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

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for April 7

By Alan Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

Good fishing is available at Rocky Ford Creek near Soap Lake. There are plenty of 16- to 20-inch rainbow trout in this stream and a few hundred larger (4-plus pounders) that were recently stocked.

Silver Bow Fly Shop said the St Joe is probably your best river option this weekend. All boat launches are open, though Big Eddy is a little sloppy. The best fishing on the North Fork Coeur d’Alene will be lower in the river.

Trout and kokanee

Most Idaho trout lakes are open year-round. The Idaho Panhandle region offers a variety of trout fishing opportunities – some, like Fernan, are well-known; others not so much. Two of the lesser-known trout waters in the region are Cocolalla and Spirit lakes. Cocolalla Lake offers opportunity for cutthroat, browns, brookies and rainbow. Catch rates are highest for 12- to 20-inch brown trout. It is also one of the few low elevation waters in the region where cutthroat trout are stocked.

While Idaho’s Spirit Lake is better known for its kokanee fishery, there is also some excellent trout fishing. Stocked cutthroat trout are growing to 20 inches or more. Trolling a variety of spoons near the surface and close to shore can be quite productive.

Late last month, 23,157 triploid rainbow trout averaging 1.4 pounds each were stocked in Rufus Woods Lake, and more plants are planned in April and May. Other year-round lakes worth trying for trout are Fish and Roses in Chelan County and Banks, Billy Clapp and Long in Grant County.

Amber Lake is producing some nice rainbow and cutthroat for fly fishermen. Coffeepot Lake also has some big rainbow for selective gear anglers, but the water level is low and some places that have been good in the past are inaccessible. Medical Lake is also under selective gear rules with a daily limit of two trout of at least 14 inches, and no motors of any kind allowed. Liberty Lake is seeing decent catches of brown and rainbow trout. As the water warms, Liberty provides some of the earliest yellow perch and crappie fishing in the area. Fishing from the banks of Lake Spokane (Long Lake) continues to be productive for rainbow trout.

Five of the Tucannon Lakes are open - Blue, Spring, Rainbow, Watson and Deer. Curl Lake opens May 28 and Big 4 Lake will not be stocked with fish due to a lack of water.

In Region 2 (Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan counties) the 2022 expected total plant of catchable-size rainbow trout is 346,007 with 77,095 put-and-grow and 4,325 jumbos.

Martha and Upper Caliche each received fall and spring stockings of catchable 11- to 13-inch rainbow trout. Martha will receive another 1,500 in April and Upper Caliche will receive another 1,000.

Quincy and Burke lakes are producing large trout. Catch rates are lower than in past years, but anglers can expect to take rainbow trout up to 19 inches.

Within the Quincy Lakes Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area there are many walk-in lakes that opened last month. Dusty is an excellent hike-in lake for anglers wanting to get away from crowds. Evening fishing along the basalt hillsides can be excellent for brown trout.

Lenice and Nunnally should fish well for trout in the 14- to-16-inch range with some up to 20 inches. Both lakes received 3,000 catchable-sized trout in the fall and will receive another 2,337 (Lenice) and 2,750 (Nunnally) in April. Selective gear rules apply on these waters.

Lenore, just north of Soap Lake on Highway 17, can be excellent, especially along the lake’s north end where prespawn Lahontan cutthroat congregate. Adults of this species average 16 to 24 inches.

Dry Falls, located in Sun Lakes State Park, is a popular selective gear lake for large rainbow and brown trout. Fish in the 16- to 20-inch range are common. The lake is under selective gear rules with no combustion motors allowed. It has a one-fish daily catch limit.

Two spots that opened on Friday and received plants of rainbow trout are Spectacle Lake in Okanogan County and Columbia Basin Hatchery Creek in Grant County.

Salmon and steelhead

Columbia River spring chinook salmon catches along the Lower Columbia mainstem have picked up and fishing is open daily from Tower Island power lines to the Oregon/Washington border through May 5. The forecast of 197,000 adult fish in 2022 is up from an actual return of 152,675 in 2021. For Columbia tributary seasons and other details, go to the WDFW website.

Sekiu/Pillar Point (Marine Area 5) in Strait of Juan de Fuca is open daily through April 30 for hatchery winter chinook. Action is fair to good off the Caves, Pillar Point, Mussolini Rock, Slide area and Cod Fish Bay. Southern Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) is open year-round, and fair for winter chinook around the Tacoma Narrows and Fox Island areas.

You can try for resident coho in Area 13 by casting a fly or spinner, and the fish are easily accessible from shore.

Spiny ray

Walleye fishing will pick up this month at Moses Lake in the Columbia Basin. The lake is getting increased flows from Crab Creek as the local irrigation district turns on the water to the East and West Low canals. The higher flows coincide with the walleye spawning migration into Crab Creek in early April. In the past, 3-inch, dark-colored curlytail grubs on a jig have been successful in catching Crab Creek walleye. Temperatures reaching into the upper 50s back in the Potholes Reservoir sand dunes have resulted in some good largemouth fishing.

Some of the year’s biggest walleye are being caught in the Columbia River. These fish are preparing to spawn and are nearing their highest weight of the year. Spots to try for walleye in the Tri-Cities area are the Snake River downstream to Badger Island and from McNary Dam downstream to Boardman.

Downs Lake largemouth haven’t turned on, but catchable-size trout have been taken. Sprague Lake is seeing a few early bass anglers.

Monika Metz at Sprague Lake Resort said she expects good trout fishing this year. Although Sprague is open for fishing, her resort won’t be open for business until April 23.

Other species

Spring is an excellent time for gathering clams and oysters on Washington waters, but before heading out, visit the WDFW’s Washington shellfish safety map, which has an easy-to-navigate search tool to locate the precise beach you want to view. It is critical to check the shellfish safety map on the date of harvest because water quality conditions can change quickly. Pending tests, tentative razor clamming dates for the Washington coast are April 16-21 and April 29 and 30.

All these will be on morning tides.

The eastern Strait and parts of Puget Sound (Marine Areas 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10) open for halibut Thursday to May 21 and June 2-27 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only, and May 27-29 and June 30, but could close sooner if quotas are achieved.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com

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