Open water fishing
With the warm days and snow melt, steelhead should be moving into tributaries like the Walla Walla, Touchet, Tucannon, and the lower Grand Ronde rivers. Currently, the Grand Ronde, Clearwater and Snake are giving up a few fish. The Grand Ronde has seen the best fishing.
Walleye anglers were having good luck this week in 40 to 60 feet of water in the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt, just above Porcupine Bay. Bottom walkers with Slow Death hook setups were effective. Most of the fish have been 16 to 18 inches. Lake Roosevelt anglers have had to move around to get their trout, with some of the best reports coming close to the shoreline between Lincoln and Hawk Creek. The Keller area has also been good. No matter where you fish on Roosevelt, stay in the top 15 feet for trout.
Long Lake is producing crappie and perch. Anglers there are also catching a lot of the stocked rainbow trout, which are measuring about 16 inches. Walleye are beginning to show. Rufus Woods Reservoir has some big triploid rainbow trout. Several areas upstream of Chief Joseph Dam can usually be accessed by shore anglers. Boat anglers often launch at the Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp and can explore upstream in the numerous back bays and shorelines.
Walleye anglers on Potholes Reservoir are fishing the humps in the sand dunes for decent success on fish ranging in size from 16 to 24 inches. Blade baits in 30 feet of water are drawing strikes.
Reel Time Fishing reports catching 25 to 35 sturgeon a day on the Columbia River below John Day Dam at Rufus, Oregon. Info: (208) 790-2128. The Dalles and John Day pools are open for 43- to 54-inch keepers while the Bonneville pool is open for 38- to 54-inch fish. All other sturgeon must be released. The whitefish season continues through March 31 on that part of the Little Spokane River between State Highway 291 upstream to West Branch, and on the Kettle River in Ferry and Stevens counties. The 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).
Washington ice fishing
Two friends and I made the 2 1/2-hour drive from north Spokane last Thursday to ice fish for perch near Republic at Curlew Lake. We drove to the State Park down a well-plowed road and parked at the launch area and established our spots over 32 feet of water. The bite was not as fast as I had experienced through the ice at Curlew at different times last year, but it was fairly consistent for 8- to 10-inch fish and one whopper 12-incher. The three of us took home 75 perch and three rainbow, releasing 10 or so of the smaller trout. It was an odd bite – very light – almost like that of a kokanee, and it was imperative to keep jigging. All three of us were using Swedish Pimples tipped with several maggots.
Silver Lake has so many small perch you’d have to sort through 100 to find an 8-incher. It would be a good lake for kids, as the action is non-stop. Moses Lake has much bigger perch, but they haven’t shown up yet in good numbers. The most popular ice fishing location is near Blue Heron Park, just off I-90. Several anglers were on the ice there earlier in the week.
Ice fishing at Eloika last week was extremely poor for a friend. He went back this week and reported catching eight keeper crappie – one of which was 11 1/2 inches long – 43 perch, six bass (three released) and a respectable bullhead.
Striking out during an early morning goose hunt near Coffeepot Lake, friends and I drove the short distance to nearby Upper and Lower Twin lakes last week to try the ice fishing. The upper lake was dumping a lot of water into the lower lake, the ice was thin around the edges and there was open water here and there. We decided not to risk it.
Leader Lake in Okanogan County has had a good perch bite lately through about 6 inches of ice. The Palmer Lake perch bite is also good, best in the late afternoon.
Idaho ice fishing
Bronze Bay on Spirit Lake had 4 inches of solid ice and almost 2 inches of cloudy ice with a lot of slush late last week. Anglers were catching a few kokanee. Near the access at Nautical Loop, the kokanee bite was also slow, but quite a few 14- to 15-inch chinook were showing – they must be 20 inches or better to retain. Check ice thickness often if venturing onto Spirit Lake – or any lake for that matter.
Lower Twin Lake kokanee are substantially larger than those at Spirit. Fish over deep water with a suspended Glo Hook and maggot. Round Lake has both perch and trout. There is slop on top of about 5 inches of ice. The north end of Mirror Lake had 7 inches of good ice near the access last week, but it got much thinner 150 yards out. The lake has had a good bite on rainbow, cutthroat and brookies. There are kokanee as well.
Ice conditions on the Chain Lakes were still fair on Tuesday with 4 to 5 inches on most lakes. The perch bite has been good,but pike fishing has been slow.
Retention fishing for white sturgeon is open seven days a week on the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam until further notice. Anglers can retain one white sturgeon measuring 38 to 54 inches (fork length) per day on that section of the Columbia and adjacent tributaries.
A friend put up three big flocks of grey partridge on Monday in the scabland coulees near Winona. We tried pheasant hunting this area but in four hours of walking in two different spots jumped only one hen pheasant and one rooster. The pheasant, quail and partridge season ends in Washington on Monday.
Ponds south of Spokane are showing some open water. Some of these are beginning to attract mallards and there are a lot of geese in flooded fields. The waterfowl season ends Jan. 28, and in Goose Management Area 4 it is open every day of the week from Jan. 22 on. It remains open every day in Goose Management Area 5.
Rabbits don’t get much attention in eastern Washington but there are a lot of them this year – particularly cottontail. On a recent outing our dogs flushed nearly a dozen. The season ends March 15.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org