The St Joe is one of the best late summer fisheries in the area. Terrestrials, bees, and midges have worked well. There has been some PMD activity early. Mid-river riffle water and pockets are going to be the most productive.
Steelhead fishing is picking up on the lower Clearwater River in Idaho. The lower few miles are best. The Snake is pretty warm and better for smallmouth right now. The Grande Ronde is also a good bet for smallmouth, but by mid-September, there should be steelhead in the system.
For a change of scenery, try the Icicle River for small trout. Evenings are best. Fly fishermen will also find lots of trout on the Entiat River above the falls, on the Twisp River, and on the Methow, which has much larger trout. These fisheries will last until early fall when temperatures drop.
Trout and kokanee
Resorts on most local put-and-take lakes have filled up for the Labor Day weekend and there will likely be a lot of recreational boat traffic. There is still good trout fishing to be had early and late, however at lakes like Diamond, Waitts, Sacheen, Williams, Clear, Fishtrap, West Medical and Badger, to name but a few.
Kokanee fishing has been so good at Loon Lake between storms that some anglers are taking a 10-fish limit before midnight and another after midnight, but to be legal, there is sometimes a two-hour wait following the first limit. Eight p.m. is a good starting time and 34-37 feet is the right depth. A foot can make a huge difference. Best fishing is still around Granite Point. The fish are beginning to turn slightly but are otherwise in excellent shape. Fishing Wednesday night, friends and I landed a few 9-inch fish in addition to the more common 10-11 inchers.
Lake Coeur d’Alene kokanee are running small – 7-10 inches – with the largest concentrations in the south end of the lake near Powderhorn Bay. Trollers are finding the fish between 30-50 feet.
Deer Lake still-fishermen are catching some nice (16-, 22-inch) rainbow in 25-35 feet of water along the shoreline straight across the lake from the public access. A nightcrawler and marshmallow or just a single salmon egg near the bottom are accounting for the fish.
A friend fishing Sprague Lake on Tuesday said he had to move several times between the island and Four Seasons Resort, but he eventually caught his five-fish limit of rainbow running 13-18 inches. He was plunking bait. He said trolling could be difficult because of gunk in the water.
Rufus Woods Reservoir has fallen off the angler radar now that there are not so many escapees from the net pens. It is unusual to take one of the 6-12 pounders that were once so common, but there are still plenty of 1-2-pounders available.
Davis Lake in Okanogan County has some very nice rainbow. On Sunday, it changes from catch-and-release fishing to catch-and-keep.
Pend Oreille kokanee are said to be as large as 13 inches and relatively easy to catch.
Salmon and steelhead
A fall Chinook salmon fishing season on parts of the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers opens Sunday. The Clearwater River, from its mouth upstream to Memorial Bridge in Lewiston and the Salmon River, from its mouth upstream about three-fourths of a mile to Eye of the Needle Rapids, will also open that day, as will the Snake River, from the Washington-Idaho border upstream to Cliff Mountain Rapids, a little less than a mile downstream of Hells Canyon Dam.
Salmon and steelhead fishing in the general vicinity of the Snake/Clearwater confluence has been better than expected considering the low number of fish over Lower Granite Dam. Both species are hitting normal steelhead gear using steelhead tactics. Most anglers are using bobbers, but trolling Hotlips plugs is also effective. The fish are coming from 18-25 feet of water. Almost 300 chinook and 48 jacks as well as 169 steelhead were counted at the dam on Tuesday.
The chinook fishery is about over near Brewster, but there are still salmon being caught. Though the fish are dark, the flesh is good, but that will change in a couple weeks. The upcoming chinook hot spots on the Columbia will be at Hanford and Ringold, where a few fish have already been taken.
Chinook anglers trolling the Columbia near Beebe Bridge Park in the vicinity of Chelan Falls are finding fish, though erratic.
Immature chinook salmon are coming from 70-90 feet of water at Lake Coeur d’Alene for anglers trolling Mini Squid or helmeted herring. The larger fish are already moving up the river to spawn.
From the reports, it sounds like it’s more difficult to NOT catch pink salmon from Westside Rivers than it is to take a limit. Glowing reports come from the Duwamish, Skagit, Snohomish and Puyallup rivers. Buzz Bombs and pink squid jigs are popular.
Newman Lake smallmouth are cooperating with anglers throwing both topwaters and grubs. Night fishing has become popular there.
Walleye fishing on Potholes Reservoir has been going very well, but expect a mixed bag of walleye, small mouth, largemouth, perch, a few crappie, trout, and bluegill. Lake Roosevelt walleye, too, are on the bite.
A few big perch are showing at Downs Lake at last. Hopefully, the weather and water will cool down and make fishing better before the September 30 closure.
At Coulee Playland Resort on Banks Lake, Lou Nevsimal says walleye fishing has tapered off considerably as the water is lowered, but the bass bite is still strong early and late. For smallmouth Nevsimal recommends poppers and “walking baits” like the Zara Spook. For largemouth, throw floating rats and frogs over matted grass. Tubes and grubs will take dozens of the smaller fish during the day, but for the big ones dropshot deep with plastics or fish the twilights on top.
Coeur d’ Alene pike fishing has been slow, but the few fish being caught are in 10-15 feet of water along the weed lines. Spinnerbaits have been most effective. The Chain Lakes have been better for small pike and some decent largemouth. Senkos are taking both.
Forest grouse and mourning dove seasons begin Sunday with a limit of four grouse and 10 doves. Dove populations appear to be slightly above average and grouse numbers are on the low average side. A state duck stamp is needed to hunt doves.