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September is an Underrated Fishing Month

by Roger Phillips
Bellingham Herald, August 31, 2011

Summer is a state of mind as much as a season. We think of it as Memorial Day to Labor Day, and because Labor Day weekend is coming up, so summer is nearly over, right?

Not even close. Sept. 23 is the first day of fall. Considering we usually have an Indian summer in Southern Idaho, you can extend that three more weeks into the middle of October before the real fall weather typically sets in.

If that's not official summer, it's still six more weeks of summer-like weather. But the days get shorter, the nights cooler, and it's perfect for camping and getting outdoors. You also get fewer crowds and less traffic.

Here's a little inside-the-playbook fish biology. We often attribute increased feeding in the fall to a change in weather and cooler water.

That's part of it, but fish are also hardwired to start feeding more when the length of day shortens, so the fishing can change even if the weather doesn't.

Lakes, reservoirs and rivers have stayed pretty cool this summer, and will start dropping into prime temperatures soon.

Reservoirs are really the sleepers in September. Most people write them off because they've been drawn down and gotten weedy, but they can have some great fishing for big fish.

Keep your eyes on them.

STEELHEAD UPDATE: Harvest season opens today in the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

If you're watching the dam counts you might have noticed something interesting this year.

This year's steelhead counts over Bonneville Dam are about 16,000 fish less than the 10-year average, but counts over Lower Granite Dam are nearly double the 10-year average. What gives? My guess is cooler water in the Columbia and Lower Snake River is allowing steelhead to make a straight migration rather than holing up in cooler tributaries and waiting out the hot weather.

Will that mean steelhead will arrive earlier and early season fishing will be better than in the past? We shall see.

Roger Phillips
September is an Underrated Fishing Month
Bellingham Herald, August 31, 2011

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