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Monday, December 9, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

The Yakima River below the Teanaway confluence has good fishing. Temperatures have been warmer than last week and there is more bug activity with a few fish even rising to dries. Nymphing remains most consistent using skwalas and pink San Juan worms.

The Clark Fork is booting out a few trout and some whitefish, but the cold nights are keeping midge action minimal. Nymphing is best.

The Missouri River from Holter Dam to Cascade is holding at about 4,900 cfs and is offering some decent early-season action for browns and rainbows. Slow-stripped buggers or deep nymphs provide most of the action.

Steelhead and salmon

The Grande Ronde was fishing well last week, but is running out of shape. It may be fishable again by the late weekend.

The Clearwater above Orofino saw good steelheading last week with an average of one fish per seven hours of effort, but it is also running high. The South Fork Clearwater gave up a fish every four hours last week.

Good returns to the upper Columbia, the Methow and Okanogan rivers this year, coupled with fairly low fishing pressure over the winter has left a lot of steelhead available. Both fly and lure or jig fishermen on the Methow are reporting fair fishing for steelhead 6-8 pounds.

The Okanogan and Similkameen rivers are just starting to thaw out and should provide fair steelhead fishing during the month of March. There are several public access points to these rivers within the towns of Omak, Okanogan and Tonasket. They’re both under the same no-bait selective-gear rules as the Methow.

The lower Wind River and Drano Lake will open March 16. The daily limit will be two hatchery chinook or hatchery steelhead, or one of each.

A few spring chinook are being caught on the lower Columbia. A couple of fish were reported caught just above the I-5 bridge on Sunday’s opener. No spring chinook had been counted at Bonneville Dam through Monday. Bonneville and The Dalles pools open for hatchery spring chinook March 16.


Hard-water anglers enjoyed a glorious opening day at Amber last Sunday, fishing through 9 inches of ice that was beginning to get punky on top. Spokane Amber Lake enthusiast John Petrofski said he and a buddy caught and released 15 nice cutthroat on white crappie tube jigs, and a nearby fly angler was also catching fish through the ice on a bloodworm. The bite was from 8-10 a.m. Ice at Amber is pulling away from the shore.

Hog Canyon has been a disappointment this winter, as it has been inaccessible except by anglers willing to hike in for a go at the 10-inch rainbow. There is still a snow berm in front of the gate. It could probably be surmounted, but there’s no report on the road on down to the lake.

Deer Lake, which opened Sunday, had good ice, but a large snow berm still made parking at the public access impossible. A few fishermen were observed on the ice, but none reported catching anything.

Liberty Lake, which also opened Sunday, had open water around the shoreline at the public launch. Nevertheless, a few anglers were on the ice, which looked mushy. The ice at Medical Lake looks a little iffy. No one was fishing.

Coffeepot Lake had plenty of ice on Sunday’s opener and a few anglers were trying their luck near the inlet creek, which had a minimal flow. The ice at Coffeepot should hold up for a while.

There is some open water at Sprague and Cow lakes. Ice fishing there, which has been less than spectacular for several weeks, is coming to an end.

Rufus Woods has started to perk up and should continue to improve as long as the water clarity stays reasonable as it warms. The Colville Tribe has released 2,000 triploid trout weighing 3-4 pounds each into the reservoir. Monthly plants are scheduled for the next two years. If you catch a fin-tagged fish, call in the numbers along with the date and location of the catch.

On Sunday’s opener in the Columbia Basin, Martha and Upper Caliche lakes on WDFW’s Quincy Wildlife Area near the town of George produced an average of nearly five trout per angler within an hour. The trout mostly ran 13-15 inches, with a few 18- to 20-inch carryovers from Martha. Upper Caliche is ice-free and Martha Lake is mostly ice-free. Bait anglers did better than those tossing hardware.

Lenice and Nunnally lakes on WDFW’s Crab Creek Wildlife Area are both ice-free. No checks were made at Nunnally on opening day, but anglers at Lenice averaged 3.6 trout per angler, mostly 17- to 21-inch rainbow, brown and tiger trout. Both Lenice and Nunnally are under selective- gear rules with a daily catch limit of one fish.

Dusty Lake, on the Quincy Wildlife Area, was about two-thirds ice-free at midweek and anglers on the opener averaged two 14- to 20-inch rainbow trout each. Dusty is under selective-gear rules with a daily catch limit of one fish.

Lake Lenore was 90 percent ice-covered on the opener so no checks were made. A catch-and- release fishery for the first two months of the season and under selective-gear rules, Lenore offers 2- to 7-pound Lahontan cutthroat.

Burke Lake on the Quincy Wildlife Area was mostly ice-covered on the opener so anglers who attempted it averaged less than one 12- to 14-inch rainbow each. When it opens up more, carryover rainbows of 17-20 inches will likely make up about 40 percent of the catch. Quincy Lake, also on the Quincy Wildlife Area, was unfishable on the opener with complete ice cover. The lake received 4,000 catchable- size rainbows last fall.

Ice fishing in the Okanogan is still ongoing with catches of perch reported in Patterson Lake, and rainbow trout in Rat, Big Green, Sidley and Davis lakes. Heavier- than-normal ice cover should extend the ice-fishing season this year, but anglers should exercise extreme caution.

Spiny ray

Downs Lake is noted for its large perch and crappie, but you’d probably best wait another week, say anglers who tried there on Sunday’s opener. Although there is some open water, there are about 3 inches of punky ice covering most of the lake.

Northwest Walleye Club members reported lousy fishing at Rufus Woods last weekend during their annual Freezeout fish-in. The consensus is that you have a better chance during the week when there is more current. The Kettle Falls area of Lake Roosevelt has been fair for decent-sized fish. Anglers at Porcupine Bay said they boated a lot of “dinks” in 50-60 feet of water. On the Columbia, anglers jigging and blading near Irrigon are finding a few eating-size walleye as well as the occasional big fish. Water temperature is stuck at 39 degrees. Eloika Lake ice is still OK, and the bite picked up some this week. Anglers near the public access reported a mixed bag of perch, crappie and pickerel this week.

Other species

The ocean lingcod season opens March 14 along the coast at Ilwaco (Marine Area 1), Westport/Ocean Shores (Marine Area 2) and La Push (Marine Area 3). Despite cold water conditions, sturgeon fishing has been picking up on the lower Cowlitz and Willamette rivers as well as the Bonneville and The Dalles Pools.


To help winter-decimated elk and deer herds recover quickly, substantial cuts have been proposed for Idaho’s 2009 big-game seasons. These proposals will be explained at a series of public meetings Saturday through March 17 in St. Maries, Coeur d’Alene, Priest River, Sandpoint and Enaville. Call IDFG for details.

You can contact Alan Liere by e-mail at

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