November 8, 2013 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tip of the week

You can select your duck hunting area based on the species you want to target. Diving ducks, like canvasbacks, redheads and scaup, are hunted along the Columbia River, particularly at Wells Pool, Wanapum Pool, and Priest Rapids Pool. Later, they will be on the Pend Oreille River where they forage over beds of submerged aquatic vegetation. American wigeon will associate with diving ducks, and dabbling ducks such as mallards and pintails are more commonly found near grain and corn fields. Shallow wetlands attract teal, wigeon and gadwall.

Braggin’ rights

Nettie Blosser couldn’t go salmon fishing during the Hanford chinook fishery so she sent her favorite 20-year-old rod, 20-year-old orange Wiggle Wart and a can of WD-40 along with her husband and two other anglers. Her outfit outfished all the downriggers and state-of-the-art lures six to one.

Overheard

Through October 2013, the netting program on Lake Pend Oreille has removed more than 8,100 lake trout, and the Angler Incentive Program has accounted for an additional 3,147 lake trout removals this year. Since 2006, the two programs have removed over 162,000 lake trout. Both rainbow trout and kokanee anglers are benefiting from the reduced population of the predatory lakers.

Heads up

• Jeff Korth, WDFW regional fish manager, said about 14,000 adult steelhead are expected to return to the upper Columbia system this year, enough to allow a fishery but it will be more tightly regulated because protected wild-stock fish are expected to make up a higher percentage of the run. “These fisheries traditionally remain open through the winter, but we may have to close early due to the higher number of encounters with wild steelhead expected this year,” Korth said.

• The entire northcentral region of Washington state is within Goose Management Area 4, which is generally open only on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. Extra hunting days, however, are allowed on Veterans Day (Nov. 11), Thanksgiving and the day after (Nov. 28-29).

Updated 11-8-13 at 10:15 a.m. with correction on Tucannon steelhead fishing.

Salmon and steelhead

The Clearwater River is a lonely place this season, what with the lack of hatchery fish, the reduced limit and the size restriction. There are fish to be caught, however, if you’re not particularly interested in bringing one home. The Grande Ronde is fishing pretty well for anglers drifting jigs or trolling plugs.

A friend fished from the rip-rap at Wawawai this week and had several take-downs and two keeper steelhead for the freezer. Large steelhead are in short supply in the Snake as most A-run fish are returning after only one year in salt water, and the B-run return is very low.

During the last week of October, creel reports on the Tucannon River showed the best catch-rate average of all Snake drainage sections checked – just a little over five hours of angling per steelhead caught. Correction follows: Since Aug. 30, Tucannon River anglers have been required to keep all hatchery-marked steelhead they catch up to their daily limit of two. The river from Marengo (at Turner Road) upstream is closed to steelhead fishing.

Steelhead fishing is good in the John Day arm of the Columbia. Weekly checking showed 22 adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 45 unclipped steelhead released for 45 boats.

Steelhead fishing remains slow on the main stem Columbia River but the Methow has been good – so good, in fact, that there have been rumors the river would close soon. Now, however, it looks like it will remain open at least another two weeks. If the Methow does close, the main stem Columbia would also close from Wells Dam to the Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster. Guide, Shane Magnuson, says he is averaging about six fish a day – half of them hatchery. He drifts bobbers and jigs below the mouth of the Methow.

Fishing for resident Puget Sound chinook salmon is now underway in marine areas 8-1, 8-2 and 9. Good bets include Useless Bay, Possession Bar and West Point. Also available are chum salmon at Point No Point off the north end of the Kitsap Peninsula and Possession Bar south of Whidbey Island.

Chum salmon are pushing into Westside rivers. Popular fishing spots include the Hoodsport Hatchery area of Hood Canal and the mouth of Kennedy Creek in Totten Inlet. Other areas where anglers can find chum salmon include the Dosewallips and Duckabush rivers in Jefferson County and Minter Creek in Pierce/Kitsap Counties. Several Westside rivers are also open in November for steelhead fishing, including the Nooksack, Skagit, Cascade, Stillaguamish, Snohomish, Skykomish, Wallace, Snoqualmie and Green.

Trout and kokanee

Many of the region’s top-producing trout fishing lakes are closed by November. But there are a couple of exceptions as well as several year-round-open waters worth trying. Southwest Spokane County’s Amber Lake is one of these; it remains open through the end of November for catch-and-release, selective-gear fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout. Rock Lake has been excellent for 14-16-inch ‘bows and browns.’ “Roosevelt rainbow fishing is very good, with most fish running about 16 inches,” says WDFW District Fish Biologist Bill Baker. The best bite is early, tapering off before noon. Hot spots have been the Spokane mouth, the Hawk Creek mouth and Split Rock. A few large kokanee were reported this week. Big rainbows continue to provide action at Sprague Lake, and a few sportsmen are making their outing there a cast and blast, though they admit the trout fishing is better than the duck hunting, which is for mostly local birds.

A few lowland rainbow trout lakes in the Okanogan are still open for catch-and-release trout fishing through November – Big and Little Green lakes near Omak and Rat Lake near Brewster. Selective gear rules are in effect.

Spiny ray

Roosevelt walleye anglers have to work at it, but fishing has been reasonably good in Porcupine Bay and in the Kettle Falls area. Every section of the Columbia and Snake Rivers in South Central Washington holds large populations of both smallmouth bass and walleye. Anglers should start in 15-25 feet on the edges of the main river channels. This is also a great time to catch walleye on Moses Lake, Banks, and Potholes. Fish are packing on pounds before slipping into lethargy for the winter.

Anglers interested in catching lots of perch should try year-round-open Patterson Lake near Winthrop, Washington. Average size on these perch is only 7-8 inches but there’s no daily limit and no minimum size, Anglers are encouraged to retain all perch caught regardless of size. For slightly larger perch closer to home, try Silver, Waitts or Long lakes.

Northern pike anglers on Lake Coeur d’ Alene are still taking fish on plastic frogs in shallow water. The bite has picked up a lot in the last week. No large fish were reported, with most in the 20-25-inch range. The Weeds are still up.

Hunting

The late modern firearm general white-tailed deer hunting season runs Saturday through November 19 in northeast Game Management Units 105, 108, 111, 113, and 124 for any buck. GMUs 117 and 121 are also open for the late buck hunt, but are under a four-antler-point minimum rule. Deer hunter check stations will be conducted the last weekend of the hunt, Nov. 16-17, to help provide information about success rates and deer body condition. Hunters 65 and over, disabled or youth under 16 can harvest antlerless whitetails during the Nov. 9-19 late season in special deer areas. Check your regs. Late archery and muzzleloader deer hunting is also available in select units later in the month.

WDFW Upland Game Bird Specialist Joey McCanna reports good numbers of wild pheasants in the central and southeast districts of the region, where many private landowners allow hunting through various WDFW access programs. Farm-raised rooster pheasants continue to be stocked periodically at several release sites throughout the region (details available at the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program webpage). WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area Manager Juli Anderson says it looks like an average year at best for Hungarian partridge hunting in the Lincoln County area. She reminds upland game bird hunters that the season is closed for sharp-tailed and sage grouse that are protected as they recover in the area, so be sure of bird identification before shooting.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com

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