Blue Lake, one of the two Tucannon lakes in the Columbia Wildlife Preserve that remains open year-round, was recently stocked with 2,300 catchable rainbow trout. Black egg sucking leeches and black bead head buggers have been good for these, stripped with long pauses in between.
The Spokane River is open through March 15, then will close until the Saturday before Memorial Day. Fishing has been good for anglers using hot bead nymph patterns stones, worms and attractor jig nymphs.
Silver Bow Fly Shop said conditions are good on the North Fork Coeur d’Alene. Either dredge with nymphs or slowly move streamers through the deeper pools.
Trout and kokanee
Lake Roosevelt kokanee are boat-shy when they are in the top 20 feet of water, as they are now, and trollers aren’t having much luck. Trout fishermen are doing better plunking bait from shore than trolling.
Deer Lake opens Sunday. At this writing, it had a lot of open water, though ice still held on in the narrows. Downs Lake also opens Sunday, but may still have ice. Downs is scheduled to be planted with catchable rainbows. Other Eastern Washington lakes that open Sunday are Liberty, Medical, Coffeepot and Amber. Ice is deteriorating at all of them. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife hoped to get Liberty planted with rainbow broodstock this week.
In Columbia County, the Tucannon lakes, Rainbow and Deer, will open Sunday, with hopes for new plants of catchable rainbow. Blue and Spring lakes are open year-round and have received recent plants. Watson is closed until the road in is repaired.
The Quincy lakes in the Columbia Basin usually draw big crowds on the opener set for Sunday. Prospects for the most popular lakes look like this, according to fish biologist Mike Schmuck:
Martha Lake and Upper Caliche Lake should produce well. In addition to fingerling rainbow, both lakes received in excess of 1,000 catchable (11- to 13-inch) rainbow last fall and rainbows should now be in the 14- to 15-inch range. These popular lakes are also scheduled to get 1,000 (Martha) and 500 (Upper Caliche) catchable rainbow this spring
Quincy Lake should provide anglers with good catches of 11- to 13-inch trout as well as the occasional carry-over fish in excess of 20 inches.
Burke Lake was rehabilitated last year. Anglers fishing there early this year should expect small trout.
Lenice and Nunnally lakes should provide rainbow trout in the 16- to 18-inch range. Anglers should note that, while they can still retain one fish per day, the minimum size is 18 inches on selective gear waters, such as Lenice and Nunnally.
Lake Lenore, another selective gear lake, should provide excellent opportunities for anglers to catch large Lahontan cutthroat trout. There are multiple strong year classes of fish in the lake, with some up to 8-plus pounds. There is no longer a catch-and-release season from March 1 to May 31. Anglers may retain one fish per day, minimum size 18 inches, from March 1 to Nov. 30.
Dry Falls Lake, located within the Sun Lakes State Park, was formerly an April 1 opener, but is now open March 1 to Nov. 30. In addition to large, hungry rainbow, Dry Falls is also stocked with brown and tiger trout.
Dusty Lake is a selective gear, hike-in lake located on the Quincy Wildlife Area. It has excellent fishing for 14- to 16-inch rainbow trout as well as brown and tiger trout.
Cliff, Crystal, Cup and the Spring lakes, located just south of Dusty, hold good numbers of relatively unpressured rainbow trout and are small enough that they can all be fished in a morning. These lakes produce good catches of trout in the 12- to 14-inch range.
Salmon and steelhead
The South Fork of the Clearwater has heated up for steelhead fishermen. Indicators and egg patterns tend to do well
Steelhead fishing on Idaho’s Clearwater River was good last weekend with improved water clarity. Most angler effort is taking place near Orofino as fish are starting to congregate near Dworshak National Fish hatchery.
Pike fishing is slow on Lake Coeur d’Alene, but with warming temperatures, there should be a water flow this weekend to increase the likelihood of feeding fish. They won’t necessarily be on the shallow flats, but probably hanging by weed breaks in 6- to 12 feet of water. Herring and smelt will be on the menu.
Moses Lake walleye are being caught just north of the I-90 Bridge. They congregate in this area before heading up Crab Creek in April to spawn. The walleye bite should also be picking up in the Lind Coulee, which flows into Potholes Reservoir.
Chelan County’s Fish Lake has a foot of good ice and perch fishing has been excellent for 9- to 10-inch fish. Target 30 feet of water.
Good walleye reports come from Porcupine Bay, but the fish never seem to be in the same place two days in a row. Spectacular one day can be dismal the next. Outhouse Flats and Casino Flats have also seen some great days for anglers jigging in 35 feet of water.
Idaho anglers are catching just about every freshwater species imaginable on the flats just off the Clark Fork mouth coming out of Lake Pend Oreille. Everything from pike to mackinaw to perch to rainbow are biting in 10-30 feet of water.
Ice fishing is on Fish and Roses lakes near Wenatchee, Patterson Lake near Winthrop, Leader Lake near Omak, Bonaparte Lake near Tonasket and Sidley and Molson lakes near Oroville. Patterson has fair kokanee and rainbow trout winter fishing. Leader has rainbow trout, along with black crappie and bluegill. Bonaparte has brook and tiger trout and kokanee. Roses and Fish have yellow perch and rainbow trout, and Sidley and Molson have mostly rainbow.
Closer to Spokane, Eloika Lake had 11 inches of good ice when four of us fished there late Monday afternoon, but we didn’t get a bite. Bear Lake also appeared to have good ice. Sacheen still has good ice near the access, as does Davis, but there have been no reports from either this week. Gillette and Thomas lakes in the Pend Oreille chain have good ice and are the most popular fisheries in the chain for trout and perch. Hatch Lake ice is thin around the edges and no one is fishing there. Williams, another winter-only lake, has better ice and plenty of 17- to 20-inch rainbow, but use caution as there are some dark spots.
Idaho lakes, like Fernan close to Coeur d’Alene, no longer have safe ice, but some of the higher elevation waters closer to Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry are still solid. Blue Lake has perch and crappie and good ice. Mirror Lake also has good ice.
IDFG biologists recently released a new statewide wolf population estimate that indicates Idaho’s wolf population remains robust with about 1,000 wolves at the end of the year. The 2019 estimate showed the wolf population remains well above the federal recovery criteria of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs statewide. As a result, the length of the hunting/trapping season in many units has been substantially increased.
For hunters looking to extend waterfowl hunting, seasons for light geese are available in portions of southern Idaho through March 10.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org
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