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Hunting + fishing

Fri., Nov. 6, 2009, midnight

Fly fishing

If you are looking for a late-season fix, trout fishing on the Clark Fork and the Bitterroot is still good. Closer to home, Amber Lake fly fishermen are still smiling, and Sprague Lake casters are still finding monster rainbow.

Wednesday’s meeting of the Spokane Fly Fishers will include its annual fundraising fly auction, open to the public. Flies may be previewed between 6-6:45 p.m. A short meeting begins at 7, followed by the auction. This is an excellent opportunity to see what works on local waters. Location: St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy.

Salmon and steelhead

Steelheading in the Okanogan area remains good, with a lot of pressure on the Methow River. The lower portion (from the second powerline crossing upstream to the first State Route 153 Bridge) is open and the best holes are overrun with anglers. You may be better off on the Okanogan River, which is also good and a lot less crowded.

The five-fish limit has spurred new interest among steelhead anglers and Snake River guides are again filling their boats with clients. The problem, they say, is that everyone expects that all they have to do to catch five fish is show up. “Snake River steelheading is as good as I’ve ever seen it, but very few anglers are getting five-fish limits,” said Tim Johnson of FishHawk Guides. He added that bait fishermen and back-trollers are doing equally well. Clearwater River steelheading is poor, and it will probably continue to be so.

Idaho Fish and Game predicts this will be the second-worst B-run in the last 10 years. Some guides are optimistic about next year, as the huge A-run numbers they are seeing in the Snake went to the salt the same time as the B-runs, which stay an extra year. If optimum ocean conditions resulted in the huge A-run this year, next year could be the best for the Clearwater.

The Grande Ronde has been fair for fly fishermen and a little better for anglers using other methods. The best holes are usually crowded.

The wall at the base of Dworshak Dam, located upstream from Ahsahka on the North Fork of the Clearwater River, is a popular spot for steelheaders, but fishing it requires finesse, patience and some tolerance because of frequent overcrowding. Like the Clearwater proper, the North Fork will probably be only fair this year.

Effort and catch for coho is declining in the Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam. On the Bonneville Pool, boat anglers continue to average an adult coho per rod.

Trout and kokanee

Lake Roosevelt and Sprague are still the spots for trout anglers. At Roosevelt, you can’t go wrong with a flasher and Muddler Minnow or Frisky Jenny perch pattern fly trolled in the top 20 feet. Good reports are coming in from all launches. Sprague Lake isn’t quite as consistent, but bank anglers generally do well just throwing a worm and letting it sit. Sprague Lake Resort is still open. Owner Monika Metz said weeds and algae are gone and fishing is excellent at times off the dock.

Okanogan’s Roses Lake received its annual fall rainbow plant of 20,000 catchables this week. Fishing should be excellent.

Lower water temperatures would probably improve fishing at Rufus Woods, where reports are fair at best. Fly fishermen throwing the “pellet fly” have had the best luck recently.

There are not many anglers visible on Waitts Lake these days, but a savvy few are taking advantage of a good fall bite. Both browns and rainbow are in the mix.

Spiny ray

Northport usually has pretty decent walleye fishing this time of the year, but mostly negative reports are coming in. Elsewhere, walleye fishing on Roosevelt is said to be fair during the day and much better than that after dark.

Walleye fishing has also been fair on the Columbia near the mouth of the Okanogan. Both jigs and spinners are taking fish.

On Potholes Reservoir, anglers are taking walleye off The Hump and bass at the mouth of the dunes. Potholes Reservoir is rising quickly, and the beaver huts are again accessible.

Hayden, Hauser and other bass lakes in north Idaho and eastern Washington are seeing some good bass fishing still. Eloika and Newman are a good bet for largemouth, Banks and Coeur d’Alene for smallmouth.

Other species

Clam diggers got the go-ahead to proceed with the second razor-clam dig of the fall season, which started Wednesday on evening tides at two ocean beaches. Twin Harbors will open for four late-evening digs through Saturday, while Long Beach will open today and Saturday only. WDFW has tentatively scheduled three other digs at four beaches Nov. 14-17.


Eastern Washington’s late modern firearms general deer season begins Saturday in GMUs 105-124 for whitetail bucks only. The late eastern Washington archery season begins Tuesday in unit 101 – any whitetail. It ends Dec. 15.

The wolf season closed Monday in the Upper Snake wolf zone in eastern Idaho where the limit of five wolves has been reached. The closure affects only big-game management units 60, 60A, 61, 62, 62A, 64, 65 and 67. Elsewhere in the state the wolf seasons remain open. Wolf hunters are reminded to check the harvest limit in the wolf- hunting zones they intend to hunt. Several zones are approaching their quota. Call (877) 872-3190 for updates. The statewide harvest as of Monday was 86 wolves.

After a good opening-day turnout, pheasant hunters have been scarce in the usual Palouse River haunts. Birds are few.

It’s early yet for flights of northern mallards, but huge flocks have been feeding this week in wheat stubble near Spokane. Small ponds north of town are already coated with thin ice. Farther north, waterfowl hunters on the Pend Oreille River near Usk report little activity. In Moses Lake, waterfowl guide Gary Russell said a few new birds showed up last Sunday.

Gunners in the Tri-Cities report excellent field hunting for huge flocks of lesser Canadas.

Contact Alan Liere at


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