Fishing in SW Washington
Capt. Jerry Brown
February 4, 2009
Columbia River - Freshwater Fishing Report
Fishing: The lower Columbia River Basin can be hard on anglers in early February when nice weather beckons but good fishing can be hard to find. Sturgeon and smelt seasons are open, but fishing has been slow due in part to frigid water temperatures. Some late-run steelhead have begun to show up in the Cowlitz and Kalama rivers, but the bulk of the run usually doesnt arrive until later in the month.
So whats an angler itching to get outdoors to do?
Digging razor clams is one option. Evening digs have been approved Feb. 7-8 at Long Beach and Feb. 6-8 at Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. As with previous openers, digging will be allowed only during the hours between noon and midnight. Evening low tides during the dig are 3:55 p.m., Friday, Feb. 6 (-0.1 ft.), 4:50 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7 (-0.4 ft.), 5:39 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 8 (-0.6 ft.).
"There are plenty of clams and the low tides are early enough for folks to dig during daylight hours," said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.
But fishing for lake trout may be the best bet for anglers who want to feel a fish tug on their line. At Klineline Pond, for example, 47 bank anglers recently took home 91 catchable-size rainbows, plus a couple of broodstock rainbows weighing up to 5 pounds apiece. WDFW also stocked Klineline with 1,500 catchables Jan. 26, and Battleground Lake got 150 broodstock rainbows early this month. Spearfish Lake in Klickitat County got 30 broodstock lunkers along with 1,100 catchable-size rainbows, while Horseshoe Lake in Cowlitz County got 30 broodstock rainbows and 1,500 catchables.
"Those trout should offer up some really good fishing," said John Weinheimer, a WDFW fish biologist. "Fishing on year-round lakes really starts to improve throughout the region when the weather warms up like this." For a complete listing of weekly trout plants throughout the region, see WDFWs website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/weekly/ .
Smelt dipping also may improve as water temperatures increase, but there were few signs of success during the last Saturday in January, said Brad James, another WDFW fish biologist. For updates on the fishery, check the weekly smelt report on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/smelt/index.htm .
The Cowlitz River is open to smelt dipping from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. each Saturday through March 28, with a daily catch limit of 10 pounds per person. All other tributaries to the Columbia River in Washington state are closed to smelt fishing until further notice.
This is also the time of year when thousands of anglers start to look forward to fishing for spring chinook salmon, which usually start to arrive in significant numbers in March. (The first springer of the year - a 28 pounder - was reportedly hooked and released Jan. 31 in the Willamette River.) According to a recent projection, nearly 300,000 spring chinook are expected to return to the river this year, which would make the run the third-highest on record.
However, fishing seasons have not yet been set for the fishery because of a disagreement between the fish and wildlife commissions of Washington and Oregon over a catch-sharing plan for recreational and commercial fisheries. The fishery is currently open downriver from the Interstate 5 Bridge under 2008-09 rules while the two commissions continue working to reach an agreement.
Columbia River Fishing Forecast:
According to a recent projection, nearly 300,000 spring chinook are expected to return to the river this year, which would make the run the third-highest on record.
Steelhead, Salmon & Sturgeon
More Fishing Reports: