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Hunting + fishing

Fly fishing

It is worth planning your fly fishing around the heat. Get out early on the lower reaches or fish the upper reaches and tributaries. The upper half of the Bitterroot, like most rivers, is best left alone during the heat of the afternoon. Caddis have been making an impact later on.

The North Fork Coeur d’Alene is fishing well, particularly the middle section from Yellow Dog to the gravel area, as well as the St. Joe. PMDs and hopper/dropper combos work well. Kelly Creek and Cayuse Creek are providing excellent action.

Clark Fork water temperatures are edging toward 70 degrees. The last hour of light has been consistent. Great summer action is available on the Missouri, mostly from caddis and PMDs, both on top and underneath. Flows have been cut back enough to make wading feasible.

The Naches River near Yakima has been good from below the confluence near Rowe Farms to several miles upriver. Large surface dries are working.

Rocky Ford is weedy, but the fish are still there. Scuds still take 90 percent of the fish. Sprague Lake fly anglers are having a ball throwing damselfly nymphs for the big rainbow.

Trout and kokanee

Some monster triploids still lurk under the upper net pens on Rufus Woods, and anglers who are free-floating their bait offerings are catching them. Coon shrimp has been popular.

A few anglers are still able to catch the big Loon Lake kokanee this summer, but a check of a dozen anglers at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday revealed only nine fish. The night action, such as it is, is in 30-32 feet of water. Trollers who are on the water as the sun comes up are having slightly better success trolling the same depth. Those without downriggers are adding a 11/2-ounce weight to three colors of leaded line so they don’t need as much line to reach the thermocline. This allows them to bring the fish to net quicker, as many otherwise tear loose at the boat.

Kokanee success has been decent this summer on Bead Lake, though the fish are only about 9 inches long. On Horseshoe Lake, they are about the same, and on Chapman, a little larger.

WDFW northeast district fish biologist Bill Baker said kokanee fishing has been productive at Lake Roosevelt. Most fish run 2-4 pounds.

Coeur d’Alene Lake kokanee are numerous and hungry, but the average size is 8 inches. Anglers report graphing huge schools near Coeur d’Alene Point.

Deer Lake rainbow, some as large as 18 inches, are hitting Power Bait off Mackinaw Point. Waitts Lake has not been particularly productive except for anglers fishing early and late. Jump-Off-Joe rainbow ranging 12-14 inches are biting Power Bait and worm combos near the springs to the left of the resort and to a lesser degree straight out from the resort.

Salmon and steelhead

Anglers will have one more weekend of Chinook salmon fishing in Idaho’s Salmon River this summer. The reach from the city of Salmon upstream to the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir will close at the end of fishing hours Sunday.

Fishing was poor earlier this week at the mouth of the Okanogan, so anglers moved down to Wells Dam where the increased activity may have spooked those fish. The most popular setup has been a Brads Super-Bait and flasher. Go 15 pulls out from the boat and 18 feet down.

A number of Washington rivers open to salmon fishing Aug. 1. These include Grays (including West Fork), Elochoman, Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis (including North Fork), Wind, White Salmon, Klickitat and Drano Lake.

Ocean fishing continues to clip along for salmon anglers who can drop a line for coho and salmon seven days a week in all coastal waters.

The biennial pink salmon migration has begun in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The Buoy 10 fishery near Ilwaco also opens Aug. 1.

Columbia boat and bank anglers reported good catch rates for summer steelhead last weekend. In the gorge, boat anglers averaged 5.6 steelhead per boat, while in the estuary, boat anglers averaged 1.33 steelhead per boat.

Spiny ray

Long Lake largemouth were hitting a smorgasbord of offerings this week, with some 5-pound-plus fish coming on everything from spinnerbaits to rubber frogs. Smallmouth fishing remains good.

Spokane angler John Petrofski fished two days at Coffeepot Lake this week. He pitched a green pumpkin Senko for excellent results on largemouth. His son, Ian, caught a 3-pounder, his first, on a black Jitterbug. Petrofski said crankbaits were also effective, and a friend caught two huge rainbow trolling a Timber Tiger bass plug.

Bass fishing has been excellent at Banks Lake. Top water swim baits such as the Zara Spook have been effective before the sun comes up.

Banks Lake walleye have also been cooperative, and some larger ones are showing. A popular technique is to drag a Walleye Diver just over the tops of the weeds in about 10 feet of water.

On Potholes Reservoir, largemouth are hitting in the dunes and smallmouth are hanging out in the rock piles. Senkos and spinnerbaits are enticing both. Walleye fishing has been good at Potholes for anglers trolling worm harnesses or Shad Raps. At Mardon Resort, Rob Harbin says a No. 5 or No. 7 Shad Rap trolled at 2.2 mph is particularly effective in front of the dunes.

Water levels on Potholes Reservoir are dropping rapidly, and that can make it easier fishing for some species. Yellow perch and bluegill catches are reported from the dunes area of the big waterway, and there is also pretty decent fishing for these species from the Mardon Resort fishing dock.

Other species

The popular Hood Canal crab fishery opens Wednesday. Puget Sound crab anglers are catching limits in most areas that are open.


Some early elk hunts open Aug. 1, most of them antlerless “green-field” hunts.

The early “green-field” hunts in elk management zones – Palouse, Salmon, Lemhi, Beaverhead and Pioneer – are meant to help landowners reduce crop damage. Early archery and any-elk hunts also start Aug. 1 in the Snake River elk zone

The bear hunting season opens Aug. 1 in parts of Washington. Hunters are allowed two bears during the general season – which runs through Nov. 15 – but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington.

Contact Alan Liere by email at


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