The Lake Roosevelt
fishery is co-managed by the Spokane Tribe, Colville Tribe, and Washington
Department of Fish and Wilflife (WDFW). They have done an excellent job of
protecting and enhancing the Roosevelt Reservoir fishery. There are currently
63 net pens on the reservoir, located north to south from Kettle Falls
to Keller Ferry. Net pens are operated by a group of volunteers and the WDFW
Sherman Creek Hatchery and the Spokane Tribal Hatchery produced the rainbow
trout for transfer. In the spring of 2017, about 500,000 rainbows were released
with a target goal of 750,000 to be released in 2018.
Lake Roosevelt has the best rainbow
fishing in the region. Both wild and planted triploid rainbows are held within
the system. In order to preserve the native species, wild fish must be
released. Hatchery triploids "those with a clipped adipose fin" are the fish
you need to target. As planted fish “hold over” from one year to the next, they
grow quite large. It’s more than possible to catch a 25-inch rainbow!
The combination of
extremely deep, cool water and the abundance of shrimp and other feed produce
the tastiest fish imaginable. The meat is firm and deep red, much like a
sockeye. You can smoke or can the catch, but it is most tasty right off the
barbecue or cast iron skillet.
If you don’t have a boat,
don’t worry. Grab a bundle of firewood, some hot dogs and cocoa, then head out
to one of the abundant, sandy beaches along the shoreline. I suggest you
purchase the Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake Map
published by Fish-n-Map Co. It was made by
fishermen for fishermen and has all the information regarding fish locations,
Winter through spring is
fantastic bank fishing for the rainbow. During those months, fish migrate to
the shallower waters and are easier to target. All you need is a light rod with
a spinning or bait caster reel and you are good to go. Cast your line with a
slip sinker out as far as you can. Use a hook loaded with powerbait of a
mashmallow and worm. Sometimes the simplest of techniques gives the best
results. A cast and retrieve method is also productive. Rainbows can’t seem to resist Smile Blade® setups. I
suggest you give the Mack’s Lure Promise Keeper® a try, as well. It
incorporates the Smile Blade® and Wedding Ring® and its designed to cast.
If you have a boat and
enjoy trolling, the following tips should bring you success. I refer to depth,
speed and lure presentation as the “Holy Trinity” of successful fishing.
In the late fall, winter and early spring when
the water is cool, trolling boards or side planers are an awesome advantage
because usually the game fish can be caught in the top 10- to 25-feet.
In early January this year, the water temperature was 37 degrees and the
rainbows bit between 9- and 12-feet.
With the use of equipment, such as trolling and
planer boards you can troll your line along the shallow shoreline, spacing your
lines at multiple depths using weights or diving lures. This method also
enables the angler to space presentations different distances apart, covering
more water. The Double D™ Dodger is also a good way to spread lines out in
combination with the action of a dodger. The added advantage of a two-pole
endorsement gives some trial and error options when finding the desired lure,
depth, speed or presentation that works on that day.
When the fish are in the top strata, the leaded
line also does very well. Downriggers are effective, too, as is long-lining a
lure with a light banana or snap weight. Rainbows tend to spook away from the
boat and, for that reason, I try to space my lures 80- to 150-feet back,
especially when fishing on the top.
As the water warms, the fish follow the cool
water and gravitate to the lower depths or areas of cool water flow. In the
summer, they usually bite in the 30- to 50-foot zone, but fish don’t follow
A good speed for rainbows ranges from 1.6- to
2-knots or faster, depending on your lure and how active the fish are. Speed up
or slow down to find the magic tempo. Bear in mind that it may change as the
day brightens, water warms up, or the fish decide to mess with your mind.
When it comes to speed, I want to know my lure
speed exactly. Yes, your GPS on whichever sonar unit you own, measures speed,
as do some other high tech methods. They, however, are not correct indicator of
lure speed. One of the most important peices of fishing equipment on my boat is
the Luhr Speed Indicator. Most of the time, that indicator speed will be at
odds with the high tech readouts. A difference as small as 0.2 knots may
determine a successful day of catching versus a day of sight seeing.
LURE, COLOR & PRESENTATION
Rainbows are the easiest of the game fish to
target on Roosevelt. They seem to love the
bling! Smile Blades® or Flash Lite® blades are great attractors. You can attach
a 2-, 3- or 4-Bladed Flash Lite® Troll to your lure’s leader. Smile Blades® can
also be strung on the leader "just separate the blade from the lure by using a
bead or two. Using a Smile Blade® in front of a Pee Wee™ Hoochie or a small
squid, fly or Wedding Ring® spinner is usually a sucessful combination, as
My favorite setup is a streamer or muddler fly
with a Smile Blade® or Wedding Ring® Blade at its nose. I often place a Wedding
Ring® Tapered Bead at the head of my fly, then top it with a Smile Blade® 1.1
or 0.8. Use a two-hook setup with a single- or treble-trailing hook, topping the
front hook with a piece of night crawler or maggot" rainbows love worms! As I
mentioned, these fish follow no rules and bling may not be their thing on
certain days. Give small, straight or broken back plugs, hockey stick- or
plastic mini cut plug-style lures a try, too.
When the fish seem to want attraction and
action, use a Sling Blade™ (4”, 6” or 9”) or a Double D™ Dodger (4.4” or 7.6”).
Did you know that you can bend the Sling Blade™ to increase its action? Try
different dodger sizes to adjust lure action. Also, shorten or lengthen your
leader to slow or hasten the action of your lure. A Wiggle Hoochie™ Bill,
available in clear or UV options, rigged on the tip of your hoochie will also
increase the action of your lure substantially.
Green, pink and orange lures and blades seem to
be the most effective colors throughout the year. That being said, it is always
wise to give some other color combinations a try if you are not getting the
strikes you want. Give brown, chrome, purple and black tones a try, too. Also,
UV and glow setups will give you an advantage in deeper waters. Often, water
color, temperature and depth will dictate the winning color of the day.