Whitefish aren’t usually a fly angler’s first choice, but they are fun to catch, usually cooperative and available in abundance on rivers such as the Kettle, Spokane, Yakima, Coeur d’Alene, Clearwater and Naches.
Look for walking-speed water 6 feet and deeper and go with proven patterns such as the Snocone nymph or Sand Juan Worm.
Salmon and steelhead
The Clearwater and North Fork Clearwater have seen both bad and good days this week, says Reel Time Fishing in Clarkston. Most of the steelhead have been caught side drifting cured eggs and pegged corkies.
Backtrolling shrimp and plugs has also been popular in the frigid temperatures, as it gives anglers a chance to slowly present baits while keeping warm by the heater.
Excellent fishing is predicted for the weeks to come as there are lots of fish in the system and the current warming period will cause the Clearwater to rise, color up and warm up.
The steelhead will then begin to stack up near their spawning beds and become aggressive. Catch rates will rise. Info: Reel Time Fishing (208) 861-0654.
Waitts Lake was beginning to get some attention this week from ice anglers looking for trout. Some nice rainbow and browns were caught just out from the public access in about 25 feet of water. Worms or Powerbait are most commonly used.
Sprague Lake trout fishermen say the ice thickness varies from spot to spot, but the bays on the north side have consistently good ice. Fishing has been slow, but if you hook into one of the trout, it could be huge. A friend there this week said he had two bites and caught two fish – one weighing over 6 pounds.
Silver Lake is loaded with willing biters, but the perch there are only 5 inches long, and it doesn’t seem to matter where on the lake you fish. In years past, the larger perch have been in deep water towards the middle and to the right of the public access, but such is not the case now.
Eloika Lake perch come in all sizes, with most around 8 inches. Eloika is usually best early and late on cloudy days.
I fished there on Monday afternoon with five friends in an area no larger than 50 feet in each direction. One friend had constant action, two others and I caught eight or nine each, and the other two anglers caught a total of three.
A fisherman I spoke with from a different part of the lake said he had a camera down the hole and watched with frustration all day as perch and crappie nosed the bait and swam away without biting.
Banks Lake is frozen clear across with good ice for fishing. Anglers are catching mostly whitefish, but also a few burbot, perch and walleye. Look for whitefish and burbot in 30-40 feet of water and the perch and walleye in 18-20 feet of water. Osborne Bay, Jones Bay and the Punchbowl have been good for these.
The boat basin at Coulee City on Banks Lake has thick ice, but it is still a little early there for big catches of perch. The spawners usually move into this area in February.
Blue Heron Park is the site of most of the ice fishing action on Moses Lake. That area, too, should improve in February and March. The bite isn’t on every day, but when it is, anglers are catching perch and a few walleye. Potholes Reservoir also has solid ice for fishing, and Lind Coulee is popular for multiple species with perch and walleye the most common. The ice there is 14 inches thick.
Fish Lake in Chelan County near Lake Wenatchee is a good destination for catching perch and trout through the ice. Popular ice fishing spots in Okanogan County, like Patterson, Rat and Leader are also providing good fishing.
Hayden Lake can be good for pike this winter, but use caution as the ice varies in thickness. Fernan, Upper Twin, Rose, Medicine, Thompson, Cave, Killarney, and Chatcolet also have pike. Thompson also has some nice crappie.
Catch rates for trout have been lower recently on Fernan and Upper Twin, but the perch fishing can be outstanding. Killarney, incidentally, is low, so you’ve got to go out quite a ways to find water deep enough to fish.
There are 5 inches of good ice on Spirit now and the kokanee bite at Bronze Bay has been pretty good. Also in Idaho, Mirror Lake has been decent for rainbow and kokanee in 20-30 feet of water. Gamble Lake gives up some big perch, but the bite has been very slow.
The ice is good, but the bite has slowed somewhat on Avondale. Anglers there are catching a few rainbow in addition to the perch.
There is some ice fishing going on at Priest Lake. Anglers drop-shotting white tubes are finding mackinaw in some of the bays. Most of the fish are under three pounds, but there is always the chance of dredging up one in the teens.
Open water fishing
As of Wednesday, Lake Roosevelt launches were still frozen shut with the exception of the one at Lincoln, which is in very good shape. If you plan on fishing from a boat on Roosevelt, Lincoln is your only launching option.
In the meantime, bank fishermen are doing quite well up and down the Reservoir by tossing worms or Power Bait.
In Washington, go to wdfw.wa.gov and search for Hunters’ Ed courses. The first one is offered March 7 at Spokane Valley White Elephant and registrations are currently being accepted.
Ducks and geese in Washington remain open through Jan. 29. Geese are open every day in Goose Management Area 4 from Jan. 23-29. If the predicted Chinook wind materializes, goose hunting could be very good the last two weeks of the season.
At MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir, Mike Meseberg says the local goose hunting has been “crazy good.” Field shoots have provided limits of big honkers, but drifting snow on the roads has been a constant problem.
Craig Dowdy at YJ Guide Service reports that most Lake Roosevelt ducks and geese have left.
Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere.com
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