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Friday, December 13, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 41° Partly Cloudy
Sports >  Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

Amber Lake is still a good bet for cutthroat running 18 inches and up. Try leech patterns close to the bottom.

The North Fork Coeur d’Alene is dropping, though the fast water makes wading tough. Fishing has been good for anglers tossing big stonefly patterns with a dropper. Afternoons are best.

The St. Joe is dropping but still too high for good fishing and the Clark Fork is a few weeks away. Fly fishermen would do better to concentrate on the small lakes – Fan, Sacheen and Fish in Washington and Hayden, Hauser and Fernan in Idaho. The exception would be the bays in Lake Coeur d’ Alene, where bass and pike are in the shallows.

Salmon and steelhead

The sport fishery for hatchery spring chinook and hatchery steelhead will reopen Saturday on the lower Columbia River. The fishery is scheduled to run through June 15 from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line near the mouth of the river to the deadline below Bonneville Dam. For boat anglers, the upriver boundary is Beacon Rock. Bank fishing only is allowed from Beacon Rock to Bonneville Dam.

The chinook fishery on the Icicle River is off to a slow start, but the fish are on the way.

Trout and kokanee

Loon Lake kokanee anglers are graphing a lot of fish near Granite Point, but the fish move around in large schools. Most run about 10 inches and are caught in the top 20 feet of water. A few large rainbow are being taken by trollers on kokanee gear.

Koocanusa Lake in Montana continues to amaze anglers with the size of its kokanee. Last week’s tournament saw an average of 12-inch fish with some as large as 16 inches.

Sprague Lake trout fishing has been good for both still-fishermen and trollers. Anglers can expect at least one 20-plus-inch rainbow in a limit catch.

Trollers at the mouth of Frenchman’s Wasteway on Potholes Reservoir are finding good trout action near the surface with spinners and nightcrawlers. Needlefish and Rapala Shad Raps are popular.

The Rock Lake trout bite is fairly consistent near the creek at the far end of the lake. Brown trout comprise the largest part of the catch and consistently range from 17-20 inches.

Handicapped anglers and their helpers and anglers with kids have a tendency to overlook Bear Lake off the Newport Highway. Limits of rainbow are common for those still-fishing or trolling small spinners, but there are also some large bass lurking under the pads in shallow water.

Clear Lake rainbow and browns running 10-12 inches are pretty easy to catch, but there are some big fish, too. A 5-pound brown trout was reported this week. Trout fishing is holding up well in all the put-and-take lakes in eastern Washington.

Spiny ray

Crappie, perch and bluegill are biting in the shallows of Silver Lake, but Mike Sweeney of Spokane recommends not putting the fish on a stringer. He had seven keeper-sized crappie hanging over the side on a metal stringer last week when his light car-topper began to jerk violently. Sweeney thought his electric motor was fouled on a stump, but a 30-inch tiger musky was attacking one of the fish, nearly severing the head.

Long Lake crappie fishing is hot, and if you get in the right school, a bucket of 12-14 inchers is the reward. Crappie anglers are also taking perch and bass on the same small curlytail grubs. Cast without a bobber around docks and other structure and be prepared to strike when the jig stops sinking. The bite is extremely light. Long Lake largemouth are hitting dark-colored plastics.

Two friends fishing Upper Twin Lake near Coffeepot Lake caught about 20 big crappie this week as well as a couple large perch and several bass. Chartreuse jigs cast and slowly retrieved did the trick.

Area residents Bill Blosser and his great-grandson, Scott Dickerson, fished the tules behind the little island on Sprague Lake this week and reported an “unbelievable” number of 15-19-inch largemouth. Blosser said they were throwing plastics almost to shore.

The Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt has not met expectations of most walleye anglers this spring. A friend who fished there Saturday with his son said the boy caught a half-dozen while he got skunked. Two were around 16 inches and the others smaller. He said there were a lot of empty live wells at the take-out. Roosevelt anglers are having better luck with the smallmouth, catching fish 1-3 pounds on medium diving cranks.

It is pretty difficult to not catch bass at Eloika Lake these days. Lots of 1-pounders are available as well as the occasional 4-pounder. Loon Lake has also been good for largemouth for anglers pitching plastics around docks and in the pads.

Improved perch fishing has been reported all over Potholes Reservoir. Last week, many anglers limited on fish to 12 inches. Sand-dune bass fishermen are having good action and have been commenting on clouds of bluegill and crappie throughout the dune area. Walleye anglers are catching lots of walleye, but many are small males under the 12-inch legal minimum.

Moses Lake walleye anglers are catching fish using bottom-walkers in 10-12 feet of water. Some large perch have been taken in addition to the walleyes. Most anglers head to the west end of the lake. Smallmouth bass to 4 pounds are also showing.

The Snake River near Lyons Ferry is warming up and walleye are biting in 24-30 feet of water, says Jim MacArthur at Lyons Ferry Marina.

Small northern pike are active in the shallows on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Larger fish are being spotted but aren’t as willing to bite, though a 14-pounder was reported.

Walleye angling is excellent in The Dalles and John Day pools.


This is the last weekend for turkey hunters to bag a tom, and indications are that if you waited this long, you may have waited too long.

Contact Alan Liere at

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