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Now that the rivers are more stable and the big trout are out, fly fishing should improve on the Spokane and other waters. Streamer fishing and nymphing will be productive, as will dry flies at midday. Softer, slower currents should be best.
Late October is a popular time of year on the Yakima for fly fishermen. It can get crowded, but flows are low and fish are generally feeding on the surface. The Yakima is open all year for catch and release fishing upriver from Roza Dam near the Yakima/Kittitas County line.
In Montana, streamers fished deep on the Bitterroot, Blackfoot and Rock Creek are taking nice prespawn browns.
Trout and kokanee
Anglers hitting Rock Lake along the east-side cliffs and near the outlet are taking some big browns by casting Rapalas or Krocodiles. As the browns move in to spawn, trolling the shorelines should become increasingly effective.
Fishing for trout on Lake Roosevelt is more steady than fast. The action has been in the top 20 feet. Orange is the best color, whether in a fly, a plug or a plastic. The Spokane Arm is kicking out a smorgasbord of fish – trout, walleye, smallmouth and burbot. Blade baits have worked recently for some big walleye.
At Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene, Jeff Smith said the big rainbow are on top on both ends of Lake Pend Oreille and now is the time to go. Anglers dragging planer boards and a fly or an Apex are going to catch some “very big rainbow in the next three weeks,” Smith said. The biggest caught recently was 28 pounds, but there have also been a lot of 15- to 22-pounders taken. To book a trip with Smith, call 208-667-9304.
Lake Trout fishing on Lake Chelan has been good. The fish, averaging about 3 pounds, are coming mainly off of Mack Bar, straight out from the Mill Bay Boat launch.
The fish are hitting U-20 Flatfish off the bottom. At Priest Lake, anglers are jigging Berkeley Power Grubs for mackinaw in 80-100 water.
Salmon and steelhead
The coho fishing didn’t improve dramatically as expected on the Icicle River after the heavy rains, but a few are being caught and fishing is expected to improve as fresh fish move up from the Wenatchee River.
Lake Coeur d’Alene salmon guides are anticipating tough chinook fishing this winter. The fish are deep, and while a 10-pounder comes in occasionally, most are much smaller.
The water level on the Columbia at Northport is down and walleye fishing has been good. Walleye anglers are having some good luck on Long Lake between Long Lake Dam and Little Falls. Walleye fishing is also picking up at Potholes Reservoir and Lake Roosevelt.
The I-90 Bridge over Moses Lake has been a good spot for large crappie. There are also some decent-sized perch and smallmouth bass being caught.
Most of the weed beds on Lake Coeur d’Alene are beginning to lie over.
For best northern pike success, look for standing weeds in 12 feet of water, and throw jerk baits and swim baits.
Biologists at deer check stations say they aren’t seeing many whitetail bucks this year due to huge die-offs caused by blue tongue. The disease, they say, is nondiscriminatory, killing bucks, does and fawns. In areas around Colfax, the die-off has been particularly large. While there are pockets of habitat that haven’t been affected throughout Washington and Idaho, this has been the worst blue tongue outbreak many have seen.
The severity of the disease could affect deer populations and hunting seasons for several years. Mule deer seem to be somewhat immune to blue tongue, though biologists say it can affect their hormones, causing them to retain their velvet well into winter and lose their desire to breed. The general season for mule deer closed Tuesday. For whitetail, Friday is the last day for those GMUs not already closed. The late-season whitetail hunts in GMUs 105, 108, 111, 113, 117d, 121 and 124 run Nov. 6-19.
The modern firearm elk general season opens in most Eastern Washington units on Saturday. Check for specifics in your big game hunting regulations pamphlet on page 48.
Duck hunting hasn’t been particularly good in the Columbia Basin, and probably won’t improve until water up north freezes and food sources are covered with snow. Canada geese, on the other hand, are providing some good shoots in the Royal Slopes area around Moses Lake. At MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir, Jeff Fisher said there are teal, pintail, widgeon and a few mallards available for waterfowl hunters, but the big push of northern birds has not begun.
In the Coeur d’Alene area, the Chain Lakes are producing some decent duck hunting, but the consensus of hunters is that duck populations are down.
Widgeons, which are typically quite numerous, are scarcer this year. Goose numbers are good, however.
Opening day pheasant hunters reported seeing fewer birds this year than last, but most of the birds had good color. My party of three had several opportunities to bag cock pheasants in the draws around St. John. How did we do? No comment.
Contact Alan Liere at [email protected]