Excellent fishing this weekend, if weather dries a bit


Recent rains have drawn steelhead into many western Washington rivers. If the wet weather stays away and rivers get back into shape, anglers might be looking at an excellent weekend of fishing.

Many rivers, including the Cowlitz, are still running high. In that river, spring chinook are beginning to arrive.

Fly fishing in Puget Sound is very good right now. Recent rainbow trout plants have made some lakes attractive options.

Blackmouth fishing around Tacoma is fair.


OLYMPIC PENINSULA: All of the rivers blew out last weekend - 5 inches of rain fell on Sunday - but they are starting to drop and green up, said Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods in Forks. "Friday, you'll be able to fish, but Saturday will be better," Gooding said. "It's kind of one of those things where you can go fishing, but we didn't say it's going to be good."

The Hoh River is dropping, but it's still too high for great fishing. The Hoh needs to drop down to 2,000 cubic feet per second to get hot for winter steelhead, Gooding said.

This is the time of year when huge, wild winter steelhead steam up Olympic Peninsula rivers, and last weekend's downpour lured a lot of new fish into the rivers, Gooding said.

"Fishing should be pretty decent when the rivers come around," Gooding said.

COWLITZ: The river is still running a little high, said Karen Glaser of Barrier Dam Campground. "It's at 9,800 cubic feet per second, but we've got two feet of visibility and improving each day," Glaser said.

Anglers are hooking late winter steelhead, and the spring chinook salmon bite is just starting. Most anglers are fishing near the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery.

Boat anglers are pulling plug or using divers and bait. Bank anglers are throwing jig and bobbers, Corkies and yarn or drifting bait. One spring chinook was hooked at the Barrier Dam this week, but most chinook are still downstream.

If the weather holds, the river should keep dropping and fishing will heat up, Glaser said.

KALAMA: The river has been out of shape, but it's starting to drop and clear, said Barbara Orzel of Mahaffey's On The River. "It should be good by the weekend - if we don't get any downpours," Orzel said.

Not many anglers were on the river earlier this week, but two anglers landed some bright winter steelhead near the deadline. A few spring salmon are trickling in, but the run usually doesn't hit high gear until April.

This week's high water brought bright steelhead into the river.

SKOOKUMCHUCK: The river is still blown out.

CHEHALIS: Still blown out.

WYNOOCHEE AND SATSOP: The rivers are still blown out, but fishing for big, wild winter steelhead should be hot when the water drops and greens up, said Ron Adams of Verle's Sports in Shelton.

LEWIS: Anglers near the salmon hatchery are catching some hatchery spring chinook and wild winter run steelhead.

WIND: Starting Friday, anglers fishing the Wind River may keep only one - rather than two - hatchery spring chinook per day. The river will remain closed to all fishing upstream from a point 400 feet below Shipherd Falls until the catch-and-release season begins in September.

DRANO LAKE: Opens to fishing for spring chinook on Friday. The daily limit remains two hatchery chinook or hatchery steelhead or one of each.

LOWER COLUMBIA: (From the Interstate-5 bridge downstream): Anglers in 243 boats landed 31 chinook salmon and no steelhead, according to a recent report. Boat anglers averaged a chinook kept or released for every 17.7 rods while bank anglers averaged one per every 34.7 rods.

BONNEVILLE AND THE DALLES POOLS: No anglers seen. The pools open to fishing for hatchery spring chinook and hatchery steelhead from the Tower Island powerlines - about six miles below The Dalles Dam - upstream to McNary Dam beginning Friday.

JOHN DAY POOL: Boat anglers averaged nearly a steelhead kept or released per rod while bank anglers averaged one per every five rods. About 75 percent of the steelhead were hatchery fish.


LOWER COLUMBIA BELOW BONNEVILLE DAM: Slow for legal size fish. Last month, an estimated 5,300 angler trips produced just 58 legals kept. This is the third year in a row that catches in January and February totaled 100 fish or less.

BONNEVILLE POOL: Slow for legal size fish. Through February, an estimated 28 of the 700 fish guideline had been taken.

THE DALLES POOL: Slow for legal size fish.

An estimated 34 of the 100 fish guideline had been taken through February.

JOHN DAY POOL: Boat anglers are catching some legal fish.

Walleye and Bass

BONNEVILLE POOL: Boat anglers averaged 0.75 walleye kept or released per rod. Light effort and no catch observed for bass.

THE DALLES POOL: Boat anglers averaged one walleye kept or released per every three rods while bank anglers averaged 0.50 fish per rod. No effort was observed for bass.

JOHN DAY POOL: Boat anglers averaged slightly better than a walleye per every two rods. A few bass also were caught.


SWOFFORD POND: Anglers are getting steady action from hungry rainbow trout while fishing off the dam. Anglers are using worms, worms and corn or PowerBait. Anglers fishing the spillway into Riffe Lake are free-drifting worms and hooking rainbow trout and coho salmon, said Frank Abbruzzese of Fish Country.

RIFFE LAKE: The lake, especially the east end, is starting to clear. The west end has three feet of visibility.

Most anglers are fishing the Mossyrock side of the dam and catching rainbow trout on cocktail shrimp fished 5 to 7 feet below a bobber.

MAYFIELD LAKE: Angling is still on and off.

Anglers are catching rainbow trout while fishing on the bottom near the hatchery.

Trout are eating worms or cocktail shrimp - along with some PowerBait to float the hook above the bottom. Anglers are using leaders 3 to 4 feet long.

OFFUT LAKE: Anglers are catching nice cutthroat trout and some smaller rainbow trout, said Becky Pogue of Offut Lake Resort. The cutthroat trout are eating worms or PowerBait fished at different levels, while the rainbow trout are feeding near the bottom.

KLINELINE POND: Was planted with 1,536 rainbow trout that weighed more than half a pound apiece on March 7.

BATTLEGROUND LAKE: Planted with 2,000 rainbow trout averaging over one-half pound each on March 6.

LACAMAS LAKE: Planted with 4,000 rainbow trout averaging two-thirds of a pound apiece on March 6.


COWLITZ RIVER: State Department of Fish and Wildlife test dipping on March 8 revealed no sign of smelt. Several dips were conducted at Gearhart, Carnival Market, and Lexington. No sign of bird or marine mammal activity reported. No fish reported landed in the commercial fishery last week.

MAINSTEM COLUMBIA RIVER: Commercial landings slowed last week. Washington side had no reports of fish landed during Monday's opener. The temperature of the Columbia River is 42 degrees, which is good for smelt movement.


Blackmouth fishing is fair for anglers - but great for local seals, said the folks at the Point Defiance Boathouse and Marina. Anglers are trolling flashers and spoons or hoochies and hooking fish, but swarms of seals are stealing most of the fish. Anglers are fishing the Clay Banks and Dash Point.


Flyfishing is best in Puget Sound right now.

Chum fry are showing up along beaches, which is good news for sea-run cutthroat anglers. Cutts will smack Chum Baby and Clouser Minnow flies, said Don Freeman of Fishy Business in Olympia. Resident coho fishing remains hot, and just about any baitfish pattern will work.

Local rivers are still blown out, but they may drop into shape soon if the rain stays away.

Chester Allen, The Olympian