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Originally published March 5, 2014 at 5:49 PM | Page modified March 5, 2014 at 8:29 PM

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Big turnout expected for last chance at smelt

Not all fishing opportunities will be drowned out by the impending rain storms.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Not all fishing opportunities will be drowned out by the impending rain storms.

A big turnout is expected for what should be the final dip-net bank smelt fishery along the Cowlitz River from 6 a.m. to noon Saturday.

“It was good last Saturday depending on where you were at,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “It took some one dip to get (a 10-pound daily limit). Others a few dips, and maybe 20 minutes or so for others.”

Dip-netting has been open on Saturdays since Feb. 8, but the big push of migrating smelt didn’t arrive until last week.

This was the first time in three years that the smelt dip-net fishery has been open. Smelt were listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act after more than a decade of declining returns. Smelt returns in 2011 began making a comeback, and returns have been good since.

The early Eastern Washington trout opener saw good participation, considering how poor the weather was Saturday.

Anglers had to deal with temperatures in the low teens, a damp and cold wind blowing constantly at 10 to 25 mph, plus light snow, according to Chad Jackson, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Ephrata.

“Anglers were generally happy to be out fishing, and spending time with family and friends,” Jackson said. “Angler harvest was very good on Upper Caliche and Martha Lakes, averaging three trout (per person).”

Burke Lake was slower at two trout per person, but many who braved the elements and fished longer brought home four or more.

“Trout were a smidgen on the small side (10½ to 11½ inches), but very hearty and robust,” Jackson said. “The slightly smaller trout size is not too surprising because they’re one to two months from a full year of growing. These same trout will be 12 to13 inches in length by April.”

A few carry-overs measured 14 to 18 inches. Jackson said anglers should continue to fish these lakes through the spring.

Lenice Lake also fished very well on the opener, though effort was way down from the previous couple of years. About a dozen anglers fished Lenice last weekend. Most anglers caught between 12 to 15 trout ranging in size from 12 to 20-plus inches. Most were 14 to 16 inches.

“The trout (at Lenice) were very robust and hard-fighting,” Jackson said.

Fishing Report
Location Comment
Marine areasThe next coastal razor clam digs are set for March 26-27 at Twin Harbors and March 28-29 at Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks. Digging is allowed from noon to midnight. Digging will switch over to morning low tides from March 30-April 3 and April 14-20. The Bill Hayes Salmon Derby was held Saturday on Camano Island, and 84 anglers caught seven fish. Winner was Zac Mackey, who caught a 12.11-pound hatchery chinook off Camano Head and took home $2,100. Between storms, salmon fishing has been fair to good off Port Angeles, Point No Point, Double Bluff off Whidbey Island, Pilot Point, San Juan Islands, Port Townsend and Possession Bar. Slow for salmon in the Tacoma area, and fair in Hood Canal off Misery Point. Sekiu in the western Strait is open for salmon, but no effort this past week due to stormy weather. Fair for hatchery chinook in Saratoga Pass, Camano Head, Hat Island, Elger Bay and Columbia Beach.
Biting: MaybeRating: 2 stars
Statewide riversStill no reports of spring chinook caught in the Lower Columbia, and surprisingly there was no catch in February in the Lower Columbia below Bonneville for the first time since 2000. Heavy rainfall has washed away just about all chances to catch a steelhead in the Bogachiel, Calawah, Sol Duc, Hoh, Satsop, Washougal, Cowlitz and Wynoochee. Fair for walleye in The Dalles and John Day pools of the Columbia.
Biting: DoubtfulRating: 1 stars
Statewide lakesKlineline Pond was planted Feb. 26 with 1,500 trout averaging a half-pound, and Battleground Lake also got 1,500 on Feb. 24. Rufus Woods Reservoir is fair for big rainbow trout. Roosevelt is fair to good for trout. Lake Chelan is good for lake trout and kokanee. Locally, state Fish and Wildlife will be planting trout this month in Cranberry and Lone in Island County; Alice, Angle, Beaver, Green, Meridian, Rattlesnake, Sawyer and Steel in King County; Grandy in Skagit County; and Ballinger, Blackmans, Cassidy, Chain, Flowing, Ketchum, Loma, Martha, Panther, Shoecraft, Silver, Tye, Gissburg Ponds and Lost in Snohomish County. For details, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/reports_plants.html
Biting: YesRating: 2 stars

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



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