Tag Archives: walleye

Lake Sammamish ‘Warm Water Test Fishery’ Netting Raises Questions

Lee Getzewich had heard that there was some gillnetting going on on Lake Sammamish, a water he’s fished for more than 25 years, and it gave him some pause.

But believing it to be just a “study,” the Issaquah resident decided to hit it earlier this month anyway.

A MUCKLESHOOT NET BOAT SITS MOORED TO A DOCK AT THE LAKE SAMMAMISH STATE PARK BOAT RAMP. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

“What we love about it is that it is such a diverse and quality fishery,” Getzewich says of the 4,900-acre King County lake. “We regularly target warmwater species such as bass, crappie, and perch, but we also enjoy the great cutthroat trout fishing, particularly during colder weather.”

When fresh fish is on their menu, yellowbellies and sometimes specks are the target, but that midspring weekday morning, he and his neighbor planned to catch and release cutts and smallies.

“This time of year, when the trout are keying in on the smolts, we regularly catch 20 to 30 cutts in a day, some going over 25 inches,” Getzewich states. “Twenty-seven inches is the biggest I can recall.”

The plan was to cast into the pods of coho just released from the state salmon hatchery in hopes of catching cutthroat preying on the young fish, but after launching at Lake Sammamish State Park’s southeast corner boat ramp they saw nets being deployed off the mouth of Issaquah Creek.

AN ANGLER FISHES OFF THE MOUTH OF ISSAQUAH CREEK, PROBABLY FOR CUTTHROAT TROUT OR SMALLMOUTH BASS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Motoring over to learn more they began talking to the two-person crew. Getzewich says they were shown totes with the previous night’s catch.

“He held up and showed us a sucker fish about 1 pound, but I could see several smallmouth bass and what looked like small crappie in the bin,” Getzewich recalls.

The crew told them that the fish were all being kept so their stomach contents could be studied, and that they were just doing what they’d been told to by biologists.

Getzewich and his neighbor left and fished elsewhere on Sammamish. The day was slow, and they only caught a few small perch and saw some small bass in the shallows at the lake’s north end, where the slough forms.

Afterwards, though, he talked to a buddy with a fisheries degree about what he’d seen and now he isn’t so sure it can be considered a study.

“What I really want to know is, Why is this permitted? Who said this was OK? Why aren’t the people being kept in the loop about this? Where is our DFW?” asks Getzewich. “There is going to be a serious revolution amongst sportsmen if it keeps going.”

A FISHERMAN WATCHES HIS LINE FOR BITES AT LAKE SAMMAMISH STATE PARIK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

ON A MISTY MAY FRIDAY MORNING I decided to go check out things on Sammamish for myself.

With my luck I figured that if any nets were in the water, they would be halfway down the lake, well out of my smartphone camera’s range, so I grabbed my big Nikon and a telephoto lens and headed for the state park.

I parked at Sunset Beach, near a long row of upturned picnic tables, then wandered out on the trail to the mouth of Issaquah Creek, where a wading angler stood in water midthigh high about 30 yards offshore, casting and retrieving a lure.

With his tackle box back on dry land, he kept a wary eye on what I was up to as I peered into the murk for buoys marking strings of nets, but the only ones to be seen were the floats delineating the swimming area. Over on the other end of the string, an angler sat fishing the edge of the lily pads.

Turning around I went back and struck up a conversation with a plunker set up next to a long since fallen cottonwood. He said he was fishing for cutthroat and as we talked some salmon smolts began breaking the surface of the little bay he was on.

He told me that earlier in the day he’d seen a couple larger fish swim by together, but wasn’t quite sure whether they were trout, bass or something else. More and more of the young fish started jumping and as I zoomed in, there were a couple big swirls among the pod.

The angler didn’t really have anything to say about the netting and seemed more focused on trying to catch the fish making those swirls, so as the mist turned to a light sprinkle I left him to it and drove over to the boat ramp.

BUOYS MARK THE EDGE OF THE SWIMMING AREA AT LAKE SAMMAMISH STATE PARK’S SUNSET BEACH. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

IT’S BEEN A LONG, LONG TIME SINCE I’VE USED this launch, though back when my dad lived in North Bend we’d put in his aluminum boat and fish it somewhat often.

I remember catching a really, really nice trout one time while we were anchored up just to the right of all the ramps. We ate that one as well as some bass we caught another time.

The last time I was on Sammamish was maybe 15 years or so ago with fellow F&H News staffer Jamie Parks. We hit the other southern corner that early spring day to fish for largemouth then zipped north to smallie waters, and on this morning three bassers were launching two boats.

Moored at the end of the leftmost dock was a net boat.

As he readied his craft, I asked the lone angler if he’d heard about the netting and after initially drawing a blank, he recalled fellow anglers mentioning some being dragged through the water.

The other two gents putting in were far more in tune with what’s been going on and they were not exactly happy about it.

As he swiped through pics on his phone of beautiful — and big — bronzebacks, Chris Senyohl, who operates a fly fishing guide service called Intrepid Anglers, told me that the nets had wiped out one of his best smallmouth spots.

His buddy said I’d just missed the net crew and that he’d seen them lift two largemouth out of their boat.

He said they’d been on the water every day during the work week, which is when he said he prefers to fish Sammamish.

HUNGRY PREDATORS GATHER AT THE SOUTH END OF LAKE SAMMAMISH IN SPRING TO SNARF DOWN JUST-RELEASED SALMON SMOLTS LIKE THESE COHO THAT SPILLED OUT OF THE BELLY OF A TROUT CAUGHT BY FAUSTINO RINCON. (FAUSTINO RINCON)

SLIGHTLY DAMP I CALLED IT A MORNING, drove past BMC West, where I worked for awhile after college loading lumber, fighting with customers over bent boards and drawing cartoons at the back gate, and headed in to my office.

I started working on this story on May 9, the day that the Muckleshoot Tribe sent out a notice showing they were intensifying their test fishery for warmwater species on Lake Sammamish and, coincidentally, the day that Lee Getzewich and his neighbor had fished there.

The notice showed that the effort could be expanded from two boats to three, with the maximum number of 3.75- to 6-inch-mesh gillnets tripling, from eight to up to 24.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that that happened, but the regulation restated that the nets could be fished from 6 a.m. Monday until 6 p.m. Friday, by which time they’re to be removed for the weekend.

I left a voice mail on the Muckleshoot Fisheries department’s phone not long afterwards, but it hadn’t been returned as of Tuesday morning, May 28, so to figure out what’s going on, you have to zoom in on a couple different documents.

Probably the most important source of information is inside the LOAF — the 2019-20 List of Agreed Fisheries that was concurred to and signed on April 22 by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission coming out of the annual North of Falcon season-setting process.

The LOAF essentially lays out all of Western Washington’s salmon fisheries in salt- and freshwaters negotiated between the state and 20-plus tribes, and in the back are a number of appendixes.

Pages 83 to 85 detail what is termed the “2019-2020 Warm Water Test Fishery” to collect data whether a directed fishery on spinyrays in the Lake Washington watershed could be “commercially viable” while also avoiding impacts on Endangered Species Act-listed salmon and steelhead.

“Using large mesh gillnets will eliminate impacts on age-0 Chinook and any potential steelhead smolts migrating out to sea,” the project description states.

The Muckleshoots also state they want to “instrument” walleye they catch with acoustic receivers to see how much their range overlaps with outmigrating coho smolts to target those areas in the future.

Another document, the tribe’s 2016 watersheds report, adds context: “A recent tribal study found that fewer than 10% of coho smolts released from the Issaquah Hatchery survived their freshwater migration to Puget Sound. The Lake Washington basin’s miles of docks, bulkheads, rip-rap, warm water, and the many native and exotic fish predators favored by those degraded conditions are likely at fault.”

Their announcement that they were increasing netting efforts roughly coincided with this month’s release of millions of coho as well as Chinook smolts — the fish I saw jumping in the mist.

SALMON SMOLTS LEAP OUT OF THE LAKE, PERHAPS JUST HAPPY TO HAVE BEEN RELEASED FROM THE NEARBY ISSAQUAH HATCHERY OR MAYBE ATTEMPTING TO FLEE PREDATORY FISH. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

THIS IS THE THIRD YEAR THE MUCKLESHOOT test fishery has been going on — it initially included Lake Washington — and it follows 2015’s unexpected discovery of more than a dozen walleye, including an egg-dripping 13-pound hen and six males close by her.

To paraphrase a retired state fisheries manager, whomever recently put walleye (and then northern pike) in the system was no friend of fellow anglers who’ve chased warmwater species for decades, but the Muckleshoots are more blunt; they use the word “criminal” to describe the act.

Besides its many native stocks, crappie have been in the watershed the longest, in Lake Washington since at least 1890, followed by largemouth in 1918, and smallmouth there and in Sammamish since sometime in the 1960s, perhaps earlier.

Lake Washington is ranked as one of the top 100 bass lakes in the entire country by Bassmaster magazine, and is 16th best in the Western U.S.

Local clubs regularly hit it and according to WDFW tournament fishing records, the average bass landed there during the last 10 years weighed 2.22 pounds; the average on Sammamish was 2.31 pounds.

As popular as they’ve become, the times they are a’changing. The plight of the orcas and their primary food has put a target on the fins of spinyrays.

Earlier this month Gov. Jay Inslee signed Second Substitute House Bill 1579 which primarily — and finally — gives WDFW some actual teeth to protect shoreline habitat for Chinook and their forage fish.

It also contains a clause that the Fish and Wildlife Commission must now “liberalize bag limits for bass, walleye, and channel catfish in all anadromous waters of the state in order to reduce the predation risk to salmon smolts.”

The latter idea came out of the governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force’s recommendations last year and it echoes current regulations on the Columbia.

Limits were dropped on the three species in the big river system several years ago following pushing from federal fishery overseers.

How WDFW and the commission interpret “liberalize” and “anadromous” has yet to be determined (no limits? using SalmonScape?), but the bill goes into effect July 1 and will surely include Lakes Sammamish and Washington.

I’m no biologist, but my bet is that bass really don’t have much to fear from sport pursuit because of current support, Northwest anglers’ general preference for other fish on the table and conservation practices, and health advisories.

In other words, it’s a feel-good measure, though with more and more efforts throughout our region to supress or kill off nonnatives like lake trout, northern pike — even rainbow trout — this also feels like it could be a potential inflection point.

LAKE SAMMAMISH STRETCHES FOR 7 MILES FROM ITS NORTH END AT REDMOND TO ITS SOUTH AT ISSAQUAH, WHERE A SALMON HATCHERY RAISES AND RELEASES COHO AND CHINOOK FOR STATE AND TRIBAL FISHERIES. BUT THE SMOLTS MUST FIRST TRANSIT A LAKE FULL OF HUNGRY FISH. (JELSON25, WIKIMEDIA, CC 3.0)

ONE GROUP THAT ESSENTIALLY SUPPORTS the netting on Lake Sammamish is FISH, the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, a nonprofit that leads tours at WDFW’s most-visited production facility and does a lot of youth education with third- and fourth-grade students.

But the organization has also been moving into the realm of advocacy lately, said Larry Franks, its vice president and longtime salmon and steelhead angler.

“We’ve tried to identify things that benefit fish,” he said.

Franks, who retired from Boeing and also has a fisheries degree from the University of Washington, said that despite 2.5 million Chinook being released from the hatchery, last year saw a return of just 1,800 adults, or .07 percent survival.

Part of that is the productivity, or lack thereof, of the North Pacific, as well as harvest by all fleets, but primarily low smolt survival, just 8 to 10 percent from Issaquah to Shilshole Bay, outside the Lake Washington Ship Canal, he said.

“The deck is stacked against them. Our goal is to have better returns,” Franks said.

One problem, he said, is the increasingly narrow band of Lake Sammamish that salmon must swim through between too-warm surface waters and its anoxic depths.

The other is the predators that sit and wait in the zone for the smolts to swim through, then chow down.

Franks believes that the number of warmwater species in the lake and their populations have grown, and that that is impacting salmon outmigration and thus returns that are “dropping precipitously.”

“We’re of the position these are cause and effect, not correlation,” he said.

He acknowledges the growth of the state bass fishery and that smallmouth and largemouth anglers are every bit as dedicated as he is to chasing salmon. He believes that WDFW doesn’t want to piss off spinyray anglers either and is afraid to act — at least without more hard scientific data.

“It comes down to a choice: If you want to retain bass fishing, it’s going to be hopeless, in Larry’s opinion, to save Chinook,” Franks said.

A state staffer close to the situation didn’t want to be quoted for this story, but if official WDFW comments during its recently held Walleye Week on Facebook are any indication, they will be managing salmon and steelhead waters for salmon and steelhead first, and spinyrays where it makes the most sense.

(WDFW is also in the third year of a Lake Washington Ship Canal study to determine abundance and diets of smolt-eating fish there.)

Another option might be trucking Issaquah Hatchery’s smolts and Franks said experiments are ongoing. But anecdotally, it didn’t produce bigger returns last year, though more results are expected this year and next.

That leaves removing the predators, like the Muckleshoots are doing.

“We’re supportive of efforts that would increase the Chinook return,” said Franks.

ISSAQUAH CREEK ENTERS LAKE SAMMAMISH. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

AS FOR HOW MANY FISH ARE BEING GILLNETTED in Sammamish, the LOAF — that marine area by river by lake rundown of agreed-to fishing state and tribal seasons and constraints — contains a short statement that caught my eye.

It says that with “the potential for interaction with the public,” the Muckleshoots propose providing monthly reports on their test fishery, including gear used, where it was fished and for how long, to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

So I asked NOAA for that information, and a week and a half later a federal spokesperson provided me with summaries of catches in March and April for what are known as Zones 7 and 8, the northern and southern halves of the lake.

According to the figures, nearly 2,850 fish were caught and removed from the system during those two months, roughly 60 percent of which were native species, 40 percent nonnatives.

Just over 53.5 percent of the overall catch (1,525) was comprised of largescale suckers, a native fish, followed by introduced smallmouth bass (577) at 20 percent and fellow transplant black crappie (258) at 9 percent.

Other species caught include:

Northern pikeminnow (146), 5 percent, native
Brown bullhead (126), 4 percent, nonnative
Cutthroat trout (85), 3 percent, native
Largemouth bass (78), 3 percent, nonnative
Peamouth chub (24), 1 percent, native
Common carp (11), .4 percent, nonnative
Yellow perch (10), .3 percent, nonnative
Hatchery-origin Chinook (3), .1 percent, native
Mountain whitefish (3), .1 percent, native
Hatchery-origin coho (1), .03 percent, native
Rock bass (1), .03 percent, nonnative
Walleye (1), .03 percent, nonnative

No rainbow trout or natural-origin Chinook were caught, NOAA’s catch breakout shows.

Kokanee, which are at low levels in the lake but also a pelagic, or open-water, fish were not listed in the catch tally.

Under the terms of the test fishery, if three wild steelhead are netted, the effort will be shut down immediately. In the LOAF, the Muckleshoots state that there is a “very low to zero” chance of any turning up, and if one did, they suggest it would probably be a Green River stray.

Gillnetting is set to run through June 15, and I am interested to see what turns up in the catch during the final seven weeks of the program, what with the release of all those coho and Chinook smolts into the system — will the catch percentages change?

The test fishery is also scheduled to resume next January through April.

FEDERAL FISHERY OVERSEERS PROVIDED THIS TABLE SHOWING HOW MANY NATIVE AND NONNATIVE FISH WERE CAUGHT DURING WEEKLY GILLNETTING ON THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN HALVES OF LAKE SAMMAMISH. LARGESCALE SUCKERS DOMINATE THE CATCH, BUT SMALLMOUTH BASS COMPRISE A QUARTER TOO. (NOAA)

SOMETHING LARRY FRANKS SAID STUCK WITH me after our talk:

“It’s a thorny problem.”

Understatement of the century.

As a salmon angler, like many other Northwest sportsmen these days I’m howling that something, anything needs to be done about predators — be they sea lions, harbor seals, Caspian terns, cormorants or piscivorous fish — to get more smolts out and more adult fish back.

That means there’s no way I can support killing pikeminnows in the Columbia, northern pike everywhere in our region, birds at the mouth of the river, and pinnipeds at Bonneville and Willamette Falls without also giving the thumbs up to removing smolt-eating fish in Lake Sammamish.

At the same time, my inner spinyray angler is revolted by what feels like a targeted attack on a fish I like — I literally nearly went bankrupt trying to write a story inspired by catching a huge smallmouth on the Grande Ronde — one that’s widespread across the Northwest and is a great entry-level fish that’s easy to catch.

I’m all for hatcheries, but, holy sh*t, here’s a species that doesn’t require the world’s largest fish production infrastructure to perpetuate in perpetuity, plus they’re ready-made for climate change.

Yet as a Washington native, tell me why our fisheries have to be exactly like what you can already find in Michigan, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Quebec, Tennessee, Iowa, New Jersey, Minnesota, New York, Ontario, Missouri, the Dakotas, New England, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana? We’re not the Old Northwest, this is the Pacific Northwest, home of silver fish, not green ones, and proud of it.

Then again, I’ve also read my King of Fish: The Thousand Year Run of Salmon — with all the problems that our kings, silvers and steelies face, you tell me that smallies and their Midwestern and Southern cousins aren’t what’s going to come out of the other end of things here as the sole survivors.

The utter mess we have made of this region obliges us to do our best to fix it.

At what cost, pray tell?

So as you can tell, I’ve got mostly mixed feelings here.

I do, however, have a problem with the illegal release of walleye in Lakes Sammamish and Washington, and northern pike in the latter. Doing so was among the most asinine, destructive and disrespectful things perpetrated on the watershed since the Great Glacier smothered it. I’ll tar and feather the a@$hole bucket biologist(s) myself.

The comanagers aren’t talking, but I’ll tell you what, I wouldn’t doubt for a second that those crimes were among the tipping points that set their test fisheries in motion. And now everybody but the guilty are paying.

A BLUE HERON WAITS FOR PREY TO SWIM BY. MANY THINGS PREY ON LAKE SAMMAMISH’S SALMON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

I’M DOUBTFUL THERE WILL BE A “COMMERCIALLY VIABLE” fishery for bass in Lake Sammamish or elsewhere in the system some day, but I could be wrong.

I just hope that the netting shows whether targeted removals of smolt predators at select times and places is worthwhile for increasing salmon survival and expanding harvest seasons — while also preserving native and nonnative fish and fisheries that aren’t going away any time soon.

I’m willing to put a nickel down that while introduced exotics like the bass do have an impact, it’s mostly limited to the two months or so that the young coho and Chinook are transiting the system, and that like over on Lake Washington with sockeye smolts, cutthroat and northern pikeminnow are the actual primary predators.

Again, I could be wrong, but I’d love to learn what is in the stomachs of the thousands of fish the Muckleshoots pull out of the lake this spring. I’d hate to see this all go to waste.

THE SOUTH END OF LAKE SAMMAMISH FROM POO POO POINT, THE TAKE-OFF SPOT FOR HANG GLIDERS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Rainbows And More To Catch On Eastside Trout Opener, Y-R Lakes

Washington’s big late April trout opener is just eight sleeps away and Westside lakes are sure to be packed.

While there may be fewer lowland lakes in Eastern Washington, it’s just as big doin’s as west of the crest, and not just for rainbows.

We checked in with a pair of state fisheries biologists to get their thoughts on how this year’s season will go in two of the best regions on the Eastside.

PHIL REICH HOLDS A NICE RAINBOW HE CAUGHT AT AN EASTERN WASHINGTON LAKE A COUPLE SPRINGS AGO. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

PERHAPS SOME OF THE BEST PROSPECTS can be found in Spokane-based biologist Randy Osborne’s district.

“I would guess that Badger is going to be one of the better trout lakes this spring,” he said about the upper Channeled Scablands lake which was rehabbed in 2015 and then restocked with a very heavy hand. “There’s a lot of fish there to be caught.”

“Williams Lake should fish good as well,” he adds. “West Medical – we killed that after last fall, but it will be stocked with a healthy dose of catchables and broodstock fish to get it going.”

Yellow perch are starting to cut into the productivity at Fish Lake near Cheney, but it still should fish “OK” this season, forecasts Osborne.

He also expects Clear Lake near Medical Lake to be consistent.

Osborne also has two year-round options: Lake Spokane/Long Lake, which has been producing good trout fishing this past winter and last year.

It also has walleye, and he encourages anglers to target them. “We’ve sampled some to 10 pounds.”

And Pacific Lake, north of Odessa, for rainbows.

“I went out there last year and it was crazy good,” says Osborne. “I was just sampling with rod and reel and in two hours caught 36 fish. They ranged from 14 to 17 inches. When the ice gets off, it should be good.”

A WILLIAMS LAKE ANGLER SHOWS OFF A WDFW STATEWIDE TROUT DERBY-TAGGED RAINBOW, CAUGHT ON LAST YEAR’S OPENER AT THE SPOKANE-AREA WATER. (WDFW)

YES, RAINBOWS GET A LOT OF ATTENTION, but they’re far from being the only fish to catch in spring, especially in the Okanogan.

That’s where Ryan Fortier is based, and he gave us his best bets for this season.

“Kokanee fishing has been gaining in popularity, with Alta and Conconully Lake being the two most popular and consistent fisheries,” the WDFW District 6 fisheries biologist says.

“The Alta pressure is getting a bit heavy, but Conconully can handle the larger crowds well. Patterson Lake near Winthrop has a good age-class coming up this year compared to the last five years. The other stocked lakes are Bonaparte, Spectacle and Conconully Reservoir. Palmer is not expected to have a fishery for another two more years.”

On the spinyray front, there are plenty of options too.

“Palmer, Leader, and Washburn Island Pond have been the most popular fisheries,” says Fortier. “There are lots of campers staying at the DNR campgrounds at Palmer and Leader who fish and swim on the lakes. Washburn Island was stocked with some largemouth two years ago and has produced some good sizes.”

But if your sights are set on trout, he has options for those too. He expected Pearrygin, Alta and the Conconullies to produce as usual at the opener last month, and that is likely to continue into May.

“Wannacut near Tonasket has produced the largest fish on average over the previous two summers,” he says.

Unfortunately, Fish Lake, not too far to the south, is “in need of a rehab” to get rid of overabundant bullheads, Fortier says.

It sounds like he expects quality trout waters like Aeneas, Blue, Chopaka and Davis to continue as they have, but there are two other lakes to start plugging into your radar.

“Buzzard (Loup Loup Pass) has been growing in popularity, and Campbell (Winthrop) has received low pressure despite better than usual sizes since the 2014 fires,” he hints.

Speaking of fires, Black Pine Lake high in the mountains west of Carlton was closed much of last summer due to wildfire activity, so it “should probably have some good carryovers for cutthroat when the snow clears in late May,” Fortier says.

And if you’re looking for something a little exotic that affords a chance to break a state record, you could do worse than Bonaparte Lake and its brook-brown hybrids.

SPRING IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TIMES TO CHECK OUT THE HIGHLAND LAKES OF EASTERN WASHINGTON. HERE’S THE VIEW DOWN ONTO BONAPARTE LAKE, WHERE THE SIZE OF TIGER TROUT BORDERS ON BEING “TALL TALES,” ACCORDING TO THE DISTRICT FISHERIES BIOLOGIST. THE STATE RECORD 18.49-POUND HYBRID CAME FROM HERE IN MAY 2015. (USFS)

“The tiger trout sizes reported in the lake have been bordering on tall tales,” says Fortier. “We will try to do a more intense survey this year to get an idea of what has changed and if the rumors are true.”

And don’t forget Lake Rufus Woods! It will be stocked with 22,000 2-plus-pound triploid trout between March and June, according to tribal managers’ plans.

Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools, SW WA Fishing Report (4-10-19)

THE FOLLOWING REPORTS WERE TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Preliminary Washington lower Columbia River mainstem sport sampling summary

April 1-7, 2019

Bonneville bank anglers: 239; kept adult Chinook: 19
I-5 area bank anglers: 1; kept adult Chinook: 0
Vancouver area bank anglers: 61; kept adult Chinook: 1

Bonneville boat anglers: 13; kept adult Chinook: 2
Camas area boat anglers: 50; kept adult Chinook: 3
I-5 area boat anglers: 141; kept adult Chinook: 17
Vancouver boat anglers: 1138; kept adult Chinook: 123

A COLUMBIA RIVER ANGLER SIZES UP HIS SPRING CHINOOK DURING 2016’S RUN. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Columbia River and Tributary Fishery Reports

Salmon/Steelhead:

Lower Columbia mainstem from Warrior Rock line to Bonneville Dam– 516 salmonid boats and 118 Washington bank rods were tallied during last Sundays flight count.

Sturgeon:

Bonneville Pool- 14 bank anglers kept 1 legal sturgeon and released 5 sublegal sturgeon. 9 boats/23 rods kept 14 legal sturgeon, released 77 sublegal and 2 oversize sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool- Closed for retention.  No report.John Day Pool- 8 bank anglers kept 1 legal sturgeon.  2 boats/4 rods had no catch.

Walleye:

Bonneville Pool- 2 bank anglers had no catch.  2 boats/5 rods kept 5 walleye.

John Day Pool- 2 bank anglers had no catch. 7 boats/13 rods kept 2 and released 10 walleye.

Bass:

Bonneville Pool- 3 boats/6 rods kept 2 bass and released 71 bass.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 37 bank rods kept 2 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br:  58 bank rods kept 13 steelhead.  38 boats/110 rods kept 42 steelhead and released 4 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 272 winter-run steelhead adults, one winter-run steelhead jack and four cutthroat trout during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 40 winter-run steelhead adults, one winter-run steelhead jack and two cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and they released 17 winter-run steelhead adults and two cutthroat trout adults into Lake Scanewa located in Randle.

Tacoma Power also tagged and recycled 109 winter-run steelhead adults to the lower river.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 2,970 cubic feet per second on Monday, April 8. Water visibility is 9 feet and the water temperature is 45.7 F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – 14 bank anglers had no catch.

Lewis River – 3 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.

Drano Lake – 3 boats/5 rods had no catch.

 

  • Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

 

Catchable Trout Plants:  No report of angler success.

Lake/Pond                           Date Species Number    Fish/lb Hatchery

Battle Ground (CLARK)           April 1, 2019 Rainbow 2,000           2.53 GOLDENDALE

SW WA, Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools Fishing Report (4-3-19)

THE FOLLOWING REPORTS WERE TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN AND PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW

Preliminary Washington lower Columbia River mainstem sport sampling summary

March 25-31, 2019

Bonneville bank anglers: 146; kept adult Chinook: 7
I-5 area bank anglers: 1; kept adult Chinook: 0
Vancouver area bank anglers: 65; kept adult Chinook: 0

Bonneville boat anglers: 2; kept adult Chinook: 0
Camas area boat anglers: 9; kept adult Chinook: 0
I-5 area boat anglers: 8; kept adult Chinook: 2
Vancouver boat anglers: 375; kept adult Chinook: 55

SPRING CHINOOK CATCHES ARE PICKING UP IN THE INTERSTATE STRETCH OF THE LOWER COLUMBIA. LAST WEEK’S KEPT CATCH OF 55 WAS SIX TIMES LARGER THAN THE PREVIOUS MARCH WEEK’S NINE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Washington Columbia River and Tributary Fishing Report March 25-31, 2019

Lower Columbia mainstem from Warrior Rock line to Bonneville Dam– 434 salmonid boats and 70 Washington bank rods were tallied during last Saturdays flight count.

Sturgeon:

Bonneville Pool- 16 bank anglers kept 2 legal sturgeon and released 9 sublegal sturgeon.  10 boats/27 rods kept 7 legal sturgeon, released 86 sublegal and 1 oversize sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool- Closed for retention.  No report.

John Day Pool- 62 bank anglers kept 9 legal sturgeon, released 44 sublegal and 15 oversize sturgeon.  11 boats/23 rods kept 8 legal sturgeon, released 1 legal, 40 sublegal and 1 oversize sturgeon.

Walleye:

Bonneville Pool- 3 boats/8 rods released 12 walleye.

John Day Pool- 44 boats/111 rods kept 172 walleye and released 12 walleye.

Bass:

Bonneville Pool- 5 boat/7 rods released 16 bass.

John Day Pool- 4 boats/7 rods kept 13 bass and released 12 bass.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 21 bank rods kept 5 steelhead and released 5 Chinook jacks.

Above the I-5 Br:  8 bank rods kept 9 steelhead.  24 boats/81 rods kept 44 steelhead and released 3 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 196 winter-run steelhead adults and three spring Chinook adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 36 winter-run steelhead adults into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and they released 23 winter-run steelhead adults and one spring Chinook adult into Lake Scanewa located in Randle.

The remainder of the fish are being held at the hatchery for broodstock needs.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,080 cubic feet per second on Monday, April 1. Water visibility is 10 feet and the water temperature is 45.7 F.

Kalama River – 19 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.  7 boats/16 rods kept 1 steelhead and released 4 steelhead.

Lewis River – 8 bank anglers had no catch.

 

  • Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

 

Catchable Trout Plants:

Lake/Pond                           Date Species Number    Fish/lb Hatchery

Battle Ground (CLARK)          April 1, 2019 Rainbow 2,000            2.5 GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

Lacamas (CLARK)                    April 1, 2019 Rainbow 4,300            1.8 VANCOUVER HATCHERY

Hanford Reach Steelhead Sport Fishery

In March, an estimated 337 angler trips harvested 148 hatchery steelhead and released 3 wild (unclipped) steelhead. Anglers averaged 6.2 hours per steelhead. The fishery will remain open to “bank angling only” at the Ringold Springs Access area through April 15. Daily limit is two steelhead and only Ringold Springs steelhead can be harvested. Steelhead released from Ringold Springs Hatchery are adipose and right ventral fin clipped.

McNary Reservoir Steelhead Sport Fishery Summary

SW WA, Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools Fishing Report (3-27-19)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

March 27, 2019

Columbia River and Tributary Fishery Reports

Fishery Reports:

Salmon/Steelhead:

Lower Columbia mainstem from Warrior Rock line to Bonneville Dam– 128 salmonid boats and 52 Washington bank rods were tallied during last Saturdays flight count.

Sturgeon:

Bonneville Pool- 2 bank anglers had no catch.  14 boats/39 rods kept 9 legal sturgeon, released 5 legal sturgeon and 107 sublegal sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool- Closed for retention.  No report.

John Day Pool- 52 bank anglers kept 2 legal sturgeon, released 5 sublegal and 6 oversize sturgeon.  8 boats/10 rods released 1 sublegal sturgeon.

DAVE ANDERSON SHOWS OFF A NICE MID-COLUMBIA WALLEYE CAUGHT ON A GUIDED TRIP LAST WEEKEND. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Walleye:

Bonneville Pool- 17 boats/32 rods kept 14 walleye and released 6 walleye.

John Day Pool- 47 boats/96 rods kept 93 walleye and released 28 walleye.

Bass:

Bonneville Pool- 1 boat/2 rods released 1 bass.

John Day Pool- 5 boats/10 rods kept 1 bass and released 17 bass.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 64 bank rods kept 8 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br:  34 bank rods kept 20 steelhead and released 2 steelhead.  61 boats/181 rods kept 101 steelhead and released 10 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 91 winter-run steelhead adults, one winter-run steelhead jack and one spring Chinook adult during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 21 winter-run steelhead adults and one winter-run steelhead jack into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and they released three winter-run steelhead adults into the Cispus River near Randle.

Tacoma Power released four winter-run steelhead adults into Lake Scanewa located in Randle.

The remainder of the fish are being held at the hatchery for broodstock needs.

Kalama River – 28 bank anglers had no catch.  2 boats/3 rods had no catch.

Lewis River – 17 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.

Wind River – 1boat/2 rods had no catch.

 

  • Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

 

Catchable Trout Plants:  

Lake/Pond                           Date Species Number    Fish/lb Hatchery

Horseshoe (COWL)                Mar 19, 2019 Rainbow 2,900           2.9 MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

Columbia Serves Up Midwest Walleye Memories, Meals For Angler

By Dave Anderson

Since we had so much success and fun last year on our walleye trip, I knew I wanted to book another trip this year with TJ Hester fishing on the Columbia River.

AUTHOR DAVE ANDERSON SHOWS OFF A NICE COLUMBIA RIVER WALLEYE HE CAUGHT WHILE FISHING WITH GUIDE TJ HESTER LAST WEEKEND. (DAVE ANDERSON)

I had quite a bit of interest from other friends, so we ended up booking a second boat, which was run by TJ’s dad, Jim Hester.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

We were at the launch at 8:00 am on Saturday morning to start the day. After a 10-minute boat ride we made it to where we spent most of our day fishing.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

Right out the gate my friend Nick Bouchee got himself a dandy 8.1-pound walleye. After a quick photo she went back into the river.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

The rest of the day we had a lot of opportunities trolling, but once we found where more fish were concentrated, we ended up jigging for a little bit and were able to pick up a few more.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

We put in a full day’s effort on Saturday, working hard for all our fish. The primary rig was a 2-ounce bottom bouncer with a Mack’s Smile Blade to a nightcrawler.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

Sunday morning, we started out a little earlier at 7:00 am. We ran back to our same area we had fished Saturday and found fish right where we left them.

So instead of trolling, we switched over to jigs and put some nice grade of eaters in the box.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

Most of us decided to pull the plug at noon since we had a 41/2-hour drive back to reality. The other group ground it out for a few more hours and ended up taking home a nice batch of fish!

I already planned our trip to go back next year with two boats again. This trip has gained quite a bit of popularity in my group of friends.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

I grew up in the Midwest and walleye was my main target species as a child, so this trip always brings back fun childhood memories.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

Walleye is also amazing table fare! Call me crazy but I would eat a plate of walleye over a plate of halibut any day of the week.

SW WA, Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools Fishing Report (3-20-19)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

 

Salmon/Steelhead:

Lower Columbia mainstem from Warrior Rock line to Bonneville Dam– 129 salmonid boats and 15 Washington bank rods were tallied during last Saturdays flight count.

SPRINGER BOATS ON THE COLUMBIA RIVER. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Sturgeon

Bonneville Pool- 8 bank anglers released 2 sublegal sturgeon.  6 boats/17 rods kept 3 legal sturgeon and released 26 sublegal sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool- Closed for retention.  No report.

John Day Pool- 15 bank anglers released 1 sublegal sturgeon.  7 boats/13 rods had no catch.

Walleye:

Bonneville Pool- 6 boats/12 rods kept 9 walleye.

The Dalles Pool- No anglers sampled.

John Day Pool- 63 boats/152 rods kept 75 walleye and released 68 walleye.

Bass:

John Day Pool- 1 boat/2 rod kept 1 bass and released 1 bass.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 2 bank anglers had no catch.

Elochoman River – 6 bank anglers released 2 steelhead.

Germany Creek – 2 bank anglers had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 42 bank rods kept 1 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br:  38 bank rods released 3 steelhead.  48 boats/156 rods kept 26 steelhead and released 8 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 20 winter-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released two winter-run steelhead adults into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom in Morton and they released three winter-run steelhead adults into the Cispus River in Randle.

The remainder of the fish are being held at the hatchery for broodstock needs.

Kalama River – 29 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.  4 boats/11 rods kept 2 steelhead and released 1 steelhead.

Lewis River – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

East Fork Lewis River – 11 bank anglers had no catch.

 

  • Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

 

Catchable Trout Plants:  

Lake/Pond                           Date Species Number    Fish/lb Hatchery

LK SACAJAWEA (COWL)         Mar 14, 2019 Rainbow 3,001           2.3 GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

SWOFFORD PD (LEWI)           Mar 14, 2019 Rainbow 2,750           2.8 MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

SWOFFORD PD (LEWI)           Mar 14, 2019 Rainbow 3,000           3.0 MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

HORSE THIEF LK (KLIC)           Mar 11, 2019 Rainbow 31                0.1 GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

SW WA, Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools Fishing Report (3-13-19)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

The first spring Chinook was counted at Bonneville Dam March 11, 2019.

2019 2018 10-yr Avg
Dam Date Adult Jack   Adult Jack   Adult Jack
BON 3/11/19 1 0 3 0 24 0

 

Salmon/Steelhead:

Lower Columbia mainstem from Warrior Rock line to Bonneville Dam– 55 salmonid boats and 28 Washington bank rods were tallied during last Saturdays flight count.

WINTER STEELHEADING ON THE COWLITZ RIVER IS PICKING UP AS THE LATE-TIMED STOCK BEGINS TO ARRIVE IN BETTER NUMBERS. JASON BROOKS TOOK THIS PIC AT BLUE CREEK SEVERAL RUNS AGO. (JASON BROOKS)

Lower Columbia Washington only creel checks:

  • Sec 3 (I-5 area) bank – 5 salmonid bank anglers had no catch.
  • Sec 3 boat – 5 boats/14 salmonid anglers had no catch.
  • Sec 4 (Vancouver) bank – 22 salmonid anglers had no catch.
  • Sec 4 boat – 31 boats/ 65 salmonid anglers had no catch.

Sturgeon:

Bonneville Pool- 7 bank anglers had no catch.  5 boats/14 rods kept 3 legal sturgeon and released 51 sublegal sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool- Closed for retention.  No report.

John Day Pool- 15 bank anglers had no catch.  2 boats/6 rods had no catch.

Walleye:

Bonneville Pool- 3 boats/6 rods kept 20 walleye.

The Dalles Pool- No anglers sampled.

John Day Pool- 11 boats/23 rods kept 26 walleye and released 3 walleye.

Bass:

John Day Pool- 1 boat/1 rod had no catch.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

Elochoman River – 2 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.  1 boat/3 rods released 1 steelhead.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 60 bank rods kept 1 steelhead.  4 boats/5 rods had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br:  17 bank rods released 3 steelhead.  31 boats/106 rods kept 22 steelhead and released 4 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered two winter-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

All of the fish collected last week were held at the hatchery for broodstock needs.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,160 cubic feet per second on Monday, March 11. Water visibility is 10 feet and the water temperature is 41 F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – 32 bank anglers had no catch.

Lewis River – 5 bank anglers had no catch.

East Fork Lewis River – 2 bank anglers had no catch.

Salmon Creek – 9 bank anglers had no catch.

 

  • Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

 

Catchable Trout Plants:

Lake/Pond                           Date Species Number    Fish/lb Hatchery

LEWIS CO PRK PD-s (LEWI)    Mar 07, 2019 Rainbow 2,000           2.5 MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

KlineLine PD (CLAR)                Mar 05, 2019 Rainbow 1,500          2.3 VANCOUVER HATCHERY

Lacamas LK (CLAR)                  Mar 04, 2019 Rainbow 4,000          1.9 VANCOUVER HATCHERY

Lower Columbia, Gorge, SW WA Fishing Report (3-6-19)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

Salmon/Steelhead:

Lower Columbia mainstem from Bonneville Dam to Warrior Rock– 47 salmonid boats and 6 Washington bank rods were tallied during last Saturdays flight count.

ANTHONY CLEMENTS SHOWS OFF A NICE BROODSTOCK WINTER-RUN FROM AN OREGON NORTH COAST STREAM. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Washington only creel checks: February 25-28, 2019

? Sec 8 (Longview) bank- 2 salmonid anglers had no catch.
? Sec 8 boat -2 boats/4 salmonid anglers had no catch.
? Sec 9 (Cathlamet) bank- 3 salmonid anglers had no catch.
? Sec 10 (Cathlamet) boat – 1 boat/2 salmonid anglers had no catch.

Washington only creel checks: March 1-3, 2019
? Sec 3 (Vancouver) boat – 1 boat/2 salmonid anglers had no catch.
? Sec 4 (Vancouver) bank – 2 salmonid anglers had no catch.
? Sec 4 boat – 4 boats/ 6 salmonid angler had no catch.

John Day Pool – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Sturgeon:

Bonneville Pool- No anglers sampled.

The Dalles Pool- Closed for retention. No report.

John Day Pool- 8 bank anglers had no catch. 1 boat/4 rods had no catch.

Walleye:

Bonneville Pool- 1 boat/3 rods kept 3 walleye.

The Dalles Pool- No anglers sampled.

John Day Pool- 11 boats/25 rods kept 9 walleye and released 8 walleye.

Salmon/Steelhead:


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Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River – 6 bank anglers released 2 steelhead.  1 boat/2 rods kept 1 steelhead and released 2 steelhead.

Germany Creek – 6 bank anglers had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 106 bank rods kept 7 steelhead and released 2 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br:  25 bank rods released 4 steelhead.  47 boats/137 rods kept 46 steelhead and released 3 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 12 winter-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released three winter-run steelhead adults into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and one winter-run steelhead adult into the Cispus River near Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,060 cubic feet per second on Monday, March 4. Water visibility is 10 feet and the water temperature is 41 F.

East Fork Lewis River – 16 bank anglers released 2 steelhead.  1 boat/1 rod had no catch.

Salmon Creek – 7 bank anglers had no catch.

  • Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

Catchable Trout Plants:  No report on angling success.

Lake/Pond Date Species Number Fish per
Pound
Hatchery Notes
KLINELINE PD (CLAR)
Clark County – Region 5BATTLE GROUND LK (CLAR)
Clark County – Region 5
Feb 25, 2019

Mar 04, 2019

Rainbow

Rainbow

1,500

2,000

1.9

2.3

VANCOUVER HATCHERY

VANCOUVER HATCHERY

LACAMAS LK (CLAR)
Clark County – Region 5
Mar 04, 2019 Rainbow 4,000 1.9 VANCOUVER HATCHERY

 

Smelt

Reports of smelt in showing up in the Lower Columbia and Cowlitz River.

Mainstem Columbia and all other Washington tributaries – Closed to sport fishing for smelt (eulachon).

Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools, SW WA Fishing Report (2-27-19)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

Salmon/Steelhead:

Lower Columbia mainstem from the I-5 Br. downstream – Water looks good for salmon fishing but only 31 boats and 68 bank rods were tallied during last Saturdays boat count.

Washington only creel checks:
Sec 4 (Vancouver) bank – 9 salmonid anglers had no catch.
Sec 5 (Woodland) bank – 9 salmonid anglers had no catch.
Sec 5 boat – 1 boat/ 1 salmonid angler had no catch.
Sec 6 (Kalama) bank – 2 salmonid anglers had no catch.
John Day Pool: 1 bank angler kept 1 steelhead and released 1 steelhead.

A BIG WALLEYE CAUGHT ON THE MID-COLUMBIA STRETCHES THE TAPE TO MORE THAN 34 INCHES. IT WAS CAUGHT BY TRI-CITIES ANGLERS DURING A RECENT GUIDED TRIP AT NIGHT. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Sturgeon:

Bonneville Pool- 4 boats/8 anglers kept 1 legal sturgeon and released 29 sublegal sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool- Closed for retention. No report.

John Day Pool- 12 bank anglers had no catch. 10 boats/22 anglers kept 1 legal sturgeon.

Walleye:

Bonneville Pool- 2 boats/4 rods kept 3 walleye and released 3 walleye.

The Dalles Pool- No anglers sampled.

John Day Pool- 9 boats/22 rods kept 5 walleye and released 2 walleye.

Salmon/Steelhead:
Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 6 bank anglers had no catch.

Elochoman River – 3 bank anglers had no catch.

Abernathy Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Germany Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 65 bank rods kept 3 steelhead. 2 boats/6 rods had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br: 21 bank rods kept 1 steelhead. 19 boats/53 rods kept 12 steelhead and released 1 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered seven winter-run steelhead adults during four days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

All of the fish collected last week were held at the hatchery for broodstock needs.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,930 cubic feet per second on Monday, Feb. 25. Water visibility is 9 feet and the water temperature is 41.9 F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility

East Fork Lewis River – 24 bank anglers released 4 steelhead.

Salmon Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

Catchable Trout Plants:

No report