As the February unfolds, so do the opportunities to actually catch some fish in our region. In this month’s report, I dive into the latest updates, from exploring Silver Lake Crappie to the potential for excellent Steelhead opportunities this weekend. I’ll also comment on the potential impacts of the El Niño phenomenon in our midst.
For those of you who like to fish the Willamette in Oregon, ODFW announced that the two-rod validation will again be in effect for spring Chinook and steelhead on the lower Willamette beginning March 1 and above the falls starting May 1.
SW Washington Hatchery Escapements
I publish this data most Friday’s by noon on X (twitter). @FiNNreports.
Ilwaco and Long Beach
We are beginning a new round of dig dates beginning on February 6th. During the past dig, results were excellent for most people.
The first morning digs are scheduled for the second week of March. This is when I personally prefer to go clamming, as I like to get two for one trips.
Surf perch fishing is good for the one report I received in the Beards Hollow area. Be sure to wear neoprene gloves this time of year.
Estuary crabbing is fair and should improve with the decreasing rain and snowmelt that in excess, caused less than optimal salinity for estuary crab.
Snag Lake, also called Radar Hill ponds, received 25 Steelhead transplants on January 19th and has a year-round open season. Elevation of Snag Lake is about 1,100 feet and is stocked with 9-to-10-inch rainbow trout, and some cutthroat are also available.
Subscriber Sean sent me a report for Tokeland Crabbing at the docks. “We came up to Twin Harbors Saturday evening, put 4 pots in at the Tokeland pier around 6AM, been checking about four times a day and leaving then soaking overnight, and have five crabs to show for it, which is actually quite a bit better than most that I have talked to yesterday and today.
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Toledo and Castle Rock
Fishing at Silver Lake for Crappie is excellent. My friend Keith and I spent last Friday fishing the canals. We caught and released about 50 Crappie between us. There were a few small yellow perch in the mix.
The Cowlitz Tacoma Power website reports the following: Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 148 winter-run steelhead adults, one coho adult, and one spring Chinook adult over five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
Reports indicate that the sea lions are as far up as Toledo. Due to the lack of Steelhead and Salmon, I assume they are on the hunt for the imminent Smelt run. The Cowlitz is falling into good shape and Steelhead reports should improve in the coming weeks. It will take longer to clear up below the Toutle, as that river is still pretty brown.
Riffe Lake water levels are on the rise. Mossyrock Park is the only open boat launch at this time. The dock will not be useable until water levels stabilize. The lake is currently at 738 feet. Riffe provides good fishing for landlocked coho and Chinook salmon, plus an occasional large brown trout.
Nathan at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Kelso has scheduled some seminars for your fishing education. The Kokanee Fishing Seminar is focused on Lake Merwin. Presenter is local guide John Kaiser. He will be going over gear, presentations, and techniques for catching Kokanee locally.
Mayfield Lake continues to fish very well for trout. One angler I heard from said a Watermelon dodger and a pink micro shrimp spinner was the ticket. A reminder that if using bait for trout fishing you must keep legal size fish. Game wardens will issue tickets for this.
Commercial Smelt fisherman are in the thick of things on the Columbia and doing well. Hopefully we get an opportunity to have a dip ourselves very soon.
On Wednesday, the Kalama River buzzed with activity, its waters showing excellent flow and color. During my observations, I counted a total of 8 drift boats navigating from the Beginners Hole downstream. After speaking with a boater at Modrow Bridge around 10:00 am, I learned that he had just begun his fishing expedition.
During conversations with other anglers, one plunker experienced a momentary thrill as his rod suddenly went off, only to be disappointed by a drive by. Fortunately, there were no encounters with sea lions, offering a positive outlook for the river’s immediate future. With the Kalama appearing optimal for the weekend ahead, I anticipate fishing activity to be heavy.
In addition to folks actually catching a few of these Steelhead, Kress Lake picked up for panfish and trout on the sunny days this past week.
Stopping in Kalama on my way home, I checked out Louis Rasmussen day use park and the marina area. The one fisherman who I spoke with hadn’t had any luck.
The Lewis river is finally getting into fishing shape. On Sunday the North Fork was a perfect Steelhead green and is even better as of Wednesday. The Lewis escapements have been the most impressive of all local tributaries and the trend continues.
Horseshoe lake last received some 40 Steelhead transplants on January 11th.
La Center and Ridgefield
Crappie fishing on Lake River should be picking up, although I haven’t heard any reports.
Fishing at Mud Lake in early spring presents unique local opportunities for anglers seeking a variety of warmwater species. If you aren’t familiar with Mud lake, there is only a small pull out for parking, and a mowed ½ mile or so trail to the lake. It’s a good place for a kayak, however you may need a dolly to get your kayak to the water.
Klineline received a stocking on January 22nd of 2,500 rainbow.
Battleground lake also received a booster stocking of 2,500 Rainbow on January 22nd.
There is A LOT more for SW Washington Members here. And SW Washington members can find our complete Columbia River reports here.
Read this week’s Oregon fishing report.