Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

Spokane Fly Fishers are bringing back David Paul Williams on Wednesday to talk about saltwater fly fishing. He will identify the species most sought after by fly fishers, their habitat, and how and where to fish for them. David is both humorous and knowledgeable. The 7 p.m. meeting is at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy in Spokane.

Salmon and steelhead

Steelhead fishing at the Clearwater confluence seems to have picked up this week, though chinook fishing has been tough, except for the anglers who’ve figured out how to catch them. Further up the Snake, the Heller Bar area has given up the most steelhead, but Boggan’s Oasis on the Grande Ronde says few steelhead have shown so far. Joe Bumgarner, fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, says some of the best steelhead fishing has been around Little Goose Dam and the lower Tucannon River.

This year’s record run of fall chinook salmon continues to move up the Columbia River, energizing fisheries from Brewster to Clarkston. Coho salmon are also moving in increasing numbers into the lower Columbia River and many rivers flowing into Puget Sound. Catch statistics from creel reports indicate not just the fishing, but also the catching has been excellent in the Hanford Reach.  Even bank anglers are pulling in fish. Ringold and Vernita Bridge are excellent, with a friend describing the action as “crazy good” for fish up to 25 pounds, Plugs, Super Baits and jigs are all taking fish.

The Yakima River is also starting to turn on. Fish that were stacked up at the mouth have now entered the river and are providing increasingly good angling for anglers tossing spinners or clusters of eggs beneath bobbers.

At Wells Dam, chinook counts are low, but a friend who fishes there often says it is always possible to take salmon there and he prefers it to the combat fishing at other more popular locations.

Chinook fishing on Lake Coeur d’Alene is good in 90-100 feet of water, reports Fins and Feathers. Black Glo Squid and Black and Glo flashers are doing the damage.

Trout and kokanee

Some of Spokane County’s best trout lakes closed Monday, but there are enough exceptions to keep fishing productive. Randy Osborne, WDFW Central District fish biologist, said Clear and Liberty lakes provide trout, bass and other fish through October. Amber Lake remains open through November for catch-and-release fishing. 

Several Idaho Panhandle lakes are scheduled for trout plants on Monday. Antelope Lake, Clark Fork Lodge Pond, Freeman Lake, Mirror Lake, Post Falls Pond, Round Lake, Sinclair Lake, and Smith Lake will receive plants of 10-inch fish, with the most going to Mirror and Round lakes.

Sprague Lake rainbow fishing is getting good again, and both trollers and still-fishermen are catching limits of the 13-15-inch fish. Lake Roosevelt trollers also have been doing well on similarly-sized trout near Seven Bays, but the National Park Service has barricaded launches along the lake until the government shutdown is resolved. Rock Lake is very good now for both rainbow and brown trout.

Lake Coeur d’Alene kokanee are still in good shape and have moved up in the water column. Trollers are catching the mostly-9-inch fish in Wolf Lodge Bay, and at Arrow Point On Hayden Lake trollers are finding next year’s kokanee to be a healthy 10-13 inches which bodes well for next year’s fishery.

Spiny ray

Perch anglers on Long Lake are making some good catches of 9-10-inch fish in the vicinity of Willow Bay. Crappie are also beginning to show again and smallmouth continue to cooperate.

Friends who fished the Pend Oreille River this week said smallmouth fishing was excellent. In three days of throwing Yum Stickbaits, they took over 75 fish. Few were smaller than 12 inches or larger than 2 pounds. No pike of any size have been reported from the Pend Oreille all year, but those at Lake Coeur d’Alene are becoming more active, though still deep. Spinner Baits and spoons are taking numerous 8-13-pound fish.

Other species

Clam digging begins today on four ocean beaches – Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. The five-day opening will see low tides in the evening, but Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, recommends diggers hit the beach an hour or two before low tide for best results.” We have a lot of clams available for harvest this year, and a favorable weather forecast for the upcoming dig,” Ayres said. He said another dig is tentatively scheduled Oct. 17-22, pending the results of future toxin tests.


The regular deer season opens Thursday in most regions of Idaho. Many areas across the state also offer antlerless youth hunt opportunities, but check the 2013 big-game rules brochure carefully for the areas where youth hunts are open.

The Idaho waterfowl season opens Saturday in the area around the American Falls Reservoir. It opens in the rest of the state on Oct. 12, the same day as the Washington opener for both waterfowl and deer.

Washington chukar, quail and gray partridge open Saturday. Friends fishing the Snake River from Wawawai up to the mouth of the Clearwater say they have heard very little calling, but anglers further upriver say there was a lot of activity near the river when the weather was warmer, and they suspect cooler temperatures have allowed the birds to move up the hills.

Some of the best chukar hunting in Washington will be in the Chelan-Douglas county district.  Chukar hunting can be productive in the Coulee Corridor area around Banks and Lenore lakes and along the Columbia River breaks north of Vantage.  The Columbia Basin district is also expected to be good for quail hunting on private land and on the Lower Crab Creek, Gloyd Seeps and Quincy units of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area.  In the Okanogan district, quail may be down but partridge seem to have increased.

Gray partridge and quail appear to have done very well this year in Idaho and Washington. Pheasants, which do not open in Washington until the week after the general deer opener are questionable. Despite seeing quite a few young birds last week in one area during the over-65 hunt, I talked with friends who hunted great-looking habitat elsewhere who said they thought the pheasant population was lower than last year. As always, there will be pockets of cover that provide good hunting.

Contact Alan Liere by email at spokesmanliere@ yahoo.com

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