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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 March 17

Fly fishing

Amber Lake is getting some color to it, possibly turning over, but it hasn’t yet affected the trout bite which has been very good along the edges. Sprague Lake trout have been hitting dark-colored leeches in the shallows and there has been some surface activity too. Rocky Ford is always an option.

The Idaho rivers are high, but fly fishermen from Silver Bow Fly Shop say it may still be possible to catch fish on the North Fork Coeur d’Alene, at least through the weekend.

The Spokane River is now closed. Despite a lot of water, persistent fly fishermen are still catching a few Yakima River rainbow. The river will probably not drop below much 3,000 cfs for quite a while. San Juan Power Worms are best right now.

In Montana, the St. Joe and the Clark Fork are still fishable with the Joe being the best. Try streamers and nymph rigs.

The Grande Ronde and the Clearwater are pretty high and fast for fly fishing.

Heads up

The stocking of rainbow trout into Curl Lake, one of the Tucannon Lakes just off the Tucannon River, has been delayed for a couple of weeks. The lake will not be open to fishing until May 15.

–The 56th annual Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show begins Thursday at the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds. Hours Thursday and Friday are noon until 8 p.m. The weekend hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday.

–Idaho turkey hunters who applied for spring controlled hunts can check online to see whether they were successful in the recent drawing. Check results by entering your hunting license numbers on the Fish and Game website. It is the responsibility of hunters to find out whether they were successful in the controlled hunt drawing.

Steelhead and salmon

Local guides are gearing up for spring chinook on the Columbia River. Fishing usually begins around Portland in late March and then moves over to the John Day Dam area mid April to early May. These Portland springers are regarded by many as being the best eating salmon on the market.

High water on steelhead rivers this week is reflected in the low steelhead catch rates. The Salmon River upstream from the East Fork Salmon, and the Salmon River between the Middle Fork and the North Fork have been best.

The Idaho spring chinook season on the Clearwater, Salmon and Little Salmon will open April 23 and remain open until further notice. Chinook have just started entering the Columbia River.

Trout and kokanee

Omak Lake Lahontan cutthroat have been biting well on the west side. Most of the fish have run 16-20 inches, but there are many much larger than that in the lake.

Keller Ferry kokanee continue to hit on a regular basis with several trollers saying they caught their two-fish limit in just over an hour. Hootchies, Apexes and flies have all been effective when tipped with corn.

Lake Roosevelt water level levels were predicted to be at 1,253 feet this morning, the minimum level for launching at Hansen Harbor. At 1,253 feet, however, most of the other launches are still useable. Trout fishing has been off, but bank fishermen have had some good days from Lincoln to Hansen Harbor. A friend said he caught his limit in that area this week in only 20 minutes. Kokanee seem to be spread out through that entire area also, and anglers trolling pink or red Apexes have been limiting.

Rainbow trout on Banks Lake are in the top 12 feet of water. Trollers are taking 2- to 3-pound fish on small Rapalas, Mirror Shad and Owner Minnows in green, gold, orange or a combination thereof.

Schools of Lake Chelan kokanee are a couple of different sizes. The biggest fish are close to 16 inches and the smallest are around a foot. You’ll have to experiment with different depths, but the fish are generally 80-120 feet down. Troll slow with pink or orange hootchies or flies tipped with shoepeg corn.

Not much action reported yet on local trout lakes Liberty, Downs and Deer. All the Tucannon Lakes except Curl and Big Four have been planted with jumbos and catchables rainbow and fishing success has been good.

Spiny ray

A friend went looking for pike on Hayden Lake recently but found the water to still be just a little cold. Crappie fishing, however, was a different story. Fishing in 12 feet of water with 1/16-ounce crappie jigs, he and his brother caught and released over 50 fish in the 9- to 12-inch range. He said fly fishermen were also doing very well.

Perch anglers are beginning to find their favorite fish in Grant County’s Winchester Wasteway and on Soda Lake, just below O’Sullivan Dam. The area around the spillway has been mentioned. Southwest of Soda, Goose and Lower Goose are also giving up some perch, but these have been smaller than the ones in Soda.

Walleye anglers are finding a few willing biters in Potholes Reservoir. The mouth of the Lind Coulee is producing a few good-sized ‘eyes, but Moses Lake remains pretty quiet.

Banks Lake walleye fishermen are doing “pretty well,” says Lou Nevsimal at Coulee Playland Resort. He says most of the fish are caught between 40-50 feet on Slow Death Hooks with a Smile Blade and nightcrawler. He said he is seeing a lot more 16- to 17-inch fish come in this spring.

Craig Dowdy of YJ Guide Service says a typical walleye outing on Lake Roosevelt yields 20-30 walleye for clients. There are a lot of 14- to 16-inch fish, but recently a 7-pounder and a 5-pounder were landed. He has been fishing Outhouse and Casino flats out of Ft. Spokane with blade baits.

Other species

Razor clam diggers can return to Mocrocks and Copalis beaches for a three-day dig beginning Friday. The dig, which is on evening tides, will coincide with the annual Ocean Shores razor clam festival.

Sturgeon fishing is picking up in Hells Canyon out of Heller Bar, reports Kyle Jones at Kyle Jones Sportsfishing. Jones says sturgeon fishing should be good through June both in Hells Canyon and in the Hanford Reach. Hells Canyon is catch and release, but there is a possibility of retaining a Hanford fish if it falls in the slot.

Burbot anglers are still picking up a few fish in the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt. The bite, as it has been all year, is off and on.

Channel catfish will begin showing around April 1 on the Palouse River out of Lyons Ferry.

Contact Alan Liere at

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