The Coeur d’Alene River is the bright spot in the region for fly fishermen. The lower end is floatable and wade fishing is possible from Shoshone Creek up.
The Clark Fork River is beginning to green up and fly fishermen nymphing with Pat’s Rubberlegs and Pheasant Tails are catching fish in soft pockets and foam eddies – if they can find them. Be cautious as the river is still pushing a lot of water and a slip could spell disaster. The Bitterroot and Rock Creek are said to be fishing well.
The St. Joe River is starting to drop but is still a week or so away from decent wading. A lot of water is still coming through the canyon, so soft spots are hard to find. The river is clear.
Red’s Fly Shop in Ellensburg reports good fishing on the Yakima River and Kittitas County creeks. The Teanaway has been productive. The Naches River is still high for wading, but the float trips are producing. Info: (509) 933-2300.
Trout and kokanee
Loon Lake trollers have to put in some long hours for limits of kokanee, but night fishermen have dialed in a good bite in 35-38 feet of water. Glo Hooks and maggots are taking limits of 11- to 15-inch fish all over the lake. If you don’t have a fish locator, just look for concentrations of boats after 9 p.m.
Deer Lake trout anglers are doing well with Power Bait on the bottom. The small lakes south of Spokane such as Williams, Badger, Clear and Fishtrap are also fishing well, but Amber Lake trout are suffering from lockjaw this week. West Medical trollers are plying the west side for some good rainbow catches.
Waitts Lake is still a good destination for browns and rainbow on the troll. Size varies, but many are 14 inches or better. Flies and flashers have been a good combination.
Downs Lake has yet to produce any numbers of big perch or crappie, but trout fishing for 15- to 17-inch rainbow is said to be good.
Rufus Woods Reservoir is high and fast from Seaton Grove past the second set of net pens. Trout fishing for the big triploids has slowed considerably. Best luck recently has come from anglers dunking Power Bait.
Lake Coeur d’Alene kokanee fishing is good. Look for them anywhere from 25-35 feet down. Good trout fishing is available on the smaller Coeur d’Alene area lakes.
Priest Lake mack anglers are having good luck jigging or trolling green split-back Rapalas.
Salmon and steelhead
Chinook fishing below Wells Dam is picking up but by no means fast. A lot of water is spilling over the dam and the river is treacherous in all but a small area near the east bank. A new section opened last Friday between the top of the dam and the Brewster Bridge. At the Triangle Exxon in Brewster, Bob Fately said the sockeye run is just beginning and the numbers look promising. He said there may be a problem, in that the Okanogan River is still cold and the fish might scoot straight up to their spawning grounds without stopping at the mouth as they did last year. Info: (509) 689-3473.
The lower South Fork Salmon River is closed for salmon fishing. The upper South Fork Salmon River will remain open, but will be closed to the harvest of adult chinook salmon 24 or more inches long. The Lower Salmon, Little Salmon and the Clearwater upstream from the Orofino Bridge (including the South Fork and the Lochsa) are open for the retention of adult chinook.
Summer steelhead numbers are increasing in the lower Columbia River. Last weekend, anglers fishing the gorge had the best success.
Lake Coeur d’Alene northern pike are making anglers happy. The fish are shallow and hanging out in the back bays. Largemouth bass are around docks and other structures at the north and south ends of the lake. Bluegill are a good bet on the smaller North Idaho lakes. Fernan Lake fishermen are catching catfish with worms or cut bait.
Pend Oreille River visibility is limited. Davis Creek was muddy at midweek, as were most other sloughs. Campbell was the clearest. The pike action is slower than a week ago, but there are still lots of fish, and action should pick up as the midriver weed lines become easier to find.
The water level of Potholes Reservoir continues to go down, but some big walleye have been caught in Crab Creek as well as the Winchester and West Dunes areas and at Goose Island. The preferred depth has been 7-20 feet trolling nightcrawler harnesses. Walleye fishermen are also catching large rainbow trout. The topwater bite for both largemouth and smallmouth is solid and the algae bloom making its way into the main lake from the back of the dunes will make the bass fishing better. Potholes is also an excellent place to catch big (9- to 11-inch) bluegill.
Rufus Woods is giving up a lot of walleye, as the heavy current is keeping them stacked up in small areas. When you get one, work the area thoroughly.
Crappie as large as 15 inches are available at Newman Lake. Try jigging a Berkley Gulp Minnow on the outside of weed beds. Slow-trolling a white or yellow fly on the surface in the evening is also effective.
Smallmouth fishing has been tough in the high water on the Snake River, but the flatter water around Wawawai has been good close to shore. Tubes and crawdad plugs work well. The Grande Ronde River was at 3,670 cfs at midweek and dropping. Smallmouth anglers are doing well, and one angler was surprised this week to land a fresh steelhead.
Long Lake largemouth are active along the weed lines. Eloika Lake has become so clogged with weeds this summer that anglers with electric motors say they can’t even move anywhere but in the middle of the lake. Largemouth are abundant in Eloika, but it is almost impossible to fish the docks from a boat.
The local muskie lakes have been kicking out quite a few fish the past two weeks. Big in-line spinners and jointed plugs are enticing fish at Newman and Silver. Curlew muskies have been more elusive.
Walleye fishing has been good near Lyons Ferry on the Snake, and channel cats are biting at the mouth of the Palouse.
Boat anglers on The Dalles Pool averaged nearly two walleye and more than 10 bass per rod this week. Fishing for these species has also been good on the John Day Pool.
Sturgeon fishing has been good on the Snake River, particularly in Hells Canyon.
Antlerless “green-field” hunts for elk open Aug. 1 in seven elk management zones – Palouse, Weiser, Lemhi, Beaverhead, Pioneer, Snake River and Owyhee-South Hills zones. Early archery hunts also start Aug. 1 in the Snake River elk zone, and controlled green-field hunts open in the Dworshak and Hells Canyon zones. The green-field hunts are open only outside the National Forest Boundary and within one mile of cultivated fields.
Most recent column
The curtain has opened on the last act in the Columbia River system’s “Year of the Salmon.” The performance began with good returns of spring chinook followed by this summer’s post-dams record returns of sockeye and a great showing of coho. Now the big stars …
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