September 23, 2011 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
Tip of the week

The Grande Ronde is low, but keep your eye on the water flows there. When the river begins to rise, steelhead fishing will take off.


The steelhead count over Bonneville is slightly less than the 10-year average for this date, but the Snake River dam counts are at or near 200 percent of the 10-year average. No one seems to know if the Snake River fish are coming early or if the Snake is receiving a higher percentage of fish than normal.

Braggin’ rights

Post Falls angler Chris Gades, fishing in a 24-hour tournament last Saturday, caught and released a monster 50-inch tiger musky after sundown in Curlew Lake.

• Gene Razykowski of Medical Lake, fishing out of Val Hilzendeger’s boat at Sekiu during Olson’s Resort’s recent one-day “No Fin You Win” Coho Fishing Derby, took third place with a fish weighing 9 pounds, 11 ounces. The first-place fish weighed 10 pounds, 6 ounces. The September run of larger coho had not yet shown up at the time of the derby. Hilzendeger operates Larry’s Rod & Reel Repair in Airway Heights.

Heads up

• Fires burning in Idaho’s backcountry have raised concerns about public safety and hunter access. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management may close access to some areas as fires grow or new fires start. Check with Forest Service ranger district offices or county sheriffs’ offices before heading into the woods. Fire updates:

• Although many Washington lakes are open until Oct. 31 or later, several in assorted counties will be closing at the end of September. Check the regulations. Grant, Adams and Okanogan counties will see several closures after Sept. 30.

• Recreational boaters can lock past U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dams on the lower Snake and Columbia rivers almost any time during daylight hours. 

Fly fishing

The main road to the St. Joe River from St. Regis is open, but there will be delays because of paving. Fly fishing has been good. Must-have bugs are Rubber Leg Stimis, Hoppers, Black Deaths, Tricos, Mahoganies, PMDs, Baetis and October Caddis.

Fly fishermen are doing well on Clearwater steelhead from Orofino down to the confluence. An orange and yellow pattern called “Fall Favorite” and a green and brown pattern called “Green Lamp-lighter” have been productive.

Steelhead and salmon

Clarkston guide Rick Hedding said the salmon/steelhead fishery on the Snake and at the confluence of the two has changed drastically. The Clearwater is dropping and the Snake is up, and the bite has been off since late last week. Hedding said he has caught 51 chinook from the confluence this fall, but only five were keepers. He predicts the good steelhead fishing is two weeks away, as everything this year is running late. Friends fishing near Wawawai on the Snake River this week say their fish finder was black with fish and chinook were rolling all around them, but nothing was biting.

Even though chinook numbers at Hanford Reach on the Columbia River are lower than predicted, anglers are doing well. Two adults and four jacks per day are allowed. The use of barbed hooks is permitted, as is retention of wild fish. Effort is spreading out throughout the Hanford Reach and the Tri-Cities. 

 Angler effort for salmon continues to rise on the lower Yakima River. This week there were an estimated 381 angler trips, and WDFW staff sampled 53 anglers with three adult chinook and two jacks. 

Fall chinook catches are good in the Columbia near Bonneville Dam and fair to poor at Buoy 10 and between Warrior Rock and Troutdale. Anglers are catching a few coho near the mouths of some tributaries. Coho catches are fair to good at Buoy 10.

Last week at Ilwaco, anglers averaged 0.7 salmon per rod, the best catch rate of the season. Overall, 76 percent of the catch was coho. Chinook and coho guidelines are close to being met. 

Trout and kokanee

Trollers at Loon Lake are still picking up kokanee to 15 inches. Many fish are getting dark. Next year’s kokes are a bright 9 inches.

Trout anglers out of Fort Spokane on Lake Roosevelt say the bite is “nonexistent” this week and the walleye bite is not much better. Fluctuating water levels on the reservoir could account for the poor fishing. Forty teams in the Two Rivers Trout Derby last weekend had to work hard for their trout and kokanee. Tournament organizer Dan Kieffer reported the largest trout was 7.5 pounds and largest kokanee 3.4 pounds. The team of Rick Sawyer and Don Hall won with 50.84 pounds of fish. The biggest concentration was around Whitestone and most fish were found between 40-50 feet. Standard Roosevelt gear – Muddler Minnows, Apexes and Rapalas – accounted for the majority.

Triploid fishing near the net pens on Rufus Woods Reservoir has been excellent. Stringers have been reported with fish up to 8 pounds.

The Medicare Beach area on Potholes Reservoir is seeing some excellent fishing for large rainbow. Anglers fishing from shore are doing almost as well as trollers.

Trolling for small (13- to 20-inch) mackinaw has been fast on Lake Chelan by The Monument. Throwing spinners for recently stocked rainbow is also good, reported Anton Jones of Darrell and Dad’s Guide Service.

Spiny ray

Rufus Woods and Lake Roosevelt both have been dead for walleye, and no one seems to know where they went. Traditional holes are barren. Warm water and fluctuating flows are probably to blame.

Perch fishing has been good at a number of local lakes, including Liberty, Waitts and Lake Spokane (Long). Downs Lake, where the perch typically run 10-13 inches, has been phenomenal, but it closes Sept. 30.

Potholes Reservoir in Grant County has been hot for bass fishermen. Darker colored topwaters are effective, but the fish have been aggressively hitting a variety of lures.

Banks Lake is about 25 feet below full pool, but the skinnier water has not been conducive this week to a good walleye bite. Perch fishing is fair and some nice smallmouth are showing. Launching is still available at Coulee Playland.

Water level is 1-2 feet on the Pend Oreille River, which makes some of the sloughs accessible again. There has been a good bite of late between Cusick and Usk. Hayden and Coeur d’Alene lakes generally begin to pick up this time of year.

Other species

During the 2010-11 season, clam diggers harvested about 3.2 million razor clams on five Washington ocean beaches. Somewhat fewer clams will be available for harvest this year because of the natural cycle of clam populations. The digging, which is expected to resume in late October, is still expected to be good.

The 24,000 to 28,000 cfs of water being released from Hells Canyon Dam between Sept. 6 and Oct. 1 has negatively affected Snake River sturgeon fishing, which was good until the rise in water volume.

The white sturgeon retention fishery from the Wauna power lines upstream to Bonneville Dam has been modified to include three additional days of white sturgeon retention. It will now be open to white sturgeon retention on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31.


Idaho youth hunters who want an early shot at a duck or goose may participate in the youth waterfowl hunt on Saturday and Sunday. It is open to those 15 and younger. The regular Idaho waterfowl season opens Oct. 1 in northern and eastern Idaho and on Oct. 15 in the southwestern part of the state.

A youth-only hunt for ducks, geese, pheasant and other game birds runs Saturday and Sunday statewide for Washington youths 15 or younger who are accompanied by an adult who is not hunting.

The early fall general turkey season in Washington begins Saturday in many units. GMUs 105-124 are beardless only. GMUs101, 127-133, 145-154, 162-186 are either sex. Turkey populations are particularly high in Spokane and Stevens counties.

Contact Alan Liere by e-mail at

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