From the WDF&W web site, it looks like the agency is back in the creel checking business. Here is what they had to report from May 19th:
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The Guides Forecast/ Southwest Washington
This is a free fishing weekend in Washington
June 6th and 7th are free fishing days in the state of Washington, but managers are still asking everyone to recreate responsibly. Anglers will need to follow state guidelines and health advice for the COVID-19 pandemic by fishing in their local communities, traveling only with family or other members of their immediate household, and practicing physical distancing by keeping six feet apart.
Anglers should also check ahead of time if their preferred destination or launch is open, and anglers should be prepared to change plans if their first choice is closed or too congested.
While no licenses are required, other rules, such as size and bag limits, are still in effect. Always check the regulations before fishing.
Coastal halibut and razor clamming are still closed.
Non-resident sales are no longer suspended, although anglers from out of state can fish in Washington this weekend for free.
Anglers will not need a two-pole endorsement to fish with two poles in selected waters where two-pole fishing is permitted. Also, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at water-access sites maintained by WDFW or Washington State Parks.
It is important to note that a Discover Pass will be required on Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ lands both days.
For a complete list of updates and reports concerning the Covid-19 pandemic, visit the WDFW Covid-19 webpage HERE.
Vancouver metro Area
A North Fork Lewis River steelhead (photo Terry Otto)
Vancouver metro area
Most fishing in the Vancouver Metro Area is now open, and all WDFW and state park boat ramps are open, with the exception of the ramp at Battle Ground Lake. Recent rains have lifted most of the tributaries, and that should mean fresh steelhead entering the rivers.
The winter steelhead run is over. With the river closed to spring Chinook retention, anglers here are now looking for summer steelhead. Bank anglers are targeting the area at the Lewis River Hatchery in Woodland, but fishing has been slow.
The river is on the rise and is not expected to crest until late next week. It should top out at about 15 feet. The influx should bring in fresh steelhead, but the fishing may not improve until the river starts to drop.
Tacoma Power has reopened its boat launches and day use areas along the Lewis River, Lake Merwin, and other lakes. Restroom facilities will be available at the boat launches and open day-use areas.
According to John Thompson of The Sportsman’s Warehouse in Vancouver, (360-604-800), anglers are getting a few summer steelhead in the Washougal, but the fishing has been slower than normal for this time of year.
The WDFW reports that kokanee fishing in Merwin has been good, and anglers that know how to fish the lake are getting their limits, although some days it takes longer to get the fish. The kokanee have been of a good sized.
However, the schools have not stabilized as far as depth goes, and anglers are having to experiment with different depths to find the schools each day. When the weather finally stabilizes the schools may become more predictable.
The kokanee in Yale Lake are really coming on strong, according to the WDFW, and the fish are very nice sized. While not as big as the kokanee in Merwin, they are larger than usual for Yale. Depth is a question mark as it is in Merwin, and anglers here will need to experiment to find the fish.
Local anglers are finding trout in the shallow water near shore, although the bite has been on and off, and some sections of the lake are producing better than others. Coho and Chinook are biting well in the deeper parts of the lake.
Swift Power Canal
The canal was stocked with 1,566Rainbow trout at 1.7 per pound on May 20, but fishing has been a little slow so far.
Fishing for trout has been excellent, but the lake has been very crowded. Anglers concerned about social distancing should probably fish elsewhere.
The lake was stocked with 5,100 rainbows at 2.1 per pound on April 29. It was also stocked with 3,866 cutthroat trout at 2.4 per pound on April 27.
Battle Ground Lake
The lake was stocked with 2,333 rainbows at 2.3 per pound on May 18. On May 26th the lake was stocked with 2,138 rainbows at about 2 fish per pound. While the park is now open, the boat launch and dock are being renovated, and will not open until the end of June.
This lake was stocked with 3,000 rainbows at 1.8 per pound on April 28. On May 27th the lake was stocked with 175 large rainbow trout at 1.5 per pound. The WDFW reports that fishing the lake for trout has been surprisingly good. Largemouth bass and large yellow perch are also being taken.
Winter steelhead hatchery returns to the river were surprisingly good, coming very close to the ten-year average, while the wild run was a little below the ten-year average.
With spring Chinook retention closed, and the winter runs of steelhead fading away, anglers are now targeting summer steelhead. Thompson at Vancouver’s Sportsman’s Warehouse has heard reports that steelheading has been fair. Anglers targeting the Blue Creek area are doing the best.
While anglers are catching some steelhead, the numbers are still low, and most anglers and guides feel the fishing will improve in about two or three weeks. Most anglers are bobber dogging or side drifting
It is too early to tell how strong the summer run will be this year, but the decent return of winter fish could bode well.
The river peaked recently at about 13 feet at Kelso, and is expected to drop and stabilize by this weekend. Thompson thinks fishing will improve as the river drops.
For the Tacoma Power Cowlitz River report, and the full list of reopened facilities along the Cowlitz, check HERE.
Although the river has attracted a lot of fishermen trying to catch springers, Fishing for spring Chinook continues to be very slow. However, Thompson reports that the steelheading has been very good at times. He received reports that fishermen did very well there for a few days, but then the fishing turned off.
During a recent WDFW creel survey, 32 bank anglers had no catch. 6 boats/12 rods kept only one steelhead.
The lake was stocked with 3,000 rainbows at 2.5 per pound on April 28. On May 5th the lake was stocked with 2,500 rainbows at 2.5 per pound and 50 big rainbows at 0.4 per pound. Fishing has been excellent.
Kress was stocked with 2,760 rainbows at 2.4 per pound on May 3rd, 2,875 brown trout at 2.5 per pound on May 4th, and 2,512 rainbows at 2.4 per pound on May 6th. Trout fishing has been very good
Sacajawea was planted with 2,400 rainbows at 2.4 fish per pound on May 3. The lake was also planted on April 29 with 25 rainbows at 0.15 per pound, or about 8 to 10 pounds each, and another 175 rainbows at 0.4 per pound, or about two to three pounds apiece.
According to Cody Clark of Bob’s Sporting Goods, (360-425-3870), trout fishing has been very good here, with the fish responding well to Berkley Power Garlic Eggs.
Columbia River Gorge
Drano Lake and the Wind River closed to all salmon and steelhead angling as of June 1. Fishing for spring Chinook had started to slow down.
During a recent WDFW creel survey, below the Fisher Hill Bridge eight bank anglers kept one Chinook.
The lake was stocked heavily recently with rainbows and cutthroat trout and fishing should be excellent. However, some days the bite reportedly has been fair to poor.
Stockings include 1,500 rainbows at 2.15 per pound and 25 rainbows at 0.3 per pound on May 19. Another 2,000 rainbows at 1.5 per pound, and 5,427 cutthroats at 2.2 per pound were stocked out on May 20. On May 21, an additional 6,000 cutthroats were planted in at 2.2 per pound.
The most recent stocking came on May 27, when 999 rainbows were stocked at 1.8 per pound.
Trout fishing is slowing down, but panfish are beginning to bite.
Terry is looking forward to extending his writing career with us here at The Guide’s Forecast. His style and accuracy will be a welcome SW Washington addition to an already reliable resource for fishing reports and forecasts in the Pacific Northwest. If you wish to contact Terry directly, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.