Fly fishing is good almost everywhere, Silver Bow Fly Shop said. Places like Kelly Creek are still producing, as is the Kootenai River and most other Montana, Idaho and Washington waters. The St. Joe River has been particularly good. Most rivers will have hatches consisting of October caddis, mahogany duns, fall caddis and BWOs. Terrestrials are still working, too. Morning hours will be best for nymphing. Streamer fishing and dry fly fishing will improve as the day warms and will produce until the evening hours. Don’t overlook the slower currents now that things have cooled off a little.
Trout and kokanee
Rainbow trout lakes in the Okanogan usually turn on as water temperatures cool. Good bets would be both Conconully Lake and Reservoir, Wannacut Lake, Big Twin near Winthrop, Blue on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, Aeneas near Tonasket, and Chopaka near Loomis. All of these lakes are open through Oct. 31. Chopaka and Aeneas are fly fishing only, and Blue and Big Twin are selective gear waters.
Salmon and steelhead
Drano Lake is open for hatchery steelhead retention until Oct. 31. The salmon and hatchery steelhead daily limit is six fish, of which one may be an adult salmon or hatchery steelhead,
With fewer upriver bright fall chinook salmon expected to return to the Columbia River, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon have agreed to close chinook retention on the lower and middle Columbia River mainstem effective immediately. Chinook retention is closed on the mainstem from Buoy 10 near the mouth of the river to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco. Recreational coho fishing remains open.
Reel Time Fishing in Clarkston said data from an Idaho Fish & Game run update on Sept. 21 showed an excellent return of Clearwater-bound steelhead over Bonneville Dam. As of the update, an estimated 29,000 Clearwater River B-run steelhead had passed Bonneville Dam, with 30% of the run yet to come. If survival from Bonneville to the Clearwater is good, this should be one of the best steelhead seasons in almost a decade.
Reel Time expects Saturday to Nov. 9 to be some of the best catch and release fishing experienced on the Clearwater. For the anglers who would like to take some fish home, it is expected Nov. 10 (first harvest day after three weeks of catch and release) to be “an opener on steroids.”
Two friends and I put in about 6 hours drop-shotting Berkley Gulp Minnows between Northport and the Canadian border. The bite was light, but my friends managed to boat eight walleyes between 15 and 20 inches. The water was low and fast and we lost a lot of gear because the fish were in the rocks rather than the sandy benches. Other friends fishing closer to China Bend caught 20 walleye up to 18 inches. My own walleye success remains dismal.
This is a great time to catch walleye below McNary Dam – places like the Hanford Reach, the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam, and the Columbia River below McNary Dam.
The algae bloom clouding the water is keeping Potholes Reservoir walleye in shallower water and fishing has been good on the edge of the sand dunes. Successful anglers using Slow Death setups with a Smile Blade and nightcrawler have done well on 15- to 20-inch walleyes.
A friend who lives on Long Lake said he caught 40 perch about 20 feet off the end of his dock this week. He said the smallest was 8½ inches and many were over 12 inches. The weeds on Long Lake are thick, and walleye and trout anglers are finding it all but impossible to troll.
Perch anglers at Curlew Lake near Republic are also finding some nice-sized fish near the State Park dock and pretty much everywhere on the lake. Look for them in 15-30 feet of water.
Razor clam digging opportunities at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Copalis beaches remain open through Friday. “Most of the 2,700 harvesters who went out during the season opener found easy digging, and we’re expecting more of the same,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. All digs are on evening tides.
The Pikeminnow Sports Reward Fishery Program catch report for the 2022 season that ended Sept. 30 on the Columbia River paid anglers for 149,062 northern pikeminnows. Funded by the Bonneville Power Administration and administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, anglers were paid for each northern pikeminnow 9 inches or larger. Rewards range from $6 to $10 per fish, and the 37 special tagged fish caught were worth $500 each.
Northern Pike fishing has been slow on Lake Coeur d’Alene, with spinnerbaits being the most effective. Most of the pike are being caught in bays like Cougar Gulch or Kidd Island. Plastics are taking small pike in the Chain Lakes.
Washington deer and duck (except scaup) hunters are counting the days before the Saturday general opener. Projections are for average seasons, though white-tail numbers are down due to the blue tongue die-off last year and some duck hunters are going to find their small-water “honey holes” bone dry. As usual, the Columbia Basin will have the best duck hunting.
Chukar and quail hunters are finding birds close to water in Washington and Idaho along the breaks of the Snake River. When the weather eventually cools, the chukars will move up the slopes, but the quail will be content to use the blackberry patches close to the river.
Local populations of Canada geese are good in the Burbank area near the confluence of the Columbia and Snake rivers, around Clarkston on the Snake River, and on many local lakes near Spokane, including Sprague and Lake Roosevelt. A friend in Alberta said this has been a great year for white-fronted geese, but duck populations seem to be down. Snow geese are just beginning to filter down from the north, he said, later than usual.
Washington’s bandtail pigeon season begins Monday and ends Oct. 25, giving hunters two weekends of shooting. It has been a few years since I hunted bandtails in the foothills of Western Washington near Mt. Rainier. They were a challenging (humiliating) target for a shotgunner. A dog earns his kibbles finding downed birds in the thick foliage.
Contact Alan Liere at email@example.com
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.