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Monday, February 17, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

Rainbow trout running a consistent 14 inches are taking chironomid patterns on a slow retrieve on Nunnally Lake in Grant County. Water temperature is rising and milfoil is starting to show, so the good fishing probably won’t hold up past next weekend. Mosquitoes are bad.

Some nice brook trout as well as smaller tiger trout have been congregating near lily pads and close to shore on Fish Lake near Cheney. There is a lot of surface activity in the evening.

Jameson Lake in Douglas County is an excellent place to hook a mess of 12- to 20-inch rainbow on chironomids.

In Idaho, fly fishing on the South Fork Snake River has been good for rainbows. Anglers are catching them with egg patterns. Brown trout are taking streamers. Salmon flies are emerging on the Henrys Fork of the Snake River, but the hatch does not last long. If you want to do it, do it now. Henrys Lake opens this weekend. Fish aren’t congregating along the shoreline.

Steelhead and salmon

Effective Saturday, the bag limits on adult chinook salmon will be reduced for parts of the Clearwater drainage. The new bag limits will be four salmon per day, but only one may be an adult, and 12 in possession, but only three may be adults. Adults are 24 or more inches in length. Perfect water conditions have resulted in excellent salmon fishing on the Clearwater and 30 percent of the allotment has already been taken.

Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery and Carson National Fish Hatchery have both reached their escapement goals. As a result, surplus hatchery fish, including jacks, are available for harvest. Drano Lake and Wind River limits have been raised to six hatchery spring chinook with up to four being adult chinook. Two hatchery steelhead may be included in the six-fish limit.

Trout and kokanee

Williams Lake continues to produce fast limits of 11- to 14-inch trout. Waitts Lake browns and rainbow are aggressively nailing Flatfish at 20-30 feet, but practically any lure or fly will pick up fish. The smaller rainbow seem to prefer a fast troll or retrieve close to the surface. Go deep for larger fish, especially browns.

Up north, Sacheen Lake trout fishing has slowed somewhat and the Skookum lakes are very slow. Cutthroat fishing at Marshall Lake, however, is good and the fish are larger than last year. Troll slowly at 30 feet. Sullivan Lake kokanee are biting well, says Mike Allison at the Cusick Tavern. He says the 8- to 10-inch fish are spread out. A 6-pound and 2½-pound tiger trout were caught recently from Sullivan.

A friend and I trolled Loon Lake for kokanee on Wednesday and found the 9-11-inch fish scattered from one end of the lake to the other, mostly at around 25 feet. It took six hours to limit. Best success was on the southwest end dragging Wedding Ring-type lures sweetened with maggots. Two days earlier, the bite was fast on the north end.

On Coeur d’Alene Lake, the kokanee bite is heating up on south end, but the fish are mostly 7-9 inches. Mirror Lake and Spirit Lake are also producing small kokes.

Jeff Jordan and his family from Spokane Valley trolled flies on leaded line and easily caught limits of kokanee each day during their Memorial Day visit to Camp Tuffit on Montana’s Lake Mary Ronan. The fish were a fat 12 inches

Curlew Lake trout fishing is excellent, said Jack Beck at Fisherman’s Cove Resort. Trollers are catching lots of 8-12-inch plants in the top 10 feet and going down to around 17 feet for larger trout to 17 inches. Beck said Candy Cane and Bumblebee fly patterns trolled slowly are doing best.

Park Lake in Grant County has recently yielded a hefty mix bag of trout for trollers with jerkbaits. Rainbows, browns and tiger trout are being caught, with rainbow most common.

Lake Chelan kokanee are averaging a robust 14 inches but catching them has been tough. Omak Lake in Okanogan County has been superb for trollers dragging split-back Rapalas and a variety of spoons over 25 feet of water. The smaller fish are close to 20 inches, and there are a lot of 4- to 7-pound fish available.

Spiny ray

Eloika Lake bass have been pounded all week and are not nearly as ready to bite as they were last week. Fish up to 7 pounds have been taken, though, mostly on plastics. Dark Green and watermelon are good colors.

You can catch a variety of fish species, from bass to trout to kokanee from Horseshoe Lake in Pend Oreille County, but the large crappie are also getting the attention of area anglers. Fish to 14 inches are suspending around structure.

Moses Lake has been excellent for smallmouth and walleye are hitting cranks and spinners with nightcrawlers. A lot of 16- to 22 inchers are coming from 12 feet of water both north and south of the State Park launch, especially along rocky shorelines.

Walleye fishing on the Snake River in the vicinity of Lyons Ferry has been good recently. On Lake Roosevelt, walleye anglers are also making some good catches, particularly near Kettle Falls with rainbow pattern jigs.

Last year, it was difficult to catch a largemouth more than 10 inches at Curlew Lake, but bass anglers are finding some big fish on the south end this year.

Tiger muskies are also on the prowl in shallow water. Last week at Fisherman’s Cove, a woman from Gig Harbor caught a 42-incher from the dock when it clamped onto a trout she was playing and wouldn’t let go.

The small lakes around Coeur d’Alene have been good for panfish. Hauser and Hayden crappie are biting well. On Coeur d’Alene, pike fishermen have switched to spoons and plugs for 3-8-pound fish along the emerging weed lines. Smallmouth bass fishing is excellent.

Other species

On the Columbia River, shad anglers are catching a fair number of fish, especially in the gorge. Through Tuesday, there have been 16,517 shad counted at Bonneville Dam. By the same time last year, there were 1,419, and the recent 10-year average is 212,404. Last weekend bank anglers in the Bonnevilleand Camas/Washougal areas averaged 7.7 and 3.5 shad per rod, respectively. Anglers in the Kalama area averaged nearly 16 shad per rod.

Sturgeon angling ranged from fair to good on the lower Columbia River last weekend. Boat anglers had the best success in the gorge below marker 82 where anglers averaged 1.0 legal white sturgeon caught per boat. In the estuary boat anglers averaged 0.47 legal white sturgeon caught per boat.

Snake River catfish are biting well, especially at night in some of the deep holes close to shore. The biggest catfish are coming from Potholes Reservoir in the vicinity of Lind Coulee.

Catfishing was excellent in the Palouse River near Lyons Ferry before the Memorial Day weekend, though it slowed down recently.

Contact Alan Liere at

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