November 1, 2013 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By Correspondent
Tip of the week

The weather has become colder, but hard-working hunting dogs still need as much, if not more, hydrating. Always carry water and a collapsible bowl in your bird vest. There are special rehydrating fluids for dogs on the market, too, but some hunters have discovered Gatorade works quite well. Check out your dog’s preference of flavors before stocking up. Mine prefer orange.

Braggin’ rights

I just returned from a three-day pheasant hunting adventure in South Dakota with a son, two stepsons, two sons-in-law, my 13-year-old springer spaniel, 6-year-old yellow Lab and 5-month-old Brittany spaniel. Although I couldn’t shoot due to a recent shoulder injury, everyone else shot well, the dogs performed admirably, and we brought back 45 roosters. S.D. Fish and Wildlife is saying the South Dakota pheasant population is down as much as 70 percent this year. I can’t imagine what it would be like in a good year.


• An angler fishing on Prineville Reservoir in Oregon recently reported seeing an alligator snapping turtle, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists captured it the following day. These freshwater turtles, the largest in North America, can grow to 250 pounds. No one is wants to see them get established in western waters.

• Walleye fishermen on the Snake near Lyons Ferry report catching some 6-inch walleye in addition to some much larger – evidence that walleye are reproducing there.

Heads up

• The steelhead harvest season is open on the Salmon, the Little Salmon, and the lower Snake and on the Clearwater River, but limits have changed. In the Clearwater River drainage, the limits are one fish per day and two in possession. In addition, in the North Fork Clearwater River and the main stem Clearwater River downstream of the Orofino bridge only steelhead 28 inches or less in total length may be kept. The steelhead limit on the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon is three per day and nine in possession. Anglers may keep 20 steelhead for the season.

• WDFW’s third-annual 2014 Big Game Regulations Pamphlet Contest has begun. This year’s theme is hunting camps, and the winning photo submitted will adorn the cover of 475,000 pamphlets next year. Photos must be submitted via the WDFW website at

Fly fishing

The Grande Ronde has been better for fly fishermen this week, but with cooler water temperatures, swinging is not as effective as before. Afternoons and evenings bring the most success; stick to the sink-tips. Nymphing a stonefly and egg is effective. The Methow River has slowed from last week but is still an excellent option. Nymphing will be best with a stonefly and a bead. The Snake River is fishing better for fly fishermen than the Clearwater. Streamer fishing has been good, but nymphing is better.

Amber Lake in the 6-10-foot range is still good for anglers throwing very small leeches and buggers.

There has been good fishing on the North Fork Coeur d’Alene but not much pressure. Fishing remains best in the afternoon.

Montana rivers are all fishing relatively well with nymphs. The fish are spread out, but there are some concentrations near the banks. Afternoons are best. The biggest fish will come on a classic back Wooly Bugger.

Salmon and steelhead

The reduced limit and size restrictions have made the Clearwater River a ghost town, Toby Wyatt of Reel Time Charters said. He said his boats are catching steelhead more than 15 pounds each day, with a few up to 20. The Snake River still has a three-fish limit with no size restriction, and Wyatt’s clients have been catching five to 10 per day there with about a 40 percent keeper ratio. Info: (208) 790-2128.

The Bridgeport and Pateros areas have been fair for steelhead, and anglers are also catching good numbers of triploid trout.

Trout and kokanee

Trout fishing for both browns and rainbow has been good at Rock Lake. A lot of the fish are only 10-12 inches, but deeper water has produced fish in the 15-17-inch range. As before, Apexes are getting the most hits, with one color working one day and another color the next. The fish are at about 20 feet.

Anglers are complaining about the trout fishing on Lake Roosevelt – because it is too good! One troller said he and a friend weren’t even able to get their downrigger down all the way before hooking up with 15-inch rainbow. Muddler Minnows, Frisky Jenny and Trick ’r Treat flies as well as Rip ’n Minnows are taking fish all over the system.

Sprague Lake is “red hot for rainbow” said Bill Blosser of Spokane, who probably fishes the lake more than anyone. His favorite technique is to cast a nightcrawler and marshmallow “sandwich” under a slip sinker into about 14 feet of water and a let it sit on a taut line.

Trout fishing has been good at Rufus Woods Reservoir.

Shore fishermen are enjoying good trout action at the Seaton Grove boat launch and trollers are dragging spinners and nightcrawlers for quick two-fish limits.

Spiny ray

Newman Lake largemouth are still biting, but it is the large crappie that have created the most buzz. Long Lake crappie should begin biting again.

The Buoy 5 area out of Porcupine Bay on Lake Roosevelt is giving up some large catches of walleye on various jig and plastic combinations in shades of green. Best depths are around 50 feet, and burbot are also being caught there.

Walleye fishermen have been doing well on the Columbia from Northport to the Canadian border; jigs have been best. A friend caught a 5-pound smallmouth there last week and said there are large rainbow around rocks close to shore.

Smallmouth fishing has been better than the walleye fishing at Rufus Woods lately, though the ’eyes caught have been generally bigger than last year. Anglers dragging three-eighths-ounce jigs near the island below the boat ramp at Seaton Grove have taken both species, but the larger walleye seem to prefer spinners bounced on the bottom near the upper net pens.

Lake Coeur d’ Alene pike are still not particularly aggressive, striking short or merely rolling on the lures. Soft plastic frogs are still creating interest. Fish are tight to the weed beds.

Dworshak Reservoir smallmouth are biting, though you’ll have to search hard for the larger ones.

Other species

WDFW has tentatively scheduled three razor clam digs for December, including 15 total digging days in the month and a three-day New Year’s Eve dig at four coastal razor clam beaches. Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said final word on the first series of digs will be announced after marine-toxin test results confirm clams are safe to eat. In past years, as many as 20,000 people have descended on ocean beaches to dig razor clams on New Year’s Eve, Ayres said. Comprehensive information about razor clams – including how-to advice – is available at fishing/shellfish/ razorclams/.

Tuna anglers out of Westport, Wash., are going out only 40 miles to find schools of fish. Info: All Rivers & Saltwater Charters (425) 736-8920.


A friend who lives near the Saskatchewan border in Alberta said nighttime temperatures are in the single digits and ducks are leaving en masse. Some of these have already shown up in Idaho and in the Yakima and Moses Lake areas.

Pheasant hunters in eastern Washington are finding a few birds, but say they are as wild now as they usually are at the end of the season. Several have said that pressure seemed extremely high on the opener.

The Washington elk season is in progress. The last few years have been good statewide for calf recruitment and adult survival, and all of the state’s major herds are at or above population management objectives. Hunters who are willing to hike a few miles past gated public land are finding some nice bulls.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@

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