John Shewey, writer, photographer, editor-in-chief of Northwest Fly Fishing magazine and accomplished/fanatical steelhead fisherman, will be the guest speaker at the Oct. 10 meeting of Spokane Fly Fishers. John has authored 15 books about fly fishing and wing shooting. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy.
• The water has cooled and the crowds are gone, and fishing on the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers is excellent. There are lots of insects. On the Clark Fork, dry flies with dropper are enticing some big cutthroat. The Purple Haze is hot.
The Big Spokane River from the Maple Street Bridge to People’s Park is a great autumn fly fishing destination. Fish can be big, but the rocks are slippery.
Salmon and steelhead
A friend fished the Snake/Clearwater confluence this week with lighted plugs but had no luck and said game department personnel checked 70 boats with only one steelhead. Chinook trollers have done slightly better. Another friend bobber-fished the confluence Wednesday and caught one keeper steelhead. There have been positive steelhead reports by trollers from the vicinity of Wawawai. The daily count of steelhead over Lower Granite Dam is exceeding that over Bonneville, but the total count at Lower Granite on Wednesday was considerably less than half of the five-year average.
Angler effort continues to rise for salmon fishing in the lower Yakima River. WDFW staff talked with 100 anglers fishing for salmon this week. There were an estimated 719 angler trips for the week with 16 adult fall chinook and 23 jacks harvested. For the season, 66 adult fall chinook and 23 jacks have been harvested. The fishery will run through Oct. 22.
Chinook fishing on the Wenatchee River is still fairly good. Though many of them are dark, they are still fine for the smoker, and a fresh one shows up now and then.
The fall chinook runs below Wanapum Dam, at Priest Rapids and White Bluff is fair and should improve as more fish move up. Anglers are catching a mix of late summer runs and fall fish now, but fall chinook will soon predominate.
At Drano Lake, an estimated 1.1 chinook per boat were harvested last week. All areas in the Hanford Reach have reported strong catches at times, especially for this early in the fishery, but it has been either feast or famine. The first in-season run forecast for the Hanford Reach estimates the 2012 adult return at 84,000 fish.
The trout bite at Sprague Lake is on, and the big fish have been so cooperative it isn’t even necessary to get up early. Trollers aren’t doing as well as still-fishermen and drift-fishers who are fishing bait on the bottom between the big island and Four Seasons Resort.
West Medical bait fishermen are having good success on 11-inch spring plants from shore at West Medical to the left of the old public access. West Medical is open until the end of October, but other area lakes such as Badger, Downs, Coffeepot, Fan, Fish, Fishtrap and most of the small lakes in Grant County close after Sunday. Amber Lake goes to catch-and-release only at that time. Check the fishing regs, as there are also waters closing in the Okanogan.
Deer Lake in Stevens County is good for rainbow trout. Most are around 13 inches, but there are plenty of larger ones. Trollers are going to about 33 feet for their fish.
Friends fished Coffeepot this week for bass – and caught big trout. They trolled small rainbow-colored Hot Shots for most.
Kokanee 9-12 inches are biting in the north end of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Traditionally, fishing remains good well into October. Coeur d’Alene chinook are scattered.
Lake trout are hitting at Priest Lake and Pend Oreille lakes. Trollers and jiggers are going deep – 120-180 feet – for fish mostly in the 15- to 25-inch range.
Rainbow trout were stocked in several Idaho Panhandle lakes area lakes earlier this month. Anglers should find plenty of action in Fernan, Twin, Round, Kelso, Mirror, Smith, Brush and Jewell lakes.
Silver Lake perch are schooling up in 15-20 feet of water, and when you find them, the bite is fast for 8- to 10-inch fish. Bluegills are easier yet to find in the shallower water, and some of these are as long as the perch. Another hot perch fishery is Liberty Lake, where 50-fish mornings are not unusual.
Lake Roosevelt anglers are finding walleye deep for this time of year. The bite has been slow.
Potholes Reservoir anglers are catching nice perch from the Lind Coulee, Goose Island, the mouth of Crab Creek, Medicare Beach and the Walleye Humps off the face of the sand dunes. Go down about 20 feet. Bass action continues using surface lures on the face of O’Sullivan Dam. Water level on Potholes is low and the sand dunes have limited access.
Pike are congregating in bays of Coeur d’Alene and Hayden lakes, and spinnerbaits are enticing them to strike. Crappie fishermen are finding a good bite near the trestle in Benewah Lake.
A mid-October razor clam season will get under way Oct. 13-14 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks provided upcoming marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat. On Oct. 15, digging will be allowed at Long Beach and Twin Harbors and on Oct. 16-18 at Twin Harbors only. Low tides will occur relatively late in the day, so diggers need be prepared for darkness.
Fall turkey hunts are in progress in most of Idaho and Washington. Check your game regs. Chukar and gray partridge are also open in all of Idaho as is the quail season is in all of Area 1. In Washington, quail, chukar and gray partridge will become legal targets on Oct. 6.
On a drive and long walk through pheasant country south of Rock Lake on Tuesday, I saw more pheasants, gray partridge and mule deer bucks than I have seen in three years. Participants in the “65 and older” pheasant hunt that began Monday and runs through today report seeing a lot of pheasants – both fully colored and otherwise.
It seems the upcoming bird season may not be as bleak as once predicted.
The Idaho sharp-tailed grouse season opens Monday and runs through Oct. 31, with a daily bag limit of two birds and a possession limit of six. The season is open only in select counties in eastern Idaho.