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Hunting and fishing

Fri., Aug. 31, 2012

Fly fishing

The Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers are fishing better each day. Cooler water, less pressure and good hatches are contributing to more quality trout. The Clark Fork River is becoming a better option for the next couple of weeks.

Trout and kokanee

Lake Roosevelt rainbow, particularly the 12-inchers from this spring’s plant, are hitting from Swawilla Basin up to the Spokane River. Reports from the San Poil area are best, but the fishing doesn’t appear to be really fast anywhere.

Triploid fishing has picked up at Rufus Woods Reservoir. Trollers and still-fishermen are catching fish again using all the old mainstays – Powerbait, marshmallows, black jigs and trolled plugs.

Sprague Lake is far from a sure thing, but the trout fishing typically improves as the weather cools. Trollers connected with a few really big (more than 5 pounds) fish last week.

Liberty Lake loses its appeal for trout anglers once the weather warms, but the lake has some deep spots, and there is still a good population of cooperative brown trout.

Curlew Lake rainbow are biting.

Sullivan Lake kokanee are running about 9 inches, but fishing is slow. Lake Coeur d’Alene kokanee are averaging 11 inches. Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene said kokes are “everywhere,” but the whole east arm of the lake is getting the most action. Troll at 40-45 feet.

Salmon and steelhead

The fall steelhead harvest season opens Saturday on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. The harvest season is open on a 2-mile stretch of the lower Clearwater River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge near Lewiston. Snake River steelhead are scarce. The good news is, the river has dropped at least 6 degrees and is less than 70 degrees for the first time in months. The steelhead count at Lower Granite Dam has increased daily. The 2012 fall chinook salmon harvest season also opens Saturday. It will continue until Oct. 31 in the Snake River and the lower Clearwater River.

Anglers fishing in ocean waters off Ilwaco can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

Coeur d’Alene chinook have been small as the larger fish head for the Coeur d’Alene River to spawn. Go deep with flashers and mini-squid, and be aware that a legal Coeur d’Alene chinook is at least 20 inches.

Spiny ray

Deer Lake is producing a lot of smallmouth for anglers drop-shotting deep. Deer holds some lunker bass of both species. To the south, Downs Lake is still kicking out largemouth, but the big perch have been a no-show this summer.

Newman Lake panfish are abundant but small.

Lake Roosevelt walleye can be found anywhere from 10-40 feet of water. Fishing has been slowly steady rather than spectacular.

A few good reports have come in from the Hunters area. Lake Roosevelt anglers are finding smallmouth bass in weed beds in the shallows around Plum Point, Swawilla, and up the Sanpoil Arm.

The walleye bite at Banks Lake is off some, but bottom bouncers and spinners are still taking fish from a variety of depths – shallow early and deeper when the sun gets high. Focus on Rookie Point, Bird Island, Twin Caves, Goose Island and the Highway 2 area near the southern dam.

Smallmouth bass are abundant but not large in the Snake River around Boyer Park, Lyons Ferry and from Lower Granite all the way to Lewiston.

On Potholes Reservoir, anglers are catching a lot of bass, but walleye fishing is slow.

Bass fishing has been good at Curlew Lake with larger fish showing than in previous years.

Smallmouth bass are going strong on Lake Coeur d’Alene. They are holding near the shoreline – try twin-tailed grubs or tube jigs. The Coeur d’Alene chain lakes have been good for pike and bass, though the main lake has been a little slow for pike.

Hauser, Cocolalla and Fernan lakes have been good for crappie, pike, bass and bluegill. The health advisory on Idaho lakes has been lifted and they are again safe for fishing and swimming.

Other species

The mouth of Frenchman’s Wasteway where it enters Potholes Reservoir is a good spot for channel cats up to 8 pounds.

Sturgeon angling is fair in The Dalles Pool. Weekly checking showed three oversize and six sublegal sturgeon released for 13 bank anglers and three legal white sturgeon kept, plus five oversize and 42 sublegal sturgeon released for five boats (12 anglers).


Washington dove, rabbit and forest grouse open Saturday. In Idaho, grouse and rabbits opened Thursday and dove open Saturday. Dove populations appear to be better than average this year. Best Washington dove shooting will be along Snake River breaks, around Yakima, and near wheat fields in Spokane and Lincoln and Grant counties. In Idaho, look for concentrations above the Clearwater River near Genesee. Bear hunters in Idaho and Washington report seeing quite a few large broods of dusky grouse up high.

The 2012-13 wolf hunting season opened throughout Idaho on Thursday. The 2012-13 wolf hunting season opened July 1 on private land only in the Panhandle Zone, but no wolves have been reported harvested.

Contact Alan Liere at

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