North Puget Sound:
Fishing: Just a handful of marine areas remain open for blackmouth fishing, and even those won't be open much longer. Blackmouth fishing ends April 10 in marine areas 8-2 and 11, while the season runs through April 15 in Marine Area 9. Fishing has been fairly slow in most areas, but a few nice fish have been taken by patient anglers fishing with spoons gear just off the bottom near Camano Head and Hat Island. One fisher recently boated an impressive 28-pounder off Hat Island. The big hen succumbed to a whole herring fished about 100 feet below the chop. Anglers in Marine Area 9 might want to try Point No Point, or waters just south of Possession Point, where there have been reports of good concentrations of baitfish in the water. Freshwater anglers will have another fishing option beginning April 1 when the lower portion of the Skagit River opens for trout, Dolly Varden and other game fish. The fishery will open under selective gear rules, but anglers can fish from a motorized vessel. No steelhead retention will be allowed. The spring catch-and-release steelhead fishery on the Skykomish and north fork Stillaguamish rivers is closed this year to protect a weak steelhead return. Be sure to check fishing regulations online on the Internet or at (360) 902-2500, before hitting the water. Fans of big cutthroat trout can find some hefty examples in Lake Washington during this time of year. Fishing for cutts in the big lake takes some patience and hardware - most anglers troll lures off a downrigger near the bottom in water ranging in depths from 30 to 80 feet or more. If fishing with light tackle is your thing, head to any of the region's year-round trout lakes and fish for rainbow trout. Warming temperatures are making trout hungry, and early-season insect hatches will stir sluggish trout into more bug-slurping activity near the surface. To get the edge on other anglers, check the weekly trout-planting chart on the WDFW website on the Internet. Don't give up on a lake if the trout fishing is slow - perch, bass or even crappie can start to take bait this time of year.
Olympic Peninsula/South Sound
Fishing: While hatchery crews prepare for the April 24 lowland lakes opener, anglers have been making the most of the final days of several traditional "winter" fisheries. Steelhead fishing closes today (March 31) on the Wynoochee, Satsop and most other rivers on the southern end of the Olympic Peninsula, but those on the north coast are still seeing plenty of action. On the Sol Duc, creel checks conducted March 25 found that 153 anglers averaged 0.66 wild fish apiece, releasing 61 of them. Seventy-one anglers averaged 0.80 wild steelhead apiece that day on the Bogachiel/Quillayute system, while 12 anglers caught 20 wild steelhead and released 11 of them on the Calawah. Fishing was poor that day on the Hoh River because of high, dirty water, but has been showing signs of improvement ever since. "We had some tremendous steelhead fishing on the north coast in March and it looks like it will continue that way right through the end of the season," said Bill Freymond, WDFW fish biologist. April 15 is the last day to fish for steelhead on the Chehalis, Hoh and Queets rivers this season, while the Sol Duc, Bogachiel and Calawah will close April 30. Anglers are reminded that a statewide moratorium on retaining wild steelhead begins May 1 and will be in effect for the next two seasons. As for saltwater fishing, blackmouth catches have remained spotty, although anglers have recently taken some nice fish in such areas as Midchannel Bank, Point No Point and Point Dalco near Tacoma. During the last week of March, anglers outnumbered landed fish by a ratio of five to one in areas from Ediz Hook to Point Defiance. Blackmouth fishing closes April 10 in marine areas 5, 6, 11 and 12; April 15 in Marine Area 9 and April 30 in Marine Area 13. Lingcod season, however, is just getting started on the coast, bringing out anglers in good weather and bad. According to a recent creel check, 79 anglers caught 23 lings on a stormy Saturday in late March whereas 95 anglers caught 98 lings the following day when the seas were calm. "Weather and sea conditions can make a big difference when fishing for lingcod," said Greg Bargmann, WDFW marine fish manager. "Especially when you're fishing near the bottom, it really helps to have calm seas." For razor clam lovers, the only remaining question about a proposed dig in late April is whether marine toxin tests will show that the clams are safe to eat. If the results are favorable, WDFW plans to proceed with a four-day dig April 21-24 at Long Beach and Twin Harbors and a three-day dig April 22-24 at Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch. The proposed dig would give clam diggers their first opportunity of the season to dig razor clams on morning tides, Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. No clam digging will be allowed after noon at any beach. To participate, diggers must have a valid 2004-05 shellfish/seaweed license, available from license vendors across the state and on-line at www.greatlodge.com/.
Final word on the razor clam dig will be announced by April 20 on WDFW's website on the department's Shellfish Hotline (1-866-880-5431) and through statewide media. Meanwhile, WDFW hatchery crews have been stocking lakes throughout the region with thousands of trout in preparation for the April 24 lowland lakes opener. Whether you're interested in three-pound rainbow at Trails End Lake in Mason County or hefty cutthroat at Tarboo Lake in Jefferson County, you might want to check the fish-planting schedule on the WDFW website, in preparation for the season ahead.
Fishing: After a slow start, hatchery spring chinook fishing is picking up on the Columbia River, reports regional fish biologist Joe Hymer. For proof, check out the April segment of WDFW's Wild About Washington cable television show in which Hymer and two other staff members on a late March taping hooked six salmon and kept four hatchery fish. During the week of March 22, boat anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream averaged one fish per 8.5 rods, while bank fishers averaged one spring chinook for every 10.3 rods. The catches were spread along the river from the dam downstream, with the best activity just below the dam and in the lower river. About three quarters of the caught chinook were keepers, with missing adipose fins identifying them as hatchery fish. About 64 percent of the retained fish were of upriver origin. Effort is building along with the improving results, Hymer notes-the last Saturday in March saw 1,000 boats out from Bonneville Dam downriver, along with 750 bank anglers on both sides of the river. Chinook are starting to show in other areas as well. The Cowlitz is seeing some early arrivals, along with improved catches for late winter steelhead. Other areas with improving catches for spring chinook include the Kalama, Lewis, and Wind rivers and Drano Lake. In addition, the Klickitat River from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream will open to fishing for spring chinook and hatchery steelhead on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays only beginning April 3. At Drano Lake, the boat ramp is scheduled to be open beginning April 1. For the latest creel census results for Southwest Washington, check out the department's web site. Meanwhile, sturgeon fishing is picking up for boat anglers in the Columbia Gorge area, and from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam. Sturgeon fishers are reminded April 1 is the date the new five-fish annual sturgeon limit goes into effect. April 1 is a key date for all anglers to remember as the day new annual recreational licenses are required. Walleye anglers have been enjoying what Hymer terms "very decent" fishing in The Dalles Pool, where recent creel checks showed nearly two fish per rod, including released fish. John Day Pool was also producing well, with one walleye for every four rods. Bass catches are beginning to pick up in both pools as well. Meanwhile, trout fishers can enjoy the results of recent plants in Battleground Lake, where 3,000 catchable-size rainbows were stocked, and in Klineline Pond, where 1,400 half-pound brown trout have been planted.
Fishing: Steelhead are running in the Tucannon, Touchet, and other tributaries of the Snake River in the south end of the region. WDFW habitat biologist Jeff Lawlor reports the steelies are "apparently running faster than I can catch them" because he recently got skunked. "I was just excited to see fish that big in streams that small," said Lawlor, who hopes to try again before the season closes April 15. "Everyone says corkies and yarn are the way to go." Meanwhile, Lawlor sent a postscript to his fishing tale: "Forget about the steelhead running," he said, "the ticks are running! I just pulled the first tick of the year off the top of my head." WDFW fish hatchery crews continue to re-stock rainbow trout in the Tucannon River impoundments - Beaver, Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring, and Watson lakes in Columbia County. WDFW fish biologist Chris Donley reports that catch-and-release trout fishing at Amber Lake in Spokane County is going well. Donley reminds anglers that Amber opens April 24 for a daily harvest of up to two trout of at least 14 inches. North Silver Lake, also in Spokane County and open since March 1, is producing rainbows under a daily catch limit of two trout of at least 14 inches. Lincoln County's Coffeepot Lake, where selective gear rules are in place, also continues to produce nice catches. "All three of these early-opening waters are a good tune-up for the big fishing opener in this region April 24," Donley said.
North Central Washington:
Fishing: More than 30 lakes in this region open to fishing April 1, providing what WDFW regional fish program manager Joe Foster called high quality "trouting" (as in rainbow trout). Most are in Grant and Adams counties on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge and on state land east and south of Potholes Reservoir. Ranging from Bobcat Creek Ponds to Widgeon Lake, they are all listed in the fishing pamphlet under the "Eastside Lakes/Special Rules" section. Much acclaimed Dry Falls Lake in Sun Lakes State Park south of Coulee City also opens April 1. "Trout in this lake are absolute monsters," said Foster. "Selective gear is the law, and it's embraced heartily by hordes of rain-drenched westside fly flingers who love to bob about on this jewel in the eastside sun." Foster also notes that Lenore Lake is popping again with giant Lahontan cutthroat trout for catch-and-release, selective gear fishing. "Most action is at the north end," Foster said, "but you'll need a reservation for standing room there. Everyone should have protective head gear and have well-honed ducking skills. " Shoreline anywhere along the east side of the lake is also worth exploring. WDFW fish biologist Patrick Verhey reports the water now in the canal systems throughout the Columbia Basin are triggering walleye in local reservoirs like Potholes and Moses Lake to start feeding and biting more aggressively. Steelheading on the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers is closed as of March 31. The rivers had been open by emergency regulation to hatchery steelhead fishing since last fall because the run was large enough and impacts to wild steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act were low enough. The Okanogan River remains open to game fish other than trout and steelhead from the mouth to the highway bridge at Malott. The whitefish season on the Similkameen River also closed March 31 and no other fishing is allowed until June.
South Central Washington:
Fishing: The second round of catchable-size rainbow trout stocking is under way during first two weeks of April at the following waters: Mud Lake, Tieton Ranger Pond, Tims Pond and Yakima Sportsmens Pond in Yakima County; Denmark Pond, Easton Ponds, McCabe Pond Naneum Pond in Kittitas County. Many other ponds and lakes in and around the Yakima and Ellensburg area have already been stocked and fishing has been good. "Jumbo" trout, about a pound each, are mixed in with the smaller catchables, each weighing about a third of a pound. Even larger triploid "trophy" trout, weighing at least a pound and a half, will also be stocked sometime in April. Anglers can check the WDFW website or check at the Yakima office (1701 S. 24th Ave., 509-575-2740), for all the latest information on trout stocking. WDFW fish biologist Eric Anderson expects a good run of spring chinook salmon this year in the Yakima River. A fishing season for springers will start April 16 and run through June 15 on the middle reach of the Yakima, from the Highway 223 bridge at Granger upstream to 3,500 feet downstream of Roza Dam. The daily limit will be six hatchery chinook, of which with no more than two can be adult fish (the other four must be jack salmon). Hatchery salmon are marked with a missing adipose fin. All wild salmon must be released. Anderson reminds anglers planning to take advantage of this fishery that steelhead will remain closed, and to check all gear restrictions and other details at WDFW's Yakima office or under the Fishing Regulation Changes section of the WDFW website.
"This is a reproduction of a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife document and is not the official document or regulations of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The accuracy of the reproduction cannot be guaranteed by WDFW."