Hatchery winter steelhead returns are looking good in some southwest Washington rivers, but anglers aren’t reeling them in at any fast pace.
“The hatchery returns are looking good, but the fish checks haven’t been stellar,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “Surprisingly the steelhead catch right now pales in comparison to salmon runs we’ve been having.”
In fact, coho catches are just as good as the winter steelhead on the Cowlitz River. This past week, 96 bank anglers kept six adult coho and six steelhead, and released one adult coho; and 25 boat anglers kept eight steelhead and three adult coho.
In the southwest region fishing report, state fisheries reports there are still chrome bright fall chinook and coho being counted at Bonneville Dam on the Lower Columbia River. About half the steelhead counted at the dam last week were hatchery fish.
In the Cowlitz, 660 have returned to hatcheries compared to 349 at the same time last year; Kalama 227 compared to 40; Lewis 107 compared to 54; and Washougal, 205 compared to 57.