Fishing/Hunting Report: National Trails Day Saturday; Chehalis River Springers Show

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
Saturday, June 2, is National Trails Day — a celebration of hiking trails, the volunteers who maintain them and the hikers that hike them.
Take a look at the Washington Trails Association website (http://www.wta.org) where you’ll find more than 500 reports filed by fellow hikers in the month of May alone. Details include snow levels, wildflowers, water conditions and more.

WDFW Seized Antler Auction
Nearly a thousand antlers seized from poachers over the last decade by WDFW police officers can be purchased during an online auction currently under way through June 5.
Items that will be available during the auction include: 33 trophy elk racks, 22 trophy deer racks, five trophy moose racks, and about 1,000 lbs. of elk, deer and moose antlers in variously sized bundles.
The auction will conclude June 5. Photos of the antlers and other information about the auction, including how to view the items in person, are available online at http://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/state,wa/browse/home?tm=m.

Gobblers Granted Reprieve
This gobbler reprieve wasn’t issued by the President of the United States, but from the WDFW — spring turkey hunting ends today.
The spring limit was two eastern Washington birds and one wetside gobbler. I’ve heard of very few that took three birds, and a few more that took two. If you have a great jake photo, I’d love to see it and share it (if you’d allow). Email me, kim@almostdailynews.com.

Rivers, Lakes, and Streams
Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, said he’s heard the kokanee have slowed down on American Lake, “but they’re killing ‘em on trout.”
Riffe Lake is fishing well, but the fish are scattered. Lake Mayfield is spotty.
There is a full moon on Monday, a great time to gear up and head to your favorite catfishing hole.
There are a ton of creeks and rivers opening up June 1, too many to list here. Know your rules and regs before you go, pick up a WDFW sport fishing rules pamphlet anywhere that sells a license.
A rule change just went into effect for the Kalama River. Starting May 29 through July 31, from the boundary markers at the mouth to the upper salmon hatchery, Kalama River anglers must release all spring Chinook salmon.
The Chehalis River spring Chinook fishery (from the mouth to the Hwy 6 bridge in Adna) has been open for a month and there’s just a month left to the season, but the fish hadn’t started showing up until just now.
“There’s a few springers in the lower Chehalis,” said McElroy. “Not in big numbers yet, but they’re starting to show.”
There is a daily limit of one salmon, the regs run true in that instance, but ignore the selective gear rules for the mouth to high bridge on Weyerhaeuser 1000 line approximately 400 yards downstream from Roger Creek (south of Pe Ell). If you’re having a hard time finding any of the Chehalis River regs, you aren’t alone in your frustration. The Chehalis River now sits on the Grays Harbor Coastal Rivers section, page 29.
WDFW has just increased the Drano Lake daily limits from two fish (two hatchery Chinook or two hatchery steelhead or one of each), to up to six fish.
At Drano Lake, from now until June 30, downstream of markers on point of land downstream and across from Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery and upstream of Hwy. 14 Bridge, the salmonid daily limit will be six fish. Up to 4 may be adults of which no more than 2 may be hatchery steelhead. Release wild Chinook. Release all trout other than hatchery steelhead. Minimum size 12 inches for salmon and 20 inches for steelhead. Night closures, bank only fishing area near the outlet, and Wednesday closures will remain in effect. Anglers may fish with two poles with a Two Pole Endorsement.
That’s a mouthful of rules and regs to follow. Good news is, according to McElroy, Drano is fishing well, “though it’s mostly a late afternoon, early evening bite.”
Go in the morning, he says, and the way the fish have been biting, you’ll have just a 30-minute window of opportunity to work in.
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 432 spring Chinook adults, 53 jacks, 49 winter-run steelhead and 87 summer-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 79 spring Chinook adults, 16 jacks and one winter-run steelhead at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam. They released 81 spring Chinook adults, 19 jacks and one winter-run steelhead into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek and released 47 spring Chinook adults, 13 jacks and two winter-run steelhead into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood.
Approximately 25% of the spring Chinook counted went through the separator this last week.
“There’s been lots of fish in the Cowlitz,” said McElroy, “but they jacked the river back up over 1,000 cfs Tuesday.”
And raised it another 700 cfs on Wednesday.
The Columbia River has been fishing well this week.
“Shad is just lights out,” said McElroy, “they’re catching ‘em like crazy. Try anchoring up in 9 to 14 feet of water, use a Dick Nite off a dropper — doesn’t seem to matter what color.”

In the Salt
Halibut fishing out of Westport has been good, though it seems they’re getting close to hitting the quota.
A lot of lings are being caught at Seiku, Neah Bay and Westport. Sea bass fishing has been good up in the straights. Surf perch has been a good bet on all the beaches.

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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 kim@almostdailynews.com.