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Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

The Grande Ronde was down to 3,300 cfs on Wednesday – high, but finally fishable. Guide, Rick Hedding says he and his young son, Sam, did an evening float Tuesday from stateline to Cougar Creek, catching 14 smallmouth 2 pounds and up with frog or mouse pattern flies on top. He said they also caught rainbow on smaller flies when they tried for them Info: (509) 869-1444.

The St. Joe, Clark Fork and other rivers are fishing well. The fish are feeding on the surface but also striking nymphs and streamers. Large stone and stimulator patterns bring success. The “purple haze” Parachute Adams pattern always works well this time of year. Some of the larger fish have been eating sub-surface on olive Wooly Buggers and sculpin patterns, but the dry/dropper game has become more productive.

The Coeur d’Alene River is fishing pretty well right now. Because of the cold, some big fish haven’t yet moved down into the lake.

Trout, kokanee

According to Branditt West, creel clerk for the Colville Tribe, the Fourth of July weekend on Lake Roosevelt was excellent for both kokanee and trout in Spring Canyon and Swawilla Basin, but it shut down on Tuesday. Good rainbow reports still come from the Keller area.

Priest Lake drop-shotters are making big catches of mostly 2-to-3-pound macks in 100 feet of water. Pearl-colored 3-inch Berkley Power Minnows tipped with hunks of herring or pikeminnow do the damage.

Williams Lake trout fishing is not as fast as it has been, but boaters can still take limits of 12-14-inch rainbow. Sprague Lake lunkers can be good very early around the springs for bait dunkers, but trollers are not doing as well with plugs. Some suggest olive green Wooly Buggers fished near the bottom.

It is common to catch some big rainbow at Coffeepot Lake, but water in the passage between lakes is less than 6 inches deep. Fortunately, the main lake bite is good.

A friend and I recently night-fished Loon Lake. Fishing on the east side in 32 feet of water was far from fast, and there was no action at all from 8-10, but from 10:30 to midnight, we landed five kokanee, two over 15 inches, three rainbow 17-20 inches, and one very healthy, 20-inch tiger trout that weighed close to 4 pounds. Trollers seem to be doing much better. Most of their kokes are in the 11-to-13-inch range, but there are also a lot of 14-16 inchers, and a few running only 7-8 inches. Trollers are going deeper now with their Wedding Rings – 40-45 feet.

Coeur d’Alene Lake kokanee only run 9 inches, but trollers on the north end say you can’t keep them off. Wedding Rings are popular. Dworshak Reservoir kokanee are biting at 20 feet.

Salmon, steelhead

Idaho salmon season is still an option on the Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater and Salmon rivers. The Clearwater is in excellent shape, but chinook effort is way down despite good numbers of fish in the river. Concentrations of fish can be found around the hatchery at Kooskia and at the satellite facility on the Lochsa.

An estimated 453,000 upriver steelhead are expected to pass Bonneville Dam in 2010, which is 139 percent of the 10-year average of 326,000. Anglers fishing close to shore are catching 4-to-6-pound fish. Look for them near the mouths of cooler tributaries.

Brewster was a bust for the July 1 chinook opener, but below Wells Dam, fishing was excellent. Super Baits with tuna are accounting for most fish. Area guides predict the Brewster chinook will show up at midmonth.

The Sekiu salmon opener was very slow for everyone, says Spokane resident Greg Cozza, who managed one 10-pounder on the second day. He did indicate, however, that bottom fishing was good.

Through Tuesday, a record of just over 353,000 sockeye had been counted at Bonneville Dam.The old record return, as measured when Bonneville Dam was completed in 1938, was 335,300 fish in 1947.

Spiny ray

Hells Canyon guide Toby Wyatt says smallmouth bass fishing is improving and sturgeon fishing is good on the Snake River. It is also fairly easy to catch a mess of Lake Roosevelt, Lake Coeur d’Alene, or Hayden Lake smallmouth. Fernan and the Chain Lakes are yielding largemouth.

Hard-fighting smallmouth to 4 pounds have been hitting jigs with plastic trailers on Long Lake. Fish early and late. Long is also a good spot for largemouth. Chapman and Downs Lake in southwest Spokane County also have some big largemouth.

The Pend Oreille River is weeding up, forcing pike out of the sloughs and into the main river. Fishing is tougher now than a week ago, but some hefty smallmouth and largemouth are compensating nicely for the lack of pike action. The stretch from Newport to Usk is a good place to start.

Walleye anglers have several choices. The Snake River in the vicinity of Starbuck is kicking out the occasional whopper and probably the biggest average fish. Banks Lake ’eyes are nice, too. The Keller area of Lake Roosevelt, the flats across from Porcupine Bay and Hawk Creek have been good for 14-inch fish.

Other species

“Everything is starting to happen” on the Snake River, says Lyons Ferry operator, Jim MacArthur. He says catfish are dispersing but can be found in 20-to-30 feet at the mouths of tributaries. Sturgeon fishing, too, is getting good in the area, he notes.

The tuna season out of Westport is still a month away, but reservations are being gobbled up quickly. Most charters charge $550 for a two-night trip and the possibility of bringing home more tuna steaks than you can eat in a year. Info: Advantage Charters: (360) 648-2277; Westport Charters (800) 562-0157.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere

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