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High Hunters Score On Foggy, Rainy Weekend

What better time to head off for the September high buck hunt than during one of the wettest Septembers in recent history?

That might not have been Jason Brooks’ original plan, but given the chance to be among the first rifle-toting Washingtonians to take a crack at filling their deer tag, the Tacoma-area writer went with it.

This past weekend he met up with fellow Northwest sportsmen Chad and Kyle Hurst on a high ridge in the Glacier Peak Wilderness in Chelan County — just as the storms that dumped 2-plus inches of rain in the lowlands moved in.

Now, if you’ve ever done any hunting/hiking/driving/camping in the mountains in the rain, you know that clouds sure make it tough to see anything and difficult to move around in. But the crew gave it a go, and it’s a good thing they did too.

Here’s Brooks’ tale and pics:

I got the kids to school and hit the road…till I got to the top of Snoqualmie pass, where the bright orange signs saying “Road Construction Next 5 Miles” became my reading material for the next 45 minutes. After the set back I headed to the trailhead, still hoping to beat the storm coming.

As I crested the ridge, the clouds moved in. I was able to get my tent up and rain fly on before I got too soaked, but that was the last time I was dry until I got back to my truck two days later.


Chad and Kyle made it just as my tent went up and we began looking for firewood. Nothing to soaked yet, and soon we were in our high hunt “hunting camp” for another year.


The next morning we woke to fog and rain showers. We headed for a far ridge, glassing the slopes along the way.


After climbing up to the ridge line, we settled in and waited for the windows of opportunity to glass the slopes and open faces for feeding deer or bears. The sun breaks kept coming, teasing us with warmth and hope of an afternoon hunt.


Chad couldn’t sit still, trying to pierce the fog with his binoc’s as we knew there was deer in the basin below.

Though it was warm out, we decided to build a fire to dry out and to keep us occupied waiting for the sun to come out, if it ever would.

It’s amazing that wood can become water soaked and how it becomes a game to build the fire.

Finally, after 4 hours sitting on the ridge, the fog lifted and the sun shone just for a few minutes. In that time I located the only deer we would see the entire day. A nice 4 point stood up out of his bed about a mile away. I watched him shake the water off, and then lay back down. In the few seconds that he stood up to stretch he made the mistake of his lifetime.


It took us an hour and forty minutes to close the distance to the buck. We had to side hill across the top of a small basin, and learned just how slick side hilling on wet heather can be. I fell a few times, and at one point I just decided to slid down the slope instead of fighting my way back to my feet. We closed to about 500 yards of the deer in his bed, never actually getting to see it since our small glimpse, but knowing he was in his summer mode of lying around, looking down on danger, he just had to be there. We were hoping to make it to a small line of timber just before the meadow where the deer was bedded on a small ridgeline. The only thing between us and the timberline was a spring. It was about 20 yards wide, and 100 yards long, with the ground seeping water and rocks covered with peat moss. It made for quiet walking, until I slipped again, this time sliding down the slope for about 40 feet. Once I finally stopped I stood up, completely covered in mud. My rifle’s action was open and stuck. After trying to clean out the mud and moss I finally got it to close. We snuck through the tree line and I again spotted the buck. This time he was up and looking at us, wondering what was causing all that ruckus!

He was 220 yards, and I thought, “chip shot”, as the crosshairs settled on his front shoulder. But at the shot, he looked back, and then started into the clearing in front of us. Chad followed up my miss and put his new .270 to use. Kyle never saw the deer until the shooting started, following his brother Chad, and I on blind faith that there was a buck waiting for us at the end of the stalk. Thanks to Chad it was another successful year.


Then the work began, hoping to get the deer broke down and packed up before the fog rolled back in. We made mental notes on where the saddle was in the ridgeline and new camp was a longs way off.

We made it back to camp just after 9:30 PM, about 6 hours after Chad killed the deer. My GPS said it was 2.98 miles from deer to camp, but the rain and fog made the trip out that much harder.

The next morning we woke to fog, but it was clearing nicely.


Just as we cleared the ridge above camp, Chad spotted a nice chocolate bear.


Kyle decided to go after the bear, and if he got it, Chad and I would keep heading out to the trucks, dump our gear and meat and head back in with empty packs. Either it was good luck or bad luck, but Kyle couldn’t locate the bear after closing the distance (either way, luck was on our side, as I was tired!)

On the way out I came to a grove of trees that caught my eye, and was one last reminder why I like the high hunt so much, the scenery.


On the way home I stopped off in a clearing and shot my rifle. It was 10 inches high at 100 yards. I guess that fall is to blame, at least that is what I am believing.

Well, I still have my multi-season deer tag with the muzzleloader season starting next week. But I might just wait until the general season opener, as I hear the Coho are starting to show up and after this weekend’s trip of just over a total of 12 miles on the boots, all while soaked in rain, I might just let my feet rest for a while and stretch my arms rowing the drift boat. After all, the rain brings in the fish!

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Looking for a little ‘Nookie, err, some big ‘Nookie?

Head for the Oregon coast where fishing for ocean-fresh fall Chinook ranges from “fair” to “very good” right now, according to ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report.

The best fishing has been on the Coos system and Rogue Bay, where Jot’s Resort reportedly weighed in a 45-pounder in recent days.

“A bunch of silvers moved into the bay last week, and the kings started biting again,” said guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing in Brookings. “We got a 25-pound king on Tuesday, and a few silvers.”


But kings aren’t the only fish gnawing on baits in the Beaver State. Coho are surging up the Willamette while fresh whopper trout were stocked on a mess of North Coast lakes and steelhead are moving into the Umatilla River.

Here are more highlights from the report:


  • The chinook bite took off at the mouth of the Rogue River this past weekend and fishing should continue to be good in the bay.
  • Chinook fishing has been very good in the Coos Basin.
  • With the onset of cooler temperatures trout fishing should pick up on many area lakes, and additional trout stocking is on tap to provide family fun. Trophy and large trout are being stocked in some lakes around the region.
  • Anglers have landed some wild coho on the Coquille River.


  • Trophy trout stocking is scheduled for the week of Sept. 20. Cape Meares, Town, Coffenbury, Lost and Sunset lakes are scheduled to receive trout averaging about 2 pounds each. Additional legal to larger size trout were also stocked in Lost Lake and Town Lake. Angling for warmwater species in district lakes is slowing as lakes begin to cool. There can still be some good action, especially for largemouth bass. Concentrate your efforts on the warmer parts of the day.
  • Alsea River: Fall chinook angling is slow to fair but starting to pick up more consistently. Fish are being caught from the mouth through tidewater. Recent rains should help to move more fish into the system. Trolling herring or lures near bottom seem to be producing fish. Cutthroat trout angling is fair to good with sea-run cutthroat trout can be found throughout most of the mainstem.
  • Salmon River: Anglers are catching chinook from the lower bay up to the hatchery. Fishing the incoming tide has produced the best results in the lower river. Cutthroat trout fishing is still a good option with sea-run cutthroat found from the bay through the lower to mid river area.
  • Siletz River: Fall Chinook angling is fair with fish being caught from the mouth up into the lower river. Recent rains should move new fish in and up river. The wild adult coho fishery is underway with low catch rates but starting to pick up. Steelhead fishing is very good in the upper river. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair to good with sea-runs showing up from the bay to mid river.
  • Siuslaw River: Fall Chinook angling is picking up as more fish are moving in. Anglers are catching fish from the lower bay into upper tide water. Trolling herring or lures close to the bottom can be productive. Cutthroat trout angling is still fair to good in most areas with sea-run cutthroat found from the bay into the lower river.
  • Tillamook Bay: Angling for chinook is improving. Fish are being caught throughout the bay. Trolling herring on the incoming tide in the lower bay is a good bet during soft tide series. Or try trolling spinners in the upper bay on larger tide swings. Hatchery coho are moving through the bay quickly, especially after recent rains. Best action will be in tidewater areas or the upper bay. Chinook are being caught in the terminal area just outside the bay. The ocean, including the terminal area, is closed for coho.
  • Yaquina Bay: Chinook fishing is slow to fair but expected to pick up any time. Anglers are catching some fish from the lower bay to upper tide water. Cutthroat trout angling remains fair to good with sea-run cutthroat trout are being caught in the upper tidewater and low river area


  • ODFW will host a youth fishing event at St. Louis Ponds near Woodburn this Saturday, Sept. 25, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Youngsters are invited to participate in this event where ODFW staff and volunteers will be available to provide instruction and fishing equipment.
  • Coho are moving into the Willamette River and its tributaries in good numbers and recent rains have improved conditions.
  • The first of two major trout releases will take place this week at Henry Hagg Lake near Forest Grove.


  • Summer steelhead fishing on the lower Deschutes River continues to be good.
  • With the cooler fall weather, trout fishing has been good in several area lakes including Lava, Little Lava, East and Paulina.
  • Insect hatches on the Fall and Metolius rivers have been prolific, creating good dry fly fishing opportunities.


  • Fishing for trout on the Blitzen River has been very good.
  • Deadhorse Lake has been yielding some massive rainbow trout.
  • Rainbow and brown trout fishing have been very good on Miller Lake. Miller Lake is one of the few places in Oregon anglers can target big browns after dark.
  • Brook trout fishing has been excellent in several Cascade mountain lakes.


  • With the onset of cooler temperatures, steelhead fishing has been good on the lower Umatilla River.
  • Trout fishing in many area lakes also has improved as with cooler weather.


  • Walleye fishing continues to be good in Troutdale.
  • Fall chinook angling is still good between Warrior Rock and Bonneville Dam, with an average of 8,433 passing through the Bonneville ladder daily.
  • The steelhead run is peaking in the McNary Dam area with anglers pulling plugs doing well above the dam, and bobber/jig producing well above and below the dam.
  • Walleye fishing below McNary Dam has been outstanding.


  • Most bottom fishers out of Garibaldi, Charleston and Brookings came home with limits or near limits of rock fish. The rest of the coast had was hit and miss with some anglers on the central coast doing poor one day and great the next. Some charter-boat operators blamed changes in water temperature for the fish being off the bite. Lingcod were harder to come by with the best catches being one fish for every two anglers.
  • Anglers are still finding tuna, usually landing between two and five fish per angler. This year ranks as the third best for Oregon tuna anglers. Oregon anglers landed more than 30,000 albacore so far this year leaving only 2009 and 2007 with more sport-caught albacore. Although a few good weeks might push 2010 above 2009’s 40,000, the 2007 record of nearly 60,000 fish is in no danger this year.

Lead Ban On Loon Lakes Back Before FWC

Ban lead outright or keep the status quo.

In August, a group of Washington fishermen, biologists and bird conservationists made those two their top choices from a list of four options for how to regulate 13 lakes across the state where loons live and breed.

And now that testimony from WDFW’s Lead Fishing Tackle/Common Loon Advisory Group as well as public citizens will be taken at the Oct. 1-2 Fish & Wildlife Commission meeting in Olympia.

The agency is looking into the issue because of concerns that the state’s small population of loons can mistakenly ingest small lead weights and fishing gear that gets snagged up or lost at lakes. Between 1999 and 2010, 33 percent of 21 loon deaths in Washington were traced to possible or confirmed lead toxicosis, according to a WDFW document.

It’s an issue that’s also being looked into across the northern tier of the United States, including in Michigan where “anglers and bait shop owners are resisting a push to ban lead in fishing tackle, arguing it would harm the state’s $7 billion industry at a time it is already suffering because of the recession,” reported the Associated Press this past weekend.

Already there are bans on small sinker sales in almost all the New England states, as well as prohibitions on their use in New Hampshire and Vermont, AP says.

Then there’s the petition before the Environmental Protection Agency to ban lead fishing gear. The Federal agency closed comment period on that last week and is mulling whether to move forward or not; it dismissed a related petition to do away with lead bullets.

Back in the other Washington, a 29-page PDF that contains the loon advisory group’s concerns can be found on the Fish & Wildlife Commission’s Web site.

For loon advocates, a total ban gives “the highest degree of protection to loon breeding population,” “maximizes the probability that mortality from lead fishing gear will not continue as a critical factor in loon productivity,” “enhances the general social initiative to reduce lead in the environment” and would be easy to enforce.

For fishermen — the group included Marc Marcantonio, the well-known Western Washington bass angler, Mark Masterson of Yakima Bait and Gary Stiles of Northwest Bass — preserving the status quo is “consistent with data presented that indicates loon productivity is above replacement (but certainly not robust) on the 13 lakes in question,” “least disruptive for enforcement,” “does not increase the complexity of regulations,” and “does not impose an additional financial and regulatory burden on the fishing public.”

Banning lead came up in 2009 as WDFW looked at new rules for the 2010-12 fishing seasons. That proposal would have banned lead weights of 1/2 ounce or less as well as lead jigs less than 11/2 inches long at the 13 lakes.


Written comments are being taken through Nov. 19. Send them to WDFW Rules Coordinator Lori Preuss at or 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA, 98501.

SW WA Fishing Report



Grays River –  Bank anglers downstream from the weir continue to catch some stray hatchery Select Area Bright fall Chinook.

Cowlitz River – Anglers on the lower Cowlitz are catching a mixture of fall Chinook, coho, steelhead, and sea-run cutthroats.  Near the salmon hatchery the catch is primarily fall Chinook.

Anglers from boundary markers at the mouth to 400 feet below Mayfield Dam Powerhouse may now retain one wild adult Chinook as part of the two adult Chinook daily limit.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 1,583 fall Chinook adults, 109 jacks, 75 summer-run steelhead, 23 spring Chinook adults, three mini-jacks, 590 coho adults, 75 jacks, and eight sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 18 spring Chinook adults, 321 coho adults, 43 jacks, and 18 spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa, three spring Chinook mini-jacks and six cutthroat trout at the Barrier Dam Boat Launch, 1,307 fall Chinook adults, 104 jacks, three sea-run cutthroats, 10 coho adults and 2 jacks into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, and 240 coho adults, 27 jacks, and two spring Chinook adults at Franklin Bridge in Packwood.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,420 cubic feet per second on Monday, September 20, 2010. Water visibility is 10 feet.

Kalama River – Bank anglers were catching some fall Chinook, coho, and steelhead over the weekend.  All Chinook must now be released through the end of the year.

Lewis River – Effort and catch have increased around the salmon hatchery.  Hatchery coho are the primary catch though some hatchery fall Chinook and hatchery steelhead are also being caught.  Flows below Merwin Dam were approximately 2,700 cfs this morning, slightly above the long-term mean for this date.

Beginning October 1, all chinook must be released from the mainstem and North Fork Lewis and fishing from any floating device will be prohibited on the North Fork Lewis River from Johnson Creek upstream to Colvin Creek.  In addition, the area from Colvin Creek upstream to Merwin Dam closes to all angling from October through mid December.

Washougal River – Good for fall Chinook earlier last week.  Approximately 3,000 fish had entered the hatchery later in the week.

Drano Lake – No report on angling success.  In October, fishing is closed 6 pm Tuesdays to 6 pm Wednesdays.

Bonneville Pool – Approximately 50 boats off the mouth of the Klickitat last Saturday September 18.  Anglers are catching some fall Chinook.

Buoy 10 – Continues to be slow for hatchery coho.  Effort remains light.

Effective October 1, the salmon and steelhead daily limit increases to 6 fish of which 2 may be adult hatchery coho or hatchery steelhead or one of each.  Salmon minimum size is 12 inches.  Release all salmon other than hatchery coho.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – In general, success for fall chinook was best for boat anglers in Vancouver and just below Bonneville Dam with ½ fish per boat average while boaters at the mouth of the Cowlitz averaged about an adult coho per boat.

We sampled 119 salmonid bank anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line with 6 adult and 1 jack fall Chinook  and 2 steelhead, an average of a salmonid kept per every 13.2 rods based on mainly incomplete trips. In addition, we sampled 417 salmonid boat anglers (194 boats) with 54 adult and 6 jack fall Chinook, 33 adult coho, and 7 steelhead, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 4.2 rods based on mainly completed trips.  About half the adult coho caught were kept.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Effective Wednesday September 22, 2010 The Chinook daily bag limit will increase to two (2) adult fish in the Mainstem Columbia River (from the Warrior Rock boundary upstream to Bonneville Dam).

Hanford Reach – WDFW staff interviewed 347 boats/807 anglers  with 322 chinook, 1 coho, and 17 steelhead harvested last week in the Hanford Reach.
White Bluffs and Vernita boat ramps showed the highest catch rates with Ringold also showing good catches as well.


Chinook effort and catch are up from last year. WDFW interviewed 204 boats with 183 chinook and 1 coho harvested during the same week in 2009.


Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Light effort and catch during the current catch and release only fishery.

From the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam, white sturgeon may be retained Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only beginning October 1.    Daily limit 1 fish.  Minimum fork length 38 inches and maximum fork length 54 inches.


Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal area averaged just over 2/3 walleye kept per rod.


Mineral Lake – No report on angling success.  September 30 is the last day to fish for the year.

Bowhunting Pioneer Passes Away

Word today that Northwest bowhunting pioneer Glenn St. Charles died yesterday in Seattle. He was 98.

“Such a deal,” were said to be his last words after fighting a short illness.

St. Charles was known as “the watchdog of bowhunting in Washington State and eventually throughout the country,” according to the Bowhunters Hall of Fame, and helped legitimize the method through the Pope & Young club.

Born nearly a century ago, St. Charles first got into bowhunting after peering into Puget Sound in the Fauntleroy area and trying to figure out how to catch the various critters, according to a 2008 interview with Frank Addington Jr. He and some friends fashioned their archery gear out of hazelnut branches, meat-wrapping string, willow staves and headless nails.

“Little did I know at that time that this would be the first of a long life of pleasure with a bow and arrow,” St. Charles told Addington.

After taking his first game in 1934 — a mule deer from the Mad River area of North-central Washington — he went on to hunt caribou, mountain goats, Dall sheep and more.

He opened an archery business in Seattle, designed his own bows and sold Fred Bear bows, and in the late 1950s spearheaded the creation of the Pope & Young Club.

St. Charles also worked on the books Billets To Bows: Sights, Sounds and Smells of Archery and Bows on the Little Delta.

“The author’s eight-decade span behind the bow serves as a bridge between then and now,” says the Bowhunters Hall of Fame in a profile of St. Charles before his death.

P&Y and the Archery Hall of Fame have both posted words on St. Charles passing.

In that interview with Addington, St. Charles gave these last words of advice:

Live life to the fullest, the walk in the woods is a short one, leave things better than you found them, If you are a hunter be proud of being a HUNTER not a KILLER. If you can make even the smallest difference, it is all worth the walk.

First Fish Has Last Word At Everett Coho Derby

The very first fish weighed in at this past weekend’s Everett Coho Derby was a 15.68-pounder, and even though 240 other silvers went across the scales on Saturday and Sunday, none could match its size.

That led to a $3,000 payday for angler Randy Warren. He caught the big fish in Area 10.

Second place went to Doug Smith, who brought in a 15.61-pounder from the lower Skykomish River.  It was worth $2,000. A post on Gamefishin indicates it wasn’t brought in until late in the competition because the anglers “didn’t think it was that big and waited until the end of the day.”

Michael Blankenship took third with a 15.28 from the saltwater off Whidbey Island’s eastern side.

Sean McCauley took first in the youth division with a 12.16-pounder from Area 9, the waters off the western and southern sides of Whidbey.

This is the 17th running of the popular derby. It’s put on by the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club and Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club.

Mike Hillman won the raffle for a 15-foot Alumaweld Super Vee provided by Three Rivers Marine while Gary Curtis was drawn for the Northwest Salmon Derby Series’ 20-foot Stabicraft.

The low catch matched 2008’s effort, when only 246 were weighed, though the winner that year went 18.16 pounds.

Last year saw just over 1,100 coho set down on the scales; 2007 saw 1,166.

Here are 2010’s official results as well as sponsors:

DULT DIVISION Name Weight Where Caught
$3000 1st Placeby Everett Bayside Marine Randy Warren 15.68 Area 10
$2000 2nd Placeby Roy Robinson Chevrolet Doug Smith 15.61 Lower Skykomish
$1500 3rd Placeby Silver Horde Michael Blankenship 15.28 Area 8-2
$1000 4th Place by Kershaw Knives Charles Blankenship 15.04 Area 9
$750 5th Place by Dick Nite Spoons Kyle Bride 14.58 Area 9
$600 6th Place by Ted’s Sport Center Bryan Choate 14.37 Sound
$500 7th Place by John’s Sporting Goods Danny Iverson 14.31 Area 9
Raffle Boat Prize by 3 Rivers Marine Mike Hillman
Raffle 9.9 hp Outboard Motor by Performance Marine
$100 1st Place by First Heritage Bank Sean McCauley 12.16 Area 9
$75 2nd Place by First Heritage Bank Jarett Waldemer 9.10 Sound
$50 3rd Place by First Heritage Bank Floyd Wm Clark 6.83 Area 9
$250 Largest Coho on Silver Horde Product Randy Warren 15.68 Area 10
Number of Adult Tickets Sold 1587
Number of Kids Tickets Given Away 237
Total Number of Fish Weighed In 241
Total Pounds of Fish Weighed In 2146 pounds
Average Weight of Fish 8.91 pounds

Lower Kalama To Close For Kings


Lower Kalama River closing to chinook retention

Action: Close lower Kalama River to all chinook retention.

Effective Dates: Effective Sept. 20 through Dec. 31, 2010.

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Location: Kalama River from boundary markers at the mouth to 1000’ below the fishway at upper salmon hatchery.

Reason for action: Hatchery is not expected to meet broodstock needs.

Other information: Area remains open for retention of hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead.

$2.2m To Be Trimmed From WDFW Budget

Washington’s natural resource agencies must cut $11 million more from their budgets starting just two weeks from now; WDFW’s share is $2,159,000.

Yesterday, Gov. Chris Gregoire ordered 6.287 percent across-the-board cuts, representing $520 million, for all departments in response to further revenue shortfalls that have struck Washington during the recession.

For WDFW, the cuts come on the back of a $35 million dropoff in General Fund support between the 2007-09 and 2009-11 budgets and loss of 163 jobs.

DNR must cut $2.36 million, DOE $3.32 million.

The reductions are effective October 1 and stretch to next June.

We expect comments from WDFW on how the cuts will effect the agency later today.

Gregoire also told Phil Anderson as well as other department directors to prepare for a near-$4.5 billion shortfall in the 2011-13 budget and asked them for ideas on how to fill the gap by later this month. WDFW has been looking at potentially increasing license costs and other fees to address it.

Lisa Brown, Washington’s Senate majority leader, and Frank Chopp, the speaker of the House, put out a joint statement yesterday saying “the current budget situation clearly demonstrates that state government must be rescaled to fit the new fiscal reality.”

Anderson told a gathering of sportsmen, ranchers and others in Okanogan County earlier this week that the agency was at “a critical turning point” and “predicted” the Legislature will again look at combining WDFW, DNR and DOE.

UPDATE 2:08 P.M.: Joe Stohr, WDFW’s deputy director, called me during a break between all-day meetings.

“We’re talking about it as we speak,” he says — and have been for some time. “We’ve known this was coming for some time.”

He’s “hopeful” that a hiring freeze, slow down in purchasing and savings the agency’s amassed will bridge the gap.

“The bigger challenge is the General Fund,” Stohr says.

There’s a $4.5 billion deficit over the next two-year biennium, and it could translate into another $10 million to $20 million for WDFW.

A Fin? You Win On The Cowlitz


It’s a-fin, you-win days on the Cowlitz starting this Saturday, Sept. 18.

An “unexpected abundance” of hatchery-produced but unmarked Chinook showing up this season has led WDFW to include them in the bag limit.


You may now keep one adult Chinook with an intact adipose fin as part of the two-adult king daily limit between the boundary markers at the mouth upstream to 400 feet below the Mayfield Dam Powerhouse.

A rule change announcing the change was sent out late yesterday afternoon.

The coho limit remains four hatchery adults per day.

A total of 1,559 hatchery Chinook adults and jacks have returned to the Cowlitz Salmon hatchery through Wednesday, Sept. 15, as well as 111 unmarked kings. Only 38 hatchery coho had returned yet.

As for how to fish ’em, here’s the nut of our September issue’s article, by Terry Von Ottohausenstein:

You’ll find Bill Swann of Swanny’s Guide Service (360-446-5177) fishing above Castle Rock most of the time.

“Those fish seem to squirt right through the lower river,” he explains. “Then they get above Castle Rock and put on the brakes. There are a lot of deep holes and flats in there.”

That means fishermen can find salmon holding from Castle Rock all the way to the Barrier Dam, so we are talking about a lot of water for fishermen to spread out in. You can expect bright kings up here, because Swanny reports that the dark tule Chinook that enter the Cowlitz rarely move higher than the first 2 miles up from the mouth.

He says a lot of fish will stage at the mouth of the Toutle River and in the flats just above the Toutle, where local anglers troll a lot plugs for them. The late run of coho will be headed up the Toutle and there is a bank fishery where the Toutle dumps into the Cowlitz. Look for the late coho to start showing up there about the first of October, along with a lot of fishermen. The late run will peak in late October, but there will be fresh, bright silvers available into early November.

In between the Barrier Dam and the Toutle there are miles of good holding water that produce salmon every year. This reach is best in September when the early-run silvers are in the river. By October the kings are played out and the late run of coho kicks in. Then it’s time to fish below the Toutle until it blows out, usually in mid-October.

FREE-DRIFTING IS what both guide Lee Barkie (360-304-0771) and Swanny prefer to do for Cowlitz salmon, using the same popular method that is the favorite of local steelheaders. The light lines and leaders make for an exciting fight, especially if you hook a big king. One of Swanny’s clients hooked and landed a 42-pound king last year on light line, and followed that with a 36-pounder.

Free drifting lets you really cover the water, which is the key to catching fall salmon here.

“You can really cover the water and find the biters,” says Barkie.

The guides also back-troll diver-and-bait combos and pull plugs.

Both swear Cowlitz salmon have a taste for eggs cured with Pautzke’s Fire Cure. Barkie usually tips his eggs with a small bit of sand shrimp as well. A small bit of yarn can also help, especially when treated with scent.

Barkie says that anglers should look for shallow flats in the morning hours, which is when he free-drifts.

“I look for softer water about 6 to 10 feet deep,” he says.

As the sun climbs, about 9:30 to 10, the fish will move upriver to the first deep hole they find and hold up for the day. Then he switches to a hover-with-bait approach, which means dropping your bait about 2 feet off the bottom with about 8 ounces of lead and backing very slowly down through the hole.

“The bite can go on and off all day,” he says.

From the mouth up, good ramps include Gearhart Gardens, I-5 bridge, Camelot, Castle Rock, Olequa Creek, Toledo, Mission Bar, Blue Creek and Barrier Dam. For descriptions and directions to each, go to

MOST GOOD BANK SPOTS are well known and fished hard. Still, there are lots of limits caught from the bank in the Cowlitz.

Early in the season the Barrier Dam or the Blue Creek area can produce well. The mouth of the Toutle will draw a few fish, including early kings, but the hot coho action doesn’t start until October. There are a few areas on the Toutle itself that can be fished as well.

WDFW says that next year all hatchery fall Chinook back to the Cowlitz will have clipped adipose fins.

Man Arrested For Using Dead Woman’s Name To Apply For Hunt Tags

A 68-year-old Sandy, Ore., man will be in court next Monday to face two felony charges of identity theft for using a dead woman’s name to illegally apply for deer and elk tags in Northeast Oregon.

The state police’s Fish & Wildlife Division alleges that Leroy Arlow Anderson used the name of a friend’s 92-year-old deceased mother to put in for tags in the Keating and Snake River Units.

According to OSP, the investigation began in November 2008 when Senior Trooper Kreg Coggins discovered that the woman had been drawn for a rifle elk tag in the Snake River Unit, despite dying two years before.

Then the same name was used to apply for deer and elk point savers in 2007, OSP says.

A search warrant was served on Anderson’s home in June 2009. Information and evidence collected over the investigation led to a Clackamas County Circuit Court judge signing two felony warrants to arrest Anderson on two felony counts of Identity Theft, according to OSP.

He is also charged with two misdemeanor counts of False Application for a Hunting License, a press release says.

Anderson is due in Clackamas County Circuit Court at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 20.