Ice fishing springs into action - Coeur d'Alene Press: Outdoors

Ice fishing springs into action

Fish Tips

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Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 12:15 am

Fishermen finally have some ice fishing to enjoy in their own backyards, said Jeff Smith with Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop and Guide Service.

Fernan Lake has accumulated about 6 inches of ice, he said, providing a ready platform to pursue a variety of fish.

"I had friends yesterday who did really well on perch," Smith said on Tuesday. "But you catch a mixed bag at Fernan. You can target trout if you want, or catch a lot of perch. You get some bass sometimes, and there are some pike on the lake."

Most perch will be 8 to 10 inches long, he said.

"Not huge fish," he said. "But you can usually get pretty good numbers, enough to make a nice fish fry."

He suggested using any glow ice jigs, he said. Some are using a swedish pimple with a small ice jig underneath, he said, baited with maggots.

"That works pretty well," he said.

Rainbow trout can be found at a 10-foot depth, he added, and can be snagged with jigs or a hook and a worm.

"They'll be pretty decent sized, from 11 to 14 inches," Smith said.

He's also heard of folks ice fishing at Mirror Lake between Coeur d'Alene and Sandpoint, he said.

There is an access fee, he said, but kokanee catches there are promising.

"Access to that lake is actually private, but it's just like going to a boat ramp and paying four bucks," he said.

Glow hooks and maggots should snag the kokanee, he said.

Hauser Lake is also drawing ice fishermen, he said, and he had success at Avondale recently.

"I did real well on the bluegills," he said, adding that he used maggots and wax worms for bait, with a jig on the bottom.

Some are returning to the Chain Lakes to ice fish, Smith added, though he advised folks be cautious.

For pike fishing, use smelt or herring, he said. The fish will range from 2 to 10 pounds, he added.

"Most of the places (at the Chain Lakes), the ice is pretty good," Smith said. "But drill test holes down there."

•••

Ice fishing has returned, and anglers are reaping the rewards from Coeur d'Alene to Cocolalla Lake.

The hot ticket right now are Rapala vertical jigs, which are landing bass, perch and trout on the Twin lakes, lakes Fernan and Cocolalla, or any body of water where panfish swim, said Blake Becker of Black Sheep Sporting Goods.

Bluegill and crappie fish are chasing small Ratso jigs. The smaller the better, Becker said, so if you can, find 1/32 ounce or 1/64 ounce sized jigs.

Really, most any jig or spoon is the best thing going right now.

Pike, meanwhile, are going after dead bait like herring or smelt with steel leaders. The best ice fishing for those is on the Chain Lakes.

"We've seen some nice pike and we've seen some really nice perch," Becker said.

More good news, he added, is that it should hold up as long as the ice does.

•••

Area fishing is expected to slow down a bit with cold weather and snow predicted, said Bud Frasca of North West Classic Tackle in Hayden.

"This is a good time to put another log on the fire and put in a good fishing DVD," Frasca said.

Steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River, should anglers want to brave the elements, is still an option.

"They can be caught with bait, egg patterns and jigs," Frasca said.

Rocky Ford, a spring creek in Eastern Washington, and the Coeur d'Alene River are other options this time of year when the weather cooperates.

Some fishermen are also trolling Lake Pend Oreille.

"Fish are typically on the surface, but you need a boat with a cabin and heat this time of year," Frasca said. "Pend Oreille can get ugly if you get out in a storm."

•••

Fishing is weather dependent, at the moment, but fishermen aren't bummed about it.

"We actually need the snowpack for the upcoming fishing season," said Pat Way, at Orvis Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d'Alene.

The only decent trout fishing right now in the area is the Coeur d'Alene River.

Way recommends a moderately sized stone fly nymph, with a 10- or 12-hook size, for some subsurface action.

About a foot below the fly he recommends a San Juan worm. He recommends about 9 feet of leader below the fly line.

Way said some steelheading opportunities exist south along the Clearwater, Snake and Grande Ronde rivers.

"If we get a break in the weather, we suspect we'll get back down there and catch some fish," Way said.

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