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January 6, 2011

Winter fishing report

   Winter provides unique fishing experiences for anglers in the Clearwater Region. These experiences can be quite diverse as due to the extreme differences in elevation. Some areas freeze over every year whereas other areas rarely ice over. Some of the various fishing opportunities are as follows:

Winter Steelheading

   Some of the best steelhead fishing in the Clearwater Region can be had during winter, as fish tend to sack up in the deeper slower holes. These spots are fairly easy to locate as you will often see numerous people fishing the best spots.

   However, those who want to venture up Hells Canyon may have the river all to themselves. Good fishing can be had from boat or shore and techniques range from back trolling plugs, to bouncing bait on the bottom to drifting bobbers with plastic beads or bait beneath. A general rule of thumb is if you aren't catching them try going smaller. Many people catch fish using a single plastic bead.

Ice Fishing

   Ice fishing opportunities for various species (trout, perch, bluegill, etc) can be found at many of our lowland lakes during the winter months. Take care before venturing onto the ice as conditions can vary considerably depending on which lake you are fishing and the time of the year.

   All the lowland lakes are stocked with trout and provide good ice fishing opportunities. When fishing for trout, try fishing with worms, eggs or power bait on a glow hook just thee to ten feet under the surface. If you aren't getting action, move around until you find those fish.

   If you are looking for something different, try Elk Creek Reservoir for brook trout which can reach 15-18 inches. Winchester Lake is also great lake to ice fish as you can catch trout, bass, yellow perch, crappie, and potentially even channel catfish.

Winter Stream Fishing

   If you're brave enough to get out there and tough out the elements, good fishing opportunities are available in many of the larger streams and rivers for mountain whitefish and trout. Starting in 2011, most rivers and streams are open all year. Be sure to check the regulations, as many rivers and streams are open only to catch-and-release when fishing for trout.

   Winter is the time of year when the larger cutthroat trout congregate in some of the deeper slower pools. When you find one of these pools, hundreds of cutthroat trout could be using them. The lower Selway, Lochsa, North Fork Clearwater and Middle Fork Clearwater rivers are good places to try. One good way to locate these pools is during warm winter days, look for trout rising for midges.

   For some hardy anglers, winter means it's time to fish for mountain whitefish. Whitefish can be caught in all the major rivers in the Clearwater Region. When fishing for trout or whitefish try drifting a beadhead nymph along the bottom. If fishing for whitefish, one of the favorite bates are maggots which are legal in most waters in the winter.

   The above information is compiled from regional Fish and Game fishery managers, local tackle shops and anglers.

Sportsmen's Report sponsored by John and Lorraine Weiland

Riverside Sport Shop/Sinclair

11320 U.S. Highway 12, Orofino--208-476-5418

Click here to see their web page