Fishing & Hunting Report: Huckleberry Harvest Approaches; Kokanee Limits Increase in Merwin

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
Commercial huckleberry permits for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest will be available beginning August 13. A normal to good berry season is expected this year. Berries at lower elevations are just starting to ripen. At higher elevations, berries will ripen a little later.
Huckleberry harvest for personal use remains free, and no permit is required. Personal use consists of three gallons of huckleberries per person per year.

All people harvesting more than three gallons, or selling any quantity, must obtain a commercial huckleberry permit. Commercial permits range from $40 to $75 will be available beginning Aug. 13 at Ranger Districts and the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Headquarters.
For more details, visit the Gifford Pinchot National Forest Passes and Permits page at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/giffordpinchot/passes-permits.
Berries may be harvested from most anywhere in the forest. Some important areas closed to both commercial harvest and berry removal for personal use include the legislated Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, legislated Wilderness and the “Handshake Agreement” area of Sawtooth Berry Fields.

Seminary Hill Geology Walk
The last scheduled special walk of the Seminary Hill Natural Area, the Geology Walk, will be held this Saturday, Aug. 11, at 10 a.m.
Geologist Jim Ward will take you and other interested amateur geologists on a trip back in time as he explains the geological history of the Seminary Hill area. As you walk you will see examples of and learn about the development of the present-day land forms of the region.
Wear comfortable shoes, bring a walking stick if you need it to make climbing and descending the hill an easier chore, and be prepared to learn a bucketful of new and interesting natural history.
To meet the geology walk group, follow Seminary Hill Road past the Armory, then past Saxon and Baker Streets to the large blue gate on the right (just beyond the small pump house).

Waterfowl Seasons Set
Goose and duck hunting seasons are based on state and federal waterfowl population estimates. According to those estimates, a record number of ducks, approximately 48.6 million, were on the breeding grounds in Canada and the United States this spring.
With a record number of ducks counted on the breeding grounds this year, the WDFW Commission approved migratory waterfowl hunting seasons for this fall and that includes a statewide duck season that will be open for 107 days, starting Oct. 13-17, then Oct. 20-Jan. 27. A special youth hunting weekend will run Sept. 22-23.
Special limits for hen mallard, pintail, redhead, canvasback, goldeneye, harlequin, scoter and long-tailed duck will remain the same as last season, but the commission removed bag limits and an early season closure for scaup due to the significant increase in population.
Goose hunting seasons will vary by management areas across the state, but most open Oct. 13 and run through Jan. 27, 2013.

Rainbow and Brown Trout Plants
Chambers and Long Lake received a plant of two fish per pound brown trout last month. Over 800 went into Chambers, 1,000 into Long.
Lake Mayfield is due for a plant of 65,000 catchable size rainbows this month, according to the WDFW website. Lake Scanewa gets 20,000, Skate Creek 18,750, and the Tilton River will see 18,750 rainbows by the end of August.

Rivers, Lake, and Streams
Starting yesterday, Aug. 8, the daily limit in the Merwin Reservoir was increased ten kokanee due to the surplus hatchery kokanee available for harvest. Kokanee are not included in the trout daily limit of five trout. Anglers may fish with two poles with a Two-Pole Endorsement.
“Merwin and Yale Reservoir are both fishing well,” said Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center.
Mayfield Lake is doing OK at best, Marshall Borsom of Fish Country in Ethel said.
“We are hearing of more boaters trolling in the Tilton Arm and doing so-so,” he explained. “Riffe Lake is still producing silvers, but it has slowed now a little. We are hearing that the fish are a lot deeper now, 100-feet plus.”
“Swofford Pond is doing OK for bass and catfishing,” Borsom added. “Try some Yamamoto Grubs or Rapalas for the bass.”
Offut Lake is throwing out some decent bass.
“But you’ve got to fish the evening bite,” said McElroy. “The lowland lakes are just too hot in the daytime, but the highland lakes are fishing okay.”
But you’ve still got to beware of the snow.
“The local Boy Scout troop hiked into Packwood Lake this weekend, then up to Lost Lake,” said McElroy, “and they encountered a fair amount of snow.”
The fishing on the Cowlitz River is still pretty good, Borsom said.
“We are seeing a lot of steelhead being caught by boaters and bank anglers alike,” Borsom said, “The boaters are using diver with coon shrimp or side drifting, some using eggs. The bank anglers are using a little of everything from sand shrimp alone, sand shrimp with eggs, spoons, corky and yarn, jig and bobber, etc. “
The water ran at about 3,170 cfs through the weekend, but made a jump up on early in the week and has now dropped into a steady 4,650 cfs.
“We have a lot of steelhead in the river right now and we’ve even heard of a few fall run being caught,” said Borsom, “but we haven’t seen them yet.”
The fishing is best from Castle Rock on down, according to McElroy. “And there’s been some sturgeon caught out of the mouth of the Cowlitz that are keepers — not a lot, but some.”
McElroy has heard plenty of cutthroat trout are being found in the lower river, “but they don’t seem to be going much above the mouth of the Toutle yet.”
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 950 summer-run steelhead, 274 spring Chinook adults, 28 jacks, 44 mini-jacks, one fall Chinook adult, one sockeye salmon and one sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 114 spring Chinook adults and 11 jacks at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam. They released 72 spring Chinook adults, eight jacks and one cutthroat into the upper Cowlitz River and released 58 spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at the Mossyrock Park boat launch.
A total of 79 summer-run steelhead and five sockeye salmon adults were transported to the lower Cowlitz River and released at the I-5 boat launch, and one summer-run steelhead and one sockeye salmon were recycled to the Barrier Dam.

In the Salt
Out at Ilwaco the salmon seem pretty small so far. At Westport the kings are running good size, but it depends on the day whether they’re catching them in any numbers.
The jetty at Westport is fishing well for seabass.
Neah Bay, Sekiu, and Marine Areas 9 and 11 are reporting good action.
Anglers dropping crab pots at Willipa Bay before heading out fishing are taking a nice haul of crab, McElroy said, and there’s good fishing to be had.
Tuna fishing is still going great guns.
Lingcod and yellowtail fishing is good to great. The fish are 20 or more miles out, but limits can be had in less than 30 minutes.
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.