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Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Oct. 19

Fly fishing

Silver Bow Fly Shop says Rocky Ford is excellent now for big trout, which seem to prefer callibaetis dries. The upper end is weedy with tall cattails, so you’ll probably do best at the lower end of the parking lots.

Area rivers are all fishing pretty well now. Look for the slower currents and deeper pools, and don’t be in a hurry to get on the water. October caddis and a few some mahogany duns are still out.

The Grande Ronde is getting crowded, a sure sign that steelhead fishing has picked up. Nymphing is the best tactic with stones and small attractors.

Trout fishing on the Clark Fork has slowed with the first snows and cooler temperatures. Some fish are taking BWOs in the late afternoon, usually when the sun is out.

Salmon and steelhead

Steelhead harvest season opened Oct. 15 on the Snake, Salmon and Clearwater rivers. The daily bag limit is reduced from three to two adipose-clipped hatchery steelhead in the Snake and Salmon rivers, with additional restrictions in the Clearwater and lower Snake rivers limiting harvest to steelhead less than 28 inches. The two-fish daily bag limit also applies to all other rivers open for steelhead fishing, including the South Fork of the Clearwater and Little Salmon rivers. All other 2017 steelhead rules still apply.

Two hatchery or wild coho are now allowed for harvest on the Clearwater River. So far, guides report fairly good fishing with mixed bags of steelhead, chinook and coho.

The Hanford Reach closes Sunday for chinook salmon. This has been a spectacularly erratic year for salmon fishing. Boats that net six fish one day have been skunked the next two.

Trout and kokanee

Although the WDFW will be stocking at least 45 Washington lakes with catchable-size trout in October and November 2017, so far the only eastern Washington Lake in the mix is Rock in Whitman County where 29,500 fish of about 1/3 pound each were to be planted Oct. 10. Hopefully, there will be more plants prior to the Nov. 24 Black Friday opener, which offers anglers the opportunity to skip the shopping malls, get outside and enjoy fishing on the day after Thanksgiving.

Trout fishing is reported to be steady all over Lake Roosevelt, and particularly in the Spokane Arm. Trollers don’t have to go more than 25 feet down to find good numbers of 14- to 16-inch rainbow, but those who troll under the big schools say they are catching fish to 22 inches. Trolled Kekeda Flies and Muddler Minnows have accounted for a lot of fish.

The perch Kekeda Fly is also working very well on Sprague Lake. Trollers there are taking some huge rainbow (up to 6 pounds) with very few fish under 18 inches.

Clear Lake browns have turned on with the cooler temperatures and have been active all day. Try trolling a Flatfish at around 30 feet for these 15- to 20-inch trout. There are also some nice rainbow. Clear closes at the end of the month, as do many other local Washington lakes. Check your regs.

The trout fishing is starting to pick up both on Potholes Reservoir and in the Seep Lakes. Troll Potholes with Flicker Shads. Fish the seep lake with Rooster Tails or Power Bait floated off the bottom. Top lakes for trout have been Lower Hampton, Upper Goose, and Long Lake.

Lake Coeur d’Alene kokanee fishing is very good as fish congregate in Wolf Lodge Bay preparing to spawn. They are not large at about 10 inches, but they are just starting to turn and the flesh remains excellent. Coeur d’Alene kokes generally begin to spawn in mid-November.

Lake Pend Oreille anglers are catching some big rainbow and mackinaw. The best fishing has been on the surface with flies for the rainbow and Apexes, Lucky Louies and Flatfish down deep for the macks.

Waitts Lake hasn’t missed a beat all year. Trollers are still catching mostly 11- to 14-inch rainbow, with very few browns in the mix. Troll just under the surface with almost any trout fly or spoon. Waitts remains open through February.

Spiny ray

For the most part, walleye fishing on Lake Roosevelt has been slow the last couple of weeks, but anglers running bottom bouncers and nightcrawlers in the Hunters area recently say they are finding lots of fish in 40-60 feet of water on steep breaks off granite shorelines. Most fish have been running 14-20 inches.

Excellent bass fishing reports come from all over the region. Eloika, Hayden, Hauser, Silver, Loon, the Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake are all kicking out nice-sized largemouth. Of these, only Loon closes at the end of October. Banks Lake smallmouth fishing is also heating up.

Cooler water temperatures have had a positive effect on all species of spiny ray – especially walleye, crappie and bluegill on Potholes Reservoir. The face of the dunes, mid-lake humps and Lind Coulee have been the most productive spots for walleye, which are found at varying depths from 6-30 feet.

Find the mid-lake humps and fish the tops and sides of them in 10-30 feet of water for crappie and perch. If they’re not there, try the mouth of Crab Creek, Goose Island, or Lind Coulee. The MarDon Dock has been good for keeper crappie

The Snake River out of Lyons Ferry has seen some good walleye and smallmouth action recently. Crank baits have been the most popular, but jigs tipped with worm are finding fish on the humps.

Northern pike fishing has been fair on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Anglers throwing jerk baits in 10-12 feet of water are finding the most fish.

Other species

Retention of white sturgeon from the Wauna power lines (40 miles from the mouth of the Columbia) upstream to Bonneville Dam will be allowed for two days in October – Saturday and next Thursday. Anglers will have a daily retention limit of one fish measuring 44-50 inches from its snout to the fork in its tail. An annual limit of two white sturgeon, regardless of where they are caught, will also be in effect. The mainstem Columbia River remains open for catch-and-release sturgeon fishing.


Washington pheasant hunters only have to wait until Saturday to follow up on conflicting reports regarding wild bird populations. As always, some hunters will say pheasant populations are down, and others will find a honey hole where populations are robust. Whitman County typically provides the best hunting, and there have been some good preliminary reports from the Moscow, Idaho region. There have also been pockets of birds reported from Central Ferry to Walla Walla. The Snake River breaks make for some tough pheasant hunting, but the terrain cuts down considerably on the competition. The roosters there grow large and dark and generally die of old age.

Whitetail deer hunters have been finding optimum hunting conditions and success is generally good. Hunters with doe tags and are filling quickly in Stevens and Spokane counties. Deer hunters in Lincoln, Adams and Whitman counties report seeing large herds – both whitetail and muley. One hunter said he came across a smaller herd comprised of six whitetail bucks.

The Washington duck season is progressing nicely, with good reports from the Columbia Basin and the Yakima region. The season closes today and Friday and re-opens on Saturday. In Idaho, hunters say the Chain Lakes have been consistently good for local ducks, and a few flocks of northerns have even trickled in.

Contact Alan Liere at