Good fishing continues on the Clark Fork, with the best hatches and most productive fishing generally coming from the upper river above Milltown, and the far lower river below the Gorge. Evening caddis activity and rusty spinner falls provide good dry fly fishing before dark on warm days.
The Blackfoot, Bitterroot and Rock Creek are also good choices. Don’t forget the hoppers.
Wade fishing is a viable option again on the Missouri , though floating is most productive. Suspended late-summer weeds make subsurface fishing tough.
The Yakima is excellent for a variety of presentations. Flows are dropping. The most consistent fishing of the year is beginning and should last through October.
The CdA River is still fishing well. The water is low, but cold and hoppers are a sure-fire way to catch lots of fish. The Kootenai River is also fishing well. The Lochsa, the North Fork of the Clearwater and the Selway have been good. Red-legged hoppers are attracting the cutthroats, as are ants, renegades and midges.
Fly-fishing has been good for A-Run Clearwater steelhead.
Trout and kokanee
Most of the best-producing rainbow and cutthroat trout lakes in eastern Washington close at the end of September. Amber, Badger, Williams, West Medical and Fishtrap are still producing well. Sprague Lake is in excellent shape.
Loon Lake in Stevens County and Horseshoe and Sullivan lakes in Pend Oreille County still have good kokanee fishing. A night-fishing trip to Loon last weekend resulted in 22 kokes for three of us. All fish were a foot or better, and all were in excellent shape.
Triploid fishing has been excellent on Rufus Woods Reservoir, with catch-and-release anglers drifting marabou jigs reporting 50-fish days. If you just want to take two fish and go home, white Power Bait has been effective, said Dave Altier at Coulee Playland Resort on Banks Lake. Altier said a 17-pounder was caught last week at Rufus. Davis, Campbell and Cougar lakes in the Methow Valley are open for catch-and-keep trout fishing. Good catches of rainbow trout were reported there on Monday’s opener. There is a five-fish limit and the use of bait is permitted.
As the water cools down, selective-gear lakes in Okanogan County will start to pick up as well. Big Twin (Winthrop) and Blue (Sinlahekin) lakes should both be good bets for rainbow up to 16 inches. Chopaka Lake above the town of Loomis should also be good for rainbow trout to 15 inches. Chopaka is a fly-fishing only lake.
Lake Roosevelt is again booting out big kokanee in the vicinity of Crescent Bay and Whitestone for anglers trolling 50-70 feet down. The trout bite has been fair from Lincoln up into the arm of the San Poil.
Deep-water trolling for Pend Oreille rainbow has been surprisingly good, said Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene. He recommends an 8-inch flasher and any Glo-squid for fish running 8-12 pounds.
Salmon and steelhead
Lighted plugs at night continue to take steelhead in the confluence of the Clearwater. Upriver, in the catch-and-release section, fishing is better. The mouths of tributaries like the Tucannon and Grande Ronde are expected to be hot in the coming weeks. At Boggan’s Oasis on the Grande Ronde, Bill Vail said that while the smallmouth and trout fishing have been phenomenal, a few steelhead are already showing too.
The Snake proper, which opened to catch-and-keep fishing Monday, is slow.
A friend who fished seven hours with bobber and shrimp from shore near Wawawai on Tuesday said neither he nor any of the six anglers around him got a bite. He did see fish roll, however.
Chinook fishing on the mainstem Columbia River slowed considerably in the last week. Most of the success has been near the Bridgeport area. The fishery will remain open until Oct. 15.
Now that the Buoy 10 fishery is closed for the season, hundreds of Columbia River anglers have moved upriver to fish for salmon from Rocky Point/Tongue Point to Bonneville Dam. Fishing started slowly Monday, but it could pick up quickly in the days ahead if past years are any indication.
Salmon fishing is scheduled to close Sept. 13 at Westport, La Push and the inner portion of Neah Bay (Marine Area 4B). Salmon fishing is already closed in Ilwaco and in the ocean waters off Neah Bay.
Low and clear water have made it tough for anglers fishing the Quillayute system on the northern Olympic Peninsula, said David Low, WDFW fish biologist. There are summer steelhead and coho in the rivers, but the fish get spooked easily, Low said.
This is a good time to seek out panfish by working flies, lures or bait around the margins of weed beds in many local mixed-species fishing lakes.
“Try Bonnie, Downs, Eloika and Long lakes in Spokane County for perch, crappie and bass,” said regional fish biologist Chris Donley, who added that Rock Lake in Whitman County has some nice bass.
Evening anglers have also been doing well on Eloika Lake crappie. A white or yellow fly fished on top is effective.
Frenchman Hills Wasteway in Grant County has been giving up some nice bass recently, and there is still good smallmouth fishing on the Pend Oreille River. Pike reports have tapered off there, but some monsters are beginning to show on Lake Coeur d’Alene, said Smith at Fins and Feathers. He reported a 23-pounder caught last week in Wolf Lodge Bay. Work the deep weed edges.
Banks Lake anglers are still catching a lot of small walleye, but those who go deeper with dark-colored squid tipped with worm have had success on larger fish. Some nice smallmouth are hitting for anglers fishing slow and shallow.
Sturgeon fishing is good on the Snake above Lewiston. Squid are a popular bait, as well as any sardine-like fish. All sturgeon caught in Idaho must be released immediately. If you are interested in catching and eating a Snake River sturgeon, some of the holes around Starbuck and Central Ferry are giving up keepers.
Rufus Woods and Banks Lake walleye anglers have taken quite a few burbot recently. While a big one is 7 pounds, most are closer to 3. The burbot is a homely fish, but anglers who are not keeping them are missing out on some excellent eating.
Washington archers with an elk tag have from Monday through Sept. 21 to take advantage of the early archery elk season, which will start in designated game management units in both western and eastern Washington. That season overlaps with the archery deer seasons, which will continue through the end of September.
The annual high buck hunt in the wilderness (non-park) areas of the Olympic Peninsula will take place Sept. 15-25.
Hunting seasons for bear and cougar continue statewide, although cougar-hunting rules will change significantly Tuesday in Klickitat County, where the WDFW Commission recently approved a new pilot cougar hunt with the aid of dogs.
Dove and grouse hunters gave mixed reports following the Monday’s openers in Washington and Idaho. As always, there were pockets of birds, but it seemed to be a slightly-less-than-average dove opener and a slightly-better- than-average grouse opener.