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

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Feb. 18

UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 17, 2021

By Alan Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Trout and kokanee

Lake Roosevelt dropped roughly 5 feet this week, but is leveling off again at approximately 1,275 feet with little change projected for the next five days. Anglers who fish from shore are waiting for the big drop to commence as the diminished amount of water usually produces much better trout fishing. Boat anglers are not as concerned about high water levels and continue to catch 16- to 24-inch hatchery rainbow by trolling an assortment of flies and lures.

Salmon and steelhead

Late February and March is prime time for the “upper” section of the Grande Ronde for steelhead. This time of year, the fish congregate in a 2-mile section of river around the Cottonwood Creek hatchery. Reel Time Fishing in Clarkston is accepting bookings for guided fishing trips to this area. Call (208) 790-2128. At Boggan’s Oasis, Bill Vail said the Grande Ronde is in excellent shape and steelhead are hitting a variety of lures, flies and bait. Call (509) 256-3372 for current reports and to line up shuttles.

“The (steelhead) fishing is starting to ramp in some of Idaho’s popular terminal waters,” said Joe Dupont, Clearwater Region Fisheries Manager. “The South Fork Clearwater River is just starting to turn on, and upstream of the Orofino Bridge on the mainstem Clearwater River is already fishing well. Fish are also moving into the areas near the Dworshak and Hells Canyon hatcheries, as well as the Little Salmon River, and catch rates should be picking up there soon.”

Lake Coeur d’Alene’s chinook fishery has been on hold since the onset of the frigid weather, but now that it is warming up a bit guides for Fins and Feathers will venture out again. They expect the fish will be deep – 80 to 120 feet down.

Ice fishing, Washington

Moses Lake, Banks Lake and Potholes Reservoir don’t have enough ice to support a safe fishery. At Coulee Playland Resort on Banks, Lou Nevsimal said the lake is ice-covered, but it is too thin to walk on and too thick to break through with a boat.

Bead Lake ice fishermen report some nice catches of big burbot and lake trout. Parking at the public access is limited. Some anglers are parking in the small lot and fishing through the night – usually the best time to catch a burbot.

Diamond Lake has been fair to good for perch and trout running about 12 inches. Waitts Lake anglers are not having much luck locating schools of perch, but the trout fishing for both browns and rainbows has been good in about 20 feet of water just out from the public access. There has also been decent trout fishing at the far end of the lake, but access is limited.

Hoping to disprove the rumors of poor fishing on Eloika Lake, a friend and I tried our luck on Monday near Jerry’s Landing. We caught one 6-inch bass in four hours. There were 4 inches of new snow on top of a foot of clear ice, and it was extremely slippery. The fluffy snow was causing ice cleats to “float” rather than bite in. Eloika has been getting negative reviews by perch fishermen this winter, opinions that have been consistent since last summer.

Sacheen Lake has been one of the best ice fishing destinations in Eastern Washington. Most anglers there are targeting perch in the middle of the first large bay out from the public access in 32 feet of water. The bite tapers off considerably after noon.

I thought Silver Lake would be good to go for ice fishermen this week, but despite the frigid temperatures the wind reopened water that was just beginning to freeze and that open water has been reclaimed by hundreds of Canada geese. Jumpoff Joe has good ice, but there have been few anglers out. The lake should be producing some nice perch and trout.

Trout fishing has been fair to good at Hog Canyon. Fourth of July has larger fish, but the length of the lake makes longer walks common, and despite the cold there has been a little open water showing at times in the middle.

Fish Lake in Chelan County has seen some good perch fishing. Swedish Pimples or tungsten jig heads tipped with mealworms, maggots, nightcrawlers or perch eyes have been good. Pattison Lake has also been good. Start your search in about 25 feet of water. Perch are caught mostly on small jigs or micro spoons tipped with maggots or nightcrawler chunks, but fish eyes are hard to beat and they stay on the hook better.

Bonaparte Lake has good ice and decent ice fishing for kokanee and at least three species of trout. Some large tiger trout have been caught there this winter.

Curlew Lake perch are still biting, but you may need to walk a long way and drill a lot of holes to find them.

There are still some big perch coming from the vicinity of the state park, but a better bite has developed up the lake near Tiffany’s Resort.

This is not a public access area and only those anglers who rent a cabin at Tiffany’s (two-night minimum) have easy access. A friend and his family did just that recently. He said the bite was so fast he didn’t even get a line in the water as he was too busy baiting hooks and unhooking perch for his kids.

Ice fishing, Idaho

Anglers targeting kokanee on Spirit Lake say that even when their locators indicate big schools of fish beneath them, getting them to bite has been frustrating. Mirror Lake has been much more productive for small kokes and is also giving up some foot-long brookies.

Both the north and south ends of Cocolalla Lake have some good perch fishing. Blue and Freeman lakes near Priest River can also be good.

The Idaho Chain Lakes have a lot of open water, and ice cover has diminished this week. Fernan Lake has some ice in the bays and anglers can be seen there, but a lot of the lake is open.

Hayden Lake is getting a lot of attention from pike fishermen with tip-ups. The ice is marginally safe and fishing hasn’t been particularly good.

For the most part, the Idaho lakes above Coeur d’Alene are all fishable through the ice. Gamlin Lake, for example, has about 5 inches of ice, but the bite has been slow.

It has some good-sized perch, but they are notoriously finicky. Upper and Lower Twin have been good for perch. Kelso, Granite, Round and Shepherd are all fishable.

If you’re contemplating a trip to Cascade Lake for a go at the huge perch, sources there say you’d better have a snowmobile as the fish are generally far from shore.

There are snowmobiles available to rent.

Contact Alan Liere at

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