Fishing & Hunting Report: Take Care Walking the Woods; Coho Has Already Peaked

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle
If you intend to walk the woods to enjoy the spectacle of fall colors that is currently on display, be aware that you may be sharing the woods with hunters. Do your part to stay safe, wear bright colors, stay alert and perhaps even whistle while you walk.

Big Game and Waterfowl Hunting
Modern firearm toting elk hunters will take the field Nov. 5 through 15.
Waterfowl season opened Oct. 1.
After a couple weeks of good hunting, there’s typically a lull in the action starting in late October, said Don Kraege, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife waterfowl manager.
“But hunting usually improves in mid-November, when the number of migrants arriving to the area picks up along with the wet and windy weather,” he said.
Pay close attention to the opening and closing dates for goose management areas 2A, 3 and 5 described in the state Migratory Waterfowl pamphlet. Special hunting rules for area 2A, which opens Nov. 12, are noted on page 19 of the pamphlet.

Rivers, Lakes and Streams
A few winter steelhead have started to trickle through the Cowlitz hatchery, marking the start of one of the more popular fisheries in the state.
Catch totals will take off once the first big storm of the season has soaked the region with heavy rains, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for WDFW.
“Steelhead move upriver on pulses of water,” Hymer said. “Once the sky opens up and the rivers start to swell, we’ll see more fish on the move.”
All unmarked steelhead (wearing the adipose fin) must be released, only hatchery-reared (clipped) steelhead may be retained.
The late-run coho salmon may or may not be the best target for anglers who want to catch fish. The coho run seems to have peaked.
“These are fairly large fish, some weighing up to 20 pounds apiece,” he said. “The trick is getting them to bite. The best time is when they are moving upriver, drawn by high water. Otherwise, it can be hard to get their attention.”
State regulations allow anglers to catch and keep up to six adult coho salmon per day on the Cowlitz, Klickitat, Kalama, Lewis and Washougal rivers, as well as the lower portion of the Grays River.
Charles Kinkaid, a Yelm angler, reported that the Nisqually River this year isn’t the place to go and he isn’t much happier about the Cowlitz.
“I’ve been fishing that river (Nisqually) for 30 year and these last 3 years have been the worst I’ve seen,” he said as he geared up to wade into the Cowlitz River at Barrier Dam. “The Cowlitz has been tampered with so much and they’ve changed so much that the fishing isn’t what it used to be. It has gotten to where instead of it taking 2 or 3 hours to catch my limit, now it’s an all-day affair.”
Cutthroat trout are plentiful in the Cowlitz River and will keep biting through November, according to WDFW officials. The best fishing is from Blue Creek and downriver.
“There’s fish in the Willipa, Grays River, the Chehalis is fishing good,” said Charles McElroy, a sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center.
“There a lot of jacks in the Chehalis,” said McElroy. “One friend said he and his buddy hauled in 25 jacks in one afternoon last week.”
American Lake is still fishing well for kokanee.
Mayfield and Riffe is sending anglers home with their limits, although it takes a full day of fishing.
Peter Kainz, a Tacoma angler, reported seeing a lot of boats out on Lake Scanewa Saturday afternoon and he was able to hook a few still-bright king salmon, he was happy to say.

On the Beach
The razor clam season got underway at four ocean beaches last weekend.
McElroy said his family didn’t have any problems harvesting their limits of clams.
“We easily limited out in just a couple of hours. The sky was clear and the stars were out. It was just beautiful on the beach,” he said.
The next razor clam harvest is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 11 and 12 under a full “Beaver Moon.”