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Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for September 12

Alan Liere writes the weekly fishing and hunting report for The Spokesman-Review. (The Spokesman-Review / SR)
Alan Liere writes the weekly fishing and hunting report for The Spokesman-Review. (The Spokesman-Review / SR)

Fly fishing

The North Fork Coeur d’Alene River is booting out some surprisingly large cutthroat considering the skinny water. Terrestrials are still on the menu, as well as small attractors. Running a dropper under a small hopper has been good, as have ants.

The cooler water on the St. Joe has improved the fishing, with ants, hoppers and Gypsy Kings getting things done. Silver Bow Fly Shop said foam patterns like the purple Para Chernobyl and small foam hoppers or Mini-Nobyls are also getting some interest.

Silver Bow guide Kenyon Pitts said fishing on the Spokane River has been phenomenal. Nymphing and dry/dropper tactics have worked well. Nymphing stones, caddis pupa and jig-style nymphs has been good for trout, and smallmouth bass fishing has been steady near the Idaho/Washington border on bugger streamer patterns.

The Clark Fork has been fishing well. Purple-colored dries seems to be the ticket. There have been some hatches of PMDs and hecubas.

The North Fork Clearwater/Kelly Creek waters have also fished well. Fish are still taking single dries.

Salmon and steelhead

Chinook numbers over Bonneville Dam continue to climb and anglers are taking many chrome-bright fish from the upper river on spinners and Super Baits with ProTroll flashers. Target the deeper depths where the water is colder.

The Buoy 10 salmon fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River is one of the most popular fisheries in Washington. The season is open for coho and the limit is two. For a good all-species guided trip that can include bottom fish and crabs as well as salmon, contact Austin Moser at 668-0298.

It may be a little early for chinook in the White Bluffs area, but fish are moving in. Anglers at Hanford are beginning to boat fair numbers of fish to 20 pounds on Brad’s Super Baits.

Trout and kokanee

Friends who trolled Loon Lake this week said they caught a lot of next year’s 8-inch kokanee but few of the 11- to 13-inchers that had been biting for night fishermen before the rain. The fish remain in good shape, with the males only beginning to show signs of the upcoming spawn.

Kokanee fishing on Lake Roosevelt has been best lately in the afternoon. Anglers trolling pink hoochies on the south end along the rock walls at around 80 feet have done well, but reports from other spots like Whitestone and Swawilla have also been good. Zigzag your boat rather than trolling a straight line. Trout fishing at Roosevelt has been excellent for anglers trolling a pink Apex tripped with just a small piece of worm or shrimp. The best bite has been 35 to 45 feet down.

September should be a great month for fishing Spokane area waters, but plenty of other lakes throughout Washington remain open through October and many are producing well. Clear Lake, near the town of Medical Lake, is producing good catches of brown trout, crappie and largemouth bass. Long Lake is good for largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch and rainbow trout. A year-round water worth trying is Pacific Lake in Lincoln County. “Although few angler reports have been received this year, last fall when the weather cooled down, fishing at Pacific was really good for rainbow trout up to 16 inches,” District Spokane County’s fish biologist Randy Osborne said. Badger Lake, which also closes at the end of the month, is still booting out limits of fat kokanee and cutthroat.

Brown trout-colored Rapalas size 5 or 7 trolled fast around cliffs midlake at Rock Lake are starting to work again after a slow summer bite. The fish are running 15 to 24 inches.

Coeur d’Alene kokanee fishing is described by most as “phenomenal.” The majority of reports still come from the south end, but the north end can also be good. Coeur d’Alene hasn’t seen kokanee like the current 13-to 16-inchers in years.

Spiny ray

Spokane County’s Downs Lake and Lincoln County’s Coffeepot Lake close at the end of the month but are yielding good catches of rainbow trout, perch and crappie. Liberty Lake is usually good for panfish and bass in September.

Salmon are getting most of the attention these days in the Columbia Gorge, but smallmouth bass fishing is also excellent this time of year.

Fishing at Potholes Reservoir is heating up. Anglers are catching bass, walleye, perch, bluegill, catfish and some nice crappie from the face of the dunes and into Crab Creek. A recent report said two anglers trolling small jigs in 10-15 feet of water caught 50 crappie, mostly 10- to 13-inches with one slab stretching 15 inches. Walleye fishing with bottom walkers and Slow Death rigs is producing some nice catches.

Walleye anglers are trolling Smile Blades and Slow Death rigs in the Spokane Arm near Buoy 5 in 35 feet of water for some decent action, considering the huge number of baitfish. Jigging around weed beds has also been productive at times.

Other species

Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington agreed to open the mainstem Columbia River from the Wauna power lines upstream to the Bonneville Dam on Sept. 21 and 28 to sturgeon fishing. The sturgeon fishery will also open the same day on the Cowlitz River. Anglers may retain only white sturgeon measuring 44 to 50 inches from the tip of their nose to the fork in their tale.

Sept. 30 is the closing date for 2019 sturgeon season on Lake Roosevelt. Several keepers have been landed recently in the newly opened stretch between China Bend and the Canadian border.

An angler who rents a summer cabin on Idaho’s Spirit Lake swears that big crappie (over a foot long) are taking over that lake. He uses small silver Rapalas on the south end.


The special youth-only pheasant and quail hunting season is Sept. 21 and 22. The special youth-only hunt for quail, partridge and ducks in Sept. 28 and 29. The special youth hunt for coot in Eastern Washington is Sept. 28 and Feb. 1. The Canada goose special youth hunt is Monday and Tuesday. A special pheasant hunting opportunity for hunters 65 years or older is Sept. 23-27.

Modern firearm and muzzleloader high buck hunting begins Sunday and runs until Sept. 25 in the wilderness area of the North Cascades and Lake Chelan Recreation Area. Prospects for Okanogan and Chelan-Douglas district mule deer hunting for both early archers and high buck hunters indicate that hunting should be similar to last year.

In Douglas County, the Big Bend Unit (GMU 248) continues to attract hunters to the newly expanded Big Bend Wildlife Area. Deer harvest was high there in 2018. In Okanogan County, the largest population of whitetail is in GMU 204.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@

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