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Sunday, September 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

Hunting + fishing

Fly fishing

“The St. Joe is on fire,” said Andy Breneman of Silver Bow Fly Shop. “Spruce moths, mahoganies and a few October caddis are out and they’re still catching fish on hoppers.”

Clark Fork River fishing has been hit and miss with some good days on big trout, several sources say. Cooler weather should spur on the mahoganies and a cloudy day should bring on the blue wings.

Yakima River October caddis have been booming on the upper river. A big foam pattern is the evening workhorse for guides.

Trout/kokanee

Lake Coeur d’Alene trollers are having good success at 35-45 feet for kokanee ranging from 8 to 14 inches in Wolf Lodge Bay area.

Sprague Lake trout fishing is picking up, according to reports from resorts. The weeds that plagued anglers in July are dying off; water is clearing. Fish in the most recent fry plant are a foot long; the largest class of fish are more than 4 pounds. Four Seasons Campground has photo of a 6.8-pound rainbow.

High mountain lakes are fishing well this week and a hiking angler will have virtually no competition. Trust me.

Salmon/steelhead

Tons of salmon and steelhead are in the Columbia and Snake rivers. Anglers need cooler water to improve success rates, which have fallen off in the past week.

Here are updated reasons, as of Tuesday, to get excited if you haven’t been following the record run of steelhead surging up the Columbia:

•Wells Dam, the last dam before the Methow, counted 18,039 steelhead. The 10-year average has been 5,659. Hence the reason the Methow might be opened any day.

•Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River has a 10-year average of 81,365 for Sept. 21. This year it was 178,318.

•Lower Granite Dam, the last on the Snake before entering Idaho, had counted more than 132,202 steelhead compared with 71,274 on the same date last year and a five-year average of 48,658. Steelhead continue to pile over the dam at a rate of more than 5,000 a day.

Dworshak Dam operators began filling the reservoir around Sept. 16 and the fluctuating flows have reduced fishing success all the way to the Snake. A surge Thursday afternoon floated driftwood off the shores.

Upper Columbia steelheading is not to be missed this year.

Since Tuesday, all hatchery steelhead are legal to keep with no “double fin clip” requirements in the Columbia from the Highway 395 Bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam. That’s a 35-mile increase in liberalized catch-and-keep water.

“We have so many hatchery steelhead running upstream we’re encouraging anglers to keep them and not release them,” said Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fisheries biologist. “We need to reduce the number of hatchery fish that will compete with native fish on spawning areas upstream.”

The Snake River in Washington is not fishing well for steelhead or chinook in the two stretches open to fishing.

Interest is falling off daily at Ice Harbor Dam area. Steelheaders have done better near Little Goose, but they’re catching few fall chinook, said Glen Mendel, WDFW biologist.

“We need cooler water,” he said. “Anglers are frustrated. They see fish, but they can’t catch them. I just tell them, there’s still plenty of fish coming.”

Some steelhead have moved up the Grand Ronde all the way to Troy, but the water is low and clear and they’re spooky. Many more to come.

Lower Tucannon River steelheaders have been doing better. It cools faster than the main stem and fish hold up there before moving up the Snake.

Hanford Reach salmon anglers have been catching chinook, but not at a torrid rate. Effort was increasing with 112 boat trailers at Vernita on Saturday.

“The fishing really picks up on the Reach when water temps get below 65 and especially when they’re approaching 60 degrees,” Hoffarth said.

The fall chinook harvest is nearly dead-on with last year, which was a good season.

Spiny rays

“People are catching bass and pike (around Lake Coeur d’Alene), but it’s just not prime,” said Randy Gardner at Fins and Feathers Sport Shop. “It’s just going to get better and better as things cool down.”

The Inland Empire Bass Club proved they could lure smallmouths in the 70-degree water of the Snake River last weekend out of Boyer Park. Tony Day of Spokane won with 10 fish totaling 18.46 pounds. Biggest fish: 4.53 pounds.

Hunting

The word for big-game hunters this week: chill.

If you can’t cool the meat of an elk you’ll lose it. Be prepared.

Wolf count: Seven have been reported taken by hunters in Idaho and three in Montana.

Reminder to Idaho elk hunters: It’s bulls only through the end of the archery season this year.

Youth-hunting weekend for hunters younger than 16 begins Saturday.

•In Idaho, they can bag ducks or geese.

•In Washington, they can hunt upland birds as well as waterfowl.

Disabled hunters have some excellent opportunities for hunting deer and elk along closed roads in the Sandpoint Ranger District. Few applications have been received. Deadline to apply for passes is Thursday. Info: (208) 263-5111.

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