Spokane fly fisherman Mike Berube reports a great float this week on the Spokane River from the Monroe Street Bridge to the TJ Meenach Bridge. He noted the trout were all in the 12- to 14-inch range and loved any type of brownish-olive streamer. He found them primarily at the end of riffles. If the river continues to drop, wade fishing will be an option soon.
The coolest water on the Coeur d’Alene River has the best fishing now – above Yellow Dog Creek. For even better success, hike into Jordon Creek or Teepee. Throw terrestrials and small attractors in the moving water at the heads of the pools.
Fishing is still decent on the St. Joe despite the heat and the tubers. Hopper fishing is picking up. Wade fishing above Avery is decent if you’re on the water early.
Trout and kokanee
A friend and I trolled the east side of Waitts Lake this week, beginning at the public access and heading north. We limited quickly on 10- to 13-inch brown and rainbow trout, which were hitting just about anything sweetened with a piece of nightcrawler. The fish were suspended at about 25 feet over deeper water.
Loon Lake trollers are still making good catches of kokanee as long as they’re on the water early. After 10 a.m. you’re better off waiting for still-fishing after dark. The fish are growing fat, averaging about 11 inches with a few going nearly 14 inches.
Hayden Lake kokanee anglers are beginning to catch fish that are losing their sheen and showing signs of the impending spawn. Lake Coeur d’Alene kokes are spread throughout the system. A big one is 10 inches.
Burke Lake in Grant County is still yielding fat, red-meated rainbow of 1 to 2 pounds. The fish have been holding at about 20 feet in deeper water, and bait fishermen are experiencing fast fishing. The wind has a tendency to come up quickly at Burke, but just as quickly, the lake turns to glass.
Priest Lake mack anglers are dragging the bottom for numerous small fish in the vicinity of Papoose Island. On Lake Pend Oreille, kokanee anglers are spending about two hours for their six-fish limit.
The far side of Deer Lake, straight across from the public access, is a good place to be after dark for 14- to 17-inch rainbow. Anchor and dunk marshmallow/nightcrawler “sandwiches.” Nighttime fishing has also been pretty good at Sprague for rainbow up to 24 inches. Fishing in all area trout lakes, for that matter, has picked up after dark.
Steelhead and salmon
The fall steelhead catch-and-release season is open on the Clearwater River and opens Thursday on the Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake rivers. Only about 20 steelhead a day are being counted at Lower Granite Dam this week, so fishing right now is likely to be slow. The fall harvest season on the Clearwater River downstream of the Memorial Bridge of U.S. Highway 12 at Lewiston opens Thursday. The fall harvest season on the Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake rivers opens Sept. 1.
The mainstem Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam will be open for chinook (adipose fin clipped or not) and hatchery coho but closed for sockeye beginning Thursday. A bumper crop is expected to return to the Columbia-Snake system.
Steelhead anglers had fair to good success below Bonneville Dam last weekend. Boat anglers had the best success in the Portland to Westport area where anglers averaged 0.70 steelhead per boat.
Sockeye trollers are having decent action but catching mostly small fish above Wells Dam at the mouth of the Okanogan River. A 00 dodger followed by 12 inches of leader and an orange or pink mini squid accounts for a lot of the strikes. Friends who fished there Tuesday through Thursday said the sockeye were about 16 inches. A fair number of chinook are being caught, but fishing is sporadic and they said the fish were dark.
Last week at Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) anglers averaged just under a salmon per rod. Coho comprised about three-quarters of the catch.
Numerous anglers report good luck pulling crappie from under the MarDon Resort dock on Potholes Reservoir. A good technique is to “troll” by walking along the dock dragging a white crappie jig on three or four feet of line.
Walleye anglers are having moderate success catching Lake Roosevelt walleye by fishing the mud lines, but there are also fish hanging at 25 to 30 feet. A slow presentation is important. Most of the ’eyes are running about 15 inches.
A young angler fishing for perch and bluegill with his grandfather at Silver Lake caught a lot of fish, but the fish that got away probably provided the most lasting memories. Twice, the lad had large tiger musky hammer a hooked perch at the boat, stripping line and breaking off.
Banks Lake temperatures remain relatively cool and walleye have been suspending near Kruks and Jones bays as well as around Barker Flats. Crankbaits will sometimes provide results when spinners don’t.
The state released about 100,000 chinook fry in Banks Lake several years back, and these have reached weights of 4 to 6 pounds. Walleye fishermen have taken a few incidentally, but to target chinook, troll an Apex behind a Seps Flasher and hit areas such as Barker Flats, Million Dollar Mile, and Steamboat Rock.
The Pend Oreille River is giving up fair numbers of perch and bass, and nearby Sacheen has been excellent at times for bass. Diamond Lake perch fishing has been fairly constant in the weeds to the left of the public access.
For some really big channel cats, fish the Snake River at night. The fish come in shallower as it gets dark, so depths of 10 to 30 feet should be deep enough. A good place to start is where the water goes under a railroad bridge into a small bay. Fish often move into these “ponds” after dark.
Bullhead fishing is a fun hot-weather activity. Fish the shallows in lakes like Deer, Long, Newman and Fernan for some of these great-tasting fish.
Some early elk hunts open Thursday, most of them antlerless “green-field” hunts. The early green-field hunts in seven elk management zones – Palouse, Salmon, Weiser, Lemhi, Beaverhead and Pioneer – are meant to help landowners reduce crop damage. Early archery hunts also start Thursday in the Snake River elk zone, and controlled green-field hunts also open in the Dworshak and Hells Canyon zones.
WILDLIFE WATCHING -- Deer are growing like crazy this month, young and old alike. Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson gives us a snapshot of the stage deer are in after ...