Many local rivers are good choices for steelhead

Fishing continues to be good this week in southwest Washington rivers.

Nice catches of steelhead are being had in the Wynoochee, Chehalis, Humptulips, Cowlitz and Kalama rivers. Steelhead fishing also was good in the Elochoman.

On the down side, fishing in the Lewis has slowed, and heavy downpours Monday evening blew out all of the rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.

Sturgeon effort and catches have been light on the lower Columbia, and recreational smelt fishing continues to be pathetic in the Cowlitz River and not any better in the Columbia.

In the Dalles Pool, boat anglers averaged a walleye kept per rod last week. No effort was observed in Bonneville Pool, and no effort for bass was found in either pool.

Lowland lakes fishing continues to be sluggish. In most waters, trout catches have been poor.


COWLITZ: Good fishing for steelhead at Blue Creek. Anglers are using bobbers/jigs, corkies/yarn and bobber/baits. Colors of choice have been reds, purples, blacks and glows.

Wednesday is the last day to fish in Blue Creek. In addition, beginning Feb. 1, the hatchery steelhead daily limit returns to two fish on the Cowlitz from Mayfield Dam downstream.

Angler activity has been light at barrier dam, but some steelhead are being caught. Bank anglers have been using original Nightmare jigs and also pink and shrimp colored jigs.

The best bite has been during midday hours. There was quite a bit of angler effort observed Saturday on the lower Cowlitz from Rocky Point in Kelso downstream.

Catches of steelhead were good. Last week, 145 adult coho, three coho jacks and 217 winter-run steelhead were recovered during two days of Cowlitz River Salmon Hatchery separator operation.

KALAMA: Fishing has been pretty good, said Wayne Orzel of Mahaffey's Outfitting Store. This past week, boat anglers averaged about one to two fish/hookups per boat. Bank angling also has been good, with the upper canyon producing most of the action.

Bank anglers have been using pink jigs, while boat anglers have been pulling shrimp on divers. The best bite has been midday.

Last week, more than 100 hatchery winter steelhead were recycled to the lower river.

Kress Lake continues to be a local favorite, with multiple hookups being had by boat anglers on Cowlitz River steelhead that have been released into the lake.

TOUTLE: The river is running a little on the high side and has some color. Fishing is reported to be slow.

WYNOOCHEE: Fishing has been very good from the mouth to the white bridge boat launch, said Walt Harvey of Verles Sports. Anglers have been catching steelhead weighing up to 16 pounds using a variety of gear.

HUMPTULIPS: Anglers are doing well. The same gear is being used as in the Wynoochee.

CHEHALIS: The river has been very good from the Porter Bridge upriver. Spin-n-Glo and a variety of colored plugs are being used.

OLYMPIC PENINSULA: Rains on Monday evening have blown out all area rivers, said Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods in Forks. The Hoh went up more than 5,000 cubic feet per second overnight. The Bogachiel went the same way, and so did the rest of the rivers, Gooding said. With these conditions, there has not been any angler activity. Hopefully by Friday river conditions will have improved, Gooding said. Anglers can get fishing updates by calling Olympic Sporting Goods at 360-374-6330.

LEWIS: Fishing has hit bottom throughout the river, said Elaine Byrnes of Anglers Workshop. A few anglers are still fishing near the hatchery, but catching has been very slow. The winter steelhead run is just about over. The river is high and very dirty.

RINGOLD: As of Jan. 21, anglers had harvested 81 steelhead. Paul Hoffarth, a Department of Fish and Wildlife fish biologist, said that so far in January, 46 anglers had been sampled with 11 steelhead.

The average for the month is 12.1 hours per steelhead. Twenty-

two percent of the harvest in January was steelhead trapped at Ringold, transported and released in the Tri-Cities.

ELOCHOMAN: Steelhead fishing was good last weekend. Some limits were being had. Most anglers were using bobbers and jigs.

SKOOKUMCHUCK: Pretty quite. The river is at normal levels and in good condition, but there have only been a few steelhead observed in the upper end. Tribal fishers are netting at the lower end.

NEWAUKUM: Anglers report there are fresh steelhead in the river, but they are scattered. Fishing has been fair.

WILLAPA and GRAYS: Fishing has been fair in both rivers.


Commercial landings from the mainstem Columbia have slowed, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife's Vancouver office.

The Cowlitz River at Castle Rock has been running in the high 11,000-cubic-feet per second, which is normal for this time of the year. The temperature of the Columbia downstream of the Cowlitz was 39 degrees last weekend, and in the lower Cowlitz River, it was 40 degrees.

Water temperatures have now dropped below ideal levels for smelt movement (42 degrees). On the Cowlitz, there might have been a few fish around the first two Saturdays in January.

A small group of harbor seals were observed feeding on smelt near Gearhart on Friday. Light sport effort was observed Saturday, and no catch was observed; however seals and cormorants were observed in the middle of the river upstream to Kelso.


LAKE SCANEWA boat anglers are still catching some coho, which are showing color. In the murky water, pink and red plugs are working well. As the lake clears baits, blue, green or purple-

colored plugs would be good choices. Last week, 115 coho adults, three coho jacks and 11 winter-run steelhead were released into the lake. The lake remains open until the last day of February.

MAYFIELD LAKE is still murky but starting to show signs of clearing, said Frank Abbruzzese of Fish Country located near Ethel. Trout are starting to bite near the hatchery, but it's still a little on the slow side. Boat anglers trolling the Tilton Arm are having some success, but caution should taken because of debris in the lake. At RIFFE LAKE, there have been a few anglers fishing near the Mossyrock Dam, but results have been poor.

SOUTH LEWIS COUNTY PARK POND near Toledo received a plant of 201 steelhead last week. The steelhead are showing some interest in baits under a bobber. Some boat anglers have caught a few steelhead on Wiggle Warts, said Charles McElroy of Sunbirds in Chehalis.

SPANAWAY LAKE fishing has been very slow for both boat and bank anglers.

OFFUT LAKE angler activity has been light, but those anglers who have been fishing are catching some trout in the 14-inch range, said Becky Pogue of Offut Lake Resort. Power Bait and worms have been the bait of choice, with midday best bite period.


This is the time of the year everyone is thinking about steelhead. Tom Bolender of Fishy Business in west Olympia said he and a couple of friends recently went trout fishing on the Deschutes River. Although Bolender did not pick up a fish, both of his friends did. One caught a 13-inch cutthroat, while the rest of the fish were a bit smaller. The flies of choice were a Beadhead Lightning Bug and a Conehead Woolly Bugger.

As far as steelheading goes, many rivers are fishing well, Bolender said. A few mixed reports have come in from the Wynoochee, with most being good. The river is low enough and has enough clarity that almost every style of fishing has been relatively successful.

The Kalama has been very good. Reports from several anglers said the fish were in the 14-pound-plus range, which are being caught on Fetters jigs. The Skookumchuck just keeps getting better and probably will for the next month or two. Like last year, these steelhead are larger than would be normally expected. Several fish in the 12-pound range have already been caught. Those fish were bright and mostly in great shape.

Fishing for cutthroat is still slow, but resident coho fishing remains great, Bolender said. The fish to the north in the Narrows area have been getting hitting pretty hard and are now feeding selectively on amphipods. Small, little shrimp flies tied mainly in white or pink are working. The fish being caught are averaging 14 to 16 inches with a few 18-inchers also landed.

The coho that are harder to find closer to Olympia do not seem to be quite as picky. One fisher reported that after a trip Saturday the fish surrounded his boat, and it was almost a fish for every cast. A small baitfish pattern was his choice. He felt that as active as the fish were, it did not really matter what was thrown at them.