Cowlitz smelt dipping to open, but will fish cooperate?

The first of four days of smelt dipping on the Cowlitz will be Saturday. Anglers can dip from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Daily and possession limit is 10 pounds per person. The other days dipping will be allowed are Feb. 13, 20, and 27. All other Washington Columbia River tributaries remain closed.

There were confirmed reports of smelt in the lower Cowlitz on Friday. However, there were few signs of bird activity on the lower river Monday. In addition, there were few seals in the mainstem Columbia near Longview. Commercial smelt fishers have landed a total of about 2,702 pounds so far in the mainstem Columbia.


Columbia: In The Dalles Pool, bank and boat anglers averaged 1.5 and 1.0 steelhead per rod, respectively, when including fish released, said a state report. Sturgeon fishing has been slow. The steelhead fishing is picking up below Well’s Dam. Use quarter-ounce Rock Dancer jigs with purple shrimp.

Cowlitz: The fishing has been better in recent days, but still is not red hot. Anglers using jig and bobber seem to be doing well, as do the night guys glow-balling, said Marshall Borsom at Fish Country. Barrier dam is very slow, with only a few catches here and there. Borsom said he heard some spring chinook were caught near Castle Rock.

North Sound: Anglers are seeing the transition from hatchery to wild steelhead on the Snohomish, Stillaguamish and Skagit rivers, but there are not a lot of fish.

Wynoochee: Reports indicate folks are picking up a fish or two, but there is no consistency to the bite. Anglers are using eggs and plugs with some success. A number of reports commented on how many people are on the river. The story is the same on the Satsop.


Alder: Local angler Kevin Bye said he and his son fished the shore at Rocky Point and they caught several rainbow trout, but nothing bigger than 9 inches. PowerBait and spoons were working pretty well, he said.

Chelan: Anglers have been catching good numbers of lake trout above the Yacht Club using purple glow Rushin’ Salmon Wobblers or Flatfish in luminous chartreuse and purple glow. Look for fish in water 200 to 400 feet deep in the Narrows, said Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad’s Family Guide Service.

Lone: Fly anglers willing to make the drive are catching a good number of trout, most in the 13- to 14-inch range.

Mayfield: The fishing has been pretty slow here, as well as at Riffe Lake.

Rufus Woods: The rainbow trout fishing has been fair to good, including some fish topping 10 pounds. Try casting and slowly retrieving black Glo Getter marabou jigs, starting at one-eighth ounce, Jones said. Go smaller if you can fling them far enough. Tipping them with worms might increase your chances.

Washington: The cutthroat trout action has improved slightly. Try trolling a herring behind a flasher in water about 40 feet deep. Some of the fish are reaching 18 inches.


North Sound: The salmon fishing has been fair in recent days, said Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sports Center. Some anglers are getting skunked, while others are catching a few. Hat Island and Columbia Beach are producing some fish up to 15 pounds. He said there are reports from the San Juan Islands indicating salmon are reaching 20 pounds.

South Sound: Salmon fishing south of the Tacoma Narrows is closed until March 1.

Tacoma: The salmon fishing has been slow to fair in the first days of the latest opener. The slag pile near the old boat ramp has been the most productive spot, said Art Tachell at Point Defiance Boathouse Marina. Try trolling flashers and spoons in water 140 to 150 feet deep. A few blackmouth are being caught off Quartermaster Harbor. Try trolling in water 120 to 150 feet deep there.