It looks like winter is finally here. Silver Bow Fly Shop has this advice for those who aren’t ready to put away their fly gear: Fish the slowest, deepest water; nymphing and sink-tips are a must, but streamer fishing is also a good call; fish slow; fish deep. Midday hours will be best.
Trout and kokanee
Despite the numbers of small bass and perch in Williams Lake, anglers have been taking some of the catchable rainbow planted this year. Some larger trout were also planted this fall to compete with the explosion of smallmouth. Bill Baker, a WDFW biologist, said some large perch were observed there this summer, so this could become a multispecies ice fishery this winter.
Another winter lake, Hatch, was rehabbed in 2020, so this will be the first year of fishing following the rehabilitation. The lake received stockings of a couple of different-sized trout, and good fishing is expected this winter for trout up to 13 inches and possibly larger.
Columbia River reservoirs, Roosevelt and Rufus Woods, are good choices for rainbow trout in December, as well as with catches of burbot and walleye through the winter. A friend who fishes often from the bank at Fort Spokane on Lake Roosevelt said orange Power Bait has been consistently good. He typically catches numerous trout averaging 17.5 inches by casting fairly close to shore into what he estimates is 6 feet of water.
Lake Spokane (Long Lake) has year-round trout fishing. Bank and boat anglers have taken some nice rainbow trout as well as walleye and smallmouth bass. Bank fishing space, however, is limited mostly to turnouts off Highway 291 downstream of Tum Tum or between Nine Mile Dam and the mouth of the Little Spokane River. It can be difficult to find a boat ramp to launch this time of year, with two of the three state launches closed for the season.
The brown trout spawn is over at Rock Lake. They are showing less frequently in angler’s catches, but there seems to be a good population of willing rainbow, most around 15 inches. The public access has been a popular spot to fish from shore with bait.
Northrup Lake is a 2.5-acre hike-in lake in northern Grant County. It can be accessed via Northrup Canyon, which is located near the Northrup boat launch on Banks Lake. This lake provides excellent year-round fishing for rainbow trout and is a good ice-fishery.
The W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area lakes, Blue and Spring, near Dayton, Washington, were stocked with trout prior to deer season this year and should be fishing well. The other lakes on the Wooten are closed.
Just south of Potholes Reservoir in Grant County, Corral and Blythe lakes provide good opportunities for trout anglers. Corral also is a good bass and crappie fishery. To the southeast of these lakes, Janet, Katey and the Sage lakes provide good trout fishing opportunities year-round.
WDFW stocked a lot of jumbo rainbows in North Elton Pond, which opened in late November with a two-fish daily limit. In addition to North Elton Pond, several lakes in Yakima and Kittitas counties receive some large broodstock rainbow trout in November and December ranging from 3 to 10 pounds. These include Fiorito North, Mattoon Lake, Tims Pond, I-82 Pond No. 4, Rotary Lake, as well as Reflection Lake in Sarg Hubbard Park and Myron Lake in Yakima.
Salmon and steelhead
After a few weeks of below-par steelheading on the Clearwater River, fishing has improved. Reel Time Fishing said December can see some of the best catching of the season and is usually the lowest traffic month.
The Snake River and Grande Ronde have also been good for steelhead. Beginning Jan. 1, the Snake River limit on Idaho tags will increase from one steelhead to two.
Patterson and Leader lakes in Okanogan County, Roses and Fish lakes in Chelan County, and Putters lakes in Douglas County have recently been stocked with catchable-sized rainbow trout.
Moses Lake in Grant County, open year-round, is usually a good choice in December for perch. The Walleye bite continues to be good on Potholes Reservoir.
With the falling water temperatures, it’s a jigging game. Fish the humps on the face of the dunes, the rocks around Goose Island, the mouth of Crab Creek and up in Lind Coulee.
Dec. 1 was the opening of the whitefish season on part of the Little Spokane River from the Highway 291 bridge upstream to Chain Lake. The daily catch limit is 15 fish of any size.
The whitefish season is also open on the Kettle River in Ferry/Stevens counties.
In the Yakima River Basin, the two-month winter whitefish season opened Dec. 1 for the following areas:
- The Yakima River between Sunnyside Dam and 3,500 feet below Roza Dam;
- Roza Dam to Easton Dam;
- The Lower Cle Elum River; and
- The Lower Naches River below the confluence with the Tieton River.
Squidding has picked up for pier and boat-based squid anglers in Puget Sound.
Squidders have reported strong catches on the Seattle waterfront, Alki Pier in West Seattle and other central Puget Sound locations in recent weeks.
As fall turns to winter, locations farther south around Tacoma typically see better squid success.
Idaho Fish and Game has offered 1,527 deer tags for chronic wasting disease surveillance hunts. The discounted tags were sold on a first-come, first-served basis starting Tuesday morning at Fish and Game regional offices only. These specialized hunts are intended to gather 775 CWD samples with strict requirements for those hunters who participate. These hunts are limited to Idaho residents only.
Contact Alan Liere at email@example.com
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.