by Ian Carter
The Cowlitz has leveled off, not taking off. Anglers are beginning to pay a little more attention to the lower Columbia despite the lack of Chinook traversing the dam. Those intercepting fish on the Columbia are doing so fishing downstream from the Multnomah channel by St Helens.
REMINDER, please verify the regulations before fishing any body of water. AND wear a life jacket.
As of Wednesday, the Lewis flow rate is 2,570 and has been holding steady for the past five days. The river is in great shape, but at summer time levels. I fished on Sunday, launching from the golf course. There weren’t many golfers and no other boats at the ramp.
My son spent some time on the East Fork this Tuesday. Only fishing for a couple hours, he didn’t catch anything, as the main purpose was to take his family to see Lucia falls.
My Sunday North Fork trip was extremely disappointing as the water and weather were perfect.
The flow rate is great for the Kalama, coming down after a brief peak on Sunday. The water temperature has also increased 4 degrees in the past seven days. In case you missed it last time, here is the link to the privately owned HoboLink website for real time water conditions.
Steelhead escapements continue to disappoint, with no Spring Chinook arriving as of March 3, 2023.
The Cowlitz is continuing as the go to place in our area to increase your chances of bringing home a Steelhead, albeit not a favorable report. Recycle counts dropped a little this week. Generally, there is less than a 100 Steelhead per week making it to the hatchery.
Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 76 winter-run steelhead adults over five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
WDFW angler checks indicated pressure on the lower river is increasing, but the catch rate not so much. Cowlitz River I-5 Br downstream – 87 bank rods kept three Steelhead. Cowlitz River Above the I-5 Br – 19 bank rods kept one Steelhead and released one Steelhead. Five boats/17 rods kept 11 Steelhead and released one Steelhead.
My associate Seth didn’t fish the Washougal but a friend of his did and had a great trip last week. Seth also fished it Monday and missed a couple take downs. It appears there are a few fish in the system.
I received a request for some reporting on Salmon Creek. I’ve mentioned it a few times, but it’s next to impossible to locate any reports for such a small stream. I was down at Klineline two weeks ago and poked around the creek in that area.
The river is now open for the following dates and locations:
Buoy 10 upstream to Beacon Rock: Immediately through April 7, 2023: Open to boat and bank angling. Daily limit 6, up to 2 adults may be retained of which no more than 1 may be an adult Chinook. Shad retention allowed. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook. Release wild steelhead.
Beacon Rock upstream to Bonneville Dam deadline: Immediately through April 7, 2023: Bank angling with hand-cast lines only. Daily limit 6, up to 2 adults may be retained of which no more than 1 may be an adult Chinook. Shad retention allowed. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook. Release wild steelhead.
There were about a half dozen folks plunking on the beach. After spending a half hour there catching up on emails, I didn’t observe one bell ringer. It was however a beautiful morning with the river level being exceptionally low.
Nathan at Sportsman’s in Kelso tells me one of his team members caught a Springer earlier this week.
Austin Point and Martin Bar in Woodland on Wednesday were void of anyone fishing. There were nevertheless, no sea lions in sight.
The river temperature was a brisk 38 degrees last weekend. If I were going to fish the Columbia this weekend, I would fish the St Helens area by the Multnomah Channel.
Merwin – A friend fished Merwin earlier in the week, finishing the day just shy of two limits. A couple of the Kokanee were 14” nice ones. Watch the weather if you are heading up that way as the roads have been touch and go depending on the snow level.
Riffe Lake is currently 685 feet, so an additional two more feet down and still not launchable with a trailer able craft.
Kress Lake – This past week the lake received four Steelhead transplants from the Kalama Falls hatchery.
Battle Ground Lake – Received 2,000 more Rainbow on March 6th. This in addition to the 2,000 rainbow on February 21st.
Puget Sound –
River forecasts for Pink Salmon look epic for later this year.
Duwamish-Green River: 822,000
Snohomish River: 642,000
Skagit River: 552,000
Hood Canal streams: 493,000
Nisqually River: 454,000
Puyallup River: 397,000
Strait of Juan de Fuca streams: 365,000
Stillaguamish River: 200,000
Nooksack River: 25,000
Jetty Fishing – Our ocean waters open this weekend for bottom fish. Be sure to visit the regs to get the details on the specific area you are fishing. Crabbing should be good too.
Ocean Salmon – Washington coast and ocean waters Coho returns on the Washington coast are expected to grow in 2023 to just over 519,329, up from the forecast of 454,693 fish a year ago. Coho returning to Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor are expected to be up overall this year, while the number of natural-origin Grays Harbor coho is expected to be very similar to 2022 returns.
Clamming – Reports continue to be good. The next tentative digs for up north begin on March 17th. I received an excellent report from a Razor Clamming for a trip on 3/7/23 at Mocrocks. The air temperature was 42 with a low tide at 0.3. The wind was 5 mph ENE with generally cloudy conditions. Ocean swells were minimal, averaging 4ft at 10 seconds. Two limits attained (30 total) in a couple of hours.
Be sure that each person digging in your group has their own clam receptable and license.
The Long Beach online test results were updated on March 6th. They show a favorable result. Hopefully by the time you are reading this we have received notification of an upcoming dig. Find the most recent news here. In the unlikely event it opens this weekend I will be heading over to do a combo trip. Bottom fishing opens on March 11th so clams and surf perch could also be a good time.
A short note about my experience at Lamiglas in Woodland today. My G1000 Pro 10’6’ rod broke above the ferrule. I’ve had it for many years and since then have gradually moved on to replacing all my rods with Okuma Guide Select Pro’s and Classics. I gave Lamiglas a chance and they came through and backed their product. I know they don’t get much good news these days, so I felt the need to share my personal story. They don’t know me from Adam and were kind enough to provide a new top piece at no charge without having a clue I would write about it.
I have given up on the weather forecast portion of the report. Unless of course it’s a major fish altering event. Once the summer ocean season gets more active, I’ll provide some forecasts for the salt. Have a great week everyone.
Read our Oregon fishing report.