Fish in small streams if crowds aren’t your style

3:11 pm June 18th, 2012

By Bob Brown

With the opening of streams June 2 to fishing, a lot of anglers are turning their backs to large, over crowded rivers and lowland lakes and are seeking the seclusion and privacy associated with fishing small streams.

Small streams have a multiple of advantages, such as providing a chance to fish for native (non-stocked) trout. Native trout are generally more colorful, more wary and intelligent, fight better, and taste better than their stocked counterparts.  Another advantage to small-stream fishing is the opportunity for beginners to get acclimated to trout fishing and hone their skills.

In small streams, trout usually are located only in a few places, whereas in a large stream, the fish can be scattered throughout the larger expanse of water. Author P. Allen Parsons, associate editor for Outdoor Life, said in his book “Freshwater Fishing,” “When fishing small streams, effort should be concentrate near boulders, downed trees, undercut banks, culverts, mini-waterfalls, sweeper tree branches on the surface of the water and especially the rapid head-ins of pools.”

As anglers work pockets of small streams, it is important to fish everything, even spots that may look marginal. They may be deeper or larger than they appear. The wearing of polarized glasses is also suggested. Polarized glasses will aid in finding fish and keep drift gear free of unseen snags hidden by water glare and underwater obstructions. Also, everything that anglers do to prevent spooking trout in larger streams goes double when fishing small streams.

A fisherman on the bank or wading in a small stream can be easily spotted by the trout. When possible, cast to the water from cover and only wade when needing to move to the other side of the water. While normal fishing gear will work in small streams, using lighter tackle is better-suited to the casting of smaller lures and baits and will add some excitement to the fight with trout. Because smaller streams generally mean smaller fish, larger size lures usually do not produce desired results. Anglers need to be aware that under statewide rules for trout, there is a two-fish daily limit and a minimum size of eight inches in length in rivers and streams.

However, some rivers and streams have a rule requiring trout to be at least 14 inches in length to keep. Details are listed in the 2012-13 “Fishing in Washington” pamphlet. To find small streams in our area for trout fishing, anglers might want to purchase a copy of “Professor Higbee’s Stream Map of Washington Location Guide.” The map shows virtually all of the 25,000 miles of Washington streams, plus 2,364 lakes. Giving those smaller streams a try might be a pleasant surprise. After all, nothing ventured; nothing gained.

Cowlitz getting plenty of fish

There appears to be good numbers of fish moving into the Cowlitz River. Joe Hymer, supervisory fish biologist for Pacific States Marine Fishery, reported that during the first week of June, Tacoma Power employees recovered 598 spring chinook, 81 jacks, 18 winter steelhead and 115 summer-run steelhead during four days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. The employees also released 212 chinook, 36 jacks and three winter steelhead at the day-use park in Lake Scanewa and 170 chinook, 30 jacks and one winter-run steelhead into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek.

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