Local fly shops say you can pretty much forget about river fishing until the weather settles. They suggest you try area lakes instead. Medical Lake (not West Medical) has some really large brown trout, and a number have been caught recently by fly fishermen throwing chironomid patterns.
Don’t overlook Idaho lakes. A variety of spiny ray are suspended above weed beds in 8-12 feet of water in lakes such as Fernan, Hayden, Twin, Rose, and in the bays of Coeur d’Alene. Even so, the fish are still spread out some until the lakes warm a little more. Try leech patterns or Wooly Buggers.
The sport fishery for spring chinook on the lower Columbia River has been extended through Sunday. Last week, anglers on the lower Columbia made 17,100 trips and caught 2,817 adult spring Chinook. Catch rates began to escalate last Friday, and almost 60 percent of last week’s catch occurred over the weekend.
Though the Idaho fishing season for chinook salmon opens on Sunday in the Clearwater River, Snake River, Little Salmon and lower Salmon rivers, this year’s run is one of the latest on record. Only one fish has crossed Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River by midweek. Salmon seasons and limits may change on short notice, Check the salmon hotline at: (855) 287-2702 or the Fish and Game website http://fishandgame. idaho.gov/public/ fish/?getPage=140.
Deer Lake in Stevens County got a “trout transfusion” on April 10 of 1,200 rainbow weighing 1 1/2 pounds each, and anglers are starting to catch them by trolling just under the surface just out from the public launch.
Although Medical Lake is most popular with fly fishermen, it is listed as a selective fishery, which means lures must be artificial with single barbless hooks. This does not rule out the possibility of altered spinners and plugs, but evidence around the lake suggests some anglers are fishing illegally with bait.
Liberty Lake bank anglers aren’t having much luck these days, but trollers and still-fishermen in boats are still catching some nice browns.
Roses Lake in the Okanogan has seen good rainbow fishing this week. A trolled cone head Muddler Minnows with an action disk will put you in fish, but bait near the bottom is also good for 10- to 14-inch trout.
Spectacle Lake in the Okanogan has been excellent for 12-to 13-inch rainbow and a few much larger triploids. Black or dark green Roostertails have been effective. Nearby, Palmer Lake is giving up small kokanee.
Lake Roosevelt still has fish, and some anglers on some days are contradicting the theory that most of the trout went over the dam. Anglers long-lining perch Rapalas 200 feet behind the boat have been taking trout near Sterling Point and in the San Poil Arm.
On Curlew Lake in Ferry County, trollers are taking some nice rainbow. There was also a report of a 42-inch tiger musky.
Bass anglers are getting excited about Newman Lake. With water temperature at 51 degrees, the bite is just getting started, but some largemouth more than 4 pounds have been caught. No tiger musky have been reported so far this spring.
Deer Lake is not only heating up for trout, the smallmouth are beginning to hit. Try docks and rocky shorelines. Liberty Lake is starting to kick out perch and bluegill, and the crappie and bass fishing won’t be far behind.
Downs Lake is warming up and the largemouth are becoming active. Most bass caught recently have been on the small side – 1-2 pounds, but the lake holds much bigger fish. The lily pads are just starting to show and fishing will improve further as they spread out on the surface. Most fish are coming from 6-8 feet of water on Senkos and jerk baits.
Potholes Reservoir largemouth are beginning to wake up in the sand dunes area and though smallmouth are a little behind, that fishery is also picking up – just in time for the Potholes Open Bass Tournament this weekend. Info: (509) 346-9688 or (509) 346-2651. The best bet for walleye in Grant County is the Lind Coulee arm of Potholes Reservoir. Use spinners and night crawlers on a 1½-ounce bottom-walker
DT-10 Rapalas have accounted for a number of Banks Lake smallmouth.
Look for rocky areas and keep the presentation near the bottom. Crankbaits are also working and orange is the color of choice.
Last weekend’s chinook derby on Lake Coeur d’Alene was won by Rich Nearing of Silver Valley, Idaho, with a fish weighing 13.28 pounds. Jeff Smith of Fins and Feathers, sponsor of the derby, came in second with a fish of 12 pounds. Fishing was described as “decent” with several 10- and 11- pounders also weighed in.
Anglers preparing for opening day of the 2012 lowland lakes season on April 28 can expect to reel in trout that are one-third bigger this year. WDFW is releasing 3 million trout averaging 11-13 inches. Those fish will join millions of other trout that were stocked last year and have grown to catchable size in lakes around the state. Many of those lakes have also been stocked with triploid and jumbo trout weighing 1½ to 11 pounds apiece. More next week.
• Lake Roosevelt water levels should be around 1,230 feet by tonight, which would leave only three launches useable – Spring Canyon, Seven Bays and Keller.
• An Idaho Fish and Game’s Take Me Fishing Trailer event is 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday at Hordemann Pond in Moscow The event is free and open to everyone. Equipment, bait and instruction provided. Participants do not need a fishing license.