Fish Rap by Roger Phillips: Time to take a deep breath and enjoy fall

rphillips@idahostatesman.comSeptember 19, 2013 

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One of the fun things about catching trout in late fall and winter is they seem to have richer colors than in the summer. That’s not always the case, but you will often find rainbows with vivid pink hues in their cheeks and deep, translucent green backs with inky spots. Trout are cold-blooded, but despite a slower metabolism, they remain active throughout the winter.

It’s been a rough summer for anglers with drought, fire and mudslides. We’re going to be dealing with the effects for months, if not years, but we still have a wealth of fishing opportunities.

The first that comes to mind is the Snake River and the fall chinook run now arriving around Lewiston. About 20,000 chinook have crossed Lower Granite Dam so far. Idaho won’t get the gaudy numbers the Columbia River is seeing, but it’s still pretty exciting, and anglers are starting to catch salmon around Lewiston.

With chinook and steelhead both in the Snake, it’s a great time to catch those big, ocean-run fish.

The chinook are definitely propping up an otherwise lackluster steelhead run.

Only 11,000 steelhead have crossed Lower Granite so far, which is about half of what crossed at this time last year, and 25 percent of the 10-year average.

But don’t panic. Warm water in the Snake has stalled the migration. With cooler weather arriving, hopefully the river temperatures will drop and the fish will start moving through in bigger numbers.

And while steelhead numbers look low, I’m getting some good reports back from anglers about early season steelheading on both the Clearwater and the Salmon.

I always try to keep things in perspective. When I catch a steelhead or two, dam counts are irrelevant because it doesn’t take many to make a good day.

Hopefully, all the fall fishing we look forward to will start to come around, so don’t get depressed or frustrated. Part of being a good angler is being patient.

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