October 22, 2010 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tip of the week

Large brook trout have moved into the shallows to spawn at McGinnis and Twin lakes on the Colville Reservation. Both close Oct. 31, but you can catch them now by trolling a Royal Coachman wet or any other fly with orange in it.

Braggin’ rights

On Saturday’s waterfowl opener, 34-year-old George Twigg of Yakima passed up the potentially better duck hunting near his home to take a sentimental look at the small Moses Lake pond where he had built a blind and taught himself to duck hunt 20 years before. “I was hoping for one bird, just for old time’s sake, but I shot six mallard drakes and a bull sprig,” Twigg said. He added that 20 years ago the spot was overrun with waterfowlers, but on this opening day he had it all to himself. “I was grinnin’ like a clown,” Twigg said.

Overheard

The Columbia Basin in general has seen a long-term decline in duck production because wetlands are aging and invasive species of plants are clogging waterways. This trend will not be easily reversed. The basin will probably never be as good for duck hunting as it was immediately after completion of Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project.

Heads up

• It is legal to carry a handgun while archery hunting. But it’s illegal to use any firearm to take an animal or finish off a wounded animal in an archery-only season.

• The eastern Washington senior citizen/youth/disabled hunter modern firearm deer season runs through Sunday for whitetail only.

Fly fishing

The Spokane River is providing some decent trout fishing in the Plantes Ferry area. Successful anglers are throwing small Olive Duns.

At the Orvis Fly Shop in Coeur d’Alene, Pat Way said fly fishermen are finding a nice afternoon window for trout on the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers. He said to use small patterns – blue wings and mahoganies. Clark Fork fish, for some reason, are responding to larger patterns.

Steelhead fishermen are having a tough time on the Clearwater as well as the Grande Ronde and the Snake. Most waters are running nearly 10 degrees warmer than on the same date a year ago. Cooler days and more water will get things going again.

Trout and kokanee

Lake Roosevelt rainbow fishing has never been better, said John Kallas at Valley White Elephant. He said if you can’t catch a limit of 14-to-16-inch fish between Fort Spokane and Lincoln, you don’t have your line in the water. Anglers report catching fish on anywhere from 1 1/2 to four colors of leaded line and 30 feet of mono. Muddler Minnows tipped with nightcrawlers can’t miss.

Rock Lake anglers are taking equal numbers of rainbow and browns, though the brown trout are generally deeper.

Most eastern Washington lakes that are not year-round will be closed by Oct. 31. In the meantime, take advantage of the excellent brown and rainbow fishing at Diamond and the equally superb fall trout fishing at Jameson.

The Medicare Beach area of Potholes Reservoir has been steadily kicking out rainbow trout between 15 and 20 inches. Nightcrawlers or Power Bait on the bottom will do the trick.

Rufus Woods has been dead for the past few weeks, but cooler water and an upcoming release of 3- to 4-pound triploids should jump-start that popular fishery.

Curlew Lake is humming along with excellent trout catches for boat and dock anglers. Curlew is open year-round.

Salmon and steelhead

A record run of 71,000 steelhead is predicted for the Clearwater River. Steelhead harvest fishing season opened Oct. 15 on the Clearwater River upstream of the Memorial Bridge on U.S. Highway 12 near Lewiston. There appear to be plenty of fish in the river, but the bite remains slow. The limit is two fish per day and six in possession.

Guide Richard Ellis of Starbuck said steelhead fishing had been slow in his home waters near Little Goose, so he trailered over to Ice Harbor Dam and found limits for his clients. Info: (208) 290-8798.

The Salmon, the Little Salmon and the lower Snake rivers have been good for steelheaders. The steelhead limit on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon is three per day and nine in possession. Anglers may keep 20 steelhead for the season. Once limits are reached, the angler must stop fishing, even catch-and-release

Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist, said harvest of fall chinook in the Hanford Reach remains high though effort has dropped off a bit. Staff recently sampled 220 boats (529 anglers) with 430 chinook, an average of almost two chinook per boat. Vernita Bridge has been good.

Jig and bobber fishing for steelhead in the Upper Columbia and the Methow River is still going strong.

Spiny ray

Smallmouth bass are plentiful in the lower Pend Oreille River below the bridge in Priest River. The river is low, and this is an excellent time to scope out habitat that can’t be seen in higher water. On the Washington end of the river, near Usk, the northern pike bite has picked up and anglers are taking fish on cranks and spinnerbaits.

Snake River smallmouth are almost forgotten when the steelhead begin running, but now is the time to put some big ones in the live well. The bite is good throughout the system. Curly-tail grubs are good, but almost any jig will find fish in relatively shallow water.

Anglers fishing the upper half of Rufus Woods report good walleye catches in 30-40 feet of water on spinners and crawlers behind a bottom bouncer. Fishing is not fast, but the occasional triploid rainbow will keep things interesting.

Potholes Reservoir has been excellent for bass and walleye on the humps in front of the sand dunes where the wasteways dump into the lake. Rob Harbin, a waterfowl guide from Moses Lake, said he has had phenomenal fishing by merely dragging a No. 5 or No. 7 Shad Rap at 2 mph. His recent catch has included three crappie more than 16 inches long and several whopper rainbow.

Boats are beginning to bunch up near the I-90 Bridge over Moses Lake, a sure sign the fall perch bite is on. Closer to Spokane, try the edge of the weeds on Long Lake near TumTum.

Other species

Sturgeon fishing has slowed on the Columbia River from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam. An estimated 1,182 legals were harvested the five days sturgeon retention was allowed from Oct. 1-10. In addition, 314 fish were kept from Oct. 14 to last Saturday. There are 841 fish remaining on the catch guideline for the year.

Hunting

The eastern Washington general pheasant season begins Saturday. The outlook is bleak, but as always, there are pockets of birds. Quail and partridge are already open. Waterfowl hunters in the Lind Coulee area of Grant County report seeing quite a few roosters. A lot of corn is still standing, which will make pheasant hunting tough but could result in good shooting later. A friend from Moses Lake said there must have been a late hatch, as a lot of pheasants are still uncolored.

Friends hunting chukars near Weiser, Idaho, report finding lots of birds, including grey partridge and pheasants. In Hells Canyon, chukar hunters are again finding birds near the river. The anticipated rain this weekend will most likely send them back up.

Duck hunters experienced a fair opener last weekend in eastern Washington, considering the weather was warm and still – about as bad as it could be. As predicted, the Yakima area had pretty good shooting and Grant County was better than expected. After a short midweek closure, ducks reopen Saturday through Jan. 30.

I doubt that all whitetail hunters saw as many bucks as I did during the first week of the season in GMU 124, but I missed one and passed on several before anchoring a four-point near my home. A friend who hunted with me last Sunday evening took a fat three-point.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com


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