FISHING REPORT: THE LATEST UPDATE ON SALMON AND STEELHEAD
Columbia River (Chinook)
Idaho anglers aren’t catching many salmon yet this fall, but a drive across state lines can put you on some fish. The Columbia River in Washington is coming on strong, with good numbers of fish being caught near The Dalles as well as the Hanford Reach stretch north of Tri-Cities. I made the five-hour drive to salmon fish on the Columbia last weekend, and our boat caught six fish. Read more about that trip in next week’s Fish Rap column. Trolling with plugs, flashers, tuna and roe is the ticket, and the fish really start to move when the water level rises. A Washington day license is $20, which is well worth the money if you catch some salmon (the daily Chinook limit is two).
Getting there: Head northwest across the Washington border and fish near The Dalles or north of Richland. Most guides are booked through the end of the season (Oct. 22), but you might find a boat to take you out on a weekday. Shore fishing also is available in places.
Snake, Salmon and Clearwater Rivers (Steelhead)
Steelhead anglers got some promising news this week as Fish & Game announced it is considering opening a harvest season this fall. With low fish counts in 2017, steelhead fishing has been catch-and-release only this fall. But fish returns have rebounded with late-arriving fish, so the Idaho Fish & Game Commission plans to vote Oct. 13 on a proposal to reopen hatchery steelhead harvest with reduced bag limits. Visit the Fish & Game website for more details, including instructions on how to provide comments and feedback through Oct. 10. If harvest does reopen — or even if fishing remains catch-and-release — the middle weeks of October should be prime. Jig-and-bobber rigs, plugs, roe and brightly colored streamers and yarn are the go-to presentations for steelhead. Don’t forget your permit, which costs $12.75 for Idaho residents.
Getting there: Visit the Idaho Fish & Game website for a complete list of steelhead counts, special seasons and rules, and the latest fishing reports.
Lucky Peak Reservoir (Trout, Kokanee)
A common misconception about Kokanee fishing is that the season ends after the bright-red spawning run in late August. But only a small percentage of the fish spawn and die each year, so there are still plenty of silver-phase salmon available. As long as the weather holds, anglers should enjoy good fall Kokanee fishing at Lucky Peak. Pop gear and flashers trailed with squid jigs or wedding rings tipped with corn are the best bet. If the salmon aren’t biting, you might troll shallower with wedding rings, spinners or Rapalas to target trout. Bank fishing for trout with worms and Power Bait is another option, and the smallmouth bass bite should stay on for at least a couple more weeks. Target bass along rocky shorelines and coves with jigs, soft plastics or crankbaits.
Getting there: Take Warm Springs Avenue and Highway 21 northeast of Boise to Lucky Peak Reservoir.
Owyhee River (Trout)
Flows are fishing-friendly and anglers have been catching big brown trout and the occasional rainbow on the Owyhee River in eastern Oregon. The fish are picky from what I’m hearing, so don’t hesitate to change your flies often. Small zebra midges, pheasant tails and terrestrials are a good place to start. Larger flies like olive woolly buggars, Mickey Finns and muddler minnows might also attract a strike. Traditional anglers can also get in on the action with Rapalas, spinners and spoons. Barbless hooks are recommended, as all brown trout are catch-and-release only. It’s spawning season, so watch your step if you are wading to avoid disturbing redds. Don’t forget your Oregon license.
Getting there: Fish downstream from Adrian, Ore.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org.