Fishing & Hunting Report: High Heat and Gas Prices Keep Anglers Home, Plenty of Room on the River

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
It doesn’t look like this heat wave is due to let up anytime soon, your best bet is to hit the water early morning or late in the evening.
Deer and elk season is fast approaching, time to get out the bow and let a few (or a few hundred) practice arrows fly.

Fall Black Bear
Since Aug. 1 hunters in the Coastal, Puget Sound and other areas have been stalking the woods for black bear. Yesterday, Aug. 15, the South Cascades opened up. The season runs through Nov. 15.
Two black bear can be taken during the license year, only one of which may be taken in Eastern Washington. One black bear transport tag/license is included with a big game license that has a black bear as a species option. A second black bear transport tag/license must be purchased to take a second bear.

Volunteers Needed Mt. St. Helens Elk Access
WDFW is looking for dozens of volunteers to help hunters gain access to the 250,000 acres of private timberlands near Mount St. Helens from September through January.
As in previous years, the Weyerhaeuser Company is prepared to give hunters holding special elk permits additional motorized access to a large portion of the St. Helens Tree Farm, provided that enough volunteers can be found to ensure a safe and orderly hunt.
Key tasks for volunteers include orienting hunters, staffing access points and maintaining safety buffers between hunters and active Weyerhaeuser operations, said Sandra Jonker, regional wildlife manager for WDFW.
“The success of this program depends on our ability to recruit a dedicated team of volunteers to help us facilitate these permit hunts,” Jonker said. “The amount of timberland that can be opened to hunting is directly proportional to the number of volunteers that sign up, so participation is vital to the continuation of this program.”
Jonker noted that the program attracted about 50 to 60 volunteers per year since 2007.
To participate in the St. Helens Land Access Program, volunteers can sign up at either theWDFW website (, the WDFW Region 5 Office (2108 S.E. Grand Boulevard, Vancouver, or call 360-696-6211) or Bob’s Sporting Goods (1111 Hudson Street, Longview).
Participants will be required to attend one of three orientation sessions, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the following times and locations:
Aug. 23: Natural Resources Building in Olympia, Room 175 A & B, 1111 Washington St. S.E.

Sept. 12: WDFW Regional Office in Vancouver, 2108 Grand Blvd.
Oct. 10: Cowlitz Public Utility District Office, 961 12th Ave., Longview

Cowlitz Tagged Steelhead
A large number of summer-run steelhead are still being gathered at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery and tagged in the summer-run steelhead recycling study. After tagging they are trucked back downriver to the I-5 bridge and released.
Two types of tags are being used. A Floy T-Bar tag, placed on the body of the fish, and a radio-tracking tag, placed internally.
If you catch a tagged steelhead, note the tag number and the location where the fish was caught and call Chris Gleizes at 864-6133 with the information.
Returned radio tags can be reused and placed in another fish, so please, make the call and return the tag if you find one.

On the River
The pressure has been light on the Cowlitz River, but there’s plenty of fish in the water, said Marshall Borsom of Fish County in Ethel.
“I’ve heard of a few fall kings caught, but I haven’t heard of any that were legal to keep yet,” said Borsom. “They were all wearing that dreaded adipose fin.”
Borsom recommends free drifting for the fall salmon with an egg and shrimp combo.
“You can throw some hardware at ‘em or use a bobber and jig tipped with a sand shrimp tail,” said Borsom. “All the usual gear.”
And, as usual, you’ve just got to put your time in.
And there are at least a few nice spring Chinook in the water, I saw a beauty of a hen Wednesday morning at the Barrier Dam.
Steelhead are coming through in good numbers and many of them have good size on them.
Don Glaser of Barrier Dam Campground said he had a handful of guys hit the shop earlier this week to buy ice for their limit of steelhead.
“One guy was complaining,” said Glaser with a grin, “said he drove all that way to make three casts. He lost one fish, and then caught his limit of steelhead on the next two. They’re catching fish, but hardly anyone is down there.”
Glaser said he thinks the price of gas is keeping the out of town anglers home.
“There’s plenty of fish coming through the separator, now’s a great time to get out and fish,” Glaser said, “you won’t have much competition.”
Charles McElroy, sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, said he heard there is a lot of cutthroat in the Cowlitz.
“Trouble is,” McElroy said, “about 90% of them have that darn fin still attached to them. But there are lots and lots of fish.”
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 1,178 summer-run steelhead, 388 spring Chinook adults, 26 jacks, 41 mini-jacks, three fall Chinook adults, four jacks, one sockeye salmon, two chum salmon and two sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 81 spring Chinook adults, four jacks, one fall Chinook adult and three jacks at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam. They released 102 spring Chinook adults 12 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood and released 84 spring Chinook adults and seven jacks into the Cispus River near Randle. One fall Chinook adult, two jacks and two sea-run cutthroat were released at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.
A total of 53 summer-run steelhead and two chum salmon adults were transported to the lower Cowlitz River and released at the I-5 boat launch and one sockeye salmon was recycled to the Barrier Dam and one to the Mission boat launch.
New for 2012, any fall Chinook and coho may be retained at Drano Lake (that rule went into effect Aug. 1) and any Chinook on the North Fork Lewis River beginning in mid-September. Anglers are, as always, advised to check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet and any emergency rules applicable to specific waters before leaving home.

In Lakes and Ponds
Anglers trolling for trout on Lake Mayfield have had limited success. Lake Mayfield is due for a plant of 65,000 catchable size rainbows later this month, according to the WDFW website.
Byron Peck, Cinebar, trolled the lake on Friday and caught trout at a rate of about one every 30 minutes using four bladed pop gear, pulling a #4 hook with a night crawler.
“Most were lip hooks,” Peck said, “making them hard to land. I lost one about 18-inches, just a foot from the net.”
But the foot and a half long trout is the exception rather than the rule at Mayfield.
“There’s just no big trout in Mayfield at all this year,” said McElroy.
Another angler, this one on vacation at Ike Kinswa, said his granddaughter was hooking into so many trout that he couldn’t get his own line in the water. He was trolling a wedding ring spinner tipped with a worm.
The Ike Kinswa area of Mayfield will be the place to be as soon as they get the new catchables in the water — “but only if you like nearly flavorless fish,” said Peck.
Try the east end of Riffe Lake for silvers, said Borsom.
Merwin and Yale are fishing well, said McElroy, “but it’s just too warm for American and Black Lake.”
Last week 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.

In the Salt
Westport salmon have moved in closer, according to McElroy.
“And there were a lot of big fish caught this week,” he said.
Willapa Bay is “halfway decent,” McElroy noted, “it should turn on by this weekend.
Sea bass fishing off the Westport jetty is good, try a live anchovy under a bobber.
South Sound beach anglers are having some luck with coho salmon, fishing the incoming tide.

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