Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for March 3

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for March 3

Fly fishing

The quick warming trend and rain have caused most Eastern Washington and North Idaho rivers to blow out, but angles should still find good fishing at Rocky Ford Creek. There are plenty of 16- to 20-inch rainbow trout and a few hundred larger (4 pounds-plus) fish that were recently stocked.

Steelhead and salmon

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon on Wednesday approved this year’s spring chinook recreational fishing season for the Columbia River, with some improvement to expected returns compared to 2021.The forecast 2022 for upriver spring chinook numbers is 122,900 fish, which would be the highest return since 2016 and above the 91,756 fish that returned last year, although only 81% of the 10-year average of about 152,300 fish.

Salmon fishing is open daily from the mouth of the Columbia River to the Interstate-5 Bridge, but spring chinook usually don’t arrive in large numbers until late March and April.

The Columbia will be open for salmon fishing on the following dates and locations:

  • Through April 6: From Buoy 10 line upstream to Beacon Rock (boat and bank), plus bank angling by hand-cast only from Beacon Rock upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline.
  • April 1 through May 5: From the Tower Island power lines (approximately 6 miles below The Dalles Dam) upstream to the Oregon/Washington border, plus bank angling by hand-cast only between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines.

Open water fishing

A friend fishing out of Spring Canyon toward the dam is finding an occasional kokanee but said trout fishing has been slow.

Anglers trolling out of Seven Bays have been catching a few trout, but the walleye bite has been better. Casino Flats has been hot at times for walleye, and angles there have also caught a few burbot.

At the WT Wooten Wildlife Area in southeast Washington’s Columbia County, the thin layer of ice on the lakes has melted. Big 4 Lake wasn’t stocked this year, but Blue, Spring, Rainbow, Deer and Watson lakes were stocked in late February. The footbridge that provides access to Watson was replaced last fall after being washed out by flooding, so that lake is fishable again.

Some of the year’s biggest walleye are caught in the Columbia River in the late winter and early spring. These fish are preparing to spawn and are nearing their highest weight of the year.

Walleye are usually caught this time of year in Lake Wallula, Lake Umatilla, Lake Herbert G West and Scooteney Reservoir. Spots to try for walleye in the Tri-Cities area are the Snake River downstream to Badger Island and from McNary Dam downstream to Boardman.

Reel Time Fishing in Clarkston is starting to take bookings for smallmouth bass fishing on Dworshak Reservoir. Usually, the bite begins in April when water temperatures rise and the larger bass move into the shallows. This is a time-sensitive fishery.

Last year, big fish started showing around the third week of April and continued through the first week of May. Smallmouth of 8 pounds and more are always caught during this window. Info: (208) 790-2128.

Ice fishing, Washington

The recent rain and wind have made ice fishing a guessing game. The bigger lakes like Moses, Potholes, Sprague and Coffeepot still had ice last weekend, but a lot of water and dark spots were showing. Deer Lake and Liberty Lake have good ice, but a friend who lives on Deer said there was so much water on top of the ice, fishing “wasn’t any fun.” Many of the lakes are experiencing the same thing. Hog Canyon may still be fishable if there isn’t too much open water around the edges. Sacheen Lake, which has been one of the better perch destinations, had a good ice cover last week and is probably still decent. Wear rubber boots. There have been no fishing reports from most of these lakes, however, and this is the time of one year has to decide whether catching another trout or perch is worth the hassle and the risk.

Fish Lake in the Okanogan had good ice at the beginning of the week, and also a good perch bite. Most of the fish are 8-9 inches.

Friends did fairly well fishing through the ice on McGinnis Lake last week, catching several 17-inch brook trout through 12 inches of ice. They were baiting a Swedish Pimple with a piece of worm. McGinnis is on the Colville Indian Reservation and a tribal license is required.

Downs Lake in southwest Spokane County warms up earlier than other area lakes, being just 12 feet deep. Fishing for largemouth bass and rainbow trout is typically fair at Downs in March.

Ice fishing, Idaho

Cocolalla ice is still thick and the perch fishing is decent on the north end. Round Lake has been slow, but the ice is good. Hauser Lake ice is about 7 inches. Perch and bluegill are biting. Granite Lake rainbow are still biting.

Bottom fishing

Fishing off the coast for lingcod, certain rockfish species, kelp greenling and cabezon opens daily from March 12 through Oct. 15 off the Columbia River/Ilwaco area, Westport, La Push and Neah Bay (Marine Areas 1, 2, 3 and 4). The western Strait of Juan de Fuca from the Sekiu River mouth west to the Bonilla-Tatoosh border (Area 4) opens daily from March 12 through Oct. 15 for lingcod and open year-round for certain rockfish species and cabezon.


The statewide Washington cottontail and snowshoe hare season is open through March 15.

Contact Alan Liere at [email protected]

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