September 20, 2013 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Tip of the week

Good wing shooters maintain a fluid swing while tracking their target. If you bring the shotgun up, pull the trigger, and immediately pull the gun away to look at the target, you’re going to miss – at least I do. A shotgun doesn’t have a rear sight. The rear sight is your eye. Just like shooting a rifle, moving the rear site changes the gun’s aiming point.

Overheard

Soaring fish ladder counts and near-record sport catches have prompted federal, state and tribal fisheries officials to raise return forecasts for 2013 adult fall chinook salmon well beyond the best of modern-day levels. “It’s a happy mystery,” says Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Kathryn Kostow.

Heads up

Residents of northcentral Washington will have an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues with WDFW Director Phil Anderson and regional staff in a roundtable-style meeting Thursday in Brewster from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia Cove Recreation building at 508 W. Cliff Ave.

• The Heller Bar boat ramp will be under construction from Sept. 23-27 and will be closed on Sept. 24-25. Broken concrete sections underwater at the bottom of the ramps will be removed and replaced with 11 feet of cabled concrete blocks that will extend across the bottom of the entire ramp.

• Wednesday, starting at 6 p.m. at Town Ford in East Wenatchee, Rick Graybill, who developed many of the fishing techniques used for taking fall chinook, will be sharing his expertise in a seminar.

Fly fishing

The middle Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers are fishing very well, and the Clark Fork is also coming on strong, says Pat Way at Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d’Alene. Mayflies and Blue Wings as well as Mahoganies are in abundance. Spruce moths are out on the Joe.

Trout and kokanee

Fernan Lake near Coeur d’Alene was stocked with 1,800 9-11-inch rainbow on Monday and will be stocked with another 1,800 this Monday.

Coeur d’Alene kokanee have been scattered but the numbers are good. You’ll need to go close to 50 feet down to take fish topping out at 10 inches.

Friends fished Waitts Lake this week for 2½ hours, catching limits of 12-17-inch trout, split equally between browns and ’bows. They trolled 50 feet of leader and four colors of leaded line with large flies tipped with night crawler at midlake.

Loon Lake night fishermen targeting kokanee are pretty lonely these days. The 12-inch fish are still biting but starting to show signs of the impending spawn.

Most of the rainbow being caught at Lake Roosevelt these days are from the last release, but even these are 12-14 inches. Trollers had good success this week between Seven Bays and Hawk Creek.

Fishtrap Lake rainbow running mostly 10-12 inches are hitting small lures like Kastmasters on a very slow troll 20 feet down.

A friend who dunked worms and marshmallows at Sprague Lake between the island and Sprague Lake Resort said he was on the lake all day but the three trout he caught all hit between 2-4 p.m. They were 16-18 inches.

Small West Medical Lake rainbow are pretty easy to catch, even from the dock, and it is possible still to catch larger fish. Anglers who have been fishing from shore this summer are finding some of their favorite spots choked with weeds.

Salmon/steelhead

Two friends fishing in nasty weather on Wednesday at the Clearwater confluence caught one keeper salmon and one keeper steelhead while dunking shrimp under a bobber. They said trollers seemed to be catching a lot of salmon. Judging by the spike in fish counts at Little Goose and Lower Granite dams, the rainy, cool weather has finally got the fish moving. Steelheading has been slow with catch-and-release anglers between the Memorial Bridge and Orofino doing way better than those at the confluence, with a steelhead every five hours.

The Columbia River is open for fall chinook, coho and steelhead from Buoy 10 upstream to the Oregon/Washington border. Despite the huge number of fish over Bonneville Dam, chinook catch rates remain good to excellent below the dam.

Anglers have already been scoring big time below Priest Rapids Dam, and it’s really just getting started. The Hanford Reach is becoming more popular each day for fall run chinook. This past week, 762 boat anglers and 133 bank anglers harvested 244 adult chinook and 60 jacks (0.5 chinook per boat). The Vernita area is heating up with some big chinook being taken. Ringold area chinook fishermen are doing well on good-sized fish, both wild and hatchery.

The adult fall chinook count at McNary Dam is 169,207. The 60,000-fish escapement goal was met Sept. 7. The cumulative adult fall chinook counts at Lower Granite, Little Goose and Lower Monumental Dams are all record-high counts to date since the construction of the four lower Snake River Dams.

Spiny ray

This is a good time to take Coeur d’Alene smallmouth off the weed lines. A double-tailed grub in 25-30 feet of water is almost automatic. Some big largemouth have been taken recently also on topwaters.

Friends fishing the Pend Oreille River right out of Newport the last two weeks have been catching lots of smallmouth bass on wacky rigs. They said several of the fish were 3 pounds and action was fast.

Roses Lake in the Okanogan has been good for crappie. Park Lake, north of Soap Lake is giving up a lot of perch, some as large as 11 inches. Blue Lake, near Park, has also been good for perch.

Moses Lake walleye have been biting in the south end of the lake. A lot are small, but there are fish over 2 feet long showing, too. Troll spinners and nightcrawlers with bottom-bouncers. The Potholes Reservoir walleye bite has turned on and there are some big perch showing.

Other species

Washington’s razor clam season got off to an early start with an evening dig at Twin Harbors Beach that began yesterday and runs through Monday. Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager says “We have a huge number of clams available for harvest this season – particularly at Twin Harbors. There are only so many good clamming tides during the year, and we decided there was no time to waste in getting started.”

Hunting

The Idaho youth mentored waterfowl hunts on Sept. 28 still have openings for the Boundary/Smith Creek Wildlife Management Area west of Bonners Ferry, and at Heyburn State Park west of St. Maries. There is no charge to participate, shotguns and waders are available for free use, and a lunch is provided to the hunter and a parent or guardian. Young hunters must be accompanied by a nonhunting adult and need a youth small-game license at $7.25 with a migratory-bird validation at $1.75. The license must be brought to the event. Call Fish and Game at (208) 769-1414 to reserve a spot.

The Idaho fall turkey season opened Sunday and success is high. Hunters in the Panhandle Region have the opportunity to purchase up to three additional fall tags for use in Units 1, 2, 3 or 5. Called “special unit tags,” they sell for $5 each. Tags purchased for the spring season (up to two) that were not filled, are also valid during the fall turkey hunt.

Washington fall turkey season begins Saturday for beardless birds in GMUs 105-142. It runs through Oct. 11. In GMUs 101, 124-154 and 162-186, hunters may take one bird of either sex (in addition to other fall turkey harvest).

Seasons for Idaho chukar, quail and gray partridge open Saturday. The seven-day sage-grouse season also opens Saturday in select counties, and runs through Sept. 27. Hunters are reporting good numbers of ruffs and all upland species are up over last year.

Contact Alan Liere by email at spokesmanliere@ yahoo.com

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