Early – And Big? – Steelie Run Brewing

Thanks to a strong early showing of summer-runs back to the Cowlitz and Washougal, WDFW announced this afternoon that starting tomorrow, May 22, the daily limit will be upped to three adipose-fin-clipped steelhead a day.

ADAM BROWNE'S BEEN DOING WELL ON THE WASHOUGAL RIVER SO FAR THIS SEASON. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Yesterday, the agency also said that the lower South Fork Toutle and Green Rivers near Mt. St. Helens were opening two weeks earlier than printed in the regulations.

Meanwhile, across the river, Oregon anglers like my writer Terry Otto have been finding early summers on the Sandy.

NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN CONTRIBUTOR TERRY OTTO WITH A SANDY RIVER SUMMER STEELHEAD FROM EARLIER THIS WEEK. (TERRY OTTO)

The count at Willamette Falls is pretty damned good too.

“It’s looking like a 20,000-plus summer steelhead year, which we haven’t had for a long time,” ODFW biologist Jeff Ziller tells Mike Stahlberg of the Eugene Register-Guard.

And the count at Bonneville is off the charts for this time of year. It’s nearing 8,900, the highest it’s been through May 20 at least back through 1990, close to twice the 10-year average and 59 percent higher than during last year’s whopper run which topped out at just over 600,000.

“The Skamanias, and Cowlitz, are off to a good start,” notes Joe Hymer, a supervisory biologist with the Pacific Marine States Fishery Commission in Vancouver.

Skamanias are hatchery summer steelhead widely used in rivers such as the Kalama, East Fork Lewis, Washougal, Big White Salmon and Klickitat on the Washington side, and McKenzie and Santiam on the Oregon, among others.

But what all those steelies mean for the summer is unclear.

“What we don’t know is, is it early and big, or is it just early like we saw with upriver and Lewis and Cowlitz spring Chinook?” wonders Hymer.

The A- and B-run steelhead, which fueled last fall and winter’s fab fishing in North-central and Southeast Washington, Central Idaho and Northeast Oregon, return up the Columbia a bit later in the season.

Still, here’s hoping it’s a big run the whole way round because our June issue, which we just got advance copies back from the printer today, talks about how to fish for ’em in the mainstem Columbia as well as a quartet of Washington-side tribs below Bonneville Dam, and Buzz Ramsey’s got a pile of tricks for scamming Skamanias too!

The May issue talks about intercepting these bad boys on the McKenzie and South Santiam as well.

UPDATE MAY 22: ADAM BROWNE REPORTS KILLIN’ IT ON THE ‘SHOUG YESTERDAY, BRINGING FOUR TO THE BANK, THOUGH ONE POPPED OFF THERE AND ANOTHER WAS WILD.

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