The trout aren’t particularly large, and the Tucannon River is tough to fish, but her native rainbow are stunningly beautiful. Fly fishermen who throw weighted stonefly imitations can expect good fishing in the low-water river section in the Wooten Recreation Area. Adjacent Spring, Blue and Rainbow lakes have open water and plenty of trout. Columbia County’s Touchet River also has a good population of beautiful wild rainbow
A catch-and-release trout fishery is open year-round on the Yakima River from Roza Dam to Easton Dam under selective gear and whitefish gear rules. Fishing is closed above Easton Dam until the first Saturday in June.
Steelhead and salmon
The Snake River from the mouth upstream to the Couse Creek boat ramp will remain closed to fishing for steelhead. Tributaries to the Snake River including Walla Walla, Touchet, Tucannon and the lower Grand Ronde rivers are open and remain open through April 15 with a one hatchery steelhead daily limit.
Many lower Columbia River salmon and steelhead fisheries reopened Jan. 1 under the rules described in the 2019-20 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet. While the spring chinook run doesn’t arrive in earnest until late March, anglers often start catching early arriving fish later this month.
Trout and kokanee
Long Lake trollers are experiencing fantastic fishing for rainbow trout, most over 15 inches long. Fishing is good everywhere, but best the farther down you go toward the dam. Orange is the go-to color, whether you’re pulling plugs or dragging flies. Stay in the top 10 feet.
Waitts Lake is ice-free. Rainbow and browns are hitting trolled baits and lures, especially on the north end of the lake.
Kokanee fishing has been outstanding at times this week on Lake Roosevelt for fish running 15-20 inches, and the trout bite for the same-sized fish also remains good. The fish are on or near the surface and troll speed varies between 1.1-1.5 mph. A friend fishing out of Lincoln this week said he took a five-fish limit in 30 minutes.
Williams Lake near Colville has some big rainbow and was reported late last week to have enough ice for fishing. I wouldn’t count on it this week.
Three lakes in Okanogan County have been open for “catch and keep” rainbow trout fishing with a five-fish limit since December. Rat Lake near Brewster and Big Green and Little Green lakes near Omak provide good angling throughout the winter months,
Roses Lake in Chelan County has recently been stocked with about 4,000 catchable sized rainbow trout, and there should be about another 14,000 stocked later this month. Fish Lake, also in Chelan County, is popular for rainbow trout and perch. Neither of these year-round-open waters had ice going into January, but both will provide good ice fishing when freezing temperatures are consistent enough to provide safe ice.
Potholes Reservoir in Grant County is giving up nice rainbow trout this month. Troll or fish from shore at Medicare Beach.
A few fishermen ventured out onto Curlew Lake ice for perch at the state park last week, and the bite was said to be good. This week, the ice has been melting quickly and there is just a little at the north and south ends. Mostly, the lake has open water and the little ice there is not safe.
There’s a chance of catching a monster walleye in the Columbia River in and around the Tri-Cities this month. While walleye fishing can slow down during the winter months, the current and previous record-holding fish were harvested at this time of year.
Lake Roosevelt walleye are hitting worm harnesses on bottom walkers or jigs, but they are deep and not large. Expect to go down 50 feet and more.
A friend of a friend just returned from Cascade Lake in Idaho. He said the ice was good and his biggest perch was 2 1/2 pounds.
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 with an annual limit of two “legal-sized fish,” a determination that varies from pool to pool.
Winter whitefish fishing is open through Feb. 29 on the Naches River (mouth to Tieton River) and on the Yakima River (Sunnyside Dam to 3,500 feet below Roza Dam and from Roza Dam to Easton Dam). The catch limit is 15 per day. All fish except whitefish must be released. Whitefish can be found in Lake Roosevelt, the Little Spokane River and the Kettle River in Northeast Washington. In January, they are usually spawning in groups about 40 to 50 feet below the surface. Banks Lake can be excellent for big lake whitefish.
Burbot fishing is good on Lake Roosevelt this winter, especially near the mouth of the Colville and Spokane rivers. Bead and Sullivan lakes in Pend Oreille County can also be good for burbot fishing. Depending on conditions, they can be caught through the ice or by casting jigs or plunking bait from shore.
Clammers are hitting ocean beaches for what shellfish managers say are “impressive harvest opportunities” for razor clams. Current times, tides and locations look like this:
Friday, 6:29 p.m. -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Saturday, 7:11 p.m. -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Sunday, 7:53 p.m. -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Monday, 8:36 p.m. -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Tuesday, 9:20 p.m. -0.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Hunting continues through Jan. 20 for pheasant, quail, chukar and gray partridge. Duck and goose hunting continues through Jan. 26. There is still open water on popular hunting areas such as the Pend Oreille River, Lake Roosevelt and the Colville River. If large bodies of water remain open for their roosting use, they can provide good hunting opportunities through the end of the season. Coffeepot Lake is covered with Canada geese. But for the most part, ducks are somewhere else. A nephew in the Yakima area said they disappeared last week.
The application period for Washington spring bear hunting permits is open and runs through Feb. 28. Details are in the Spring Season Wild turkey and Black Bear pamphlet. Hunters wanting to participate in this spring’s Idaho controlled hunts for black bear can apply from Jan. 15 through Feb. 15.
Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@ yahoo.com.
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