The consensus among fly shop owners in Montana is that the most popular rivers are going to have more water flow all summer than most fly fishermen are used to. Fishing will be good … but different.
The Clark Fork is high but dropping and nymph fishermen are having some good days. The majority of fish are coming from big, sweeping eddies. Be sure to take your bug dope. The St. Joe is losing about 500 cfs per day and becoming more wadeable on the upper end. Streamers and nymphs are the most consistent, but by the weekend, the upper Joe should provide excellent dry fly action. The St. Regis is clear and on a steady decline.
Lake Coeur d’Alene kokanee averaging 9 inches are hitting in 20-30 feet of water at both ends of the lake. Limits have come quickly.
Tree 11 at Williams Lake has been a popular destination for still fishermen hoping to catch a limit of trout. The fish range from 8-16 inches with most around 10 inches. The bite has been pretty consistent all day.
The Rufus Woods triploid bite has slowed significantly from two weeks ago as the fish spread out in the reservoir, but there are still days when anglers can’t keep them off. Jigs and Power Bait have been most successful recently. Two friends who fished Rufus at midweek barely caught their four-fish trout limit, and one of those was on the small side. As a bonus, they boated two large walleye and two nice smallmouth bass. All fish were caught casting into shore with a broken-back plug.
Badger Lake cutthroat to 14 inches are suspending at about 15 feet, but don’t be afraid to go to the bottom if the bite doesn’t materialize up high. Trollers are pulling small lures such as the Needlefish, Triple Teaser and Wedding Ring. The spring plants are just big enough to be annoying, but you can get away from them by going deeper.
A friend who fished Sprague Lake this week said the trout bite was not as hot as the last two weeks, but he nevertheless netted a 24-incher and several smaller ones. After trolling with limited success, he resorted to Power Bait near the Sprague Lake Resort dock. Dock anglers were doing well, he said. There is a slight algae bloom.
The Grimes Lake Lahontans cutthroat bite is still on. Chironomids are the fly of choice. Jameson Lake in Douglas County has been excellent for rainbow running mostly 11 inches.
Chinook salmon fishing for Rapid River Hatchery fish is good in the Lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. Water levels have dropped to ideal fishing flows on the Little Salmon River. Chinook are also arriving on the upper South Fork Salmon River. Typical of this fishery, they are expected to arrive in large numbers in a short period of time, resulting in a few days of high catch rates before harvest share is met and the season closes. Good fishing is anticipated for the upcoming weekend. Fish and Game’s salmon fishing hotline at (855) 287-2702 provides up-to-the-minute salmon season changes.
Below Hells Canyon Dam, salmon harvest rates are sporadic as water temperatures fluctuate. The fish are there, but pressure is low. Tackle shops in Lewiston and Orofino say fishing for salmon is good despite high water in the Clearwater and Snake rivers. Kwik-Fish, Flatfish and pink or chartreuse jigs are taking chinook.
Dam counts for upper Columbia reservoirs show chinook are finally arriving. Jerrod Gibbon of Okanogan Valley Guide Service says fishing has been pretty consistent and catches of three or more king a day is pretty typical.
The no-wake restriction has been lifted on the Pend Oreille River and pike anglers are finding fish both north and south of Cusick. Guide Craig Dowdy of Yankin Jaw Guide Service said that his boat had a 50-fish day this week. The pike were right against the shoreline. Spinnerbaits were getting a lot of attention. Info: (509) 999-0717.
Lake Roosevelt is at full pool and walleye are spreading out, but there is still good action. Friends fishing the Spokane Arm this week were finding fish between 10-40 feet.
Potholes Reservoir water level is dropping rapidly and walleye anglers in Crab Creek are boating lots of fish there and in the dunes. Many are more than 20 inches.
Perch anglers are finding lots of 8- to 9 1/2-inch perch on the west side of Waitts Lake. They’re not everywhere, so you may need to try several spots.
Newman Lake crappie are in about 6 feet of water on the outside of weed beds. Some real slabs have been landed recently. Newman is also good for largemouth bass, and a couple of tiger muskie reports a week are coming in.
Long Lake has been also good for largemouth of all sizes and lots of smallmouth between 1-2 pounds. Clear Lake is seeing good largemouth action and the bluegill action is fast.
Lake Coeur d’Alene pike fishing is good. Throw spinnerbaits along the weed lines and move out into slightly deeper water when the sun is bright.
Potholes, Moses and Banks lakes are all brimming with carp, as is the Snake River near Wawawai and Central Ferry campgrounds. Bow fishermen are sticking fish up to 20 pounds.
Hunters have until July 22 to enter the WDFW special big-game hunt raffles for this fall.