Scatter-gunners probably won’t see many partridges when the partridge and quail seasons open Saturday in Idaho.
Quail hunters likely will see enough birds for good shooting along brushy draws of the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers.
Periodic rains and low temperatures during the second week of June along the Snake River drainage apparently resulted in poor survival of chukar and Hungarian partridge chicks.
Fishermen and recreationists who have boated the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers in recent weeks reported that they’ve seen few chukars along the river. Captains of tour boats say they chukars are few and far between from Lewiston nearly to Hells Canyon Dam.
Wildlife biologists for the Idaho Fish and Game Department said their aerial survey last month indicated the chukar population along the Snake River drainage was considerably smaller than that of last year.
The early partridge season for southeastern Washington will open next Friday. Wildlife biologist Pat Fowler has announced that an aerial survey indicated the chukar population may be one of the smallest on record.
The Snake’s still a little too warm for good steelhead fishing. Although thousands of steelhead are climbing the lower Snake’s fish ladders each day, the steelhead remain reluctant to take anglers’ lures.
Water temperatures are in the high 60s along the Snake from Ice Harbor to Lower Granite Dam.
Steelhead will migrate when the temperatures are high, but they don’t become aggressive and readily take lures and flies until the temperatures drop to the low 60s. Steelheaders have their best luck when the temperatures are 50 to 55.
The best fishing is in the lower Clearwater, where the temperature is running several degrees under that of the Snake above the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers.
Most anglers know that hundreds, if not thousands, of steelhead destined for the upper Snake, Grande Ronde and Salmon rivers move up the Clearwater a few miles when the Snake’s temperature is high. Once the Snake’s temperature drops, those steelhead leave the Clearwater and resume their migration.
Despite the high Snake temperatures, scores of steelheaders, both boaters and shore fishermen, try for steelhead every day.
Some steelhead have been caught in the Snake from Lewiston to the Ronde’s mouth and in the lower Ronde, but fishing has been slow.
It’s possible that the Corps of Engineers will count as many as 200,000 steelhead at Bonneville Dam this year. The count at mid-week was about 180,000.
More than 12,000 have been counted at Lower Granite Dam since May 31. The 4,500 before that are assumed to have spawned.
Temperatures were in the 80s and the sun was shining when Spokane flyfisherman Bill McElroy decided to spend 3 or 4 hours fishing Amber Lake. Too hot, he figured, for good fishing, but he went anyway.
He was lucky. Water boatmen were all over the lake and the trout were in a feeding frenzy. His imitation proved effective, but he lost his few water boatmen patterns quickly. He tied on an adult damsel imitation and the trout hit that, too. When he decided to leave, he had hooked more than two dozen trout, a few big enough to break him off.
That’s what is happening these days at area lakes. Fishing can be dull and frustrating one day and fast and exciting the next.
As water temperatures cool, trout start feeding on anything that’s available.
Other selective fishery and fly fishing-only lakes are starting to produce good fishing. Wildlife agent Dan Rahn of Moses Lake said that fly fishers did fairly well last weekend at Lenice Lake, averaging six to eight trout each on a variety of patterns.
Trolling for rainbows along Lake Roosevelt has been spotty.
Trollers are continuing to average three to four kokanee each at Loon Lake, Joe Haley of the Granite Creek Resort said.
Haley said fishermen are starting to catch immature kokanee that are 12 to 12-1/2 inches long. The kokanee are bright. Mature female kokanee, now 14 inches, are in good shape but the males are getting hook noses and turning dark.
Fishing is still good at Coeur d’Alene and Pend Oreille lakes.
The St. Joe, Lochsa and Selway rivers and Kelly Creek, North Idaho’s top cutthroat rivers, are still producing excellent fly fishing. Water temperatures are dropping gradually and most major hatches are long gone, but caddisflies are continuing to hatch and the trout are taking grasshopper imitations.
The Lochsa has been attracting fly fishers who want to avoid the crowds along the upper St. Joe.
Several Western Montana trout streams are providing good fly fishing, especially on cloudy and rainy days.
John Horton, manager of the Grizzly Hackle International fly shop at Missoula, advised fly fishers to have plenty of hopper imitations for fishing the Clark Fork and Bitterroot rivers and Rock Creek in the Missoula area.
Gray Drake and Baetis mayflies are hatching along Rock Creek, he said, but many fly fishers have been using hopper imitations and bead head flies.
Hopper imitations are working on the Clark Fork. However, fly fishers are also hooking trout on Trico, Baetis, Sulphur and Pale Morning Dun mayfly imitations and on October caddis patterns.
Guide Arnie Gidlow said that the Missouri below Holter Dam has been providing excellent fishing on hopper and caddis patterns and on bead head patterns during mid-day hours. Hopper patterns were especially productive on big fish this week.
Spiny rayed species
Bass fishing was good at numerous Eastern Washington and North Idaho lakes last weekend and early this week.
Wildlife agent Rahn said he was surprised to see so many largemouth and smallmouth bass taken by anglers who took part in a bass tournament last weekend at the Potholes Reservoir. He said the best fishing was in fairly deep water.
Ross Fister of the Fins & Feathers shop at Coeur d’Alene said that bass fishing has been excellent at several North Idaho lakes, including Coeur d’Alene and the lakes adjacent to the lower Coeur d’Alene River. He, too, said the bass are fairly deep.
Walleye fishing has been good at the Potholes Reservoir and at Sprague Lake, but most of the fish anglers are hooking are sublegals.
This is the best time of year to fish for northern pike, Fister said. Some weighing more than 20 pounds have been caught the last 10 days at Coeur d’Alene Lake.
The Spokane River just below Coeur d’Alene Lake is the most productive spot for good-sized perch, Fister said. He suggested anglers fish next to weed beds.