Fishing Report: Lake Anglers Still Waiting on the Water to Warm

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle
As usual, if you know where to go and what to use, you might be catching the fish of your choice. And, another common experience for local anglers, even if you know where to go and what successful anglers have been using, you may not even get to see a tail tip the surface of the water for hours on end.

That’s why it’s called fishing and not catching, as they say.

Rivers and Streams
Karen Glaser, at the Barrier Dam Campground, said she has been hearing good things about the Cowlitz River. Even though it’s still high, she said, if you can adjust to the water, you’ll do alright.

“I’ve been here long enough to know that it doesn’t pay to get too excited, because it can go bad again at any moment,” Glaser said.

Fishing on the Cowlitz River is really picking up, according to Tracy Borsom of Fish Country Inc. in Ethel.

“We’ve heard several reports of springers being caught now all through the system,” said Borsom. “The fish coming through right now seem to be anywhere from 6 to 12 pounds. The bait of choice is the big gob of eggs, some with sand shrimp tail for the bank anglers. The boaters are picking fish up all over — diver with bait or free drifting eggs.”

The river is still running high and fast at about 10,600 cfs this morning, but very fishable, Borsom added.

Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at the Sunbird Shopping Center, said he has heard that about 90 percent of the chinook that anglers are picking up are jacks.

“Most of them are coming out of the pool at the Barrier Dam, not very many big fish,” McElroy said. “There’s about one adult for every 10 jacks or so.”

It depends on where you are standing and on what day you are standing there, so it seems, as to how successful you are on the local rivers.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 213 winter-run steelhead, 12 summer-run steelhead, 177 spring chinook adults and 97 jacks during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 20 winter-run steelhead, four spring Chinook adults and 79 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, and they released two winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

Lakes and Ponds
Offut Lake has been hit and miss.

“If the weather is good,” said Becky Pogue of Offut Lake Resort, “the fishing is good.”

The lake was hit with torrential rains and a thunderstorm on Saturday that cleared the lake and docks of the hopeful, young trout derby fishermen. Those that stuck it out through the weather have been landing trout with spinners, Pogue said.

Riffe Lake is still very low, but if you know where you are going you could luck into some nice smallmouth bass.

Mineral Lake is still too cold to yield much of a return for your fishing time.

Carlisle Lake in Onalaska has been fishing well, according to McElroy.

“Try an olive woolie bugger and a bubble combination,” he said. “On sunny days try a black woolie bugger.”

On the Beach
McElroy has heard good reports of limits of good-sized halibut and lings being taken out of Westport.

“And it’ll get nothing but better for surf perch from here on out,” McElroy said. “From Grayland to Tokeland is the best fishing. It’s not too bad out at Ocean Shores.”

Razor clam fans will get one more chance during this late-season dig set to begin Wednesday at Twin Harbors Beach, followed by openings at Mocrocks and Long Beach.

The last dig of the season will begin at Twin Harbors Beach, where morning clam digging will be open Wednesday through Sunday. Mocrocks Beach will be open for digging Friday through Sunday, and Long Beach will be open Saturday and Sunday.

“These are some of the lowest tides of the whole season,” said McElroy, “it’s an opportunity to get into clams that haven’t been disturbed yet.”

No digging will be allowed at any beach after noon.

Dan Ayres, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager, said this dig is possible because turnout was lower than expected during the six-day opening earlier this month.

“Most diggers got their limits during the last opening, but we also had some competition from shrimp and other fisheries opening in the region,” Ayres said. “Whatever the case, we have enough clams available for another dig at three beaches.”

Washington’s two other razor-clam beaches — Copalis and Kalaloch — are closed for the season. Ayres cautions diggers to observe the boundary between Mocrocks Beach and Copalis Beach, which are adjacent to one another north of Grays Harbor.

Mocrocks Beach, which is open for digging Friday through Sunday, lies north of the Copalis River and includes Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips. Copalis Beach, now closed for the season, lies south of the Copalis River and includes Ocean Shores, Oyhut and Ocean City.

Ayres also reminds diggers to avoid signed upland beach areas at Long Beach and Twin Harbors, which are closed to protect nesting western snowy plovers.

At Long Beach, the closed areas are located north of the Oysterville Road from the state park boundary north to Leadbetter Point. At Twin Harbors, the closed areas are located from just south of Midway Beach Road to the first beach-access trail at Grayland Beach State Park.

Dates and morning low tides for the upcoming dig are:
• Wednesday, May 18, 7:52 a.m., -2.2 feet; Twin Harbors
• Thursday, May 19, 8:38 a.m., -2.0 feet; Twin Harbors
• Friday, May 20, 9:23 a.m., -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
• Saturday, May 21, 10:09 a.m., -1.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
• Sunday, May 22, 10:56 a.m., -0.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

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.
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer based in Cinebar. She can be contacted at