As water temperatures drop, so does a fish’s body temperature, and it doesn’t need to feed as much. At Swede’s Fly Shop on Garland, Allen Petersen recommends using small dry flies like BWOs, Adams, Royal Wulffs and small bead-head nymphs like Princes, Hares Ears or Copper Johns. Also try to fish when the trout are the most active during the day, paying particular attention to lunar cycles. On a full moon, trout will feed all night long and will back off slightly as daybreak transitions. You can fish later in the day when the trout are feeding more aggressively.
Steelhead fishing near Heller’s Bar and below Bridge Rapids near the mouth of the Grande Ronde has picked up using an October Caddis nymph patterns in both orange and purple.
Salmon and steelhead
The coho fishing on the Icicle River has picked up considerably since the rains earlier in the week. The stretch from the below the hatchery to the launch site is seeing the most activity from anglers throwing large, colorful jigs.
Steelhead fishing on the Snake River has been surprisingly good. Steelhead runs may not have turned the corner, but they appear to be headed that way.
At Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene, Jeff Smith said the chinook bite is “not too bad.” In less than two hours of trolling the big lake this week, he caught a 6- and a 9-pounder. Smith said the fish are scattered, but he considers the peak time for numbers will be in November. These chinook are deep – 90 to 120 feet, hitting helmeted herring behind a flasher.
Trout and kokanee
Lake Roosevelt rainbow usually begin migrating to the north end about this time of year when the water temperature begins to cool. Anglers have made some good catches near Gifford Ferry and Hunters, trolling at about 30 feet down. Friends also did well this week trolling near Hawk Creek for cookie-cutter 16-inchers, and some nice catches have been reported from way up the Spokane Arm. When the water begins to drop this winter, Roosevelt rainbow will head south again toward the dam.
Potholes Reservoir trout fishing has picked up in front of the state park. At MarDon Resort, Pete Fisher said most of these rainbow are running 2-5 pounds. He recommends trolling a Flicker Shad at around 2 mph, but if you’d rather fish from shore, Power Bait has been good at Medicare Beach.
Rock Lake brown trout are moving in closer to shorelines to spawn. Trolling in the shallower water gets better each day, and rainbow are being found in the same water. Other good places to try for browns are Clear, Jump-Off-Joe and Waitts. Sacheen Lake has some nice trout, a good place to try for several species.
Lake Bonaparte in Okanogan County became rather famous last year for its big tiger trout. Although you’re more likely to find a 14-incher than a 14-pounder, these pretty fish are moving into shallower water and are fun to catch. Target them with small jerk baits or trolled flies and small spinners. Other good places for tiger trout now that they have moved in shallower are Sacheen and (until it closes at the end of October) Loon, which has some large fish.
Big rainbow are hitting on top at Lake Pend Oreille. Planer boards and flies are effective, as are Apex lures at no more than 30 feet down.
Silver Lake in Spokane County is almost a sure thing for small bluegill and perch close to shore, but the lake also has some big largemouth bass. Anglers have been taking them on plugs that look almost too large.
Potholes Reservoir walleye and bluegill fishing has been only fair this week, but largemouth bass are still hitting aggressively back in the dunes and in deeper water on the face of the dunes. When fishing Potholes this weekend, remember that duck season is in progress. To maintain good will, do your fishing away from an obvious decoys spread.
Lake Roosevelt walleye are biting in relatively shallow water along weed beds in the Spokane Arm. Start in 20 feet of water and adjust your depth for the deeper fish, which have generally been larger.
At Fisherman’s Cove Resort on Curlew Lake, Jack Beck said the perch bite doesn’t let up much in the fall, and anglers washing worms in about 20 feet of water are still filling 5-gallon buckets.
Coeur d’Alene pike anglers say the fish seem rather sluggish and there hasn’t been much size this October. Jerk Baits and big swim baits usually do well, but so far, small fish on small spoons and spinnerbaits are the norm. The lake’s smallmouth are deep – at least 50 feet down. Go with a half-ounce jig and a twin tail grub or a heavy drop-shot rig.
Another place to try for smallmouth is the Pend Oreille River. Crawdad pattern jigs, plastics and plugs are all good, and drop-shotting over a rocky bottom can be deadly.
Regional Fish Program Manager Chris Donley said he and his family recently returned from a razor clam dig at Long Beach. He said the clams were “big and plentiful” and they had good digging even two hours before low tide.
Washington’s general whitetail and mule deer seasons began last Saturday and run through Tuesday. Despite optimistic reports about increased numbers of whitetail, this opener was similar to last year’s. Pressure is up in most units. The late-season whitetail season runs Nov. 7-19.
Waterfowl seasons are in effect in Idaho and Washington. Numbers haven’t been great, but that will improve soon when the Canada birds arrive.
Hunters in the Idaho Chain Lakes reported seeing a lot of widgeon and fair numbers of mallards last week.
In Washington, Grant County was probably the best waterfowl destination for last weekend’s opener.
Local birds made up the bulk of the take with a lot of young mallards in the mix. A few lucky hunters got some good shooting on specklebellies in the fields around Moses Lake.
Brian Gaston, private land biologist for Spokane and Whitman County, said numbers are up for all upland species. Gray partridge and chukars, particularly, have brought off some big hatches, and pheasants appear to have re-nested successfully after the wet spring.
Hunters are likely to encounter a lot of young birds.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.