Spokane Fly Fishers are again offering a fly-fishing school beginning March 8 and running through April 19. Classes are every Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy. The classes cover all phases of fly fishing for the beginner or intermediate anglers, plus local fishing information, hands-on casting sessions and a one year membership. Info: Dan Ferguson 868-9545.
Black leeches off the bottom are fooling enough Rufus Woods 3-pounders to keep fly fishermen going back. They say the best bite is in the morning.
Steelhead anglers on the Clearwater have been doing slightly better from the mouth to the Orofino Bridge than upstream. The South Fork Clearwater has the best hours-per-fish ratio at six, but more fish are being released than kept. Clearwater guide Toby Wyatt said his boats are catching 10-20 fish a day. Weekends are slowest because of heavy boat traffic. The Grande Ronde is low and cold, guide Rick Hedding said. He said because of the cold, there isn’t much of a morning bite, but afternoons can been excellent. Hedding likes to throw egg-pattern nymphs on the bottom, but says the bait fishermen may even be doing a little better than fly fishermen.
The Snake River was running at 27,000 cfs on Wednesday. That and the cold are keeping steelhead close-mouthed.
Including fish released, boat anglers averaged a steelhead per rod on the Dalles Pool last week. Bank anglers were also catching some steelhead. Half the catch was hatchery fish. On the John Day pool, boat anglers averaged one-half steelhead per rod when including fish released.
Although there were two cars in the parking lot at Hog Canyon on Tuesday, the ice didn’t look good and no anglers were in sight. Fourth of July ice is also breaking up. The other two winter trout lakes – Williams and Hatch north of Spokane, still have good ice and fishing for 14-inch rainbow has been excellent for bait fishermen.
One angler said he and his son fished the White Rock area of Lake Roosevelt on the reservation side for limits of rainbow to 21 inches. He said they trolled deeper than usual to find their fish.
Friends trolled broken back perch Rapalas on Rufus Woods Wednesday for a couple of fish. They also tried jigs and spoons with little success. A fish checker for the Colville tribe said she had checked 10 boats that morning with just one fish.
Waitts Lake closes at the end of February, but anglers are catching perch on the west side in 20-30 feet of water near the public boat launch. There has been a good bite in the evening which has included some 10-inch crappie.
Eloika Lake was slow this week for perch and crappie, but anglers are catching a lot of bass. The ice is 8-10 inches thick. Anglers must release all bass between 12-17 inches but may keep one more than 17. Crappie must be at least 9 inches to be retained.
The best perch fishing in eastern Washington this winter has been Silver Lake near Four Lakes. If anything, the bite has picked up, but the fish are being found in increasingly deeper water. Last week, the best bite was at 42 feet. This week, it is 47 feet. A friend with a sophisticated sonar fish finder fished with me this week and noted all the fish were within a foot of the bottom and would not come up more than a few inches to take a bait. Early is best.
The Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt was running chocolate this week and walleye fishing was poor. Roosevelt success came above Fort Spokane, where there was a good bite for 16-24 inchers. Trollers reported a soft bite and short strikes.
Guide Richard Ellis of Starbuck, Wash., said walleye fishing is picking up significantly on the Snake River between the mouths of the Tucannon and Palouse rivers. Ellis has been jigging with nightcrawlers and reports catching and releasing two walleye on Wednesday weighing a total of 26½ pounds.
Perch fishing through the ice at Roses Lake, near Manson, has been better than usual with good size to go with large numbers. Further north, Patterson Lake, near Winthrop, is once again a great spot to find fat perch through the ice.
In Idaho, Cocolalla Lake has been good for perch, as has Fernan, which has pretty much all species. Perch fishing at Hauser has been decent, but the lake went up this week and ice is pulling away from the shore. Ice on the Chain Lakes is iffy, but anglers dunking smelt under a bobber in open water on Chatcolet are taking some nice pike.
Two anglers were observed near Oldtown on the Pend Oreille River casting red and white Dardevles for pike and doing very well.
Walleye angling is starting to pick-up between Bonneville and McNary dams.
Tip of the week
There are advantages and disadvantages to using a large sinker when fishing deep water for perch. The advantage is that it allows you to find the bottom faster. The disadvantages are it is more easily detected by a fish that is just nibbling, and it has a tendency to tangle with the hook when jigging. A good compromise is a lead split shot sinker the size of a large pea. Clamp it on 18 inches above the hook.
Scott Lesser of Spokane leads the Grande Ronde Spring Steelhead Derby with a fish weighing 9.12 pounds. The derby runs through March 24.
A few anglers trolling Rip’n Minnows have been catching limits of large kokanee at midlake in Spring Canyon. They say once the fish are located, the bite is fast.
• A friend who fished out of China Bend on Lake Roosevelt this week said there was barely enough ramp to launch his 18-footer. Check Roosevelt water levels before heading out.
The bag limits for steelhead in part of the upper Salmon River have been increased to six a day.
Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@ yahoo.com