Lots of fisheries will get slow this weekend with the cold temperatures hitting. Most rivers have switched to predominantly nymphing and streamer, but as usually occurs this time of year, Rocky Ford rainbow are taking scuds.
At Swede’s Fly Shop on Garland, Allen Petersen said, “If one knows the wheres and hows on fishing the Spokane River this time of year, it can be very rewarding. The ‘where’ would be downstream from the Peaceful Valley settlement to just before the Bowl and Pitcher, selecting the darker and deeper water and focusing on heads, runs and tail-outs, especially those that create deeper seams. The ‘how’ is with a sink tip fly line, using either stonefly nymphs, princes or beaded caddis nymphs on a short fluorocarbon 5X tippet.”
In Amber and Medical lakes the rainbows are deep, and a full sinking fly line with a sink rate of at least 4-5 inches per second (preferably 7-8) is necessary. Fish deep. A proven pattern is called Swede’s Electric Bugger.
A large black, Wooly Bugger-type fly with barbell eyes and some Flashabou has been taking numerous triploids on Rufus Woods Reservoir. You’ll do best with a sink-tip.
In Montana, the Bitterroot River is a good option as it has many springs that keep the water a little warmer than other rivers. Nymphs on the nicer afternoons will be best.
Salmon and steelhead
The Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery has achieved the 2020 fall chinook broodstock collection goal, allowing the adult daily limit to be increased for additional harvest opportunity. In Drano Lake through Dec. 31, this increases the adult salmon portion of the salmon and steelhead daily limit to two fish; the hatchery steelhead limit remains one per day.
Tolling flashers and minisquid at a depth of 70-90 feet over 130 feet of water has netted some keeper-size chinook recently in the Carlin Bay area of Lake Coeur d’Alene.
Trout and kokanee
Lake Roosevelt trout fishing has been good with orange Kekeda Flies tipped with a piece of nightcrawler accounting for many limits. Upstream in the Spokane Arm has been hot. Shore fishermen are starting to pick up a few fish by dunking Power Bait at several locations, including Hawk Creek and Fort Spokane. Most of these fish are 16-17 inches.
Potholes Reservoir trout are taking a trolled No. 7 Flicker Shad. Chrome Clown, Slick Blue Alewife and Flashy Perch have also been producing trout in the 2- to 5-pound range. The best fishing has been out in front of the Potholes State Park. From shore, fish Medicare Beach with marshmallows and Power Bait 18 inches off the bottom.
Priest Lake mackinaw fishermen are dredging up their fish by jigging or drop-shotting deep. Humps and points in bays like Cavanaugh and Pinto Point have been good, but are not the only places to fish for deep-water macks. The Berkley Gulp Minnow or glow-in-the dark hoochies are both good. On Lake Pend Oreille, the rainbow are on top. A good Thanksgiving Derby is on the horizon.
Fifteen miles west of Yellowstone and surrounded on three sides by the Continental Divide, Idaho’s Henrys Lake is a world-famous fishery that produces some of the largest trout in Idaho. Cutthroat, brookies and large hybrids called cutbows are abundant and grow rapidly. Henrys Lake iced over before Halloween this year, and anglers are already making good catches of fish up to 8 pounds through the ice. If you are itching to get out and willing to brave the cold and the long drive, Henrys offers a unique opportunity to catch trophy hard-water trout.
The Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt has been productive for walleye anglers targeting the edge of the main river channel with jigs and perch swimbaits.
Potholes Reservoir is coming up and cooling down, and slow presentations are most effective for all spiny ray species. The largemouth bass fishing was fair this week for anglers targeting the face of the dunes and along the face of the dam in 10-25 feet of water. Potholes walleye fishing continues to be fair for trollers using nightcrawlers on a bottom bouncer in 10-25 feet of water, or dropping jigs with nightcrawlers on the humps in front of the dunes.
Crappie and bluegill fishing was fair this week on Potholes along the face of the dunes and at the mouth of Crab Creek. Troll a No. 5 Flicker Shad or fish Baby Shads and Trout Magnets on a 1/32-ounce jig tipped with a maggot, vertically jigged or with a slip bobber.
The weed lines on Lake Coeur d’Alene are beginning to lie down, but you can still catch pike by trolling or casting Husky Jerks. The bite should remain relatively active until the water drops to 40 degrees. A good place to start is in front of Harrison Bay on the south end, or Wolf Lodge and Cougar bays on the north end.
Reports of Lake Roosevelt burbot are beginning to trickle in. Most have been caught in the Spokane Arm, but they can be anywhere until they begin to school up in select holes for spawning.
Duck hunting has been good this week in the Columbia Basin near Moses Lake. Mixed bags of mallard, teal, widgeon and pintail are being reported. Elsewhere, there are still a lot of local ducks, but they are becoming more wary. Northern mallards are still a no-show.
A friend who drove past Sprague Lake this week said there were at least 1,000 snow geese on the water. The Sprague Lake area has been good for Canada goose hunters, but is not considered a reliable destination for anyone hoping to shoot a snow. Chances for doing this, however, increase the farther south you go.
Palouse country pheasant hunters report fair to good shooting opportunities depending on the weather. Snow holds the birds, but wind makes them skittish. Rain sends them out of CRP ground into trees and brush. Quail hunters say this is one of the best years in many.
The late buck season has not been stellar, but with a week still left in the Washington modern weapon season, things could change in a hurry as the rut heats up.
Deer hunters in Unit 124 report seeing a lot of coyotes.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.