"Fishing this time of year feels like feast or famine, but the local fishing is starting to pick up," said Mike Beard, of Orvis Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d'Alene.
A lot of the area streams got a needed bump of water last weekend, he said. As usual for late winter, nymphing and streamer fishing will be the most consistent.
"But there have been enough bugs on the water the last few days that it's time to make sure you have some midge dries in size 20-22 as well as the black stoneflies, size 18-20 and some medium brown stoneflies, size 16-18," Beard said.
Also it's good to have some attractors such as parachute Adams and Griffiths gnats just in case a fisherman lucks out with a sunny day and the fish are looking up, Beard said.
"They are cutthroat after all and they haven't been seeing too many dry flies in the last few months," Beard said. "If the water is off color big rubber leg stonefly nymphs, prince nymphs and/or San Juan worms under an indicator should do the trick."
For those who need a last, late season steelhead fix, their best bet will be the Clearwater River above Orofino, the Salmon River, or the Methow and Wenatchee Rivers in North Central Washington.
"Nymphing stoneflies and egg patterns will be the most productive way to catch these steelhead, but swinging leeches or marabou speys on a sink tip is never a bad idea depending on the water you're fishing," Beard said.
Fishermen are still reeling in hefty pike from Lake Coeur d'Alene, said Jeff Smith.
"It was really good about two weeks ago, then it died. Now it seems to be coming back again," said Smith, with Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop and Guide Service.
Most are catching pike in bays, he said, like Mica, Carlin and Wolf Lodge.
He recommended using smelt or herring.
"That's just how they get caught," Smith said.
Pike are also abundant in the Chain Lakes, he added.
A mix of fish are available at Rose Lake, Smith said, where the ice has now disappeared.
The mix includes largemouth bass, bluegills and crappies, he said.
He advised using a jig and a trailer for the bass, he said, or some type of crank bait.
A bobber and small jig should do the trick for panfish, Smith said.
Rainbow trout are also biting in Fernan Lake, he said.
"There's a little bit of ice on the lake," he cautioned. "You can fish along the edges and the back."
The trout range from 11 to 13 inches, he said. He recommended using a nightcrawler and marshmallow, or Powerbait.
An easy fishing option is the tribal ponds by Plummer and Worley, Smith added.
The little ponds are full of fish, he promised.
"These trout, they're big, 2 to 5 pounds," he said.
He recommended using a nightcrawler and marshmallow, Powerbait or throw spinners. People need a tribal permit to fish there, he said.
"It's fun," Smith said. "It's a good place for kids or old people."
If you're finished gearing up for the upcoming fishing season, waiting for the last ice to melt off area lakes and getting antsy to go out, Liberty Lake just across the border may be a good option.
Steve Holweg of Cabela's said that lake has been stocked by Fish and Game with trout and is ready to go.
"If you have a Washington license or you want to get one for just a day or two, people can fish it from the bank or from a boat," Holweg said.
Holweg said recent warmer temperatures and wind are gradually clearing lakes of ice, which will open up a plethora of opportunities.
Holweg said if you venture out for spring river fishing, use extreme caution because of rising water levels.
"With a little rain or snow melt, the water flow will go up so you want to be careful if you wade fish," he said. "Now is not the time of year to get sucked in."
Holweg said many anglers, including himself, are buying whatever gear they need for the season and getting new line on reels.
Spring fishing is beginning, which means cutthroat season on the Coeur d'Alene River has begun.
The best time for cutthroat fishing on the river is usually June, but anglers are getting an early jump on catching the fish
"It's exciting," said Brad Zierer, of Black Sheep Sporting Goods, on the trout season starting.
The river, he said, is about medium depth and anglers are casting lines with Sculpin fly patterns. Specifically, they're using tan and olive green flies, sized 10, and casting lines from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. to catch them near Cataldo.
That's the only change worth reporting, Zierer said, as anglers wait for the transition period between winter and spring seasons.