Fishing & Hunting Report: Columbia’s Big Opener Saw Big Turnout; Chehalis River Gets Going

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
It’s looking good for the Mayfield Open Tiger Musky Tournament this weekend.
There were plenty of muskies seen on Saturday, although they didn’t seem to want to take the bait.
Only a handful of trout — small trout — were hauled out of the lake that same day.

Riffe Lake is fishing well; the rumors of silvers up to 20” at the upper end of the lake are true.
“They’re biting almost everything you throw at them,” said Marshall Borsom of Fish Country in Ethel, “worms, corn, cocktail shrimp, spinners, etc.”
Borsom said he had heard of some nice cats coming out of Swofford Pond in Mossyrock.
Offut Lake is fishing well, creels holding a little bit of everything.
“There are fish to be had in the Chehalis,” said Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, “if you know where to look.”
Smallmouth bass fishing is heating up and the Chinook are making their way in, McElroy said.
The pressure and catch is light at the Kalama and Lewis Rivers, but they’re both starting to kick out some fish. The Kalama is closed to spring Chinook.
The flood gates open and ten times as many anglers — in boats and on the banks — crowded the lower Columbia below the Bonneville Dam over the weekend. WDFW sampled 1,261 anglers (including 184 boats) with 148 Chinook, 62 steelhead, and 45 sockeye salmon.
Shad is still going great guns; almost 1.6 million shad have been counted at the dam so far this year.
Summer run steelhead and spring Chinook are being caught throughout the system.
“But getting them to bite is sometimes a challenge,” said Borsom. “Steelhead are being targeted down at Blue Creek with boaters running divers with coon shrimp and bank anglers glow balling, corky and yarn, sand shrimp and some using spoons.”
Springers are being caught all the way up to Barrier Dam with boaters back bouncing eggs, sand shrimp, tuna bellies, anchovies, etc. The bank anglers are sticking with the Cowlitz Cocktail of sand shrimp and eggs together and picking up a few here and there.
Sunday the Cowlitz was running at 6,200 cfs. Over the last two days the river has risen to almost 14,000 cfs.
“I’ve had guys coming in all day, complaining about it,” said McElroy. “They only guys I’ve heard of that got any fish today were the guys that fish the Blue Creek boat launch.”
Last week at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator, Tacoma Power employees recovered 205 spring Chinook adults, 41 jacks, two winter-run steelhead and 328 summer-run steelhead.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 56 spring Chinook adults and 15 jacks at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam. They released 43 spring Chinook adults and 15 jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek, and released seven spring Chinook adults, five jacks and one winter-run steelhead into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood.

In the Salt
“Westport has just been crazy,” reported McElroy, “there’s all kinds of good fishing out there.”
Head south of the Grays Harbor buoy for sea bass and lingcod.
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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.