marshmallows.

Rufus Woods 3-5 pounders are more common now than earlier, and two triploids in the mid-teens were taken this week. The best spot to fish has been between Buckley Bar and the net pens. As of Thursday, the ramp at Chief Joseph was in good shape, as were the roads. For current information on the condition of these, call 509-686-5501 and ask the operator to transfer you to a park ranger.

Rat Lake, north of Brewster, now has enough ice to fish. The trout there typically run 10-16 inches. You’ll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get there.

The lower basin of Lake Chelan has been good for Mackinaw in depths of about 225 feet. The lower half of the trench has been most productive.

Roses Lake, near Chelan, is ice covered and should provide some great fishing through January, but be sure to test the ice at either end where the springs are. There is a lane plowed down the access road.

Steelhead and salmon

Anglers are finally getting out again in Idaho, as there is now virtually no snow in the Lewis and Clark Valley. Steelhead fishing on the Clearwater has been very good this week. The Guide Shop in Orofino says their boats have taken limits recently below Dworshak. The Clearwater was coming up on Wednesday due to warm temperatures and rain, but biologist Larry Barrett of IDFG says it should be pretty stable for the next week or so. The wild card in planning a fishing trip to the Clearwater is that there is 50-60 miles of ice above Orofino and strong wind or rain will break it up and muddy the water.

The Snake River, too, has seen good steelheading this week. Bill Bonson at Snake Dancer Excursions says back trolling live sand shrimp has been very effective around Heller Bar.

The Methow is frozen and some of those fish have come out of the river to the main stem of the Columbia. The Brewster and Bridgeport ramps are useable and steelheading has been good. At midweek, there was still 20 inches of snow on the ground.

Spiny ray

Banks Lake is partially frozen. Use caution. Osborne Bay is your best bet for larger perch. There has been some perch activity in the Coulee City Boat Basin, but the fish are small.

Lake Roosevelt walleye fishing has been pretty good, but the fish are deep. Jigs tipped with worm seem to be the preferred bait. Walleye are also biting for some Rufus Woods anglers. Glo jigs with grubs are popular.

Closer to Spokane, Waitts and Eloika lakes are covered with slop, but there is enough ice for fishing. Both are popular perch lakes, but Eloika also has a healthy population of bass. There is a 12-17-inch slot on Eloika, but catching a limit of 11-inchers isn’t unusual. Neither lake has seen much angler participation so far this winter.

In Idaho, ice anglers fishing Cocolalla are catching some large perch. Smaller perch are being taken at Round Lake. King and Medicine lakes have five inches of ice, and a few pike have been jerked through the ice. Most Idaho lakes, like those in eastern Washington, have a lot of slop on top. The heavy snowfall did not allow the lakes to freeze well. Anglers are finding it is less messy to auger right through the snow rather than to first try to clear an area with a shovel.

Other species

Clam diggers have received the go-ahead to proceed with a razor-clam dig starting Thursday, with an additional dig tentatively planned for February. Four evening digs are scheduled at Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks Jan. 8-11, while Long Beach is scheduled for three digs Jan. 9-11. As with previous openers, digging will be allowed only during the hours between noon and midnight.


The 12 inches of snow in the Tri-Cities has melted, which could create some good duck ponds for a late winter shoot. The best hunting right now is in the Patterson/Umatilla area, though there has been decent field shooting west of Moses Lake.

Snow is also melting in the Endicott area of the Palouse – so much, in fact, that a farmer friend near the Palouse River told me to bring a boat if I planned to hunt pheasants. The same friend says he saw 12 coyotes in one bunch this week.

With most of the snow gone from the Snake River canyons, bird hunters can once again get to the quail, which seem to be abundant. Don’t expect much pheasant or chukar action, however.

You can contact

Alan Liere via e-mail at

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