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Originally published December 5, 2012 at 6:19 PM | Page modified December 6, 2012 at 12:55 AM

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Winter steelhead should improve as river levels fall

The best options in the days ahead point to winter steelhead fishing in a few local rivers or digging up razor clams on coastal beaches...

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The best options in the days ahead point to winter steelhead fishing in a few local rivers or digging up razor clams on coastal beaches.

"We should see some of the best winter steelhead fishing once the river levels drop, and it could happen by the weekend since we're supposed to get colder weather and less rain," said Mike Chamberlain, owner of Ted's Sports Center in Lynnwood.

"The Upper Skykomish within a mile of the hatchery complex is still the best place," Chamberlain said. "We've also heard fairly good reports out of the Snoqualmie near Tokul Creek, but the fish are smaller, in the 4- to 7-pound range."

Up north, the Cascade River is the most consistent for steelhead.

The much-anticipated conventional fishing gear (bait and lures allowed) opener last Saturday on the Stillaguamish River North Fork was a bust as Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist, reported swift flows and high water. Once it drops expect some decent steelhead action.

The west side of Whidbey Island off Bush and Lagoon points is generating some steelhead for bank anglers.

"We're seeing a few more fish caught on Cowlitz at Blue Creek," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in southwest Washington. "There are signs of winter steelhead around, and we'll know more after the river levels drop. The Kalama remains slow, and the Lewis (water level) is pretty high and fishing is slow."

The northern coastal rivers have been bombarded by torrential rainstorms, but the Bogachiel is fairly good for hatchery steelhead.

Also try Cook Creek or Salmon River, where a tribal guide is required. For late coho head to the Humptulips or Satsop rivers.

Nibbles and bites: Squid jigging remains excellent at Edmonds Pier, Seacrest Pier in West Seattle, Des Moines Pier, Les Davis Pier in Tacoma, A-Dock at Shilshole Bay Marina and Pier 86 off Elliott Avenue West. The Dungeness crab fishery in some areas of Puget Sound and Hood Canal is good. Smelt jigging is on the rise at the Oak Harbor Marina.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

Fishing report
Location Comment
Marine areas The chances of hooking a winter chinook are likely blowing in the wind, and the pattern could hold this weekend. The San Juan Islands and eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca opened last Saturday, and produced a few fish in between storms. More news should come to light at the Resurrection Winter Blackmouth Derby this weekend in Friday Harbor. Details: www.resurrectionderby.com. Chinook fishing is open through Jan. 31 in central Puget Sound, and fair at Jefferson Head but slow at Manchester and Southworth. Spotty for chinook off the southeast side of Whidbey Island, Saratoga Pass, south-central Puget Sound and Hood Canal. The Tengu Derby in Elliott Bay on Sunday lured 26 anglers, and two fish were caught including the winning 7-pound, 3-ounce fish by Tim Ratigan. Season leader is Justin Wong with a 9-pound, 12-ounce fish. Derby meets at daybreak on Sundays through Dec. 30 at Seacrest Boathouse. Cost is $15. Details: 206-324-7600.
Biting: Maybe

Rating: 2 stars

Coastal clams A total of 4,600 diggers harvested 36,000 razor clams from Nov. 26-Dec. 1, but stormy weather last weekend produced poor success and turnout. Next digs are: Dec. 11-13 at Twin Harbors; Dec. 14-15 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks; and Dec. 16 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks. Digging is allowed after noon each day. Other tentative dates are: Dec. 28 at Twin Harbors; Dec. 29 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; Dec. 30-31 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. More dates will be announced soon for January and February.
Digging: Yes

Rating: 4 stars

Local lakes Good trout fishing at Rowland, Battleground, Kress, Klineline and South Lewis County, but slow at Fort Borst Pond. Fair to good for cutthroat trout in Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish. Also target trout at Beaver near Issaquah, and Ballinger, Blackmans and Goodwin in Snohomish County.
Biting: Yes

Rating: 3 stars

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