Washington ice fishing
The Washington opener last Friday was an ice fishing game only. Three friends and I tried Deer Lake for six hours but caught only four rainbow trout that averaged about 13 inches each. There is little access on Deer, though a few other anglers were on the ice near the resort at midlake, and it was reported that a couple of small mackinaw were caught.
Liberty Lake saw a few ice fishermen on the opener, and they reported catching trout and a few large perch.
A friend who fished Bead and Horseshoe last weekend struck out both days, catching neither lake trout nor burbot. He said the access at both lakes had been plowed.
Eloika Lake remains a puzzle. Anglers are not finding the perch the way they have in years past. Farther north, Sacheen has also been slow.
Davis Lake has produced a variety of fish species this winter, just not many. On an outing on Tuesday, two friends and I caught four small brook trout, two 10-inch kokanee, a perch and a 10-inch cuttbow. The brookies were on the bottom in 17 feet of water and the other fish were suspended at about 30 feet over deeper water. This time, no burbot were caught, although three 2-footers were landed the week before. The public access at the far end of the lake has been roughly plowed, making room for three or four vehicles.
It has been reported that the perch in Silver Lake are consistently small, but a friend who fished there Monday and Tuesday said he caught a lot of fish that were 7-8 inches. While still not large, the bite was fast in 30 feet of water out and to the right of the public access.
I received one ice fishing report from Coffeepot Lake from an angler who jigged up several big rainbow. Waitts Lake is also giving up some nice rainbow and browns. It is still possible to catch trout in excess of 20 inches at the far end of Fourth of July Lake. No word from Hog Canyon.
Ice fishing is underway at year-round-open Leader Lake near the town of Okanogan, with catches of 8- to 10-inch perch and the occasional crappie and bluegill. Patterson Lake near Winthrop is yielding perch and kokanee through the ice.
Bonaparte Lake near Tonasket is traditionally productive for rainbow and kokanee ice fishing. Palmer Lake near Loomis usually has decent perch fishing through March.
Idaho ice fishing
Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene said tip-up fishing for pike is going well at the north end of Hayden (a 26-pounder was caught there this week), the Chain Lakes and Chatcolet. Rose Lake has been good for pike and panfish. Smith said some of the Lake Coeur d’Alene bays are frozen, and ice fishermen are catching pike, though this is an iffy proposition because ice thickness varies greatly. The main lake is mostly open, but all launches are snowed in.
Cocolalla Lake is giving up an assortment of rainbow, brookies and perch close to shore. Gamble Lake has been fair for perch, a few crappie and an occasional bass. Besides Cocolalla, the best panfishing has been at Gamble and Fernan. Mirror and Round have been best for trout.
Ice fishermen are graphing a few kokanee near the maiden rock area of Spirit Lake. So far, the bite has been disappointing. The larger blips seen on fish finders are probably chinook salmon, and this could account for the absence of kokanee. The minimum retention length for the chinook is 20 inches, and a few keepers have been taken recently. Most are around 18 inches.
A month ago, it didn’t seem that Priest Lake would develop safe ice for fishing, but conditions have changed and anglers are jigging or drop-shotting with success near Cavanaugh Bay for mackinaw.
Trout and kokanee
Lake Roosevelt water level is at about 1,267 feet. By Monday, the launches at Jones Bay should be out of the water. Fishing from shore usually picks up now. Lake Roosevelt trout have been elusive this winter, but as the reservoir drops the fishing usually improves.
Steelhead and salmon
The Wind River and Drano Lake will open for salmon fishing March 16. Anglers planning to fish either of these waters are advised to check for emergency fishing rules to make sure they are aware of any updates to state regulations before they head out.
Some of the year’s biggest walleye are caught in the Columbia River in the late winter/early spring. These fish are preparing to spawn and are nearing their highest weight of the year. Walleye are routinely caught this time of year in Lake Wallula and Lake Umatilla.
Banks Lake whitefish anglers are having good luck hauling in the large lake variety of the species. A friend who fished there Tuesday morning caught six 3-pounders. Coulee Playland is a good starting point for these fish. Get to the bottom with a small hook (I’ve had good luck with the same small Glo Hook I use for kokanee) baited with corn, maggots or small “salad” shrimp. Whitefish will bite during the day, but the best fishing is after dark.
Washington State’s fishing seasons for coastal bottom fish and lingcod will open Saturday under new rules that reflect stronger growth in two rockfish species in recent years. Anglers can catch up to nine bottom fish per day – including up to seven rockfish, two lingcod and one cabezon – plus three additional flat fish.
Deer and elk hunters have until March 31 to enter their names into the drawing for a 2018 Washington multiple-season tag. WDFW will hold the drawing in mid-April, randomly selecting names for 8,500 multiple-season deer tags and 1,000 multiple-season elk tags. Winners of that drawing can purchase a special tag allowing them to participate in archery, muzzleloader and modern firearm general hunting seasons for deer or elk in 2019. Winners who purchase the multiple season elk tag can participate in general elk hunting seasons in both eastern and western Washington.
Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere @yahoo.com
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.