Reports from Aeneas Lake, just southwest of Tonasket, indicate good success using black and white Ice Cream Cone chironomids or dragon and damsel nymphs fished deep with sinking fly lines. The lake has a syphon from the Okanogan River that empties near the northeast corner of the lake. There is good oxygen and depth for 16- to 18-inch rainbows and an occasional brown trout.
Just north of Aeneas is Chopaka Lake. Although higher in elevation, it can be worth the effort to reach via the Chopaka Grade, a road that is not for the casual Sunday driver. The rainbows are selective, but a patient fly fisherman will find the results rewarding.
Loon Lake and Deer Lake are both producing rainbows using Swede’s Flash Caddis trolled slowly with a full sinking line and a 9-foot tapered leader with about 90 feet of line out.
Crab Creek north of Ritzville, beginning at Rocky Ford Bridge and working east to the “S” curves in the creek, can be good. Allen Petersen at Swede’s Fly Shop said there are several impoundments and backwaters that, if approached with stealth and low profile, offer eager rainbows averaging around 12 inches. He said they are gulping mayflies, both surface and subsurface.
Trout and kokanee
Except for an angry confrontation with a boatload of drunken youths who were roaring around Loon Lake in the dark at extreme speeds, Saturday was a perfect night on Loon Lake. While the boat 10 yards away was hauling in the kokanee, two friends and I couldn’t buy a bite. When the other fishermen limited quickly, they invited us to take their spot. We anchored right next to them before they left and began to immediately catch fish. The difference? Everything was the same except that they had been fishing in 37 feet of water and we were in 35.
Bottom bouncers and spinners with nightcrawlers have been accounting for some beautiful Rufus Woods triploid trout averaging 4 pounds. As might be expected with this gear, a lot of walleye are also being landed. Most of the fishing takes place between the first and second set of net pens.
Salmon and steelhead
Some new rules have been established for the Columbia River, from the Buoy 10 line upstream to the Rock Point/Tongue Point Line. The one that will in effect immediately is that through Sept. 22, the daily limit is two and up to two hatchery coho may be retained. All other salmon and steelhead must be released.
Brewster Pool salmon are beginning to swim up the Okanogan River and fishing for chinook and sockeye has slowed considerably.
Fishing remained slow for most anglers this past week on the Hanford Reach, but several nice chinook were landed. This fishery greatly improves after mid-September in most years. A friend trolled near Vernita Bridge late last week with excellent results. His boat landed four chinook, all running close to 20 pounds. Brad’s Super Baits stuffed with tuna were fished within 2 feet of the bottom. He said the fish were in good shape.
The Clearwater confluence has provided fair to good steelhead and chinook action for anglers fishing shrimp under a bobber. A friend who fishes there often has taken keeper fish every time out. Trollers, he said, haven’t done as well.
Perch anglers on Long Lake are catching 9- to 12-inch fish on a fast bite throughout the system by dangling worms in 20 feet of water.
Bass fishermen are finding some nice-sized largemouth on lakes like Clear, Sacheen, Fan, Silver, Newman and Liberty in Washington, and in Hauser, Hayden and Coeur d’Alene in Idaho.
A friend who recently fished Coeur d’Alene Lake for smallmouth said the bite was fast for 12- to 16-inch fish on the bottom in 30 feet of water. He admitted his grandchildren caught more fish dangling a worm than he did drop-shotting plastics.
Potholes Reservoir is a diversified fishery and you never know what you will catch. Reports this week indicated the walleye bite on worm harnesses at the base of the dunes in 25-30 feet of water was good. Anglers also said there are lots of big bluegill, perch, and some nice largemouth and bullheads taken on the same set-up.
Walleye anglers on Lake Roosevelt are catching their fish in a lot of places, including Bradbury Beach, the Kettle River, and from Porcupine Bay to Buoy 5 by fishing the edges in 30-40 feet of water.
Friends and I caught a few upriver from the launch at Northport on a “sturgeon trip” that yielded no sturgeon. The fish were small and skinny, but after staring at the end of a sturgeon rod for five hours, they were a welcome diversion.
Managers from Washington and Oregon have agreed to open the mainstem Columbia River for sturgeon retention on Saturday and Sept. 19, from the Wauna power lines upstream to Bonneville Dam. The sturgeon fishery will also be open on the Cowlitz River on the same days. Much of the lower Columbia River is scheduled to be closed to salmon and steelhead fishing in mid-September, which means fishing should be less crowded for sturgeon anglers during retention days. Anglers may retain only white sturgeon with a fork length between 44-50 inches. Fork length is measured from the tip of the nose to the fork in the tail.
Westport all-depth halibut will open for one additional day on Friday. This opening is in addition to days already proposed to be open.
I still haven’t found any concentrations of doves around Spokane, and a friend fishing the Snake River near Lewiston said he isn’t seeing any either. Perhaps the cold morning the last couple of days will concentrate them, but so far my dove total for this season is one bird and only two shots fired.
Turkey hunters who are so inclined are finding a lot of birds in Eastern Washington and northern Idaho, but participation, as always during the fall season is low. When asked, most turkey hunters will say they prefer the challenge of the spring season when the gobblers are more wary.
If you’ve waited until now to get in “chukar shape,” you’ve probably waited too long. The Washington season begins Oct. 3 along with quail and gray partridge, and the Idaho season runs Sept. 19 – Jan. 31.
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