Eastern Washington: September is when hatchery steelhead catch-and-keep fishing really picks up on the Snake River, where steelhead numbers passing the dams increase and so does angler effort and success.
In addition, fishing for hatchery-marked fall chinook salmon starts Aug. 30 and runs through Oct. 31 in the Snake River. A significant portion of the 2014 Columbia River forecasted return of 919,000 upriver bright chinook adults is expected to return to the Snake River
Sept. 1 marks the start of rule changes for Tucannon River steelheading and other fishing to better protect wild steelhead. Anglers should be sure to identify their catch because protected chinook and coho salmon and bull trout are also in the Tucannon. All steelhead landed in the Tucannon with a missing adipose fin (hatchery origin) must be retained; catch-and-release of hatchery steelhead is not allowed. The daily limit is reduced to two hatchery steelhead per day. Barbless hooks are required and all wild steelhead must be released. The area from Marengo (at Turner Road Bridge) upstream is closed to fishing. There is also a modified boundary description in place starting this month
This month is the last chance to fish several of the region's best rainbow and/or cutthroat trout fishing lakes. Closing Sept. 30 is Fishtrap Lake in Lincoln County and Williams and West Medical lakes in southwest Spokane County.
Randy Osborne, WDFW central district fish biologist in Spokane, said that while access to West Medical Lake remains available through a WDFW-managed site on the south end of the lake, walk-in shoreline access on the north end, through private property, is no longer legal. Osborne says the "unofficial" access on the north end was abused by litterers and is now posted with "no trespassing" signs.
Fish Lake in Spokane County also provides anglers the unique opportunity to catch eastern brook trout until Sept. 30. Another southwest Spokane County lake changes seasons soon Amber Lake shifts to catch-and-release-only on Oct. 1.
Osborne says that if conditions are right, September fishing at these lakes can almost rival the first weeks of the season in the spring. "Air and water temperature changes during this month can trigger late summer/early fall insect hatches, which can equate to some pretty productive fishing conditions all month long," he said.
Spokane County's Downs Lake and Lincoln County's Coffeepot Lake also close at the end of the month but can yield good catches of yellow perch, black crappie, and rainbow trout during September.
Plenty of other lakes throughout the region remain open through October or year-round. Osborne says they can also provide a pick-up in fishing action during September, depending on weather. Clear Lake, near the town of Medical Lake in Spokane County, typically produces good catches of brown trout, crappie, and largemouth bass as fall advances. Other lakes continue to provide good fishing for bass and panfish, including Spokane County's Silver, Liberty, and Newman lakes.
Year-round-open Lake Roosevelt and Sprague Lake both offer good-size rainbows in September. Lake Spokane (Long Lake) anglers have been taking advantage of the rainbow trout stocked earlier in the summer through a cooperative effort by WDFW and Avista. Like the other lakes in the area, catch rates of those fish should also increase with the coming of cooler conditions this month.
Osborne notes the WDFW access at Newman Lake will be closed Sept. 9-11 to allow herbicide treatment of the lake, by contractors with the Newman Lake Flood Control Zone District, under permit from the Washington Department of Ecology, to control Eurasian milfoil and other aquatic invasive weeds.