Fishing Report: Looking Forward to Opening Day

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle

Local weather reports predict we’ll be looking at the sun on a blue background this week instead of watching the gray skies pour buckets of the wet stuff we’d rather see in the lakes and rivers than watch hit our heads. That’s some truly good news.

Opening day, the most awaited day of the year for angling outdoors men and women, is only a week and a half away. You still have time to shop for a larger-sized life jacket for your growing-like-a-dang-weed pre-teen angler, to get your reels cleaned and tuned up, and to toss out last year’s lures and load up on this year’s latest model.

Lakes and Ponds
Western Washington bass clubs have been holding a few pre-spawn tourneys on local waters with little or no luck. The waters are still too cold out there.

Mark Robinson, of the Lewis County Bass Club, still holds out hope that the next 11 days will be enough to get the water at Riffe Lake warmed up and churning with large- and smallmouth bass.

Swofford Pond has been a little better this week. The bass aren’t showing themselves yet, but the trout are plentiful and biting. There is a hatch of flying insects swarming over the cool waters with swarms of tree and violet-green swallows on the wing to snatch them up. Even if you don’t catch a fish all day at

Swofford, the scenery and the wildlife are beautiful and bountiful.

Rob Pogue, of Offut Lake Resort, said the water had some ice in it Monday morning. Fishing has been slow.

“Wait until the afternoon to come out, let the water warm up a bit,” Pogue advised.

Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at the Sunbird Shopping Center, said he had heard of some fisherman having some luck on the north side of Offut, putting in their boats at the public launch across the lake from the resort.

American and Merrill lakes are still good for kokanee, McElroy said.

Mayfield Lake is starting to produce trout, mostly by the hatchery, said the Borsoms of Fish Country Inc. in Ethel. Powerbait and worms off the bottom is working for some.

Riffe Lake is still kicking out some nice silvers, they said. Try changing your depth up if you are not getting bites.

Rivers and Streams
As of Monday, the fishing on the Cowlitz River has picked up. It can only get better, McElroy said.

“There is a big flood of springers being caught near Castle Rock,” McElroy said. “They are starting to pick some up near Blue Creek.”

Borsom recommends running divers with eggs, sand shrimp or coon shrimp. The bank anglers have to work harder, but they are picking up more and more all the way up to Barrier Dam.

“We had reports of a few smaller sized springers caught by the 100-foot mark at Barrier this weekend along with some nice-sized steelhead,” said Tracey Borsom. “The bank anglers are using big gobs of eggs, corky and yarn and lots of sand shrimp.”

The water is running at 10,500 cfs and the clarity is very good — high but fishable.

“Expect the water to jump up (today) for the flushing of smolt,” Borsom said.

Razor Clamming on the Beach
McElroy said he has heard good reports for lingcod and sea bass fishing from the jetty at Westport.

“And with the good weather and nice minus tides ahead,” McElroy said, “you can get in some good clam digging.”

A five-day razor clam dig began today and runs through Saturday.

Two beaches — Long Beach and Twin Harbors — will open for digging today through Friday until noon each day, plus Saturday until 1 p.m. Copalis and

Mocrocks will be open for digging Thursday and Friday until noon and Saturday until 1 p.m. under that plan.

Fishery managers agreed to an extra hour of digging Saturday because low tide won’t occur until 11:27 a.m. that morning, said Dan Ayres, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager.

A coastwide beach cleanup is also scheduled that day, so diggers may encounter people carrying plastic bags as well as clam shovels. Last year, volunteers for CoastSavers removed 16 tons of trash along the Washington coastline and will have sign-up stations at a number of beaches.

“Diggers who get their limits early might want to pitch in,” Ayres said.

Dates and morning low tides for the upcoming dig are:

April 19 (Tuesday), 8:07 a.m. (-1.8 feet); Long Beach, Twin Harbors
April 20 (Wednesday), 8:54 a.m. (-1.7 feet); Long Beach, Twin Harbors
April 21 (Thursday), 9:42 a.m. (-1.4 feet); Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks
April 22 (Friday), 10:33 a.m. (-0.8 feet); Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks
April 23 (Saturday), 11:27 a.m. (-0.2 feet); Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks — digging allowed until 1 p.m.

Kalaloch Beach is closed to razor-clam digging until further notice for an assessment of the clam population on the beach.

At Long Beach and Twin Harbors, the upland portions of the beach are also closed to protect nesting western snowy plovers, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“The birds are particularly vulnerable this time of year,” Ayres said. “Signs clearly mark the area and instruct people to stay on the hard-packed sand.”

Under state rules, harvesters may take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 taken, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s limit must be kept in a separate container.
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Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer based in Cinebar. She can be contacted at kz@tds.net.