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Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

There is a lot of good steelhead water along the Snake River between Asotin and the Ronde confluence that can be fished from shore, and flows right now are favorable. The Grande Ronde has settled into some very fishable water this week and should remain so though the weekend. It’s time to give up the dry lines, though, and go to sink tips and weighted flies. The Hobo, Extractor and various Prom Dresses – all in the larger sizes – are your best bet, but stone fly nymphs are also doing well.

If the weather continues to warm, the Coeur d’Alene will start giving up cutthroat again, says Pat Way at Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d’Alene. Afternoons will be best.

Salmon and steelhead

Guide Toby Wyatt of Reel Time Fishing reiterated recently what most steelhead fishermen already know – this is not going to be a “lights-out” season. Nevertheless, Wyatt said the Clearwater is giving up fish averaging 10 pounds with the largest he’s heard of going 18. You can’t ask the fish to come very far to take an offering, so get it down and put it on their noses. Fish are beginning to stack up in winter waters and a lot of wild fish are being caught.

Grande Ronde pluggers are doing very well, said Bill Vail at Boggan’s Resort. He said a boat recently reported 14 fish hooked and seven kept.

Lake Pateros steelhead anglers are taking fish off the dock in town by throwing shrimp under a bobber. The impoundment has seen better steelheading than most area waters.

When I spoke with Verna Foley at Darver Tackle in Starbuck late in the afternoon Wednesday, the temperature was 50 degrees. That alone would be a good reason to head to Little Goose Dam. Foley said steelheading has been “sporadic,” but excellent at times below the hatchery. The Tucannon has also been good at times.

Jeff Korth, regional fish manager with the Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Ephrata, said the steelhead season in the Okanogan area will run at least through Thanksgiving weekend. It will then be evaluated to determine whether to reopen it sometime after the first of the year – as late as February.

Steelhead catches are good in the John Day Arm.


Rufus Woods trout angling is picking up. Whether fishing the lower lake or near the net pens, anglers trolling Wooly Buggers or pitching dark jigs are doing well. Nothing huge was reported this week, but an “average-sized” 3-pound Rufus triploid provides some fine eating.

Anglers will be allowed to harvest six kokanee per day in Pend Oreille in 2013, and a size and bag limit will be reinstated for rainbows. On Priest Lake, the limit on kokanee was lowered to six fish.

Anglers are beginning to catch a few large kokanee from Lake Roosevelt and the trout bite for this year’s plants, which run around 16 inches, has been excellent. Anglers trolling the bays near Fort Spokane are taking a lot of fish trolling only 8 feet under the surface with orange flies.

Rock Lake is usually a good winter destination for brown and rainbow trout, with browns figuring predominantly in the catch. Most fish are taken trolling, and the parking lot is often crowded, but last Sunday there was only one boat trailer there and the lone bank fisherman said he had been dunking nightcrawlers for a couple hours with no success.

Trollers dragging spoons and plugs are taking some big Lahontan cutthroat from Omak Lake. The catch rate has been high once a concentration of fish is located, but they are in a narrow band in a small area. The fish vary from 12 inches to 5 pounds.

Spiny ray

Potholes Reservoir is still a good destination for perch in 20 to 40 feet of water in the vicinity of Medicare Beach. Afternoon bass action in Crab Creek has been good using spinnerbaits, flippin-Jigs, Yamamoto Senkos and Rapala Shad Raps.

Long Lake bass and perch are still biting and the perch are running about 9 inches, and so are those at Waitts Lake north of Spokane. Silver Lake perch are still hanging out in 15 feet of water near the rip-rap off the road and around the stumps farther down the lake on the resort side.


A friend and I drove all over the Rock Lake/Ewan/St. John/Pine City area this week looking for a place to hunt pheasants. There are some lovely “Hunting by Reservation” signs in many locations, but so far, no one is allowed to trespass in these places as the program is not yet up and running. It will be interesting when it finally is, as WDFW has secured some good-looking areas. To get on a list to be notified when the program is operational, go to and follow the hunting links. My friend and I didn’t see many birds, but rumor has it there has been some good pheasant hunting along the Snake River.

Waterfowl have been moving into north-central Washington and North Idaho with good numbers of pintail, mallards and teal showing up on Potholes Reservoir as well as area wasteways and along the Pend Oreille River. Goose hunting is improving weekly as there is a foot of snow on the plains of Alberta, the small water is frozen and it is very cold.

The extended whitetail buck modern weapon season in Eastern Washington ends Monday at 4:45 p.m. Many late archery hunts are still going on or about to begin, and most late muzzleloader hunts commence after Tuesday. Check your regs.

The Idaho fall general turkey season runs through Dec. 15 in game management units 1, 2 (except Farragut State Park and Farragut WMA) 3, 4, 4A, 5 and 6 in North Idaho, and through Dec. 31 in units 8, 8A, 10A, 11, 11A, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18 on private lands only. In Washington, the late fall either-sex turkey hunt begins Tuesday in GMUs 105-142, 149-154 and 162-186.

Contact Alan Liere at