West Medical has been an early-season disappointment for many anglers, but at times, usually in the afternoon, shallow water can yield some crazy fly fishing. There is a preponderance of 10- to 12-inchers, but enough fish 14 to 20 inches to make things more interesting.
Up near Tonasket, fly-fishing only Chopaka Lake has produced fantastic fishing for 14- to 23-inch rainbow, Jon Allen at Silver Bow Fly Shop said. He added that chironomid, blood worm and damsel fly patterns are hot and that the fish are extremely robust.
McDowell Lake has been good for rainbow up to 20 inches. Expect 10- to 15-fish days using the same patterns as for Chopaka. Closer to home, Amber is fishing well, but Medical Lake has been either on fire or completely dead.
Rivers in Idaho and Montana are rising and falling like a roller coaster. Don’t make any long drives without calling ahead to your favorite fly shop.
Trout and kokanee
Deer Lake is not getting much attention this season, but anglers trolling Quickfish on the northwest side in 40 feet of water are making some good catches of lake trout. There have been fish reported to 20 pounds, and high single digits are not unusual. Deer Lake macks seem to prefer a jigging-type presentation that creates a momentary pause as the rod is jerked back hard and then allowed to go forward.
A few Loon Lake kokanee are beginning to show, though more settled weather will really heat things up.
Marshall Lake anglers did quite well on the opener, with cutthroat running mostly 9-14 inches. North and South Skookum are still frozen and there are 14 inches of snow in the campground. Badger Lake is providing easy limits for anglers trolling Rooster Tails, Flatfish and small plugs in front of the public launch. Williams is still pumping out trout at a ridiculous pace and Fish Lake brookies are hitting bait under a bobber. Waitts Lake trollers are picking up a lot of small rainbow and a few large browns on gold spoons and Flatfish. Similar success on browns may be had at Jump-Off-Joe.
Sprague Lake trout are averaging 19 inches, but it seems they’ll either bite like crazy or not at all. Trolling with hardware has been best. Rock Lake browns running 4-6 pounds have been fairly common this week. The rainbow are a couple of pounds lighter. Coffeepot Lake trout fishing has been excellent for fat rainbow up to 20 inches.
Lake Roosevelt trollers are catching more kokanee than rainbow, with the best bite from Keller down to the dam. Most run 20-24 inches. The kokanee bite on Lake Chelan is spreading out. The chunky 14-inch fish bite best on warm, sunny days.
Rufus Woods is heating up again. Dave Altier at Coulee Playland Resort said a pellet fly is accounting for lots of fish.
The recently completed Lake Pend Oreille K&K Derby provided bragging rights and cash for several successful anglers. Lisa Green took home $960 for her 16-pound, 4-ounce fish in the adult rainbow division. Ed Reeves also pocketed $960 for biggest mackinaw, an 18-pounder. In the Kam and Mack of the Year division, Vern Scott had the best rainbow at 17 pounds, 11 ounces and Randy Schell got the biggest mack, a 24-pounder. Also in Idaho, Priest Lake is seeing excellent drop-shotting for small macks.
Banks Lake crappie are still hitting and there has been great smallmouth fishing on jerk baits. The largemouth bite has been good.
A worm near the cattails will clean up on the panfish at Roses Lake in the Okanogan. There are lots of bluegill, sunfish and perch.
Potholes walleye are finally beginning to show, though a good knowledge of the water is required to consistently boat fish. Lake Roosevelt walleye are sulking. The reservoir was at 1,257 feet on Thursday.
Newman Lake bass are becoming more active, Hauser bluegills have already moved into the shallows, and the Hayden crappie bite is still on. Some big bass are coming out of Downs Lake by anglers fishing Countdown Rapalas.
The rocks and docks at Liberty are providing good bass fishing, but don’t ignore the grassy flats.
The Okanogan River in Okanogan County is off color, but this is the best time to take large, prespawn smallmouth. A local angler, Jerrod Gibbons, recently won a bass tournament there with a five-fish limit weighing 23 pounds, 4 ounces. Bright grubs on bright jig heads work well.
Clam diggers have received the go-ahead to proceed with the last razor-clam dig of the season, starting Saturday at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. Two beaches, Long Beach and Twin Harbors, will also be open for digging Sunday. Digging on all beaches must be completed by noon both days.
The halibut season is already in progress at Ilwaco and Westport. It will open Thursday at LaPush and Neah Bay and May 21 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound.
Hood Canal remains closed to fishing for halibut and a number of other species because of low dissolved-oxygen conditions.
The lingcod fishery at Neah Bay and LaPush has been good with many limits and some big fish. One ling caught off Neah Bay weighed in at 38 pounds and many have been in the 20s.
Idaho Panhandle Region Wildlife Manager Jim Hayden said there does not appear to be high numbers of turkeys this year. In eastern Washington, however, such is not the case except perhaps in Pend Oreille County. By all appearances, this is prime time for area gobblers. Fanning birds are visible in almost every meadow
The spring bear season is just getting going in Idaho, but with the weather a couple of weeks behind normal, harvest may be low. If such is the case, opportunities for the fall harvest should be excellent.
The federal rule that removed gray wolves in Idaho from the endangered species list became final on Monday. Seasons will be from Sept. 1 through March 31 in the Lolo and Sawtooth wolf management zones; from Sept. 15 through Dec. 31 in the Selway and Middle Fork zones; and elsewhere from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31.
Commissioners will set harvest quotas in August. Tags are not yet available.
Entries in the first Idaho Super Hunt and Super Hunt Combo drawing must be received at the Fish and Game headquarters by May 31 with the drawing set for June 15. The Super Hunt is a fundraising drawing for 40 big-game tags. Tickets are drawn for elk, deer, pronghorn and moose tags. Winners can participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn or moose. That includes general hunts and controlled hunts. One “Super Hunt Combo” ticket also will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for one each elk, deer, pronghorn, and moose. Hunters can take an animal or animals on their Super Hunt or Super Hunt Combo tags in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they also hold.
Money raised goes to the Access Yes! Program. The first ticket costs $6; additional tickets for the same species cost $4 each when purchased at the same time. Super Hunt Combo tickets cost $20 for one; additional tickets are $16 when purchased at the same time. Tickets are available at license vendors, Fish and Game offices, online at www.fishandgame.idaho.gov/ cms/hunt/superhunt/, or by calling 800-824-3729 or 800-554-8685.
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