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 this month.
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 can retain daily up to three hatchery-marked steelhead a sea-run rainbow trout at least 20 inches in length with a clipped adipose or ventral fin and a healed scar at the location of the clipped fin.
Snake River anglers are reminded that once they keep three steelhead, they must stop fishing for the day.
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 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) 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.
Tucannon River anglers are reminded that since last month 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 (it had been open under selective gear rules and motor prohibition).
Jeremy Trump, WDFW southeast district fish biologist, said the reason for all the changes is because natural origin steelhead returns 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, Trump 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.
Trump also advises anglers to check current regulations on tributary steelhead fisheries throughout southeast Washington because mandatory steelhead retention is in effect for most of them.
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. Randy Osborne, WDFW central district fish biologist, notes that fall insect hatches are providing trout food, so anglers who use flies or lures that mimic that forage can be successful.
Some of Spokane Countys best trout lakes closed Sept. 30, but Osborne says there are enough exceptions to keep fishing productive. 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, Sprague, and Long lakes, continue to be productive for trout, bass, crappie, and perch.
Badger and Williams lakes in Spokane County, and No Name Lake in Pend Oreille County, are scheduled for rehabilitation this fall, and size and daily limit regulations have been lifted allowing anglers to fish those lakes through Oct. 25. Details are available in the emergency rule change.
Many Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille county waters, most of which are open through the month, produce good catches of rainbow trout and other species at this time.
Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam, provides some of the best year-round fishing. Anglers should find good action on big rainbows and walleye, especially in the northernmost reaches of the reservoir. Recently fly fishing from boats in the scenic Northport-to-Canada-border area has been yielding lots of 18- to 25-inch trout and decent size walleye.
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.