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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

November 23, 2010 at 7:00 AM

Columbia River region offers some nice winter fishing activities

The frigid weather may take a while thaw out, but anglers who can make a trip down the Columbia River area will be rewarded with fish.

The Cowlitz River continues to provide anglers with decent catches of coho throughout the river though best action this past week came from the barrier dam area.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 5,393 coho adults, 189 jacks, 52 fall adult chinook, one jack chinook, 46 winter-run steelhead, 42 summer-run steelhead and 56 sea-run cutthroat trout during seven days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 1,101 adult coho, 71 jack coho, and 26 fall adult chinook into Lake Scanewa; 130 adult coho and five jack coho into the Upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood; and 88 adult coho, nine jack coho, one fall adult chinook, and three cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 9,470 cubic feet per second on Monday, Nov. 22. Water visibility is seven feet.

Beginning Dec. 1, Blue Creek opens to fishing for hatchery steelhead and sea-run cutthroats while Mill Creek opens to fishing for hatchery steelhead.

Green River, North Fork Toutle River, and mainstem Toutle from mouth to forks closes after Nov. 30 for hatchery steelhead and hatchery salmon.

The South Fork Toutle River from 4100 Bridge upstream closes after Nov. 30 for hatchery steelhead. From the mouth to the bridge remains open with selective gear rules in effect beginning Dec. 1.

The Grays River mainstem from Hwy. 4 Bridge to South Fork opens to fishing for hatchery steelhead, hatchery coho, and adipose and/or ventral fin clipped chinook beginning Dec. 1. On the same day the open area on the West Fork expands from the hatchery intake/footbridge to the mouth.

Anglers are still catching some coho and steelhead in the Kalama River.

Anglers are catching some coho though most of the fish are dark in the Lewis River. In addition some chinook, which have to be released, are being caught. Flows below Merwin Dam are currently near 8,200 cfs, up from the long-term mean of 6,610 cfs for this date.

Under permanent rules, the night closure and anti-snagging rule is lifted from Johnson Creek to Colvin Creek beginning Dec. 1. However, the restriction of fishing from any floating device in that area remains in effect through mid December.

Under permanent rules, Nov. 30 is the last day of the catch and release game fish season in the Wind River above Shipherd Falls.

Under permanent rules, the Klickitat River (except for the salmon fishery from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream) closes to fishing for trout including hatchery steelhead and salmon beginning Dec. 1. The salmon season from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream remains open through January.

The whitefish only season from 400 feet above Fishway #5 upstream to the Yakama Reservation boundary begins Dec. 1. Whitefish gear rules will be in effect.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam only one brave bsnk angler was seen from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line with no catch.

Paul Hoffarth, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Pasco says an estimated 351 steelhead have been caught in November through Nov. 21 in the Hanford Reach area. Anglers are averaging one steelhead for each 11 hours of fishing. A total of 501 hatchery steelhead have been harvested this season in the lower Hanford Reach (Hwy. 395 to Hanford town site). Catch and harvest is well below the 2008 and 2009 November fisheries but similar to catch and harvest in 2004-07.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam: In general, the fishing has gone as cold as the weather. Fisheries sampled 117 sturgeon bank and 24 boat (8 boats) anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Wauna powerlines with no legals kept. Combined with the few fish found in the Oregon Fish and Wildlife sample, probably less than a dozen fish were caught out of the 57 legals remaining on this year’s annual guideline for this area.

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