Tip of the week
My friend, Mike, has been out-fishing me about 9 to 1 for Loon Lake kokanee all summer long. We can sit side-by-side at night, both dunking white Glo-Hooks tipped with maggots, and he always catches a lot more. The only difference is he is using braided line and I am not. “I can feel it if a kokanee merely swims by the hook,” Mike says. Sounds good, but this is the first summer ever when I haven’t caught nearly as many fish as he using the same line and pole I’ve always used. Still, I bought some expensive braided line this morning.
Paul Newman of Fruitland, Idaho set a new Catch-and-Release State Record for channel catfish on July 20 from Idaho’s C.J. Strike Reservoir. At 42.5 inches long, Newman’s lunker exceeded the existing record of 33 inches set by Reed Monson at Lake Lowell back in 2020. Before releasing the huge catfish back into the reservoir, Newman used a digital scale to weigh the fish at 37 pounds.
Mike Mitale of Coeur d’Alene won Fins and Feathers Big One Chinook Derby on the big lake last week with a 22 pound chinook. Fishing was generally slow with only nine fish weighed in.
The water temperature at the mouth of the Okanogan is close to 70 degrees and with the hot weather in the forecast the sockeye could really stack up. If that happens, the Brewster Pool could stay on fire for several weeks to come.
Conditions remain good on the Yakima River and the fishing now is some of the best in Washington. Some good hatches are taking place. Nymphing with an indicator should produce strikes throughout the day. Fish early and give the fish a break in the afternoons.
Water levels are still good on the St. Joe River. Fishing early will be the key. Big dries with a dropper will work well. Streamers through the boulder gardens can be fun this time of year.
There are lots of big fish rising to small bugs on the Clark Fork right now. A variety of hatches will give you plenty of options. The Bitterroot continues to drop, and dry fly fishing is excellent there and on the Blackfoot River.
Trout and kokanee
Trout reports from Lake Roosevelt have been few and far between this summer, but a recent report from the Swawilla Basin area indicated some trollers were having success catching 14- to 16-inch rainbow as well as the occasional large kokanee.
It seems Waitts Lake never disappoints, even in this hot weather. Trollers are finding rainbows and browns in 30 to 40 feet of water, but still fishermen are doing even better after sundown on the northwest side by dropping salmon eggs, Power Bait, yellow corn or worms to the bottom and then slowly raising the bait about eight feet before dropping it again. A lot of the fish are small, but there is also a good mix of 15 inchers. Be aware that any fish caught on bait, whether kept or released, must be counted as part of your five-fish limit. Very few trout caught on bait and then released will survive, even though they appear to vigorously swim away.
Kokanee fishermen on Lake Chelan are sometimes catching more 14- to 16-inch cutthroat than kokes, which are generally deeper. Kokabow blades and spinners have been productive in the deep water near the Blue Roofs.
Salmon and steelhead
Brewster Pool sockeye are showing signs of their long swim up the Columbia River but the 3- to 5-pound fish are still firm, red-meated and feisty. Anglers say they are located up and down throughout the water column but will usually only bite at a particular depth. Find that, and you’re in. Miss it by a foot or more, and the five-fish limit will be a long time coming.
The sockeye limit in Baker Lake in Whatcom County has been increased to three through Aug. 31. Each angler aboard a vessel may deploy salmon angling gear until the daily limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved. Fishing has been slow at times, but limits of 5- to 10-pound fish have also been reported. Downriggers at 35 to 45 deep have been the key there. Use big dodgers and spinners or tube flies with coon shrimp on a short leader and troll at around 1.0 mph.
Amid a record return of sockeye salmon to the Columbia River, sockeye fishing will open on Lake Wenatchee Thursday through Aug. 31 with a daily limit of four sockeye (minimum size 12 inches). Anglers must release all bull trout, steelhead, and chinook salmon unharmed and without removing the fish from the water. Selective gear rules are in effect – up to three single barbless hooks per line, no bait or scent allowed, knotless nets required. Two-pole fishing is allowed with a valid two-pole endorsement.
The Wenatchee River will also open for sockeye retention from Aug. 1 through Sept. 30, with no more than two adult hatchery chinook and up to four sockeye allowed to be retained as part of the six-fish daily limit. Anglers must release coho and wild adult chinook. Selective gear rules are in effect, except use of bait is allowed. A night closure is in effect for both Lake Wenatchee and the Wenatchee River. Technique and tackle will be similar to that of the Brewster fishery – a single 0 dodger and leaders tied with three barbless red hooks, about an inch apart.
Chinook retention in Marine Area 2 (Westport) will be on Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 30. This action is necessary to not exceed the modest chinook guideline and preserve the length of the season while continuing to allow opportunity to access significant coho abundance and fish for salmon seven days per week.
Salmon fishing at Sekiu (Marine Area 5) returned to permanent fishing rules on July 25. The Marine Area 6 Chinook Selective Fishery Area is open Wednesdays through Saturdays through August 15 west of a true north/south line through the #2 Buoy immediately east of Ediz Hook, excluding Port Angeles Harbor and Freshwater Bay areas. Several other marine areas are currently open for salmon fishing and can be found on the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/north-falcon/summaries
Long Lake seems to be the place now for walleye. Anglers are trolling spinners near the weed beds for 15- to 18-inch ‘eyes as well as some 10-inch perch. The best fishing is early. Smallmouth fishing is also good.
Lake Coeur d’Alene pike are starting to move into deeper water with the heat. Spinnerbaits have done the best.
Halibut anglers will have several extra days to reel in halibut this season as well as two upcoming opportunities to help shape the 2023 season. Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) and Westport-Ocean Shores (Marine Area 2) areas will open to all-depth halibut fishing for three additional days in August and three days in September including the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Open dates are Aug. 19, 25 and 28 and Sept. 3, 4 and 23. The halibut season for the Neah Bay and La Push (Marine Areas 3 and 4) will open Aug. 11, five days per week, Thursday through Monday. Starting Sept. 6, Neah Bay and La Push will be open seven days per week. Puget Sound (Marine Areas 5 – 10) will reopen for halibut on Aug. 11, seven days per week.
This is the time to fish for channel cats on Potholes Reservoir with the best fishing at night in 2-10 feet of water with nightcrawlers or Magic Bait. Use a ¾-1 ounce egg sinker and a 1 or 1/0 Whisker Sticker hook. Several fish over 14 pounds have been caught this week. Walleye and bass fishing have also been good.
The deadline to purchase Idaho controlled hunt tags is Aug. 1 at 11:59 p.m. MDT. Hunters who applied for controlled hunt tags for deer, elk, pronghorn, fall black bear and fall turkey can check their draw status through Fish and Game’s licensing system if they already have an account.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.