Tag Archives: steelhead

Feds, Tribe Prevail In Elwha Salmon, Steelhead Hatchery Appeal

Federal and tribal fishery overseers have prevailed in a court case involving Elwha River salmon and steelhead that allows for continued use of hatchery fish in the restoration of runs to the north Olympic Peninsula watershed.

After hearing arguments last month, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court’s ruling that the National Marine Fisheries Service had done its homework when approving state and Lower Elwha Klallam production programs for after two dams were removed.

THE ELWHA RIVER ABOVE THE SITE OF THE DAMS. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

“The Ninth Circuit found our analysis was complete and that both NOAA and the (National) Park Service have thoroughly adequately assessed the impacts involved, from the dam removal process to the efforts to recover salmon and steelhead populations,” explained Michael Milstein, a spokesman  for NOAA’s Fisheries Service in Portland.

That analysis was the target of a long-running challenge in U.S. District Court for Western Washington by the Wild Fish Conservancy, Wild Steelhead Coalition, Federation of Fly Fishers Steelhead Committee and Wild Salmon Rivers.

According to federal court documents, they had argued that NMFS’s approval of hatchery programs violated the National Environmental Policy and Endangered Species Acts, and that the tribe’s facility output represented a taking of ESA-listed fish.

But 9th Circuit Court Judges Susan P. Graber, Sandra S. Ikuta and Andrew D. Hurwitz largely agreed with U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle’s earlier ruling, and according to Milstein that “clears the way” for NMFS and its partners to focus on restoring the river, including with hatchery fish per a 2012 environmental assessment that found minimal risk and some benefits from them.

The Elwha restoration is a project on a huge scale, featuring the removal of Elwha Dam in 2012 and Glines Canyon Dam in 2014, freeing up dozens of miles of river and tributaries that flow from the heart of the Olympic Peninsula.

To that end, earlier this spring, WDFW, the National Park Service and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe extended a fishing moratorium on the Elwha through May 2019.

For its part, WDFW doesn’t appear interested in stocking steelhead into the river, as last summer it declared the Elwha a wild steelhead gene bank. The Wild Steelhead Coalition said that designation was the result of “decades of work,” but the tribe’s hatchery means the sanctuary “still does not exist.”

SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report (4-18-17)

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

Salmon/Steelhead

FACTIOD – The 503 adult spring Chinook counted at Bonneville Dam through April 16 are the second lowest on record since at least 1939.  The record low are the 205 fish counted through April 16, 2006.

Cowlitz River – 8 bank anglers with 1 steelhead kept.  20 boat anglers with 3 adult Chinook kept.

ANGIE WILDER OF BEND PICKED UP THIS NICE SPRING CHINOOK WHILE FISHING ON ANCHOR IN 12 FEET OF WATER WITH AN M2 FLATFISH. SHE WAS OUT WITH GUIDE MIKE KELLEY. (VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 300 winter-run steelhead adults, five winter-run steelhead jacks, 347 spring Chinook adults, seven spring Chinook jacks and one summer-run steelhead adult in five daysof operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 84 spring Chinook adults, one spring Chinook jack, 49 winter-run steelhead adults  and one steelhead jack into the Cispus River near Yellow Jacket Creek and 132 spring Chinook adults, one spring Chinook jack, one winter-run steelhead jack and ten winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa located in Randle.

Last week, Tacoma employees released 13 winter-run steelhead adults into the Tilton River located at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and released 81 spring Chinook adults at Franklin Bridge in Packwood.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 12,400 cubic feet per second on Monday, April 17. Water visibility is six feet and water temperature is 44.6 F

North Fork Lewis River from Johnson Creek (located downstream from Lewis River Salmon Hatchery) upstream to Merwin Dam – During the month of May, closed to all fishing.

Wind River – 1 lonely boat there last Saturday.  No report on catch.

Effective May 1 through June 30, from the mouth to the Hwy. 14 Bridge each angler aboard a vessel may deploy SALMON/STEELHEAD angling gear until the daily SALMON/STEELHEAD limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved. In addition, anglers with a Two-Pole Endorsement may fish for salmon and steelhead with two poles during the same period.

Beginning May 1, anti-snagging rule will be in effect from the Hwy. 14 Bridge upstream. When the anti-snagging rule is in effect, only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.

Wind River from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls upstream to boundary markers approximately 800 yards downstream from Carson National Fish Hatchery (except closed 400 feet below to 100 feet above the Coffer Dam) -From May 1 through June 30, the salmon and steelhead daily limit will be a total of 2 chinook or hatchery steelhead or one of each. Unmarked chinook may be retained in this section of the Wind. Night closure and anti-snagging rule will be in effect. Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.

Drano Lake – 17 boat anglers had no catch.  2-3 boats observed there daily.

Effective May 1 through June 30, each angler aboard a vessel may deploy SALMON/STEELHEAD angling gear until the daily SALMON/STEELHEAD limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved. In addition, anglers with a Two-Pole Endorsement may fish for salmon and steelhead with two poles during the same period.

Klickitat River – No effort observed.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam -From last Thurs.-Sun. we sampled 1,369 salmonid anglers (including 443 boats) with 246 adult, 1 jack spring Chinook and 6 steelhead.  227 (92%) of the adult spring Chinook were kept.  We sampled 206 (91%) of the adult spring Chinook kept.  Based on Visual Stock identification (VSI), 159 (77%) of the fish sampled were upriver stock.

2 (33%) of the steelhead were kept.

Effort is increasing with nearly 1,000 salmonid boats and 600 bank anglers counted during last Saturday’s flight.

A hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday, April 19 at 1 PM via teleconference to review harvest and stock status and consider the recreational spring Chinook fishery downstream of Bonneville Dam.

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Light effort and catch.

All fishing for sturgeon will be closed from May 1 through Aug. 31 in the sturgeon sanctuary from Bonneville Dam downstream 9 miles to a line crossing the Columbia River from navigation Marker 82 on the Oregon shore westerly to the boundary marker on the Washington shore upstream of Fir Point.

Bonneville Pool – No report on success during the current catch-and-release only fishery. Angling for sturgeon will be prohibited from May 1 through July 31 between The Dalles Dam downstream 1.8 miles to a line from the east (upstream) dock at the Port of The Dalles boat ramp straight across to a marker on the Washington shore.

The Dalles Pool -No report on success during the current catch-and-release only fishery. Under permanent rules to protect spawning fish, closed to fishing for sturgeon from John Day Dam downstream 2.4 miles to the west end of the grain silo at Rufus Oregon

John Day Pool – No report on success during the current catch-and-release only fishery. Under permanent rules to protect spawning fish, closed to fishing for sturgeon from McNary Dam downstream 1.5 miles to Hwy. 82 (Hwy. 395) Bridge May 1 through July 31.

Trout

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

Lake/Pond
Date
Species
Number
Fish per Pound
Hatchery
Notes

Clark County – Region 5
Apr 10, 2017
Rainbow
2,500
1.85
VANCOUVER HATCHERY

KLINELINE PD (CLAR)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=KLINELINE+PD+%28CLAR%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Clark County – Region 5
Apr 10, 2017
Brown Trout
2,500
1.75
VANCOUVER HATCHERY

KRESS LK (COWL)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=KRESS+LK+%28COWL%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Cowlitz County – Region 5
Apr 12, 2017
Brown Trout
1,755
2.7
MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

LK SACAJAWEA (COWL)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=LK+SACAJAWEA+%28COWL%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Cowlitz County – Region 5
Apr 12, 2017
Brown Trout
1,755
2.7
MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

TUNNEL LK (SKAM)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=TUNNEL+LK+%28SKAM%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Skamania County – Region 5
Apr 12, 2017
Rainbow
2,000
2.36
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

SW WA, Lower Columbia Fishing Report (4-10-17)

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

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – 128 bank anglers kept 3 adult spring Chinook, 19 steelhead and released 3 steelhead, 1 cutthroat.  37 boat anglers kept 4 adult spring Chinook, 20 steelhead and released 1 adult spring Chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 315 winter-run steelhead adults, one winter-run steelhead jack, 60 spring Chinook adults and one cutthroat trout in five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

SPRING CHINOOK CATCHES HAVE SURGED ON THE COLUMBIA AFTER A SLOW START. MITCH SANCHOTENA CAUGHT THIS ONE YESTERDAY WHILE FISHING WITH HIS WIFE SHIRLEY AND BUZZ RAMSEY. “THIS FISH HIT A 4.0 MAG LIP IN THE MAD CLOWN FINISH. WE WERE ON ANCHOR IN 12 FEET OF WATER WITH THE PLUG RIGGED OFF A 24-INCH DROPPER LINE AND 48-INCH LEADER,” RAMSEY REPORTS. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 28 winter-run steelhead adults into the Cispus River near Yellow Jacket Creek and released 24 spring Chinook adults and one winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa located in Randle.

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

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 9,680 cubic feet per second on Monday, April 10. Water visibility is five feet and water temperature is 43.7 F.

East Fork Lewis from mouth to top boat ramp at Lewisville Park and Washougal River from mouth to Mt. Norway Bridge – Open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Sunday April 16. Through the first Friday in June, selective gear rules are in effect; no bait may be used.

Wind, White Salmon, and Klickitat rivers and Drano Lake – No effort including the bank only area outside the mouth of Drano Lake.

Drano Lake – April 12 is the first of the scheduled Wednesday closures that run through June. Effective April 16 through June 30, bank fishing only west of a line projected from the easternmost pillar of the Hwy. 14 Bridge to a posted marker on the north shore.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 1,640 salmonid anglers (including 534 boats) with 165 adult and 2 jack spring Chinook and 5 steelhead.  148 (90%) of the adult spring Chinook were kept.  We sampled 131 (89%) of the adult spring Chinook kept.  Based on Visual Stock Identification, 81 (62%) of the fish sampled were upriver stock.

2 (40%) of the steelhead were kept.

Today (Mon. April 10) is the last scheduled day of the fishery.

ANNOUNCEMENT

COLUMBIA RIVER JOINT STATE HEARING

April 7, 2017

A hearing is scheduled for 10:00 AM Wednesday April 12, 2017 via teleconference to consider the recreational spring Chinook fishery in the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam. Select Area commercial fisheries may also be considered.

Sturgeon/Walleye

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – We did not sample any sturgeon or walleye anglers.

Trout

Recent plants of trout and surplus steelhead into SW WA waters.  No report on angling success.
Lake/Pond
Date
Species
Number
Fish per Pound
Hatchery
Notes

BATTLE GROUND LK (CLAR)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=BATTLE+GROUND+LK+%28CLAR%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Clark County – Region 5
Apr 03, 2017
Rainbow
2,000
2.4
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

LACAMAS LK (CLAR)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=LACAMAS+LK+%28CLAR%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Clark County – Region 5
Apr 03, 2017
Rainbow
6,000
2
VANCOUVER HATCHERY

BATTLE GROUND LK (CLAR)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=BATTLE+GROUND+LK+%28CLAR%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Clark County – Region 5
Apr 04, 2017
Cutthroat
3,653
2.37
SKAMANIA HATCHERY

MARYHILL PD (KLIC)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=MARYHILL+PD+%28KLIC%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Klickitat County – Region 5
Apr 04, 2017
Rainbow
400
2.4
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

HORSESHOE LK (COWL)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=HORSESHOE+LK+%28COWL%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Cowlitz County – Region 5
Apr 05, 2017
Steelhead
33
0.1
MERWIN DAM FCF
Adult Winters

Lower Columbia Fishing Update (4-5-17)

THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL ORIGINATED FROM TANNA TAKATA AND JIMMY WATTS, ODFW,  AND JOE HYMER, PSMFC, AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY HYMER

Lower Columbia mainstem sport update thru April 2

FYI – last week on the lower Columbia, anglers made 2,273 trips and caught 29 adult spring Chinook.

Bonneville Dam flows continue to be at record high levels

Yesterday’s average flows at Bonneville Dam were 445,300 cfs.  Flows have never been above 400,000 cfs on April 3 since at least 1950.  The previous high were the 381,500 cfs on April 3, 1969.

Bonneville adult spring Chinook counts reach a new low

Through April 3, only 22 adult spring Chinook have been counted at Bonneville Dam.  The previous low were the 25 fish counted through April 3, 1949.

WHILE THE BONNEVILLE SPRING CHINOOK COUNT REGISTERED A RECORD LOW OF JUST 22 THROUGH APRIL 3, BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER ATTRIBUTES THAT TO “SUPER HIGH FLOWS AND COOL WATER TEMPS,” AND FEELS FISH ARE “COMING.” THIS IMAGE FROM LATE MARCH SHOWS THE BEACON ROCK BOAT RAMP. (PSMFC)

Salmon, Steelhead and Shad

Catch rate and effort increased slightly this last week.

Gorge Bank: No report.

Gorge Boats: No report.

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for two boats (seven anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekend checking showed three adult spring Chinook, and two steelhead kept, plus one steelhead released for 159 bank anglers.

Portland to Westport Boats: Weekend checking showed three adult spring Chinook kept, and two steelhead released for 64 boats (149 anglers).

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

Estuary Boats (Tongue Point to Wauna Powerlines): Weekend checking showed no catch for eight boats (14 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): No report.

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):  No report.

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam):  No report.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia River (below Bonneville Dam): Closed for retention. Weekend checking showed one sublegal sturgeon released for one boat (three anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Closed for retention.  No report.

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):  Closed for retention.  No report.

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam):  Closed for retention.  Weekly checking showed two legal white sturgeon kept, plus six sublegal and one legal white sturgeon released for 32 bank anglers; and five legal white sturgeon kept, plus 12 sublegal and three oversize sturgeon released for 10 boats (27 anglers).

WALLEYE

Troutdale:  No report.

Bonneville Pool:  No report.

The Dalles Pool:  No report.

John Day Pool: Weekly checking showed one walleye released for five boats (10 anglers).

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)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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).

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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

48 Steelhead Smolts Set To Go On Very Public, Perilous Journey Through Puget Sound

Think you could survive swimming out through Puget Sound? Think you could do it if you were a steelhead?

If so, you might be interested in signing up for a new interactive challenge debuting this spring that will allow the public to track smolts as they try to make the journey.

HOOD CANAL AND SKOKOMISH RIVER STEELHEAD HAVE BEEN STRUGGLING IN RECENT DECADES DUE TO HABITAT LOSS, BUT BIOLOGISTS ARE BEGINNING TO SEE THAT SMOLTS ARE HAVING A MORE DIFFICULT TIME THAN EXPECTED OUTMIGRATING. (LONG LIVE THE KINGS)

It will pit 48 actual acoustic-tag-bearing young winter-runs from the Nisqually and Skokomish Rivers against pollutants, harbor seals, long bridges, hungry birds and other challenges as the ESA-listed fish outmigrate through Hood Canal and the South and Central Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca to the North Pacific.

If they even make it that far.

According to Long Live The Kings, which designed “Survive The Sound” with Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc., fewer than 20 percent of young steelhead make it out of Puget Sound these days.

The idea behind the experience is to bring that awareness to an audience beyond you, me and other steelheaders (we’ve written about it here and in the magazine), as well as raise money for research on our favorite species, and along the way have a little fun.

“Survive the Sound is a new way for people to interact with and learn about our Washington State fish,” Long Live The Kings posted in announcing the challenge. “Steelhead are magical: their behavior can signal deeper issues within the surrounding ecosystem, they are prized by chefs and anglers alike, and their presence is critical to sustaining tribal culture and treaty rights. Unfortunately, the Puget Sound steelhead population has declined dramatically over the past century —to less than 10% of its historic size— and they’re now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Today, there is serious concern that this iconic fish will slip into extinction.”

Here’s how to play:

Go to Survivethesound.org and pick one or more of the four dozen smolts that have been given all sorts of crazy names and avatars.

Northwest Sportsman is sponsoring Blitz, one of several Seahawks-themed steelhead, who’s looking for “a lot of support from the 12th man.” (Look for “Russell Wilswim” next year.)

BLITZ THE NISQUALLY STEELHEAD SMOLT. (LONG LIVE THE KINGS)

Drag your pick(s) into the little box at left and then fill out the credit card billing info to make a $25 donation per smolt to Long Live The Kings, a venerable organization looking into declining salmon and steelhead stocks in the Salish Sea and what can be done to support fisheries for them here.

After submitting the info, you’ll get a confirmation email and a link to a page that will allow you to see your smolt’s pace and distance covered, plus where it is on a map.

Blitz — a Nisqually smolt — hasn’t gone Beast Mode yet, but starting May 8 he and the rest of the young steelhead will begin their journey.

OTHER AVATARS INCLUDE A TASTY SWEDISH FISH, AND A NOT-SO-HEALTHY LOOKING SALMON ELLA. (LONG LIVE THE KINGS)

Their tags will be read (or not if they’re eaten or otherwise die) by sonar stations at key places in the saltwater.

Along with progress updates, you’ll also get briefings on problems facing Puget Sound steelhead, which were listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2007.

Then, NMFS said the “principal” reason was loss of habitat, but also “noted that predation by marine mammals (principally seals and sea lions) and birds may be of concern in some local areas experiencing dwindling steelhead run sizes.”

That’s become more and more of a concern, what with high numbers of pinnipeds and how many young Chinook they may be eating, but there are also suggestions that steelhead smolts just can’t get past the Hood Canal Bridge and that also makes them easy pickin’s.

To, er, hook lots of people into playing Survive The Sound, organizers have a variety of prize categories, including biggest “school” and fastest fish, and if you sign up before April 5, your name will go into a raffle for a stay at Alderbrook Resort, near the hook of Hood Canal.

It will be interesting to see if Blitz gets sacked himself (or herself for all I know) or rushes past the pinnipeds and cormorants and is able to reach the ocean’s feeding grounds.

It will be even more interesting to know if this vehicle delivers the plight of Pugetropolis’s steelhead to the masses, getting more people on board to do something about it.

Editor’s note, March 30, 2017, 2:10 p.m.: An earlier version of this blog mistakenly reported that the steelhead smolts had been radio-tagged. The fish in this research bear acoustic tags, according to Long Live The Kings.

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)