By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle
For yet another year, opening day started out cold and clammy for local trout anglers. Water temperatures are still low and the bite is still off, according to local experts, but it can only get better.
“There’s more fish for later,” said Bill Hansen, manager of the Mineral Lake Resort.
If you aren’t catching fish now, just wait, you will.
Lakes and Ponds
Mineral Lake didn’t have quite the turnout they expected this year.
Stacie Kelsey, of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s inland fish programs for Southwest Washington, said she counted 150 boats on the water Saturday.
“That was about half of what I expected to see,” Kelsey said. “Overall, it was a very good opener despite gas prices and bad weather at some lakes. Mineral
Lake had a lot less effort than expected, but people were still happy with the fish they caught.”
The biggest fish from last year’s American Legion Storm King Post 171 Fishing Derby weighed in at 9 pounds 7 ounces This year the biggest fish was a mere
8½ pounds, according to Hansen. The largest fish caught at the Mineral Lake Resort docks was a 6-pounder.
The water is still cold, Hansen said; there’s sure to be good fishing as soon as it warms up, however.
At Riffe Lake, the 20 pairs of tournament fisherman had the same chilly conditions to contend with as they went after the biggest bass they could find.
“It depended on what boat you were on,” said Lewis County Bass Club president and tournament fisherman Mark Robinson.
“Some caught their limits, some didn’t catch anything.”
The biggest bass of the day weighed in at 4.52 pounds, Robinson said. The winning team brought in 18 pounds of fish.
“They were catching them left and right,” he said. His own boat spent much of the day dead in the water, but he thought the day was a good start to the season.
“My son went to Carlisle Lake,” Robinson said, “and he said they were knocking them dead over there. He caught a 5-pound trout. His friend caught a bigger one.”
Offut Lake enjoyed a long derby weekend.
“There were tons and tons of limits caught and tons and tons of fun,” said Offut Lake Resort owner Becky Pogue.
The winning trout weighed in at 2 pounds, 3 ounces and was caught by resort regular Mikey Smitz, Olympia, from off the dock.
The creel report for Saturday magnified the slow bite numbers. At Silver Lake one angler out of 11 counted had a yellow perch.
At Swofford Pond there were 20 anglers with 23 rainbows kept, one 23.5-inch channel catfish kept, and three bass released.
Mayfield Reservoir showed two anglers with no fish kept/released and 8 trailers at the park.
Fort Borst Park Pond (juvenile water) had a snapshot moment of 71 anglers with 86 rainbows kept and 11 rainbows released.
Carlisle Lake won the trout count: 63 anglers with 102 rainbows kept and 263 rainbows released.
Rivers and Streams
According to Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at the Sunbird Shopping Center, the bite has gone off at the Cowlitz.
“There’s plenty of fish in the river,” McElroy said, “but the high water and cold temperatures are really affecting the bite.”
Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 985 winter-run steelhead, seven summer-run steelhead, 19 spring Chinook adults and eight jacks during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 50 winter-run steelhead and one spring Chinook salmon into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, and they released five winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.