Salmon and steelhead
Effective Tuesday, the Columbia River from Buoy 10 upstream to U.S. Highway 395 at Pasco returns to permanent rules for salmon and steelhead. Drano Lake was closed to angling in mid-October due to poor returns of fall chinook to Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery. Beginning Tuesday, fisheries for steelhead and other fish will resume.
Trout and kokanee
Even the poorest reports from Lake Roosevelt this week indicate the rainbow bite is at least decent for trollers, who are finding fish in the top 30 feet (and usually much higher) on the usual assortment of flies, Rapalas, Rip’n Minnows and Apexes. The sole bad report was from a shore fisherman who got skunked at Hansen Harbor.
The Rock Lake launch hasn’t improved much, but boats under 16 feet usually find a way to launch as long as hip boots are handy. If conditions are icy, throw a bag of gravel or sand in with the rest of your gear. Those who have managed to launch say the fishing for browns and rainbow trout is very good.
Anglers who don’t want to make the long drive to Lake Roosevelt can find similarly large trout on Lake Spokane while fishing from shore with the usual Power Bait or a worm and marshmallow “sandwich.” There are several places along Highway 291 to pull over and access the water, but the easiest place is the big turnout at Tum Tum, where a Discover Pass is required.
Lake Cascade, roughly 70 miles north of Boise on the North Fork of the Payette River, has become the perch fishing destination in Idaho and most likely the site of the next state record – but you might want to get there soon if you’re hoping for one of the trophy perch, as their numbers are dwindling. Like all perch lakes, Cascade is seeing more and more small fish. For current information on ice conditions and other information about Lake Cascade, call Idaho Fish and Game’s regional office in the McCall office (208) 634-8137 or the regional office in Nampa (208) 465-8465.
In Washington, stunted perch are taking over in Silver Lake, and it is happening too in Curlew Lake, though Curlew still has some of the biggest perch around. As the perch population grows, however, they are bound to become stunted. Unfortunately, the tiger musky in Curlew prefer the trout and are having no significant impact on the perch population.
Ice fishermen are an optimistic bunch, but they are still waiting for enough hard water to begin fishing area lakes safely. Currently, the Idaho lake that is getting closest is Avondale, and even the ice there is iffy. In Washington, Eloika has the potential to firm up by the first part of January – but it isn’t ready. A check back to other years’ fishing reports confirms that safe ice had not arrived at most lakes until January – though on Dec. 13, 2013, ice fishermen at Eloika were drilling holes through 4 to 7 inches of ice and catching a lot of perch.
Whitefish anglers are finding fish on the Kettle River near the mouth and in the pools under the bridges at Barstow and Orient. Maggots are a top bait, but a plain white fly will often be just as effective. Whitefish can also be found on the Methow, Wenatchee and Entiat rivers as well the Okanogan and Similkameen. Close to Yakima, the Naches, Tieton, Cle Elum and Bumping rivers also have whitefish. In Idaho, the Clearwater River below Kooskia, the lower Selway and Lochsa are good places to try for whitefish.
Fishing for lake whitefish is heating up on Banks Lake in the north basin, but they can be found in many places on the lake. Try jigging small spoons like the Kastmaster or Swedish Pimple – perhaps sweetened with a few maggots.
Several razor clam digs will take place after the New Year – except at Long Beach, which is closed due to poor clam size. Proposed digs are listed below, along with evening low tides and beaches:
Wednesday, Jan. 2: 4:22 p.m.; 0.2 feet; Twin Harbors
Thursday, Jan. 3: 5:06 p.m.; -0.2 feet; Twin Harbors
Friday, Jan. 4: 5:46 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Saturday, Jan. 5: 6:23 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis
Sunday, Jan. 6: 6:59 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Eastern Washington’s pheasant, quail, chukar and gray partridge season closes Jan. 21. With the exception of chukars, there are still decent numbers of each available, though hunters do report finding a few chukars up high on the Snake River breaks. Turkeys close after Monday. Cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares close March 15.
In Idaho, pheasants close Monday in Area 1 and Area 3 and are already closed in Area 2. Quail, gray partridge and chukars close Jan. 31, as do grouse in the upper Panhandle (Area 1). The rest of the state closes after Monday. Rabbits are open through March 31.
Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington duck numbers are average, but there is so much open water it is sometimes difficult to find consistent concentrations. Goose numbers are excellent.
With the colder weather, wind and snow, pheasants are hunkered down in brushy draws and cattails and quail can be found in sagebrush and the same brushy draws, avoiding tall grass, especially when it is wet. The hardy grey partridge seems to prefer areas of rocks and low weeds, but they also gravitate toward sagebrush when the weather gets nasty. After several years of not even seeing a gray partridge, I have flushed several nice coveys this winter. My Brittany, Lucy, makes me wonder why I didn’t quit chasing Labs years ago. I love my Lab, Jill, my “meat dog,” but Lucy covers 10 times the country in a fraction of the time and she considerately waits for my command before flushing the birds.