The south Fork of the Coeur d’Alene in Shoshone County has been good for cutthroat fishing. The Clark Fork is perfect, and all is good on the St. Joe. A lot of match-the-hatch-type flies will work, but if you like your fishing uncomplicated, throw a hopper. Nymphs will always work.
This is an excellent time to try some of the feeder creeks and rivers in Washington and Idaho. Examples are the Icicle and the Entiat. It’s also a good time to head toward some of the high mountain lakes.
Steelhead and salmon
The best chinook fishing of the year at Brewster is now at the mouth of the Okanogan, and pressure has diminished significantly. Most fish are in the teens. Super Baits and Brad’s Cut Plug Lure are popular. Water temperature at the mouth is 74 degrees. If it gets below 71 degrees the fish will head quickly up the river.
Fall Chinook seasons opened Thursday in the Snake River from the Washington-Idaho border upstream to Hells Canyon Dam, and in the Clearwater River from its mouth upstream to the Memorial Bridge. There are salmon in the river, but it may be a little early yet for good fishing.
Catch-and-keep steelhead fishing opened Thursday on the Snake River from the mouth to Idaho and also on the Salmon and Little Salmon. Steelheading should be good on the Snake.
The area of cold water at the confluence of the Clearwater is larger than usual, and the steelhead are spread out more. From the Memorial Bridge to the mouth of the Clearwater, anglers have been catching steelhead at the rate of one every four hours. More than half of these have been wild. Upstream of the Memorial Bridge, steelhead fishing in the Clearwater is limited to catch-and-release until Oct. 15.
At Darver Tackle in Starbuck, Wash., Verna Foley said the numbers are good for steelhead and chinook and she expected a good opener. “The Wall” at Little Goose Dam is a popular spot for both species. Anglers must be off the dam by 5 p.m. each day.
On Lake Coeur d’Alene, small chinook are active in 50-70 feet of water. The larger fish have entered the tributaries.
The coho fishery at Buoy 10 has been good and is getting better, said regional fish biologist Chris Donley, who spent several days there recently. He predicts another two weeks of good fishing.
Including fish released, boat anglers at Drano Lake averaged over a steelhead per rod last week. They were also catching some fall chinook and coho, as are bank anglers on the White Salmon River.
On the Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam, chinook catches are increasing while steelhead are tapering off. Overall fishing was slow the first part of last week and had improved some by the weekend.
The Skagit River has been red hot for pinks. Lots of people report hooking 20-30 fish per outing. A few silvers have also been showing up in the Skagit. Early September usually marks the beginning of the silver run.
Trout and kokanee
Loon Lake kokanee are about through for the year. They are turning red, and while trollers are still taking 13- to 15-inch fish, night fishermen aren’t having much luck. At Coeur d’Alene Lake, the kokanee fishery is still going well for fish running 9-11 inches. Trollers are finding them all over the lake. Dworshak Reservoir in Idaho has also seen some good kokanee fishing. Despite dropping water, several locations are available for boat launching. These include Big Eddy, Bruce’s Eddy No. 1, Freeman Creek (Dworshak State Park), Dent Acres and Grandad.
Badger and Williams lakes have produced some nice catches of beautiful cutthroat. Trolling has been most effective, though still-fishermen at Williams have taken numerous fish more than 16 inches at Tree 11.
Lake Roosevelt trout fishing has been slow. Fish biologists say a lot of fish were flushed out of the impoundment during the high spring runoff.
Waitts Lake appears to be the place to go for decent-sized perch. Bonnie Lake perch are even larger, but the access stream could present problems for all but the smallest boats in the low water. Anglers are also finding perch at Silver and Fan lakes. On a recent mostly unsuccessful bass fishing venture onto Loon Lake, I found a few decent-sized perch in 25 feet of water.
The Pend Oreille River has been good at times for pike, but when it shuts off, it really shuts off. At these times, largemouth bass will often take up the slack. Work weed beds and docks.
Coeur d’Alene pike are hugging the bottom. A Johnson Silver Minnow with a twin-tail trailer right in the weeds is an effective offering. Some bigger pike have been taken in the Chain Lakes. Billy Clapp Lake in Grant County is good for smallmouth bass. Keeper-size walleye have been hard to come by. Lake Roosevelt walleye fishermen are having to work hard.
Dworshak Reservoir in Idaho is a good bet for big smallmouth bass. Jigging grubs or worms is effective.
Sturgeon fishing has picked up in Snake River. Several large (7- to 9-foot) fish have been taken recently from Hells Canyon water.
Night fishing in 5-15 feet of water with cut bait or nightcrawlers is good for yellow-bellied catfish in many area lakes. Multispecies lakes such as Newman, Deer, Loon, Silver and Long have a lot of 11- to 15-inch specimens. For channel cats, try Idaho lakes such as Fernan, Hauser and Cocolalla.
Dove, rabbits and forest grouse opened Thursday in Washington. In Idaho, grouse opened Tuesday, with some fair reports coming in from lowlands around Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint and Priest Lake.
Biologist Matt Monda in Ephrata said he was impressed with the number of doves in the Columbia Basin, but around Spokane, they seem to have disappeared. I hunted the opener near Reardan with friends and we didn’t see a bird in a spot that has yielded consistent limits over the years. A friend hunting near Davenport didn’t find many birds, but a nephew in Yakima said he and his partner limited by 6:30 a.m. Hunters report low populations of ruffed grouse north of Spokane, but large concentrations of blues around Curlew and Republic.
In the coming weeks, hunters have several options to consider as early hunting seasons open throughout Washington and Idaho. These include archery-only hunts for deer and cougar that began Thursday and archery hunts for Washington elk that will run Tuesday through Sept. 18.