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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Alan Liere’s fish-hunt report for March 16

By Alan Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

Nymphing and swinging wet flies are good choices for Grande Ronde steelhead, and the bite has been generally good. Stonefly nymphs are favorites year-round.

Fifty-degree highs will bring the skwalas out on the Yakima River. Nymphing with an indicator should produce strikes throughout the day.

On the Coeur d’Alene River, the trout were podded up last week, but now that the flows are rising they should spread out and the fishing should be fair. There have been lots of capnia stonefies and midges out and some days there has been a short window of fish feeding on dries.

In Montana, indicator fishing will be the way to go on the Clark Fork, but dry fly fishing is just around the corner.

Open water fishing

This is the best time for catch and release fishing for giant Snake River sturgeon in Hells Canyon. Most fish are from 5 to 10 feet with the average size being 7 feet. Catfish and smallmouth bass are also available.

Lake Roosevelt is dropping fast, and both trout and walleye fishing have picked up. Bank fisherman have had some good catches by throwing Power Bait on a slip sinker at Fort Spokane, Keller and Spring Canyon.

The recent 15,000-triploid plants by the Colville Tribe was comprised of trout weighing up to 2½ pounds – much larger than expected. There are still bigger triploids being caught, too, and the walleye fishing has been good.

Although Moses Lake and the Potholes Reservoir are ice-free, the unpredictable weather and strong winds have made fishing tough. By the weekend, things may have settled down and the walleye will start biting.

Kokanee provide a popular fishery in Eastern Washington on Lake Chelan. There was a kokanee derby on the lake recently, and almost everybody came in with a limit.

Lake Coeur d’Alene launches are open and chinook fishermen have been finding fish in the top 40 feet of water by trolling herring or plugs.

Ice fishing

There is still ice on many area lakes, but go cautiously, as the higher daytime temperatures will weaken the ice. It would be a good idea to treat March ice as you treated early winter ice by drilling holes or using a spud as you go to test its integrity. Eloika Lake has good ice in the middle, but it is impossible to access the lake because of open water around the edge at the public access.

The Quincy lakes still have ice, but it is melting quickly . Lakes like Palmer, near Tonasket, and Patterson, near Winthrop, are still attracting hard water anglers.

A report from Sacheen Lake indicates the ice is slushy but 10-12 inches thick, and the perch are still biting at midlake. One angler said he was catching a dozen 8- to 9-inch perch every 30 minutes, and occasionally, a big crappie is iced. For trout, the bay by the launch has been good in about 12 feet of water.

Deer Lake has been good for 3- to 5-pound mackinaw in 60 to 80 feet of water. Successful anglers are using a variety of jigs and lures, such as Swedish Pimples loaded with maggots. Access is at the public launch and at Deer Lake Resort.

Burbot anglers are still finding success at Davis, Bead and Sullivan lakes where the ice is a good 10 to 12 inches thick. The fishing at Bead is not fast, but the fish are generally large. The best fishing for burbot is after dark. Davis Lake has also been good for 10- to 15-inch cutthroat trout and smaller brookies.

Diamond Lake perch fishing has been slow, but many of the fish are a fat three-fourths pound. Curlew Lake anglers using underwater cameras say perch are stacked up in “unbelievable numbers.” Fishing is good.

Most North Idaho lakes have good ice. Best bets for perch are Fernan, Cocolalla and Round.

Salmon and steelhead

Washington fishery managers have developed options for Washington’s ocean salmon fisheries that reflect improved forecasts for some key Columbia River chinook stocks and a second consecutive year of large forecasts for hatchery coho returning to the Columbia River. The public can provide general comments on potential fisheries online at WDFW’s North of Falcon public input webpage.

In February, WDFW suspended salmon fishing in Marine Area 10 to preserve opportunity later in the season. It was anticipated that salmon fishing would likely resume in March, but the observed legal mark rate is still too low to justify reopening. Test fisheries, conducted by WDFW, indicate that any opening of the salmon fishery at current mark rates would exceed the unmarked encounter limit.

Hunting

Wildlife staff in the Idaho Panhandle Region want to hear what you think about 2023-24 migratory game bird season proposals. Some hunters would like to hunt Canada geese through Jan. 31, but duck hunters prefer the season start early and end early. Furthermore, Canada goose hunters prefer seasons that start and end as late as possible but occur at the same time as duck seasons. It is difficult to satisfy these desires with the season structure proposed in recent years. In an attempt to better satisfy hunter preferences for late-season Canada goose hunting opportunity, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is proposing two options for public consideration for the Canada goose season in Zone 6. These are: Oct. 7 through Jan. 19, or Oct. 7 through Oct. 22 and Nov. 4 through Jan. 31. Comments will be accepted through Wednesday. Hunters can review these proposals online and provide input on the Migratory Game Bird webpage. They can also come by the Panhandle Regional office to submit comments and chat with a biologist during an upcoming open house on Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at 2885 W. Kathleen Ave. in Coeur d’Alene.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com