Fall Weather Brings a Fine Fishing Frenzyby Dave Graybill
Columbia Basin Herald, September 11, 2011
Looks like we're getting the kind of fall weather that we hoped for. Lots of sunny and calm days, and I hope you take advantage of them and get out fishing. There are lots of great things to try here in Central Washington. My list is pretty long. It includes salmon fishing at Wells, White Bluffs, Wanapum, Vernita, stream fly fishing, and Banks Lake for walleye and bass. Hope I get to do half the things on it.
I've only fished for summer-runs once this year, and I understand it's not too late. They are still getting them in Brewster and around Wells Dam. I like to fish below Wells this time of year. I go way downstream from the dam and often back-troll big plugs, like M2 Flatfish, or Mag Lips. It can be very good, and I expect to get more bright fish than usual this year, since the fish showed up later than usual.
I don't hear too much about people catching fish on the Wenatchee River. I hear that they are going out and seeing fish rolling in the holes, but it has been tough getting them to bite. A fishing buddy of mine, Evan Eichler, has been hitting the Wenatchee whenever he could since it opened, and he sent me a photo from his last trip. He landed a beauty. He was drifting a large Crocodile spoon near Dryden, and he landed a 28-pounder!
I know that some anglers are already shifting their attention to lower stretches of the Columbia, like Wanapum, Priest Rapids and White Bluffs. They are watching the dam counts and seeing the fall fish pushing over Bonneville Dam. They have been coming in good numbers, but spiked up to over 14,000 in one day last Saturday. That's the kind of number that gets people's attention. We should see quite a few big numbers over Bonneville for fall fish this year. The forecast for Upriver Brights is the second largest since 1948, and there should be some big fish taken this year, too. About 60 percent of the fall return is going to be made up of four-year old fish. It will take a little while, but they will be up here soon and be providing lots of action.
The Snake River is benefitting from this large return of fall salmon. It is open for fall fishing for Chinook, which is unusual. If you'd like to experience fishing on the Snake, this would be a good year to try it. Not only can anglers keep three adult Chinook and three jacks per day, anglers can also keep three hatchery steelhead. The season is scheduled to run through the end of October. Tri-State Steelheaders are planning a seminar to help anglers catch them, too.
Anglers are also already checking the numbers of steelhead making their way up the Columbia. Just like every other run this year it is behind schedule, and there was some concern about the upper Columbia steelhead season. However, the numbers are catching up. There are now more than 12,000 over Priest Rapids Dam, and still coming at a good rate.
We had a great time at Fish Lake recently. I joined the Icicle Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited to help with a great fishing event. Years ago Whitney West, the daughter of Scott and Nadine West, owners of the Cove Resort, planned a day of fishing for special needs people as her senior project. Now it's an annual event. The Upper Valley Connection contacts the parents and coordinates getting the people there. The West family provided pontoon boats, tackle and bait for everyone, and this year the Knights of Columbus provided lunch.
There were 16 anglers aboard the four pontoon boats this year, all piloted by TU members, and we ran around the corner to the spot near the lily pads and anchored. We were primarily fishing for perch, but also caught some rainbow trout and hooked two big triploids and landed one. There was a lot of hooting and hollering as fish were hooked on each of the boats. There were a lot of proud anglers that day. We fished for about three hours and headed in for lunch. We had to be sure to get to the dock by 11:30 in order to get one of our anglers, Nick Hamburg, back in time to get to work at Pacific Aerospace. It was good to see him excited about having a job and it's great to see local firms like Pacific Aerospace putting him to work.
There's another event that everyone should be aware of coming up in a couple of weeks. The Wenatchee River Salmon Festival will take place on October 1st and 2nd this year, and it is the best free event for families in the region. Please take the time to check out their web site at www.salmonfest.org to see all the different exhibits and activities you can enjoy over the weekend.
Don't forget to check for an update on the Quincy Valley Pikeminnow Derby at Crescent Bar. There is big money to be won at this new derby that is designed to be more family fun than for serious anglers. Learn all about it at www.quincyvalley.org.
By the way, the fly fishing on the Icicle is fantastic. If you have ever wanted to give fly fishing a try, this a wonderful place to do it. This is a perfect time to try all the small streams. The Icicle, Entiat, Methow, San Poil and Kettle are just a few available to anglers in our region. Lots of fish, great scenery, and a ton of fun!
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