Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

Fly fishing for trout in the region’s rivers is excellent. Attractor patterns in sizes 8-14 are working well for cutthroat in most waters. Don’t overlook the North Fork Clearwater and the middle and lower Lochsa, as both are producing nicely.

Salmon and steelhead

Recent steelhead catch rates have been about 15 hours per fish caught in the Clearwater River and 41 hours per fish caught in the Snake River. The Clearwater is low. Best chinook fishing on the Snake has been around the mouth of the Clearwater and near Heller Bar.

Creel checks show the best Washington steelhead fishing has been in the stretch between Lower Monumental and Little Goose dams, where anglers spent more than nine hours of fishing per steelhead caught.

WDFW staff interviewed 1,340 anglers from 529 boats with 529 adult chinook and 236 jacks last week in the Hanford Reach. All areas are reporting strong catches, and should improve as water temperatures cool and more fish move up. Salmon fishing is open through Oct. 22 from the Highway 395 Bridge in the Tri-Cities to Wanapum Dam, but closes Oct. 15 upriver from Wanapum Dam.


Amber Lake remains open through November for catch-and-release fishing. Friends fishing there last weekend said they caught several fish 17-18 inches and two more than 19 inches. A green-scale Hotshot was the ticket.

Apex lures with a piece of worm on the trailer hook are taking Deer Lake rainbow along the south shore. Fish run 12-15 inches. Deer Lake trout will begin coming up now that the water is cooling.

Spiny ray

This is prime time for catching perch in eastern Washington. Fish Lake, near Wenatchee, just outside the bay at Cove Resort, is an excellent place to dangle a worm. Another spot, largely overlooked, is Blue Lake, which is between Banks Lake and Soap Lake. Fishing is not fast, but size is usually more than 11 inches. Banks Lake is also giving up some big, fat perch between Steamboat Rock and the south end. Anglers are finding them by dragging worm harnesses. Banks Lake walleye fishing has been hot and cold, but the best luck recently is in about 50 feet of water.

Although Bonnie Lake is a good place for perch now, the trip in can be an ordeal as the water in the creek is only about a foot deep and beavers have built a mud dam near the mouth of the lake.

Walleye fishermen have been scarce on Lake Roosevelt lately, though a few positive reports have come from China Bend and at Hunters across from the landing and downriver. Best walleye action is below McNary Dam between Umatilla and Boardman where ’eyes are said to be both numerous and voracious.


An Idaho youth pheasant season opens statewide Saturday and runs through Oct. 12 for licensed hunters 15 years old or younger. Youth hunters must be accompanied by a licensed hunter 18 years or older; one adult may accompany more than one youth. The regular pheasant season opens Oct. 13 in Area 1 and Oct. 20 in Areas 2 and 3. IDFG expects pheasant numbers to be down and quail stable in the Panhandle. In the Clearwater region, pheasant numbers are up significantly, chukar numbers up somewhat, gray partridge down, and quail down.

The Idaho waterfowl season opens Saturday in area 1, but the opening dates for area 2 (which used to be area 1 and includes most of the state) opens Oct. 13 and runs through Jan 25.

The regular Idaho deer season opens Wednesday in many parts of the state. In some areas, a regular deer tag allows hunters to take either mule deer or white-tailed deer. A white-tailed deer tag allows hunters to take only a white-tail. Many areas across the state also offer antlerless youth hunt opportunities, but check the 2012 big-game rules brochure carefully for these. This year, for the first time in 36 years, Idaho is going to a bulls-only general elk season in the Panhandle because of low calf recruitment.

The general modern-firearm season for deer hunting opens throughout much of eastern Washington Oct. 13 and prospects for both white-tailed and mule deer in most of the three districts are good. The northeast district (District 1), particularly GMU 101 should be good. The four-point minimum is still in effect for whitetail in GMUs 117 and 121. Any antlered whitetail buck is legal, however, in the other five units of District 1 during the general season, and hunters 65 years old or over, youth and disabled hunters may take a doe from Oct. 13-26 in GMU 124 or from Oct. 18-21 in many other units. Check your game regs – page 19 and the GMU map on page 41.

Washington waterfowl hunting opens Oct. 13-17, closes for two days, and then runs Oct. 20-Jan. 27, except for geese, which are open Wednesdays and weekends and some later “bonus days” in units 4 and 5. Opportunities are fair to good. Rich Finger, WDFW district wildlife biologist for Grant County, said Canada goose harvest has been up and will probably continue to increase, and duck production throughout the Basin is up slightly. Farther north, the wet spring may have been positive for waterfowl production, with more flooded pond and slough habitat in the Pend Oreille River Valley, but locally, the moisture may have come too late. On a positive note, I just returned from a four-day waterfowl hunt in Alberta, and saw more ducks up north than in my previous 20 years of hunting there.

In Washington, California quail, gray partridge and chukar hunting opens Saturday and pheasant hunting opens Oct. 20. This year’s record cold and wet spring may have hampered bird production in some parts of the region. But Southeast District wildlife biologist Paul Wik said temperatures moderated during the time, most game birds were hatching their clutches, and he expects hunting prospects there to be good this season.

Contact Alan Liere @ spokesmanliere@yahoo.com

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