Eastern Washington: Salmon and steelhead: Southeast Washingtons Snake River remains open through October to retention of fall hatchery chinook salmon, and the fishery should be picking up by mid-September
But steelhead fishing on the mainstem, from the mouth of the river near the Tri-Cities to the Idaho/Oregon state line, is catch-and-release-only beginning Sept. 1 due to extremely low forecasted returns of steelhead.
The low returns have also prompted fish managers to reduce the daily catch limit to one hatchery-marked steelhead on tributaries of the Snake River the Grande Ronde, Touchet and Tucannon rivers and on the Walla Walla River. Also as of Sept. 1, the rule requiring anglers to retain hatchery steelhead while fishing any of those four rivers is lifted and the tributaries of the Grande Ronde and Touchet rivers are closed.
Fishery managers recently downgraded the forecast of early-run (A-run) steelhead returning to the mainstem Snake River to 54,000 from 112,100 fish. WDFW Regional Fish Manager Chris Donley said the catch-and-release restriction a first in his recollection was needed to protect both wild and hatchery steelhead moving up the Snake bound for Idaho.
The steelhead in the Grande Ronde, Touchet, Tucannon, and Walla Walla rivers are not Idaho-bound. Based on tag returns of those fish, Donley explained, allowing one hatchery fish a day in those waters will still leave enough for Washington hatchery broodstock needs and adequately protect weaker stocks of wild steelhead.
Fish managers will continue to monitor the steelhead run, and if additional harvest opportunity can be offered without negatively affecting wild steelhead or hatchery broodstock abundance, rules may be adjusted in coming months.
Meanwhile, fall chinook salmon are returning to the Snake in good numbers, and retention of hatchery-marked chinook is not expected to increase impacts to ESA-listed wild fall chinook. Up to six adult (24 inches or more) chinook marked by a clipped adipose fin, and up to six jack (12 to 24 inches) chinook, clipped or unclipped, can be retained daily. Anglers must cease fishing for salmon and steelhead once they have retained their daily limit of adult salmon.
Trout and mixed species: Anglers on Long Lake (Lake Spokane) are continuing to catch rainbow trout up to 18 inches, both from shore and from boats. Randy Osborne, WDFW district fish biologist, said these fish are part of the cooperative stocking efforts between the department and Avista. A total of 155,000 clipped triploid rainbow trout are stocked annually.
Osborne also reports some of the central district trout lakes are still producing catches, but because of the hot summer temperatures, most of the action has been coming early in the morning and later in the evening. These lakes include southwest Spokane Countys Badger, Williams, West Medical, and Fish, which close at the end of September, and Clear Lake, which closes at the end of October.
Year-round-open Lake Roosevelt usually yields good-size rainbows in September.
Marc Divens, a WDFW fish biologist, reports that with the continued warm water temperatures, anglers can expect good fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass and panfish such as bluegill, crappie, and yellow perch.
Fishing for these species will only get better as we approach fall when the fish typically increase foraging activity in preparation for the winter months ahead, Divens said.
Opportunities are good in Spokane County at Newman Lake for largemouth bass, tiger muskie and crappie; Liberty Lake for largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, perch, bluegill, and crappie; Silver Lake for largemouth bass, tiger muskie and bluegill; and Long Lake (Lake Spokane) for largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie and walleye. In Ferry County, Curlew Lake has largemouth bass and yellow perch. In Lincoln/Adams counties, Sprague Lake has largemouth bass and channel catfish.
Fishing is slow at the trout-stocked lakes on the Wooten Wildlife Area along the Tucannon River in Columbia County. Area manager Kari Dingman says if the weather changes from hot and dry to cool and wet, fishing should pick up again for the month of September. The campfire ban and shooting range closure continue this month. Rainbow Lake, under dredging reconstruction and improvement work, also remains closed for another month, along with adjacent campground 3 and the Deer Lake access road.