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Tyler McCroskey, a part-time fly-fishing guide, smiled as he delivered the unsettling briefing to the 20 anglers he’d invited to float the upper Spokane River. “I have my fisheries scientist hat on today, so you can’t lie about the size of your fish,” he said, clarifying the main difference between fishing for fun and fishing for research.
The Grande Ronde River in June offers the rare pleasure of hot fishing and no crowds – a treat that’s savored as much by a fishing guide as it is by the average angler. “This is the most relaxing guiding I do all year,” said Clarkston-based outfitter Toby Wyatt as he stashed an arsenal of spinning and fly-fishing rods along the gunnels of his drift boat.
Angling is in Toby Wyatt’s blood. At 39, the Clarkston-based guide handles a fishing rod with the grace of an artist swishing a paint brush.
Smallmouth bass get preferential treatment among exotic predators in Lake Roosevelt. Starting April 1, the daily catch limit on walleyes increased from eight fish a day to 16 fish a day with no size restrictions.
The Spokane region caters to eclectic angling persuasions. Within a few minutes or a few hours of driving are standout fly-fishing attractions for several trout species plus panfish, bass and steelhead. The trick is timing. What’s hot and what’s not is particularly important in July, a month of major transitions in runoff, water quality and weather. As fly fishers ease into the Spokane area next week for the International Fly Fishing Fair:
A bass twitched off the hook and nearly fell into Steve Fleming’s lap. “There’s a cloud above me, and it’s raining fish!” Fleming joked.
Smallmouth bass are becoming one of the region’s most abundant fisheries, and fish managers say anglers should make a point to take home limits of smallmouths whenever they can from Lake Coeur d’Alene to Lake Roosevelt. “We simply have too many smallmouths,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager.
The Inland Northwest has a love-hate relationship with smallmouth bass. The feisty imports are multiplying like weeds, taking a firm hold in Priest Lake and displacing native species from habitat in some areas – redband rainbows in the Spokane River, for instance.
Forget the catch-and-release ethic when it comes to smallmouth bass. The non-native fish are sporty on rod and reel, and fisheries managers in North Idaho and Washington encourage anglers to put some in their coolers.
The fish thrashed in Jason McLellan’s grip, its olive-green body a blur. Distinctive scarlet bands – visible in flashes – ran down its sides. “Relax, relax,” said McLellan, a fisheries biologist, as he measured and weighed the trophy-size redband trout. “You’re too feisty.”