Digs scheduled for Mocrocks, Twin Harbors, Copalis. Lower Columbia sees first catches of spring chinook

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The list of spring choices is expanding with a legitimate chance to catch a spring chinook, trout and bottomfish or digging up a batch of razor clams.

Coastal razor clam digging opens Thursday during afternoon/evening low tides at Mocrocks and Twin Harbors; Friday at Copalis and Twin Harbors; Saturday at Mocrocks and Twin Harbors; Sunday at Copalis and Twin Harbors; and Monday at Twin Harbors.

Success has been excellent since the season began on Oct. 16 with diggers at Twin Harbors averaging 12.4 clams per person (daily limit is the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition); Copalis, 12.4; and Mocrocks, 11.4.

Long Beach remains closed due to elevated levels of domoic acid that can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. Kalaloch is closed during this series of digs since state fisheries was unable to dig toxin samples.

Other tentative planned dates during evening low tides are: March 24 and 26 at Mocrocks; and March 25 at Copalis. Dates then switching to morning low tides are: March 30, and April 14, 16 and 27 at Mocrocks; March 31 and April 30 at Copalis and Kalaloch; April 1 and 29 at Mocrocks and Kalaloch; and April 2, 13, 15 and 28 at Copalis.

Final approval hinges on toxin test results usually announced a week prior to each series of digs.

The first spring chinook catches have occurred along the Lower Columbia River, and look for success to build in the weeks ahead.

During March 1 through Sunday, 1,351 angler trips on Lower Columbia saw a catch of 12 spring chinook and six winter steelhead. Fishing conditions are less than ideal with high water levels, swift moving water, muddy conditions and a lot of debris in the river.

The Lower Columbia River spring chinook season is open through April 6 for boat and bank fishing from the mouth at Buoy 10 upstream to Beacon Rock, and bank fishing only from Beacon Rock to Bonneville Dam. Daily limit is two salmon, but only one can be a hatchery-marked chinook.

Look for very good success if the weather cooperates when the coastal bottom-fishing season for mainly black rockfish and lingcod opens Saturday.

The ports of Ilwaco, Westport and La Push open Saturday through Oct. 21 for bottomfish including lingcod; and Neah Bay also opens Saturday through Oct. 21 for bottomfish except the lingcod fishery, which is open April 16 through Oct. 15.

Daily limit for rockfish is seven, and one canary rockfish may be kept as part of a limit off Ilwaco and Westport only. Anglers will also be able to retain two bottomfish – like lingcod or cabezon – on top of their daily limit of seven rockfish. In the lingcod fishery, state fisheries has eliminated the 22-inch minimum size along the coast.

Look for good trout fishing in American Lake in Pierce County, which was planted Monday with 4,922 trout; Cassidy in Snohomish County got 2,115; and Alice in King County received 1,281, and Rattlesnake got 3,000.

Fishing Report
Location Comment
Marine areas Sekiu to Port Angeles and North Puget Sound were fair to good for hatchery chinook. The eastern Strait and eastside of Whidbey Island has reached 82 percent of their chinook encounter guideline; and northern Puget Sound is at 75 percent. The western Strait of Juan de Fuca at Sekiu is open daily for salmon through April 30; eastern Strait at Port Angeles through April 15; eastside of Whidbey Island in Saratoga Pass through April 30; North Puget Sound through April 15; south-central Puget Sound through April 30; Hood Canal through April 30; and South Puget Sound through June 30. San Juan Islands are closed for salmon, and will likely reopen in early April. Everett Blackmouth Derby is March 18. Details: www.everettblackmouthderby.com/.
Biting: Yes

Rating: ★★  

Statewide rivers Slow to fair for steelhead in the Cowlitz, Kalama, Coweeman and Lewis East Fork. The Wind River up to Highway 14 Bridge and Drano Lake opens March 16 for hatchery chinook and steelhead, but this fishery doesn’t ramp up until next month. The Lewis is closed for spring chinook, but open for hatchery steelhead. Good for walleye in The Dalles and John Day pools of the Columbia. Fair for steelhead in the Bogachiel, Calawah, Sol Duc, Hoh, Queets, Quinault. Fair boat angling for steelhead in Hanford Reach of the Columbia.
Biting: Yes

Rating: ★★  

Statewide lakes Fair for trout at Martha, Upper Caliche, Lenice and Quincy (access road is closed, but anglers can walk into Quincy Wildlife Area or access via Road 3 to the east). Good ice fishing at Burke for limits of trout and a fair amount of yellow perch. Tucannon Lakes are free of ice and stocked with trout. The Quincy Valley Tourism Association Trout Derby is postponed until March 25. Fair to good for planted trout at Battle Ground, Klineline, Fort Borst Park and Sacajawea. Goodwin in Snohomish County is worth a try for trout. Fair for cutthroat trout in Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish. Decent for large-sized kokanee in Lake Roosevelt. Fair to good for lake trout and kokanee in Lake Chelan.
Biting: Yes

Rating: ★★★