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Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Feb. 8

The Spokesman-Review

By Alan Liere
February 7, 2018

Fly Fishing

Area rivers are all on the rise and fly fishing will probably be futile for at least a week. Rocky Ford is pretty much the only option around. As always, you can count on stripping streamers, nymphing scuds or nymphing midge pupa or baetis.

Steelhead and salmon

Jeremy Trump, WDFW southeast district fish biologist, says anglers could see fish moving into Snake River tributaries like the Walla Walla, Touchet and the Tucannon. The daily catch limit in those rivers is now three hatchery-marked fish.

Fishing is extended on the Tucannon River downstream of the Tucannon Hatchery Bridge through April 15. It is closed from the hatchery bridge upstream. Anglers must retain hatchery steelhead caught, but barbless hooks are required so other species can be more easily released.

Fishing for steelhead is still open on the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 at the mouth of the river upstream to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford town site. The daily limit is two hatchery steelhead from Buoy 10 upstream to the Hwy. 395 bridge at Pasco/Kennewick, and one hatchery steelhead upstream of the Hwy. 395 bridge. The Snake River is also open from the mouth of the river (Burbank to Pasco railroad bridge) to the Oregon state line.

Open water fishing

Craig Dowdy at Y.J. Guide Service reports good walleye and slow burbot fishing on Lake Roosevelt, but not in the Spokane Arm which is muddy all the way down. He said he and clients were jigging, blade baiting and bottom bouncing, most recently in 20-70 feet of water. Other walleye fishermen say they are going as deep as 150 feet.

Shore fishing for trout is available at many access points on Lake Roosevelt, from Spring Canyon to Seven Bays to Hunters and beyond, and you aren’t limited to using bait. Catches are also made with small spoons and spinner flies. Check out the video, “Winter Bank Fishing at Roosevelt.” Boaters did better this week than last trolling for trout. The most success has been on orange-colored lures and flies. Most of the fish are 16-18 inches. The lake continues to drop.

Year-round Blue and Spring lakes, impoundments off the Tucannon River on the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County, are both ice free and anglers continue to catch hatchery-stocked rainbow trout in each lake.

Kokanee fishing on Lake Chelan continues to be a good bet, with anglers reporting catches of 12- to 14-inch fish. Kokanee success on Roosevelt is nil.

Fishing for whitefish continues through March on the Methow and Similkameen rivers in Okanogan County with catch rates improving as water temperatures slowly rise.

Priest Lake is mostly ice-free. The macks there are already starting to cruise the surface.

Ice fishing Washington

There is more than one Davis Lake in Washington, but the one five miles south of Usk has good ice and some good trout fishing. The lake also has eastern brook and kokanee as well as a variety of spiny ray. The trout have been coming from about 20 feet of water.

Hatch Lake, southeast of Colville in Stevens County, has been producing rainbows in the 12- to 14-inch range through the ice.

In Chelan County, good catches of perch, most in the 10- to 12-inch range can be found in Fish Lake. Roses Lake is producing 11- to 13-inch rainbow trout. There is a lot of slush on both lakes.

In Okanogan County, WDFW District Fish Biologist Ryan Fortier reports Patterson Lake near Winthrop has featured easy limits of 10- to 13-inch kokanee with many anglers limiting in one or two hours in the mornings. “Perch have been the other large draw with anglers finding success in waters less than 20 feet deep.” Leader Lake near Omak has lots of snow making access from the highway challenging, but anglers are finding success within 50 yards of the boat launch.

The ice at Palmer Lake, also in the Okanogan near Loomis, is not as thick as last winter, but local anglers are still finding the perch as plentiful as ever. Rainbow trout fishing through the ice at Davis Lake near Winthrop and Rat Lake near Brewster has been going well, with catches of 11- to 16-inch fish.

Bonaparte Lake near Tonasket has seen less fishing pressure for its kokanee this winter, with many local anglers electing to make the longer trip to Curlew Lake – near Republic in Ferry County – for its hot perch fishing. The kokanee fishing at Bonaparte can be excellent at times.

Ice Fishing Idaho

A good part of Hayden Lake has open water. Avondale Lake probably has too much water around the edges to reach the thicker ice in the middle, even with a long plank. Fernan is a no-go.

Other species

The McNary Pool (also known as Lake Wallula) is now open for retention of one legal-size sturgeon per day. The fishery extends from McNary Dam upstream to Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River and upstream to Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River. Only sturgeon measuring 43-54 inches from their snout to the fork in their tail may be retained, with an annual harvest limit of two fish.

Every sportsman should try fishing for squid at least once, and winter is a great time to jig for them in Puget Sound. Squid fishing is a fun group activity that is easy to learn, doesn’t require a boat and provides some excellent dining fare. Good spots include the Elliott Bay Pier in Seattle and the Edmonds Pier. Also good are Des Moines Pier, Point Defiance and Les Davis piers in Tacoma, and the Illahee State Park, Waterman and Indianola piers in Kitsap County. More information is available on WDFW’s squid fishing webpage.


Washington hunters must purchase and submit their spring black bear special hunt applications to the WDFW by midnight on Feb. 28. Hunts will occur in specific areas of western and eastern Washington. More information about hunts scheduled on both sides of the state is available on the WDFW website.

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