Here we are in the heart of hunting season. There are still some big game seasons open, and all of the upland and waterfowl seasons are going full steam ahead. We’re enjoying some really nice fall weather. It is a great time to be outdoors.
That being said, it might also be the perfect time to go fishing.
Many hunters are also anglers. And vice versa. So, when hunting is foremost on the mind of many, going fishing is an inviting option, because theoretically there are fewer folks out fishing. Fewer anglers, more fish left for those who are fishing, right?
Plus, as the weather cools, many fair-weather fishermen put their gear away, winterize the boat, and head for the fireplace and the football game on TV.
But those who make the effort can find some decent fishing here and there.
This is the time of year when some of the biggest walleye of the year are caught on the Columbia. Some of the most ardent walleye anglers will actually fish at night for them as walleye are nocturnal feeders and seem to bite better then.
The water temperatures are still not too cold, so the walleyes will be feeding in preparation for their winter dormancy.
The night bite below McNary Dam can be really good, and fishing below the John Day Dam can also be good. Pulling deep-running crankbaits over humps in 18 to 24 feet of water works well. Because the fish that are feeding can be big, use big stickbait style crankbaits that imitate what the walleye are feeding on.
Vertical jigging with bladebaits and baited jigs can also be pretty effective this time of year. And trolling a nightcrawler behind a blade or Spin-N-Glo off of a bottom walker always seems to work. Just troll a bit slower as the water temperatures cool.
There are still a few coho being caught up in the mouth of the Klickitat River, and there are even some steelhead being caught farther up the Klickitat. November can actually be a great month for steelheading there, so those are options.
Farther east, the waters both below and above Grand Coulee Dam offer some opportunities for fishing in the days ahead.
According to Dave Graybill, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife commissioner and avid angler from the Wenatchee area, the Colville Tribe recently released about 2,000 triploids into Rufus Woods, which is the Columbia below Grand Coulee Dam. The trout weighed an average of 4.7 pounds.
Triploids grow and grow and grow, and Graybill said last week an angler caught a 14-pound triploid there last week. And there should be plenty of fish available, considering the 2,000 planted there recently are just part of the over 30,000 the tribe plants in that part of the river each year.
By the way, Graybill reports that the big 14-pound fish caught last week was tagged and it was a fish that was released five years ago, which shows how fast those big rainbows can grow.
Most of the anglers fishing off the bank at Rufus Woods will fish with Power Bait or float shrimp or other baits just off of the bottom near the net pens. Boat anglers will troll Rapalas along the shoreline, and some will throw Rooster Tails into the banks and slowly retrieve them with good luck.
Fish are being caught, but there has been little flow and the water temperature is still fairly high. When water cools down, things heat up on Rufus Woods.
Anglers are also having some luck catching triploids at Roosevelt Lake above Grand Coulee. Most of the fish are being caught at the lower end of the lake near Spring Canyon by anglers trolling Rapalas or spinner rigs tipped with night crawlers.
The fish aren’t as big as the ones being caught at Rufus Woods, but they seem to be a bit more plentiful, at least right now.
And, the added bonus of fishing at Roosevelt is there is always a chance at catching a fat kokanee or two. There have been reports of the odd 18-inch kokanee showing up in the catch recently, which would be fish that are next year’s spawners. With good growth, they will be 20-inch fish or bigger next spring.
A reminder, all rainbows with a fully formed adipose fin need to be released in Roosevelt. Only the hatchery triploids with a missing adipose can be kept. Kokanee with a fully formed adipose can be kept, but only two per angler per day.
If you want to have a real mixed bag, there are plenty of walleye and smallmouth bass in Roosevelt as well, and as long as it doesn’t get too cold, they should be willing to bite for another week or two.
And, if you really want a challenge, there is a growing population of northern pike in the big lake, and authorities want them all caught. Some are big too, measuring over 30 inches. Challenging to catch but a real trophy if you get one.
Hunting season is in full swing. But it is still fishing season too. There are some fish to be caught, and fewer anglers after them.