The Catch: Columbia River Closes Areas for Chinook and Sockeye
Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle
Last Saturday’s Toledo Steelhead Fishing Derby was a success all the way around, said Tonya Lovell of the Flying K in Toledo.
As of Friday morning they only had 18 anglers signed up to compete, but by the Friday night deadline there were 61 fishermen ready to take on the Cowlitz River.
There were 21 steelhead caught. The largest one ran 12.5 pounds. The rest were at 8 pounds and under.
“One boat full of kids and dads from Toledo didn’t get any steelhead,” Lovell said, “but they caught three keeper sturgeon up by Blue Creek. They were really excited about that.”
Five youth anglers all took home brand new fishing rods as prizes and “we had tons of great door prizes that we gave away,” said Lovell.
“I’m really excited about the derby, it’ll be even bigger and better next year,” she said.
The Friends of the Cowlitz and VISION:Toledo each earned $300 from the derby.
“That was our plan, so it really went well,” said Lovell.
Rivers and Streams
After a month of red-hot catch rates, adult summer chinook and sockeye salmon closed Monday on various sections of the Columbia River to hold harvest levels within allowable limits.
The summer chinook fishery closed from Bonneville Dam downstream; sockeye fishing closed downstream from the Highway 395 bridge in Pasco.
Anglers can, however, still retain hatchery steelhead and jack chinook salmon, measuring 12-24 inches, in those sections of the river.
Bank anglers aren’t fairing as well as the boat anglers on the Cowlitz River.
“Boat fishermen are having a lot of luck with a diver and coon shrimp,” said Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at the Sunbird Shopping Center.
Tracy Borsom of Fish Country, Inc. in Ethel agrees.
“We are seeing steelhead all the way up to Barrier Dam now,” Borsom said. “The boaters are probably doing best right now — pulling divers with coon shrimp or eggs seems to be working for them. We are seeing a few springers still being caught also; some are getting dark now though.”
“The bank anglers have to put in lots of time, but they are picking fish up,” Borsom said. “They are using a variety of baits including sand shrimp, small gobs of eggs, corky and yarn, jig and bobber. The fish are there — it’s worth trying anyway.”
Lakes and Ponds
All of the lakes with kokanee are fishing really well, according to McElroy.
“Offut Lake is still pretty decent for trout,” he said, “but they’re scattered. The bass and perch fishing has been picking up.”
Mayfield Lake is getting a little better, though it’s still iffy.
“We heard of some nice fish caught in the middle of the lake at about 60 feet deep with wedding rings and pop gear tipped with worms or cocktail shrimp,” said Borsom. “We also had reports of smaller trout caught near Winston Creek and near the hatchery. PowerBait and worms off the bottom is working for the bank anglers. The tiger musky were a little better this weekend as we did hear of a few nice fish caught and released.”
Riffe Lake is still doing good for silvers — much better now up near the fishing bridge, with fishing throughout the lake worthwhile.
“I heard the silvers are concentrated within a half mile of the dam,” said McElroy, “but they’re down pretty deep, about 50 feet.”
We heard the bass were biting on Swofford Pond now too — a few nice fish caught were brought in.
The roads to nearly all the alpine lakes are open and reports have been good.
On the Beach and Ocean
McElroy said he has heard reports that the pinks are in at Seiku and Neah Bay.
“They should be seeing lots in the North Puget Sound by mid-week,” McElroy said.
The salmon fishing at Westport and Ilwaco are coming in steadily, “but they’re having to go quite a ways out there to get them,” McElroy said.
Bottom fishing has been really good out of Westport, with lots of sea bass, lings and halibut being caught.
The jetty is still fishing well at Westport.
Crabbing in the North Sound isn’t very good, according to reports.
“And the guys that are fishing off Ocean Shores are losing a lot of gear to the crab pots ‘cuz they’re so thick out there,” said McElroy. “That can make for a pretty expensive trip.”