Silver Bow Fly Shop says the Spokane River is on the drop and there are plenty of spots to fish on the upper river. Streamer fishing is the best way to prospect and cover the most water, but nymphing is also effective. The San Juan Worm is always a good winter fly on the Spokane.
Focus on slow, deep pools and eddies on the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River for some decent cutthroat fishing. Nymphs and streamers are the way to go. The river just past Prichard is pretty much iced up and will probably stays that way for awhile.
Salmon and steelhead
Good steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River continues for both fly fishermen and the gear guys. The Snake River is not quite as productive, but the same techniques are working in both places – swinging for fly fishermen and side-drifting Corkies and yarn for anglers more comfortable with a spinning rod. Late winter steelhead are running 12-15 pounds.
Following rumors of 12-inch perch, two friends and I headed over Sherman Pass on Friday to Curlew Lake for two days of fishing. The drive from north Spokane took about 2 1/2 hours. We didn’t find any 12-inch perch, though the locals insisted they were there. What we did find both days was a crazy-good bite of mostly 9- to 10-inch perch with a few 11-inchers mixed in.
We also caught dozens of rainbow in sizes ranging from 7-16 inches. Most of these had small white parasites (some type of copepods?) on the outer skin which the local game warden assured us didn’t affect the meat. Nevertheless, we released all but a couple of which I cooked up later and found to be delicious.
All the ice fishing on Curlew appears to be out of the State Park on the south end of the lake. We fished a foot off the bottom in 33 feet of water using either a Swedish Pimple or a small green scud 6 inches below a hookless Kastmaster or Triple Teaser. Baited with maggots or perch eyes, they worked equally well. There is no limit on Curlew perch, and the resort owners encourage anglers to take as many as they can as they are concerned about the prolific fish’s affect on trout populations in the lake.
Fourth of July Lake has plenty of ice and from all reports, it is still possible to catch big rainbow. The fish have been in shallow water. Nearby Sprague Lake is also getting some attention and though it doesn’t offer fast fishing, it is quite a thrill to drag a 4-pound trout through a 6-inch hole in the ice.
Hog Canyon has lost its popularity with ice fishermen due to the abundance of stunted perch. There are still trout to be had, but the lake is definitely not what it was a couple of years ago.
Friends who said they drilled “about a million holes all over the lake” at Silver Lake on Sunday said they caught perch as fast as they could get down but none were over 5 inches. They ended up at Eloika the same day, but the bite there was slow for everyone. They said the few perch they caught were 8-9 inches and most of the bass were 8-12 inches.
Moses Lake continues to confound ice fishermen. After a decent late December bite, the perch seem to have moved out of the I-90 Bridge area. The Lind Coulee arm of nearby Potholes Reservoir has been more consistent for perch with an occasional large walleye to keep things interesting.
Mirror Lake in Idaho has limited parking at the access, but the fishing for kokanee has been good. Rainbow trout are also available. Spirit Lake kokanee are also biting, but they are small.
Cocolalla Lake has about 8 inches of good ice. Anglers are catching fair numbers of perch. Avondale Lake has 13 inches of good ice. Fishermen there are pulling in mostly perch.
Round Lake perch fishing has been fair to good, and a few trout and catfish are also coming in. The ice is thick. Upper Twin Lake has been slow for pike but good for perch.
Cavanaugh Bay on Priest Lake is getting a lot of attention from ice fishermen searching for mackinaw. Gulp Minnows drop-shotted in 100-120 feet of water has proven effective for 2- to 3-pound fish, but tube jigs are also effective.
Open water fishing
Trolling for suspended Kokanee has been terrific recently on Lake Chelan. Many successful anglers are dragging Mack’s Lures Mini Cha Cha Squidders in Orange on a short leader behind a dodger at about 1 mph. Bait with shoepeg corn. You will find the silvery 11- to 13-inch kokes, usually from 60-120 feet deep in the upper end of the lower basin. Keep your offering just above the graphed schools.
Lake Roosevelt will be rising slightly for a few days before beginning a gradual drop around Feb. 5. Bank fishermen have been numerous in many places on the big reservoir, but no one place has been better than another. When casting from shore with bait, leave a bow in your line so the fish meet no resistance until the hook is well into the mouth.
Roosevelt boat fishermen are finding more launches open this week. The Seven Bays and Ft. Spokane launches are both open, though there is a lot of ice upriver from Ft. Spokane. Fishing for both rainbow and kokanee has been fair to good. Trollers are taking both at 10-15 feet.
Rich Hatten of Pullman reports fishing Rock Lake and catching a nice mix of fat rainbow and 18-inch-long steelhead. He said the launch last week still required four-wheel drive for pulling a boat out.
Washington and Idaho bird hunters have already begun to suffer from atrophied trigger fingers as the season for all upland birds and waterfowl are over except for some upcoming late season Idaho hunts for snow geese. Rabbits – both snowshoe and cottontail – remain open.
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