2 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
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The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 3
in Lewis County and Southwest Washington
By Jim Byrd For The Chronicle
Those who’ve read The Chronicle’s Outdoors section for several years will remember the late Russ Mohney waxing ebullient about fishing small streams. It’s a passion he said he inherited from his father. As I recall, one of Russ’s favorite places was the North Fork Cispus. Those who grew up in the country with a small “crick” nearby may personally remember how magical this fishing can be. Near my first home in Toledo, we had a small Cowlitz River tributary called Otter Creek, which a scrawny kid could jump across in most places. But drop a piece of worm, a single egg, or even a red huckleberry pretending to be a single egg, into a deep hole and you could be rewarded with a beautiful little native cutthroat. Plus it had some of those most magical and mystical fishing holes of all, beaver dams! Later on, in the 1940s and 1950s, after we’d moved to Ryderwood and then to Winlock, Olequa Creek became my target. It too was blessed with plenty of eager cutthroat, plus rainbow trout that may have been juvenile steelhead, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Both were “suckers” for a piece of worm, a peeled crayfish Jim Byrd tail or a shucked caddis larva plucked from the rocks. I had a great-uncle who lived out west of Winlock past the end of Jones Road. His farm had a brushy little creek running through it that we called Deep Creek, no bigger than Otter Creek. Research now makes me think it may have actually been Lake Creek, upstream of its junction with the even smaller Deep Creek. Whatever. This little South Fork Chehalis tributary had those beautiful little cutthroat. An 8-incher was a whopper. Fortunately (for the fish), I had learned by then to let most of them go, even going so far as to use flies or small spinners to facilitate release with some expectation of survival.
Fast-forward 60-some years, and I still love stalking cutthroat on the small streams of Lewis County, albeit less frequently and much less nimbly than in my youth. In addition to age and other distractions, one reason for my less frequent excursions is the shorter seasons. When I was a kid, streams were either open all year, or we didn’t know when they were closed. Now, most small streams, if open at all, have a much shorter season: first Saturday in June through October 31. These shorter open seasons are designed to protect out-migrating smolts (juvenile salmon, steelhead and sea-run cutthroat heading for salt water), plus spawning and recovering fish in fall, winter and spring. Other restrictions we didn’t face in my youth are minimum and sometimes maximum sizes, and in some local streams, catch-and-release only for trout or for a certain species of trout. Here are a few other regulations would-be stream anglers should keep in mind. According the 2011-2012 Fishing in Washington Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet (p. 20), you cannot legally keep any fish not classified as a game fish or
food fish. Such non-game, non-food species you may encounter when fishing in small streams for trout, especially if fishing with bait, include several sculpin species (sometimes erroneously called “bullheads”), redside shiners, dace, and lampreys. Let them all go. Suckers are another species you may occasionally catch; suckers, though, are classified as game fish, and therefore are legal to keep. But they’re bony and not particularly good eating, so why would you? Please don’t do what I’ve seen others do: catch one of these undesired fish, classify it as a “trash fish” and then toss it into the brush. Not only illegal, but highly irresponsible! Another little-realized Washington freshwater fishing rule is that if fishing with bait, every trout you catch (except steelhead) counts as part of your daily limit, even if released. This rule applies to lakes as well as streams, the reasoning being that bait-caught fish have a much lower expectation of recovery. When using artificial lures with a single, barbless hook, however, you can catch-and-release any number of legally-caught trout until you have retained a legal limit. Good incentive to switch to artificials!
4 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
In some streams you can keep rainbow trout, but all cutthroat must be released. Several Cowlitz River tributaries have this rule. Before fishing in these streams, you should have a basic idea of how to tell these two species apart. Resident cutthroat will have distinctive red slash marks under both sides of the lower jaw. These markings are not as visible on sea-run cutthroat, especially those still bright from the ocean or estuary, but become more visible the longer the fish remain in fresh water. Refer to page 28 in the 2011 Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet for helpful drawings. Some streams that originally had only native cutthroat now also have rainbows and cuttbows (rainbow/cutthroat hybrids) thanks to Game Department stocking programs from the early- to mid-20th century. Those trout stocking programs in streams have all but been eliminated now in this part of the state, except for the Tilton River and Skate Creek. So what constitutes a “river” and what makes a “creek?” Generally speaking, it’s size. But it’s also somewhat arbitrary. For example, Elk Creek, Olequa Creek and Adams Creek are larger than a lot of “rivers.” For this article, I tried to stick with streams, most of them creeks, but a few classified as rivers, that are not heavily fished for anadromous species such as salmon and steelhead. The targets on these streams are mainly cutthroat and rainbow trout, and in a few cases, nonnative eastern brook trout. Lewis County probably has the best and most plentiful small-stream fishing opportunities in the state. There are many small- and medium-size streams not listed here that offer a good chance to catch trout. At one time, almost all lowland streams in Lewis County had cutthroat populations, and those that are large enough to support spawning steelhead often had resident rainbow trout. Most rainbow trout with steelhead DNA will migrate to the ocean (smolt) when about five to eight inches long, after one, two (most common) or sometimes three years rearing in fresh water. But there’s often a small percentage that don’t inherit the migratory instinct and take up lifelong residence in their natal stream. The same is true for sea-run cutthroat; not all of them embrace the sea-run lifestyle. And cutthroat like to spawn as far upstream as they can go and still find suitable habitat. Both species spawn farther upstream than Pacific salmon. With that out of the way, let’s go fishing! Here are some streams that could be worth trying. Please note that
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 5
rules given are from the latest available Fishing in Washington Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet, and could change with the next year’s season (which begins May 1). Always consult the latest rules pamphlet, which is usually in stores by May 1. If the Lewis County stream of interest is not listed in the “Westside Rivers Special Rules” section of the pamphlet, that means it has a standard stream open season of first Saturday in June through Oct. 31, with an eight-inch minimum size, two-fish daily limit.
Creeks and Streams Adams Creek: Also sometimes called Adams Fork, this large stream flows northwest from the western flanks of Mount Adams to join the Cispus River near Adams Fork Campground. The lower two-mile reach is fairly low gradient, and is accessible from USFS Road 5601. Above that, access is by shank’s mare (i.e., walking), with no developed trail. Rainbow, cutthroat trout and a few eastern brook trout are available. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open
first Saturday in June through October 31.
Bunker Creek: Rises in a roadless area past the end of Bunker Creek Road, then follows that road north, then west and southwest, joined along the way by several smaller streams including Prairie Creek and Deep Creek, before merging with the Chehalis River a few miles upstream from Adna. Historically held cutthroat, resident rainbow and steelhead. I have no personal experience fishing it. Most of the stream is on private property, but gated timber company lands near the end of Bunker Road provide some foot access, and at the end of Deep Creek Road there is access to that stream. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through October 31.
Butter Creek: Begins in a roadless, generally trailless part of Mount Rainier National Park, then flows southward through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and joins the Cowlitz a couple miles east of Pack-
wood. USFS Road 5270 parallels much of the middle section. Primarily rainbow trout, with past reports of eastern brook trout. Selective Gear Rules (no bait, single-point barbless hooks) are in effect. Two fish limit, 10-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through October 31.
Chehalis River, South Fork: This Chehalis River tributary rises in northwest Cowlitz County. Wildwood/ Boistfort Road follows, crosses and recrosses much of the middle section as it flows north past Boistfort, Klaber and Curtis to join the mainstem Chehalis a few miles west of Adna. Both cutthroat and rainbows are present. Most of the river flows through private farm land; be sure to get permission before venturing into these areas. There is also good foot access from Sierra Pacific logging Road 500 off of Wildwood Road. From the mouth up to the Boistfort Road bridge near Boistfort school, it’s open from the first Saturday in June through April 15, with a 14-inch minimum size, two-fish daily limit. Above that bridge, standard statewide rules apply: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size, and first
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6 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
Saturday in June through Oct. 31 open season.
Cispus River, mainstem: Numerous USFS roads provide access to this major Cowlitz River tributary above Lake Scanewa. Please consult your Gifford Pinchot map for directions. Small rainbow, cutthroat and eastern brook trout are present, but all cutthroat must be released. For other trout, standard statewide rules are in effect from the first Saturday in June through Oct. 31: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Note that anadromous fish are transported around the Cowlitz dams, so small rainbows you encounter in the Cispus might be steelhead in the making. From Nov. 1 through the Friday before the first Saturday in June, all trout fishing is catch-and-release only, except that two hatchery steelhead may be retained daily. There is also a salmon season; please check the current regulations pamphlet for more information.
Cispus River, North Fork: This tributary generally provides a better small stream fishing experience than the mainstem. USFS Road 22 provides excellent access to most of this fork. Rainbow and cutthroat are again the quarry, and as with the mainstem, all cutthroat must be released. Selective Gear Rules (no bait, single-point barbless hooks) are in effect for the entire open season of first Saturday in June through October 31. Minimum size is eight inches, with a two-trout daily limit, only one of which can be over 12 inches.
Cowlitz River, Clear Fork: Labeled Clear Creek on some maps, U.S. Highway 12 on the west side of White Pass runs along, but well above, a good portion of this Cowlitz River tributary. Access requires some effort, so the stream is lightly fished. There is a bit of difficult access where US-12 crosses the river, just upstream from La Wis Wis Campground. Or take USFS Road 46, drive to the end, then continue on Trail
#61 to where it crosses Trail #76, and turn left on Trail #76 about half a mile to the river. You can also hike downhill on Trail #76 from U.S. 12, but the trailhead is a bit hard to find; it’s at (approximately) 46.6259 degrees north, 121.44579 degrees west. The trail is steep; a good plan for two people with two vehicles is to park one rig at the end of Road 46, then start your hike at the Highway 12 trailhead. Fishing can be good for smallish rainbows, with a few cutthroat and eastern brook trout. Selective Gear Rules are in effect (no bait, single-point barbless hooks), and all cutthroat, regardless of size, must be released. Two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through Oct. 31.
Deception Creek: This small stream runs about five miles northeast into Johnson Creek from its beginnings near Cold Springs Butte. It is accessible from USFS Road 2130 for much of its length. The lower reach has small cutthroat and rainbow. A waterfall
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 7
blocks upstream passage less than a mile above the mouth, but rainbows (and possibly cutthroat) have been stocked and are established above the falls. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through October 31.
Elk Creek: This large stream rises in Pacific County, then is further enlarged by Seven Creek, Eight Creek and Nine Creek before flowing west to join the Chehalis River near Doty. It has been reported to offer good fishing for cutthroat and rainbows; I have no personal experience fishing it, but it is on my bucket list. Elk Creek Road follows the creek from about its junction with Seven and Eight creeks to the Chehalis. The lower section of the stream runs through private property, but the network of Weyerhaeuser roads past the end of Elk Creek Road offer excellent access to middle and upper reaches, plus some of the tributaries. Some of these roads are open to vehicular traffic, while others are gated and thus accessible only to non-motorized traffic. Weyerhaeuser’s Pe Ell Tree Farm map, available at the Doty General Store (and elsewhere), is a valuable resource for exploring this area. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through Oct. 31.
while the lake is at 6425 feet. I have not personally fished this stream, but plan to. A mid-1950s Pacific Northwest fishing guide book said “12-inch rainbows are not unusual.” Cutthroat were reportedly stocked in 1954. A friend surveyed the creek several years ago and reported spotting several black bears, so be “bear aware.” Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through Oct. 31.
This tributary to Johnson Creek (see below) drains Glacier Lake. Trail #89 off of USFS Road 2110 follows the creek for a couple miles. Cutthroat and rainbow trout have been stocked in the past, but small eastern brook trout are the most likely catch now. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through Oct. 31.
This small stream starts up a few
miles east of the Pacific County line. Historically, small cutthroat and rainbow trout were found here; I have not personally fished it. As with most of our lowland streams, much of the creek flows through private property. There is some access from Garrard Creek Road, which follows it eastward to the junction with Manners Road. The creek then flows northeast along Independence Road until it joins the Chehalis River in Grays Harbor County. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through Oct. 31.
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8 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
Johnson Creek: One of at least 21 Johnson creeks in Washington, including three more in the Cowlitz system and one Skookumchuck tributary, this good-sized stream drains part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest south of US Highway 12 as it flows northwesterly to the Cowlitz River. USFS Road 21 runs alongside for much of its length. Major tributaries include Deception Creek and Glacier Creek (see above). Rainbow and cutthroat trout are present, and probably eastern brook trout. Selective Gear Rules are in effect (singlepoint, barbless hooks and no bait), with a 10-inch minimum size, two-fish daily limit. Open season is first Saturday in June through October 31.
Lacamas Creek: Rising in the Ethel area, this medium-size stream flows southwest under Jackson Highway, then joined by a couple of other smaller creeks continues that same direction under state Route 505 (Toledo-Winlock Road), Interstate 5, and state Route 506 (Toledo-Vader Road) to join the Cowlitz River east of Vader. It has both cutthroat and rainbow trout, many of which are juvenile sea-run cutthroat and steelhead, respectively. That’s one reason it’s catch-and-release only for trout, except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained. No steelhead are stocked here, but Cowlitz strays may rarely show up. You’ll also find fair numbers of eager redside shiners; remember that it’s illegal to keep them, cute as they are. First Saturday in June through Oct.31 open season.
Lake Creek: There are at least 21 streams named Lake Creek in Washington, with six of them in Lewis County: Two in the Nisqually system, three in the Cowlitz system. The one described here, though, rises on the south side of Sam Henry Mountain, then flows northwest to join the South Fork Chehalis near Curtis. King Road runs along a good part of the middle and lower reaches, but most access is through private farm lands or a lengthy hike through the woods. Small native coastal cutthroat, plus sculpins and other non-game species, were historically the denizens of this small stream. Not having fished it in several decades, I’m not sure what’s in there now, but I suspect the same species are still present. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Sat-
urday in June through October 31.
Lincoln Creek: The North and South forks rise in a largely road-free area of northwest Lewis County. The South Fork passes under Lincoln Creek Road near its end, then the two forks join and more or less follow Lincoln Creek Road eastward to run
into the Chehalis River near Galvin. Historically cutthroat, resident rainbow and steelhead; I have not personally fished it. Some decent access to one of it’s branches can be found along Lepisto Road, where the state maintains a hunting area. Most access will be over private property, though; be sure to get permission first. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Sat-
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 9
urday in June through Oct. 31.
Little Nisqually River: This stream gets its start in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and runs north into Alder Lake. It collects water from several tributaries plus Duck and Goose lakes. USFS Road 74 runs alongside much of its length. Both the river and its larger tributaries should provide good fishing for rainbow, cutthroat, and possibly a few eastern brook trout. You may also see some spawning kokanee from Alder Lake in October. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through October 31.
Mineral Creek: Rising near Harrington Rock and Coleman Weed Patch a few miles west of the National Forest boundary, this good-sized stream flows north past Mineral to join the Nisqually River a couple miles east of Elbe. Major tributaries include Gallup Creek, Roundup Creek, Swamp Creek, and the outlet of Mineral Lake. Mineral Creek Road follows a short section, and logging roads that may be gated to vehicular traffic access upper reaches. The main stream and some of its tributaries provide good fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout. Alder Lake kokanee also spawn here in September and October. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through Oct. 31.
30 a night closure and single-point barbless hook rule.
Ohanapecosh River: The Fishing in Washington Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet labels it Ohanapecosh “Creek,” but this Cowlitz River tributary is still officially a “River.” It flows from the southeast flank of Mount Rainier to join the Cowlitz near La Wis Wis Campground. Although it originates near the Whitman and Fryingpan glaciers, it is not considered a glacial stream, and its extreme clarity confirms that. Along its lovely course it features parks, falls, hot springs, and several smaller tributaries (including Summit Creek, described below). State Highway 123 follows a good portion of the stream. Small rainbow and cutthroat are present, but not in
great numbers, as the creek’s extreme clarity limits its fertility and productivity. Selective Gear Rules are in effect (no bait, single-point barbless hooks), with a 12-inch minimum size, two-fish daily limit. First Saturday in June through October 31 open season.
Olequa Creek: This large Cowlitz River tributary runs south from several sources west, north and east of Winlock. WinlockVader road runs alongside for a good portion of its length. Fishing for small rainbow and cutthroat trout can be fair in summer, plus an occasional whitefish. Fall rains bring in sea-run cutthroat, which can provide an excellent fishery until the stream closes. All trout fishing is catch-and-release, except two hatch-
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All three major forks of this Chehalis River tributary provide limited fishing for small rainbow and cutthroat. None is considered a “good” trout fishery, as they all have a 14-inch minimum size limit, and very few trout of that size are available. North Fork Road follows most of that branch up past its junction with Mitchell Creek. There is little access to the Middle Fork, except through private property or where it crosses under Tauscher Road, Middle Fork Road, and Centralia-Alpha Road. The South Fork generally follows state Route 508 to a point several miles east of Onalaska, then up Pigeon Springs Road. All three forks have a first Saturday in June through March 31 open season for trout, with a 14-inch minimum size, two-fish daily limit. The South Fork and mainstem also have open salmon seasons (see the regulations pamphlet), and from August 16 through November
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10 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
a clipped adipose fin, ranging in size from ⅓ pound to one pound. All rainbow trout without a clipped adipose fin and healed scar must be released. And like most Cowlitz River tributaries, all cutthroat trout must be released. Trout daily limit is five fish, with an 8-inch minimum size and only one fish over 12 inches. Open season is first Saturday in June through Oct. 31.
ery steelhead may be kept daily. There are no steelhead plants here, though, and Cowlitz River strays are rare. Some fall salmon runs also enter the creek, but there are no open salmon seasons. First Saturday in June through October 31 open season.
Quartz Creek: This fairly long stream, one of at least 11 Quartz creeks in Washington, enters the Cispus River about three miles downstream from Iron Creek Campground. It is paralleled for much of its length by USFS Road 26, which leads to USFS Road 99 and the Mount St. Helens Windy Ridge site. USFS Road 2608, which leads to the Quartz Creek Big Trees site and trailhead, crosses it (but that road may now be closed to vehicular traffic). The creek holds both rainbow and cutthroat trout, mostly small. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through October 31, but in some years Road 26 may not be open by early June.
Skate Creek: This stream drains part of the northern Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Tatoosh Wilderness area before entering the Cowlitz. Skate Creek Road turns north in Packwood then turns into Forest Road 52 and follows most of the stream, providing lots of places to park and fish. This is one of the few Western Washington streams still stocked with catchable-size rainbow trout for catch-and-keep trout fishing. For 2011, Tacoma Power provided up to 7,500 pounds of trout marked with
Stearns Creek: This small stream starts up near Evaline, then follows Pleasant Valley Road northwest for a few miles, then runs under Twin Oaks Road to join the Chehalis River west of Claquato. It had a reputation in the mid-1900s for good cutthroat and rainbow fishing, but current status and access is uncertain. Most of the stream is on private property. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through Oct. 31.
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This short stream flows a couple miles south out of National Forest land into the Cowlitz River near Cowlitz Valley. USFS Road 47 provides access to much of the stream, but some sections are nearly inaccessible because of steep canyons. Both rainbow and cutthroat trout are available. Selective Gear Rules (no bait, single-point barbless hooks) are in effect from the mouth upstream to the USFS Road 4778 bridge, with a 14-inch
minimum size, two trout daily limit. Open season is first Saturday in June through Oct. 31.
One of at least 16 Smith Creeks in Washington, with one other in Lewis County (a small Chehalis River tributary south of Pe Ell). This Smith Creek flows in a northwest direction out of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, crossing under U.S. Highway 12 a bit west of Johnson Creek to empty into the Cowlitz. It is accessible in several spots from USFS Road 20. Contains cutthroat and rainbow trout. Standard statewide rules: two fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through October 31.
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 11
Stillwater Creek: This major Olequa Creek tributary starts up in northern Cowlitz County, runs northeast past Ryderwood, then joined by Brim Creek turns southeast for a few miles before emptying into the Olequa near Vader. Allender Road runs alongside Stillwater Creek just over the Cowlitz County line, while State Highway 506 follows the middle reach between Ryderwood and Vader. Most access will be over private farm lands; be sure to get permission. A Sierra Pacific logging road at the end of Brim Creek Road provides some foot access to that creek. Like Olequa Creek, both of these streams have resident cutthroat and rainbow trout, and probably have some steelhead and salmon spawning in them. Unlike Olequa Creek, which is catch-and-release only except for hatchery steelhead, you can keep trout caught in either Brim or Stillwater, with the standard stream regulation of two-fish limit, eight-inch minimum size. Open first Saturday in June through Oct. 31.
Summit Creek: This small stream in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest joins Ohanapecosh River about a mile above its junction with the Clear Fork Cowlitz. Part of the creek is accessible from USFS Road 4510; other parts are in a steep canyon and hard to reach. Small cutthroat and rainbow trout are present, and eastern brook trout were reported in the past. It’s not listed in the rules pamphlet, so has a standard two-fish, eight-inch minimum size limit, and first Saturday in June through Oct. 31 open season.
dorsement is required to fish for or retain salmon or steelhead in the Tilton. Check the regulations pamphlet carefully, as the mainstem and forks have different open seasons and regulations, which are too complex to list here. The river is not open to fishing year-round. Other aquatic activities, such as kayaking, are also popular.
Willame Creek: This small stream drains Willame and Long lakes, then is augmented by several tributaries as it runs southeast out of the Gifford Pinchot to join the Cowlitz River between Randle and Packwood. USFS roads 47 and 4710 provide access to portions of this system. Fishing is primarily for rainbow trout, but brown
trout and cutthroat trout from Long and Willame lakes, respectively, could also have escaped into the stream. Standard two-fish, eight-inch minimum size limit, and first Saturday in June through Oct. 31 open season.
Winston Creek: This good-sized stream empties into the southeast corner of Mayfield Lake. Rainbow and cutthroat trout provide a decent fishery. There is a bit of access near the Hadaller Road bridge, several spots off of Salmon Creek Road, and excellent access along Longbell Road, including at a state DNR campground (Discover Pass required). A trail once followed upstream to the headwaters on Green Mountain, but it’s now a logging
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From its various sources in the Gifford Pinchot and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie national forests, this popular troutfishing stream winds west past Morton, follows state Route 508 for a while, then turns south to empty into Mayfield Lake and the Cowlitz River. Like nearby Skate Creek, the mainstem is one of the few streams still stocked with catchable trout. This year, Tacoma Power will provide up to 8,000 pounds of rainbow trout ranging in size from one to three per pound. Surplus hatchery salmon, steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout are released in fall and winter, often at Gus Backstom Park in Morton. Note: a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead En-
12 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
road with uncertain access. Standard two-fish, eight-inch minimum size limit, and first Saturday in June through Oct. 31 open season.
Yellowjacket Creek: This mid-sized stream flows north from the southern Gifford Pinchot boundary to join the Cispus River near the Cispus Environmental Learning Center. The lower end can be accessed from USFS Road 46, while middle and upper areas can be reached with a little effort from USFS Road 28. This stream provides good fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout. Selective Gear Rules (no bait, single-point barbless hooks) are in effect during the first Saturday in June through October 31 open season. There is a 12-inch minimum size, two-fish daily limit.
Respect Private Property When Fishing Please remember that accessing streams on private property (except timber company property that is open to the public) requires landowner permission; please don’t trespass! To access streams on state DNR or Parks land, you’ll need a Discover Pass. Accessing streams on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife property requires either a Discover Pass or a Vehicle Use Permit (the latter is issued at no extra cost with your annual fishing or hunting license purchase). Accessing streams in the National Forest may require a permit; check with the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District. While you’re at the Ranger Station, buy a copy of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest map if you don’t already have one and plan to fish or hike or just visit the area.
Alpine Lakes Lewis County, the largest county in Western Washington, is blessed with a wonderful variety of fishing opportunities, including alpine lakes, lowland lakes, rivers and streams, and easy access to saltwater bays and beaches. Anadromous fish (salmon, shad, steelhead and sturgeon), resident coldwater fish (trout and landlocked salmon), and warmwater fish (yellow perch, catfish, bass, crappie and other sunfish) are just a short drive away for most residents. Marine fish (rockfish, ling cod, halibut), and shellfish (clams, crabs) are also within an easy drive. Information given on seasons and other regulations is current as of the publication deadline for this document.
For updated fishing information, including emergency regulations and closures, call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) fishing hotline at (360) 902-2500, the Region 5 office in Vancouver at (360) 696-6211, the WDFW Fish Program’s customer service desk at (360) 902-2700, check the department’s web site at http://wdfw.wa.gov, or email fishing questions to fishpgm@dfw. wa.gov. The WDFW defines alpine lakes as those above 2,500 feet in Western Washington. Because the overall terrain is higher in Eastern Washington, 3,500 feet is the designated alpine level there. In Lewis County, there are about 80 named alpine lakes, plus numerous smaller unnamed ones. Those listed here are either known to currently have fish, or have had fish in the recent past. A few lakes from other counties that may be of local interest are listed here as well. Note that most of these lakes do not have self-reproducing fish populations, and depend on stocking every few years to remain viable fisheries. An exception is those with eastern brook trout, which, unlike our native rainbow and cutthroat trout, often manage to spawn in lacustrine (lake) environments, using underwater springs or upwellings to circulate water around their eggs. Unless otherwise noted, alpine lakes are open to fishing year-round, but are usually accessible only during summer months. You may be able to reach some of them as early as May, depending on
elevation, exposure and winter severity, but access is generally better from June or July through October. Access routes (roads or trails) listed here are not guaranteed to be open or usable. For updated road and trail information, call the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District office in Randle at (360) 497-1100, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest headquarters in Vancouver at (360) 891-5000, or the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument headquarters in Amboy at (306) 4497800. For road information through their St. Helens Tree Farm, call Weyerhaeuser in Longview at (360) 425-2150 (press 1 for recreational access information). The USFS Cowlitz Valley Ranger District map, which shows roads and trails in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest (GPNF), parts of the Mount Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest that are managed with the Gifford Pinchot, part of the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, plus Goat Rocks, Tatoosh, and William O. Douglas wilderness areas, is a very helpful reference for this area. Commercial products such as the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer and Benchmark Maps Washington Road & Recreation Atlas are also useful (note that the DeLorme maps show Range, Township, and Section plus latitude and longitude information, while the Benchmark maps show only latitude and longitude). The Washington Forest Protection Association’s St. Helens West hunting map is a good navigation aid for the southern part of our area, especially for finding your way into Castle Lake.
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 13
Some of the information here comes from personal experience, some from WDFW sources, and some from Lakes of Washington, Volume 1, Third Edition, by Ernest Wolcott (Washington Department of Ecology). For techniques and other how-to information on fishing high lakes, check out the publication Trout Fishing in Washington’s High Lakes at http://www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/high_lakes. Except for “drive-to” lakes for which road information is included, lakes here are located here by Township, Range and Section, then by latitude and longitude in degrees and minutes, followed by decimal degrees (46.xxxx, -12x.xxxx) in parentheses. NAD83/WGS84 datum is used. To get an overhead view of these lakes and to reconnoiter their surroundings, go to Google Earth on the Internet and enter the second set of numbers (the numbers in parentheses). Be sure to include the minus sign before the second number (the longitude).
the past, a self-reproducing population of eastern brook trout is likely all you’ll find now. Backbone may be accessible as early as April because of its lower elevation and exposure. Access is via a half-mile hike on Backbone Ridge Trail #164 from USFS Road 1270. T14N, R10E, Sec 30; 46 deg 40.81 min N, 121 deg 36.11 min W (46.680, -121.602) at southwest corner.
Bertha May lakes: Two connected lakes, upper at 4,055 feet and 30 acres, lower at 3,671 feet and 6 acres. The lower lake is sometimes identified as Pothole Lake. They drain via Teeley Creek and Big Creek to the Nisqually River. Both lakes have been stocked numerous times with eastern brook, rainbow and cutthroat trout, but
dense sculpin populations are a serious impediment to trout survival. Rainbow trout fry are currently stocked every few years, and a few brookies are still caught. Located in Mt. Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest (but shown on the GPNF map), access is by a three-quarter mile hike on Trail #251 off of USFS Road 8410. T14N, R7E, Sec 16; 46 deg 41.976 min N, 121 deg 56.16 min W (46.6996, -121.936) at upper lake outlet.
Bill Lake: Elevation 5,100 feet, size 4 acres; drains via Summit Creek to the Ohanapecosh River. Stocked periodically, usually every other year, with westslope cutthroat fry. Located in the William O. Douglas Wilderness north of White Pass, access is cross-country (i.e., no trail)
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Anderson lakes: Two connected lakes, the upper at 3,960 feet elevation and 1.5 acres, the lower at 3,870 feet and eight acres. They drain via Lake Creek to the Nisqually River. Both have stunted populations of eastern brook trout. A few tiger muskies were stocked in 2005 to help control the brook trout over-population, with not much in the way of positive results so far. In the unlikely event you should hook a musky, and even more unlikely event you should land one, remember they have to be 50 inches to legally keep. A logging road passes between the lakes, which are located on state lands. T14N, R6E, Sec 15; 46 deg 41.68 min N, 122 deg 01.97 min W (46.6946, -122.0333) at outlet of upper lake.
Art Lake: Elevation 3,760 feet, size is 1.5 acres; drains via Lake Creek to the Cowlitz River. This small lake is stocked almost annually with westslope cutthroat trout fry, which take a year or two to reach a desirable size. USFS Road 4830 skirts the lake’s north edge. T13N, R10E, Sec 19; 46 deg 36.21 min N, 121 deg 36.438 min W (46.6035, -121.6073) at north end.
Technically not an alpine lake, as elevation is only 2,081 feet. Size is 3.5 acres. Drains to the Cowlitz River. Although cutthroat have been stocked in
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about one-fourth mile from the Pacific Crest Trail. Total elevation gain from the Trail #44 trailhead at Soda Springs campground is 1,880 feet. T14N, R11E, Sec 11; 46 deg 43.104 min N, 121 deg 23.322 min W (46.7184, -121.3887) at west shore.
Bishop Ridge Pond: Elevation 4,275 feet, 2.5 acres; drains to the North Fork Cispus River. Westslope cutthroat fry are stocked periodically, usually every other year, but the shallow nature of the lake leads to occasional winterkill. In Gifford Pinchot National Forest, several hundred feet east from USFS Road 7802. T11N, R9E, Sec 21; 46 deg 25.884 min N, 121 deg 42.264 min W (46.4314, -121.7044) at west shore.
Blue Lake: Elevation 4,058 feet, size 128 acres; drains via Blue Lake Creek to the Cispus River. This relatively large, deep lake in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is not stocked, but provides decent fishing for eastern brook trout, with an occasional rainbow or cutthroat reported. The lake has campsites, outhouses, picnic tables, plus a decent trail around the lake. Blue Lake Trail #271 leads from USFS Road 23 to the outlet, a distance of about three miles with an elevation gain of over 2,000 feet. Unlike most National Forest trails, Blue Lake Trail is open to motorized bikes. T11N, R9E, Sec 33; 46 deg 24.222 min N, 121 deg 41.916 min W (46.4037, -121.6986) at outlet.
Bluff Lake: Elevation 3,845 feet, size 8 acres; drains via Purcell Creek to the Cowlitz River. Bluff has a self-reproducing eastern brook trout population, and is also stocked periodically, usually every other year, with westslope cutthroat fry. Located in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, access is via a two-mile hike on Trail #65 off of USFS Road 4612, with 1,000 feet of elevation gain. T14N, R10E, Sec 34; 46 deg 39.48 min N, 121 deg 32.832 min W (46.658, -121.5472) at south end of lake. The trail heads at approximately 46 deg 39.27 min N, 121 deg 34.20 min W (46.6535, -121.570).
Castle Lake (Cowlitz County): Elevation 2,592 feet, size 264 acres; drains via Castle Creek to the North Fork Toutle River. Self-reproducing rainbow trout provide an excellent fishery, mostly catch-and-release, for those willing to
put forth the effort. Special fishing regulations are in effect, be sure to check the latest Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet. Access is via a difficult hike downhill from Weyerhaeuser Road 3000 (from which the lake is visible), or an easier but longer hike down closed and poorly-marked logging roads connecting to Road 3000. Note that this road, which is jointly managed by Weyerhaeuser and the state DNR, is often snowbound until summer. T19N, R4E, Sec 14; 46 deg 15.6 min N, 122 deg 16.85 min W (46.260, -122.281) at outlet; 46 deg 14.904 min N, 122 deg 16.89 min W (46.2484, -122.2815) at westernmost shoreline.
Chambers Lake: Elevation 4,438 feet, size 14.4 acres; drains via Chambers Creek to the Cispus River. Self-reproducing brook trout, mostly stunted from overpopulation, provide the bulk of the fishery here. Catchable-size brown trout are stocked annually, and can grow to a decent size with all those little brookies to feed on. Located in Gifford Pinchot National Forest, USFS Road 2150 leads to a welldeveloped campground near the eastern shore. T11N, R10E, Sec 2.
Coldwater Lake (Cowlitz and Skamania counties): Elevation 2,493 feet, size 766 acres; drains via South Coldwater Creek to the
North Fork Toutle River. A self-reproducing population of rainbow trout provides most of the excellent fishery, with both westslope and coastal cutthroat trout and hybrids of all three also present. Special fishing regulations are in effect; be sure to check the latest Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet. Access is via a well-marked side road off of Highway SR-504, downhill from the closed Coldwater Ridge Visitor’s Center. There is a well-developed access at the south end, with a paved single-lane boat launch, paved parking area, fish-cleaning station and rest rooms. Shoreline access is limited, but there are three authorized spots to fish from Lakes Trail #211, which heads at the boat launch. Fishing from unauthorized places can get you an expensive ticket from the Forest Service. The Forest Service charges a fee to use the area. Internal combustion (gasoline) engines are not allowed on the lake. Afternoon winds seem to always be blowing away from the boat launch, making it a challenge to get back in a float tube, pontoon or small boat.
Cora Lake: Elevation 3,832 feet, size 28 acres; drains via Big Creek to the Nisqually River. Similar to nearby Bertha May lakes (described above), abundant sculpins make it difficult to establish a trout fishery. Also like Bertha May, limited success has been achieved with the current stocking plan of rainbow
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 15
fry every few years. A few self-reproducing brook trout are present as well. Located in Mt. Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest (but shown on the GPNF map), access is via Trail #252 of off USFS Road 8420. T14N, R7E, Sec 23; 46 deg 41.442 min N, 121 deg 53.40 min W (46.6907, -121.890) at outlet.
Coyote Lake: Elevation 5,140 feet, size 4 acres; drains via Coyote Creek to the Clear Fork Cowlitz River. Stocked periodically with westslope cutthroat or rainbow trout fry, with the last plant of rainbows in 2009. Located in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, this beautiful lake in a spectacular setting is accessible via a cross-country hike or a secondary trail off of Trail #76, with a lung-testing 1,900 foot elevation gain from the Clear Fork. T13N, R10E, Sec 13; 46 deg 36.8 min N, 121 deg 29.82 min W (46.6127, -121.496) at eastern corner.
Deadmans Lake (Skamania County): Elevation 4,360 feet, size 34 acres; drains via Quartz Creek to the Cispus River. This lake in the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument contains numerous stunted eastern brook trout. Trail #217-C off of Goat Mountain Trail #217 will get you there, with the total hike at about 4.6 miles. T10N, R5E, Sec 1; 46 deg 22.698 min N, 122 deg 07.752 min W (46.3783, -122.1292) at access.
Duck Lake: Elevation 3,169 feet, size 14 acres; drains through Goose Lake and Lake Creek to the Little Nisqually River. Although eastern brook, cutthroat and rainbow trout have all been stocked in the past, only the brookies seem to have persevered. The lake is not currently stocked, but the self-reproducing brook trout population provides a fishery. Located in the Mt. Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest (but shown on the GPNF map), access is via a half-mile trail from Goose Lake (see below). T14N, R4E, Sec 29; 46 deg 39.87 min N, 122 deg 19.776 min W (46.6645, -122.3296) at outlet.
Fizrenken Lake: Elevation 3,907 feet, size 2.8 acres; drains via a small unnamed stream and Horse Creek to the Nisqually River. This little lake is stocked periodically with westslope cutthroat fry, last in 2011. The brushy perimeter makes fishing a bit difficult. USFS Road 5230 skirts the north side, making vehicular access relatively easy and litter a problem. T14N, R8E, Sec 4; 46 deg 43.926 min N, 121 deg 48.312
min W (46.7321, -121.8052) at north end.
Frying Pan Lake: Elevation 4,814 feet, size 23 acres; drains via Summit Creek to Ohanapecosh River. Westslope cutthroat trout fry are stocked every other year, last in 2011. Located in the William O. Douglas Wilderness, access is via trails #44 and #43 from Soda Springs campground. Total hiking distance is about 4.5 miles, with an elevation gain of 1,600 feet. T14N, R11E, Sec 3; 46 deg 44.028 min N, 121 deg 25.074 min W (46.7338, -121.4179) at north end.
Gertrude Lake: Elevation 5,736 feet, size 14 acres;
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Elevation 5,091 feet, size 41.6 acres; drains via Buesch Lake and Summit Creek to the Ohanapecosh River. Westslope cutthroat trout fry are stocked in alternate years, last in 2011. Located in the William O. Douglas Wilderness, easiest access is via Cramer Lake Trail #1106
from Dog Lake Campground to Trail #1156A, a hike of about 3.5 miles with 1,860 feet of elevation gain to the lake. T14N, R11E, Sec 24; 46 deg 41.43 min N, 121 deg 22.50 min W (46.6905, -121.375) at easternmost point (which is on or very close to the Yakima County line).
16 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 17
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drains via Walupt Lake and Walupt Creek to the Cispus River. Gertrude has a self-reproducing population of rainbow trout from a 1951 plant. Located in the Goat Rocks Wilderness just a few hundred yards from the Yakama Indian Reservation boundary, access is 4.3 miles from Walupt Lake on Walupt Lake Trail #101 to the Pacific Crest Trail, then cross-country another 1.5 miles. Total elevation gain is about 1,800 feet. The long hike and lack of a developed trail almost guarantee solitude, but the quality of the fishing waxes and wanes. Some years you’ll find fewer fish but of good size, and some years after a good spawn and low winterkill, the trout become overpopulated with stunted growth. T11N, R11E, Sec 35; 46 deg 23.538 min N, 121 deg 23.904 min W (46.3923, -121.3984) at north end.
Glacier Lake: Elevation 2,905 feet, size 19.8 acres; drains via Glacier Creek and Johnson Creek to Cowlitz River. Mostly small, self-reproducing brook trout provide a fishery. Located in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, access is a two-mile hike via Trail #89 off of USFS Road 2110 with an elevation gain of about 800 feet. T12N, R10E, Sec 8; 46 deg 32.87 min N, 121 deg 35.256 min W (46.548, -121.5876) at west end.
Goose Lake: Elevation 2,863 feet, size 8 acres; drains via Lake Creek to the Little Nisqually River. Similar to nearby Duck Lake, which feeds into Goose, self-reproducing eastern brook trout dominate the fishery. Rainbow trout apparently manage a little reproduction in the lake’s tributaries, as a few are caught. Brown trout fry are currently stocked every other year, in hopes that they’ll grow big enough to thin out the brook trout population. Located in the Mt. Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest (but shown on the Gifford Pinchot map), access is via USFS Road 74 and Spur 209, which passes a couple hundred feet east of the lake. T14N, R4E, Sec 29; 46 deg 40.128 min N, 122 deg 19.548 min W (46.6688, -122.3258) at east shore.
Granite Lake: Elevation 4,175 feet, size 29 acres; drains via Teeley Creek and Big Creek to Nisqually River. Cutthroat and rainbow trout have been stocked in the past,
but eastern brook trout seem to be the only survivors here now. An occasional lunker brookie is taken. Located in the Mt. Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest, but managed by and shown on the GPNF map. Access is via a half-mile hike past Bertha May Lake on Trail #251, off of USFS Road 8410. T14N, R7E, Sec 16; 46 deg 41.88 min N, 121 deg 55.54 min W (46.698, -121.926) at outlet.
Greenwood Lake: Elevation 4,462 feet, size 7.5 acres; drains via Catt Creek and Big Creek to the Nisqually River. Self-reproducing eastern brook trout grow to decent size here. Greenwood is located in the Mt. Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest, but shown on the GPNF map. Access is via Trail #253, which crosses USFS Road 8511 about half a mile south of the lake, but is poorly-maintained and difficult to follow. T14N, R7E, Sec 34; 46 deg 39.546 min N, 121 deg 54.63 min W (46.6591, -121.9105) at northwest corner.
Hager Lake: Elevation 2,932 feet, size 2 acres; drains via Hager Creek and Hall Creek to the Cowlitz River. The state Game Department tried to rehabilitate the lake with rotenone in 1980 to remove a stunted eastern brook trout population, but this effort failed. Some brook trout survived,
and the lake is again over-populated with stunted brookies. Rainbow trout fry are planted periodically, last in 2009. USFS Road 48 passes close by the south end of the lake, and secondary road 4830 crosses the outlet just west of the lake. T13N, R9E, Sec 35; 46 deg 34.668 min N, 121 deg 38.202 min W (46.5778, -121.6367) at west end.
Hugo lakes: Two connected lakes, the upper at 4,013 feet elevation, the lower at 3,990 feet; both are 1.5 acres in size and drain via Johnson Creek to the Cowlitz River. Although the lower lake once supported a small population of westslope cutthroat, it and the upper lake are now probably too shallow and swampy for trout survival. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, USFS Road 21 passes a few hundred feet to the west of these lakes.
Jackpot Lake: Elevation 4,551 feet, size 5.5 acres; drains via Jackpot Creek to the North Fork Cispus River. Stocked almost annually with westslope cutthroat trout fry. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, USFS Road 20 passes a few hundred feet north of the lake. T11N, R9E, Sec 4; 46 deg 28.04 min N, 121 deg 41.88 min W (46.4672, -121.698) at north end.
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 19
Janelle Lake: See West Fork Lake below.
Jess Lake: Elevation 5,118 feet, size 4 acres; drains via Summit Creek to Ohanapecosh River. Stocked almost annually with westslope cutthroat trout fry. Located in the William O. Douglas Wilderness, Jess is a short hike cross-country from the Pacific Crest Trail. Total elevation gain from Trail #44 trailhead at Soda Springs campground is about 1,900 feet. T14N, R11E, Sec 14; 46 deg 42.32 min N, 121 deg 23.262 min W (46.7051, -121.3877) at southeast corner.
Johnson Lake: Elevation 4,222 feet, size varies 4 8 acres; drains via Johnson Creek and Skate Creek to the Cowlitz River. Westslope cutthroat trout have been stocked in the past, but are not currently part of the management plan here. The lake does have a self-reproducing population of coastal-strain cutthroat trout, however, which can make the arduous hike worthwhile. Located in the Tatoosh Wilderness, access is via a steep, rocky one-mile hike up the outlet creek from overgrown USFS Road 5260. T14N, R8E, Sec 2; 46 deg 43.82 min N, 121 deg 46.098 min W (46.730, -121.7683) at outlet.
Jug Lake: Elevation 4,416 feet, size 28 acres; drains via Jug Creek and Summit Creek to the Ohanapecosh River. Jug is not currently stocked, but has a self-reproducing, stunted population of eastern brook trout. Located in the William O. Douglas Wilderness, access is from Soda Springs campground via Trail #44 to Trail #43, a distance of about 3.5 miles with an elevation gain of about 1,200 feet. T14N, R11E, Sec 9; 46 deg 43.42 min N, 121 deg 26.13 min W (46.724, -121.436) at northeast corner.
Leech Lake (Yakima County): Elevation 4,412 feet, size 41 acres. Just east of White Pass on the north side of Highway US-12, this lake is open to flyfishing only. It has a self-reproducing population of eastern brook trout, and triploid rainbow trout have been stocked. Facilities include a Forest Service campground and boat launch, but motors are prohibited. Be sure to check the latest Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet for special regulations.
Lily Lake: Elevation 3,655 feet, size 25 acres; drains Little Lava Creek and the Clear Fork Cowlitz River. Self-reproducing eastern brook trout inhabit the lake, but never seem to be abundant, which allows them to grow to a better-than-average size. Located in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, access is via USFS Road 46 and a short hike from Trail #61. T13N, R11E, Sec 6; 46 deg 38.59 min N, 121 deg 28.38 min W (46.6425, -121.473) at north end.
Lone Tree Lake: Elevation 3,880 feet, size 2.5 acres; drains via Cunningham Creek to the Cowlitz River. Westslope cutthroat trout fry are stocked in alternate years, last in
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Elevation 4,106 feet, size 4.5 acres; drains via Millridge Creek to the Clear Fork Cowlitz River. Ever wonder about that little lake on the right just before you get to White Pass going east on Highway US-12? That’s Knuppenburg. It has been planted with rainbow, cutthroat, eastern brook and brown trout in the past, but currently only catchable-size browns are stocked annually. There is some east-
ern brook trout natural reproduction, though, so you might find either browns or brookies. High winter flows scour out the spawning gravel and even flush fish out of the lake, so the population never seems to grow too large. There is a pullout and picnic area.
20 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
2011. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, spur 012 from USFS Road 5505 passes several hundred feet north of the lake. T12N, R8E, Sec 32; 46 deg 28.95 min N, 121 deg 50.30 min W (46.4825, -121.8385) at north end.
Long Lake: Elevation 3,822 feet, size 7 acres; drains via Willame Creek to the Cowlitz River. Annually-stocked catchable-size brown trout provide the current fishery. The lake can be easily accessed from USFS Road 4740 passing a couple hundred feet to the north. T13N, R8E, Sec 9; 46 deg 37.752 min N, 121 deg 48.26 min W (46.6292, -121.804) at outlet.
Lost Lake: Elevation 5,165 feet, size 21 acres; drains via Lost Creek and Coal Creek to the Cowlitz River. Westslope cutthroat trout fry are stocked periodically, last in 2009. Note: there are at least 31 “lost” lakes in Washington, but this is the only one you’ll find in Lewis County that has fish in it. Located in the Goat Rocks Wilderness; access is by way of Clear Creek
Trail #76 to Trail #78, a strenuous hike of almost eight miles from Highway US-12, with an elevation gain of 2,750 feet. An alternative and probably easier route is from the end of USFS Road 46 via Trail #61 to Trail #76 and then to Trail #78. It can also be reached from Bluff Lake Trail #65. T13N, R10E, Sec 23; 46 deg 36.0 min N, 121 deg 30.69 min W (46.600, -121.5115) at south end.
Lost Hat Lake: Elevation 5,580 feet, size 3 acres; drains via Lava Creek to the Clear Fork Cowlitz River. Westslope cutthroat trout fry are stocked periodically, last in 2011. Located in the Goat Rocks Wilderness about two miles north of Lost Lake (see above); access is via trails #76 and #78. T13N, R10E, Sec 13; 46 deg 37.152 min N, 121 deg 30.53 min W (46.6192, -121.509) at north end.
McKinley Lake: Elevation 3,180 feet, size 3 acres; drains to East Fork Tilton River. The beaver dam impounding this former brook trout lake has broken, effectively drain-
ing the lake and eliminating that fishery. Survivors may have taken up residence in the Tilton system.
Moss Lake: Elevation 3,025 feet, size 3.5 acres; drains to Newaukum Lake and the South Fork Newaukum River. Westslope cutthroat trout fry are stocked every other year (last in 2011), and eastern brook trout may also be present. Road E337 leads to near the lake. T14N, R3E, Sec 31; 46 deg 39.678 min N, 122 deg 28.65 min W (46.6613, -122.478) at outlet.
Mouse Lake: Elevation 4,475 feet, size 9 acres; drains via Mouse Creek and Buck Creek to the Cispus River. Westslope cutthroat fry have been planted, but not in recent years. The lake is subject to winterkill because it’s so shallow, so should be considered a poor prospect. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, access is via a half-mile hike from the end of Spur 642 off of USFS Road 7812. T10N, R9E, Sec 14; 46 deg 21.558 min N, 121 deg 39.828 min W (46.3593, -121.6638) at outlet.
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 21
Mud Lake: Elevation 4,864 feet, size 7.5 acres; drains via Timonium Creek to the Cispus River. Similar to Mouse Lake (see above), winterkill is a danger to fish survival. Westslope cutthroat fry are still periodically stocked, however, last in 2010. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Spur 027 off of USFS Road 7807 leads to the lake. T11N, R10E, Sec 31; 46 deg 23.71 min N, 121 deg 36.97 min W (46.3954, -121.616) at road access.
Newaukum Lake: Elevation 2,982 feet, size 17 acres; drains to the South Fork Newaukum River. The self-reproducing eastern brook trout appear to be stunted from over-population. Brown trout fry have been introduced the last couple years in hopes they’ll grow big enough to thin out the brookies. Road E337 leads near the lake. T14N, R3E, Sec 30; 46 deg 39.99 min N, 122 deg 28.56 min W (46.6665, -122.476) at outlet.
Packwood Lake: Elevation 2,857 feet, size 452 acres; drains via Lake Creek to the Cowlitz River. Unlike other alpine lakes listed here, Packwood has a closed season: open last Saturday in April through October 31. Special regulations are also in effect; be sure to check the latest Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet. Various strains of rainbow trout have been stocked here in the past, but the unique Packwood rainbows have managed to survive “gene pool intrusion.” More closely resembling inland, or “redband” rainbows, these beautiful fish are more colorful than coastal rainbow trout. They don’t seem to grow to trophy size, with 12 to 14 inches near maximum. Packwood Trail #78 heads at USFS Road 1260; motor bikes are allowed. Distance to the lake is 4.6 miles, with an overall elevation gain of only about 50 feet. T13N, R10E, Sec 21; 46 deg 35.73 min N, 121 deg 34.07 min W (46.5955, -121.568) at outlet.
Pothole Lake: See Bertha May lakes above.
St. John Lake: Elevation 5,109 feet, size 3 acres; drains via St. John Creek to the North Fork Cispus River. This is one of the few places Washington anglers can hope to catch a golden trout. Golden trout fry have been unavailable for the last several years, however, so fishing is likely to be slow or non-existent this year. WDFW
hopes to have some goldens to stock in 2012. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Access is via either a steep uphill climb from the north side of St. Michael Lake (see below), a 1.5-mile hike up the outlet creek from USFS Road 22 (with almost 1700 feet elevation gain), or a longer but easier hike on Trail #7, accessible by cross-country hike from USFS Road 2130. T 11N, R10E, Sec 6; 46 deg 28.19 min N, 121 deg 37.11 min W (46.470, -121.6185) at east end.
St. Michael Lake: Elevation 4,714 feet, size 9 acres; drains via St. Michael Creek to the North Fork Cispus River. Westslope cutthroat, rainbow, and golden trout fry have been stocked in the past, but no plants have been made for several years. There is lim-
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Elevation 5,194 feet, size 8.5 acres; drains via Jess Lake and Summit Creek to the Ohanapecosh River. Westslope cutthroat trout fry are stocked periodically, last in 2011. Located in the William O. Douglas Wilderness, the Pacific Crest Trail skirts the eastern edge of the lake, with closest access via Cramer Lake Trail #1106 from Dog Lake campground. To-
tal elevation gain from that trailhead is about 950 feet. One glance from the air or Google Earth will validate the name. T14N, R11E, Sec 14; 46 deg 42.18 min N, 121 deg 23.10 min W (46.703, -121.385) at northeast corner.
22 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
ited self-reproduction, though, so any of these three trout species is a possibility. The WDFW hopes to have golden trout fry to stock in 2012. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. A threequarter mile, 900-foot elevation gain, trail-less hike up the outlet creek, accessible from Spur 670 off of USFS Road 2212, will get you there. A steep downhill climb from Trail #7 (see above in St. John Lake) is another possible route. T11N, R10E, Sec 6; 46 deg 27.69 min N, 121 deg 37.44 min W (46.4615, -121.624) at outlet.
Snow Lake: Elevation 4,938 feet, size 8 acres; drains via Summit Creek to the Ohanapecosh River. Westslope cutthroat trout fry are stocked periodically, last in 2011, but fish suffer occasional winterkill due to the shallow depth. Located in the William O. Douglas Wilderness, access is either by way of trails #44 and #45 from Soda Springs campground, or from the Pacific Crest Trail, which skirts the western shoreline. T14N, R11E, Sec 11; 46 deg 43.398 min N, 121 deg 24.228 min W (46.7233, -121.4038) at west end.
Snyder Lake: Technically not an alpine lake, as the elevation is only 2,038 feet; size is 3 acres; drains via Snyder Creek and Hall Creek to the Cowlitz River. Snyder has a self-reproducing population of eastern brook trout. Due to it’s lower elevation, it may be accessible as early as late March or early April. Brushy shoreline and lots of logs in the water can make fishing a bit challenging, but pressure is still high due to its close proximity to Packwood. Located within a few hundred feet of USFS Road 1260. T13N, R9E, Sec 26; 46 deg 35.628 min N, 121 deg 38.652 min W (46.5945, -121.6454) at outlet.
Spud Lake: Elevation 2,986 feet, size variable (3.0 acres when full). This is the headwaters of the South Fork Newaukum River. Spud drains into Newaukum lake, which is about 400 feet to the east. Westslope cutthroat fry have been stocked, last in 2011. The lake shrinks considerably during the summer, however, and that coupled with its shallow nature makes trout survival and growth challenging. T14N, R3E, Sec 30; 46 deg 39.84 min N, 122 deg 28.44 min W (46.664, -122.474) at outlet.
Vanson Lake: Elevation 4,514 feet, size 10 acres; drains via Green River to the Toutle River. Over-populated and stunted eastern brook trout are available. Located in the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Vanson Lake Trail #217-B is a quarter-mile spur off of Goat Mountain Trail #217, which heads on USFS Road 2612 near Ryan Lake. An alternative route is by way of Trail #205, which heads at the end of USFS Road 2750, to trails #217 and #217-B. T11N, R5E, Sec 27; 46 deg 24.192 min N, 122 deg 09.54 min W (46.4032, -122.159) at access on east shore.
Walupt Lake: Elevation 3,927 feet, size 384 acres; drains via Walupt Creek to the Cispus River. Rainbow trout similar to the Packwood strain (see above) are the dominant species. Cutthroat were stocked prior to 1970, and some cutthroat and cutthroat/ rainbow hybrids occur. Trout are no longer stocked, so all fish now are from natural reproduction. All inlet streams are closed at all times to protect spawning fish. Unlike other alpine lakes listed here, but like nearby Packwood Lake, Walupt has a closed season: open last Saturday in April through October 31, with Selective Gear Rules and a 10-inch minimum size. Be sure to check the latest Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet. USFS Road 2160 leads to the lake, with a large campground and boat launch facilities; internal combustion (gasoline) engines are not allowed.
T11N, R11E, Sec 19 at access.
Watch Lake: Elevation 3,559 feet, size 15 acres; drains via Lake Creek and Silver Creek to the Cowlitz River. Westslope cutthroat trout fry are stocked in alternate years, last in 2011. A logging road gets close to the lake from the west, but is not reliably open to vehicular traffic. Anglers can also hike in on USFS Road 7561, which was not suitable for vehicular traffic when last checked. T13N, R7E, Sec 31; 46 deg 34.49 min N, 121 deg 58.45 min W (46.575, -121.974) at northeast corner.
West Fork Lake: Elevation 3,301 feet, size 7 acres; also known as Janelle Lake, drains via the West Fork Tilton River to the Tilton and Cowlitz rivers. Westslope cutthroat fry are stocked about once every three years, last in 2011. The lake also has a thriving crayfish population. Although this lake is located in the Mt. Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest, it is shown on the Gifford Pinchot map. Access is down the hill a few hundred feet from USFS Road 7312. T14N, R4E, Sec 32; 46 deg 39.52 min N, 122 deg 19.21 min W (46.6588, -122.320) at outlet.
Willame Lake: Elevation 4,062 feet, size 7 acres; drains via Willame Creek to the Cowlitz River. Westslope cutthroat trout fry are stocked in alternate years, last in 2011.
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 23
Willame has a closed season: open last Saturday in April through October 31. Special size and gear rules are also in effect; be sure to check the latest Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet. A well-worn trail off of USFS Road 4730, Spur 042, which passes within half a mile, leads to the lake. T13N, R8E, Sec 21; 46 deg 35.778 min N, 121 deg 48.36 min W (46.5963, -121.806) at west end.
Wobbly Lake: Elevation 3,333 feet, size 8 acres; drains via Wobbly Creek to the North Fork Cispus River. Eastern brook trout provide decent action here. The state record brookie (9 pounds!) was reportedly caught from this small lake in 1988 after an apparently unsuccessful attempt by the state to remove the brook trout population (i.e. “rehabilitate” the lake). Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Access is via Trail #273, a hike of about 1.75 miles from the trailhead on USFS Road 2208, with a modest elevation gain of about 500 feet. T11N, R10E, Sec 20; 46 deg 25.35 min N, 121 deg 35.82 min W (46.423, -121.597) at north end.
Wright Lake: Elevation 3,100 feet, size 3.5 acres; drains via Johnson Creek to the Cowlitz River. Westslope cutthroat trout fry are stocked every other year, last in 2011, and an occasional lunker rainbow or cutthroat is reported. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. USFS Road 21 passes a few hundred feet north and west, with a rough dirt road sneaking south through the trees to the lake. Angling access is hindered by brush and aquatic vegetation that completely surrounds the lake. T12N, R10E, Sec 33; 46 deg 29.628 min N, 121 deg 34.53 min W (46.4939, -121.5755) at north end.
Lewis County, Swofford), opening day for most lowland lakes in Lewis County is April 26 this year. Lake Scanewa is an exception, as it opens June 1. Here’s what you can look forward to.
Carlisle Lake (Mill Pond): This 20-acre pond on the northwest edge of Onalaska (from SR-508, look north for the old chimney) is a popular spot on opening day. Onalaska High School rears coho salmon and steelhead in net pens in the lake, plus 8,000 resident rainbow trout. Landlocked salmon
rules apply: salmon count with trout as part of the daily limit. In addition to the net pen trout, before the April opener the state will stock another 4,000 catchablesize rainbow trout plus 315 larger triploid rainbows. In addition, 88 lunker broodstock rainbows (3- and 4-year old fish in excess of hatchery needs) were stocked before the lake closed at the end of February, some of which should still be available for the April re-opening. Beginning in 2011, brown trout are no longer stocked. Largemouth bass and a few other warmwater fish species also inhabit the lake. Shore access is good,
Lowland Lakes and Ponds
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One minor change that astute anglers may observe in 2012 is the size of freshlystocked trout. In recent years the Department of Fish and Wildlife has planted trout that averaged about three fish per pound. This year, to provide a slightly higher-quality fish, and perhaps as a side benefit to reduce cormorant predation, Region 5 WDFW hatcheries will raise them to 2.5 fish per pound. This equates to a difference of about one inch longer per fish. Except for the year-round lakes (Hayes, Mayfield, Riffe, Siler, South
24 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
and a rough boat launch is suitable for small trailers and hand-carried craft. Internal combustion (gasoline) engines are prohibited. Open season runs from the fourth Saturday in April through February 28.
Davis Lake: Located on the north side of Highway US-12, about 2.5 miles east of Morton, this 18-acre lake is scheduled to be stocked with 1,250 catchable-size rainbow trout by opening day. Bass and other warmwater fish can also be found here. The lake is open to fishing from the fourth Saturday in April through Feb. 28.
Fort Borst Park Pond: This 5-acre pond in Centralia’s Fort Borst Park is open only to juveniles (under 15 years of age). It is generously stocked with catchable-size rainbow trout, along with some larger triploid rainbows to make things more exciting for kids and parents. About 3,000 rainbows were stocked this January, before the lake closed on February 28. Another 4,000 catchable-size rainbows will be stocked before the April opener, then 3,000 more in early May to keep the action going through spring and into summer. The pond is scheduled to get 372 triploid rainbows before the opener. A few warmwater fish are also present. The Centralia Lions Club has an annual fishing derby on opening day, with prizes, hot dogs, and lots of help for the young anglers. Open season is from the fourth Saturday in April through Feb. 28.
Hayes Lake: This is the northernmost of the two ponds visible on the east side of I-5 driving through Centralia. Sometimes called Skookumchuck Lake or Slough, it is across the freeway from Fort Borst Park, and is connected by a channel to the Skookumchuck River. Size is about the same as Plummer Lake. Shore-fishing access is limited, but small handcarried boats can be launched at a city park at the south end of Bridge Street (just past the Goodwill store). This pond is not stocked with trout, but has some largemouth bass and other warmwater gamefish. Most of the pond gets quite weedy by late summer, so spring and early summer is the best time to fish. Since it is not listed in the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet, it is open to fishing year-round.
Mayfield Lake: At over 2,200 acres when full (it’s never drawn down very far), this Cowlitz River impoundment west of Mossyrock offers angling variety. There are several ways to get to the lake, all off of U.S. Highway 12. One of the main draws is tiger muskies, which are a sterile cross between northern pike and muskellunge. Mayfield was the first lake in Washington to receive these toothy hybrids, and holds the current state record of 31.25 pounds, caught
in 2001. Because their numbers are limited and they serve a biological purpose by eating lots of northern pikeminnows, most anglers carefully photograph and weigh these trophies, then release them. Minimum size to keep tiger muskies is 50 inches. Most musky fishing takes place in the warmer months. Rainbow trout are also a prime attraction, with 52,000 trout at two per pound (10 - 12 inches each) promised by Tacoma Power for 2012. Trout stocking will occur
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 25
sits at 1,770 feet elevation, and on clear days Mount Rainier provides a scenic backdrop. Take Highway SR-7 north from Morton about 11.5 miles, then turn east onto South Mineral Road another 1.7 miles through the small town of Mineral. The state plants more than 100,000 rainbow trout fry each year, and Mineral Lake Resort rears another 8,000 to catchable size in net pens. Some larger broodstock and triploid rainbows are also stocked annually. For 2012, almost 300 broodstock rainbows (3- and 4-year old fish in excess of hatchery needs) will be stocked along with nearly 700 triploid rainbows and 3,000 brown trout. Illegally-introduced largemouth bass are also present. Most shore fishing is from public fishing docks at the west end of the lake and docks at Mineral Lake Resort. The state boat launch is small, so patience is needed, especially on opening day. Open season is fourth Saturday in April through Sept. 30. Get there early on opening day to claim your rock.
Plummer Lake: This 12-acre pond is the southernmost of the two ponds visible along the east side of I-5 as you pass through Centralia. It is scheduled to be stocked with 6,000 catchable-size rainbow trout before opening day, and also has warmwater gamefish, including yellow perch, bluegill and largemouth bass. For the first time, Plummer will also be stocked with triploid rainbows in 2012, with almost 300 of these large, aggressive trout scheduled before opening day. Public access is limited, but hand-carry boats can be launched at a small park at the end of Lewis Street. There is a little room for shore-fishing around this park also. Open season is fourth Saturday in April through Feb. 28. weekly from about April 19 through the end of August, and will rotate between three different locations: Mossyrock trout hatchery, Mayfield Lake (county) Park, and the Ike Kinswa (state) Park day use area Mayfield also has a good population of tasty and under-fished yellow perch, and a few other warmwater gamefish are occasionally caught. Limited shore fishing access is available near the trout hatchery (off Birley Road west of Mossyrock), at Ike Kinswa State Park, and in the Winston Creek Arm. Excellent (and free) boat launching facilities are found at the county park, located about 3.5 miles west of Mossyrock along
U.S. Highway 12. Other boat launching sites include Ike Kinswa State Park and Lake Mayfield Resort and Marina off of Winston Creek Road. The lake is open to fishing year-round. Check the latest Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet for special trout regulations. All cutthroat trout must be released.
Mineral Lake: This 277-acre lake three miles southeast of Elbe provides excellent trout fishing for those who enjoy lots of company. If April has been cold, the fishing improves as the weather warms. The lake
Riffe Lake: Lewis County’s largest body of water at 11,830 acres full pool, this Cowlitz River reservoir stretches more than 13 miles along Highway US-12 east of Mossyrock. The primary fishery is for landlocked coho salmon that are produced in the upper Cowlitz and Cispus. Some of these coho are collected in an outmigrant trap at Cowlitz Falls Dam, but good numbers of them pass downstream and take up residence in Riffe. There are also a few landlocked chinook salmon, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and an occasional brown trout. Landlocked salmon rules apply; salmon count as part of the trout
26 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
daily limit. The cutthroat release rule that applies in Mayfield and Scanewa lakes is not in effect here. You might even catch two different cutthroat subspecies in Riffe, as the state stocked over 3,000 westslope cutthroat fry in 2011. If any of them survive, they will be pretty small to consider eating in 2012, but could enter the fishery by 2013. Riffe Lake has become one of Western Washington’s top smallmouth bass destinations, hosting several bass tournaments annually. Yellow perch, bullhead catfish, largemouth bass and a few other warmwater fish are also present. Bank access is available on both sides near the dam, by the Swofford Pond inlet, at Mossyrock Park, and at the Taidnapam Park “fishing bridge” near the upper end of the reservoir. Four boat ramps are provided by Tacoma Power, one at Mossyrock Park (turn off at the U.S. Highway 12 traffic light and drive past the school, turn left at the “T” onto State Street, which becomes Mossyrock Road and then Ajlune Road, and drive 3.2 miles), one near the upper end at Kosmos Road, and two in or near Taidnapam Park (turn off at Kosmos Road about five miles east of Morton, then turn left onto the Champion Haul Road). The Mossyrock Park ramp is the only one available during low water, and sometimes even it is not usable. To check reservoir levels and boat launch suitability, call Tacoma Power’s toll-free recreational hotline at (888) 502-8690. The fishing season is open year-round.
(Lake) Scanewa: Originally known as Cowlitz Falls Reservoir, this 610-acre impoundment is located about 10 crow miles southwest of Randle. Turn on Savio Road west of Randle, turn south onto Kiona Road for 1.9 miles, then turn west (right) onto Falls Road for 3.6 miles to a turnoff for the day use area. For the campground, skip the turn onto Falls Road and continue on Kiona Road, which turns into Peters Road. Good signage is available at every turn to help. Lewis County PUD stocks catchable-size rainbow trout (about 9 - 11 inches each). This year a total of 20,000 fish are scheduled to be stocked at four sites throughout the lake beginning in late June and continuing through August. Another 5,000 plus fish, including some larger fish up to six pounds, will be planted beginning several days after the June 9 Kid’s Trout Derby; these plants will continue each week through the end of June to keep the fishing derby site wellstocked. Approximately 700 - 750 trout,
including a mix of sizes with some up to 10 pounds, will be stocked for the June 9 Kid’s Trout Derby, co-sponsored by the PUD and U.S. Forest Service. Watch for ads in the Chronicle the week before the derby. Salmon and steelhead in excess of hatchery needs are often released here to provide additional fishing opportunity in the fall and winter. The reservoir is open to fishing from June 1 through Feb. 28, but regulations vary over the course of the open season. Be sure to check the latest Fishing Rules Pamphlet for special trout and salmon regulations, which are too complex to list here. Note that all cutthroat trout must be released during all open seasons.
Siler Pond: This tiny (about one acre) pond 6.6 miles east of the Mossyrock junction, is visible looking downhill to the right when heading eastbound on Highway US-12. Again this year it will be stocked with 1,000 catchable-size rainbow trout by mid-April, weather permitting. It is open to fishing year-round.
Silver Lake (Cowlitz County): Although listed at almost 3,000 surface acres, this Cowlitz County lake probably has less than 2,000 fishable acres. Located along the south side of state Route 504 about seven miles east of Castle Rock, it is included here because it’s still one of Western Washington’s best lakes for warmwater species such as largemouth bass, both black
and white crappie, bluegill, brown bullhead catfish and yellow perch. And thanks to grass carp, it now has enough open (weed-free) water to support trout plants. It was stocked with 8,000 catchable-size rainbows in March. Bass fishing usually picks up after the water warms in early spring and is good through summer and fall. Crappie fishing can be good all spring and summer, and especially good in fall, although some years it’s hard to catch a legal-size crappie (nine inches minimum). Bluegill and catfish bite best in the summer months. Yellow perch can be taken almost any time of year. Like the crappie, however, perch often tend to run small here, but there is no minimum size on them. Year-round open fishing season.
South Lewis County Park Pond: This 12-acre pond just southeast of Toledo has excellent shore access, fishing docks, and a small boat launch. Turn right on Ray Road just after crossing the Cowlitz River eastbound on SR505. This year the state will stock 3,000 rainbow trout, plus another 294 larger triploid rainbows. Brown trout will not be stocked in 2012, but Tacoma Power plans to add another 9,000 rainbows 10 - 12 inches long between mid-April and mid-May. The pond also contains largemouth bass and bluegill. A few tiger muskies were planted in 1999, but may not survive currently; if you catch one, remember that the statewide size limit is 50 inches. Grass carp have been planted for aquatic weed control; it is
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 27
trout fishing; the mainstem above the Weyerhaeuser 1000 Road bridge south of Pe Ell is selective gear rules fishing only.
Cispus River: See Cowlitz River below.
illegal to fish for or retain them. The pond is open to fishing year-round, but occasionally, usually in late summer, closed to other aquatic pursuits such as swimming because of water quality concerns.
Swofford Pond: This 240-acre pond east of Mossyrock offers plenty of fishing variety, usually with good prospects for success. Turn right off of U.S. 12 at the Mossyrock stoplight, turn left at the “T” (State Street) and follow Mossyrock Road 2.6 miles. Turn right onto Swofford Road, which will lead you to the lake. Shore access is good, with several pullouts on the north shore. There is a rough boat launch, but internal combustion (gasoline) engines are not allowed. In Washington, that means you can’t even legally have one mounted on your boat while on the water here. There are naturally-reproducing warmwater fish populations, including bluegill, largemouth bass, crappie, and lots of brown bullhead catfish. Channel catfish have been stocked, and a few lunkers have been caught. Tacoma Power will provide 9,000 rainbow trout at 10 12 inches each this year, with stocking starting in early April and continuing until early May. The state will not stock brown trout in 2012, but a few browns from previous years could carry over (survive more than one season) to attain larger size and test your tackle. Open fishing season is year-round.
Rivers and Streams Chehalis River: This is the major drainage for northern and western Lewis County, plus much of Thurston and Grays Harbor counties and even a bit of Cowlitz and Pacific counties. In addition to salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon, sections of the river provide good fishing for bass and other warmwater game fish. Most sturgeon fishing takes place in the lower river. Northern pikeminnows are found throughout, and shad runs have been reported in the past. Tributaries such as the Satsop, Wynoochee, and Skookumchuck rivers rank among the best salmon and steelhead streams in the state. Although most of the river is open to fishing year-round, regulations are complex, so be sure to check the latest Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet. Boating access is available near Fort Borst Park (behind Centralia High School), at Cedarville (west of Oakville), at Porter, at Fuller Bridge (just upstream from the Satsop’s mouth), near Montesano (off Highway 107 south of town), Cosmopolis and Aberdeen. The access at Fort Borst Park, while rough, provides an opportunity to venture upstream to sample bass fishing in the “frog water” area known as the Chehalis Reach. Ponds on the Chehalis Wildlife Area off of Schouweiler Road, southwest of Elma, are reported to contain largemouth bass and other warmwater species. The upper river and South Fork provide limited
One of the most popular salmon and steelhead rivers in the state, the Cowlitz always ranks near or at the top for steelhead catches. Recent changes in management strategy by the state may reduce those catch numbers, but it should still be near the top. A Columbia River Salmon/ Steelhead Endorsement is required to fish for salmon or steelhead. Both summerrun and winter-run steelhead are planted, plus coho and chinook salmon. Searun cutthroat trout provide lots of action in late summer and fall for bait, spin and fly fishers. Improved boating access is available below the barrier dam, at Blue Creek Trout Hatchery, at Massey Bar at the end of Buckley Road (also known as Mission Bar because it’s near the old Cowlitz Mission), in Toledo, below the I-5 bridge south of Toledo, across from the mouth of Olequa Creek (take I-5 Exit 57, go south on Barnes Drive to Imboden Road, then right), in Castle Rock, and at Gearhart Gardens below Longview and Kelso. Bank fishing is available at most of the boating access sites. The upper Cowlitz (above Scanewa Lake) and its Cispus, Muddy Fork, Ohanapecosh, and Clear Fork tributaries offer limited trout and whitefish fishing during open seasons. A few salmon and steelhead make it up this far too, courtesy of trucks that transport them around the dams, but check the latest Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet for legal fishing opportunities. The Clear Fork of the Cowlitz, which follows U.S. Highway 12 part of the way up toward White Pass, is lightly fished but has rainbow trout and a few eastern brook trout. Best access is from USFS Road 46. The Muddy Fork is marginal for trout survival and growth. Both the Muddy Fork and Clear Fork have selective gear rules and require release of all cutthroat trout. The Cispus River’s North Fork and Adams Creek fork are nice trout streams, but again, all cutthroat must be released in the North Fork. Both the mainstem and Adams Creek have some eastern brook trout, which are fair game. The Cispus and its tributaries offer excellent access from the network of Gifford Pinchot forest roads. If you’re going to fish these streams, a Cowlitz Valley Ranger
28 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
District map is almost essential.
Newaukum River: Although no longer regularly planted with hatchery steelhead, this Chehalis River tributary and its forks still offer summer trout fishing, although few trout that meet the 14-inch minimum size limit are available. A few winter steelhead are caught, but all wild steelhead must be released. A fall salmon season provides a modest chance at hatchery coho. All other salmon must be released. As always, read the latest Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet before venturing forth. Smallmouth bass from the Chehalis River’s expanding population may also have colonized the lower Newaukum by now.
Skate Creek: Flowing southwest out of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, this major trout fishing destination enters the Cowlitz River near Packwood. USFS Road 52 (aka Skate Creek Road) runs alongside much of the stream, providing fishing access plus some rough camping and picnic sites. Don’t expect seclusion; this is a popular destination on opening day and throughout the summer. Tacoma Power plans to stock a total of 15,000 rainbow trout averaging two per pound (about 10-12 inches each) this year. Fishing may be slow for the first two or three weeks after opening, however, until the first plants are made about June 21. Stocking will then continue weekly through August 31. Note: fishing is for stocked rainbow trout only; all cutthroat and all rainbow without a clipped adipose fin must be released. Minimum size is eight inches, with only one fish over 12 inches allowed in the five-trout daily limit. Open season runs from the first Saturday in June through Oct. 31.
Skookumchuck River: This Chehalis River tributary is a popular steelhead stream during late winter, with most action taking place shortly below the dam east of Bucoda. Other public access sites include the mouth and at Schaeffer County Park. Some coho salmon are caught, although it’s not highly-renowned as a salmon destination. All chinook and chum salmon must be released at all times, and wild coho for part of the season. Check the latest Sportfishing Rules pamphlet for gear and seasonal restrictions. Winterrun hatchery steelhead are the best bet. A
few sea-run cutthroat are available during late summer and fall.
Tilton River: The mainstem starts up in Cascade foothills southwest of Mt. Rainier, and follows Highway 7 south for a few miles before being joined by the West Fork. The West Fork heads at West Fork Lake, also known as Janelle Lake, in that part of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that is administered by the Gif-
ford Pinchot. USFS roads 70 and 7003 (if open) offer some access to the West Fork. (Note: West Fork/Janelle Lake is good fishing in its own right; see in Alpine Lakes.) The East and South forks head in the Tahoma State Forest, combine and run westward to join the mainstem near Coal Canyon. Murray Road follows the lower end of the combined East/South forks. The mainstem then continues west past the north side of Morton, follows State Highway 508, and is joined by the North Fork about seven miles west of
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. â€˘ 2012 Fish Southwest Washington â€˘ 29
Gear Rules (single-point, barbless hooks, no bait) and have a two-fish, 12-inch minimum size limit. The forks are open from the first Saturday in June through Oct. 31; open season on the mainstem is more complicated, but for trout runs from the first Saturday in June through March 31, with a five-fish daily limit, 8-inch minimum size, and only one fish over 12 inches (again, please check the regulations pamphlet).
Ocean Beaches, Bays and Harbors Marine fishing opportunities in Southwest Washington include potential year-round rockfish and surf perch fishing, limited mainly by weather, plus seasonal opportunity for ling cod, halibut and salmon. Tuna and mackerel are open to fishing year-round, but usually occur in our area only for a short summer period. Shellfish, including crabs, oysters, mussels, razor clams, plus other clams (littleneck, butter, cockle, eastern softshell, and horse) are open on a seasonal basis, with health concerns (marine toxins) also affecting open seasons.
Morton before emptying into Mayfield Lake. The North Fork drains part of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and is paralleled for part of its length by USFS Road 7304. Expect to find both cutthroat and rainbow trout in the forks. The mainstem also has resident trout and is one of the few streams in Washington still stocked with catchable-size rainbow trout. Tacoma Power provides the trout; for 2012, they plan to stock 15,000 rainbows averaging two fish per pound or larger (about 10-12 inches each) at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton. Stocking will
start about June 7, and continue weekly through the end of August. Like Skate Creek, all cutthroat trout must be released in the Tilton mainstem, and only rainbow trout with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar where the fin was clipped can be retained. The mainstem is also popular for steelhead and salmon fishing, with regular releases of excess hatchery fish near Gust Backstrom Park. Regulations differ considerably between the mainstem Tilton and its forks; please see the regulations pamphlet for details. Note that all the forks are under Selective
Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay provide good, sometimes excellent, fishing for salmon (in season), bottomfish, crab and hardshell clams (littleneck, butter, cockle). Grays Harbor boat launching facilities are available at Ocean Shores Marina and across the bay at Westport. Willapa Bay boaters can launch at Tokeland Marina (fee), North River Resort on Highway 105 about 10 miles west of Raymond (fee), Smith Creek, about 9.5 miles west of Raymond on Highway 105 (WDFW access sticker required), Helen Davis Park on the Willapa River near South Bend (WDFW), Palix River just off of Highway 101 (WDFW), Willapa National Wildlife Refuge on Highway 101 west of Naselle (fee) and at Nahcotta Boat Basin (fee). For bottomfish, such as rockfish, greenling, various sculpins, flounders, and ling cod, check out the jetties and smaller finger jetties outside of the Westport boat basin. Use similar tactics as described below under Jetties. Note that there is a closed season on ling cod; for 2012, the season opened March 17; check the 2012-2013 Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet for closure date (this pamphlet is
30 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
usually available about May 1). Other bottomfish, except halibut, are generally open to fishing year-round. Halibut season opens May 6 for Marine Area 2 (Westport), and is open two days a week, Sundays and Thursdays, through May 22. If sufficient quota remains, it will reopen the following Sunday or Tuesday, and remain open until the quota is achieved or September 30, whichever comes first. For opening dates for other marine areas, exclusion zones, and the latest status on the quotas, check the WDFW web site at http://wdfw. wa.gov/fishing/creel/halibut/. Refer to the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlets for Marine Area descriptions. Crabbing is popular in Grays Harbor, either from a boat or pier. The season for Dungeness and red rock crab is open from December 1 to September 15 for pot gear, and year-round for other methods. Dungeness crab must be males, in hardshell condition, and 6 inches minimum size; daily limit is six. Crab season is open year-round for all types of gear on the Columbia River, with more lenient size restrictions (5-3/4 inches) and higher catch limits (12 daily!) for Dungeness crabs. The Dungeness crab Catch Record Card is for Puget Sound only, and is not required for Grays Harbor, Pacific ocean beaches, or Columbia River crabbing. Salmon seasons are not set until the several agencies involved in their management complete what’s called the “North of
Falcon” process, so-called because it involves management of fisheries north of Cape Falcon on the Oregon coast. Again, the WDFW web site is a good source of information (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/ regulations/). The 2012-2013 Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet will also have this information. A coho net pen program in the Westport boat basin provides enhanced salmon-fishing opportunity. Large charter fleets in both Westport and Ilwaco provide access to salmon fishing for those without an adequate boat.
Ocean Beaches: Pacific beaches give diggers and anglers at good chance to dig razor clams and catch surf perch. Adventurous anglers may find other fisheries, including flatfish (sole and flounder), sea-run cutthroat trout, and even salmon at the mouth of rivers like the Copalis. Razor clam seasons are set by the state using complex formulae, commonly providing up to 35 days of digging from October through May of the following year. Clam beaches include Twin Harbors (near Grayland), Long Beach (almost the whole peninsula north of Ilwaco), Copalis Beach (north of Hoquiam) Mocrocks Beach (farther north of Hoquiam, up to Moclips), and Kalaloch Beach (on the Olympic Peninsula). Not all beaches are open for every season, however, and all open digs depend on safe levels of marine toxins. For currently scheduled seasons,
check the WDFW web site at http://wdfw. wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html or call their fishing hotline at (360) 902-2500. Surfperch fishing is open year-round on all publicly-accessible Pacific beaches, with redtail surfperch the quarry. These tasty fighters can be caught any time of year, with winter through spring being perhaps best, and May best of all. Traditional baits are shrimp, clam neck pieces, and piling worms, but some of the newer, more realistic artificial baits (for example, Berkley Gulp 2-inch sandworms) work well. It’s hard to beat a fresh tip from a razor clam neck, though. It not only attracts the fish, it stays on the hook well. All of these baits should be fished just off the bottom. Most anglers use a two- to four-foot leader with two dropper hooks above a pyramid sinker or special sand sinker. Sinker weight will range from two to six ounces, depending on how strong the surf is and how far you need to cast. Best fishing is usually the first half of the incoming tide. Scout out low places on the beach at low tide, then fish these as the tide comes in.
Jetties: Grays Harbor north and south jetties and the Columbia River north jetty offer a chance for the nimble and adventurous angler to catch black rockfish, surf perch, other bottomfish, and even salmon in season. The Columbia River north jetty is accessible through Fort Canby State Park near Ilwaco, the Grays Harbor south jetty through Westhaven State Park near Westport, and the Grays Harbor north jetty from the very south end of Ocean Shores Blvd SW, south of the town of Ocean Shores. Exercise extreme caution in jetty fishing, as they are downright dangerous in some weather conditions. Rockfish, perch and most other bottomfish you’re likely to encounter on the jetties are open year-round (but not ling cod; see below). Redtail surfperch are the most common perch species here. See surfperch under Ocean Beaches above for bait and technique information. Black rockfish are the predominant rockfish species caught from jetties. Best fishing for them seems to be summer, although they may also be caught any time of year. (Note: in the unlikely event you should catch a yelloweye or canary rockfish, it must be released unharmed). The Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet has photos of the most commonly-caught rockfish and other bottomfish. For rockfish, most anglers use leadhead jigs adorned with curly-tailed plastic grubs, tossed out
The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash. • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • 31
over the rocks and reeled back in just fast enough to not get hung up; be prepared to lose lots of jigs. If you’ve got some extra freshwater bass gear, such as deep-diving crankbaits, give that a try. These floating lures will often float up on a slack line, making them easier to recover. The last part of the incoming tide and the following high slack are the best time for rockfish; the slower current makes control of your lures easier. You’ll have a decent chance at ling cod from the jetties too, but the season is not open year-round. In Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) and Marine Area 2 (Westport and Ocean Shores), ling cod opened for fishing March 17 of this year. Be sure to check the 2012-2013 Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet for closing dates, minimum size and catch limits. Other bottomfish you might encounter, all open to fishing year-round in Marine areas 1 and 2, are various sculpin species (cabezon, red and brown Irish Lord, Pacific staghorn sculpin), greenling, and several flatfish species, most commonly starry flounder. Halibut are almost never taken from jetties, and chances are the season would be closed anyway. Although they look like mostly head and no available flesh, the larger sculpins are quite good eating. Be careful in cleaning cabezon, however, as the eggs are reported to be very poisonous. Starry flounder and other flatfish are all good eating when large enough. Salmon fishing from jetties can be good during the runs. Be sure to check the rules, which are complex and vary from year-to-year, depending on strength of the runs. Generally speaking, both chinook and coho can be caught from the jetties. Herring or other baitfish hung below a large float is a popular technique. Artificial lures, such as jigs, metal spoons, large spinners, and diving plugs will also draw strikes from hungry salmon. Most crab fishing takes place from docks or boats, but anyone who has bottom-fished from a jetty or beach has probably had a crab grab their bait and hang on until almost in reach. Just as you lift them from the water, they let go and scuttle away. But you can outfox them with a tangle-lure, which is a gob of tangled monofilament line with your bait inside. The crabs get caught in the tangle and have a harder time getting away. Hook-and-line crab fishing is open yearround in both Marine areas 1 and 2, with all size, sex, and softshell restrictions still in place. Crab pot fishing in Marine Area 2 has a closed season, but is open yearround in Marine Area 1.
About the Authors
Outdoors writer Jim Byrd was born in Toledo and now lives on the family farm near Winlock where he grew up. He worked for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in the 1990s, operating fish traps and creating educational materials to engage youth in the outdoors and fishing. He wrote and updated about 20 publications related to fishing in Washington state. Send him feedback at jbyrd@ chronline.com.
Cartoonist David Ford is principal of Tenino Elementary School and enjoys drowning worms from time to time.
Fish SWW 2012 is published by The Chronicle, 321 N. Pearl St., Centralia, WA 98531. Inquiries should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Brian Mittge, email@example.com, (360) 8078234. Keep up with news of the outdoors year-round at lewiscountyoutdoors.com
32 • 2012 Fish Southwest Washington • The Chronicle, Centralia/Chehalis Wash.
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