Steelhead and salmon
State fisheries managers expect an improved return of adult spring chinook to the Columbia River this year. Fishing is open under the Interstate 5 bridge, but it typically doesn’t resume until March and early April, when fishing expands upstream to Bonneville Dam and beyond. The specific dates for the spring chinook fishery will be decided Feb. 23.
While fishing in Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton area) is temporarily suspended, Southern Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) is open year-round. Beautiful winter chinook have been caught recently at places such as Tacoma Narrows and the east side of Fox Island. Resident coho fishing also typically resumes this month in the South Sound, and these fish are great sport for fly fishing or light spinning rods.
Open water fishing
Trout anglers find action on Long Lake between Little Falls and the dam. Most of these fish are 15 inches and over.
Trolling success for Lake Roosevelt trout can be sporadic, but anglers often find a good bite with plenty of 15-22 inch fish. The Spring Canyon area is generally good, but the Sterling and Whitestone area had many positive reports this week, although no kokanee were reported. As the water recedes, kokanee fishing should improve.
Lake Roosevelt in the Graveyard/McCoy areas had decent walleye fishing. Blade baits and jigs worked well if retrieved slowly in 30-60 feet of water. Most of these fish have been eater sized rather than “dinks” that need to be put back.
Whitefish season is open until February 28 in the Yakima River between Sunnyside Dam and 3,500 feet below Roza Dam; from Roza Dam to Easton Dam; also the Lower Cle Elam River and the Lower Naches River downstream of the confluence with the Tieton River. The limit is 15 per day and most fish run between 10 and 15 inches. Target deep pools below sills with small flies with maggots and release all fish except whitefish.
A catch-and-release trout fishery is open year-round on the Yakima River from Roza Dam to Easton Dam under selective gear rules, and open to whitefish through February 28 with whitefish gear rules. Fishing is closed above Easton Dam until the Saturday before Memorial Day.
Ice Fishing, Washington
Most of the lakes in the area are ice covered enough for ice fishing. Some popular ice fishing lakes in the area include Hog Canyon and Fourth of July lakes for rainbow trout. In northeast Washington, try Williams, Waitts, or the Little Pend Oreille Chain lakes, especially Gillette and Thomas. Anglers catch plenty of perch just off the bottom of Lake Thomas in about 25 feet of water.
Nice size perch were reported this week in the deeper waters of Sacheen Lake. Two friends and I who tried caught about 60 in four hours, but most of ours were under 9 inches, and shallow anglers had trouble catching perch over 6 inches.
Silver Lake is a good spot for those looking for quantity over quality as the roosts are small. The bite, however, was non-stop. This would be a great place to take a group of kids. A friend who fished Bear Lake on Sunday caught three 8-inch perch and three 11-inch rainbow trout in about four hours.
Apparently I’m the only person who can’t catch Lake Eloika perch this winter. A few good reports came in from ice cream just off public access, but in two trips to the north end, I haven’t had a bite. The Eloika perch ran between 7 and 8½ inches.
Curlew Lake is still the best bet for larger perch in the 9-11 inch range. Fishing was slow at the south end. The north end goes strong, but access is limited at this end of the lake.
Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir still have ice but the fishing hasn’t been good. Even Lind Coulee has been relatively unproductive.
Ice fishing, Idaho
Lake Fernan ice anglers mostly catch perch, although there are occasional reports of trout or pike. Anglers at Granite Lake (near Spirit Lake) catch a hanging rainbow about a foot long.
Perch fishing at Gamlin Lake (Gamble) has been good at times, but as with most winter fishing, success can vary from day to day. These are some of the largest perches in Idaho, outside of Lake Cascade.
Blue Lake (near Sandpoint) has a variety of thorny rays which include good sized large mouths. Fishermen catch crappie just before dark. Round Lake anglers catch small perch as well as rainbow trout and a few brookies.
The Chain Lakes have provided good fishing and are receiving lots of attention. Thorny skate and northern pike bite.
Lower Twin has good ice cream but slow fishing. Trout was more evident than perch. Cocolalla Lake was much better for bigger perch. Many anglers say the best bite occurs when the train passes.
Lake Avondale is still frozen, but you may have to take a long step across the water along the shore.
Those who venture out find decent ice cream in the middle. Perch and trout are the most commonly fished.
The north end of Priest Lake has ice in some of the bays, but freezing temperatures are needed to make fishing safe. If that happens, mackinaw fishing through the ice is a lot of fun, and 3-4 pound mackinaws are relatively easy to catch.
There is a chance that there will be safe ice on Cavanaugh Bay by the weekend.
On Saturday, youth, veterans and active military members can participate in a statewide waterfowl hunt. It can be a quality experience for those who qualify as there are few hunters and the wetlands often reopen as the weather warms in eastern Washington, bringing more birds back from the south.
A late season snow goose hunt will take place in Goose Management Zone 1 from February 12 to 22 (snow goose only) and in Goose Management Zones 2 and 4 from February 12 to March 2 and /or March 9 on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only. .
Before traveling to GMA 1 or 2, check the WDFW brochure and/or website for specific areas where hunting is permitted, along with dates, rules, and bag and possession limits. Better opportunities will occur primarily in the Tri-Cities and around Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir.
Contact Alan Liere at [email protected]