Outdoors

Steelhead fishing heats up on Olympic Peninsula

Overview

River fishing has been better this week than the past couple of weeks.

While most southwest Washington rivers have been producing only fair catches of steelhead, fishing on the Olympic Peninsula is heating up with good catches of fish happening in the Hoh, Bogachiel and Sol Duc rivers.

A few winter steelhead have been caught in the Cowlitz and Kalama rivers. The Skookumchuck also has been kicking out a few steelhead, but anglers are working for their catch.

The spring chinook fishery continues to be weak in the Columbia and sturgeon fishing has been slow.

Blackmouth fishing has improved in Tacoma and Hood Canal waters.

According to preseason forecasts, prospects for salmon fishing are down this year with fewer chinook and coho expected to return to most rivers in the region, but fishery managers are expecting good returns of other salmon species.

Strong returns of pink salmon are expected in Puget Sound, but sockeye returns to Lake Washington are not expected to be sufficient to allow a fishery.

Lake fishing has been steadily improving.

Rivers

OLYMPIC PENINSULA: All of the rivers are producing fish, said Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods in Forks.

The Hoh has been overall the best producer with the Sol Duc next followed by the Bogachiel. Just about all hardware is working.

River conditions are good.

COWLITZ: Some late winter-run steelhead are finally starting to show at barrier dam and Blue Creek, and a few were caught at the trout hatchery this past week. Some steelhead also were caught by bank anglers from the Interstate 5 bridge downstream, but the river has since turned turbid from the mouth of the Toutle downstream.

Fishing has been slow the past few days at barrier dam and Blue Creek, said Don Glazer of Barrier Dam Campground. More wild (148) than hatchery (86) late winter-run steelhead had returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery through the end of February. Flow Tuesday was 6,500 cubic feet per second with two feet of visibility.

KALAMA: Anglers in the canyon area are catching a few winter steelhead and also throughout the river. River conditions are good. More wild (318) than hatchery(28) late winter steelhead had returned the Kalama Hatchery through the end of February.

SKOOKUMCHUCK: Fishing was fair to good at the upper end of the river last weekend, said Jim McDaniel of Tumwater Sports. Most anglers were using jigs and bobbers.

COLUMBIA: Based on the two fish sampled last week and other reports, some spring chinook were caught at the mouth of the Willamette to the Lewis River, said Joe Hymer of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Vancouver office. In the Cathlamet area, water visibility was 2.5 feet Saturday. Only one chinook was counted at Bonneville Dam through Feb. 27.

At Bonneville and The Dalles pools, angler effort has been light and no catches have been observed. Tower Islands (located approximately six miles below The Dalles Dam) opens to fishing for hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead beginning March 16.

Under permanent regulations to protect spawning steelhead, March 15 is the last day to fish on several lower Columbia tributaries. Those streams include: Abernathy, Cedar, Germany, Mill (Cowlitz County), Rock (Skamania County), Salmon (Clark County), Skamokawa creeks and Coweeman, Elochoman, Grays, East Fork Lewis, Washougal and Wind rivers.

LEWIS: Very slow.

WYNOOCHEE: The steelhead run is starting to slow down, but some bright fish are still being caught, said Walt Harvey of Verles Sports in Shelton. Jigs, bobbers, pink and red corkies are being used by most anglers.

HUMPTULIPS AND SATSOP: Fishing in both rivers has slowed.

RINGOLD: During February an estimated 111 steelhead were caught. Catch harvest and angler effort for February was similar to the past two years, but well below February 2004. Anglers averaged 10 hours per steelhead (the same as January). Boat anglers and bank anglers both averaged a steelhead for each 10 hours fished.

NEWAUKUM AND CHEHALIS: Steelhead fishing has been good in both rivers. It also is being reported that tribal nets are coming out of the Chehalis.

Saltwater

Blackmouth fishing has been fair in waters around Tacoma this week, said Art Tachell of Point Defiance Boathouse and Marina.

"Typically at this time of the year fishing is slow, but lately fishing has been pretty good," Tachell said.

Trolling during tide changes using Coyote Spoons and Coho Killers at depths of 120 to 150 feet has been more productive than using artificial squid.

Fish are being caught on both sides of the channel.

Small blackmouth also are being caught throughout Hood Canal.

The same hardware being used in Tacoma waters is being used by Hood Canal anglers.

Walleye and bass

BONNEVILLE, THE DALLES AND JOHN DAY POOLS: Boat anglers averaged slightly better than 0.5, one and 2/3 walleye kept/released per rod, respectively, last week. Light to no effort was observed for bass in Bonneville and the other two pools.

Smelt

Water temperature of the Cowlitz was about 42 degrees last Friday and 43 degrees in the Columbia River estuary.

Mainstem Columbia commercial landings have slowed. On the Washington side, a total of 210 pounds were caught between Longview and Skamokawa last week.

Commercial landing peaked and then slowed on the Cowlitz. On Feb. 25, about 1,000 pounds were landed. By Feb. 28, landings decreased to slightly over 100 pounds.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish samplers dipping last Friday found smelt were still present in the Cowlitz.

Several dips produced a couple of smelt at Carnival Market. There also was strong seal and bird presence at Gearhart and Camelot.

The river was clearer than the previous week, which had the smelt staying farther out from the edge of the river. Recreational smelt dipping was terrible on the Cowlitz Saturday and it hasn't been much better in the Columbia.

Sturgeon

Some legal-size fish have been hooked in the Cowlitz River, but overall fishing was slow from the Interstate-5 bridge downstream.

State fish sampling last week showed 26 bank anglers released 11 sublegals and 10 boat anglers released six.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported sturgeon fishing was slow in the lower Columbia due to poor water conditions.

In both Bonneville and John Day pools, boat anglers have been catching some legals.

Lakes

Fishing in RIFFE LAKE has improved on both sides of the dam according to the few anglers venturing out, said Frank Abbruzzese of Fish Country.

Worm/corn or cocktail shrimp seem to be working best between 5 to 7 feet below a bobber. The lake is presently at 737 feet elevation. The Mossyrock State Park boat launch is open.

MAYFIELD LAKE bank anglers are catching some trout near the Trout Hatchery. Boat anglers trolling the Tilton Arm by the Ike Kinswa boat launch are having some success, but no limits.

SWOFFORD POND and the spillway into Riffe has seen an increase in angler activity. Some success is being had. Again no limit.

The scheduled March 1 closure to update the SPANAWAY LAKE boat ramp, parking lot and road to the boathouse has been delayed. When the construction project is set to begin has not yet been defined, said Bud Herlitzka of Spanaway Boathouse.

SOUTH LEWIS COUNTY POND was planted with 16 adult winter steelhead Feb. 28. On the same day BATTLEGROUND LAKE received 28 adult winter steelhead.

On Feb. 22, KLINELINE POND received a plant of 2,000 half-pound browns. LACAMAS LAKE received a plant 7,000 half-pound browns on the same day.

Last weekend, 30,000 catchable size rainbows were released into MINERAL LAKE . Another 15,000 catchable size rainbows are being raised in lake pens. Some triploids and brooder fish are expected to be released into the lake sometime this month. For reservations on the April 28-29 opening weekend, call 360-492-5367 or e-mail at MInerallakeresort@gmail.com.

OFFUT LAKE has been producing rainbows averaging 9 to 12 inches. A few limits are being had. Chartreuse Power Bait and green worms have been the baits of choice.

Several hundred 2-year-old cutthroats are scheduled to be released into the lake sometime this week.

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