By The Chronicle
With the grand opening day of lake fishing still more than three weeks away, and with the torrential rains that have hit Southwest Washington this past week, the outdoor enthusiast’s best bet this weekend is a razor clam dig on the coast.
This coming Saturday through Monday, the ocean beaches open up for diggers. With temperatures in the high 50s on the beaches this weekend, it should make for an enjoyable outing.
Three beaches are open for morning digs all three days – Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch. Mocrocks is open Saturday and Sunday, with Copalis open just Saturday. Digging on all three days ends at noon. Be sure to have on hand a new license as the old ones expired March 31.
“We strongly advise diggers to obtain a new license before they leave home,” said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It can be very frustrating to be stuck in line waiting to buy a license at low tide.”
Copalis on Saturday might be the best target to get your limit of 15 clams as the harvest there in late March was light.
“We still have enough clams available for one more day of digging at Copalis,” Ayres said. “I’m sure that beach will be a welcome addition to the upcoming dig.”
If you want to venture to the Olympic Peninsula, Kalaloch Beach is open for digging on all three days as well, after being closed since October. The razor clam population at Kalaloch was described as “robust.”
“We are pleased to be able to provide this opportunity for park visitors from both near and far,” said Olympic National Park Acting Superintendent Todd Suess. “Spring is a great time to visit the park’s beaches, whether you’re clamming or simply enjoying the shoreline and scenic beauty.”
River Fishing: Try the Cowlitz or the Skook
High water is holding off the expected big run of bright chrome Chinook, but some success can be had on the Cowlitz River as the late-run steelhead are still being landed, mostly from the sleds.
“Most everything is still blown out,” said Charles McElroy, who mans the sporting goods counter at Sunbird Shopping Center in Chehalis. “Everything is as muddy as hell. Still, the Cowlitz should be fishable — it has a lot of fish in it.”
McElroy said key to the upcoming week of fishing the Cowlitz is how much runoff from the remaining snow. If it remains cold at night, and the rains hold off, it could provide a decent experience. Still, McElroy said the fishing likely won’t start popping for another week or two on the Cowlitz.
A constant churn of rolling fish makes it frustrating but forgivable since you’re out fishing and not stuck in the cubicle!
If you want to catch one of the final steelhead this run, try the hole just below the island off Blue Creek. If you want an early shot at a spring Chinook, try near the trout hatchery.
With the weather turning toward the better, expect more than a few fellow fishermen at Barrier Dam and Blue Creek.
Another worthy fishing hole is just below the Skookumchuck dam. It seems while the river is running high, the influx of rainwater also pushed a big surge of steelhead up the Skook. Reports have some big “pigs” in the 15-pound range and the biggest run of the season just in the past few days. It might make for one of those perfect outings this weekend: plenty of steelhead and sunshine. Get there early.
For Columbia River anglers, fishery managers are deciding today on whether to extend the fishing season beyond April 6. Since the high waters and late-arriving four-year-olds are slow heading upriver, that fishery should be extended.
“I would expect they would keep it open,” McElroy said.
For the fisherman trying to hit a home run the same weekend pro baseball returns to the Northwest, take a trip to the Olympic Peninsula, where reports have winter steelhead up to 30 pounds being netted. Rumored big lunker rivers include the Bogachiel, Sol Duc and Calawha. You might try for a big spring King out of the Sol Duc as well.
Lake Fishing: Not Just Yet
Hold on until the end of the month for the big opener.
Locally, Mineral Lake is the best bet as Fish and Wildlife plans to plant about 39,000 trout in the 2.5 pound range. Another opening day destination should be Swift Reservoir in Skamania County, as plans are to plant it with 60,000 three-pound trout.
Hunting Turkey and New Proposed Rules
The spring wild turkey season is but a week and a half away, with a special youth hunt beginning this Saturday.
For hunters, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is holding public meetings April 13-14 in Olympia to set rules for the 2012-14 seasons.
New possible rules include allowing waterfowl hunters to use electronic decoys and also adding an extra day to Western Washington elk seasons. Other topics are the state’s wolf plan, and the purchase of 1,144 acres along Asotin Creek in Asotin County and 149 acres on the Methow River in Okanogan County to provide wildlife habitat.
The meetings begin at 8:30 a.m. both days in room 172 of the Natural Resources Building on the Capitol Campus at 1111 Washington St., Olympia. The agenda can be viewed at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2012/.
Razor Clam Dig
Morning Low Tides and Beach Openings:
· April 7, Saturday (7:36 a.m., -1.2 ft.): Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
· April 8, Sunday (8:23 a.m., -1.5 ft.): Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
· April 9, Monday (9:11 a.m., -1.5 ft.): Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Kalaloch