Silver Bow Fly Shop reports good fishing all weekend on the Spokane River with nymphs doing the best. Find the slower water off the fast water transitions with some good depth. The lower river below Hangman Creek was running muddy last week, but has just a touch of color and is fishable.
Following a week of gloomy to nonexistent ice fishing reports, things are looking up a little this week. There are 5 inches of ice at the state park on Curlew Lake and anglers are catching a lot of trout and perch. Other lakes in the area with enough ice for fishing are Bonaparte (near Tonasket), Coffin (16 miles east of Colville in the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge) and Ellen (14 miles north of Inchelium).
Paterson Lake in the Okanogan has decent ice and there has been a good crappie bite in about 8 feet of water. Perch and trout are also being caught. Other Washington lakes available for ice fishing are Antilon (near Chelan), Fish (About 16 miles north of Leavenworth), Leader (5.3 miles from Okanogan), Molson (near Oroville) and Patterson (just west of Winthrop). Fourth of July and Newman lakes were mostly open on Monday and Hog Canyon had only 2 inches of ice. Eloika Lake is capped, but the ice isn’t safe and no one has been out. Jump-Off Joe Lake has about 3 inches of ice.
In Idaho, Upper Twin Lake is not ready for fishing. There were holes drilled on the lower lake, but the ice was not good and there was a lot of water on top. Kelso Lake has about 3 inches of ice, but only half of that was hard. There is no ice yet on Priest and little on Fernan and Avondale.
Salmon and steelhead
Steelhead fishermen are still pulling a few hatchery fish from the Clearwater River. The most successful anglers are bouncing shrimp or eggs, but plugs are sometimes good.
Fisheries for salmon and steelhead reopened Tuesday throughout the lower Columbia River Basin under the rules described in the 2018-19 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet. The spring chinook run doesn’t arrive in earnest until late March, but early birds often start catching early-arriving fish later this month. The daily limit on steelhead on most tributaries below Bonneville Dam is three hatchery fish.
Trout and kokanee
Anglers trolling Lake Chelan have made some good catches of 10- to 12-inch kokanee above Chelan State Park. Most fish are found between 60 and 80 feet. Info: Washington Guide Services 881-9052.
Lake Roosevelt trout are a consistent 15-16 inches long and fat. A perch pattern fly at about 15 feet has been effective at the confluence and north of Split Rock. A lot of unclipped trout have been caught and released.
At Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene, Jeff Smith said clients are catching small chinook at the north end of the lake. All fish are over 100 feet down, hitting a mini squid and flasher. Smith has guide boats on Lake Coeur d’Alene and is gearing up to chase the big Pend Oreille rainbow this spring. Fishing there has been good near Garfield Bay. Info: (208) 667-9304.
Hayden Lake kokanee of 11-12 inches are being taken by trollers at Clark Point and near the golf course.
Idaho anglers again have the opportunity to harvest burbot in the Kootenai River, its tributaries and Bonner Lake, which started Tuesday. Anglers are allowed to harvest six burbot per day with no size restrictions in those waters. Burbot in the Kootenai River average about 16 to 20 inches long, but fish as large as 33 to 35 inches have been observed in surveys. Burbot are most active and spawn in the winter, so fishing is best now. Historical reports suggest that night fishing is often most productive, particularly on shallow flats where burbot tend to congregate for feeding and spawning.
Burbot fishing is also good on the Lake Roosevelt, especially near the mouth of the Colville and Spokane rivers. Bead and Sullivan lakes in Pend Oreille County can also be good for winter burbot fishing, but both had open water earlier in the week.
Lake whitefish can be found in Roosevelt this time of year, spawning in groups about 40 to 50 feet below the surface. Banks Lake whitefish fishing is usually excellent this month. Burbot fishing is picking up and rainbow trout catches remain fair.
The next round of razor clam digs began Wednesday and will continue on at some beaches through Sunday. The remaining schedule looks like this beginning on evening low tides:
- Thursday; 5:06 p.m.; -0.2 feet; Twin Harbors
- Friday; 5:46 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
- Saturday; 6:23 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis
- Sunday; 6:59 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
WDFW has also tentatively scheduled a second dig in January, pending the results of marine toxin tests. If those tests are favorable, that dig will run Jan. 17-21, and will include the first dig of the season at Kalaloch. More information on planned digs can be found on WDFW’s razor clam web page at wdfw.wa.gov/ fishing/shellfish/ razorclams/.
Retention fishing for white sturgeon is open seven days a week on the three pools of the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam, including adjacent tributaries. The daily limit is one white sturgeon per day and an annual limit of two legal-size fish. Legal size varies, so check your game regs.
Mallards that have used the smaller ponds have migrated, many to the Tri-Cities area of the Columbia. Pheasants are still plentiful in Whitman County, but access is not easy to find and you’re not likely to find any easy birds unless we get another good snow. The two days the snow remained last weekend provided some excellent shooting.
Contact Alan Liere at: spokesmanliere @yahoo.com
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