The Clark Fork is finally dropping. Water conditions are perfect. The best fishing is on the lower river with hoppers and big foam bugs. The Blackfoot continues to fish well, specifically early to midmorning. Hopper fishing in the early afternoons has turned on. The St. Joe is still running cold and an early start is not necessary. Tie on a hopper after breakfast. One angler reported excellent results on a hopper that had been colored purple on the belly with a Sharpie. Rock Creek has dropped way down and wade fishing remains a great option. Throw spruce moths in the morning and hoppers in the afternoon. The lower end is getting a bit more pressure than the upper.
On the Yakima River, hoppers against the bank are all you need. The entire system, including the Naches, is fishing well.
Trout and kokanee
Loon Lake night kokanee fishing is getting mixed reviews with good fishing one night and little to nothing the next. A few 15-inchers have been landed recently. Trollers are averaging four or five fish by fishing early.
Other local lakes have slowed down considerably in the hot weather. It is still possible to catch trout by still-fishing deep with bait, but limits are rare. Diamond, Waitts, West Medical, Badger and Williams have been fair. The most recent trout plants at Sprague Lake are averaging 15 inches, but rainbow approaching 2 feet long are still possible.
Salmon and steelhead
The upper Snake River fall Chinook fishery begins Thursday. Idaho and Oregon anglers will be able to fish seven days a week, concurrent with the annual Hell’s Canyon steelhead fishery; WDFW has not yet issued a ruling. More than 35,000 fall chinook salmon are predicted to pass the Lower Granite Dam this year, and the daily bag limit will be six adipose fin-clipped adult fall chinook salmon and no daily, possession or season limits on jacks.
Drano Lake boat anglers averaged 1.5 steelhead kept/released per rod last week and were also catching a few fall chinook. On the White Salmon River, bank anglers are catching some steelhead. Pressure is minimal.
At Buoy 10, effort and catch is increasing. Anglers averaged a chinook per boat and a coho every four boats last weekend. Bank anglers caught some chinook and coho off the North Jetty. Buoy 10 is scheduled to remain open for chinook retention through Sunday. At Ilwaco, anglers averaged nearly a salmon per rod. Seventy percent of the catch was coho. Through Sunday, an estimated 62.6 percent of the coho quota had been taken. At Westport, 41 percent of the subarea coho quota have been landed.
Fall chinook catches are increasing on the lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam while the number of steelhead handled remains strong. On the Bonneville Pool, boat anglers averaged a steelhead per rod.
The only usable launch on Banks Lake is at Coulee Playland on the north end. Walleye anglers have concentrated their efforts there and the fishing has been excellent. Crank baits, particularly the JSR7 Firetiger, have been effective. Some nice smallmouth have also come from Banks lately. On Lake Roosevelt, the Hunters area has been good for small walleye. Billy Clapp Lake in Grant County is also producing walleye.
At Potholes Reservoir in Gant County, walleye continue to cooperate. Some more than 10 pounds have been caught recently from the east side of the mouth of Crab Creek as it enters the Reservoir. Bass fishing is also good.
An excellent yet close fishing hole for smallmouth bass from shore recently is the stretch of the Big Spokane under the Monroe Street Bridge. Throw a jig or small plug into the current. Anglers are finding more and more smallmouth throughout the Spokane River system.
The Coeur d’Alene system of Chain Lakes has been good for northern pike and largemouth bass. Spinnerbaits around the cabbage are working for both. Coeur d’Alene Lake is giving up fair numbers of larger pike.
The last time I fished Soda Lake in Grant County, I saw a man in a 12-foot rowboat fill the bottom with 12- to 16-inch crappie. That was 55 years ago. A recent report indicates fishing is again good, but this time there are more bass and walleye than anything. Crappie are said to be small.
The wolf hunting season opens Tuesday in Idaho. It runs through Dec. 31 in Island Park and Beaverhead wolf management zones, through June 30 in the Lolo and Selway zones, and through March 31 in the remaining nine of the state’s 13 wolf management zones. Licensed hunters may buy two tags per calendar year. Wolf tags cost $11.50 for residents and $31.75 for nonresidents. The reduced nonresident price is retroactive – hunters who already have bought tags at the higher previous price are eligible for a refund. Details are forthcoming.
Idaho has adopted a 107-day waterfowl season for 2011-2012. A youth hunt is set for Sept. 24-25. Additional details will be available in a printed brochure and on the Fish and Game website within a week. Idaho has also set a restricted seven-day, one-bird sage-grouse season for 2011 beginning Oct. 1. The sharp-tail grouse season also opens Oct. 1 and runs through Oct. 31.
The Washington seasons for doves, forest grouse, cottontails and snowshoe rabbits begin Thursday. In Idaho, doves and rabbits also open on that date, but forest grouse open Tuesday. Grouse in both states suffered from the late spring, and Jim Hayden with IDFG expects populations to be down somewhat. Doves, however, are persistent re-nesters and populations are good.