Spring chinook have appeared in catches on the Lower Columbia River and Willamette River.

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The pollen count for trees has soared and that means spring is knocking on the door with more fishing opportunities blooming across the state.

Spring chinook have appeared in catches on the Lower Columbia River and Willamette River in Oregon.

“The spring chinook are scattered in the Columbia mainstem from I-5 downstream and Oregon checked fish on Willamette around Meldrum Bar Park,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “There have also been some winter-run steelhead caught primarily in the Longview area.”

Effort is building with 80 boats and 137 bank anglers counted during aerial flight counts this past Saturday.

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Water conditions are decent in Lower Columbia with flows hovering around 200,000 cubic feet per second at Bonneville Dam, and the temperature was a mild 41 degrees at Youngs Bay.

The forecast calls for 188,800 upriver-bound Columbia River adult spring chinook, compared to last year’s forecast of 232,500 (the actual return was 289,000).

Currently, the Lower Columbia below the I-5 Bridge is open through April 9 (closed March 29 and April 5) for hatchery chinook and steelhead, and I-5 up to the Highway 395 Bridge is open for hatchery steelhead only. Daily limit is six salmon. Through Monday, up to two may be hatchery steelhead or two adult hatchery chinook or one of each.

Starting March 1, only one may be a hatchery adult chinook.

The Lower Columbia from I-5 to Bonneville Dam opens March 1 to April 9 (closed March 29 and April 5) for hatchery chinook and steelhead. Bank fishing only is allowed from Beacon Rock upstream. The daily limit is six salmon. Up to two may be hatchery steelhead or one hatchery adult chinook and one hatchery steelhead.

Trout fishing

Several Eastern Washington lakes will open Tuesday for an early-season trout fishery, and state Fish and Wildlife recently surveyed the Quincy Wildlife Area and found all the waterways were free of ice.

Quincy and Burke in Grant County are always good producers. The Burke Lake Trout Derby is March 5. Details at www.quincyvalleytourism.org/fishing.html.

Fly anglers should find fair action at Lenice, Beverly, Nunnally, Dusty and Merry. Martha, east of the town of George, is another popular spot with good bank access. Caliche west of George and Lenore (open for catch and release only) north of Soap Lake should be decent.

In the Puget Sound region, Campbell in Skagit County was recently planted with 800 trout averaging 2 to 4 pounds; Clear got 550; and Grandy received 200.

Coast razor clams

State Fish and Wildlife reported an estimated 30,900 diggers showed up last Saturday at Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks beaches, and found excellent digging.

“We had absolutely off-the-charts digging, and the weather and surf cooperated providing near limits of clams (the first 15 clams regardless of size or condition is a daily limit) for everyone,” said Dan Ayres, the head coastal state Fish and Wildlife shellfish manager.

Razor clam digging remains open daily on the southern coast at Long Beach during evening low tides only through March 10.

Digging is now closed at Mocrocks and Copalis, but state Fish and Wildlife has plans for additional digs that will be announced by Friday once they get test results for marine toxins.

“We should have plenty of dates to dig in March at the three beaches,” Ayres said.

Fishing Report
Location  Comment
Marine areas Fair to good for hatchery chinook in San Juan Islands off McArthur, Hein, Middle and Salmon banks; and north side of Orcas Island off Point Thompson to Point Doughty; Tide Point; Thatcher Pass; and north side of Smith Island. The eastern Strait around Port Angeles is closed for salmon, but fair for hatchery chinook to the west off Sekiu. Slow to fair for hatchery chinook in northern Puget Sound and east side of Whidbey Island. Slow for salmon in southern Puget Sound. South-central Puget Sound and Hood Canal are open for salmon, but reports show slow catch rates. Dungeness crab fishing is open through Sunday in Hood Canal and a portion of northern Puget Sound — also known as Admiralty Inlet — north of the Hood Canal Bridge to the Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point. The Everett Blackmouth Derby is March 19. Details: www.everettblackmouthderby.com/.
Biting: YesRating: ★★  
Statewide rivers The northern Olympic coast is a viable option for steelhead on Calawah (100 anglers Feb. 19-21 kept two steelhead and released 43); Bogachiel (107 kept two and released seven); Sol Duc (190 kept five and released 107); and Upper Hoh (16 released two). Effort and steelhead catch has increased on the Cowlitz near the trout hatchery. Fair for steelhead in the Columbia in The Dalles Pool. Boat anglers in John Day Pool averaged slightly more than one walleye per rod, and in The Dalles Pool boat anglers averaged almost three walleye per rod.
Biting: YesRating: ★★  
Statewide lakes Fair to good for cutthroat trout in Lake Sammamish (reminder to pinch your barbs on hooks). Slow to fair for cutthroat in Lake Washington. Slow to fair for trout caught at American, Angle, Lone, Pass and Green. Good for walleye and perch in Potholes Reservoir. Good for lake trout and kokanee in Lake Chelan. Good at Lake Roosevelt for kokanee and rainbow trout.

In Clark County, Battle Ground was planted with 3,000 rainbows and Klineline 1,800.

Biting: YesRating: ★★