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

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Sept. 9

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 8, 2021

By Alan Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Trout and kokanee

Loon Lake kokanee are beginning to change a little as the spawn nears, but the fish two friends and I caught Monday night were showing no red and all were over 11 inches long. We found them in 33 feet of water on the west side of the lake. Fishing was early and fast, beginning at 8 and ending with limits 40 minutes later.

Steelhead and salmon

The fall chinook run is picking up at Bonneville Dam. It looks like the return to Idaho could come in greater than the forecast, and larger than last year.

The fall salmon run on the Hanford Reach is about to begin. More than 130,000 chinook are expected to return to this stretch of the Reach, and enough coho salmon to allow anglers to keep them as part of a daily limit.

All areas of the Columbia River, including Buoy 10, remain open for coho fishing in September. Buoy 10 chinook retention closed in late August, but remains open all of September for waters upstream (including above Bonneville Dam). This includes the Chelan, Wenatchee and Entiat rivers. Chinook fishing is also open on the Columbia from Priest Rapids Dam to Rock Island Dam.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced new restrictions on steelhead fishing in the Snake River, as well as several Snake and Columbia river tributaries. Fishery managers have reduced hatchery steelhead limits in part of the Snake and Grande Ronde rivers, while closing steelhead fishing on other sections of the Snake River, as well as the Touchet, Tucannon, and Walla Walla rivers. The new regulations join similar restrictions in Oregon and Idaho, as well as proactive steps WDFW and co-managers took prior to the start of the season.

Spiny ray

A friend and I made the drive to Curlew Lake last Thursday to fish for perch. The bite was slow for us except for a lot of small perch and largemouth bass. We ended up keeping only 12 good-sized perch.

The Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt is providing the most walleye action, but most reports complain of small fish.

Year-round lakes continue to provide good fishing for bass and panfish, including Spokane County’s Silver and Newman lakes. Long Lake is usually good this month for largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch and rainbow trout.

Some of Washington’s best September walleye fisheries are Wallula Junction, the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam, and the Columbia River from Boardman upstream to McNary Dam. Smallmouth bass share habitat with walleye.

They move into the shallows as waters cool and food sources become available, and remain shallow until cold water sends them to deeper water.

Other species

Halibut season in Puget Sound and along the northern coast kicked off in mid-August and is expected to remain open three days a week, Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays, through Sept. 25 or until the remaining quota is reached.

Sport white sturgeon retention is open for two days, Saturday and Sept. 18 on portions of the lower Columbia River, from the Wauna power lines upstream to Bonneville Dam, including the Cowlitz River.


With wildfires burning in many parts of Eastern Washington and some public lands closed by extreme wildfire danger, some hunting opportunities may be affected this year. Land closures and restrictions are detailed on WDFW’s wildfire information web page. Current rules allow hunters to exchange tags for seasons and areas less likely to be affected by emergency land closures. You can exchange your tag if both of the following apply:

  • The season for which the tag was issued has not yet opened.
  • You did not apply for a special hunt.

You must request a tag exchange by these deadlines:

  • Muzzleloader tags – before Sept. 20
  • Modern firearm tags – before Oct. 10.

If you have questions about exchanging tags, call (360) 902-2464 or email

You may also choose to return your permit and not hunt this year. If that is your choice, you must return it two weeks prior to the season starting. If you turn in your permit and fire conditions improve, permits will not be returned. If you decide to return your permit, mail it to: WDFW – Point Restoration, P.O. Box 4314, Olympia, WA 98504-3141. If you have questions about point restoration, call (360) 902-2515 or email

Sept. 18-19 is the special youth-only upland bird hunting season in Washington. Nonhunting adults at least 18 years of age must accompany young hunters, A special pheasant hunting opportunity for hunters 65 years of age or older and hunters with disabilities is Sept. 20-24.

The Columbia Basin provides the best opportunities in Washington for mourning dove hunting, which runs through October. Grant was Washington’s top mourning dove-producing county in 2019.

Washington general archery season for spike-bull/antlerless elk is open in GMU 371, the Yakima Training Center (YTC) for the first time in decades.

YTC is also one of the few areas with no access restriction due to fire.

There are plenty of elk there, but the terrain is open, and access can be limited due to training activity. YTC has an additional set of rules separate from WDFW that includes hunter orange for all hunters and companions. Anyone unfamiliar with rules/access for YTC should start by reviewing rules on the YTC’s Facebook page.

Modern firearm general season for elk has been open since Aug. 1 but opens in Eastern Washington’s Elk Area 3722 on Saturday.

Elk early archery general season also opens in Eastern Washington on Saturday in select Game Management Units. Archery hunters usually fare best in GMUs 172 and 154. In the central district, archery hunters tend to do best in GMUs 124 and 127. In the northeast district, archery hunters usually do best in GMUs 113, 121 and 111.

The Washington forest grouse season starts Wednesday. The season will go two weeks longer than in the past, to Jan. 15.

Contact Alan Liere at

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