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Originally published Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Fishing Notes: Winter steelhead begin to appear in area rivers

The unofficial start of the winter steelhead fishery in many Western Washington rivers was spotty this week, but there were enough fish...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The unofficial start of the winter steelhead fishery in many Western Washington rivers was spotty this week, but there were enough fish around to keep it interesting.

"I haven't heard much winter steelhead-wise, but we're just starting on the upswing side for them, and we are reaching that point where chums and coho are winding down," said Curt Kraemer, a former state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "I'd have to say that fishing starts to pick up for steelhead in mid-December.

"Traditionally the Queets, Quinault and Bogachiel steelhead runs are a week or 10 days ahead of Puget Sound runs. So when I hear good reports from those areas, I'll look around here soon after."

Locally, the Snohomish River system fared better for chums than early winter steelhead. Other local rivers worth a try are Green, Skagit and Stillaguamish.

On coastal rivers, anglers encountered some fairly decent fishing for coho and steelhead.

"There has been some steelhead caught in Wynoochee and we had stream walkers [fish surveyors] on the Humptulips who saw a lot of steelhead and coho," said Scott Barbour, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "I know three guys who fished the Bogachiel up by the hatchery ponds, and they caught five small steelhead."

Anglers also report decent fishing in Queets, Wishkah, Soleduck, Calawah and Hoh.

"I know some guys who floated the Satsop from Oakville to Porter and hooked six coho tossing spinners," Barbour said.

In Southwest Washington, steelhead fishing improved dramatically.

"The bright spot for winter-run steelhead is the Cowlitz, and it really started to pick up over the weekend and we had some folks who did fairly well," said Mike Chamberlain at Ted's Sports Center in Lynnwood. "On Monday most guys had two to four fish per boat, and a few bank anglers at Blue Creek had fish, too."

Other rivers to target steelhead are Kalama, Grays, Washougal and Lewis.

Top spots of the week

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1. Salmon in Puget Sound: "There was some blackmouth caught over the weekend in Elger Bay, Saratoga Passage, Baby Island and Greenbank," said Gary Krein, owner of All-Star Charters in Everett. "The mark rate [chinook with a missing adipose fin] is in the 60 to 70 percent range, so chances are good to get a legal fish."

Northern Puget Sound, San Juan Islands and Strait of Juan de Fuca (Catch Areas 5, 6, 7 and 9) are closed for salmon fishing.

Other places still open are Kingston, Tacoma area, Restoration Point, Blakely Rock, Eagle Harbor, Jefferson Head, Point Monroe, Allen Bank off Blake Island, West Point, Southworth and Manchester.

"Action improved a little on Sunday off Todd Shipyard," said Doug Hanada, president of the Tengu Club Derby in Elliott Bay. "Members reported marking some balls of bait and fish off Harbor Island."

The derby is 7 a.m. every Sunday through Dec. 18 at the Seacrest Boathouse in West Seattle. Details: 206-324-7600.

2. Crab in Puget Sound and coastal bays: "There is a lot of crab in Willapa Bay," said Tony Floor with the Northwest Marine Trade Association.

The sport crab-pot season opens today in Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay. Crabbing is also good in Hood Canal. North, Central and southcentral Puget Sound are open for crabs Wednesday through Saturday only.

3. Trout in statewide lakes: "Still some fairly decent fly-fishing for anglers at Pass Lake," Chamberlain said. "The Lake Washington trout fishery is also starting to materialize."

"The lower basin [of Lake Chelan] continues to be very productive for 2- to 4-pound lakers [Mackinaw trout]," said Anton Jones of Darrell and Dad's Family Guide Service. "This is prime time to fish Rufus Woods triploids and jumbo kokanee."

Others worth trying are Beaver Lake near Issaquah, Lone Lake on Whidbey Island, Roses Lake near Manson, and North Fio Rito and Mattoon lakes in Kittitas County.

Other fishing spots

Squid in Elliott Bay: "They are doing pretty good off Pier 86 and the Seattle waterfront area, and I had some customers who got their limit," said Jerry Beppu, owner of Linc's Tackle Shop in Seattle. "I also had good reports at Des Moines and Les Davis dock in Tacoma."

Columbia River: Fair to good for sturgeon below Bonneville Dam.

Chum in Hood Canal and southern Puget Sound estuaries: Chum action is just about over in Hood Canal from Potlatch State Park to Hoodsport, Kennedy Creek in Totten Inlet, Perry Creek in Eld Inlet and Chico Creek in Bremerton.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

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