Plenty of opportunities to nab trophy catches
There are plenty of opportunities to nab trophy catches these days, said Jeff Smith of Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop and Guide Service.
This past weekend at Lake Pend Oreille, fishermen snagged rainbow trout at 18, 21 and 25 pounds, Smith said.
"Those are big fish," Smith said, adding that they were found at shallow depths, from 20 feet to the surface. "The water has cooled off and brought the fish up in that part of the water column."
Smith advised using Apexes or bucktail flies.
Most catches in Pend Oreille have been at the north end, he added, but he suggested covering all open parts of the water.
"Just get on it, troll and go, really, until you start hitting them," he said. "You can cover a lot of water at times."
The Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club fall derby is from Nov. 20-24, and Nov. 26-28 with cash prizes for each division.
Folks can pick up $25 tickets at Fins and Feathers on Sherman Avenue, he said.
There's still decent salmon fishing on Lake Coeur d'Alene, Smith said.
He's had luck off Arrow Point and Carlin Bay, using Spumoni and Mexican Flag mini squids.
"They (salmon) have been at 90 to 150 feet," Smith estimated, adding that there are bigger salmon than those he caught around 3 to 10 pounds.
Steelhead fishing is also picking up on the Clearwater River, Smith said, all the way from Lewiston to Orofino.
Folks using slip bobbers and one-eighth ounce jigs have reeled in steelhead up to 15 pounds, he said.
"The steelhead get pretty big, and you don't have to have a boat to catch 'em," he said. "You can do it just fine off the bank."
Local rivers are high, dirty and basically un-fishable, said Mike Beard of Orvis Northwest Outfitters.
So, fly anglers are driving south.
"I'd still say the name of the game is steelhead," Beard said.
Three rivers within a day's drive of Coeur d'Alene - the Snake, the Clearwater and Washington's Grande Ronde - are producing steelhead right now, and will continue yielding fish throughout the winter.
The Ronde in particular, Beard said, is beginning to fish better. The river was low one week ago, but the waters have risen.
"It'll bring more fish into the system from the Snake," Beard said.
As steelhead move into the Ronde, the fishing tends to improve, Beard said. Fish that are swimming upstream are more active, higher in the water column and generally easier to catch.
However, Beard noted, fish can be found at various depths these days, not just near the surface. Sink-tips will make angling easier.
"Getting down to the fish is going to be helpful," Beard said.
He recommended leeches, MOAL leeches or traditional winter spey flies, tied to an intermediate or fast-sink tip. No need for dredges right now, he added.
"You can find (fish) on multiple levels," Beard said. "Moving fish usually are in the upper half of the water column."
He said other traditional flies, like green butt skunks, are still attracting steelhead. Even skating dry flies is an option.
Eventually, the Coeur d'Alene and the Joe will probably drop, Beard said. Then it will be time for deep-water nymphs, San Juan worms or big rubber-legged nymphs - flies with some weight on them.
"As soon as that water peaks and drops," Beard said, he'd go try nymphing. "You're just gonna need a little bit of clarity."
St. Joe and Coeur d'Alene rivers
As would be expected during this fall season, the colder weather has slowed the fishing during certain times of the day, said Mark Roush of ROW Adventures in Coeur d'Alene.
"Mornings can often be quite slow, so be sure to have your nymph box well stocked," Roush said. "Copper johns, bead-head prince nymphs, dark streamers and leeches will often see solid results."
As the weather warms during the day, fishermen will start to see blue-winged olive hatches. Fish will also eat small parachute adams, caddis and mahoganies, Roush said.
"Smallmouth fishing can still be solid at times on Hayden Lake and the Chain Lakes," he said.
Get deep with Senko worms or try slowing your retrieve on crankbaits and spinners.
There are good numbers of fish to be caught in the Clearwater system, Roush said.
"Both terminal and fly fishermen have had pretty good luck," he said.
The Ronde and Snake are starting to take shape as well, Roush said.
"We are seeing more and more spey fishermen on the water each day," he said.