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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Alan Liere’s weekly fish and game report for Dec. 22

Alan Liere

Fly fishing

Although it’s still running big (6500 cfs) the Spokane River will be the best bet this weekend for those who don’t want to make the drive to Rocky Ford. Look for slower water close to shore and go with nymphs or streamers, Fly fishermen who braved the frigid temperatures last week said catching was “decent.”

Salmon and steelhead

The Clearwater and Snake rivers are still giving up a few steelhead. The fish are holding in the deeper holes, so go deep and slow. The Grande Ronde is frozen.

Open water fishing

If you were a Lake Roosevelt troller last week, you were probably pretty lonesome. Those who ventured out, however, found business as usual on the big Reservoir, most taking quick limits of 15- to 17-inch rainbow by trolling flies 15-20 feet below the surface. Anglers fishing from shore were slightly more numerous, but they did not venture far from warming fires. They said the bite ranged from non-existent to “lights out.” The lake is dropping quickly now, but all ramps are still useable.

Priest and Pend Oreille lakes are still ice-free and the launches are useable, though sometimes icy. There hasn’t been much angling action on either of the big lakes, but several rainbow over 20 pounds have been caught at Pend Oreille since Thanksgiving. Kurt Arnter at Pend Oreille Charters says winter is not necessarily a top water event, though flies on top are a popular choice.

Ice fishing

In the Idaho Panhandle region, ice had formed or was beginning to form at Fernan, Round, Kelso, Smith, Cocolalla, Hauser, Twin lakes and Spirit lakes. In the Clearwater region, Winchester Lake, Spring Valley and Elk Creek reservoirs can have good ice fishing, but probably not yet.

The bay to the left of the public access at Silver Lake was partially open on Tuesday and there was no one fishing. If the ice firms up, Silver is a good place to catch a mess of small perch.

Eloika Lake fishermen have been finding a lot of 7- to 9-inch perch, and quite a few largemouth bass. Eloika is one of my favorite ice fishing destinations as you never know what you’re going to catch. Besides the perch and bass, it has crappie, sunfish, catfish and trout, and is the only place in Washington I’ve caught a grass pickerel. These are typically 9 inches to a foot in length and look like a miniature northern pike. There’s not much meat on their skinny frames, but sometimes they’re the only thing biting.

Fourth of July Lake had several anglers on it on Tuesday afternoon, most doing fairly well with Power Bait. Several of the fish looked to be over 3 pounds, but there were smaller ones, too. Anglers can take only two trout of 14 inches or more from Sprague, so if you’re fishing with bait or even scented lures, you’re done once you have two of that size.

Hog Canyon Lake only had a couple anglers on it when I stopped by on Tuesday. They were about halfway down the lake. A lot of the Hog Canyon rainbow are a healthy 12 inches long. The road in to the lake was covered with soft snow and though it was not very deep, I would not have tempted it without four wheel drive. Even if it gets cold again, you’d be taking a chance with a two-wheel drive vehicle, especially on the final 150 yards down to the ice.

Sprague Lake is completely ice-covered, but no one was fishing on Monday or Tuesday. There should be some decent ice out from the public access, but all bets are off after the recent thaw.

I read somewhere that Moses Lake ice is not safe for ice fishing, but if that is the case, the 30 or so anglers I saw there Monday didn’t know it. Fishermen were numerous around the I-90 Bridge and Blue Heron Park and some appeared to be doing very well on perch ranging from 8 to 12 inches.

Up north, Williams and Hatch Lake were attracting a few anglers early in the week, but the temperature there was in the low 40s on Tuesday and the ice may have been compromised.

Other species

State shellfish managers have tentatively scheduled evening razor clam digs through February on three ocean beaches. Final approval of all scheduled openings at Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch beaches will depend on whether results of marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat.

The WDFW will announce next week whether a two-day clam opening (Dec. 30-31) at Copalis and Mocrocks can proceed. Both Twin Harbors and Long Beach remain closed to razor clam digging, but Kalaloch Beach is tentatively scheduled to open on Jan. 8-9. More information can be found on the department’s webpage.


A lot of Moses Lake is frozen, but open water near town is covered with geese. Few ducks are present, however. In the late afternoon, string upon string of Canada geese can be seen in the sky above. Goose hunters who have access to grain fields have had some excellent shooting. It’s nearly impossible to participate in a water shoot as launches on both Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir are iced in.

Washington goose hunters in Area 4 have some bonus days coming up during the holiday season. In addition to the usual Wednesdays and weekends, geese will be open Dec. 26-27 and 29-30. That effectively gives goose hunters a window of nine consecutive days from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1. The goose season in most of Idaho runs uninterrupted through Jan. 27.

Most hunters gave up chasing ruffed and dusky grouse when the upland bird seasons began, but a few die-hards have experienced fair to good shooting throughout fall and into the winter. The grouse season in Washington ends Dec. 31. In Idaho, the season in Area 1 ends Jan. 31.

Also still open in Washington are cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares until March 15. In Idaho, cottontail close Feb. 28 and snowshoe on March 31.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere @

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