Salmon and steelhead
WDFW is rescinding emergency rule changes on the Grande Ronde, Walla Walla, and Touchet rivers that limited steelhead retention to two hatchery fish. Beginning Thursday, the daily limit for hatchery steelhead in those rivers will increase to three fish, as listed in the 2017-18 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.
Another change to the steelhead regulations affects the Tucannon River downstream of the Tucannon Hatchery Bridge. The season for all game fish including steelhead has been extended through April 15 and the limit has been increased to three hatchery steelhead. Mandatory hatchery steelhead retention is required and all other species must be released.
Ice fishing Washington
Every time the temperature drops and it looks as if the ice fishing season might be extended, it rains. Or blows. Or temperatures rise into the mid 40s. This week is more of the same. Some lakes in Washington and Idaho are definitely out of commission, others are “iffy.” It’s a day-to-day consideration.
Eloika Lake ice is inaccessible from the public access, and further north on the lake at Jerry’s Landing you’ll probably need a board to get from shore to firm ice. Friends who fished there two different days this week said fishing was fair, but everything was pretty small. Crappie have been biting, however, and some are the legal 9 inches. The ice is a good 7 inches in the middle.
Silver Lake perch haven’t got any bigger and there has been little participation. If you’re interesting in filling a five-bucket with 5-inch perch, this is the place to do it.
Waitts Lake has good ice. Anglers out of the public access as well as Waitts Lake Resort (Teal’s Resort) are finding some nice rainbow and browns but the bite is slow. The perch fishing has been better at Waitts Lake Resort where there is a $5 parking fee.
Curlew Lake retains its ice longer than most lakes at lower elevations, and the perch fishing remains good on most days. A friend who fished there 1 1/2 days last weekend came home with more than 200 fish of 9-12 inches. That many perch is more than I want to clean, and the flesh from one Curlew Lake perch equals about what you would get from three Eloika Lake fish. For me, 20 perch an outing is about right.
Moses Lake has too much ice to launch a boat but one big wind could open it up. No one is fishing. Nearby, Potholes Reservoir is open all the way to the mouth of Winchester Wasteway. Blade baits are taking walleye, but the bite is inconsistent. Some anglers fishing for trout from shore with Power Bait and worms at Perch Point have recently taken trout running 18-24 inches.
Summit Lake in the Okanogan on the Colville Indian Reservation is producing some beautiful brook trout of 12-17 inches for anglers willing to buck some heavy snow to get there from the road. Orange jigs tipped with maggots or piece of worm are effective.
Ice fishing Idaho
Mirror Lake ice is still fishable. Anglers are catching both trout and kokanee and say depth is critical. Generally, the kokes are in about 25 feet of water and the trout shallower.
Lower Twin ice is iffy, but those still risking it are finding a few trout and perch. Cocolalla Lake ice is getting bad also and a plank is needed to bridge open water around the edges. The perch are small. The ice at Round Lake was safe at this writing and a few trout are being caught.
Spirit Lake ice remains stable but soft around the edges. Anglers are beginning to take quite a few kokanee. You’d best stay off the ice on Fernan Lake, however.
Open water fishing
Sprague is wide open on the east end but has some ice yet on the west end. When I was out there on Tuesday the wind was blowing up whitecaps and I should think the whole lake will be ice-free soon. Nearby, Fourth of July lake is wide open and launching a car topper is possible. Fourth of July should have a lot of large trout as there weren’t many taken during the short ice fishing season. The turnout to the lake is easy to miss. It is two miles south of the town of Sprague on Highway 23.
A stop at Rock Lake on Tuesday confirmed the water is up enough to launch a larger boat. Fishermen just coming in said they did very well, catching limits of rainbow and a couple browns by trolling Rapalas roughly 10 feet down.
Walleye fishing on Lake Roosevelt has been better at times than the trout fishing and the afternoons have been best lately. Blade baits cast into 35 feet of water are bringing strikes. A few – very few – large kokanee are reported each week now that the lake is dropping. Those caught have been on the surface.
Trout fishing on Lake Roosevelt has been best lately from Sterling down. Two friends fishing from shore with orange Power Bait near Hansen Harbor on Tuesday found a decent bite, taking 10 16-inch rainbow in roughly four hours.
Y.J. Guide Service’s Craig Dowdy has been searching for walleye in the Columbia River out of Kennewick. He said high winds have hampered the fishing and the big walleye are still a couple of weeks out. Dowdy also says the Spokane Arm remains muddy and finding a burbot is nearly impossible. At the confluence of the Spokane Arm, however, walleye anglers are finding clearer water and decent walleye fishing for “eaters.”
Lake Chelan kokanee are still cooperating for trollers below the State Park. A different lure and a shallower presentation will also bring cutthroat to the net.
Near Pasco and Buoy 30, walleye anglers report good fishing and say the most of the fish caught are between 18-20 inches out of 35-40 feet of water.
The whitefish spawn is about over on Banks Lake and they are more difficult to catch than they were two weeks ago. A few walleye are coming in. The bright spot on Banks is the rainbow fishing, where trollers are taking 14- to 15-inch fish between 5-30 feet down. Over the hill, Rufus Woods triploids are biting below the upper net pens. Several fish over 5 pounds have been landed recently.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org