Fishing and Hunting Report: Rivers Ready to Blow; Clam Dig Friday, Saturday

Load Up on Razor Clams

The first razor clam dig of the new year will proceed on schedule Jan. 20-21 at four ocean beaches.

“The clams we’ve been seeing are in very good condition, with more fat than usual,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. “That makes them especially good for frying.”

The evening low tide Friday, Jan. 20, is at 4:28 p.m. (-0.5 feet) and on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 5:17 p.m. (-0.8 feet).

Ayres recommends that diggers hit the beach one to two hours before evening low tide for best results.

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.

At the other four beaches, 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.

Rivers, Lakes, Streams and Sound

“As of Monday, Jan. 16, the fishing on the Cowlitz River at Blue Creek is still going OK,” said Marshall Borsom of Fish Country in Ethel.

“OK” doesn’t sound like a great day on the water, but it will probably sound pretty good this next week as the rivers get ready to blow.

According to Charles McElroy, a sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, “If we get the rain they say is coming, the rivers will be blown and it’ll be a spin-glow and plunkin’ show in the river. But I know right now, the Cowlitz isn’t worth a darn.”

“Sunday a friend of mine went down there with a guide and they never touched a fish,” McElroy said.

There are a few fish being caught, however.

“One thing about this river,” said fishing guide Johnny Munez, “there’s always fish in the river.”

On Sunday, Munez had three clients in the boat who took home a steelhead each.

“We’ve mainly been side-drifting eggs and yarn balls,” Munez said.

Guide Steven Bean hooked two fish on Sunday, “When the water is this high, they tend to stay tight to the bank.”

“We heard of a good bite this Monday evening, but Tuesday it was not so great,” said Borsom.

Angling friend Wes Cooper hung out on the Cowlitz River, fishing the flats, from early afternoon until long after dark.

“I went 0 for 3 on a bobber and jig,” Cooper said, “I couldn’t land ‘em in the flats. I used an orange and white jig with shrimp oil, stayed close to the bank. The fish are starting to get a little dark, but they still look good.”

Cooper said bobber and jig or bobber with eggs or sand shrimp are going to be the ticket for the next few days until the water starts to drop down.

As of Wednesday evening, the Cowlitz River was running at 12,100 cfs, up from the average 10,000 cfs it has been running for most of the week.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 330 winter-run steelhead, 236 coho adults and four jacks during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 158 coho adults, two jacks and 18 winter-run steelhead at the Lake Scanewa Day Use Site above Cowlitz Falls Dam. They released 45 coho adults and seven winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

As of Monday, McElroy said the Chehalis River was in good shape and has plenty of fish.

“Try from Independence Bridge on down,” McElroy said, “plunking with spin-glows.”

The Skook is still slow, McElroy said, “there’s fish in it, but not in big numbers yet.”

Offut Lake is fishing well and they’re still pulling lunkers out of the South County Pond near Toledo on PowerBait and worms.

Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer based in Cinebar. She can be contacted at kz@tds.net.