July 31, 2009 in Sports

Hunting + fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Tip of the week

 Bass anglers are touting something they call a wacky worm for fishing around rocks and cover. It is a 4- to 5-inch Senko hooked in the middle with a single 1/0 hook. They say results can be amazing, but it has a tendency to tear easily. To solve this problem, slide a small rubber gasket over the Senko and slip the hook under it. Commercially produced “0-rings” from Bass Pro Shops are made specifically for this.

Braggin’ rights

 Five Washington state residents received Volunteer of the Year awards from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife this month. Among them were Jerry Ponti, who operates a veterinary clinic east of Spokane and has treated hundreds of wild animals along with pets and livestock over the past 30 years; and Bill Butler of Cheney, who has spent more than two decades helping staff at the Spokane Hatchery. A longtime member of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council and the Bighorn Foundation, Butler has coordinated efforts to restore upland game habitat and promote outdoor education.

Overheard

 A fly fisherman at Rocky Ford said he was amazed to see a cormorant attacking and eating a 16-inch trout. He noted that watching the struggle as the bird tried to subdue and swallow the fish was like watching a wrestling match on the water.

•Burbot are biting late at Bead Lake. The fish aren’t big, but it’s not a bad way to spend a hot summer night.

Heads up

 It is almost certain there will be a sockeye season on Lake Wenatchee this year as fish counts over Tumwater Dam are reaching as many as 1,000 per day, and WDFW is monitoring it daily. The launch will be closed to boaters on weekdays until the work is complete but will remain open on weekends. During construction, boaters are encouraged to use the Maiden Rock Boat Launch. It is on the southeast corner of Spirit Lake and can be reached by following Highway 41, 1 mile south of the city of Spirit Lake, and turning west on Nautical Loop Road.

Fly fishing

Clark Fork flows are good, but fishing over the last week has been spotty. There is good early-morning stuff with hopper/dropper rigs until 11 a.m. or so and then a big shutdown until about 2 p.m. The evening bite doesn’t begin until dark. There are many caddis, but the fish are hunkered down until about 8:30.

There are good water temperatures and great conditions on the St. Joe River. The weekend crowds are there, but fishing is still good. Consider fishing the midcorridor/canyon. You’ll have to put the hiking shoes on, but it should pay off. Pmds, caddis, golden stones, yellow sallies, hoppers and ants all produce.

Trout and kokanee

The Icicle River near Leavenworth is a good place to cool off and catch a bunch of small rainbow this time of year. The Entiat is also loaded with small rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout, and the Methow River offers larger rainbow and cutthroat. Farther north, the San Poil and the Kettle rivers both offer fast action for smaller rainbow, with bigger fish possible.

At an elevation of 4,000 feet, the Skookum Lakes east of Cusick are a nice place to spend a hot summer weekend. Most of the rainbow and brookies are around 11 inches long, but several fish more than 2 feet long have been taken recently. Rowboats and modern bathroom facilities, including showers, are available at North Skookum Campground.

“Our low-elevation lakes are likely slow due to the hot weather,” said Jim Cummins, WDFW fish biologist from Yakima. “It’s almost too hot to even try fishing them. A better bet would be the high-elevation lakes, those above 3,500 feet. There are both drive-to and hike-to waters with decent trout fishing in Yakima and Kittitas counties. If you’re not familiar with them, check out our ‘High Lakes Primer’ available on the region’s Web page.” (wdfw.wa.gov/ about/regions/region3/)

For years, I’ve thought I was a pretty good kokanee fisherman, but this summer, the 12- to 14-inch Loon Lake kokes are making me look silly. While night fishing for these landlocked sockeye has been generally slow, for me it has been abysmal – one fish and only two bites in five trips.

Salmon and steelhead

Anglers have been catching and releasing steelhead on the lower Clearwater River since the beginning of July. Starting Saturday, they can take some home. Idaho Fish and Game opens the 2009 steelhead harvest season Saturday on a 2-mile stretch of the river, from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 12 Bridge, also known as the Memorial Bridge in Lewiston. The daily bag limit is two, and the possession limit is six. Anglers throwing dyed shrimp under a bobber will most likely see most of the action.

Anglers planning to fish for salmon on any of the eight tributaries that flow into the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam can expect good fishing for hatchery coho. Starting Saturday, when fall salmon fishing opens in the Columbia River Basin, anglers fishing those rivers will be allowed to catch and keep up to six adult salmon per day, provided that at least four of them are hatchery-reared coho.

Steelhead anglers had excellent success in the Columbia River estuary and the gorge last weekend, when boat anglers averaged 1.6 and 1.33 steelhead caught per boat, respectively.

Spiny ray

Eloika Lake is choked with weeds as usual this summer and the public launch is under construction. You can still launch at Jerry’s Landing, and surface-feeding crappie are abundant just about anywhere in the evening. Try swimming a small, weightless rubber worm or dragging a yellow or white fly, either in the traditional manner or behind a bobber. Many of these fish are more than a foot long. Newman Lake is another good bet for crappie and bass at dusk. Try around the docks and hang on, for tiger trout have been following anglers’ offerings to the boat all week. It’s just a matter of time until one decides to hit.

Clear Lake has been good for largemouth. A few more than 5 pounds have been landed recently.

Walleye and smallmouth are making Lake Roosevelt anglers smile. It’s not fast fishing, but it is fairly consistent. A good technique is to fish the points that form the numerous bays. Crankbaits are popular, as are jig and worm combos.

Silver Lake perch have added some girth since last winter, but they still aren’t big. You can catch all the 6- to 7-inchers you want, as well as some big sunfish. Muskies are still following lures, but none has been reported caught recently.

The Steamboat Rock area on Banks Lake has been excellent for largemouth close to shore. Stickbaits Texas rigged have been effective. Another good largemouth fishery is Long Lake (Lake Spokane). As they are everywhere, these bass are in the shade – and at Long, this means the lily pads. Throw hollow body frogs into the thickets. Sometimes letting it sit will entice strikes, and sometimes a fast retrieve is best. The middle of the day can be good.

Idaho’s Hauser Lake is good for panfish, especially during the evening. There are a lot of bluegill.

Hunting

Big-game hunters whose names were drawn in controlled hunt drawings have until Saturday to buy their tags, except in unlimited hunts. Any tags not purchased by that date will be forfeited. After a second drawing, any leftover tags are sold over the counter.

The early “green-field” hunts in five 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 Saturday in the Snake River elk zone. Limited seasons also open Saturday in the Weiser and Owyhee-South Hills zones.

Contact Alan Liere by email at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com

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