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Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Feb. 20

UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 19, 2020

Alan Liere writes the weekly fishing and hunting report for The Spokesman-Review. (The Spokesman-Review / SR)
Alan Liere writes the weekly fishing and hunting report for The Spokesman-Review. (The Spokesman-Review / SR)

Fly fishing

If you’re fishing the Spokane River, look for slow currents in the broader stretches and fish the pockets along the bank. Silver Bow Fly Shop said tan sculpin pattern streamers have been good and nymphing, too, with hot beaded Pat’s Nymphs.

Fourth Of July Lake is ice-free and fly fishermen have had some good days, catching large trout by casting balanced leeches and chironomids.

Trout and kokanee

Priest Lake still has a lot of snow, but the lake is ice-free and the mackinaw bite is fast for 2- to 5-pound fish. White plastic jigs or drop-shot presentations near the bottom have both been effective. Fish this size make excellent eating.

Trollers haven’t done as well on Lake Roosevelt as bank fishermen, probably because of the cold water and the trout’s reluctance to chase a lure or fly. Anglers throwing Power Bait are picking up fish at favorite spots like Lincoln, Spring Canyon and the swimming beach at Fort Spokane. The bites usually come in bunches as the fish move through in schools. If in a boat, a good technique is to run up on a sandy beach and fish Power Bait from the back.

Rock Lake browns and rainbows are running mostly a pound or so, but it is not unusual to catch either up to 5 pounds. Anglers fishing a perch-colored broken back Rapala said they did well on the south side of the lake fishing close to shore and casting toward the rock walls. A fast retrieve seems to get the most hits.

Salmon and steelhead

Steelhead have spent most of the winter holed up in deep water waiting to make their final push upstream. This push concentrates them in the upper tributaries of the Clearwater and Salmon rivers. By keying in on those areas, anglers have an opportunity to catch these large oceangoing fish.

Spiny ray

Walleye fishing on Lake Roosevelt is picking up at Kettle Falls, Fort Spokane, Lincoln and Seven Bays. Anglers dragging jigs, drop-shotting or ripping blade baits are putting some decent-sized walleyes in the boat. Lake Roosevelt water level is at about 1,267 feet above sea level and dropping slowly. All major launches are usable, but Jones Bay probably has only about another week.

Flows and water levels in Rufus Woods have been particularly erratic this year, making the fishing tough. Anglers are finding a few eating-size walleye bouncing jigs in deep water.

Late February and March mark the prespawn bite of walleye on the Snake and Columbia rivers, and this is the time of year when the largest fish are caught. As the water begins to warm, the females make their way into the shallow flats. Crankbaits, jigs or worm harnesses all bring good results.

Walleye are just starting to bite on Potholes Reservoir. Blade baits are the way to go. Productive spots have been the area about halfway between the state Park and the mouth of Crab Creek, and also the humps at the east end of Medicare Beach.

Ice fishing

There is still good ice on Pend Oreille Chain Lakes. Crappie have been reported at Thomas and on Gillette, where there was 18 inches of ice last weekend, fishing for perch and trout has been off and on. Coffin lake, in the Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, 3 miles south of the Chain Lakes, is said to offer the best fishing with multiple species.

Frigid night temperatures have further confused the ice fishing situation in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Just when it looked as if any chance to ice-fish was over, some lakes are firming up. Sacheen has good ice and fishing for perch and trout has been fair to good this week. There have been no reports from Diamond Lake or Jump-Off-Joe, but ice there should be good.

A friend fishing through 4 inches of ice at Waitts Lake on Tuesday said every trout he caught was over 18 inches long and the bite was consistently good, though the fish would hit nothing but yellow corn. He drilled his holes straight out from the public access but said the other end of the lake had open water.

A few anglers were on the ice at Eloika this week, fishing just out from Jerry’s Landing. The ice at midlake is almost 9 inches thick. A friend who lives on the lake just north of Jerry’s Landing noted that the ice along the shore was not nearly as thick and few perch were being caught.

Curlew Lake still has good ice at the state park, but this is the time of year the perch fishing dies off. The trout fishing, however, keeps plugging along. The last good perch report was two weeks ago.

The freeze/thaw/freeze cycle has also firmed up the ice on a number of small lakes in Okanogan County. Rat Lake has been yielding nice catches of rainbow trout. Rat is a selective gear lake, but ice anglers have had no trouble catching the 12- to 14-inch fish by jigging small flies or plastics. The small North Idaho lakes have kept their ice covers

Other species

Whitefish are being caught on the Coeur d’Alene and Clark Fork rivers. Clark Fork fish have been much larger than the Coeur d’Alene fish. A white fly tipped with a maggot is as good as anything.

Hunting

Hunters must purchase and submit their 2020 Washington spring black bear special hunt applications by midnight on Feb. 28. Winners will be notified no later than March 31. Hunting licenses, bear transport tags, and bear permit applications may be purchased: online at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/, by phone at (866) 246-9453, or at any license vendor in the state. Hunters must successfully complete the black bear identification test for hunting black bear in GMUs 101,105, 108, 111, 113, 117, 203, 204, 209, 215, 418 and 426. The test may be taken through the WILD system. More information about spring bear hunts is available on the WDFW website at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/ special-hunts/bear.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com

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