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Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Jan. 25

The Spokesman-Review

January 25, 2018

Fly Fishing

The Spokane River is probably best left until the high water subsides. In the meantime, the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River has been dropping. Streamer fishing is the most productive. Use heavy flies and go deep. The St. Joe River is at a good level. Concentrate on the lower river below Marble.

Steelhead and salmon

The Grande Ronde is high and brown. Fly fishermen are using a stone/egg combo, and others are using Corkies and yarn to find a few fish under poor conditions.

Marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gamble), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet) within Puget Sound will all reopen to salmon fishing Feb. 16. Coho and wild chinook must be released.

Ice Fishing Idaho

Avondale Lake still has 6 inches of ice, but there is open water around the edge. Fishing has been poor.

Fernan ice is roughly 5 inches thick, but fishing for perch and trout has been on the slow side. The shore melt seems to be widening and, like Avondale, you’ll need good boots or a long board to get to solid ice. A few anglers have been targeting the middle of the lake for channel cats running 2-5 pounds. The chain lakes are showing a lot of water.

Kelso Lake has 8 inches of solid ice and the slush had refrozen by last weekend. Anglers were taking a few nice-sized rainbow. Round Lake has 4 inches of clear ice near the docks with 4 inches of cloudy ice on top, but it is considerably thinner in the middle. Trout fishing has been good, but the perch have been more difficult to find.

Spirit Lake ice is iffy, but the anglers who are chancing it are catching a mixture of kokanee, chinook, cutthroat and some spiny ray. They say the ice is better in the area known as “The Ice Box.”

Ice Fishing Washington

Ice at many Idaho and Washington lakes firmed up following slushy conditions last week, but with Wednesday’s snow and rain it’s anybody’s guess. A friend who fished Curlew Lake for perch on Sunday said there was no sign of slush. Fishing, however, was extremely slow. After checking out numerous spots between the State Park access and the big island out front, his MarCum fish locator finally found a spot where the perch were stacked from the bottom up for 10 feet in roughly 34 feet of water. He and a friend caught 60 9- to 10-inch fish there in an hour, long after most fishermen had left the ice empty handed.

McGinnis Lake in the Okanogan provides ice anglers a chance to catch brook trout that run 12 inches and up. The bite seems to pick up in the afternoon where fish are found in roughly 12 feet of water. The road into McGinnis has been well-maintained. You’ll need a Tribal License – $10 for one day, $20 for three.

Open water fishing

Two friends and I tried Lake Roosevelt on Monday. Finding the water in the Spokane Arm from McCoy’s up too muddy for walleye or burbot, we switched to trolling for trout, but even this was slow. From Fort Spokane down, four rods took only two large trout in four hours, with both the fish coming off a pink Old Goat Lure. Trollers in the Keller area did much better, with one boat reporting limits for two by noon. Once again, the Old Goat Lure was effective with a trolling speed of 1.8 mph. A report from bank fishermen at Hunters was not very impressive with eight anglers catching only one trout. At Keller Ferry, trollers were doing much better dragging worm-tipped perch-colored flies.

Spokane River trout are a hefty 15-17 inches, and anglers are catching them from shore at Tum Tum. A friend reported limit catches from a dock near Felton’s Slough.

Reel Time Fishing guides have been taking a lot of Columbia River walleye running 18-24 inches. This fishery will only get better as spring approaches. Currently, Reel Time is fishing below John Day dam at Rufus, Oregon and below McNary dam at Umatilla, Oregon. Info: (208) 790-2128.

The Dalles pool is closed to sturgeon fishing and the John Day Pool will most likely reach the state dictated quota and close this week. Sturgeon fishing remains open in the Bonneville pool. Hanford Reach sturgeon fishing opens Feb. 1.

Bead Lake in Pend Oreille County can be good for burbot fishing this month, and mackinaw should also be on the bite. There have been no reports from up there, however, and while the ice is probably thick enough for ice fishing, nothing is certain.


IDFG reports the Sawtooth Elk Zone A and B will continue as general hunts for 2018 sold on a first-come, first-served basis, but commissioners signaled a plan to change elk hunts in the zone to controlled hunts in 2019. Sawtooth Zone tags are capped and they have sold out extremely fast in recent years because demand has far exceeded availability.

Idaho turkey hunters will get an increased daily bag limit for turkeys in the spring to two bearded turkeys, and for fall hunts the daily bag limit will align with the number of tags a hunter possesses. Previously, bag limits were one per day in the spring and one per day in the fall, except in some units in the Panhandle. The application for spring controlled hunts for turkeys runs Thursday through March 1, and information about 2018 controlled hunts will also be online by Thursday. Information will be available at regional offices for those who don’t have internet access.

Washington goose hunters in Goose Management Area 4 can now shoot geese each day until the end of the waterfowl season on Sunday.

Contact Alan Liere at

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