SW Washington Fishing: Columbia River salmon/steelhead: As this years fall chinook season winds down, area anglers are turning their attention to winter steelhead fishing. Thanksgiving Day traditionally marks the start of the popular fishery, but some anglers start working their favorite rivers well ahead of time.
Steelhead move upriver on pulses of water, said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. Once the sky opens up, well see more fish start to move.
Anglers can now retain up to two adult salmonids per day through Dec. 31 from Buoy 10 to John Day Dam, but only one may be a hatchery steelhead. Any wild steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be released.
Anglers may retain any chinook salmon with or without an adipose fin but all wild coho must be released from the Hood River Bridge downstream.
Fishing the tributaries: The first winter steelhead of the year arrived at the Cowlitz Hatchery in late October and more are sure to follow in the weeks ahead. Other major destinations for hatchery-reared steelhead include the Kalama, Lewis (including the North Fork), Washougal, Elochoman and Grays rivers, along with Salmon Creek in Clark County and Rock Creek in Skamania County.
Starting Nov. 1, several other rivers and creeks open for steelhead fishing, including Abernathy, Coal, Germany, Mill, and Skamokawa creeks and the Coweeman River in Cowlitz County, and Cedar Creek in Clark County.
The daily limit on most tributaries below Bonneville Dam is three hatchery steelhead plus the salmon limit listed for individual rivers in the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet. Only hatchery-reared steelhead with a clipped adipose fin may be retained, and anglers are required to keep the first three hatchery steelhead they catch.
An exception is the Cowlitz River from the Lexington Drive/Sparks Road bridges upstream to the markers below the barrier dam. In those waters, the limit is two hatchery steelhead per day, and the mandatory retention rule has been lifted.
Anglers fishing the Cowlitz River should also be aware that all chinook salmon must be released downstream from the barrier dam due to low returns to the hatchery.
The daily limit at Drano Lake is three adult salmonids, of which only one two may be coho. At Drano Lake, the daily limit is also three adult salmonids, but only two may be hatchery steelhead. Wind River remains closed to all fishing from Shipherd Falls to Moore Bridge to protect the low number of summer steelhead arriving to spawn.
Anglers are strongly advised to check for new emergency rules before heading out.
Sturgeon: Catch-and-release fisheries are open in all areas of the Columbia River below Priest Rapids Dam, but retention fishing for white sturgeon is closed in those waters.
Warmwater fish: Walleye fishing is still going strong in the Columbia from The Dalles to McNary dams. Channel catfish has also been good above John Day Dam.
Night fishing is now allowed from Buoy 10 upstream to the wooden powerline towers near old Hanford for warmwater fish, including bass, walleye, burbot, catfish, crappie, perch, peamouth, suckers and sunfish.
Trout: State fish managers are stocking lakes throughout the state with thousands of large trout averaging 15 to 16 inches for WDFWs Black Friday event, starting the day after Thanksgiving. Approximately 2,000 of those lunkers are headed for:
Clark County: Battleground Lake and Klineline Pond in Clark County.
Cowlitz County: Kress Lake.
Lewis County: Ft. Borst Park Pond, and South Lewis County Park Pond.
Each of these waters will be closed the Monday before Thanksgiving and opening on the day after the holiday.