Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Sept. 22, 2021

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Swift Reservoir easy picking for trout trollers

By , Columbian Outdoors Reporter

Every fall, I suggest anglers make a trip to Swift Reservoir to catch rainbow trout, an outing made even easier after the state changed the permanent rules to extend the season through Nov. 30.

So, every fall, I designate one day in late September or early October as annual Trout Day, and head up to Swift Reservoir to make certain I’m not steering readers to make a long drive for a bust fishery.

A week ago today was Trout Day.

My neighbor and I didn’t get to the reservoir until 9:20 a.m., because traditionally there’s no need to get on the water early. I see no reason to get up early for a bite that’s normally good at any hour.

As expected, the catching was easy. We probably could have had our five-fish limits in 45 minutes, but invoked the Swift Reservoir Rule.

The Rule is simple: You are not allowed to catch two fish on the same lure. Once you catch a trout, the lure must go back in the box.

Since many trout lures are only slightly different, I make the determination as boat captain and commissioner if the next lure is allowable.

Why the Swift rule?

Because we’ve all got lots of junk in our tackle boxes that never, ever go in the water. Years ago, it seemed necessary to buy that stuff, then we never use it.

At Swift, in the fall, when the trout bite is normally so consistent, it’s a place to test all that junk in a scenario where if you don’t get a hit, the lure is probably a dud.

Every color and permutation of No. 1 Apex we put in the reservoir caught fish, baited with either white corn or Pauztke’s Fire Corn. Silver, gold, glow and pink spinners all worked.

Even something called an Assassin worked. It had a Smile Blade, and I assumed it’s made by Mack’s, but couldn’t find it on their web site.

A small black-silver flake spin-n-glo and a Luhr Jensen Kokanee King got hits, but no fish. The only three lures not to get strikes were a chartreuse spinner, a chartreuse spinner with a chartreuse hoochie and flame red-chartreuse spin-n-glo.

But it wasn’t an aversion to chartreuse, given two Apexes with different chartreuse finishes worked fine.

Swift gets stocked each April with about 60,000 rainbow trout, averaging 9 to 10 inches. Of our 10 trout killed, one was 10 1/2 inches, three ranged from 11 to 11 3/4 and six were 12 to 12 3/4 inches

The attraction of Swift in the fall, besides the ease of catching and uncrowded conditions, is those hatchery-reared fish have been eating natural food for six months. They are pink meated.

On Trout Day a year ago, three of the 10 fish were a bit more than 13 inches, so the size this year appears a little down, given it’s a very small sample size. My 2009 fish log also showed that chartreuse-blade spinners worked well that day.

Southwest Washington anglers tend to look down their noses at trout, bass and panfish, given all the opportunity for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon. And granted, a 12-inch rainbow is no substitute for a 12-pound coho right now.

There are places in this country where an almost sure-thing to catch five foot-long trout would be a big deal. It’s a good fishery for kids, given the bite is normally pretty fast and they’ve got something to take home and eat.

So, that’s the annual fall report from Swift. All it takes is a boat, a 2-ounce sinker (at 22 pulls) and something shiny with a bit of bait attached.

The pool elevation at Swift was 993 feet on Wednesday. The boat ramp at Swit Forest Park is good to 975 feet elevation. To get a water level check, the web site is

Allen Thomas covers hunting, fishing, hiking and other outdoor topics for The Columbian. He learned as a youth to fish at Swift Reservoir, thus has an emotional warm spot for the place. He can be reached at 360-735-4555 or by e-mail to

Columbian Outdoors Reporter