Due to wet weather and cooler temperatures, closures and restrictions have been lifted on many Montana rivers and sections of rivers. This includes all rivers in western Montana (Region 2). Fishing closures and restrictions have also been lifted on many rivers east of the Continental Divide, but numerous other rivers in Montana are still under fishing restrictions. For a full list, visit FWP’s website: https://fwp.mt.gov/news/current-closures-restrictions.
Trout and kokanee
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Regional Fish Program Manager, Chris Donley, said he has trolled Badger Lake several times this summer for limits of kokanee now running 12-to-14 inches long.
Two friends and I fished the west side of Loon Lake on Tuesday night, finding an early kokanee bite (beginning at 8:30 p.m.) that slowed considerably after 10 p.m. It was an unusual night of fishing as there were a lot of bluegill mixed with the kokanee in 33 feet of water, and we caught many of them in addition to the 28 kokes we ended up with. In addition to the bluegill and kokanee, we caught a crappie, a sunfish, a perch, a bullhead, and a beautiful 18-inch tiger trout.
Reports from Montana claim the kokanee bite on Lake Koocanusa is picking up again after the hot weather. Koocanusa kokes are running 9 to 13 inches and hitting at about 30 feet down. The limit is 50. The big Koocanusa rainbow generally begin biting in late October.
Steelhead and salmon
The retention season for Snake River steelhead begins Wednesday, but as of Aug. 23, only 23 fish had been counted at Lower Granite Dam and 1,044 at Bonneville.
The Buoy 10 salmon fishery near Astoria has taken off. Anglers are reeling in limits of chinook, and the coho are also beginning to show.
Fishing for fall chinook will open Wednesday on the North Fork Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam. Full seasons and rules brochures are now available on the Chinook fishing webpage. The Aug. 23 chinook count at Lower Granite Dam was 61 fish. At Bonneville, it was almost 5,000.
Fishing for coho salmon in the following areas will open Wednesday, seven days per week:
- Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to the confluence of the South Fork and Middle Fork Clearwater rivers.
- North Fork Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam.
- Middle Fork Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to Clear Creek.
- South Fork Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to the confluence of Red and American rivers.
At Potholes Reservoir, largemouth bass fishing is good and big crappie, bluegill, and perch are being caught on the face of the sand dunes and around the mouth of Crab Creek.
Curlew Lake perch are easy to find off weed beds in 10-to-20 feet of water. As the Curlew Lake perch population grows, the fear is they will become stunted. Currently, they are running 9-10 inches, but when I first started fishing the lake five years ago, 10 inches was the average.
Sturgeon are still being caught occasionally from Lake Roosevelt, with a “keeper” coming in now and then. The most consistent reports have been from just south of the Kettle Falls launch.
For the first time in nearly 50 years, the Washington forest grouse season will not open Sept. 1, but rather Sept. 15. The dove season will commence, however, with the usual Sept. 1 opener. The Idaho grouse season will begin Monday, as will the dove season. Both dove and grouse numbers appear to be down this year.
There will be an early goose season this year in eastern Washington in GMUs 4 and 5, limit 5 Canada geese. Washington youth hunters can hunt pheasants, quail, chukar and gray partridge Sept. 18-19. In Idaho, there will be an early goose season in area 3 from Sept. 1-5.
Private WDFW Land Biologist, Brian Gaston, said pheasant brood surveys in eastern Washington indicate this season will be about the same as last. Quail numbers may be a little higher than last year, but not many grey partridge have been reported. Chukar counts are no longer done in Washington, and so far I haven’t been able to locate anyone who was willing to walk the Snake River breaks for brood counts during the hot summer.
The 2021 big-game season in Idaho is likely to be similar to last year for elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. There has been no dramatic changes to the statewide populations for those animals either up or down, and the statewide harvests for 2021 should also be similar to 2020. Biologists, however, are closely tracking a disease outbreak among deer herds in the Clearwater area, and it’s too early to tell how that might affect the larger population and fall hunts.
With wildfire having closed down some public lands and WDFW wildlife areas being open for day use only, some sportsmen and women might not be able to hunt in their traditional areas. For those who do not have suitable alternative areas to hunt, WDFW is offering a couple options for those who have already purchased a hunting license and tags. Those options are at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/wdfw-lands/wildfire. Scroll down to “2021 General Hunting Information.”
Washington in-person Hunter’s Education classes resumed in August but prospective hunters still have the option of taking a hybrid class online, then doing an in-person field day. Hunter’s Ed info is at Hunter education | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org
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