Area rivers are coming back into shape following last week’s rains. Fish deep in slow currents with streamers or nymphs. Rocky Ford is a good winter option.
Salmon and steelhead
Despite the fire, Boggan’s Oasis on the Grande Ronde is taking reservations for steelhead shuttles. They can accept only cash or check. Contact: (509) 256-3372. The river is falling back into shape.
Steelhead anglers on the Clearwater River have had some good fishing. Fishing on the lower Snake River continues to provide catches of hatchery-marked fish of less than 28 inches.
Fishing for steelhead is once again open on the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 at the mouth of the river upstream to the Hwy 395 Bridge near Pasco, and from there upstream to the old Hanford town site wooden powerline towers. Anglers have a one-fish limit and can only keep steelhead that have both adipose and ventral fins clipped. Likewise, Lake Umatilla (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam) is open for the harvest of hatchery steelhead with a one steelhead daily limit.
Trout and kokanee
Randy Osborne, WDFW central district fish biologist in Spokane, reports that opening day fishing on Fourth of July Lake was moderately slow, but he expects catch rates to improve on the thousands of catchable-size rainbow trout the lake supports. He notes that water levels are high enough now to allow small craft to launch at the end of the road. Be aware that the edges could freeze anytime now.
Brian Walker, WDFW northeast district assistant fish biologist, reports opening day fishing at Hatch Lake was good, but catches are taking a little more effort. “Hatch is producing fat rainbows running around 11 to 14 inches in length,” Walker said. “But anglers have to work a little more for them now.” Once again, ice could be a problem.
Rainbow trout fishing has been fairly productive at Lake Spokane. Fish up to 19 inches have been reported. Popular shore fishing spots include the Washington Department of Natural Resources-managed properties and turnouts downstream of Tum Tum, where anglers need a Discover Pass.
Rock Lake anglers report the fishing for trout has been good, particularly at the far end. Husky Jerks have taken some large browns recently. There have also been a lot of small, pesky rainbow planters caught, however.
Fishing at Lake Roosevelt was slow last week for some reason with both trollers and bank fishermen having a hard time catching trout. A friend who fished from shore near Hansen’s Harbor this week said the reservoir is near full pool. He caught a limit of 14- to 15-inch rainbow in four hours.
Two Tucannon River impoundments on the Wooten Wildlife Area – Blue and Spring lakes – remain open and have been providing catches of stocked rainbow.
Roses Lake in Chelan County recently received about 15,000 catchable-size rainbow, which should provide a consistent winter trout fishery. Fish Lake, also in Chelan County, is popular for both rainbow trout and perch.
Lately, Rufus Woods Reservoir has seen the best fishing in the afternoon. Several 5-pound triploids were caught at Brandts Landing this week.
Anglers are currently catching fat kokanee up to 14 inches on Lake Chelan, but the fishing has not been fast.
Anglers will find good fishing for perch in Ferry County’s Curlew Lake during December when the ice reaches a safe level. Even without an ice cap, nice-sized perch can be caught from shore at the State Park and practically anywhere else that is accessible.
Once ice becomes safe, some year-round lakes in the Spokane region should also produce decent perch fishing through the ice. Silver Lake has a good perch population, as does Eloika Lake – where the fish will be slightly larger.
Banks Lake walleye anglers found good fishing for large fish last week with the best fishing being after dark.
Anglers don’t typically catch as many walleye in winter as during the summer months, but the fish they do catch are often much larger. Hot spots for winter walleyes in the Tri-Cities area include from the Snake River downstream to Badger Island and from McNary Dam to Boardman. Some of the best spots are within a half-mile of the boat launches.
A friend using blade baits has done fairly well on walleye recently on Potholes Reservoir.
Dec. 1 marked the opening of whitefish season on the Little Spokane River between State Highway 291 upstream to West Branch. Daily catch limit is 15 fish of any size, but whitefish gear rules apply (one single-point hook, maximum size 3/16-inch point to shank – hook size 14). Whitefish fishing under the same rules has been underway on the Kettle River in Ferry/Stevens counties since the first of November.
Banks Lake is a great choice for anglers in search of lake whitefish. There’s no size limit and up to 15 whitefish can be taken daily.
The Yakima River Basin two-month winter whitefish season opened on Dec. 1 on the Yakima between Sunnyside Dam and 3,500 feet below Roza Dam. The lower Cle Elum and the lower Naches rivers also opened on Dec. 1. The winter whitefish season closes on Jan. 31.
Fishing for whitefish on the Methow River has closed for the year due to the possible impact on steelhead listed for protection. The whitefish season in the Methow River from Gold Creek to the Twisp River has a high steelhead encounter rate.
Retention fishing for sturgeon is currently closed on John Day Reservoir and Lake Umatilla (McNary Reservoir), but catch-and-release fishing is allowed. Lake Umatilla will reopen for sturgeon retention on Jan. 1, and Lake Wallula will open for retention on Feb. 1.
Reel Time Sports out of Clarkston notes they will be running sturgeon charters below John Day Dam when the season there opens on Jan. 1. Typically, the fishing is excellent with a mixed bag of over-sized and keeper fish. Info and reservations: (208) 790-2128.
After a good November start, duck hunting has slowed considerably in the Moses Lake area with hunters averaging less than a duck per trip. Goose hunting, however, remains excellent. Further west, there have been some good duck days on the Columbia River.
Returning from a whitetail hunt in Alberta last week I was surprised to see vast numbers of waterfowl in the fields between Tabor and Lethbridge. The area, which should have been frozen and snow covered, was wide open and it would appear the migration to the south is temporarily on hold.