By Ian Carter
Encouraging news for Steelhead fisherman as rivers are dropping into shape and fish appear to be entering most systems in greater numbers. Kokanee fishing at Merwin is still going strong. The word is out so expect some competition this weekend. More folks are beginning to focus on plunking the Columbia River with mixed success.
REMINDER, please verify the regulations before fishing any body of water.
At last, the river has fallen into fantastic shape for the upcoming weekend. Flows as of Wednesday are holding steady at 4,500cfs and water clarity is excellent.
The hole in the wall is a good place to throw a plunking set up at this flow rate.
Escapement reports this week show Steelhead numbers continue to increase. With the excellent water conditions the chance of a successful Steelhead fishing trip should be elevated.
Winter hatchery Steelhead in the Kalama arrive in the greatest numbers February through April. The Spring Chinook run this year is expected to be decent and they should begin to arrive in February.
A reader kindly suggested I report the river flows for both Castle Rock and below Mayfield stations. The Toutle River adversely affects the flow downstream and Castle Rock is not the best indicator for the entire system. As of Wednesday afternoon, the flow rate is 7,500 cfs at Mayfield and 10,700 cfs at Castle Rock. Real time water flow for the Castle Rock station can be found here and Mayfield dam station here.
During the past week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 288 coho adults, four coho jacks, 49 winter-run steelhead adults, three cutthroat trout, and one summer-run steelhead adult over four days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
Dave Mallahan with Daves Guide Service is fishing out of the area in Forks this week. He’s been having some great luck. (photo above)
Currently, Washington and Oregon are not recommending recreational smelt fisheries in the Cowlitz or Sandy rivers. Staff will determine if fisheries are warranted after additional freshwater abundance indicators become available.
The Washougal has been great fishing the past week and it’s nice to finally report something positive. My new source Seth talked to a handful of drift boats last Sunday, all but one said they had or lost a fish.
South Fork Toutle Report
Whilst I have no specific reports, this river does get a decent wild Steelhead run that should begin appearing soon. There is no longer an established winter run hatchery program.
The Columbia River is currently listed as open until March 31st for Chinook and Steelhead. Please be sure to visit the regulations, as depending on where you are fishing Chinook retention may not be allowed.
I observed a couple groups of anglers at Martin’s Bar in Woodland on Monday. No one had any luck, but it was a beautiful morning with no wind. There is plenty of beach to park and plunk, as the high-water mark is near perfect right now.
The word from WDFW regarding the Chinook count at Bonneville Dam in January of one fish so far is that it may have been a fall Chinook.
Merwin – The fantastic Kokanee fishing continues this week. I have received many reports of excellent catches. Countless anglers are describing sporadic moments with many doubles and triples. Be forewarned that the bite is on and then it is off.
Riffe Lake – The lake level has decreased three feet since last week. Most certainly heading in the wrong direction.
Lake levels and boat launches as of Jan. 25
Riffe Lake – 701.83 feet of elevation (maximum of approx. 749 ft)
Learn about changes to Riffe Lake levels.
Mossyrock Park boat launch is closed. The day-use area is open.
Taidnapam North boat launch is closed.
Kosmos boat launch and parking lot are closed.
Taidnapam Park boat launch is closed.
Kress Lake –has received over thirty additional Kalama River recycled Steelhead since last week’s report.
Horseshoe Lake – WDFW recently planted 2,000 stocker Rainbow Trout. The recent Steelhead transplants combined with the above stocker trout, could provide an interesting opportunity soon.
Crabbing –Some reports indicate Marine area 1 and Buoy 10 to Tongue Point are excellent. As a reminder, visit the regulations if fishing from the jetty as crabbing is currently permitted but closed to bottom fishing (including surf perch) until the second week March.
Clamming – There has been no news as of Wednesday regarding any new open dates past January 25th. Much like last week, I anticipate a news release after my report is submitted. Please check here for current updates.
Surf Perch – The early weather report for last week turned out to be very wrong as it was quite the storm that arrived last Saturday. Fishing should be good once the seas settle down.
Friday and Saturday will bring some precipitation with much cooler temperatures behind it. Sunday should be cool and clear, perfect for spending some time on the water.
Follow the link to this week’s Oregon fishing report.