October 7, 2011 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By Correspondent
 

Tip of the week

A north-central Washington trifecta is an excellent possibility this time of year – chinook and steelhead below Chief Joseph dam, then nearby Rufus Woods Reservoir for triploid trout. You could even complete a slam by looping up to Omak Lake for a big Lahontan cutthroat.

Overheard

A group of out-of-state archery hunters in Idaho called in a pack of 17 wolves that responded to a cow elk call. None of the hunters had a wolf tag or a sidearm and they said it was a scary experience as the wolves surrounded and appeared to be hunting them.

Braggin’ rights

Having just returned from a four-day Alberta waterfowl hunt, I can attest to the fact there are many are more ducks this year than there have been in the 20 years I have been going north in October. Pintails and mallards both appear to have nested well. Included in my bag were white-front geese, Canada geese, snow geese, pintails and mallards, including a double-banded greenhead.

Heads up

Idaho Fish and Game will be performing maintenance on its network server today through Sunday and said its public website may be interrupted at any time during the weekend. License needs should be taken care of today.

Hunters who would like to participate in the Snow Goose Quality Hunt program on Fir Island and in the northern Port Susan Bay area on the west side of the state should visit WDFW’s website for information on the rules and requirements.

The WDFW public access area boat ramp at Spokane County’s year-round Newman Lake closed for replacement work Wednesday through the end of the month. Two private resorts on the lake provide boat access.

Fly fishing

Fly fishing for steelhead on the Methow is excellent. Try drifting a Glo Bug under a strike indicator or swing big wooly buggers and leeches. 

Big steelhead are prowling the Klickitat. Anglers using indicators are doing best, though swinging dark-colored articulated leech patterns on the lower river can also be excellent.

Amber Lake rainbow are moving into shallow water and fly fishermen are taking them on floating line and soft-hackled patterns.

Steelhead and salmon

The confluence of the Snake and Salmon rivers is experiencing good morning and evening fishing with some big B-run fish beginning to show.

The fall steelhead harvest season opens Oct. 15 on the main stem of the Clearwater River upstream of the Memorial Bridge, the South Fork Clearwater River, the North Fork Clearwater River below Dworshak Dam, and the Middle Fork Clearwater River below Clear Creek. The harvest season is already open on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers and is especially good in the Salmon and Snake rivers.

Coho salmon fisheries opened Wednesday on the Wenatchee, Methow and Icicle rivers. It is expected to remain open through the month.

 The Icicle River had a small coho fishery in 2009, but the Wenatchee and the Methow rivers have not opened for coho fishing in at least 30 years, said Jeff Korth, north-central region fish manager for WDFW. He said 20,000 adult coho are expected to return this year above Rock Island Dam.

Steelhead fishing is open on the Wenatchee, Methow and Icicle rivers with a limit of two hatchery fish per day. The Methow is said to be good. Anglers fishing the Wenatchee River may also retain up to three adult chinook salmon per day, including one wild fish.

Angler effort and harvest for fall chinook and coho continues to rise on the lower Yakima River. Last week, anglers averaged one chinook for 25 hours of fishing. 

 Last week at Hanford, anglers averaged slightly better than one salmon per boat. An estimated 2,608 adult chinook, 641 jacks, and five coho were harvested, likely a record for the area. 

 The tail end of the Brewster salmon fishery is still good for a large fish or two. They are getting dark, but the meat is still OK. Fish Super Baits and Plug Cut Super Baits behind big rotating flashers. The season ends Oct. 15.  

 Jig and slip bobber combos are taking steelhead in the mainstem of the Columbia. Use bright-colored jigs and bait them with a chunk of shrimp. Catch rates for fall chinook are good for boat anglers in the gorge. Anglers are catching a few coho near the mouths of some tributaries.

Spiny ray

Pike are on the docket at area waters such as Hayden, Coeur d’Alene and the Pend Oreille River. A friend fishing the Pend Oreille recently was skunked, but last week he lost a fish at the boat he estimated at 25-30 pounds and had follows from two others close to 20. Other pike anglers report excellent fishing at times for smaller fish. The best bite has been in 2-3 feet of water.

Banks Lake walleye fishermen are trolling spinners and cranks for some good walleye action and bass fishing on Potholes Reservoir is good. The best spots are around small patches of cover in the sand dunes and Crab Creek area. Surface temperatures on Potholes have been hovering around 60 degrees. Once they drop to 55 degrees, walleye action takes off.

This is normally the time of year that walleye fishing picks up from China Bend to Northport, but few good reports have come in.

Roses Lake in Chelan County remains good for 9- to 11-inch perch and bass and bluegill are also on the bite. Drift slowly or use and electric motor to locate concentrations.

Other species

The first opening of the fall razor clam season on Washington beaches is tentatively scheduled Oct. 28-29 on evening tides at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. Final approval will depend on results of marine toxin tests that show the clams are safe to eat.

Hunting

A friend who hunted Wawawai Canyon for chukars opening day last Saturday said he thinks chukar numbers along the Snake River are somewhat higher than last year. Working only one small canyon, he saw more than 60 birds and shot three. Because of the dry weather, the birds were low, but they’re probably starting to move up. He said there was little hunter participation.

Some of Washington’s most popular hunting seasons will begin Oct. 15, when hunters take to the field for ducks, geese and deer. Migratory waterfowl numbers are expected to be strong this year, but in the central district just south of Spokane, abundant water this spring may have come too late to enhance local production. Most hunting will focus on migrants as long as local waters remain ice-free. The Columbia Basin should provide plenty of local ducks.

Big-game hunts also look promising this fall, and hunters’ success should be similar to last year. In the southeast district, WDFW wildlife biologist Paul Wik said there should be excellent opportunity for whitetails in some areas, despite an overall population decline in recent years. The foothills of the Blue Mountains and river bottoms hold the largest concentrations of white-tailed deer, but much of that land is in private ownership, so hunters need to seek permission before hunting. Mule deer populations appear to have stabilized along the breaks of the Snake River and in the lowlands, but remain lower in the mountain units

In the northeast district, WDFW wildlife biologist Dana Base predicts a lower whitetail harvest this year because of the continued restrictions in antlerless harvest opportunity and the new four-antler-point minimum restriction in Game Management Units 117 and 121. Mule deer in the northeast district weathered recent harsh winters better than whitetails and harvest should be near the 10-year average.

WDFW central district wildlife biologist Howard Ferguson reports whitetail numbers are recovering with the past mild winter and high forage production of a wet spring. The number of mature bucks may still be slightly lower than the high point in 2008, but Ferguson said the persistent hunter should have ample harvest opportunity. Overall mule deer numbers appear to be stable and hunting prospects should be similar to 2010.

Contact Alan Liere by e-mail at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com


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