Salmon and steelhead
Several marine areas of Puget Sound are open to blackmouth salmon fishing, including the San Juan Islands, which traditionally reward anglers with some of the highest salmon catches during winter months.
The bitter weather is keeping a lot of steelheaders at home, but there is a decent bite from time to time on both the Clearwater and Snake River. Bobber and shrimp anglers took a few large fish last week from the rip-rap at Wawawai Landing on the Snake.
Bear Lake is just off Highway 2 north of Riverside. Juvenile anglers under the age of 15, licensed adults accompanying a juvenile, and disabled anglers with a harvester companion card may fish Bear. Be sure to check the ice before getting out too far. There are some nice (9- to 10-inch) perch in Bear, but the fishing can be very slow at times.
Eloika, Newman and Silver lakes have ice covers and anglers are taking a variety of spiny ray, with perch predominating. Moses Lake perch anglers have had some slow days at Blue Heron Park, and the overall size of the fish is not as consistently large as some years. The action can change quickly, however.
Fourth of July Lake is yielding rainbows ranging 9-22 inches, with lots of big ones in the mix. Hog Canyon trout range 12-15 inches. At both lakes, only two of the five trout daily catch limit can be over 14 inches. Once anglers land those two they can keep fishing, but not with bait.
Hatch Lake, southeast of Colville in Stevens County, is kicking out rainbows through the ice in the 12 to 14-inch range. Williams Lake, which is north of Colville, is not as good, but it does have a fair number of 11- to 12-inch trout that were planted in the fall.
Waitts Lake, also in Stevens County, is open for fishing through February. Ice anglers sometimes have good luck on rainbow and browns just out from the public access. By fishing in shallower water, they can also catch perch.
Bead and Sullivan lakes in Pend Oreille County can be good for burbot fishing this month. The south end of Sullivan Lake is an area where anglers usually target burbot in January. On Bead, most of the ice fishing takes place under the powerlines that run across the lake.
Perch fishing is said to be good through the ice outside the Coulee City Marina. In some years, the average size is 10 inches, but they appear to be smaller this winter.
A little known fishery for perch is an option in Curlew Lake in Ferry County. It is now possible for ice anglers to catch a mess of 9- to 10-inch fish, and the lake is loaded. Anglers can get on the ice at the state park, but need a Discover Pass.
Three lakes in Okanogan County – Rat Lake near Brewster and Big Green and Little Green lakes near Omak – are open for catch and keep rainbow trout fishing. All three provide good fishing throughout the winter months for 10- to 12-inch rainbow.
Fish Lake in Chelan County is iced up and providing opportunities for both perch and rainbow trout. Roses Lake should also be good to go now. It was stocked in November with about 18,000 rainbow trout averaging one-half pound apiece, and also provides catches of perch, bluegill, crappie and the occasional largemouth bass.
Leader Lake in Okanogan County usually provides fair fishing for crappie, bluegill and rainbow trout in the winter. The crappie, bluegill and trout are coming from approximately 15-20 feet of water and the perch are at 30 feet. Patterson and Davis lakes in the Winthrop area also provide good winter fishing through the ice. Davis has rainbows in the 10- to 12-inch range and Patterson has 7- to 8-inch perch.
Open water fishing
I fished Lake Roosevelt near Lincoln last Thursday with friends. Although we had intended to troll with four rods, we seldom had all four in the water at the same time because the bite was so frantic. Most of the 15- to 16-inch fish came on Muddler Minnows fished at 3-4 colors without a flasher.
Lake Roosevelt is beginning to give up a few large kokanee, mostly below Keller. Reports of 3.5-pound fish have come in. A lot of offerings work for kokanee, but they should be fished in the top 15 feet of water. The daily limit of kokanee on Lake Roosevelt is six fish, but no more than two can be wild. Anglers should be able to catch more of the fin-clipped kokes this year.
The steelhead planted in Rock Lake are running 14-16 inches and are suckers for a variety of lures, flies, and small plugs trolled at about 1.5 mph fairly close to the surface.
Mountain whitefish, which are a native species smaller than lake whitefish, can be enticed now from the Little Spokane River from Highway 291 upstream to the West Branch. The daily limit is 15 and there’s no minimum size limit. Whitefish gear rules apply – one single-point size 14 (or smaller). This is also a good time to catch lake whitefish in Lake Roosevelt, where they are currently in spawning aggregations in 40-50 feet of water. Burbot fishing is also good on the reservoir, especially near the mouth of the Colville River and the mouth of the Spokane River.
Winter is prime time to jig for squid in Puget Sound. Good spots include the Elliott Bay Pier in Seattle and the Edmonds Pier. Clam diggers have a green light to proceed with a razor clam dig Sunday and Monday at Kalaloch beach.
Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere @ yahoo.com
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