Fly anglers who can tolerate the cold are finding some success fishing nymphs or streamers over the deep, slow-moving pools on the lower stretches of the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River below Prichard.
Crab Creek and Rocky Ford are two good options. Once again, nymphs and streamers will do best, but if there is a quick snow melt or heavy rain, Crab will quickly become unfishable. Stripping Scuds, midge pupa or baetis nymphs can be productive on Rocky Ford.
The Grande Ronde and Snake River and sometimes the Clearwater are the best steelhead options. Nymphing a stone/egg combo is ideal on the Grande Ronde. Focus on the lower, deeper water and slots. Silver Bow Fly Shop said sink-tips and leeches (marabou patterns, intruder-style stuff) are best on the Snake from here on out. The river has been fishing better closer to the Grande Ronde. The fall water conditions on the Clearwater River are reliably good through at least Thanksgiving. The best stretch for fly fishing is below Orofino, and the access is right off the highway. Streamers and egg patterns are best for steelhead.
Nymphing with an indicator should produce strikes on the Yakima River throughout the day. Pats Rubber Leg in black, or brown with a bead head dropper will be good midday through the afternoon. Streamers can be productive on cloudy days. The upper Yakima has easy access along I-90, between Easton and Cle Elum. Between Cle Elum and Ellensburg, there are multiple launch points for boats. There is accessible wading, depending on flows, from the BLM campgrounds in the Lower Canyon.
Trout and kokanee
The Spokane Arm has been generally excellent for rainbow up or down river from Porcupine Bay or just below or up from Fort Spokane. The fish are up high, and even bank fishermen are making good catches at Fort Spokane, Sterling Point and Keller.
Trout fishing at Banks Lake gets better in the winter. Work plugs near the weed lines for fish up to 20 inches. Even larger trout are being caught near Medicare Beach on Potholes Reservoir.
Priest Lake mackinaw fishermen are having their best fishing jigging or drop-shotting deep. The humps and points in bays like Cavanaugh are good, and so is Pinto Point. Braided line will better allow you to feel the bites in deep water. Glow-in-the dark hoochies on a sharp hook will put macks in the boat.
Trout fishermen throwing Power Bait at various pull-outs on Long Lake are catching some nice rainbow. Most of the spots will only accommodate an angler or two, but there is adequate room off the highway at Tum Tum for several.
Walleye fishing on Lake Roosevelt has been good for anglers using jigs and Jigging Raps in perch color around Buoy 1, but a lot of “dinks” will be caught. Walleye anglers are also doing well north of Seven Bays on Lake Roosevelt. The best bite has been at around 75 feet.
Long Lake perch and smallmouth anglers are still making good catches in the vicinity of Willow Bay. Long has booted out some nice-sized perch this year. Don’t spend too much time without a bite in one spot, though, as the fish are schooled up and once you find them, the bite will be fast. Look for dying weed lines in about 20 feet of water.
Burbot are beginning to show on Lake Roosevelt around the mouth of the Kettle River and up the arm beginning at Buoy 1. The fish haven’t started stacking up, but there are enough around to make a good fishing trip.
This week was good for pike fishing for the few anglers who braved the cold on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Mica, Echo and Wolf Lodge Bays have been fairly productive for anglers, as have Harrison Bay on the south end and Cougar bay on the north end. Cast Husky Jerk Rapalas and spoons like the Dardevle.
There are only a couple of days left to harvest a late-season white-tail in Washington. The modern weapon late buck season in most GMUs ends after Saturday. Late muzzle loader and archery seasons begin closer to Thanksgiving. Check pages 22 and 23 in the Big Game Regulations pamphlet for details.
There are still no northern ducks down from Canada as of this writing, but waters up north are freezing quickly so they should be arriving soon. Friends in Alberta say there were more specklebellies (white-fronts) this year than they had seen before. Waterfowlers are hoping to get in a few good shoots locally before the ponds freeze up. If that happens, however, rivers like the Columbia, Snake and Pend Oreille will be good once the birds arrive, and harvested grain fields in the Columbia Basin will attract thousands of feeding geese.
Pheasant hunting in the Palouse is better than last year, but the birds are running and flushing wild. Quail numbers are up, but gray partridge have all but disappeared.
In most units in Eastern Washington, the turkey season runs through Dec. 31. In the Idaho Panhandle, the season runs either through Jan. 31 or Dec 31. Check page 23 of the Idaho Upland Game, Turkey and Furbearer pamphlet for specifics.
There is not much participation in either state during the winter season, but birds are numerous and in big flocks, and success is high for those that get out.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org