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Matt Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Nov. 16

Fly fishing

The region’s short-term weather forecast may prove beneficial for anglers seeking local trout opportunities. Precipitation and clouds can have a positive effect on hatch activity and feeding, making the Spokane River an ideal place to start. Nymphing BWO patterns should find fish later in the day, especially in between rain showers. Make the slower water and pools your primary objective.

Clark Fork River temperatures continue to drop and the fishing has slowed down, but there are still biters taking BWOs in the late afternoon, usually when the sun is out. Earlier and later, you’ll probably need nymphs to find fish.

Water temperatures in the North Fork Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe Rivers in Idaho are also plummeting, but both still hold plenty of opportunities for fish. These waters haven’t seen much pressure, increasing the chance of finding some action. Try stoneflies or beadhead Prince and Copper Johns in the pools and slower eddies to entice lethargic trout waiting for a handout.

Steelhead enthusiasts should find some great fishing on the Grande Ronde. Anglers have been reporting good numbers swinging with tips and marabou patterns. Nymphing stones and eggs could prove effective, too. The pros at Silver Bow Fly Shop suggest targeting the slower, soft water near the mouth this time of year.

Salmon and steelhead

Bart Jarrett of Northwest Fishing believes the Clearwater currently has “the best steelhead fishing we’ve seen in years.” A combination of factors, including some negative press, reduced pressure and the misconception the waters are closed, has left the river a premier steelhead destination. Side-drifting roe clusters are catching fish on both ends of the river, all day long. Both the weather and water levels are holding steady right now; ideal for those willing to make the trip. For more information, or to book a guided outing, contact Captain Bart at (208) 790-2277, or visit the website at

The WDFW closed western Washington’s salmon season on November 13 in marine areas 8-1(Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gamble), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet) within Puget Sound, excluding the year-round piers. This Fishing Rule Change is temporary, and will be lifted when there are fewer juvenile and more legal-sized salmon available for harvest. WDFW biologists and the Puget Sound Sportfishing Advisory Group are monitoring to determine a reopening. For current information, call the WDFW Fishing hotline at (360) 902-2500.

Trout and kokanee

For those who would rather be fishing than shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, two winter-only-season rainbow trout-stocked lakes open on “Black Friday,” November 24. Fourth of July Lake, on the Lincoln-Adams county line just south of the town of Sprague, has lots of catchable size rainbow trout available. This spring, it received 60,000 rainbow trout fry and 20,000 rainbows that were two to 10 pounds at stocking and have grown even larger now. In Stevens County, Hatch Lake, five miles south of Colville, also opens on Nov. 24. Hatch was stocked with 10,000 rainbow fry that are now catchable size.

Anglers should note that both Hog Canyon Lake, 10 miles northeast of Sprague in Spokane County, and Williams Lake, which is 14 miles north of Colville in Stevens County – will not have a trout fishery this season, but will be re-stocked with trout next spring and provide fishing in the fall and winter of 2018-19. These lakes were treated with rotenone in October to remove undesirable species.

Sprague Lake continues to pick up speed. Anglers report excellent action trolling flies and Rippin’ Minnows near the surface for fat trout running 16 to 24 inches. A fast troll (up to 3 mph) has been effective, as has changing out gear when the action slows down. Pink and green-gold colors have been doing the work’s majority.

Lake Roosevelt fishing near Jones Bay has been picking up speed, with numerous folks reporting rapid catch limits. Trolling 3 to 4 colors with Kekeda flies in orange-black or perch hues have been deadly on 13- to 19-inch rainbows, but Rapalas and hoochies have also done their fair share. Deeper water near the points and bays seems to generate the most strikes.

Anglers can look forward to reeling in hefty broodstock rainbow trout from a half-dozen small lakes and ponds in and around Yakima and Ellensburg. Stocking dates have not been set, but WDFW usually starts planting these 3- to 10-pound fish in mid- to late November. Anglers can check the Trout Plant Reports to see when these fish are available. North Elton Pond near Selah will also be stocked with half-pound rainbow trout prior to the “Black Friday” opening on November 24.

In Okanogan County, Bonaparte Lake is open year-round and has fair fishing this month for brook, tiger, and rainbow trout, plus kokanee. Okanogan County’s catch-and-release trout waters – Upper or Big Green, Lower or Little Green, and Rat lakes – shift to catch-and-keep on Dec. 1.

Spiny ray

Perch fishermen on Moses Lake are concentrating on the area around Blue Heron State Park and the I-90 Bridge in about 20 feet of water. Water temps hovering around 45 degrees have given up a few jumbos up to 12 inches, along with smaller fish of 8 or 9 inches. The fishing has been more steady than fast.

Big perch in Long Lake are gobbling up worm-tipped, curly-tailed grubs and Ripple Shad minnows dropped near the edges of the channel’s deeper water. Veteran’s Day Anglers near Tum Tum experienced non-stop action on 10- to 12-inch jumbos, stopping only to minimize time required to clean their catch.

Folks fishing Lake Coeur d’Alene are still managing a few smallies, despite water temperatures hovering around 42 degrees. Friends bouncing jigs off the bottom this past weekend found success in 15 to 30 feet of water until frozen digits forced them to seek better accommodations.

Other species

Several waters reopen on Dec. 1 for winter whitefish fishing, including, the Yakima River between Sunnyside Dam and 3,500 feet below Roza Dam, the lower Cle Elum River, and the lower Naches River below the confluence with the Tieton River. Fishing typically gets better as the weather gets colder and the fish move toward the shorelines to spawn, with December through February being the prime months. For immediate opportunities, try Grant County’s Banks Lake, open year round.


Late season whitetail deer reopened on Saturday and runs through Nov. 19 in select Washington Management Units. Seniors, youths and disabled hunters may take a doe or buck in area 1050, and antlerless only in areas 1060, 1070 and 1080. Late archery buck season opened last Friday in GMU 101 only. Remaining units aren’t set to open until later in the month, the first beginning on Nov. 20 in units 145, 163, 178, 272 and 278d. Consult pgs. 17-18 of the Big Game Regulations Pamphlet, or online, for more information.

Contact Matt Liere at