The Spokane River is one of the best cold weather options in the region. It’s close to home, never freezes and has plenty of good, slow currents and pools. Currently, it offers good fishing at mid-day on BWO patterns. Nymphing is productive, and stripping dark-colored streamers can be good, too.
Silver Bow Fly Shop describes fly fishing for steelhead fishing on the Grande Ronde as “the best worst year ever.” Nymphing has been good. The water level is almost perfect and should remain that way at least through the weekend. The river around Boggan’s Oasis has been uncrowded and productive.
Steelhead and salmon
The Clearwater has actually had pretty decent steelheading recently. Anglers drifting Corkies and yarn or egg clusters have taken numerous keeper fish below the 28-inch maximum.
On the Tucannon and Grande Ronde rivers (Snake River tributaries), and on the Walla Walla and Touchet rivers (Columbia River tributaries), the daily catch limit is two hatchery steelhead. Traditional gear is providing good fishing on the ’Ronde and fair fishing on the other three.
Fishing for steelhead is closed on the mainstem Columbia River from McNary Dam to the Hwy. 395 Bridge in Kennewick/Pasco through Nov. 30, but Lake Umatilla (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam) reopened for the harvest of hatchery steelhead Nov. 1 with a one steelhead daily limit.
The Columbia River from the Highway 395 Bridge in Kennewick/Pasco upstream to the old Hanford townsite wooden powerline towers is also open for the harvest of steelhead. Anglers have a one fish limit but can only keep steelhead that have both adipose and ventral fins clipped.
Trout and kokanee
Kokanee trollers on Lake Chelan are finding mostly 13- to 14-inch fish around the Yacht Club. The fish are deep and the bite is slow.
Several waters open year-round are providing good fishing for rainbow trout. These include Lake Spokane (Long Lake) and Sprague, both of which should improve through the fall and early winter. Sprague Lake anglers are reminded that Sprague’s five-trout daily catch limit can include only two trout over 20 inches. Recent reports indicate the majority of fish taken are 17-18 inches. A relatively fast troll with Smile Blades and pink or orange Kekeda Flies is very effective.
Lake Roosevelt was kicking out fat rainbow at a fast pace this week. The bite seems to be good all over the reservoir, but the rocks across from Lincoln, the east shoreline just north of the Spokane Confluence and the Hawk Creek area were mentioned several times, as was the Hunters area. The bays and points seem to be best. The biggest fish are over 20 inches, and the smallest are around 15 inches. Kekeda Flies trolled in the top 15 feet are getting a lot of attention.
Most of the Tucannon River impoundments on the Wooten Wildlife Area closed to fishing on Oct. 31, but Blue and Spring lakes remain open year-round. Both were stocked with catchable rainbows in mid-October and should provide catches through this month and beyond.
In the Columbia Basin, the year-round-open Seep Lakes outside of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, including Canal, Heart and Windmill, have decent rainbow trout fishing now, but it usually tapers off into winter.
Year-round-open Homestead Lake
Open through Nov. 30 in the Columbia Basin are Dusty, Dry Falls, Lenice, Merry, and Nunnally lakes, all under selective gear rules and one-fish catch limits, and all excellent for trout this month. Lake Lenore, just north of the town of Soap Lake, is best in the fall for its Lahontan cutthroat that often run up to or more than 30 inches. It’s also under selective gear rules, a one fish catch limit, and closes Nov. 30.
Perch fishing does not slow down much in the winter, and in fact, gets even better on some waters. In Washington, hard water anglers are anticipating another excellent year at Curlew once it ices over, but it is still good right now. The same with Eloika and Silver, though the fish aren’t nearly as large. Tiger muskie and large bass are always a possibility at Silver. Perch fishing in the Idaho Panhandle still carries on now at lakes like Fernan, Hauser, Hayden, Round, Kelso, Smith, Cocolalla, Hauser, Twin lakes and Spirit lakes. In the Clearwater region, Winchester Lake, Spring Valley and Elk Creek reservoirs are good.
Diehard anglers know that November offers good bass and walleye fishing as the fish pack on pounds before slipping into lethargy for the winter. Virtually 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 water 15-25 feet on the edges of the main river channels, but don’t be afraid to work the deeper waters as well.
Walleye fishing is still going strong in the Columbia from The Dalles to McNary dams. Channel catfish has also been good above John Day Dam. On Lake Roosevelt and at Rufus Woods Reservoir, walleye fishing has been slow, though somewhat better at Rufus. There have been a couple positive reports in the last two days regarding decent walleye success at Northport.
In Idaho, the regular season whitetail season is still open for antlerless deer in Units 1, 2, 3, 4A, 5, 6, 16A, 17, 19 and 20. The general muzzleloader season in Units 4, 7 and 9 for antlered or antlerless (whitetail only) opens Friday through Dec. 1. The general archery season (either sex) in Units 2, (only part of Unit) 66, 67 and 69 continues through Dec. 19 and from Friday through Nov.30 in Unit 39. There are some restricted areas in some of these units, so carefully read your Idaho game regs.
In Washington, the popular late buck season begins on Saturday and runs through Nov. 19 for whitetail only in units 105, 108, 111, 113, 117d, 121 and 124, During this time, seniors, youth and disabled hunters may take a doe or a buck in deer area 1050, and antlerless only in deer areas 1060, 1070 and 1080. The late archery buck season in GMU 101 begins Friday. Conditions are prime for a good harvest.
There’s no doubt about it – pheasant hunting in Washington’s Palouse country is the best in several years. It still can’t compare to the glory days of the 1960s and ’70s, but bird hunters no longer feel they’re just taking their shotgun for a walk when they go afield. Quail numbers are also strong, but there have been no reports about gray partridge sightings.
A few northern mallards have moved into the area and there are more on the way. Friends in Alberta tell me they are in full winter mode with frozen water and a foot of snow. Whether these birds will find frozen ponds remains to be seen, but lakes in Washington and Idaho, as well as the Columbia and Snake rivers, should attract good numbers of the better-than-average migration.
Contact Alan Liere at email@example.com