The heavy rainfall and flooding that occurred at the end of last month have taken their toll on river fishing into the month of March. Of course, the greatest impact has been that anglers have not been able to find fishable water.
It has taken a considerable amount of time to bring the rivers back into fishable condition. These fast-flowing rivers have moved a lot of debris, mud and trees downstream. Whenever this amount of rain enters the rivers, it takes much longer than when a simple storm comes to clear up. In such a case, the rivers rise and drop quickly and fishing interruptions are minimal.
However, when flood stages occur, the amount of mud which accumulates in rivers takes considerably longer to clear out. These conditions certainly have an impact on the fish population itself.
One of the things that can happen when these types of river conditions occur in late February or early March is the adverse effect on anglers per say. For some, the motivation to go fishing diminishes under these circumstances.
The conclusion is drawn that there are relatively few fish in the rivers and many simply get out of the habit and thereby “hang it up for the season.”
My contention is this has been an unusual year weatherwise. The early season saw minimal rainfall which made the migration of fish difficult. With the coming of the recent rains, as voluminous as it has been, fish were finally given measurable water to swim in. This translates into some late steelhead arrivals. Our larger rivers should be the streams of choice to explore this idea as the rivers drop into shape.
It gets a little tricky however, as we move forward in the fishing calendar. Mid-March is definitely a time when limitations surround fishing options. These restrictions take into account the many streams or portions of them that closed as of Feb. 28. Some Grays Harbor rivers will remain open until March 31, so time is of the essence.
The legal water to fish for steelhead in our county includes sections of the Humptulips River, the Chehalis River, portions of the Wynooche River and select portions of the Satsop River. In addition, as of the first of March some of these waters have the selective gear rule in affect. Each angler needs to pay attention to these added measures when steelheading at this particular time in the season.
It really is not as complicated as it sounds. It simply comes down to ascertaining the actual open water and adhering to the given rule for that section of the river. The Department of Fish &Wildlife sport fishing rules pamphlet is easily laid out. By referencing the Grays Harbor section, one can easily learn which portion of a river is open and see the rules applied to these waters.
It may pay off to do your homework and wet a line. There has to be a fresh steelhead occupying our rivers. They simply need to be located.