Fishing & Hunting Report: Cowlitz River Slow But Steady; Razor Clam Dig Ongoing

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
All of the rivers have fish in them, it just depends on which rivers are in shape as to where you want to spend your time this week.
“If we don’t get too much more rain in the next few days,” said Charles McElroy, a sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, “most of the rivers might stay fishable through Saturday. But as soon as the sky opens up again, they’re gonna blow.”

Venue Change, WFWC Meeting
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has changed the location of a public meeting scheduled Friday and Saturday (Dec. 14-15) to provide more seating.
The citizen commission, which sets policy for WDFW, is now scheduled to meet at the Comfort Inn Conference Center in Tumwater, 1620 74th Ave. SW.
WDFW is scheduled to brief the commission on a number of issues, including a proposed plan to restructure salmon and sturgeon fisheries on the Columbia River.
In addition, the commission will take action on new options proposed for allocating the Puget Sound shrimp catch and a proposed update to rules for compensating commercial livestock owners who lose livestock to bears, cougars and wolves.
An agenda for the meeting is posted at wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2012/.

Deadline Extended for Comment
WDFW has given the public more time to review proposed changes to state sportfishing rules.
Under the new timeline, WDFW will accept written comments through Jan. 29 on the proposed regulations — more than a month longer than previously announced.
Craig Burley, WDFW fish division manager, said the public hearing was postponed to allow for additional time to draft the rule language that the commission will consider.
“Making that change also gives people more time to review and provide comments on the proposals,” Burley said.
To review and comment on the proposed rules visit WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/. Printed copies of the proposals and comment forms are available by contacting WDFW’s Fish Program at (360) 902-2672.
The website includes information on the nearly 70 proposed rules that WDFW fishery managers recommend move forward for further review and public comment, as well as information on proposals not recommended for further consideration.

Razor Clam Dig

Granny, get your clam gun and head for the beach, there are still a few days left in the latest razor clam dig. These are some of the best tides of the year. Hit the beach a few hours before low tide, don your headlamp and fuel up your lantern.
Dec. 13, Thursday, 6:29 p.m., -1.9 ft., Twin Harbors
Dec. 14, Friday, 7:15 p.m., -1.8 ft., Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
Dec. 15, Saturday, 8:01 p.m., -1.6 ft., Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
Dec. 16, Sunday, 8:47 p.m., -1.0 ft., Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
The next tentatively scheduled razor clam dig is set for Dec. 28-31.

On the Water

Many of the rivers are dropping back down after the last deluge of rain.
“There’s a few fish in the Skookumchuck,” said McElroy, “the river is still high, but it should lower down some before the weekend.”
The South Fork of the Newaukum is fishable and looking “pretty decent,” said McElroy.
But the Chehalis is running mud.
The Cowlitz River, from Blue Creek boat launch on down to the Blue Creek, is fishing okay.
“They’re getting six or eight a day out of that area,” said McElroy, “which isn’t much considering the traffic from boats and bankies.”
The peninsula streams haven’t shown much yet, but they should be dropping back into shape.
Riffe Lake is fishing well, tales of anglers coming home with 10-14” fish are common.
Carlisle (Onalaska) and Offut (Tenino) are fishing well.
“South County Pond (Toledo) is fishing real well,” said McElroy. “They’re pulling out some really nice, big fish out of that pond.”
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 371 coho adults, 50 jacks, 94 winter-run steelhead, 29 cutthroat trout and seven summer-run steelhead during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
A total of 192 coho adults, 18 jacks, ten cutthroat trout and three winter-run steelhead were released into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton during the week.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 74 coho adults, 13 jacks and one winter steelhead into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam at the Day Use Site, and they released 32 coho adults and 19 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood.
River flows at Mayfield Dam dropped from 14,300 cfs to 12,100 cfs on Tues., December 11.
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Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer and photojournalist. Visit her website at almostdailynews.com, find her on Facebook (Kimberly Mason — The Chronicle), call 269-5017 or email kim@almostdailynews.com.