By Ian Carter
You may have heard by now that our Spring Chinook season has been extended by an entire four days. The season will now end next Tuesday April 11, 2023. Fishing on the Columbia is for the most part slow with some folks getting lucky. Merwin picked up this week and the Cowlitz has turned into something of an enigma.
REMINDER, please verify the regulations before fishing any body of water. AND wear a life jacket.
Despite the current rain pattern the Lewis continues to hold at 3,500 cfs. Fishing pressure is light.
The higher Steelhead numbers from last week reverted to a mediocre return this period, with only fifty-three hatchery fish returning. So far this spring only four Chinook have returned to the hatchery, three of which were wild.
There were no boat trailers in the launch at Cedar Creek earlier this week on the day I visited.
The Kalama is in great shape and barring any major rainfall should have good fishing conditions by the weekend. Many Sea Lions are still in the Columbia intercepting the returning fish. This week’s escapements, all things considered, are quite positive with over 25% of the run arriving in a 7-day period.
Larry at Bob’s Outdoor in Kelso indicates that any news on the Kalama is hard to come by.
Steelhead numbers continue the recently impressive returns to the hatchery. Tacoma Power employees recovered 561 winter-run steelhead adults and one spring Chinook adult over five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
WDFW angler checks showed better effort and results from the previous report, albeit no Chinook in the creel checks yet.
Dave Mallahan with Daves Guide Service indicates that Steelhead fishing for March was out like a lion while April is in like a lamb. The last few days have been very slow fishing and not your typical April fishery like it has been in the past.
Obviously, good news that WDFW has extended the season by a short four fishing days. Based on my own observations and talking to experienced fisherman, catching isn’t so good. Looking at the current dam counts we have a long way to make the forecasted 193,000 upriver Chinook. I can’t quite fathom how much difference extending the season for just four days from a catching perspective will make at this point, considering the water temperature and massive invasion of predators. The only saving grace for this season extension is the tides this weekend are the highest of the month, so that may give the waiting fish a boost into our region of the Columbia and turn on a little bite.
While the news on the Columbia isn’t all bad. There are a few scattered reports of folks having some success. Nathan at Sportsman’s in Kelso has heard a few good reports from the Cathlamet area and Willow Grove. It stands to reason that the fish may be staging closer to the ocean waiting for the warmer water and bigger tides.
The tides in our lower Columbia area this weekend call for huge outgoing tides most of the morning into the afternoon hours.
Drano Lake – 2 boats/2 rods had no catch.
Merwin – This week a majority of fisherman have been finding limits. Many fish were enticed with anything pink on the tail end during the past few days. Water temperature is running around 41 degrees.
There are some reports of a little debris here and there. Please watch out and don’t get distracted, just in case.
Riffe Lake – Too low to launch a boat. Rumor is that by Memorial Day the launches will be open again.
Mayfield Lake – On March 30th, the lake received 5,400 stocker trout with more stockings scheduled throughout the spring. Trout holdover very well in this lake and the rainbow can grow quite large. The Muskie will be on the prowl soon. Wild trout of any kind must be released in this lake. A two-rod endorsement is not valid on Mayfield Lake.
Kress Lake – Has received 10 more Steelhead transplants since last week’s report.
Kress Lake Trout Anglers | 4/5/23 |Image Ian Carter
Horseshoe Lake – Received the first stocking of the year on March 28th with 3,000 stocker trout added.
Battle Ground Lake – Received an additional 3,000 catchable rainbow on March 27th. That’s a total of 8,500 catchable trout in an eight-day period.
Lake Sacajawea–WDFW stocked this small Longview Lake with 3,000 catchable rainbows on March 29th.
Silver Lake – In addition the 3,700-stocker sized Rainbow on March 23rd the lake also received an additional 3,230 trout on March 28th.
WDFW just announced the planned digs will go on as scheduled for the first part of April:
The following digs during morning (a.m.) low tides will proceed as scheduled (digging extended to 1 p.m. on April 12 only):
April 6, Thursday, 7:34 AM; 0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
April 7, Friday, 8:10 AM; -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
April 8, Saturday, 8:48 AM; -0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks (Long Beach Razor Clam Festival)
April 9, Sunday, 9:29 AM; -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis (Long Beach Razor Clam Festival)
April 10, Monday, 10:15 AM; -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
April 11, Tuesday, 11:09 AM; -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
April 12, Wednesday, 12:12 PM; 0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks (digging extended until 1 PM)
The daily limit has been increased from 15 to 20 clams per person through May 14th.
Read our Oregon fishing report.