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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Sports >  Outdoors

Alan Liere’s fish and game report for Sept. 1

Fly Fishing

The Spokane River has been the most consistent producer for fly fishermen and it doesn’t matter what time of the day you’re on the water. Silver Bow Fly Shop recommends soft hackles behind a streamer, or just a single streamer. Big foam bugs with a bead head or jig nymph under it is a good call through the shallow riffles where many of the trout are holding.

Clearwater River steelhead numbers are lower than average but fly fishermen probing the riffles and heavier currents are finding a few fish. It’s still a little early for Grande Ronde steelhead but until it picks up smallmouth bass will scratch your fly fishing itch.

Salmon and steelhead

Harvest season for steelhead opens Thursday in the Snake, Salmon and Lower Clearwater rivers, and for fall chinook in the Snake, Clearwater, and a short section of the Lower Salmon. The chinook forecast is for 38,200 hatchery and naturally spawned fish to return to Idaho, which should provide excellent late-summer and fall fishing.

Through Aug. 30, about 105,000 fall chinook had crossed Bonneville Dam, and of those, 3,242 had crossed Lower Granite Dam. The Bonneville count so far is above the five-year average. This year’s steelhead run is expected to be about average at 70,000 hatchery fish – lower than the five-year average but higher than last year.

Chinook anglers are finding a few fish in the Hanford Reach area of the Columbia. Successful anglers have been on the water early. Drano Lake has provided good action at times for trollers.

Catch rates have been low at the Buoy 10 salmon fishery. Because of this, the chinook mark selective regulation will be lifted two days sooner than scheduled. Chinook retention on Sunday and Monday will include any fish – hatchery or wild. The Buoy 10 fishery is scheduled to close for chinook retention on Sept. 6, but the area will remain open for hatchery coho. The fishery is scheduled to re-open for chinook retention on Oct. 1.

Trout and kokanee

Three friends and I got out on Loon Lake on Tuesday night between squalls that kicked up some good-sized waves. Once the wind quit, we put four limits in the boat in less than two hours. The fish are just starting to lose some of their sheen.

Working the Bar early is still the big fish ticket on Lake Chelan. Troll a T4 Flatfish in at 1.1 mph within 5 feet of the bottom. Several mackinaw over 15 pounds have been landed recently. Info: Darrell and Dad’s Family Guide Service, (866) 360-1523. Dave Grove, of Captain Dave’s Guide Service, says perseverance will still be rewarded when fishing for the big Lake Roosevelt kokanee. On a trip this week, he said the best depth was 75 feet but the bite was sporadic. He noted that the big fish caught did not show any sign of spawning this year. This could make for some great fall and winter fishing.

Conconully Lake and Conconully Reservoir both have excellent kokanee fishing now. The fish in the lake are hitting 13 inches with a few over 14 inches, and the fish in the Reservoir are 11-12 inches. They are suspended at 35 feet over deeper water.

Spiny ray

Anglers are catching some decent-sized largemouth and bluegill at Liberty Lake. Liberty also has perch and crappie.

Walleye anglers near Kettle Falls have been finding steady action for “eating size” fish. Bottom bouncers and spinners with nightcrawlers or Slow Death rigs have been effective.

Sprague Lake largemouth action is not as torrid as it was a few weeks ago, but anglers tossing wacky-rigged Senkos are taking some quality fish. A friend caught one this week weighing over 5 pounds.

Potholes Reservoir walleye fishing is just picking up again and some big crappie are also beginning to show, along with good-sized perch. Go with artificials, as bait fishermen are having a hard time keeping the bullheads off. At Mardon Resort, Rob Harbin says the largemouth fishing in front of the dunes has been outstanding. He had a 20-fish day earlier in the week which included a lot of 3- and 4-pounders.

Spokane resident Mark Mills, who probably fishes for pike on Lake Coeur d’Alene more than anyone, says it is interesting how he waits all winter for the lake to warm up so the fish will bite, but then waits through the late summer months for the water to cool down so the fish will bite. He says when the water temperature gets down to the mid-50s, the action will increase substantially. Mills is still catching pike, but his numbers are down.

Fish Lake in Chelan County has a lot of decent-sized perch, with a limit of 25. With non-stop action, this is a great time to be on the water with a boatload of kids. Nearby Roses Lake has some good largemouth and bluegill fishing, and some of the biggest bluegill in Washington state are biting at Wapato Lake, also in Chelan County.

Other species

The Snake River isn’t the only place to catch channel catfish this summer. Much closer to home, Liberty Lake has a good population. While they aren’t as large as those in the Snake, the nighttime bite can provide plenty of action. Fernan Lake in Idaho also has channel cats.


The 2016 Idaho mourning dove, sandhill crane, and early Canada goose seasons opens on Thursday, as do doves, rabbits and grouse in Washington. Idaho grouse opened Aug. 30 with some restrictions in Area 1. Check your regs. The mourning dove season in both states runs through Oct. 30, with a daily bag limit of 15. Dove hunting should be fair and grouse hunting good.

Idaho’s sandhill crane season runs through Sept. 15, with seasons extending to Sept. 30 in three hunt areas. The daily limit is two birds for all hunts. The Idaho early Canada goose hunt will run through Sept. 15 in Bear Lake and Caribou counties, and that portion of Bingham County within the Blackfoot Reservoir drainage. The daily bag limit is five and the possession limit is 15 during this time period.

Archery hunts for all Washington deer species open today. A lot of animals were lost to blue-tongue disease last year, but many areas still harbor good populations of mature bucks and there appear to be a lot of 2-year-olds. Archery elk open Sept. 10.

Black bear become legal targets today in the Blue Mountains of Washington, GMUs 145-154 and 162-186, as do cougar in most hunting units. Bear opened Aug.30 in Idaho, except in Hunt No. 8501, where it opens Sept. 15.

An early Washington goose season will run Sept. 10-15 in Goose Management Areas 1 and 3. Area 2 will run Sept. 2-11 and Area 4 and 5 will run Sept. 10 and 11. The daily limit in all areas will be five, and 15 in possession.

Contact Alan Liere at

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