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Fishing-Hunting report for Sept. 14

Fly Fishing

Friends of Silver Bow Fly Shop staff reported excellent fishing on the North Fork of the Clearwater and Kelly Creek in Idaho. Large cutthroat seemed especially fond of nymphing and streamer patterns, but orange foam dries also proved extremely effective.

Now that Banks Lake’s water level is down, fly fishermen wading for carp have been able to cover a little more water and be more successful. If you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it. It’s kind of like fishing for bonefish in the Florida Keys.

The Lochsa River is a beautiful little river, and the fly fishing for cutthroat is good now for anglers throwing hoppers.

The North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene hasn’t been getting a lot of attention lately, but small hoppers in the riffles of the lower stretches might be the best option early fall.

The Spokane River has been giving up decent numbers of fish in the early morning hours, but the current weather forecast could change things quickly. Red- and purple-colored chubbies generate plenty of activity in the slots when matched with a jig prince or caddis underneath.

Salmon and steelhead

The leading edge of this year’s chinook run is just hitting Bonneville Dam and should peak at the Hanford Reach any time now. Anglers will also soon be landing bright chinook at White Bluffs and the stretch below Priest Rapids Dam.

Reports of steelhead being taken at the Clearwater have been trickling in, but the overall numbers remain pathetically low. Both gear and fly guys have reported catches, however, and the crowds have been non-existent, which may up your odds of catching a fish.

Trout and kokanee

Fishing is slow at the trout-stocked lakes on the Wooten Wildlife Area along the Tucannon River in Columbia County. Area manager Kari Dingman says if the weather changes from hot and dry to cool and wet, fishing should pick up again.

Catch-and-release trout fishing on the Methow River – from country road Bridge 1535 (Burma Rd.) upstream to Gold Creek – closes Sept. 15. The Methow River from Gold Creek upstream to Foghorn Dam closes on Sept. 30.

Deer Lake rainbow enthusiasts trolling Kekedas in 35 feet of water near the south end have been hauling in beautiful 2- to 3-pound fish. Pink and orange are the favored colors right now. Tipped with worm, the combination can be lethal.

Night fishing Loon Lake kokanee seemed to be slowing a bit, based on the bite my wife and I had Sunday night, but close sources say it’s picking up in the cove just south of Granite Point Resort. Fish glow hooks tipped with maggots or white corn just off the bottom, in 30-32 feet of water. Adjust your depth in one foot increments if the bite is slow.

Lake Roosevelt anglers Jeff and Debbie Liddell, of Seven Bays, enjoyed a decent day on the lake, pulling in some nice rainbows just south of mile marker 25. Trolling Bikini Needlefish in front of six colors proved deadly for more than few. The pace was far from furious, but watching a black bear play on the shore filled in the downtime.

Spiny ray

The pike in Lake Coeur d’Alene are of decent size recently, with several fish in the teens being netted. Spinner baits are still working best in 12 feet of water.

The coves at Banks Lake, along the north shoreline of Steamboat Rock, have been lousy with smallmouth, with nearly every cast producing a strike. Crankbaits have been highly reliable, but the basic bobber/hook/worm combination has also been a worthy contender. Most fish have been on the smaller side of the 1- to 2-pound range.

Head toward the southern islands at Banks for the best chances on walleye. A WDFW creel surveyor mentioned fishing was slow at the north end, with the majority being taken out of the south.

Grant County’s Moses Lake has been coughing up big smallies – some approaching 5 pounds, near Crab Creek. Cranks have been good, but Texas-rigged plastics pulled over the rocks near the banks have been devastating. Afternoon fishing has been best.

Those willing to make the trek up Rock Creek to Bonnie Lake will likely be rewarded with wonderful perch and bass fishing. A simple hook and worm off the bottom can yield fat, 9-inch perch, while topwater baits thrown toward the banks are sure to lure largemouths from the shadows. Access Bonnie Lake by traveling up Rock Creek via the Belsby Road/Hole in the Ground Road crossing of Rock Creek. Boat launching can be difficult and it’s recommended only small, maneuverable vessels under 14 feet are used.

Other species

The WDFW announced on Monday a tentative schedule for the fall razor clam season, set to begin in early October. Based on beach surveys conducted this summer, the WDFW estimates the population of razor clams on Washington’s beaches is down significantly from last season, meaning fewer days of digging this season. For more information, consult WDFW’s website at shellfish/razorclams/.

Bivalve hunters looking for something sooner will be pleased to hear sport clam and oyster fishing seasons will remain open longer than anticipated for three public beaches in the Puget Sound. Positive assessments support longer seasons at Fort Flagler State Park and Port Gamble Heritage Park Tidelands, which will remain open until further notice. Indian Island County Park/ Lagoon Beach will be open through Sept. 30.

A fishing rule change, effective immediately, closes clam and oysters on Duckabush beach.

For more information, contact Camille Speck at the WDFW Port Townsend Office, (360) 302-3030, ext. 313.


The traditional bird hunt for young hunters under age 16 has been split between two weekends this year. The youth hunt for waterfowl is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, followed by the youth hunt for pheasant and other upland game birds Sept. 23-24.

The general fall turkey season opens Sept. 23 in Washington. Hunters who harvested two birds in eastern Washington during the spring season can still participate in fall turkey seasons. Each season has a separate bag limit and different area restrictions. Consult page 78 of the 2017 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations for more information. Fall turkey runs through Oct. 13.

Idaho chukar, gray partridge, bobwhite and California quail seasons open Saturday and run through Jan. 31. The daily bag limit is eight chukar and eight gray partridge; possession limit is 24 for both. Quail have a daily bag limit of 10; possession limit is 30. Quail in Area 2 of eastern Idaho is closed. There are no seasons for Gambel’s or mountain quail. Hunters need only a valid hunting license to hunt quail, chukar, gray partridge and forest grouse.

The general fall turkey season opens Sept. 15 in portions of the Idaho panhandle, Clearwater, and southeast regions. For more details, see pages 16-25 of the 2016-17 Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Seasons and Rules brochure.

Contact Matt Liere at