SW Washington by Ian Carter January 2024
There are some bright spots from upcoming clam digs, surf fishing and the chance of a Steelhead on at least the Lewis River or Salmon Creek. Many folks were counting on Sturgeon trips with lack of Steelhead in our area, now that appears to be off the table.
SW Washington Hatchery Escapements
I publish this data most Fridays by noon on X (twitter). @FiNNreports.
The Lewis River Escapements continue to be the highlight of the region. This isolated steelhead number is a good sign compared to this week last year when only 46 hatchery steelhead returned to the hatchery. The second week of January was the final time last year when the weekly number exceeded 600 fish, which was the biggest weekly return for the entire winter and spring. The counts started to climb over 50 fish again around the second week of June.
Ilwaco and Long Beach The last set of digs were very successful with more larger clams showing in the mix. The next set of digs is set to begin on January 9th, pending toxin reports. Below are additional tentative dates:
Jan. 9, Tuesday, 5:02 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Long Beach, Copalis
Jan. 10, Wednesday, 5:46 p.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Jan. 11, Thursday, 6:28 p.m.; -1.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Jan. 12, Friday, 7:11 p.m.; -1.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Jan. 13, Saturday, 7:53 p.m.; -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
Jan. 14, Sunday, 8:36 p.m.; -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Jan. 15, Monday, 9:19 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Mocrocks
Surf perch fishing is good for those brave enough to endure the elements. I just picked up a new surf rod on the final day of the 30% off all rods sale at Bob’s Outdoor in Kelso. It’s an 11ft Okuma Rockaway RA-S-1102M that I paired with a Shimano 4000 Saros that I had sitting on a shelf. I also invested some time into tying up some surf rigs utilizing some attractor Hyper-Vis Tape. I’ll let you know next month how things work out. I tied the below using the T-Knot Dropper loop and cutting the loop, fastening the hook with a simple Snell knot.
Surf Perch Rig ala Hyper-Vis | image Ian Carter
Columbia Crabbing is good. Some anglers are having success off the jetty for large Dungeness. It’s tricky to do and you can expect to lose some snares, but none the less effective. Please be aware of the rules for this fishery.
Black lake should continue to produce some good trout fishing throughout the winter. This lake doesn’t get a bunch of pressure and was last stocked with 3,100 good sized stocker trout before Thanksgiving.
Crabbing off the docks at Tokeland continues to produce some nice crab. One angler caught one over 8” a couple of weeks ago.
Are you interested in a beach home? Check out what’s currently on the market here.
Cathlamet to Longview
NO WDFW Creel checks for this region.
Lake Sacajawea in Longview received two December trout stockings. The first on December 18th consisted of 2,500 stocker size and 55 big brooders. The second stocking on December 21st was 500 One-poundish fish. This should fish well for several weeks.
Toledo and Castle Rock
Silver Lake Crappie fishing is still on going and makes for a pleasant afternoon on a sunny winters day.
Fish numbers on the Cowlitz continue to be best referred to as dismal. According to the Cowlitz Tacoma Power website: Last week, their employees recovered 37 coho adults, five coho jacks, and one winter-run steelhead adult over four days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
With the lack of quality fishing opportunities the less traditional fishery for Whitefish shouldn’t be an overlooked way to spend a day.
Riffe Lake dock is still unusable and frustrating some local anglers. Fishing is good when the wind cooperates.
According to our friends at Sportsman’s Warehouse, Mayfield Lake is fishing very good and provide this report:” Mayfield Lake fishing is very good for Trout. It was heavily stocked this summer and fall with rainbows and has a lot of holdovers.
I was up on the Kalama scouting around on Monday and although the river is in great shape, I didn’t see or hear of one fish. There was only the opportunity to talk with only four people. It wasn’t super busy with 4 boats throughout the lower stretch.
My New Year’s Day road trip included a stop at Kress Lake. It was quite busy with approximately a dozen bank anglers and 4 small watercraft. The boats seemed to be doing better than the bank anglers.
In addition to 500 one-pound stocker trout planted just before Christmas, the lake is also received 11 recycled Steelhead on December 26th.
As of Wednesday morning, the Lewis river has been trending at 2,800 cfs for the past five days. The water is in prime condition and If I was physically able, I would be spending some time on the river for the next week or so. Instead, I will likely find myself wandering down to the bank and do some plunking with the next break in the weather.
Running a road trip up at Cedar Creek earlier in the week I observed just two boats fishing that specific area, but there were a half dozen rigs parked in the lot. Plunkers on the Lewis should focus still on the main fork when there is outgoing waterflow.
Ariel, Chelatchie and Cougar
Lots of folks fishing Merwin with mixed results. There have been many variables from debris in the water to intense wind conditions. When the wind settled down, anglers are having the best luck flatlining up to 175 feet back with no weight. Some folks are getting limits while others are struggling to bring home a half dozen.
La Center and Ridgefield
I heard a second-hand report that a couple steelhead were recently landed on the East Fork Lewis. I believe this is a catch and release fishery that has since closed on 12/31.
Klineline received a stocking on December 18th of 4,000 rainbow.
I’ve heard more than one second hand report of good numbers of Hatchery Steelhead available on Salmon Creek. There is some access along the Salmon Creek Greenway trail.
Battleground lake is fishing well for stocker trout since the last stocking of 3,600 rainbow on December 18th. Winter is the time of year when I will start tying up some wooly buggers for the spring. Do you have a favorite pattern? My experience when fishing them for hatchery trout is to make them very sparse and ragged looking.
Camas and Washougal
Considering the lack of hatchery escapements for the Washougal it’s no wonder fishing intel is far and few between.
Lacamas Lake is reporting slow trout fishing, with pockets of good winter largemouth bass fishing here and there.
The sound squid fishing is becoming more popular. Success rates vary by the day and location, but usually results in limits if you hunt around enough and look for others.
There are a few reports around of good Cutthroat fishing on the Deschutes River that empties into Bud Inlet in the Olympia area.
From the Lewis River to the abundance of clam digs at Long Beach, our region is a haven for both anglers and those seeking a picturesque place to live. I encourage you to explore the fantastic properties currently on the market. Your willingness to read my reports each month is appreciated and truly hope that you get at least a few nuggets of useable knowledge from each one. Happy New Year to you all.
Ian Carter, Real Estate Broker
There is A LOT more for SW Washington Members here including Ian’s monthly report for a different style and knowledge of certain SW Washington areas. And SW Washington members can find our complete Columbia River reports here.
Read this week’s Oregon fishing report.