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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for Sept. 23

By Alan Liere For The Spokesman-Review

Fly fishing

The guide crew at Silver Bow Fly Shop said the Spokane River has fished a little tougher, but fish are still to be had. Trout spey and streamer fishing has been picking up.

For the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene, pack October caddis, Mahogany duns, BWOs as well as some caddis and terrestrials.

Good fishing on the St. Joe River continues. Pack streamers for the cooler/wetter forecasts. For dries it will be October caddis, fall caddis, BWOs, mahoganies and terrestrials such as ants. Midday and afternoon will be best.

Trout and kokanee

Reports from the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt indicate trollers plying the top 20 feet are catching some large rainbow. Reports mention fish pushing 4½ pounds.

Waitts Lake rainbows and browns are active down the middle of the lake. Troll a Muddler Minnow with a piece of nightcrawler and a flasher for limits of 12- to 14-inch fish.

The big rainbow in Lake Pend Oreille have taken some time off, waiting for the water to cool. A few are being caught in 40-80 feet of water, but the bite will get a lot better when the water temperatures drop below 60 degrees. Long-time Pend Oreille angler Terry Naccarato said anglers have been catching a lot of cutthroat and cutbows this summer as well as good numbers of Dolly Varden.

While all these must be released, the numbers bode well for a catch-and-keep season somewhere down the line. Naccarato also said kokanee numbers are huge, but the fish are small, running 6 to 9 inches with a 15-fish limit. Troll a Kokanee Killer at about 20 feet.

Steelhead and salmon

There are still good numbers of salmon passing over Bonneville Dam. On Monday, 4,409 adult fall chinook were counted along with 4,102 adult coho. Yearly totals on Monday were 188,510 adult fall chinook and 119,275 coho. At Little Goose Dam, the Monday passage consisted of 781 adult fall chinook and 314 adult coho. On the same day, Lower Granite Dam saw 688 adult fall chinook and 169 adult coho pass. Friends fishing at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater on Tuesday said there were a lot of fish on their graphs, but the bite was slow.

Salmon fishing activity is on the rise in the Hanford Reach. Paul Hoffarth, with the WDFW in the Yakima office, reports chinook counts well above the 2017 through 2020 counts. A nephew and his son fished near the Vernita Bridge last Sunday and caught five adult fall chinook.

Anglers may keep salmon caught between Priest Rapids Dam and Rock Island Dam through Oct. 15 with a daily limit of six. Up to two may be adult chinook (wild or hatchery) and up to four may be coho. Release sockeye. On the same dates between Rock Island Dam and Wells Dam, anglers may retain up to two adult hatchery chinook and up to four coho. Release wild adult chinook and sockeye.

The Icicle River is open for coho salmon retention until Nov. 30.

Spiny ray

Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene said northern pike and smallmouth are the best bets on the big lake. Long-leaf spinnerbaits have taken a lot of pike along the weed beds. The Lake Coeur d’Alene kokanee fishing has been over for quite a while and the chinook fishing hasn’t taken off.

Fish Lake near Lake Wenatchee sounds like the place to go for buckets of perch 8 inches and larger.

Banks Lake has been a bit of a disappointment this summer, but smallmouth anglers are still taking some nice fish in relatively shallow water. Toss plugs and plastics toward shore in the rocky areas.

Other species

Anglers will be able to retain sturgeon on the Columbia River from the Wauna power lines upstream to Bonneville Dam (including the Cowlitz River) on Thursday, Saturday and Wednesday. Anglers kept an estimated 347 legal-size fish during the earlier opener, out of a harvest guideline of 1,230.

Sturgeon fishing in Lake Roosevelt closes Sept. 30. This has been a less-than-stellar summer for keeper-sized sturgeon.


A friend and I hunted near Endicott on the early season pheasant opener for those 65 years of age and over. We didn’t see as many pheasants as we had hoped, but did get into a small bunch of birds near the end of one long draw. Most of them were too young to accurately identify, but we did get a nice point on a mature rooster at closer range. Other pheasant hunters I talked with had similar reports about young birds. Upland bird hunters will likely see average to below-average numbers of upland game birds this fall in Washington and Idaho.

The mild winter benefited nesting, but the hot, dry summer hurt survival of young birds.

Nonresident Idaho pheasant hunters will have a five-day delayed season opener for the general 2021 pheasant seasons. The delayed opener will not apply to youth pheasant season, which will be Oct. 2-8.

Idaho’s duck and goose hunt Saturday and Sunday will be a great way to introduce a youngster to the excitement of the hunt under the supervision and guidance of an adult. Youth accompanied by an adult, as well as veterans and active duty military personnel, may participate in this early Idaho waterfowl hunt.

WDFW biologists across Eastern Washington have confirmed hundreds of cases of bluetongue and/or EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease) since August in Eastern Washington. White-tailed deer and mule deer are the primary species affected. These are different from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which has not been confirmed to be present in Washington state. Deer in the early stages of hemorrhagic disease may appear lethargic, disoriented, lame or unresponsive to the presence of humans. Humans are not affected by either the EHD or bluetongue viruses, but WDFW recommends hunters avoid shooting and consuming animals that are obviously sick.

The snow goose limit in Washington was recently raised to 10 birds during the regular season and 20 for the spring season. Guide Bill Saunders of Richland said white-fronted geese (limit 10) are there, but most will be gone when the season begins in October.

Contact Alan Liere at