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SW WA Fishing Report

(COURTESY JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Anglers are catching winter run steelhead and spring chinook.

Kalama River – No report on angling success.  The first couple of summer run steelhead of the season returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery last week.

Lewis River – Some spring chinook are being caught at the mouth.  The first 25 spring chinook and 5 summer run steelhead of the season returned to the Merwin Dam trap last week.

East Fork Lewis from mouth to top boat ramp at Lewisville Park and Washougal River from mouth to Mt. Norway Bridge – Opens to fishing for hatchery steelhead Friday April 16. Selective gear rules will be in effect; no bait may be used.

Wind River – A few anglers are starting to appear with a half dozen boats last Saturday and 10 on Sunday.  No catch was observed.

Drano Lake – Effort is increasing with half dozen boats last Saturday and around 20 on Sunday.  A few spring chinook were reportedly caught.

The lake will be closed to all fishing on Wednesdays beginning this week through May.  Effective April 16, bank fishing only west of a line projected from the eastern most pillar of the Highway 14 Bridge to a posted marker on the north shore.

Klickitat River – Some newly arriving summer run steelhead are being caught by bank anglers from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream.

Lower Columbia from Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge – Last week we sampled 3,283 boat anglers (1,405 boats) with 1,130 adult and 1 jack chinook and 1 steelhead.  In addition, we sampled 439 bank anglers with 26 adult chinook and 2 steelhead.  91% the adult chinook were caught from Section 4 (Warrior Rock) upstream to the I-5 Bridge.

Overall, 87% of the adult Chinook caught were kept.  Of the 931 adult chinook kept that we sampled, 91% were upriver stock based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).

On Saturday April 10, a total of 2,314 boats and 689 bank anglers were counted during the flight.  1,516 (66%) of the boats and 397 (58%) of the bank anglers were counted from Warrior Rock to the I-5 Bridge.

The Joint Staff will review recreational catches through April 11 early this week and will provide another update at that time.  Stay tuned!

Bonneville Pool – Bank anglers just outside Drano Lake are catching some spring chinook.

The Dalles Pool – Effort and catch of spring chinook are increasing.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFE District 4 Fish Biologist – For the week of April 4 through April 11, there were an estimated 24 boat trips and 122 bank anglers fishing for spring chinook in the John Day Pool (Lake Umatilla). WDFW staff interviewed 20 boats and 34 bank anglers. The majority of the boats were fishing for walleye or sturgeon and the bank anglers were primarily fishing for chinook. No catch was reported for salmon.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville DamExcept for the gorge, effort and catch remains light.  A total of 61 boats and 140 bank anglers were counted during last Saturday’s flight.  However, 113 of the bank anglers were counted at Rooster Rock.   

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some legals; slow from the bank.  Through March, an estimated 154 (51%) of the 300 fish guideline had been taken.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged over a walleye per every other rod.  In addition, some bass were caught.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers are catching some walleye.

TROUT

Year round lakes planted with catchable size rainbows up to one-half pound each last week were:

South Lewis County Park Pond near Toledo – 3,042 fish

Lake Sacajawea in Longview – 3,016 fish

Kress Lake in Kalama – 2,067 fish

Lacamas Lake in Camas – 3,500 fish

Commission Tweaks Permit Hunt Process, Antlerless Tag Levels

(WASHINGTON FISH & WILDLIFE COMMISSION PRESS RELEASE)

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission set this year’s general hunting seasons and special-hunt permit drawings during a public meeting here April 9-10.

The nine-member citizen commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also approved several land transactions and heard public comments on proposed new rules designed to address property damage and other conflicts between landowners and wildlife.

New hunting rules approved by the commission reflect changes in game populations since the current three-year plan was adopted last year.  They include:

* Reducing antlerless elk hunting in the Yakima area.
* Reducing antlerless deer hunting in northeast Washington and the Olympic Peninsula.
* Providing additional permits for spring black bear hunting and delaying start dates for fall black bear hunting in some areas.
* Increasing permit hunting for cougar in southeast Washington.
* Changing the fall turkey hunt in southeast Washington from a limited permit-only hunt to a general hunt.

Along with the new hunting rules, the commission also approved a new application system for special-hunt permits that will give hunters more options by allowing them to apply for deer and elk permits in several different categories.  The system applies “points” accrued by unsuccessful permit applicants from previous years to each of the new permit categories.

Another change allows hunters who use archery or muzzleloader equipment to carry hand guns for personal protection.

The amended hunting rules, which take effect May 1, will be included in WDFW’s new Big-Game Hunting pamphlet, which will be available by late April at license dealers, WDFW offices, and online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regs_seasons.html .

On another matter, the commission approved an easement on 16.5 acres of WDFW’s Chelan Wildlife Area for a Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) electrical power transmission line. The PUD will pay WDFW $6,748 as compensation for the easement, plus an annual mitigation payment of $4,217 for wildlife habitat impacts.

The commission also approved the acquisition of:

* 29 acres in Pierce County as a new site for WDFW’s Voight Creek Fish Hatchery, supported by $440,000 from a state legislative capital budget appropriation.
* Almost 150 acres of tidelands and uplands in Mason County for salmon, shorebird and waterfowl habitat as part of WDFW’s South Puget Sound Wildlife Area. Those lands will be secured with $197,000 from federal wetlands grants and state wildlife grants.

The commission also received public comments on new rules proposed to address property damage and other conflicts between landowners and wildlife. As directed by the 2009 Washington Legislature (SHB 1778), the proposal includes specific requirements for both lethal and non-lethal control, and identifies new sources of technical assistance for property owners. Claims for crop damage would be paid only after an assessment by a professional crop insurance adjustor.

The commission, which originally heard public comments the proposed “wildlife interactions” rules at a March 12-13 meeting in Olympia, will be briefed by WDFW staff on adjustments to the proposal during a May 7 conference call.

The commission directed staff to make additional landowner outreach efforts regarding the proposal before final action is taken at a June 4-5 public meeting in Spokane.  The proposed Wildlife Interaction Rules are posted on the commission’s website at http://bit.ly/db1aCT .

NWS Writer Finds Hot Springer Bite

Man, why weren’t we fishing this far below the Interstate when I went out with you earlier this month, Andy Schneider!?!?

Oh, yeah, that’s right, the Willamette was kind of pukey.

The Columbia has since reprised itself for the Northwest Sportsman contributor. He and his crews found pretty good — though very crowded — fishing over the weekend off Vancouver’s west side.

Here’s his story:

Since finding a couple of weeks off this summer proved to be impossible for me this year, I decided to take two weeks off in the peak of Springer Season.  It was tough to wait until my weekend arrived, especially with good reports coming from the Columbia all week, but my vacation arrived and I started out bright and early Friday with a Soldier just out of Basic, his Dad John LeCarno and my good Friend Tom VanderPlaat.  Within the 1st 100 yards of our 1st Pass Tom hooks up with his 2nd Springer of 2010.  Then it’s the Soldier’s turn and Joel lands his 1st Springer of 2010 in a light rain before heading back to a dry and warm Southern California.

CREEPING ALONG CATERPILLAR ISLAND, MISSY SCHNEIDER LANDED THIS SPRINGER. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Saturday arrived and I had the pleasure of fishing with my Wife and son and 2 friends for work Mike Fung and Shawn Seals.  After fishing Friday and finding everyone in the Portland Metro area that owned a boat on the water, I figured it couldn’t get anymore crowded for Saturday, so off we headed to the river….at 4am…..again!  But I was wrong there were more boats than ever!  Oh well, it was a sight to see, even if fishing proved to be poor (which it didn’t).

DAD HELPS SON AYDEN HEFT HIS SATURDAY SPRINGER. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

On our 1st pass Missy hooks up and hopes were high. On our way to the top of the run, I attempted to count boats….I quickly lost count just after 100, but I estimated right around a thousand boats in the lower run we were making (Caterpillar Island to Frenchman’s Bar).  On our second pass Mike Fung and Shawn Seals hook up with nice Springers and on our 3rd and last run of the day, my Son Ayden and I found our fish.  5 fish with 5 bites, all before noon, catching can’t get too much better; even in such crowded conditions.  Green Label Herring, Plug Cut and spinning 20-inches off the bottom did the trick for all 5 fish.

Now off to actually start my fishing vacation….

THE FLEET OFF VANCOUVER. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Trout from the coast to the Snake, California to Washington highlight the weekend recreation opportunities in Oregon.

But Chinook are also available in the Beaver State’s northwest and southwest corners, plus bottomfish and shellfish.

Here are highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Trout fishing has been excellent on Powers Pond and Butterfield Lake with anglers landing a combination of newly stocked trout and larger holdovers from last fall.
  • Lost Creek Reservoir will be stocked with 10,000 legal-sized trout this week.
  • On the lower Rogue River, winter steelhead fishing overshadowed chinook fishing thanks to a nice push of steelhead over the weekend. However, look for chinook fishing to improve this week as water levels drop and water temperatures rise.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel.
  • Winter steelhead fishing is good in the Clackamas and Sandy rivers and Eagle Creek. Steelhead are spread throughout both systems and some good catches have been reported.
  • A youth angling event will be held from 9:30-1 p.m. at Cottage Grove Pond east of Cottage Grove on Saturday, April 10. All necessary equipment will be provided at this free event and volunteers will be available to assist young anglers. Call the Springfield ODFW office for more information at 541-726-3515.
  • A youth angling event will be held from 9-2 p.m. at St. Louis Ponds north of Salem, with all necessary equipment provided and volunteers on hand to assist young anglers. Call the Clackamas ODFW office for more information at 971-673-6034.
  • Henry Hagg Lake will be stocked this week with 12,000 legal-sized rainbow trout.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing on the Blitzen River has been good and should remain so until flows and turbidity increase during spring runoff.
  • Several area lakes and ponds have been stocked with legal-sized trout including upper Cow Lake, Haines Pond and Hwy 203 Pond.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Several area lakes and ponds are being stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout as well as some surplus steelhead. Check out Peach, Weston and Seventh Street ponds.
  • Anglers are reminded that steelhead season closes on northeast Oregon Rivers April 15 (except the Snake River which is open through April 30).

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Spring chinook fishing was good last week above St. Helens. Angling should be excellent downstream of there when the water clears.
  • A few legal-sized sturgeon are being caught by boat and bank anglers in the gorge as well as in the Portland to Longview area.
  • Walleye angling is excellent in The Dalles Pool.

MARINE ZONE

  • This month ODFW started its seasonal surveys of ocean fishers. Currently ODFW surveys Garibaldi, Depoe Bay, Newport, Charleston and Brookings. Although the ocean has been very rough during most of April, some anglers were able to get out. The survey showed most of effort coming out of Depoe Bay and Newport where fishers reported catches of between two and three rockfish and less than one ling cod per angler. The best catches of crab were out of Brookings with more than five per angler and the worst was Newport with one crab per angler.
  • A morning minus tide series begins April 14 and continues through April 20 providing opportunity for clam diggers. Razor clam diggers should watch for days when the marine forecast calls for combined swell and wind waves of less than eight feet.
  • The entire Oregon coast is now open to recreational and commercial clam harvesting.
  • 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.

First Of 12 WA Kids ‘Fish In’ Events This Weekend

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Five dollars doesn’t buy much these days, but at 12 Washington ponds and lakes this spring it will purchase an introduction to what may become a lifetime love affair with sport fishing.

Kids’ Fish-In events begin Saturday, April 10 at Klineline Pond in Vancouver, WA and will continue throughout the state through June 12. The events are open to youth 5 years to 14 years of age. Registration is required, and events fill up quickly, so it’s important to register as early as possible.

For $5, kids get their own rod and reel, about an hour of fishing, a tee-shirt, hopefully a fish or two and, perhaps best of all, someone willing to clean the fish for them. Because these events are for youth 14 and under, participants do not need a fishing license.

All 12 events, sponsored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, are conducted by the Go Play Outside Alliance of Washington (GoPaw). The annual fishing events will be held this year in Vancouver, Lacey, Kennewick, Spokane, Everett, Yakima, Lakewood, Seattle, Longview, Leavenworth, Moses Lake and Colfax.

A schedule of events and locations is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/kids/events.html . Through that website you can also link to registration forms, instructions and driving directions on GoPaw’s website.

Each event is co-sponsored by a variety of local businesses and civic and sport fishing organizations. Lakes in the youth fishing program are stocked with thousands of catchable-size fish prior to the day of fishing. Klineline Pond, where as many as 1,500 youth are expected to show up on Saturday, will be stocked with approximately 11,000 additional fish, some weighing as much as 10 lbs.

Anglers who fish these waters regularly should know that many of the lakes and ponds will be closed to fishing one or two days prior to the event, while the lake is being stocked, and the day of the event. Klineline Pond will be closed to public fishing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, reopening on Sunday, April 11.


SW WA Fishing Report

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

Salmon/Steelhead
Cowlitz River – Steelhead and some spring chinook are being caught throughout the lower river.  Flows below Mayfield Dam are 4,560 cfs which is lower than the 5,480 cfs long-term mean for this date.
Lewis River – Effort remains generally light.  Some spring chinook are being caught.  Flows below Merwin Dam were 8,080 cfs which is higher than the 5,100 cfs long-term mean for this date.
Wind and Klickitat rivers and Drano Lake – Little to no effort.  No catch reported.  On the Klickitat, flows at Pitt are 2,150 cfs which is nearly identical to the long-term mean for this date.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – During the first four days of April we sampled 2,242 boat anglers (922 boats) with 308 adult chinook and 1 steelhead.  In addition, we sampled 436 bank anglers with 60 adult chinook and 1 steelhead.  96% of the chinook were caught from Section 4 (Warrior Rock) upstream.
Overall, 86% of the adult Chinook caught were kept.  Of the 300 adult chinook sampled, 93% were upriver stock based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).

The I-5 Bridge to Bonneville Dam area is now closed to fishing for salmon, steelhead, and shad.  Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge is scheduled to be open for hatchery spring chinook, hatchery steelhead, and shad 7 days/week through April 18.
The Dalles Pool – The first spring chinook of the season were sampled there last week.  Scheduled to be open 7 days/week through May.  Daily limit 2 hatchery adult chinook, hatchery steelhead, or one of each.
It is anticipated that the spring spill program will begin at all lower Snake River dams at 0001 hours on April 3rd, 2010 (see Fish Passage Center
Weekly Reports @ http://www.fpc.org/documents/weekrprt/weekly_reports_currentyear.html.

Sturgeon
Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Remains slow for legal size fish.
The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some legals.  Slow for legal size fish from the bank.

Walleye and Bass
The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged 1.4 walleye per rod.  A few bass were also being caught.

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – Steelhead and some spring chinook are being caught throughout the lower river.  Flows below Mayfield Dam are 4,560 cfs which is lower than the 5,480 cfs long-term mean for this date.

Lewis River – Effort remains generally light.  Some spring chinook are being caught.  Flows below Merwin Dam were 8,080 cfs which is higher than the 5,100 cfs long-term mean for this date.

Wind and Klickitat rivers and Drano Lake – Little to no effort.  No catch reported.  On the Klickitat, flows at Pitt are 2,150 cfs which is nearly identical to the long-term mean for this date.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville DamDuring the first four days of April we sampled 2,242 boat anglers (922 boats) with 308 adult chinook and 1 steelhead.  In addition, we sampled 436 bank anglers with 60 adult chinook and 1 steelhead.  96% of the chinook were caught from Section 4 (Warrior Rock) upstream.

Overall, 86% of the adult Chinook caught were kept.  Of the 300 adult chinook sampled, 93% were upriver stock based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).

The I-5 Bridge to Bonneville Dam area is now closed to fishing for salmon, steelhead, and shad.  Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge is scheduled to be open for hatchery spring chinook, hatchery steelhead, and shad 7 days/week through April 18.

The Dalles Pool – The first spring chinook of the season were sampled there last week.  Scheduled to be open 7 days/week through May.  Daily limit 2 hatchery adult chinook, hatchery steelhead, or one of each.

It is anticipated that the spring spill program will begin at all lower Snake River dams at 0001 hours on April 3rd, 2010 (see Fish Passage Center
Weekly Reports @ http://www.fpc.org/documents/weekrprt/weekly_reports_currentyear.html.

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Remains slow for legal size fish.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some legals.  Slow for legal size fish from the bank.

Walleye and Bass

The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged 1.4 walleye per rod.  A few bass were also being caught.

Youth Fishing Event Next Saturday, Cottage Grove

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Young people interested in angling can find a great fishing opportunity Saturday, April 10, at Cottage Grove Pond in Cottage Grove.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will release 1,550 rainbow trout into Cottage Grove Pond, including 50 “one pounders” as part of the Youth Angling Enhancement Program event. These fish are in addition to scheduled release of 2,000 fish. ODFW staff and volunteers will be available from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to provide access to fishing equipment and angling instruction. Contact the Springfield ODFW office at 541-726-3515 for more information.

Under Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, anglers under the age of 13 can fish for free. A juvenile license is required for anglers 14-17 years of age. Juvenile angling licenses can be purchased for $9 from ODFW field offices and license outlets. All other anglers must have an Oregon adult fishing license. All fishing regulations continue to apply.

“This event is for kids, so while the standard fishing regulations will apply, we would like to ask adults to leave the fishing to the young ones for a few days,” said Erik Moberly, ODFW biologist.

Cottage Grove Pond is located off Row River Road east of Cottage Grove. From I-5, take the Cottage Grove exit (Exit 174). Head east on Row River Road about 1.5 miles. Turn north into the Cottage Grove Ponds parking area near the weigh station

What’s Fishin’ In Washington

Trout in Spokane and Basin lakes, Chinook in the Southwest corner, crappie and walleye in Banks, lings and steelies on the Coast and trips at Rufus.

Just a sampling of some of the fish biting now around Washington.

Here’s more from WDFW’s Weekender:

NORTH SOUND

Thousands of anglers are gearing up for the lowland lakes trout opener in late April but many remain focused on the marine areas of Puget Sound, where blackmouth salmon fisheries are still under way.

“Overall, fishing for blackmouth continues to be very slow in northern Puget Sound,” said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. “But a number of anglers that made it out on the water for the recent Anacortes Salmon Derby had a bit of success and landed some large fish.”

A total of 132 fish were weighed during the Anacortes Salmon Derby , which took place March 27-28. Ralph Thomas of Tacoma took home the $15,000 grand prize with his 27.48-pound fish. John Belarde of Woodinville hooked a 25.72-pound salmon that was good enough for second place and $5,000, and Seth Baumgarten of Kirkland was awarded $2,500 for his third-place fish, which weighed in at 24.38 pounds.

“Those are some outstanding blackmouth,” Thiesfeld said. “Anglers definitely have to put in some time on the water, but it can be worth it for an opportunity to haul in a 20-plus pound blackmouth.”

Anglers fishing in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands) – as well 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) – have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Those three marine areas are open through April 30.

Thiesfeld reminds anglers that Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) is open only through April 15. Anglers fishing Marine Area 9 also have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook.

Halibut anglers should be aware that the fishing opener for the big flatfish in most marine areas of Puget Sound has been delayed this year. The later starting date is necessary because of the combination of a reduced quota and excessive catch last year in the Sound.

To ensure that the halibut fishery in Puget Sound stays within the quota, the fishing season in marine areas 6-10 will run from May 1 through May 30. Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will retain its traditional opening date just before the Memorial Day weekend but will close earlier than it has in the past. Marine Area 5 will be open from May 28 through July 19.

The Puget Sound halibut fisheries will be open three days a week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – and closed Sunday through Wednesday except for Memorial Day weekend when they will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Marine areas 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) and 13 (South Puget Sound) will be closed this year to protect rockfish, which may be caught incidentally by anglers fishing for halibut. As in previous years, Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) will remain closed due to low dissolved-oxygen conditions.  For more information on 2010 halibut fisheries, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/halibut .

Freshwater anglers looking to cast for trout will soon have numerous lakes to choose from. The lowland lakes trout season gets under way April 24, when many lakes – stocked with thousands of legal-sized trout – will open for fishing. Information on stocking schedules for rainbow, cutthroat and triploid trout is available on WDFW’s website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants ).

Current regulations for all freshwater and saltwater fisheries are avaiable in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA

April will see the traditional opening of the statewide lowland lakes trout fishing season, the expansion of lingcod fishing on the north coast and at least one proposed razor-clam dig on ocean beaches, pending the outcome of tests for toxins. The tentative dates for clamming are April 16, 17 and 18.

Anglers also continued to catch steelhead in relatively large numbers. Last weekend, 37 anglers fishing the Bogachiel/Quillayute River caught 54 steelhead; all but two were wild. Fishing was also good on the Lower Hoh River, where 65 anglers caught 39 steelhead fish over the last weekend in March. The good fortune didn’t extend to the Upper Hoh, where 38 anglers fished for more than 220 hours, reeling in only six wild steelhead, all of which were released. The retention fishery closes at the end of the day April 15 on the Hoh River, but will remain open through April 30 on the Quillayute River system.

As was the case last year, the weather on Washington’s coast so far hasn’t been very conducive to ocean fishing for lingcod. Anglers have brought in a few 20 to 22 pounders in marine areas 1-3, but the weather has afforded few opportunities to fish, said Erica Crust, WDFW’s ocean port sampler in Westport.

Crust said that a few privately owned boats that did venture out caught their limits of lingcod and rockfish right off the jetty. Charters have had more success. According to Crust, the majority have come in with their limit of rockfish and an average of one lingcod per person.

Typically, many anglers wait until Marine Area 4 opens on April 16 to head out. “Neah Bay is historically a good fishery for lings,” said Crust. “If the weather cooperates, we should see some excellent fishing there again this year.”

Crust reminds anglers that recreational fishing for bottomfish or lingcod is not allowed in waters deeper than 30 fathoms in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) from March 14 through June 15.  However, anglers may retain sablefish and Pacific cod in these waters from May 1 through June 15. Retention of canary and yelloweye rockfish is prohibited in all areas.

The minimum size for lingcod in marine areas 1-3 is 22 inches, while the minimum size in Marine Area 4 is 24 inches. All areas are open seven days a week. Additional information about the lingcod fishery and other bottomfish is available on the WDFW Fishing Hotline (360) 902-2500 or online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

Anglers still looking for blackmouth are running out of time. Marine Areas 5 and 6 will close April 10, although Marine Areas 11, 12 and 13 will remain open through April 30. On the Peninsula, blackmouth anglers are catching a few chinook, but the action has fallen off in recent weeks. At the Pt. Defiance dock in Tacoma only five chinook were checked in the week ending March 28.

Rather dig razor clams ? WDFW is tentatively planning at least one opening in April, provided marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat. All are scheduled on morning tides and digging ends at noon. Tentative dates and tides:

* Friday, April 16 (8:32 a.m., -0.7 ft.) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Saturday, April 17 (9:12 a.m., -0.7 ft) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only
* Sunday, April 18 (9:56 a.m., -0.6 ft) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only

Meanwhile, hatchery crews are stocking lakes throughout the region with tens of thousands of rainbow trout to prepare for the April 24 lake-fishing opener. More information and schedules are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants .

Halibut anglers should be aware that the fishing opener for the big flatfish in most marine areas of Puget Sound has been delayed this year. The later starting date is necessary because of the combination of a reduced quota and excessive catch last year in the Sound.

To ensure that the halibut fishery in Puget Sound stays within the quota, the fishing season in marine areas 6-10 will run from May 1 through May 30. Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will retain its traditional opening date just before the Memorial Day weekend but will close earlier than it has in the past. Marine Area 5 will be open from May 28 through July 19.  For more information on 2010 halibut fisheries, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/halibut .

SOUTHWEST

The spring chinook fishery on the lower Columbia River has sprung into action.  After a slow start, the recreational catch for March shot up to 7,693 fish caught or released – the third highest count for that month since the creel-check program was started in 1968.  More than 2,000 boats and 750 bank anglers were counted during an aerial survey on a recent Saturday, a clear sign that this year’s spring chinook fishery had finally shifted into high gear.

“The run is really starting to ramp up now,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.  “Anglers have been catching some nice fish throughout the lower river.  If you’ve been planning to go, now is a good time to do it.”

According to the pre-season forecast, 559,900 spring chinook salmon – 470,000 of which are upriver bound – will return to the Columbia River and its tributaries this year, the largest run since at least 1938.

Hymer noted, however, that anglers planning to join the spring chinook fishery in the days ahead should be aware of changes in fishing rules and in river conditions.

* Fishing seasons:   April 3 is the last day to catch spring chinook from the I-5 Bridge upriver to Bonneville Dam – at least until fishery managers complete an in-season assessment of the run in early May. However, the spring chinook fishery will remain open from Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge seven days a week through April 18.

* River conditions:   Heavy rain during the last week in March has increased turbidity in some tributaries to the Columbia River. “That makes fishing conditions – especially at the mouths of the tributaries – a little tougher,” Hymer said.  “In general, I’d suggest fishing in shallower water away from river mouths, and trolling with a flasher/dodger to increase visibility.”

Anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam may retain one adult spring chinook salmon a day, while those fishing above the dam can keep two per day. As in previous years, only hatchery-reared fish marked with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained.  All wild spring chinook, identifiable by an intact adipose fin, must be released unharmed.

In a creel survey conducted during the last full week of March, 3,272 boat anglers in 1,396 boats reported catching 658 adult hatchery chinook and six hatchery steelhead.  The 395 bank anglers surveyed that week had 35 adult chinook and two steelhead.  Approximately 71 percent of the fish sampled were identified as upriver stocks.

Anglers fishing tributaries to the lower Columbia are also catching increasing numbers of spring chinook, along with some late winter-run and early-arriving summer steelhead .  The Cowlitz and Kalama rivers are providing some action for both species, although fishing on the Lewis River remains slow, Hymer said.

Few spring chinook were caught above Bonneville Dam through March, but that will certainly change as more fish start moving past the dam, Hymer said.  The fishery is open seven days per week from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam, with a daily limit of two hatchery chinook, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each.  Bank fishing only is permitted from Bonneville Dam to Tower Island powerlines, located about six miles below The Dalles Dam.

Starting April 3, the Klickitat River opens for spring chinook fishing four days per week – Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays – from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream.  The daily limit there, and on the lower Wind River and Drano Lake, is two hatchery chinook, hatchery steelhead, or one of each.

Anglers can check fish counts at the dam on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website at https://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/op/fishdata/home.asp .

Fishing for sturgeon has been slow in the lower Columbia River and in The Dalles Pool, the only area between Bonneville and McNary dams open to sturgeon retention.  Boat anglers have, however, been catching some walleye in The Dalles Pool.

Shell-aficionados should be aware that WDFW is tentatively planning a morning razor-clam dig at Long Beach and other ocean beaches in mid-April.  If marine toxin tests show the clams area safe to eat, the dig will take place on the following days and beaches:

* Friday, April 16, (8:32 a.m., -0.7) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Saturday, April 17, (9:12 a.m., -0.7) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only
* Sunday, April 18, (9:56 a.m., -0.6) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only

EASTERN

Early spring fishing continues to be good at lakes that are open in the region. The seven Tucannon River impoundments in southeast’s Columbia County – Beaver, Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring, and Watson lakes – are well-stocked with rainbow trout from WDFW’s Tucannon and Lyons Ferry fish hatcheries.

Amber, Downs, Liberty and Medical lakes in Spokane County are all producing rainbow catches. The access dock was just restored at Liberty Lake, near the town of the same name in the far eastern part of the county. Docks were also just re-installed at year-round Newman Lake, also on the east end of the county, and Eloika Lake, north of Chattaroy in the north end of the county.

Fishing has been good for both rainbow and brown trout at Rock Lake in Whitman County. Anglers are reeling in some nice-size rainbows at Sprague Lake on the Lincoln-Adams county line. And rainbows and kokanee are the catch of the day at Lake Roosevelt.

April 15 is the deadline to register kids five to 14 years of age for the May 1 Kids’ Fish-In event at Clear Lake in southwest Spokane County. The cost is $5 each, which includes a T-shirt, rod and reel, and help to catch up to three rainbow trout. The 45-minute fishing sessions take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairchild Air Force Base access site on Clear Lake. The event is sponsored by WDFW, Go Play Outside Alliance of Washington (GoPAW), Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Spokane Fly Fishers, Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club, Spokane Walleye Club, Fairchild AFB Outdoor Recreation program, White Elephant, Zebco and Eagle Claw.  Registration forms are available at WDFW’s Spokane Valley office at 2315 N. Discovery Place, 509-892-1001; or online at http://www.gopaw.org/kids_fish-in_program .

Steelhead retention on the Snake River and most tributaries ends March 31. Grande Ronde River steelheading continues through April 15.

The single, biggest lake fishing opener is coming up April 24, mostly on waters that were stocked last year with hatchery trout fry that have been growing to catchable-size over the winter. But WDFW fish hatchery crews are also busy stocking lakes with catchables and surplus broodstock in some lakes to boost fishing opportunities on the opener. Watch for this year’s stocking plan to be posted soon on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/reports_plants.html .

NORTH-CENTRAL

The “April Fools” opener on more than 30 waters in the Columbia Basin should provides some fair to good fishing on rainbow trout and other species.

WDFW district fish biologist Chad Jackson says most of the waters opening April 1 are either within or adjacent to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge south of Potholes Reservoir, and over half are planted with spring and/or fall rainbow trout fry.

“Although many of these lakes are in need of rehabilitation to rid them of competing fish species, nice sized trout can be found,” Jackson said.

The Upper and Lower Hampton lakes historically produce quality fishing on the opener for 12-14-inch yearling trout.  Jackson says that while trout size is still fairly good at the Hamptons, total trout abundance is not nearly as good. Last spring Upper was planted with 26,500 trout fry and Lower with 5,000 trout fry.  Lower Hampton Lake also received a trout fry plant of 4,500 in the fall.

“Both of the Hampton lakes were rehabilitated roughly six years ago,” Jackson said, “but sunfish and other warmwater species appear to have established themselves once again.  These species impact trout fry survival by competing for the same food resources.  To confound things, cormorants (fish-eating birds) have been known to prey upon trout in some years.”

Jackson said anglers looking to maximize catch rates should fish Lower Hampton Lake, where they’ll find two different size classes of trout available for harvest — 8-10 inches and 11-13 inches.  Anglers looking to harvest larger fish should hike into Upper Hampton Lake and, if possible, fish it from a small boat or float tube.  Yearling trout in Upper Hampton Lake range in size from 12 to 14 inches.

“Hampton anglers may also want to try Hen Lake,” Jackson said, referring to the small lake connected to Lower Hampton Lake.  Hen Lake receives 750 rainbow trout fry in the spring, and if fry survival is good, they should be around 12 inches in length.”

Jackson said those who traditionally fish North and South Teal Lakes on the April 1 opener should not expect the excellent fishing found there in the past. Both lakes are in need of rehabilitation, but both lakes were also stocked with approximately 5,000 trout fry in the spring. Anglers should expect to catch a few nice12-14-inch yearlings and 16-inch and greater carryovers.

The Pillar-Widgeon lake chain, also opening April 1, includes (running north to south) Pillar, Gadwall, Snipe, Shoveler, Cattail, Poacher, Lemna, Hourglass, Sago, and Widgeon lakes.  Jackson said all are stocked with rainbow trout fry during the spring.  Total trout fry stocked in each lake is as follows:  Pillar – 2,500, Gadwall – 750, Snipe -600, Shoveler – 750, Cattail – 1,500, Poacher -150, Lemna – 450, Hourglass – 300, Sago – 300, and Widgeon – 1,650.  Access to this chain of small lakes is located just southeast of Soda Lake.

“Anglers looking to fish the Pillar-Widgeon lakes should visit either the entire chain or at least three or four of the lakes during their outing,” Jackson said. “If you’re persistent, expect to catch some very nice sized yearling and carryover trout. Shore fishing is available at most of these lakes, but I advise packing a float tube because it will increase your chances for success. Usually the best lakes in the chain tend to be Widgeon, Sago, and Pillar, but don’t ignore the other lakes.”

Jackson says some of the Columbia Refuge area lakes also offer excellent fishing for warmwater species, particularly Hutchinson and Shiner lakes. Since their rehabilitations in 1997, these two lakes have developed into quality fisheries for largemouth bass and bluegill .  Anglers should note that only non-motorized boats are allowed on these two lakes.

Other warmwater fishing options are the Coyote, Bobcat, and Hayes creek ponds located just south of Morgan and Halfmoon lakes.  Jackson says these ponds are relatively small and shallow, so they warm up quickly, and offer good fishing for largemouth bass.  Another option might be Deadman Lake located just off McManamon Road next to Halfmoon Lake.

Anglers who plan on fishing the refuge area lakes, especially the hike-in ones, should remember that with the unseasonably warm weather has rattlesnakes out earlier and in greater numbers than normal.

Also opening on April 1 is Dry Falls Lake, located just northeast of Park Lake within the Sun Lakes State Park southwest of Coulee City. The 99-acre lake is under selective gear rules and a one-trout daily bag limit.

“Opening day success at Dry Falls in previous years was a little slow because of cold weather,” Jackson said. “But this year abnormally warmer air temperatures are heating up the lake much quicker and it may fish better on this year’s opener. I expect anglers to take 13-14-inch yearling rainbows and carryovers up to 24 inches, just like the last two years.”

Brown and tiger trout are also planted into Dry Falls Lake. Jackson reported that a total of 9,900 rainbow, 1,000 tiger, and 1,000 brown trout fry were stocked into Dry Falls Lake in 2009.

WDFW district fish biologist Bob Jateff of Twisp said Spectacle Lake opens for fishing April 1, and anglers can expect rainbow trout in the 10-13-inch range, with carryover fish to 15 inches.  There is a five fish daily catch limit and bait is allowed at Spectacle.  Jateff reminds anglers that when fishing with bait, the first five fish count as part of the daily limit, whether kept or released.

Jateff also reminds anglers that some Okanogan County lakes switch to catch-and-release trout fishing on April 1 — Rat near Brewster, Big and Little Green near Omak, and Davis and Campbell near Winthrop.  Selective gear rules are in effect for all of these lakes and the use of boats with internal combustion engines is prohibited.  Anglers must also use a knotless net to land fish.

WDFW fish biologist Matt Polacek reports the latest creel survey at Banks Lake shows decent catch rates on yellow perch and fair size on walleye . Anglers last surveyed at this Columbia River reservoir southwest of Grand Coulee averaged 3.28 perch that averaged 7.75 inches per hour of fishing. Walleye anglers caught fish that averaged almost 18 inches at a rate of about one walleye for every three hours of fishing. Anglers surveyed also averaged 1.2 black crappie of about 11 inches each per hour of fishing, and about one rainbow trout of about 16 inches for every two hours of fishing.

WDFW fish hatchery specialist Mike Erickson reports recently fishing Rufus Woods Reservoir and doing “very well” near the rainbow trout net pens and other areas in the waterway on the Douglas-Okanogan county line. “This is an outstanding fishery,” Erickson said. “With a group of six people in two boats, we had to work for the fish but came out with limits two days in a row.”

SOUTH-CENTRAL

WDFW district fish biologist Paul Hoffarth of Pasco reminds anglers that steelhead fishing closes March 31 in many areas of eastern Washington. However, a one-mile section of shoreline in the Columbia River adjacent to WDFW’s Ringold Hatchery will remain open through April 15.

“This fishery is open to bank angling only,” said Hoffarth, noting that the daily catch limit is two hatchery-marked  steelhead.

Rainbow trout were recently planted in Dalton Lake, Quarry Pond, Columbia Park Pond (a juvenile-only water), and Marmes Pond in the Tri-Cities area. In addition, Dalton Lake and Powerline Lake will be planted with triploid trout by mid-April.

Hoffarth said fishing for walleye, smallmouth bass, and channel catfish has been slow in recent days, but should pick up in the Columbia River, Walla Walla River, and Yakima River in the next couple of weeks.

April 19 is the deadline to register for the Tri-Cities Kids Fishing Event scheduled for May 1. For more information and registration forms, contact Kennewick Recreation at 509-585-4293 or online at http://www.ci.kennewick.wa.us/Recreational_Services/home.asp .

WDFW district fish biologist Eric Anderson of Yakima reports that all Yakima and Kittitas county year-round ponds are seeing heavy fishing action from earlier hatchery trout stocking.  The I-82 ponds #1, 2, and 3 each recently received nearly 2,500 rainbows weighing nearly a half-pound apiece. See all of the continuing hatchery stocking of local fisheries at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/weekly/ .

As warmer spring conditions advance and more and different fish are biting, it’s a good time to take advantage of the new two-pole fishing opportunity.  Most fisheries in the southcentral region are open to the use of a second pole with the purchase of the two-pole endorsement – $24.50 with all surcharges and license dealer fees, $6.50 for seniors. For a list of excluded fisheries and all the details, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/twopole .

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Giant-ass kokanee are the only fish biting in Oregon these days. There are springers, steelhead, trout, bottomfish and more to be caught.

Here are highlights from around the state, courtesy of the weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Winter steelhead fishing has been good on the North Umpqua. Through mid-February, over 4,346 winter steelhead had crossed Winchester Dam – one of the highest counts in the last 10 year. Remember only fin-clipped steelhead can be harvested.
  • Trout fishing has been good on Applegate Reservoir and Garrison Lake.
  • Spring chinook fishing continues to be pretty good on the lower Rogue River even with the low water conditions. Anchovies have been the hot bait.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • The winter steelhead fishery is nearly over for the season. Many coastal rivers are closed to steelhead angling effective April 1st. Anglers are encouraged to check the regulations for specific river openings.
  • Spring chinook angling opens April 1 in Tillamook Bay, Wilson River, Trask River and Nestucca River. Fishing does not generally pick up until May. The ocean remains closed to salmon angling.
  • Cape Meares, Smith, Tahoe, Lytle, South, Town, and Hebo lakes, and Lorens Pond and Nedonna Pond are scheduled to be stocked with legal size rainbow trout the week of April 5th. North coast lakes on the stocking schedule have all been stocked at least once this spring. Fishing should be fair to good.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel. Catch success has been variable but will improve soon.
  • Winter steelhead fishing is good in the Clackamas and Sandy rivers and Eagle Creek. Steelhead are spread throughout both systems and some good catches have been reported.
  • Sturgeon fishing is fair on the lower Willamette River.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Haystack Reservoir offers some good spring fishing for 12 to 18-inch rainbow and brown trout.
  • Flows and water temperatures have been good on the Hood River and, as a result, winter steelhead fishing has been good.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • McKay Reservoir opened to fishing on March 1 and should provide some good spring fishing for rainbow trout, yellow perch and brown bullhead.
  • McNary, Hatrock and Tatone ponds have been stocked and are good destinations for young anglers who are out of school for Spring Break.
  • Anglers have been catching both stocked trout and kokanee on Wallowa Lake.
  • The great steelhead fishing continues in the Grande Ronde and Imnaha basins.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Spring chinook are available in increasing numbers on the lower Columbia for boat and bank anglers.
  • A few legal size sturgeon are being caught by boat and bank anglers in the gorge.

MARINE ZONE

  • Bottom fishing is good when ocean conditions permit. Calmer oceans usually mean better fishing success. Lingcod are in shallower waters to spawn. Divers may find success spearing along rocky jetties for ling cod and black rockfish.
  • Herring are spawning in many coastal bays now. Fishing for herring can be great fun with kids using light tackle. Watch for birds diving into the herring schools and try to get in on the action. The aggregate daily catch limit for herring, sardines, anchovies and smelt is 25 pounds.

SW WA Fishing Report

The Columbia’s not the only Southwest Washington river giving up springers these days. So too are the Cowlitz and Kalama.

Steelhead are also biting in the area, as are a few sturgeon and walleye.

Here’s the report from Joe Hymer, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission:

SALMON AND STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Anglers are continuing to catch steelhead and some spring chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 613 winter-run steelhead and 23 spring Chinook adults during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.  During the week Tacoma Power employees released 16 winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and 82 winter-run steelhead and 21 spring Chinook adult into Lake Scanewa behind Cowlitz Falls Dam. 

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,670 cubic feet per second on Tuesday March 30. Flows are nearly identical to the long-term mean for this date.

Kalama River – Anglers are catching a mixture of steelhead and spring chinook.

Lewis River – Light effort and no catch observed.  Flows below Merwin are currently 10,800 cfs, double the long-term mean for this date.

Wind River and Drano Lake – Light effort with only a couple boats at the Wind last Sunday morning; none at Drano.

Klickitat River from mouth to the Fisher Hill Bridge (located about 3 miles upstream from the mouth)- From April 3 through May 31, open Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays only for hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead. Anglers will be able to retain two hatchery chinook, hatchery steelhead, or one of each as part of their daily limit

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week, anglers made 25,438 trips on the lower Columbia and caught 4,874 adult spring Chinook (4,220 kept and 654 released), which brings the total effort to 68,290 angler trips and Chinook catch of 6,682 fish kept and 1,011 released.  The effort and catch totals for March are the among the highest in the history of the creel program (began in 1968).  Only non-selective catch in 1990 (9,000) and the 8,800 fish handled in the selective fishery in 2003 were higher.

Based on Visual Stock Identification sampling, upriver spring Chinook comprised about 70% of the kept catch last week.  Things should slow down some this week with the turbid water, especially in the lower river.

Effort was up from the previous weekend with 2,062 boats and counted during last Saturday’s March 27 flight.  In addition there were 754 bank anglers.

From the I-5 Bridge to Bonneville Dam, April 3 is the last scheduled day to fish for hatchery spring chinook, hatchery steelhead, and shad.  Shad is expected to re-open May 16; salmonids on June 16.  Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge is scheduled to be open for hatchery spring chinook, hatchery steelhead, and shad 7 days/week through April 18.

The Dalles Pool – The few bank anglers sampled had no catch.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Remains slow for legal size fish.  Effort remains fairly light with 47 boats and 70 bank anglers counted during Saturday’s flight.

The Dalles Pool – Slow for legal size fish.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – The few boat anglers sampled did well on walleye.