By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
It’s that time of year when there is a little something to suit everyone’s tastes swimming about in the fresh- and saltwater. Don’t let the rain slow you down — although gusting winds may be a pretty good excuse for staying home — it’s time to go fishing.
If you know your target fish well, a pocket full of gear, a rod and a pair of knee-high boots are all you need to hike into areas that haven’t seen a lot of pressure from the amateur anglers.
If you are one of those amateur anglers — and we all have to start somewhere — and you are unsure of what is out there and/or what you need to use to catch it, make a stop at one of our local sporting goods stores or bait shops and they’ll be glad to get you outfitted with everything you need.
Make sure you know the rules and regs for the waters you intend to fish. Grab a copy of the WDFW sport fishing rules before you head out, don’t depend on the guy fishing down the bank, down the beach or upriver from you to fill you in.
Rivers, Lakes, and Streams
Riffe Lake has risen quite a bit this week. The good news is all boat launches are now usable. The bad news is your chances of gathering great gobs of smallies from the bank at Swofford Flats has lowered significantly and will stay low until the flats fill in a bit more and the smallmouth bass move back in.
If you fish the area in a boat this week, look just east of the spillway, you may catch sight of a pair Western Grebes doing their funky mating dance.
Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, has heard there’s been a good number of triploids caught at Offut Lake. Lake Carlisle anglers have been hauling out some nice brood stock.
“I’ve heard good reports on tiger musky at Lake Mayfield,” McElroy added, “but not many over 25-inches.”
Mayfield has been dismal fishing for trout fans lately, but it should be getting better soon.
According to Wolf Dammers, WDFW fish biologist, Lake Mayfield, was planted by Tacoma Power on April 26 (Mossyrock Trout Hatchery) and May 10 (Mayfield County Park). Each time they tossed in 5,000 rainbow trout running 2.5 fish to the pound. They are due for another plant of 5,000 (Ike Kinswa Day Use Park) before Memorial Day weekend.
“Lake Mayfield was planted a lot earlier last year,” said Dammers. “But since there wasn’t a lot of fishing pressure on the lake at that time of year, we decided to wait until the weather gets nicer before we plant.”
Tacoma Power is in charge of the fish plants for Lake Mayfield, South Lewis County Pond, Swofford Pond, Skate Creek, and the Tilton, Dammers said.
“The fishing on the Cowlitz River is going OK,” said Marshall Borsom of Fish Country in Ethel. “Some days the bite is real good and others not so much.”
McElroy weighed in on the subject, “There’s plenty of fish in the lower Cowlitz, below Olequa. And if they’d leave the water levels alone the whole river would see good fishing.”
The boaters are still running divers with eggs and shrimp, back-bouncing eggs, or plugs with herring.
“We are hearing of an average of zero to 3 fish per boat, depending on who you talk to,” said Borsom.
“The bank anglers are doing OK up at Barrier Dam, mostly the die-hards throwing big gobs of eggs and sand shrimp together,” he added. “It seems we get an early morning and then a late evening bite a lot of times.”
The mainstem Columbia River is open for hatchery steelhead, hatchery jack Chinook and sockeye below the I-5 Bridge and for shad below Bonneville Dam. Daily limits include two hatchery steelhead as part of the six-salmonid limit. Shad don’t count, since there’s no daily limit or minimum size.
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 71 winter-run steelhead, two jacks, 407 spring Chinook adults, 49 jacks and 56 summer-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
They released 98 spring Chinook adults, 16 jacks and three winter-run steelhead at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam; 76 spring Chinook adults and nine jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek; and 88 spring Chinook adults and 17 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood.
In the Salt
Lingcod anglers have had a steady haul off the jetty and sea bass are starting to pick up, said McElroy.
“There’s a little something for everyone this weekend at the ocean,” said McElroy, “whether you’re bottom fishing or crabbing or a little bit of both.”
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer and photojournalist. Visit her website The (Almost) Daily News (almostdailynews.com), find her on Facebook (Kimberly Mason – The Chronicle), call 269-5017 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.