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Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

As fall progresses, St. Joe and Coeur d’Alene cutthroat move downriver. Find the right spot and you’ll have a great day with larger fish.

It’s getting cool enough to slow the morning bite on most rivers, but that just means a better afternoon bite. The focus is on mahoganies, mayflies, blue wings and hecubas.

The Missouri River is coming on, with hopper and dropper set-ups taking the vaunted “Missouri River Browns.” Fishing should remain good for a month or more. The Thompson River, a tributary of the Clark Fork, is also a great destination for brown trout. It originates in Upper Thompson Lake and flows generally south to join the Clark Fork near the town of Thompson Falls.

Salmon and steelhead

Wells Dam chinook fishing is good. Super Baits loaded with oil-pack tuna and Kwik Fish with a sardine wrap are accounting for a lot of big fish.

Quite a few steelhead are being landed near Heller Bar on the Snake River recently, but keepers are few and far between.

Steelhead harvest fishing season will open Oct. 15 on the Clearwater River upstream of the Memorial Bridge on U.S. Highway 12 near Lewiston. The limit will be two fish per day and six in possession. The harvest season is already open on the Clearwater River downstream of the Memorial Bridge. The Clearwater/Snake confluence is slow in the daytime but good at night on lighted plugs and lighted bobbers.

Anglers still have plenty of good fall fishing opportunities in Idaho with chinook salmon in addition to steelhead. The fall chinook harvest season continues in the Snake River between Lewiston and Hells Canyon Dam and, this year, in the lower Clearwater River downstream of the Memorial Bridge near Lewiston until Oct. 31 or until further notice. The daily limit is two fall chinook, only one of which may be an adult, and the possession limit is six, of which three may be adults. Jacks, which are fish less than 24 inches in total length, are part of the daily and possession limits, but anglers are not required to record them on their permits.

The steelhead harvest season opened Sept. 1 on the Salmon, the Little Salmon and the lower Snake rivers. The limit on all is three per day and nine in possession. Anglers have been catching steelhead at the mouth of the Salmon for about two weeks and also at Troy.

During the past week WDFW staff interviewed 1,061 anglers in the Hanford Reach with 289 adult chinook and 41 jacks. The catch slowed down this week in the Ringold and White Bluffs area while the Vernita area stayed steady. Steelhead effort and catch in the same water remains slow with 11 hatchery steelhead kept and 19 wild fish released.

Lake Coeur d’Alene chinook are in the Coeur d’Alene River, heading for spawning beds, but immature fish are hitting. Most of the bites are coming in the 70-90-foot range. Use 8-inch flashers and mini-squids or helmeted herring.

Trout and kokanee

Small kokanee are stacked up on the east arm of Lake Coeur d’Alene and morning anglers are getting their 6 fish limits in no time. Most are around 40 feet down. Fishing should remain good until the spawn begins in October.

Sprague Lake is still temporarily plagued by a blue-green algae bloom that’s being prolonged by the recent hot fall weather. “All we need is a few frosty nights and it will settle to the bottom,” said Chris Donley, WDFW district fish biologist. “Then it will be prime time to go fishing,” he added this week while conducting electro-fishing surveys that showed good numbers of large trout and a growing population of nice largemouth bass. Bluegill and crappie planted after the 2007 lake rehab are producing well and should, as planned, produce good fishing in another two years.

Meantime, the smallest of the Sprague Lake rainbows are more than 16 inches and you won’t have to get too technical to catch them this fall. A worm on the bottom works as well as anything. The carryover rainbow are as large as Clearwater confluence steelhead.

Mackinaw fishing on Lake Chelan has been excellent early on the Bar and in the trench from 8 a.m. to noon. A piece of pikeminnow will sweeten your offering.

Local put-and-take lakes are cooling off and the trout fishing is heating up. Other than the first month of the season in the spring, this is the best time of year to boat a limit of trout.

Spiny ray

Silver Lake has been particularly good for largemouth from sundown on. Perch are also being taken.

Sprague Lake anglers are beginning to catch some of the spiny ray species. A few largemouth in excess of 3 pounds have shown lately.

Lake Roosevelt smallmouth are everywhere. To help preserve the trout and walleye fisheries, anglers need to be filleting a limit whenever they can. Most of the fish are less than a foot long, but there are good numbers of 1- to 2-pounders. Just about anything works, but plastic grubs or crankbaits are tough to beat.

Walleye fishing on Lake Roosevelt has been fair for small walleye. Look for the fish in 35-40 feet of water.

Some of the largest pike of the season will come in the next two weeks from Lake Coeur d’Alene. Pitch spinnerbaits and big plugs and hang on.

Smallmouth bass fishing has been good on the Pend Oreille River, especially near Newport. Northern pike fishing has been hit and miss for large fish but good for smaller pike 2-6 pounds. The flows and river elevation have come up in recent weeks and the water has been clear. Temperature has dropped to 60 degrees.

Eloika Lake bass anglers are complaining about the weed growth. A near-solid mat lies just beneath the surface in many parts of the lake. Efforts to eradicate the milfoil are in progress, but it is a long, expensive process.

Scootney Lake in Franklin County is a good place to catch a mess of perch. They aren’t large, but there is also the possibility of landing a walleye or bass. Use worms or perch meat and fish the south end.


Chukar hunting in Idaho is much better this year than it has been for the last three. It still takes a lot of walking, but limits are being taken. No hurry: Some of the new crop is still small.

In Washington, chukar, gray partridge and valley quail open Saturday. Chukar and gray partridge populations are up a little from last year and quail are about the same. Unfortunately, prospects for even a fair pheasant season are unlikely.

The 2010 Idaho waterfowl season opens Saturday in Area 1, northern and eastern Idaho. The daily bag limit is seven ducks, but not more than two female mallards, two redheads, three scaup, two pintails and one canvasback can be part of the bag limit.

The daily dark goose bag limit is four, and the daily limit for light geese is 10.

The fall turkey season in eastern Washington ends Oct. 8. The fall season is not as popular as the spring season, but hunters who are interested are having little difficulty locating one. Some GMUs allow beardless birds only.

Contact Alan Liere at