Allen Petersen at Swede’s Fly Shop on Garland Avenue said Rocky Ford is one of the best fly fishing destinations at this time. He recommends using small patterns like a hot head mini-bugger in black or small midge patterns fished down from the hatchery and across the foot bridge. “Air temperatures are cold, but the rainbows are active when given the right incentive,” Petersen said. On most days he would recommend using a sink-tip fly line with a short leash or fluorocarbon tippet.
Trout and kokanee
Liberty Lake is ice free and there have been some brown trout taken just west of the public boat launch. The north side of the lake, just south of the large sandy beach where the rocky shore shows, can also be good.
Deer Lake looked like it was going to lose its ice last week, but it firmed up again last Thursday night. There were quite a few angles drilling holes on Friday. Deer has some nice rainbow and brookies, but there wasn’t much action except from an angler near the narrows, who said he had a fish on that was so big he couldn’t get its head through the hole – probably a mackinaw.
Rock Lake has booted out some nice rainbow recently with some 16-inchers as well as the smaller 10-inch fish. The north end has been best with fish cruising just below the surface. A recent report said the fish seem to prefer a slow troll and pink Wiggle Hoochies. Anglers casting from shore at the public access are also catching trout by throwing Power Bait or miniature marshmallows below a sliding sinker.
Most of the lakes in Grant County that opened March 1 are free of ice.
Two of the more popular are just outside George. To the east is Martha Lake, where anglers are catching rainbow trout–some quite large. Upper Caliche Lake, to the west, is giving up some nice stringers of trout averaging about 12 inches. Martha Lake will receive 1,500 more catchable rainbow in April and Upper Caliche will receive another 1,000.
Quincy and Burke lakes should provide excellent fishing this spring. Both lakes fished well in 2021, and angles reported good catches of big trout. Fingerling rainbow trout stocked in Quincy and Burke lakes last spring are 11 to 13 inches this year, and 2-year-old fish should be in the 13- to 15-inch range.
Lenice and Nunnally lakes, both under selective gear rules, have trout in the 14- to 16-inch range with some up to 20 inches. Lenice will receive 2,250 catchables in April, and Nunnally will get 2,750.
Lenore and Dry Falls were ice bound this week, and Lenice and Nunnally may be also. The north end of Lake Lenore where pre-spawn Lahontan cutthroat congregate, will provide excellent fishing for fish 16 to 24 inches when the ice goes out. The 70,000 Lahontan cutthroat trout stocked in October in this selective gear lake will be of catchable size.
Many north Idaho lakes were still ice-capped this week, but there is water around the edges of most. Enthusiasm for hard water fishing has dropped significantly.
Salmon and steelhead
Idaho Fish and Game is again recruiting volunteer anglers to catch adult hatchery steelhead from the South Fork Clearwater River to collect brood stock. The goal is to capture just over 500 adults to meet the 1.4 million juvenile release target for the South Fork Clearwater River.
These fish are collected to develop a localized steelhead population.
In theory, they will develop adaptations that will allow them to return at a higher rate to the South Fork Clearwater River than steelhead collected at Dworshak Hatchery.
Anglers who would like to participate in the program will sign a volunteer form that IDFG personnel will be carrying with them as they drive up and down the river. This form allows angles to handle steelhead with an intact adipose fin and put them into tubes that are available along the river.
Washington fishery managers have unveiled salmon run forecasts for state waters this year. Many forecasts look similar to last year’s predictions with some slight improvements or declines by area.
About 230,400 “upriver bright” fall chinook are expected to return to areas of the Columbia River above Bonneville Dam, a slight decrease from last year. Sockeye returns to the Columbia are forecast to be up to nearly 200,000, compared to last year’s return of 152,309 fish, but several stocks are down and are expected to limit lower river fisheries. The endangered Snake River sockeye run is forecasting only 200 fish and Lake Wenatchee sockeye forecast is below the escapement goal.
Effective Wednesday, the adult salmon daily limit on the Wind River and Drano Lake will be one chinook salmon.
Lake Roosevelt has been giving up some large walleye, but some boats are also taking good numbers of “eaters” between Fort Spokane to Buoy 5.
Hauser and Hayden lakes in northern Idaho still had good ice early in the week, and anglers targeting pike were doing well.
Despite glowing reports about big walleye on the Columbia River, I was with a group of six angles who trolled and jigged with a guide for eight hours out of the Crow Butte State Park on Monday, catching only eight of the “eater” variety.
Early season fish are usually larger than the postspawn fish that begin to show later in the spring, but just because they are there doesn’t necessarily mean you will catch them.
Potholes Reservoir is largely ice free. The launch at MarDon Resort, Blythe Point and the State Park are still iced in, but anglers can launch off the rocks at Perch Point and at the Glenn Williams launch. A few trout and walleye are already being taken.
The white sturgeon retention season in The Dalles Pool from The Dalles Dam to John Day Dam and all adjacent Washington tributaries will remain open for retention three days per week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday) until March 30.
Catch and release will be allowed on the other days. On days open to retention, the daily limit will be one with a minimum size of 43-inch fork length and a maximum size of 54-inch fork length.
Creel data indicates the quota of 105 white sturgeon will be reached on the John Day Pool. Retention will be closed from John Day Dam to McNary Dam, and all adjacent Washington tributaries, on Thursday.
The WDFW has approved seven days of razor clam digging on ocean beaches beginning Wednesday and running through March 22.
The first four digs are on evening low tides and the last three are in the morning.
Contact Alan Liere [email protected]