All posts by Andy Walgamott

Trout, Kokes Biting On Orcas

There are still plenty of trout to be had at Cascade Lake, as well as fat kokanee from 16 to 18 inches.

So I discovered during our second annual Fourth of July campout at Moran State Park on Orcas Island.

There’s also plenty of other things for families to do on the largest island in the archipelago that makes up Northwest Washington’s San Juans — swim, rent boats or kayaks, go on whale watching trips, hike, drive up to the top of Mt. Constitution, get ice cream cones in town, tour art galleries, explore the new Turtleback Mountain Preserve, view wildlife, or just hang out in camp.

But I wasn’t one for sitting around when there were fish to be caught.

I headed onto the lake three mornings in a row at literally the asscrack of daylight, stumbling out of the tent when Kiran woke for his 4:30 a.m. feeding/soothing and launching my pontoon boat from The Creek Company as the last bat of the night flitted low over the swimming beach.

It was just me and my fishing partner, an early-rising osprey, for the next few hours — quite relaxing, though I think I’m still tired from the early rises two days later.

For the most part I drug around an olive Woolly Bugger about 5 feet behind a 1/4-ounce weight and landed sassy rainbows from 11 to 14 inches or so, but ol’ reliables such as a green Rooster Tail and Dick Nites also corralled a few trout.

Actually, Dick Nite’s new Kokanee lure in chartreuse body and pink hothead provided the catch of the trip, a 16-plus-inch kokanee. It fought very hard, putting my ultralight rod to the test.

I knew that Cascade as well as Mountain Lake above had landlocked sockeye, but the size was surprising. Local guide, former park ranger and rental boat concessionaire David Castor (360-376-3411; 3711), who has been fishing Cascade for 50 years, says they’ve been running 16 to 18 inches this year. He credits a warm January and February and smaller numbers of fish.

In Cascade’s early season — the lake opens on the last Saturday in April — Castor says kokes were biting right off of the fishing dock where there are some freshwater springs, but I caught mine out in the middle of the lake.

In fact, almost all of my fish came around the yellow buoy closest to the fishing dock and swim beach. That water runs 30 to 40 feet deep, but 70-foot water can be found under the cliffs on the northwestern side of the main lake.

The depths also held an unexpected species. Anglers filing fishing reports on reported catching largemouth, which Castor says had been recently and illegally transplanted into the lake. I caught two, but not where you would expect. They bit halfway between the western shore and the yellow buoy — out in open water. Neither were very big; Castor reported seeing a school of 50 or so 15 feet down towards the cliffs.

All totaled I released a dozen and a half fish, lost another dozen-plus at the boat and had many more bites fishing up till around 7 a.m. before my body’s call for caffeine and hotcakes pulled me off the water. Fishing seemed best on the first two mornings under cloudy skies.

The plunkers working the fishing dock were definitely not early risers; they tended to show up for the midday bite, along about the time a weak bikini hatch began to come off in the cool weather, and some did all right. Judging by the number of individual dough bait smushings on the railing and floor boards, pink sparkle and chartreuse were favorite colors.

One trio of anglers who’d left their rods in the garage at home still gave it a go, dangling big worms off the dock in hopes that bass would bite, but they couldn’t quite set the hook in time after largies sucked the oversize offerings in.

When I wasn’t fishing, the family and I went for hikes over to Cascade, Rustic and Cavern Falls — if you find a binky along that trail, please return mail it to me, c/o Northwest Sportsman, POB 24365, SeaWA, 98124 — splashed in the lake or rented row and paddle boats. River especially liked the paddle boat ride I took him out on. Somehow he also managed to stay out of all the nettles growing around the island.

Saturday we hit Eastsound, and hard. When my German father-in-law and I got off the ferry the day before, our first goal had been to determine where we could watch die Mannschaft take on Argentina. The Bayside was right out, but after Enzo’s coffee shop confirmed they’d be open before 7 a.m., we returned to the car to find a note from the good folks at The Lower Tavern declaring the World Cup would be showing at the bar.

That settled that, and we arrived just in time to see Mueller’s header in the third minute. But coffee was no good for our nerves, so we joined a couple who hailed from Freiburg, in the southern Black Forest, in ordering pints before breakfast.

Meine Deutsche frau showed up too late to see any of the rout, but afterwards we headed over to a park where vendors featuring island art, carvings, organic greens as well as cooked meats had gathered ahead of Eastsound’s fun Fourth of July parade (no fewer than four men running for San Juan County Sheriff marched in it, plus one giant freakin’ great Dane).

We also visited Orcas Island Artworks in Olga, home to some Japanese-inspired paintings of island scenes by James Hardman, hiked around Obstruction Pass State Park, did a little beachcombing — Juergen discovered a chunk of driftwood that had the shape of a whale, and had our vehicles not been absolutely stuffed, would have seized — had some nice fires and roasted a mess of Smores.

All in all a really great time!

Steelie Run Sets Record Thru July 7

Even as the sockeye count at Bonneville continues to crush the old record, the number of steelhead at the dam 145 miles up the Columbia River also set a new high mark through yesterday.

“Another day, another new record!” notes that fish-ladder watcher Joe Hymer in Vancouver in an email fired off to fellow fishheads around the Northwest. “The 54,357 steelhead counted at Bonneville Dam through July 7 is a new record! The previous record was 50,361 fish in 2001.”

That year saw a final count of 636,460; last year saw 603,264.

The overall sockeye count now stands at just under 358,000, 11,000 more than the previous record at Bonneville that dates from 1947, and nearly three times the preseason forecast.

“Sockeye probably share the same areas in the ocean. Probably what’s good for sockeye was good for steelhead,” Hymer says.

The steelhead count has also been boosted by big early returns of Skamanias, a type of summer-run steelhead, to tribs like the Klickitat.

Overall, this year’s forecast is 453,000 Skamanias, A-runs and B-runs, of which 73 percent will be keepable hatchery fish.

However, the wild component has been stronger so far.

“In the sport catch, quite a few wild fish are being released, which is a good sign,” says Hymer, crediting good outmigrating and ocean conditions.

At least 45 percent of steelhead passing the dam “have been wild based upon observations of presence/absence of adipose fins of fish passing the counter windows,” he notes.

In other news, federal, tribal and state fishery managers today downgraded the return of summer Chinook back to the mouth of the Columbia to 75,000, 13,000 fewer than originally forecast and 7,000 below the inseason run update out last week.

They also kept the sockeye forecast at 375,000 which, they claim, “should also allow the (Lake) Wenatchee escapement goal of 23,000 to be met.” When we spoke to the regional manager about a fishery there, he said he wasn’t in much of a gambling mood and would instead rely on counts at Tumwater Dam on the Wenatchee River to ensure enough were coming.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

In case you didn’t get enough fishing in over the Fourth, here’s a mess of ideas from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:


* Anglers fishing the upper Rogue should remember that trout fishing can be good during summer, in addition to angling opportunity for spring chinook and summer steelhead.

* Fishing for resident cutthroat trout is picking up in many rivers and streams. Flies or small spinners are the best bets.

* With the onset of warmer temperatures trout fishing is slowing down in many area lakes and ponds. However, fishing will continute to be good for bass and warmwater fish.


* Siletz River: Steelhead angling has kicked in for the summer and is providing a good fishery for many bank anglers. Good numbers of summer steelhead are returning now with many more expected through July. Fish can be found through out the mainstem with drift boat angling from Twin Bridges down to Morgan Park as flows allow and bank access from Moonshine Park up to the deadline. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair to good. Anglers can expect good fishing for cutthroat trout throughout most of the basin. Using small spinners or fly fishing can be very productive.


* A few spring chinook are still being caught in the lower Willamette and in Eagle Creek.

* Now is a good time to target bass and walleye fishing on the Multnomah Channel.

* Summer steelhead and spring chinook have moved into the North Santiam River around Stayton.

* Good catches of kokanee have been reported recently on Green Peter Reservoir.


* Fish on!!! Big Lava Lake continues to produce stellar catches of beautiful rainbow trout.

* Trout fishing on the Crooked River has been good, and the recent population survey found larger trout this year compared to recent years.

* Kokanee fishing has been good on Odell and Paulina lakes.


* Trout fishing has been very good on Pilcher Reservoir

* The BLM has opened access up to Fish Lake on Steens Mountain and the lake is scheduled to be stocked the week of July 6.

* Fishing in the high Cascade lakes for brook trout has been excellent.


* Fishing for 8 to 10-inch crappie continues to be good on McKay Reservoir.

* Jubilee Lake has been stocked and the boat ramp is open.


* Brownlee: Crappie spawning has dropped off but fishing is still good depending on the day. Use jigs with a crappie nibble (motor oil, red and whites have been good lately). Bass are biting but are fairly small. Some large catfish are being caught. Trolling for trout is fair. The reservoir is full. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.


* More tuna were landed again this week, but the fish continue to be between 30 and 50 miles offshore.

* Anglers fishing Cape Falcon to the Oregon/Washington border are now allowed to keep up to two chinook salmon in the bag limit. Daily bag limit is now two salmon per day, and all retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip.

* Fishing for chinook will continue through earlier of June 30 or 12,000 marked Chinook quota. Bag Limit: All salmon except coho. Two salmon per day, all retained Chinook must have a healed adipose fin clip.

* Fishing for marked coho south of Cape Falcon to the Oregon/California border opened Saturday (June 26). Only about one angler in 10 were successful at landing a coho last week. Only marked coho (all coho must have a healed adipose fin clip) may be retained. That season will run through Sept. 6 or until the quota of 26,000 marked coho is met, which ever comes first. The bag limit is two salmon.

* Fishing for Chinook was slow again last week with fewer than one in seven anglers landing a fish. The “All Salmon Except Coho” salmon season from Cape Falcon to Oregon/California  border opened May 29 and runs through Sept. 6. Bag Limit: Two salmon.

* The spring all-depth Pacific Halibut fishery between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain met quota last week and is now closed. The summer sport all-depth halibut season will be every other Friday and Saturday from Aug. 6 to Oct. 30 or until the entire sub-area all-depth catch limit of 141,265 pounds of halibut is harvested. The near-shore season, for ocean waters inside the 40 fathom line, will be open seven days a week from May 1 until Oct. 31 or until the harvest quota of 12,284 pounds is achieved.

* The near-shore (inside 40 fathoms) halibut fishery between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain is remains open with more than 30 percent of the quota remaining.

* Fishing for lingcod remained at about one fish for every two anglers targeting lingcod. Most anglers surveyed filled their limit of bottom fish. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.

* The Oregon Department of Agriculture closed all recreational razor clam harvesting from Coos Bay to Bandon last month and extended the closure on July 2 north to Tillamook Head north of Cannon Beach due to elevated levels of domoic acid. Razor clamming remains open north of Coos Bay and south of Bandon.

* July has two minus tide series in the mornings: July 8-16 and 21-29. Razor clam diggers should watch for days when the marine forecast calls for combined swell and wind waves of less than eight feet.

* Mussel harvesting is open on the entire Oregon coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. The consumption of whole, recreationally-harvested scallops is not recommended. However, coastal scallops are not affected by toxins when only the adductor muscle is eaten.

What’s Fishing In Washington

The kokes are big at Cascade Lake and rainbows still biting, I can attest after fishing the Orcas Island lake three times over the Fourth of July weekend.

But beyond Washington’s archipelago, there are plenty of other fishing opportunities to be had across the Evergreen State.

Here’s more from WDFW’s Weekender:


Summer has arrived, and anglers have their pick of numerous fishing opportunities. In the freshwater, anglers can cast for chinook and steelhead at some the region’s rivers, as well as trout and bass at local lakes. On Puget Sound, crab and chinook fisheries are under way, with additional salmon openings around the corner.

Salmon fishing got off to a good start in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), where anglers can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. Catch counts on opening day (July 1) in the San Juans show 46 anglers at the Bellingham ramp checked 12 chinook, while 65 at the Washington Park ramp brought home 15 chinook.

In Marine Area 8-2, fishing continues to be slow at the Tulalip Bay “bubble” fishery , said Thiesfeld. The fishery is currently open each week from Friday through noon Monday through Sept. 6. Anglers fishing the bubble have a two-salmon daily limit. Chinook must measure 22 inches in length to retain.

Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) also is open for salmon fishing, but anglers must release all chinook through July 15.

Anglers will soon have other opportunities in the region to catch and keep chinook. Beginning July 16, marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 open for hatchery chinook salmon retention. Anglers in those two areas will be allowed to keep hatchery chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – as part of a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Those fishing Marine Area 9 also must release chum salmon.

The chinook selective fisheries in marine areas 9 and 10 run through Aug. 31. Thiesfeld reminds anglers that regulations vary for inner Elliott Bay, Sinclair Inlet and public fishing piers in those marine areas. Check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet ( ) for more information.

When releasing salmon, anglers should keep the fish in the water and avoid using a net, Thiesfeld said. If a net is needed, use a rubber net or a soft knotless nylon or cotton net.

Thiesfeld also suggests that anglers:

* Look for the adipose fin while playing the fish, and use polarized sunglasses to reduce glare.
* Avoid the use of light tackle and play the fish quickly to avoid exhausting it.
* Modify tackle to reduce potential injury to the fish. For example, use circle hooks when mooching and only one hook on hoochies and bucktails.
* Use a dehooker to remove the hook.
* Cut the leader if the fish has swallowed the hook.
* Avoid touching or handling the fish, especially around the eyes and gills.
* Support the entire length of the fish if it must be lifted out of the water.
* Do not lift the fish by the tail or jaw.
* Gently place the fish back in the water.

Anglers can find information on selective fishing and selective fishing techniques on WDFW’s website at .

Meanwhile, the crab fishery is under way in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 and 10. Fisheries in those areas are open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend. The southern and eastern portions of Marine Area 7 will open July 14 under the same weekly schedule.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6? inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW’s sport-crabbing website ( ) for more information.

In freshwater, anglers can fish for hatchery chinook salmon on the Skagit and Cascade rivers. The Skagit is open to hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River. On the Cascade, anglers can fish from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. Both stretches are open through July 15. The daily limit on the Skagit and Cascade rivers is four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length).

On the Skykomish , a new rule that went into effect July 6 prohibits the retention of chinook from the mouth upstream to the Wallace River, the only portion of the river that was open to salmon fishing. Low chinook returns to the Wallace River Hatchery prompted WDFW to close the river to chinook retention to help ensure enough salmon make it back to the hatchery to meet spawning goals. For more information, check the emergency rule change at .

Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all fisheries on WDFW’s website at .


Anglers’ chances of catching and keeping a chinook salmon off the Washington coast have improved in recent days with the start of non-selective fisheries for chinook in all ocean areas. Chinook can now be retained coastwide, whether fin-clipped or not.

Now, another change in state fishing rules will allow anglers to keep two of those fish per day. Starting July 8, they will be able to retain two chinook – instead of just one – as as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

As in previous years, only coho with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained as part of that limit. Anglers may now retain coho in all ocean areas, although this year’s recreational quota for coho is 67,200 fish, down from 176,400 last year.

Patrick Pattillo, WDFW’s salmon policy coordinator, said the state initially took a cautious approach in setting the limits for the coastal chinook fishery this summer.

“With predictions of chinook stocks nearly three times as large as last year, we were concerned that we could see very high catch rates for chinook – as we did in 2002 – resulting in an early closure,” said Pattillo. “But from what we’ve seen so far, we no longer have that concern.”

Even so, the fishery has been productive – especially around Westport.  During the marked selective chinook fishery in June, anglers caught approximately 4,571 chinook off the coast between the opening and June 27. The vast majority of those fish were taken in Marine Area 2 off Westport where nearly 7,000 anglers landed 4,263 marked chinook. The mark rate there was 73 percent.

On July Fourth, when non-selective rules took effect, fish counters sampled 245 anglers in Westport with 129 chinook and 82 coho. In Ilwaco, the 603 anglers sampled had caught 733 coho and 83 chinook.

“The effort hasn’t been real high, yet, but it will build this summer,” said Doug Milward, WDFW ocean fisheries manager.  “It always does, especially around Ilwaco.”

Meanwhile, salmon fisheries opened July 1 in marine areas 5 and 6 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where early reports indicate fishing for hatchery chinook will be similar to last year’s successful fishery. The waters around Port Angles provided the best salmon fishing for the opener. Between July 1 and 4, creel counts showed that about 400 anglers reeled in approximately 160 chinook salmon at Ediz Hook.

Olson’s Resort and Van Riper’s Resort in Sekiu both provided reasonably good salmon fishing, with anglers throughout both marine areas also landing a few rockfish , lingcod and greenlings .

Elsewhere in Puget Sound, fishing effort has been generally light. In Marine Area 11 off Tacoma and Vashon Island, creel counts the week of June 28-July 4 produced 61 chinook. Most of those fish were caught off Point Defiance and near Gig Harbor. On July 3, 165 anglers were surveyed with five chinook and 88 flatfish . So far, very few coho have shown themselves in Puget Sound.

Marine Area 9, west of Whidbey Island, opens to salmon fishing July 16.

The rules for catching chinook and coho vary depending on the marine area. All of the seasons and rules can be found in the 2010 Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet . The pamphlet is free at the more than 600 stores that sell hunting and fishing licenses. It’s available at WDFW offices and at .

If crab is your seafood of choice, you’re in luck. Dungeness and red rock crab seasons are open in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and most areas of Puget Sound. Dungeness and red rock crab seasons are:

* Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (Tacoma-Vashon) – Opened June 18 and runs through Jan. 2, seven days a week.
* Marine areas 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 and 12 (much of Puget Sound) – Opened July 1 and are open Wednesday through Saturday through Sept. 6, and open the entire Labor Day weekend.
* Marine areas 7 South and East (south and east of the San Juan Islands) – Will open July 14 through Sept. 30, Wednesday through Saturday, and the entire Labor Day weekend.

There is a daily limit of five Dungeness crab in Puget Sound. Minimum size is 6?-inches and only males in hardshell condition may be kept. In the Sound, all gear must be removed from the water on days when the fishery is closed.

The daily limit of red rock crab is six in all marine areas. Minimum size is five inches and either sex may be kept.

Crab fishing rules can be found on pages 137-139 of the 2010-11 edition of Washington’s Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet , which contains maps of all the marine areas and sub-areas. The pamphlet is free and available at the more than 600 stores where hunting and fishing licenses are sold. The pamphlet also can be downloaded from WDFW’s web site at: .

Before heading out, crabbers should check for any emergency rule changes adopted since the fishing pamphlet was published. Those changes can be found on WDFW’s website at or by calling the Shellfish Rule Change toll-free hotline at (866) 880-5431.

Lake Aberdeen and Lake Sylvia in Grays Harbor County both received significant plants of rainbow trout this spring and well into June, and were among the 10 Region 6 lakes listed on’s “Top Lakes Scoreboard.” Lake Tarboo in Jefferson County and Lake Louise in Pierce County also made the list.


Anglers continue to reel in hefty summer chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River, although the fishery is being reshaped by an influx of upriver steelhead, changing river conditions and new fishing opportunities on the coast. Other considerations include a record sockeye run and the fact that sturgeon retention is allowed in the estuary at least through July 11.

During the first four days of July, WDFW interviewed 310 boat anglers on the lower Columbia River with 21 adult summer chinook, 30 steelhead and no sockeye.  Also contacted were 989 bank anglers with 33 adult summer chinook , 124 steelhead and eight sockeye .

“The fishery has begun to change with the arrival of increasing numbers of upriver steelhead,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “Those fish are starting to draw anglers away from the deep water toward the bank, where they’re targeting hatchery steelhead and sockeye.”

Under this year’s expanded season, the daily limit for adult salmonids is two marked  hatchery chinook or marked hatchery steelhead (or one of each) on the mainstem Columbia River from the Megler-Astoria Bridge upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco.

The current mix of summer chinook and steelhead contains a significant portion of wild fish, so anglers should be sure to check for a clipped adipose fin and healed scar on both species, Hymer said.

Anglers can also count any sockeye measuring at least 12 inches toward their two-adult daily limit from the Megler-Astoria Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam.  Through July 6, just over 353,000 sockeye had been counted at Bonneville Dam, surpassing the previous record of 335,300 fish in 1947.

But counting sockeye is not the same as catching them, Hymer said. “These silver torpedoes are fairly single-minded when it comes to moving upriver so anglers should really consider them ‘bonus fish’ if they catch one,” he said. One sockeye was recently recycled downstream to the Massey Bar on the Cowlitz River three times during the same week and returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery each time.

Most hatchery steelhead caught in recent days were taken along the banks of the Columbia River from Longview downstream. Averaging four to six pounds apiece, these upriver fish are expected to light up a number of fisheries as they move toward hatcheries on the upper Columbia and the lower Snake River.  Look for them later this month at the mouth of the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers plus Drano Lake and the White Salmon River, where they typically dip into the cooler water of the tributaries to beat the heat.

Fishing is also expected to be good this month on the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis, Washougal and Klickitat rivers as separate runs of hatchery steelhead move into those tributaries to the Columbia River.

But, while summer steelhead have begun to upstage summer chinook, Hymer expects to see anglers catch a lot more salmon – including the occasional 40 pounder – before the fishery closes at the end of the day July 31. According to an updated forecast, 75,000 summer chinook will return to the Columbia this year – the fourth largest run since 1980.

Hymer notes, however, that fishing tactics for chinook salmon have changed since the fishery got under way last month.  Since then, average water temperatures have risen to 63 degrees and flows have dropped by half.

“Fishing tactics have changed to reflect the conditions,” Hymer said.  “Most anglers fishing for summer chinook are going deep – 20 to 30 feet down – and using large plugs wrapped with sardine fillets in addition to wobblers and other fall gear.”

One question is whether salmon fishing might be better in the ocean. All areas off the Washington coast are now open for the retention of both chinook and coho salmon. For more information, see the South Sound/Olympic Peninsula of this report. Anglers have also been catching good-size landlocked coho at Riffe Lake in recent days.

Another option is to fish for white sturgeon on the Columbia River below the Wauna powerlines, although that could present a challenge given the low catch rates in those waters. The current opening runs through July 11, after which fishery managers from Washington and Oregon will meet to discuss whether to again extend the fishery.

During the week ending July 5, private boat anglers interviewed at the Deep River and Knappton ramps averaged a legal-size sturgeon for every 9.5 rods. At the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco, 41 percent of charter boat customers caught legal-size fish, but private boaters averaged just one fish for every 12 rods.

Meawhile, the shad fishery has about run its course, but walleye fishing is picking up in The Dalles Pool. Bass fishing is also improving as water temperatures rise.

Trout anglers should know that Goose Lake near Carson has been planted with 5,500 catchable-size brown trout and 6,000 cutthroat since mid-June.


Fishing is picking up for warmwater species in waterways throughout the south end of the region, especially during cooler evening hours.  Smallmouth bass are found throughout the Snake River and channel catfish can be found in its backwaters and sloughs. Both species are caught near the mouth of the Walla Walla River.

Smallmouth bass may be caught below Prescott in the lower portion of the Touchet River. The Columbia River and its connected sloughs have yellow perch, crappie, smallmouth and largemouth bass, channel catfish, brown bullheads , an occasional walleye , and other species.

Waters in the north end of the region are also seeing warmwater fish action. The Pend Oreille River’s Boundary Dam reservoir is good for smallmouth bass, and its Box Canyon Dam reservoir is good for largemouth bass. Northern pike are also throughout the river. Stevens County’s Pierre Lake has largemouth bass, crappie, and bullhead catfish. Loon and Deer lakes in southern Stevens County have both species of bass, plus bullheads, perch, and bluegill . Pend Oreille County’s Diamond Lake is usually good for perch this time of year.

Long Lake, the reservoir off the Spokane River in northwest Spokane County has been good for crappie, perch and both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Chapman Lake in southwest Spokane County is also producing both largemouth and smallmouth bass catches, plus some kokanee . Downs Lake, also in the southwest part of the county, has a few perch and some really nice largemouth bass.

Spokane County’s Amber, Badger, and Williams lakes continue to provide good catches of rainbow and cutthroat trout during early morning or evening hours. Rock Lake in Whitman County also continues to be good for both rainbow and brown trout fishing.


Bob Jateff, WDFW district fish biologist, said salmon fishing in the mainstem Columbia River above Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster, and in the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers, was slow at the start on July 1.

“It’s picking up considerably now as more fish pass over Wells Dam and start to stack up off the mouth of the Okanogan River,” he said. “Anglers should check the current fishing rules pamphlet very closely, in addition to any emergency rule changes for opening dates and daily catch limits. And remember there is a night closure and anti-snagging rule in effect for the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers.”

Anglers can retain adult sockeye salmon in the mainstem Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam and in the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers. The daily limit is six salmon, but only up to three adult chinook , of which only one wild adult chinook may be retained. All sockeye and chinook with a floy or anchor tag attached must be released, and all coho and steelhead must be released. For all the details of this fishery, see .

Okanogan County lowland lakes are continuing to provide rainbow trout for both selective gear and bait anglers.

“Cooler weather this past month has kept surface water temperatures cooler and the trout more active than normal,” Jateff said.

The water level on the Methow River is starting to drop and will begin to provide opportunities for trout fishing during the catch-and-release season that began last month. Selective gear must be used and no bait is allowed.

“If you’re interested in spiny ray fishing try Leader Lake for bluegill and Patterson Lake for yellow perch ,” Jateff said. “There are no daily limits for either of these species in Okanogan County.”

Fishing at Banks Lake for rainbow trout, smallmouth bass , and walleye has been decent, according to last month’s WDFW creel reports. Anglers at Banks were averaging a little over an hour of fishing for every trout and bass caught, and about two hours for every walleye caught.  Some largemouth bass were also caught at an average rate of about four hours per fish, but the sample size was very low.

Art Viola, WDFW district fish biologist, reminds anglers that Blackbird Island Pond, a juveniles only fishery in Leavenworth off the Wenatchee River in Chelan County, will not open to fishing until July 15.

“We’ve had such an unusually cold spring that juvenile steelhead aren’t expected to leave until mid July this year,” Viola said. “So we won’t be stocking trout in the pond yet.”

Blackbird Island Pond is used as both a hatchery steelhead acclimation pond and a trout-stocked fishing pond for anglers under 15 years of age.


Sockeye salmon have been moving up the Columbia River in record numbers in recent weeks, arriving in Central Washington waters just in time for the summer weather. But catching sockeye is proving to be a challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options for anglers right now, including chinook, rainbow trout, bass and catfish.

A creel check in the John Day Pool conducted the week of June 21-27 tallied 150 anglers in 60 boats, along with 36 bank fishers. The bank anglers caught an estimated 53 hatchery summer chinook and released 14 wild fish. No sockeye were observed in the catch that week, even though upwards of 21,000 sockeye passed by the John Day Dam each day.

The number of boaters dropped off dramatically the following week, as did the catch. Thirty-four anglers surveyed during the week ending July 4 had caught three hatchery chinook and released three wild fish. As in the previous week, all salmon were caught from the bank.

Paul Hoffarth, WDFW’s fish biologist in Pasco, credits high water in the Columbia River for the difficulty anglers have had catching salmon from a boat. Conditions, though, are improving. Flows in the Yakima River is back to normal, and the Snake and Columbia rivers have begun to go down, setting the stage for better bass and walleye fishing, said Hoffarth.

Hoffarth reminds anglers that all wild, unmarked chinook salmon and steelhead must be released. The daily limit is six hatchery chinook, up to two of which may be adults. Anglers must stop fishing once they retain the adult portion of their daily limit. Any steelhead retained counts toward the daily limit of two adult fish, said Hoffarth, who reminds anglers that the Yakima River is closed to salmon and steelhead fishing.

Steelhead fishing remains closed for the Columbia River upstream of the Highway 395 bridge and in the Snake River until the fall.

As for the difficulty of catching sockeye, WDFW fish and wildlife biologist Joe Hymer says that for a variety of reasons they are a hard fish to catch.

“Sockeye mainly feed on zooplankton/krill, and most (river) anglers don’t use gear that a sockeye would typically eat,” he said. “A lot of times they use gear that is too big.”

The single-minded nature of sockeye also makes them hard to catch, Hymer said.

“Sockeye move through an area pretty quickly,” he said. “In the lower Columbia, we see pretty good catches if the water is high and cool. But when the water drops and warms, the fish go deeper. Not until they get into a concentrated area like Lake Wenatchee and Lake Osoyoos, where anglers troll slow using gear that’s small and easier to bite, do catch rates go up.”

As in other areas, water levels in the upper Naches and upper Yakima tributaries have continued to drop, making them easier to fish. Eric Anderson, WDFW fish and wildlife biologist in Yakima, said this trend should continue through the summer, when fishing in most tributaries should be good for wild trout, cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout. Anglers should note that it is closed to fishing for or retaining bull trout, salmon and steelhead throughout the Yakima River basin.

“We have continued to stock lakes in the region and all are posted on the WDFW website’s catchable trout stocking reports,” said Anderson. “All of those reports have been updated with the latest triploid trout plants. ”

Anderson reminds anglers they can research lakes by county by going to the 2010 Washington Fishing Prospects report .  He advises, however, that before heading out to an unfamiliar lake or stream, anglers should check the Washington Fishing Regulations at

“Each stream and lake you intend to fish may have different rules and catch limit restrictions,” said Anderson.

For those who don’t mind a little hike, Anderson says that as the weather warms and the snow recedes, Central Washington’s high mountain lakes provide good angling opportunities. The region’s high lakes fish stocking information is available at

Kokanee are continuing to bite at Keechelus and Rimrock lakes, where the daily catch limit is 16 fish.

Jumbo triploid trout were planted at Lost Lake in Kittitas County, as well as in Dog and Leech lakes in Yakima County. These fish are running about 1.5 pounds each. Leech Lake is fly-fishing only. Also in June, 4,500 catchable-size trout and 200 jumbos were planted in Easton Pond in Kittitas County.

Sturgeon fishing remains open in Lake Wallula (McNary Dam to Priest Rapids/Ice Harbor Dams) through July of this year. However, sturgeon fishing is prohibited from in the sturgeon sanctuaries from Goose Island upstream to Ice Harbor Dam in the Snake River and upstream of the Priest Rapids Hatchery outlet to Priest Rapids Dam in the Columbia River.

Two-king Limit Starts Thurs. On Ocean

Oregon and Washington managers are tweaking salmon limits so anglers can keep a second Chinook on the ocean starting tomorrow, July 8.


The two-salmon bag remains in effect (release wild coho), but instead of only being able to retain a single king and single hatchery coho, there’s enough Chinook available that an additional one can be kept.

The rule change affects waters between Oregon’s Cape Falcon and the Canada border, and includes Washington’s Areas 1, 2, 3 and 4.

“I think it’s going to be excellent,” says Doug Milward,  a WDFW ocean salmon manager working on the rule change notice now. “They’re out there in good numbers.”

WDFW Closed Monday, July 12


Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) offices, like those of most other state agencies, will be closed July 12 for the first of 10 unpaid, temporary employee layoff days.

Fishing and hunting license sales conducted over the Internet at and at retail vendors will not be affected by the closure. WDFW wildlife areas and water-access sites will remain open for public use during the layoff days, but WDFW hatcheries will not be open to the public during the layoff.

The statewide, temporary employee layoffs are mandated by ESSB 6503 ( ), adopted by the 2010 Legislature to help balance the state budget in the face of a revenue shortfall.

WDFW enforcement officers are exempt from the layoffs, under the law adopted by the Legislature. WDFW also has exempted fish counters who distinguish various species of salmon as they move past Columbia River hydropower dams. The federally required and federally funded fish counting must be conducted consistently while salmon are returning upriver.

Some WDFW employees who feed animals or perform other tasks that are critical to resource management will take alternate temporary layoff days.

In addition to July 12, scheduled state employee layoff dates in 2010 are Friday, Aug. 6; Tuesday, Sept. 7; Monday, Oct. 11; and Monday, Dec. 27. In 2011, scheduled temporary layoff dates are Friday, Jan. 28; Tuesday, Feb. 22; Friday, March 11; Friday, April 22; and Friday June 10.

More information on statewide office closures associated with the temporary layoff is available at .

Side-drifting A Bust, Cow Crew Find Success Back-trolling

After watching fireworks displays until almost midnight then tossing and turning as neighbors continued to set off loud “‘home-made” fireworks till the wee hours I was actually waiting for my alarm to go off. I was meeting with some good friends and chasing some Summer Steelhead in Washington.

As I rendezvoused with Pat, Kent and Tom in the pre-dawn darkness, it was evident that they were looking forward to fishing as well and we didn’t waste any time getting gear transferred to the boat and we were on the road again.  We arrived to an almost deserted boat ramp at Blue Creek on the Cowlitz, which was surprising since no matter what day you plan on fishing the Cow during the month of July, it’s always bustling with boats side-drifting or back-trolling and bank anglers drift fishing or doing that spey fishing thing.

We launched then rigged up side-drifting rods, cut eggs into nickel-sized pieces, picked out four-shot slinkies (after studying the flow of the river) and set aside leader rolls to be at the ready when we break off.  Fast forward two hours: no bites after side-drifting prime water.

What next?  We break out the Hot-N-Tots and coon stripe shrimp!  Nothing fancy, just a bait diver, 6 feet of leader to a 2/0 hook and a small dyed shrimp, then deploy 75 feet behind the boat.


It didn’t take more than a minute before we discovered we had made the correct choice as Pat’s rod flattened and a chrome summer steelhead crashed the surface below the boat.  The next five hours brought five fish to the boat, with two lost and countless other “mystery bites” taken out of the shrimp.

While the Cowlitz may be known for side-drifting, we were definitely not alone back-trolling bait.  While I’m not prepared to give in completely to the back-troll, rest assured, I’ll always have some coon shrimp soaking in some Pautzke Nectar the night before!


Thanks again for the great trip Pat, Tom and Kent!

SW WA Fishing Report


Cowlitz River – 21 boat anglers sampled at Blue Creek kept 8 steelhead while 2 bank anglers had no catch.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 726 summer-run steelhead, 360 spring Chinook adults, 51 jacks, 107 mini-jacks and one sockeye salmon during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. The sockeye salmon was the same fish that returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator three times last week. The fish was recycled downstream to the Massey Bar boat launch on the Cowlitz River.

Tacoma Power employees released 155 spring Chinook adults and 46 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,740 cubic feet per second on Tuesday, July 6. Water visibility is 16 feet.

Lewis River – At the mouth, 2 boat anglers sampled had kept 1 steelhead.

Drano Lake and the White Salmon River – New for 2010 – Both remain open for hatchery Chinook in July.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – During the first four days of July we sampled 989 bank anglers with 33 adult and 8 jack summer Chinook, 124 steelhead, and 8 sockeye.  In addition we sampled 310 boat anglers (136 boats) with 21 adult and 1 jack summer Chinook, 30 steelhead, and no sockeye.  Overall, 65% of the adult Chinook and 69% of the steelhead were kept.

Salmonid effort on Saturday July 3rd was heavy with nearly 400 boats and over 1,100 bank anglers counted during the flight.  Over 700 of the bank anglers were counted on the Washington shore.

Flows at Bonneville Dam are currently around 200,000 cfs or about half of the peak found in mid June.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers averaged an adult Chinook per every 12.4 rods when including fish released.  Light effort/catch from boats.  78% of the adult Chinook caught were kept.

Upriver Spring Chinook

  • The pre-season forecast was 470,000 adult upriver fish.  The preliminary final run size estimate is 315,100 adults (67% of forecast)


  • The pre-season forecast for Willamette spring Chinook was 62,700 fish (adults and jacks).  To date, 85,800 Willamette spring Chinook can be accounted for from fisheries and passage.  The spring Chinook counting period at Willamette Falls continues through August 15.


  • Every day adds to the new record return of sockeye to the Columbia River.  Through July 5, just over 346,000 sockeye have been counted at Bonneville Dam (and that count does not include any sport catch below the dam).  The old record return, as measured when Bonneville Dam was completed in 1938,  was 335,300 fish in 1947.

Catch rates for legal size fish improved for charter boat anglers but declined for private boaters at the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco last week.   Forty-one percent of the charter boat anglers took home a legal size fish while private boaters averaged one per every 12 rods.  If an angler is lucky enough to catch a fish, there was a 29% chance it would be legal size.


Below the Wauna powerlines – Since July 1, catch rates for legal size fish improved for charter boat anglers but declined for private boaters last week.   Forty-one percent of the charter boat anglers took home a legal size fish while private boaters averaged one per every 11.2 rods.  If an angler is lucky enough to catch a fish, there was a 27% chance it would be legal size.

Considering it was a holiday weekend, sturgeon effort in the estuary was relatively light with nearly 200 private boats and 7 charters counted during last Saturday’s flight.

Scheduled to remain open for white sturgeon retention through July 11.  The cumulative catch through July 11 may reach 3,700 fish.  The catch guideline for the season is 9,600.  Fishery managers will review the catch data after July 11 to determine if additional fishing opportunity is available under the catch guideline.

Wauna powerlines to Marker 82 – Some legals were caught by boat anglers in the Longview-Kalama area.  During last Saturday’s flight, just under a hundred boats were counted.


The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged a walleye per rod when including fish released.  They also caught some bass.


Mayfield Lake – Expected to be planted with 10,000 catchable size rainbows in July.

Tilton River and Skate Creek – Both are expected to be planted with nearly 9.400 catchable size rainbows in July.

Goose Lake north of Carson – Has been planted with 5,500 catchable size brown trout and 6,000 catchable size cutthroats since mid June.


Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort and catch is waning.  Bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam averaged 1.5 fish per rod.  Just 4 boats and 19 bank anglers were counted from the dam downstream during last Saturday’s flight.   

Courtesy Joe Hymer, PFMC

Imnaha, Wallowa Springer Fishery Extended


The Imnaha and Wallowa rivers in Northeast Oregon will remain open to hatchery spring chinook fishing until further notice, fishery managers announced today.

“So far this year, unseasonably high water has really limited fishing opportunities,” said Jeff Yanke, ODFW district fish biologist in Enterprise.  “This means we’re able to extend the season so anglers and local communities can benefit from this strong salmon run.”

With local runs complete at Bonneville Dam, ODFW biologists now estimate 8,000 adult spring chinook will return to both the Imnaha and Wallowa Rivers.  Approximately 75 percent of the total return to each river will be marked hatchery fish available for harvest.

Current fishery regulations will apply through the extension period.  Anglers are reminded to ask permission before entering private property to fish, and to pick up trash when leaving. In addition, anglers are asked to respect tribal members that may also be fishing for spring chinook using traditional methods.

“The duration of the fishery will depend on environmental conditions and angler success, both of which we will be monitoring carefully”, said Yanke.  “Our goal is to optimize the fishing opportunity while meeting our conservation responsibility”.

Chattaroy Man Wins WA Moose Raffle

Harry Williamson of Chattaroy won Washington’s moose tag raffle in Spokane last night, the first ever awarded that way.

His was one of around 1,300 $10 tickets sold for a drawing put on by the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.

He will be able to take a bull or a cow with any legal weapon in any open unit in Region 1, according to INWC executive director Wanda Clifford.

“This was our first time at raffling a moose tag with the game department and quite an experience for us,” she says. “A large part of the profits go back to the WDFW. The rest of the funds go into our projects of big game, upland bird, hunter education and others.”

The group, founded in 1951, commits 20,000 hours of volunteer time annually towards wildlife- and hunting-related projects. Its Big Game Recovery Committee collects freshly road-killed deer, elk and moose to help feed hungry citizens in the region, a program former club president James A. Nelson detailed earlier this year in Northwest Sportsman.

The INWC was one of two groups allowed to raffle off hunts this year. The other, the Washington Chapter of the Foundation for Wild Sheep, had sold 2,524 tickets through the end of June for a chance to hunt a Rocky Mountains ram in the Blues, according to its Web site; typically, an average of 4,300 are sold. Deadline to buy is July 5.

WDFW also raffles off a number of special deer, elk, bighorn, mountain goat, bear, cougar and turkey. Deadline to purchase tickets this year is July 23. In 2009, the department’s drawings raised $224,544.

Moose populations in their Northeast Washington stronghold may not be growing like they once were, but the species has spread into the Blue Mountains, areas of the Palouse, the treed plains west of Spokane, the Okanogan and even a few have been spotted in the Wenatchee-Chelan County area. More than 120 special hunting permits have been available to hunters in recent years.

Clifford hopes INWC can hold a moose-tag raffle next year.