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Tuesday, October 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Weekly hunting and fishing report

Fly fishing

October is the final month to fish many of the region’s popular trout-stocked waters, but Rocky Ford Creek in Grant County offers great prospects throughout the year. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recently improved the Rocky Ford Fish Hatchery No. 1 access site and fortified the ADA accessible fishing pier, making catch-and-release opportunities more attractive.

The Snake’s dropping water temperatures along with an increasing number of steelhead going over Lower Granite Dam should push more fish into the Grande Ronde. Fishing has been fair down from Shumaker since mid-September, but the steelhead are beginning to nose upriver. Nymphing small traditionals and caddis should pick up fish, but a stonefly or attractor nymph dropped into faster water will likely up the ante.

Nymphing October caddis and mahoganies in the morning on the North Fork Coeur d’Alene is producing fish, particularly in the lower and midstretches of the river. Switching to dries tends to generate better results later in the day.

The experts at Silver Bow Fly Shop report dependable fishing in the upper and lower stretches of the Spokane River. The faster riffles and seams have been solid, consistently giving up fish to nymphing a Prince or Pat’s Rubber Legs.

Trout and kokanee

Lake Chelan fisherman are enjoying a steady bite, pulling chunky rainbows and cutthroat from 20-25 feet of water on dodgers, Cha Cha Squidders and Wedding Rings. Lake trout action is also on the rise. Bottom trolling an Ace Hi-Fly at 1.2-1.5 mph is the hot ticket, according to Joe Heinlen of Lake Chelan Adventures, He recommends varying speeds in the zone – slowing, then quickly speeding up – to entice the fish to strike. Trout and kokanee fishing remains open through March 31. Lakers can be pursued year-round.

Curlew Lake has excellent trout fishing this time of year yet receives little pressure. Dock fisherman have been hauling 18- to 22-inch rainbows off the bottom with PowerBait, provided they can outcrank the tiger muskies looking for an easy meal.

Kokanee fishing in Coeur d’Alene remains good. A generous limit of 15 fish makes it easy to overlook the 9- to 10-inch size. For larger kokes, try trolling Loon Lake through October. There’s a limit of 10.

Salmon and steelhead

Fishery managers project 1.2 million fall chinook will return to the Columbia River this year, a revision down from the forecasted 1.5 million.

“Heavy rain in September moved a bunch of fresh fish into the river, which will help keep this fishery going for weeks to come,” WDFW fish biologist Joe Hymer said. “With more than a month to go, this year’s catch of fall chinook could still set a new record.”

The Snake River is shaping up to be a solid bet for steelhead and salmon. Longlining off the wall at Little Goose Dam is producing a mixed bag of both, and many are B-run steelhead averaging 12-18 pounds. Just above the dam, anglers are catching steelhead on bobbers and shrimp, while fisherman at Lyons Ferry Hatchery are landing salmon on Nordic Jigs. Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing the Snake. All fish with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed.

Activity on Hanford Reach is rising with the arrival of cooler weather and water, with 300,000 chinook salmon expected to return this year.

“Anglers have a great opportunity to catch bright, good-eating fish through the first half of the month,” said Paul Hoffarth, a fish biologist for the WDFW. “But these fish come to the Reach ready to spawn and they start turning dark later in October.”

The salmon fishery is open through Oct. 31 from the Highway 395 Bridge in Kennewick, upstream to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford town site, but will close on Oct. 22 from the old Hanford town site to Priest Rapids Dam. Fisherman should anticipate lengthy waits at the launches.

Closer to Spokane, Coeur d’Alene Lake offers chinook chasers additional options. According to Jeff Smith of Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop, trolling flashers and Mini-Squids at 90 feet in front of the golf course on the north end will attract the most bites and boost the odds of hooking a nice landlocked salmon.

Spiny ray

Potholes anglers fishing the banks of the dunes or Perch Point continue to bring home mixed bags of spiny ray as the fall action surges. Walleye averaging 18 inches and perch running 10-12 inches can be expected. Trolling plugs and chartreuse spinners with bottom bouncers in 10-12 feet of water seems to be the most effective. Bass, crappie and bluegill round out the variety available this time of year.

Pike in Coeur d’Alene Lake are showing signs of fall aggressiveness as they hammer jerk baits tossed toward the lake edges and weed lines. Sportsmen throwing crank and spinner baits are also experiencing bending rods and straightened hooks. They’re finding fish in 10-15 feet of ultraclear water, making for spectacular displays. Reports of 30-plus-inch fish are not unusual.

Coeur d’Alene’s largemouth bass are beginning to bunch up, making them harder to locate. Once found, however, the action can be outstanding. Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop said pitching into the wood using jigs with trailers is a good bet for these lunkers. Bass action appears to be ramping up in the Coeur d’Alene Chain Lakes.

Walleye anglers have discovered a decent bite in the back eddies of the Columbia near Northport. Casting jigs near the shoreline, or using bottom bouncers normally yields favorable outcomes.

Other species

The first razor clam dig of the season occurred Tuesday at Twin Harbors and Long Beach. The WDFW has tentatively scheduled another set of digs beginning Oct. 22, pending the results of future toxin tests. For more information, visit the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa .gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams /current.html.


The general waterfowl season begins Saturday across Washington and in Idaho’s waterfowl Area 2. The sloughs off the Chain Lakes in Idaho’s panhandle are projected to harbor a good number of local birds, including mallards, wigeon, teal and wood ducks. Hunters in both states will rely on local birds and early migrants until colder, Canadian air pushes more birds down.

Pheasant also opens Saturday for Idaho hunters in Area 1. Washington State hunters and Idaho hunters in Areas 2 & 3 will have to wait until Oct. 18 to hit the field. This year’s mild winter and dry spring created mixed conditions for production. Better numbers than last year are expected.

The general season for Washington and Idaho deer coincides with the waterfowl opener Saturday. Washington hunters should be aware of antler-point restrictions in specific GMUs.

Contact Alan Liere at

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