North Puget Sound
Fishing: Ocean coho salmon are starting to show up in the region, where saltwater and freshwater anglers have had some success recently hooking silvers.
Some of the best harvest numbers were seen at fish checks in central Puget Sound. For example, 48 anglers were checked with 21 coho Sept. 12 at the Armeni Ramp. The following day, 125 anglers were checked with 35 silvers at Armeni, while 103 anglers were checked with 36 coho at the Shilshole Ramp.
Point No Point, Jefferson Head, Possession Bar and Shipwreck should be good spots to hook ocean coho, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. Anglers fishing those areas, or other waters of marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), have a daily limit of two salmon but must release chinook. In Marine Area 9, anglers must release chum through Sept. 30.
Marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) also are open for salmon. Thiesfeld reminds anglers that marine areas 8-1 and 8-2 close to fishing for salmon at the end of the day Sept. 30.
Meanwhile, crabbing in the region is still an option but the opportunity is limited. Only the northern and eastern portions of Marine Area 7 remain open for crab. Those two portions are open Wednesdays through Saturdays each week through Sept. 30. The region's other marine areas are closed for a catch assessment. Additional information on the fishery is available on the WDFW website at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelf.../crabindex
In the freshwater, the chinook catch has tapered off recently in the Green (Duwamish) River, but coho are starting to show up. "From what I've heard, the coho catch has picked up on the Green," said Steve Foley, WDFW fish biologist. "And it sounds like they are still getting some chinook, but its definitely slowed down."
Anglers fishing the Green from Tukwila International Blvd. to I-405 have a daily limit of six salmon, only one of which may be a chinook, and no more than three adults. Those fishing the Green River from the 1st Ave. South Bridge to Tukwila International Blvd. must release chinook.
Elsewhere, Lake Washington opened for coho salmon Sept. 16. Foley said coho counts at the Ballard Locks indicate a decent return this year. "The best coho fishing will likely be early on," he said. "I recommend getting out on the lake early in the morning during the first few days of the fishery." Anglers fishing Lake Washington have a daily limit of four coho (minimum size 12 inches) from waters north of the Highway 520 Bridge and east of the Montlake Bridge.
Lake Sammamish also is open, with a daily limit of four salmon measuring at least 12 inches. Anglers can keep up to two chinook but must release all sockeye. Salmon fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek.
Before heading out to the rivers, or out on the Sound, anglers should check the rules and regulations for fisheries in WDFW's Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).
South Sound/Olympic Peninsula
Fishing: Now that salmon fishing has closed in most ocean areas, many anglers are turning their attention to the coho fishery along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Several area rivers are also opening to salmon fishing in the weeks ahead, providing a range of other angling options
While most coastal salmon fisheries are now closed, a portion of Marine Area 3 (LaPush) will be open daily Sept. 20 through Oct. 5 for a late-season fishery targeting coho and chinook salmon returning to the Quillayute River system.
For anglers heading to the area, the La Push Last Chance Salmon Derby will take place on Sept. 27 and 28 and features $4,300 in prizes, including $1,000 each for the top coho and chinook.
"If the weather holds, it could be a good weekend for fishing," said Scott Barbour, WDFW fish biologist. For more information on the derby call 360-374-2531 or send an email to chambers@forkswa .
Meanwhile, effort is high for the non-selective coho fishery now under way off Sekiu (Marine Area 5), where anglers are averaging about one fish per boat, said Larry Bennett, WDFW fish technician.
"People are normally getting their limit this time of year, but the numbers have dropped off in recent weeks," Bennett said. "The sunny weather could be factor. Hopefully, cooler conditions will bring in the fish."
Anglers have until Sept. 30 to catch and keep hatchery and wild coho as part of their two-fish combined daily limit. Bennett reminded anglers that all chinook and chum must be released.
Starting Oct. 1, a non-selective fishery for coho and chinook opens in Marine Area 6 (Port Angeles). The fishery is open through Oct. 31 with a two-fish combined daily limit. Only one chinook may be retained.
Also in October, anglers in Marine Area 11 (Vashon Island to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge) will be allowed to retain wild chinook . Anglers in Marine Area 13 may also retain wild chinook, but must release all wild coho. Good weather over the Sept. 13-14 weekend brought out the anglers in both areas, but few fish were caught.
Kirt Hughes, WDFW regional fish program manager, reminded anglers that Grays Harbor (Marine Area 2.2) opened for salmon fishing Sept. 16 (coho only; chinook and chum must be released).
"The opening is two weeks earlier than last year with similar numbers of salmon expected to return," said. "Managers had first presented a season structure the same as last year based on preseason projections," Hughes said. "Working with our stakeholders through the North of Falcon process we found a compromise - by restricting the fishing area to avoid chinook we were able to offer the additional two weeks beginning September 16."
Hughes said the intent is to harvest abundant hatchery and natural coho while limiting the impact on chinook, which are not expected to meet their escapement goal.
A portion of the Chehalis River also opened Sept. 16, concurrent with the Grays Harbor opening, Hughes said. The lower Chehalis is open from the Lakeside Asphalt Plant down stream to the Hwy 101 Bridge, while shore anglers can take advantage of an early bank fishery at Morrison Riverfront Park.
Hughes advised anglers to check WDFW's 2008-2009 Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ) for details on boundaries and regulations.
Other area rivers opening Oct. 1 for fall salmon fishing include the Elk, Hoquiam, Humptulips, Johns, Satsop, Wishkah and Wynoochee in Grays Harbor County; Kennedy Creek (upriver to the Highway 101 bridge) in Thurston County; the Nemah River in Pacific County; and the Skokomish River in Mason County.
Low and clear water continue to make it tough for anglers fishing the Quillayute system on the northern Olympic Peninsula, said Mike Gross, WDFW fish biologist. "There are summer steelhead and coho in the rivers, but we're in the doldrums with this weather and the fish get spooked easily," Gross said. "Some rain would help get the fish moving through."
Anglers fishing in the Quillayute system, which includes the Bogachiel, Sol Duc, Calawah and Dickey rivers, can keep up to two chinook as part of their limit of three adult fish. The total daily limit is six fish; all wild adult coho must be released until Nov. 1.
Anglers on the Hoh River can keep two adult salmon as part of their six-fish daily limit, but must release all wild chinook from the Oxbow Campground boat launch to Willoughby Creek until Oct. 16. Check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ) for specific regulations throughout the region.
Fishing: The Columbia River is now closed to retention of chinook salmon below Bonneville Dam, although anglers might want to check for a possible update on salmon fishing in the big river later this week. Any changes will be posted on the WDFW website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/ ) and included on the Fishing Hotline (360-902-2500).
Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist, noted that anglers caught just over 9,000 chinook salmon during the 16-day chinook opening between Rocky Point and Bonneville Dam that ended Sept. 16. "According to the counts at Bonneville Dam, the fishery took place during the peak of the upriver bright run," Hymer said. "Catch rates were strong right down to the closing bell."
Meanwhile, fishing for chinook salmon is still an option on a number of tributaries to the big river, coho are stacking up behind them and white sturgeon are on the bite from Longview to Bonneville Dam.
"This is probably the best time of year for a bank angler to catch a legal size sturgeon on the lower Columbia," Hymer said. "The fishery just below Bonneville Dam is really starting to heat up."
On a recent weekend, 106 anglers fishing just below the dam reeled in 12 keepers plus some additional sub-legals and oversize fish that had to be released. Catch rates are also starting to pick up for boat anglers fishing farther downriver. The fishery is open for retention of legal-size white sturgeon from the Wauna power lines to Bonneville Dam on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through the end of the year.
Above the dam, anglers continue to catch a mixture of fall chinook, coho and summer-run hatchery steelhead in the Bonneville Pool, where chinook may be retained through the end of the year. Boat anglers are catching summer-run steelhead at Drano Lake, and bank anglers are landing fall chinook several miles up the Klickitat River.
Salmon fishing has also been productive on several tributaries to the lower Columbia. On the Cowlitz River, hatchery coho have been hitting lures and bait at the mouth of the Toutle, while bank anglers fishing the Kalama River have been catching a combination of fall chinook and hatchery coho. The Lewis River is closed to chinook retention, but one in four anglers have been taking home hatchery coho, according to a recent creel check.
Hymer said more bright, late-stock coho should start moving into rivers above and below Bonneville Dam in the weeks ahead, noting that all wild, unmarked coho must be released from the mouth of the Columbia to the Hood River Bridge and all tributaries in between. Hymer also reminds anglers that a "bonus bag" limit of four hatchery coho per day is in effect on the Grays, Deep, Elochoman, Toutle, Green, Kalama and Lewis rivers. And anglers can keep six hatchery coho per day on the Cowlitz River, as well as on Lake Scanewa and the Tilton and Cispus rivers.
"If we get some rain, anglers could start filling those limits," Hymer said. "We need some rain to get those coho moving."
But anglers hoping to take home an adult chinook shouldn't wait too long. Many tributaries to the Columbia - or sections of those rivers - are scheduled to close Oct. 1 for retention of adult chinook to avoid interfering with spawning salmon. Hatchery jack chinook , marked with a clipped adipose fin, may still be retained in those rivers. Waters closing to retention of adult chinook Oct. 1 include:
Elochoman River, upstream from the Highway 4 Bridge.
North Fork Toutle from the Kidd Valley Road Bridge near Highway 504 upstream.
Cowlitz River from Blue Creek to Mill Creek.
Kalama River from the natural gas pipeline crossing upstream.
Washougal River from the Little Washougal River upstream.
White Salmon River from the posted markers half a mile above the Highway 14 Bridge upstream.
Also on Oct. 1, all fishing on the Lewis River will close from Colvin Creek (upstream from the salmon hatchery) to Merwin Dam. At Drano Lake, all non-tribal fishing will be prohibited Wednesdays.
With regulations changing in so many areas, anglers are advised to check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet and in-season rules changes wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm
before planning a fishing trip.
Plenty of anglers hit the Columbia River for the 16-day chinook opening between Rocky Point and Bonneville Dam that ended Sept. 16. On peak days, up to 1,600 boats were counted on the river. In all, anglers caught just over 9,000 fish - approximately the number anticipated by fishery managers in the pre-season catch estimate.
"According to the counts at Bonneville Dam, the fishery took place during the peak of the upriver bright run," Hymer said. "Catch rates were strong right down to the closing bell."
Trout anglers may want to know that Horseshoe Lake in Woodland was planted Sept. 9 with approximately 2,000 rainbows averaging 1.67 pounds apiece and 500 fish averaging 3.33 pounds. Goose Lake north of Carson is scheduled to be planted today (Sept. 17) with 600 one-pound cutthroats, plus 20 rainbows and 20 browns weighing 10 pounds each. Sea-run cutthroat are returning in strong numbers to the Cowlitz.
Fishing: Snake River steelhead fishers have been doing well recently, especially at the mouths of rivers in the drainage, such as the Clearwater on the Idaho border and the Tucannon in Columbia County. WDFW southeast district fish biologist Glen Mendel reminds steelheaders the daily catch limit is three hatchery-marked (clipped and healed-over adipose or ventral fin) steelhead. Barbless hooks must be used to allow the release of wild fish.
Mendel also notes the wording change on this season's catch record cards and in the fishing rules pamphlet under "New for 2008" does not mean Snake River steelheaders can take a wild steelhead. The catch record card now reads "One Wild Steelhead Allowed On This Card," Mendel explained, but it is meant only for those western Washington rivers where wild winter steelhead retention is allowed. Mendel said the statement was added when the 30-fish annual limit for hatchery steelhead was dropped, giving anglers the option of purchasing additional catch record cards for hatchery steelhead. Anglers are supposed to report the catch of a wild steelhead, only where it is allowed, on the first card, not subsequent cards. Mendel said the wording will be improved next year to avoid further confusion.
Mendel says there's one more thing for Snake River fishers to be aware of now - lots lots of fall chinook and coho salmon are showing up and they must be released unharmed if hooked. A fall chinook season might be possible, so anglers should stay tuned for an emergency rule change announcement on WDFW's website at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm
WDFW enforcement patrols report some walleye, catfish, and bass being taken throughout the Snake River. Officers also report issuing many warnings for boat safety problems.
Many rainbow and cutthroat trout lakes in the central part of the region will close to fishing Sept. 30. Fly-fishing at southwest Spokane County's Amber Lake has been excellent and a catch-and-release season there will run from Oct. 1 through November. Other popular southwest Spokane County waters - Badger, Downs, Fish, North Silver, West Medical and Williams lakes - close to all fishing at the end of this month. Spokane County's Clear Lake will remain open through October, as will Liberty Lake - for the first time. Also closing Sept. 30 are Lincoln County's Coffeepot, Deer Springs, and Fishtrap lakes. Most northeast district lakes remain open through October, except for Pend Oreille County's Fan Lake, which also closes Sept. 30.
Five northeast district trout lakes scheduled for rehabilitation with rotenone later this fall have no daily catch or size limits for any game fish until Oct. 6 when they close to all fishing. Those lakes include Ellen Lake (Ferry County), Frater Lake (Pend Oreille County), Hatch, Little Hatch, and Williams lakes (Stevens County).
North Central Washington:
Fishing: Rainbow and cutthroat trout fishing in the Methow River system has been good, reports WDFW district fish biologist Bob Jateff of Omak, but the catch-and-release season ends Sept. 18. The season was originally scheduled to run through Sept. 30, but the early closure is necessary to avoid additional incidental catch of protected wild steelhead. Jateff noted that an increase in anglers on the Methow in recent weeks, coupled with an increase in the number of steelhead in the river, triggered the closure.
WDFW fishery managers are, however, considering the possibility of a special hatchery-marked steelhead fishery on portions of the upper Columbia River and some tributaries - including the Methow River - based on an assessment of wild and hatchery returns. Anglers should check for any updates on WDFW's website at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm
Jateff also noted chinook salmon fishing on the mainstem Columbia River has picked up a bit with fish up to 12 pounds being caught in the Bridgeport area. That season is scheduled to close Oct. 15.
As water temperatures cool down, many Okanogan County lakes will provide good fall trout fishing, Jateff said. Some of the more popular ones are Big Twin near Winthrop, Blue near Sinlahekin, and Chopaka near Loomis.
Two Okanogan County trout lakes scheduled for rehabilitation with rotenone applications later this fall have no daily catch or size limits for any game fish until Oct. 13 when they close to all fishing - Big Buck or Shaw Lake and Starzman Lake. Many Columbia Basin trout lakes close to fishing Sept. 30. Check the fishing rules pamphlet for details.
South Central Washington:
Fishing: The recreational fishing effort for the Yakima River's fall salmonid season is slow with very few anglers out on the water, said Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fish biologist for Pasco. An estimated 10 adult fall chinook were harvested last week and no steelhead to date, he said.
The fall chinook salmon fishery on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River is a brighter picture, Hoffarth said. "Effort is down roughly 20 percent overall compared to last year, but harvest is running 40 percent higher due to a high number of jacks in the fishery this year," he said. Anglers averaged one-half a chinook per boat last week. So far, an estimated 288 adult and 207 jack fall chinook have been harvested during the Hanford Reach fall chinook fishery.
Jim Cummins, WDFW fish biologist for Yakima, reported fly fishers are enjoying rainbow trout in the Yakima River from Roza Dam upriver. "Flows are now low and the river is wade-able," Cummins said. "Most of the summer irrigation water released keeps the river running high, but every September the flows are reduced just before the spring chinook spawn in the Cle Elum and upper Yakima River. Flows increase substantially in the Tieton River to provide irrigation. Spring chinook can be seen spawning in the Easton Reach of the Yakima and Cle Elum below the Dam."
Cummins also said this might be the best time to spend a few days in the high country. "Mosquitoes are gone and the fish are generally cooperative this time of year," he said. "The weather has been fantastic, but anglers should be prepared for rapid weather changes this time of year."