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

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Dec. 23

By Alan Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

Silver Bow Fly Shop has this to say about winter fly fishing prospects: “The Spokane River remains one of the very few winter options. This time of the year it is going to be a dredging game, nymphing or streamer fishing … For nymphing, go with stonefly nymphs and attractor nymphs with hot beads. San Juans can be good, too. Streamer fishing will be best with sink-tips and slowly stripping your fly through deeper/slower pools and runs. Don’t expect things to be crazy good, but on the warmer days, a fish or two can be found.”

Chet Allison. president of Spokane Fly Fishers, has this to say about winter fly fishing: “The weather may not be the best over the next month or so, but I have found Rocky Ford to be good for a short fishing and casting outing. The fish are moving slow, the weeds are gone and the pelicans are gone also. Small flies like scuds are productive. I have tried pink or red egg patterns with some success. Give it a try on a day when the temperature is above 32 and not a lot of wind. You may be surprised.

Trout and kokanee

After a slow autumn, fishing for the large Lake Roosevelt kokanee is picking up. As the water level drops to make room for anticipated storage needs in the spring, the feed is drawn down to the lower end of the lake and the kokanee follow them. Anglers follow the kokanee and look for them closer to Keller, and eventually all the way down to Grand Coulee Dam. These fish are focused on feeding on the daphnia, a small crustacean that is on or near the surface of the lake. To effectively put your gear where these kokes are feeding, fish the surface. Because these fish are so shallow, side planers will effectively put the offerings away from the boat so the fish aren’t spooked. Most anglers are launching at Keller and running up the lake quite a distance. One of the places they start is in an area above Hansen harbor known as the Goat Farm.

Anglers trolling for kokanee are catching plenty of rainbow on the same rigs. These fish are spread out in good numbers all over the reservoir. Good reports from boat and shore came in this week from Porcupine Bay, Jones Bay, Hawk Creek and Lincoln.

Ice fishing

Most lakes in Eastern Washington and North Idaho need at least another week of cold weather before they are safe for ice fishing.

In the Idaho Panhandle, several lakes are getting close. These include Round, Avondale, Cocolalla, Fernan, Chase, Mirror, Sheppard, Mirror, Gamble, Twin and Dawson. Of these, Dawson and Round may be good to go by the weekend.

In Washington, most small waters are at least capped with thin ice. Bonaparte Lake has 6 inches of ice. Eloika will probably be ready for ice fishing soon and so will Diamond, Sacheen, Hatch, Williams, Bonaparte, Thomas and Gillette if the cold weather continues. Perch fishermen are anxiously waiting for Curlew Lake ice to become safe out from the state park, but it is only about 2 inches thick.

Other popular lakes for ice fishing in Washington will be Silver, Hog Canyon, Fourth of July, Bear, Waitts, Patterson and Palmer.

Salmon and steelhead

Fishing for salmon will open Jan. 1 in the Seattle/Bremerton area (Marine Area 10) and will be allowed on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays only with a retention limit of one salmon per angler. Chinook minimum size is 22 inches. Other salmon species will have no minimum size.

“This central Puget Sound winter chinook fishery has historically been popular,” said Jake Rice, Puget Sound salmon fishery manager for the WDFW. “The goal of limiting fishing to Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays only with a one fish bag limit is to minimize the likelihood of meeting or exceeding fishery encounter limits prior to the planned closing date of March 31.”

Spiny ray

While walleye are somewhat easier to find on Lake Roosevelt because they have been there longer and anglers have dialed in some of their hiding spots, Lake Spokane walleye have been elusive for many despite a growing population.

The toothy fish are spreading out in the system, but the best success has been slightly upstream of Felton Slough.

Other species

Fishing for legal-size white sturgeon opens New Year’s Day on Bonneville Pool (between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam), The Dalles Pool, and John Day Pool (between John Day Dam and McNary Dam). While Bonneville Pool and John Day Pool will be open daily, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon determined that opening The Dalles Pool only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays should help prevent the fishery from exceeding its quota and ensure conservation goals are met. The Dalles Pool will remain open for catch-and-release fishing on days not open for retention.

Ocean beaches will open again for razor clamming beginning Dec. 30, running through Jan. 5. Check your regulations as not all beaches are always open on the same day. The only clamming with some daylight will be on Dec. 30 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks where the low tide of minus-0.1 feet will be at 3:49 p.m. The daily limit will return to 15 from that day forward.


A few more mallards are showing in the Moses Lake area, but if there has been a big push from the north, they are holed up somewhere besides on public water. The bright spot has been the huge flocks of snow and Canada geese.

The general fall season for turkeys closes in Washington after Dec. 31.

The birds are in huge flocks, often working over harvested grain fields. Eastern Washington bird hunters can still chase pheasants, quail and gray partridge through Jan. 17. Chukars, however, do not close until after Jan. 31.

In Idaho Area 1, forest grouse, quail, chukars and gray partridge are open through Jan. 31. Pheasants close Dec. 31. Turkeys close in some GMUs on Dec. 31 and on Jan. 31 in others.

Also in North Idaho, snowshoe hare and red squirrels are open through March 31. Both may be hunted in Idaho with either a shotgun or a small caliber rifle. Remember that annual Idaho hunting licenses expire on Dec. 31.

Contact Alan Liere at

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