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Sunday, January 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Alan Liere’s weekly fish and game report for Sept. 15

Alan Liere

Fly fishing

The North Fork Clearwater and Kelly Creek should be a good fly fishing option through mid-October. A lot of new bugs are out, but the fish are still taking late season ant and hopper patterns.

Fishing is good on the Clark Fork now and you don’t need to get up quite so early to catch the bite. Hoppers are still a good choice.

Salmon and steelhead

Effective Thursday, the current two hatchery steelhead daily limit on the Columbia River from McNary Dam upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco is reduced to one through Dec. 31.

Current fall chinook runs in the Snake River are ramping up, and opportunities for catching a salmon are good. The best fishing is generally late September into early October. The Snake River will be open from the Oregon and Washington border to the deadline below Hells Canyon Dam and will remain open until Oct. 30, or until a closure is announced. The reach from Cliff Mountain Rapid to Hells Canyon Dam will remain open until Nov. 17.

Friends fishing the confluence of the Clearwater on Tuesday morning called to say they had landed six steelhead and a chinook – all wild but one steelhead. They were dunking red shrimp under a bobber.

Cut plugs and original Superbaits trolled downstream at Ringold are accounting for a few chinook. The fish are moving in at a good pace now from Hanford to the Vernita Bridge. Anglers at Vernita report catching chrome bright fish.

Anglers will have the opportunity to fish for coho salmon in Lake Washington starting on Friday through Oct. 31 as the number of fish passing through the Ballard Locks in early September indicates a much stronger run than anticipated. Anglers can keep two coho but are required to release chinook and sockeye.

Trout and kokanee

Loon Lake kokanee are beginning to turn, but the flesh is still firm. Both trollers and night fishermen are getting limits, but with the cold nights and the upcoming hunting seasons, this Saturday will be my last outing.

Fish Lake in the Okanogan is a good spiny ray lake – particularly for perch – but recently, anglers are also catching a lot of 11- to 14-inch rainbow.

Deep Lake in Grant County is still a good place to catch a kokanee limit. Wedding Rings are taking fish 35-50 feet down.

The upper Conconully Lake also remains a good choice for kokanee fishermen. The fish are all 14 inches and larger.

Rock Lake rainbow trout are all running about 16 inches. Try trolling a surface or medium diving plug for consistent action.

Kokanee at both Lake Coeur d’Alene and Pend Oreille are “biting like mad” according to Idaho sources. The fish at Coeur d’Alene are still only around 9 inches, but they are meatier than those caught last year. Pend Oreille kokes are meatier yet and running a respectable 10-12 inches. The limit at both lakes is 15 fish.

A friend fishing for kokanee at the mouth of Cavanaugh Bay on Priest Lake said his party recently caught kokanee 14-17 inches. He said they trolled at 45 feet over about 200 feet of water.

Spiny ray

There has been a strong walleye bite at Northport for the last couple of weeks but the fish are small – most only 12-14 inches.

Banks and Potholes Reservoir walleye have been scarce recently. The bite should pick up later in the month, but right now anglers are putting in a lot of hours for very few fish. Largemouth have been more cooperative.

Many lakes throughout the region remain open through October or year-round. Clear Lake in Spokane County still produces good catches of brown trout, crappie, and largemouth bass. Other lakes continue to provide good fishing for bass and panfish, including Spokane County’s Silver, Liberty and Newman.

Leader Lake in Okanogan County is good for a variety of spiny ray in all sizes. Some good crappie reports have come in recently. Find a school on your sonar and then drift and jig through it.

Wapato Lake in the Okanogan is usually mentioned as a cutthroat trout lake, and while it is pretty easy to catch a limit of 13- to 16-inch cutts, the spiny ray fishing can also be outstanding. Wapato perch run to a foot in length and the crappie can be even larger.


Washington forest grouse hunters are asked to deposit one wing and the tail of each grouse harvested into wing barrels around the state, or take them to the closest WDFW office. So far, however, the barrels are getting few donations as the birds have been hard to come by.

Saturday marks the opening day for chukar, quail, gray partridge and sage grouse in Idaho. All bird populations are at least average.

Boaters report seeing good numbers of chukars near the water in Hells Canyon. These birds should stay by the water until wet weather pushes them up. The birds also seem to be everywhere from Vinegar Creek to China Bar on the Salmon in the Frank Church wilderness, and there have been reports of large chukar broods near the Bruneau and East Fork Owyhee Rivers, the hills above Emmett, Andrus Wildlife Management Area and Lucky Peak Reservoir.

Fall turkey in most Idaho GMUs begins Thursday. In Washington, most units open Saturday. Spring survival was good and there are lots of birds.

The Idaho seven-day sage grouse season runs from Saturday through Sept. 23, with a one-bird daily limit and a two-bird possession limit. The 2016 Sage grouse seasons and rules brochure – including a map of areas open to sage-grouse hunting – is available at Fish and Game license vendors and online at the IDFG website.

A two-day youth-only pheasant season begins on Saturday. A five-day early season for over 65 and disabled hunters begins on Monday.

Contact Alan Liere at

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