SW Washington Fishing: Fall salmon season: Fall chinook fishing opens Aug. 1, when all eyes will be focused on the popular Buoy 10 fishery near the mouth of the Columbia River. On one hand, this years projected return of 582,600 fall chinook represents a significant decline from recent years. On the other, the tule component of that run the primary source of chinook salmon for both the Buoy 10 and ocean fisheries is expected to remain steady this year.
Theres good reason to believe that the fall chinook season will get off to a good start this year, said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. We all enjoyed those runs of a million fish or more in recent years, but this years forecast is fairly close to the ten-year average.
While the opener for fall chinook extends upriver to the Tri-Cities, the Buoy 10 fishery in the lower 16 miles of the river will see most of the early action, Hymer said. State fishery managers estimate that anglers will catch nearly 22,000 chinook salmon in that area by Labor Day (Sept. 4), when chinook retention closes for the rest of the month.
In August, anglers fishing below Warrior Rock near the mouth of the Lewis have a daily limit of two adult salmon, only one of which may be a chinook. Those fishing upstream from there to the Highway 395 bridge may retain two chinook under their two-salmon daily limit. In both areas, all salmon other than chinook and hatchery coho must be released.
Salmon fishing tips: Anglers planning to fish during this years fall chinook season might want to consider the following advice offered by Joe Hymer, a WDFW fishery biologist and avid Columbia River fisherman.
Go deep for chinook: Fish from 40 to 60 feet down in the mainstem Columbia River, using wobblers anchored with a heavy weight. You cant keep steelhead in August anyway, so you might as well go deep for chinook, Hymer said.
Change-up for coho: Herring and spinners work well for catching coho at Buoy 10, but bait and lures are the best bet in the tributaries.
Boat limits: Each angler aboard a vessel may fish using salmon/steelhead gear until the daily salmonid limit for all anglers aboard has been reached while fishing from Buoy 10 upstream to the Hwy. 395 Bridge.
Buoy 10 results: Check out the creel-sampling results from Buoy 10 on WDFWs website to see where other anglers are catching fish. That website also includes catch data from previous years, which can also be useful in deciding where to start trolling or make your first cast.
North Jetty reminder: Bank anglers planning to fish near the mouth of the Columbia River must purchase a Discover Pass to park on State Parks property near the North Jetty. The vehicle-access pass anglers receive with their fishing license only substitutes for a Discover Pass on WDFW lands. A saltwater or combination license is required to fish off the jetty.
Steelhead restrictions: Anglers should be aware of several new regulations in effect this month for summer steelhead fishing. Fishery managers expect that about 130,700 summer steelhead will return to the Columbia River, the lowest number since 1980.
From Aug. 1-31, anglers are required to release any steelhead they catch on the Columbia River from Buoy 10 to The Dalles Dam and the lower stretches of the Cowlitz, Lewis, Wind and White Salmon rivers. Drano Lake is also closed to steelhead retention from Aug. 1 through Sept. 30.
In addition, night fishing is prohibited in the following waters, except by anglers registered in the Pikeminnow Reward Program targeting pikeminnow:
Columbia River, from Buoy 10 to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco.
Cowlitz River, downstream from the Lexington Drive/Sparks Road bridge.
Lewis River, downstream from the confluence with the East Fork Lewis River.
Wind River, downstream from Shipherd Falls.
White Salmon River, downstream from the county road bridge.
On the Cowlitz River, the daily limit has also been reduced from 3 to 2 hatchery steelhead upstream from the Lexington Drive/Sparks Road Bridge. The mandatory retention rule has also been lifted in those waters.
Warmwater fish: Salmon and steelhead arent the only fish available for harvest in August. Walleye fishing has been most successful in the John Day Pool, and bass fishing is heating up from Camas/Washougal to McNary Dam.
Meanwhile, Mayfield Lake is a hotspot for tiger muskies and Riffe Lake is great for smallmouth bass, although anglers are advised to check lake levels at Riffe before they go.
Rowland and Horsethief lake in the Columbia River Gorge are producing nice bluegill, pumpkinseed and bass. Channel catfish are picking up at Kress Lake and Swofford Pond, while anglers fishing Carlisle Lake and South Lewis County Park Pond are reeling in bass and panfish.
Trout: The high lakes in the southern Cascades offer unparalleled trout fishing experiences for those willing to brave the mosquitoes. Wilderness areas south of Mount Rainier and around Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens are now accessible due to snowmelt. There are over a hundred lakes to explore with many different kinds of trout throughout these mountains.
Goose Lake has been producing nice limits since June, when it was stocked with several thousand rainbow trout and cutthroat trout. Council Lake was stocked on with 3,337 rainbow trout on July 11 and Tahklakh Lake was stocked with 3,330 on June 30.
Mineral Lake was recently stocked with 2,600 rainbow trout on July 11 and with 6,232 brown trout on July 7. Another great place to try is Mayfield Lake, which was stocked July 12 with 3,386 rainbow trout and received several thousand rainbow trout through the month of June. Merwin Reservoir is still producing some nice kokanee.