Hunting/Fishing Report: Hit the Beaches for Razor Clams Today, Tomorrow; Big Trout in South County Pond, Toledo

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle

On the Beach

Clam diggers will get another chance to dig some fresh razor clams for the holidays during an opening Dec. 22-23 at four ocean beaches.

Evening low tides during the dig will be at 4:40 p.m. Dec. 22 and at 5:29 p.m. on Dec. 23. No digging will be allowed at any beach before noon.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, recommends that diggers hit the beach one to two hours before evening low tide for best results.

“We had a good turnout for the dig earlier this month, and we’re expecting the same for the upcoming dig,” Ayres said. “The tides won’t be low enough for a New Year’s dig this year, but they’re providing some good digging opportunities this month.”

Kalaloch Beach will remain closed until April, due to a low abundance of razor clams.  The National Park Service, which manages that beach in cooperation with WDFW, has announced plans to open Kalaloch for a razor clam dig April 7-9.

Ayres said WDFW will announce tentative openings for early 2012 at the other four beaches in early January.

Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day, and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2011-12 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licensing options range from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, which can be purchased on WDFW’s website ( https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov ) and from license vendors around the state.

Sound Crabbing Closes Soon

Puget Sound marine area recreational winter crabbing will close at sunset Dec. 31, after which all sport crabbers licensed to fish for crab in the Sound will have until Feb. 1 to report their winter catch.

State fishing rules require that all sport crabbers with winter catch record cards submit catch reports for the winter season to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) by Feb. 1 – even if they did not catch any crab. With the end of the winter crab season on Dec. 31, all Puget Sound marine areas will be closed to recreational crabbing until summer 2012.

Sport crabbers should be aware that if they fail to submit a winter catch report, they will receive a $10 fine when they purchase their 2012 crab endorsement, said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish policy lead.

“By submitting their catch data, crabbers play an important role in managing the Puget Sound crab fishery,” Childers said. “We need to hear from everyone who was issued a winter catch card – including from those who didn’t catch any crab.”

To submit catch reports, crabbers may send their catch record card to WDFW by mail or file their report on a special webpage on the department’s licensing website. The mailing address is WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. The online reporting system will be available Jan. 1-Feb. 1 at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html .

Rivers, Lakes and Streams

According to Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, there are lots of steelhead and silver salmon to be found on the Chehalis River from Prather Road down to the mouth of the river, but don’t even bother with the Skook, he said.

“The Skookumchuck still doesn’t have anything,” McElroy said, “the river is running high and pretty dirty.”

And stay away from the South Fork of the Toutle and the Green, he said, there’s nothing going on there.

Try the Penninsula streams, he said, especially near the tidewater.

The Nisqually turned on last week for chums and silvers, McElroy said, and the Puyallup has come back on for steelhead.

Marshall Borsom of Fish Country in Ethel said the weekend the bite on the Cowlitz was a little tough.

“The water was being fluctuated quite a bit which took the bite off at times,” he said. “We still had a few boaters and some bank anglers picking up real nice bright steelhead … bigger sized ones too.”

The boaters are side drifting eggs or shrimp or running divers with bait and doing OK. The bank anglers are using a variety including sand shrimp, corky and yarn, jig and bobber, worms, etc.

“We have a lot of winter run steelhead right now and it’s a good time to give it a try,” Borsom said. “The water is running at 6,330 cfs and clear this morning, but we assume they will raise it on Tuesday as usual.”

Mayfield Lake is still doing OK for trout, try fishing off the bank near the county park with PowerBait and worms.

Riffe Lake is starting to produce some silvers.

“I talked to some guys that did very well on Riffe over the weekend,” said McElroy. “They pulled in a bunch of nice 12 and 14-inch silvers.”

The big news, according to McElroy, is something he has kept to himself for the last few weeks.

“The South County Pond in Toledo is fishing really well,” he said. “Really, really well. They stocked all those triploids in there and we’ve been pulling them back out. It’s a great place to take the kids, there is a covered area, in case it rains, and if the kids get bored, they can head out to the playground.”