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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Fishing film helps anglers ‘Connect’ with wild steelhead

FISHING — A Spokane showing of “Connect,” the 3rd film from Confluence Films, will be shown on Feb. 22 as a benefit to raise money for the Wild Steelhead Coalition and efforts to protect Columbia River wild steelhead.

The film features six international fishing locations, 12 anglers, 10 fish species and one angry croc.

The 2011 Fly Fishing Film Tour featured a clip of Connect, but the full feature film will be shown Wednesday at The Lincoln Center, 1316 North Lincoln Street. Doors open at 6 p.m. Show starts at 7.

Tickets will cost $5 at the the door; procedes from tickets and raffle items will go the WSC.

 Info: Josh Mills,  jmills81@hotmail.com  or contact Silver Bow Fly Shop

New Asotin County wildlife area brings Blue Mountains Complex to 68,000 acres

PUBLIC LANDS — The public and wildlife soon will be sharing a new chunk of an elk-friendly ranch and Grande Ronde River access in southern Asotin County. The 2,200-acre parcel bordering the Grande Ronde River was approved for acquisition Saturday by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The land, accessible off the Grande Ronde Road between Boggan’s Oasis and Troy, Ore.,will be the first phase of what is planned to be an even larger acquisition over about 10 years from Milton (Mike) Odom II and the 4-0 Livestock and Land Company LLC.

The area is tentatively being called the Mountain View Project, said Bob Dice, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife area manager in Clarkston.

The acquisition brings the total acreage in the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex to more than 68,000 acres, Dice said.  The other units in the complex include the Chief Joseph, Asotin Creek and Wooten wildlife areas.

Read on for more details.

Salmon River steelheading hot as interest wanes

FISHING — The holidays are taking a bite out of the fishing pressure on the Snake and Salmon rivers, but the fishing in the Salmon near Riggins has been very good for anglers with a pass to leave home.

“A lot of bigger native steelhead have moved into the river system, many over 32-inches,” Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures reported Wednesday afternoon.  “Recent rains have not affected the river which is in good shape with great visibility; water flow at 5110 CFS. Water temperature last week hovered between 37-38 degrees. However a cold snap over the weekend dropped the river temperature to 36 degrees which slowed the fish down and have them holding in the deeper pools. Deep diving, slow action plugs, bait divers and drifting bait seem to be the best methods to entice the fish.”

So how good has the fishing action been?  Check out this report from Sinclair:

Salmon River (Riggins) creel report for Nov. 13-20

42 anglers fished with Exodus hooking into 100 steelhead or 2.4 fish per person and landed 71 or 1.7 fish per person.

Birthday boy Jeff Lind from Athol, Idaho, limited out by 12:30 pm with drift boat guide Jeff Wieber on Nov. 19.

Terry Pike from Columbus, Ohio, landed the  MONSTER 36-inch  native steelhead (pictured above) that gave him quite a fight from the drift boat guided by Norm Klobetanz.

Anglers not holding a high standard along Snake River

FISHING – Anglers along the Snake and Grande Ronde rivers have been leaving a lot to be desired in the categories of ethics and compliance with fishing rules.

On a recent boat patrol along the Snake River upstream from Clarkston, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department police found plenty of lawbreakers.

Fourteen citations were issued in the fourhour patrol, reports Capt. Mike Whorton, department enforcement supervisor in Spokane.  

Steelhead movements slow down on Snake River

FISHING — The number of steelhead climbing over Lower Granite Dam has slowed to 100-200 a day as the fish start hunkering in for the winter and the next big surge of movements in February or March.

There should be plenty of fish to catch in the Snake and tributaries if you can zero in on them.

But other factors play a role in angler success from week to week and even day to day.

Last week, Salmon River anglers from the Riggins area were riding high with great fishing success.  But the weekend brought change, as Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures observes in this post-weekend wrapup:

Steelhead fishing was definitely affected by the storm system front and the full moon over the weekend; Saturday was one of the toughest fishing days of the year with few fish found throughout the entire river corridor. Fortunately the moon is waning and the weather pattern has settled and already the fishing has picked back up and returned to the incredible fishing we had for the past 2 weeks. While water temperatures continue to hover between 37-38 degrees, the fish are maintaining interest in plugs and in particular the infamous “truck and trailer”. These fish are still very acrobatic and we have started to see many more natives, especially over 32” in the last few days.

Steelhead fishing access pinpointed on Snake tributaries

FISHING — After reading my outdoors column on steelheading puzzles along the Snake River and tributaries, some readers are asking where they can go fishing on the Touchet and Tucannon rivers.

Touchet River steelheading is allowed during the June-through-October gamefish season, as well as during the steelhead season that runs Nov. 1-March 31.

Much of the Touchet is private, but anglers find access:

  • At levees within the towns of  Dayton and Waittsburg.
  • Between the two towns at Lewis and Clark Trail State Park.
  • At the WDFW Dodd fishing access site nine miles north of Touchet and Highway 12.
  • And from private landowners who often give permission to anglers who ask.

Tucannon River steelheaders find easy public fishing access in the first mile of river up from the Snake.

Farther upstream, one encounters mostly private land for miles. Permission for one property often is granted at the Tucannon River RV Park above Starbuck.

Anglers also can find access on state and national forest land farther upstream to the Tucannon Hatchery, but most of the steelhead harvest occurs downstream from Highway 12.

Historically, December is an excellent month for steelheading on the Tucannon.

Fastest steelhead fishing reported upstream in Snake, Salmon

STEELHEADING — The latest Idaho steelhead fishing harvest report indicates slower than normal fishing in the lower reaches of the Snake River, but good fishing upstream from the Salmon River.

Great fishing has been reported from the Salmon River area near Riggins.  Read on for details. 

Most steelhead over Lower Grainite, waiting to be caught

FISHING — The movement of steelhead over Lower Granite Dam has slowed way down, but more than 167,000 of the fish have climbed over the dam and are making themselves available to anglers throughout the upper system.
  

Lower Hanford Reach salmon season extended through Oct. 31

SALMON FISHING — The fishing season for chinook and coho salmon will be extended in the lower Hanford Reach of the Columbia through Oct. 31, the Washignton Fish and Wildlife Department has announced.

 The extension affects the sport salmon fishery in the Columbia River between the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco and the wooden power line towers at the old Hanford townsite.

The season previously was set to end Sunday.

Read on for details.

Metalhead flick featured at Spokane TU gathering

FISHING — If you're a steelheading fly-fisher and you haven't seen the BC fishing flick Metalhead, now's the time. 

Even if you have seen it, the Spokane Falls Chapter of Trout Unlimited suggests joining them and having some fun and watching the film as they show the movie Monday (Oct 24) starting at 7 p.m. at the Magic Lantern Theatre, 25 W. Main Avenue in Spokane.

Metalhead is an exciting film from AEG productions. It features die-hard trout bums hooking up with impressive BC steelhead and having a dirt-bag adventure in the wilds of Canada's pristine steelhead country.

Cost: $7 bucks at the door - $5 bucks if you purchase beforehand from Silverbow, Swedes, Westslope or Castaway Flyshop out in Coeur d'Alene

Why: come have fun and support steelhead/trout conservation in Eastern Washington
 
Bring some cash for the raffle and join TU at the Saranac Public House from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. before the show for beverages (happy hour prices) and fishing stories.
 
Still have questions? Email me at jerrywhitefish@gmail.com

Idaho anglers asked to distinguish salmon, steelhead

FISHING — Idaho Fish and Game officials just posted this notice to holders of three-day salmon-steelhead permits fishing in waters and at times when steelhead and chinook salmon both are present and can be caught and kept:

Differentiate harvest of the two species on your permits.

The three-day permits are valid for both salmon and steelhead, and anglers get only the single permit. The intent with the three-day permit has been that it could be used for the salmon season or the steelhead season. Those two seasons usually don’t overlap, and only one species was recorded on a permit for the three days fished.

Read on for more details.

Steelhead ebbing in tide over Lower Granite

STEELHEAD FISHING — The fish are still running up the Snake and over Lower Granite Dam in numbers over 1,000 a day, but the number of new fish heading into Idaho waters is slowing.

The steelhead count over Bonneville Dam at the mouth of the Columbia had slowed on Sunday to just 127 fish a day, while 1,115 moved over Lower Granite Dam near Clarkston the same day.

The total number of steelhead over Bonneville since July 1 is 353,657 compared with 379,434
last year.

That helps confirm we're enjoying an above-average year.

The five-year average for this date over Bonneville is 384,339 and 159,215 over Lower Granite.

Brian O’Keefe details NW steelheading in Spokane program

FLY FISHING – Brian O’Keefe, an Oregon-based outdoor photographer and fly-fishing ace, will present a free program, Northwest Steelheading. Wednesday, 7 p.m., at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy, hosted by the Spokane Fly Fishers.

• O’Keefe will teach a two-hour fishing photography seminar starting at 4 p.m., but class size is limited. Cost: $5.

Preregister: tytlynz@gmail.com

Steelhead moving as rain cools rivers

FISHING — Rain has cooled water temps in the Snake River system, causing fish to move and expand their range upstream.

Here's the report from Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures in Riggins:

The fishing report for Riggings, Idaho, iSteelhead Fishing is underway on the Salmon River. Fish are being caught as the season gets started here in the Riggins area. Last weeks rain was both a blessing and a nuisance; the rain brought the river level up, the water clarity down and the water temperature down.

Current water level is 5800 CFS, about 1000 CFS more that last week at this time. Water color is olive green with about 2 feet of visibility and best of all water temperature is dropping fast and as of this morning we are at 51 degrees, about 8-9 degrees cooler than this time last week. That is sure to bring those fish into the Salmon River and start filling all of your favorite holes.

Salmon River anglers expecting steelhead surge

STEELHEAD FISHING — The march is on for steelhead making their way up the Snake and then up the Salmon River into the Riggins area.

More than 360,000 steelhead have crossed Bonneville Dam in the lower Columbia.  More than 130,000 of those fish have made it past several dams, gillnets and many hooks to cross up and over Lower Granite Dam on the Snake downstream from Lewiston.

Now the fish are moving up the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers.

Prime steelheading in the Riggins area generally is from mid October until early December, said Amy Sinclair of Exodus Wilderness Adventures

Prime winter steelhead fishing on the Salmon River in the Riggins area is from late January-early February to early March, she said.

 The daily limit is three hatchery steelhead.

Latest salmon, steelhead fishing reports

FISHING — Here are the latest salmon and steelhead reports from around the region:

Yakima River Fall Salmon Fishery Report Sept. 26 - Oct. 2 (From WDFW):

Angler effort and harvest for fall Chinook and coho continues to rise on the lower Yakima River. This past week there were an estimated 887 angler trips on the Yakima River for salmon.  WDFW staff sampled 147 anglers with 11 adult Chinook, 5 jacks, and 1 coho.  Anglers averaged one Chinook for 25 hours of fishing.  Estimated harvest for the week was 91 adult Chinook, 50 jacks, and 8 coho.  For the season an estimated 142 adult Chinook, 115 chinook jacks, and 8 coho have been harvested. 

Hanford Reach Sport Fishery Summary Oct. 2 (WDFW):

Staff interviewed 479 boats last week with 513 adult Chinook, 126 jacks, and 2 coho.  Anglers averaged slightly better than one salmon per boat. An estimated 2,608 adult Chinook, 641 jacks, and 5 coho were harvested this past week.  There were an estimated 6,070 angler trips this past week.  This past week was likely a record for both total angler trips and Chinook caught in a week for the Hanford Reach area.  For the season, 5,705 adult Chinook, 1,259 jacks, and 37 coho have been harvested.

On September 30, the in-season return estimate for the Hanford Reach was updated. The  adult return estimate is now predicted to be 64,361 adult Chinook (not including hatchery returns).  The in-season estimate dropped 6,000 adult Chinook from the previous estimate (9/23) but WDFW is still predicting a strong return.

Methow River steelhead  (from Darrell & Dad's Family Guide Service):

Fly fishing is king, but jig and bobber guys can do well too.  If you’re fly fishing, drift a glo bug under a strike indicator.  If you’re a “swinger”, throw big wooly buggers and leeches.  Jig and bobber guys can choose between Mack’s Lures Glo-Getter jigs or Worden Lures Maxi Jigs.  Try the brightest colors you can get.  Fish the same jig and slip bobber combos in the mainstem of the Columbia, but bait them with a chunk of shrimp cured with Pautzke’s Fire Cure.  Remember wild steelhead release rules are in effect.  Pinch those barbs. 

Upper Columbia salmon (from Darrell & Dad's Family Guide Service): 

It's the tail end of the salmon season above Brewster.  Fish Super Baits and Plug Cut Super Baits behind big rotating flashers until the season ends Oct. 15.  The fish are getting uglier, but they are big and pull hard.  An extra bonus is their meat is still good. 

Idaho steelheading still a marvel to behold

STEELHEAD FISHING — A couple of tidbits to ponder:

STEELHEAD FACTS
  • Idaho's state record steelhead was 30 pounds, 2 ounces and was caught in the Clearwater River in 1973.
  • Idaho is the only inland Western state with ocean-run salmon and steelhead.

Steelhead fishing opens in Upper Columbia and tribs

STEELHEAD FISHING — Fishing for hatchery steelhead opens Wednesday (Sept. 28) on the upper Columbia River above Rock Island Dam, and on the Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Methow, and Okanogan rivers, the , the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says.

Salmon fishing will also reopen Wednesday from Wells Dam to Brewster, and the Similkameen River will open to hatchery steelhead retention beginning Nov. 1.

The steelhead fisheries will remain open until further notice, while the salmon fishery will run through Oct. 15.

Read on for details.

Steelheading excellent near Lewiston; water temp 68 degrees

STEELHEAD FISHING — With Dworshak's cooling flows cut back and water temps at 68 degree, anglers continue to have good fishing for a nice run of steelhead in the Clearwater River and the Lewiston area.

Angler checks last weekend by Idaho Fish and Game show:

Clearwater River
Mouth to Memorial Bridge — The heaviest concentration of anglers, 8 hours per fish caught.

Clearwater River
Memorial Bridge to Orofino Bridge — 4 hours per fish caught.

Snake River
Downstream from Salmon River — 10 hours per fish caught.

Angler lands steelhead, bass on same cast

FISHING — This post and photo from Northwest fishing icon Buzz Ramsey:

While fishing the Deschutes with guide Bob Toman, ODFW NW Regional Manager Chris Wheaton landed a double, a summer steelhead and smallmouth bass, while casting a single FAT Fish plug in the half ounce size. Although not unheard of, it's rare to catch a steelhead and smallmouth bass on the same lure and cast. Bob and client were fishing about 3 miles upstream from the mouth of where the Deschutes River enters the Columbia.


  

Hot steelheading continues on Clearwater despite heat

FISHING — Idaho Fish and Game has just released creel reports for the past week through Saturday.

Clearwater River anglers from the Memorial Bridge to the mouth (water temp 46 degrees) averaged 9 fish caught per angler.  That's great.

Clearwater River anglers from Memorial Bridge at Lewiston up to Orofino Bridge (water temp 49 degrees), 5 fish per angler. Wow!

Snake River anglers downstream from Salmon River (water temp 72 degrees), 6 fish per angler.  Excellent.

Steelhead surge and hold back at Lower Granite

STEELHEAD FISHING — The surge of steelhead moving up the Snake River over Lower Granite Dam slowed down dramatically as the flow and spill of cool water into the Clearwater River was reduced upstream out of Dworshak Dam this week.

But significantly more fish have moved over Lower Granite this week compared with the same week last year.

Sign up for youth steelhead clinic in Lewiston

STEELHEAD FISHING – Registration is open for youths 14 and younger to join a free steelhead fishing clinic, starting with a classroom session Sept. 22, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. at the Idaho Fish and Game Department office in Lewiston.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, the youths will be paired with experienced adult anglers and fish out of boats on the Snake or Clearwater rivers.  All fishing gear and life preservers will be provided. 

The first 15 youth to register with Lewiston Parks and Recreation Office, (208) 746-2313, will be given the opportunity to fish on Sept. 24. 

Bulk of steelhead over Bonneville, heading upstream

STEELHEAD FISHING — With 262,300 steelhead reported over Bonneville Dam for this summer run, the counts are subsiding.

Now the fish are pouring upstream.  Even though the fishing has been good in Idaho's Clearwater River — four hours per fish caught — the bulk of the fish have yet to arrive. 

Even last weekend with temperatures over 100 degrees, the Dworshak Dam releases have kept the Clearwater River at 53 -56 degrees.

The big unknown is how much the fish will react when the Dworshak releases subside in the next few days or weeks.

Record steelhead catch logged on Columbia

FISHING — Anglers on the lower Columbia records are setting records with the number of steelhead they're catching on the lower Columbia, according to a detailed report by Northwest Sportsman.

It's not clear whether that's a good omen or a bad one for upstream anglers waiting for those fish to head up the Snake and arrive above Lower Granite Dam.  But I can tell you that anglers are catching steelhead in the Clearwater.  Game on.

Catch-and-keep steelheading to open in lower Clearwater

FISHING — The fall steelhead harvest season in Idaho opens Aug. 1, on a two-mile stretch of the lower Clearwater River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge near Lewiston.

The catch-and-release steelhead season has been open on the lower Clearwater River since the beginning of July.

Click here to check the upstream progress of the fishery fish at Bonneville and Lower Granite dams.

Read on for details from Idaho Fish and Game.

Steelhead are showing signs of a surge at Bonneville Dam

STEELHEAD FISHING — Although this year's big flows have delayed the migration of this year's adult steelhead run UP the Columbia River, the surge has begun at Bonneville Dam — the first dam the fish hit as they come inland from the ocean. 

Within a week or so, the trickle over upstream dams, including Lower Granite Dam downstream from Clarkston, should improve to more of a flow.

Last year at this time, around 200 steelhead a day were climbing over Lower Granite, the last Snake River dam before the fish head into Idaho or the Grande Ronde River.

This year, fewer than 10 a day are being counted at Lower Granite.

Steelhead run building in lower Columbia, headed this way

STEELHEAD FISHING — It's not even a trickle yet coming up over Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River — just a couple a day — but this year's steelhead run continues to pick up steam into the Columbia.

Late for sure, but they're coming.

First steelhead lead 2011 run over Lower Granite Dam

FISHING — On June 5, two steelhead that had run up the Columbia River and into the Snake made their way up and over Lower Granite Dam. They are the harbingers of  a good steelhead season that anglers will start targeting this summer.

The steelhead run is beginning to spike over Bonneville Dam, about two weeks later than last year.