Salmon and steelhead
Snake River steelheading is just getting started, and fishing is a little slow in most areas of the drainage, according to WDFW fish biologist Joe Bumgarner. The best fishing rates checked since the harvest season opened Sept. 1 have been in the Tucannon River, where anglers averaged about four hours of fishing for every steelhead caught. Fishing has been significantly slower on the Walla Walla River, while the best steelhead catch rate measured on the mainstem Snake River was about 61/2 hours per fish in waters from the Little Goose to Lower Granite dams.
The catch estimates for Ocean Area 1 (lower Columbia) last week was 1,307 chinook and 4,780 coho. The season totals through Sunday equaled 61 percent of the quota. While chinook catch rates remained low during the majority of August, catch rates have since improved dramatically. To date, this year’s run of fall chinook over Bonneville is nearly identical to the recent 10-year average.
Above Bonneville, anglers are still catching some hatchery summer steelhead at Drano Lake and in the Wind River, but most are focusing on catching fall chinook.
At Westport, the catch estimates last week were 3,022 chinook and 1,203 coho; the season totals through Sunday equaled only 21 percent of the quota. LaPush anglers have taken 66 percent of the sub-quota, and at Neah Bay, they have taken 76 percent. Fishing at both LaPush and Neah Bay has slowed considerably. Salmon fisheries out of Westport, LaPush and Neah Bay (Marine areas 2-4) are scheduled to close Sept. 18, but LaPush reopens Sept. 24.
Last week, Ilwaco anglers averaged 1.2 salmon per rod, 79 percent of which catch were coho. Through Sunday, an estimated 61.4 percent of the coho guideline had been taken. The Buoy 10 chinook catch has declined about 50 percent from the last week, but coho catches have increased by about the same rate. Last week anglers averaged a chinook per every 6.4 rods and a coho per every 4.5 rods.
Shore fishing at Admiralty Inlet, Bush Point and Lagoon Point has been at times red hot. The lure of choice remains to be a small, hot pink Buzz Bomb. Humpies and silvers have been taken with regularity.
Large runs of salmon can be found in a handful of Hood Canal and Puget Sound rivers. Hatchery chinook are the main attraction on the Skokomish, Nisqually and Puyallup rivers, while pink and coho salmon are drawing anglers to the Duwamish-Green, Snohomish and Skagit systems.
The northern portion of Lake Washington opens Sept. 16 to coho fishing. A coho-only fishery will open in Grays Harbor on the same date. As in ocean waters, coho have been slow to enter the fishery in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where they are usually thick this time of year
Trout and kokanee
Fishtrap Lake still has good fishing for rainbow, and Waitts Lake is producing for night anglers. On Lake Roosevelt, 14- to 16-inch trout are coming from the vicinity of Whitestone and Haystack Rock. Anglers trolling Muddler Minnows on leaded line behind a dodger are doing best.
The put-and-take lakes on the Wooten Wildlife Refuge are accessible and fishing well for trout. The recent fire got close but spared a swath of greenery around the lakes.
Three friends and I made one last kokanee fishing excursion to Loon Lake Wednesday night, limiting in about three hours. Best bite was early in 35 feet of water, and the fish are still in excellent shape. If you go, take a coat.
Lake Coeur d’Alene kokes can be finicky, but though turning, are also in excellent shape. Friends who fished the lake last week had limits one day, a handful the next, then limits again. The majority of fish are still being graphed on the south end, many in the vicinity of Powderhorn Bay in 45-50 feet of water.
Low water is making fishing easier on Potholes Reservoir, where bass continue to bite and walleye are beginning again. The mouth of Crab Creek has been good for ‘eyes over the transitional staircase humps.
In Moses Lake, Mike Graham at Mike’s Bait and Tackle said walleye are becoming more active and many are moving back towards the Alder Street Bridge. He also reports some 14-inch crappie coming from under the I-90 Bridge. Graham recommends tipping your crappie jig with a maggot.
The preponderance of shad fry below McNary Dam is making walleye fishing tough, but Snake River fishing has been surprisingly good near Little Goose Dam and Texas Rapids. In Starbuck, Wash., Verna Foley at Darver Tackle said the best fish has been a 34-incher. She indicated catfishing has been good, too.
The Two Rivers Casino Walleye Championship tournament will be held on Lake Roosevelt Sept 17-18. Info: Alan Roberts (509) 535-2422
Dove hunting has been generally good in southern Washington counties and near the Snake River breaks. I saw huge flocks last weekend in the dried Canada thistle patches along the river. Hunters around Moses Lake report the birds are beginning to bunch up. With morning temperatures in the 30s, doves will soon migrate.
Blue grouse hunters in Washington and Idaho appear to have fared better than those pursuing ruffed grouse this first week of the season. Ruffs are still there, but with the hot, dry weather, they are hanging out in the densest creek bottoms. It is not uncommon to get a dozen flushes in a morning, but getting a shot is another matter.
Washington’s East Side early goose season in GMUs 4 and 5 runs Saturday and Sunday with a three-bird daily limit.
The monthlong Washington archery deer season is already under way, as is archery hunting for elk, which began this week and runs through Sept. 21. High buck hunts get under way Thursday.
The Idaho seasons for sage grouse, quail, and partridge begin Sept. 17 while early fall general turkey hunts begin Thursday. A separate permit is required for hunting sage and sharp-tailed grouse. Turkey hunters will need tags.
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