There is still time for a couple of more days of trout fishing on the Spokane River, as it closes Friday from Nine Mile Dam upstream to the Washington/Idaho State Line. Bobber and nymph fishing the slower currents has been producing quite a few fish, but keep the nymphs small and go deep.
In Idaho, the North Fork Coeur d’Alene has quite a bit of fishable water between icy stretches. A bobber and nymph rig should also be effective there.
Ice fishing Washington
This has been a strange ice fishing year. In the beginning, it didn’t look like there would be any ice, but when it finally came it was quickly covered with snow, which made walking difficult. Next came the slush from water flowing out of ice holes to equalize the pressure of the snow on top. Even when conditions were perfect, the bite was erratic to nonexistent. A lake would be hot for a week or so, anglers would pound it (think Gillette, Curlew and Sacheen), and then it would quit producing in traditional spots.
Friends who tried the south end of Davis Lake last weekend said the walking was miserable as there was a crust over deep slush before hitting solid ice. They only caught two small perch. There was a report from Davis that a small burbot had been landed at the other end.
Newman Lake is getting a little attention. It isn’t great fishing, but it’s possible to take home a mixed bag of panfish. Liberty Lake has some big perch, but the bite is generally slow. A 6-pound walleye was taken there recently.
Waitts Lake has been a pleasant surprise for brown and rainbow trout. One regular there said he took a limit of 12- to 15-inch fish in 1 1/2 hours the last time he was out.
Deer Lake is kicking out a few mackinaw for anglers jigging deep water through the ice. Bead Lake mackinaw fishing is slow, and so is the burbot fishing.
Upper and Lower Twin lakes near Harrington have been decent for perch and trout, but the road in has become soft, and the last 100 yards to the lake have always been a challenge. An angler who didn’t want to risk dropping down the last steep stretch went to nearby Coffeepot instead and had good perch fishing straight across from the public access. He used a jig and a piece of artificial worm. Coffeepot is a selective gear lake and bait or scents are not allowed.
Sacheen Lake is still giving up a few perch and small trout, but fishing has cooled off considerably. After several less-than-stellar weeks, Curlew Lake is again producing some big catches of perch by anglers walking out to the island at the state park and then going way down the lake to the left.
Silver Lake conditions were excellent last weekend with much of the snow gone. The fishing hasn’t changed much all year – lots of small perch, but you have to be on the X, which is in about 27 feet of water out and to the right of the public access about 100 yards. The bite is good early and late and dead in the middle of the day. I fished the lake last week and kept 14 fish. I ate all 14 at one sitting that night – a whole school – and I was hungry when I finished. A friend was on the ice Monday. Alhough he hauled in one perch after another, he said there were other aglers on the ice in deeper or shallower water who couldn’t buy a bite.
Sprague Lake ice is good. The trout fishing is slow, but an occasional fish of more than 22 inches is iced. A few anglers have been hitting nearby Cow Lake with some success.
The warming weather is compromising the ice at some area lakes. It is rumored that two anglers at Banks broke through. If you fish Banks, you may want to stay in the bays where the ice is thicker.
Ice fishing Idaho
Fernan Lake pike and perch fishing has been slow all year, but the rainbow fishing has been decent at times for 12- to 14-inch fish in 10 feet of water.
Avondale has good ice, but the trout fishing has slowed since last week. Lower Twin has good ice and perch fishing is fair. Hauser is the same. Perch fishing was excellent this week for 8-inch fish in the middle of Cocolalla Lake. Spirit Lake has 12 inches of good ice and a fair kokanee bite.
Honeysuckle Bay on Hayden Lake has been popular with ice fishermen looking for kokanee, but the fish are scattered throughout the water column and the bite has been only fair. Hayden ice is a solid 4 inches.
Ice fishermen are still hitting Priest Lake for mackinaw, but the big lake could become unsafe quickly with the warming temperatures.
Trout and kokanee
The Spring Kokanee Derby on Lake Chelan was not spring-like, with near blizzard conditions at times. Nevertheless, many limits were netted by the 50 or so participating boats, with all agreeing the fish are smaller this year than last.
Lake Roosevelt rainbow are still closed-mouthed. The big reservoir continues to drop slowly and should be below 1,260 feet by Monday.
Steelhead and salmon
Steelhead fishing on the upper Salmon River continued to improve over the last week. Angler effort and catch increased significantly downstream of North Fork in location code 15. This area had the best catch rate and the highest amount of angler effort over the weekend. Effort near the Pahsimeroi River in location codes 17 and 18 also began to increase but remained low for this time of year.
Rufus Woods Reservoir from Seaton Grove down to the net pens is giving up some nice triploids, but the walleye fishing has been better, particularly if there is some current. Many walleyes are running 16-20 inches.
Lake Roosevelt walleye are biting well, but there are a lot of fish less than 13 inches. Anglers fishing the Spokane Arm with jigs and plastic worms are finding fish in 35-50 feet of water around the islands and in Porcupine Bay. The fish are scattered. In the main lake, Casino Flats and Outhouse Flats have recently produced some decent-sized walleyes.
Rising Son Adventures reports a good start to their walleye season on the John Day Pool with lots of 3- to 4-pound fish. Info: Jake Munden at 509-492-8852.
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.