North Idaho lakes icing up, chinooks still biting
Smaller lakes are firming up for ice fishing.
Anglers are braving the cold out on Hauser, Avondale and Upper Twin lakes, said Tina Padgitt of Black Sheep Sporting Goods.
"Most little lakes up north are nice and frozen," she said. "Avondale had 6 inches last week."
Most of the early ice fishers are catching perch using maggots and glow hooks with bead-chain spinners, she said.
Randy Gardner at Fins & Feathers Tackle Shop also said a lot of the northern lakes are frozen.
"I heard there is a good 8 inches of solid ice on Granite, Kelso, Round and Mirror lakes," he said.
Coeur d'Alene Chinook
Chinooks are still biting well on Lake Coeur d'Alene.
Salmon are 100-110 feet deep, where they will hit minisquids behind 7-inch flashers or herring in green or glow helmets, usually without flashers.
The best bite is toward the south end from Loff's Bay to Rockford Bay, Gardner said.
With water at the low winter level, the best boat launches are on the north end of Lake Coeur d'Alene.
"There's only a couple of boat launches that are year -round," he said.
Gardner recommends the Third Street launch because it's not too steep. Booth Park is the other.
"With Higgens, it depends on the day," he said. "There were guys having a tough time getting out of there the other day."
Wilson wins winter derby
Whitney Wilson took first place in the ninth annual Gene Fink Memorial winter chinook derby last weekend on Lake Coeur d'Alene.
Wilson landed a 9-pound, 7-ounce salmon.
Here is the rest of the standings: 2nd place, Tyler Capparelli, 9 pounds, 4 ounces; 3rd, Alan Dolomont, 8-9; 4th, Staci Caddy, 7-13; 5th, Doug Sheldon, 7-1; 6th Linda Wilson, 6-5.
Fly fishers seeking steelhead in the Snake, Grande Ronde or Clearwater rivers should use sinking lines and big, weighted flies, said Bob Drummond of Orvis Northwest Outfitters.
"But you fish all day for a couple of tugs," he cautioned.
Drummond recommends Bunny leeches and big Skunk patterns.
"Swing them slow, especially when it's this cold, you'll find them in the softer inside seams, which is good for fly fishermen because the seams are typically closer to shore," he said.
Drummond said he's getting best trout reports from Rocky Ford Creek, Wash., a spring-fed stream northwest of Moses Lake.
"It's a long way for a short window to fish, but it's always a good winter fishery," he said.
There's big trout there, he added. "It's not uncommon to catch 6-8 pound fish in Rocky Ford."
He advises to sight-fish.
"Throw out a nymph and wait for a fish to cruise by and move it," he said.
The fish are wary of leaders and flies.
"It's tough to get them to eat your bug, but you'll see fish because they don't spook off of people," he said.
If you're fortunate enough to see dry fly activity, It's usually midges this time of year, he said. Trout will hit streamers in the early morning or late evening.
Mike McLean is The Press outdoors editor. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2011, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org . Remember to review appropriate rules and regulations before fishing.
The Press Outdoors section is published each Thursday.
The Dec. 15 cover story is about viewing regal bald eagles around Wolf Lodge Bay.
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