Dry fly action picks back up the last hour or so before dark on the St. Joe, so if you plan on fishing there, plan on staying late.
It is not often that a store that sells flies and fly fishing gear recommends giving a river a rest, but both Silver Bow Fly Shop in the Spokane Valley and Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d’Alene say the North Fork Coeur d’Alene is so low and warm, it may be a good idea for the trout’s sake to skip fishing plans for this weekend.
Joe Rotter of Red’s Fly Shop in Cle Elum says trout fishing on the Yakima River is good.
The preferred water temperature for rainbow and brown trout is about 55-57 degrees. Water temperatures of 77 degrees or more can be lethal to trout. Check out the latest information on closures on Page O3 (In Brief), and updates will be posted on FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov.
Trout and kokanee
The water at Loon is warming quickly and night fishermen are finding kokanee a couple of feet deeper than last week, when 30 feet was the magic depth. Two friends and I fished Loon Sunday night, however, and we couldn’t find a consistent bite at any depth. We quit after four hours with 17 fish averaging about 10 inches.
Waitts Lake anglers are waiting until dark to fish. Still-fishing with bait has been productive with above-average-sized rainbow and browns caught in about 40 feet of water on the west side.
Night fishing has also been more popular at Deer Lake. Still fishermen anchored in 30-40 feet of water are catching nice-sized ‘bows on nightcrawlers.
Triploid fishing at Rufus Woods Reservoir has been excellent with most fish running 2-3 pounds. Bait fishermen do well near the net pens, but Rapala Shad Raps thrown toward shore have done better.
West Medical usually slows way down when it gets hot, and this summer is no exception. Besides a lethargic bite from mostly smaller fish, the lake is turning green with algae.
Fishing for kokanee on Roosevelt has been very good recently at depths ranging from 35 to 60 feet. Swawilla Basin is mentioned often and most of the fish caught are 17-20 inches. Anglers are not finding any clipped fish, so the limit is usually the first two. Most kokanee that hit a Kekeda fly with a treble stinger make it into the net.
Curlew Lake trout fishermen are catching lots of planters, but a good proportion of the trout are 15-16 inches.
Hayden Lake is still giving up 14- to 16-inch kokanee to anglers trolling Wedding Rings and white corn behind a dodger. The fishing is not fast, but the kokes are fat and feisty.
Lake Coeur d’Alene kokanee are biting on the south end, but the small size (6-9 inches) has limited angler enthusiasm for chasing them.
Salmon and steelhead
The sockeye and Chinook season opened July 1 on the upper Columbia. Near-record numbers are already in the river. If the upgraded TAC forecast is correct, this year’s return of both species could be the second largest on record since at least 1980.
Idaho Fish and Game will close fishing for Chinook salmon on the South Fork Salmon River at the end of fishing hours on Friday. Chinook salmon seasons continue on the Clearwater River upstream of the Orofino Bridge, South Fork Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater, Lochsa, Snake, upper Salmon, and Boise rivers. Changes to the Chinook season and limits may occur on short notice. Anglers can stay current on the changes by calling the Salmon Hotline at 1-855-287-2702.
Harvest of Chinook salmon 24-plus inches in the upper Salmon River (from the mouth of the Pahsimeroi River upstream to 100 yards downstream of the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery) will close at the end of fishing hours on Sunday. Harvest of salmon less than 24 inches will be allowed on upper Salmon River until further notice.
The sockeye fishery kicks off at Baker Lake on July 10 with a four-sockeye limit. A size 0 Big Ring Dodger in chrome and white or purple haze is what worked last year, followed by a Smile Blade and a 2-inch mini squid in ultraviolet or hot pink. Typically, a coonstripe shrimp sweetens the hook. You can check Baker River trap counts at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/salmon/sockeye
Westport and Ilwaco salmon anglers are getting a lot of Coho and quite a few Chinook. The Coho are running 3-6 pounds and the Chinook up to 20 pounds.
Friends who fished Eloika Lake this week said they caught a lot of crappie and small bass by dropping a small jig into holes in the weed mat. They said quite a few of the crappie were over the 9-inch minimum.
Largemouth bass have been hitting at Sprague Lake. For a real thrill, toss a topwater at night against the shoreline.
Silver Lake largemouth are hitting early, but the bite slows dramatically after 10 a.m. You probably won’t catch a lot of fish, but the lake seems to have a larger proportion of willing 4-5 pounders than other local lakes.
Long Lake largemouth have been taking jigs inside the weed lines. There are a lot of smallmouth too.
Barker Flats on Banks Lake seemed to be paved with small walleye this week. A friend said he and his partner caught nearly one hundred fish in one day, but only three met the 16-inch minimum. On Wednesday, the size minimum was dropped to 12 inches with an eight-fish limit. From here on out, limits should be the rule, and anglers are encouraged to keep the smaller fish.
Despite the heat, Potholes Reservoir continues to bring smiles to anglers’ faces with a variety of large walleye, perch and catfish. Most of the fish are being caught in less than 12 feet of water.
High water temperatures have put the larger Coeur d’Alene pike down in the weeds where they are hard to get to. The smaller fish have been more cooperative, hitting spinnerbaits along the weed edges.
Sturgeon fishing is now closed on most of the Snake River for catch-and-keep fishermen. The fish are moving back downstream and the fishery probably won’t get good again until the water cools in the fall. The 2014 regs still indicate sturgeon are open below Lower Granite Dam until July 31 with a limit of one per day, and Aug. 1 to Jan. 31 for catch and release, but an update in the 2015 regs say that due to low adult abundance and size, white sturgeon season ended July 1. Catch and release is still allowed.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.