SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report

The FB posts and PMs and emails are coming fast and furious about action at Drano Lake and Wind River. The buzz is the bite’s been on at the two WA-side Columbia tribs.

How does that compare to creel sampling? Read on for biologist Joe Hymer’s weekly Southwest WA fishing rundown:


Cowlitz River – Anglers are catching spring chinook in the lower river and at the barrier dam while steelhead are primarily being caught at the trout hatchery.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 985 winter-run steelhead, seven summer-run steelhead, 19 spring Chinook adults and eight jacks during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 50 winter-run steelhead and one spring Chinook salmon into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, and they released five winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 10,500 cubic feet per second on Monday, May 2. Water visibility is seven feet.

Kalama River – Anglers near the mouth are catching some spring chinook while some winter and summer run steelhead are being caught upriver.  No spring chinook have returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery through May 2nd though few if any fish would be expected at this time.

Lewis River – Effort continues to be light.  Some spring chinook reported caught at the mouth.

As of today (May 2nd), a total of 21 adult spring chinook have returned to the Merwin Dam trap.  Based upon early, average, and late run timing, 14, 154, or 497 fish would have expected to return by this time, respectively.

Washougal River – Boat anglers are catching some summer run steelhead.  Slower for bank anglers.

Wind River – Effort and catch is rapidly increasing.  About 120 boats counted here yesterday morning.  Some days creel checks have been over a fish per boat average.

Five spring chinook have been passed at the Shipherd Falls through April 27.

Drano Lake – Effort and catch is also increasing here.  Yesterday morning there were about 100 boats.  Daily creel checks have been over a fish per boat average at times.

White Salmon River – Light effort and no catch reported.

Klickitat River – A few summer run steelhead and spring chinook reported caught.

Mainstem Columbia from Bonneville Dam to the WA/OR state line – An estimated 453 adult Chinook kept and 165 released from over 3,000 angler trips for the season that ended May 1.  Most of the catch occurred this last week in The Dalles Pool.

Ringold area –  From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WA:  The “bank only” sport fishery for spring chinook got off to a slow start. May 1 was opening day with a peak angler count of 4.  Last year the peak count was over 60 anglers.  WDFW staff interviewed four anglers fishing for salmon and none were reported caught.  One angler did report catching and releasing 5 hatchery steelhead.  No chinook have entered the Ringold Hatchery trap to date.


Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Some legals are being caught in the Vancouver area.  The 98 boats and 41 bank anglers found during the Saturday April 30 effort flight count was nearly identical to the previous weekend.

The Dalles Pool – Slow for legal size fish.

John Day Pool – 3 boats (8 anglers) fishing for sturgeon released 3 fish (Catch & Release Only!)


The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged just under 3 walleye kept and 6 bass kept/released per rod.  Bank anglers are catching some bass.

John Day Pool – 3 boats (6 anglers) fishing for walleye had 19 fish.  3 boats (7 anglers) fishing for bass had 3 bass and a walleye.


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