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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Dec. 16

By Alan Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

A fly fisherman in a small boat was observed this week catching numerous rainbow on a sinking line and fly – probably a nymph – by “trolling” slowly with the wind at Hog Canyon. The fish appeared to be about 10 inches long.

The Coeur d’Alene River has a good winter run of whitefish, and you might also catch a trout or two there this winter. Other rivers, such as the St. Joe and Clark Fork, also have whitefish, but the bite doesn’t begin until midafternoon.

Trout and kokanee

Fishing reports from Lake Roosevelt sometimes vary from poor to fantastic on the same day, depending on location. Early in the week, two trollers at Hunters said they couldn’t buy a bite, while three others said they kept 15 trout in less than three hours. On the Spokane Arm and around Porcupine Bay, fishing has been mostly good, usually for trout of around 17 inches. Chartreuse and orange have been the best colors, whether flies, lures, hoochies or jointed Rapalas. Most anglers reported also catching and releasing wild redbands. Shore anglers are also catching fish from Fort Spokane downstream.

When the wind stays down, Rock Lake anglers are catching a lot of rainbow on the north end where the stream enters the lake. Troll slowly with Old Goat lures, Apexes or flies.

The middle net pens at Rufus Woods have been good at times for bank fishermen throwing orange Power Bait. Triploids of 18 to 22 inches are the rule with 3 to 5 pounds the average weight for these fatties.

You’ll not find a better-tasting fish than those from Rufus Woods Reservoir.

The Washington winter lakes – Hatch, Williams, Fourth of July and Hog Canyon – are ice free, and anglers throwing bait from shore are catching fair numbers of trout from all four. Fourth of July has the largest, some over 20 inches, but Hog Canyon also has rainbow over a foot in length. Williams Lake has catchables and some larger trout planted to compete with the explosion of smallmouth. Hatch Lake was rehabbed in 2020. 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.

The Lake Chelan kokanee bite has been lethargic lately, but anglers trolling green Kokabow blades are taking a few fish down as deep as 100 feet.

Pend Oreille rainbow are beginning to spread out and go deeper. The hot surface bite is mostly over, but they will still bite if you can find them.

Salmon and steelhead

Lake Coeur d’Alene chinook are small, but there seem to be a lot of them and anglers are still bringing in a few legal-sized fish each week. They are suspended between 90 and 120 feet, hitting small flashers and hoochies.

Spiny ray

Walleye fishing on Potholes Reservoir is still good. Fish 20 inches and larger are being taken in the vicinity of MarDon Resort.

The Hunters area has been good for walleye. Jigs and nightcrawlers have been effective off the sand flats. Fish deep. Walleye anglers have also done well downriver from Fort Spokane, jigging the humps in 40 or more feet of water.

Hot spots for walleyes in the Tri-Cities area include from the Snake River downstream to Badger Island and from McNary Dam downstream to Boardman. Those with an open boat will appreciate that many of the best spots are within a half-mile of a launch.

Although I think ice fishing is more fun, you don’t have to wait for hard water to catch a mess of Curlew Lake perch. Boat anglers are still bringing in nice catches. When Curlew does freeze, the area in front of the state park will be good. The first safe ice there is usually the best of the season, but it gets pounded early and the fish go elsewhere as the season progresses.

Other species

WDFW has announced 26 tentatively scheduled razor clam digs in January and February, and confirmed that the latest round of December digs can proceed as planned running through Dec. 23. Beginning with the final 2021 digs on Dec. 30, the daily limit of razor clams will return to the usual 15.

“These late-winter digs should continue what’s been a very successful razor clam season so far,” said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager with WDFW. “There were a lot of great digging days this fall, and we’re looking forward to a productive spring season as well.”

There are 15 more digs scheduled for January and eight for February. Not all beaches are open for every dig, so diggers are encouraged to make sure their intended destination is open before heading out.

More and more anglers are fishing for burbot in Lake Roosevelt. Jigging plastics tipped with nightcrawlers or cut bait over rocky bottoms in about 70 feet of water has been the ticket.

Good reports come from the Spokane Arm, Hawk Creek, the confluence of the Kettle River and the confluence of the Colville River. These last three may be fished successfully from shore. The best fishing is early or after dark.


On a bird hunt last week on a windy day, a friend and I found the most pheasants of any previous hunts this year, including opening day.

We saw at least 10 roosters and shot two. The birds were holding tight in woody thickets.

The hunt confirmed my belief that no matter how thick the cover, pheasants will not be in tall grass in rainy or windy weather. I did, however, find a pair of birds in cattails, and blame the wind for the fact my chances for a double are still flying.

Ponds near Sprague and Lamont that are often frozen this time of year are still wide open and usually covered with geese, but while goose hunting has been good, duck hunting has been poor.

There are birds on the Columbia River near Patterson, but not the big flocks usually seen in December. Long Lake has fewer ducks than usual, and even the Columbia Basin around Moses Lake is lacking substantial numbers of mallards. Some ducks, especially mallards, are using reserves such as the Winchester Wasteway, northern Potholes Reservoir and the north end of Moses Lake near the mouth of Rocky Ford Creek. Goose hunting in the basin is excellent.

Contact Alan Liere at

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