Despite less-than-glowing reports about steelhead fishing, fly fishermen on the Grande Ronde say they have been averaging a couple hook-ups each trip. Rising water may change things, however. Stone fly nymphs are the fly of choice.
Rufus Woods has been a decent fly fishing destination of late. Fishermen throwing nymphs and streamers deep have done fairly well, but one angler said he had great fishing with the same patterns right up against the shore.
Rocky Ford is always a good option this time of year. Fishing turns on and off, but good days for large rainbow are numerous. One of the best ways to take Rocky Ford rainbow when they are being particular is to toss large leech patterns.
Steelhead and salmon
Steelhead reports are generally gloomy. Some area guides feel the fish came through early—thus the excellent Salmon River angling in October. Last week, Clearwater fishermen were picking up a steelhead for every 12 hours of fishing. It wasn’t as good on the Snake. Grande Ronde fly fishermen are optimistic the bite will improve, saying they are bumping a fish or two per trip.
The best upper Columbia River steelheading is in the Pateros area. At Triangle Exxon in Brewster, Bob Fately said the Methow is slow and the Okanogan not much better.
Trout and kokanee
Winter lakes Fourth of July and Hog Canyon open Thursday and, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish biologist Chris Donley, both should provide fair to good fishing. Donley pre-fished Fourth of July at mid-week, throwing a black jig under a bobber, and said no small fish were caught. The average size was 14 inches, with the largest going 23 inches. Hog Canyon trout will not be as large, Donley said, but the fishing there might be faster. Williams and Hatch lakes in Stevens County also open Thursday with good fishing predicted.
If the wind is from the south, Rock Lake is a good place to fish from shore with bait. The launch area is giving up some nice rainbows and browns to the few anglers trying it there.
Anglers fishing below Chief Joseph Dam are still catching more big triploids than steelhead. Unfortunately, trout cannot be retained in that stretch of water. Earlier, there was a one-month season to target the triploids, and there is a slight chance WDFW may reopen it.
Lake Roosevelt rainbow reports have not been good, but there were not many anglers on the water during the inclement weather earlier in the week. Some very good fishermen are drawing blanks some days.
Banks Lake trout fishing has been phenomenal along the west shoreline in the Devil’s Lake and Goose Island areas. Stay tight to the steep vertical cliffs for five-fish limits of fishing running 2 ½ to 5 ½ pounds. Launching is still good at Coulee Playland near Coulee City, and it is not likely to deteriorate. The lake was scheduled to be raised 4-5 feet beginning Nov. 16 and running through the weekend. After that, it will stabilize until another influx of water between Christmas and New Years.
The Lake Pend Oreille Fall Derby has seen a number of big rainbow weighed in, but mackinaw fishing has been slow. As of Thursday, Mark Torre had the largest rainbow at 15 ½ pounds. Dave Gillespie had the largest mack at 30-inch 9 ½ pounds. The derby will continue through the Thanksgiving weekend. Flies trolled on the surface are doing the trick. The derby continues through Sunday.
The morning triploid bite at Rufus Woods has been slow, but it picks up in the afternoon. Trolled flies, particularly dark Wooly Buggers are taking fish around pump 4 near Bridgeport and bank anglers are doing well with bait near the net pens below Seaton Grove.
Trout Derbies on Kootenay Lake in British Columbia during November indicate the Gerrard rainbow bite is red-hot. Anglers trolling flies on the surface have taken dozens of fish more than 10 pounds and some as large as 22 pounds.
Rufus Woods walleye were on a tear last week. Anglers trolling plugs and spoons were nailing limits of suspended fish between the surface and 15 feet.
Banks Lake bass fishing is still good. The weather has been so mild the fish don’t know it’s almost winter. In a recent tournament, the winner had 10 fish that weighed more than 32 pounds.
Sprague Lake waterfowl hunters had the most success since opening day this week. Geese are particularly numerous. On a drive through the scablands southeast of Sprague on Thursday morning, I saw lots of water, fair numbers of geese, and virtually no ducks.
Duck hunting has been surprisingly good on Banks Lake. Hunters with lay-out blinds are setting up on little cut-off ponds left behind road beds and points when the lake level dropped. At Coulee Playland, Lou Nevsimal says deer and coveys of quail are coming out onto the clay banks to feed on dried up milfoil seeds.
The Moses Lake area saw a huge influx of small geese last week. Locals said there are a few more ducks, too, but they aren’t seeing any major migrations yet.
Even with the snow, quail hunting has not improved, and it is becoming evident populations are way down. Oddly enough, my group of hunting buddies is enjoying the best pheasant hunting in several years. The brief snow cover last weekend helped three of us shoot nine wild roosters on Monday.