Eastern Washington: Fall chinook salmon and steelhead fishing on the Snake River in the southeast district continues to be the best bet in the region.
The salmon daily harvest limit in the Washington portion of the Snake River is six adipose fin-clipped fall chinook adults (24 inches in length and larger), and six adipose fin-clipped jack fall chinook (less than 24 inches). Minimum size for chinook that can be retained in the Snake River is 12 inches.
Anglers may also catch and keep up to three hatchery steelhead on the Snake River, but must stop fishing for the day for both hatchery chinook and steelhead once they have taken their three-fish steelhead limit.
Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for chinook or steelhead in the Snake River. All chinook and steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed. Anglers cannot remove any chinook or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit. Anglers should be sure to identify their catch because returning unmarked chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead are also in the Snake River during this fishery.
Anglers should refer to the current sport fishing rules pamphlet for other regulations, including possession limits and safety closures.
While the hatchery steelhead season on the Snake runs through March of next year, the fall chinook salmon fishery is scheduled to close Oct. 31 unless monitored harvest rates and the run size warrant an earlier closure.
Tucannon River anglers are reminded that there are many rule changes to comply with to protect wild steelhead and the future of the fishery. All steelhead landed in the Tucannon River with a missing adipose fin (hatchery origin) must be retained. Catch and release of hatchery steelhead is not allowed. (As usual, all wild steelhead must be released.) The daily limit is reduced from three to two hatchery steelhead. Barbless hooks are required for all fishing. The area from Marengo (at Turner Road Bridge) upstream is closed to all fishing.
WDFW Eastern Region Fish Program Manager John Whalen said the reason for all the changes is because returns of natural origin steelhead to the Tucannon River are not meeting management goals for conservation.
We have to focus the fishery on removal of stray hatchery steelhead that primarily enter the Tucannon River in late summer or early fall to prevent them from spawning, Whalen said. We also need to provide a refuge area above Marengo to protect early returning wild steelhead, and close the fishery before March when most of the wild steelhead return to the Tucannon River.
October is the last month -- and often a very good time to fish many of the regions popular trout-stocked lakes and some rivers and streams. Fall insect hatches are providing trout food, so anglers who use flies or lures that mimic that forage can be successful.
Many Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille county waters, most which are open through the month, produce good catches of rainbow trout and other species at this time. Some of Spokane Countys best trout lakes closed Sept. 30, but there are enough exceptions to keep fishing productive. Randy Osborne, WDFW central district fish biologist, notes Clear and Liberty lakes provide trout, bass and other fish through October. Amber Lake remains open through November for catch-and-release fishing. A number of year-round waters, including Eloika, Long and Newman lakes, have bass, crappie, perch and more.
Anglers are enjoying the last month of the rainbow-trout-stocked Tucannon River impoundments in Columbia County, especially with cooler weather seeming to put the bite back on, said WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman.
Most rivers and streams in the region close Oct. 31, but sections of some major waterways, like the Spokane River, remain open year-round or into next spring, some with specific restrictions listed in the rules pamphlet.
Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam, provides some of the best year-round fishing. Anglers should find good trolling action on big rainbows and walleye, mostly from the Daisy area north. Walleye fishers can also be successful casting jigs near the shoreline, using bottom bouncers, and other methods.