September 7, 2012 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review

 A customer at Swede’s Fly Shop did an informal Labor Day survey as he drove up the St. Joe River, counting 486 people on the lower river and more than 200 above Fly Flat.

• Quail brood counts this season on the Yakama Indian Reservation are at near record-high levels.

Braggin’ rights

 Larry Carey, who measures dozens of trophy big-game animals in Spokane each year as an official Boone and Crockett scorer, bagged his own wall-hanger recently while antelope hunting near Cimarron, N.M. Carey, 74, shot a pronghorn measuring 85 inches green. After the 60-day drying period, the buck should easily make the 82-inch gross score minimum for the B&C Record Book. He’s logged eight pronghorn hunts to tag a bruiser that large.

Heads up

 Catch limits will be waived at Fish Lake off the Cheney-Marshall Road starting Saturday as the WDFW allows anglers to take as many fish as possible before the fishery closes Oct. 21 for a rotenone treatment.

• Diamond Lake’s public boat ramp will close Monday for construction. Fishing is open to Oct. 31.

• Idaho Fish and Game seeks angler input on another round of proposed fishing rule changes that would start next year. Panhandle proposals are mainly associated with Pend Oreille Lake where the agency is suggesting restrictive rainbow trout regulations and reopening a limited kokanee fishery.

 IFG also is asking for comments on the Draft Fisheries Management Plan for the next six years. Main topic: how to deal with native fish and lake trout in Priest and Upper Priest lakes. Details:

• Washington will unveil proposals for 2013 fishing rule changes within the next two weeks. Proposals include options to generate angler comment.

 Proposals also include liberalizing bag limits to help reduce the overpopulation of walleye in Lake Roosevelt and lifting all bass limits in the Snake River and tributaries, including the Grande Ronde.

Fly fishing

The Spokane River got a pick-me-up with increased flows starting Tuesday as Avista began the annual drawdown of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

“Water temperatures are down. Nymphing is good and there are a few more risers in the evening,” said John Clark of Westslope Fly Shop. “I’m fishing seams and riffles, staying off the banks where the warmer water is.”

Idaho’s St. Joe and upper Coeur d’Alene rivers are fishing beautifully by all reports. The summer vinyl hatch has subsided, which proves that school is a good thing.

Montana’s Bitterroot is shifting from an early morning-late evening hopper show to good fishing with a variety of fly patterns all day.

“Baetis are showing on a cloudy day,” Matt Potter at Kingfisher in Missoula said.

Clark Fork River evening caddis hatches are history, but fly casters are catching trout all day in the cooler flows. Hoppers and other attractors still work. Streamers are producing, and there’s a good window of surface activity before dark.

Lakes are beginning their September surge. One angler reported doing well this week at Amber Lake fishing size-18 chironomids in 12 feet of water.

The Yakima River’s fall “flip-flop” is under way, as water levels and irrigation demand decrease. “Fish hiding under the banks through the high summer flows are moving out in to the river,” Craig Hettinger at Red’s Fly Shop said.

High lakes

Good reports are coming down with hikers who’ve muscle-powered to high lakes throughout the region where fish have been stocked.

Tiffany Lakes, up Boulder Creek from the Winthrop area, is a neat destination. The hike in is short and the lower lake has a 10-fish limit on the overabundant brook trout. Hike farther to the upper lake for cutthroat fishing.

Trout and kokanee

Kokanee are attracting a flotilla to the north end of Lake Coeur d’Alene “because the fishing’s good,” Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers Sport Shop said. “For the next 30 days, it’s kokanee mania.”

Anglers putting in their time are getting 15-kokanee limits. Average size is 11 inches. The fish have been around 40 feet deep, but they should come closer to the surface as water temperatures cool.

September’s the last hurrah for Spokane-area trout lakes such as Williams, Clear and West Medical. Mike Barber at Fishtrap Lake Resort said the fall action is just beginning.

“Fish are getting more active. We saw pretty good chironomid and mayfly hatches Tuesday,” Barber said. Anglers have to pick between the 5- to 8-inch fry plants to get the 14- to 16-inch carryovers.

Lake Roosevelt trout fishing has generally been poor, according to creel count coordinator Branditt West. At Hansen Harbor on Sunday, she checked only one rainbow all day Sunday. Most of the fish being caught are the little ones from this year’s net pen crop.

Lake Rufus Woods is getting a boost of 600-700 tagged triploid rainbows to be released today. The 3-pound fish were purchased with proceeds from the spring triploid derby near Chief Joseph Dam, tribal biologist Ed Shallenberger said. The trout are being released at the Chief Joseph Fish Farm.

Salmon, steelhead

Willapa Bay on the Washington Coast is the region’s hot spot for king salmon. Need proof? That’s where Chris Donley, WDFW fisheries biologist and salmon expert, was fishing Thursday.

Steelheading has been slow at the mouth of the Clearwater, Andy Aldredge at Camp, Cabin and Home in Lewiston said. “More steelies are getting here every day,” he said. “Salmon fishing is the better, with some guys hooking about 10 in an evening. A lot of them are using Brad’s Super Baits with tuna.”

Snake River fall chinook and steelhead numbers over Lower Granite Dam have significantly increased since Saturday. The September spike in numbers of fish headed toward Idaho and the Grande Ronde appears to have begun.

Upper Columbia salmon options include decent fishing for summer chinook in the Wenatchee River. A relatively new fishery (debuted last year) at the mouth of the Chelan River is choice for fishing from a pontoon behind the buoy line, where internal combustion engines are prohibited.

The chinook fishery below Wells Dam is late, Bob Fately of Triangle Exxon in Brewster said. “Usually, it’s really good there by now, but all the water coming down the system this year has thrown things off.”

Chinook fishing at Brewster is nearly over, he said. Wenatchee Lake sockeye fishing closed Monday.

Downs Lake perch are on the bite, at last. “I don’t remember it ever being like this, where they didn’t really bite all summer,” Lee Griffey of Downs Lake Resort said. “But since Saturday, I’ve seen about 400 perch 8-12 inches long come in, and there haven’t been many anglers.”

Smallmouth bassing has been good at Lake Coeur d’Alene, but northern pike fishing has been slow. “Usually this is smack time for pike,” Smith said.

Hunting seasons under way in Washington include archery deer and elk, forest grouse, mourning dove, crow, black bear, cougar and cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare, bobcat, fox and raccoon.

Dove hunters did reasonably well on the opening weekend, according WDFW reports.

“If you’re hunting public land, such as the Potholes Reservoir area, set up along the willow trees in proximity to wheat fields to get the evening flight into the roost,” said Rich Finger, upland bird biologist in Ephrata.

Morning flights are more associated with grain and private land access.

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