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

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for March 18

UPDATED: Wed., March 17, 2021

By Alan Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

Fishing on the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River has perked up a little bit with the warmer temperatures, Silver Bow Fly Shop said. It’s still predominately a nymphing or streamer game. Fish will be hanging out in the slow, deep pools. The lower stretches of the drainage will be best.

The lower St. Joe River has been productive for early season fishing. It’s also a streamer/nymph game.

Coffeepot Lake has seen decent trout fishing this week with balanced leeches and chironomids. Mornings on Amber Lake have been slow, but the bite picks up in the afternoon. Medical Lake should be ice-free now.

The Clark Fork River is running 41 degrees with fair clarity. The fish are on the bottom and you can find them by bouncing weighted nymphs.

Heads up

Monday was the last day to fish the Spokane River from the Idaho state line to Nine Mile Falls Dam. It will reopen May 29.

Idaho Fish and Game would like to ask that anglers continue to be on the lookout for Floy-tagged steelhead. The University of Idaho, in cooperation with Fish and Game, is in the second year of a multiyear study to look at the influence of catch and release angling on wild steelhead. Anglers who catch a Floy-tagged steelhead are encouraged to remove the tag by clipping it off at the base, and report the tag number and catch location to Fish and Game by using either the phone number printed on the tag or by going to the “Tag You’re It” website at

Trout and kokanee

Trout and kokanee trollers have had poor to fair luck on Lake Roosevelt. A few small kokanee have been taken high in the water column around Keller, but the fishing is not expected to heat up until the water level drops significantly. It is about 20 feet above average for this time of year.

Despite the lack of trolling success, a friend who often hits the Hansen Harbor area from shore continues to bring home limits of 17- to 20-inch rainbow by throwing orange Power Bait from shore. On his latest try Friday, he arrived at 7:30 a.m. and left with a five-fish limit an hour later.

The great fishery on Rufus Woods Reservoir is due to the releases made by the Colville Tribe, and they’re still at it. Last week they put over 1,500 triploids in Rufus Woods, and the average weight of the fish was 5.4 pounds. Toward the end of the month, they plan on releasing nearly 19,000 triploids with an average weight of 1.5 pounds.

Some of the open Seep Lakes near Moses Lake have been producing decent catches of trout. Top producers are Corral, Soda, Upper Goose and Long. Make sure you check the fishing regulations before heading out, as lakes that are open year-round remain open, but others will not open until late April.

Anglers on Lake Pend Oreille are asked to watch for tagged rainbow trout they may catch during 2021-22 and report tagged fish numbers to Fish and Game. Biologists are launching a new research program to study the angler use of the fishery. The study is dependent on anglers reporting where and when they catch tagged fish and whether the fish was harvested or released.

Every reported tag number provides valuable data that helps biologists understand angler use, harvest and more information about the survival and abundance of rainbow trout.

Spiny ray

Eloika Lake is wide open and there were boats on it this week. It seems a little early for crappie. Sacheen and Fernan lakes, on the other hand, still had ice and ice fishermen. Perch fishing was fair. Be extremely cautious if looking for an ice fishing experience from here on out as the ice on most waters is rotting.

Bass anglers at Downs Lake are bumping a few bass, but the good fishing is a month away. WDFW planted 5,000 catchable rainbow in Downs a couple of weeks ago.

Beginning now, Dworshak Reservoir in Idaho will be kicking out some monster smallmouth bass. Last year, Lewiston angler Dustin Shepherd set an Idaho catch and release record with a football-shaped fatty measuring 22.75 inches. The Snake River also generally yields some large smallmouth this time of year, but for the most part, you’re more likely to take big numbers than a record-breaker. Another good smallmouth destination as the water warms is the Grande Ronde.

Lake Roosevelt walleye have been difficult to locate, but a few anglers are having luck with jigs and blade baits in 20-50 feet of water in the Spokane Arm.

Lind Coulee in the Columbia Basin is producing a few decent-sized walleye for those trolling Slow Death rigs or jigging in 30-40 feet of water.

The water temperature on the Potholes Reservoir is on the rise, reaching 44-48 degrees in the sand dunes. The warmer temperatures are already improving the fishing for trout, bass and walleye.

“Several reports of largemouth bass being caught came in this week,” Pete Fisher at MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir said.

“Walleye fishing was fair with reports of catches from the rock humps around Goose Island and the mouth of Crab Creek.”

Other species

Now is the time to catch a Snake River sturgeon, said Reel Time Fishing (208 790-2128), and it is also when these monsters fight the hardest. Between bites, the smallmouth bass action will keep you entertained.


WDFW urges new, prospective hunters to complete hunter education to participate in 2021 hunting opportunities. This is a great time to complete hunter education in time for the spring turkey season.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, WDFW is offering an online course for students at least 9 years old.

Younger students can complete the online course, but they must attend a field skills evaluation before they can become certified.

Because certified volunteer instructors cannot hold in-person classes, WDFW has limited ability to provide field skills evaluations for students younger than 9.

Contact Alan Liere at

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