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

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Jan. 6

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 5, 2022

By Alan Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

Rocky Ford Creek was recently stocked with around 600 rainbow trout ranging from 2-6 pounds. This fly-fishing only, catch-and-release fishery can provide excellent winter fishing.

Open water lake fishing

Rock Lake in Whitman County is known for being the best winter trout fishery in the region. Some big browns have been caught there this year.

Trout trollers at Hunters report continued good fishing by running green or orange Kekeda flies with no worms.

Salmon and steelhead

The hatchery steelhead daily limit on the Grande Ronde River has been reduced to one fish. The Touchet, Tucannon and Walla Walla rivers are closed through April 15. Regulatory reach 1 on the Snake River closes to fishing for and retention of steelhead. Regulatory reach 2 reduces the hatchery steelhead daily limit to one.

Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) reopened for salmon fishing on Saturday with anglers primarily targeting resident chinook salmon. Fishing is open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays only with a daily limit of one salmon; wild chinook must be released. Marine Area 13 (South Puget Sound) also remains open daily with a limit of two salmon; chum, wild chinook and wild coho must be released.

Ice fishing

Williams Lake was rehabilitated in 2017 to eliminate illegally introduced goldfish and smallmouth bass. Since then, bass as well as perch have been illegally introduced. Because these fish will eat trout fry, catchable-sized trout were planted in Williams this year. Fishing has been good this winter. To the south, Hog Canyon is good to go.

Hatch Lake, about 5 miles southeast of Colville, should fish well this winter. It was rehabilitated in fall of last year, then restocked with rainbow trout.

Waitts Lake is good for rainbow and brown trout and ice anglers have been catching a lot of them just out from the public access. Waitts can also be a good perch fishery.

Diamond, Jumpoff Joe and Sacheen have been decent for perch. They also have rainbows and browns.

An angler who fished Newman Lake on Friday afternoon said the ice was 4-5 inches thick within about 100 yards of the public launch, but his party caught only a couple of small perch in two hours.

Friends and I wanted to fish for Silver Lake perch on Monday, but the ice was only 2-3 inches thick, and we quickly retreated and drove to Eloika. The ice there was a comfortable 6 inches, but we had zero bites. Jerry’s Landing on Eloika is permanently closed, so the only access area is at the public launch, reached by turning west at the light at Millers One Stop Grocery.

Curlew Lake continues to offer torrid perch fishing out from the state park. Many anglers are icing a lot more perch than I would care to fillet at one time.

Fourth of July and Sprague lakes have 3 to 4 inches of ice, but because of springs, I’ll wait for more ice before venturing out.

The Coulee City Marina at the end of Banks Lake has been good in years past for decent-sized perch, and the ice is probably ready.

Ice fishermen have not found Moses Lake perch at the usual spots around the I-90 Bridge and at Blue Heron Park, but many other lakes in Grant County provide good trout fishing in winter. Corral, Blythe, Janet, Sage, Virgin and Windmill lakes are some. The Lind Coulee off Potholes Reservoir was reported to have 3-4 inches of ice early this week. Perch fishing can be good there in the winter, and the area has yielded some huge channel catfish in years past.

Ice fishing should be in full swing this month on lakes in Okanogan County. Popular lakes include Rat, Upper and Lower Green, Leader, Bonaparte and Patterson. Anglers can target trout or spiny ray.

Roses Lake in Chelan County was stocked in November with over 33,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout which should provide great fishing through the winter months. Bluegill, yellow perch and the occasional largemouth bass can also contribute to this fishery.

Fish Lake, also in Chelan County, has both stocked rainbow trout and perch. The perch population there is robust and provides great fishing all winter long. Kokanee have been planted in recent years.

Antilon Lake can provide some good ice fishing for crappie and brown trout. The road to Antilon Lake is typically gated in the winter at the snow park for snowmobiling, so access is about a quarter mile by foot or snow machine.

In Idaho, Fernan, Cocolalla and both Upper and Lower Twin are ready to go, booting out a variety of fish with an emphasis on small perch. There are some nice bluegill and crappie, though. Cocolalla perch are small, but the trout are decent. Avondale has been slow. Anglers are taking a few trout. Gamble (Gamlin) Lake has been good for decent-sized perch, and so has Freeman. Round Lake is yielding perch and trout. Killarney and Cave probably need some more cold weather to have safe ice.

Other species

The three-month winter whitefish season opened Dec. 1 for the following areas:

  • The Yakima River between Sunnyside Dam and 3,500 feet below Roza Dam;
  • Roza Dam to Easton Dam;
  • The Lower Cle Elum River;
  • and the Lower Naches River below the confluence with the Tieton River.

As in years past, the catch limit is 15 whitefish fish per day with no size restrictions. Anglers must release all fish except whitefish. The winter season closes Feb. 28. Whitefish anglers should target deep pools below riffles and try a small fly, tipped with a maggot for bait. Most river whitefish will range from 10 to 15 inches long. Whitefish can also be found in Lake Roosevelt, the Little Spokane River and the Kettle River in northeast Washington. In January, lake whitefish spawn in groups about 40 to 50 feet below the surface. Banks Lake at the outlet end has been good for 2- to 3-pound lake whitefish, and some up to 6 pounds. Boat anglers do best, but the lake is beginning to ice up.

Lake Roosevelt burbot fishing has been good at the mouth of the Colville and Spokane rivers. Bead and Sullivan lakes in Pend Oreille County also have burbot. They can be caught with plastics, cut bait or nightcrawlers through the ice.

Razor clam digs are tentatively scheduled for digs on evening tides beginning Jan. 14.

Starting Saturday, Lake Umatilla opened for retention of white sturgeon measuring from 43 to 54 inches from their snout to the fork in their tail. Daily limit is one. Paul Hoffarth, a WDFW district fish biologist, recommends sturgeon anglers hit John Day Pool sooner rather than later, as the annual quota for sturgeon in the reservoir is typically met by mid-March.

Reel Time Fishing reports the keeper sturgeon season on the Columbia River near Rufus, Oregon, has been good. Don’t wait as this is a fairly short season. Lake Wallula (McNary Reservoir), with the exception of the upper section of the Hanford Reach, is open year- round for sturgeon, catch-and-release only.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com

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