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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Friday, May 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Day 55° Clear


By Alan Liere Correspondent

Salmon and steelhead

Some 4,000 steelhead have come over Lower Granite Dam and anglers on the Clearwater are averaging a fish every seven hours. Optimum Clearwater temperatures are causing fish to shoot upstream, so fishing has been tough on the catch-and-keep section at the mouth of the Snake. The steelhead harvest season on the rest of the Snake River opens Sept. 1 but probably won’t be much good until midmonth.

District fish biologist Bob Jateff reported the salmon fishing effort in the Brewster-Bridgeport area of the Columbia River has slowed a bit in recent days.

“But with cooler temperatures, new fish could be moving into that area,” he said.

Pink salmon have arrived in Puget Sound, said WDFW fish biologist Steve Thiesfeld. While fishing has been good for pink salmon at several sites, Thiesfeld recommends trolling “Humpy Hollow,” a portion of the Sound that stretches from Shipwreck north to Mukilteo. Catch rates there have been strong and are projected to stay that way several weeks.

Grays River (including West Fork), the Elochoman River and a portion of the Green (Duwamish) River open to salmon fishing beginning Sept. 1.

On the Cowlitz River, some chinook are being caught at the barrier dam while steelhead are being taken near Blue Creek. Wind River boat anglers are catching some steelhead, but low pool levels are causing problems. Drano Lake boat anglers averaged a steelhead per rod this week. Some chinook are also being caught. White Salmon River is getting a lot of pressure. No parking was available along State Route 141 last weekend.

Buoy 10 catch was minimal last week, but it will get better as the season progresses. Coho anglers hooked good numbers of chinook during the catch-and-release season, and as of Wednesday, a chinook per day may be retained.

According to recent counts, more than 200,000 steelhead have crossed Bonneville Dam, but only 70,000 have crossed The Dalles Dam. Theoretically, that leaves 130,000 fish swimming around in Bonneville Pool waiting to move upstream when the big river cools.

The Yakima River will be closed to all fishing within 400 feet of the Chandler Power Plant effective Sept. 1. Low numbers of fall chinook are expected to return to the Yakima River in 2007. Fall chinook are attracted to the discharge at the Chandler Powerhouse, allowing anglers to harvest a higher proportion of the return than allocated for the fishery.

Trout and kokanee

Spokane resident Dale Moffat describes the kokanee fishing on Lake Coeur d’Alene as “awesome.” On most trips, he has limited the boat by 8 a.m. and said he is graphing lots of fish.

Loon Lake kokanee are biting at night for still-fishermen and during the day for trollers. A few honest 12-inchers are being caught, but most fish are closer to 11 inches.

The Dworshak Reservoir kokanee fishery is winding down. The fish, which are river spawners, are moving toward the North Fork end of the reservoir. There is still decent fishing around Granddad launch, but it won’t last much longer.

Lake Pend Oreille macks were elusive last weekend for Brian Stauffacher of Spokane, who has had a lot of success this summer drop-shotting for Priest Lake macks. Stauffacher said all of the nine Pend Oreille fish he caught were on the troll. It wasn’t great fishing, but he figures that with the $15 per fish bounty, he at least paid for his gas.

On Wednesday, the Clark Fork was running at 1,970 cfs and the temperature was 58 degrees. Fish are still in their summer lies, so concentrate on the medium-depth riffles. The St. Joe and Kelly Creek haven’t received much attention lately, but cooling water should change that shortly.

Restrictions have been lifted on the Bitterroot, allowing for some great hopper and beetle fishing. On the Blackfoot, streamer fishing is beginning to pick up with the cooler weather. Rock Creek is closed because of fires.

Spiny ray

Three friends and I fished Downs Lake this week and finally found the big perch the lake is known for. We brought home 50 deep-bodied fish ranging from 10-13 inches. Best success came in pockets of clear water at the edge of lily pads on the far end.

Banks Lake is also producing big perch again, said Lou Nevsimal at Coulee Playland Resort. He suggests fishing the deep weed lines and said don’t be afraid to try somewhere new. The Devil’s Punchbowl and Steamboat Rock are well known, but there are perch all over the lake.

Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake are not giving up many walleye these days, although Potholes smallmouth fishing is still good. Water temperatures back in the dunes are extremely high. Little Goose Lake in the Desert Wildlife Refuge is said to be producing good catches of perch and walleye.

The larger Banks Lake walleye are suspended in 25-40 feet over deep water, though you can still find them in 30 feet of water on the flats and at 40 feet in the main basin. The twilights have the best fishing.

Spokane tournament angler Bob Ploof recently fished the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt for walleye from above Buoy 5 to the Indian Cemetery, but said there wasn’t much action. The main lake, however, was a little better south of Hunters to Two Rivers. Ploof said the walleyes are probably hanging out in deep water during the day and coming into the shallows later. He suggested fishing the main points and weed beds at night.

Walleye anglers on Rufus Woods are catching fish downstream from the launch trolling spinners along the current seams and breaks during times of high water release from Grand Coulee Dam.

Other species

The pikeminnow bounty fishery on the Snake and Columbia River is still going strong. Almost 7,000 fish were checked in last week.

Through Sept. 30, Columbia River anglers may catch and retain legal-size white sturgeon downstream from Bonneville Dam to the Wauna power lines near Cathlamet. Only 5,200 of the 14,500 white sturgeon available for harvest under the 2007 recreational quota for that area have been taken so far this year.

Tuna anglers out of Westport are finding fish 70 miles out. A two-day chartered trip will set you back about $500. Casting for surfperch at Westport is a lot cheaper and a lot of fun. For details, stop by Angler Charters and talk to Jim Jackson.


Fall upland hunting starts Sept. 1 in both Idaho and Washington with seasons for mourning doves and forest grouse, as well as cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares. The Idaho Sandhill crane season also begins. Grouse populations appear to be somewhat higher this year.

Early archery seasons are set to begin in select western Washington Game Management Units. The early deer season runs Sept. 1-30, while the elk season runs Sept. 8-21.

In St. John, Washington State Game Bird Biologist Joe McCanna said he is seeing more doves than in the last 13 years. McCanna believes the Washington pheasant season will be slightly better than last year, quail with be about the same and gray partridge will be up somewhat. There could possibly be more chukars on the Washington Snake River breaks than last year, but things do not look too good on the Idaho side, where the Chimney Creek fire burned 55,000 acres of habitat.

Although general black bear hunting got under way in some units earlier this month, the northeast and Blue Mountains units with the greatest densities of bears will open Sept. 4. Finding bears is all about finding their food.

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