Fishing Corner: Hatchery steelhead are the name of the game now

Hatchery steelhead is the name of the game for mid-March. There are fish to be caught and anglers are zeroing in on their location.

Because this state is largely a hatchery steelhead fishery, except for what is offered on select rivers, anglers target these fish most earnestly. This is done due to the fact that only these fish are retainable and also for the purpose of protecting wild steelhead.

Our steelhead-yielding rivers have reported fish being caught despite higher and colored water. These fish have been fresh and bright, which is an added delight to the angler. At some time, it has been a bit of an endurance contest with respect to the colder and unsettled weather the Harbor has been experiencing lately.

As the month advances, so will the steelhead. Fishers can expect these fish in the upper portion of the Humptulips, Satsop and Wynooche Rivers. These three rivers are the only streams in our county open to steelhead fishing.

Further south, the Willapa River from the Highway 6 Bridge to Fork Creek is also open in Pacific County. Our northern streams in Jefferson County all have a longer season as well.

However, in our area— and in particular both the Hump and Wynooche upper sections— come under a special fishery. The selective-gear rule applies to the section of the Humptulips from the 101 Bridge to the confluence of the East and West Forks.

With respect to the Wynooche, this rule will apply to that section of the river from 7400 Line Bridge above the mouth of Schafer Creek and continues upstream and includes the area upstream of the reservoir.

In regard to this section of the Wynooche River, this rule means anglers are prohibited to fish from a floating device and internal combustion motors are also prohibited. The rule allows fishing with only unscented artificial flies with one single-point barbless hook. Flies or lures each must contain a single-point barbless hook and bait is prohibited. When releasing fish, a knotless net must be used.

With respect to the upper Humptulips River, floating devices are permitted; however, internal combustion motors are prohibited. The same selective gear rules apply as they do on the Wynooche. The concern is not the same for the Satsop River since the upper water is protected by closure.

The attention of many is shifting toward spring Chinook salmon. This popular fishery is one that will require some travel and time commitment. A few northern rivers such as the Hoh become a consideration. The Cowlitz River is a state leader for accommodating springers. Many anglers from our area make the trip to the Columbia River as well.

The Columbia is a major attraction due to the volume of fish that utilize this main waterway to other rivers. Usually, it requires a good boat to access this river, and when done properly, it can be very productive.

As the weather improves, the conditions become more favorable. Thus, spring fishing for springers becomes enticing and fun.