If it warms up over the weekend as it’s supposed to, look for a short window at mid-day on the Coeur d’Alene River. Nymphs and streamers should be best.
The warmer temperatures moving in should get the steelhead fishing going again on the Snake River near Asotin. Dead drifting nymphs and eggs will be effective, but swinging a leech on a sink-tip is good if there isn’t ice in the way.
On the Clearwater River, steelhead fishing upstream from the Orofino Bridge has been the best. The mouth to Orofino is slow. There has been very little pressure all week.
Steelhead are being caught at Bridgeport on the Columbia. It isn’t great, but anglers can expect a couple takedowns a day. Bobbers and jigs are still doing the trick. If the heavy current flows continue through the weekend, backtrolling could be a better option.
Trout and kokanee
Hog Canyon still has plenty of trout, but on some days, they just refuse to bite, Fourth of July trout have been much more cooperative and are still biting well under the ice at the first narrows where the water is deeper.
Sprague Lake anglers have been concentrating their efforts between the public access and the island, but another good spot is along the northwest shore where there are springs near what is known as “Catfish Charlie Island” where the old shack once stood. Watch out for thinner ice. Anglers trolling a J-9 Rapala have done very well on brown trout in the top 10 feet of Rock Lake. The area known as “The Mine Field” is productive but not recommended for the novice angler because of the dangerous rock spires just below the surface. The best fishing at Rock is early in the morning.
The best winter fishing areas on Idaho’s Spirit Lake are at Silver Beach or Bronze Bay. According to Jim Fredericks, IDFG regional fisheries manager, the ice is decent but there has been little participation.
Trout fishing has been better than perch fishing at Banks Lake. The rainbow are a fat 16-19 inches, and though fishing isn’t fast, a 19-inch rainbow through the ice provides a lot of excitement.
The Medicare Beach area of Potholes Reservoir is free of ice again and the big rainbow have resumed biting for anglers throwing bait from shore. Most of these fish are 4 pounds and over.
Triploids have been taken in recent weeks from Rufus Woods in areas around the net pens. Trollers are finding fish by trolling small plugs in 7-15 feet of water. The bite has been good one day and nonexistent the next.
Lake Roosevelt trollers are finding trout from Spring Canyon to the Spokane Arm. Troll shallow with plugs or flies tipped with worm. A single flasher is usually added 18 inches above the fly.
A friend called me from Eloika Lake Wednesday morning and said he had caught one perch in three hours while fishing out from the public access. He noted however, that this was still 100 percent better than his Tuesday evening trip to Silver where he caught nothing. That afternoon, he called back and said the bite had picked up considerably though it was light and the fish were difficult to hook.
Ice fishermen at both Eloika and Silver have been frustrated this week with a bite that can be lights-out one day and poor the next. All agree the bite is extremely light – barely moving the tip of the rod. Use small baits. Maggots and perch eyes are the most popular. Sometimes the fish prefer the bait be left motionless, and other times, almost violent jigging seems to get them going. Eloika Lake perch are running about 7½ inches on average – about the same as Silver’s, though your chances of catching a 9-inch perch at Silver are better than at Eloika. Ice is good at both lakes.
Upper Twin in Kootenai County has 8 inches of ice. Fishing has been best before 9 a.m. A decent crappie is caught now and then, but the bulk of the catch will be small perch. Most anglers are fishing south of the boat launch in about 15 feet of water.
Banks Lake finally has ice, but anglers are cautioned to check the depth as they venture out as winds quickly affect the integrity of the ice. Anglers are catching perch and whitefish near the Coulee City Marina. There is also some activity near Electric City to the north.
Head north of Highway 41 out of Rathdrum and you’ll eventually hit Upper Twin Lake where Idaho anglers are making some large catches of 8-inch perch through the ice. A lot of other small Idaho lakes are also booting out messes of spiny ray as well as some trout. Hayden, Hauser, Fernan, Cocolalla, Kelso, Round and Jewel are all worth a look.
Burbot (freshwater ling cod) anglers are taking lots of fish in 30-40 feet of water in Porcupine Bay in the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt. The mouth of the Colville River is also good.
Night fishing there is most productive, though Porcupine Bay has been good throughout the day. Info: YJ Guide Service (509) 999-0717.
Tip of the week
Ice fishermen have a tendency to automatically drop their offering to the bottom, and indeed, that is usually where the perch are. Other fish, however, (and sometimes even perch) will suspend at different depths. If they’re not biting, it could be you’re just not in their zone.
When Priest Lake shifted many years ago from a diverse yield and trophy fishing to one dominated by small lake trout, overall participation in the fishery declined by a third to a half despite a near tripling in the area’s human population. IDFG, along with the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources and the Kalispel Tribe will soon begin a comprehensive study of the lake to see if they can reverse the downward spiral. Part of the study will involve a March through May use of large-scale commercial netting equipment.
Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@ yahoo.com