North Puget Sound
Fishing: Anglers fishing several of the region’s rivers and streams have had success catching coho salmon the past couple weeks. Meanwhile, in the marine areas - where the coho catch has tapered off - anglers are starting to find some chum salmon and will soon have more opportunities to hook blackmouth.
But until those saltwater fisheries start to pick up, anglers might want to focus on the freshwater. One hot spot has been the Cascade River, where anglers are finding some nice silvers, said Brett Barkdull, WDFW fish biologist. "Recent rains have increased the flow and added color to the river, and that usually makes for good fishing on the Cascade," he said.
But recent rains have made for spotty fishing on the Skagit River, said Barkdull. "The Skagit is usually at its best when flows are low and the water is clear, but some anglers who know the river have been doing really well," he said. "It’s certainly not a slam dunk, though."
Anglers fishing the Skagit River have a daily limit of two salmon, but must release chinook and pink. Those fishing the Cascade, have a daily limit of four coho only.
Anglers also have reported hooking some nice-size silvers on the Snohomish River, as well as portions of the Skykomish and Stillaguamish rivers.
In the marine areas, anglers are turning their attention to blackmouth and chum salmon, said Steve Thiesfeld, another fish biologist with WDFW. Blackmouth fishing just got under way in Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), where anglers are allowed to keep one chinook as part of two-salmon daily limit. And, beginning Nov. 1, anglers will have an opportunity to catch chinook in Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and hook hatchery chinook - chinook with a clipped adipose fin - in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner).
Thiesfeld reminds anglers that only a couple weeks remain to fish for salmon in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands). Salmon retention will close in that area Nov. 1.
Meanwhile, chum salmon are starting to show up in catches throughout the region. "There have been some scattered reports of chum being caught in Puget Sound," said Thiesfeld, who recommends trolling slow and using a flasher with a green coyote spoon, or a green, purple or pink mini hoochie. "The chum fishery should start to pick up in the next week or so."
Elsewhere, Lake Sammamish remains open for salmon through November. Anglers on the lake have a daily limit of two salmon measuring at least 12 inches. All sockeye must be released, and salmon fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek. Only a couple of weeks remain in the Lake Washington salmon fishery, which wraps up at the end of October. Before the fishery closes, anglers are allowed two coho per day (minimum size 12 inches) from waters north of the Highway 520 Bridge and east of the Montlake Bridge.
Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all freshwater and saltwater fisheries in WDFW's Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm).
South Sound/Olympic Peninsula
Clam diggers got the go-ahead to proceed with the first razor-clam dig of the fall season starting Thursday, Oct. 25. See news release (http://wdfw.wa.gov/do/newreal/release.php?id=oct2207a) for more information.
Fishing: Salmon anglers are making the transition from coho to blackmouth, as more waters open to chum fishing around the region. Meanwhile, the first scheduled razor-clam dig of the fall season is drawing near. Digging will get under way Thursday, Oct. 25 if marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat.
Four evening razor-clam digs are tentatively scheduled at Twin Harbors Oct. 25-28, while two evening digs are scheduled Oct. 26 and 27 at Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks. Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park will be closed for the season due to a low abundance of razor clams.
Scheduling extra days for Twin Harbors was based on results of the annual razor clam stock assessment, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW. "Razor clam populations declined at Long Beach, Mocrocks and Kalaloch, but increased on the middle coast," Ayres said. "That means we can offer more digging opportunities at Twin Harbors and Copalis during the 2007-08 season."
The best time to start digging is an hour or two before low tide, said Ayres, adding that no digging will be allowed before noon. He also recommends taking a lantern for evening digs at all beaches.
Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.
A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2007 annual shellfish/seaweed license or combination license is still valid. Another option is a razor-clam only license available in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW website at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.
Clam diggers are no longer required to display their licenses on outer clothing.
Tentative opening dates and evening low tides are:
Thursday, Oct. 25 (6:38 p.m. -1.1) Twin Harbors only
Friday, Oct. 26 (7:26 p.m. -1.7) all beaches (except Kalaloch)
Saturday, Oct. 27 (8:14 p.m. -1.9) all beaches (except Kalaloch)
Sunday, Oct. 28 (9:03 p.m. -1.8) Twin Harbors only
More digs are tentatively scheduled Nov. 23-26 and Dec. 21-23.
Anglers looking for salmon opportunities should get their rods ready for chum and blackmouth, as the coho season tails off in most marine areas, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. "Anglers have some choices during this transition period," he said. "The fishing’s been pretty good out of Port Angeles where folks still have some time to catch coho." When the salmon season ends Oct. 31 in Marine Area 6, a new blackmouth fishery starts Nov. 1 in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu).
In South Puget Sound, anglers have had some success catching blackmouth, Thiesfeld said. On the Oct. 13-14 weekend, anglers fishing near the Point Defiance Boathouse and the Narrows Ramp in Marine Area 11 averaged about one fish per rod.
As for chum, Thiesfeld recommends Kennedy Creek in Thurston County and the waters around Hoodsport in Hood Canal, which opened for chum and blackmouth retention Oct. 16. In addition, the Skokomish River just south of Hoodsport has been kicking out chum and coho, he said.
On Nov. 1 the Dosewallips and Duckabush Rivers in Jefferson County, and Minter Creek in Pierce/Kitsap counties will also open for chum retention.
More area rivers also opened for fall fishing Oct. 16. A portion of the Dungeness River in Clallam County is open for trout and coho only. A section of the Hoh River from Willoughby Creek to Morgan's Crossing boat launch is also open for salmon fishing and, in Pacific County, anglers can fish for salmon in the Willapa River from the Highway 6 Bridge to Fork Creek. Anglers are advised to check WDFW's 2006/2007 Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm) for details before fishing these waters.
For those heading to the coast, Westport is hosting its annual Boat Basin Salmon Derby, which runs seven days a week until Oct. 31. For a $5 derby ticket, anglers can fish for chinook and coho from marina docks anywhere in the Westport boat basin. Successful anglers can win $300 for the largest chinook and $500 for coho, plus other prizes. All fish must be caught during daylight hours and validated with a derby ticket at the official weigh station at the marina between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.anglercharters.net/.
In a few weeks, trout anglers looking for some late-season action should head to Black Lake in Thurston County where 3,500 one-pound rainbows will be stocked before the first weekend in November, said Larry Phillips, WDFW fish biologist. "Last year was the first time we offered this opportunity," Phillips said. "The goal is to provide some early-winter trout fishing in Thurston County after other lowland lakes close for the season." Other year-round lakes with good fishing in Thurston County include Offut, St. Clair and Lawrence, Phillips said.
Fishing: One in three boat anglers fishing right below Bonneville Dam has been taking home legal-size white sturgeon in recent days and bank anglers are also catching their share of keepers. Meanwhile, late-run hatchery coho salmon are moving up the Columbia River and several tributaries in increasing numbers as the run nears its peak.
"Late-run coho are moving in right on schedule," said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist stationed in Vancouver. "These are nice, bright fish, promising good fishing in the days ahead."
One good sign is that coho counts at Bonneville Dam had jumped to more than 1,000 fish per day by mid-October, he said. Another is that nearly 4,400 adult coho returned to the Cowlitz River Salmon Hatchery the previous week.
Bank anglers fishing the Cowlitz River near the Barrier Dam averaged nearly a coho per rod (counting fish released) during the week ending Oct. 14. Under the "bonus" bag limit now in effect on the Cowlitz, anglers may retain up to six hatchery adult coho a day but must release any chinook salmon, wild coho or any other salmon they encounter.
Anglers have also been catching hatchery coho in the Lewis and Kalama rivers, where the daily limit is four adult coho. The Elochoman and Washougal rivers are two other options with a daily limit of two hatchery adult coho per day.
Of the fish returning to the Cowlitz Hatchery, 853 adult coho and 253 coho jacks were released into Riffe Lake at the Taidnapam North boat launch. Tacoma Power employees released another 381 adult coho into Lake Scanewa at the Day Use Site, and 74 adult coho - plus 56 fall chinook jacks - into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.
On the mainstem Columbia, 60 anglers surveyed below Bonneville Dam had caught seven adult chinook and seven hatchery coho during the week ending Oct. 14. By permanent rule, waters from Beacon Rock upstream to Bonneville Dam will close to all salmon fishing beginning Nov. 1.
Above the dam, 83 anglers fishing the Bonneville Pool had six chinook and 11 coho - most caught near the mouth of the Klickitat River. Bank anglers have been pulling a few fall chinook out of the Klickitat, itself, although all chinook must be released 400 feet upstream from the No. 5 fishway to the boundary markers below the salmon hatchery starting Nov. 1. Anglers have also been catching some coho on the White Salmon River, although effort there and at Drano Lake has been light.
But for sturgeon, the area just below Bonneville Dam is still the place to be. During creel surveys in mid-October, 436 bank anglers reported catching 70 legal-size fish and releasing three others. The 29 boat anglers fishing the same area had caught 11 keepers, measuring 42-60 inches. Boat anglers have also been catching some legal-size sturgeon between Kalama and Camas/Washougal - the latter also yielding an average of one walleye per rod.
Angling for some trout? Battle Ground Lake was planted with 792 rainbow averaging 1.5 pounds apiece - plus 528 others weighing 2.5 pounds each - on Oct. 5. Hymer also suggests fishing for sea-run cutthroat trout on the Cowlitz River near the trout hatchery. "They’re aggressive, and they bite on flies, lures or bait," he said. Most average 12-14 inches, with a limit of five hatchery fish per day.
Fishing: Snake River steelheading in southeast Washington continues to be good, with the best catch rates above the Interstate bridge near Clarkston. That’s where anglers are catching steelhead with every six hours or so of effort, and keeping a hatchery fish about every eight hours. Anglers on the Wallula section, from the Oregon state line to the mouth of the Walla Walla River, have been averaging between 17 and 18 hours per steelhead caught. The most recent complete creel surveys are available on the Eastern region webpage at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel...index.htm.
Glen Mendel, WDFW southeast district fish biologist, said two of the Tucannon River impoundments recently received surplus hatchery rainbow trout. Blue Lake and Spring Lake in Columbia County received 190 catchable-sized rainbows. "These fish were about eight inches and we hope anglers will target them before these lakes close to fishing on Oct. 31," Mendel said.
Many other trout-stocked fishing lakes in the region also close Oct. 31, including Ferry County’s Davis, Ellen, and Swan; Stevens County’s Bayley, Black, Cedar, Deep, Deer, Jump-Off-Joe, Little Pend Oreille chain of lakes, Loon, McDowell, Mudget, Rocky, and Starvation; Pend Oreille County’s Browns, Crescent, Davis, Diamond, Frater, Halfmoon, Horseshoe, Leo, Marshall, Mystic, Nile, No-Name, Petit, Sacheen, Skookum and Yokum; and Spokane County’s Chapman and Clear lakes. Curt Vail, WDFW northeast district fish biologist, said some of the best fishing can be found at this time of year in these waters.
North Central Washington:
Fishing: Bob Jateff, WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist, said steelhead fishing on the mainstem Columbia River above Wells Dam, including the Okanogan and Methow rivers, has been good.
"Anglers are averaging a steelhead every eight to 10 hours of effort," he said. "Dark patterns seem to be working the best for both fly anglers and jig and bobber fishers."
Jateff reminds anglers that selective gear rules are in effect for both the Okanogan and Methow rivers, and some areas are closed to all fishing. Steelheaders are encouraged to retain adipose fin-clipped steelhead in order to allow a higher percentage of natural-origin steelhead on the spawning grounds. Steelhead with adipose fins must not be removed from the water when released.
Selective gear lowland trout lakes in Okanogan County, such as Big Twin near Winthrop and Blue on the Sinlahekin, will close to fishing at the end of October.
"Now is a good time to fish these lakes because the angling pressure is usually light and the fishing can be very good," Jateff said. "Blue Lake has both browns and rainbows from 12 to 20 inches and Big Twin has rainbows from 10 to 18 inches."
Jameson Lake in Douglas County continues to provide good fishing for nine- to 10-inch rainbows, with carryover fish up to 14 inches. Jameson also will close to all fishing on Oct. 31.
South Central Washington:
Fishing: Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fish biologist, said that despite relatively low numbers of fall chinook salmon returning to the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River this year, fishing has been good.
"Effort has been down from last year, but harvest is currently 10 percent above last year at this time," Hoffarth said.
The fall chinook fishery in the Hanford Reach (wooden powerline towers to Priest Rapids Dam) closes Oct. 22. It remains open from McNary Dam upstream to the wooden powerline towers through Dec. 31, but Hoffarth said few chinook are caught after Oct. 31.
Yakima River fall chinook salmon angler activity recently picked up. Hoffarth said that creel crews interviewed 218 anglers the week of Oct. 8-14, which represents about 22 percent of the angling effort. An estimated 82 adult chinook, 87 jacks, and eight coho were harvested. As of Oct. 14, a total of 186 adult chinook, 161 jacks, and eight coho had been harvested. Anglers averaged 11 hours per fish caught.
The fall chinook fishery in the lower Yakima River will remain open through Oct. 22. Hoffarth said the majority of the fall chinook return to the Yakima River in mid-October as water temperatures begin to cool.
The Ringold area of the Columbia River is open for hatchery steelhead. The area open is from the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco/Kennewick upstream to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford town site. Steelhead must have both the adipose and ventral fin clipped to be retained during the month of October. Beginning Nov.1 and through March 31, 2008, any hatchery steelhead can be retained.
"Steelhead fishing has been improving in the mid-Columbia and Snake rivers," Hoffarth said. "Most anglers are using a bobber and shrimp combination or trolling wiggle warts. Fall fishing for walleye can be terrific. The Columbia River below McNary Dam regularly produces good catches of walleye in October."
Eric Anderson, WDFW fish biologist, reminds trout anglers that many catchable-size trout are planted in Yakima and Kittitas county year-round lakes in the fall.
"Although these fish are smaller than our spring planted trout, they still provide good angling opportunity in our year-round lakes," Anderson said.
"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."