Warm weather may change fishing outlook - Coeur d'Alene Press: Outdoors

Warm weather may change fishing outlook

Fish Tips

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Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 12:15 am

Duane Sunell of Cabela's said good ice fishing was had on area lakes, but recent warm weather may change things.

Sunell said he fished Blue Lake near Priest River and picked up perch and a tiger muskie.

Others have fished Hayden and Twin Lakes for northern pike and have had success using herring and smelt.

For perch, try using jigs with maggots or corn.

Sunell said anglers are still buying steelhead equipment, which is a sign that activity is still happening on the Clearwater River.


Brian Griffith of Joe Roope's Castaway Fly Fishing Shop in Coeur d'Alene said fishing on the Coeur d'Alene River is a safe bet.

"The numbers aren't high, but the quality of fish are good," said Griffith, adding that small nymphs and copper johns are working. "Any spot with a good hole and a nice ripple above it works out well."

Griffith said the river offers quiet fishing this time of year and it isn't too far away in case the fish aren't biting.

"It's only a 20-minute drive, so if it's slow, it's not too hard to come back home," he said.

Bud Frasca of North West Classic Tackle in Hayden said steelhead fishing has leveled off a bit, but may pick up with warmer weather.

Recent conditions can make ice dangerous

The recent rain and warmer temperatures have outfitters cautioning ice fishermen when going out.

"One of our guys was recently on Fernan by the boat launch near the ranger station and there was still 6 inches by the dock, but if you go farther out, be careful, especially with the warmer temperatures we've had," said Steve Holweg of Cabela's.

The smaller lakes up north near Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry generally have better ice longer because temperatures are typically colder, Holweg said.

"All of the lakes have been fishing pretty well, but use caution," he said.

In Washington, anglers are still fishing Lake Roosevelt and trolling Rock Lake for rainbows and brown trout as it doesn't normally freeze.

But Rock Lake lives up to its name as rocks come up to the surface. Boat fishermen should be aware of the dangers that exist with their vessels.

Holweg said one fisherman who was recently on Newman Lake reported more than 6 inches of ice in one spot and 100 yards over there was only 2 inches.

"If you're not paying attention walking around and don't notice that color change (in the ice), it can be dangerous," he said.


Anglers may need another cold spell before they attempt to ice fish again, as surfaces are too unstable to support much weight.

That being the case, trolling for salmon on Lake Coeur d'Alene and trout on Lake Pend Oreille is as active as ever, said Blake Becker of Black Sheep Sporting Goods.

Salmon are going after squid look-a-like patterns like Hoochies, or a helmet herrings, dragging them at less than 1.7 miles per hour or so.

On Lake Pend Oreille, trout are going after Frisky Jenny Flies, or Polar Bear Flies at shallower depths, usually dragged at surface level, or less than 10 feet deep, Becker said.

Get in the boat and go after pike, too.

They're chasing lines rigged with smelt or herring in most lakes.

Perch fishing is just as busy. They're going after all kinds of very small jigs, like 1/64 ounce jigs with a maggot and glow tube on them.

The farther north you go for those, the better, Becker said. But another cold spell is needed to solidify the ice before ice fishing can really get going again.


Ice fishing just isn't where it should be, said Jeff Smith with Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop and Guide Service.

"The weather is trying to challenge us," Smith said. "Usually we're full-fledged ice fishing right now."

But not so now. Only a few lakes to the north still offer a shot at ice fishing, he said.

Round Lake is doing well for trout and perch, he said, and some folks are still trying their luck on Avondale Lake and Kelso lakes.

"You're going to have to watch the weather from here on out," he cautioned, adding that folks should double check the ice. "Some of the edges are getting bad."

He suggested using nightcrawlers and wax worms for bait to snag trout, or use a jig and bait.

There are alternatives to ice fishing, he acknowledged.

Some are fishing the Coeur d'Alene River for whitefish, he said, using either glow hooks baited with maggots, or a nymph fly baited with maggots.

Some are still fishing for cutthroat trout, which is only catch and release on the river.

Other ice-less options include fishing Lake Roosevelt in Washington for walleyes, he said. He suggested a blade bait.

Trolling for salmon on Lake Coeur d'Alene has been spotty, he warned.

"It's been just fair fishing," he said. "I did hear of an 11-pounder caught this weekend."

Trolling herring is his first choice to catch salmon, he said, usually at 90 to 100 feet.

Catches have been better around Tubbs Hill and Arrow Point, he said.

Some are also steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River, he said.

That requires a steelhead punch card in addition to a fishing license, he said.

Most are fishing with a slip bobber and jig, he added.

"Our best seller is white and black, but they use different pink combinations, too," he said.

Smith isn't confident that ice fishing will improve, he said.

"It's just stressing us out a little bit we haven't gotten colder evenings to keep this ice thing going," he said. "We were just getting rolling on it, and now we're taking a step backward."

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