Rocky Ford Creek in Grant County, open year-round, is usually a good bet this month for catch-and-release fly-fishing-only opportunities.
Good fishing is the rule on the Spokane, North Fork Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers. For dries, take October caddis, fall caddis, BWOs and mahoganies and fish the afternoons. Try streamer fishing during the morning hours.
Trout and kokanee
Loon Lake doesn’t close to fishing until the end of October, but four of us gave the kokanee one last shot Saturday night. We anchored on the west side of the lake in 32 feet of water where I had been taking limits all summer. This time, the kokanee were not cooperating. We caught only two, which were surprisingly bright, but we couldn’t keep the bullheads, perch and bluegills off. Half of the perch were a decent 8-9 inches, but the bullheads and bluegill were smaller.
Salmon and steelhead
Fishing for fall chinook continues on the mainstem Columbia River within the stretches from Priest Rapids Dam to Rock Island Dam.
Hanford Reach salmon fishing should be good through the middle of October. Anglers can harvest fall chinook and coho, both hatchery and wild and can use barbed or barbless hooks.
The south-central area of the Columbia River is open for fall chinook and coho fishing. Both hatchery and wild salmon can be retained. From John Day Dam upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge (Pasco/Kennewick) is open until Dec. 31.
The Yakima River is open through Oct. 17 for the retention of chinook and coho from the highway 240 bridge in Richland to the Grand Avenue Bridge in Prosser.
It’s a start. The rain last week has moved some of the coho from the Wenatchee River into the Icicle River. This is just the beginning of the run and fishing should improve substantially. Some of the fish caught recently were very bright.
The Upper Columbia River steelhead fishing above Priest Rapids Dam is not likely to happen this season because of low projected run sizes. The south-central area of the Columbia River is already closed to steelhead fishing. The return is projected to be one of the lowest in recent history.
Lake Roosevelt anglers aren’t doing particularly well on walleye or trout, but the smallmouth fishing is excellent. Most of the fish are a foot long or less, but some 3- to 4-pounders are caught. Most decent walleye reports come from the Spokane Arm.
This is a good time to catch Long Lake perch. Fifteen feet of water near weeds close to shore in places like Willow Bay should provide all the 9-inch fish you care to clean.
Although walleye are still concentrated near the Sandpoint-area bridges, Oden Bay and Kootenai Bay and around Fisherman’s Island, an increasing number are moving to the Clark Fork delta and up the Clark Fork River. You’ll likely need a jet boat or sled to get far upstream in the Clark Fork River, especially with the lake level dropping, but there are good numbers of $1,000 reward-tagged walleyes all the way up to the Cabinet Gorge Dam.
Many razor clam diggers found success during the first opener in late September. Over the first nine days of digging, an estimated 55,700 diggers harvested over 1 million clams, with many of those harvesting their limit, according to Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“I don’t think we could’ve asked for a better first round of digs,” Ayres said.
Approved digging dates and low tides for the rest of October include only evening tides.
A friend and I put in some tough miles in a scabrock canyon near Creston on Saturday’s quail opener, but were disappointed to find way fewer birds than anticipated.
Our shooting was confined to just a few singles. Chukar hunters found fair numbers of birds in the Snake River canyons on Saturday’s opener, but reported seeing quite a few quail.
In the Idaho Panhandle, resident hunters ages 18 and older can begin hunting pheasant on Saturday and can continue doing so until Dec. 31. Nonresident hunters can begin hunting on Oct. 14.
The general season for modern firearm hunting for whitetails and mule deer begins Oct. 16 in Washington and Sunday in Idaho.
The best hunting in Washington’s Region 1 will be in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. Whitetails are most abundant in that district while mule deer are usually harvested in GMUs 101 and 121. In Idaho, the general, any-weapon deer hunts includes most, but not all, units. Mule deer hunters will likely see hunting conditions and the number of animals available similar to last year, and possibly better in some areas due to a relatively mild winter, but still down from the boom years prior to 2017.
The modern firearm general season for elk starts in late October in Eastern Washington. The best opportunities are in the southeast district of the Blue Mountains, where there have traditionally been more elk overall and milder winter weather. GMU 166 has had the highest success rate for general season hunters in recent years, but also one of the higher densities of hunters because it is made up mostly of public lands.
Central district elk hunting is mostly on private lands in GMUs 124, 127 and 130, with harvest numbers increasing in GMUs 139 and 142.
Hunters on private lands in GMU 130 have the highest success, probably due to its proximity to the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
The best elk hunting in Northeast Washington is in the Pend Oreille subherd area, which includes GMUs 113, 117 and 111.
Contact Alan Liere at [email protected].