Fly fishing area waters can still be productive with nymphs, but streamers can be good in low light and a few anglers say they have even found pockets where dry fly presentations are not out of the question. Winter takes are soft, and a strike indicator is almost a must. Lighten your hook set to a gentle lift.
Die-hard fly fishermen are taking nice cutts from Amber and rainbow from the Big Spokane. The Montana and North Idaho rivers are still producing. Fish are concentrating in holes, so one spot can produce several strikes.
Steelhead and salmon
Dam counts have been decent, but steelhead are not entering the tributaries in any numbers and good steelhead reports are at a premium this week. The Snake, Clearwater and Grande Ronde are cold and clear. Anglers are marking fish near Lower Granite Dam, but they are mostly ignoring offerings. Fishing at Heller Bar, which was hot for several weeks, has died. The best bet in the clear, cold water is to soak bait under a diver or a bobber.
Mixed steelhead reports come from anglers fishing the Methow River. Fishing from boats right at the mouth has been good at times, but no consistency has developed.
At Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene, Jeff Smith said the chinook bite has been good. The fish are deep – 80 to the bottom and hitting black and glow mini-squids 24 inches below a black and glow flasher. Smith said helmeted herring would be his second choice for catching chinook.
Trout and kokanee
It isn’t the lights-out fishing of last winter, but Lake Roosevelt trout fishermen are finding trout and an occasional kokanee in the usual spots, with some decent reports coming from the vicinity of Sterling Point and Keller. Long-lining mono at around 200 feet with plugs has been popular, but leaded line, flashers and flies somewhere between three and six colors also works. Troll fast.
Rufus Woods Reservoir is probably the most consistent trout fishery in the area, but even it can be fickle. Nevertheless, there have been reports of hot fishing at times with the bigger triploids running almost 10 pounds. Bouncing jigs has been extremely effective.
Anglers at Bridgeport continue to catch more big triploid trout than steelhead. Bobber and jig combos are taking fish from the launch to the Colville Hatchery.
An overlooked trout fishery close to home is the Spokane River. A setup just like the bobber and jig combos used for steelhead will often produce great results drifting the current edges. The water near the Bowl and Pitcher in Riverside State Park is a good place to start. Check the fishing regs for restrictions.
Waitts Lake is one of the few trout-producing lakes in the Inland Empire open through the winter. Browns and rainbows are biting on a fast troll near the surface. Once the little lake ices up, these fish are harder to find.
No one was at the Rock Lake launch when I went by on Tuesday. Lack of angler activity must say something, although the lake has provided decent fishing of late.
Priest and Pend Oreille lakes are a good bet for lake trout. Trolling is effective, but bigger catches come from locating stacks of fish and jigging.
The wait for the Hog Canyon and Fourth of July winter fisheries is almost over as the season begins Dec. 1 and good fishing is expected at both lakes.
Coeur d’Alene pike are still catchable, and the bite usually stays pretty good through Thanksgiving. Look for weed beds – standing or even lying over – and either cast or troll any jerk bait. Winter pike anglers generally prefer trolling for the ability to cover more water. Fishing has been best on the south end of the lake near Harrison and Harlow points.
On the Pend Oreille River, pike anglers are more likely to cast for their fish and spoons are generally more effective. If you haven’t been able to find a 3 3/4-inch red and white Dardevle spoon, there is a good reason – they work.
Dock fishing for big walleye at night has begun again at Mardon Resort in Moses Lake, but the fish are present one night and absent the next. Tenacious boat anglers with good winter gear are blade-baiting for some decent catches.
Contact Alan Liere by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org