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Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Sept. 7

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 6, 2017, 3:03 p.m.

Fly Fishing

Silver Bow Fly Shop says the Spokane River trout fishing slowed last week for no apparent reason, but that can change in a short time. They suggest using a Hopper/Chernobyl with 3-foot dropper and a caddis pupa or small attractor nymph down below. Another technique is to run a larger caddis pupa with a smaller soft hackle 16 inches below it, or go with a Zirdle Bug streamer with a soft hackle trailing 2 feet below. Fish through the riffles and shallow buckets.

The middle and lower stretches of the North Fork Coeur d’Alene has the best water levels and structure. Fishing has been decent using small hoppers and other attractors like ants and beetles. Droppers under a small foam Chernobyl or hopper would be good too. The St. Joe has been generally good. Any of the deep slots will have fish in them.

Salmon and steelhead

Upper Columbia River fall chinook fishing is slow but steady, with the best fishing near the mouth of the Okanogan River and across from the Bridgeport boat ramp just below Chief Joseph Dam.

Although the hatchery chinook run is smaller than last year, it’s enough to last through the season’s end Oct. 15, but summer chinook salmon fishing closes on the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers on Sept. 15.

Summer chinook fishing continues on the Wenatchee River through the month of September, and WDFW Chelan District Fish Biologist Travis Maitland reports there are still nice fish to be caught.

Maitland also reminds anglers they can retain unclipped chinook on the Entiat River.

Friends who fished for chinook near Lewiston this week put in a couple of long days and caught only one wild steelhead. They said participation is this fishery is almost non-existent.

Trout and kokanee

Some of the lowland lakes close to Spokane are still producing catches, but most of the action has been coming early in the morning and later in the evening.

These lakes include southwest Spokane County’s Badger, Williams, West Medical, and Fish, which close at the end of September, and Clear Lake, which closes at the end of October.

Lake Roosevelt trout anglers are having their best luck trolling across the sand flats with orange Kekeda flies tipped with worm.

There are lots of 14-inch plants, but also fair numbers of fish to 18 inches.

Alta Lake in Okanogan County has some really nice 12- to 14-inch kokanee, but they are rapidly maturing and will be spawning soon. The bite has been excellent, but go soon if you want to try it.

WDFW fish technician Aulin Smith reports kokanee in Banks Lake are being caught in the Devils Punch Bowl area off Steamboat Rock.

“The fish are at about 80 to 120 feet, and orange lure and bait colors seem to be working best,” Smith said.

Whitefish and rainbow trout are also being caught there, with anglers jigging for whitefish doing very well.

Spiny ray

Opportunities are good in Spokane County at Newman Lake for largemouth bass, tiger muskie and crappie; Liberty Lake for largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, perch, bluegill, and crappie; Silver Lake for largemouth bass, tiger muskie and bluegill; and Long Lake for largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie and walleye.

In Ferry County, Curlew Lake has good fishing for largemouth bass and yellow perch. In Lincoln/Adams counties, Sprague Lake is seeing good largemouth fishing.

Walleye have been spread out in Banks Lake and anglers are finding them in many different depths and locations.

Bottom walkers with a spinner and worm seem to be the best option. Banks Lake bass anglers have been doing well on top water early and late.

Crappie anglers report catching a lot of fish but very few large ones around the I-90 Bridge on Moses Lake.

Potholes fishermen are picking up a lot of largemouth casting Flicker Shads at the face of the sand dunes. The fish have been concentrated in about 12 feet of water.

Other species

The only two areas of Puget Sound that will remain open to crab fishing after Labor Day are marine areas 7-North and 7-South near the San Juan Islands. These two areas will remain open Thursdays through Mondays each week through Sept. 30.

White sturgeon fishing continues through Sept. 17 in the Columbia River’s Wanapum reservoir (from Wanapum Dam to Rock Island Dam) and Priest Rapids reservoir (from Priest Rapids Dam to Wanapum Dam). Up to two sturgeon, 38-72 inches fork length, can be retained daily. Chad Jackson, WDFW regional fish biologist, reports sturgeon catch success has been spotty, but the fish are big. Successful anglers are finding the best bite in the morning.

Walleye bite aggressively in September and throughout much of the fall, and the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam is one of the region’s best walleye fisheries. The Columbia River below McNary Dam is also good.

Fisheries biologists are reporting good opportunities for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, crappie and yellow perch at Scooteney Reservoir and largemouth bass and panfish at the I-82 Ponds.

Hunting

WDFW has issued its annual online guide to hunting opportunities throughout the state. Their Hunting Prospects report, available at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/, provides updated information about game populations, hunting rules and land access in every game-management district in the state.

The 2017 Idaho sage grouse season will run Sept. 16-22, with a daily bag limit of one bird, and a possession limit of two birds. The Sage-grouse Seasons and Rules brochures, including a map of open areas, will be available at idfg.idaho.gov/rules/upland.

The early Canada goose season in Washington Areas 4 and 5 runs Saturday and Sunday with a daily bag limit of five. Indications are that hunters who have done their scouting will find plenty of birds feeding in harvested grain fields.

Keep from inadvertently starting a fire during early hunting seasons by following these precautions:

  • Park your vehicle on bare ground or ground completely void of vegetation;
  • Drive only on paved and well graveled roads;
  • After leaving an area, wait for few minutes to make sure that a fire has not started where your vehicle was parked;
  • Bring along a fire extinguisher or water-filled weed sprayer, shovel or axe;
  • Camp only in designated camping areas;
  • Smoke only inside buildings or vehicles;
  • Check on any fire restrictions in place in the area where you are hunting.

Oddly, there have been no great dove hunting reports, and my own experiences close to Spokane make me wonder why, with the hot weather, there seem to be so few. The grouse woods were full of hunters and campers over the Labor Day weekend, but hunters reported seeing very few birds.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com