Fly fishing will be more challenging now that winter has arrived. Silver Bow Fly Shop said to look for most fisheries (rivers) to be a dredging game. Whether streamer or nymphing, get your bugs down and keep them down. Slower, deeper pools will be key. Lower sections of drainages will be better options with winter weather hitting the mountains and most everywhere this week.
Silver Bow guide Jesse Retan had good fishing with clients on the Spokane River before the recent snowstorm.
Fishing was mostly nymphing, but a couple of fish were picked off in calm water with blue winged olives. The Spokane River is one of the best fisheries in the winter. The water downstream from Peaceful Valley to just before the Bowl and Pitcher is usually good this time of year.
Focus on heads, runs and tail-out. If you aren’t interested in fishing the Spokane, look at Crab Creek or Rocky Ford Creek. Both are year-round and do not freeze.
A stone nymph/egg combo is always a go-to this time of the year for steelhead on the Grande Ronde and the Snake.
The Bitterroot in Montana is a good option for fly fishing as the many springs keep the water somewhat warmer than other rivers. The Clark Fork fishing can be good, though inexplicably erratic.
Trout and kokanee
The old standby Muddler Minnow and flasher are taking a good share of Lake Roosevelt rainbow, but an orange Kekeda Fly is also doing well near Keller and in the San Poil and Spokane arms.
Winter-only trout lakes open at the end of the month. Hog Canyon Lake, northeast of Sprague in Spokane County, Fourth of July Lake on the Lincoln-Adams county line just south of Sprague, and Williams Lake north of Colville in Stevens County all open the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Many fishing lakes in the region are closed, but some waters with public access sites are still open. Two of these are Waitts Lake, which continues to produce nice rainbow and brown trout, and Rock Lake which is providing good action on brown trout. I don’t hear much from Sprague Lake these days, but the few anglers I have talked to say the same set-ups that work at Roosevelt are good for the big Sprague Lake trout. Plunking from shore with worm and marshmallow “sandwiches” can also be productive.
Anglers drifting bobbers and jigs baited with coon shrimp are catching some nice Rufus Woods triploids. Water flow is critical. When Chief Joseph Dam is dumping lots of water, the bite turns on. If the water isn’t moving much, fish close to the net pens.
The Pend Oreille River has rout and spiny ray and is open year-round. WDFW maintains a primitive access site near Ruby Creek, on the Pend Oreille about 15 miles south of Ione.
Salmon and steelhead
If you’re looking for Lake Coeur d’Alene chinook, troll flashers and minisquid at a depth of 70-90 feet over 130 feet of water. Although chinook fishing on Coeur d’Alene has been poor this year, the Carlin Bay area has been productive at times, as has the stretch between Arrow Point and the golf course.
Fish Lake perch are still bending rods in Chelan County. You may have to look around for the schools, but the middle of the lake between the Cove Resort and the old Porters Resort has been productive.
Not many folks have been out fishing Potholes Reservoir this week, but overall, fishing remains good. For bass, fish the face of the sand dunes in 8-20 feet. The rock piles between Goose Island and the face of the dam, and the mouth of Crab Creek have been producing decent smallmouth.
Walleye fishermen are trolling bottom bouncers and crawlers on the humps on the face of the sand dunes around Frenchman’s Wasteway and in Lind Coulee. Half-ounce blade bait in silver, perch or red patterns also do well. Banks Lake smallmouth are also hitting, and the occasional largemouth is also reported.
Coeur d’Alene Lake pike are still hanging around weed beds that have not died all the way down. Look for them in the bays. You’ll also find pike in the Idaho chain lakes, especially Killarney. Hayden is also seeing some pike action.
It’s known in Idaho as the Forestland Trifecta – red squirrel, forest grouse and cottontails/snowshoe hares – and two of the three are open for hunting through the winter. (Grouse may be taken through the end of December.)
The duck hunting has been fair to good on Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake. Mixed bags of widgeon, teal and a few mallards have been reported.
The modern firearm late season for white-tail bucks remains open through Nov. 19 in units 105, 108, 111, 113, 117d, 121 and 124. Success has improved since the Oct. 15 general opener.
They’re not down yet, but the northern mallards should be getting nervous about staying much longer in Canada, as it’s even colder up there. My friend in Killam, Alberta, said it was minus 22 on Wednesday. Generally, waterfowl hunters begin seeing “northerns” around Thanksgiving, but they may be a little earlier this year.
Two friends who hunted pheasants last week in the Palouse said they saw quite a few birds and limited in about three hours. With the continuing cold weather, look for birds in thickets where they can get their feet off the ground. If the day is wet, avoid thick grasses where the birds will be as wet as you.
Doesn’t anyone hunt chukars anymore? Hunting buddies and I had to give it up a few years ago as the Snake River breaks got steeper, slicker and more rocky. I haven’t received a report since this season opened.
Contact Alan Liere at email@example.com
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