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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for July 5

Fly fishing

Good fly fishing is reported on the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River. There isn’t much bug activity recently except for green drakes in the evening. The St. Joe is best up high. The Spokane River has been decent. Soft hackles through the riffles are effective.

Trout and kokanee

High elevation lakes such as the Little Pend Oreille chain in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties offer good trout fishing opportunities in July – a good way to escape the heat that is supposedly just around the corner.

Central District Fish Biologist Randy Osborne said trout anglers fishing Lake Spokane (Long Lake) are doing well. Badger Lake is producing catches of rainbow and westslope cutthroat trout. Williams Lake has rainbow, cutthroat and tiger trout, although the fishing has not been as good as in years past. Fishtrap Lake has nice rainbows and the fishing remains consistent, but West Medical Lake is not fishing well because of illegal introductions of goldfish. It has been proposed for a fall rehabilitation treatment.

Other trout waters in the region had rule changes that went into effect Sunday. Amber Lake remains under selective gear rules and no internal combustion motors, but has a daily limit of one trout at least 18 inches in length from March 1-Nov. 30. Sprague Lake anglers will be allowed to keep five trout of any size daily since the minimum size regulation was dropped.

Water at Z Lake, on the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Lincoln County, is still fairly high, so planted rainbow trout are likely doing well. The number of anglers plying those waters is limited by the “walk-in only” requirement.

The Tucannon River impoundments on the Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County – Big Four, Blue, Curl, Deer, Spring and Watson lakes – are still producing catches of rainbow trout from hatchery plants. Rainbow Lake is closed this month to allow draining and reconstruction completion. The access road to Deer Lake and Campground 3 will be closed soon for reconstruction work. Deer Lake will remain open for fishing throughout the project, but anglers will need to wade the river to reach it

Anglers on Potholes Reservoir say it is pretty easy to catch the trout on a trolled Flicker Shad or Shad Rap. A lot of these fish run 3-5 pounds. For best eating, clean them immediately and get them on ice.

Trout fishermen on Lake Bonaparte in Okanogan County are catching rainbow, tigers and brookies. The rainbow are the largest, several going 3-7 pounds. It’s possible to have decent success fishing from shore.

Steelhead and salmon

The section of Clearwater River from the Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge will reopen to chinook fishing on Saturday, midway through the regular four-days-a-week season. The section was closed on June 10 to spread Chinook angling opportunity to other communities upriver, but enough fish remain to provide additional opportunity within the existing sport-fishing harvest share.

Marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 2 (Westport), 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) are all open now for salmon fishing. Several areas of Puget Sound are also open for salmon fishing, including marine areas 5 (Sekiu), 7 (San Juan Islands), 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait) and a portion of 12 (Hood Canal).

Before the season began, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon agreed to forgo a sockeye fishery this year because of low run projections, but they changed course when a new run forecast projected the return of 209,000 sockeye this year – more than double the preseason forecast. Sockeye anglers are looking forward to good fishing at Brewster. Baker Lake in Whatcom County opens for sockeye fishing Saturday with a limit of three a day.

All sections of the Lower Salmon River and the Little Salmon River are closed to salmon fishing, as well as the North Fork of the Clearwater River and the Lochsa River. The South Fork of the Salmon River and the Upper Salmon River close today.

Spiny ray

An expanding walleye population has created an additional harvest opportunity for anglers on Lake Spokane. Recent surveys indicate walleye are fairly abundant and growing to large sizes in that water.

Banks Lake walleye can be temperamental at times, and the wind can be ferocious, but the bite has been good for trollers dragging Slow Death Rigs with Smile Blades in 10 feet of water over rocky bottoms.

Smallmouth bass fishing is holding up nicely on the Pend Oreille River. The fish aren’t as large as those on the Snake and Columbia rivers, but there are a lot of them.

The walleye bite on Potholes Reservoir has been torrid at times when there is a ripple on the water. A lot of fish in the 20-inch range have been taken this week.

Several lakes near Spokane are providing good catches of spiny ray species. Deer Lake in southern Stevens County is good for smallmouth and largemouth bass. Curlew Lake in Ferry County has largemouth bass and perch/ Diamond Lake near Newport in Pend Oreille County also has a good population of 8- tp 10-inch perch, as does Waitts Lake in southern Stevens County.

The Snake and Palouse rivers are usually good this month for smallmouth bass and channel catfish. The Grande Ronde is a tremendous smallmouth destination.

Other species

The annual quotas for sturgeon harvest have been met for the Columbia River downstream of McNary Dam, but Lake Wallula (McNary Reservoir), Priest Rapids Reservoir and Wanapum Reservoir will remain open to the retention of sturgeon. On Lake Wallula, the daily limit is one legal-size sturgeon and two fish per year. Angling for sturgeon is not permitted in this area of the Columbia River after an angler has retained his annual limit. To be retained, sturgeon must be between 43 and 54 inches in length as measured from the tip of the snout to the fork in the tail. The fishery is open in this area through July 31. In Priest Rapids and Wanapum reservoirs, the daily limit is two sturgeon between 38 and 72 inches long.

Contact Alan Liere at