Hunting/Fishing Report: Blue Creek Steelheaders Find Success

All late black powder and archery seasons for elk close today, muzzleloader deer hunters are also through for the year.

Bow hunters will continue to stalk black-tailed deer in GMU 505 (Mossyrock) through the end of the year.

Waterfowl, Upland Game

The extended season for pheasant hunting closed today.

Hunting seasons for ducks and geese run through Jan. 29 in southwest Washington, although goose hunting in Area 2A (Wahkiakum, Cowlitz and part of Clark County) and 2B (Pacific County) could be cut short if hunters take more than 40 dusky geese.

Anyone hunting geese in those areas should keep watch for news of a possible closure.

Rivers, Lakes and Streams

According to Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, there are a lot of fish coming out of the Blue Creek area on the Cowlitz, “But you’ve got to work for them.”

Marshall Borsom of Fish Country in Ethel, agrees.

“The boaters and bank anglers alike have been picking up plenty of nice fish,” he said. “The boaters are side drifting or running divers with eggs, coon shrimp or sand shrimp and the bank anglers are using a variety of gear including corky and yarn, jig and bobber, small beads with sand shrimp or spinners.”

“We are still seeing some chrome silvers (B run) all the way up to Barrier Dam, but that is starting to slow down now as the steelhead fishing is in full gear,” he added.

The coastal rivers are packed with fish at high tidewater, said McElroy.

“They aren’t moving up the river, the water is so low,” he said. “They’re trolling with plugs or using a bobber and bait or bobber and jib combo.”

The South Sound is producing some resident silvers and blackmouth. Olympia Penninsula streams are low and clear, but fishing is good, said McElroy.

The Chehalis River, from Rochester on down, said McElroy, is producing a lot of steelhead.

“We’re still a couple of weeks away from the getting a good run at the Skookumchuck,” McElroy said. “The low water is slowing down the movement. We need a good rain. But we’re not going to see one this month.”

American Lake is fishing well.

Mayfield Lake is starting to pick up some trout, near Mayfield Lake Resort and Ike Kinsawa.

“We heard some people were picking up silvers now on Riffe Lake,” Borsom said. “But they are pretty small in size.  Also, we had some guys tell us that the spillway near Swafford Pond was doing well too.”

The water levels in Riffe Lake have been dropping.

“Boat access will become an issue pretty darn quick,” said McElroy.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 994 coho adults, seven jacks, six fall Chinook adults, 336 winter-run steelhead, one summer-run steelhead and two sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 471 coho adults, one jack, one winter-run steelhead and one fall Chinook adult at the Day Use Site on Lake Scanewa behind Cowlitz Falls Dam, and 122 coho adults, four jacks and two fall Chinook adults were released into the Cipsus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek.

Also during the week 278 coho adults, two jacks, three fall Chinook adults, one winter-run steelhead and one cutthroat trout were released into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,750 cubic feet per second on Monday, Dec. 12. Water visibility is 10’.

On the Beach

Razor clammers will have another opportunity next week, if marine toxin tests are favorable. The tentative opening dates for that dig are Dec. 22 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks and Dec. 23 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks.

“The last dig went pretty well,” said McElroy. “A lot of small to medium clams were taken, but they got their limits. The big clams just aren’t showing. It’s the freezing weather, you wouldn’t want to be out there in your naked shell either.”

Crabbing has been profitable for those willing to put in the time, McElroy said.

“It’s a good time to go out and get crabs for the holiday season,” he said.

Crabbing is open in some marine areas of Puget Sound, including marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5, 6, 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), a portion of Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) north of a line that extends from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff, 11 and 13

In each area, crabbing is allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW website.

All crab caught in the late-season fishery should be recorded on winter catch cards, which are valid until Dec. 31. Winter cards are available at license vendors across the state. Those catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb. 1, 2012. For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s catch record card webpage.