With higher flows this week, good water will be hard to find on the Spokane River. Look for any sort of obstruction that will slow the flow. Silver Bow Fly Shop said double nymph rigs (stones/hot bead attractors/San Juans) will get it done, and so will flashy streamers. Get your flies down, keep them down, and don’t move them too fast.
The Clearwater River continues to be worth trying for swinging a B-run steelhead. The Snake River is also an option and the Grande Ronde if it continues to drop. The Grande Ronde will be better nymphing since it is so cold.
Trout and kokanee
The Lake Roosevelt trout bite can be frustrating at times as the fish are spread out more with the high water. That said, the water is going down again and there have been excellent reports at times, especially from the Keller area where trollers are plying the top 20 feet of water with hoochies and Apexes in orange and pink. I fished with two friends on Monday, launching at Hawk Creek and trolling mostly downriver. Fishing was slow and we only managed five rainbow. Two friends who fished from shore Monday had completely different stories. One, who fished at Lincoln from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., said he didn’t get a bite until after noon. He ended up with two fish. The other friend fished at Fort Spokane about the same amount of time. He caught three fish before noon and none after.
Kokanee anglers on Roosevelt are beginning to catch some nice-sized fish from Keller upstream.
Rivers like the Spokane, Yakima, Pend Oreille and Columbia in Washington and the Coeur d’Alene and Pend Oreille in Idaho have some great brown trout fishing, particularly in winter. Jerkbaits in both the shallow and deep versions work well in low light conditions when the fish are feeding aggressively. The darkest of days coaxes browns to shallow shoals, where they feed on everything from crayfish to sculpin and small rainbow trout.
Anglers fishing dark-colored Mirabeau jigs are taking some double-digit triploids around the lower net pens on Rufus Woods Reservoir. Generally, you’ll find these fish near the bottom in the morning and in the top 10 feet of water by early afternoon. The trout limit on Rufus is two, but sadly this is frequently ignored, either through ignorance or gluttony.
Rock Lake anglers are still taking browns and rainbows. Trollers dragging jerkbaits are doing better than bank anglers at the access using Power Bait or worm and marshmallow “sandwiches.”
Mackinaw fishing has been decent lately at Pend Oreille and Priest lakes. Fish to 20 pounds are being caught near the islands at Priest and from the Green Monarchs south on Pend Oreille.
At Coulee Playland on Banks Lake, Lou Nevsimal said trout fishing on Banks is a thing of the past. The net pen program was terminated three years ago and the fish have all but disappeared.
No one has been trying to ice fish at Eloika Lake, and there is an acre of open water on the south end – possibly more after the big midweek windstorm. Jump Off Joe has ice, but fishing there would be wet and risky. Waitts Lake has 2 inches of rotten ice, but up north Thomas and Gillette lakes continue to fish well, although there is lots of slush. Curlew is getting a lot of attention and fishing for trout and perch has been good. The ice is 3-6 inches thick. Unless you’re going way up high, Idaho lakes aren’t looking good. What little ice there has been is deteriorating rapidly.
Salmon and steelhead
At Reel Time Fishing in Clarkston, Toby Wyatt said steelhead fishing has been good on the Clearwater. A fresh push of fish has entered the river in recent days.
The prespawn walleye bite will commence soon – the best time of the year to catch trophy fish throughout the Columbia River system. A few nice-sized fish have been weighed in recently near the Tri-Cities.
On Lake Roosevelt, walleye have been deep and elusive. Heavy rains have turned the Spokane Arm brown, but I heard of several large walleyes being caught next to the bridge abutments at Fort Spokane.
Fishing for the big Banks Lake whitefish has been good at night from the dike at the top end of the lake and in the bay across from the Northrup launch. These fish are spawning and can be found at depths of from 8-40 feet. Drop-shotting small jigs such as the Swedish Pimple baited with shrimp is a proven technique.
Idaho big game hunters have until Jan. 31 to submit mandatory harvest reports and fulfill a crucial role in the management of Idaho’s big game herds. Hunters can submit their mandatory hunter report online at license.gooutdoorsidaho.com, or by calling 1-877-268-9365.
Hunters wanting to participate in Idaho’s spring controlled hunts for black bear can apply through Feb. 15. Call 1-800-554-8685.
Canada geese in goose management Area 4 have been open Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and special holidays. They will also be open Monday and every day from Jan. 25 to the end of the season on Jan. 31 when the duck season also comes to an end. Geese and ducks in management Area 5 are open every day through Jan. 31.
Washington upland hunters have through Monday to hunt chukars, gray partridge, valley quail and pheasants. In Idaho, these species are open through Jan. 31.
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