WFDW Rule Changes; Cowlitz Gone Cold

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle

The sport clam and oyster fishing season at Fort Flagler State Park, including that portion of the spit west of the park boundary (Rat Island) will open on May 15 and runs through Sept. 30.

Surveys indicate that the clam population has increased, allowing a one-month longer season in 2012 (the 2011 season ran from April 15 through July 31). The delayed opening date avoids conflicts with the seaweed season on this beach, and adds harvest opportunity in the Admiralty Inlet region after other local beaches (Oak Bay and South Indian Island County Parks) have closed. The oyster season on this beach coincides with the clam season.

The sport clam fishing season at Point Whitney Tidelands (excluding Lagoon) will open immediately and will run through to March 31. Sport clam fishing at Point Whitney Lagoon will be open April 1 through April 30.

Surveys indicate that the clam population has declined at Point Whitney Tidelands requiring a season that is two weeks shorter in 2012. Shifting the season opener at Point Whitney Lagoon allows it to open immediately following the closure of the Tidelands, so that harvesters have continuous opportunity from March through April.

South Fork Toutle River will close to fishing March 16 through June 1

Sport fishing for spot shrimp opens May 5 in Puget Sound.

Shrimp fishing opportunities in various areas of Puget Sound will be similar to last year, although there is one change this season that was made to avoid an extreme minus tide, said Mark O’Toole, a shellfish biologist for WDFW.

“With such an extreme low tide on that Wednesday (May 9) it only made sense to shift the second day of fishing to Friday,” O’Toole said. “We don’t want to leave shrimpers stranded 100 feet from the boat ramp on a low afternoon tide.”

O’Toole said he expects a strong turnout by shrimp fishers, especially on opening day. “Because this is such a popular fishery, boat ramps can get pretty crowded,” he said. “As always, we ask that people be patient at the ramps and wait their turn.”

Spot shrimp seasons for various areas of Puget Sound are:

Hood Canal Shrimp District (Marine Area 12): Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 5, 11, 12 and 16.

Discovery Bay Shrimp District (Marine Area 6): Open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 5, 11, 12 and 16.

Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5, 6 and 13 (excluding shrimp districts): Open daily beginning May 5 at 7 a.m. The spot shrimp season closes when the quota is attained or Sept. 15, whichever comes first. The exception is Marine Area 13, which closes for spot shrimp May 31.

Marine Area 7: Opens May 5 at 7 a.m. and will be open May 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19.

Marine areas 8, 9, 10 and 11: Open May 5 and May 11 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Additional dates and times will be announced for these areas if sufficient quota remains.

Rivers, Lakes, Streams and Saltwater

According to Marshall Borsom of Fish Country in Ethel, he steelhead fishing at Blue Creek this week slowed a bit, “but we had people getting a few here and there.”

The boaters are running divers with coon shrimp or sand shrimp.

The bank anglers are using a little of everything, including spoons, jig and bobber, sand shrimp and worms.

“We did have a nice 12 lb. springer weighed in at the store on Friday,” said Borsom, “it was caught at the pool at Barrier Dam on a big gob of eggs.”

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 109 winter-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 20 winter-run steelhead at the Day Use in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, and they released 15 steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

“It’s dismal out there,” said Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, “if you’re going fishing, go lake fishing.”

McElroy said he looked at the Skookumchuck on Tuesday and “it was ready to spill the banks and go over the edge into Hayes Lake.”

Wednesday saw 30 to 40 mph winds on the Columbia, he said, “and you don’t want to be out there when it’s blowing.”

McElroy heard from local guides that all the Peninsula streams are out of shape, “and they figure it won’t get any better until near the end of the season.”

There are some nice silvers coming out of Riffe Lake, according to local sources, several in the 16-inch range were caught last week near the dam. The fish are running shallow, leaders between 3- to 8-feet, depending on the day, seem to be the trick.

“If one depth isn’t working, switch it up,” the angler said.

This angler was running plain with just a worm on his hook, but some are trying cocktail shrimp with some success.

Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer based in Cinebar. She can be contacted at