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Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

The Upper Spokane River has some good trout fishing, but anglers are also catching a lot of smallmouth bass, some of decent size. Large flies on a sink tip will bring strikes. The upper Spokane River from State Line to Upriver Dam is a selective catch-and-release stretch for all species.

Clark Fork cutthroat are eating hoppers. Big dries are working best, but caddis action can be good after dark.

St. Joe trout appear to have moved into summer haunts. The river is wadeable on the upper end. Hopper/ant tandems fished dry have been effective.

Trout and kokanee

Until Aug. 31, anglers are allowed to catch and keep four triploid rainbow trout a day in the mainstem Columbia River from the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster to the Highway 17 Bridge in Bridgeport. Pacific Seafoods, which owns the net-pen facility on Rufus Woods, estimates that 117,500 triploids escaped in June through a breach in a net-pen. Many of those fish run 4 to 5 pounds. There are concerns by WDFW that the growing number of triploids turning up below Chief Joseph Dam could interfere with juvenile steelhead downstream. Under the new rule, the daily limit will be four triploids with a minimum size of 12 inches.

Loon Lake kokanee are easier to come by while still-fishing at night than by trolling during the day, but limits are possible either way. Some anglers report catching a lot of small kokes, though this has not been my experience. In five limit or near-limit trips so far this year, I have seen only a half-dozen fish less than 12 inches. On Tuesday night, the bite began late. Most nights, it begins around 10 p.m. in 31 to 33 feet of water.

Other kokanee destinations in the area are Horseshoe, Sullivan, Priest and Coeur d’Alene, all with cooperative but smaller fish. Trolling is the method of choice, and the biggest concentrations are down 30-45 feet.

Williams Lake and Fish Trap are producing limits, but the most successful anglers are dunking worms and Power Bait in the deepest water they can find. Sprague Lake can be off or on, but anglers with boats and bait are doing best on outsized trout.

Salmon and steelhead

A friend who tried to fish the Wanapum eddy last weekend said fishing conditions were dangerous and he couldn’t see how a fish hooked could possibly be landed. The launch by the Wells Dam is in good shape. Angling effort is high, mostly for sockeye. The best fishing is on the far side up the deadline. Troll in a counterclockwise circle at 12- to 18-feet deep with a small silver dodger and a small orange or pink hootchie with double red hooks dragging 14 inches behind and baited with pieces of shrimp. Chinook fishing is fair using Superbaits with tuna in oil for the attractant and large Hotspot-style dodgers.

On the Buoy 10 opener last weekend, 15 boats and 35 anglers reported no catch. At Ilwaco, anglers averaged just more than one salmon per rod, mostly coho. Beginning Monday, anglers fishing in ocean waters off Ilwaco and Westport can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit. With that change, anglers will be allowed to keep two chinook per day in all four ocean areas.

At Westport a total of 667 coho, 1,938 Chinook and 196 pinks were landed. At LaPush, anglers brought in 78 coho, 107 Chinook and 119 pinks. Neah Bay fishermen caught a total of 312 coho, 320 Chinook and 1,321 pinks. There are plenty of fish left in the quotas for all areas.

Spiny ray

Crappie anglers at Newman Lake have enjoyed a good bite on 10- to 14-inch fish. Newman has also yielded a good number of tiger muskies.

Banks Lake smallmouth are accounting for large numbers but not much size. The majority of fish come on crankbaits. It is easy to catch plenty of largemouth bass on Curlew Lake, but most are less than a foot in length. A larger offering fished around the docks will often tempt fish to 18 inches. Try jigs with a trailer.

Waitts Lake anglers have a choice of brown trout, rainbow trout or perch, and all are biting. For some good-sized perch, try the west side of the lake in 20-25 feet of water. Fat, 9-inch perch are hitting at Fish Lake in Okanogan County. The limit is 25. Perch destinations in the Spokane area that have received favorable reports lately are Diamond, Liberty, Fan and Jump-Off Joe. Loon and Deer lakes also have good populations of perch, but it is more difficult to find concentrations.

Warm days and nights have lit up the topwater bass bite all across the Potholes Recreation Area. Floating Rapalas, Rebel Pop-R’s, buzzbaits and floating frogs are all on the menu, especially popper frogs. Bass guide Nick Barr reports, “Twitch and pop these baits across the surface along any brush or weed mat along the deep side of a dune and get ready for some explosive strikes.”  Potholes walleye are roaming and are being found at all depths.

Billy Clapp Lake in Grant County is giving up walleye and lots of smallmouth for anglers drifting heavy jigs in deep water.

Pend Oreille River pike are still in the sloughs as the river is still up and moving fast in places. Anglers are having moderate success for both pike and bass.

Bottom bouncing, vertical jigging or drop-shotting will put you into Lake Roosevelt walleye. Of the 57 teams fishing last weekend’s tournament, none was skunked and more than half took 15 pounds or more for the weekend.


Hunters have until Aug. 17 to apply for an opportunity to hunt deer on the 6,000-acre Charles and Mary Eder unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in northeastern Okanogan County. Applications for this “limited-entry” deer hunt can be submitted on WDFW website at hunting/permits/scotchcreek/or by contacting the WDFW northcentral region office at (509) 754-4624. Deer hunting seasons for the area are Sept. 1-23 for bow hunters, Sept. 24 – Oct. 2 for muzzleloaders and Oct. 15-23 for modern firearms.

Contact Alan Liere at