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Saturday, December 14, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 33° Partly Cloudy
Sports >  Outdoors

Alan Liere’s weekly fish and game report

Fly Fishing

Amber Lake cutthroat are enthusiastic about bloodworm patterns on a slow retrieve. Rufus Woods triploids have been active in some of the bays, hitting dark patterns, and Medical Lake ‘bows and browns are becoming more active.

The Spokane River is still producing some good fishing. The trout have been fairly active throughout the day, but morning and early evenings are best. Nymphs are good and the streamer game is picking back up, says Sean Visintainer at Silver Bow Fly Shop.

Cooler weather and recent precipitation have caused all drought restrictions to be lifted in the Yakima Basin.

The Methow River re-opened last week for steelhead. The river is very low and clear, but fishing has been good. Steelhead fishing is still going strong on the Grande Ronde River. The Clearwater is not as consistent but there are steelhead in the river and more coming.

Salmon and steelhead

Steelhead anglers dragging lighted plugs at night are catching more fish from the Snake River than the bobber and shrimp crowd.

The Chinook fishery on the mainstem Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam now has a limit of six Chinook, with or without adipose fins. Three may be adult fish. The intent of the liberalized limit is removal of excess hatchery fall chinook from the Upper Columbia River Basin.

Chinook counts are still high at Bonneville Dam. As of Oct. 18, the count at stood at 935,612. On the same date, passage of fall Chinook over McNary Dam climbed to 479,702.

Anglers fishing in the Hanford Reach averaged 5.4 angler hours per fish last week but most of the fish were more fit for smoking than the barbecue. The Reach will remain open through Oct. 31 from the wooden powerline towers downstream. Upstream it is closed.

The recreational salmon fishery is now closed in Marine Area 10, the portion of Puget Sound stretching between Seattle and Bremerton. State fishery managers said the early closure is necessary to meet conservation objectives for wild chinook. The area was originally scheduled to be open through January.

Trout and kokanee

Many Eastern Washington lakes will be closed after the end of October. Williams and Badger in Spokane County will remain open with no limits through Sunday. Fishing at Williams, particularly, has been good.

At Diamond Lake, trollers are catching some nice rainbow. Waitts Lake rainbow and browns are moving back up in the water column. A muddler-type fly trolled down the middle with or without a dodger will bring action at about 15 feet.

Rock Lake rainbow and browns are hitting fairly regularly if you can get past the steelhead planted there this spring. Anglers are finding they have to go deeper to get below these smaller fish.

Near Lincoln, A Rock has been good for the smaller rainbow planted last spring in Lake Roosevelt. The fish are usually no deeper than 25 feet, and the orange and perch Kekeda fly is again doing the damage. Dodgers are not necessary, but tip the hook with a piece of nightcrawler. Second choice is an Apex. Anglers trolling out of Hunters have also taken some nice kokanee and rainbow on Kwikfish. Shore fishermen are taking trout with bait at Fort Spokane.

Spiny ray

Potholes Reservoir continues to pump out walleye. Many are 15-16 inches long, but there are good numbers of fish 20 inches and longer. Only one keeper can be 22 inches or longer, however, and citations were issued this week for violators. Trolling Slow Death rigs with a Smile Blade has been the key in front of the dunes. Most walleye fishermen are also keeping a few jumbo perch.

Reports from Moses Lake indicate the bass fishing, particularly for smallmouth, is on fire. One angler said he caught 40 smallmouth in one day, several over 5 pounds.

Loon and Deer lakes close after Saturday, but the bass are active now and anglers who target them are having plenty of action. Long Lake, too, is good for both largemouth and smallmouth as well as northern pike, and Silver Lake largemouth are biting. Eloika Lake is loaded with largemouth, but a weedless offering is needed.

A recent bass tournament on the Chain Lakes in Idaho saw limited numbers but good-sized fish. On Lake Coeur d’Alene, bass fishing has been slow – as has the pike fishing.


Washington whitetail deer hunters have through Oct. 27 to fill their tags in some units and through Oct. 30 in other units. Check the regulations. Recent rains have quieted the woods and whitetail success has been good. Mule deer will be open through Oct. 27 only for modern firearm. The late general season whitetail hunt begins Nov. 7 and runs through Nov. 19.

The Eastern Washington pheasant season opens Saturday and runs through Jan. 18. WDFW predicts hunters will find more birds than last year, but pheasant numbers are nowhere close to the glory years of the 60s and 70s.

California quail brought off large broods in Washington and Idaho, but they tend to be more spread out and do not hold as well when the weather is warm. A few more good frosts should change that, but don’t look for great hunting until early December.

Washington and Idaho bird hunters should really take advantage of this year’s concentrations of ruffed and blue grouse. Deer hunters report seeing large coveys of birds everywhere on public land.

After a three-day closure, ducks open again in Washington this Saturday. If the weather cooperates, many of the record number of ducks on northern breeding grounds this spring should begin filtering into Washington and Idaho around mid-November. Right now, duck hunters in the Columbia Basin say hunting is poor.

The modern rifle elk season begins Oct. 31 in Washington.

Contact Alan Liere at

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