Big Four Lake, one of the Tucannon Lakes in Columbia County, is fly fishing only. It is full of cooperative 8- to 9-inch recently planted rainbow, but 300 jumbos were also released on the small pond.
Amber Lake has lost most of its ice. Fly fishermen throwing chironomids are catching a few cutthroat, but fishing is generally slow.
Salmon and steelhead
The Grande Ronde River was somewhat muddy on Thursday and steelhead catching had dropped off. Quite a few fish were landed the day before. The Grande Ronde Steelhead Derby ends March 23. The largest fish so far weighs 10 pounds, 4 ounces Call Boggan’s Oasis for water conditions: (509) 256-3372.
Steelhead fishing has been slow on the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers. Best fishing last week – 14 angler hours per fish – was the Salmon River upstream from the East Fork.
Anglers are catching a few spring chinook and winter steelhead on the lower Columbia. The Columbia sport fishery above Bonneville Dam opens Saturday for spring Chinook. Water conditions are excellent.
Lake Coeur d’Alene chinook are high in the water column and trollers are taking quite a few dragging helmeted herring or diving Rapalas. The fishery is shaping up nicely for the J.H. “Red” Covey Memorial Spring Salmon Derby in April.
Trout and kokanee
Lake Roosevelt trout and kokanee are right on top now, and trolling often disturbs the fish enough to run them out of the zone behind the boat. Anglers using planer boards are doing best, and the orange Apex has been productive. Bank fishermen have had mixed results. A good report came this week from Hawk Creek from three fishermen throwing worms and nightcrawlers from shore.
Liberty Lake brown trout have been hitting trolled Rapalas, particularly the perch pattern. A few really large browns (up to 25 inches) were taken recently.
Deer Lake ice has developed some large cracks and is “talking.” With a good wind, it should be gone by next week. When this happens, look for a good rainbow bite and mackinaw on the surface.
Sprague Lake is beginning to see a few boats after the long winter, and bank fishermen at the public access are catching rainbow now and then, some to 5 pounds.
Rock Lake has been consistent for brown trout to 20 inches and rainbow to 13. Trolling and casting can both be productive, but friends who fished there recently said casting to the outside of reefs with Rapalas worked best for them. Launching at Rock is almost impossible for a single person. It is probably the worst primitive launch site in Washington with shallow water, boulders and a drop-off.
Two friends fishing Fourth of July Lake on Tuesday landed three trout, all over 18 inches. They were tossing Power Bait under a slip bobber from shore. Fourth of July, like Hog Canyon, Williams and Hatch, is open through March.
Downs Lake is ice free now, but there hasn’t been enough participation to really assess the fishing. Downs should have a lot of carryover trout, but the new spring plants have not yet been made.
Coffeepot Lake is also free of ice and trout fishing is said to be excellent. An angler trolling a perch-colored Hot Shot reported catching 10 nice ’bows in two hours.
Bank-fishing anglers are reporting big rainbow trout from the southern shores of Potholes Reservoir, particularly from the Blythe Point Boat Launch. Frenchman’s Wasteway, where it enters Potholes Reservoir has been producing good trout as well. Anglers at MarDon Resort are having good action on rainbow up to 4 pounds fishing from the shore and off the dock.
Burke Lake in Grant County has been good for planter trout and an occasional brooder. Other lakes in the Quincy Wildlife Area are good, too, and so are year-round lakes like Canal, Heart and Windmill.
Rufus Woods Reservoir triploid fishing is improving. Try pulling Rapalas over humps. Otherwise try still fishing with dough baits. Nearby Banks Lake is also known for big rainbow this time of year.
Smallmouth bass fishing is kicking off now at Banks Lake, but you’ll need to go deep with heavy jig and grub setups. Look for areas with rock and a 45-degree slope to the water.
Lake Coeur d’ Alene pike fishing is good in all bays except Cougar, which is nearly a mud flat. Wolf Lodge Bay is said to be one of the best. Dead smelt or herring under a bobber has worked well. Fishing isn’t fast, but there are some 20-pounders showing.
Bottom walkers and worm harnesses trolled in 40-50 feet of water are taking Lake Roosevelt walleye over gravel and sand bottoms. Jig fishermen are also getting their share, and the better fishing has been around Fort Spokane.
Potholes Reservoir walleye fishing has been slow, but a few fish to 10 pounds have been reported lately. They hit blade baits in 38 feet of water. One walleye fishermen reported catching a perch that weighed over 1½ pounds. The two areas to focus on for walleye are the Lind Coulee and the area between the outlet of Moses Lake and Crab Creek boat launch.
Eloika Lake was still holding its ice at midweek and perch and crappie were cooperating, but the ice will probably be unsafe by the weekend. Call Jerry’s Landing at (509) 292-2337 for updates. The ice went off Silver Lake this week.
Some of my family and I rendezvoused at Long Beach, Wash., last weekend to dig razor clams. Both participation and overall harvest was huge, with 15-clam limits coming all too quickly. Another dig is tentatively scheduled on morning tides later in March with minus tides projected.
Burbot are still popular fare in the Porcupine Bay area, and anglers dunking gobs of nightcrawlers are even catching them from shore. As burbot prefer deep water, it is necessary to cast out a long way.
Sturgeon effort and catches are light on the lower Columbia. Boat anglers in The Dalles and John Day pools are catching a few keepers.
Tip of the week
A little-used but extremely effective offering for big brown trout is a single nightcrawler trolled behind flashers or dodgers at 1 mph. Get bait as far away from the boat as possible.
WDFW salmon forecasts are predicting 6.2 million pink salmon returning to Puget Sound this summer. This includes places like the Nisqually River, where 764,000 pinks are expected. A forecast for them didn’t even exist just two years ago. This is an excellent fishery in that pinks tend to hug the shoreline, making them easily accessible to bank anglers. The height of the fishery usually occurs at the end of July through August.
• The next big fishing opener will be April 1 on about 30 lakes scattered from between Potholes Reservoir almost to Othello in the Columbia Basin Wildlife Refuge. These will provide excellent fishing for trout as well as spiny ray.
• Cabin fever? The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council’s 53rd annual Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show runs Thursday-March 24, at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.