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Thursday, December 12, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Rain 38° Rain
Sports >  Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

Fly fishermen throwing streamers with egg-pattern trailers have done well on the Methow River. The bite has been sporadic, with fish coming in bunches – sometimes early, sometimes in the afternoon. If you’re fishing correctly, expect to lose a lot of flies.

Steelhead are pretty spread out on the Snake and Clearwater, but swinging has remained effective when the water isn’t muddy. Large leeches and sink-tips make sense during the higher flows.

Fishing has been good on the Clark Fork, good on the St. Joe (lower river) and pretty good on the Coeur d’Alene. Blue wing olives have the fish feeding on the surface during warm afternoons.

Salmon and steelhead

The Salmon River from the North Fork to the Pahsimeroi River had the best steelheading success rate last week with a fish caught every 8 hours. The Clearwater has been high but falling and fishing should return to normal by the weekend.

A friend fished from shore off the Wawawai Landing rip-rap for steelhead this week, catching one and losing one on Monday and then going without a take-down on Tuesday. A fish checker there said anglers from the dam to Wawawai were averaging about a half-fish each.

The Grand Ronde is a little high but fishable, but probably not for fly anglers. Pluggers are taking one or two fish on a good day.

The Similkameen River is open to fishing for steelhead. This river in northern Okanogan County produces good numbers of large fish. Steelheaders are also taking some nice hatchery fish at the mouth of the Entiat River on the Columbia.

Rain last week blew out some of the tributaries in the Okanogan area, but even when they are high and muddy there are place to catch steelhead. Both shorelines above Rocky Reach Dam can be good, and the bar below Wells Dam, too. The rip-rap above the dam is also producing and anglers are still catching fish off the docks at Pateros.

Coeur d’Alene Lake chinook anglers are finding lots of fish, but there’s not much size to them. A recent derby saw a 10½-pounder, but anglers reported a lot of sub-legals. Mini-squid or helmeted herring at 70-105 feet take the most.


Friends and I went walleye fishing on the Columbia near Northport on Tuesday. Although I didn’t get a bite dropping jigs and ’crawlers in several usually productive spots, I caught and released a beautiful 22-inch red band rainbow that looked and acted more like a steelhead. The fish hit a clown-pattern Rooster tail on my first and only cast to the rocks on the west side of the river halfway between the launch and the dam.

Friends who fished Lake Roosevelt Wednesday in the vicinity of Jones Bay said they came up three fish shy of three limits with three more than 20 inches and the rest 15-16 inches. All the fish hit trolled multicolored flies with a lot of flash, and all came from the same bay.

Sprague Lake trout fishing remains good near the island for both still-fishers and trollers. Walleye-type spinners and worms are working for trollers, who are picking up a Lahontan cutthroat now and then. The fish run 2 pounds and up.

Although bass and walleye are scarce right now, trout fishing is good at Banks Lake, Lou Nevsimal at Coulee Playland Resort said. He notes that most fish are found in the top 10-12 feet of water and that it is not necessary to drag flashers. Flies and Rapalas on lead-core line are taking healthy rainbow averaging 2½ pounds and commonly running to 4 pounds. Bank fishing has also been good for bait anglers.

Pend Oreille and Priest are good destinations for mackinaw this month. Trollers seem to do better than jiggers once the weather cools.

Spiny ray

Potholes Reservoir is rapidly rising, allowing much better access for bass and walleye fishermen. The Medicare Beach Area is still showing some perch in water 16 feet or deeper. A few large crappie have been taken from the Lind Coulee.

Pike fishing is good and the fish are aggressive on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers said. Anglers throwing spoons are taking good numbers of fish as well as some big ones south of Harrison and in the Chatcolet area. Fish the outer edges of any weed beds with vegetation still standing, casting into 12-15 feet of water.

Spokane walleye specialist Bob Ploof said there has been almost no shallow-water bite lately on Roosevelt or Rufus Woods. For some reason, the fish are particularly deep, and fishing for them in deep water makes it nearly impossible to release fish unharmed.

Other species

The next evening razor clam dig will begin Tuesday at Twin Harbors Beach and run for five days, then expand to include openings at three other beaches later in the week. Long Beach will open for digging Thursday followed by Copalis and Mocrocks Nov. 16. No digging will be allowed at any of those beaches until after noon.


A few new ducks and geese are filtering into the area. There has been no significant migration yet, though excellent reports come from the West Side. Hunters in Goose Management Area 4 will be allowed to hunt geese Nov. 22-23 in addition to the usual Wednesdays and weekends.

The late whitetail buck season begins Saturday in Washington’s GMUs 105,108, 111, 113 and 124. In GMUs 117 and 121, there is a four-point minimum. The blacktail season begins Thursday in select units and runs through Nov. 18. Check your regs as does are legal in some units.

Contact Alan Liere @

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