SW Washington fishing report and forecast for July 28
In our SW Washington fishing report this week, tributaries have seen a great bump in summer steelhead with anglers finding good success in the very early mornings. Mainstem Columbia has been slow though there are still fish moving through the system but the numbers over Bonneville are dwindling. Buoy 10 fishing opens Tuesday 8/1/23 for retention of Fall Chinook and Coho. Marine area 2 also reopened 7/26/23 for Chinook on specific days and Coho seven days a week. Great reports coming out of Merwin this week with anglers still catching limits of Kokanee.
REMINDER, please verify the regulations before fishing any body of water. AND wear a life jacket.
North Fork- The North Fork of the Lewis saw a drop of about 500 cfs down to 1500 cfs and a drop of .3 feet on the gage height down to 1.8 feet. The water is reaching its summer low and won’t start to rise until fall. Last week’s report talked about the water getting shallow in some areas and it will only have gotten shallower this week so be very cautious if you don’t know the river go with someone who does. Ian Carter fished Monday at Cedar Creek for a few hours he lost one bobber fishing a nightmare jig, as he was coming into the launch he saw a bank angler land a 4lb steelhead he was bobber fishing a nightmare jig as well. The Cotton flowing down the river is all but gone as of 7/25/23 making it much easier to plunk or back troll. There were only 62 fish making it back to the hatchery this week although the numbers for Merwin dam FCF have not been updated so there is most likely a larger number.
East Fork- The east fork only has wild fish these days that you cannot keep but can hold some nice wild steelhead. It is nice because it’s away from the crowds. Like everywhere else early morning fishing will be best. I have personally never fished it but it is one of my father’s favorite rivers as it holds some fairly large steelhead that have pushed 20 pounds.
I was not able to make the drive this week as I was out of town though the river saw the best return of this year of 234 steelhead. Creel reports being terrible this week with 28 bank rods having no catch. 1 boat/2 rods having no catch.
Tacoma Power employees recovered 136 spring Chinook adults, 75 spring Chinook jacks, 812 spring Chinook mini-jacks, 399 summer-run steelhead adults, one coho adult, and 13 cutthroat trout over five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. Creel reports this week show Cowlitz River I-5 Br downstream – 40 bank rods kept one steelhead. 2 boats/7 rods had no catch. Cowlitz River Above the I-5 Br – 37 bank rods kept one jack, one steelhead and released one Chinook and one jack. 30 boats/97 rods kept three jacks, 53 steelhead and released two steelhead which shows a massive improvement for the boats fishing. Back trolling Coon Shrimp has been a killer for summer steelhead. Pictured below is my favorite way to back troll bait, you can choose not to add the spin glow, but I find if you get a takedown and the fish steals the bait but doesn’t stick to the hook it provides something for them to come back to smaller sizes like size 8 work best for this time of year.
The Washougal is very low and very slow with mass amounts of people swimming in it but that hasn’t stopped reporter Beckham Schill from fishing every morning and hooking his fair share of fish. Bobber and Coon shrimp has been amazing and what all the locals are doing though Beckham has reported getting a fish on a michael jackson spinner. Most fish are still being caught lower in the river system but deeper holes along Washougal River Road should still be holding fish with 213 fish making it back to the hatchery this week.
Sockeye has all but ended with very few fish still in the system. Steelhead has been pretty good still though the numbers have fallen in recent days. Plunkers have found success though the outgoing tide has been bringing tons of algae down the river and making it hard to fish at times. Fishing a triple spin glow dropping a rock or sandbag from a kayak has been the best. Chinook and Coho reopens 8/1/23 though the numbers continue to drop for Chinook and I wouldn’t expect to start hearing of success until mid to late August.
Smallmouth Bass continue to be caught in large numbers up and down the Columbia, if you can find structure that blocks the current throwing a plastic tube pictured below behind that it has been an almost guaranteed hookup and if you aren’t catching anything move spots.
Creel Reports for the Columbia read as the following-
Sec 1 (Bonneville) – 63 bank anglers kept five steelhead and released one Chinook and 11 steelhead.
Sec 2 (Camas/Washougal) – Three bank anglers had no catch.
Sec 3 (I-5 area) – Nine bank anglers had no catch. 2 boats/3 rods had no catch.
Sec 4 (Vancouver) – 42 bank anglers kept one steelhead and released four steelhead. 6 boats/10 rods kept one steelhead and released one steelhead.
Sec 5 (Woodland) – 36 bank anglers kept three steelhead and released four steelhead. 6 boats/12 rods kept two steelhead and released one steelhead.
Sec 6 (Kalama) – 170 bank anglers kept four steelhead, one sockeye and released two Chinook and seven steelhead. 13 boats/28 rods released two steelhead.
Sec 7 (Cowlitz) – 1 boat/2 rods had no catch.
Sec 8 (Longview) – 156 bank anglers kept 14 steelhead, one sockeye and released one Chinook and five steelhead. 47 boats/111 rods kept 18 steelhead and released one Chinook and eight steelhead.
Sec 9 (Cathlamet) – 29 bank anglers kept three steelhead and released one Chinook and three
steelhead. 16 boats/32 rods kept seven steelhead and released two steelhead.
Sec 10 (Cathlamet) – Nine bank anglers kept one steelhead and released one steelhead
The Buoy 10 fishery opens next Tuesday 8/1/23, the run this year to the Columbia is supposed to be fairly good with a forecasted 554,000 fall chinook and 765,000 coho according to WDFW. Buoy 10 is the first place to try and catch these fish and in early season the only place and it can be crazy good. The fishing here is done by trolling herring, green label all the way to Purple, behind a triangle flasher or spinner with a hoochie behind a 360 flasher with no dropper on your weight. This area of the river can turn quickly with wind and tides picking up so be very careful I wouldn’t recommend anything below an 18-foot boat out. If it’s your first time going out, find where others are trolling and join them, having a fish finder is a must as these fish will be suspended at times.
As I am writing this outside the mouth of the Columbia in the ocean and a little north Marine area 2 has opened for Chinook and Coho though the days you can keep Chinook are a little weird regulations posted below.
Drano Lake and Wind River
Drano lake saw some action this week with reports stating fish have started to come into the lake more and haven’t had lock jaw as bad. Jigging lead jigs for Chinook and hover fishing eggs for Chinook and Steelhead has been best near the bridge. Trolling in the toilet bowl has been good for Chinook and Steelhead as well with prawn spinners being great for both with a 360 flasher behind. Creel reports showing good signs as well with 8 boats/15 rods, kept one Chinook and released four Chinook and five steelhead.
Warm Water Lakes and Ponds
Lacamas Lake- Not much has changed since last week with fishing still being great for Bass, Crappie, and Bluegill around the docks and near Lacamas Lake Lodge the best fishing has come at sunset and morning before the swimmers come out. Top water, Sankos, and crank baits have been killer for bass. Panfish have been great using worms under a bobber. Catfishing has still been great at night, chicken liver and worms being the bait of choice.
Horseshoe Lake- Bass and Panfish are at peak season here with some angler pressure but not much due to the number of swimmers. Trout fishing has died down to a complete stop due to higher water temps. Boats are allowed but it is a 5-mph zone all throughout the lake.
Battle Ground Lake- Bass fishing has still been great near heavy cover and areas where bank fishermen can’t cast, and trout have been taking flies in the early morning as well. This lake is a no gas motor lake so you can only use your electric motor, but it is small enough to kayak around as well.
Merwin and Yale Report
Kokanee fishing has still been producing a good amount of fish although they have been deeper in the water column, around 30-45 feet. Down riggers are especially nice for getting down to that depth although not required. Spinners and hoochies have been fishing well, tipped with corn behind a dodger. Still waiting for a reported catch of a Muskie they are around and should be biting but it’s one of those fish that are a fish of 10,000 cast and are rare to hear about catching.
No report this week, if you fish this lake often and would be willing to be a reporter drop a comment and I’ll get in touch with you.
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