At Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d’Alene, Mike Beard said the Salmon River around Riggins, Idaho, has been good. The upper Salmon has a limit of six fish daily in some sections. Beard said the Grande Ronde blew out last week and hasn’t fully recovered. It is still a little big for fly fishing.
The upper Clearwater should be fishable this weekend and there should be a lot of big fish around, though fishing has been tough. Look for egg patterns and nymphs under an indicator to be the most effective.
The Coeur d’Alene River is the local bright spot for fly fishermen. It has come up a little but is holding its clarity. Nymphing has produced some nice fish in the afternoons.
The St. Joe has seen some good afternoons around Calder and should get good again in the afternoons once the river stabilizes.
The Yakima River has ranged from good to phenomenal in the lower canyon this week. Anglers who stay with it are even taking a few fish on dries in the afternoons, but streamers are more consistent.
Steelhead and salmon
The late winter seems to have delayed the steelhead run on the Clearwater, said guide Toby Wyatt at Reel Time Fishing (208-790-2128). Wyatt said the Clearwater has had a big push of late-season fish – big, bright and hard-fighting.
Friends fishing for Grande Ronde River steelhead last weekend ended up with two keepers each despite less than ideal water conditions. They said the fish were in excellent shape.
Fishing for hatchery steelhead usually picks up right before the season closes March 31. WDFW fish biologist Paul Hoffarth said some of the highest catches of the season occur in March near the Ringold Springs Hatchery.
Trout and kokanee
Amber Lake has provided good fishing this week for fly fishermen and anglers throwing lures with single barbless hooks. A lot of the fish are less than a foot in length, but there are also some solid 18-inchers showing.
Ice is off Hog Canyon, and the falls are running. Trout anglers fishing from both boat and shore are catching some big rainbow. Remember only two fish more than 14 inches may be retained. Fourth of July is open, but fishing has not been as good.
Sprague Lake ice is gone. Anglers fishing from shore at the public access are taking a few trout. Trollers are not doing as well as those dunking bait.
A thin crust of ice still covered the boat launch area at Coffeepot Lake on Wednesday evening, but the entire lake should be ice-free by the weekend. Coffeepot has some big rainbow and many small perch. It is a selective fishery.
Deer Lake had 7 inches of good ice at midweek and anglers were taking some nice rainbow and a few mackinaw.
Liberty Lake was generating a lot of buzz this week as the brown trout were biting aggressively from shore and boat. Two anglers interviewed took limits in short order dunking worms from a boat. Others found success dragging Shad Raps and jointed Rapalas. A lot of the fish were 11 to 13 inches, but fish to 20 inches were not all that unusual.
Bear Lake, just north of Spokane, still has good ice and anglers looking for perch seem to be finding some nice (15-inch) rainbow as well as decent-sized perch. To fish Bear Lake you have to be a juvenile (under 15), a licensed adult fishing with a juvenile, or carry a disability license.
Downs Lake is ice-free and WDFW put in 4,700 6- to 8-inch tiger trout on Wednesday. Downs should also have a good carryover trout population from last year.
Although some big walleye have been reported taken off the dock at Mardon Resort on Potholes Reservoir, water is cold and success limited. The trout fishing has been excellent for rainbow, many 15 inches or larger.
The 2012 March 1 opener of the desert lakes in Grant County was one of the best in recent times on Upper Caliche (11.5- to 13-inch trout), Martha, Burke and Quincy lakes (all with trout 12 to 14 inches). Harvest rates ranged from 2.7 trout at Martha to 4.3 per angler at Upper Caliche. At Quincy and Burke lakes, nearly 40 percent of the trout checked were carryovers ranging in size from 16 to 20 inches. Only four anglers were observed fishing Dusty Lake on the opener. The one angler interviewed had caught several rainbow trout 12 to 14 inches long.
Quality waters that opened March 1 (Lenice, Nunnally, Lenore and Dusty lakes) saw low effort and poor catch rates early in the day. The weather was a factor, with cold temperatures and high winds. No anglers were observed at Nunnally Lake on the opener.
In March, more than 20 lakes and ponds in Yakima, Kittitas, Franklin and Benton counties are scheduled to receive thousands of catchable size rainbow trout, along with hundreds of jumbos and triploids. For a complete list, see the stocking schedule for south central Washington on the WDFW website.
The great perch fishing on Silver Lake has come to an end (at least for this angler) because of deteriorating ice. On my last trip at midweek, there was still 4 inches of good ice out from the public access, but the water temperature was 44 degrees and water around the edges made the first couple steps scary (and for a friend who broke through, wet).
Eloika Lake is still fishable for hard water anglers, but that lake is showing water around the edges. The perch bite is erratic, but on a good day, you’ll catch all you want to clean. The fish are small.
There’s not much effort, but pike action on the Pend Oreille River is pretty good for anglers casting swim baits and other plastics.
Upper Goose, one of the seep lakes below O’Sullivan Dam is producing some nice walleye and a few trout. Blade baits are popular. Walleye fishing on Lake Roosevelt has been extremely slow.