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

Alan Liere’s hunting and fishing report for May 23, 2024

By Alan Liere The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

Silver Bow Fly Shop said the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River is in premium shape for this time of year and you can safely fish anywhere you want. Bug hatches have been good. There are still some salmonflies around, and the larger foam bugs have been getting lots of attention on the surface. Pale morning duns, gray drakes, yellow sallies and some early golden stones are also out and about. If the dry fly fishing is slow, hang a tungsten nymph under a foam dry fly and that will get some more attention. Streamer fishing has picked up and small-midsize sculpin patterns have been effective. Flashy streamer patterns work great on sunny days.

Lake fishing is still a good option around the region. Fish have been moving out deeper with the warmer temperatures. Full sink lines trolled or stripped with leech patterns will find fish consistently.

Trout and kokanee

Anglers are taking some big kokanee from Hayden Lake in Idaho. In Washington, Lake Roosevelt is also kicking out some big ones, but the bite of “footballs” at Loon Lake has dropped significantly.

The water level at Lake Roosevelt is holding at 1,280 feet above sea level and most launches are usable. Fishing for trout from shore has not been as good as in other years with lower water, but trollers and shore fishermen are still doing fairly well.

Salmon and steelhead

Summer steelhead season opened on the Columbia River last Thursday from the I-5 Bridge downstream to the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line. Shad season also opened that day from Buoy 10 upstream to Bonneville Dam.

The chinook and hatchery steelhead season on the Columbia River from Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upstream to Beacon Rock will be open Saturday through Monday and June 12-15. The chinook and steelhead season on the Columbia River from Beacon Rock to Bonneville Dam will be open on the same dates. Fishing from a vessel is prohibited.

Salmon fishing in Marine Area 11 will begin June 5, open Wednesday through Saturday each week. Marine Area 13 (South Puget Sound) all waters south of northernmost Tacoma Narrows Bridge is open for salmon under permanent rules.

Spiny ray

The walleye are biting on Banks Lake, and while big numbers are not being caught yet, size is perfect for eating. Look for walleyes on Barker Flats in 20 to 25 feet of water, and the Punch Bowl, which is across from the Steamboat State Park. The sand flats down lake from Steamboat Rock can be productive. Banks Lake smallmouth fishing is also getting good as they are coming onto their beds.

Walleye anglers on Lake Roosevelt were having some success in the vicinity of China Band this week. Most of their fish have been between 15 and 18 inches.

If you’re planning a fishing trip to Moses Lake, take lots of worms. The walleye bite has been good, and catfish, bullheads and some whopper perch are also in the mix. The perch, especially, are adept at sucking a worm from a Slow Death rig. Good fishing is reported by anglers trolling along the weed beds on the east side of the lake in 9 feet of water.

Coffeepot Lake is good for perch and crappie. Bait is not allowed, but a small curlytail plastic is almost as good as a worm or maggot. Other area lakes with decent crappie fishing are Downs, Newman, Sacheen, Bonnie, Hayden, Twin and Fernan. Hauser Lake in Idaho is seeing great bluegill fishing. It also has crappie and some big perch. There is no size or number restriction for crappie on Idaho lakes with the exception of Hayden, where the daily limit is six fish of at least 10 inches in length. In other North Idaho waters, the maximum length a crappie will achieve is around 10 inches. Special rules for making more or bigger fish in these lakes is not realistic. The fish grow so slowly, most would die of natural causes before anglers had a chance to harvest them.

Smallmouth bass are biting on the Columbia River at Crescent Bar, but the water is still a bit cold for optimum catching. A week of warm weather should trigger a more aggressive bite.

MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir reports good fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass and fair fishing for trout and walleye. The crappie and bluegill bite is picking up.

I don’t recall catching a crappie or getting a crappie report from Waitts Lake before, but friends who fished there this week caught a 13- and 14-incher as well as numerous smaller ones. Waitts used to be a good place to catch a mess of 8- to 9-inch perch, but they’ve been hard to find in recent years. The weed beds to the left of the public launch used to be productive.

Other species

The northern Pikeminnow Rewards Program reported the most fish caught last week were at Stevenson, where 28 participants caught 1,328 pikeminnow, and The Dalles, where 179 participants caught 2,729.

Shad are beginning to be counted again at Bonneville Dam. The run is a little late, and the best fishing will be in the coming weeks.

Excellent populations of channel catfish in Washington can be found in shallow water in the Lower Columbia and a handful of smaller rivers, including the Yakima, Walla Walla and especially the Palouse.

Fresh-cut bait like chunks of northern pikeminnow or sucker work best, but add some scent to it to help the cats find it in muddy water.


Turkey season ends Saturday in Idaho. The Washington spring season runs through the end of the month.

Contact Alan Liere at