Coho Running Hard Throughout Cowlitz

Hook, Line and Sinker: Great Weather and Thick Run of Silvers Make for Ideal Fishing Conditions
By The Chronicle

The coho are swarming up the Cowlitz River to Barrier Dam, making for some of the best fishing in quite a while. Combined with the mid- to high-60s temperatures forecast this week and it adds up to a bonafide must-do trip to our area’s most productive river.

Once again the best bet is to target the chromers with shrimp and eggs. Make sure you get to your hot spot plenty early or stay late because the combat fishing conditions are getting fierce.

“We are seeing lots of nice fish being caught from Barrier Dam all the way down,” said Tracey Borsom at Fish Country, Inc. in Ethel. “There are a ton of people fishing, so the pressure is great. Not a fish for every person, but with so many fish in the river it’s worth a try.”

Borsom reports along with the silvers, some are catching bright steelhead. The kings? Dark and not all that appealing. A few decent sea-run cutthroats are also being hauled out of the Cowlitz. The cutts are hitting on a small red corky with a nightcrawler, Borsom said.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish biologist Joe Hymer backs up Borsom’s claims. He said the best fishing for the bright, late-run coho is on the Cowlitz, but can also be found by dropping a line in the Klickitat, Kalama and Washougal rivers if you are willing to take in a little travel. An unexpected treat is the Grays River salmon fishing, which was slated to close last week, but has been extended to Nov. 14 due to the larger-than-expected number of returning hatchery silvers.

Last week’s suggestion of trying the Tilton River turned out to be spot-on as we’ve heard reports of lots of success as they keep dumping fish into the river near Morton. Again, expect for a lot of competition from fellow nimrods!

Tacoma Power last week dumped the following fish: 1,088 coho adults, 147 jacks, 571 fall Chinook adults and 77 jacks into Lake Scanewa; 802 coho adults, 41 jacks, 87 fall Chinook adults and 17 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood; 354 fall Chinook adults, 46 jacks, 154 coho adults and 55 jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek; and 11 fall Chinook adults, one jack, 524 coho adults, 21 jacks and four cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

Mayfield Lake continues kicking out nice looking stringerS of trout. Fish with red or orange power eggs with a worm off the bottom, Borsom said. Riffe Lake is still on the downturn.

“Scanewa Lake is also starting to pick up, as along as the water level maintains — try pulling some wigglers,” Borsom said.

WDFW Fish Biologists’ Salmon Report

Lower portions of Abernathy, Cedar (Clark County), Coal, Germany, Mill (Cowlitz County) creeks and the Coweeman River will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead beginning Nov. 1. All or portions of Hamilton, Olequa, Rock (Skamania County), and Skamokawa creeks — Sunday, Oct. 31 will be the last day to fish for hatchery steelhead.

Cowlitz River
Coho are being caught throughout the river while steelhead and sea run cutthroats are being caught primarily around the trout hatchery.

Kalama River
Anglers are catching coho throughout the river. Some of the fish are wild and have to be released.

Lewis River
Coho are being caught in the mainstem and the North Fork. A few dark hatchery fish are being released as are wild fish that have to be released.

Yakima River
Fall chinook harvest and effort in the Yakima River declined this past week. WDFW staff interviewed 110 anglers with 12 salmon. An estimated 52 adult chinook and 12 jacks were caught this past week. For the season, 231 adult Chinook, 25 jacks, and 23 coho have been harvested. The salmon fishery closes this Friday on the Yakima.

Lower Columbia Below Bonneville Dam
Effort is waning with less than 100 salmonid boats and bank anglers counted during last Saturday’s Oct. 16 effort flight count. WDFW sampled 11 salmonid bank anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line with no catch and 42 boat anglers (21 boats) with 3 adult coho kept and 2 released. The coho were caught in the Camas/Washougal area. Sunday, Oct. 31 is the last day to fish for salmon and steelhead from Beacon Rock to Bonneville Dam.

Bonneville Pool
The catch has switched over from primarily Chinook to coho for boat anglers at the mouths of the Bonneville Pool tributaries.

Hanford Reach
Harvest of fall Chinook in the Hanford Reach remains high though effort dropped off a bit. WDFW staff sampled 220 boats (529 anglers) with 430 chinook, an average of almost 2 chinook per boat. For the fishery this season an estimated 9,964 adult chinook, 1,362 jack chinook, and 4 coho have been harvested. Based on adult fish passage through Oct. 15, the adult fall Chinook return to the Reach is expected to exceed 90,000 fish. The Hanford Reach is open to the retention of steelhead upstream to Priest Rapids Dam this fall (through Oct. 22). An estimated 730 steelhead have been caught through Oct. 17 and 332 of these have been harvested. Fishing for steelhead throughout the Hanford Reach continues to be slow for both bank and boat anglers. The salmon fishery in the Columbia River above the Highway 395 bridge will remain open through Friday. The steelhead fishery below the wooden power line towers will remain open.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam: the effort is still strong with just over 200 sturgeon boats and 600 bank anglers counted on Saturday. WDFW sampled 502 sturgeon bank anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Wauna powerlines with 39 legals kept and 2 released. All the legals sampled were from just below the dam. In addition, WDFW sampled 73 sturgeon boat anglers (32 boats) with 3 legals kept. The legals were kept from Camas/Washougal upstream; none were found in the sample from the Longview area.

— Source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

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