Omak Lake on the Colville Indian Reservation is at its peak in April. Start gearing up now for a shot at those big Lahontan cutthroat. A tribal license is required.
A reader who fished Rocky Ford this week noted that while monster rainbow were cruising everywhere, he only managed a couple of the “small” 17-inch fish on size-14 black chironomids. He said casters throwing small scuds and midges appeared to be doing better.
Water quality at Lake Lenore is murky and the fish do not appear to have schooled up on the north end where they usually are this time of year. Fishing has been slow.
The lower bottom end of the Yakima River Canyon has been good for fishermen tossing stone flies with nymph droppers, but there has also been some dry-fly action. Hatches of skwalas and March browns are evident.
The Coeur d’Alene River is in good condition. Fish dry from about noon to midafternoon. Nymphs and streamers are more reliable, however. The St. Joe is dropping and clarity is good. Fish are podded up.
Salmon and steelhead
Hatchery steelhead are concentrating in smaller rivers, making this a good time to fish. Recent angler surveys show catch rates to be 11 hours per fish caught on the Salmon River upstream of the East Fork, 17 hours per fish caught on the Little Salmon River, and 8 hours per fish caught on the South Fork Clearwater River. The spring harvest season closes March 31 on the Salmon River from the Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek, but anglers can continue fishing through April 30 in most other steelhead waters, except the Little Salmon River, which stays open until May 15.
Other open steelhead waters include the Snake River from the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream to Hells Canyon Dam, the Clearwater River Mainstem and Middle Fork from its mouth upstream to Clear Creek, the North Fork Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam and the Salmon River from its mouth upstream to the posted boundary near Stanley.
Steelhead anglers are taking fish in the 3-6-pound range from the Grande Ronde – when the flows are down. Buck steelhead are generally dark, but the hens have a lot of silver. Good results come from drifting small Corkies and orange yarn. Call Boggan’s Oasis for a current flow report (509) 256-3372.
Trout and kokanee
Kokanee are in the spotlight this week with several lakes yielding big fish. Palmer Lake and Lake Chelan in the Okanogan are both kicking out fish running to 17 inches for anglers dragging small trout dodgers and hoochies. Lake Chelan anglers are launching at Mill Bay and fishing toward the middle of the lake. The bite is erratic, but anglers that stay with it are eventually catching fish.
Lake Roosevelt kokanee are the largest available, but the bite hasn’t been consistent. Anglers targeting them around Spring Canyon are getting one now and then. Roosevelt rainbow fishing, too, was slow this week.
On Lake Koocanusa in Montana, anglers trolling very slowly between Yarnell Island and the dam are landing 20-30 kokes a day, and these are considerably larger than last year’s crop – up to 13 inches. The daily limit is 50 with 100 in possession. At Koocanusa Resort, Randy Burch says these are the biggest kokanee he has ever seen at this time of year. The bite is from the surface down to 35 feet. Jiggers are even getting in on the action, with Swedish Pimples doing the damage. Info: (406) 293-7474.
Ice went off Curlew Lake on Wednesday. Trollers who go slow and deep should find plenty of hungry 14-17-inch rainbow, with larger fish to 25 inches.
Large rainbow trout are being taken at Banks Lake from anglers fishing off the rock jetties at the Coulee City Marina as well as up north off the Coulee Playland docks and in front of the Skydeck Hotel.
Liberty Lake trout anglers trolling Rapalas and similar plugs have their best success in front of the launch and down by the inlet. The fish have moved out a ways, and bank anglers are frustrated by shallow water near the boat ramp.
Lake Chelan mackinaw continue to bite trolled presentations in the trench. Worden Lures U20 Flatfish in purple glow and Silver Horde’s Kingfisher Lites have been productive.
Roses Lake is producing easy limits of winter holdover rainbows. Fish from the bank with a slip sinker rig or cast Roostertails.
Large Potholes Reservoir trout are being caught from shore at Medicare Beach – if the wind is not blowing so hard you can’t cast. A more protected area, also with large trout, is the riprap area around Mardon Resort.
About 30 lakes open in Columbia Basin Wildlife Refuge south of Moses Lake on the first of April. These offer excellent trout fishing, and some have good spiny-ray fishing as well.
Walleye fishing remains good for anglers fishing Banks Lake in the Barker Flats area or at the water spillway area across from Coulee Playland. The fish are at 30-50 feet. Smallmouth fishing is also good with fish now in water depths ranging from 25-40 feet.
Porcupine Bay walleye fishing has been running hot and cold. Reports of a 50-fish day are often followed by reports of a skunk. Jigging has accounted for most bites. The larger fish have been shallower.
Last weekend’s bass tournament on Liberty Lake yielded more 3-4-pound rainbow and brown trout than bass. It’s still a little cold for largemouth.
Fernan Lake in Idaho is giving up some nice pre-spawn perch, and the first reports of big Hayden Lake crappie are filtering in.
Channel Cats are biting in the Palouse River, and it will only get better as the weather warms.
Tip of the week
There is more to bank fishing than just tossing out a wad of Power Bait and waiting for a bite. If you don’t know the structure of the lake bottom, your bait might never come into the fish’s view. Leader length between bait and slip sinker is very important. On a gravel or mud bottom, a leader of 18 inches will suffice, but if there are weeds, you’ll need a longer leader to get above them. If you’re using a Power Bait or marshmallow and nightcrawler “sandwich,” experiment in shallow water to make sure the heavy nightcrawler is not keeping the offering from floating up.
Deer Lake still has a thin coat of ice in places. The public launch is open, and boats were launching to fish on Thursday.
• The North Idaho Fly Casters are offering Fly Fishing 101, a series of three classes geared to entry-level fly fishermen and covering all phases of fly fishing from water strategies to entomology to water reading and fly selection. Indoor classes are at Shriners’ Hall, 1250 W. Lancaster Road in Hayden, on May 7, 14 and 21. Times are 6-9 pm. Also included is a one-day “on the water” mentoring session and a barbecue. A casting class is June 22 and an “on the water” class on the Coeur d’Alene River will be June 29. Applications are available on the Web at Northidahoflycasters.org or call contact Dave Londeree (208) 946-6631. Cost is $75 with one-year membership included.
• Banks Lake is having an unusual fishing derby April 6-7. The Triple Fish Challenge gives anglers a chance to compete for biggest fish in three categories – rainbow, walleye and smallmouth bass. First prize is an Achilles inflatable boat and Yamaha motor, and there will be cash and tackle prizes awarded to biggest fish and stringer each day as well. Online registration will be through Sunday at www.grandcouleedam.org. On-site registration will begin April 5 from 5-7 p.m. and continue until boat inspection April 6 from 6-8 a.m. at Coulee Playland Resort (509) 633-2671.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org