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Monday, December 9, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Matt Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Oct. 18

By Matt Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

Fly fishing has been very good in shallows at the south end of Amber Lake. A rule of thumb for this time of year is “go big, deep and slow.” Fishing remains good along the whole length of the Clark fork. Browns have been chasing streamers on the upper end, with rainbows gorging themselves on nymphs below Missoula.

This is great time to fish streamers up on The Blackfoot. Big fish are starting to put on the weight as winter approaches. The Bitterroot and Rock Creek are also fishing well, but cold weather will negatively affect the fly fishing.

Salmon and steelhead

There’s still time to get your gear together for the annual “King of the Reach” salmon derby out of the Tri-Cities this weekend. Participants will compete for prizes on otherwise closed waters to catch wild chinook which will be transported live to Priest Rapids Fish Hatchery to become broodstock for another generation of fish. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at businesses in Tri-Cities, or at the Vernita or White Bluffs boat launches where registration and fish collecting will take place.

Trout and kokanee

The WDFW will stock 55 Washington lakes with catchable-size trout in October and November of 2018. Although no plants are scheduled for Spokane County, on November 15, Deep, Burke, Lenice and Nunnally in Grant County, and Cow Lake in Adams County, will receive substantial plants of trout running 0.4 pounds each. Rock Lake has already received 29,000 trout running 0.33 pounds each, and Elton Pond in Yakima County will get 2,000 trout weighing 1.2 pounds each on November 24.

Although some lakes stay open through November and others are year-round, many Washington trout lakes not already closed will be closed after October 31. Check pages 86-94 in the Washington Sport Fishing guide to be sure you are fishing legally.

Waitts and Sprague lakes remain open year-round. Trolling Kekeda flies can be effective at both lakes, but still-fishing with worms and marshmallows at Sprague is better at times than trolling. Sprague’s trout are running mostly 15-18 inches with some 5-pound lunkers taken fairly frequently. Waitts Lake trout are a consistent 12-15 inches.

Fish Lake, near Lake Wenatchee, is booting out fat 13-inch rainbow, but it also has some triploids weighing over 10 pounds. There is also a good ratio of carryover rainbow in the catches at Jameson this fall. Located in Douglas County, the lake closes October 31.

Bonaparte Lake in Okanogan County began making the news this summer, producing tiger trout up to 10 pounds. The 150-acre lake is still producing some big fish and is open year-round. Bonaparte also has brook trout which typically bite well in the fall, and it is a popular ice fishing destination.

Spiny ray

Anglers launching at Ft. Spokane on Lake Roosevelt and trolling up the tribal side with Slow Death rigs behind a spinner are doing very well on walleye up to 22 inches. The fish are deep—50-100 feet—so either bring them in slowly to lessen the chances of them getting “the bends,” or plan on keeping the small fish, too.

Friends fished the Pend Oreille River near Newport recently and said the smallmouth fishing was excellent. They were dragging jigs for most of their catch and also caught a couple largemouth and two 23-inch northern pike.

Other species

The WDFW has approved an evening-only, 4-day razor clam dig, beginning today, on Mocrocks and Copalis beaches in Twin Harbors. The schedule alternates days and beaches, diggers must be licensed, and no digging may be done on either beach before noon. For a complete list of rules and regulations before you make the trip, visit


Hunting for Washington elk with modern firearms begins Saturday. The best opportunities are in the southeast district of the Blue Mountains where there are more elk overall and traditionally milder winter weather. GMU 166 has had the highest success rate for general season hunters recently, but also has one of the higher densities of hunters because it’s mostly U.S. Forest Service and WDFW-owned lands. A portion of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness extends into this GMU and offers backcountry hunting opportunities.

Central district elk hunting in Washington is mostly on private lands in GMUs 124, 127, and 130. However, elk appear to be expanding into new areas and harvest in GMUs 139 and 142 has been on the rise. Some of these appear to be elk that move back and forth between Idaho and Washington, so timing and access to private lands is the key. Hunters on private lands in GMU 130 have the highest success, probably benefiting from animals moving on and off Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. Northeast district elk are widely scattered in small groups in dense forestland, making them both difficult to survey and to hunt. The best northeast elk hunting opportunities are in the Pend Oreille sub-herd area, which includes GMUs 113, 117, and 111.

Modern rifle deer hunting for whitetail and muleys in Washington is either closed already or closes tomorrow. The late season runs November 10-19. The late either-sex turkey season runs through December.

Contact Alan Liere at

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