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

Alan Liere’s fish-hunt report for March 23

March 22, 2023 Updated Wed., March 22, 2023 at 8:38 p.m.

By Alan Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

A friend and I thought we were doing well fishing with bait from shore in a Lake Roosevelt bay. In five hours, we had five big rainbow when a small boat with two fly fishermen crept past us and began casting Wooly Buggers at the back end of our bay. I didn’t watch them the whole time they were there, but in an hour I saw them net and release five trout of at least 18 inches.

Coffeepot Lake is ice-free and trout fishing is decent, Silver Bow Fly Shop said. Standard chironomids and balanced leeches are effective. The lake is down about 4 feet and water at the boat launch is only about 2 feet deep.

Most of Amber Lake is ice-free and fishable. The water is quite low at the launch. Standard early season fly selections such as balanced leeches, larger chironomids, worm patterns or blobs should do the job.

The North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River has been a good prerunoff option for fly fishing. San Juans, Pat’s Rubber Legs and double bead stones should work well, as should streamers like Sculpzillas. Some dry fly success can be had with midges and BWOs. Nemoura and skwala stone fishing should start up soon.

The St. Joe River is starting to thaw, but wade fishing will be challenging due to the ice ledges and snow along the banks. Nymphs and streamers fished deep in slower currents, runs and pools will work best. No dry fly fishing yet.

Open water fishing

Water temperatures in Potholes Reservoir are around 37 degrees and rising and the sand dunes continue to open up. The main reservoir and most of the seep lakes are ice-free.

Walleye fishing has been good recently as they hit half-ounce blade baits and 3-inch Gulp Minnows in 28-40 feet of water.

Big Potholes Reservoir trout are being caught in front of the State Park and off Medicare Beach, but the fishing isn’t as fast as it will be in a couple of weeks. Troll number 5- or 7-ounce Shad Raps or Flicker Shads. From shore cast Rooster Tails or 4-inch curly tail grubs or fish the bottom with Power Bait.

Lake Roosevelt walleye anglers are boating some nice walleye from Porcupine Bay up the Spokane Arm. Jigs have worked best, catching a number of fish over 22 inches. If you go above buoy three, be sure you know where the channel is and go cautiously. Trout fishing has been excellent at times for trollers and decent for bank anglers. It is unusual to catch a fish under 17 inches.

Now and then anglers catch a Lake Roosevelt smallmouth, but warmer water is needed to tap into the good bite.

The same is true for the Snake River.

Lake Roosevelt launches that will still be usable for a while are Hunters, Keller, Kettle Falls, Porcupine Bay, Seven Bays and Spring Canyon. The Fort Spokane launch will probably be out of the water by Friday and the Lincoln launch will probably be out of the water by Monday. Bank fishermen are usually faced with a steep walk to get to the water over soft sand.

Walleye are hitting jigs near the island at Rufus Woods, and some big hens have been caught. Some big whitefish and triploid trout have also been reported by Rufus anglers.

The annual Quincy Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby is this weekend on Burke and Quincy lakes. A few anglers who fished Burke this week reported good numbers of 13-inch rainbow, probably yearling fish from last year’s fry plants. The Quincy Chamber of Commerce will also plant some big trout that will be released just before the tournament.

In the Idaho Clearwater region, good kokanee fishing is expected this year on Dworshak Reservoir, which is loaded with fish. A big kokanee population also results in big smallmouth bass, and already some over 6 pounds have been landed.

Ice fishing

In North Idaho, Kelso Lake has 10 inches of solid ice and a good trout bite. Lower Twin has 8 inches of ice and is still accessible with firm ice around the edges. Spirit Lake ice is also good, and at times the kokanee bite is fast.

Several Washington lakes close to Spokane still retain good ice covers. Best fishing has been at Sacheen for perch and Deer for mackinaw.

Salmon and steelhead

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has the 2023 spring chinook salmon fishing seasons for the Clearwater, Salmon and Snake rivers opening on April 22. The preseason forecast is for 49,291 hatchery adults to return to Lower Granite Dam. Chinook fishing will be open seven days per week on the main Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater and Middle Fork Clearwater rivers, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers, and in the Snake River. Fishing will be open four days per week (Thursdays through Sundays) on the North Fork of the Clearwater River.


The general turkey season in Washington and Idaho begins April 15, but this year, the youth turkey season in Washington runs April 1-7 for all youths under the age of 16 when their license is purchased. In Idaho, the youth season is April 8-14 for ages 10 to 17. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission proposed, and the Idaho Legislature approved, a rule change that allows the take of upland game birds (including turkey) with a crossbow, which took effect July 1.

Contact Alan Liere at

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