SW Washington by Ian Carter
Salmon are well underway with their annual fall return to the rivers of Southwest Washington. This month’s fishing report provides an overview of conditions on our local rivers and lakes, including the latest fish counts, angler reports, and tips to help you catch more fish.
Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or just getting started, my report has the inside information you need for successful fishing trips in our SW Washington neighborhoods, including Battle Ground, Kelso, Ridgefield, Camas, Woodland, and other greater Vancouver WA neighborhoods. We’ll cover promising new boat launches, updated regulations, river flows, and the start of razor clam season on the Long Beach Peninsula.
With abundant fish returns and rain finally arriving, it’s shaping up to be another excellent fall fishing season in Southwest Washington. So get your gear ready and keep reading for the best insight on where to find the fish in your neighborhood. The beginning of October marks major regulation transitions for many bodies of water in Washington. Please consult the regulations to confirm the body of water is open.
SW Washington Hatchery Escapements
REMINDER -Due to publishing deadlines and Friday release of this data, this graph is almost a week old when you read this report. I do however publish this data most Friday’s by noon on X (twitter). @FiNNreports.
This week is broken out into two graphs.
Weekly Escapements at a Glance | Weekending 9/21/23
Ilwaco and Long Beach
It’s Razor Clam time already for Washington State diggers. WDFW has announced 36 days of tentative razor clam digs at coastal beaches from Sept. 29 through Dec. 29. Bryce Blumenthal spokesperson for WDFW says, “The first razor clam digs of the season will begin on some beaches this Friday (Sept. 29), but unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a little longer to harvest at Mocrocks. Domoic acid toxicity levels remain elevated on the other beaches that will open, and ocean conditions can change quickly. For that reason, diggers should continually check our website before digging to confirm that beaches remain open as we continue to closely test and monitor the situation. We enter the 2023-24 season with a smaller coastal razor clam population than the past few years, but it still remains strong and healthy enough to provide ample digging opportunity this fall and early winter.”
Fishing the tide water of the Naselle should turn on soon, as the hatchery returns are starting to increase. I’ve never fished the area personally but have heard good things. According to the regs, you can also keep one wild coho as part of the 2-adult limit. The Naselle is closed above the Hiway 4 bridge until mid-October. This article is a good one if you have a kayak or small boat and interested in checking out this area.
Cathlamet to Longview
Lower Columbia River, Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam – 606 salmonid boats and 53 Washington bank rods were tallied during Saturday’s (9/23) flight count. WDFW Creel checks for this region reveal Sec 7 (Cowlitz) – 4 boats/11 rods kept four Chinook and two Chinook jacks. Sec 8 (Longview) – No report. Sec 9 (Cathlamet) – One bank angler had no catch. 8 boats/19 rods released two Chinook jacks. I’m not sure how significant these “WDFW Creel Reports” are as they “miss” much of our angling activity. I’ll continue to share, but personally I don’t see much value in them.
Crappie at Silver Lake will be heading to the canals very soon and fishing should be great for smaller ones. Towards the end of October and into November, the bigger crappie move in and then things really heat up. Bass anglers are also doing well as the vegetation die off begins.
Early Coho counts on the Cowlitz are coming in strong. Plunkers are picking some coho and chinook using Brads super baits. One angler reports they floated Mission hole to Toledo on September 22nd. They fished it hard but caught no fish. An additional float from Olequa to Castle Rock Sunday also produced no biters.
Riffe Lake is super low, currently at 710 feet. The Mossyrock Park Boat launch is the only ramp open. It’s down to one lane and the dock is not usable. Hopefully the lake will rise with the rain we are experiencing this week. You can find current conditions here.
During this late season, Mayfield Lake continues to fish well for trout.
The weir certainly affects angler pressure on the Kalama. Seth took a drive up there on Tuesday and reports are few. He said, “there isn’t a soul around except for two fly fisherman, of which one was a reader named Chris which was cool. Nobody around at the RV park near the I5 bridge”. WDFW creel only checked 2 bank rods that released two Chinook and two coho.
The Lewis river received a huge flow boost on Monday. It will be interesting to see how high they keep it, as flows are currently way over the median rate, holding at 2,570. The access point at the hole in the wall has a bollard installed and a giant sign posted which indicates no vehicle traffic allowed. Some homeless people camped there throughout the summer. The answer is apparently to prevent law abiding citizens from enjoying it, rather than enforcing illegal camping ordinances.
Lots of action and fun on Merwin this last week for a few anglers. Fish are still deep with the water cooling rapidly. The kokanee were good quality, as the spawners seem to have moved into the streams.
Battleground lake should be a great option for the kids as the weeds die down and the water cools.
Ian Carter, Real Estate Broker
Give a follow @FiNNreports on X (twitter)
Read this week’s Oregon fishing report.