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Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

Steelhead running 7-9 pounds are smacking small flies on a dry line in the Grande Ronde River. Successful anglers say the fight in these fish is “spectacular.”

The Clearwater River above the confluence opens to catch-and-keep this weekend. Fly fishing during the catch-and-release season has been consistent, with a fish coming every seven hours or so. B-run fish are becoming more common.

The lower section of the Clark Fork is fishing well near Thompson Falls.

Steelhead and salmon

The Snake River near Wawawai has been good at times recently for trollers dragging lighted plugs at night. Jig and bobber fishermen have not done as well. Guide Tim Johnson of Clarkston reports a multispecies day on Wednesday near Asotin – six catfish, three chinook and three steelhead for three anglers. Two of the chinook were large – 35 pounds and 20 pounds. Johnson said steelhead anglers are doing fair to good bait fishing at Heller Bar.

In the catch-and-release section of the Clearwater, the catch average is one steelhead every seven hours. Steelhead anglers behind Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake are experiencing phenomenal jig and bobber fishing on some days and zilch on the next. Barometric pressure seems to factor in heavily. The best fishing is when it is holding at around 30. B-run fish are becoming more prevalent.

WDFW staff interviewed 339 boats and 796 anglers at Hanford Reach last week with 410 chinook adults, 95 jacks and one coho. Vernita and the Waluke boat ramps had the majority of the catch. Anglers fishing for fall run kings below Wanapum Dam are catching good numbers of large chinook. Steelhead numbers over Priest Rapids Dam have passed the 20,000 mark and fishing has been good at several spots.

Anglers fishing at the mouth of the Wenatchee are boating lots of steelhead as well as some chinook. Wells Dam is producing good numbers of steelhead for this time of year, many in the 8- to 10-pound range.

Catch rates for fall chinook are good to fair in the lower Columbia. Anglers are catching a few salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River above the John Day Dam and in the John Day Arm and a few coho near the mouths of some tributaries.

Chinook salmon in the upper teens have been boated recently on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Anglers trolling herring or Mini-squid in 60-90 feet of water do best.

Trout and kokanee

The east arm of Lake Coeur d’Alene has classic fall kokanee fishing with fish running 9-12 inches and still in good shape, but the entire lake has been good. The fish are spread out between 30 and 50 feet.

The preponderance of large rainbow coming out of Lake Roosevelt has led some anglers to speculate that many of the smaller fish may have been washed downstream, but a lot of 14-inchers have been taken from the Keller area recently. The fish are holding between 40-65 feet.

Sprague Lake isn’t seeing much fishing activity, but a report from a duo trolling the middle with Rapalas suggests a good number of big trout are still available.

Clear Lake in Spokane County has been fairly consistent for rainbow and browns. Troll small spoons at 20 feet in deeper water. Trout fishing has improved at all the lowland lakes scheduled for closure Oct. 31.

Spiny ray

Pike fishing on Lake Coeur d’Alene is good. Successful anglers are still throwing spinnerbaits. Smallmouth bass are hitting aggressively again, and some good-sized largemouth are coming from the north end.

Lake Roosevelt walleye fishing is slow. The fish appear to be spread out in 50-60 feet of water.

Potholes Reservoir largemouth usually turn on in October. Cast Senkos in the dunes for big fish. Drop-shotting for smallmouth has been excellent in 25 feet of water.


Washington’s most popular deer-hunting season starts Saturday, and WDFW reminds hunters that cougars are also fair game anywhere in the state. Under this year’s rules, anyone with a valid cougar license and transport tag can take a cougar during the modern-firearms deer season in all 39 counties – including Okanogan, Chelan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille and Klickitat where cougar hunting seasons were delayed last year.

Oct. 29 is the opening of modern firearm elk hunting season and the best prospects in the region are in the Blue Mountains of the southeast district. There should be higher numbers of yearling bulls for harvest. Hunters lucky enough to draw the “any bull” permits will find excellent opportunity, as many bulls scoring over 400 in Boone and Crocket measurement have been seen.

Friends who hunted chukars near Weiser Idaho on the Oct. 1 opener reported tough hunting except for gray partridge, which were numerous. The Snake River breaks in Wawawai and Steptoe canyons in Washington have been better than expected for chukars. My group of three found the birds fairly low on Monday, but in Hells Canyon, hunters say the birds have dispersed and they’re finding nothing lower than 1,000 feet. Yakima chukar hunters are also finding fair numbers of birds.

Waterfowl seasons open in southwestern and south-central Idaho on Saturday. Seasons are already open in the rest of the state. The regular Idaho pheasant season opened Saturday in northern Idaho Area 1. The season opens in the rest of the state – Areas 2 and 3 – on Saturday. This weekend is the opening weekend of the Idaho deer and elk seasons (including cow season, except in Units 7 and 9).

 Pheasant hunting opportunities will vary a lot in Washington, Idaho and Montana this year. Bird numbers will generally be below average, with significantly fewer pheasants in many prime hunting areas. A friend who scouted near Malta, Mont., this summer said bird numbers were “dismal.” This year’s wet spring conditions also caused hens to make multiple nesting attempts, so there will be many young birds with limited coloration early in the season.

Contact Alan Liere by e-mail at

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