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Monday, February 17, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 31° Partly Cloudy
Sports >  Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

Sprague Lake is open on both ends and iced over in the middle. The public access is usable. When the ice leaves this lake, some lunker trout can be fooled by trolling or casting along the thermocline on the northeast side of the lake with a full-sinking or sink-tip line with a streamer.

Fly fishermen casting big streamers and mice flies are beginning to catch pike from the Box Canyon area of the Pend Oreille River. Put in behind the post office in Cusick and fish slack water in the sloughs on the nonreservation side of the river. Don’t forget your steel leaders.

Salmon and steelhead

Starting Monday, anglers fishing the San Juan Islands (Marine Area 7) will be limited to one salmon per day. State fishery managers approved the new limit – down from two fish per day – to control the fishery’s impacts on stocks of concern.

Steelhead fishermen were averaging a fish every 8 hours this week from Whitebird Creek on the Salmon River to the Little Salmon River. The North Fork Clearwater and the Clearwater from the mouth to Orofino have been better. The Grande Ronde has some color but is fishable.

Trout and kokanee

A number of Washington lakes open to fishing Saturday. The Tucannon lakes in southeast Washington are just off the Tucannon River a few minutes away from the Wooten Wildlife area. Its seven lakes – Beaver, Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring and Watson – are ice-free and have been stocked with thousands of catchable rainbow and some jumbos. All are prime for bank fishing. Info: The Last Resort (509) 843-1556.

Two other Saturday openers will be on Deer Lake in Stevens County and Liberty in Spokane County. Deer still has good ice, but Liberty Lake is wide open, which is amazing considering nearby Newman is socked tight. Expect rainbow and even mackinaw from Deer and some big brown or rainbow trout in the shallows from Liberty. It received a lot of rainbow fry last fall but also 300 broodstock. It got another 150 rainbow brood and 5,000 catchables this week.

Also open on Saturday will be Amber, Medical, Coffeepot and Downs. Amber Lake had only a small piece of open water on the south end as of Thursday, but Downs should be fishable by boat. Downs has bass, perch, crappie and trout. Medical Lake, a selective gear lake, has ice. Amber is selective gear and catch and release. The lake has some big carryovers and got 3,500 spring fry rainbow and 1,000 cutthroat last year, but they are still quite small. Coffeepot Lake has some open water but will probably be inaccessible by boat. About 5,000 “grow and take” rainbow (four to a pound) were planted there last fall.

Spectacle Lake in Okanogan County opens Saturday, as do Lenice and Nunnally. Both are expected to provide good trout fishing.

The rest of the Saturday opening waters are in central Washington’s Columbia Basin, mostly in Grant County. All are listed under “Special Rules – Eastside Lakes” in the fishing regs. According to Chad Jackson, Region 2 fish biologist out of Ephrata, all lakes but Burke and Quincy are ice-free. Quincy is completely iced over, but Burke is about 50 percent open. The other lakes include Upper, Lower and East Caliche south of Quincy and lakes in the Pillar-Widgeon chain. Don’t overlook Martha, Dusty and Lenore. Dusty, a walk-in lake, is usually good. Many of these lakes were stocked with 3-inch rainbow last spring that have grown to 11-13 inches. There are also some larger carryovers.

Some large kokanee have recently been taken from Lake Roosevelt by trollers dragging the surface with standard koke gear. Fish the deeper water at midchannel. The kokanee and rainbow are often feeding in the same water column, so it is easier to take the more abundant trout. That bite has slowed a bit at times the last two weeks, but the consensus is that this is and has been one of the best years on Roosevelt. The mouth of the Spokane Arm has been the most productive.

Trollers are finding schools of kokanee around the edges of the lower half of Lake Chelan. They vary in size from 11-17 inches with the majority a fat foot. Work the edges of Lake Chelan from the surface down.

In Idaho, the ice is holding well on Spirit (kokanee), Twin (mostly perch) and Mirror (mostly rainbow).

Spiny ray

A few walleye are being taken at Casino Flats at the mouth of the Lake Roosevelt Spokane Arm, but the fishing has occasionally been excellent from the mouth to Outhouse Flats. Many are small, 10-13 inches, but there are enough 16- to 20-inchers and occasional brood fish to make things interesting. Jigging between 25 and 50 feet is productive, and some anglers are saying a chartreuse tail is absolutely essential.

Eloika Lake perch fishing can be dismal or lights-out in the winter, and there doesn’t seem to be a pattern. Although I prefer to fish for them if it is snowing or raining, sometimes they will bite on warm sunny days. Sometimes they bite in the morning only, but there was an excellent afternoon bite there all week. Last week they wanted a curly-tail grub tipped with perch eyes. This week, they are partial to a Ratso and maggot hung 6 inches below a flashy silver spoon. In any event, the fish are abundant (unless they’re not), biting best (this week) on the north end and decent-sized (unless you get small males, which incidentally, have just as much meat and are easier to clean as the egg-laden females).

Other species

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said razor clams sampled in recent days are noticeably heavier than those tested earlier in the season. Evening digs will be in progress on many ocean beaches through Monday, but morning digs will begin March 30, four days into a proposed six-day dig. The second annual Long Beach Razor Clam Festival will be held April 19-20.


The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will accept comments on proposed changes to state hunting rules for deer, elk, moose and other game species during a public meeting March 7-8 in Moses Lake. The commission will convene at 8 a.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Moses Lake Civic Center, 401 S. Balsam St. in Moses Lake.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere @

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