What’s Fishing In Washington

Coho beginning to push into the Straits and Puget Sound, Chinook moving up the Columbia system, big numbers of steelies back in the Snake River again, trout biting up high, spinyrays down low, walleye fishing in “full swing” — there is a ton of fish to catch right now around Washington!

BRENT HEDDEN LATCHED INTO ONE OF THE LARGER MEMBERS OF THIS FALL'S KING RUN UP THE COLUMBIA RECENTLY, CATCHING THIS 30-PLUS-POUNDER AT THE MOUTH OF THE COWLITZ. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Here’s more from WDFW’s now-monthly Weekender:

NORTH SOUND

Coho salmon are moving into Puget Sound in increasing numbers, with the bulk of the run expected to arrive from the ocean later this month. Anglers can also expect good fishing in several rivers and lakes.

“After Labor Day is when we usually see a big push of ocean coho move into Puget Sound,” said Steve Thiesfeld, a WDFW fish biologist. “We should see more and more of those ocean fish make their way into the Sound as the month progresses.”

Once those fish arrive, Point No Point, Jefferson Head, Possession Bar and Shipwreck should be good spots to hook ocean coho, Thiesfeld said. 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 10, anglers also must release chum salmon through Sept. 15, while those fishing in Marine Area 9 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 fishing. Anglers fishing Marine Area 7 can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild coho and chum. Those fishing marine areas 8-1 and 8-2 also have a daily limit of two salmon but must release chinook.

Meanwhile, recreational crab fishing will close for a catch assessment in most areas of Puget Sound on Labor Day. Areas closing one hour after sunset Sept. 6 include Marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal).

Marine Area 7 remains open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, through Sept. 30. Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (South Puget Sound) remain open for crabbing through Jan. 2, seven days a week.

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. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW’s sport-crabbing website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ ) for more information.

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Oct. 10 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2010 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2011 Puget Sound crab endorsement. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/crc.html . Crabbers who continue to fish in an open area after Sept. 6 should record their catch on their winter catch card.

In freshwater, Thiesfeld said the best bet for anglers fishing for coho salmon in the region might be the Stillaguamish and Skagit rivers, where abundant runs are expected to return this year. The Stillaguamish and Skagit, as well as the Snohomish, Skykomish, Snoqualmie and Green (Duwamish) rivers open for salmon fishing Sept. 1.

Thiesfeld reminds anglers fishing the Green River that chinook salmon must be released.

Elsewhere, Lake Sammamish is open for salmon fishing, with a daily limit of four salmon, of which two may be chinook. All sockeye must be released, and fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek. Sammamish Lake’s larger neighbor, Lake Washington, opens Sept. 16 to coho fishing. Anglers will be allowed four coho per day (minimum size 12 inches) from waters north of the Highway 520 Bridge and east of the Montlake Bridge.

SOUTH SOUND/PENINSULA

Salmon anglers on the coast are still catching fish as the ocean fishery enters the home stretch. Coho fishing is expected to peak in mid-September, as the bulk of the run moves through the Strait of Juan de Fuca into Puget Sound.

During the last week of August, anglers on the coast were still finding some bright chinook as the coho catch began to climb, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for WDFW.

“I expect fishing to continue to be good for chinook and coho as we move into the final weeks of the fishery,” he said.

Salmon fishing is scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay), through Sept. 19 in Marine Area 2 (Westport-Ocean Shores) and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco). However, salmon fisheries in those areas could close early if catch quotas are reached. Milward reminds anglers to check for any rule changes at WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .

Anglers fishing marine areas 1, 2, 3 and 4 can keep up to two chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, but must release any chinook measuring less than 24 inches and hatchery coho less than 16 inches. Wild coho must be released unharmed. All four ocean marine areas are open to salmon fishing seven days a week.

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, anglers fishing in late August were picking up a few ocean coho but the big push of silvers into Puget Sound isn’t expected until after Labor Day, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist.

“By the middle of September, coho fishing should pick up in the Strait, as well as in areas of northern and central Puget Sound,” he said.

Anglers fishing marine areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) have a two-salmon daily limit but must release chum, chinook and wild coho. However, anglers fishing Marine Area 5 will be allowed to retain wild coho beginning Sept. 16.

Farther south, salmon fishing opens Sept. 1 north of Ayock Point in Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), where the daily limit is four coho only. All other salmon species must be released. The same rules apply to Dabob and Quilcene bays, which opened for salmon fishing Aug. 16.

In the southern portion of Puget Sound, anglers fishing Marine Area 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Anglers fishing Marine Area 13 (South Puget Sound), have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook and wild coho.

JACOB CULVER'S BIG NARROWS BRIDGE BEACH CHINOOK. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Because salmon fishing rules vary depending on the marine area, anglers should check the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ ) before heading out on the water.

Meanwhile, recreational crab fishing will close for a catch assessment in most areas of Puget Sound on Labor Day. Areas closing one hour after sunset Sept. 6 include Marine areas 6, 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 and 12.

Marine Area 7 remains open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, through Sept. 30. Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (South Puget Sound) remain open for crabbing through Jan. 2, seven days a week.

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. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW’s sport-crabbing website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ ) for more information.

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Oct. 10 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2010 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2011 Puget Sound crab endorsement. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/crc.html . Crabbers who continue to fish in an open area after Sept. 6 should record their catch on their winter catch card.

Several rivers around the region open to salmon fishing Sept. 1, including the Carbon River in Pierce County; Copalis River, Van Winkle Creek and Joe Creek in Grays Harbor County; the Bear and Niawiakum rivers in Pacific County; and Clearwater River in Jefferson County. Salmon fisheries on the Skokomish, Puyallup and Nisqually rivers are already under way.

On a portion of the Hoh River, anglers can now fish for salmon seven days a week and keep up to two adult salmon as part of their six-fish daily limit.

Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all fisheries on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .

SOUTHWEST

September is prime time for salmon fishing in the Columbia River Basin, as large numbers of fish move upriver and into tributaries on both sides of Bonneville Dam. Anglers fishing the lower river below the dam are expected to reel in nearly 30,000 fall chinook and 13,000 hatchery coho this season – most of which will be taken this month.

“Prospects are good for salmon fishing this month, but it’s important to remember these fish are on the move,” said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “As the month goes on, successful anglers will follow the fish upriver and into the tributaries.”

The retention fishery for chinook salmon ended Aug. 31 at Buoy 10, but hatchery coho should remain strong below Rocky Point throughout the month. Even so, the prospect of catching a hefty chinook salmon is drawing most anglers farther upstream.

Through Sept. 12, anglers may take one chinook per day as part of their limit from Rocky Point upriver to Bonneville Dam. Anglers fishing those waters have a daily limit of six fish, including two adult salmon or steehead or one of each. The retention fishery for chinook ends Sept. 12 below the Lewis River, but that section will remain open to fishing for hatchery coho, hatchery steelhead and hatchery sea-run cutthroats .

“Anglers targeting chinook do best in fairly deep water – 40 to 50 feet down,” Hymer said. “Some of the best fishing for both salmon and steelhead will be at the mouths of tributaries, where the fish hold up before heading upstream.”

As the month progresses, salmon fishing will heat up farther upstream in tributaries ranging from the Cowlitz to the White Salmon rivers, Hymer said. He reminds anglers of several new rules that will be in effect on those rivers this year:

* Wild chinook release:  New this year, all unmarked chinook (adults and jacks) must be released on the Cowlitz, Toutle, Green, Washougal, Wind and White Salmon rivers, plus Drano Lake and Camas Slough. Like last year, anglers must also release unmarked chinook on the Grays, Elochoman and Kalama rivers.
* Lewis River rule:  Hatchery fall chinook may be retained through September on the Lewis River, including the North Fork.  Beginning Oct.1, all chinook must be released and fishing from any floating device will be prohibited on the North Fork Lewis River from Johnson Creek upstream to Colvin Creek.
* Fishing closures:  Cedar Creek, a tributary of the North Fork Lewis River, is closed to all fishing in September and October. Lower Lacamas Creek, a tributary of the Washougal River, will also close to all fishing in September.

Like last year, anglers can retain up to six hatchery adult coho on all tributaries to the lower Columbia River with hatchery programs. Those rivers include the Cowlitz, Deep, Elochoman, Grays (including West Fork), Kalama, Klickitat, Lewis (including North Fork), Toutle (including Green and North Fork) and Washougal.

Regulations for these and other fisheries are described in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

There are, of course, a variety of other fishing opportunities besides salmon available to area anglers this month. Smallmouth bass are coming on strong above John Day Dam, and trout fishing is still an option at Skate Creek, Tilton River and a number of lowland lakes, including Swift Reservoir.

But for anglers who don’t mind a hike, September is a great time to head for the high wilderness lakes around Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. Hymer points to three such lakes – Goose, Council and Tahkalhk – that even offer drive-in access.

“The mosquitoes should die down around the high mountain lakes after the first frost arrives,” Hymer said. “Sure, the fish are usually small, but the leaves are beginning to turn, the air is crisp and you can really experience the change of season.”

EASTERN

The Snake River steelhead catch-and-keep season opens Sept. 1 and it promises to be another good one.

“Steelhead are returning to the Snake in large numbers again this year,” said Glen Mendel, WDFW’s southeast district fish biologist. “We have seen very strong early returns throughout the summer so far.”

Mendel said about 375,000 fish are expected to return this year – not as many as last year, when about 600,000 entered the Columbia River. But this year’s projected return is still large enough to provide good fishing opportunities, said Mendel.

“Snake River water temperatures are currently warm and that may slow the bite when the steelhead retention season opens Sept. 1,” Mendel said. “But water temperatures should drop soon with cooler weather ahead, and then the action should pick up.”

Mendel notes that the mouths of the Snake’s tributaries, such as the Tucannon and Grande Ronde, and the confluence with the Clearwater River on the Idaho border, are usually most productive at the start of the season. He reminds steelheaders that barbless hooks are required and the daily trout catch limit of six fish includes up to three hatchery-marked steelhead (healed scar at clipped adipose or ventral fin).

Trout fishing throughout the region usually picks up as fall approaches, said Chris Donley, WDFW district fish biologist, who reminds anglers that several of the best-producing trout lakes near Spokane close Sept. 30.

“This is the final month for fishing Badger, Williams, and Fish lakes in southwest Spokane County and Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County,” Donley said. “Badger and Williams have both cutthroat and rainbow trout, Fish Lake has brook and tiger trout, and Coffeepot has rainbows plus yellow perch and black crappie .”

Donley said September can also be good for yellow perch fishing at southwest Spokane County’s Downs Lake, which also closes Sept. 30. Amber Lake, near Badger and Williams, is also good for cutthroat and rainbow trout fishing, Donley said. Selective gear rules are in effect at Amber Lake through September.

GET IN ON SUMMER'S LAST BASS BITES! JANELLE SIDEBOTHAM CAUGHT THIS HAWG AT SOUTH TWIN LAKE, ON THE COLVILLE RESERVATION, A MONTH AGO OR SO. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Clear Lake, near the town of Medical Lake, has brown trout and usually produces good catches of crappie and largemouth bass in late fall. Like a number of other waters throughout the region, Clear Lake remains open through October.

Year-round waters that produce well in the fall include Lake Roosevelt and Sprague Lake, both of which offer good-size rainbows.

In the north end of the region, access to the Boundary Dam reservoir on the Pend Oreille River is limited this month because of a drawdown for maintenance of the Seattle City Light dam. Beginning Sept. 1 and lasting up to 11 days, the reservoir will slowly be drawn down 40 feet to an elevation of 1,950 feet.

The low water condition is expected to prevent access at all boat launch facilities Sept. 9-16 on the Boundary reservoir, including the Boundary Forebay, Metaline Park, and Campbell Park immediately below Box Canyon Dam. The Boundary Dam campground and boat launch will be closed Sept. 11-19 to accommodate the maintenance project. For more information about this project, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/regions/region1/ .

NORTH-CENTRAL

Several popular Okanogan County trout lakes that have been under catch-and-release rules in past years will open Sept. 1 for a new “catch-and-keep” season. Those waters include Davis, Cougar, and Campbell lakes in the Winthrop area, where anglers will have a five-fish daily trout limit and bait will be allowed.

Rainbow trout are the predominant species, Jateff said, and anglers should expect fish in the 10- to 12-inch range, with carryovers up to 15 inches, said WDFW Okanogan District Fish Biologist Bob Jateff. Anglers should also note that, effective this year, there will be no gas-powered motors allowed on Davis Lake due to a new county ordinance.

Jateff said trout fishing has been good at the Methow River, where catch-and-release and selective-gear rules are in effect. The Methow River from Lower Burma Road bridge upstream to the McFarland Creek bridge will close Sept.15. The rest of the river upstream to Foghorn Dam (Winthrop area) will close Sept. 30.

“September is also a good time to hike up to one of many alpine lakes in Okanogan County,” Jateff said. “There are many waters with predominately cutthroat trout , which can be a good change of pace from lowland lake fisheries during the fall. Just be aware of fire restrictions this time of year.”

Jateff also said salmon fishing on the Columbia River near Brewster/Bridgeport has been fair, with a few more chinook starting to show up in the catch. “Most of the fish are being picked up in the 40- to 50-foot depth while trolling with spinners tipped with a whole shrimp,” he said. “Sockeye are still being caught as well.”

The salmon fishery from Wells Dam to the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster closed Aug. 31, but other portions of the Columbia, Okanogan and Similkameen rivers remain open through Sept. 15 or into October. For all rules, see the special regulation online at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=925 .

DON

JUST IN CASE YOU NEED ANY MORE IDEAS, PERHAPS YOU'VE HEARD OF RUFUS WOODS? THAT'S WHERE DON ERIKSEN HOOKED THIS NICE RAINBOW IN EARLY AUGUST. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Anglers looking for information about steelhead fishing on the upper Columbia River and its tributaries should watch the WDFW website for any special openings that are not in the sportfishing regulations pamphlet.

SOUTH-CENTRAL

Counts of chinook salmon and steelhead passing McNary Dam have been climbing day by day, setting the stage for popular fisheries throughout the region. While those fisheries often start out slow, they can ramp up quickly by mid-September as more fish pass the dam.

“There’s a lot of anticipation out there right now,” said Paul Hoffarth, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Anglers are catching fish here and there, but they know there are a lot more headed our way. By the middle of the month, we could have a couple thousand upriver brights in the Hanford Reach.”

According to the preseason forecast, 664,900 fall chinook salmon will enter the Columbia River this year, and about two-thirds of them are headed past Bonneville Dam.

Most of the Columbia River is open for salmon fishing, and the Yakima River opened for salmon fishing on Sept. 1 from the Columbia River upstream to Prosser Dam. The area around the Chandler Powerhouse will remain closed as in previous years. “The best fishing on the Yakima is in October, but some fish will start moving in this month,” Hoffarth said.

Fishing for hatchery steelhead should also pick up throughout the month, he said. Catches were slow in late August on the Columbia River, which is open for steelhead fishing from the Highway 395 Bridge (Blue Bridge) downstream. Effective Sept. 1, the Snake River opened for hatchery steelhead fishing with barbless hooks.

“As with salmon, look for fishing to improve as the water cools and more fish move upriver,” Hoffarth said. “Steelhead move fast. They don’t stay in one spot very long, so anglers have to be there when they arrive.”

Meanwhile, the month began with walleye fisheries in full swing, producing nice catches in the Columbia River above and below McNary Dam, as well as in the Snake River. Sturgeon fishing is restricted to catch and release in most of the Columbia River, including Lake Wallula and the Hanford Reach.

Trout fishing remains available in many southcentral region rivers and streams, including the Yakima, Naches, Little Naches, and Bumping rivers in Yakima County, and the upper reaches of Taneum Creek, Naneum Creek, Manastash Creek, and the forks of the Teanaway in Kittitas County. Most rivers and creeks have special regulations like selective gear rules that prohibit bait. Most also have statewide trout catch limits of two trout with an 8-inch minimum size. Anglers should check the regulation pamphlet for all details.

Thinking about catching kokanee in Rimrock Reservoir? Sooner is better than later, advises Perry Harvester, regional WDFW habitat manager. Water drawdowns began at the reservoir in late August and will likely render the launch ramps useless for larger boats by mid-September. “Car-top boat should still be fine, but it’s going to be tough to get larger boats in the water with the ramp high and dry.”

Advertisements

2 Responses to “What’s Fishing In Washington”

  1. FWC Cliff - Seattle, WA Says:

    I don’t know… Coho are still looking pretty thin in numbers. Right now we aren’t even bothering with the Coho runs and are waiting for them to improve before we head out.

    What we are doing is beating up the fall trout fishing which has been pretty good.

    • Andy Walgamott Says:

      Hey, Cliff, your comment brings up a good point. I’m going to have to start posting dates on these “What’s Fishin’ In Washington,” “What’s Fishin’ In Oregon” reports I get from WDFW and ODFW. This particular one was posted Sept. 1 … before it became obvious the coho run wasn’t on time, or in the numbers anticipated.

      Thanks for commenting and helping me improve the site!

      AW
      NWS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: