The St. Joe River is on the high side of fishable and has begun to come up again. Skwalas have been the No. 1 game recently and March Browns are starting to turn on as well. The North Fork Coeur d’Alene seems to have plenty of cutthroat. March Brown mayflies are hatching in the afternoon.
Silver Bow Fly Shop said Amber, Medical and Coffeepot have had mixed reports. A balanced leech under an indicator is doing best and chironomids are starting to kick on at Amber.
Reader Ray Kranches, who fished Rocky Ford this week, said the trout were nowhere to be seen. He wondered if the 25 pelicans he saw were responsible, as he saw one take a 16-inch rainbow.
Orvis is offering free fly fishing clinics throughout the United States at Orvis retail locations and many of their authorized dealers. Locations are listed at Orvis.com/flyfishing101. For the 2019 season, classes will be offered from May through July. Students are guaranteed individualized instruction on all the basics.
Salmon and steelhead
Chinook fishing in Idaho will open Saturday with a two-day-a-week season on the Clearwater River and a four-day-a-week season on the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. The season will run until sport anglers’ shares of the harvest are met (which varies by river) or Aug. 11 – whichever comes first. There are few chinook in the rivers now. The Upper Snake River in Hells Canyon will not have a chinook season this year.
Trout and kokanee
Trout fishing in Washington reaches full speed Saturday when hundreds of lowland lakes – stocked with millions of fish – open for a six-month season. A lot of Spokane-area lakes have either been open all winter or since March 1, so lakes such as Bear, Deer, Waitts, Jump-Off Joe, Liberty, Diamond and Sacheen, though not technically opening for the first time, should have good fishing, as most were planted last fall with fish that are now catchable size. Many of these lakes have also been planted with “jumbo” trout weighing over 3 pounds. Liberty has received an additional 5,000 catchables averaging just less than a half pound. Other opening day lakes such as Fishtrap, Loon and Clear have all received substantial plantings of jumbos.
As noted in last week’s column, Badger and Williams lakes in Spokane County will provide some of the best opening-day action, and newly rehabilitated West Medical should also be good. Sprague Lake is open year-round, but seems to be getting better each week. Trollers report trout up to 4 1/2 pounds, and all put on a good aerial show when hooked. Long-lined plugs have been effective lately. Coffeepot Lake is giving up some big rainbow. A friend who fished there recently caught several trout over 18 inches.
In Adams County, lakes that open Saturday include Bobcat Creek Ponds, Coyote Creek Ponds, Deadman Lake, Halfmoon Lake, Hays Creek Ponds, Hutchinson Lake, McManamon Lake and Shiner Lake.
In Grant County, the list includes North Teal Lake, which is expected to be good for decent-sized rainbow trout. Both boat and shore fishing are available there with a gravel launch suitable for small boats. Both of the Hampton lakes should also offer good opportunity for 12-inch and longer rainbows. Dry Falls Lake on the north end of Grant County near Coulee City is expected to have some of the best fishing on the April opener. The lake is under selective gear rules with no combustion motors allowed. With a one-fish daily catch limit, there’s a lot of catch-and-release fishing available. Rainbows in the 14- to 16-inch range are common at Dry Falls, but there are also some nice brown and tiger trout. Lenice Lake, also in Grant County, has received 2,260 trout weighing fourth-tenths of a pound each.
Two Okanogan County lakes open Saturday: Spectacle just south of Loomis and Washburn Island Pond, a diked lake off the Columbia River near Fort Okanogan State Park due east of Brewster off Highway 17. Ryan Fortier, WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist, said Spectacle boasts some large rainbows. “Anglers can usually expect to catch rainbows in the 10- to 14-inch range,” he said, “while Washburn has largemouth bass, bluegill and the occasional channel catfish.” Pearrygin Lake near Winthrop, Conconully Lake and Reservoir within the town of Conconully, Alta Lake just west of Pateros and Wannacut Lake, near Oroville, will also be good.
In Chelan County, the top prospect is Wapato Lake, about 2 miles north of Manson. It is known as a consistent producer of fat, feisty rainbow trout.
In Douglas County, Travis Maitland, WDFW district fish biologist, said Jameson Lake has good-sized carryover rainbow trout from last year available.
Also in Douglas County, the lakes around Rock Island have received their plants for the spring, each receiving plants of rainbow ranging from one-half pound to nearly 2 pounds. Big Bow received 2,000. Hammond Lake got 1,600. Putters Pond received 2,100 and the Pit Pond juvenile lake had 1,000 planted. Plenty of other trout are being planted throughout Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan and Grant counties.
Fishing for the big smallmouth bass at Dworshak has fired up as the fish move into the creek mouths and flats to spawn. Target these fish with crank baits or soft plastics.
Moses Lake is waking up and anglers are taking some nice-sized smallmouth by tossing crankbaits into 10 to 12 feet of water. Potholes Reservoir walleye are starting to bite.
Walleye anglers jigging with plastics showing a lot of chartreuse are catching fair numbers of walleye in the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt between Buoy one and Buoy five. Trollers are also catching fish in the Arm on worm harness rigs in blues and yellows. Most fish are in 18 to 45 feet of water.
A friend reports that Eloika Lake crappie are biting and he is taking 10-fish limits over the 9-inch minimum. Crappie are also biting at Hayden Lake, which has a 10-inch minimum and fish over a foot in length. Friends caught their six-fish limits there on Tuesday.
The Burbot bite is still good on Lake Roosevelt and anglers have done best in the main lake. An angler at Sullivan Lake reported catching several burbot, one weighing 9 pounds.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org
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