SW Washington Fishing: Winter steelhead: Anglers are still reeling in hatchery steelhead from area tributaries, notably the Cowlitz and Kalama rivers. The daily limit for adult steelhead on most area rivers is three marked, hatchery-reared fish. Barbless hooks are required, and any steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be released. In addition, anglers must keep the first three hatchery steelhead they catch
Spring chinook: The fishery is now open below the Interstate 5 Bridge, with a daily limit of two adult spring chinook per day. But the action usually doesn't pick up until March, when new rules adopted by Washington and Oregon take effect. "This is a good time to dust off your gear, order your bait, prepare your boat, and maybe do a little prospecting," said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.
Anticipating a return of 299,200 adult spring chinook salmon, fishery managers from the two states set this year's initial fishing season on the lower Columbia River to run through April 9.
Smelt: The Cowlitz River will be open to recreational dip netting for one six-hour period from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 under rules recently approved by WDFW. No fishing license is required, and each dip-netter may retain 10 pounds of smelt per day (roughly equivalent to a quarter of a five-gallon bucket). Smelt must be dipped from the shore; no boats are allowed in the fishery.
Smelt projections are down from those in recent years, but fishery managers count on the opening to gather data on species abundance.
White sturgeon: Anglers have through Feb. 7 to catch and keep legal-size white sturgeon in the Bonneville Pool. During that time, anglers can retain one sturgeon per day measuring 38-54 inches (fork length). Catch-and-release fishing will still be allowed after the winter retention fishery is closed.
Farther upriver, anglers may retain sturgeon measuring 43-54 inches in The Dalles Pool and the John Day Pool until catch quotas for those reservoirs are met. Waters below Bonneville Dam remain closed to sturgeon retention, but catch-and-release fishing is allowed.
Walleye: The bite is picking up for walleye preparing to spawn in The Dalles and John Day pools. "This is a great time of year to catch walleye in those two pools," said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. "The Dalles pool generally produces the most fish, but those caught in John Day pool tend to be bigger."
Trout: Eight lakes in southwest Washington will be planted with thousands of catchable-size trout in the following locations:
Cowlitz County: Silver Lake (3,000), Sacajawea Lake (2,500), Kress Lake (2,000).
Clark County: Battleground Lake (3,000), Klineline Pond (3,000).
Skamania County: Kidney Lake (1,000), Icehouse Lake (1,000), Little Ash Lake (1,000).