Good fall fly fishing continues on the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River as well as the St. Joe and the Spokane. Fall hatches of October caddis, mahoganies, BWOs and midges will get fish up during midday hours. Nymphing and streamers will produce throughout the day. There is no need to go way up high on the St. Joe as the middle and lower stretches are ideal. Good trout reports come from the North Fork Clearwater/Kelly Creek.
Silver Bow Fly Shop said its guides are finding a few steelhead on the Grande Ronde. The mouth is crowded with anglers.
Salmon and steelhead
To continue reduced harvest on hatchery steelhead and protect wild steelhead, Idaho Fish and Game is continuing the one-fish bag limit for steelhead until Dec. 31. The lower bag limit applies in the mainstem Clearwater River, Middle Fork Clearwater River, North Fork of the Clearwater River, South Fork Clearwater River, Snake River, Salmon River and Little Salmon River.
Vernita is still reasonably good for chinook, as is the Hanford Reach. The early morning can be good at times. As of this writing, the Reach was still open, but it could close at any time. Even if the Reach closes below Priest Rapids Dam this week, the Wanapum Pool will remain open through Monday.
Reel Time Fishing reports the catch and release season is seeing fat, chrome-bright steelhead on the Clearwater River. Catch and keep opens Monday on the Clearwater and is open on the Snake.
Trout and kokanee
Into mid-October, the best catching on Lake Coeur d’Alene kokanee is on the north end of the lake in Bennett and Wolf Creek bays. A vast majority of the kokanee migrates to that area to spawn, so the bays are loaded with mature fish.
Two friends who fished Amber Lake recently threw barbless gold Flatfish and gold Hotshots for fantastic results for trout up to 20 inches long.
Most of the lake Roosevelt trout fishing reports this week came from north of Hunters, though there was one excellent report from Hawk Creek and a decent one from Lincoln. The majority of fish were caught about 20 feet down, but some came from as deep as 60 feet. Dodgers and sling baits will improve success.
The Hunters/Gifford area of Lake Roosevelt is reported to be good for walleye throughout the day. The fish are scattered, so be patient and methodically probe different depths with jigs.
Walleye fishermen on Potholes didn’t have a good week, but there are lots of nice-sized bluegills to be had as well as some crappie.
The first razor clam dig of the fall season will begin today at Twin Harbor and Mocrocks. On Friday, Twin Harbor and Copalis will be open to digging. On Sunday, Twin Harbor and Mocrocks will be up again. All digs will be on evening tides. WDFW has tentatively scheduled another dig for Oct. 25-28, pending results of future toxin tests.
Washington hunters will take to the field Saturday for waterfowl. “With healthy waterfowl populations, mild temperatures and some early rainfall, it should be a strong opener,” said Kyle Spragens, WDFW waterfowl manager.” Mallards and Canada geese are most harvested in the region, but wood ducks that nest in the Pend Oreille, Colville and Kettle River valleys can provide some early-season hunting. The Columbia Basin is second to none in the state for opportunities for ducks with Grant County consistently Washington’s top duck and goose-harvest county.
Washington goose hunters might want to focus more this year on white-fronted geese around Moses Lake, Winchester Lake and the Winchester Wasteway. In typical years there are 200-500 white-fronted geese (specklebellies) for the first few weeks of the waterfowl season. During the latter parts of the season there have been increasing numbers of snow geese around Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake. Hunters pursuing those birds should focus efforts on the surrounding grain fields south of Interstate 90.
The Washington modern firearm deer season also begins Saturday for whitetails and mule deer. The best whitetail hunting on the East Side will be in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, particularly GMUs 124 and 127. Mule deer are prevalent in GMUs 101 and 121, but the best hunting will be in GMUs 136,139 and 142.
Farther north, Okanogan County is prized for its mule deer hunting, although white-tailed deer are also abundant, particularly in GMUs 204 and 215. Surveys from the last couple of years show a slight decrease in deer populations following some extreme fires, droughts and modestly difficult winters. Chelan County also traditionally has excellent mule deer hunting on public lands, but an exceptional 2015 harvest and high overwinter mortality in 2016-17 have cut the numbers. Douglas County is another good mule deer hunting area. Productivity remains consistent there, but it is dominated by private lands for which access permission must be secured.
The Columbia Basin’s GMUs also produce good mule deer hunting opportunity, with most deer harvest in GMUs 272 (Beezley) and 284 (Ritzville). Given the modest escapement of bucks in 2017 and likely good recruitment of fawns, hunters should expect an average year for mule deer hunting throughout Grant and Adams counties.
Waterfowl hunts began in portions of Idaho last Saturday and others open Saturday in Area 1. Idaho hunters can expect waterfowl populations similar to last year. Alberta, Canada had favorable conditions, which is where many ducks and geese that pass through Idaho during their fall migration originate.
Idaho valley quail, chukar and grey partridge are already open. The general Idaho pheasant hunts begin Saturday or Oct. 20, depending on which part of the state you hunt. There’s a map of pheasant zones on page 12 of the Idaho Upland Game brochure.
Most Idaho deer seasons began Wednesday, but there are many variances for closing dates. See the Idaho Big Game Brochure, pages 10-11 for modern firearm, page 12 for archery and page 13 for muzzle loader.
Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@ yahoo.com
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