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Thursday, October 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Fishing & Hunting

Fly fishing

Bead-head nymphs, streamers and the usual midge patterns are accounting for a lot of big trout at Rocky Ford. Sprague and Amber lakes have also been kind to fly fishermen. Sprague is open year-round, but Amber closes at the end of the month.

Steelheaders on the Snake River and its tributaries are having an unusually productive season. Sean Visintainer at the Silver Bow Fly Shop has been guiding on the Grande Ronde and said the steelhead fishing has been excellent. He recommends stonefly nymphs, egg patterns or leeches in black and purple or black and orange.

Salmon and steelhead

The Snake River is still booting out steelhead at a phenomenal rate – one fish for every five hours of angling. The Clearwater is not doing nearly as well at a fish every 29 hours.

Steelhead fishing in the Salmon Region is good. The stretch of water between the North Fork and Corn Creek is a little less crowded than last week. Section 15 from the Middle Fork Salmon River to North Fork had catch rates of 9 hours per fish caught and last week catch rates in section 16 from North Fork to the mouth of the Lemhi River were similar. Anglers are just beginning to fish section 17 from the Lemhi River to the Pahsimeroi River.

If you want to fish steelhead in the Okanogan River, get there soon. It is loaded with hatchery fish but is so slow-moving it will ice over quickly. The bridge in the town of Omak is a popular spot, as is the bank at the south edge of town. A productive float is from the Stampede Grounds to the take-out in the town of Okanogan. Columbia River water temperature has dropped to about 57 degrees and the steelhead have moved a little deeper and closer to the middle of the holes on the Okanogan as well as the Methow.

Chinook fishing on Lake Coeur d’Alene has been fair for mostly 2- to 10-pound fish. They are scattered, but the best fishing has been at midlake. Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers said he has done well recently with a black and glow flasher, 22 inches of leader and a spumoni-colored mini-squid.

Trout and kokanee

Rufus Woods is relatively slow, but fishing for the big triploids appears to be picking up slightly. No one method is a sure thing, but black jigs and Wooly Buggers are working as well as anything.

Lake Roosevelt trout fishing has been so good, trollers are complaining they can’t stay on the water long enough to really enjoy the day. Leaded line, 50 feet of leader and a Frisky Jenny perch fly tipped with worm and trolled at 2.3 mph is a tough combination to beat.

Brown trout are being taken fairly consistently by boat anglers on the north end of Rock Lake. If you are going to run the lake, be sure your depth finder is in good working order. There are frequent reports of lost lower units from collisions with rocks where there shouldn’t be rocks at midlake. Winter is no time to be broken down on Rock Lake.

Anglers fishing from shore are taking six-trout limits at Idaho’s Lake Fernan recently.

Spiny ray

Spiny Ray Anglers throwing subsurface plugs such as Rapala’s Husky Jerk are still finding pike along standing weeds at Lake Coeur d’Alene. There are still good weeds at Wolf Lodge Bay, the mouth of Cougar Bay and by Harlow Point.

November is too early to put away your bass gear, though you’ll have to modify your technique. Like pike, Spirit Lake bass are hanging out on the standing weed lines. The Pend Oreille River is also a good bet for largemouth in the weeds. Fish slowly.

Walleye fishing on the main stem Columbia is beginning to pick up and should remain fairly good throughout the winter. Some of the biggest fish of the year are taken from now on. The water near Bridgeport is a good place to begin. Jigs and spinner rigs are working. There is also a popular spot just below Rocky Reach Dam near the islands visible from the highway.

Other species

Sturgeon catches in the Columbia River Gorge have improved with the higher flows. Bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam averaged a legal kept per every six rods.


The late fall Washington turkey season begins today and runs through Dec. 15 in GMUs 105-124. By purchasing another tag, even hunters who harvested two spring turkeys can take another bird, either sex, during this season. Turkey flocks have become conspicuous lately, feeding in harvested grain fields throughout the region.

As of Tuesday, the Idaho statewide hunter harvest was at 106 wolves. Harvest information is updated as soon as reported, so to find out whether a zone is still open, call (877) 872-3190.

Pheasant hunters who don’t mind venturing farther from home say there are more birds in the Walla Walla/Dayton area than the Palouse this year. A friend and I hunted a tangled CRP field near Winona last Monday afternoon, shooting four pheasants and missing a couple. Oddly, we saw only one hen the entire day. The morning had been spent working our young dogs at the Fish Trap release site without seeing so much as a track. Things could get better, as the release sites are traditionally given some birds for the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Northern mallards have not put in much of an appearance. Idaho’s chain lakes have been good for mallards and widgeons, but there are few birds on the Pend Oreille River and geese seem to outnumber ducks in the Columbia Basin. The situation could change quickly with some nasty weather, but a friend in Alberta said temperatures there are unseasonably warm and ducks are still hanging around open water.

Contact Alan Liere at

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