Fishing Report: Cowlitz River Finally Heating Up; Trout Fans Get the Nod

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle
Get while the getting is good, seems to be the consensus of local experts.

They’re catching fish on the Cowlitz River and everywhere else. It’s hard to tell if the good weather is bringing out the good fish or if the good fisherman are only out in the good weather, but good fishing seems to be weather dependent.

Look to today’s feature for tips on hitting Interstate 5 corridor urban lakes for good fishing without busting the bank on gas and other getaway goodies.
Rivers and Streams

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

“We’ve had several reports of nice springers being taken all the way up to Barrier Dam,” said Borsom. “Bank anglers are using big gobs of eggs, sand shrimp and we have a few plunkers (spin n’ glows) doing quite well.”

Blue Creek is looking up too, she said, with anglers bringing in some nice summer run steelhead.

“Boaters are using divers with coon shrimp tail and picking up a few,” Borsom said. “All in all, the river is running a little high, but fishable and the fish are in. Time to give it a try.”

Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at the Sunbird Shopping Center, said he has heard the Columbia River is high.

“It’s tough fishing, but they’re getting fish,” McElroy said, “but you gotta fish the edges.”

McElroy said he has been hearing some good things about Drano, “but if you haven’t fished that before, it would pay to go with a guide.”

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 533 spring chinook adults, 349 jacks, 21 winter-run steelhead and 78 summer-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 46 spring chinook adults, 217 jacks and six winter-run steelhead into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood and they released 62 spring chinook adults and 98 jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek.

Lakes and Ponds
Fishing at Offut Lake is hot, says Offut Lake Resort owner Becky Pogue.

“They’ve been pulling in lots of trout, from planters to 2-pounds,” said Pogue.

Plunking off the bottom with a combination of PowerBait and anise oil has been working well, Pogue said.

“Spinners tipped with a worm, trolling kinda deep,” Pogue said, “has been working for the trollers.”

Riffe Lake is still very low, but if you’re willing to walk, park on the Swofford Pond side of the lake and head towards the water. They’ve been pulling in a heap of smallmouth bass that have concentrated in that area.

Stacie Kelsey with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said Merwin is slowing down and anglers are taking a bit longer to get their limits.

“The bite is on at Silver Lake,” said Kelsey, “however, the crappie are very small and what I saw was not of legal size to keep.”
American, Stevens and Merwin are pumping out the Kokanee, according to McElroy.

On the Beach
They’re hitting good sized halibut and lings out of Westport and Neah Bay, according to reports.

“Neah Bay’s good when the wind’s not too bad,” said McElroy.

Tomorrow is the last chance to catch your limit of spot shrimp.

Areas set to reopen May 25 for recreational shrimp fishing include the Discovery Bay Shrimp District, marine areas 8-1 (Skagit Bay/Saratoga Passage), 8-2

(Port Susan/Port Gardner), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island), and a portion of Marine Area 10 outside of Elliott Bay, west of a line from West Point to Alki Point.

The fishery in those areas will run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Hood Canal Shrimp District will also open May 25 as previously scheduled, and will reopen for one additional day June 8, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mark O’Toole, a WDFW shellfish biologist, said rough weather reduced the expected catch in all six areas of Puget Sound during openings earlier this month.

“Catch rates by individual boats were generally high, but strong winds and high seas kept some people off the water,” O’Toole said. “That left enough spot shrimp available under the quota for one more day of fishing in these areas.”

In all areas, the catch limit is 80 shrimp per day. A valid 2011-12 fishing license is required to participate in the fishery.