According to Silver Bow Fly Shop, fishing on the St. Joe is consistent if you focus on the slower currents and deeper pools. While some of the upper stretches hold fish, the lower parts of the drainage are better. Hatches lately are typical fall insects – October caddis, BWOs, midges, mahoganies and fall caddis.
Good trout fishing is reported on the Clark Fork River near St. Regis, Montana. Hatches have been sparse, but you can see mahoganies, BWOs, midges and October caddis.
The North Fork Clearwater has been good this past week. Red darts, Perdigons, Pat’s Rubber Leg Jig and Twenty Inchers have been effective. Hatches were minimal, but warmer temperatures could get some mahoganies and October caddis going.
Salmon and steelhead
Typically, around 79% of the Clearwater River hatchery steelhead passing over Bonneville Dam will make it to Idaho. That means around 18,000 of these will make it to the Clearwater River. Beginning Oct. 15, the daily limit for steelhead there will be two fish of any size.
Although only hatchery fish may be retained, examine any Clearwater steelhead you catch. Look for an orange or yellow piece of plastic tubing near the dorsal fin. Record the number on the tag and note the river section where you caught the fish and the date you caught it. Report to Idaho Fish and Game either online or by calling 1-866-258-0338.
The Yakima River is open to fishing for chinook and coho salmon through Oct. 18 from the Highway 240 Bridge in Richland to the Grant Avenue Bridge in Prosser. Daily limit is two adults with no limit on jacks.
The adult chinook daily limit has been increased to two on the lower Columbia River from the mouth to The Dalles, Oregon. Dates vary, so check the WDFW fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500. Press 2 for recreational rules. Drano Lake is open for retention of hatchery steelhead through the end of October.
Trout and kokanee
Lake Roosevelt rainbow are scattered throughout the system with most of the fish being fat 16- to 18-inchers. Trolled flies, Apexes and Old Goat lures have been best at 25 feet down.
Blue and Spring lakes within the Wooten Wildlife Area will be stocked with trout before the general deer rifle season opener. The flood of the Tucannon River last spring left the layout a little different, as part of the river runs through the Hartsock Unit instead of along the bottom of the hill.
Also, the footbridge to Watson Lake was washed out and has not been replaced. Watson, Big 4 Lake, and Curl Lake were not stocked with fish this year due to flood damage.
With streams and rivers flowing more slowly in the upper Yakima basin, it is a great time to try for trout. Cutthroat, rainbow and eastern brook trout are the predominant species depending on where you’re fishing in the river.
The upper net pens area on Rufus Woods are still seeing triploid rainbow to 9 pounds. Anglers there say there are a lot of walleye, so if you are targeting triploids, you’ll want to stay off the bottom. Slow death walleye rigs with nightcrawlers are good for either species.
Weed beds in about 15 feet of water in and around Porcupine Bay on Lake Roosevelt hold good numbers of walleye. A lot of them are small, but anglers who can rip a plug or jig through the “grass” are catching some keeper-sized walleyes as well as smallmouth bass. A perch-colored jigging Rap has been effective upriver in some of the deeper holes, but the old standby – spinners and bottom walkers – are also accounting for some nice catches.
Walleye fishing has been good on Potholes Reservoir, and the bluegill bite is still going strong along the face of the dunes and the mouth of Crab Creek. Smallmouth are numerous on the rock piles around Goose Island.
October is an excellent time to fish Sprague Lake for big rainbow trout and largemouth bass.
WDFW said “additional” crappie are being stocked in the lake in an effort to improve the crappie fishery there, although it would take a lot of improving as I have not seen, caught or heard of a crappie being taken from Sprague Lake since the last rehabilitation.
October is a great time to catch walleye below McNary Dam, WDFW biologist Paul Hoffarth said.
Several of the state’s best walleye fisheries are in the region, including the Hanford Reach, the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam and the Columbia River below McNary Dam.
Due to wildfires in September, if you usually hunt private property or timber company land, check with property owners before heading out. Some private properties in Eastern Washington were impacted by fire, and other public and timber lands are closed due to the continued fire danger.
The general season for modern firearm hunting for both white-tailed and mule deer begins Oct. 17. The region’s best white-tailed deer hunting is in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. White-tailed deer are the most abundant in that district while mule deer are usually harvested in GMUs 101 and 121.
The region’s central district (Spokane, Lincoln and Whitman counties) has almost equal hunting opportunities for both white-tailed and mule deer, although most of it is on private property, where securing permission is key. The best white-tailed hunting is usually in GMUs 124 and 127. The best mule deer hunting is in GMUs 136, 139 and 142.
The southeast district, made up of Asotin, Garfield, Columbia and Walla Walla counties, is best known for mule deer. GMUs with the highest success rates (145, 149, 178 and 181) also have the most private land, so access can be limited.
GMUs 166 and 175 have the most public land, but also the lowest success rates, in part due to high hunter numbers.
The modern firearm general season for elk starts in October in Eastern Washington. The best opportunities are in the southeast district of the Blue Mountains where there are more elk overall.
GMU 166 has had the highest success rate for general season hunters in recent years, but also one of the higher densities of hunters because it is made up mostly of public lands. A portion of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness extends into this GMU and offers backcountry hunting opportunities.
Central district elk hunting is mostly on private lands in GMUs 124, 127 and 130, with harvest numbers increasing in GMUs 139 and 142. Hunters on private lands in GMU 130 have the highest success, probably due to its proximity to the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
The best elk hunting in Northeast Washington is in the Pend Oreille subherd area, which includes GMUs 113, 117 and 111.
The pheasant season opens Saturday in North Idaho and Oct. 17 in southern and eastern Idaho.
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