By Ian Carter (Photo above, Westport Jetty Fishing | 3/25/23 | Image Rick McLachlan)
The Columbia is a kill zone for Chinook and Steelhead and it’s not the fisherman doing the killing in Washington fishing this week. There is a gauntlet of predators following the latest smelt run from Astoria to the Sandy River near the gorge. Fishing success around our region and dam numbers are certainly reflecting this harsh reality. New license year is effective this Saturday, make sure you acquire your new ones. It’s also good to check the expiration dates on your Discover pass and make a note of it. There were no WDFW tributary reports other than Cowlitz this past week.
REMINDER, please verify the regulations before fishing any body of water. AND wear a life jacket.
Currently steady at 3,500 cfs the Lewis is in excellent condition. The water remains a good color and very fishable. I spoke to the folks at Angler West on Wednesday morning. They have only heard of one Steelhead caught in the past several days. According to the report it was a beauty chrome wild fish weighing close to 20lbs.
There are finally somewhat encouraging numbers of Steelhead arriving at the hatchery.
After coming across some local information about many Pelicans down at Woodland Bottoms, being the curious one, I checked it out for myself. While not personally observing any Pelicans there was a wall of other predators, as the smell were back in.
Wall of Sea Lions and Eagles | 3/28/23 | Image Ian Carter
Currently trending to almost perfect conditions, the Kalama should fish well this weekend. April may see some improving returns once the wall of death in the Columbia leaves.
The numbers of Steelhead significantly increased week over week. Tacoma Power employees recently recovered 277 winter-run steelhead adults over five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. They also released 28 winter-run steelhead adults into Lake Scanewa in Randle, and they released eight winter-run steelhead adults into the Tilton River near Morton.
Smelt are still plentiful as of Wednesday all the way from Lexington to Castle Rock. As of Wednesday morning, the flow rate took its predictable big jump to 6,200 cfs at Mayfield. Castle Rock recording station is 7,400 cfs. Real time water flow for the Castle Rock station can be found here and Mayfield dam station here.
Fishing pressure is certainly picking up, but success not so much. There are reports of huge biomasses of sea lions from Astoria to the Sandy River. Success rates aren’t so much to write home about, although there are reports of a couple fish intercepted this week. Turbidity continues to be elevating according to the data here.
Fishing Activity Off Deer Island | 3/28/23 | Image Ian Carter
At Martin bar on Tuesday morning there were no plunkers as the tide didn’t start running out until 10:00am. When I left around 9:00am, a couple of groups showed up and set up shop. There was one boat angler launching from the beach. He hadn’t been out yet this year, therefore had no report.
Merwin – Some folks are finding schools, and some aren’t so lucky. The latter are still managing to scratch out some limits. Kokanee that aren’t in schools are running a little deeper. The recent nasty weather has kept many people away and the reports are strangely few.
My neighbor fished on Monday and managed to land 5 of 10. He was fishing two rods and made it halfway trolling to the dam before giving up.
Kress Lake – Has received eight more Steelhead transplants since March 20th.
Battle Ground Lake – A major stocking of over 5,400 stocker sized fish occurred on March 21st. In the mix were 1,500 Cutthroat and 3,900 Rainbow trout. This should provide some fun fishing for the kids and grandkids.
As we move through April, Battleground is a good place to try for Bluegill. They gather in the shallow water around logs along the shoreline to spawn and are very aggressive.
Silver Lake – WDFW stocked the lake with 3,700 stocker sized Rainbow on March 23rd.
Jetty / Surf Fishing
Reports indicate that better fishing is taking place at the Westport Jetty. Pile Perch are also cooperating off public dock #20 at Westport Marina. Surf perch fishing is good to great at most Pacific beaches in Washington. Some are also casting crab snares beyond the surf on calmer days and getting a few keeper crab, but most are females. It’s not the most efficient way to catch crab, but most certainly beats no crab.
Great reports out of Long Beach and the beaches up north, with quick limits reported. Hopefully, the tests come back acceptable for the proposed digs beginning on April 6th. You can find that info as it’s updated here.
Charter boats out of Westport are doing well for Bottom Fish. A 17# Lingcod won last weekend’s weekly Westport Fishing Derby. For info on Bottom fish and Halibut from WDFW visit this page.
Have a great week everyone, please email me any time with questions or comments.
Read our Oregon fishing report.