Salmon and steelhead
Anglers are required to release any steelhead they intercept on a large portion of the Columbia River. The new rule, prompted by a sharp decline in projected returns of upriver summer steelhead, will be in effect until further notice from Buoy 10 at the mouth of the Columbia River to Highway 395 in Pasco. New emergency fishing rules are posted on WDFW’s website at fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.
Marine Area 2 (Westport) will be open through Monday for salmon fishing. Anglers may retain two chinook as part of daily limit of two salmon. Wild coho must be released. Marine areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 4 (Neah Bay) remain closed to salmon fishing. Marine Area 3 (La Push) remains open with a daily limit of two salmon; release wild coho.
Trout and kokanee
With the cooler weather, trout fishing on the lowland lakes around Spokane should pick up following a rather lethargic August bite. A few good reports come from Williams Lake, but the big news is that Badger Lake has been producing easy 10-fish limits of 12-inch kokanee as well as good cutthroat fishing. Badger remains open until the end of September and fishing should be great throughout the month. So far, night fishing has not caught on for Badger Lake kokes. All of the fish are being taken on the troll.
A friend who trolled for kokanee on Loon Lake this week caught a limit of 11- to 12-inch fish in about 3 hours in the afternoon. He said the fish were surprisingly shallow – about two colors down, and he took a few in the bay just out from the public launch.
With West Medical scheduled for rehabilitation, bag limits have been removed. The lake is infested with goldfish.
Curlew Lake trout fishing has held up well through the hot, smoky summer, and the perch fishing is consistently good.
Anglers can usually count on Rock Lake for a good day of fishing, Casting spoons and plugs toward the shoreline is good, but trolling the same is sometimes better. Rock has a good population of rainbow and some huge brown trout.
Coeur d’Alene Lake has been excellent for solid 11- to 12-inch kokanee. Although fish are moving toward the north end, anglers trolling the south end have had some good fishing also.
Priest Lake remains good for small mackinaw and Lake Pend Oreille rainbow are hitting Apex lures more consistently than they were last week.
Liberty Lake anglers are finding keeper crappie by working the shorelines with curlytailed jigs and small tubes. Fishing should get better after Labor Day when the boat traffic diminishes. Newman Lake crappie fishing has been slow, but anglers are catching lots of small perch and bluegill and a few decent-sized largemouth.
Despite smoke and wind, Banks Lake anglers are taking some nice walleye and a few large perch. Bottom walkers with Slow Death rigs and Smile Blades have been effective in various depths from 15 to 35 feet. Take lots of nightcrawlers as the smaller perch are bait-stealers.
Mike Meseberg of MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir was on the water fishing when I talked with him this Tuesday. He said he and friend Rob Harbin were having a tougher time finding fish that day than the day before, but he was ecstatic about the 10-inch bluegill and 13-inch crappie they had caught by fishing the edges with either a No. 5 Rapala or a Berkley’s Flicker Shad. He said most Potholes crappie are 10-12 inches, and the fishing has been “fabulous.” Meseberg also said the walleye bite was improving.
Lake Roosevelt Charters (509-722-3880) is still catching sturgeon by fishing around Marcus and south to Rickey Point. On a recent trip they caught seven sturgeon, including one slot fish measuring 55 inches.
Most areas of Puget Sound will close to recreational crab fishing on Labor Day when anyone harvesting crab from a boat must retrieve their gear by 1 hour after sunset. Crabbers fishing from shore or from piers have until the end of the day on Monday to retrieve their gear.
It has been a long time since I hunted sage grouse, but I’m going to give Idaho a shot this year. The season will run Sept. 15-21 with one bird per day and a two-bird possession limit. Some of the traditional areas have been closed because of damaged habitat from fires.
The 2018 outlook for Idaho deer and elk hunters is good. Despite a setback in 2017 following a hard winter that mostly affected mule deer, most of Idaho’s deer and elk herds and harvests have been at or near historic highs in recent years and well above long-term averages. Even mule deer have rebounded and hunters should see similar numbers of whitetail and elk this fall. The archery season begins Friday in several units. Archery deer open Saturday in Washington and indications are there are a lot of legal (three-point or better) bucks around, both muley and whitetail.
Idaho hunters taking to the field today can add red squirrel to their list of potential quarry. Thursday is the traditional opening date for cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare. The season for all three species will run through March 31. Bag limit for red squirrels is eight per day.
It happens every year, and this year is no different – rain and cold mornings at the end of August which send a lot of the dove population packing just before Saturday’s opener. Best chances for a good shoot will likely be best farther south in Douglas, Lincoln, Whitman, Grant and Yakima counties.
Grouse, which also open Saturday, have been holding tight around brushy creeks in Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties, but with the rain and cooler weather, they may be spreading out. A several-hundred-mile scouting trip by car on logging roads last week resulted in zero birds sighted by friends.
Contact Alan Liere at email@example.com