State mulls two rods for salmon fishing

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

Published:

 

Ten tributaries of the Columbia River in Southwest Washington have been identifed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife as possible spots to allow salmon and steelhead fishing with two rods this year.

The 2010 Legislature approved a two-pole endorsement, which for $14.30 permits anglers to fish with a second rod. So far, it has been limited mostly to lakes and reservoirs where sportsmen target on resident species like trout.

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"We've had a lot of requests to extend that to some salmon and steelhead fishing,'' said Pat Frazier, regional fish program manager for the department in Vancouver.

Several streams from Deep River in Wahkiakum County to the Klickitat River on the east are the the draft list.

"We didn't look at the mainstem Columbia at all because we didn't want to impact quota fisheries,'' Frazier said. "We're focusing on tributaries that have large hatchery programs.''

Here is the list:

Wind River — March 16-June 30, buoy line to BNSF railroad bridge.

Drano Lake — March 16-June 30 and Sept. 15-Dec. 31.

Klickitat River — June 1-Nov. 30 from 400 feet upstream of Fishway No. 5 to Klickitat Hatchery.

Washougal River — Year-round except March 16-first Saturday in June from the mouth to the North Fork.

North Fork Lewis River — Year-round from forks to Johnson Creek.

Kalama River — Year-round from mouth to intake at Fallert Creek Hatchery.

Grays River — Aug. 1-March 15 from mouth to state Highway 4 Bridge; Aug. 1-Oct. 15 and Dec. 1-March 15 from Highway 4 Bridge to West Fork Grays.

Elochoman River — Nov. 1-March 15 from mouth to the bridge at Elochoman Salmon Hatchery.

Cowlitz River — Year-round from mouth to Mill Creek.

Deep River — Year-round from mouth to town bridge.

"It would mostly benefit boat anglers and plunkers,'' said Joe Hymer, a department biologist. "It gives an option to use two rods particularly at times when effort is down.''

Larry Swanson of Vancouver, a member of the bi-state Columbia River Recreational Advisory Group, gave the proposal a lukewarm response.

"It's a ploy to get as many hatchery fish caught as possible and off the spawning grounds,'' he said. "It might work, it might not. I think what might work better is just to liberalize the bag limit.''

Harry Barber of Washougal, also an advisory group member, said he opposes allowing two rods in the tributaries.

"What's it going to be like in the fall downstream of the Oak Park Bridge (on the Washougal River)?'' Barber asked. "It's already combat fishing with 100 guys. Now it'll be 100 guys with 200 rods. There are already fights on the Kalama, at Blue Creek (on the Cowlitz), I don't think we need two rods.''

Barber said the state should run the two-rod idea through the lengthy, well-vetted "major-cycle'' process for changing fishing rules, rather than by emergency action.

"Where's the sport? It's about the experience, not just killing fish,'' he said.