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Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

The rain helped water flows, but rising daytime temperatures will slow things down again in the Coeur d’Alene and the St. Joe. Hoppers, ants and beetles should be the primary food source, but with some cloud cover, PMDs, mahoganies and caddis will also entice the fish.

Trout fishing in the Methow River is good. Selective-gear rules are in effect and no bait is allowed. The open area of the Methow extends from the Lower Burma Road Bridge (below the town of Methow) upstream to the Weeman Bridge (8 miles north of Winthrop).

Trout and kokanee

Some of the best rainbow and cutthroat trout lakes close to Spokane right now are Amber, Clear, Williams, and West Medical in Spokane County, and Fishtrap Lake in Lincoln County.

If you’re heading to Sprague Lake for some of the big rainbow, set your alarm clock early, says Bill Blosser of Spokane. He and his wife, Nettie, have been fishing bait near the island, limiting on fish to 24 inches, with “little ones” going 15-16 inches. Blosser says they were on the water by 4 a.m. recently, and were limited by 6 a.m. He says another option is from 7 p.m. into the night. If you’re there during optimum hours, don’t stay in one spot too long without a bite.

Kokanee fishing at Loon Lake remains good, either trolling during the day or still-fishing at night. On two nighttime trips this week, friends and I found a fairly strong bite early which tailed off as it got closer to midnight. Other anglers, however, have had just the opposite experience. Whenever you go, look for 32-34 feet of water with a non-weedy bottom, use the smallest white Glo-hook you can buy, and jig slowly. Bait with white corn or maggots. Most of your 10-fish limit will be around 11 inches long. Frequent “charging” of the Glo-hook seems to make a difference.

Kokanee can also be had in Bead, Sullivan, and Davis lakes in Pend Oreille County and Pierre and Deep lakes in Stevens County. Deep Lake produces 12- inch-plus kokanee. In Idaho, Dworshak Reservoir is experiencing its best kokanee fishing in years for 9- to 12-inch fish.

In Montana, Koocanusa Lake kokes are running 10-11 inches and there are lots of them. The limit is 50 per day.

This is a good time to fish for trout in the smaller tributaries within the Methow River drainage. Boulder, Falls and Eightmile creeks are all within easy driving distance from Winthrop and provide good fishing for eastern brook trout. The daily limit is five brook trout in Falls and Eightmile creeks, no minimum size, and bait is allowed. In Boulder Creek, the daily limit for brook trout is 10, no minimum size, and bait is allowed. In the Beaver Creek drainage, anglers can retain five brook trout, no minimum size, selective-gear rules required, and no bait allowed.

Salmon and steelhead

Steelhead anglers at the mouth of the Clearwater aren’t having much success yet, but catch-and-release fishermen are getting a few from the mouth to the Orofino Bridge. The Snake River is also open for steelhead fishing with three hatchery steelhead per day allowed for anglers using a Washington license.

Sockeye salmon fishing has picked up considerably in the Columbia River near Brewster, said Bob Jateff, WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist in Twisp. Chinook salmon are also being caught, but in much smaller numbers.

On the lower Columbia this past weekend, boat anglers fishing in the Gorge averaged 3.38 steelhead per boat.

The pinks are in! In sheer numbers, pink salmon will dominate the catch by Puget Sound anglers over the next month. Nearly 6 million are expected to return to the Sound this year, many of them during the next few weeks. In most marine areas of Puget Sound, anglers are allowed to catch and keep two pink salmon in addition to daily limits for other species.

The Buoy 10 chinook salmon season at the mouth of the Columbia River is a big draw now with fishing improving daily. Anglers are expected to catch about 20,000 chinook during the month – most between Buoy 10 near the mouth of the river and Rocky Point, 16 miles upstream. The daily limit is two salmon, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each. Through Sept. 1, only one of those salmon may be a chinook (marked or unmarked). Only hatchery steelhead and coho may be retained.

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, chinook retention opportunities end Thursday, but hatchery coho and pink salmon options continue into fall.

On Drano Lake, 185 boat anglers were checked recently with one adult and one jack fall chinook and 56 steelhead kept.

Spiny ray

The best walleye catches recently have come from Lake Umatilla – the 67 miles of the Columbia River between John Day and McNary dams. Angling upstream of McNary has also been good.

Walleye are also numerous on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia and on the lower portions of the Snake River, especially below Ice Harbor Dam. Walleye fishing on Lake Roosevelt has been fair with somewhat lower success rates for most anglers compared to the last couple of years.

Smallmouth bass everywhere are deep. Trolling with deep-diving plugs and fine-diameter braided lines 150 to 200 feet behind the boat allow you to get your plug down to the fish. Mid-river humps and bars from 30-45 feet in depth attract large concentrations of mature smallmouth during August. Vertical jigging with blade baits and soft-plastic jigs are also effective.

Other species

Marine Area 1 anglers have not yet exhausted their halibut quota, so it’s not too late to book a trip to the Port of Ilwaco. All of Washington’s major ocean ports offer good bottom fishing for ling and rockfish now. Albacore tuna fishing is heating up near Westport.


A few game management units in Eastern Washington open to general black bear hunting in August. GMUs 133, 136, 139 and 142 in Lincoln and Whitman counties opened Aug. 1, and GMUs 124-130 in Spokane County open Thursday. The rest of the region opens Sept. 1 for black bear hunting.

The Idaho archery pronghorn season opens Thursday and continues through Sept. 15. Archery permits are required. Archers using blinds on federal public lands should consult the big-game rules brochure or contact the Bureau of Land Management for the latest policies on hunting blinds on public lands.

Contact Alan Liere by email at