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

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for March 25

UPDATED: Wed., March 24, 2021

By Alan Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

The North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River is high, but fishing streamers in the soft pockets, back-water areas and eddies will give you a shot at a cutthroat. The lower stretches will be best.

Silver Bow Fly Shop said the St. Joe River, like many places, is getting some low-elevation snow melt but it hasn’t been affected as much as the North Fork Coeur d’Alene. Again, streamers will be your best bet.

Lenore’s cutthroat trout are in spawning mode and are moving in against the bank. Black chironomids should be good for a few weeks.

Trout and kokanee

Friends who fished from shore out of Hansen’s Harbor last week said the trout bite was “nonstop” each morning before the sun hit the water. Unlike previous weeks when a long cast was needed, they said they often had the best bite only 15 feet out from the shoreline where they stood. Most of their fish were 15-17 inches with a few hitting 20 inches. Again, orange Power Bait was the ticket and they noted that hook-ups were more consistent if they left the tip of the hook showing.

The winter lakes – Fourth of July, Hog Canyon and Williams – will close at the end of March. Until then, anglers are still catching some nice trout from all.

Lincoln County’s Coffeepot Lake is producing nice catches of rainbows. Spokane County’s Amber Lake is also productive for rainbow and cutthroat trout.

Rock Lake is a good place to catch rainbows and browns. The north and south ends have been fair, but there is some muddy water and debris where the creek enters on the north end. A report from Old Goat Lures suggests trolling the west shoreline at about 20 feet has been best.

Corral and Blythe Lakes (across the highway from Potholes Reservoir) have been producing keeper-sized trout as well as a few holdovers. From shore, use Rainbow Power Bait and an egg sinker with a leader long enough to keep it above the weeds. From a boat, troll Dick Nites or small spoons behind Pop Gear. Most Columbia Basin lakes that opened March 1 are still providing good catches of rainbow trout.

Kokanee anglers on Lake Chelan are finding fish near 25-Mile Creek from 70 feet deep to the surface in anywhere from 150-350 feet of water. The Chelan Lake mackinaw bite is also picking up.

Spring fishing has kicked off in Lewiston, with 750 freshly stocked rainbow trout at Kiwanis Park pond, some of them quite large. Anglers of all ages are welcome.

Salmon and steelhead

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has approved spring chinook fishing on the Snake, Lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers to start April 24, and run until Aug. 8 unless closed earlier by the Fish and Game director. Because returns of chinook to the Clearwater River are expected to be insufficient to meet hatchery broodstock needs, no season was opened on the Clearwater River.

Spiny ray

Walleye anglers trolling Smile Blades and nightcrawlers on flats around Lake Roosevelt’s Porcupine Bay are catching good numbers of eater-size fish in 25-50 feet of water. An angler fishing 4 miles upriver of Porcupine said he caught quite a few walleyes on jigs, including some big females he released. The fish were in water no deeper than 20 feet. Worm harnesses have been taking Rufus Woods walleyes.

Lind Coulee has been one of the best spots for walleye this spring, but the bite is picking up all over Potholes Reservoir. Fish the rocks around Goose Island with blade baits, Whistle Pigs and drop shot rigs in 30-43 feet of water, or slow troll a crawler with a Slow Death rig.

Moses Lake and Banks Lake will be coming on soon for walleye. The docks are in at Northrup on Banks. The water level at Moses Lake State Park is down and launching has been difficult. This is the time of year the jumbo perch often move into the vicinity of the I-90 Bridge near the state park.

Smallmouth bass are becoming more active above Bonneville Dam. On the Snake River, they are also starting to hit, with some 3-pound fish reported. In Idaho, some large smallmouth have been reported caught at Dworshak Reservoir.

The largemouth bass on Potholes are moving into the sand dunes. Reports are coming in of catches up to nearly 7 pounds with a lot of 3- to 5-pound fish also reported.

Find the warmest water you can; the afternoon bite is much better than the morning bite.

Top baits have been jigs with a craw or swimming trailer in black and blue, hard jerkbaits, swim jigs and chatterbaits.

Other species

Starting May 10, anglers will have an opportunity to catch and retain legal-size white sturgeon in the lower 40 miles of the Columbia River.

The fishery will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays through June 5 from the Wauna power lines, which cross Puget Island near Cathlamet, downriver to Buoy 10 at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Adjacent Washington tributaries will also be open for sturgeon fishing those days.

Anglers may retain only white sturgeon measuring 44 to 50 inches from the tip of their nose to the fork in their tail.

Hunting

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has approved big game seasons for the next two years.

The 2021-2022 Idaho big game seasons and rules booklet will be available on Fish and Game’s website in early April.

Printed copies will be available at Fish and Game offices and license vendors in late April or early May.

There have been some major changes.

Turkeys are moving out of their winter ranges and have become more conspicuous this week.

Some are beginning to fan and may be hot by the April 15 general opener.

The youth-only season in Washington is April 3 and 4.

A lot of jakes have been seen in the William T. Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia and Garfield counties, and the woods north of Spokane are coming alive. In Idaho, the youth-only season is April 8.

It would be difficult to go anywhere in the Idaho Panhandle and not at least hear turkeys.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com.

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