Archive for the ‘HEADLINES’ Category

Springer Breakdown, River By River

December 22, 2009

Just to recap, here are the official preseason forecasts for most of the Columbia River system’s 2010 spring Chinook returns:

Columbia (above Bonneville): 470,000

Select (SAFE) Areas: 4,100

Cowlitz River*: 12,500

Kalama River*: 900

Lewis River*: 6,000

Willamette River: 62,700

Sandy River: 3,700

Wind River*: 14,000

Drano Lake*: 28,900

Klickitat River*: 4,500

Snake: 272,000

Yakima*: 16,600

Upper Columbia: 57,300

* Note: Predicted returns to the trib’s mouth.

Sound Crabbing To Close After Jan. 2

December 21, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Puget Sound marine areas currently open for recreational winter crabbing will close at sunset Jan. 2, after which all sport crabbers licensed to fish for crab in the Sound will have 13 days to report their winter catch.

(The affected areas include 4, 5, 9, 10 and 13 in the western and central Strait of Juan de Fuca; Admiralty Inlet; Elliott Bay and the salt waters between Seattle and Bremerton; and Puget Sound south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.)

State fishing rules require that all sport crabbers submit catch reports for the winter season to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) by Jan. 15 – even if they did not catch any crab. With the end of the winter crab season, which runs from Sept. 8 to Jan. 2, all Puget Sound marine areas will be closed to recreational crabbing until summer 2010.

Sport crabbers should be aware that if they fail to submit a winter catch report, they will receive a $10 fine when they purchase their 2010 crab endorsement, said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish policy lead.

“The 2009 winter crab fishing season is the first one for which fines will be issued, but we’re hoping everyone turns in their catch reports and avoids the penalty altogether,” Childers said.

“By submitting their catch data, crabbers play an important role in managing the Puget Sound crab fishery,” he said. “We need to hear from everyone who was issued a winter catch card – including from those who didn’t catch any crab.”

To submit catch reports, crabbers may send their catch record card to WDFW by mail or file their report on a special webpage on the department’s licensing website. The mailing address is WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. The online reporting system will be available Jan. 3-15 at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html .

Sport crabbers who file their catch reports by the Jan. 15 deadline will be entered in a drawing for one of 10 free combination fishing licenses, which allow the holder to fish for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species during the 2010-11 season.

SW Washington Fishing Report

December 21, 2009

(REPORT COURTESY JOE HYMER, PSMFC)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – No report on angling success is currently available.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 449 coho adults, 15 jacks, 244 winter-run steelhead and four sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.   During the week Tacoma Power employees released 25 coho adults, one jack and one winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, 84 coho adults and four jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, 151 coho adults, seven jacks and one steelhead adult into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellowjacket Creek, and 45 coho adults and three jacks into Lake Scanewa.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,800 cubic feet per second on Monday, December 14. Water visibility is eight feet.

Under permanent rules, December 31 is the last day to fish for hatchery steelhead on lower Mill Creek near the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery.

Kalama River – Anglers are catching some steelhead.

Lewis River – Bank anglers are still catching steelhead around the salmon hatchery but overall fishing was a little slower last week.

Under permanent rules, wild Chinook must be released on several rivers  beginning Jan. 1 including the mainstem Columbia from Buoy 10 upstream to the I-5 Bridge, Cowlitz (including Cispus),  Deep, Kalama, Lewis (including North Fork) rivers plus Lake Scanewa (Cowlitz Falls Reservoir).

Under permanent rules, Dec. 31 is the last day to fish for salmon on the mainstem Columbia from the I-5 Bridge to the Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco and the Elochoman, Tilton, and Washougal rivers plus Drano and Mayfield lakes.

A Compact/Joint State Hearing is tentatively scheduled for February 18 to consider the 2010 mainstem Columbia recreational spring salmon seasons.

STURGEON

Until further notice, recreational sturgeon fisheries will continue as scheduled under permanent regulations.  The Compact may consider modifications to the March-December 2010 mainstem Columbia sturgeon recreational fisheries at the February 18 hearing when additional Commission guidance is available.

Lower Columbia mainstem and its tributaries from the Buoy 10 to the Wauna powerlines – White sturgeon may be retained daily beginning Jan. 1.   Daily limit 1, minimum size 38” fork length and maximum size 54” fork length.

Lower Columbia mainstem and its tributaries from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam – Light effort and catches.  Remains open for white sturgeon retention Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only.  Daily limit 1, minimum size 38” fork length and maximum size 54” fork length.

Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam – Sturgeon may be retained beginning Jan. 1.  In Bonneville Pool, the daily limit is 1 fish, minimum size 38” fork length and maximum 54” fork length.  From The Dalles Dam to McNary Dam, the daily limit is 1 fish, minimum size 43” fork length and maximum size 54” fork length.  Ending date for all pools depends upon when the individual guidelines are met.

TROUT

Lacamas Lake – Received 6,000 catchable size rainbows Dec. 14.

Icehouse Lake (near Bridge of the Gods) and Little Ash Lake (near Stevenson) – Depending upon the weather, both may be planted with catchable size rainbows this week.

Rowland Lake near Lyle – Planted with 53 brood stock rainbows averaging 8 pounds each and 13 weighing 4 pounds each on Dec. 14.

Guide A Target Of Nigerian-style Scam

December 21, 2009

Guides, beware. A scammer recently targeted a Tri-Cities-area salmon-steelhead guide, Bruce Hewitt, and the story was written up in the Tri-Cities Herald yesterday.

Upper Columbia Good For Steelhead: Guide

December 21, 2009

Guide Anton Jones of Darrell and Dad’s Guide Service in Chelan reports:

What’s hottest is drifting purple shrimp baited jigs under slip bobbers for Steelhead in the Upper Columbia.  The lower basin of Chelan and Rufus Woods Reservoir should continue to be productive.  Roses Lake is mostly covered with thin ice with seams of open water.

Shrimp baited Rock Dancer jigs by Mack’s Lures under a slip float is the ticket.  Now that the super cold has passed you really should get out there.  You may never see Steelhead Fishing this good again.  You’ve just got to check out this week’s pictures.

KEVIN AND KEITH STENNES OF PATEROS, GUIDE JERROD RIGGINS OF BREWSTER AND ANTON JONES OF CHELAN WITH UPPER COLUMBIA STEELHEAD (DARRELLANDDADS.COM)

KEITH STENNES' VERY NICE UPPER COLUMBIA STEELHEAD. (DARRELLANDDADS.COM)

And You Thought Egg Cures Were Bad For Salmonids

December 18, 2009

Columbia Basin Bulletin reports on a new study in the journal Ecological Applications that looks at “extrapolating sublethal pesticide exposures to the productivity of wild salmon populations.”

Even as work is done to improve habitat for runs of Northwest salmon that are listed under the Endangered Species Act, study coauthor David Baldwin at NOAA is quoted as saying, “However, not much research has been done to determine the importance of pollution as a limiting factor of ESA-listed species.”

Baldwin et al’s abstract says, “Our results indicate that short-term (i.e., four-day) exposures that are representative of seasonal pesticide use may be sufficient to reduce the growth and size at ocean entry of juvenile chinook.”

And as quoted by CBB, Baldwin adds, “The seasonal transport of pesticides to salmon habitats over successive years might slow the recovery of depressed populations.”

One extrapolation CBB points to shows that in 20 years, exposed Chinook would only increase 68 percent while those in pristine habitat would grow 523 percent.

Writes CBB:

The researchers argue that improving water quality conditions by reducing common pollutants could potentially increase the rate of recovery. Looking to the bigger picture, “This should help resource managers consider pesticides at the same biological scale as physical and biological stressors when prioritizing habitat restoration activities,” Baldwin said.

Why am I clogging up your brain bits with this? Pesticides are commonly used in the Northwest’s vast agricultural lands, from Puget Sound and Willamette Valley to the Columbia Basin and Snake River Plain, helping to produce things we all eat and drink.

More 2010 Salmon Forecasts

December 18, 2009

The Columbia Basin Bulletin today fleshes out more 2010 salmon forecasts for the Columbia Basin. To wit:

“The preliminary estimate for 2010 is for a return of 124,600 sockeye to the basin. That total would still be the seventh highest return dating back to at least 1980.”

“The Willamette spring chinook return to the Columbia is predicted to nudge up to 62,700 next year, including 45,900 adult hatchery fish. That would be up from 2009′s actual return of 39,410, which was the fourth lowest return since 1970.”

“The 2010 upriver summer chinook return is expected to surge to 88,800 adult fish, of which 67 percent are likely be 4-year-old fish. The 2009 jack return of 22,264 was 300 percent of the recent 10-year average.”

At the end of their story, CBB also provides some interesting stats on recreational and commercial salmon catches in 2009.

Bear Gall Bladder Buyers Sentenced

December 18, 2009

UPDATED 12-24 William Page of Ferry County, Wash., was sentenced Dec. 18 to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine for illegally buying bear gall bladders, and a Spokane grocer was also fined for buying them as well.

Page, a Curlew butcher, was convicted last month of purchasing six bladders, KPLU reported Dec. 17.

Mike Cenci, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Deputy Chief of Enforcement, says that his agency will also get to keep $1,800 they “made” during undercover sales of bladders to Page.

Cenci told radio reporter Doug Nadvornick that Page admitted to buying 35 gall bladders in 2007 and 2008.

The Associated Press also reports that Jason Yon, who owns Jax Foods, was fined $1,000 on Tuesday. Yon twice purchased two from undercover agents for $400 each time, Cenci says. 

A search warrant found two bladders in Yon’s freezer, he says, and adds that Yon is expected to be sentenced soon.

Bear gall bladders are believed by some to have aphrodisiacal powers. 

“We really rely on concerned sportsmen to get word of this,” Cenci adds. “They are our friends. They’re responsible for (initiating) 80 percent of our cases of trafficking.”

He says that the state’s five undercover wildlife detectives are getting better at sleuthing out bear gall bladder cases.

“We investigate three or four a year. It’s safe to say more is going on. If we were working on bear bladders full time, we could be chasing 12 a year,” Cenci says.

But WDFW faces long odds of catching everyone due to a lack of manpower. He says he only has 135 fish and wildlife officers to cover the state’s 68,000 square miles plus thousands of square miles of ocean.

He feels that a lot of gall bladders come from bears that are illegally hunted with hounds.

In related news, the January 2010 issue of National Geographic magazine features an article on the Asian wildlife trade — “An exposé of the world’s most notorious wildlife dealer, his special government friend, and his ambitious new plan.”

The story says, “For too long in too many countries (including the U.S.), placing the word ‘wildlife’ in front of the word ‘crime’ had diminished its seriousness,” and it details how a special agent — who’s also a lifelong hunter — brought Anson Wong, a wildlife smuggler described as the “catch of a lifetime,” to justice.

Upper NF Stilly To Close

December 17, 2009

Yesterday, we got word that the terminal zone on the Cascade River in Northwest Washington was closing later this week for steelheading. Today, another stretch of stream below a hatchery will be shut down early.

WDFW announced that 4 miles on the upper end of the North Fork Stillaguamish will be closed to fishing Dec. 21 through Jan. 31 due to low steelhead returns.

“The Whitehorse Hatchery facility is significantly below its egg-take requirements that are needed to achieve the release target of 140,000 hatchery steelhead smolts. The closure of the fishery in this area is necessary in order to collect sufficient fish to meet broodstock needs,” WDFW says.

The closure area stretches from the Whitehorse Bridge down to French Creek and includes the Whitehorse Hatchery effluent and Fortson Hole.

The Cascade closure goes into effect Dec. 19 through Jan. 31. It covers from the Rockport-Cascade River Road bridge downstream to the mouth. It’s also due to low returns.

WDFW also alerted anglers that the popular Sauk and Skagit wild steelhead spring catch-and-release seasons may be no-gos because of a low preseason forecast.

Hunter Orange Requirement Coming To OR?

December 17, 2009

Mark Freeman reports that the tragic death of an 15-year-old shot by his uncle while hunting earlier this month appears to be sparking the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Commission to consider implementing a hunter-orange requirement beginning in 2011.

“I’ve hunted in several other states where orange is required, and I’ve never understood why it wasn’t required here,” commissioner Dan Edge told Freeman, a reporter for the Medford Mail-Tribune, adding, “We should go through the public process to see what the hunters think about it. But it’s a pretty compelling argument: Almost everyone killed out there isn’t wearing hunter orange.”

Matthew Gretzon was the young man who was killed. Wearing camouflage, the Salem youth was shot in thick brush while elk hunting Dec. 6 south of Grand Ronde in Yamhill County.

Not everyone agrees with mandatory orange, including the head of the Oregon Hunters Association, Duane Dungannon.

“No one wants to belittle the tragedy, but at the same time, you need to keep some perspective,” Dungannon tells Freeman, adding, “All these incidents could be avoided by showing better judgment in the field. You can’t legislate common sense.”

Freeman points to limited data that indicates hunters who don’t wear camo are more likely to be shot than those who do, and that big game can’t see orange anyway. He says the commission will take comment on the issue in May.

Multnomah Sticker Shock

December 17, 2009

Allen Thomas of The Columbian details the surprise Washington-side springer anglers will be in for when they dip their boats into the Multnomah Channel in 2010.

Evergreen Staters will now have to buy a new $22 invasive species stamp to fish in the slough on the west side of Sauvie Island.

“So, add the new $22 fee for non-residents to the $106.26 non-resident fishing license fee and $26.50 angling harvest tag and you get a total of $154.75 for Washington anglers who boat into Oregon,” Thomas writes.

While he reports Northwest Sportsman advertiser Jack Glass says that Oregon’s rolling out the not-welcome mat for Washingtonians, a Marine Board spokeswoman says enforcement will begin with warnings before citations.

The new fee is to “will be used to implement a new program involving voluntary boat inspections, decontamination of infected boats and education to stop the spread of unwanted species,” Thomas reports.

Sulfite-heavy Egg Cures Said To Kill Young Salmonids

December 16, 2009

UPDATED 12-17: Laboratory testing shows that when you feed young salmon and steelhead eggs cured in some bait products that contain sodium sulfites, some die.

So says a study by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and Oregon State University released Wednesday afternoon and sure to stir up the industry.

“Specific mortality levels varied among products and ranged from 0 to 30 percent,” a press release from ODFW says.

While the work has not yet been formally peer reviewed, egg-cure makers are said to be committed to solving the problem, according to ODFW.

No company’s products are mentioned by name, but Scott Amerman of Amerman’s Eggs was briefing anglers on Ifish about it. He writes:

The tests have shown that hatchery raised smolts whose diet is changed to 100% cured eggs (egg cures high in sodium sulfite) have shown mortalityin some smolts in a small hatchery basin test. As of so far we have no idea how this translates to the real world and if smolts in the wild suffer these same effects. It is very unlikely that any fish in the wild will ever be forced to eat 100% eggs only.

Eggs are among the most effective baits for steelhead, Chinook and coho, and are used numerous ways — drift-fished, under a bobber, plunked, back-trolled, with a diver, etc. Anglers use cures to make their eggs last longer on the hook, and to change its color and texture. Prawns are also cured.

According to ODFW, a random sample of commercially available cures were tested. Researchers found that “some juvenile fish died after ingesting some brands. Specific mortality levels varied among products and ranged from 0 to 30 percent. In a second round of studies at OSU, researchers identified sodium sulfite as the ingredient causing the fish to die.”

The investigation was sparked in 2008 “by a group of anglers who were concerned that some of these cured eggs may be toxic to juvenile salmon.”

According to an email sent by Rob Russell last night to the heads of three Northwest fishing magazines and the operator of a popular chat board, as well as posted online on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog, Western Oregon salmon, steelhead and trout fly fishing guide Jeff Mishler is cited as the angler who approached ODFW with concerns.

Mishler is quoted as saying:

“I had heard stories of trout dying from eating cured eggs. Then one day while I was bobber fishing with my Dad, I noticed swarms of young-of-the-year steelhead pecking at our baits. Then we noticed the shoreline. Bait anglers had disposed of their old bait along the beach, creating a fuzzy pink margin along the river bank. Baby steelhead were eating them like crazy, and cutthroat hung behind waiting for an easy meal. It suddenly occurred to me that the poisons in cured eggs could be having serious impacts.”

Sulfites became a common ingredient in egg cures in the 1980s, says ODFW. However, the agency says that it can’t extrapolate the data to say if sulfites have a “significant effect on the overall health of salmon and steelhead populations.”

A study summary reads:

“The researchers initially tested the effects of 4 or 5 commercially available cures in a laboratory setting. This represents a limited sample of the commercially available cures. The cured eggs were fed to groups of juvenile chinook and steelhead held in tanks over a period of 23 days. The researchers also examined whether there were any differences among pre-smolts (juvenile salmon or steelhead that have not yet reached the physiological state known as a smolt) and smolts (juvenile salmon that are undergoing physiological changes to migrate from fresh to salt water). Mortality was assessed following each feeding and all dead fish were autopsied.

The results of these experiments confirmed that some of the commercially available cures caused mortality in both steelhead and chinook juveniles (Figs. 1 and 2). In any given tank mortality ranged from 0-30% during the 23 day period. However, researchers also found that there was considerable variability in the individual sensitivity of the juvenile fish. Some fish died after apparently eating a single egg whereas most were able to persist after 23 day of (presumably) consuming the eggs.

The researchers then focused on determining the likely cause of this mortality. Based on a list of ingredients supplied by several of the manufacturers, sodium sulfite was identified as the most likely cause. Researchers tested this by removing the sodium sulfite from two of the cures that were used in the first round of experiments. Groups of fish were fed eggs that were cured with or without the inclusion of sodium sulfite in the cure. Mortality was again recorded daily. Removal of sodium sulfite appeared to eliminate the mortality (Fig. 3). To confirm this, the researchers also injected cured eggs directly into the stomach (to ensure consumption of a known amount). Injection of eggs cured with sodium sulfite caused 30-35% mortality within a 10 day period. Removal of sodium sulfite eliminated the mortality (0%).

Researchers also tested whether the effect could be minimized by pre-soaking the eggs prior to feeding, as might occur in the wild. The cured eggs were soaked for 0, 30, or 60 seconds, or 10 minutes prior to feeding. There was no difference in mortality for the pre-soaked eggs as compared to the unsoaked eggs.

Conclusions. Based on these results the researchers concluded that some commercially available cures caused elevated mortality in juvenile chinook and steelhead. The mortality is most likely cause by the inclusion of higher levels of sodium sulfite in the cures. It is also highly likely that fish that consume these particular cures in the wild will respond similarly. However, we have no data to suggest that this may be significant at a population level.

ODFW Deputy Administrator of Inland Fisheries Bruce McIntosh says the agency is talking with several of the product manufacturers to address the issue.

“Our emphasis will be on informing anglers, guides and other manufacturers about the risks sulfites pose to juvenile fish,” he says in the press release.

Amerman, the bait-cure maker, adds this advice:

Be aware that there will be groups out there that will want to take these preliminary test results to push for total bait bans or to prove a great impact by the sports fisherman rather than waiting for continued testing to see if these results translate over to the wild which right now no one knows. For now what we as fisherman can do is avoid throwing your fished out baits back in the water after you change it. Small salmon and steelhead are much more likely to eat the small discarded bait chunks than the larger bait chunks many people fish. Discarding any used cured eggs in a safe manor instead of back into the water until more testing is done will be a safer alternative either way for now.

And in bolded text he declares:

Please know that if something in our products is significantly impacting juvenile salmon in the wild, then we the cure companies will whole heartedly take on the responsibility to change these ingredients, the way they are used and hopefully regulated.

Adds Mishler: “The smart manufacturers will simply design new cures that are not poisonous to our fish … Anglers want to do the right thing, and will undoubtedly move toward products that are safe for salmon.”

That said, to some it’s just another example of “death by a thousand cuts,” as Auntie M on piscatorialpursuits wrote. This year, loon advocates proposed a partial ban on lead fishing weights on a dozen lakes in Washington, which some took to mean the beginning of a wholesale attack on the cheapest, best way for anglers to target moving and stillwater species.

Then again, as other anglers have noted, there’s always good ol’ borax for curing eggs.

Sauk Catch-and-Release Steel A No-go?

December 16, 2009

I heard rumbling a couple weeks ago that my favorite spring wild steelhead fishery, the Sauk, probably would be a no-go in 2010, and a press release this morning from WDFW seems to confirm that.

In an announcement that the meat of the Cascade River was closing Dec. 19 due to a low return of steelhead, there’s also word on the popular catch-and-release seasons for nates on the Skagit and Sauk.

ANGLERS WORK SOME OF THE SAUK'S "LUMBERYARDS" FOR BIG NATIVE STEELHEAD AS WHITEHORSE MOUNTAIN LOOKS ON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

“Because pre-season forecasts for steelhead returns to the Skagit River Basin are down this year, additional fishing closures to protect wild steelhead also are likely this spring,” statewide steelhead manager Bob Leland is quoted as saying.

“Catch-and-release fisheries in the Skagit and Sauk rivers are among those fisheries that likely will not open next spring,” the press release continues.

(REEL DEAL GUIDE SERVICE)

Both Snohomish/Skagit county streams are known for their muscular wild steelies and generally good access. Anglers can do well with everything from spoons to jigs to rubber worms.

The Cascade will be closed from its mouth up to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge until Feb. 1; the hatchery is immediately downstream of the bridge.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

December 16, 2009

Here’s what’s been fishin’ around Western Oregon, according to ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Winter steelhead are starting to appear in many rivers and creeks, including the Chetco, Coos, Coquille, Rogue, Umpqua and Tenmile. Look for fishing to pick up after some good rain helps get fish moving.
  • Warning, thin ice conditions exist on many of the ponds and reservoirs in the Rogue River basin. Anglers should use caution.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Large brood trout were released this week in Huddleston Pond in Yamhill County. The fish are 4- and 5-year-old rainbow trout from ODFW’s Roaring River hatchery and range in size from 8 to 18 pounds.
  • The onset of warmer weather and precipitation should provide a boost to winter steelhead fishing in the lower Willamette, Clackamas and Sandy rivers.
  • Sturgeon fishing is fair on the lower Willamette River.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • ALSEA RIVER: Winter steelhead are starting to return. This week’s change in weather should move more fish into the river. Best opportunities during the early season are in the mid to lower river. Fall chinook fishing is slow.
  • BIG CREEK: The stream is low and clear, and very cold. Winter steelhead fishing is very slow. Don’t expect fishing to improve until more rain arrives. This small stream is a good bet early in the season. Bobber and jig, spinners, or baits drifted along the bottom all will produce fish.
  • GNAT CREEK: A few early winter steelhead are in the stream, but angling conditions have been poor in the low, clear and cold water. This is a good early season, small stream opportunity. Use light gear and be stealthy when approaching holding water on this small stream, especially after extended dry periods when water levels are low and the stream is clear. There is good access near the hatchery.
  • KILCHIS RIVER:The river is very low and clear. A few chinook were caught after the last high water, but fishing is now very poor. Many fish are close to spawning and should be released. A few early winter steelhead are being caught. Fish low in the system with light gear until more rains raise the river. Bobber and small jigs are ideal in these conditions.
  • KLASKANINE RIVER AND NORTH FORK KLASKANINE: A few early winter steelhead are available in the system. Look for fishing to improve steadily over the next few weeks when angling conditions change. More rain is needed to raise the stream to good, fishable levels. Use light gear and approach holes carefully to avoid spooking fish.
  • NECANICUM RIVER: A few early winter steelhead are available in the lower river. The river is very low, with clear water and cold temperatures.
  • NEHALEM RIVER AND NORTH FORK NEHALEM RIVER: A few winter steelhead are available in the north fork up to and even above the hatchery. Most fish are holding in the lower river while flows are low. The entire Nehalem Basin is closed to chinook angling for the remainder of 2009.
  • NESTUCCA RIVER AND THREE RIVERS: Steelhead angling is slow, but will improve when conditions become more conducive to angling. The water is clear and cold. A few early hatchery winter steelhead have been trapped and recycled from Cedar Creek Hatchery. Chinook angling in the river is very slow. Fish the deeper holding water low in the system for best chances of hooking bright fish.
  • SALMON RIVER: The winter steelhead run in just getting underway. Fair to good numbers of wild winter steelhead should return this season. Anglers should use small baits/lures during the cold and clear river conditions this week. Fall chinook angling is slow. Most chinook have moved up river and are actively spawning.
  • SILETZ RIVER: Winter steelhead are returning to the Siletz. Warmer rain events this week should help to move more fish up river. Chinook angling is slow. Anglers are reminded that the chinook angling deadline has been lowered to Morgan Park and are asked to not target or harass spawning chinook.
  • SIUSLAW RIVER: Some winter steelhead are being caught in the lower sections of the Siulsaw and Lake Creek. This weeks warmer wet weather should move more fish into the system. Chinook catches are slow. Most chinook have or are actively spawning.
  • TILLAMOOK BAY: Angling for sturgeon improved after recent high waters, but slowed as water levels receded and colder temperatures set in. Concentrate on the channel edges on the outgoing tides, with sand shrimp the preferred bait.
  • TRASK RIVER:Steelhead angling is beginning to improve as a few more fish enter the river. Fall chinook are available, but angling is slow. Some bright fish are being caught, but many are dark and should be released. Construction of a new boat slide at the Cedar Creek launch site has been completed and is ready for use. Contact ODFW in Tillamook at 503-842-2741 for details.
  • WILSON RIVER: Steelhead angling has slowed with the low, clear water. Low flows will cause most fish to hold up in the lower river until we get more rain. Chinook angling is very slow. Many fish are close to spawning and should be released. For both species, fish the slower, quieter water until the river rises and warms ups. Lighter gear fished slowly should produce the best results.
  • YAQUINA RIVER: The winter steelhead run is just getting underway. Small numbers of steelhead have moved into the lower river. Look for the next good rain event to push more fish in. Chinook angling is slow. Most fish have or are actively spawning.

map

Welcome to the ODFW
Recreation Reports
Northwest Zone

Fishing | Hunting | Viewing

FISHING

Attention anglers: Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, you will need an Aquatic Species Prevention Permit for your drift boat, canoe or inflatable pontoon boat over 10 feet long. Permits are transferable to other non-motorized boats, but each boat on the water needs a permit. Permits go on sale Dec. 1 wherever ODFW licenses are sold and online. For more information see the news release.

The fall chinook season is nearly over. Many fish are spawning, or are ripe and are about to spawn. Anglers are urged to release fish that are in this condition. Even fish that appear bright can be in spawning condition, and make low quality table fare. Look for soft, rounded bellies on females as a sign of loose eggs and readiness to spawn. Let these fish spawn to help improve future returns.

NORTH COAST LAKES

Trout stocking is complete for 2009. Trout stocking will resume in March.

Surplus hatchery summer steelhead have been released in Town Lake. These fish will bite sand shrimp fished under a bobber, medium sized spinners or spoons, or a variety of flies at times. Be persistent as these fish are sometimes very finicky.
MID COAST LAKES
SILTCOOS LAKE

The lake coho fishery should pick up this week with the recent warming trend and rain. Many fish holding in the lake are colored up and getting ready to spawn. Slowly trolling or casting spinners or other lures seems to be the most productive. Anglers may retain one wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho and one jack coho per day. There is a seasonal limit of five wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho per year.

TAHKENITCH LAKE

The lake coho fishery is picking up with the recent change in weather. Most fish in the lake are in spawning colors. Trolling or casting spinners or other lures at a slow retrieve seems to be the most productive. Anglers may retain one wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho and one jack coho per day. There is a seasonal limit of five wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho per year.

WARM WATER FISH ANGLING OPPORTUNITIES

The mid coast has numerous lakes or reservoirs which offer good angling for naturally produced warm water fish species, such as large mouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, brown bullhead and crappie. Typically the best fishing is from late spring to mid fall while water temperatures are warm. Tactics such as casting or trolling lures, jigging baits near bottom or using the traditional bait and bobber technique are all productive from either a boat or from shore. Below is a list of lakes near local coastal cities that offer warm water angling opportunities.

Devils Lake (Lincoln City): Offers good trout fishing and provides some angling opportunity for largemouth bass, yellow perch and bluegill.

Big Creek Reservoirs 1 & 2 (Newport): Offers fair largemouth bass fishing, slow to fair angling for yellow perch and bluegill and good year-round angling for rainbow and cutthroat trout.

Olalla Reservoir (Toledo): Offers fair largemouth bass fishing, slow to fair angling for yellow perch, bluegill and brown bullhead and good year-round angling for rainbow and cutthroat trout.

Sutton and Mercer Lakes (northern Florence): Fair to good angling for largemouth bass and decent angling for bluegill, and potential for crappie and brown bullhead. Offers year-round rainbow and cutthroat trout fishing.

Woahink Lake (southern Florence): Can be good to very good for yellow perch and offers fair to good angling for largemouth bass and bluegill.

Siltcoos Lake (south of Florence): A large lake with numerous fingers, lots of shoreline structure and a couple large tributaries. Offers fair to good angling for largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch and brown bullhead. There is good year-round rainbow and cutthroat trout fishing and a good seasonal fishery for coho salmon.

Tahkenitch Lake (south of Florence): A large lake with numerous fingers, lots of shoreline structure and a couple large tributaries. It offers good angling for largemouth bass and yellow perch, and fair to good angling for bluegill, crappie and brown bullhead. There is good year-round cutthroat trout fishing and a good seasonal fishery for coho salmon.

ALSEA RIVER: winter steelhead

Winter steelhead are starting to return. This week’s change in weather should move more fish into the river. Best opportunities during the early season are in the mid to lower river. Fall chinook fishing is slow.

BIG CREEK: steelhead

The stream is low and clear, and very cold. Winter steelhead fishing is very slow. Don’t expect fishing to improve until more rain arrives. This small stream is a good bet early in the season. Bobber and jig, spinners, or baits drifted along the bottom all will produce fish.

GNAT CREEK: steelhead

A few early winter steelhead are in the stream, but angling conditions have been poor in the low, clear and cold water. This is a good early season, small stream opportunity. Use light gear and be stealthy when approaching holding water on this small stream, especially after extended dry periods when water levels are low and the stream is clear. There is good access near the hatchery.

KILCHIS RIVER: chinook, steelhead

The river is very low and clear. A few chinook were caught after the last high water, but fishing is now very poor. Many fish are close to spawning and should be released. A few early winter steelhead are being caught. Fish low in the system with light gear until more rains raise the river. Bobber and small jigs are ideal in these conditions.

KLASKANINE RIVER AND NORTH FORK KLASKANINE: steelhead

A few early winter steelhead are available in the system. Look for fishing to improve steadily over the next few weeks when angling conditions change. More rain is needed to raise the stream to good, fishable levels. Use light gear and approach holes carefully to avoid spooking fish.

NECANICUM RIVER: steelhead

A few early winter steelhead are available in the lower river. The river is very low, with clear water and cold temperatures.

NEHALEM RIVER AND NORTH FORK NEHALEM RIVER: steelhead

A few winter steelhead are available in the north fork up to and even above the hatchery. Most fish are holding in the lower river while flows are low. The entire Nehalem Basin is closed to chinook angling for the remainder of 2009.

NESTUCCA RIVER AND THREE RIVERS: chinook, steelhead

Steelhead angling is slow, but will improve when conditions become more conducive to angling. The water is clear and cold. A few early hatchery winter steelhead have been trapped and recycled from Cedar Creek Hatchery. Chinook angling in the river is very slow. Fish the deeper holding water low in the system for best chances of hooking bright fish.

SALMON RIVER: winter steelhead

The winter steelhead run in just getting underway. Fair to good numbers of wild winter steelhead should return this season. Anglers should use small baits/lures during the cold and clear river conditions this week. Fall chinook angling is slow. Most chinook have moved up river and are actively spawning.

SILETZ RIVER: winter steelhead

Winter steelhead are returning to the Siletz. Warmer rain events this week should help to move more fish up river. Chinook angling is slow. Anglers are reminded that the chinook angling deadline has been lowered to Morgan Park and are asked to not target or harass spawning chinook.

SIUSLAW RIVER: winter steelhead

Some winter steelhead are being caught in the lower sections of the Siulsaw and Lake Creek. This weeks warmer wet weather should move more fish into the system. Chinook catches are slow. Most chinook have or are actively spawning.

TILLAMOOK BAY: sturgeon

Angling for sturgeon improved after recent high waters, but slowed as water levels receded and colder temperatures set in. Concentrate on the channel edges on the outgoing tides, with sand shrimp the preferred bait.

TRASK RIVER: steelhead, chinook

Steelhead angling is beginning to improve as a few more fish enter the river. Fall chinook are available, but angling is slow. Some bright fish are being caught, but many are dark and should be released.

Construction of a new boat slide at the Cedar Creek launch site has been completed and is ready for use. Contact ODFW in Tillamook at 503-842-2741 for details.

WILSON RIVER: steelhead, chinook

Steelhead angling has slowed with the low, clear water. Low flows will cause most fish to hold up in the lower river until we get more rain. Chinook angling is very slow. Many fish are close to spawning and should be released. For both species, fish the slower, quieter water until the river rises and warms ups. Lighter gear fished slowly should produce the best results.

YAQUINA RIVER: winter steelhead

The winter steelhead run is just getting underway. Small numbers of steelhead have moved into the lower river. Look for the next good rain event to push more fish in. Chinook angling is slow. Most fish have or are actively spawning.

Back to the top

HUNTING

OPEN: WATERFOWL (see regulations for dates), FOREST GROUSE, CALIF. QUAIL, COUGAR AND BEAR

Use the Oregon Hunting Access Map to see where to hunt.

Don’t forget to report your hunt results. Anyone who purchases a big game or turkey tag must report hunt results online or by phone. Reporting is required even if you did not fill your tag or go hunting. More information

COUGAR and BEAR seasons go through the end of the year on the north coast. Successful hunters, remember you must check in cougar (hide and skull) and bear skull at an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest and bring them in unfrozen. It’s also a good idea to prop their mouths open with a stick after harvest for easier tissue sampling, teeth collection and tagging. See regulations for details.

Both species are most effectively taken by using predator calls, although one can successfully stalk-hunt bear in the early morning and late evening hours, especially in areas with plentiful food supplies, like abandoned orchards. Around Thanksgiving is when bears usually go into their “winter sleep” or torpor, so opportunities on them will be rather limited from now on.

DUCK and MERGANSER season goes through Jan. 31, 2010. There are special seasons and/or bag limits on certain species, such as scaup, mallards, pintails, redheads and canvasbacks – please check the 2009-10 Oregon Game Bird Regulations for details. In the last few weeks, several thousand migrating pintails, mallards and widgeon have been seen on Tillamook Bay. Best hunting generally occurs during rainy or stormy weather, which forces birds off of the larger bay waters and into the shallows along edges where hunters have better access to them.

NORTHWEST PERMIT GOOSE season is open in Clatsop and Tillamook Counties. Local geese should be plentiful and generally make up a significant portion of the harvest early in the season. However, substantial numbers of migrant geese have already showed up and will continue to increase in numbers as the season progresses.

FOREST GROUSE and MOUNTAIN QUAIL appear to be in decent numbers, based on anecdotal observations in recent months, especially for mountain quail. Ruffed grouse occur mainly in mid-slope and riparian areas, whereas blue or sooty grouse are generally only at the highest elevations, such as ridge-tops. Mountain quail prefer brushy clearcuts, especially those on south-facing slopes in the forest. If you harvest a forest grouse, ODFW is interested in getting samples of wings and the tail for studies related to the age structure of the population. Many ODFW offices have wing/tail collection bags available to hunters interested in assisting in this effort. See page 40 in the 2009-10 Oregon Game Bird Regulations for details.

Although CALIFORNIA QUAIL season is open, the north coast has very limited numbers.

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VIEWING

Migratory waterfowl, including ducks and geese, have been showing up on north coast estuaries. The lower Columbia River has some great areas to view them, including the Twilight Eagle Sanctuary off of Highway 30 east of Astoria and the viewing bunker on trestle bay at Ft. Stevens State Park. A drive along Bayocean road west of Tillamook usually offers good viewing along Tillamook Bay. Netarts Bay is a great place to find sea ducks, where they can be seen along the eastern edge of the bay from the paved road. 11/ 10/09.

Pelicans

Substantial numbers of brown pelicans have still been seen in Netarts Bays, on Three Arch Rocks near Oceanside and lower Tillamook Bay. In recent years, a small proportion of the summer population has tried to stay here on the north coast throughout the winter, sometimes enduring brutal storms. Pelicans were just recently de-listed from the federal Endangered Species Act, as their numbers have recovered dramatically in recent years. 12/8/09.

Unusual birds

Unusual birds are occasionally found on north coast beaches, and even further inland, as a result of fall and winter storms. These situations are opportunities to find migrants from Asia or pelagic seabirds that were blown off course by strong west storms.

Jewel Meadows Wildlife Area, Coast Range

Elk viewing has been excellent at Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area. Elk have been visible throughout the day on the Fishhawk Tract. Best viewing times are from 9 a.m. to about noon each day. Visitors should start near the main viewing area and along Hwy. 202 to observe larger herds of females and young. The older bulls are usually found near the west viewing area. The Beneke Tract is also a good bet if the elk are not out along Hwy. 202. Elk are currently being fed a supplemental diet of alfalfa hay on the wildlife area. Staff tries to feed close to the viewing areas on weekends to enhance viewing opportunities. Reservations for the winter elk feeding tours have been completely filled for the three-month season. 12/8/09

Newport Area

The trail behind the Mark O. Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport is a good place to observe shorebirds and waterfowl in the Yaquina estuary.

Tillamook Area

Now that winter is just about upon us, it’s a good time to go out to Netarts and Tillamook Bays for some birding. Especially on calmer days, it’s easy to spot birds on these estuaries that are not seen during the fall and summer months. A variety of grebes, loons, scoters, diving and puddle ducks can be seen along Whiskey Creek Rd along Netarts Bay and Bayocean Rd along Tillamook Bay. Look for the sea ducks lower down in these estuaries, while the puddle ducks prefer the shallower upper portions of the estuaries. If you’re lucky, you might even find Harlequins on lower Tillamook Bay at the Three Graces Rocks near Barview.

Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge west of Oceanside is always home to some type of viewable wildlife. Long gone are the thousands of nesting murres, puffins and auklets. During the winter months, bald eagles and peregrine falcons are common on the rocks, as are a smattering of pelicans, cormorants and gulls. Steller sea lions are also regulars at the refuge, and actually use it as a breeding ground in the summer. These larger, blonder cousins of the California sea lion are still listed as a threatened and endangered species as they have not recovered to the extent that California sea lion has.

Great egrets are large, white wading birds that are slightly smaller than their cousin, the great blue heron. In Tillamook County they can often be seen foraging in the southwestern portion of Netarts Bay, along fields adjacent to the lower Tillamook River, in various parts of Tillamook Bay and the Tideland Road area of Nehalem Bay. The birds typically stay in the area through the winter and into the spring before they disappear to nest in parts unknown. 12/15/09.

Back to the top

Record Coho — Except For The Not-Officially-Weighed Part?

December 16, 2009

We’re hearing rumblings from the Oregon Coast about a whopper coho caught at Siltcoos Lake, one that purportedly went 26.4 pounds, but was not officially weighed.

If it had — and if that weight is indeed correct — that would make angler Tony Radovich of Florence the new Oregon record holder.

He caught it, according to Dean Hendricks of North Country Lures, Nov. 24, in the lake’s Fiddle Creek Arm.

The current mark is Ed Martin’s 1966 beast, a 25-pound, 5-ouncer, also from Siltcoos Lake, which we mapped for coho in our October issue.

I’ll have more tomorrow, but I gotta take off from work to deal with a dead car battery, relieve the Missus from two hungry toddlers, pick up milk, yada yada yada.

Cowlitz Fishing Report

December 15, 2009

The returns are down compared to 2008, but last week saw some high notes on the Blue Creek stretch of Washington’s Cowlitz River — nine particularly high-leapin’ notes coming off of just one boat.

Last Tuesday, Jesse Thompson (deckhand) of Duvall and the Ahinas of Lynnwood — 5-year-old Ala Pa’i, who battled  the 14-pound hen he’s hanging onto and Jared and Tyson — tore it up side-drifting shrimp and eggs.

(WOOLDRIDGE BOATS)

They hung ‘em while fishing with Bonner Daniels of Tall Tails Guide Service (TallTailsGuideService.com) out of a Wooldridge 20’ AK XL.

That’s a pretty good ratio of fish to angler. A count last weekend found 137 sled-born anglers with 102 steelhead at the trout hatchery, according to data forwarded by Joe Hymer of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

“Forty three bank anglers (almost all at the trout hatchery) kept 10 steelhead,” he adds.

Yesterday, Hymer reported that through early December, 467 metalheads had checked into the Cowlitz, much lower than last winter’s 1,039 for the same period.

But that’s still better than what the Lewis is seeing.

Hymer also reports that Tacoma Power “recovered 840 coho adults, 37 jacks, 203 winter-run steelhead and nine sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.”

He adds that “river flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,800 cubic feet per second on Monday, December 14. Water visibility is eight feet.”

SW WA (Not) Fishing Report

December 14, 2009

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Kalama River – Light effort and catch.

Lewis River – About 1 in 4 bank anglers at the salmon hatchery had kept a hatchery winter run steelhead when sampled last week.  Flows are currently 4,400 cfs, about half the same time last week.

Through early December, hatchery winter run steelhead returns to several Washington lower Columbia hatcheries are lagging behind last year.

Station                 2009                       2008

Cowlitz                 467                         1,039

Kalama                 69                           84

Lewis                    32                           408

Washougal         135                         169

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam – Light effort and no legals sampled last week.

TROUT

Klineline Pond and Battleground Lake – Both were planted with 2,500 catchable size rainbows Dec. 7.  Depending on the weather/availability of staff/trucks, they are expected to be stocked again before the holidays.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

Steelhead Cutbacks In WA’s Blues?

December 12, 2009

As we warned last spring* in Northwest Sportsman magazine, Washington steelhead managers are increasingly uncomfortable with the large runs of hatchery fish back to the Grande Ronde and Tucannon rivers in the Blue Mountains, and they may turn the smolt spigot down in the future.

Rich Landers of the Spokane Spokesman-Review takes the story up in a piece picked up recently by the Tri-Cities Herald.

He reports simmering resentment from Washington and Idaho anglers as “hints” about a cutback emerge. Word is that the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife will hold public meetings on future steelhead plans this winter.

Biologist Glen Mendell, whom we spoke to last winter about this, reiterates that hatchery returns are well above the mitigation goal of 1,500 back to Cottonwood Creek on the Ronde about 2 miles upstream from the Highway 129 bridge and Boggan’s Oasis.

“Reducing the releases from Cottonwood is one of the options for reducing competition between hatchery fish and wild fish on spawning beds,” Mendell tells Landers, adding, “In the past five years, steelheaders have had a really wonderful situation in the Snake and Grande Ronde, but I don’t know whether we’ll be able to maintain it at these levels.”

Stay tuned.

* An earlier version of this piece mis-stated when we first reported on Blue Mountains steelhead cutbacks. While I learned about it last winter while putting together our March issue, I reported on it in our May 2009 issue. AW

Of Frozen Squid And Not-frozen Snails

December 11, 2009

A pair of invasive species are in the news this cold morning, one dying and freezing on the beach and the other not dying and freezing in a lake.

Oregonbeachconnection.net reports that over three dozen Humboldt have washed up across 100 miles of the Oregon coast in recent days, then frozen into the sand.

“Staff from Seaside Aquarium have received reports of dozens of them washing up, coming in from Pacific City all the way up to Sunset Beach near Warrenton,” the site reports.

So far, 40 squid from 4 to 5 feet long and up to 25 pounds have been reported.

They’re also leaving “really neat squid prints,” as a photo from the Seaside Aquarium shows.

People are warned not to eat the dead Humboldts, but in the article, ODFW’s Brandon Chandler says they’ll make good crab bait. Crabbing opened Dec. 1 on the coast.

At Washington’s Capitol Lake, managers drew down the water to try and freeze and kill recently discovered invasive New Zealand snails. But according to The Olympian, the results were “inconclusive.”

“Biologists found some frozen New Zealand mudsnails and others that may or may not have died from exposure to the frigid overnight temperatures, said Allen Pleus, an aquatic invasive species coordinator for Fish and Wildlife,” reports the paper’s John Dodge.

In an earlier story, Pleus worried about the affect the algae-snarfing snails would have on other species.

“These things are nasty, and if they take over, your biodiversity is gone,” he told KUOW radio.

Chrome Coho For NWS Pen

December 10, 2009

Jason Brooks, one of my Western Washington writers, floated the Humptulips River on the southwest side of the Olympic Peninsula for coho earlier this week with guide Mark Coleman (425-736-8920). Here’s his report:

Andy,

So, my buddy Grant calls me on Sunday to let me know that the trip is “on” for Monday and that we need to meet Mark Coleman (All Rivers Guide Service) at 5:30 near the Humptulips, which means I had to pick up Grant at 3:30!

All goes well, and we spend some coin at the local 7-11 in Aberdeen, fill that gas tank as well, and head to the river with a balmy 21 degrees — not including wind chill.

As we stand on the gravel bar launch at 6:00, I start to tell Grant that it won’t be daylight for another hour or more when Mark walks up after parking his rig and says, “Let’s go!”

SLAVE-DRIVER COLEMAN ON THE STICKS. (JASON BROOKS)

Now my idea of fun isn’t exactly floating down a river in the dark in sub-freezing temperatures, more like a margarita on a sunny beach in Mexico, which is what I kept telling myself as I began to lose the feelings of all my extremities!

IT'S FUH-REAKIN' COLD! (JASON BROOKS)

Let me say, that “Boat Chute” just above the hatchery on the Hump is a bit like “Splash Mountain” at Disneyland, minus the warm sun, Briar Rabbit theme or the popcorn and cotton candy at the end.

OK, looking back on it, it is nothing like Splash Mountain, but again I kept telling myself, “This will be fun…”

At the moment of commitment, passing the point of no return, Grant and I get into a discussion of our PFDs. Mine is the auto inflatable one and his is the neoprene vest type. Mark isn’t wearing any and we both conclude that if the boat does flip, he is the smartest guy on the trip. After all, he will succumb quickly, while Grant and I will become bobbers and die slowly.

Just then the boat gets sucked down the chute … and we came out floating down the other side.

Finally the sun comes up and we begin to fish, and by 10:15 we had landed 10 coho and had our limit of chrome!

GRANT FIGHTS A COHO. (JASON BROOKS)

COLEMAN SHOWS OFF A CHROME COHO. (JASON BROOKS)

GRANT AND JASON WITH A QUARTET OF SWEET LATE COHO. (JASON BROOKS)

We tossed spinners and other lures, and fished your basic coho holding water — back eddies, frog water areas and the inside of the river bends (again, back eddies).

It was fast and furious — Grant caught three fish in four casts — but we did learn after pulling a few fish out of a hole the hole would go “dead” and we would move on. Mark said that the fish are stacked up tight in the holes and that once they get “stirred up,” it took a while for the fish to calm down and this was the reason we launched in the dark, as he wanted to be first at a certain hole he likes to fish. It turns out there was only one other boat on the river the entire day, so we pretty much had the entire river to ourselves.

We decide to spend the rest of the day float fishing jigs for steelhead, attempting to break my reputation. It was a close one: Grant had two take-downs but my reputation is well intact — no steelhead!

Hope all is well and sleep comes soon,

Jason

How Gregoire’s Budget Would Affect WDFW

December 9, 2009

Skip the county fair, lay off some high honcho in Olympia, buy 11 percent less hay for hungry deer and elk next winter.

Just a few of the lowlights for the Department of Fish & Wildlife from Gov. Christine Gregoire’s proposed 2010-11 supplemental budget, revealed Dec. 9. She’s attempting to deal with a $2.6 billion shortfall.

While her budget is balanced as mandated by law, Gregoire is also discussing raising taxes to “buy back” some social programs that would otherwise be cut.

As for positives, the agency is tasked with opening 200,000 more acres of private land for hunting, but the Department of Natural Resources is also being asked to close 22 primitive recreational facilities around the state.

Here’s a rundown of what would be affected for WDFW:

Reduce Outreach and Education
Funding for outreach and education programs is reduced by six percent. This reduction decreases funding for partnerships offering youth fishing opportunities, and eliminates funding for natural resource law enforcement education and outreach at fairs and outdoor shows.

Reduce Executive Management
The Department will reduce one executive management position and consolidate administrative and policy functions.

Reduce Wildlife Disease Monitoring

Funding for the Puget Sound Ambient Monitoring Laboratory and testing for contaminants in salmon and other species is reduced by 18 percent in Fiscal Year 2011.

Reduce Winter Feeding of Wildlife

Funding for the winter feeding of wildlife is reduced by 11 percent on a one-time basis.

Reduce Wildlife Area Management Planning
The Department manages over nine million acres of wildlife habitat. Funding for wildlife area management planning is reduced three percent, delaying approximately 20 plans and updates and the input from citizen advisory groups needed for those plans.

Fund Hatcheries Using Partnerships
The Department will identify hatcheries that primarily benefit a specific region, with little commercial production, that are suitable for partnerships with local groups. It is assumed that two hatchery facilities will operate without General Fund-State support by July 2010.

Reduce Fisheries Management Authority
Reductions are made to the expenditure authority for five accounts. No planned work will be reduced. (Special Wildlife Account-Federal, Sea Cucumber Dive Fishery Account Nonappropriated, Puget Sound Crab Pot Buoy Tag Account-Nonappropriated, Washington Coastal Crab Pot Buoy Tag Account-Nonappropriated, Recreational Fisheries Enhancement Account-State)

Less Scientific Assistance for Salmon Recovery

On a one-time basis, technical assistance to local salmon recovery efforts is reduced by 2.5 percent. This reduction means lead entities will have less access to engineering and biology technical support from the Department.

Eliminate Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group Advisory Board #

Funding is eliminated for the Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group Advisory Board. (Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group Account-Nonappropriated)

Restore Aviation Funding

As part of a re-evaluation of statewide aviation needs, funding is restored for the maintenance and operation of the Department’s Partenavia aircraft. The Partenavia is ideally suited for survey missions and fish planting, and will assist the Department of Natural Resources with fire suppression coordination.

Revenue Accounting Correction
The Department will correct the way in which payments to the contractor who developed and operates the Washington Interactive Licensing Database system are accounted. The contractor receives a fee from the license surcharge paid by users of that automated licensing system. The contractor’s fee has been treated as negative revenue, rather than as revenue into and expenditures out of the State Wildlife Account. Correcting this will require higher expenditure authority for the agency and increases accounted revenue by an equal amount. This accounting correction has no net fiscal impact. (State Wildlife Account-State)

Maintain Core Administrative Functions

The Department’s indirect rate for administration and overhead from federal grants has been reduced, resulting in a net loss of approximately $3.8 million for the 2009-11 Biennium. The lower revenue creates a deficit in basic administrative services, such as payroll, contracts, budget, and accounting. The Department will absorb roughly half of these impacts through vacancy management. Funding is provided on a one-time basis to partially restore the loss from the lower indirect rate. This funding allows the agency to avoid eliminating 26 administrative staff positions above the 28 positions eliminated in the 2009-11 Budget. (State Wildlife Account-State)

Operating Costs for New Wildlife Lands
In Fiscal Year 2009 the Department completed land acquisition transactions for 9,067 acres. These acres were acquired with legislatively approved and allocated capital funds through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. The necessary operating funding to maintain these new land acquisitions is provided, enabling the Department to utilize and manage new wildlife areas, natural lands, and water access sites, and to provide safe access, clean toilets, and weed control.

Wildfire on Department of Fish and Wildlife Lands

One-time funding is provided for fire suppression activity costs incurred during Fiscal Year 2010. The majority of these costs are for on-site fire suppression, but also include restoring native perennial vegetation to control erosion and limit the spread of noxious weeds.

Payments in Lieu of Taxes and Assessments
Ongoing funding is provided to pay for statutorily required payments to local government entities. The Department is required to compensate counties for lost property tax revenue for department owned lands through payment in lieu of taxes. In addition, the Department pays local assessments for weed control, storm water management, lake management districts, and diking districts.

Derelict Gear Removal Technical Adjustment
Funding for derelict fishing gear removal is redistributed between fiscal years so that the program can operate steadily throughout the biennium.

Fund Support Programs Proportionately
Funding is provided to help replace General Fund-State subsidies that were eliminated in the 2009-11 Budget, using available fund balance in a dedicated account. As part of the Department’s review of how various funds contribute toward agency-wide services, funding ($210,000 per year) is provided beginning in Fiscal Year 2011 to pay for administrative support services proportionately. Another $250,000 per fiscal year will support the automated Washington Interactive Licensing Database system, allowing it to operate at its normal capacity after state general funds were eliminated. (State Wildlife Account-State)

Increase Hunter Access on Private Land

In response to the demand for additional hunting lands, the Department will bring 200,000 additional acres of private land under contract for recreational access. Contract leases provide a new revenue source for rural landowners, and the Department provides some funds for minor improvements to prevent or mitigate litter and vandalism. Hunting generates $350 million of economic activity annually, which is especially welcome in rural parts of the state. The program is funded through special hunting permit application fees. (State Wildlife Account-State)

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

December 9, 2009

Highlights from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s weekly Recreation Report include:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Over 200 adult, fin-clipped coho were stocked into Galesville Reservoir recently. Anglers can harvest one of these fish per day as a “trout” over 20 inches. For information on boat launching conditions, call 541-837-3302.
  • Both the Smith and South Umpqua rivers open for winter steelhead fishing on Dec. 1.
  • Winter steelhead are starting to appear in many rivers and creeks, including the Chetco, Coos, Coquille, Rogue, Umpqua and Tenmile. Look for fishing to pick up after some good rain helps get fish moving.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Big Creek is low and clear. A few early winter steelhead are being caught. Expect angling to pick up over the next few weeks as more fish enter the system. This small stream is a good bet early in the season. Bobber and jig, spinners, or baits drifted along the bottom all will produce fish.
  • A few early winter steelhead are available in the Klaskanine system. Look for fishing to improve steadily over the next few weeks. More rain is needed to raise the stream to good, fishable levels. Use light gear and approach holes carefully to avoid spooking fish.
  • A few early winter steelhead are available in the lower Necanicum. A few chinook are still be in the river, but most are spawning and should be left alone. The river is very low.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Large brood trout were released this week at several Willamette Valley ponds, including Junction City, Walter Wirth, Walling, West Salish, Mt. Hood, and St. Louis #6. The fish are 4- and 5-year-old rainbow trout from ODFW’s Roaring River hatchery and range in size from 8 to 18 pounds.
  • Winter steelhead are starting to arrive in the lower Willamette, Clackamas and Sandy rivers.
  • Sturgeon fishing is fair on the lower Willamette River.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Good numbers of summer steelhead remain in the Deschutes primarily from Maupin upstream to Pelton Dam. The highest density of steelhead are likely to be from South Junction upstream to Warm Springs. Anglers are reporting good success on both flies and lures. As a reminder, the Deschutes River upstream of the northern border of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation closes December 31, 2009. Anglers who catch a tagged hatchery steelhead with an orange anchor tag, are encouraged to report catch information to ODFW at 541-296-4628 or via the internet at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/The_Dalles/fish_tag_returns.asp. Anglers catching a tagged wild fish should release it immediately without recording any information.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Water conditions on the Umatilla River have been low and clear and steelhead fishing has been good.

MARINE ZONE

  • Bottom fishing is good when ocean conditions permit. Ling cod should begin moving into shallower waters to spawn. Divers may find success spearing along rocky jetties for ling cod and black rockfish.
  • A series of minus tides starting around sundown on Sunday, Dec. 12, will provide clamming opportunities for those with lanterns. Recreational and commercial clam harvesting is open on the entire Oregon Coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. This includes clam harvesting on beaches and inside bays.
  • Ocean crabbing opened Dec. 1. Crabbing in the ocean this time of year can be very productive, but also dangerous because of wind, sea and bar conditions.

Jacked Up

December 9, 2009

Let’s get the absurdly large number out of the way first.

Plugging 2009’s off-the-charts jack return past Bonneville Dam into the standard run-prediction model, anywhere from 1 million to 1.5 million adult spring Chinook could begin returning to the Columbia in the next few months.

Yeah, up to 1.5 million of the best-tasting fish in the solar system, all holding at some point in the Interstate hole.

(ALL RIVERS GUIDE SERVICE, 425-736-8920)

More upriver springers than have entered the big river in all the runs since 2002. And nearly four times as many as came back in 2001, the all-time record back to when they slapped all that concrete and steel across the Columbia on the eve of WWII.

Only problem is, the mathematical inputs to get a million-springer march are seriously suspect.

“I don’t think we’ll be predicting that, but I don’t know,” says Cindy LeFleur. “That’s just my personal opinion.”

Mike Matylewich is somewhat more certain: “I wouldn’t have a lot of confidence with that forecast.”

And Stuart Ellis is around 100 percent positive: “Nobody’s going out on a limb to say a record return, but we should see a pretty good run. But the crux is, what’s a pretty good run?”

LeFleur represents Washington on a panel of Columbia River fishery managers and biologists headed up by Ellis. It also includes the states of Oregon and Idaho, five Northwest tribal groups – repped by Ellis and Matylewich’s Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission – and three federal agencies, NMFS, USFWS and BIA.

A mil-plus springers is so stupendous that they’re all taking a much longer, harder look than usual at all the dam- and hatchery-count data, ocean conditions and what’s going on with other runs to figure out the 2010 preseason prediction. In the buildup to the expected Dec. 11 release, there has been “lots of meetings and lots of discussion about the causal factors to those high jack numbers and what to do about it,” says Ellis.

NEVER IN THE HISTORY of all jackdom have so many run up the Columbia as this year – 81,782 through June 15, the last day Chinook passing Bonneville are officially counted as springers. It pulverizes the old record, 24,363, set in 2000, which led to the biggest run since at least 1938, 439,895. And it begs the question, Why did all those so-called precocious, ready-to-breed 3-year-old salmon come back early to their tribs everywhere from Stevenson and Winthrop, Wash., to Orofino, Idaho, to Enterprise, Ore.?

Managers say they just don’t know.

According to Ellis, early speculation about what might have caused that “high jacking rate” included theories that some hatcheries were feeding their smolts richer fish chow or inriver conditions helped them get to the ocean quicker (the faster fish grow, the quicker they sexually mature, the more likely they are to jack). Another discounted suggestion was that they were just smaller than usual adults.

“What that kind of leaves is something going on in the ocean,” Ellis says.

Unlike fall Chinook which turn up in commercial catches out in the North Pacific and give some idea of where they roam, after just three or four months at sea, the biologists lose all sign of the prized spring salmon.

“We don’t know where they are, don’t know the factors affecting their survival,” says Ellis.

CLEARLY, COLD OCEAN TEMPS were a good thing for all Columbia stocks in ’09. But with springer returns the last five years coming in anywhere from 42 to 149 percent of forecast, and later and later too, there are now questions about whether the high numbers of jacks last April, May and June mean great survival for the entire year class of springers that went to sea in 2008, or just the jacks themselves.

“They may not mean much of anything for the adult run,” Ellis suggests.

And that’s a problem because managers generally use one year’s return of jacks and jills (3-year-old hens) to predict how many of their older brethren will return the following season, which in turn is important for fishermen.

If there are a lot of jacks, there should be a lot of adults and thus liberal bag limits; if there aren’t, there probably won’t be a big run and tighter rules govern.

Last year, 22,352 jacks came through Bonneville, roughly a quarter of this year’s return, and produced an adult run forecast just shy of 300,000, so ipso facto, 4 times 300,000 is …
Ellis was among a group whose “back of the envelope” jottings came up with a run size of 1 million to 1.5 million. But he says that it’s “unreasonable” to expect even a doubling of 2001’s record run.

So instead he and others are trying to figure out how to somehow “scale” the jack return to come up with a prediction.

“But what’s appropriate?” he asks. “We don’t know. We haven’t done this before.”

The only thing riding on it are, oh, say, impact limits to protect Endangered Species Act-listed wild spring Chinook which in turn dictate sport, tribal and commercial fisheries.

But far from giving Ellis a headache it’s part of what keeps him coming into the office and diving into data and the strange, strange ways of salmon.

“The fish are kinda doing their own thing. It’s a constant game to figure out what they’re doing, what’s affecting their survival and trying to nail it down,” he says. “These fish don’t let go of their mysteries as easily as we’d like them to.”

And while the mystery of how many may come in next year will begin to be unraveled this month, we won’t know for sure how accurate that guess is until next summer, when the run actually finishes up.

In the meanwhile, what should you and I expect?

“Be flexible in your fishing plans,” Ellis suggests. “We may see a whole lot more, or a whole lot less than we announce in December.”

Springfield Man Faces Charges In Deer Case

December 8, 2009

(OREGON STATE POLICE FISH & WILDLIFE DIVISION PRESS RELEASE)

A Springfield man is facing multiple charges after Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife troopers served a search warrant related to the unlawful killing of several deer.  The investigation started with a November 2009 arrest in Lake County and ended with the execution of a search warrant at the suspect’s home and pending charges in Lane County.

On December 4, 2009, OSP Fish & Wildlife Division troopers from Bend and Springfield offices served a search warrant in the 1300 block of R Street in Springfield.  The search warrant was authorized in connection with an investigation initiated by OSP Senior Trooper James Hayes’ arrest of RANDYLL P. SCAIFE, age 30, from Springfield, on November 18, 2009 in Lake County.  SCAIFE was arrested and lodged in Lake County Jail after killing a large 4×4 mule deer on Oatman Flats near Silver Lake.

(OREGON STATE POLICE FISH & WILDLIFE DIVISION)

During the subsequent investigation and search warrant service, OSP Fish & Wildlife troopers developed evidence of four unlawfully taken blacktail deer bucks.  Troopers seized deer meat, spike elk antlers, and compound bow and arrows.

(OREGON STATE POLICE FISH & WILDLIFE DIVISION)

SCAIFE was cited to appear in Lane County Circuit Court on the following charges:

* Theft in the First Degree (3 counts)
* Unlawfully Taking Deer (4 counts)
* Unlawfully Taking Elk (2 counts)
* Theft of Lost, Mislaid Property

FWC Taking Longer Look At Lead Ban

December 8, 2009

Following public comment last weekend on tweaks to Washington’s fishing regulations, WDFW will take a longer look at two specific proposals: lead fishing weight bans and bottomfishing and halibut restrictions off Neah Bay.

A press release from the Fish & Wildlife Commission says:

During the December meeting, the commission directed WDFW Director Phil Anderson to develop alternatives for public processes on two proposals that have drawn considerable interest. Anderson is scheduled to present the proposals at the commission’s January meeting in Olympia.

The two alternative processes would address a proposal that would ban the use of small lead fishing tackle at 13 lakes in Washington, and a proposal that would close fishing for bottomfish and halibut off the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula.

Commissioners indicated that more public-input opportunities might be needed before a decision is reached on the two proposals.

The proposal prohibiting the use of lead weights weighing less than half an ounce or lead jigs measuring less than 1.5 inches is designed to protect loons from being poisoned by ingesting small lead fishing gear lost by anglers. The other proposal is intended to provide additional protection for bottomfish and halibut in an area extending 1.5 miles offshore and stretching about 4 miles from Cape Flattery east to Neah Bay.

Some sportfishermen have bitterly opposed the lead ban.

Posthunt Survey Finds Good Methow Buck Numbers

December 8, 2009

Surprises continue in the upper Methow Valley.

After a solid general hunt last October, biologists recently counted 3,500 muleys on the winter range in Washington’s western Okanogan County, and found a 20:100 buck-to-doe ratio.

That latter fact surprised the gent who did the survey, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife game bio Scott Fitkins,who spoke to Northwest Sportsman writer Leroy Ledeboer earlier today, especially in light of an 88 percent increase in this fall’s harvest over last year’s and his expectations of just an OK hunt going into the season.

“He said an editor who couldn’t hit his ass for a barn door got one too,” Ledeboer joked.

Twenty-to-100 is the highest buck-to-doe ratio since 2002, which saw 26:100, acccording to WDFW data. Recent seasons have seen posthunt ratios as low as 16 (2007) and 14 (2004).

(2009 GAME STATUS AND TREND REPORT, WDFW)

However, 3,500 deer is on the lower end of where the Methow muley herd’s been in recent years. A string of three bad winters hit fawns hard.

Speaking of fawns, doe-to-young’n ratios were more average, and at 77:100 slightly disappointing to Fitkins. Ledeboer says the biologist expected more considering how many fawns he and others were seeing in the summer.

The other bit of good news is that, so far, the Methow Valley is free of snow. While it’s early yet (and it could be bad for salmon, steelhead and irrigators next year), it’s good for the deer which are nonetheless shivering through some cold conditions this week. Fitkins told Ledeboer it was 6 below zero in Winthrop this morning.

As for the Lookout Pack of wolves, three pups and the radio-collared breeding pair were recently spotted, Fitkins told Ledeboer. Two others were spotted up high as well.

He also reconfirmed something that had been discussed on Hunting-Washington.com recently — the relative small size of the pack’s alpha female and male — 70 and 85 pounds.

“When people think of wolves, they’re much larger than these,” Ledeboer says. “He says these are small wolves, not tundra wolves.”

Interestingly, Fitkins also told the reporter that the wolves had been spotted eating spawned out salmon in the upper Twisp River.

OSP Seeks Tips On Arrow-wounded Alsea Elk

December 8, 2009

(OREGON STATE POLICE FISH & WILDLIFE DIVISION PRESS RELEASE)

Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s help to identify the person(s) responsible for the illegal kill of a 4-point bull elk in the Alsea unit near Mapleton.  A reward of up to $500 is offered by the Oregon Hunter’s Association for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.

(OREGON STATE POLICE)

On December 5, 2009 at approximately 8:00 a.m. OSP Sergeant Lowell Lea and Senior Trooper Scott Salisbury responded to a complaint of an injured 4-point bull elk lying on the shoulder of Highway 126W near milepost 10 at the intersection with USFS Road 2610 (David Ridge Road).  Upon arrival they found a bull elk with a fresh arrow wound in its side.  Troopers were able to salvage the bull elk and meat was donated to charity.

Evidence collected at the scene indicated the bull elk had been shot as it stood on the highway shoulder.  Witnesses located told troopers the bull was seen with a herd of elk feeding on the side of the highway at about 4:30 a.m.  The reporting person found the injured bull elk at 7:30 a.m.

The Alsea unit is currently open to the bow hunting of cow elk and is closed to the hunting of bull elk.

Oregon State Police is interested in any information to help with this investigation, including the description of any vehicles seen parked at that location between the hours of 4:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.

Anyone with information is asked to call Senior Trooper Salisbury at (541) 997-9635 ext. 33 or the Turn in Poacher (TIP) number at 1-800-452-7888.

Columbia Sturgeon, Smelt Fishery Recommendations Out

December 8, 2009

A report out today from the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife on 2010 sturgeon seasons recommends that “the current four-year sturgeon management agreement be renewed for one year (2010) with modifications to the harvest guideline.”

“The Joint Staff will likely recommend that the combined white sturgeon harvest guideline be reduced from the current guideline of 40,000 (36,800 actual harvest) beginning in 2010. Although a new guideline has not yet been developed, initial modeling indicates a reduction of up to 35% may be needed to compensate for reduced sublegal and legal abundance,” the Dec. 7 Joint Staff report reads.

January and February fisheries will probably be laid out at a Dec. 17 meeting between the agencies while seasons for the rest of the year will likely be set during a Feb. 18 meeting, the report says.

As for smelt, managers are once again proposing a “level one” fishery, i.e. the most conservative one.

A level one fishery is defined as “one 12 – 24 hour fishing period per week for the mainstem Columbia River commercial fishery. Recreational and commercial dipnet fisheries consisting of one 12-24 hour fishing period per week would be used to monitor returns to the Cowlitz River. The daily bag limit for Washington tributaries should be ten pounds per person at these low levels of abundance.”

There’s good news and bad on how smelt, or eulochan, are doing. The Joint Staff report says:

“Positive abundance indicators for 2010 include: (1) modest improvements in adult eulachon returns during 2006 (landings and CPUE), (2) a moderately improving level of Age 2 bycatch in the Canadian ocean shrimp fisheries during 2009, (3) a moderate increase in total smelt biomass tonnage in the Canadian ocean shrimp fisheries in 2009, and (4) favorable ocean conditions starting in 2007 and continuing through 2009. Negative abundance indices for 2010 include: (1) low mainstem Columbia River larval densities during the winters of 2005 through 2007, (2) decreasing adult smelt biomass estimates from the Fraser River and, (3) adult landings were weak in brood years 2005 and 2007. Taking a weighted average of the positive and negative indicators for each age component of the run suggest a slight improvement for 2010 compared to 2009. The main components of the 2010 run (age 3 and 4), should strengthen; however, the age 5 component will remain weak.

Seasons should be set Dec. 17 as well.

Pity The Poor, Shivering Poacher (Not)

December 8, 2009

(OREGON STATE POLICE FISH & WILDLIFE DIVISION OCTOBER NEWSLETTER)

Sr. Tpr. Collom (Central Point) received a report that a man was taken to the hospital with hypothermia from a field in the Howard Prairie area, and a dead spike buck was found nearby.

Collom’s investigation revealed a spike buck was shot, killed, field dressed, and hidden in some brush.

The poacher decided to go back and retrieve it in the early morning hours around 1:00 a.m. Later in the early morning light, some hunters in a nearby cabin heard a man groaning and yelling for help. They responded and found a man with a bloody nose, suffering from hypothermia.

The man was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Medford. He had apparently hit his head while dragging the spike buck out to his vehicle and laid in the field until the people heard his yells for help.

Collom contacted the man in the hospital and plans to re-contact him when he is released to issue him a citation for Unlawfully Taking Spike Buck Deer.

SW WA Fishing Report

December 7, 2009

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Still a few coho being caught at the barrier dam while anglers at the trout hatchery are catching steelhead and sea run cutthroats.  Some steelhead are also being caught on the lower river.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 1,201 coho adults, 42 jacks, 178 winter-run steelhead, 32 summer-run steelhead, 28 sea-run cutthroat trout and one fall Chinook adult during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Through Dec. 2, a total of 266 winter run steelhead had returned to the salmon hatchery.  In comparison, 743 fish had returned by the same time last year.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 165 coho adults, two jacks, one fall Chinook adult, one winter-run steelhead and two cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, 323 coho adults and 15 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, 216 coho adults and five jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, and 90 coho adults and six jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellowjacket Creek.  A total of 70 hatchery-origin sea-run cutthroat trout were recycled downstream to the Barrier Dam boat launch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,800 cubic feet per second on Monday, December 7. Water visibility is seven feet.

Kalama River – Bank anglers are catching some steelhead.  Through Dec. 4, a total of 41 hatchery winter run steelhead had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.  This compares to 61 fish through the same time last year.

Lewis River – Bank anglers at the salmon hatchery are catching winter run steelhead and coho though all the coho were dark or wild fish that were released.  Bank anglers on the mainstem Lewis were also catching some steelhead.

A total of 18 hatchery winter run steelhead had returned to the traps on the Lewis through Dec. 2.  In comparison, 408 fish had returned through the same period in 2008.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam – At least one of the few hearty bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam that braved the cold and strong east winds caught a keeper last week.  Light effort and catch was light on the rest of the river.

– Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

Invasive Snails Found Off Puget Sound

December 7, 2009

The latest invasive species to hit Puget Sound has been found at the southern end of the basin. New Zealand mud snails were discovered in Capitol Lake around Thanksgiving.

The lake is now closed to public access to prevent the tiny little snails from being moved around.

“These things are nasty, and if they take over, your biodiversity is gone,” Allen Pleus, WDFW’s aquatic invasive species coordinator, tells KUOW radio.

According to the story, the snails eat algae, starving other organisms that live on it.

A recent survey of the Deschutes River, which drains into the lake, turned up no snails.

The story says the invasive critters are also on the Long Beach Peninsula and Lower Columbia. Biologists may try to drain the lake to kill the snails off during a cold snap.

Rogue CCA Chapter Links Salmonids With Habitat

December 7, 2009

Members of the Rogue Valley Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association are out catching salmon and steelhead — smolts.

They’re using a big hoop they got from ODFW to collect juvenile members of those species as well as suckers from Larson Creek, on the southeast side of Medford, and move them above a culvert on the stream to access more habitat.

According to Mark Freeman’s article in the Mail Tribune, the fish escape to Larson and other small streams in the basin when flows rise during the winter.

“We’re finding more and more that streams like this are far more important than we originally thought,” Chuck Fustish, an ODFW biologist, told Freeman.

North-central Washington Fishing Report

December 7, 2009

What’s hot is drifting purple shrimp baited jigs under slip bobbers for Steelhead in the Upper Columbia.  The lower basin of Chelan and Rufus Woods Reservoir should continue to be productive.  At last check, Roses Lake still is completely open water.

On the Upper Columbia this is prime time to catch Steelhead.  Rig a Drennan Float above a Mack Lures Rock Dancer jig.  Bait the jig with a Columbia Basin Baits purple shrimp.  There are a variety of variables.  Location is the first.  Three or four drifts through a likely looking run is all you need to do.  Then you’ve got to move.  Using a bow mounted electric motor is the most effective way to control your drift.  A gas operated transom mounted trolling motor is your second choice.  Remember to control your run back up to the head of the drift to not spook fish.  Second, vary the depth of your baited jig by moving slip knot up and down your line.  Usually, close to but not on the bottom is the ticket.  Third, vary jig color and size.  Sizes from 1/8th to ¼ ounce are typical.  Purple and Black or Red and Black are the most effective colors.  This is definitely ADHD / run and gun fishing.

On Chelan, vary our standard fare of Rushin’ Salmon Wobblers off and flatfish by trolling darting plugs like Silver Hordes at 2.5 to 2.8 mph.  Use those glow in the dark / splatter back colors.  This is a better tactic if you are a lone angler and you are fishing shallower water.  In Chelan, that means water from 115’ to 150’.  Blow back becomes a serious concern at greater depths.

Our Chelan Valley’s little rainbow gem, Roses Lake should continue to produce well until ice up.  I fear that is coming soon with temperatures staying below freezing around the clock.  Do not risk that thin ice.

The kid’s tip of the week is to plan on attending the Sportsman’s Shows in January.  The Tri-Cities Show will be from January 15th thru the 17th.  The huge O’Loughlin show in Puyallup is from January 27th to the 31st.  Both shows will feature kid friendly activities and many informational seminars.

The safety tip of the week is to prepare you vehicle and boat for Winter emergencies. Make sure that you have chains, a jack, a change of clothes, a blanket, something to start a fire with, a working fire extinguisher, a flashlight with good batteries, a shovel, a stocked first aid kit, jumper cables, and a bit of extra food and water.

– Report courtesy of Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad’s Family Guide Service (1-866-360-1523; antonj@aol.com)

News On Oregon Coast Salmon 2010

December 6, 2009

Bill Monroe of The Oregonian provides an early glimpse at potential Chinook returns to and past the Oregon Coast next summer, a mix of good and bad news.

“Next year’s fall and spring chinook salmon seasons look much brighter, and if offshore chinook fishing can’t resume in 2010, at least continued good coho salmon runs should again bring smiles to salty dogs,” writes Monroe.

However, another low return of Sacramento River Chinook could affect offshore opportunities, he reports.

How To Get Rid Of Pesky Geese

December 3, 2009

Jeanette McConnell figured that cranking conservative talk radio would get rid of the free-loader Canada geese that have been grazing on her lawn for years and years.

She’s also allowed hunters on her property along the Rogue River near Gold Hill, hosed the birds down with water, flapped her own wings and yelled and screamed at them, all to nearly no avail, reports Mark Freeman of the Medford Mail Tribune in an article today.

Then she said to hell with it and let part of her lawn near the river go to pot — and the problem was solved.

And she’s not alone. Reports Freeman:

McConnell is the latest in the slowly-growing list of Oregonians who are discovering that, if they stop turning natural habitat into wildlife day-spas, the critters will stop treating their property like a vacation destination.

It’s as simple as residents along Roxy Ann Peak, who quit planting roses in black-tailed deer winter range, and riverside residents who actually abide by riparian-protection laws by leaving their streamside vegetation alone.

Keeping even small but critical pieces of Oregon just a little wild is as good for the goose as it is the landowner.

Of course, McConnell’s geese have probably just descended on someone else, but for what it’s worth, it’s an interesting article.

Twilight For A Forks Steelheader

December 3, 2009

A couple months before Dick Wentworth sent in his 2007-08 catch card, he hung up his rod and reel and quit steelheading.

It wasn’t exactly what I expected to hear when I called the Forks, Wash., man earlier this fall to ask about the secret to his wild success for an article in our November issue. He was among the 17 anglers statewide who turned in a full punchcard that season.

But rather than politely hang up, I held the line – and got an earful.

“The last time I fished was January or February two years ago,” Wentworth says. “Perfect water. No fish. Perfect water. That leaves you cold. I know how to cast. They aren’t there, boys. They aren’t behind the rocks.”

HE SAYS THOSE WORDS with a finality that can only come from long years of knowing the rivers.

Now 70, his roots here (Wentworth Lake, anyone?) stretch back at least four generations, if not more – he claims some Indian blood. He’s been fishing since he was 8 years old, but transitioned into flyrodding in his teens.

“It became too easy. It was nothing to catch fish on eggs,” he says.

He’d heard about how local school teacher Syd Glasso was experimenting with spey flies (think the Heron series and Sol Duc patterns).

“‘That’s neat,’ I thought, so I knocked on his door and asked, ‘How do you do that?’”

Pretty soon Wentworth found himself in Glasso’s kitchen helping the icon rewrap fly lines with lead to get the big patterns down to where the fish were in the cold waters of the Peninsula, according to fly fishing writer Doug Rose.

And he took to the tying bench himself. Winter-run steelhead, springers, summer-runs, fall Chinook, sea-run cutts, surf perch, you name it, if it swims anywhere on the North Coast, it’s bit for the retired telephone employee.

“In the 1950s, it was nothing to have four-, five-, six-(steelhead) mornings on the fly,” he says.

That painting of a big 20-plus-pounder about to hit a fly above the checkout line at the Forks Thriftway? It’s based on one of Wentworth’s notable catches.

He’s landed so many, he says he can tell the differences between steelhead running up the Sol Duc, Hoh and Queets.

That earns him something like “Yeah, sure, kooky Old Man” reactions from biologists.

Or maybe that’s because of his unvarnished opinion on today’s Bogachiel River hatchery steelhead: “They’re not a fish, they’re a rag.”

A RAG ISN’T SOMETHING someone like Dick Wentworth seems like he’d be willing to fish for.

But there’s more to why he hung it all up after a long, successful career.

“I gave up because of all the pressure. You can’t just keep piling on them and expect them to be behind every rock,” he says.

He says there are many factors why the fish don’t return like they used to: a “sick” Pacific, “more anglers, nets, guides, our runs declined, seasons now run year-round.”

Then there’s side-drifting: “It’s so effective, it’s not even funny.”

He would ban bait and make anglers get out of their boats to fish.

And while he says his own rule-change proposals in the past have gone nowhere with the state, shorter retention seasons for wild steelhead and more conservative gear rules for Peninsula rivers are actually among the ideas the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife is mulling for 2010-12 seasons.

Comments will be taken at a public hearing with the Fish & Wildlife Commission this weekend, Dec. 4-5, in Olympia.

In the meanwhile, Wentworth will watch as another winter run starts up the Calawah behind his house, but instead of picking up his fly rod, he’ll be making archery equipment and firing off verbal arrows when reporters come calling.

“There are a lot of things against us,” Wentworth says. “We need to figure out what we can do to improve things for the kids coming up. If we don’t, you’re going to miss out. It’s not going to be there for you.”

For Now, WDFW Won’t Be Merged With DNR, Other Agencies

December 3, 2009

A plan announced this afternoon by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire on how the state’s natural resource agencies will work together in the future does not include bundling Fish & Wildlife with other departments, although it will be working more closely with DNR and other divisions in the years ahead, spokesmen say.

“With the budget reductions that we’ve had to make and will continue to make in response to revenue shortfalls, it’s imperative for government to work smarter and more efficiently than ever,” Gregoire said today in a press release. “Our natural resource management reforms will make the most of our investments and provide maximum benefits to the public and protection for the environment.”

She ordered the review in the wake of this biennium’s $9 billion budget shortfall.

Craig Bartlett, a WDFW information officer in Olympia, indicated a bit of surprise that his division and others weren’t going to be joined.

Back in September, we half kiddingly wrote that you might one day call his office and get this message: “You have reached the Ecosystem Management and Recreation Agency. If you have a question about hunting regulations, press 1. If you would like to reserve a campground at a state park, press 2. If you have a question about state wildlife areas, please call the DNR.”

That’s because, last spring, Gregoire asked the state’s Departments of Fish & Wildlife, Natural Resources, Parks, Health, Agriculture, Ecology and other groups to come up with ideas on how to reform management of their agencies, reduce costs and improve service delivery.

In early fall, the departments issued a 172-page document that looked at several scenarios combining the 15 resource divisions into one, two, three, four and five agencies. After public review, Gregoire and DNR head Peter Goldmark looked the options over and offered up a mix of fixes.

According to Joe Stohr, WDFW deputy director, their decision focuses more on improving service and customer satisfaction, but it does have several areas where his agency will be affected.

“All natural resource agencies have been directed by executive order to adopt a single set of regions,” he says.

WDFW and DNR both have six regions, but they don’t really match up very well; Parks and Recreation has a dozen or so, but Ecology has just four.

WDFW'S SIX REGIONS

DNR'S SIX REGIONS

PARKS & RECREATION'S MANY REGIONS

DOE'S FOUR REGIONS

In the future, each department’s offices may also be co-located, saving the state money.

Stohr says that some permitting will also be smoothed over — for someone to get one to work in a wetland or in water can require up to 12 different go-aheads from multiple agencies — which will help reduce mailing and meetings.

Biological field work between WDFW, DNR and DOE would also be better coordinated, he adds.

And Stohr says that there will be an effort to identify redundancies in WDFW and DNR’s lands divisions — management, procurement, surveying, etc. The former agency owns around 800,000 acres, the latter 3 million.

“These reform measures will streamline our work, improve coordination with tribal co-managers, and increase the protection of our state’s fish and wildlife resources,” WDFW director Phil Anderson said in the press release.

Other reforms are noted here.

Stohr notes that some of the tweaks are by executive order but others will need to be run through the Legislature, which can also decide it wants to do different things too.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

December 2, 2009

Highlights from ODFW’S weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Over 200 adult, fin-clipped coho were stocked into Galesville Reservoir recently. Anglers can harvest one of these fish per day as a “trout” over 20 inches.
  • Both the Smith and South Umpqua rivers open for winter steelhead fishing on Dec. 1.
  • Applegate Reservoir was stocked this fall with large and trophy-sized trout, which should provide some good fishing during the winter months.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Surplus hatchery summer steelhead have been released in Town Lake. These fish will bite sand shrimp fished under a bobber, medium sized spinners or spoons, or a variety of flies at times. Be persistent as these fish are sometimes very finicky.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Large brood trout were released this week at several Willamette Valley ponds, including Junction City, Walter Wirth, Walling and Sheridan. The fish are 4- and 5-year-old rainbow trout from ODFW’s Roaring River hatchery and range in size from 8 to 18 pounds.
  • Winter steelhead should be starting to arrive in the lower Willamette and Clackamas rivers.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Both Taylor Lake and Pine Hollow have been recently stocked and will offer good trout fishing this winter.
  • November and December can offer fine fishing on Crescent Lake for brown and lake trout until access is limited by snow.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • GRANDE RONDE, WALLOWA, IMNAHA RIVERS AND TRIBUTARIES: Steelhead angling success in the lower Grande Ronde and Imnaha Rivers has declined with recent cold weather and continued low river flows. Anglers averaged  10 hours per steelhead landed during last week’s surveys on the lower Grande Ronde River. The bag limit on the lower Grande Ronde, Wallowa, and Imnaha Rivers is five adipose fin-clipped steelhead per day.
  • JOHN DAY RIVER: Steelhead have entered the lower John Day and fishing is fair up to the Cottonwood Bridge. Fishing is good in the John Day arm. Hatchery/wild ratios are only 25/75 at Rock Creek and Cottonwood but increase to 50/50 in the John Day Arm. Cold weather has settled into the John Day drainage so anglers will encounter less active fish and floating ice will become a problem.
  • UMATILLA RIVER: Steelhead fishing has been good and angler effort has been light, for the week of Nov.23-29 anglers averaged 4 hours/steelhead landed downstream of Threemile Dam. River conditions are low and clear. Steelhead returns to date to Threemile Dam 996. Anglers are reminded the fall salmon season ended on November 30.

SNAKE RIVER ZONE

  • SNAKE BELOW HELLS CANYON DAM: Fishing for adipose fin-clipped steelhead has opened and the fishing is very good. The bag limit for steelhead increased to five adipose fin-clipped steelhead per day, with no more than three 32 inches in total length or greater. There are a lot of fishermen in the area, so please use good fishing ethics.

MARINE ZONE

  • Bottom fishing is good when ocean conditions permit. Ling cod should begin moving into shallower waters to spawn. Divers may find success spearing along rocky jetties for ling cod and black rockfish.
  • A series of minus tides starting around sundown on Nov. 30 will provide clamming opportunities for those with lanterns. Recreational and commercial clam harvesting is open on the entire Oregon Coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. This includes clam harvesting on beaches and inside bays.

Askew, Monroe Tackle Fall Turkeys

December 2, 2009

Northwest Sportsman columnist Wil Askew went hunting with The Oregonian‘s Bill Monroe for a little post-Thanksgiving gobble-gobble recently.

“It’s much easier to get permission in the fall,” Askew told Monroe in the article. “And you can get out and stalk them a little more because there aren’t many other hunters around.”

Monroe’s story details how they both brought down birds.

WIL ASKEW AND DAUGHTER BRYCE WITH POP'S FINAL FALL TURKEY FOR 2009. (WIL ASKEW)

SW WA Fishing Report

December 2, 2009

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – At the barrier dam, 47 bank anglers kept 1 adult coho and 1 steelhead plus released 1 adult chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 1,521 coho adults, 74 jacks, 234 sea-run cutthroat trout, 112 winter-run steelhead, 36 summer-run steelhead, four fall Chinook adults and one chum salmon during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 299 coho adults, 20 jacks, two fall Chinook adults, two winter-run steelhead and nine cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, 338 coho adults and 12 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, 260 coho adults and 23 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, and 166 coho adults and eight jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellowjacket Creek.  In addition, 275 hatchery-origin sea-run cutthroat trout were recycled downstream to the Barrier Dam boat launch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,030 cubic feet per second on Monday, November 30. Water visibility is seven feet.

Lewis River – On the mainstem Lewis, 6 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead.  At the salmon hatchery, 39 bank anglers kept 8 steelhead and 6 adult coho plus released 8 adult and 1 jack coho.  Four boat anglers released 1 adult chinook, 1 adult coho, and 1 jack coho.

Effective December 16, anglers will be allowed to fish from floating devices from Johnson Creek upstream.  In addition, fishing for hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead opens from Colvin Creek upstream to the overhead powerlines below Merwin Dam.

Klickitat River – 8 bank anglers from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream kept 14 adult coho and released 9.

Ringold – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco – An estimated 1,080 steelhead were caught during the month of November. Of these, 811 hatchery steelhead were harvested and 119 wild steelhead were caught and released. Effort and catch has begun to slow as winter approaches.

To date, 2,952 steelhead have been caught and 2,054 steelhead have been harvested.

STURGEON, TROUT

No reports.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSFMC

Tribal Officer’s Reasoning Released In Brinnon Elk Case

November 29, 2009

The latest twist in the investigation of why two Port Gamble S’Klallam officers detained nontribal elk hunters near Brinnon is revealed in an article by Eric Hidle of the Peninsula Daily News.

It’s based on officer Gus Zoller’s account of what led him to believe the men had poached the bull.

His comments are part of a 168-page report released by the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office, brought about by one of the hunter’s filing a complaint of illegal detention. It includes WDFW and the county sheriff’s investigations.

The tribe is still preparing its report.

The county prosecutor has not decided whether to press charges or not.

 

New OR Boating Fee Begins Soon

November 29, 2009

(OREGON STATE MARINE BOARD PRESS RELEASE)

Oregon boaters will soon be on the front lines of a war against aquatic invasive species. Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, operators of manually powered boats (paddle craft) 10 feet or longer and all registered boats (power and sail) and are required by a new law to purchase an Aquatic Invasive Species Permit to fund prevention and control programs.

The environmental protection law, created by the 2009 Oregon Legislature, is designed to protect Oregon’s waters from destructive invaders including the quagga and zebra mussels that are rapidly spreading across the nation degrading water quality, depleting native fish and waterfowl populations and costing millions of dollars in maintenance of water and power facilities. The new program will be implemented by the Oregon State Marine Board and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

New Fees

  • Registered boaters will pay an automatic $5 surcharge as part of their boater registration.
  • Out-of-state motorboat operators need to purchase an annual permit for $22 ($20 permit plus $2 agent fee) through ODFW license agents, ODFW offices that sell licenses and on the ODFW Web site. Out-of-state permits will not be sold through boat registration agents or the Oregon State Marine Board.
  • Non-motorized boat operators (canoes, kayaks, sailboats, drift boats, etc.) will need to purchase and carry an annual permit. Permits can be purchased starting Dec.1 at ODFW license agents, ODFW offices that sell licenses and on the ODFW Web site for a cost of $7 ($5 permit plus $2 agent fee). Permits are required for both residents and nonresidents and are transferable to other non-motorized craft, but every vessel on the water must have a permit.
  • Guides, outfitters, livery operations and boating clubs should purchase their permits directly from the Oregon State Marine Board.

The Oregon State Marine Board and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are implementing the new Aquatic Invasive Species Program, which will include education outreach, voluntary boat inspections and decontamination of infected boats to stop the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

For information about the new Aquatic Invasive Species Program, visit http://www.boatoregon.com/OSMB/programs/09LawsFAQs.shtml. To purchase permits online, visit ODFW’s Web site, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/online_license_sales/index.asp

Wallowa Trophy Muley Poached

November 29, 2009

(OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE)

Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s help to solve the unlawful killing of a mule deer buck in the Minam Unit in Wallowa County.  A reward of up to $250 is offered by the Oregon Hunter’s Association for information related to this case that leads to an arrest.

(OREGON STATE POLICE)

According to OSP Senior Trooper Kreg Coggins, the investigation indicates the mule deer buck was killed November 13th above Big Canyon in Littlefield Orchard off Deer Creek Road.  Coggins encourages anyone with information regarding suspicious activity, persons, or vehicle in that area during the time should contact OSP.  The caller may remain anonymous.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call the TIP (Turn in Poachers) line at 1-800-452-7888.

Clam Dig A Go Next Weekend

November 29, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE RULE CHANGE NOTICE)

Action: Opens razor clam season

Effective dates: 12:01 p.m. Dec. 2 through Dec. 5, 2009

Species affected: Razor clams

Days and times:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 2 (6:32 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Thursday, Dec. 3 (7:18 p.m. -1.4 ft.) Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Friday, Dec. 4 (8:04 p.m. -1.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Saturday, Dec. 5 (8:51 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch

Locations:

  • Long Beach, which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.
  • Twin Harbors Beach, which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.
  • Copalis Beach, which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.
  • Mocrocks Beach, which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron
    Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
  • Kalaloch Beach, which extends from the South Beach Campground to Brown’s Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park.

Reasons for action: Harvestable surplus of razor clams are available.

Information Contact: Dan Ayres (360) 249-4628.

Change Would ‘Alter Foundation Of Angling’

November 29, 2009

With public comment on a host of sport-fishing rule change proposals coming up before the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission next weekend, Doug Huddle of the Bellingham Herald outlines some of the important issues for North Sound anglers to pay attention to.

“One, if adopted by the commission, will alter the foundation of sport angling for gamefish in this state,” the longtime outdoor scribe writes in yesterday’s paper.

Where Dead Deer Go

November 25, 2009

KDRV reports on what happens to road-killed or -injured deer and elk in Jackson and Josephine counties of Southwest Oregon.

Tuna Limit For WA?

November 24, 2009

While public comment on a broad range of sport-fishing rule proposals may be the most cantankerous item at the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission’s Dec. 4-5 meeting, there’s another brief that’s just starting to raise eyebrows.

Michelle Culver, director of WDFW’s coastal region, will give a presentation on the status of the state’s offshore albacore fishery.

“The question before the Commission is,” she says, “Do they want to consider a bag limit for recreational anglers? We’re not making a recommendation one way or the other.”

OLYMPIA ANGLER MIKE QUIMBY IS AMONG A GROWING CORPS OF WASHINGTON ANGLERS WHO HEAD WELL OUT TO SEA FOR ALBACORE TUNA. (MIKE QUIMBY)

Currently, there is no limit as more and more Evergreen State anglers and an increasingly dialed-in sport fleet pursue the species.

To the south this year, Oregon enjoyed its second most successful sport fishery ever. According to ODFW’s Eric Schindler in Newport, 42,055 were brought back to harbors up and down the coast. Only 2007′s catch of 58,000-plus was bigger.

Culver says she’ll be giving Washington’s Commission background on how other states and NMFS manage the species. In Oregon, basically the daily limit is 25 as part of a mixed bag of pelagic species. California has a split bag: 25 in the north, 10 in the south.

She says that as part of NMFS’s rule-making process for the 2011-13 seasons, albacore issues are being looked at next year.

If NMFS were to adopt a limit, they would ask states to follow suit.

States can be more restrictive than the feds, but not more liberal, Culver says.

While some may bristle at limits, in Oregon, where tuna fishing’s better, very few anglers load the boat. In fact, says Schindler, the average fisherman only brings back four a trip.

But that potential high bag limit is “like a casino,” he notes.

It helps draw customers to charters and coastal towns– even though the odds of hitting a big payout are small.

“The majority of people are never going to get to 25,” Schindler says. “The majority of people are going to be happy with ten or less.”

DEANNA VU'S ALBIE WAS AMONG THE FIRST COUPLE THOUSAND LANDED DURING OREGON'S STELLAR SUMMER TUNA FISHERY. OVERALL, 42,055 WERE BROUGHT BACK TO WINCHESTER BAY, CHARLESTON, NEWPORT, GARIBALDI AND OTHER PORTS THIS YEAR. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

From what he’s hearing, there’s not really a big push on to impose recreational limits either, but there is some federal concern about commercial efforts on the highly migratory species.

Right now, it’s an unlimited commercial fishery, without trip limits or vessel limitations, he says.

“The jist we’re hearing from NOAA is capping effort, not increasing it,” Schindler says.

Albacore stocks are considered high right now, but the commercial effort on them “is not deemed sustainable going into the future if stock levels go back to average,” he says.

Culver says that if the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission is interested in setting a limit, it could be brought up again at their February or March meetings. NMFS has it on their calendar for June meetings.

‘Anti-vehicle Device’ Found In Wildlife Area

November 24, 2009

(IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH & GAME PRESS RELEASE)

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game recently discovered an anti-vehicle device on Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area south of Lewiston.

The homemade device, a truck tire filled with concrete and rebar spikes, was concealed in an area commonly used for illegal off-roading and was likely placed to discourage this activity. Motorized travel on Fish and Game lands is allowed only on open, established roads.

“We understand the public’s frustration with those who don’t follow the motorized rules, but this is taking it too far by putting public safety at risk,” said Justin Barrett, Fish and Game habitat biologist who manages the area.

Mud-bogging, the ritual of driving vehicles through wet areas has caused significant long-term damage in the area. Mountain meadows and streams are especially appealing to mudboggers because of the availability of water and moist soils, yet these areas are very important for wildlife.

Anyone with information regarding this device or who witnesses illegal off-roading on Craig Mountain are encouraged to contact the Fish and Game office at 208-799-5010.

Much of Craig Mountain was purchased as mitigation for the loss of habitat from the inundation of Dworshak Reservoir. Cooperative agreements among conservation groups and several state and federal land management agencies ensure that public lands on Craig Mountain are managed to benefit wildlife and natural habitats while providing diverse recreational opportunities.

Unfortunately, mud-bogging is not conducive to maintaining habitats suitable for wildlife in this area. In fact, the long-term damage caused by off roaders is one of the main reasons some areas have been closed to motorized vehicle use.

Coverage Of Redden Columbia Salmon Hearing

November 24, 2009

Here’s a roundup of articles on what came out of yesterday’s hearing in U.S. District Court Judge James Redden’s courtroom.

The Oregonian: Working plan looks closer for Northwest salmon protection

Associated Press: Judge likes NW salmon plan but sees legal flaw

Seattle Times: Federal judge praises new salmon-protection plan

Idaho Statesman: Salmon plan is close, judge says

OPB: Redden salmon decision will take more time

Speeding Stop Yields Poached Buck

November 24, 2009

(OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE)

Editor’s note: We have our newest entrant into The Dishonor Roll (debuting in the December issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine), one Eric Eugene Burris who allegedly poked this trophy muley during closed season south of Hood River.

An Oregon State Police (OSP) Sunday traffic stop south of The Dalles ended with more than a speeding citation after a trooper found an illegally killed trophy sized buck in the bed of the pickup.  A Portland-area man who is believed to be responsible for killing the deer was also arrested for failure to register as a sex offender and lodged in jail in The Dalles.

(OREGON STATE POLICE)

On November 22, 2009, OSP Trooper Brent Ocheskey stopped a Ford Ranger pickup after spotting it traveling 79 mph in a 55 mph speed zone on Highway 197 south of Dufur.  As Ocheskey walked up to contact the driver he saw an approximately 250 lb. trophy sized 4 X 4 buck deer in the pickup’s bed shot with an arrow.

Subsequent investigation during the traffic stop indicated passenger ERIC EUGENE BURRIS, age 31, from Portland, is alleged to have unlawfully shot the buck with bow and arrow in the White River Unit, which was closed during the open late season archery hunt.

BURRIS was taken into custody for Unlawful Taking Deer and two counts of Failure to Register as a Sex Offender.  He was also cited for Unlawful Possession of an Open Container of Alcohol.

Operator JOSHUA EDWARD LEPOIDEVIN, age 25, from Portland, was cited and released for Aiding in a Game Violation, Violation of the Basic Rule to wit: 79 mph in a 55 speed zone, Driving Uninsured, and Unlawful Possession of less than an Ounce of Marijuana.

The deer and a compound bow were seized as evidence.

BURRIS was lodged at the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility (NORCOR) in The Dalles.  The NORCOR website does not currently list him as an inmate.


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