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It’s time to dust off the salmon fishing gear and head to the coast, where the early hatchery chinook fishery gets under way Saturday.

Good vibes have been coming out of the ocean this month. The commercial troll fishery has been hooking into good numbers of chinook, especially just south of Ilwaco, where some boats were coming back with lots of fish averaging 12-15 pounds.

“It is going gangbusters for the commercial trollers (off Ilwaco), and that is a change from when it started off well this month up north (at La Push and Neah Bay) where catches have kind of dropped off lately,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “It has also been slow (this month) off Westport for trollers.”

An early sport hatchery chinook fishery occurred May 16-17 and May 23-24, but produced little effort and a sparse catch of 0.2 fish per rod.

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The scenario will likely change as good weather is forecast this weekend off Ilwaco, Westport, La Push and Neah Bay, which are open daily through June 13 for hatchery-marked chinook. This will be followed by the summer salmon fishery.

“The selective fishery was slow last year for sport anglers but really good the year before, so hopefully it is an every-other-year occurrence,” Beeghly said.

The Lower Columbia is “fishing central” for hatchery spring chinook, summer steelhead and shad.

“They’re still catching spring chinook, and this past week anglers made about 9,000 trips and kept about 600 fish, and released around the same number,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “The updated run size for upriver-bound spring chinook is now 230,000 (up 3,000 from the preseason forecast).”

More of the spring chinook caught in the Lower Columbia are wild fish, which must be released, but a few more larger summer-type chinook were also showing up along with a decent number of summer steelhead.

The shad count at Bonne­ville Dam climbed to 211,315 after 41,232 moved upstream Sunday, 26,859 on Monday and 38,311 on Tuesday. Bank anglers below the dam averaged about three per rod, and fishing has been good at Steamboat Landing in Washougal.

The final coastal razor clam digs of the spring season are happening right now, and should be excellent.

Fishing report
Location  Comment
Marine areas Fair to good for halibut in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Sekiu to Port Angeles, San Juan Islands, east side of Whidbey Island and northern and central Puget Sound, which are only open Thursday to Saturday, and June 7. The catch-and-release salmon fishery opens in central Puget Sound from Sunday through June 30, and hatchery chinook fishing opens in south-central Puget Sound this Sunday. 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, although South Sound closes Saturday. The San Juan Islands East, South and West areas are open for spot shrimp now through Saturday. In the West area only, fishing will be open daily beginning Sunday. Lingcod and black rockfish fishing remains excellent at Westport, La Push and Neah Bay.
Biting: YesRating: 3 stars
Statewide rivers Many westside rivers open for fishing beginning June 7 for steelhead and trout. Fair to good in Cowlitz for spring chinook between the hatcheries. Slowing down 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). The Icicle River is fair for hatchery spring chinook. Slow and turbid water 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. The Columbia mainstem above Bonneville Dam will reopen Saturday until June 15 for hatchery chinook and steelhead.
Biting: YesRating: 3 stars
Westside lakes Lots of lakes were planted May 19-21 with more trout, which should create good fishing well into early summer. They are Black in Pacific County, 3,960 trout; Sawyer in King, 212; Bradley in Pierce, 1,500, Clear, 4,700, Tanwax, 1,500 and Kapowsin, 300; Battleground in Clark, 1,990; Buck in Kitsap, 300; Depression in Whatcom, 5,586; Duck in Grays Harbor, 700, Failor, 1,050, Sylvia, 800 and Aberdeen, 800; Horseshoe in Jefferson, 650; Island in Mason, 1,585 and Kokanee, 3,000; Loomis in Pacific, 1,215 and Western, 1,080; and Offutt in Thurston, 3,400. Others recently planted were Green, Rattlesnake, Walker, Beaver, Echo, Alice, Desire, Meridian, Pine, Gissburg, Shoecraft, and Flowing. Fair to good for trout at Mineral, Deer, Cottage, Padden, Wilderness, 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. Improved for cutthroat in Lake Washington. Fair to good for kokanee in Stevens, American, Meridian, Roesiger and Samish.
Biting: YesRating: 3 stars
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