Looking for salmon success? Better converge on the Cowlitz

Fishing possibilities continue to be good for anglers this week. The Strait of Juan de Fuca has been producing excellent catches of coho, and fishing has been decent from Whidbey Island to Seattle. In the Tacoma area, coho catches are leaning out but blackmouth are on the bite. Angler activity continues to be light in Hood Canal and south of the Narrows Bridge.

Coho and chinook migration into the Cowlitz River has been phenomenal. Last week, 7,266 coho, 470 jacks and 1,461 chinook and 300 jacks returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. Through the end of September 13,000 coho had returned to the hatchery – the highest number of returning fish since at least 1990.

Salmon fishing has been fair in the Kalama, slightly better in the Lewis, and good in the Naselle and Skykomish rivers. Fishing also has been good in the Hanford Reach Vernita area and lower Columbia at the mouth of the Cowlitz River.

Sturgeon fishing has been good in the gorge, and boat anglers targeting walleye have been catching fair numbers in the Camas/Washougal area. Pikeminnow fishing continues to be a hot fishery throughout the Columbia River.

Lake fishing hasn’t been exceptionally good the last couple of weeks, but catching has been improving on a couple of local lakes.

A razor-clam dig is scheduled to begin Oct. 16. Evening digs are scheduled at Twin Harbors (Oct. 16-19); Long Beach and Copalis (Oct 16-18) and Mocrocks and Kalaloch Beach (Oct. 17-18). Digging at all beaches will be restricted to the hours between noon and midnight. More digs are scheduled through Jan. 3.


Anglers averaged better than a coho per rod in the Sekiu area last week. Sampling taken Sunday at Sekiu counted 88 boat anglers with 106 coho and three chum. Fishing also was good at Ediz Hook. Fishing was slower in the Shilshole Bay area, where a sampling counted 113 boat anglers with 34 coho; however, some fresh coho are being caught on the west side of Possession Bar, said Mike Jamboretz of Jumbo’s Sport Fishing.

Anglers are reminded in Marine Area 8-2 salmon fishing is limited to the south end, south of a line from Randall Point to the south end of Everett Naval Station dock.

In the Tacoma area, north winds curtailed a lot of boat angler activity last week, said Art Tachell of Point Defiance Boathouse and Marina. Catches of coho have declined, but blackmouth are on the bite and some are being caught during early-morning hours and tide changes in the clay banks.

There has been a small amount of fishing activity around Hartstene Island, but there have been no reports on catching. The same scenario has been prevalent throughout Hood Canal.


NISQUALLY: Catches of coho have been very light in the handicap area and not much better upriver. Below the Mounts Road Bridge catching has been slightly better but certainly nothing to get excited about. Corkies and yarn have been the preferred setups.

PUYALLUP: Fishing hasn’t been good, said Todd Rock of Auburn Sports and Marine. Water levels are low and clear.

COWLITZ: Fishing has been excellent in the lower river, said Jarrod Ligh of 4 Corners Store in Castle Rock. Coho are being caught at the mouth of the Toutle and also at the Castle Rock Bridge and off the bank at the fairgrounds. Barrier dam anglers also have doing well catching coho, chinook and sea-run cutthroat, said Karen Glaser of Barrier Dam Campground. Some steelhead and a fair number of sea-run cutthroat are being caught at Blue Creek. All adult chinook must be released from Blue Creek upstream to Mill Creek.

UPPER COWLITZ AT PACKWOOD: Samplings last week counted 42 bank anglers with 17 coho and two jacks. Three coho were released.

KALAMA: There are a lot of coho but only about 10 percent are bright fish. “B” run fish are starting to move into the river and being caught, said Wayne Orzell of Pritchard’s Western Angler. River conditions are good even though water levels are on the low side. Kalama River spinners and eggs have been the preferred baits.

LEWIS: On the mainstem, boat anglers have been catching some coho and so have North Fork bank anglers. About half the fish were released. Sampling taken Sept. 30-Oct. 4 on the mainstem and North Fork counted 187 bank anglers with three chinook, 41 coho kept and 36 released. Twenty boat anglers had seven coho and two jacks.

CHEHALIS: Samplings at the Montesano boat launch Sunday showed 168 anglers had 52 coho. Catching remains about the same, said Ron Adams of Verles Sports in Shelton. Tribal nets are in the lower river.

SATSOP: Anglers have been catching coho from the mouth to Cook Creek.

OLYMPIC PENINSULA: Catching has been fair in the Hoh and Quillayute rivers although both are short on water. Boat anglers are able to float both rivers, but it can be bumpy ride, said Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods in Forks.

SKYOMISH: Humpies are still showing in good numbers, but most are starting to turn color. Coho catches have been very good, but getting through the humpies has been tough, said Craig Holman of Sky Valley Traders.

GREEN (KING COUNTY): River is full of pinks and catching has been good. Catches of coho haven’t been good. Water levels low.

GRAYS: No report. It remains open to fishing for salmon and steelhead through Oct. 15.

WHITE SALMON: Bank anglers at the mouth are catching coho, but a lot of fish are unmarked and have to be released.

NASELLE: Anglers report fishing has been good for coho and chinook. Eggs and Blue Fox Vibrax spinners (size 3 and 4) have been the preferred baits.

DRANO LAKE: Boat anglers are catching a few summer steelhead. The lake will be closed to all fishing from 6 p.m. Tuesdays through 6 p.m. Wednesdays during October.

KLICKITAT: Fairly light effort and catching last week.

YAKIMA: Angler effort slowed last week. WDFW staff sampled 80 anglers with two chinook and one jack. Estimated harvest was 19 chinook and four jacks for the week and 29 adults and four jacks for the season.

LOWER COLUMBIA: Boat anglers are still catching some chinook in the area open upstream from the mouth of the Lewis. Coho are being caught there and in the lower river, especially near the mouths of the Lewis and Cowlitz. Effort is still decent with just over 200 boats counted Saturday with most of the effort concentrated in the Camas/Washougal area and at the mouth of the Cowlitz, said Joe Hymer, supervisory fish biologist, Pacific States Marine Fishery Commission.

BONNEVILLE POOL: Boat anglers are catching a mixture of chinook and coho off the mouths of the Klickitat and White Salmon rivers.

BUOY 10: Still a few anglers trying for coho with nearly three- dozen boats counted Saturday. There are a couple of unsubstantiated reports of coho being caught above the Astoria-Megler Bridge.

HANFORD REACH: Last week, 847 boat anglers (347 boats) kept 374 chinook, 115 jacks and one coho plus released one chinook and one jack. Also, 26 hatchery steelhead were caught and kept. Twenty-eight wild and one hatchery origin were released. The Vernita area was the hotspot last week. Samplings at Ringold showed 138 anglers had 10 chinook jacks and 15 steelhead. Three chinook jacks were released, plus one hatchery and seven wild steelhead.


Quite a few legal sturgeon were kept by bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam on the re-opener Oct. 1 but slowed by Saturday. Just over 200 bank anglers were counted on the opener and Saturday. Boat effort was spread throughout the lower river with 240 counted Saturday. Outside of the gorge fishing was slow. White sturgeon may be retained from the Wauna power lines to Bonneville Dam on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only through the end of the year.


Anglers caught 5,433 pikeminnows and recovered 10 tagged fish last week. There was one tagged pike for every 543 caught. At Ridgefield, 65 anglers caught 1,246 pikes, recovered two tagged fish and averaged 19.2 fish per rod. Fishing was also good at Vernita and Cascades Locks, where anglers caught 794 and 542 pikeminnows, respectfully. The average catch per angler last week was 10.9 fish. Sunday, water temperature at Bonneville Dam was 66.4 degrees. To date, 135,999 pikeminnows have been caught with 174 tagged fish recovered. The 2009 Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery season ends Sunday.


SCANEWA: Sampling last week of 28 bank anglers showed two coho and one jack were caught, plus 15 rainbows. Thirty-four boat anglers had 12 coho, one jack and released three coho, plus 25 rainbows. Last week, 1, 673 coho and 38 jacks were released into the lake.

AMERICAN: Angler activity has been minimal and so has the catching, said Dave Anderson of Bill’s Boathouse.

MAYFIELD: Tacoma Power employees released 533 chinook, 250 jacks, 78 coho and 38 jacks into the lake last week. No fishing report is available.

OFFUT: Slow last week due to cool weather, but so far this week fishing hasn’t been too bad. There have been no limits, but the trout being caught are of exceptional quality. Angler pressure has been light for bass and perch.

SPANAWAY: Tuesday, 12,000 catchable-size browns were released into the lake. Fishing has been good at the south end of the lake for boat anglers trolling small, white flat fish. Some limits are being had. Bank anglers are catching some perch and rock bass. Worms and Power Eggs have been the baits of choice.