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Nature, fly-fishing groups revive monthly programs

 CLUBS  – After a summer hiatus, Inland Northwest outdoors groups are reviving monthly free programs. Among this week’s offerings are:

  • Hobby Beekeeping, by Ken Crawley, 7 p.m., Tuesday, at Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Rd. in Coeur d’Alene, for Coeur d’Alene Audubon.
  • Secrets of the Clark Fork, by Steve Temple, 7 p.m., Wednesday, at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy, for Spokane Fly Fishers.
  • Birds and Beasts of the Kalahari, by Ron Force, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, at Riverview Retirement Center, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave., for Spokane Audubon.

See map and directions to Riverview Retirement Center auditorium, which is  used by several groups for free monthly programs.

Steelheading seminar set by Silver Bow Fly Shop

FISHING — A seminar on fly fishing for steelhead will be presented by Sean Visintainer of Silver Bow Fly Shop from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. on Sept. 14.

"Steelhead are trickling into the Clearwater River near Lewiston and will soon be entering the Snake and Grande Ronde in another month or so," he said. "We have already heard of a few steelhead swung up on the lower Clearwater."

The seminar will be held at the shop, 13210 E Indiana Ave., and group size is limited. Cost: $20.

Info: (509) 924-9998.

Idaho Governor’s Cup more than a golfing tourney

FISHING — The Idaho Governor’s Cup is coming up on Sept. 10-12 in Sun Valley.

The Idaho Governor’s Cup was established in 1974 by then-Governor Cecil Andrus. It is a 501 (c) (3) organization with a mission to help Idaho kids stay in Idaho to pursue their higher education goals.

What began as a small golf tournament has grown into an annual event with approximately 600 participants and featuring golf, shotgun sports, fly fishing and a number of social activities including hiking. Each evening after the daily sporting events wrap up, participants enjoy great food, entertainment and plenty of networking.

Governor Otter put his own stamp on the event by deciding to alternate the location between Sun Valley and Coeur d’Alene.

The deadline has passed for entering this year's event in Sun Valley, but mark your calendars for next year's Governor’s Cup in Coeur d’Alene, Aug. 25-27, 2016.


International Fly Fishing Fair this week in Bend, Oregon

FISHING – A long list of activies will greet participtnes in the International Federation of Fly Fishers 50th anniversary fair Thursday through Saturday in Bend.

Fly fishing experts, including Joan Wulff, will present 92 workshops on a wide range of skills.

Exhibits and competitions are planned as well as a Youth Camp and Women’s University.

Info: fedflyfishers.org

Fenton Roskelley’s fly fishing gear put to use on grandson’s honeymoon

FISHING — The late Fenton Roskelley, Spokane newspaper outdoor writer for 45 years, would be floating higher than a freshly-treated dry fly to learn than his rods, reels and other fly fishing gear were used last week — during his grandson's honeymoon.

"Grandpa would be so proud," said Allison (Spencer) Roskelley after her trip to the Yellowstone River. She was taking a post-wedding break with her new husband, Jess Roskelley, who's the son of former Spokane County Commissioner and world-class climber John Roskelley. 

Allison said she was referring to her own grandpa Chuck, also an avid fisherman, as well as to "Ross," as many of us knew the Spokane scribe and charter member of the Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club

"We were using all of Fenton's old gear," Allison said.

Jess Roskelley's closet is mostly full of climbing gear. His latest big adventure, scaling Anapurna, was foiled by the devastating spring earthquakes in Nepal.

I wanted to avoid prying too much, but I couldn't help but ask Allison for more details about her honeymoon with Jess. She was quick with an answer that also would have made Ross proud:

No specific hatches. Hoppers were working the best. It was so much fun - the Yellowstone is absolutely gorgeous. We were catching browns and a couple rainbows too. I had never fly fished before! Definitely want to continue the sport. Our friend had a little fiberglass row boat that we were using. So much fun.

Montana encourages conservative stream fishing during drought

FISHING — Montana, the first Northwest state to enact drought-related fishing restrictions, is encouraging anglers to continue helping the state's wild trout beat the heat and this year's low stream flows.

As the region creeps into the dog days of summer, Montana fisheries managers continue to monitor native trout streams that have endured nearly two months of stressful low and warm water conditions.

"It's always encouraging to see our anglers' willingness to help Montana's trout beat the heat," said Bruce Rich, FWP's chief of fisheries. "We appreciate everyone's effort to help spread the word about what we can all do to help conserve Montana's wild and native trout."

Earlier this month, "hoot owl" fishing regulations were enacted on 13 western Montana streams to reduce impacts on drought-stressed fish. The regulations allow fishing during the coolest hours of the day between midnight and 2 p.m.

"We're just now heading into what are typically the toughest weeks of the summer for water temperatures and flows," Rich said. Addition restrictions aren't expected, but they are possible if conditions deteriorate.

Rich advises anglers to be extra cautious handling trout, urging the use of heavier-than-usual gear and tackle to land fish quickly, rubber-bag landing nets, and keeping fish in the water while the hook is removed and the fish released.

Catch-and-release fish handling techniques that minimize stress to the fish include:

  • Use barbless hooks.
  • Land fish quickly once they are hooked.
  • Keep fish in the water as much as possible and avoid handling them if you can.
  • If you do handle a fish, wet your hands before touching it and do so gently.
  • Take care not to touch a fish's gills.

Low flows, high water temperatures, and competition for space and food stress most fish, and especially trout. When the need arises FWP's drought policy provides for the use of angling closures when flows drop below critical levels for fish, when water quality is diminished, or when maximum daily water temperatures in a stream reach at least 73 degrees for three consecutive days.

The preferred water temperature for rainbow and brown trout is about 55-57 degrees. Water temperatures of 77 degrees or more can be lethal to trout.

While air and water temperatures have moderated to more seasonal norms recently, stream flows are still critically low.

Drought related fishing closure updates in Montana are at fwp.mt.gov, then click Restrictions & Closures.

Rain! Beautiful to behold, but drought persists

FISHING — I've written a ton recently about drought conditions, record-low stream flows, considerations for fishing in warm-water conditions and more.

Today's rain is wonderful; just what we needed.

Streams are cooler. Columbia River sockeye are seeing a thermal doorway opening for upstream passage into the Okanogan River. Trout are breathing easier in the region's streams. Firefighters are getting a break.

But today's rain is a temporary reprieve.  The rains didn't fall everywhere.  The mountains area still bare of snow. Streams continue to be at record-lows and they'll warm up again, soon.

So smile today but keep your drought conservation cap on.

Follow the advice in the recent hot fishing blog post.

And sportsmen should be leaders in practicing water conservationist at home. 

Our aquifer feeds the cool water into the Spokane River that trout need to survive hot weather and low flows.

The aquifer is not limitless.  If we drain it down, as others are doing elsewhere, the future is bleak for local trout, as well as for us.

Silver Bow offers hot weather regional fly fishing report

DROUGHT/FISHING — When the heat is on, good fishing practices can save prized fish.

With record low flows and water temperatures in the ranges that stress trout, here are a few suggestions for catch-and-release fishing when water temps get well into the 60s:

  • Catch and release as quickly as possible. Maybe step up a rod weight or two to shorten the fighting time.
  • Leave the fish in the water.
  • Look for dam-controlled rivers, such as the Kootenai, that flow cooler with water from deep reservoirs.
  • When water temps hit the 70s, consider hanging up the rod for the day; pick berries; drink beer.
  • This is a good time to enjoy fishing for feisty smallmouth bass.

Although Idaho is not imposing any restrictions on the North Fork Coeur d'Alene — see explanation — ethical anglers who respect the fishery are looking elsewhere or voluntarily restricting their fishing to the mornings. Nobody alive has seen the river this low at this time of year.

Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley just posted the following information on fishing regional waters during the


Keep 'em wet, play them quick, release them quick, and fish the morning hours until early afternoon and you will have safe, responsible fishing on any of these waters. All of these places are great for either a day trip or weekend multi-day trip. Force yourself to try a new place, you won't regret it. 

  • SPOKANE RIVER -  Aquifer recharge keeps this river cooler than most. Below the Falls and into Riverside State Park there are plenty of riffles and pools to stay entertained in a morning of fishing. Plus it's right in your backyard! The Upper Spokane is too low for safe trout fishing, but the bass fishing above Sullivan is currently very good to the Stateline.  (Even lower Spokane River flows are coming after this weekend. See explanation.)
  • ST JOE RIVER - More water than the NF Coeur d'Alene with more oxygenated runs, shade, and fish populations. Wade fishing above Avery and the tribs is still a great option. Pontoons are good from there down. Hoppers and foam stonefly patterns are dominating the scene here still near Avery and up.
  • KELLY CREEK / NF CLEARWATER -  A little further driver than the St Joe but an excellent place to camp for a night of the weekend. Tons of pockets, riffles, and pools to seek refuge during the heat. If you are not into camping you can stay in Superior or St. Regis and driver back into Idaho from there. We fished here a couple Sundays ago and had a blast.
  • BASS LAKES - Silver Lake, Long Lake, the CDA Chain Lakes, so many lakes to list! If you like warmwater (bass, carp, pike, musky) Dave at the shop is the man to talk to. He can get you dialed in or on a half day trip.
  • GRANDE RONDE / SNAKE RIVER BASS - Smallies are a blast, the Grande Ronde and are Snake Rivers are beautiful. Scrappy action on a 5wts. They don't call this area Hell's Canyon for nothing though… it's hot as hell. One of my absolute, most favorite things to do in the summer.
  • CLEARWATER RIVER, ID -  Fish are trickling in. Not a lot, but they will start to show up better over the next month. The lower river near the paper mill is best this time of the year, aka the stink hole. Give this one a few weeks though for better odds of not just going for casting practice.
  • FERNIE RIVER, BC -  Beautiful cutthroat fishery just a little over 4hours North of Spokane. Fernie is a fun, small town with plenty of accommodations and plenty of cold, clear cutthroat water running right through town. Great floats, good wade access, plus a couple other nearby streams to fish. Great weekend getaway.
  • KOOTENAI RIVER, MT -  The biggest, coldest river only 2.5 hours from Spokane! Montana's largest tailwater, never runs out of water, never is affected with hoot-owl restrictions. Numerous floats just outside of Libby, MT and wade fishing opportunities. The Kootenai is primarily a redband rainbow fishery, but also has a mix of cutthroat and bulls (that get very big) and a rare brown or brook trout. Great dry fly river with big foam leggy bugs. 
  • MISSOURI RIVER, MT -  One of the top tailwaters in the world. Cold water, tons of fish. The fish get a little more particular this time of the year, but it can be great dry fly fishing if you work at it. Love the "MO". 
  • HIGH ALPINE LAKES - Lots and lots of alpine lakes around Washington, Idaho, Montana. Get a map, find the mountains with little blue dots on the on them, start exploring. I know I will be hitting some this summer. Solitude, good scenery, and a good workout, tough to beat.
  • SMALL STREAMS - All of these rivers listed have feeder streams at some point on them that may not be affected by the warm weather. Time to break out the fiberglass rod, a box of dry flies, and go for an easy hike. This can be a blast and will bring a new meaning to what a lunker is when you are fishing a creek barely wider than your truck. 

What are "hoot-owl" restrictions? 
Most folks are already familiar with this term for fishing regulations as it is often used in Montana. This is when streams are closed for the afternoon and evening hours to help fish deal with warmer water temps. Is it still safe to fish if a river has these restrictions? Yes, if it is not, they will completely shut the river down. I've guided the Clark Fork during the hoot-owl restrictions in years past and the fishing still remained great in the morning hours before you had to wrap up it up. So don't be alarmed, you can still fish, just follow the time frames of when a river is open and enjoy the fishing. 

No plans for drought-related fishing restrictions on CdA River

DROUGHT/FISHING — A story coming Sunday will looking into Western trout, salmon and steelhead fisheries that are in hot water because of drought and warm water conditions.

Some anglers have wondered why there are not restrictions on the North Fork Coeur d'Alene, a prized cutthroat trout stream that's running warm and at record low flows.  For example, Montana has enacted "hoot owl" restrictions that prohibit fishing 2 p.m.-11 p.m. on the Bitterroot, Blackfoot and Clark Fork rivers to avoid overstressing trout in excessively warm waters.

Here's part of an explanation received in an interview for Sunday's story with Andy Dux, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Coeur d'Alene:

Fish typically seek out thermal refuge when temperatures get warm.  This could be by moving upstream into headwater reaches, into cooler tributaries, etc.  That combined with the reduced activity they exhibit when stressed (making them less likely to be caught) are the two reasons we have not put angling restrictions in play for our local rivers. 

In most summers we end up with lower flows and higher temps in parts of our rivers and streams and fish have to contend with these conditions…..it's just happening much earlier and could be more prolonged this year.

Click here for tips on warm-weather fishing and a fly fishing report from Silver Bow Fly Shop.

Got a trout dog? Send in your photo

FISHING — If you have a good photo of a dog that loves to go fishing, send it in. Let's compare and celebrate man's best fishing buddy.

Upload your fishing dog photos here.

International Fly Fishers to convene in Bend

FISHING — The International Federation of Fly Fishers will convene for their annual fair this summer in Bend, Oregon, the state where the group was founded 50 years ago.

The theme for the gathering and exposition is “Experience All Things Fly Fishing,” with a long list of activities open to the public Aug. 13-15 at the Riverhouse Convention Center.

This is a premier fly fishing event with 90 workshops and clinics on casting, fly tying, on-water fishing techniques with something for experts and families alike.

Workshops instructors include Bill Blackstone, Al Buhr, Floyd Dean, Oscar Feliu, Steve Fernandez, Jean-Francois, Rick Hafele, Peter Hayes, Henry Hoffman, Bob Jacklin, Frank Johnson, Wayne Luallen, Darrel Martin, Bruce Richards, Tim Rajeff, Rick Williams and others.

The fly fishing fair will feature exhibits with the latest in gear and information about how and where to fish across the United States and the world.

This may also be a good excuse to get up to speed on fishing some of the Bend region's top waters, such as Crooked River, the Metolius, Tumalo Creek and Whychus Creek or still water fisheries such as East Lake, Hosmer Lake, Davis Lake, Crane Prairie and Wickiup reservoirs.

Other special event highlights:

  • Fly Tying Theater, close up views of specialty tiers
  • Casting Rendezvous & Casting Fun – free casting clinics for all attendees
  • Casting competitions – 5-weight casting competition and 9-hole fly fishing tournament
  • Two-day Youth Camp and daily youth activities
  • Women’s University – a two-day program tailored for women fly fishers
  • Exhibit Hall open daily  9 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday-Saturday
  • Free “How to” programs
  • “Fish God” movie showing
  • Fly Fishing Author signings
  • Friday night live auction benefiting IFFF

Day passes are available at the Riverhouse Convention Center for $15 or $20 for a family.  Kids 15 and under are free accompanied by an adult.  

Fly Fishing workshops and Casting workshops and free demonstrations will be at various locations around Bend, free seminars the exhibit hall and various workshops will be held at the Convention Center.  Fees vary for each workshop.

Advance-registration online opened on June 8 and closes July 27, 2015 but on-site registration is also available.

Info and registration at  www.fedflyfishers.org; go to the Fly Fishing Fair tab.

Warm water forces fishing restrictions on Montana streams

FISHING – High stream temperatures in Western Montana have prompted emergency restrictions on the hours fishing will be allowed on the Bitterroot, Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers starting Friday.

Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks officials said all fishing on the prized trout rivers as well as Flint and Silver Bow Creeks will close daily from 2 p.m. to midnight until conditions improve.

The "hoot-owl" restrictions will apply to the entire stretch of the Blackfoot and Bitterroot and on the Clark Fork from the headwaters to its confluence with the Flathead.

On Flint Creek, the “hoot owl” restrictions apply from below the Hwy 1 bridge near milepost 53, downstream to the mouth.  Silver Bow Creek is affected from its confluence with Warm Springs Creek (near Warm Springs) to the confluence with Blacktail Creek (in Butte).

Montana’s angling restrictions kicked because flows have dropped and water temperatures have risen to levels that stress trout.

The preferred water temperature for rainbow and brown trout is about 55-65 degrees. Temperatures of 73 degrees are stressful for rainbow and brown trout.  Temperatures in the mid 60s are stressful to native bull and westslope cutthroat trout.

Memorial Day 2015 holiday offers choice conditions for fly fishing

FISHING — Although fish managers and anglers are a puckered about this year's low snowpack and how that will play out for our trout fisheries through the summer, conditions are generally GREAT for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

In the 37 years I've written about the prospects for Memorial Day, I recall that the norm for most years was to report that area rivers were too high for good fishing.

Not this year.

Sean Visintainer of Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley has been on all the area rivers recently and he agrees.  Here are some tidbits from his full blog post on the holiday weekend fishing forecast:

  • North Fork Coeur d'Alene — "Wow, looks like late June or July up here!"   River's in great shape for this weekend. Many riffles are already skinny — wade fishing or pontoons will be best options, since drift boats and larger rafts would have to be dragged in many cases. Recommended patterns: PMD's, caddis, March browns, yellow sallies and brown drakes. Expect to have company on the river.
  • St. Joe River — In great shape for Memorial Day weekend, but avoid the river downstream from Calder, where fishing will and access within 50 feet of the river will be prohibited Saturday and Sunday for the Race the Joe! jet boat races.  Above Calder, the river is at a late June level and great for wading or floating. "The river near Spruce Tree Campground is on the colder side; fish are there, but will be lethargic in the morning. Best fishing will be below Gold Creek. Recommended patterns: Stoneflies, brown drakes, March Browns, caddis, PMD's and yellow sallies.
  • Spokane River — Closed until June.
  • Clark Fork — "Big, but on the drop." Clarity already is good enough to fish. If it stays course, flows should be a suitable for fishing, although the possibility of rain could change that. Recommended patterns: Skwala with a drake or March brown should get fish up, but also consider a San Juan dropper.
  • Local Lakes — Fishing has been good overall, and competition is light now that most anglers are heading to streams. Amber, Medical, West Medical are all good options now. Recommended patterns: Damselfly nymphs or similar patterns fished on intermediate or sink-tips; Chironomid and callibaetis nymphs for still fishing well in less than 15 feet of water; balanced leech.

Fly fishing guide offers North Idaho stream seminar

FISHING — A clinic specifically tailored to fly fishing two of the region's top cutthroat trout streams will be presented next week at Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley.

Sean Visintainer, owner and guide will present his two-hour  North Idaho Stream Seminar at 6 p.m. on May 6 at the shop, 13210 E. Indiana Ave.

"In this clinic I cover basics from where to go, insect hatches, patterns, tactics, and so on," he said.

The clinic is especially useful to kick-start the season for new fly fishers or experienced anglers who are new to the waters of the  Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe.

Pre-register: (509) 924-9998. Cost in advance: $20.

Blustery weather doesn’t dampen opening day fishing success

FISHING — Saturday's opening of Washington's lowland trout fishing season was blustery, wet and cold, but anglers who toughed out the conditions were handsomely rewarded.

Overall, Spokane-region lakes produced some of the best opening day fishing in years, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife surveys.

"We arrived at 5:30 a.m. and we were the first ones here," said Carolyn Kitchens, who was at Waitts Lake with her husband and their two five-trout daily limits by 10 a.m.

"Fishing was good; took us less than four hours of fishing," said Randy Kitchens as they prepared to leave the Winona Beach Resort dock.

Angler turnout in the northeastern corner of the state ranged from good — "This is Chewelah's favorite fishing hole," said Sam Gould — to very light.  McDowell, a fly-fishing only lake on the Little Pend Oreille Wildlife Refuge, had only two pontoon boats on the lake at noon and nearby Bayley had only five vessels despite what appeared to be good fishing. 

(The water is low enough at Bayley to enable driving vehicles to the pontoon put-in. That's not always the case on opening day, when water often covers the gravel access road.)

Following are some of the most notable catch rates in the Spokane region on Saturday's opener:


  • Diamond Lake — 4.2 fish per angler caught; 3.2 kept.


  • Clear Lake — 6.2 fish per angler caught; 4 kept.
  • Williams Lake — 6.2 fish per angler caught; 2.2 kept.
  • Fishtrap Lake — 5.2 fish per angler caught; 3.8 kept.
  • West Medical Lake — 4.6 fish per angler caught; 4 kept.
  • Fish Lake — 1.3 fish per angler caught; less than one kept.


  • Waitts Lake — 6 fish per angler caught; 2.5 kept
  • Rocky Lake — 5.7 fish per angler caught; 3.3 kept
  • Starvation Lake — 4.7 fish per angler caught; 4.7 kept
  • Mudget Lake — 4.5 fish per angler caught; 3.1 kept

Fly fishing clinics on Yakima River Saturday at Red’s Rendezvous

FISHING — The annual Red's Rendezvous along the Yakima River, set for Saturday, April 25, has an attractive schedule of events and seminars to lure fly fishers from across the state.

The event will run 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Red's Fly Shop and Lodge south of Ellensburg, 14706 Highway 821 near mile marker 15.

You might even plan to fish the Yakima River while you're there.

Fly casting and Spey rodding clinics are planned for all levels, some especially for kids and women, plus live music, food and prices. 

Indoor and outdoors seminars will cover knot tying, fly tying, fly fishing for bass and planning exotic fly fishing trips to Cuba, Christmas Island and Ascension Bay.

The event features live music by Zach Hinson.

Cost: $5.

Anglers find big difference between Medical lakes

FISHING — There's a  big difference this week between Medical Lake and West Medical Lake near the Cheney.

Fishing will open at West Medical with the general lowland lake season opener on Saturday, April 25.  The daily limit will be five trout. Use of bait and powerboats will be allowed.

Medical Lake, however, already is open for fishing under "selective fishery" rules, which prohibit the use of bait and. In the case of Medical Lake, no motors are allowed. Single barbless hooks are required and the limit is restrictive — most anglers who fish here catch and release.

Lanney Martin already has been enjoying the difference between the two lakes with his fishing partner Dick Thiel. The pair boated several very healthy rainbows in the 17- to 19-inch range last week. 

Thiel said they hooked their fish at depths of 18-20 feet. 

"Strongest, deepest rainbow I have encountered in Washington," Thiel said. "Lost two that jumped up to five times like a bass to shake the hook."

Big Hole brown trout survive threat in good shape

FISHING — Fly fishermen will be interested in the latest news coming from Western Montana's Big Hole and Bitterroot rivers:

Record brown trout numbers cited as reason for fungus in Montana river
The spread of a fungal infection known as Saprolegnia in the Big Hole River primarily between Jerry Creek to Browne’s Bridge in the fall of 2014 reduced brown trout numbers in the river. But the number of brown trout in the river is still near state objectives, fish biologists say.
—Montana Standard

Montana wildlife commission OKs seasonal closure of Bitterroot River
On Wednesday, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the temporary closure of a five-mile stretch of the Bitterroot River this spring if conditions warrant, due to the danger posed by the Supply Ditch irrigation dam. Under certain conditions, the dam can create recirculating hydraulics downstream.
—Ravalli Republic

Hunter-gatherer bags big day on spring gobbler opener

HUNTING — Opening-day reports are rolling in from Inland Northwest wild turkey hunters.

Family firsts, gobbler doubles and other memory-making hunts are already in the history books and the season runs until the end of May.

None so far is any better than the report from Spokane-are fly fishing guide G.L. Britton, who tells most of the story with the photo above:   Gobbler and morels — a true hunter-gatherer delight.

"I can't believe I noticed the morels while I was stumbling down a ridge towards distant gobbling at 7 a.m.!" he said.

The rest of Britton's story?

Then we drove home, and worked the trout over in Long Lake for an hour. Still home before noon!

Clinic offered on fly-fishing Spokane-area lakes

FLY FISHING — A two-hour clinic on fly fishing local lakes will convene at 6 p.m. on April 28 at Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley.

Jon Allan, a Spokane angler with decades of experience in fishing the region's stillwaters, will cover gear, tactics, flies, where to go and answer questions.

  • Cost: $20.
  • Contact: Silver Bow 509-924-9998

Spokane River access gets $10K boost from film fest

FISHING — A new Spokane River boat access with take-out capability for drift boats appears to have gotten the financial nudge it needed, thanks to an evening of fishing films at the Bing Crosby Theater last month.

More than 425 people turned out for the second annual International Fly Fishing Film Festival, an event started by Silver Bow Fly Shop to boost Spokane River projects.

In addition to enjoying edited versions of eight excellent films, guests also purchased raffle tickets that helped the evening raise more than $10,000. Proceeds from the festival go to the Spokane River to improve access and support its native fishery, said Bill Abrahamse local Trout Unlimited chapter chair.

That's the matching money needed to complete fundraising to build a slide access and restore the riparian area at Islands Trailhead, said Andy Dunau of Spokane River Forum.

By the time the third annual International Fly Fishing Film Fest rolls into town next year, the Islands Trailhead access and the Starr Road habitat project should be complete, Visintainer said.

  • Click here for a video about Spokane River stewardship produced by Kimbo May for the film festival at the Bing.

Tonight! International Fly Fishing Film Fest in Spokane

FISHING — The International Fly Fishing Film Festival coming to the Bing Crosby Theater TONIGHT, ( March 25) is a benefit for a boat access site on the Spokane River.

That's reason enough to go, but showgoers won't be disappointed. The films are cool.

Tickets are available in advance through the festival website or through Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley.

Following is the list of the selected fly-fishing films edited for the two-hour show (plus 10-minute intermission) along with links for trailers to whet your appetite. 

"Sensei" (Trailer) - Official Selection, IF4™ 2015 from IF4™ on Vimeo.

In the film "Sensei" (above) Fly Fusion’s steelhead editor, April Vokey, teaches fly-fishing sensation, Hank Patterson, how to Spey cast for steelhead. Hank is a “quick study” and it’s not long before he’s passing along his newfound casting knowledge to other anglers, whether they’re looking for advice or not. Eventually, Hank transitions into the role of expert and is able to impart his sage advice to April as well. In his travels, Hank reveals many sides: the angler, the student, the teacher, the artist and the philosopher. About the only thing he doesn’t know is if his good looks get in the way of the fly-angling world taking him seriously.

Title Liquid Gold, produced by Keith Brauneis Productions

This film documents a 70-mile trek through a mountain region of California to reach several alpine lakes in pursuit of Golden Trout.  The film is produced in association California Trout and seeks to communicate a message of conservation.

No Man's Landm, produced by Hooké

The group of three from Hooke embark on a 10-day adventure throughout the Ungava region of Northern Quebec and Labrador. They fly into remote locations by helicopter in search of wild Atlantic Salmon and Arctic char. Throughout their adventures the group encounters numerous black bears, polar bears and big fish. They soon find out that these fish are hard to catch and need to change their strategy.

Bermuda Love Triangle, produced by Marc Crapo

The Bremuda Love Triangle is a narrated film in which Marc Crapo details an excursion to San Juan, Bermuda and Miami in search of Tarpon on the fly.

Recapture, produced by Shane Scherholz, Mike Percelli and John Jinishian

Recapture is one man's tribute to his father and all he loved about the sport of fly-fishing. After mourning his fathers passing, Mike Percelli realizes it is time to stop living in the past and create new memories with new friends. He returns to the waters where his father once taught him, to gain closure, and share his knowledge. From student to mentor, one man copes with his loss while he shares his passion for fly-fishing with others.

Distracted, produced by Western Waters Media

Follow the adventure of four friends as they travel in search of four cutthroat species in four states. Bonneville, Snake River Fine-spotted, Colorado, and Westslope Cutthroat trout are all on the menu. Watch as they get "distracted" by other large fish species, tricycles, and lost items. See what a run-in with a true, once-in-a-lifetime trophy cutthroat trout looks like and the fun, emotional journey that got them there.

Secrets,  produced by Fly Fusion Films

Places exist where oversized bull trout are plentiful, but where footprints from wading boots do not exist. When anglers stumble across these remote and untouched valleys, they really only have one option: take a hard drive worth of footage and never tell another living soul about the location. In the short film "Secrets", join Fly Fusion’s editors Jim McLennan and Derek Bird, and the magazine’s social media coordinator Paula Shearer, as they chopper into one of these secret locations. What they experience is beyond anything they could ever imagine.

In Search of Grande, produced by Anglers Eye Media

This film follows two anglers deep into the Baja in search of the Grande Rooster; one of the most challenging fish in all of the Sea of Cortez.  What begins as a healthy competition between two friends morphs into a partnership between three anglers who set out to accomplish the daunting task of finding the fish and documenting the adventure.

Lake Lenore a letdown, fly fisher says

FISHING — Fishing for Lahontan cutthroats at Lake Lenore leaves a lot to be desired, according to recent reports from fly fishers.
  • Perhaps it has nothing to do with illegal gillnetting operations that have been busted in recent years (photo above).
Terry Mauer offered this report from last week:
DEAD. Saw no fish, saw no fisherpersons, saw no evidence anyone had even pulled into the north end parking area or walked along the north end bank.
The lake shallows had a much-more-than-usual sticky green slime, the water generally looked awful.
The stream that comes over from the other lake and provides the fish with some hope of spawning - hahahahaha - has not enough water in it for a large minnow to try to swim up into.
My view — and from a non-scientific or limnolgist's /biologist's standpoint —
is: we have probably lost this lake for at least the time being.
Too bad.

Scablands fishing: no ticks detected, yet

FISHING — Had a great time of fly fishing, hiking, game-bird finding, otter watching and trout spawning observation Tuesday at Scablands Creek.

No ticks detected, yet.  Can that be true? Is it possible?

Tips to fly fishers this week:

  • Don't bother getting up early. 
  • Cloud cover is your friend.

One-day fly fishing class for beginners at Silver Bow

FISHING — Silver Bow Fly Shop is offering a one-day fly-fishing course for beginners.

  • When:  March 14, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Cost:  $30, includes all gear
  • Instructor:  Dave Dana
  • Contact: Silver Bow Fly Shop, (509) 924-9998.

Montana’s Smith River float more coveted than ever

WATERSPORTS — Demand is growing for natural scenic value and good fishing, as indicated by crowd attempting to be among the chosen ones to float a famous Central Montana River this season.

Less than 15 percent of applicants seeking to float the scenic Smith River were issued permits through a lottery run by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Parks officials says 8,096 applications were received for permits in 2015 and 1,175 were issued.

The river is popular for its remote location, multi-day float trips, scenic campsites and trout fishing.

Applicants who were denied a permit can request any remaining launch dates or cancelled permits by contacting the Smith River Reservation and Information line, (406) 454-5861.

Montana to survey Missouri River anglers

FISHING — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will interview anglers starting in March 2 on the Missouri River between Holter Dam and the town of Cascade to get a better idea of angler usage and their opinions about the popular trout fishing river.

The creel census will run through December. It will be the first in-person angler survey on the river since 2002.

A statewide mail-in creel survey also will be done this year.

Anglers at boat launches and along the river banks will be asked to answer a one-page questionnaire about catch rates, harvest rates, angler satisfaction, angler use and their opinion about the river’s fisheries management.

The blue-ribbon stretch of the Missouri runs about 33 miles and is the most popular trout fishing river in the state, based on the most recent data.

In 2013, the river recorded 170,850 angler days.

The second most popular river is the Bighorn River in southeast Montana with 138,474 angler days.

Coffeepot Lake boat launch closed by low water

BOATING — Low water levels will prevent the boat launch at Coffeepot Lake from being opened to anglers when the lake's fishing season opens March 1.

U.S. Bureau of Land management officials say the unusually low water levels would lead to boat trailers getting stuck in the deep mud.

Small boats not requiring trailers can still be launched from the shoreline but larger boats will not be able to access the ramp. Recreation managers at the BLM’s Spokane District will reopen the boat launch when conditions improve.

“We want to get the word out to those who might be planning a fishing trip that the launch is closed so they can make alternative plans,” said Steve Smith, outdoor recreation planner for BLM’s Spokane District.  “Right now we need Mother Nature’s help in order to get the water levels back up!”

Low precipitation levels may be a factor as well as the lowering of the area's water table by deep-well irrigation, a practice that's become controversial in the region.

An alternative fishing site is the BLM’s nearby Upper Twin Lake just northeast of Coffeepot, where water levels are higher and the boat launch is open for trailered boats.  Both sites are located west of Harrington, Washington.

Both lake's have perch fishing, but Coffeepot — a quality fishing lake with special regulations and a ban on bait — is especially popular with fly fishers who cast for the lake's rainbow trout.

  • Click here for more information on Coffeepot Lake and Upper Twin Lake.

Fly fisher lands 16-pound pike from ‘Best Trout Stream in America’

FISHING — Outdoor Life once headlined Montana's Bighorn River as the Best Trout Stream in America.

Apparently the predators heard the news.

A fly fisherman got the surprise of his life last month when he cast for the river's noble trout and hooked up with a lunker northern pike.

Here's the story by Brett French of the Billings Gazette:

Rogue Fish / Fly fisher lands big pike on renowned trout river

By BRETT FRENCH / french@billingsgazette.com

Famed for its spectacular trout fishing, Montana's Bighorn River recently gave Kansas City, Mo., fly angler Nathan Diesel a big, toothy surprise - a 38-inch, 16-pound northern pike.

"How crazy is that?" said Mike DuFresne, a Billings fly angler who rowed Diesel to the spot of the catch, about a mile below the 3-Mile fishing access site.

The catch is so surprising because northern pike aren't common to that stretch of the river, especially ones that big. For about 30 miles below Yellowtail Dam - the portion of the Bighorn River that Diesel and DuFresne were fishing - the Bighorn River flows cool and clear, making it a productive and popular trout fishery, well-known around the world. Rainbow and brown trout are the main species of fish occupying that stretch of water, not northern pike.

"They're not unheard of, but it's pretty rare," said Mike Ruggles, a Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist for the Bighorn.

Slow day

The 36-year-old Diesel said his day of fishing on Jan. 23 had been unproductive. They had launched DuFresne's drift boat below the Afterbay that morning, but DuFresne had caught only two trout before they stopped at what's known as Crow Beach.

Using a 6 weight Winston fly rod, Diesel was tossing a 5-inch long articulated fly that he'd tied up only the night before. Diesel is used to casting such big flies. He said on the White River in Arkansas it's common for anglers to lob 6- to 8-inch long articulated flies into the water to catch big brown trout.

On the Bighorn, Diesel was stripping the big fly back to shore when he saw the shadow of a fish in pursuit of the minnow-looking streamer. With only about 3 feet of fly line dangling from the end of the rod, he stopped stripping and twitched the rod tip a few times to give the fly a little action. That's when the big pike inhaled the fly, turned and swam away, peeling off line until reaching the backing.

"I've caught three browns over 20 pounds in my life," Diesel said, the largest weighing 24 pounds. "So I thought it was a brown trout all along."

Not a trout

Diesel yelled to DuFresne, who was fishing above him, to grab the net and that he had a big fish on - at least a 10-pounder. DuFresne arrived in time to see the big fish roll on the surface, that's when they both realized it was a pike and not a brown trout.

"Your brain, when you're on the Bighorn, is in trout mode," DuFresne said, so seeing a northern pike roll didn't register right away since he was trying to decipher if the fish was a rainbow or a brown trout.

Unable to fit more than the pike's head in the trout net, the two anglers boosted the fish onto the bank and marveled at its size. After the first couple of photos, DuFresne talked Diesel into posing with the fish in front of his drift boat while holding the fly rod so they could convince people that the big northern had indeed been caught on the Bighorn River.

"The picture has gone viral in the Billings area," DuFresne said. "Almost everyone who has seen it said, 'Wow, I can't believe you landed it' because pike are notorious for shearing line off."

Toothy predators

Northern pike have rows of super sharp teeth. Most anglers targeting the fish use heavy leaders, or even steel leaders, to prevent the fish from cutting the line and breaking off.

So the fact that Diesel was able to land the fish on more traditional gear makes the outcome even more incredible.

"It took the fly so deep in its throat that we believe the leader stayed in the corner of its mouth away from the teeth," DuFresne said.

Diesel's rod was rigged with 0X fluorocarbon tippet, which is strong but still only rated as 12-pound test. Tied to the end of the tippet Diesel had his large, articulated fly, which is about two times larger than a more standard size 6 woolly bugger fly more commonly used to hook trout on the river.

"My wife affectionately named the fly the Phantom," Diesel said.

Hero shot

Since landing the fish, Diesel has gained a bit of notoriety among DuFresne's fishing buddies. When they see a photo of the fish, most people say "Holy cow," and the second thing they say is "Did you kill it?" he said.

Keeping such a large, predatory fish in the popular trout river wouldn't earn Diesel many fly-fishing fans, but removing it from the water sure has.

"We had to cull her from the herd," DuFresne said. "It was a female. She was actually in spectacular condition, not a mark or mar on her.

"It surprised me as fat as she was that her belly was completely empty, but jam-packed with close to 3 pounds of eggs alone."

Diesel said he doesn't like to eat fish, but DuFresne has already fried up some of the fillets. The fish is so big that one-quarter of its meat fed four people, he said.

The Wanderer

So where did the fish come from?

Northerns have been planted in Tongue River and Fort Peck reservoirs in Montana, as well as Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota. All of them are connected to the Yellowstone River, to which the Bighorn River is a tributary. Yet the mouth of the Tongue River is 100 miles downstream. It's about 300 miles to the Missouri-Yellowstone confluence and Lake Sakakawea.

It's been documented by FWP that high water in 2011 flushed some of Montana's reservoir fish over dams. The Tongue River joins the Yellowstone River at Miles City, and Fort Peck Reservoir feeds the Missouri River, which joins the Yellowstone near the Montana-North Dakota border. The Missouri River feeds Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota. Could this pike have grown up in one of these lakes before wandering?

Northern pike are also known to infrequently inhabit the lower Bighorn River from Hardin downstream, but there are several diversion dams on the Bighorn and Yellowstone rivers any fish migrating upstream would have to cross.

"Pike are pretty good swimmers," said FWP's Ruggles. "It's been documented that those fish will move a long way looking for good spawning habitat."

Diesel also came a long way to defy the odds.

"It's crazy to think about the hundreds and hundreds of boats, the thousands of fishing lines that have gone through that hole," DuFresne said.

He said other anglers may have hooked the fish and quickly been broken off, without knowing it was a large pike.

Diesel and DuFresne finished their Bighorn fishing trip with only a couple of trout apiece - and one enormous pike, the only one Diesel has ever caught.

"It was a slow day," Diesel said. "But one fish can sure make a day."

Bill to help get kids outside gets hearing in Olympia

OUTDOOR EDUCATION — A Senate committee will hold a hearing today, Feb. 11, at 1:30 p.m. on “No Child Left Inside,” a bipartisan bill (SB 5843) that provides $1.3 million for programs to get kids to away from their screens and back outdoors. 

A media release from the bill’s introduction by Sens. Ranker (D-Orcas Island) and Parlette (R-Wenatchee) note's that Washington’s NCLI has inspired federal legislation of the same name. 

Scheduled to testify at today's hearing are:

  • Oak Rankin of Darrington, whose community was devastated by the Oso landslide in 2014. This bill would enable funding for programs such as the Darrington Youth Outdoor STEM Pilot Project  which helps students learn about local natural resources.
  • Joshua Brandon, a veteran and program manager for Project Cohort, a program designed to support veterans’ mental health, in part through outdoor activities. The legislation’s grant program encourages funding for programs that tap veterans for program implementation or administration.
  • Courtney Aber who heads up YMCA’s BOLD & GOLD programs (Boys Outdoor Leadership Development & Girls Outdoor Leadership Development)
  • Martin LeBlanc of IslandWood, the Bainbridge Island-based outdoor education organization
  • Marc Berejka from REI