Tag Archives: Cowlitz

Lower Columbia, SW WA Fishing Report (4-3-17)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ORIGINATED WITH ODFW AND WDFW AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, PSMFC

Salmon/Steelhead

BONUS FACTOID

The 14 adult spring Chinook counted at Bonneville Dam through March 29 is the 4th lowest since at least 1938.  The fewest are the 2 fish counted through March 29, 1949.

BUZZ RAMSEY REPORTS THAT LOWER COLUMBIA RIVER GUIDE BRANDON GLASS HAS LANDED THREE HATCHERY SPRING CHINOOK IN THE LAST TWO DAYS BY USING A HERRING 30 INCHES BEHIND A DOUBLE FISH FLASH SET-UP. (BRANDON GLASS VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

Cowlitz River – 138 bank anglers kept 3 adult spring Chinook and 10 steelhead.  86 boat anglers kept 2 adult spring Chinook, 34 steelhead and released 2 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 206 winter-run steelhead adults and 11 spring Chinook adults in five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 37 winter-run steelhead adults into the Cispus River near Yellow Jacket Creek and released eight spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa located in Randle.

Last week, Tacoma employees released 22 winter-run steelhead adults into the Tilton River located at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and three spring Chinook adults were released at Franklin Bridge in Packwood.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 14,600 cubic feet per second on Monday, April 3. Water visibility is four feet and water temperature is 43.5 F.

Wind River – No effort.

Drano Lake – 2 boat anglers had no catch.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Fishing is slowly improving with 3 of the 245 anglers sampled (including 72 boats) catching and keeping a spring Chinook.  Two fish were lower river and 1 upriver stock based on VSI.

In comparison, during the first 3 days of April 2016 we sampled 2,228 salmonid anglers (including 759 boats) with 469 adult spring Chinook!

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem – We did not sample any sturgeon anglers last week.

Walleye

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – 1 boat angler had no catch.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers are catching some walleye

Bass

John Day Pool – A couple boat anglers released a handful of bass.

Columbia, SW WA Fishing Report (3-29-17)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ORIGINATED WITH ODFW AND WDFW AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, PSMFC

Lower Columbia mainstem sport update – March 26

Last week, anglers on the lower Columbia made 2,024 trips and caught 11 spring Chinook and 19 steelhead.  Through March 26, anglers have made 8,305 trips and caught 59 adult spring Chinook (53 kept and six released) and 52 steelhead (14 kept and 38 released).

DESPITE POOR FISHING CONDITIONS, SCOTT DUNBAR CAUGHT THIS NICE SPRING CHINOOK OUT OF THE COLUMBIA LAST WEEK. HE WAS FISHING WITH GUIDE BRANDON GLASS. (BRANDON GLASS VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

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Salmon, Steelhead and Shad

On Saturday’s (3/19) flight, 146 salmonid boats and 86 Oregon bank anglers were counted from the Columbia River estuary to Bonneville Dam.  Catch rates remain low despite the increase in effort.

Gorge Bank: No report.

Gorge Boats: No report.

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for 18 boats (37 anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for 38 bank anglers.

Portland to Westport Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for 39 boats (85 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Clatsop Spit to Wauna Powerlines): Weekend checking showed no catch for two bank anglers.

Estuary Boats (Tongue Point to Wauna Powerlines): Weekend checking showed no catch for 10 boats (17 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):  Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler.

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam):  Weekly checking showed no catch for five bank anglers.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia River (below Bonneville Dam): Closed for retention. Weekend checking showed no catch for six bank anglers; and no catch for two boats (three anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Weekly checking showed three legal white sturgeon kept, plus 21 sublegal and one oversize sturgeon released for 37 bank anglers; and three sublegal and two oversize sturgeon released for seven boats (14 anglers).

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):  Weekly checking showed no catch for 12 bank anglers; and three legal white sturgeon kept, plus three sublegal and one oversize sturgeon released for three boats (11 anglers).

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam):  Weekly checking showed three legal white sturgeon kept, plus 11 sublegal sturgeon released for 25 bank anglers; and three legal white sturgeon kept, plus eight sublegal and six oversize sturgeon released for 10 boats (23 anglers).

WALLEYE

Troutdale:  No report.

Bonneville Pool:  Weekly checking showed no catch for one boat (one angler).

The Dalles Pool:  Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler; and 222 walleye kept, plus 69 walleye released for 27 boats (66 anglers).

John Day Pool: Weekly checking showed 35 walleye kept, plus 66 walleye released for 41 boats (78 anglers).

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Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – 130 bank anglers kept 3 adult spring Chinook, 19 steelhead and released 3 steelhead.  115 boat anglers kept 2 adult spring Chinook and 41 steelhead.  Fish are being caught throughout the river with the trout hatchery area best for steelhead, especially for boat anglers.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 149 winter-run steelhead adults, two steelhead jacks and 13 spring Chinook adults and one cutthroat trout in five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 18 winter-run steelhead adults and nine spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River near Yellow Jacket Creek.

Last week, Tacoma employees released ten winter-run steelhead adults, two steelhead jacks and one cutthroat trout into the Tilton River located at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 14,600 cubic feet per second on Monday, March 27. Water visibility is five feet and water temperature is 42.8 F.

Drano Lake – 4 bank anglers released 4 sublegal sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Two lucky anglers out of the 352 sampled (including 88 boats) are eating fresh spring Chinook.  One fish was a lower river stock and the other upriver stock based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).  Bank anglers released 2 steelhead.

Joint Staff recommends a Joint State hearing to discuss the lower Columbia mainstem sport fishery be scheduled for April 5, 2017.

Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam – Light effort and no catch.

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Light effort.

Bonneville Pool – Until further notice, closed for retention.

The Dalles Pool – Closed for retention through the end of the year.

John Day Pool – Bank and boat anglers are catching some legals.  Boat anglers averaged a legal kept per every 8 rods last week.  Tomorrow (Wednesday March 30) is the last day sturgeon may be retained for the year.

Walleye and Bass

Bonneville Pool – No effort was observed for either specie.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged 1.7 walleye kept/released per rod.  No effort was observed for bass.

John Day Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged just under 0.4 walleye per rod.  A couple bass were also caught.

Trout

Recent plants of catchable size rainbows into SW WA waters.  No report on angling success.

Lake/Pond
Date
Species
Number
Fish per Pound
Hatchery
Notes

* KLINELINE PD (CLAR)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=KLINELINE%20PD%20(CLAR)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Mar 20, 2017
Rainbow
1,500
2.2
VANCOUVER HATCHERY

* LK SACAJAWEA (COWL)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=LK%20SACAJAWEA%20(COWL)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Mar 20, 2017
Rainbow
3,083
2.4
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

* SWOFFORD PD (LEWI)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=SWOFFORD%20PD%20(LEWI)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Mar 16, 2017
Rainbow
4,200
2.1
MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

Cowlitz Will Shine This Spring

Huge Chinook forecast, plus great steelheading makes the river an April must-fish.
By Jason Brooks 

The Cowlitz is known for putting out good numbers of winter and summer steelhead, and it can be an outstanding fall coho river as well. But come April most Northwest sportsmen are fixated on the spring Chinook making their way up the Columbia to terminal fisheries. Before venturing too far up the big river in pursuit of the year’s first salmon, though, remember that the Cowlitz too has a good run of springers. And this year’s forecast of 25,100 not only follows on a stellar season in 2015, it is one of the largest predicted returns over the last 30 years.
But wait, there’s more! One thing the famed Southwest Washington river offers that most other springer fisheries don’t is the chance to double up on winter steelhead that arrive in February and are caught all the way into June, when the summer steelies show up. The Cowlitz also offers a variety of water conditions and access for all anglers.

WHILE 2016’S FIRST Cowlitz springer was caught out of the lower river in early February, the fishery really doesn’t get going strong until mid-April as the salmon make their way up to the Barrier Dam and Tacoma Power’s salmon hatchery. Thanks to 2010’s rebuild and changing release strategies at that facility, the numbers of smolts being released there has increased 70 percent, rising from around a million to 1.7 million.
Early this month boat anglers have the advantage because they can best fish the bigger water from Toledo down. The I-5 launch (which is underneath the interstate off Mandy Road, which peels off the Jackson Highway) is a starting point. Keep in mind that salmon and steelhead in this section probably won’t be too close to each other, so targeting springers will yield very few steelhead. Plus the techniques in the bigger water are more geared to salmon anyway – back-trolling plugs, such as the Brad’s Killer Fish, Yakima Bait’s Mag Lip 4.5 or even the newer 5.0, and Luhr Jensen’s Kwikfish, all wrapped with either a fillet of herring, sardine or a piece of tuna belly. As the regulations don’t allow the use of a barbed hook until June from Lexington Bridge up, switch out the trebles to a single barbless siwash on a barrel swivel or bead chain  and pinch the barb down. Another  favorite is a plug-cut herring with a Brad’s Diver 48 inches in front, with a four-bead chain swivel halfway down the 25-pound leader.
One of the more popular areas is the mouth of the Toutle River. Here, bank anglers who find their way to the large gravel bar find a place to plunk Spin-N-Glos with a chunk of sardine or a gob of eggs, and some even put both on the hook. A 5- to 8-ounce pyramid weight is needed this time of year as river flows can vary, even with the river being controlled by a series of dams. The Toutle is not controlled and has a lot of sediment, making the water below the confluence very dirty, but plunking is an intercepting technique, so don’t let the offcolored water discourage you too much. Boat anglers will often fish here as well, again pulling big plugs and fishing the off-color and clearwater separation line.

The Cowlitz’s 50 miles below Mayfield Dam are best fished from a boat, but many stretches are productive from the bank too, notably the mouth of the Toutle, Blue Creek and Barrier Dam. (JASON BROOKS)

The Cowlitz’s 50 miles below Mayfield Dam are best fished from a boat, but many stretches are productive from the bank too, notably the mouth of the Toutle, Blue Creek and Barrier Dam. (JASON BROOKS)

UPRIVER IN TOLEDO is a two-lane boat ramp that provides access to slightly  smaller water. Boaters will again back down the deep slots, which are easier to find in this section of the Cowlitz, back-trolling wrapped plugs or diverand-herring combos.
I’ve fished this stretch with guide Bruce Warren of Fishing For Fun Guide Service (253-208-7433) and he knows this part of the river is your real first chance to double up on steelhead and Chinook. He will have a few side-drifting rods rigged up to target current seams or large boulders. He likes to throw the standard boon-dogging rig for steelhead that are holding or traveling upriver but still trying to stay out of the springers’ way. The salmon tend to hold in the deep holes and runs, with the steelhead hugging the bank and seams or resting behind those boulders. By targeting the different waters, you have a good chance of hooking either species.
Next up is the Mission or Massey Bar launch, a bit upriver from Toledo on the north bank off Buckley Road. As the river starts to tighten, this is where you can start to find good numbers of steelhead and springers holding in the same types of water. Though the fish won’t be bunched together, the way you fish for them here on upriver means there is no way to predict what is on the end of your line until you get that first glimpse of the fish. The deep slots are much narrower and the soft edges are travel lanes for both species. With boulders sticking out of the water and the points off of the end of midriver gravel bars holding fish, it can be a guessing game which one you’re fighting to the net.
Side-drifting and boon-dogging (side-drifting while continually floating downriver) are the top-producing tactics for all anglers. However, a technique that is quickly catching on is a variation of boondogging called bobber-dogging. Basically it’s dragging your weight, preferably a slinky as they tend to not grab onto rocks like pencil lead does, while using an adjustable float to help it along as well as watch for the bite instead of feeling for it. Use a leader of 12-or 15-pound clear Izorline Platinum and two size 1 or 1/0 barbless hooks with a Cheater or Corky between them, and a larger cluster of eggs for bait. This time of year I switch up my cured eggs from the standard steelhead orange or natural to the deep-red-stained eggs and add Pro-Cure’s Bloody Tuna bait oil right into the jar to soak. Sand shrimp are still a favorite but to really double up on springers, adding a few other traditional salmon scents like Pro-Cure’s herring or sardine oils can lead to more salmon in the box. Then switch back over to krill or anise for steelhead.

Steelhead add to the allure of the Cowlitz in spring – Bruce Warren holds a nice winter-run. While the lower river is more of a spring Chinook fishery, doubling up on steelhead is most likely from I-5 to Blue Creek (JASON BROOKS)

Steelhead add to the allure of the Cowlitz in spring – Bruce Warren holds a nice winter-run. While the lower river is more of a spring Chinook fishery, doubling up on steelhead is most likely from I-5 to Blue Creek (JASON BROOKS)

BLUE CREEK, THE famed state access and steelhead hatchery, is both a bank angler and boat fisherman’s choke point for doubling up on steelhead and spring Chinook. With plenty of bank access from just below the hatchery outlet at the boat ramp all the way down to the Clay Banks area, shore fishermen can wade out as far as they can, depending on river flows, and drift fish the edge of the main current seam. You will also find anglers fishing eggs under a float here. Above the boat ramp there are a few spots to wade out, but be very aware of the ledges and runs that are right at the bank edge. However, there is ample bank access, and this water is primarily a bobber-and-egg fishery. If you do find a stretch where you won’t interfere with other fishermen, try throwing Blue Fox Vibrax spinners in size 3 and 4 and let them swing across the wide flats.
Boat anglers in this stretch work the opposite side of the river, right along the rock retaining wall across from the launch. There is about a mile of water where you can motor up to the first set of rapids and then slowly  back your way to the tailout just above the natural chute that leads down to the corner below. If you decide to run downriver, be aware that this chute can become a hazard. Boaters coming up can’t see around the corner, and once committed to coming upriver, they need to stay on plane or else risk hitting a boulder that is right in the middle of the rapids.
Four big bends upstream of Blue Creek is Barrier Dam and its boat launch. Those who fish it do well out in the middle of the river, but be aware of the fishing deadline – don’t cross it or you will get a ticket. Bank anglers here do even better and this is your best spot to catch a springer from shore. Steelhead do venture up this way, but this is really a salmon show, and the favorite technique is float fishing eggs. Even with good access, it’s very competitive to get a spot. Standing on rocks and casting out in sequence with other anglers that are within a rod length of you is the name of the game, so don’t expect solitude or try other techniques that will interrupt the flow of bobbers drifting by.
The Cowlitz is one fishy river, producing summer steelhead, fall kings and coho and winter steelies, but don’t overlook the opportunity to double up in spring on Chinook and metalheads. Loads of returning fish and a river basically designed for sport anglers make it a top choice this April. NS

Thanks to a big jump in smolt releases, spring Chinook fishing on the Cowlitz looks bright. Last year saw a return of 23,000, and this year’s is forecast to top that. George Schroeder caught this nice one on the lower river in mid April a few seasons ago, fishing herring behind a diver in soft water near shore due to higher flows. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Thanks to a big jump in smolt releases, spring Chinook fishing on the Cowlitz looks bright. Last year saw a return of 23,000, and this year’s is forecast to top that. George Schroeder caught this nice one on the lower river in mid April a few seasons ago, fishing herring behind a diver in soft water near shore due to higher flows. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)