North Puget Sound
Fishing: A few late-season coho salmon can be found in the region’s rivers and streams, but freshwater anglers are mostly reeling in chum. Meanwhile, several marine areas in the region also are open for salmon, and some anglers fishing the saltwater are finding nice blackmouth.
“The blackmouth fishery isn’t going as strong as it was during the first week of November,” said John Long, WDFW fish biologist. “But even though it has slowed, I have heard reports of a few nice fish caught in the region.”
Anglers participating in the recent Bayside Marine Salmon Derby in Everett took advantage of the hot bite earlier this month. A total of 267 anglers weighed in 129 fish during the two-day event, which took place Nov. 3-4. Don Allen was the derby’s big winner. The Marysville resident hauled in a 17-pound, 15-ounce chinook, taking home the $2,000 first prize. Rich Olson, who weighed in a 13-pound, 13-ounce chinook, finished second, while Bill Hayes’ 11-pound, 6-ounce chinook was good enough for third.
Four marine areas in the region are open for blackmouth, which are resident chinook. Anglers fishing marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) are allowed to keep one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Those fishing in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) also have a two-salmon daily limit, but can keep up to two hatchery chinook per day. Wild chinook salmon, which have an intact adipose fin, cannot be brought aboard the boat in areas 8-1 and 8-2.
Long reminds anglers fishing for blackmouth that crabbing also is a possibility. Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 9,10, 11 (Tacoma/Vashon), 12 (Hood Canal) and 13 (south Puget Sound) are open to sport crabbing seven days a week through Jan. 2. Marine areas 8-1 and 8-2 will reopen for crab fishing on a daily basis Nov. 22-25 during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Crabbing will not reopen this year in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), where the summer catch slightly exceeded the annual quota.
The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 ¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelf...index.htm.
In the rivers, most reports indicate anglers are hooking chum salmon, although a few coho continue to be caught in some streams. Among the hot spots in the region are the Snohomish and Skykomish rivers.
For trout anglers, Beaver Lake near Issaquah could be the best place to cast for rainbows over the next couple of weeks. About 3,000 hatchery rainbows – averaging approximately 3 to 5 pounds each – are scheduled to be released into the lake the week of Nov. 12. Beaver Lake, which is one of several westside lowland lakes open to fishing year-round, is best fished by small boat, although anglers can also be successful fishing from shore, said Chad Jackson, WDFW fish biologist. The daily bag limit is five fish, and bait anglers must keep the first five trout they catch.
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
Fishing: Chum and blackmouth salmon will still occupy center stage for the next couple weeks, but anglers will soon turn their attention to winter steelhead. Meanwhile, a razor clam dig is tentatively scheduled to open the day after Thanksgiving and crab fishing is open seven days per week in most areas of Puget Sound.
As the chum fishing season nears its peak, many of the big fish are making their way into South Sound streams. Chum salmon can now be found in virtually every small stream in the area, including such popular fishing spots as the mouth of Kennedy Creek on Totten Inlet and near the Hoodsport Hatchery on Hood Canal. According to recent creel checks, anglers were catching at least one fish per rod at both sites. Anglers are reminded that the daily limit in the Hoodsport “hatchery zone” is four salmon, with a maximum of two chinook.
Anglers working Perry Creek in Thurston County also averaged a fish per rod over the Nov. 10 weekend. Other areas opening to chum-salmon fishing, effective Nov. 1, include the Dosewallips and Duckabush rivers in Jefferson County, and Minter Creek in Pierce/Kitsap counties.
While heavy rains and high tides have temporarily stalled salmon fishing in coastal rivers along the coast, catch rates should improve once the weather gets better, said Scott Barbour, WDFW fish biologist. “Most rivers are out of shape right now, although the Calawah and Sol Duc on the Olympic Peninsula are fishable and anglers are still finding some coho and chinook," he said.
By the time conditions improve, anglers can start thinking about the winter steelhead season, Barbour said. December is the big month for hatchery steelhead on the North Olympic Peninsula – including the Quillayute River system and Hoh River – but early returns start showing up around Thanksgiving, he said.
Rather be out on the bay? Blackmouth fishing remains steady in south Puget Sound, where 24 anglers near Point Defiance recently caught 15 chinook. The daily limit is two salmon, although only one chinook may be retained.
On the coast, Rob Reifsnyder of Spanaway won the $500 first prize for catching the biggest fish during Westport’s month-long Boat Basin Salmon Derby. Reifsnyder’s hatchery coho weighed nearly 15 pounds.
The next razor clam dig is tentatively scheduled Nov. 23-24 on evening tides at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. Two more evening digs are planned Nov. 25-26 at Twin Harbors. Final approval for all digs is contingent upon marine toxin tests that show the clams are safe to eat. Kalaloch Beach will remain closed to razor clam digging throughout the 2007-08 season.
Evening low tides during the planned dig are at 5:21 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23 (-1.3 ft.), 6:11 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24 (-1.7 ft.), 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25 (-1.8 ft.) and 7:48 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26 (-1.6 ft.).
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.
Recreational crab fishing got under way Nov. 1 in five marine areas of Puget Sound and will be open seven days a week through Jan. 2. Crab fishing is open in marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal). Three other marine areas – 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (south Puget Sound) – have been open continuously since June 18.
The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelf...index.htm.
Fishing: Rough weather over the Veterans Day holiday served as a reminder of coming winter weather conditions – and the winter steelhead fishery often associated with them. Although area anglers continue to reel in good numbers of sturgeon and hatchery coho, many have begun to gear up for the hatchery steelhead season that will run well into the winter months.
“We’re getting more calls about the winter run steelhead fishery,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “The focus is definitely shifting in that direction.”
Fishing for hatchery steelhead is already open on several tributaries to the lower Columbia River. In addition, the Grays River opens from the mouth to the Highway 4 Bridge Nov. 15. While a few winter steelhead have returned to area hatcheries, the fishery doesn’t usually get going until around Thanksgiving, Hymer said. Weekly escapement reports can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/hat/escape/escape.htm.
“A lot depends on river conditions and the general timing and strength of the run,” Hymer said. Most of this year’s returning hatchery fish were planted on the Cowlitz, Lewis, Elochoman and Kalama rivers. For information on last year’s smolt plants, see wdfw.wa.gov/fish/harve...smolts.htm
on WDFW’s website. As in past years, anglers must release wild steelhead with an intact adipose fin.
Meanwhile, catch rates for hatchery coho have remained fairly strong both above and below Bonneville Dam. “Some coho are starting to turn dark, but bright fish are still showing up in the catch,” Hymer said.
Two of three boat anglers fishing in the Bonneville Pool near the mouth of the Klickitat River took home hatchery coho during the week ending Nov. 11. Those fishing the Lewis River maintained a similar average – and also caught an equal number of fall chinook, which they were required to release. Bank anglers fishing near the salmon hatchery on the Lewis River averaged about one coho for every three rods, including fish released.
Bank anglers are also catching some coho at the barrier dam and below on the Cowlitz River, where the catch limit is six hatchery adult coho per day. WDFW recently extended the six-fish bag limit above Cowlitz Falls Dam, where fishery managers are working to reestablish a naturally spawning coho run.
“The higher catch limit on the upper Cowlitz is consistent with the recovery effort, because it will help to control the number of hatchery fish that reach the spawning grounds while supporting the recreational fishery,” said Pat Frazier, WDFW regional fish manager. “So long as anglers keep catching those hatchery fish, we can move more of them above the dam without interfering with the restoration effort,” he said.
Flows increased and visibility decreased on some lower Columbia tributaries after a storm blew through western Washington the day after Veterans Day. With the return of winter conditions, Hymer recommends that anglers check stream-flow conditions on two websites before leaving home: www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/riv...43?165,253
Then again, the recent storm might have improved the sturgeon fishery below Bonneville Dam, said Hymer, noting that high, dirty water can invigorate the bite. Bank anglers fishing just below the dam averaged a legal-size sturgeon for every 8.5 rods during the week ending Nov. 11. Boat anglers fishing in the Camas/Washougal area also took home some legal-size fish.
Fishing: The best catch rates for Snake River hatchery steelhead are above the interstate bridge near Clarkston, where anglers averaged seven to eight hours per fish, according to the latest creel surveys. Steelheaders in that stretch should be careful to avoid drifting into the Clearwater River across the state line into Idaho, which requires a separate license. No part of the Clearwater River can be legally fished with a Washington license only.
Anglers are also doing well fishing from the mouth of the lower Grand Ronde River – a tributary of the Snake River – to the Oregon state line. Creel surveys show that anglers fishing those waters have been averaging 11 to 12 hours per fish.
Other stretches of the Snake River are yielding steelhead at slower, but steady, rates. The Wallula area, from the Oregon state line to the mouth of the Walla Walla River, has required about 13 hours of angling effort per steelhead. Anglers have averaged between 13 and 14 hours per fish from Lower Granite Dam to the interstate bridge at Clarkston, and 17 hours per fish from Little Goose to Lower Granite dams. For all the creel survey numbers, see wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel...index.htm.
WDFW fish biologist Glen Mendel reminds anglers fishing on the Snake River that any chinook salmon must be released immediately. That includes surplus fall chinook trapped for production at Lyons Ferry Fish Hatchery and released back to the river. Like naturally spawning chinook, those fish are protected as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
“The hatchery needs a good mix of chinook from throughout the run, so some of the fish trapped earlier are being released to make room for others,” Mendell said. The chinook are being released near Lower Granite and Little Goose dams, depending on where they were collected. Mendel said they are marked by clipping the top or bottom of the tail (caudal) fin to identify the fish in case they are trapped again, and to learn more about their movements through fish ladders at the Snake River dams.
North Central Washington:
Fishing: Fishing has been slow for hatchery steelhead on the Wenatchee River, where angler participation and catch rates have dropped recently. Art Viola, WDFW district fish biologist, said water temperatures have decreased and a number of fish seem to have moved upriver.
“The water temperatures have dropped into the high 30’s, and that may be part of the reason the fishery has slowed,” he said. “But it’s just hard to say exactly why.”
Viola said he estimates the catch rate on the river has fallen to well over 10 hours of effort per hatchery (adipose-fin clipped) steelhead caught. The special season for hatchery steelhead runs through March 31 from the mouth upstream to Icicle Road Bridge west of Leavenworth,
South Central Washington:
Fishing: Fishing for hatchery steelhead in the Ringold area of the Columbia River near the Tri-Cities has picked up now that anglers are allowed to keep any hatchery steelhead with a clipped adipose fin. Throughout October anglers could keep only those fish with a clipped adipose fin and a clipped right ventral fin, said Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fish biologist.
“The dual clippings identify fish reared in the Ringold Hatchery,” Hoffarth said. “Until November, we target those fish exclusively to make sure we get enough fish above Priest Rapids Dam to meet escapement goals.”
This year, returns to the Ringold Hatchery have been relatively low, Hoffarth said. “But there’s lots of other hatchery steelhead with adipose clips that anglers can catch and keep.”
The fishery is open through March 31, 2008 from the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco/Kennewick upstream to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford town site.
"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."