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

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Oct. 15

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 14, 2020

By Alan Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

There are a lot of options for fly fishermen on the Spokane River. Riffles will probably be best, but slow water will also yield fish. The streamer bite is on in the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River. Silver Bow Fly Shop suggests dredging the pools with Sparkle Minnows and sculpin patterns.

The Grande Ronde River has seen consistent steelhead action despite the low, clear water. Fish up in the morning and down deeper in the afternoon. A stone/attractor nymph can be good any time of the day. There are definitely more fish in the system this year than last.

Salmon and steelhead

The return of coho salmon up the Columbia River this fall has exceeded expectations. Some 90,000 adult salmon passed over Bonneville Dam as of Sept. 29, a 50% increase over the 10-year average return of 60,000 fish. One place that fishes well for coho is the Columbia River just off the mouth of the Klickitat. Try hover-fishing cured salmon roe just off the bottom to entice strikes from coho and fall chinook.

The Icicle River near Leavenworth opened up for coho on Oct. 1 (a full month earlier than last year), as did the Lower Yakima River and even the Grande Ronde River in Oregon – the first such Grande Ronde opening in 40 years.

The fishing so far has been slow, but rain should help pull these coho into the river. Veteran coho anglers say Blue Fox spinners are best for catching coho, but twitching jigs can also be deadly.

October is considered by many to be the best month to fish the Hanford Reach, and this could be the best year since 2015. The run forecast had been upgraded again, and a total of 514,000 fall chinook are expected to enter the Columbia River this year.

Anglers are still catching quite a few chinook salmon below Wells Dam. Trolled Super Baits have been effective.

The Idaho steelhead run is looking much better than those in the past three years. Over 95% of the hatchery steelhead returning to the Clearwater River this year spent two years in the ocean.

Based on the fish handled at the Lower Granite Dam fish trap, these steelhead are fat and healthy. The daily limit in the Clearwater River is two fish of any size.

Trout and kokanee

The largest Rufus Woods triploids are generally not found in the shallower water by the net pens but in the deeper pools with bottom structure. You’ll probably get snagged a lot, but the rewards are worth it.

Lake Roosevelt rainbow are beginning to hit with more regularity. Angler reports from Swawilla Basin, the Goat Farm, Keller and the mouth of the San Poil have all indicated a better bite. Muddler Minnows trolled at 20 feet are working well.

Roosevelt trout always move up in the water column this time of year.

Brown trout are congregating to spawn and moving up in the water column, and Rock Lake is one of the best places to find them.

Try trolling a Needlefish or Rapala along the cliffs to the right of the boat launch or on the big shelf straight out from the launch. Clear Lake is also good for brown trout, as is Waitts, which also has a lot of 13- to 15-inch rainbow.

Spiny ray

The Berkley Big Bass Tournament on Potholes Reservoir has been rescheduled for May 2021. In the meantime, Potholes is fishing well for bass and walleye.

Potholes Reservoir is 10 degrees warmer than it was at this time last year. Bass fishing has been good and walleye and bluegill fishing fair. The overall bite is expected to improve as the water cools.

Lake Coeur d’Alene pike fishing continues to improve and should be good by the end of the month.

Other species

Shellfish managers have approved six more days of razor clam digging, starting Friday, after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.

Diggers should come prepared with good lighting devices and always keep an eye on the surf, particularly at this time of year when low tides come at dusk and after dark.

The approved razor clam digs along with low tides and beaches, are:

  • Friday, 7 p.m., -0.7; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Saturday, 7:47 p.m., -1.3; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Sunday, 8:35 p.m., -1.5; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Monday, 9:24 p.m., -1.4; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Tuesday, 10:16 p.m., -1.0; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Wednesday, 11:12 p.m., -0.5; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis


The waterfowl season opens Monday in much of Idaho, and has been open since Oct. 3 in eastern Idaho and Valley County (Area 2). The season opener for duck hunting in Area 1, which includes most of the state, was shifted later this year, so that the 107-day season ends as late as allowed within the federal framework, on Jan. 31. A shorter scaup season opens Nov. 7 in Area 1.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has approved putting a limit on reduced-price over-the counter deer and elk hunts for nonresident disabled American veterans.

Because of this, they are expected to sell out quickly when they go on sale Dec. 1 . This change affects only nonresident DAV tags, so availability of resident DAV tags remains unchanged. The new limit is part of an ongoing effort to reduce hunter congestion because crowding is affecting hunter satisfaction.

Washington quail hunters say they are finding some nice-sized coveys next to burned BLM land in the Davenport/Creston area, but on a recent drive past the Swanson Lakes turnoff, there was nothing but fire-blackened terrain for as far as I could see.

If you have the legs for it, there seem to be plenty of quail this year around the hillside blackberry patches along the Snake River all the way to Lewiston. Hunters also report seeing some big coveys of gray partridge and chukars, but with the wet weather this week, the birds will move away from the river.

Washington’s general deer season opens Saturday and is expected to be much better than the past three years. Good numbers of yearling bucks are evident north of Spokane.

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