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Matt Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Oct. 5

Fly Fishing

Anglers tossing Chernobyls in a variety of colors have been doing well on the Spokane River. BWOs are beginning to hatch, too, with trout feeding in slower currents. The pros at Silverbow Fly Shop say upcoming changes in weather should ramp up the action considerably.

Good to great fishing has been reported on the North Fork Coeur d’Alene. BWOs and mahoganies have been effective in the pools and seams, and streamer fishing has done fair work as well. Stay in the lower sections for the best action.

The Grande Ronde is giving up a few fish to those nymphing stoneflies, but the numbers have yet to really build up. Nearly anything thrown in front of the finicky fish can elicit a strike, though, including streamer patterns, caddis and BWOs. Pools and eddies have been good to those putting in time waiting for the fall bite.

Salmon and steelhead

Fishing for chinook salmon continues through Oct. 15 on the Columbia River from Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam, and between Rock Island and Wells Dam. The stretches from Priest Rapids to Rock Island Dam, including Wanapum Dam, and from Vernita Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam, remain open through Oct. 22.

Hanford Reach chinook anglers averaged 1.2 fish per boat last week. Reports from Vernita to Priest Rapids Dam have been sparse since then, but trolling chrome flashers and traditional, scented superbaits downstream through the holes seem to have had the best luck. Sporadic accounts of fisherman landing 12- to 15-pound fish have been filtering through.

Friends trolling the Snake River with tuna-stuffed superbaits have had limited success downstream of the confluence. Despite plenty of marks 25 feet down, most fish seem to be passing on the offerings. Water temps are hovering around 61 degrees.

Steelhead fishing below Priest Rapids Dam has also been slow to start, but things are beginning to improve. And while some fish are going over the dam into the Upper Columbia, WDFW’s north-central regional fish program manager Chad Jackson reports there will be no steelhead fishing above the dam this season because of low numbers. “The latest forecast of steelhead destined to return above Priest Rapids is only slightly better than half of the minimum needed to allow a fishery,” Jackson said. A total of 9,550 steelhead are needed at Priest Rapids to open the main-stem Columbia River fisheries.

Fishermen can harvest Ringold Springs Hatchery steelhead, though, as of Oct. 1 on the Columbia River from the Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco, upstream to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford town site. This area has a daily limit of one hatchery steelhead. Only those marked with both adipose and ventral fins clipped can be retained. All wild steelhead must be released immediately and cannot be removed from the water.

Trout and kokanee

Some of Spokane County’s best trout lakes closed at September’s end, but there are enough exceptions to keep things exciting through fall. Clear and Liberty lakes provide trout, bass and other fish through October, as does Loon Lake in Stevens County. Joseph Ferraro, manager at Loon’s Granite Point Resort, said kokanee fisherman have moved from “Party Bay” at the south end to just around the corner in front of the resort store. The nighttime action isn’t super-fast, but maggots and glow hooks in 32 feet of water still bring 11- to 12-inchers to the boat.

Amber Lake remains open through November for catch-and-release fishing, and a number of year-round waters, including Eloika, Sprague and Long lakes provide additional options for trout, bass, and yellow perch.

Stevens County fishermen have until Oct. 16 to fish Rigley, Rocky and Williams lakes before they are closed for rehabilitation. These lakes currently have no catch or size limits till closure. Our good friend John Petrofski gave Williams a try this past weekend after failing to launch his boat at Rock Lake due to low water levels. Despite numerous marks on the fishfinder, the best he could manage trolling were a few rainbows slightly larger than a toddler’s sneaker. John was embarrassed, but honest enough to mention it. I suspect he might now be mortified.

Hog Canyon Lake in Spokane County and Fishtrap Lake in Lincoln County both remain open through Oct. 22, also with no catch or size limits to allow anglers to remove fish before the scheduled Oct. 23 closure and subsequent rehabilitation.

Spiny ray

Sprague Lake can be productive for bass, perch and trout in fall, but timing is everything. Scott Haugen at Sprague Lake’s Four Seasons Campground said the fishing has been a little slow, but expected it to pick up with the seasonal changes. He mentioned more than a few folks had been pulling in some large bass from the year-round waters, but couldn’t accurately report on the tackle used. “Those guys like to keep their stuff secret,” he said.

Folks fishing the Potholes for walleye have had varied success. Flicker shads and spinners are usually lucrative, but the fish have suddenly turned picky. With constant rig changes, some anglers found success using Smile Blades in front of Slow Death hooks. The southwest side of the reservoir currently offers the best opportunities until the fall bite really gets going.


Upland bird hunting begins on Saturday in Eastern Washington for chukar, Hungarian partridge and California quail. This year’s wet spring and early summer made for good nesting conditions, so prospects for success look promising. Farmlands in south Spokane, Lincoln, and Whitman counties should be decent for Hun and quail, while the breaks around the Snake and Columbia rivers typically hold fair numbers of both chukars and quail.

Eastern Washington pheasant hunters will have to wait till Oct. 21 to hit the field, but the spring weather that favored other upland birds may affect pheasant numbers adversely. Hatchlings don’t fare well in overly wet conditions and the food supply may have been limited during the summer heat. But periodic releases of farm-raised roosters at release sites across the region will supplement the wild population. For more information on these sites, check the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program website at

Washington’s general big-game seasons start on Oct. 14 when modern firearm deer hunters venture out. The harsh winter may have taken a toll on populations, especially in eastern Washington, said Jerry Nelson, the WDFW’s deer and elk manger. Whitetails are still rebounding from the 2015 blue tongue outbreak, so hunters should expect to put in more time to tag their deer.

Youth and disabled deer hunting opportunities have been limited to the first and second weekends of the season due to last year’s severe winter.

Idaho’s general deer season opens on Tuesday. There will be no antlerless deer hunting during the general any-weapon season in the following units: 66A, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 73A, 74, 75, 76, 77, and 78. This is also due, in part, to brutal weather conditions this past winter.

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