Catch rates for summer steelhead are picking up on the lower Columbia River tributaries - particularly the Cowlitz River, where catch rates have been hovering around two keepers for every three rods. Meanwhile, anglers are still pulling in hefty summer Chinook on the Columbia mainstem above Woodland, while others await word on sturgeon fishing in areas both above and below Bonneville Dam.
Creel checks conducted July 3-9 in that area counted 96 boat anglers with 62 hatchery fish. Bank anglers have also been catching some fish at Blue Creek. Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist, reminds anglers that the daily limit for hatchery steelhead was recently increased to three fish on sections of the Cowlitz and North Fork Lewis rivers currently open to steelhead fishing. As always, all wild, unmarked steelhead must be released unharmed.
Steelhead fishing in the Lower Columbia and other area tributaries has been "a little tougher" in recent days, but that could be changing, Hymer said. After pulling 2,300 hatchery steelhead from the lower river in June - the third highest catch for that month since 1973 - anglers saw success rates fall as the number of fish moving over Bonneville Dam slowed to 60 percent of the historical average. But with dam counts now pushing above 1,200 fish per day, Hymer said better fishing is sure to follow.