By Alan LiereFor The Spokesman-Review

Tip of the week

While both largemouth and smallmouth bass can be targeted most of the year, these first few weeks of spring – as water temperatures begin to rise – mark the most exciting time to target the big ones.

Since they’re spawning, or getting ready to spawn, they’re likely going to be close to the bottom. So, that’s where anglers should target them. Anglers will have better luck fishing on bright, sunny days when the fish are more active. Cloudy or rainy days often push bass back down to their wintering levels, making the bite less predictable.

Braggin’ rights

The 2023 Lake Pend Oreille Spring Derby is over. Rain and cold curtailed participation as well as success, but a number of big fish were nevertheless caught, and most were released.

In the final standings, Mike Blackstone took first in the adult rainbow division with a fish of 19.70 pounds. Blackstone just edged out Roger Blackstone’s 19.55- pounder.

Scott Plue wone first place in the adult mackinaw division with a fish of 18.75 pounds. Ed Reeves took second with a mackinaw weighing 17.40 pounds.

In the junior division, James Schriber caught the biggest rainbow, a 13.70 pounder. Mavrick Townsend won the junior A division with a 29-inch rainbow and Olivia DaVault took first in the youth B division with a rainbow stretching 301/2 inches. Clinton Eveland caught a 10-pound German Brown trout.

Heads up

The 2023 Moses Lake Carp Classic, a bow fishing tournament, will be held May 20 beginning at Connelly Park in Moses Lake. Registration is 6:00 a.m.-to-6:30 a.m. the day of the 10-hour tournament. For more information contact Ty Swartout at 206-459-2342 or at

The Quincy Valley Chamber of Commerce Pike Minnow Derby will run Friday through Sunday with over $35,000 in cash and prizes to be handed out either through awards to anglers or raffle prizes.

Registration is at the derby headquarters in Crescent Bar on Friday from 4:00 p.m.-to-6:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 8:00 a.m.-to-10:00 a.m. The weigh in will take place from 10:00 a.m. to noon on Sunday.

All registered anglers can get a free lunch at Town Pizza, at the awards location in Crescent Bar. Anglers have several launches available for the event, which include Crescent Bar, Sunland Estates, Vantage and Frenchman Coulee. To get the rules and other details for the Pike Minnow Derby, google quincypikeminnowfishing derby.

As the water rises, all major Lake Roosevelt launches are useable, but anglers will have to wait a little longer to launch at China Bend, Two Rivers or Hawk Creek.


Bluegill form large groups when it’s time to spawn or lay eggs. As many as 50 males come together to make nests.

To impress the females, male bluegill bellies turn bright orange. Bluegill are full of fight, but they are generally small. In northern waters it takes roughly 8 years to produce a 7-inch fish.

Fly Fishing

Silver Bow Fly Shop guides said the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River has turned the corner and is on the drop. Some small spots to fish should open up this week, but the river is high still and dangerous. Anglers have no reason to wade at current levels because the fish are up against the banks. Use the same precautions for fishing the St. Joe.

Smallmouth bass fishing at the mouth of the Grande Ronde has been excellent. Fishing smolt or white streamer patterns, or sparkle minnow types has been productive.

Trout and kokanee

At Sprague Lake Resort, Monika Metz said rainbow fishing is not doing much, but she expects to begin seeing the larger fish as the weather warms. In the meantime, anglers are catching some of the numerous 14-inchers planted this year. She said the best fishing has been for big bass.

Because of low participation and cold weather, the put-and-take Washington trout lakes will retain good numbers of planted fish further into the summer than usual. Fair to good fishing will be available longer in lakes like Fishtrap, Clear, Williams, Badger, Jumpoff Joe, Waitts, Diamond and Sacheen.

Loon Lake trollers have been pleasantly surprised at the size of the kokanee they are catching. Fish from 13 to 15 inches have been the rule.

Usually, the lake north of Spokane produces 8- to 10-inch fish this early in the year. The downside with the larger fish is that there are fewer available.

The lakes in the Highlands near Wenatchee have been planted. These include Lilly, Clear and Beehive Reservoir. Snow at these elevations prevented planting in time for the opener, but there are plenty of trout available. Beehive should have good numbers of carryover trout.

Salmon and steelhead

The return of spring chinook to the Icicle River is expected to be slightly better this year than last. WDFW is considering bumping the limit to three fish. There should be a good harvestable numbers.

Spiny ray

Walleye fishing on the upper end of Moses Lake is good . Anglers should target 5 feet of water and drag bottom walkers with green Smile blades and Slow Death hooks baited with nightcrawlers. A lot of smallmouth bass are also being taken.

Perch fishing at Curlew Lake gets better each day, according to the folks at Fisherman’s Cove Resort. Curlew perch are some of the largest to be found on this side of the state.

Downs Lake anglers are catching a few large crappie, perch and largemouth as well as some decent-sized rainbow trout.

The crappie bite is beginning at Sacheen, Newman, Long, Fernan and Hayden.

Long has some of the biggest crappie around, but the water is still cold and the best fishing is still ahead. Eloika Lake is high and cold. It should be one of the first crappie lakes to get good, but the fish have been difficult to find.

Other species

Some of the year’s best fishing for channel catfish and smallmouth bass will be this month in the Yakima, Palouse and Walla Walla rivers.

Catfish in the 3- to 8-pound range are biting in the Snake River along the dikes near Lewiston.

The shallow water on the flats at the mouth of the Palouse River are beginning to yield some 5- to 8-pound channel cats on cut bait or nightcrawlers. The nightcrawlers are also taking some walleye.

Catch-and-release sturgeon fishing has been good near Heller Bar on the Snake River.


Turkey hunters who haven’t taken a bird in Washington or Idaho should find the gobblers a little more vulnerable. A lot of toms are alone or with just a few hens. This should make them more likely to pay attention to your hen call.

Years ago, I had a golden eagle dive on and attempt to carry off a hen turkey decoy I had set out at the junction of two old logging roads.

The big bird sounded like a fighter jet as it dropped from the sky.

This week, I was on my deck when I heard the same sound, but this time it was a pair of mature bald eagles zeroing in on a hapless blue heron. One of the eagles hit the heron, knocked it to the ground, gathered it up and flew off.

Contact Alan Liere at