Salmon and steelhead
Fishing for salmon and 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. The steelhead fishery in the Columbia River above Hwy. 395 targets Ringold Hatchery steelhead specially marked with both a clipped adipose and ventral fin. The upper boundary line on the lower Hanford Reach steelhead fishery is the old Hanford town site wooden powerline towers.
Open water fishing
Rock Lake is an excellent fishery for both brown and rainbow trout. Anglers fishing there from shore on Sunday were catching some 13-inch rainbow, but boaters were waiting for the waves to diminish.
Lake Roosevelt remains good for 14- to 16-inch rainbow for both bank fishermen and trollers. Some particularly good reports come from the Sterling and Lincoln areas.
A few large kokanee have shown recently near Hunters on Lake Roosevelt, but the bright spot for kokanee continues to be Lake Chelan. Ten fish limits are still common from the mouth of the channel at the Yacht Club all the way down to the blue-roofed condominiums. Most kokes are 10 to 14 inches.
Now is the time to catch large whitefish in Lake Roosevelt where they can be found spawning approximately 40 to 50 feet below the surface. Burbot fishing is also good on the reservoir, especially near the mouth of the Colville River and the mouth of the Spokane.
Whitefish are also open through Jan. 31 on the Naches River (mouth to Tieton River) and on the Yakima River (Sunnyside Dam to 3,500 feet below Roza Dam; and from Roza Dam to Easton Dam.) The catch limit is 15 per day and whitefish gear rules also apply here.
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.
Spring and Blue lakes, two of the Tucannon River impoundments on the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area, were still fishable with open water in late December. Neither of these rainbow-trout-stocked lakes ever develops enough solid ice for safe ice fishing, so once shorelines ice up, access is limited.
Ice fishing Washington
Most eastern Washington lakes are now ice-covered and fishable. Newman Lake has crappie, perch, bluegill and sunfish. Sprague Lake is giving up some huge rainbow, but the bite is erratic. Fourth of July Lake is yielding rainbows ranging from 9 to 22 inches. The daily catch limit for trout is five fish, but only two of those trout can be over 14 inches.
Eloika Lake was good to two friends this week, with a frantic perch bite between 3 p.m. and dark, though another friend who fished earlier in the day caught only a few bass. The perch are mostly 7 to 8 inches, but one was measured at 9 3/4 inches. Silver Lake has lots of cooperative perch, but most are 6 inches or less. Bear Lake is reserved for youth under 15, licensed adults fishing with a youth, or anglers with a disability who have a designated harvester companion card. Bear Lake has good ice and some big bass and hefty perch.
Hatch Lake in Stevens County has a five-trout daily catch limit with no size restrictions. Anglers there are catching 12- to 14-inch rainbows through the ice.
Waitts Lake, south of Chewelah in Stevens County, is open for fishing through February and is good now for rainbow and brown trout as well as perch. The trout are suspended at roughly 20 feet over deeper water. The perch are much shallower.
Curlew Lake is receiving rave reviews with anglers pretty much catching as many 9- to 11-inch perch as they want to clean. There has also been a decent trout bite. The best fishing has been in 30 to 33 feet of water just out from the State Park. A vehicle access pass or a Discover Pass is required.
Nice catches of rainbow and brown trout in the 10- to 13-inch range can be made now at three Okanogan lakes: Rat (near Brewster) and Big and Little Green near Omak. Rat Lake fish are in 10 to 20 feet of water, but often suspend much shallower.
Popular ice fishing lakes in the Methow Valley are Leader and Patterson. Leader offers a good mix of perch, bluegill, crappie and trout. At Patterson, anglers will mostly be targeting perch, but there are other species available. Trout are the most commonly caught by ice anglers while fishing for perch, but both trout and kokanee can be caught in good numbers. The kokanee are 10 to 12 inches in Patterson, the rainbow 12 to 16 inches.
Fish Lake near Leavenworth is providing opportunities for catches of perch and rainbow trout. In the same county, Roses Lake was stocked in November with 18,500 half-pound rainbow trout, which will make up the bulk of the catch, but it also provides catches of yellow perch, bluegill, crappie and the occasional largemouth bass.
Banks Lake whitefish fishing has been traditionally excellent in January and the burbot fishing also picks up. Parts of the lake are ice-covered.
Ice Fishing Idaho
Fernan Lake perch in the 8- to 10-inch range are biting through four inches of solid ice in roughly 20 feet of water on both the north and south ends. Anglers there are also catching catfish and bluegills and a few trout and pike.
Avondale Lake is receiving a lot of attention from ice fishermen. Expect a mixed bag of spiny ray as well as rainbow trout from 20 feet of water.
Cocolalla Lake has safe ice on the north end out from the sportsman’s access but it thins after a short distance and appears unsafe. Round Lake is receiving a lot of attention from anglers looking for perch. Upper Twin has approximately 5 inches of ice. Small perch and sunfish are numerous.
Hayden Lake is attracting mostly pike fishermen, but the bite has been slow. A 20-pounder was reported, however. The ice near the center of the lake is not quite thick enough to be safe. Spirit Lake kokanee anglers are finding a few suspended fish near the Maiden Rock launch. Anglers there are beginning to take a few suspended chinook salmon as well. The kokanee at Mirror Lake are only around 8 inches and the bite is extremely light. The trout bite is better, but the ice is marginally safe.
Upper Twin is yielding a lot of small perch, but the bite drops off the closer you get to noon. Ice is good. Medicine, Killarney and Cave lakes have only about 3 inches of poor ice as well as some open water.
It appears Priest Lake will have an ice fishing season this year as the ice is already nearing 5 inches. There is almost 3 feet of snow though, and some of the parking lots were not plowed at this writing.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org