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

Alan Liere’s hunting and fishing report for Feb. 8, 2024

By Alan Liere The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

The annual International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) will return Feb. 16 to Spokane’s Bing Crosby Theater. Hosted by Spokane Riverkeeper and sponsored by the Silver Bow Fly Shop, it will be an evening of fishing films and some great raffle prizes. All proceeds go directly to the Spokane Riverkeeper and its efforts to protect the Spokane River. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins an hour later.

For a fly fishing fix, it is Rocky Ford time with all the other local rivers out of shape. Rocky Ford patterns typically included scuds, midge pupa, and other small mayfly types of nymphs.

The middle net pens closest to the mouth of Nespelem Creek on Rufus Woods Reservoir have been attracting fly fishermen who are taking some big triploids.

Ice fishing

Curlew Lake has become a little less likely to yield the huge catches of perch that were common late in January. Although there is plenty of ice and not much slush, anglers who are not on the lake at first light are sometimes going home skunked. A friend and his family fished there last weekend and caught 16 nice perch, but he said he probably drilled 70 holes as he searched for concentrations of fish. Even when he found them, they didn’t stay around long. Successful anglers were going north of the big island at the state park and fishing in 50 feet of water.

Ice fishing is an iffy proposition at area lakes. Most have open water around the edges, but some anglers are using boards to access the solid ice, which is generally 3-6 inches thick. Sacheen and Eloika are among these, but the lakes up north like Thomas and Bonaparte still have good ice all the way to the bank.

Banks Lake ice fishermen are finding 6 inches of ice and some decent lake whitefish on both ends of the lake.

Open water fishing

Most of the trout fishing action on Lake Roosevelt is in the lower third of the reservoir. To check the condition of boat launches, call the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area at 509-754-7800. All launches are usable.

Anglers fishing bait on the bottom are catching a few of the 3- to 4-pound Rufus Woods triploids. The fishing has been generally slow.

Many sections of the Columbia and Snake rivers in south-central Washington hold large walleye and smallmouth bass populations. Winter is usually a slow period for walleye compared to summer, but the ones caught are often larger. Ideal spots for winter walleye in the Tri-Cities area include the Snake River downstream to Badger Island and from McNary Dam downstream to Boardman.

Fishing for mountain whitefish is growing in popularity. While the whitefish season is year-round on Lake Roosevelt, it ends at the end of February on the Little Spokane River, the Kettle River in Ferry County, as well as the Methow, Similkameen, Entiat and Yakima rivers.

A few anglers are trolling for kokanee on Hayden Lake. Most of the fish caught are around 14 inches.

The boat ramps on Lake Coeur d’Alene are all open, and Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers said the chinook fishing is decent. “You’re probably not going to catch a 20-pounder now,” he says, “but they’re in there. A more typical catch of six salmon would give you perhaps three legals of 3-4 pounds.”

Smith added that the fish are “all over the place” rather than at any particular depth. Some are being caught at 100 feet, but herring on top might also bring a strike.

Smith also said that northern pike bait fishermen are catching fish in bays like Blue Creek, Wolf Lodge and Harrison. A 35-pounder has been weighed in this spring. Cougar Bay still doesn’t have enough water for fishing.

Salmon and steelhead

February is the start of peak fishing season for wild winter steelhead in Western Washington.

Highlights include catch and release fishing on the Skagit and Sauk rivers and opportunities for both hatchery and wild steelhead on rivers in the coastal, Willapa Bay and lower Columbia regions; from the Bogachiel and Sol Duc to Willapa, Naselle and Lewis rivers. Fishing remains closed in Grays Harbor and Chehalis Basin rivers. Steelhead fishing will also pick up this month on the Cowlitz River. Fishing for hatchery steelhead remains open through Feb. 15 in numerous terminal areas near hatcheries.

Other species

Razor clam diggers can look forward to more digging on coastal beaches. “This next tide series will provide us with some daylight digging days since the first few low tides occur before or just after sunset,” said Bryce Blumenthal, a WDFW coastal shellfish biologist. “That will be followed by the lowest tides of the month, so there should be plenty of opportunity to get clams on the table for the Super Bowl.”

Not all coastal beaches are open for every dig, so diggers are encouraged to make sure their intended destination is open before heading out. The following digs during afternoon and evening low tides (noon to midnight only) will proceed as scheduled, after marine toxin results from the Washington State Department of Health showed razor clams are safe to eat:

Thursday, 5:26 p.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

Friday, 6:09 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Saturday, 6:49 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Sunday, 7:29 p.m.; -1.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

Monday, 8:08 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Long Beach, Copalis

Other tentative dates will be Feb. 21-25 during evening low tides.

All of Puget Sound has closed to crabbing until summer, but you can still crab along the coast. At Ilwaco, Westport/Grays Harbor, La Push, and Neah Bay west of the Tatoosh-Bonilla line, crab pots are allowed through Sept. 15, and all other crab gear other than pots is open year-round. The Columbia River area is open year-round for all gear. At Tokeland/Willapa Bay crab pots are allowed through Sept. 15, and all other crab gear other than pots is open year-round and there’s been some nice crab caught lately, even off the docks.

Hunting

While most big game hunting seasons are over for the winter, there are still some small game seasons open such as for bobcat, fox, raccoon, cottontail and snowshoe hare.

All of the above close on March 15 in Washington.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com