By The Chronicle
Despite the low levels on Riffe Lake as Tacoma Power anticipates a snow melt, anglers are hitting on a few nice silvers on the U.S. Highway 12 side of the Mossyrock Dam.
Reports include two nice 16-inch silvers taken this week; Karen Glaser of Barrier Dam Campground said she heard of one angler getting his limit in 15 minutes on Riffe Lake.
Mayfield Lake is pretty low, but there are other possibilities for the lake plunker.
Offutt Lake in south Thurston County offers its usual decent opportunities, according to Charles McElroy, who works the sporting goods department at Sunbird Shopping Center in Chehalis. Try fishing across from the resort and slowly, slowly trolling a big woolly worm or a spinner and worm. You just might catch a bunch of trout in the 12- to 14-inch range. American Lake in Thurston County is also worth a sniff, as the kokanee are just starting to bite and the rainbows continue to jump into your creel (with a little know-how!).
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, a good number of rainbow trout have been planted in area lakes just in time for spring break.
The plants are in Grays Harbor, Thurston, Pierce, Mason and Kitsap counties.
“We are stocking these lakes with thousands of fish, so fishing should be pretty good over the next several weeks,” said Ron Warren, regional fish program manager for WDFW.
The lakes planted in Grays Harbor County are Lake Sylvia, Duck Lake and Vance Creek Pond in Elma with each receiving 1,000 catchable size rainbows, along with several hundred larger trout in the 3 to 4 pound range (reared by a project from the Chehalis Basin Task Force). Note: Vance Creek Pond is open from March 31 to April 8 for anglers under 15 and seniors 70 and older.
In Thurston County, Long’s Pond received 4,000 rainbows in the 11-inch range and another 100 trout in the 14- to 16-inch range. Bradley Lake in Pierce County received 2,500 ‘bows in the smaller size, with Wapato Lake getting 4,000 trout of 10 to 11 inches.
The Skook, Cowlitz, Chehalis and Columbia Rivers
The Skookumchuck River is fishing “pretty decent” for steelhead up and down the entire length of the river, according to McElroy, with a fair amount of darkies up at the dam in the pool just below the reservoir.
The Cowlitz River, thank our lucky lures, is finally starting to tune in, with fishing success being reported this week from the mouth all the way up to Barrier Dam. McElroy received reports of the first spring chinook caught this week at Barrier Dam, with one guide nailing three springers a few days later near Blue Creek for his satisfied group.
“At first, the fish usually arrive in fits and starts, then eventually start moving upriver in a steady flow,” said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for WDFW. “Through March, we expect to see the number of boat and bank anglers on the river to increase week by week.”
Cindy LeFleur, WDFW Columbia River policy manager, said this year’s spring chinook fishery looks promising, especially compared to last season.
“Not only is this year’s run forecast well above average, but fishing conditions should be a lot better than last year when anglers had to contend with weeks of high, turbid water,” LeFleur said.
The Cowlitz is also still producing plenty of steelhead with the late winter run finally materializing, despite the chronic high waters.
The Chehalis River is also a decent bet, with “a lot of fish. … phenomenal for steelhead,” McElroy said.
It’s tough going on the Columbia River, with only one fish per 30 boats (that’s about one fish per 60 rods). That might be picking up with warmer temperatures forecast this weekend. Currently the temperature on the Columbia is about 43 degrees. If it can heat up to 45 degrees, so will the fishing.
It’s a Great Weekend to Go for Razor Clams, Seafood
The WDFW has approved a razor clam dig at several ocean beaches this Saturday and Sunday.
McElroy said this weekend, with partially sunny skies forecast, might be perfect for a chase after a multitude of seafood on the coast. McElroy suggested digging up some razors, then hitting the jetty in Westport for some lingcod and seabass. Add a purchase of fresh oysters out of South Bend and bring it all home for a seafood feast.
The dig will take place at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks and Copalis, although Copalis is only open on Saturday. The digs end each day at noon.
“We’re nearing the end of the season at Copalis, but we still have more clams available for harvest on other beaches,” said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW. “We have tentatively scheduled another dig in April and perhaps more to come.”
The low tides Saturday are plus 0.3 feet at 8:25 a.m. for Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks; the low tides on Sunday are plus 0.3 feet at 8:59 a.m. for Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks.
Ayres said the Saturday dig takes place at the same time as the Ocean Shores Razor Clam Festival, featuring crafts for sale and a chowder cook-off.
For razor clam aficionados, another dig is tentatively set for April 7-9 on the coast.
Wildlife Viewing of Sandhill Cranes, Massive Chinook
Sandhill cranes with their annual mating dance spectacle are arriving in overwhelming numbers in the Vancouver lowlands.
Thousands of the majestic birds — with wingspans up to seven feet — are found feeding at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge as they fatten up for the long trip north.
Also on view at the refuge are great egrets, tundra swans and belted kingfishers as they greet the spring.
If you are more interested in fish, but not all that handy with a rod, you can go to the Bonneville Dam this month and watch the spring chinook salmon and late-run steelhead rush through the fish ladder. Perhaps wait until April when hundred and then thousands of the spring Chinook — many weighing up to 40 pounds — move through the ladder.
To view the parade of fish, take state Highway 14 east along the Columbia River to milepost 40 (about five miles from Stevenson) and turn into the Bonneville Dam visitor center at the end of the powerhouse.