Time to renew fishing license
There are only a few days left on your 2010 fishing license; everything has to be renewed after Jan. 1, reminds Jeff Smith of Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop and Guide Service.
"It's easy to forget," Smith said.
While most people are looking for some ice to fish through, Smith said it's also a good time to head down to the Clearwater River for steelhead.
Steelhead anglers should check the local fishing regulations, Smith said, and make sure they have steelhead cards in addition to their regular licenses.
"Most guys use slip bobbers and jigs, especially if they're fishing off the shore," Smith said. "They also use a big bead, a No. 10, and a hook, and they drift fish that."
Many of the smaller lakes are safe now for ice fishing, and after this weekend's colder weather, Fernan and Cocolalla should be completely thickly iced over as well.
"One of the guys that works here was up on Gamble Lake (near Sagle).
He was catching perch. The lake was frozen solid with about 6- to 7-inches of ice," Smith said.
The 9- to- 11-inch perch coming out of Gamble Lake were latching onto glow jigs baited with maggots.
Smith was on Avondale Lake in Hayden on Sunday where the ice is about six inches thick.
"We caught a lot of blue gills, a few perch, a few bass," Smith said. "It was kind of fun. We were fishing in about 20- to- 22-feet of water, going close to the bottom."
Smith said there are lots of different ice fishing jigs - ratso, ratfinky and hothead lures are popular.
Up on Kelso Lake, Smith hears anglers are catching a lot of rainbow trout through about 6- to- 7-inches of ice.
"A lot of people are using worms there," he said.
On Rose Lake, ice fishermen can jig for crappie, blue gill and bass.
For pike, Smith suggests tip-ups baited with smelt or herring. They've also been doing some tip up fishing on the Chain Lakes, Killarney, Cave and Medicine.
Ice fishing season, while not perfect, is getting better, said Josh Kinghorn, of Black Sheep Sporting Goods.
Lakes are starting to freeze, and anglers are starting to ice fish close to the banks, especially at Lake Fernan and Hauser Lake.
To catch trout, use glow hooks and bronze or silver-colored Swedish pimples. Add a chunk like a nightcrawler or a maggot to go after perch.
Pike fishing on Lake Coeur d'Alene will be a good bet for anglers as the temperature continues to drop in the coming weeks. Pike will chase lines with slip bobbers rigged with dead bait like smelt, just off the bottom of the lake surface.
The best spots to land them are in Cougar Bay and Wolf Lodge, Kinghorn said.
If you want to land pike while ice fishing, use tip ups with the smelt after you drop the line in.
Recent steelhead fishing on the Clearwater, Snake and Grand Ronde rivers has been good, said Pat Way, owner of Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d'Alene.
"It's definitely time to start thinking sink tips and big leech patterns," Way said. "All have been very effective. Nymphing has been so-so, but fish are ready and willing to chase a fly."
Fishing, however, is subject to change with predicted colder weather ahead, Way said.
"As temperatures drop, fishing will get more difficult down there," he said. "Local trout waters have also afforded a short window, but if this front moves in, it will be pretty tough."
Way said a "go to" winter fishery is Rocky Ford, a spring creek near Moses Lake.
"Because it's a spring creek, there's more consistent water temperatures in the middle of winter," he said.
Way said small midge pupa patterns and streamers are effective on the stream. He also suggests fishing with fluorocarbon leaders.
"When it's in the water, it disappears," Way said. "Because fish are so smart, that will give you more of an advantage out there."