September 27, 2013 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tip of the week

Curlew Lake in Ferry County has some big and very cooperative rainbow right now. Some sportsmen have also discovered the good grouse hunting around Curlew and are combining a fishing/hunting weekend. Don’t forget the big tiger muskies, either.

Braggin’ rights

Mike Sweeney of Spokane didn’t have a whole lot of luck fishing for steelhead and chinook Monday through Wednesday at the Clearwater confluence, but he came home happy. On Tuesday, a 20-inch, 4-pound smallmouth hit his shrimp and Sweeney landed the beauty – his largest by far.

Overheard

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game found hunter numbers and harvest of sage grouse up slightly for last week’s opener, compared to the past two years. On average, 0.5 birds were harvested per hunter per day and it took about 6.1 hours for a hunter to harvest one bird.

Heads up

• Drano Lake boat anglers are catching fall chinook. The lake will be closed to all fishing from 6 p.m. Tuesdays to 6 p.m. Wednesdays in October.

• The area open for harvest of fall chinook in the Snake River has been extended to include the lower Snake River from the mouth to the Highway 12 bridge near Pasco and that portion of the Columbia River defined as the Snake River Confluence Protection Area.

Trout and kokanee

Amber Lake goes to catch-and-release only on Tuesday. Coffeepot Lake closes Monday, as does Williams Lake in Spokane County, Fan, Fish, Fishtrap, West Medical, Downs, most of the small trout lakes in Grant and Adams counties and some in Okanogan County. Many other lakes, however, remain open through October. Check your Washington Sports Fishing Rules booklet. Those that remain open – lakes like Liberty, Diamond and Clear, usually have excellent fall trout fishing.

Deer and Loon Lake rainbow are virtually ignored in the fall, but this is an excellent time for big fish on both lakes. Rather than putting your offering on the bottom, try still-fishing for suspended fish at about 30 feet. On Deer, target the water near the narrows. For smaller trout, but lots of them, troll with Apexes and Wedding Rings tipped with worms at 15-30 feet. On Loon, you’ll find trout near Granite Point, on the southeast side just off the railroad tracks, just north of the island, off the windmill, and near the Morgan Park dock.

A friend trolling for Loon Lake kokanee this week said the three 12-inch carryovers he caught were “prehistoric looking” with elongated heads and a hooked kype. The flesh, however, was still OK. He said he also caught a lot of next year’s kokes, which are about 9 inches long. Most bites came between 35 and 45 feet down.

Roosevelt trout fishermen are taking plenty of 13-15-inch rainbow trolling a 65 series Ripp’n Minnow at 2.8-3.1 mph. Perch-colored streamer flies tipped with worms are also working in the vicinity of Seven Bays and downstream from Lincoln. Long-time Lake Roosevelt angler, Phil Clements reported that though water temperatures were still over 70 degrees, the trout were hitting on the surface.

Rock Lake is usually at its best in the fall, and this year is no exception. Limit catches of browns have been common for trollers, many of the fish running 16 inches and larger.

Salmon/steelhead

There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to account for the difference between a fair day and a great day at the mouth of the Clearwater. Friends fishing there last week were virtually skunked one day and had “the best steelhead and salmon fishing ever” the next. They were fishing purple-dyed shrimp under a bobber. This week, two other friends fishing the same way were skunked on Monday but noted that early-morning trollers took a lot of chinook. The consensus is that there are significantly more fish available than a week ago.

Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Biologist in Pasco says effort and harvest picked up on the Yakima River last week. Anglers averaged one chinook for every eight hours fished.

Because of the huge run of fall chinook salmon, several changes have been made to regulations. Two of them are: If an angler has a two-pole endorsement, fishing for salmon with two poles is now permitted from the Highway 395 bridge in Pasco to Priest Rapids Dam. Anglers may now also retain any legal-size fall chinook in the Columbia River Wanapum Pool regardless of whether the adipose fin has been clipped or not.

Spiny ray

Fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth bass has picked up dramatically as the fish beef up for winter. You can hardly go wrong at lakes such as Newman, Eloika, Long, Banks, Silver, Potholes and Moses, as well as the Pend Oreille River, Hayden, Coeur d’Alene and Fernan. Topwater frogs are still working in the weeds at most lakes, but black spinner baits and Zara Spooks will get you a lot of looks. These waters also have populations of perch with Long, Silver, Potholes and Fernan being somewhat better than the others for both size and quantity.

Walleye fishing is picking up around the region. Good reports come from Potholes and Moses Lake as well as near Kettle Falls and Bradbury Flats on Lake Roosevelt. China Bend has been good at times, also. Rufus Woods has been mentioned more this week for walleye than it was all summer. Banks Lake has been excellent at times, but when the reservoir is “refreshed” with water from the Columbia, fishing slows down.

Bonnie Lake is tough to get to, but the big perch are worth the effort. Anglers who can maneuver their small boats down the narrow creek don’t have to go clear to the end of the lake to find the fish. There has been good fishing near the island close to the outlet.

The pike switch has not turned on at Coeur d’Alene Lake as early as it did last year, but anglers throwing spoons and jerk baits are taking a few.

Hunting

An Idaho youth-only pheasant season opens statewide Oct. 5, and runs through Oct. 11 for all licensed hunters 15 years old or younger. Pheasants will be stocked on the Payette, Montour, Fort Boise, Niagara, Sterling, and Market Lake wildlife management areas before the youth hunt.

When Idaho hunters purchase their deer tags from a license vendor they must choose either a regular deer tag or a whitetail tag. The choice is causing some confusion for those who hunt in the Panhandle Region. The “regular tag” is valid for a whitetail or a mule deer. But the “whitetail tag” is valid only for taking a whitetail. Most hunters in the Panhandle Region will have more hunting opportunity with the regular tag. If a deer hunter plans to hunt in the Clearwater Region in the latter part of the season, he would increase his hunting opportunity by choosing a whitetail tag.

Washington quail, chukar and grey partridge seasons begin Oct. 5. Prospects for quail are excellent and the partridge populations have also fared well. Look for good hunting along the Snake, Columbia and Yakima river breaks for all three species.

Turkey seasons are in progress now in many Washington and most Idaho units, and success has been excellent. While Washington generally has two species – Merriams and Rio Grandes, three turkey subspecies have been introduced into Idaho. More than 90 percent are the Merriams, but there is also a small population of Rio Grandes in riparian areas adjacent to the Snake, Boise, Payette, and Weiser rivers. The Eastern wild turkey has been introduced to a few sites near Dworshak Reservoir, and some birds may still be found there.

Contact Alan Liere by email at spokesmanliere @yahoo.com


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