SW Washington Fishing: Columbia River spring chinook: Catch rates are picking up right on schedule as thousands of spring chinook continue to move into the big river. Boat anglers fared best in March, but the bank fishery is expected to pick up this month especially near Bonneville Dam as more springers move upriver.
"The size of the fish has been impressive with several springers in the mid-20 to 30-pound range observed in the creel," said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.
The last day of the initial fishing period below Bonneville Dam is April 9, although fishery managers from Washington and Oregon are scheduled to meet April 7 to determine whether the fishery can be extended prior to the updated forecast in late April or May. The preseason catch estimate through April 9 was 7,100 upriver fish of 9,100 total chinook mortalities.
When the fishery is open, anglers fishing downriver from Bonneville Dam may retain one marked, hatchery-reared adult spring chinook as part of their daily six-fish catch limit. Upstream of Bonneville Dam, the initial season runs through May 6 with a daily catch limit that includes one hatchery adult chinook between the dam and the Washington/Oregon state line.
Only hand-casted gear from the bank (no boats) is allowed between the dam and the Tower Island powerlines located about 6 miles below The Dalles Dam.
Tributaries: The steelhead catch is picking up on the Cowlitz River as the river continues to clear. "Things are looking positive there," Hymer said in late March. "The salmon hatchery has gotten a few hundred spring chinook, compared to just a few fish last year at this time." Anglers are also catching bright 8 to 12 pound steelhead near the trout hatchery, and steelhead in the Kalama River. Both rivers are also good bets for hatchery spring chinook.
Anglers fishing the Kalama and other area rivers should be aware of several fishing rule changes in effect this month:
Kalama River: The daily limit for hatchery chinook salmon has been increased to 2 adult fish per day, per the rule change notice.
Lewis River: Anglers must release all chinook salmon from the mouth upstream to the overhead powerlines below Merwin Dam. See rule change notice.
Mill, Abernathy, Germany creeks: The fishery for hatchery steelhead has been extended under selective gear rules through April 15, per the rule change notice.
Boat anglers planning to fish either of these waters are advised to check the Skamania County website for information on new boat launch fees as they will no longer be able to purchase passes at the boat ramps
The Klickitat River is also open for fishing April 2 through May 30 from the mouth upstream to the Fisher Hill Bridge on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays only. The daily limit for hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead is a total of 2 fish.
Trout: The season opens full throttle April 23 when several hundred lowland lakes throughout the state open for business. While most lakes in the region are open year-round, "opening day" marks the debut of such perennial favorites as Mineral Lake, Fort Borst Park Pond, Carlisle Lake, Davis Lake, and Plummer Lake in Lewis County; Kidney Lake in Skamania County; and Rowland, Spearfish and Horsethief lakes in Klickitat County.
As noted in last year's Sport Fishing Rules, Swift Reservoir will not open until the first Saturday in June to protect salmon and steelhead smolts migrating downstream. Those smolts are part of an ongoing reintroduction program under re-licensing agreements with PacifiCorp.
In other waters, WDFW will continue to plant thousands of catchable trout in Clark County lakes, including Klineline Pond, Battleground Lake and Lacamas Lake. Three lakes in Cowlitz County Sacajawea, Kress, and Horseshoe lakes will also receive plants of rainbow trout, as will three lakes in Skamania County Icehouse, Little Ash, and Tunnel lakes. Swift Power Canal also will be planted with trout prior to the April 23 opener.
To accommodate a fishing event for kids, Klineline Park in Vancouver will be closed to the general public April 8-9. More information is available on WDFW's website.
Warmwater fish: Anglers can fish for bass, walleye and channel catfish without daily catch or size limits from the mouth of the Columbia River 545 miles upstream to Chief Joseph Dam. A fishing rule recently approved by WDFW removes the remaining limits for those species in boundary waters shared with Oregon and nearly two-dozen tributaries to the Columbia River. Be sure to check the rule change notice for the details.
Recently, anglers have been averaging more than a walleye per rod in The Dalles Pool and the John Day Pool. Bass are biting there and in Bonneville Pool as the water warms up.
Sturgeon: Anglers can still catch and keep legal-size white sturgeon in The Dalles and John Day pools until annual harvest guidelines have been met. Legal-size sturgeon measure 43 to 54 inches (fork length). Catch-and-release fishing is the rule in the lower Columbia River and Bonneville Pool.