Steelheaders in the catch-and-release Clearwater are having a ball throwing small flies on top. Mike Beard of Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d’Alene says this is the best early fishing for A-run steelhead he can remember.
The St. Joe is running about 740 cfs at Calder and 140 cfs at Red Ives, and cutthroat fishing is excellent. There is a lot of bug activity. The Clark Fork action is still good early, but the late morning/afternoon bite is picking up, too. Hoppers patterns are effective. The St. Regis is getting pounded pretty hard where the water is easy to reach. Put on your hiking boots for much better fishing.
The Blackfoot near Missoula is fishing well in the morning through the middle of the day. The fish are hitting spruce moths and spinners. Most fish are small. The river is best early and in the evening. The upper Bitterroot remains cold and is offering good dry fly action through the whole day with spinners and spruce moths in the a.m. and hoppers in the p.m.
Salmon and steelhead
The larger Coeur d’Alene chinook are staging now to go up the Coeur d’Alene River. The tournament last weekend had a surprising number of 20-plus-pound fish weighed in, with a winning weight of 24.3 pounds.
The confluence of the Snake and Clearwater has been good for steelhead anglers dipping purple-dyed shrimp under a bobber. Morning bite is best.
Chinook fishing remains pretty slow at Brewster, and the mouth of the Okanogan could be almost over for the year. The remaining fish are starting to move around both below Well’s Dam and at Brewster, so move around. The Brewster Chinook Tournament, which had over 100 boats fishing for three days weighed in only 112 fish, including sockeye.
As of midweek, the coho hadn’t yet shown up at Westport, though local guides insist they are on the way. Friends who fished there recently said a salmon/bottom-fishing trip 15 miles out-yielded mostly big chinook and lots of rock bass.
Drano Lake steelhead are on the bite. Mornings are best, with purple-dyed shrimp under a bobber taking the most fish. Boat anglers averaged close to a fish per rod last week. On the White Salmon River, bank anglers are catching some steelhead.
Trout and kokanee
Coeur d’Alene kokanee are said to be stacked up between East Point and Harlow Point at the 15-to-20-foot level. The fish are small, but six-fish limits are common.
Koocanusa Lake in Montana has been only fair recently for 6-to-12-inch kokanee. Lake Mary Ronan kokes are much larger, running 12 to 14 inches.
Loon Lake night fishermen are averaging a big ’bow and a big tiger trout each but are finding few kokanee. Trollers say the morning bite has slowed but is still decent. Chapman Lake anglers are finding kokanee by still-fishing during the day, but they’re going clear to the bottom in 70 feet of water. Trollers, on the other hand, look for fish activity on the surface and only go out a couple colors.
Waitts Lake is still a good destination for rainbow and brown trout, most running 12 to 14 inches. Gary and Frank Atchison of Deer Lake trolled the middle of Waitts recently with worm-tipped fly and flasher, taking limits in three hours. They were dragging 120 feet of leaded line with 50 feet of leader.
Sprague Lake has received little attention recently, but the anglers not scared off by the algae bloom are doing well. At Sprague Lake Resort, Monika Metz says an angler recently caught a 30-inch rainbow off the dock – the largest fish reported so far. She says the trick to assuring a good-eating fish is to get it on ice rather than a stringer, and reminds anglers that only two trout over 20 inches may be kept.
Deer Lake bass fishermen are finding both largemouth and smallmouth in abundance. Throw plastics close to weeds and docks. Dark green and purple have been productive colors.
Lake Roosevelt walleye are holding tight to weed beds in 15 to 25 feet of water. Bottom walkers and ’crawlers are effective, but plastic worms work too. Fishing has also been consistently good on the flats. Most fish are under 16 inches.
Liberty Lake anglers report finding some perch that approach 12 inches near the public access. Smaller bluegills and smallmouth are also been caught. Best fishing is reported to be after 7:30 p.m. Friends who fished straight out from the public access at Diamond Lake, had a similar report, catching virtually nothing from 2-7 p.m., then quickly putting about 20 perch 9 to 11 inches in the boat. They noted that the trout – both browns and rainbow – also became active as darkness approached.
Newman Lake has been off and on for tiger muskie, but is one of the most likely spots for a big fish right now. Successful anglers are throwing bucktails and surface plugs.
Pike fishing in the Idaho Chain Lakes is good. On Coeur d’Alene and Hayden, anglers tossing plastics are finding smallmouth around docks in the morning and in 20-25-feet of water over sand flats later on.
The MarDon dock on Potholes Reservoir is turning on again after a dry spell. Anglers are catching some nice crappie and bluegill as well as bass. Trollers and spin-casters have taken some 2-pound crappie on a #5 Shad Rap.
At Darver Tackle in Starbuck, Verna Foley reminds anglers of the long-casting competition at Lyons Ferry Marina on Aug. 21. She also says walleye are now being taken clear to the dam. Info: (866) 578-3808.
The Washington Wildlife Commission adopted 2010-11 migratory waterfowl hunting seasons this week. Under the new regulations, the statewide duck hunting season will be open from Oct. 16-20 and Oct. 23-Jan. 30. A special youth hunting weekend is scheduled for Sept. 25-26.