Cast and blast: Hunters shouldn’t spare the fishing rod
Diversified sportsmen can be conflicted during fall hunting season, since it’s also one of the best times for fishing.
Tuna are migrating past the Washington Coast. Salmon are streaming into Columbia and Snake River tributaries. Steelhead are high-tailing over dams to wintering areas. Crowds have left the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers even though the cutthroat fishing is as supreme.
Fish in high mountain lakes are feeding as though winter is just around the corner, because it is.
The “cast and blast” trip is the way to go for hunters who want to do it all.
Here are a few examples of memorable rod and gun trips I’ve had over the years.
• River of many returns: Chukar hunting mixed with steelheading on the Salmon River or smallmouth bassing on the Snake are classic cast and blast trips – by raft or jet boat — that that have lured me to book numerous trips with Idaho rafting companies over the years.
• High buck bonus: A fly rod in the saddle bag on a horse-packing trip into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness got a workout during Washington’s High Buck Hunt. The bucks were elusive, but the cutthroats at the end of several trails were eager to take flies during the afternoon lulls.
• Ducky for trout: After shooting a limit of ducks on opening day along the Colville River one year, I noticed trout rising in the stream. While my partner worked on his duck limit, I caught three rainbows on a No. 14 Parachute Adams.
• Perfect mix: Weekends of steelheading and chukar hunting on the Snake or Grande Ronde rivers have gone together better than beer and brats.
• Castaway: I didn’t bring any fishing gear during a multi-day bird hunt with friends near the Snake River one year when my dog came up sore-footed and needed a day off. Instead of bagging a good camp with good friends, I stayed in the canyon and booked a guided day-trip on the Clearwater River. Nobody in camp argued with my decision at dinner time!
• Grousing angler: Grouse hunting goes hand in hand with fishing at some of the timber-country lakes from the Okanogan country east into Idaho. Memorable trips include an overnighter to Pettit Lake in Pend Oreille County, where I hunted ruffs in the morning. In the afternoon, I’d give the dog a break on his pillow in the canoe while I paddled and cast for trout. Pettit and many timber country lakes are open through Oct. 31.
• On the Web: Idaho Outfitter and Guides Association, ioga.org/.