The Upper Proper and Flatlands of the Yakima River have trout hitting size 16-18 Yellow Mays, as well as No. 10-12 Crane flies. Nymphing has produced the best results.
The St. Joe River has been solid. Low, clear water can present challenging conditions, so longer leaders are the rule. Look for fish holding in seams and slow water, especially with cooler temperatures in the forecast. The best surface action can be found in late morning through afternoons, with another boost in early evening.
Fall fishing in the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene is beginning to take shape with dropping temperatures and slower water.
Fish can be found in the riffles, with some of the best opportunities in the middle and lower stretches. Fish nymphs or streamers on a sink-tip early in the day. Carry fall bugs like Mahoganies or October Caddis.
Warm water in the mouth of the Grande Ronde has stymied hot action, but the projected arrival of cooling rain should ramp things up. Fishermen are catching steelhead in fast water from Shumaker to the narrows, while the Snake and Clearwater are also giving up fair numbers.
Trout and kokanee
Several lowland lakes closed after the last day of September, so consult the regulations before heading out. Amber Lake remains open through November but is strictly catch and release with restrictive gear rules. Gold and perch-colored Hot Shots with a single, barbless hook easily fool fat, 16-inch and bigger rainbows to strike.
Lake Roosevelt trout are hitting “fast and furious,” Craig Dowdy of YJ Guide Service said. Trolling Caddisflies tipped with PowerBait Gulp worms makes for quick limits of 14- to 18-inch rainbows. Sterling Point fisherman also reported a fast bite on 160-190 feet of monofilament using sling blades, dodgers or anything with a spinner. Anglers claim the action was so fast they never had a chance to try leaded line.
Fishing on Sprague Lake has been good, despite reports of poor water quality. Rainbows averaging 19-22 inches can be pulled off the bottom using various PowerBait combinations. Trollers have done well picking up steelhead stock, with the average size running about 13 inches.
Anglers can still take a nice limit of kokanee on trolling rigs out of Loon Lake, but the flesh quality is deteriorating. The season closes at the end of October.
There are plenty of kokanee in Lake Pend Oreille, with most running 13 inches. “The lake is saturated with kokanee,” Kurt Arnter of Pend Oreille Charters said. “It makes catching the big rainbows tough.” A number of rainbows have been coming up from 80-100 feet down, but warm water and ample food opportunities are keeping most fish of more than 10 pounds at bay.
Salmon and steelhead
Upper Columbia anglers are getting a bonus season above Priest Rapids Dam starting Saturday:
• A coho retention season in the main stem and in portions of the Wenatchee and Methow rivers.
• Chinook retention to Chief Joseph Dam with increased limit of six chinook, marked or unmarked, up to three adults.
Chinook activity on the Hanford Reach is excellent, avering about two fish a boat. Upriver from Vernita Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam, fishermen report a high number of brights mixed in their catch, with most hitting herring, Flatfish and Super Baits. Drifting eggs has been less effective for some, but changing bait tactics often is encouraged if the bite is slow. Experienced guides familiar with changing conditions on the water, baits, boat speeds and depths can be immensely helpful. Fluctuating water levels have been wreaking havoc at the primitive launch upriver from the bridge, delaying launch and pullouts for hours, so plan accordingly.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game reports the number of steelhead coming over Lower Granite Dam have been in the thousands for more than a week and are increasing. As of Sunday, the average count was around 5,000 fish per day and projected to exceed original predictions. Despite the encouraging numbers, the catch rate at the Snake-Clearwater confluence has been slow. Water temperatures stuck in the mid- to high 60s, and above normal water levels, are reportedly slowing the action, even as large numbers of fish pour over the dam. The arrival of these B-run fish should boost the tally as conditions change favorably with fall’s advancing weather.
Banks Lake is a hot spot for bass after most of September’s lake closures. Largemouths readily hit plastics and crawling jigs with the arrival of cooler weather and can provide fishing opportunities year round. The bite has been especially good in the early morning in 14-16 feet of water, using blue Nos. 5-7 plugs, or Fire Tiger spinners behind bottom bouncers.
Northern pike fishing in Coeur d’Alene typically picks up this time of year. Fisherman deploying frogs and spinner baits near the edges of the cabbage weed have been hammering 7- to 9-pounders in 6-10 feet of water. Largemouth bass can round out a mixed catch in the fall.
Walleye and bass action is growing in the Potholes. Dragging a perch-colored Flicker Shad behind a bottom bouncer or a Slow Death rig with blades along the bank face entices both species alike. Anglers reported fat-bodied walleye in the 21- to 25-inch range, with the largest bass weighing in at 2 ½ pounds.
Idaho’s sharp-tailed grouse season opened Wednesday and runs through Oct. 31, with a daily bag limit of two birds.
The regular deer season opens Oct. 10 in most regions of Idaho. In some areas, a regular deer tag allows hunters to take either mule deer or white-tailed deer.
General muzzleloader for deer in Washington remains open through Oct. 5. Hunters will have an additional five days through Oct. 10 to take an elk with a muzzleloader.
Turkeys are bunched in large groups, providing plenty of opportunities to bag one of either sex in most management units. The early fall season in Washington runs through Oct. 10, followed by a late fall season in November.
California quail, chukar and gray partridge opens Saturday in eastern Washington and runs till mid-January.
The pheasant population appears to be up from past years, according to those who participated in Eastern Washington’s five-day, 65-and-over season last week. The regular season opens Oct. 18.
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