Rivers About to ‘Go Berserk’; Seminary Hill Looking for New Friends

The Seminary Hill Natural Area, Centralia, is 2.5 acres of scenic walking trails where a variety special events, walks and activities are presented during the spring and summer months.

It takes a small army of volunteers to keep this park pristine, its trails cleared and safe.

Join the Friends of the Seminary Hill Natural Area, meet other folks who love the out-of-doors and who want to help preserve this beautiful place that has been entrusted to the community’s care.

Attend the annual meeting on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Centralia Timberland Library Meeting Room.

Refreshments will be served and the Friends will discuss upcoming plans for the year.

Call Sandy Godsey, 736-7045, or send her an email (godseys@compprime.com) with any questions.

Mount St. Helens Climbing Permits Available Feb. 1

Mount St. Helens climbing permits will be available for the 2012 climbing season beginning 9:00 a.m. Feb. 1 on the Mount St Helens Institute’s website at mshinstitute.org.

Permits will be available for pick up at Lone Fir Resort in Cougar, Wash.

Climbing permits are required year-round. From Nov. through March, permits are free to an unlimited number of people planning their climb. From April 1 until May 14, an unlimited number of climbers can attain permits for the $22 fee. Beginning May 15 until Oct. 31, there is a limit of 100 permits a day to help manage impact on the mountain’s natural regeneration.

These permits help the Monument and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest balance the protection of natural resources and visitor safety with the thrill of climbing the Lower Forty-Eight’s most active volcano.

“Even more amazing than words can describe, the Mount St. Helens landscape is an endless source of fascinating discoveries. The repeated transformations of the blast zone provide a reminder not only of the power of mother nature but the inspirational optimism and resilience that are revealed in the cycles of native life,” said Monument Manager Tom Mulder. “Climbing to the rim is a challenging and rewarding way to experience this powerful return to life.”

Details about climbing Mount St. Helens are available online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/mountsthelens/home.

Guided climbs and field seminars offered by the Mount St. Helens Institute is found at http://mshinstitute.org/index.php/climbing/guided_climbs.

Rivers, Lakes, Streams and Saltwater

Tracey Borsom of Fish Country in Ethel said there were only three boats on the water at Blue Creek on the Cowlitz River Wednesday.

“The water’s really ripping,” said Borsom, referring to the height and speed of the water flow.

“The boaters are pulling plugs and doing fairly well, although they said the fish they’re seeing are getting dark,” Borsom said.

Charles McElroy, a sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, said “There’s just no fishing. Unless you are on the lakes or eastside, there’s nothing much going on this week.”

“The Chehalis is on the rise, it’s not going up very fast,” said McElroy, “but the freezing level is going to 5,000 feet this week, so the Chehalis is going nowhere but up.”

“The peninsula rivers will go berserk with the coming rain,” he said, “I would bet the Cowlitz is going to go berserk too.”

The Chehalis and Skookumchuck Rivers have plenty of fish in them, said McElroy, “But when they’re running mud it’s pretty tough fishing. It’s a plunking show right now; jigs, spinners and corky and bait just aren’t the thing right now.”

One bright spot, said McElroy, is Rufus Woods.

“They’re killing ‘em on triploids,” said McElroy. “One guy I was talking to said ‘It’s cold camping, but we’re hitting ‘em like crazy.’”

Steelhead are found in numbers at the face of the dam, said McElroy’s friend.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 133 coho adults, one jack and 80 winter-run steelhead during three days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 93 coho adults, one jack and six winter-run steelhead at the Lake Scanewa Day Use Site above Cowlitz Falls Dam, and they released 23 coho adults and six winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

An Army of One Reports

Icy cold, snow or rain and high water have kept most anglers home from the Cowlitz River, but for those who made it to Blue Creek on Friday, it was “FISH ON!” all the way.

Local angler and soldier Wes Cooper said there were only ten cars or trucks in the parking lot at the Blue Creek Boat Launch and five trucks with trailers when he arrived at around 10 a.m. last Friday.

“The guys that were hiking out as I was hiking in, they all had fish,” said Cooper. “And a lot of guys caught their limit.”

The few guides that plied the river that day had as much success or more than the bankies, returning with three to four fish in each boat.

Cooper hooked into two fish, but couldn’t land either one.

“The river is flowing so heavy it’s hard to land ‘em,” he said. “Best thing you could do, if you decide to go, is go with somebody. You need somebody to help you net your fish.”

Cooper floated an orange and white jig tipped with shrimp 2 to 3 1/2 feet under a bobber, he said. Cooper had made a shake n’ bake of “cheap, store bought shell-on shrimp” and Pro-Cure the night before, to add a little extra color and scent to the formerly pale offerings.

“I wish you had been there with a net,” Cooper said to this reporter over the phone as he drove home. “I could have gotten a fish.”

Cooper warned that the river is dangerous in many places. Step carefully and know where you’re going to go if you hook into a fish.

“There’s a lot a places that drop off pretty steep,” said Cooper. “One step and you’re in over your head.”

We all know you can’t get a fish if you ain’t out on the water — so go, be careful, watch your lines and “FISH ON!”

    Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer based in Cinebar. She can be contacted at kim@almostdailynews.com.