Alan Liere's fishing-hunting report for March 4

Eli Francovich, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.
·5 min read

Mar. 3—Fly fishing

Fishing isn't hot on the Spokane River, said Sean Visintainer at Silver Bow Fly Shop, but it will keep improving with the warmer weather. Tungsten jig stones have been good recently.

Lenice and Nunnally lakes opened Monday with a one-fish-per-day limit on rainbow trout, and a lot of these fish are measuring around 18 inches. Lake Lenore should provide excellent opportunities to catch Lahontan cutthroat up to nearly 10 pounds. Dry Falls Lake has a large population of big, hungry rainbow as well as brown and tiger trout.

Trout and kokanee

Anglers are still not finding many kokanee in Lake Roosevelt. Spring Canyon, which normally heats up in March, is no exception, but trollers looking for kokes are finding a lot of rainbow, many over 20 inches.

It's open, but Amber Lake's rainbow and cutthroat fishing generally picks up toward the end of March. Amber is under selective gear rules, and there is a one trout over 18 inches daily limit.

At the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County, only Blue, Spring, Rainbow and Deer are open to fishing following flooding last year. Big 4 Lake won't be stocked in 2021 due to flood damage. Watson Lake's footbridge was washed away by flood waters, so you must wade the river or walk in from Deer Lake to access it.

Salmon and steelhead

Reports are winding down on the Snake, Clearwater and Grande Ronde as the season is getting later and fish closer to spawning. The Grande Ronde is pretty high, but the Snake and Clearwater are good. Reports from the upper Clearwater have been good for B-runs.

Steelhead fishing is closed upstream of the Interstate 182 Bridge at Richland, but anglers can continue to fish for steelhead downstream of the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco through March 31.

Emergency rules are in place for steelhead fisheries in southeast Washington. The Snake River remains open to steelhead fishing through the end of March with daily limits of one hatchery steelhead from the mouth to Lower Granite and two hatchery steelhead from Lower Granite upstream. Tributary fisheries in the Touchet, Walla Walla and Tucannon rivers remain open through April 15 with a daily limit of one hatchery adult. The Grande Ronde River also is open through April 15 with a daily limit of two hatchery steelhead. Salmon fishing is open 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.

Idaho ice fishing

Avondale Lake has good ice and the slush has frozen. Anglers are having mixed results on trout and a variety of spiny ray.

Cocolalla remains one of the best perch lakes in Idaho, although fishing has been slow this week. Best luck is at sunrise and sunset in at least 35 feet of water.

Washington ice fishing

Two friends and I drove to Curlew Lake Feb. 24 where we rented a cabin for two nights at Tiffany's Resort and fished for perch a couple of hundred yards out from the docks in 45 feet of water. A lot of fish showed on the fish locator. Although they periodically got lockjaw, there were flurries of great action and my friends iced well over a hundred 9- to 11-inch perch while I mostly watched the action despite fishing a hole only 3 feet from them. I did catch a couple of nice rainbow. The most effective setup for the perch was a large Swedish Pimple baited with a perch eye.

A friend continues to fish Sacheen Lake using a green Ratfinkee with a 2-inch dropper baited with maggots. He is catching crappie, perch and an occasional trout in 34 to 40 feet of water. He recommends going early as the bite is over by 11 a.m.

Deer Lake has good ice in the bays, but the middle is unsafe for ice fishing. There was quite a lot of activity out from the public access on Monday's opener, and a few lake trout were reported caught. Liberty Lake, which also opened Monday, is known for outstanding brown trout fishing in March. It was iced over at the access at midweek, but there was a little water showing.

Ice fishing is still underway at Leader Lake near the town of Okanogan, with catches of 8- to 10-inch perch and occasional crappie and bluegill. Patterson Lake near Winthrop is also open year-round with catches of perch and kokanee through the ice. Bonaparte Lake near Tonasket is productive for rainbow and kokanee and Palmer Lake near Loomis usually has decent perch fishing through March. At Roses Lake, most anglers are targeting rainbow trout, which are 11-13 inches. For anglers willing to hike or with a snowmobile, the Antilon lakes can produce limits of brown trout mostly in the 12- to 14-inch range.

Spiny ray

The right side of the launch at Porcupine Bay is fenced off and the left side is covered with sand, leaving only the middle suitable for launching. Walleye anglers are finding a few schools of fish on shallow water flats near Buoy 1. Bigger fish are in 20-30 feet of water and smaller fish are deeper. Use jigs tipped with nightcrawlers.

Other species

Based on recent marine toxin tests, the Washington Department of Health has determined that except for the Westport Boat Basin, Dungeness crab are unsafe for human consumption in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point) and Marine Area 2 (south of Point Chehalis) and Marine Area 2-2 (Grays Harbor).

Hunting

Snowshoe hare season is open until March 15. The rabbits are white, but diminished snowfall at some of the lower elevations makes them easier to spot.

WDFW is taking comments on 2021-2023 hunting regulation proposals until Thursday evening.

This includes a change in grouse hunting season dates which will change to Sept. 15 from the usual Sept. 1 opener. The survey works best with a Google Chrome browser, but give it a second to load. You can also access the survey at publicinput.com/R7743.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com