WEST REGIONAL

Dworshak's biggest smallmouths, Grouse on the Missouri River, Post summer trouting in Colorado, Olympic Peninsula steelhead and more.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

**Double Duck Land **
A little advance work will get you in

CALIFORNIA San Luis national wildlife refuge and Merced national wildlife refuge, in the Grassland Ecological Area near Merced, offer great waterfowl potential this year. Located about 10 miles north of Los Banos, San Luis can accommodate 110 hunters. Merced NWR is 16 miles southwest of the town of Merced and has a hunter quota of 37 and offers permanent blinds.

At San Luis, set up along the levees or wade the cattails. Hunting is permitted Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. At Merced, you'll be assigned a blind in the draw. Hunting is permitted on Saturday and Wednesday mornings only. Opening weekend generally coincides with excellent shooting. After that, watch for foggy or windy days that can provide good numbers of birds. Hunters must apply in advance. Purchase an application card ($1.05) from any license agent and send it to the Department of Fish and Game at least 17 days prior to your preferred hunt day. A lottery draw is conducted each night at 9 p.m. before the next hunt day to determine the order of entry for hunters without reservations. The entry fee is $13.

Contact: San Luis national wildlife refuge (209-826-3508); Merced national wildlife refuge (209-826-3508). -Gary Kramer

Put a Record in the Bag
Dworshak's biggest smallmouths are now on the bite

**IDAHO **Pack up your bass gear, because Dworshak Reservoir's trophy smallmouth bass bite this month, and don't forget to take a hunting rifle, too. Idaho's current state-record smallie, an eight-pound-plus bass, was caught here back in 1995 on 6-pound-test line. The fish ate a three-inch Berkley Power Grub fished along the shoreline of this huge lake.

"The guy who caught that fish was boating back from his elk camp and decided to do some bass fishing on his way home," says Stu Kestner, at Riverside Sport Shop in Orofino. "October is the best month for big fish and numbers of smaller fish really hitting the feed. But there's very little fishing pressure."

You can troll with silver-and-black or crayfish-imitating crankbaits, but the best big-fish tactic is vertical jigging with three- to five-inch grubs or drop-shotting plastic worms. Concentrate on rocky points from Dent to the dam, and around Canyon Creek; you should be able to find fish all the way to the head of the reservoir. Launch a boat at Canyon Creek or Freeman Creek and prepare to fish as deep as 30 feet along ledges, boulder fields and any stretch of shoreline where rock transitions to sand.

There's plenty of hunting along the reservoir's shores, too. This is the first year Idaho Fish and Game has capped rifle elk tags in the Dworshak zone (unit 10A). The 2,380 B tags are available on a first-come basis, so either make sure you can still buy one or plan to hunt the November muzzleloader season on the unlimited A tag. You might want to wait for November to hunt rutting whitetails along the shores of the reservoir.

Contact: Idaho Fish and Game, Lewiston (208-799-5010). -Andrew McKean

Sharptail Breaks
Walk the river for grouse

MONTANA On either side of the Missouri River you can take sharptail grouse by hunting the margins of the breaks where wheat stubble falls into coulees full of snowberry and chokecherry bushes. If you can find water-creeks and stock reservoirs-you should find enough coveys of sharpies to limit out before noon. Find access at the Fred Robinson Bridge, where U.S. Highway 191 crosses the Missouri between Malta and Lewistown. Drive east on graveled NWR 101, but park along any secondary gulch and walk the edges for midday grouse. You'll find Hungarian partridge in mixtures of conservation reserve program land and wheat stubble, and you may even flush pheasants around water sources.

Contact: C.M. Russell wildlife refuge, Lewistown (406-538-06); Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Glasgow (406-228-3700). -A.M.

Into the Frying Pan
Post-summer trouting is the best here

COLORADO The reward for October anglers on the Frying Pan River, north of Aspen, is very low fishing pressure and aggressive browns in the clear, cold tailrace river below Ruedi Dam. Midge and mayfly patterns are the way to go.

If September is dry and balmy, you can still catch trout on grasshopper imitations in October. Bring Dave's Hoppers or foam patterns. But the main action is on midge patterns, either Griffith's Gnats or the locally tied Roy's Biot Emerger.

The Frying Pan grows some big trout on a diet of mysis shrimp. Fish white shrimp patterns in Toilet Bowl Pool and Bend Pool just below the dam for a mix of rainbow and brown trout to 20 inches. Stripping black or olive Woolly Buggers is a good big-fish tactic all the way downstream to Basalt. Black-and-silver Rapalas are also good big-fish lures.

Contact: Frying Pan Anglers, Basalt (970-927-3441). -A.M.

**Zeroing In on the Chukar **
Putting some mileage on the boots is key

OREGON Public-land access for chukar and quail can't be beat in the Malheur River drainage in eastern Oregon. The best opportunities are from the Warm Springs Reservoir to Juntura and along Highway 20 from Juntura to Harper.

For hunters who don't mind walking, the Riverside WMA, located between Juntura and Riverside along 12 miles of the Malheur River, holds lots of birds. Hike into the canyon from the gravel roads on either side. A railway right-of-way in the bottom of the canyon is off-limits. Hunters cannot cross the river and must stay on one side or the other.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Hines reports that it hasn't seen so many chukar since the early 1980s. Recent surveys showed some of the highest counts in 15 years of monitoring in some sections along the river, with broods averaging 10 or more birds.

Good carryover from last year plus a fine nesting season this year should result in excellent chukar and quail hunting. The secret is to find a water source up one of the many side canyons, or to catch the birds coming up from the river early in the morning. Chukar will use the same area year after year.

Contact: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (541-573-6582). -Scott Staats

Plan for Steel Now
The winter run is just a few weeks away

**WASHINGTON ** It's time to make your plans for Olympic Peninsula steelhead. The Quillayute River system produces one of the best steelhead runs in the Northwest. Four rivers make up the system: Sol Duc, Dickey, Bogachiel and Calawah. Hatchery fish enter the system in November. Wild fish arrive in December. You can wade or shore-fish the Calawah and Dickey, and there's good shore access for the Sol Duc and the Bogachiel, though you'll cover more water with a drift boat on the latter two. Best luck comes from bouncing eggs while side-drifting and using Hot Shots.

More hatchery fish are caught in the Bogachiel and the Calawah, while more wild steelhead are caught in the Sol Duc and Dickey. Most of the hatchery fish are caught at or below the hatchery in the Bogachiel. On the Sol Duc, look for a current that runs at a brisk walking speed. When the water drops, the fish head for deeper holes. There are several launches along the Sol Duc that make for five- to eight-mile runs. About two thirds of the catch is wild fish, some reaching 25 pounds. The total catch by anglers averages about 1,000 steelhead between November and April.

The Calawah, a tributary of the Bogachiel, also offers a great winter steelhead fishery. The season starts in November and peaks in December. The limit in the system is two fish a day, which can include only one wild fish.

In the last five years, the wild run has ranged from 17,000 to 22,000. Last year's sport harvest was around 4,200. Survey results for 2000 found 97 steelhead per mile and 60 redds per mile. There are about 150 miles of steelhead water in the system.

Contact: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Region 6 (360-249-4628); Quillayute River Guide Service (360-374-2660). -S.S.

Alaska
South-Central Goats: A free registration-hunt permit for mountain goats is available from fish and game offices in Anchorage or Soldotna. The hunts run from early October to late November, but once the allotted number of goats are harvested for the unit, the hunt is shut down. Try unit 7 or unit 14. Contact: ADFG, Anchorage (907-267-2182).

Anchor Steel: The Anchor River, just north of Homer, has the latest run of steelhead in south-central Alaska, peaking in mid-October and lasting into November. The wild fish can top 15 pounds and fall for Skomish Specials and Popsicles along with spinners and spoons. Only artificial flies or lures with single hooks are legal. Contact: ADFG (907-267-2218).

Comprehensive Guide: How, where and when to fish in southeastern Alaska is made clear in the "Guide to the Sport Fishing Opportunities in Northern Southeast Alaska." The guide is available online at the fish and game Web site-click on "Sportfish Publications" and then "Southeast" to download the 22-page document. Contact: ADFG (www.state.ak.us).

Key Dates
October 31: Registration-hunt mountain goat seasons close in Unit 14.
October 8: Kodiak Island duck season opens.

** Arizona**
White Mountain Squirrels: After several mild winters, Abert's squirrel populations are peaking. Get into the action at the White Mountains in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest east of Show Low. Look for oak/pine and mixed-conifer forests between 6,000 and 9,000 feet. The limit is five bushytails daily. Contact: AZGF (928-367-4281).

Lake Powell Lineup: Massive Lake Powell reservoir, which straddles the Utah/Arizona line, offers a triple-threat fishery: smallmouths, largemouths and stripers. Look for the stripers in the open lake, smallmouths near the points and largemouths at the back of the coves. Topwater offerings along with spoons catch fish. A good place to launch is the Wahweap Marina near Page. Contact: AZGF (928-774-5045).

Go Online: If you act fast before the October 16 deadline, you can apply online for spring 2003 permit hunts (turkeys, javelina, buffalo and spring bears) at the AZGF Web site (www.gf.state.az.us). This year, for the first time, fall big-game applications were accepted online; more than 100,000 digital applications were received.

Key Dates
October 12: Quail and squirrel seasons open.
October 16: Application deadline for spring permit hunts.rs, the wild run has ranged from 17,000 to 22,000. Last year's sport harvest was around 4,200. Survey results for 2000 found 97 steelhead per mile and 60 redds per mile. There are about 150 miles of steelhead water in the system.

Contact: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Region 6 (360-249-4628); Quillayute River Guide Service (360-374-2660). -S.S.

Alaska
South-Central Goats: A free registration-hunt permit for mountain goats is available from fish and game offices in Anchorage or Soldotna. The hunts run from early October to late November, but once the allotted number of goats are harvested for the unit, the hunt is shut down. Try unit 7 or unit 14. Contact: ADFG, Anchorage (907-267-2182).

Anchor Steel: The Anchor River, just north of Homer, has the latest run of steelhead in south-central Alaska, peaking in mid-October and lasting into November. The wild fish can top 15 pounds and fall for Skomish Specials and Popsicles along with spinners and spoons. Only artificial flies or lures with single hooks are legal. Contact: ADFG (907-267-2218).

Comprehensive Guide: How, where and when to fish in southeastern Alaska is made clear in the "Guide to the Sport Fishing Opportunities in Northern Southeast Alaska." The guide is available online at the fish and game Web site-click on "Sportfish Publications" and then "Southeast" to download the 22-page document. Contact: ADFG (www.state.ak.us).

Key Dates
October 31: Registration-hunt mountain goat seasons close in Unit 14.
October 8: Kodiak Island duck season opens.

** Arizona**
White Mountain Squirrels: After several mild winters, Abert's squirrel populations are peaking. Get into the action at the White Mountains in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest east of Show Low. Look for oak/pine and mixed-conifer forests between 6,000 and 9,000 feet. The limit is five bushytails daily. Contact: AZGF (928-367-4281).

Lake Powell Lineup: Massive Lake Powell reservoir, which straddles the Utah/Arizona line, offers a triple-threat fishery: smallmouths, largemouths and stripers. Look for the stripers in the open lake, smallmouths near the points and largemouths at the back of the coves. Topwater offerings along with spoons catch fish. A good place to launch is the Wahweap Marina near Page. Contact: AZGF (928-774-5045).

Go Online: If you act fast before the October 16 deadline, you can apply online for spring 2003 permit hunts (turkeys, javelina, buffalo and spring bears) at the AZGF Web site (www.gf.state.az.us). This year, for the first time, fall big-game applications were accepted online; more than 100,000 digital applications were received.

Key Dates
October 12: Quail and squirrel seasons open.
October 16: Application deadline for spring permit hunts.