Sunday, January 29, 2023

Drop a line in Priest Lake

| November 18, 2010 8:00 PM

It's a great time of year to drop a line in Priest Lake, says Jeff Smith of Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop and Guide Service.

Folks are reeling in plenty of mackinaw lake trout there, he said.

"In the fall, they bunch up on the bottom," he said. "Once you get on a bunch of 'em, you can have a lot of fun."

There are two ways to snag the mackinaw, Smith said. One is to drop shot with a Berkley Gulp Minnow. Folks can also troll for mackinaw by pulling Lyman or Apex plugs, or flashers and mini squids.

"There's just lots of things that will catch them on a troll," Smith said.

The mackinaw can be found between 60- and 160-foot depths, he added.

Salmon fishing is also picking back up on Lake Coeur d'Alene, Smith said.

He spoke with fishermen who caught fish up to 10 pounds last weekend, he said.

"The guys who went out there did pretty decent," he said.

He suggested using flashers and mini squids around 80 to 120 foot depths.

Some fish have also been caught with flashers, squids or helmeted herring at the 50-foot range.

"There were a few shallow fish caught," he said. "That could continue, but it might not."

Coeur d'Alene, St. Joe rivers

Fishing continues to be slow during the mornings and first part of the afternoon on area streams, said Mark Roush of ROW Adventures in Coeur d'Alene.

"There are some fish that can be lured out of some of the deeper holes and runs during the mid- to late afternoon," he said. "There is little surface activity this time of year, but there are occasional blue-winged olive hatches."

The majority of fish that will be caught will be sub-surface, Roush said. Try nymphing deep with princes and copper johns.

Area lakes

There is still relatively solid pike activity on Lake Coeur d'Alene and the Chain Lakes, Roush said.

Chartreuse spinners and deep-diving crankbaits should get some looks, he said.

"There are still some bass to be caught as well on Hayden Lake," Roush said. "People will have to fish deeper."

Senko worms are still a popular choice. It is still hard to beat a nightcrawler dragged along the bottom.


Steelheading on the Snake and Grande Ronde rivers continues to produce positive results, Roush said.

"Fishermen are swinging and having success on both rivers," he said.

"Steelheading has been good," said Pat Way of Orvis Northwest Outfitters.

Way prefers the Clearwater River for steelhead, but said the Snake is offering them up as well.

"With all of this recent rain, the rivers are starting to come up a bit," Way said.

But he doesn't expect it to last long.

"Earlier in the season, we were swinging traditional steelhead flies," Way said.

These days he suggests trying sinktips and leech patterns to get down into the water column a bit.

"One of the fly patterns that we're using right now is hobo spey, black and green or black and blue color combinations, string leeches and marabou spey patterns," Way said.

Fishing is back to what they consider a normal steelhead season. The fish counts are good, Way said, but nothing like last year which was almost unprecedented for fish in the system.

"If guys are going down there expecting to land six or seven fish a day, they've got the bar set really high," Way said.

If trout are what anglers are looking for, Way said the Coeur d'Alene River is probably their best bet.

"The window is gradually getting shorter. I would try tandem nymph rigs most of the day. Streamer fishing can also be effective this time of year," Way said.

Afternoon hatches will likely be midges or small blue-winged olives.

"The dry fly window will be pretty short and sporadic," he said.

Kokanee season is slowing down.

At least until the lake freezes over.

Anglers looking to pull the fish from Lake Coeur d'Alene or Spirit Lake can still catch them, but the quality of the fish has deteriorated deeper into the spawning season. They're still chasing wedding rings tipped with corn, said Johnny Booey, of Cabela's. But that would be for catch and release. Anglers might be better off waiting until Spirit Lake freezes over for the Kokanee catch to improve.

When ice fishing starts, they'll chase maggots and small glow gigs, he said.

But pike season is still going, as they stay active mostly through the year.

When it's colder out, throw rapalas and huskie jerks with suspended plugs and troll slowly. If a warm front hits, the fish are more aggressive.

"If the fish are aggressive, use big flashy lures," he said. "Use the same bait but use more ripping type of troll, a little faster and more erratic."

Chinook are chasing mini squids and Mexican flag mini squids in Carlin and Mica bays on Lake Coeur d'Alene. They'll also go after helmeted herrings if dropped between 65-115 feet deep, said Steve Holweg at Cabela's.

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