By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
Seekers of the mighty salmon are finding relief from the heat on ocean waters, now’s the time to book your trip and head out to the coast.
If you go out and haul up a big one — whether tuna, salmon or anything else worth bragging about — send me a shot, we’d love to see your catch.
Rule Change for Willapa Salmon Seekers
Barbless hook restrictions have been added to the sections of Willapa Bay tributaries where anti-snagging rules already apply. This rule is in effect starting Aug. 1, the South Fork Willapa and Naselle rivers, and Aug. 16 for the Bear and North rivers.
Loaded for Bear
General hunting seasons for black bear opened Aug. 1 in the western portion of southwest Washington and will open on Aug. 15 in the eastern part of the region. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington. Hunters are urged to avoid shooting sows with cubs.
Hunting opportunities coming up next month include early archery seasons for elk, early archery and muzzleloader seasons for deer, and a new general hunting season for cougar with any weapon.
New Website for Women Anglers
Steelhead Girls, http://www.steelheadgirls.com, is a new website focused on delivering information, education and assurance to women anglers.
“There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to learn something new and having no idea where to start,” said Bryanna Zimmerman, one of the website developers. “Rest assured, not only is it our goal to have the detail you need, but we are more than happy to answer any questions or provide any articles you desire! From the women who are just starting out, to the women who have been fishing for years, we will provide the information that you need.”
Rivers, Lake, and Streams
Riffe Lake’s land-locked silvers anglers are having better luck at the fishing bridge at the upper end of the lake, said Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center.
“They’re down pretty deep — 80 to 100 feet — so if you’re fishing from a boat you just about have to have a downrigger to get to them,” said McElroy.
“We’ve heard Mayfield Lake is starting to pick up now, mostly in the Tilton Arm for the boaters trolling with wedding rings and pop gear, tipped with worm or corn,” said Marshall Borsom of Fish Country in Ethel.
McElroy said he’d heard a lot of complaining from the “old timers” fishing Mayfield.
“The trout this year are pretty small,” he said. “Once in a while they’re lucking into a good group of holdovers — but those are mainly guys that really know what they’re doing out there and have been fishing the lake for a lot of years.”
The Cowlitz River is fishing well down low, from the mouth to the Toutle, and a fresh run of steelhead is reportedly coming through and pushing their way into the through the system.
Cutthroat trout have been caught downstream, “and should be up to Toledo by now,” said McElroy.
The spring Chinook are starting to look “pretty gnarly” at the Barrier Dam pool, said McElroy.
Borsom said, “We’ve heard of the bank anglers near Barrier Dam doing fairly well for the steelhead. Seems a lot of smaller fish (6-8 lbs) are being caught using a variety (of bait and lures), including sand shrimp alone, sand shrimp with eggs, jig and bobber, spoons, etc. “
“The boaters are doing OK at best, with some catching one or two and some not at all,” Borsom added. “The Blue Creek area seems to be slower right now compared to Barrier Dam area. Try using diver with coon shrimp if you are boating.”
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 1,417 summer-run steelhead, 137 spring Chinook adults, 27 jacks, 48 mini-jacks and four sockeye salmon during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 49 spring Chinook adults and 21 jacks at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam. They released nine spring Chinook adults and three jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood and 49 spring Chinook mini-jacks were released into Riffe Lake at the Mossyrock Park boat launch.
A total of 82 summer-run steelhead and three sockeye salmon were transported to the lower Cowlitz River and released at the I-5 boat launch during the week.
The fall Chinook fishery opened Aug. 1 on the Columbia River, where a strong run of upriver brights is expected to exceed both the 10-year average and last year’s return. Of the 655,000 “falls” included in the pre-season forecast, about 350,000 are projected to be upriver brights – the fourth largest return since record keeping began in 1964.
Those fish, along with hatchery coho and summer steelhead, should make August a great time to fish the lower Columbia River, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for WDFW.
“We’re definitely expecting a big angler turnout for these fisheries,” Hymer said. “The fall Chinook fishery usually starts slow, then accelerates quickly through the month of August. The great thing about upriver brights is they tend to keep biting as they move upriver.”
In the Salt
Starting tomorrow, Aug. 3, Westport will be open to salmon fishing seven days a week.
Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for WDFW, said the department initially limited the number of days open at Westport to five a week (Sundays through Thursdays) to ensure that the catch would not reach the quota too quickly and require an early closure.
“Because catch rates are stable, we can allow fishing daily off Westport without much risk of having to shorten the salmon season,” Pattillo said.
Salmon fishing already is open seven days a week in marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay).
The daily catch limit is two salmon for all areas of the ocean fishery. Anglers fishing in marine areas 1, 2 and 4 may retain one Chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit. Those fishing in Marine Area 3 are allowed to retain two Chinook per day.
In all four marine areas, anglers must release wild coho salmon.
Ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1.
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.