Fishing & Hunting Report: Free Fishing Weekend; Kids’ Fishing Derbies; Musky Tourney Upcoming

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
Love to fish but can’t afford a license? Then I’ve got good news for you, it’s Free Fishing Weekend, June 9-10.
During those two days, no license is required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. You also don’t need a vehicle access pass or a Discover Pass to park at any of the water-access sites maintained by WDFW.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as season closures, size limits and bag limits will still be in effect. For example, no crab fishing will be allowed in Puget Sound during Free Fishing Weekend, because no areas will be open for crabbing at that time.
In addition, all anglers will be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut they catch that weekend. Catch record cards and WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. The rules pamphlet is also available online at

Open House Celebration, Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery
Friday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery will hold a grand opening celebration, the public is welcome to attend. Guided tours will be available for interested customers and refreshments provided.
To get to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery from I-5, take HWY 12 East about 12 miles. Turn right on Fuller Road. Continue until the “T” intersection and turn left on Spencer Road. Stay right at the “Y.” Turn left into the salmon hatchery parking lot, or drive straight to get to the Barrier Dam boat launch and fishing area.

Sign-Up Now, Open Tiger Musky Tourney
The Cascade Musky Association’s 7th annual Mayfield Open Tiger Musky Tournament will run June 23-24, hosted at the Lake Mayfield Resort and Marina. There is a $2,800 payout (based on a 35-team field) and plenty of raffle prizes available. Entry fee is $100 per two-person team.
Contestants will work a split day on Saturday — from 6 a.m. to noon, then 4 to 8 p.m. — then just six hours on Sunday, 6 a.m. to noon.
The Cascade Musky Association is a great group of anglers who would love to see some locals come out and join the fun. I went pre-fishing with the club president last year and then rode in the judge’s boat on game day, I’d encourage anyone that loves to fish for musky to join in the tournament. It’s a lot of fun.
The event is 100% catch and release. A judge’s boat will race around the lake, from fish to fish, weighing and measuring the entries before they are tossed back in the water.
No pre-fishing is allowed after June 18.
For more information contact Mark Wells, (253) 841-0171 or

Big Trout at Kids’ Derby, Scanewa Lake
If you’ve got a kid that loves to fish, the place to be on Saturday morning from 9 to 11 a.m. is Scanewa Lake, near Randle, where the Lewis County PUD day-use park will host a kid’s fishing derby. Call 497-1100 for more information.
The event is filled with fun events. But the biggest attraction, of course, is the fish.
Over 750 rainbow trout will be planted for the event, several of which will be in the four to ten-pound range.
One to two hundred kids will toss their line into the water at 9 a.m., a total of 500 to 1,000 people — including parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles — will attend the popular event.
My best advice would be to arrive early and grab a spot near the dike where the nets span the waterway that leads into open water. Several fish were caught last year that were nearly as big and the anglers who hooked them.
Directions to the Lewis County PUD day use park: from Morton take Highway 12 east to Savio Road. Turn right and go to Kiona Road. Turn right and follow Kiona Road to Falls Road. Turn right and continue to the Day Use Park on the left.

Rivers, Lakes, and Streams
At the end of the kids’ fishing derby at Scanewa Lake, the nets will be removed from the dike and the fish will be released into open water.
The lake will receive plants of 800 trout twice a week throughout the month of June and Tacoma Power regularly hauls spring Chinook and steelhead into the waters this time of year.
A surprising drop was felt deep and taken hard by local Cowlitz River anglers when they showed up early Saturday morning. When they went to bed Friday night the river was steady at 10,000 cfs, when they got up the next morning it was sitting at just 6,490 cfs.
By late afternoon on Saturday, the Blue Creek boat launch area was a ghost town. I talked to a couple of fisherman who had only one fish in the boat, and they had talked to a couple of others who hadn’t any better luck.
“When I got up at 3:15 a.m. the river was running at 7,500, by the time I left at 3:45 it was down to 6,500,” one Federal Way angler said, shaking his head. “It really puts off the bite to drop it down that hard, but we drove down anyway.”
Barrier Dam anglers weren’t having much better luck — except the lone fisherman with his boat parked at the little isle below the dam. The bank anglers counted eight fish caught and released by the lone angler — a good mix of steelhead and fat springers — in just a handful of hours. (I said I thought that guy looked like he needed a friend and I would be the first to volunteer, he hauled up some really nice looking fish.)
The “Cowlitz Cocktail” — eggs and sand shrimp together — seems to be the go-to bait right now, said Marshall Borsom of Fish Country in Ethel.
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 598 spring Chinook adults, 81 jacks, 18 winter-run steelhead and 115 summer-run steelhead during four days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 212 spring Chinook adults, 36 jacks and three winter-run steelhead at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa. They released 170 spring Chinook adults, 30 jacks and one winter-run steelhead into the Cispus River, and 74 spring Chinook adults and seven jacks into the upper Cowlitz River.
“We are finally getting some reports of fish being caught on Mayfield Lake,” said Borsom, “mostly boaters running pop gear with wedding rings tipped with nightcrawlers. Riffe Lake is still producing silvers, we hear a lot of the catch is coming from the East end near the fishing bridge. Corn, cocktail shrimp and worms are still working for most people. You can also try throwing some spinners or other hardware.”

In the Salt
Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, said he’s hearing they’re going great guns casting to crab off the beach.
“Use a cheap piece of chicken in the trap,” said McElroy, “cast it out. It’s pretty easy to catch your limit. The crab have been good-sized too.”
Surfperch fishing is still going strong out of Westport and Ocean Shores.
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer and photojournalist. Visit her website The (Almost) Daily News (, find her on Facebook (Kimberly Mason — The Chronicle), call 269-5017 or email