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Originally published Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 5:56 PM

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Abundance of fishing opportunities heading into holiday weekend


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Fishing choices have hit a point now where there are so many places to go, and not enough time in week to hook into all of them.

The northern coastal halibut fishery off La Push and Neah Bay has been about as good as it gets, and the last chance is Thursday and Saturday, plus there is also a window of opportunity for hatchery chinook on Friday and Saturday.

“The halibut catch at La Push and Neah Bay has been fantastic, and the average per person was 0.9 out of a possible one-fish daily limit at La Push, and 0.7 at Neah Bay,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

“The hatchery-marked chinook fishery (May 16-17) saw very little effort and even less catch, and I think people were just geared up for halibut and didn’t bring their salmon gear along,” Beeghly said.

Ilwaco is open for halibut Thursday to Sunday only, and Westport is now closed. The entire coastal hatchery chinook fishery opens daily from May 31 to June 13.

The Strait from Sekiu to Port Angeles, San Juan Islands, east side of Whidbey Island and northern and central Puget Sound will open for halibut Thursday to Sunday, and May 29-31 and June 7 only.

Opportunities continue to grow with more lakes getting trout plants to boost fishing action.

Many are now planning fishing outings to the Lower Columbia where the shad counts and catches have started to ramp up big time, and hatchery spring chinook (run-size was recently upgraded to 224,000) and summer steelhead are also a viable option.

On Wednesday, the shad count at Bonneville Dam was 10,056 (averaging about 5,000 daily this past week), and 42,253 were counted so far this season. Bank anglers just below the dam averaged 2.6 per rod, and boat anglers in Longview were also hooking into them.

More local lakes were planted May 12-14 with trout to boost prospects heading into the long holiday weekend.

In King County: Green, 2,692; Rattlesnake, 204; and Walker, 2,500; plus, Beaver, Echo, Alice, Desire, Meridian, Pine, Shadow and Spring were also planted this month. In Pierce County: Bradley, 850; plus Crescent and Kapowsin.

In Mason County: Aldrich, 200 trout; Benson, 1,020; Clara, 300; Howell, 150; Maggie, 350; Phillips, 1,250; Spencer, 2,650; and Tiger, 1,335. In Clark County: Battleground, 3,000; and Klineline, 1,275. In Grays Harbor: Aberdeen, 100; and Sylvia, 100. In Cowlitz County: Sacajawea, 3,002.

In Snohomish County, Gissburg, 4,425; Shoecraft, 2,038; and Silver, 3,198; plus Ballinger and Flowing.

Other recently planted lakes were Cranberry in Island County; Lawrence in Thurston; Wentworth in Clallam; and Duck in Grays Harbor. For latest plants go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.

The final coastal razor clam digs of the spring season are scheduled to begin Tuesday, and should provide excellent digging during the upcoming morning low tides.

“Often when we get into May the weather is fantastic, clams are fat and the low tides are great, and everyone I interviewed during the (May 13-20) digs were happy,” said Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager.

Digging is open Tuesday (low tide minus-1.0 feet at 6:24 a.m.) at Twin Harbors and Long Beach; Wednesday (-1.3 at 7:06 a.m.) at Twin Harbors and Long Beach; May 29 (-1.4 at 7:45 a.m.) at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks; May 30 (-1.2 at 8:23 a.m.) at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks; May 31 (-1.0 at 9 a.m.) at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks; and June 1 (-0.7 at 9:37 a.m.) at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks.

Fishing Report
Location Comment
Marine areas

The catch and release salmon fishery open in central Puget Sound from June 1-30, and hatchery chinook fishing opens in south-central Puget Sound on June 1. Southern Puget Sound is currently open for hatchery chinook. The Edmonds Pier is another open option for salmon. Neah Bay, eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and southern Puget Sound are open daily for spot shrimp, and will close when the quota is achieved or Sept. 15, whichever comes first; and the exception is South Sound, which closes May 31.

The San Juan Islands East, South and West areas are open for spot shrimp through Saturday, and May 28-31. In the West area only, fishing will be open daily beginning June 1 until the quota is reached or Sept. 15, whichever comes first. Bottomfishing for lingcod and halibut remains excellent at Westport, La Push and Neah Bay.

Biting: YesRating: 3 stars
Statewide riversStart making plans to hit up your favorite rivers as many open for fishing beginning June 7. Good for spring chinook in Kalama, which have to be released. Fair to good in Cowlitz for spring chinook and steelhead between the hatcheries. Decent for spring chinook at Drano Lake at Little White Salmon River mouth (Drano is closed every Wednesday through June), Wind and Klickitat from Fisher Hill Bridge downstream (open Monday, Wednesday and weekends). Slow in Yakima for hatchery spring chinook, but good for channel catfish and smallmouth bass. Good for walleye and bass in The Dalles and John Day pools.
Biting: YesRating: 2 stars
Statewide lakesLake Scanewa (Cowlitz Falls Reservoir) opens June 1 for hatchery rainbow trout with 20,000 expected to be planted from June to August. Fair to good for trout at Mineral (2,990 brown trout planted on May 8), Margaret, Deer, Cottage, Geneva, Padden and Wilderness. In Eastern Washington, target trout at Jameson, Coffeepot, Fishtrap, Williams, Warden, and Conconully Lake and Reservoir. Good at Potholes Reservoir for walleye, bass and trout. Lake Chelan is good for lake trout and kokanee. Slow to fair for cutthroat trout in Lake Washington. Good for kokanee Stevens, American, Meridian, Roesiger, Cavanaugh and Samish.
Biting: YesRating: 3 stars

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



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