Latest Smelt Info

If you are interested in the latest smelt information, you can read Bob's Sporting Goods daily report by going to or call them at (800) 292-5551 or (360) 425-3870. Rumor has it that there are a lot of smelt in the Columbia River, but they will not enter the Cowlitz River until the water temperature rises to 42 degrees.

No license is needed - 20-pound limit per person (about two-thirds of a 5-gallon bucket). Dipping is allowed Wednesdays and Saturdays, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. in tributaries and everyday, 24 hours a day, in the Columbia River, through March 31.

WDFW Samplings

Joe Hymer, WDFW biologist reports that Cowlitz River fishing is improving. Late winter-run steelhead and some spring Chinook are being caught throughout the lower river from the barrier dam downstream.

Spring Chinook

Indicators are improving and, hopefully, so will the fishing. Water temperatures at Bonneville have risen to 44 degrees over the past ten days and water clarity is very good at 5 to 7 feet. The first day of Spring was last Saturday, hopefully bringing warmer weather. This year's run of spring Chinook will be mostly 4-year-olds, and they tend to run a little later.

"As we get further into the run, we should see rapid improvement," Hymer says. "It looks like the leading edge of the run is getting ready to head through the lower river."

Typically, the good fishing starts just downstream of the Cathlamet area. From Longview downstream the catch rate for spring salmon nearly doubled from the previous week; 89 percent of the Chinook handled were hatchery fish, 75 percent of the hatchery fish were of lower-river origin.

Hymer fished with two friends this past week and took four springers - all marked hatchery fish between 12 and 14 pounds. They also ran into another boat with six fish for four fishers and other boats with one or two each.

Milt Gudgell, owner of Pacific Salmon Charters and fishing two boats of springers in the Cathlamet area, says, "Last week's gillnet take (24-hour period) was about 26 fish per boat, and the average size was 13 pounds. More like 3-year-old fish than 4-year-old run of fish predicted by WDFW biologists. Fishing has picked up pretty substantially this past week using quick-fish wrapped with sardines and trolling herring." Gudgell also added after you legally hook a fish, get it in the boat as quickly as possible because the seals and sea lions are thick as flies, and fishermen are losing salmon every day, to these nasty predators.

On Sunday the charter boat Katie Marie, of Pacific Salmon Charters, hooked and landed six spring Chinook salmon, all legal fish. Six fishermen and six springers - that's the best catch I've heard of this season, fishing out of Cathlamet.

Nautical Origins

Even keel, Keeled over - A vessel that floats upright without list is said to be on an even keel, and this term has come to mean calm and steady. A keel is like the backbone of the vessel, the lowest and principal centerline structure member running fore and aft. Keeled over (upside down) was a sailor's term for death.

Full deck - Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards, but only applicable to the "ace of spades." To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead. Yet, most games require 52 cards; these people were thought to be dumb or stupid because they weren't "playing with a full deck."

Straight-laced - Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A tightly tied lace was worn by a proper and dignified lady as in "straight laced."

Ron Malast is the owner/operator of the charter boat Big Dipper working through Pacific Salmon Charters out of Ilwaco and can be reached at 665-3573.

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