Northwest Winners At ICAST

July 27, 2010

Two Northwest fishing tackle manufacturers won best of show awards at the recently concluded ICAST Show in Las Vegas.

Southwest Washington rodmakers Lamiglas won top honors in the rod and reel category for its part in a joint venture with two other U.S. companies on the Fishouflage Bass fishing combo, and G.Loomis took overall best of show and best freshwater rod for its NRX fly rod.

Lamiglas, based in Woodland, built the Fishouflage rod while Ardent, of Macon, Missouri, supplied the baitcasting reel and Outdoor Identities of Greenville, Wisc., creator and licensee of Fishouflage angler patterns which are derived from the freshwater aquatic environment, provided the finish.

The rod is constructed upon a 7-foot, fast-action Certified Pro XC 704 blank. Lamiglas’ most popular bass fishing rod, a custom split-grip handle design advances performance while the Fishouflage Bass finish creates a distinct identity.

John Posey, Lamiglas’ National Sales Manager, sees expanding opportunities for U.S. manufactured products.

“The value proposition continues to change at a rapid rate,” said Posey, “The incredible price differences that used to exist between domestic and imported product have narrowed dramatically. While avid anglers have always shown a preference for the technically-precise performance of U.S. manufactured Lamiglas rods, we’re now able to compete in the mid-range price points that have been driven up by the rising costs of overseas manufacturing.”

The Fishouflage Bass pattern cosmetically richens and unifies the Ardent and Lamiglas product. A mixture of green reeds and coontail, combined with broken grey and brown logs, laid over a natural background, the images of trophy bass hidden in the background are the icing on the cake.

“Our company is driven by identity,” explained Paul Bernegger, president of Outdoor Identities. “Fishouflage patterns serve a consumer base that prides itself on rugged independence. There’s nothing more independent than the American spirit that is the cornerstone of the Ardent, Lamiglas and Fishouflage brands.”

Another big winner was the Stormsuit FXE, which won Best of Show in the Apparel category, made by Frabill, a large advertiser in Northwest Sportsman.

Designed by Chris Leonard, an independent engineer based in Central Minnesota, the jacket-and-bib set builds upon his Snosuit, considered by some to be the benchmark in cold-weather gear for ice fishermen, and is Frabill’s first for open water fishing.

The biggest difference between the two suits, says Leonard, is that input from a team of 50 anglers – including Al Lindner – engineers and Frabill staffers went into refining the original design into the final waterproof, windproof, breathable shell sealed by DuPont™ Teflon® fabric protector.

“A lot of attention went into sealing this suit up to entry points for water,” he says.

Leonard also borrowed an idea from his firefighting gear – he’s a volunteer for the Crosslake Fire Department – for the Stormsuit’s bibs. “A cam buckle allows you to get in and out of the suit without having to unbuckle.”

But perhaps the Stormsuit’s most innovative design can be found at the crotch.

“Our patent-pending design … is a completely waterproof crotch and you’re able to take a pit stop without taking everything off,” Leonard says.

Think of the latter feature as dry-bag technology meets elephant trunk.

“Unroll the tube, pee, roll up and velcro back up,” he says. “Frabill broke the mold with this design.”

Other ICAST New Product Showcase Award Winners included:

Electronics: Lowrance-Navico for the Lowrance Elite-5 DSI

Eyewear: Maui Jim Sunglasses for the Guy Harvey Collection

Fishing Accessory: Adventure Products, Inc. for the EGO S2 Slider Landing Net

Giftware: Boating Expressions, Inc. for the Fishfenders

Kids Tackle: Pure Fishing for the Pflueger-Spinning Combo-Apprentice

Line: Rapala for the Sufix 832 Advanced Superline

Soft Lure: Koppers Fishing & Tackle Corporation for the Live Target Hollow Body Frog

Hard Lure: Shimano American Corporation for the Waxwing Sub-Surface Swimming Jig

Marine: Minn Kota-Johnson Outdoors, Inc. for the Talon-Shallow Water Anchor

Freshwater Reel: Shimano American Corporation for the Stella FE

Saltwater Reel: Shimano American Corporation for the Trinidad A

Saltwater Rod: Shimano American Corporation for the Terez

Tackle Management: HYI, Inc. for the Openwater Tackle

BackpackTerminal Tackle: Sebile Innovative Fishing for the Soft Weight System

High Steelie Catch; SW WA Fishing Report

July 26, 2010

(COURTESY JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Drano Lake – 25 boat anglers kept 8 steelhead and released 14 others plus 1 chinook jack.  The bite was reported good around daylight.  About 28 boats were counted here last Saturday morning (July 24).

White Salmon River – 5 bank anglers had no catch.  Some steelhead have been reported caught early in the morning.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort and catch rates were similar to the previous week.

Last week we sampled 1,594 salmonid bank anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream with 6 adult summer Chinook, 360 steelhead and 1 sockeye, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 4.3 rods based on mainly incomplete trips. In addition, we sampled 446 salmonid boat anglers (208 boats) with 3 adult and 1 jack summer Chinook, 110 steelhead and no sockeye, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 3.9 rods based on mainly completed trips.  Overall, 78% of the adult Chinook and 62% of the steelhead caught were kept.

350 salmonid boats and 789 bank anglers were observed from Bonneville Dam downstream during last Saturday’s (July 24) effort flight count.  Nearly three-quarters of the bank effort was found on the Washington side.  Boat effort was more scattered.

An estimated 33,900 salmonid angler trips below Bonneville Dam resulted in a 3,400 steelhead kept in June.  The catch for the month was the highest since at least the early 1970s.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers off the White Salmon and Klickitat rivers are catching some steelhead though just over half were wild and had to be released.  Last Saturday 38 boats were observed off the White Salmon River and a half dozen each off Drano Lake and the Klickitat River.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers averaged nearly a steelhead per rod when including fish released.  The majority of the fish caught were wild and had to be released.

John Day Pool – No anglers were observed fishing for salmon or steelhead last week.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines downstream – Effort in the estuary was higher but catch rates were similar to the previous week.

Charter boat anglers averaged slightly better than a legal kept per every 3 rods while private boaters sampled at the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco averaged one per every 6.6 rods.  At the Deep River and Knappton ramps, boat anglers averaged 0.84 legals kept per boat.  Bank anglers sampled in the estuary did not catch any legals.   Overall, if an angler caught a fish there was a 37% chance it would be a keeper.

254 private and 12 charter boats were found fishing for sturgeon from the Wauna powerlines downstream during last Saturday’s flight count.

Through July 18 there were an estimated 31,400 sturgeon angler trips in the estuary that resulted in 4,900 legals kept.  The catch guideline for the season is 9,600 fish.

A Compact hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on July 29 in Cathlamet, Washington to consider fall season commercial fishing periods. Given the date, this hearing will also provide a timely opportunity to review the estuary sturgeon sport fishery.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Marker 82 – Effort and success remains about the same as the previous week.  A few legals were caught by boat anglers in the Vancouver to Kalama area and by bank anglers in Woodland.

Just over a hundred boats were counted from Wauna upstream during last Saturday’s effort flight count.  Only 37 bank rods were counted during the same flight.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers averaged a sturgeon per every 6.2 hours fished in the area open for catch-and-release.  The Columbia River from the Interstate 82 bridge upstream to McNary Dam will remain closed to all sturgeon fishing until August 1.  On August 1 this area will reopen for CATCH & RELEASE ONLY!

WALLEYE AND BASS

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Some walleye are being caught by boaters in the Camas/Washougal area.

The Dalles Pool – The few boat and bank anglers sampled had caught some smallmouth bass and walleye.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers targeting bass and walleye averaged one and 4.4 hours per fish, respectively.   Walleye anglers had also caught more bass than walleye.

TROUT

Swift Reservoir – Planted with 2,900 one pound and 1,260 five pound rainbows July 20.

Takhlakh Lake (Skamania County) – Planted with 172 “jumbo” rainbows averaging 4 pounds each July 19.

Sox Hoppin’ On Web Site

July 22, 2010

Over the past two weeks, sockeye have stood out in more than one way in the Northwest.

A record run is moving up the Columbia, for starters, and there’s been enough on the Baker and Skagit Rivers to not only open a season, but extend it as well as open up Baker Lake for the first time ever.

Of course, we’ve been blogging about the buggers, and all that sock talk’s been drawing folks to our Web site.

On the WordPress side of things, sockeye has been one of the most common search terms for awhile now.

Well, today someone who may or may not be Northwest Sportsman writer Jason Brooks did also google “steelhead record breaker jason brooks,” but enough of that.

As fish numbers mount in the upper Columbia, anglers are beginning to seriously target the red salmon in the Brewster Pool.

One of those gents doing so is Scott Fletcher.

Last Thursday, he beat feet out of the Wenatchee area to get onto the reservoir before sunlight hit the water, scoring a pretty respectable sockeye, a 4.8-pounder.

4.8-POUND SOCKEYE FROM THE UPPER COLUMBIA RIVER'S BREWSTER POOL. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

I asked him for more details, and he wrote back:

It was on two #1 hooks about 2″ apart, one red on the bottom and one black with 12″ leader and OO chrome dodger.  The depth that day was at 15′ down but the trip before was at 25′ down.  The bite at Brewster seems to be early between 5:00 and 8:00 am.

Just a wee bit ago, Fletcher emailed me another shot, this one of nine sox he and his son, Tyler, caught today.

TYLER AND SCOTT FLETCHER WITH A PRETTY GOOD RUN AT THE DAILY LIMIT OF SIX SOCKEYE APIECE. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Writes Fletcher:

They all weighed between 2.8 to 4 lbs.  We caught them at 20′ down today.

For more on the emerging sockeye fishing on the Brew Pool, check out Leroy Ledeboer’s story from our July issue.

RMEF Rips National Wolf Recovery Petition

July 22, 2010

Tuesday’s petition by an Arizona-based environmental group calling for a national wolf recovery plan instead of the federal government’s regional approaches was met by a double-barrelled blast from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation yesterday.

“This is not about saving a lost species,” said David Allen, CEO of the Missoula-based organization. “It’s about money and special interest agendas.”

A press release from RMEF says “animal rights groups have learned that introducing wolves translates to major fundraising, and activists have found a way to exploit the Endangered Species Act — as well as taxpayer-funded programs that cover lawyer fees — to push their agenda and build revenue through the courts.”

Allen frames fundraising efforts on the behalf of wolves as “writing a check that our country’s rural and traditional lifestyles can’t cash. You’re eroding the fundamentals of America’s model for wildlife conservation.”

The petition, from the Center for Biological Diversity, requests the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service come up with a recovery plan for putting wolves back into Washington’s Olympic Mountains (looked at in the 1990s, and dropped after local opposition) and the Cascades of Oregon and California, as well as Great Plains, Great Basin and New England.

The Center says wolves are missing from 95 percent of their former range, and that there is enough suitable habitat in the above areas to foster recovery.

A MAP SHOWING POTENTIAL WOLF RANGE, TAKEN FROM THE CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY'S JULY 20, 2010, PETITION TO THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.

Reintroduction of wolves into Central Idaho and Yellowstone in the mid-1990s has grown into an extremely contentious issue in the region, including Washington. A wolf-related post on WDFW’s Facebook page last Sunday had run to 139 comments as of 1:23 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Idaho and Montana both unabashadly want to hunt more wolves this fall, though a ruling by a federal judge could put packs back on the endangered species list and move management from those two states back to USFWS before seasons start.

Noting RMEF’s successful work reintroducing elk into numerous Eastern states, Allen pointedly highlights two different approaches to restoring species, one more neighborly than the other.

“Our way is offering to help with funding and expertise so long as the local public wants the species and the state can manage them,” he says. “The other way is using lawsuits and loopholes to shove a project down people’s throats.”

The words also continue RMEF’s newly strident tone on wolf issues.

Feeling some heat from hunters around the collective campfire, earlier this year it got into a war of letters with the Defenders of Wildlife and Western Wildlife Conservancy.

In the latest press release, titled “Attention All States: Prepare to be Sued Over Wolves,” RMEF says wolf advocates’ lawsuits have cost the states as well as negatively affected revenues for conservation projects funded through hunter purchases.

“Now imagine bringing these kinds of impacts to more populated states elsewhere in the U.S., and I think we’re looking at an unprecedented wildlife management disaster,” said Allen.

He is urging USFWS to cautiously evaluate the petition and “reject the rhetoric of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Earth Justice, Humane Society of the U.S. and other animal rights groups. Wolf re-introduction in the greater Yellowstone region was a classic example of ‘let’s get our foot in the door and then move the goal line,’ and should be warning enough. This is a fundraising strategy with anti-hunting, anti-ranching, anti-gun impacts, and the public needs to understand and see it for it is.”

IN OTHER HUNTING NEWS, the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, as well as Secretary of Agriculture will hold a national teleconference tomorrow to announce 18 members of the new Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council.

The group will help to promote and preserve the country’s hunting heritage, as well as serve as a forum for sportsmen to advise the Federal government on policies that benefit recreational hunting and wildlife resources.

Prineville Man Jailed On Charges Of Poaching 4 Deer

July 22, 2010

(OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE)

An investigation by an Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division trooper, assisted by the OSP Crime Lab forensic analysis, led to the arrest of a Prineville man Tuesday on multiple charges related to the illegal kill and waste of 4 deer six months ago.

ONE OF FOUR DOES POACHED AND LEFT TO WASTE EAST OF PRINEVILLE LAST WINTER; TWO WERE PREGNANT AT THE TIME. (OSP)

On July 20, 2010, OSP Senior Trooper Amos Madison arrested BRADLEY BROCK, age 20, from Prineville, and lodged him at the Crook County Jail on the following charges:

* Illegal Taking of Deer (4 counts)
* Unlawful Waste of Wildlife (4 counts)
* Theft in the First Degree (4 counts)

BROCK’s arrest came following Senior Trooper Madison’s investigation that started January 9, 2010 when a central Oregon rancher in the Rager area about ten miles east of Paulina contacted OSP to report he found two deer that had been shot.  Initial response and investigation led to the discovery of a total of four deer illegally killed and left to waste.  All were does and at least two were pregnant.

Evidence seized from the scene and during the investigation was submitted to the OSP Forensic Services Division Crime Lab.  Forensic analysis linked BROCK to the crimes leading to his arrest.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

July 21, 2010

Here’s what’s fishin’ around Oregon, courtesy of ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Bass fishing has been improving throughout the mainstem and South Umpqua River.
  • Trout fishing has slowed in many rivers and streams with the onset of warm weather, but the fishing can still be good in smaller streams where there’s lots of shade to help keep waters cool.
  • Anglers are still getting spring chinook, and also some summer steelhead, in the middle and upper Rogue River.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Siletz River: Steelhead angling is in full swing and providing a good fishery for many bank anglers. Good numbers of summer steelhead are returning with many hatchery fish being recycled back down stream to the Moonshine Park area. River conditions are now low, clear and starting to warm.  Anglers should focus efforts early or late in the day and try more subtle techniques.  Fish can be found through out the mainstem with drift boat/kayak/raft angling from Twin Bridges down to Morgan Park as flows allow and bank access from Moonshine Park up to the deadline. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair to good with sea-runs starting to show in the bay and lower river. Using small spinners or fly fishing can be very productive.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Now is a good time to target bass and walleye fishing on the Multnomah Channel.
  • Summer steelhead and spring chinook have moved into the North Santiam River around Stayton.
  • Good catches of kokanee have been reported recently on Green Peter Reservoir.
  • Summer steelhead are showing up in the Willamette River town run between Springfield and Eugene.
  • Trout stocking of most local valley lakes and ponds has come to an end for the summer due to warm water conditions. Lower and mid-elevation Cascade lakes are still being stocked and provide a good opportunity for trout fishing.
  • July and August are peak months to target largemouth bass in Fern Ridge Reservoir.
  • The cool waters of Breitenbush River, combined with a generous stocking schedule, should mean good trout fishing throughout the summer.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • The water level on the Chewaucan River is near perfect and the dry fly fishing is coming on.
  • Brown and rainbow trout fishing has been fair to good on the Lower Owyhee River.
  • Fishing in the high Cascade lakes for brook trout remains excellent.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing for both rainbow and brook trout has been good on Grande Ronde Reservoir.
  • Trout fishing remains good on Magone Lake but look for fish to be in deeper water.

SNAKE ZONE

  • Brownlee Reservoir: Crappie spawning has slowed but good fishing is available. Fish very early morning or late evening. The fish are deep in the middle of the day (25-70 feet) and the bite is very light. Use 4 lb test and an ultra light rod. Use jigs with a crappie nibble (motor oil, red and whites have been good lately). Night fishing with lights is producing good catches.  Bass are biting but are fairly small. Some large catfish are being caught using cutbait, worms or stink bait. Trolling for trout is fair. The reservoir is full. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Effective June 26 angling is open for adipose fin-clipped summer chinook, adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead, and sockeye from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to the Oregon/Washington Border.
  • The summer steelhead run is making a strong early showing at Bonneville Dam. Look for summer steelhead near the mouths of cooler tributaries as the water temperature in the Columbia continues to rise.
  • The walleye fishing has been good in the John Day pool where anglers are finding lots of walley — many in the 10-pound range. The best lures have been spinner and worm combinations and blade baits.

MARINE ZONE

  • Tuna are still between 30 and 40 miles offshore. Tuna catches landed in ports on the central coast averaged between four and five fish.
  • Anglers fishing Cape Falcon to the Oregon/Washington border are now allowed to keep up to two chinook salmon in the bag limit. Daily bag limit is now two salmon per day, and all retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip.
  • Sport fishers are approaching the cap on yelloweye rockfish and fishery managers will meet this week to decide how to limit bycatch of this federally-designated, over-fished species.
  • Fishing for lingcod remained at about one fish for every two anglers targeting lingcod. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.
  • The annual conservation closure north of Tillamook Head to protect newly set razor clams began July 15 and continues through Sept. 30. Since 1967, ODFW has closed the 18 miles of beaches in Clatsop County to razor clam digging on July 15. The closure is to protect newly-set young clams that are establishing themselves on the beach during this time of the year.
  • The Oregon Department of Agriculture closed all recreational razor clam harvesting north of Bandon due to elevated levels of domoic acid.
  • Most crabbers had average catches between one and three crab. Crabbing in the ocean this time of year can be very productive, but also dangerous because of wind, sea and bar conditions.

WA Coast Goes 7 Days A Week For Salmon

July 21, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Anglers will be able to fish for salmon seven days a week along the entire Washington coast beginning Friday (July 23), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

The new rules will increase recreational fishing opportunities in marine areas 2 (Westport-Ocean Shores), 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay), where salmon fishing is currently restricted to five days a week. Salmon fishing is already open seven days a week in Marine Area 1(Ilwaco).

“Overall, salmon fishing has been good on the coast this summer, but the number of anglers participating in the fishery has been lower than expected,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon fisheries manager for WDFW. “With effort down – partly due to rough weather – we can provide anglers additional fishing opportunities without exceeding recreational harvest quotas for this year.”

Through July 18, anglers fishing along the coast had caught 8.3 percent of the 49,000 chinook quota for the ocean and 9.5 percent of the 67,200 coho quota.

Anglers fishing in those areas can keep up to two chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, but must release any chinook measuring less than 24 inches and hatchery coho less than 16 inches. Wild coho must be released unharmed.

Salmon fishing is scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 3 and 4, through Sept. 19 in Marine Area 2 and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1.

Ilwaco Team Wins 1st Leg of Wind-affected OTC

July 20, 2010

(OREGON TUNA CLASSIC PRESS RELEASE)

The first leg of the Oregon Tuna Classic is in the books. More than 60 teams signed up for the Newport event but due to strong north winds blowing all week the seas were a bit too sporty for some cutting the field to 36 teams at the starting line for the 6am Saturday morning flare start.

Most boats ran to the northwest towards tuna town partly because that’s where the most recent fish reports had come and partly to stay with the pack for safety reasons. Some teams stayed in and later came to watch the weigh in but at the end of the night more than 300 people joined in at the awards BBQ.

THE FLEET HEADS OUT OF NEWPORT TOWARDS "TUNA TOWN" DURING LAST WEEKEND'S OREGON TUNA CLASSIC. (DEL STEPHENS)

The forecast was barely within the parameters of the OTC criteria for fishing and participants could testify to the conditions by the way they felt at the end of the day with sore muscles from dancing in the rough seas, backs aching from the long ride out and back, tired but satisfied they had given a good effort to help feed the hungry in Lincoln County.

The north winds had pushed the warm water out to beyond 60 miles and had scattered the fish making for scratch fishing at best. The best of fishermen were humbled when only 19 teams turned in fish and only 12 of those teams turned in the required minimum of 5 fish.

At the end of the day 78 fish had been turned in totaling 1,510 pounds of fresh albacore going to the Lincoln County Food Share.

Team Engage from Ilwaco took the top honors with 105.55 lbs and now leads all teams in the points system to win the right to fish in the IGFA Offshore World Championships next spring. They are followed in second place by Team Gales Creek Tuna Gaffers with 104.2 lbs and Team Green Lightning Laundry secured the third place spot with 104.10 lbs.

The Oregon Tuna Classic will take its armada of boats, volunteers, sponsors, spectators and support staff to Ilwaco Washington on July 31st. for the second leg of the tournaments where over 78 teams and 500 people packed the event last year. The boardwalk will soon be buzzing with excitement again in anticipation of the teams rolling into town.

–Del Stephens

More Details Emerge On Crab Creek Incident

July 20, 2010

(UPDATED JULY 21, 2010, 9 A.M. WITH PICTURES FROM WDFW; ALSO, THE COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD TODAY HAS A STORY ON THE INCIDENT BASED ON COURT RECORDS WHICH WE ARE TRYING TO OBTAIN THIS MORNING.)

Officer Chad McGary was in a very bad spot.

A young man was allegedly pointing a .45-caliber handgun at the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife enforcement agent and demanding he give up his sidearm.

The gun had come from the man’s back pocket just a moment before.

McGary, described as in his early 30s and only on the force for one year since coming over from the nearby Royal City police department, had heard clanking and thought the noise was a marijuana pipe, but when he asked to see the source, the man had shoved him and pulled the gun out.

Thinking quickly, McGary reminded the man there was another officer nearby.

“I think this is what saved his life,” says WDFW Deputy Chief Mike Cenci.

The other officer was Capt. Chris Anderson, who’s been with the agency for 25 years and in law enforcement for 30, but can still be found on patrol.

Indeed, it’s not often that you’ll find two Washington wardens together, but the duo had been on their way to check on after-hours sturgeon anglers elsewhere last Saturday evening when they saw cars gathered at the mouth of Crab Creek along Highway 243 and decided to run routine license checks on anglers fishing there. For years, fishermen have complained about poaching in this area of western Grant County.

The man had told Anderson that he’d left his fishing license in his wallet at home, and as the captain went to check other anglers, McGary escorted him to his Ford F-150 patrol truck to run his name through WDFW’s database, and that’s when the gun was allegedly drawn.

Cenci says that the man, who has been identified by the Spokane Spokesman-Review as Jose J. Garcia-Meraze, then called his father, named as Nicholas Garcia-Godinez by the paper, age 60, who allegedly came running up with a knife.

“‘Are you going to kill me?’” McGary asked the young man, Cenci says.

He instead demanded his .40-caliber Glock, twice, which McGary refused to give up.

Then the man held the firearm to the officer’s head, Cenci alleges.

“So (McGary) removed his service gun and threw it in the bush,” Cenci says. “At that point the kid runs up the hill.”

McGary then called Anderson on the radio, and the captain thought he heard McGary use the word “gun,” Cenci says.

The man jumped into a Honda Civic, got it started, but as Anderson arrived at the vehicle, he got a hand on him and tried to pull him out but couldn’t.

Meanwhile, McGary, weaponless, backed away from the father, who allegedly was holding the knife in the “thrusting position,” says Cenci, and retrieved his Glock from the brush. He then took the father down and placed him under arrest.

McGary called Anderson, now in pursuit of the son, and told him the suspect was armed.

Cenci alleges that at some point the man stopped, got out of the Honda and with an unsteady hand, aimed the gun at Anderson who took cover.

ALONG THE BEVERLY-BURKE ROAD, WHERE SUSPECT JOSE J. GARCIA-MERAZE ALLEGEDLY FIRED ON WDFW CAPTAIN CHRIS ANDERSON. (WDFW)

The man got back in the car, drove toward the captain’s truck and allegedly “fires several rounds. Anderson dives across the seat and feels one round hit his vehicle.”

It struck the truck’s lower frame on the driver’s side, Cenci says.

WDFW OFFICER CHAD McGARY LOOKS AT A BULLET HOLE IN THE SIDE OF CAPTAIN CHRIS ANDERSON'S PATROL TRUCK. (WDFW)

Anderson radioed that shots had been fired, and then pursued the man, who repeatedly slowed down which Anderson felt was a trick to pull him in close.

On a big, sweeping curve on the Beverly Burke Road north of Beverly, the suspect turned his car around again.

“Based on what occurred before,” says Cenci, “Anderson thinks he’ll be fired on again.”

The captain readied his AR-15, a .223-caliber rifle, and as the man drove toward him, fired three times, striking the Honda once, Cenci says.

NEAR THE INTERSECTION OF HIGHWAYS 243 AND 26, WHERE CAPTAIN CHRIS ANDERSON FIRED ON THE SUSPECT'S HONDA CIVIC. (WDFW)

The pursuit went north then west on I-90 over the Columbia at Vantage. The car pulled a U-turn into the median and headed back east over the river, past George then towards Ephrata on Highway 28, where the Honda stalled and the man was taken into custody without incident.

According to the Spokesman-Review, the man, Garcia-Meraze, faces attempted first-degree murder charges and is being held on $1 million bail.

Formal charges are expected next week. The defendant will have a chance to enter a plea on Monday, according to Angus Lee, a Grant County prosecuting attorney.

Garcia-Godinez, his father, faces second-degree assault and is being held on $100,000 bail.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has also placed holds on the men. According to reports from other law enforcement officials, both have been determined to be in the United States illegally.

In a piece published by the Wenatchee World, Cenci notes that “Being an alien in possession of a firearm is a Class C felony,” and speculates that “Perhaps that was (Garcia-Meraz’s) concern.”

The use of deadly force by Anderson is being investigated by the Columbia Basin Investigative Team, a regional law-enforcement consortium. Investigations are routinely conducted following police use of force involving firearms. Anderson and McGary remain on patrol.

WDFW’s own investigation is expected to be wrapped up by the end of the week.

But for Cenci, the incident illustrates the very difficult world that his officers have to operate in.

They’re often alone and working in remote areas contacting people already armed with guns or knives because of hunting, fishing or other gathering activities they’re otherwise legally engaged in.

But it’s not just law-abiding sportsmen who are afield. The Oregon State Police’s Fish & Wildlife Division monthly newsletter often highlights incidents where their officers run into people wanted on warrants.

And in recent years, the illegal cultivation of marijuana on Washington’s public lands by Mexican drug cartels has exploded. Pot plantations have been discovered both east and south of this past weekend’s incident.

Cenci says gang affiliates have fired shots over fishing spots during walleye season at Potholes Reservoir too.

The incident gave him a flashback to the death of Kris Fairbanks, an Olympic National Forest law enforcement officer killed on duty in September 2008 while checking out a suspicious car at a Forest Service campground near Sequim. Fairbanks is believed to have been shot by Shawn Mathew Roe, later gunned down by Clallam County deputies following the death of another area resident.

“Here’s a situation where a bad guy comes to the conclusion that only a single officer is between him and freedom,” Cenci says of the incident at Crab Creek. “Our program has many close calls, but this close? It’s been awhile.”

He commends McGary and Anderson’s actions.

WDFW Officer Fired On; Suspect Arrested, Faces First-degree Murder Charges

July 19, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

An 18-year-old Mattawa man has been charged with attempted first-degree murder, after shooting at a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) police captain Saturday in Grant County.

The man is being held in Grant County Jail on $1 million bail, along with his 60-year-old father, who drew a knife on another WDFW police officer. The father has been charged with second-degree assault, and is being held on $100,000 bail.

The men, who made a preliminary appearance today in Grant County Superior Court, are to be formally arraigned next Monday. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has also placed holds on both men.

The two were arrested Saturday evening, following a vehicle pursuit by WDFW and the State Patrol on State Route 28 near Ephrata.

The incident began about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, when WDFW Officer Chad McGary was checking anglers at Crab Creek, a popular fishing area near Beverly in Grant County. McGary contacted the 18 year old, who had been fishing but did not possess a fishing license. As McGary was escorting the suspect back to his vehicle, to confirm whether he had purchased a license, the man drew a gun and pointed it at the officer. The man’s father also approached the officer, brandishing a knife.

The young man then escaped to a car and was pursued by WDFW Capt. Chris Anderson. During the pursuit, the suspect turned his vehicle around and drove toward Anderson’s marked police vehicle, firing shots and penetrating the driver’s side door with one round. Anderson returned fire after the suspect attempted to shoot at him a second time.

After a pursuit of several miles, the suspect was apprehended after his car stalled on State Route 28 near Ephrata.

The young man was booked into Grant County Jail for alleged attempted murder in the first degree. The suspect’s father was booked for alleged assault and for an outstanding felony warrant on an unrelated charge.

The incident is being investigated by the Columbia Basin Investigative Team, a regional law-enforcement consortium. Investigations are routinely conducted following police use of force involving firearms.

WDFW police are general-authority law enforcement officers who provide a range of police services focused on natural-resource protection and public safety.

SW WA Fishing Report

July 19, 2010

(COURTESY JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River– 34 bank anglers kept 5 steelhead while 48 boaters kept 45.  All the fish were sampled from the Blue Creek area.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 1,066 summer-run steelhead, 168 spring Chinook adults, 24 jacks, 240 mini-jacks, four sockeye salmon, and one sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 48 spring Chinook adults and 22 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, eight spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River, and 198 spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,780 cubic feet per second on Monday July 19. Water visibility is eleven feet.

Drano Lake – 5 boat anglers kept 1 chinook jack.  There were 13 boats there midday Saturday July 17.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Lots of effort though angling success was a little better earlier in the week during the stronger tides.  Tides become stronger again later this week.

Last week we sampled 1,968 salmonid bank anglers below Bonneville Dam with 12 adult and 3 jack summer Chinook, 429 steelhead, and 1 sockeye, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 4.4 rods based on mainly incomplete trips. In addition, we sampled 448 salmonid boat anglers (211 boats) with 5 adult summer Chinook, 151 steelhead, and no sockeye, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 2.9 rods based on mainly completed trips.  Overall, 65% of the adult Chinook and 60% of the steelhead caught were kept.

343 salmonid boats and 872 bank anglers were observed from Bonneville Dam downstream during last Saturday’s (July 17) effort flight count.  Three-quarters of the bank effort was found on the Washington side.  Boat effort was more scattered.

Bonneville Pool – Fairly windy last week but boat anglers are catching steelhead though most of the fish were wild and had to be released.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers averaged 2/3 salmonid per rod when including fish released.  Most of the fish were steelhead of which over half were wild and had to be released.

John Day Pool – Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco, reports very little effort for salmon last week and no reported catch. Anglers are beginning to fish for steelhead above and below McNary Dam.

  • The summer steelhead counting period at Bonneville Dam began April 1 and continued to June 30 for the Skamania stock.  A total of 29,261 steelhead (11,276 unclipped) were counted during this time period and the run exceeded the preseason forecast (16,400 total, 3,300 wild)for Skamania steelhead. On July 1 the upriver A/B steelhead counting period began.  From July 1 to July 18, a total of 84,680 steelhead have been counted at Bonneville which is significantly above average.   Nearly 50% of the summer steelhead at Bonneville have been unclipped.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – At the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco, charter boat anglers averaged nearly ½  legal kept per rod while private boaters averaged one per every 6.3 rods.  At the Deep River and Knappton ramps, anglers averaged 0.81 legals kept per boat.  Bank anglers sampled in the estuary did not catch any fish.  If an angler did catch a fish, there was a 40% chance it would be a keeper.

A few legals were caught by boat anglers in the Kalama area and by bank anglers near Longview.

175 private and 2 charter boats were found fishing for sturgeon from the Wauna powerlines downstream during last Saturday’s effort flight count.  Just over a hundred boats were counted from Wauna upstream.  Only 28 bank rods were counted during the same flight.

WALLEYE AND BASS

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Some walleye are being caught by boaters in the Camas/Washougal area and in the gorge.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some walleye while bank anglers are catching some bass.

John Day Pool – Paul Hoffarth reports walleye angling was a little slower than the previous week but still good. Average was a walleye per every 4.4 hours fished.

TROUT

Mayfield Lake – 4 bank anglers had 2 rainbows.

Riffe Lake – 21 bank anglers kept 18 landlocked coho.  Catch was split between the dam and Taidnapam.

Swofford Pond – 4 bank anglers had 1 bluegill.

SHAD

John Day Pool – Boat anglers are still catching some shad.

Locals Expect Double-digit Koke Before Wallowa’s Run’s Done

July 19, 2010

It’s been a fantastic 365 days for one Northwest lake.

It was exactly one year ago that the first of five new record kokanee were caught at Wallowa Lake, in Northeast Oregon.

“The talk is, even with Ron’s,” says Brad Snook at The Sports Corral in Joseph referring to the latest, Ron Campbell’s pending world record, “there’s a 10-, 11-, even 12-pounder to go. None of the records have held longer than six weeks.”

By our calendar, it’s been five weeks since the last time the Oregon record book and its well-used eraser was hauled out.

The run started off with Jerry Logosz, a former Joseph shopowner who’d retired to Arizona but comes back for the fishing.

“We had to turn the boat around and go after him,” Logosz told a freelancer in a story picked up by The Oregonian … “It was exciting.”

His 7.085-pound landlocked sockeye was just over a quarter pound heavier than the standing record, held for seven and a half years by Pam Fahey, and which blasted the previous high mark by a full pound.

JERRY LOGOSZ, 7.085 POUNDS. (MARK MONCRIEF)

While nothing topped Jerry’s fish the rest of the summer, it was pretty clear something was going on with the lake’s kokes. By late August, guide Mark Moncrief had caught at least 152 20-plus-inchers, twice as many as he ever had.

Five years ago also saw a spate of long kokes, says Snook.

“The length was there, but not nearly” the girth, he says. “They’re growing shoulders. They’re thick.”

The local biologist pointed to the lake’s mysis shrimp as well as low numbers of the salmon. While the daylight-feeding fish and darkness-loving shrimp really miss each other, some of the former are specifically targeting the latter.

Wallowa didn’t ice over this past winter, and in late February, Gene Thiel of Joseph found himself out on the water in a friend’s borrowed canoe when an even bigger kokanee bit. An article by that friend and which appeared in The Chieftain picks up the story:

It took four hours and a lot of experimenting with various lures, but with each and every nibble, the school of kokanee was evident. With patience, in 100 feet of water and about 15 feet from the bottom, Gene caught his first kokanee of the season.

After all the other fishermen had left the lake, there remained a solitary canoe drifting in the water. A light drizzle and the approaching rain clouds did not deter Thiel in his quest.

Suddenly, the line was hit and the pole was bent. “It’s a big one!” was the only comment uttered, for each knew from the bend in the pole that whatever was on the line was indeed a “big one.”

It went just over 71/2 pounds.

A month later, Wan Teece of Enterprise was trolling at midlake when a fish nearly 12 ounces heavier bit. Not only did it break Thiel’s mark, but was soon declared the largest ever caught in the United States.

WAN TEECE, 8.23 POUNDS. (ALPINE EXPOSURES)

And with fish breaking previous marks in giant half- and three-quarter-pound bites, the world record, 9 pounds, 6 ounces, soon appeared in sight.

So was the ramp for Bob Both of Lostine. He and a friend were just about to give up that windy day in early May when his 8.85-pounder latched on and went crazy.

When he hooked the record-breaking salmon, Both said the fish did four aerials, jumping completely out of the water and dragging all of the flashers.

“I knew I had a special fish,” Both told the La Grande Observer.

BOB BOTH, 8.85 POUNDS. (BOB BOTH)

Then with the turn of the calender page, it was another person’s turn for the limelight.

Enter Ron Campbell, a private fire investigator from Pendleton. His koke not only demolished the state record by another three quarters of a pound, but at 9.67 pounds is the pending world record.

“This one here, it tore me up. Pound for pound on light tackle, that was a thrill … That was a handful,” he told Northwest Sportsman.

Interestingly, Campbell’s brother, Larry, of Cove, Ore., previously owned the state record for kokanee with a 5.19-pounder caught at Wallowa back in 2000.

Both bros were on the water yesterday too.

“I cruised past him and said, ‘Well, there’s your new record,’” recalls Ron. “He goes, ‘Holy …”

RON CAMPBELL, 9.67 POUNDS. (RON CAMPBELL)

Almost like clockwork, after each new record is announced, Snook’s phone starts ringing with calls from California, Montana and Idaho anglers eager to learn more about the lake and its fish.

Some koke fiends have been coming from even further afield.

“There’s been at least one boat from Wisconsin and one from Ohio,” Snook notes. “That’s a long way to go for the thrill of chasing a fish.”

“We’ve had Michigan, New York City, lots of California,” says Gina Barstad at the Wallowa Lake Marina, on the south end of the lake. “It’s a national thing.”

On her Web site, she pins the next record fish at precisely 10.3 pounds — a double-digit kokanee.

She laughs when asked about it, calls it a “lucky guess,” then adds, “I think we can break the world record again. Look at what’s happened the last six months.”

Then she says she needs to run a credit card for a customer.

Kokanee business has slowed down since the start of her season, Barstad admitted before hanging up, and Snook notes that there a lot of other things to do in this corner of Oregon that lacks grand shopping malls and water parks.

“We’ve got natural things to do,” he says — hiking, biking, river rafting, mountain climbing.

What’s become natural for the locals to do is break state, national and now world records at Wallowa Lake.

But whether another one falls is a good question.

“I don’t know what to think,” says Bill Knox, the local state fisheries biologist whose number has been on speed dial for reporters around the region. “When the last one got caught, I thought we’d see another one, but I don’t know now. They’re harder to catch when they school up and go deep.”

Rising water temps move the fish towards the center of the lake in midsummer where smaller kokanee snap at offerings faster than the big boys, and then next month the urge to spawn hits.

“You can still catch fish in August, but a lot are moving to the river and staging. They get a hump and start to lose weight,” Knox says.

Will one of the bankies who gather around the inlet be the next record wrecker?

Knox didn’t seem to think so. And after next month, the fish will be able to pass on their genes in peace as the Wallowa River closes.

As far as fishing on the lake, he says nice ones to 4 pounds are still being caught. And he has good news for anglers who like to catch lots of kokes. Smaller ones have begun showing up in the catch, a sign of a larger year-class behind the current one.

But this is one year-class that will not be forgotten for some time, in Wallowa County and beyond.

Sox On A Stick: NC WA Fishing Report

July 19, 2010

(COURTESY ANTON JONES, DARRELL & DAD’S GUIDE SERVICE)

What’s hot and cold is trolling for Sockeye Salmon below Wells Dam on the Upper Columbia.  Chinook numbers are up, so it should really take off during this reporting period.  Also hot is trolling the Bar for Lakers early in the morning on Lake Chelan.  That indeterminate flat and the Yacht Club were hot later in the mornings.

CHUCK HAMMOND OF MANSON WITH ED RAUVOLA OF MANSON WITH THEIR LIMITS OF COLUMBIA RIVER SOCKEYE. (DARREL & DAD'S GUIDE SERVICE)

Fish for sockeye with Mack’s Lures mini squid rigs behind big chrome dodgers or simply bait a tandem red hook set up with Pautzke cured shrimp chunks.
For the Chinook try sardine wrapped T55 Flatfish.  Colors are matter of experimentation.
Fish for Lakers on Chelan with T-4 Flatfish in Purple Glow or those UV / glow Kingfisher lite spoons off the downriggers.  Fish the little F7 flatfish in the same colors off the outrigger rods.  After the early morning bite, we have had nice success in the indeterminate flat just below the Bar, up at the Yacht Club and at the nursery.
Your fishing tip of the week is to take care of your fish.  I got a chance to catch some Sockeye off the mouth of the Okanogan one evening this past week.  I was horrified to see people dragging their caught fish around on a rope on the surface of the water.  If that doesn’t ruin them, I don’t know what will.  I’m not a great believer in bleeding, but whether or not you bleed them, for heavens sake, get those fish on ice to preserve their delicate flavor and texture.
The kid’s tip of the week is to put your own ego aside and measure success by the kid’s satisfaction.  I was struggling in the wind to get my fish one morning this reporting period with a father and young son out.  The boy was being real good, but my song and dance routine was wearing thin with just a couple of fish in the box.  I really wanted to get another big fish.  But, this trip was for the kid’s sake.  I asked the dad if he minded if we broke it down and went to the nursery to pile up some little fish to get the kid back in the game.  He said, go for it, so we did.  We pounded a bunch of little fish and the kid was happy as a clam, so all’s well that ends well.
The safety tip of the week is to try to resolve mechanical issues before launching at a busy time.  We had a guy who was having mechanical issues on a busy summer weekend morning at the Launch.  He nearly clipped two docked boats while trying to get it worked out.  Also, give those trollers lots of space before cutting across their stern.  Remember, those outrigger rods can have trailing lines of 500’ or more!

Baker Lake Opening For Sockeye

July 16, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

For the first time, anglers will be able to fish for sockeye salmon in Baker Lake, where the fish are returning in significantly higher numbers than expected.

From July 22 until further notice, anglers can retain up to two adult sockeye salmon that exceed 18 inches in length from Baker Dam upstream to the mouth of the Baker River.

All other salmon must be released, and no fishing will be allowed between the dam and the log boom at the lower end of the lake.

More than 10,000 sockeye have returned to hatchery facilities and artificial spawning beaches on the lake, exceeding this year’s 6,300-fish escapement goal, said Brett Barkdull, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“People have been waiting a long time to be able to fish for sockeye salmon in Baker Lake,” Barkdull said.  “This year’s run isn’t huge by historical standards, but we’ve exceeded our goals for both hatchery-reared sockeye and naturally spawning fish needed for production.”

Harvest opportunities for returning fish will be shared by recreational and tribal fisheries, he said.

Barkdull said improving ocean conditions have helped to boost survival rates for young sockeye returning to the watershed.  Meanwhile, the installation of a juvenile-collection facility at the upper Baker Dam has improved the transfer of out-migrating smolts downstream to Puget Sound, he said.

But the biggest boon to area sockeye fishing may be the completion of a new hatchery facility on Baker Lake, Barkdull said.  Starting next year, smolt production in the watershed is expected to increase significantly at the new facility built by Puget Sound Energy as part of a 2008 hydroelectric licensing agreement.

“We hope to eventually produce enough sockeye fry to bring 75,000 adult fish back to the watershed,” Barkdull said. “We’ve been working toward that goal for a long time and we know what it would mean for sockeye fishing in the watershed.”

In addition to the upcoming opening at Baker Lake, anglers can also catch sockeye salmon on the Baker and Skagit rivers today (July 16) through Sunday (July 18) under rules announced earlier this week by WDFW.

The Baker River open to sockeye fishing from the mouth to the Highway 20 bridge.  The Skagit River is open from the Dalles Bridge at Concrete to a point 200 feet above the east bank of the Baker River.

The daily limit in those areas is two sockeye salmon. The anti-snagging rule and night closure are in effect in both areas.

‘Average,’ ‘Fair’ So Far On Sound King Opener

July 16, 2010

As expected, Chinook are being caught on today’s Central Sound opener for hatchery fish, but early reports from the north, middle and southern sections of the fishery suggest that action’s so-so.

“I think when it’s all said and done that it will be an average opener,” said Gary Krein, president of the Charterboat Association of Puget Sound, around 10 a.m.

He’s working the waters off Jeff Head and has one king as well as two coho in the boat.

A friend of his reported a dozen fish netted on the west side of Possession Bar around 7:30 this morning, and that’s where angler Ryley Fee of Woodinville hit first thing.

He and a friend picked up a pair of kings trolling Ace Hi Flies from Silver Horde behind a green flasher on bottom, but when I called had just scooted over to Point No Point where Fee almost immediately hooked up after hanging up.

“We literally trolled 30 to 50 feet and nailed a 10-pounder,” Fee called in to report.

It bit the same setup, on bottom, he says.

Fee wrote a large feature in our July issue on fishing Areas 9 and 10 for summer kings (that’s his buddy with a President Point king on the inset cover), available on newsstands now.

At the northern end of the fishery, Brett Barkdull of Camano Island and two other anglers are in the midst of a huge fleet patrolling famed Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend. They had three kings from 12 to 17 pounds in the boat.

“We’re laughing about all the radio reports of 25-pounders — they’re probably just like the ones we’ve got,” he says.

Two of the three hit 31/2-inch green spatterback squids while the third bit a green-glo Coho Killer, all run right on the deck.

“Sandlance imitations,” Barkdull notes. “Chatter on the radio, other guys are using the same things.”

All the gear’s running behind green Hot Spot flashers, he says.

He says 95 percent of the fleet is trolling the bank, and that today’s hot spot is on the southern end, where there are also several moochers.

“It’s been fair,” Barkdull says. “It hasn’t been red-hot like past years.”

They plan on fishing another couple hours, taking a nap, and hitting a 3:30 p.m. tide change, but aren’t sure where they’ll fish.

WA Wolves Have Pups, But Lookout’s Alpha Female Missing

July 15, 2010

A day after Oregon officials revealed that the Imnaha Pack in Wallowa County is raising at least four pups this summer, we’re learning that Northeast Washington/North Idaho’s Diamond Pack is also rearing more pups.

And while the alpha female of the Methow Valley’s Lookout Pack in North-central Washington was pregnant this spring, the radio-collared animal has since gone missing, like the Imnaha’s alpha male earlier this year.

“We’re monitoring pretty carefully, but it’s not looking good right now,” said Harriet Allen, the state Department of Fish & Wildlife’s lead wolf manager this morning. “There’s nothing definitive, but we’re concerned about her status.”

The Lookout was Washington’s first confirmed pack in 70 years. It set up just outside Twisp and produced six pups in 2008, at least four last year and it’s considered “probable” that it also had a litter in 2007, making the female a pretty fecund individual, though survival of its pups has been low for reasons not well understood.

It was last seen May 12, about the time pups in a den would have been four weeks old. Whether the wolf’s VHF collar has failed, the pack has just moved to a location where a signal is difficult to get, or if the breeding animal is dead is unclear.

“It could be a substantial loss,” says Allen. “It could lead to the break-up of the pack. But it’s incredibly difficult to confirm. We’re monitoring closely to assess the situation.”

At least one member of the pack was killed in late 2008. Nobody has been charged in the case.

The agency has hired a contractor who will be attempting to put GPS collars on more members of the Lookout Pack.

Currently, the alpha male and one of the yearling females of the Diamond Pack are wearing satellite devices.

“The Diamond Pack, we’ve been able to confirm, has six pups,” Allen says.

They were spotted on the Idaho side of their home range in early July, she says. Last year, the pack had at least four pups.

“We’re fairly confident there’s a third (pack) in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness,” on the north side of the Washington-Oregon border but tucked way back in the woods, Allen adds. A biologist has set up trail cams to capture photographs.

Just south of the border is Oregon’s Wenaha Pack, though not much is known about it.

“It’s possible Oregon and Washington could be sharing some wolves, but we don’t have any conclusive data saying that is the case,” says Michelle Dennehy, an ODFW spokeswoman in Salem.

As WDFW continues to address roughly 60,000 or so public comments as well as a blind scientific peer review into its draft wolf management plan in anticipation of getting the document to its Wolf Working Group and Fish & Wildlife Commission later this year, work will continue on tracking down more information on other sightings in Northeast Washington and the North Cascades.

“We did have some indication of scat and tracks in the Hozomeen area,” says Allen. “It’s an area you might expect wolves coming in from Canada.”

Hozomeen is on the eastern shore of Ross Lake, just south of the Canadian border. It’s an area of wolf sightings over several summers in the early 1990s, though it’s now believed someone’s released pet wolf may have been responsible for some of the activity.

Appendix H of WDFW’s draft plan contains 2 1/4 pages of sightings throughout counties ringing the edge of Eastern Washington in the 2000s.

Meanwhile, as Idaho and Montana pursue higher wolf quotas for this fall, the region remains on hold for U.S. District Court Judge Molloy to make his ruling from Missoula on whether wolves in the Northern Rockies (which includes the Diamond, Wenaha and Imnaha packs) should go back on the endangered species list.

Montana has approved the culling of 186 wolves, but put tag sales on hold until Aug. 23. Idaho has folded a wolf tag into nonresident deer and elk tags, and will decide in August on the use of electronic calls and trapping as well as hunting quotas.

Kill orders on two livestock-killing wolves in Wallowa County, where Forest Service offices burned in a mysterious fire on Sunday, have also been on hold since early July after a lawsuit by Oregon Wild, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Cascadia Wildlands and Center for Biological Diversity against USDA Wildlife Services.

Dennehy adds that ODFW has also been sued by the groups for authorizing the kill order.

The lawsuit, filed July 12 in State Circuit Court in Multnomah County, alleges that the agency violated the state Endangered Species Act, Oregon Administrative Rules and Administrative Procedures Act when it authorized lethal removal of wolves, according to a statement on ODFW’s Web site.

In other predator news, pictures purporting to show a grizzly bear strolling through a man’s yard in northern Pend Oreille County popped up on Hunting Washington yesterday.

EDITOR’S NOTE: BASED ON NOTES FROM THIS MORNING’S CONVERSATION WITH ALLEN, AN EARLIER VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE STATED THAT THE LOOKOUT ALPHA FEMALE HAD HAD PUPS THIS YEAR. HOWEVER, ALLEN CALLED BACK TO CORRECT THAT, SAYING WDFW KNEW THE WOLF HAD BEEN PREGNANT IN APRIL, BUT NOT WHETHER IT HAD BORNE A LITTER.

Baker Lake Sockeye Fishery Likely Next Week

July 14, 2010

It’s not official, but it sounds like there will be a sockeye fishery on Baker Lake in Whatcom County.

The season was hinted at in an emergency rule-change notice sent out today and which opened the Baker River and parts of the Skagit for the salmon.

Fishing would begin later next week.

Since it would be the first-ever fishery there, it’s hard to say what would work, but the same gear that would work on Lake Wenatchee or Lake Washington — bare red hooks 9 inches or so behind a chrome dodger — would probably get bit.

And if the sockeye are anything like those on Wenatchee, one of the places to target would be off the Baker River below Mt. Shuksan.

Just don’t get any closer than 500 to 1,000 yards from the mouth. The waters there, though they look deep, are described as “a stump garden.”

WDFW Holding 2 Meetings On Future Of Sound Blackmouth Program

July 14, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled two public meetings to discuss the future direction of the Puget Sound Recreational Fishery Enhancement program, which includes the production of blackmouth chinook salmon.

The meetings are scheduled for:

* July 21 – From 7-9 p.m. in Room 175 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia.

* July 22 – From 7-9 p.m. at the WDFW Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek.

Key responsibilities of the fishery enhancement program include production of delayed-release chinook salmon, known as blackmouth, and research on factors that limit marine bottomfish populations and methods to raise marine bottomfish in hatcheries.

Blackmouth are hatchery-reared chinook salmon that are held in freshwater longer than they naturally would remain, reducing their tendency to migrate out of Puget Sound. Their name comes from the black gum line of the fish.

Production of blackmouth and other fishery-enhancement initiatives within the program, which was mandated by the state Legislature in 1993, are intended to improve fishing opportunities in Puget Sound, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW’s Puget Sound salmon manager. A citizen oversight committee was established in 2003 to advise the department on the program.

Earlier this year, the state auditor’s office released a performance audit that recommended revising the annual production goal for blackmouth.

“We have started the process of developing recommendations to lawmakers on how to improve the fishery enhancement program,” Thiesfeld said. “We’ve had discussions with the program’s citizen oversight committee, and now we would also like to discuss with the public potential changes to the program, particularly blackmouth production goals and the general scope of the program.”

The program is funded through a portion of revenue generated by the sale of recreational fishing licenses. The annual funding level is based on the number of licensed anglers fishing in Puget Sound and for salmon in Lake Washington.

4 Pups Pictured In NE OR Wolf Pack

July 14, 2010

If it’s July in the Northwest, it’s time for wolf pups to start showing up in the news.

Today, ODFW announced that the Imnaha pack has had at least four pups, based on trail cam images from their Northeast Oregon roaming grounds.

IMNAHA PACK PUPS. (ODFW)

Cameras also picked up six adults; at least 10 wolves were captured on video by a local biologist last November.

The past two Julys, WDFW has produced images and news releases about pups belonging to packs in North-central and Northeast Washington. We’ve got a call in to Olympia to learn if litters were produced this spring.

Meanwhile, as Idaho and Montana pursue higher wolf quotas for this fall, the region remains on hold for U.S. District Court Judge Molloy to make his ruling from Missoula on whether wolves in the Northern Rockies should go back on the endangered species list. Montana has approved the culling of 186 wolves, but put tag sales on hold until Aug. 23.

Kill orders on two livestock-killing wolves in Wallowa County, where Forest Service offices burned in a mysterious fire on Sunday, have also been on hold since early July.

Diamond Lake Fishing Report

July 14, 2010

(DIAMOND LAKE RESORT PRESS RELEASE)

The lake’s water temperature is just over 66 degrees with almost 10 feet of underwater of visibility. Afternoon air temperature are reaching the 70+ degree mark in the afternoons but by then the daily breeze has come up and keeps things very comfortable.

(DIAMOND LAKE RESORT)

The trout fishing remains very good even with warming water temperatures. The Diamond Lake Charter Boat has regularly returned back at the docks early with limits for all the guests.

13 to 19 inch average fish are biting just about anything anglers put in front of them. Rainbow, Chartruse, and Orange Power Bait, Velveeta Cheese, and night crawlers continue to be best offerings in the deeper waters (30 feet) of “The Cheese Hole and “The Shrimp Beds.”

Larger than average fish are being found in 10 to 20 feet of water at both the south and north ends of the lake.

Trollers are using pulling flashers followed by a red or green wedding rings tipped with chunks of night crawler, Needle Fish, or a size F-4 frog colored FlatFish. Late evening trollers pulling dark-colored flies 75 feet behind their boats are drawing heavy, rod slapping strikes.

Be prepared, the infamous Diamond Lake mosquitoes are out and hungry.

You can call our marina (800-733-7593 x 238) for up to the minute reports or check out our website at http://www.diamondlake.net.

Baker, Skagit Opening For 3-day Sockeye Season

July 14, 2010

Thanks to a good run, fishing for sockeye will open for three days on the Baker River and part of the Skagit starting this Friday, July 16, WDFW announced this morning.

“You want to fish it early in the morning with Spin-N-Glos and sand shrimp,” says Stuart Forst at Holiday Sports (360-757-4361) in Burlington. “Ninety percent are caught that way.”

Use either a size 6 or 8 drift bobber in peach or other light colors.

Though it can be a bit of a combat fishery, the open areas include the Baker from its mouth up to the Highway 20 bridge, and the Skagit from the Dalles Bridge at Concrete to a point 200 feet above the east bank of the Baker.

“There’s a lot of room to fish,” says Forst. “You could fish 20 at the mouth, if they’re congenial and like each other.”

WDFW says that the Baker’s run is above egg-take needs; a tribal fishery will be opened as well. Daily limit for sport anglers is two sockeye.

Forst adds that he’s had luck with a 1/4-ounce red-feathered jig too.

“Clank it along the bottom away from the plunkers,” he says.

Season opens at 12:01 a.m. on the 16th and closes at 11:59 p.m. on the 18th. Anti-snagging and night closure rules are in effect.

When dam operators start spilling water on the Baker at mid-day, it’s time to pack up because the surge flushes the salmon back to the Skagit, says Forst.

WDFW also says that there is a possibility of further openings, including on Baker Lake; they would be announced after meetings with local tribes.

In other sockeye news, Columbia River managers upped this year’s forecast to just under 400,000. So far, nearly 380,000 have gone over Bonneville Dam.

Over a quarter million have passed Rock Island Dam below the mouth of the Wenatchee River and 204,000 over the next dam above the river, Rocky Reach. We’ve got a call in to the regional fisheries manager about Lake Wenatchee sockeye, but through July 6, none of the salmon had gone over the dam in the Wenatchee River’s Tumwater Canyon below the lake.

The Lake Washington sockeye count also exceeded 100,000 on Monday, the first time it’s done so since 2006.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

July 14, 2010

UPDATE JULY 15, 2010, 3 P.M.: ODFW ANNOUNCES THE NEARSHORE HALIBUT FISHERY WILL CLOSE SAT., JULY 17 AT 11:59 AS THE QUOTA WILL HAVE BEEN REACHED.

Tuna within 30 to 40 miles of shore and walleye to 10 pounds in the John Day Pool are among the highlights for Oregon fishermen.

But Chinook fishing is beginning to ramp up in Rogue Bay, bass and walleye fishing is improving in the Multnomah Channel and trout fishing in Central and Northeast Oregon rivers and lakes is good.

BETCHA THE WALLEYE GUYS WILL BE JEALOUS OF CYBIL VAN ARSDALE'S CATCH. THE YAMHILL TEEN LANDED THIS 32-INCH-LONG, 17-INCH-AROUND COLUMBIA RIVER BUGEYE ON 6-POUND TEST. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Here are more highlights and ideas from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Chinook fishing is picking up in the Rogue River estuary with most fish being caught 1 or 2 hours on either side of high tide.
  • Bass fishing has been improving throughout the mainstem of the Umpqua River.
  • With the onset of warmer temperatures trout fishing is slowing down in many area lakes and ponds. However, fishing will continue to be good for bass and warmwater fish.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • A few spring chinook are still being caught in the lower Willamette and in Eagle Creek.
  • Now is a good time to target bass and walleye fishing on the Multnomah Channel.
  • Summer steelhead and spring chinook have moved into the North Santiam River around Stayton.
  • Good catches of kokanee have been reported recently on Green Peter Reservoir.
  • Summer steelhead are showing up in the Willamette River town run between Springfield and Eugene.
  • Trout stocking of most local valley lakes and ponds has come to an end for the summer due to warm water conditions. Lower and mid-elevation Cascade lakes are still being stocked and provide a good opportunity for trout fishing.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • According to recent creel surveys, trout fishing on the Crooked River has been excellent throughout the day.
  • Trout fishing on Crane Prairie Reservoir continues to be very good.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing has been good in Balm and Thief Valley reservoirs.
  • Fishing in the high Cascade lakes for brook trout remains excellent.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing for both rainbow and brook trout has been good on Grande Ronde Reservoir.
  • Smallmouth bass and channel catfish fishing has been good on the John Day River – though the bite may slow if temperatures remain high.

SNAKE RIVER ZONE

  • Brownlee: Crappie spawning has slowed but good fishing is available. Fish very early morning or late evening. The fish are deep in the middle of the day (25-70 feet) and the bite is very light. Use 4 lb test and an ultra light rod. Use jigs with a crappie nibble (motor oil, red and whites have been good lately). Night fishing with lights is producing good catches.  Bass are biting but are fairly small. Some large catfish are being caught using cutbait, worms or stink bait. Trolling for trout is fair. The reservoir is full. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Effective June 26 angling is open for adipose fin-clipped summer chinook, adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead, and sockeye from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to the Oregon/Washington Border.
  • The summer steelhead run is making a strong early showing at Bonneville Dam. Look for summer steelhead near the mouths of cooler tributaries as the water temperature in the Columbia continues to rise.
  • Sturgeon fishing is good near Astoria. Sturgeon retention is open seven days a week from Thursday, July 15 through Sunday, August 1.
  • The walleye fishing has been good in the John Day pool where anglers are finding lots of walleye — many in the 10-pound range. The best lures have been spinner and worm combinations and blade baits.

MARINE ZONE

  • Anglers targeting tuna found the fish between 30 and 40 miles offshore. Tuna catches landed in ports on the central coast averaged between four and five fish.
  • Anglers fishing Cape Falcon to the Oregon/Washington border are now allowed to keep up to two chinook salmon in the bag limit. Daily bag limit is now two salmon per day, and all retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip.
  • Fishing for marked coho south of Cape Falcon to the Oregon/California border opened Saturday (June 26). Only about one angler in 10 were successful at landing a coho last week. Only marked coho (all coho must have a healed adipose fin clip) may be retained. That season will run through Sept. 6 or until the quota of 26,000 marked coho is met, which ever comes first. The bag limit is two salmon.
  • Fishing for Chinook was slow again last week with fewer than one in seven anglers landing a fish. The “All Salmon Except Coho” salmon season from Cape Falcon to Oregon/California  border opened May 29 and runs through Sept. 6. Bag Limit: Two salmon.
  • The near-shore (inside 40 fathoms) halibut fishery between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain is remains open with more than 30 percent of the quota remaining.
  • Fishing for lingcod remained at about one fish for every two anglers targeting lingcodSuccess in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.
  • Fishing for rockfish slowed down this week. One possible explanation is that there are many small food fish in the water. Many anglers report that the rockfish they do catch are stuffed with smaller fish.
  • The annual conservation closure north of Tillamook Head to protect newly set razor clams begins July 15 and continues through Sept. 30. Since 1967, ODFW has closed the 18 miles of beaches in Clatsop County to razor clam digging on July 15. The closure is to protect newly-set young clams that are establishing themselves on the beach during this time of the year.
  • The Oregon Department of Agriculture closed all recreational razor clam harvesting from Coos Bay to Bandon last month and extended the closure on July 2 north to Tillamook Head north of Cannon Beach due to elevated levels of domoic acid. Razor clamming remains open north of Coos Bay and south of Bandon.
  • July has two minus tide series in the mornings: July 8-16 and 21-29 for bay clam diggers.
  • Mussel harvesting is open on the entire Oregon coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. The consumption of whole, recreationally-harvested scallops is not recommended. However, coastal scallops are not affected by toxins when only the adductor muscle is eaten.
  • Most crabbers had average catches between one and three crab. Crabbing in the ocean this time of year can be very productive, but also dangerous because of wind, sea and bar conditions.
  • Crabbing success is often best during the slack tide at high tide or low tide when crabs are looking for food

SW WA Fishing Report

July 13, 2010

(COURTESY JOE HYMER, PFMC)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – No report on angling success.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 714 summer-run steelhead, 222 spring Chinook adults, 43 jacks and 179 mini-jacks during four days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. Tacoma Power employees released 58 spring Chinook adults and 44 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,930 cubic feet per second on Monday July 12. Water visibility is 13 feet.

Drano Lake – 13 boats observed there last Saturday (July 10) morning.  No reports on angling success.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 1,142 salmonid bank anglers below Bonneville Dam with 42 adult and 2 jack summer Chinook, 227 steelhead, and 12 sockeye. In addition, we sampled 351 salmonid boat anglers (171 boats) with 12 adult and 1 jack summer Chinook, 95 steelhead, and 1 sockeye.   Overall, 46% of the adult Chinook and 54% of the steelhead caught were kept.  Ten of the 13 sockeye (77%) were kept.

Approximately 300 salmonid boats and 700 bank anglers were counted from Bonneville Dam downstream during last Saturday’s (July 10) flight.

At Bonneville Dam, daily steelhead counts reached 7,182 fish on July 11.  It was the highest daily count for the year (at least so far).

Bonneville Pool – Fifteen boats were observed off the mouth of the White Salmon River and 2 outside Drano Lake last Saturday (July 10) morning.  No report on angling success.

The Dalles Pool – Catch has switched over from summer chinook to steelhead though most of the steelhead were wild fish that had to be released.

John Day Pool – Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco, reports very little effort for salmonids last week and no catch was reported.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines downstream – Sturgeon angling success improved as measured at the Deep River and Knappton ramps.  Boat anglers there averaged 1.3 legals kept per boat.  Bank anglers sampled in the estuary did not catch any fish.   The ports of Chinook and Ilwaco data is being picked up later today.

About 240 private and 9 charter boats were observed fishing for sturgeon below Wauna (though no flight past Chinook) during last Saturday’s flight count.

  • The 2010 catch guideline for this fishery is 9,600 white sturgeon (60% of recent years).
  • Catch estimates through July 5 total 3,500 sturgeon kept from 25,769 angler trips.   Projections through July 11 total 28,300 angler trips with 3,900 sturgeon kept, or 41% of the 2010 adjusted harvest guideline.
  • White sturgeon may be retained daily in the estuary from July 15 through August 1.
  • The estimated kept catch for the July 15-August 1 extension is 1,500-2,700 fish resulting in a season total projected kept catch of 5,400-6,600 fish (56%-69% of 2010 adjusted quota).
  • A Compact hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on July 29 in Cathlamet Washington to consider fall season commercial fishing periods.  Given the date, this hearing will also provide a timely opportunity to review the estuary sturgeon fishery

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Marker 82 – Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal and Kalama areas kept some legals. About 100 boats from Wauna upstream and a dozen bank rods were counted during last Saturday’s flight.

WALLEYE AND BASS

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Some walleye are being caught by boaters in the Camas/Washougal area.

The Dalles Pool –  Boat anglers averaged a walleye and 4 bass kept/released per rod.

John Day Pool – Paul Hoffarth reports walleye fishing was excellent with a fish per every 2.7 hours fished.  Boat anglers also caught some bass.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal area are still catching some shad.  Effort and catch is light on the rest of the river.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are still catching a few fish.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers kept nearly 4 shad per rod.  Light effort and catch from the bank.

U Can Now Txt Poaching Tips 2 WDFW

July 13, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Reporting poaching and other fish and wildlife violations to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) just got easier.

WDFW has added a new text-messaging option for reporting activity that threatens fish, wildlife and critical habitat. Tip411 allows users to send a text message to WDFW’s communications dispatch center.

“We have a limited number of fish and wildlife officers in the field, so the public plays a critical role in protecting our natural resources by reporting violations,” said Chief Bruce Bjork, who heads WDFW’s enforcement program. “Text messaging is a quick and easy way to report violations.”

The text reporting system is powered by Minnesota-based Citizen Observer, a private vendor under contract with WDFW. The system removes the texter’s name and replaces it with an alias before the message arrives at WDFW’s communications center, said WDFW Deputy Chief Mike Cenci. When necessary, the system allows the reporting party and the on-duty fish and wildlife officer to exchange text messages in real time, Cenci said.

WDFW enforcement officials ask anyone who witnesses a potential violation to collect as much information as possible without confronting the individual under suspicion. Bjork said helpful information includes license plate numbers, vehicle color and make, the type of violation, the time it occurred and a description of the individual or individuals involved.

Tips should be sent to 847411 (Tip411). The message must begin with the letters WDFWTIP followed by a space, and then a brief description of the violation and location.

Go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/poaching/ for more information about how to report emergency and non-emergency fish and wildlife violations. The site includes instructions for texting, phone numbers and direct links to the email and online reporting options. The site also contains a link to Crime Observation Reporting Training (CORT) provided by the Eyes In the Woods association and WDFW enforcement officers.

To report Aquatic Invasive Species violations call toll free at 1-888-933-9247. Violations also can be reported to any WDFW regional office, or by calling the Washington State Patrol Communications Center (see local phone directories).

Reporting poaching and other fish and wildlife violations to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) just got easier.

WDFW has added a new text-messaging option for reporting activity that threatens fish, wildlife and critical habitat. Tip411 allows users to send a text message to WDFW’s communications dispatch center.

“We have a limited number of fish and wildlife officers in the field, so the public plays a critical role in protecting our natural resources by reporting violations,” said Chief Bruce Bjork, who heads WDFW’s enforcement program. “Text messaging is a quick and easy way to report violations.”

The text reporting system is powered by Minnesota-based Citizen Observer, a private vendor under contract with WDFW. The system removes the texter’s name and replaces it with an alias before the message arrives at WDFW’s communications center, said WDFW Deputy Chief Mike Cenci. When necessary, the system allows the reporting party and the on-duty fish and wildlife officer to exchange text messages in real time, Cenci said.

WDFW enforcement officials ask anyone who witnesses a potential violation to collect as much information as possible without confronting the individual under suspicion. Bjork said helpful information includes license plate numbers, vehicle color and make, the type of violation, the time it occurred and a description of the individual or individuals involved.

Tips should be sent to 847411 (Tip411). The message must begin with the letters WDFWTIP followed by a space, and then a brief description of the violation and location.

Go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/poaching/   for more information about how to report emergency and non-emergency fish and wildlife violations. The site includes instructions for texting, phone numbers and direct links to the email and online reporting options. The site also contains a link to Crime Observation Reporting Training (CORT) provided by the Eyes In the Woods association and WDFW enforcement officers.

To report Aquatic Invasive Species violations call toll free at 1-888-933-9247. Violations also can be reported to any WDFW regional office, or by calling the Washington State Patrol Communications Center (see local phone directories).

Champ NW Elk Caller’s Tips For Bugling A Bull

July 13, 2010

(ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION PRESS RELEASE)

For elk hunters who’d like to be better elk callers, there are few mentors more qualified today than Joel Turner, reigning and two-time champion of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation/Leupold World Elk Calling Championships.

Turner, 33, of Eatonville, Wash., won his second world title in three years at the March event held as part of RMEF’s Annual Elk Camp & Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Expo.

A police officer and state firearms instructor by trade, Turner also is a devout elk nut, bowhunter, guide, naturalist and call maker. He’s spent the past several years developing an elk calling philosophy and hunting system –some of it based on tactical theory – that has consistently produced bulls in multiple states.

Turner shared the following five tips for better elk calling and hunting:

1. Call to an Instinct, Not an Attitude
“A common elk-hunting strategy is covering ground and bugling until you find a bull in the right frame of mind to come charging in. But those bulls can be hard to find. Most often, when challenged by rival, a bull’s first instinct is to retreat. Keep in mind that we’re mammals, too, and our own natural reactions often mirror those of elk. If you arrive at the mall with your wife or girlfriend, and some guy yells at you from across the parking lot with a clear intent to start trouble, your probable reaction is to get back in your car and leave. Same for elk. It’s OK to bugle to locate elk from a distance, but afterward, rely on calls that trigger their breeding, rather than their escape, instincts.”

2. Mimic a Breeding Scene
“All mammals are drawn to the sounds of breeding. Morals conflict with that instinct in humans but elk aren’t burdened that way. When a bull hears those sounds, it wants to attend the event! To mimic breeding elk, get tapes or attend a calling competition and learn to make four specific calls: 1.) estrus cow call, which is a long, whining cow call, 2.) estrus cow scream, a loud mew made through sputtering lips, 3.) tending bull bugle, which is a soft moan made through a tube, and 4.) glunking, the sharp hiccoughing sound of a bull. Glunking can be replicated by popping your palm over the end of a tube, or by voicing “uck” over a diaphragm. When I’m hunting, I add huffing and heavy breathing through a tube, breaking limbs and scraping the ground. Volume doesn’t matter. It’s OK to get loud. You can hear a bull’s attitude change with these sounds. They typically get frustrated and begin bugling constantly. Sometimes they run to the scene. If not, keep calling while your buddy sneaks in and shoots the preoccupied bull.”

3. Anticipate the Hang-up Spot
“An approaching bull will nearly always stop as soon as it can see your calling location. Once he can see where the elk sounds were coming from, but no actual elk, he probably won’t come any closer. Hunters can use this natural elk behavior to their advantage. Don’t call unless your setup, in relation to this hang-up spot, is correct (never call when elk are in plain view of your location). I like to shadow a herd until the terrain is favorable for calling. One of my favorite situations is when the elk are on a bench above or below me, and the bull has to walk to the edge to look over and see my calling location. That’s the hang-up spot, and I try to set up within 20 yards of it. When antlers appear as the bull nears the lip, draw your bow. You have only a couple of seconds until he’s positioned to see you!”

4. Wait for the Parade
“Eight out of 10 times, when a bull arrives at the hang-up spot, he’ll spend a few seconds looking for the cow. If he doesn’t see it, he’ll parade a few steps to one side and then the other. Still no cow, he’s outa here. But this parading instinct is your chance to stop the bull when it presents a clear, broadside shot. Most turkey hunters are familiar with ‘putting’ to stop a gobbler in shooting position. The same theory works with elk. Give a loud cow call to stop the bull—and be ready to release your arrow.”

5. Measure Your Breathing
“Through my law enforcement training, I’ve learned that tactical situations and elk-calling situations can cause very similar physical and mental reactions in humans. Adrenaline causes spikes in our pulse and respiratory rates. The mind goes from logical thinking to experiential thinking, which is based entirely on previous experience or training. But no training can replicate a bull screaming and slobbering and coming to your call. Even an experienced hunter can get so charged up they’re unable to function. It’s important to keep your mind in logic mode, which is associated with a pulse rate of 100-140 beats per minute. Control your pulse by controlling your breathing. Do this: Breathe in through your nose while counting to four (about 2.5 seconds), hold it for a four-count, then exhale through your mouth while counting to four. Repeat until you feel yourself calming down. Now you’re ready to make your next call.”

In the RMEF/Leupold World Elk Calling Championships, amateur callers have 30 seconds to mimic cow and bull sounds. Professional competitors like Turner are required to make specific calls including standard bugles and cow calls as well as breeding calls. Judges score each competitor anonymously. Winners in the six divisions of competition receive prizes and cash ranging from $500 to $2,500.

Fees Considered In WDFW Long-term Plans

July 12, 2010

Out 31 percent of its support from the state’s general fund, now with 10 percent fewer employees than just a year or so ago and having to take 10 days off work through the end of the 2011 fiscal year due to the recession, WDFW still must move forward with its legislative mandates to protect wildlife and provide recreational opportunity.

How to do so and what to focus on is at the crux of the draft 2011-2017 strategic plan that was posted online last week.

Not surprisingly, fee increases come to the forefront, but not just for hunters and anglers.

The agency is “exploring the option to extend, permanently adopt or perhaps increase the temporary 10 percent surcharge on sales of recreational licenses, permits, tags, stamps and raffle tickets initiated in 2009. With the temporary surcharge set to expire in mid-2011, a fee increase for sport and commercial licenses is under consideration. This increase would help support hunting and fishing opportunities throughout the state and help fund hatchery production, stock assessments and other activities that support sustainable fisheries.”

To stabilize funding, WDFW is also “seeking new ways to share costs with others who benefit from these services. A number of initiatives are being explored to offset funding reductions and continue to offer core functions and services. Any fee increase is subject to approval by the state Legislature.”

The plan speaks of a renewed focus on conservation to meet increased human population growth and habitat fragmentation. Over the coming years, the agency hopes to recover wild fish, implement hatchery program improvements and develop new, more selective gear for commercial fisheries.

In the meanwhile, for the rest of the 2009-2011 biennium, goals include cracking down on invasive species, recruiting more enforcement officers, figuring out how to acquire land on Simcoe Mountain in Klickitat County and to develop trout and warmwater stocking plans to increase public participation as well as better market them.

There’s much, much more to the plan, but not much time to dig into and comment upon. The deadline to submit your thoughts is July 23.

NC Washington Fishing Report

July 12, 2010

(ANTON JONES, DARRELL & DAD’S GUIDE SERVICE)

What’s hot is trolling the Bar for Lakers early in the morning on Lake Chelan.  Trolling for   Sockeye Salmon below Wells Dam on the Upper Columbia has been good.  Grimes Lake   continues to be great for Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.

GUIDE ANDY BYRD OF MANSON WITH AN UPPER COLUMBIA SOCKEYE. (DARRELL & DAD'S GUIDE SERVICE)

Fish for Lakers with T-4 Flatfish in either Purple Glow or Luminous Chartreuse off the downriggers.  Fish the little F7 flatfish in the same colors off the outrigger rods for a shot at some big honkers.  A nice scattering of big fish came to the net during the first hour of fishing this week!  After the early morning bite, it has been spotty, but we’ve had some success fishing over to Minneapolis and out into the trench as well as at the Nursery and off of Sunnybank.  Switch the Downrigger rods to U20 flatfish and the outrigger rods to either Rushin’ Salmon Wobblers by Critter Gitter or those Kingfisher Lite’s by Silver Horde.

While the Chinook continue to be scarce in the Upper Columbia, the Sockeye are really stacked below Wells Dam.  The old bare hook deal, Mack’s squid rigs or trolling shrimp will work.  Place all of them behind a big dodger with a very short leader for best success.  Gear down for a real battle with these 2 to 5 pound scrappers.

At Grimes Lake, fish for Lahontan Cutthroat with chronomids and pheasant tail nymphs from 20 to 30 feet down.  There are nice numbers of fish from 16 to 25 inches with a chance at larger fish. Your fishing tip of the week is to rethink attractors for Columbia Sockeye.  Really shorten them up.  A 00 dodger with a 12” leader is average.  Try varying the leader from 7 to 20 inches.  Bare red hooks, hooks baited with shrimp or Mack’s Lures mini-squid rigs will do the trick.

The kid’s tip of the week is to make a game out of hydration.  You can make the water drinking into a contest.  You can offer a treat when the requisite amount of water has been drunk.  Be creative.  Make it fun.

The safety tip of the week is to strap on your patience.  Both Lake Chelan and the Upper Columbia River will experience their busiest time of the year for boaters over the next 30 days or so.  Some people are more experienced and quicker at the dock and the ramp.  Those of us that are experienced need to calm down and help others when possible.  The less experienced people need to remember to prep their boat before clogging the ramp or the launch.  Remember, the kids are watching, and besides, it’s supposed to be fun.

Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad’s Family Guide Service

(antonj@aol.com or 1-866-360-1523)

Of Hunter And Grouse

July 12, 2010

A North Idaho man found his only shot at an elk last fall blocked when a grouse got in the way.

His pet ruffie, Loretta, err, Loren.

Another great story about a game bird from Rich Landers over at the Spokane Spokesman-Review, he who wrote about Solo the trumpeter swan, long a bachelor.

3 Bucks Wasted Near Tillamook; OHA Offers Reward

July 9, 2010

UPDATE JULY 20, 2010: $2,000 MORE HAS BEEN ADDED TO THE REWARD OFFER VIA THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES AND HUMANE SOCIETY WILDLIFE LAND TRUST

(OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE DIVISION PRESS RELEASE)

Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish and Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s help to identify the suspect(s) responsible for the illegal kill and waste of three buck deer in the Trask Unit near Tillamook.

A reward of up to $500 is being offered by the Oregon Hunter’s Association for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.

On Sunday, June 20, 2010 the OSP Tillamook work site received information of three killed deer near milepost 1 on Fox Creek Road. OSP Fish & Wildlife troopers responded to investigate and found three freshly killed buck deer. Head and hide remained but most of meat was taken.

Anyone with information is asked to call Senior Trooper Guerra at (503) 815-3315 or the Turn in Poacher (TIP) number at 1-800-452-7888.

ID, MT Move To Curb Wolf Populations

July 9, 2010

Even as the Northern Rockies awaits word from a Federal judge in Missoula on whether wolves in the region will be relisted under the Endangered Species Act, given day-to-day control over the species in their states last year, Idaho and Montana officials recently liberalized lethal controls in hopes of reducing pack numbers.

The Spokane Spokesman-Review today reports:

Trapping wolves will be allowed in Idaho, and hunters can use electronic calls to attract the elusive predators, Idaho wildlife officials decided … Montana wildlife regulators on Thursday set their state’s wolf-hunt quota at 186, more than doubling last year’s quota, with the aim of reducing the state’s wolf population for the first time since they were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies in 1995.

At the end of 2009, an estimated 1,700 wolves lived in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and eastern parts of Washington and Oregon. About half roam Idaho where packs were introduced in the mid-1990s, though it’s likely some have also filtered in from northwest Montana and Canada on their own.

Wolves in Oregon have been in the news of late after ODFW granted ranchers permits to kill livestock-killers in Wallowa County. In Washington, it’s anticipated that more packs will be discovered this summer.

Hunters have been up in arms about wolves, pointing to sharply declining elk herds in some areas. One rabid anti-wolfer even went so far on his blog to point out that a certain sweetener was deadly to the animals.

Trout, Kokes Biting On Orcas

July 8, 2010

There are still plenty of trout to be had at Cascade Lake, as well as fat kokanee from 16 to 18 inches.

So I discovered during our second annual Fourth of July campout at Moran State Park on Orcas Island.

There’s also plenty of other things for families to do on the largest island in the archipelago that makes up Northwest Washington’s San Juans — swim, rent boats or kayaks, go on whale watching trips, hike, drive up to the top of Mt. Constitution, get ice cream cones in town, tour art galleries, explore the new Turtleback Mountain Preserve, view wildlife, or just hang out in camp.

But I wasn’t one for sitting around when there were fish to be caught.

I headed onto the lake three mornings in a row at literally the asscrack of daylight, stumbling out of the tent when Kiran woke for his 4:30 a.m. feeding/soothing and launching my pontoon boat from The Creek Company as the last bat of the night flitted low over the swimming beach.

It was just me and my fishing partner, an early-rising osprey, for the next few hours — quite relaxing, though I think I’m still tired from the early rises two days later.

For the most part I drug around an olive Woolly Bugger about 5 feet behind a 1/4-ounce weight and landed sassy rainbows from 11 to 14 inches or so, but ol’ reliables such as a green Rooster Tail and Dick Nites also corralled a few trout.

Actually, Dick Nite’s new Kokanee lure in chartreuse body and pink hothead provided the catch of the trip, a 16-plus-inch kokanee. It fought very hard, putting my ultralight rod to the test.

I knew that Cascade as well as Mountain Lake above had landlocked sockeye, but the size was surprising. Local guide, former park ranger and rental boat concessionaire David Castor (360-376-3411; 3711), who has been fishing Cascade for 50 years, says they’ve been running 16 to 18 inches this year. He credits a warm January and February and smaller numbers of fish.

In Cascade’s early season — the lake opens on the last Saturday in April — Castor says kokes were biting right off of the fishing dock where there are some freshwater springs, but I caught mine out in the middle of the lake.

In fact, almost all of my fish came around the yellow buoy closest to the fishing dock and swim beach. That water runs 30 to 40 feet deep, but 70-foot water can be found under the cliffs on the northwestern side of the main lake.

The depths also held an unexpected species. Anglers filing fishing reports on Washingtonlakes.com reported catching largemouth, which Castor says had been recently and illegally transplanted into the lake. I caught two, but not where you would expect. They bit halfway between the western shore and the yellow buoy — out in open water. Neither were very big; Castor reported seeing a school of 50 or so 15 feet down towards the cliffs.

All totaled I released a dozen and a half fish, lost another dozen-plus at the boat and had many more bites fishing up till around 7 a.m. before my body’s call for caffeine and hotcakes pulled me off the water. Fishing seemed best on the first two mornings under cloudy skies.

The plunkers working the fishing dock were definitely not early risers; they tended to show up for the midday bite, along about the time a weak bikini hatch began to come off in the cool weather, and some did all right. Judging by the number of individual dough bait smushings on the railing and floor boards, pink sparkle and chartreuse were favorite colors.

One trio of anglers who’d left their rods in the garage at home still gave it a go, dangling big worms off the dock in hopes that bass would bite, but they couldn’t quite set the hook in time after largies sucked the oversize offerings in.

When I wasn’t fishing, the family and I went for hikes over to Cascade, Rustic and Cavern Falls — if you find a binky along that trail, please return mail it to me, c/o Northwest Sportsman, POB 24365, SeaWA, 98124 — splashed in the lake or rented row and paddle boats. River especially liked the paddle boat ride I took him out on. Somehow he also managed to stay out of all the nettles growing around the island.

Saturday we hit Eastsound, and hard. When my German father-in-law and I got off the ferry the day before, our first goal had been to determine where we could watch die Mannschaft take on Argentina. The Bayside was right out, but after Enzo’s coffee shop confirmed they’d be open before 7 a.m., we returned to the car to find a note from the good folks at The Lower Tavern declaring the World Cup would be showing at the bar.

That settled that, and we arrived just in time to see Mueller’s header in the third minute. But coffee was no good for our nerves, so we joined a couple who hailed from Freiburg, in the southern Black Forest, in ordering pints before breakfast.

Meine Deutsche frau showed up too late to see any of the rout, but afterwards we headed over to a park where vendors featuring island art, carvings, organic greens as well as cooked meats had gathered ahead of Eastsound’s fun Fourth of July parade (no fewer than four men running for San Juan County Sheriff marched in it, plus one giant freakin’ great Dane).

We also visited Orcas Island Artworks in Olga, home to some Japanese-inspired paintings of island scenes by James Hardman, hiked around Obstruction Pass State Park, did a little beachcombing — Juergen discovered a chunk of driftwood that had the shape of a whale, and had our vehicles not been absolutely stuffed, would have seized — had some nice fires and roasted a mess of Smores.

All in all a really great time!

Steelie Run Sets Record Thru July 7

July 8, 2010

Even as the sockeye count at Bonneville continues to crush the old record, the number of steelhead at the dam 145 miles up the Columbia River also set a new high mark through yesterday.

“Another day, another new record!” notes that fish-ladder watcher Joe Hymer in Vancouver in an email fired off to fellow fishheads around the Northwest. “The 54,357 steelhead counted at Bonneville Dam through July 7 is a new record! The previous record was 50,361 fish in 2001.”

That year saw a final count of 636,460; last year saw 603,264.

The overall sockeye count now stands at just under 358,000, 11,000 more than the previous record at Bonneville that dates from 1947, and nearly three times the preseason forecast.

“Sockeye probably share the same areas in the ocean. Probably what’s good for sockeye was good for steelhead,” Hymer says.

The steelhead count has also been boosted by big early returns of Skamanias, a type of summer-run steelhead, to tribs like the Klickitat.

Overall, this year’s forecast is 453,000 Skamanias, A-runs and B-runs, of which 73 percent will be keepable hatchery fish.

However, the wild component has been stronger so far.

“In the sport catch, quite a few wild fish are being released, which is a good sign,” says Hymer, crediting good outmigrating and ocean conditions.

At least 45 percent of steelhead passing the dam “have been wild based upon observations of presence/absence of adipose fins of fish passing the counter windows,” he notes.

In other news, federal, tribal and state fishery managers today downgraded the return of summer Chinook back to the mouth of the Columbia to 75,000, 13,000 fewer than originally forecast and 7,000 below the inseason run update out last week.

They also kept the sockeye forecast at 375,000 which, they claim, “should also allow the (Lake) Wenatchee escapement goal of 23,000 to be met.” When we spoke to the regional manager about a fishery there, he said he wasn’t in much of a gambling mood and would instead rely on counts at Tumwater Dam on the Wenatchee River to ensure enough were coming.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

July 7, 2010

In case you didn’t get enough fishing in over the Fourth, here’s a mess of ideas from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

* Anglers fishing the upper Rogue should remember that trout fishing can be good during summer, in addition to angling opportunity for spring chinook and summer steelhead.

* Fishing for resident cutthroat trout is picking up in many rivers and streams. Flies or small spinners are the best bets.

* With the onset of warmer temperatures trout fishing is slowing down in many area lakes and ponds. However, fishing will continute to be good for bass and warmwater fish.

NORTHWEST ZONE

* Siletz River: Steelhead angling has kicked in for the summer and is providing a good fishery for many bank anglers. Good numbers of summer steelhead are returning now with many more expected through July. Fish can be found through out the mainstem with drift boat angling from Twin Bridges down to Morgan Park as flows allow and bank access from Moonshine Park up to the deadline. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair to good. Anglers can expect good fishing for cutthroat trout throughout most of the basin. Using small spinners or fly fishing can be very productive.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

* A few spring chinook are still being caught in the lower Willamette and in Eagle Creek.

* Now is a good time to target bass and walleye fishing on the Multnomah Channel.

* Summer steelhead and spring chinook have moved into the North Santiam River around Stayton.

* Good catches of kokanee have been reported recently on Green Peter Reservoir.

CENTRAL ZONE

* Fish on!!! Big Lava Lake continues to produce stellar catches of beautiful rainbow trout.

* Trout fishing on the Crooked River has been good, and the recent population survey found larger trout this year compared to recent years.

* Kokanee fishing has been good on Odell and Paulina lakes.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

* Trout fishing has been very good on Pilcher Reservoir

* The BLM has opened access up to Fish Lake on Steens Mountain and the lake is scheduled to be stocked the week of July 6.

* Fishing in the high Cascade lakes for brook trout has been excellent.

NORTHEAST ZONE

* Fishing for 8 to 10-inch crappie continues to be good on McKay Reservoir.

* Jubilee Lake has been stocked and the boat ramp is open.

SNAKE ZONE

* Brownlee: Crappie spawning has dropped off but fishing is still good depending on the day. Use jigs with a crappie nibble (motor oil, red and whites have been good lately). Bass are biting but are fairly small. Some large catfish are being caught. Trolling for trout is fair. The reservoir is full. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.

MARINE ZONE

* More tuna were landed again this week, but the fish continue to be between 30 and 50 miles offshore.

* Anglers fishing Cape Falcon to the Oregon/Washington border are now allowed to keep up to two chinook salmon in the bag limit. Daily bag limit is now two salmon per day, and all retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip.

* Fishing for chinook will continue through earlier of June 30 or 12,000 marked Chinook quota. Bag Limit: All salmon except coho. Two salmon per day, all retained Chinook must have a healed adipose fin clip.

* Fishing for marked coho south of Cape Falcon to the Oregon/California border opened Saturday (June 26). Only about one angler in 10 were successful at landing a coho last week. Only marked coho (all coho must have a healed adipose fin clip) may be retained. That season will run through Sept. 6 or until the quota of 26,000 marked coho is met, which ever comes first. The bag limit is two salmon.

* Fishing for Chinook was slow again last week with fewer than one in seven anglers landing a fish. The “All Salmon Except Coho” salmon season from Cape Falcon to Oregon/California  border opened May 29 and runs through Sept. 6. Bag Limit: Two salmon.

* The spring all-depth Pacific Halibut fishery between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain met quota last week and is now closed. The summer sport all-depth halibut season will be every other Friday and Saturday from Aug. 6 to Oct. 30 or until the entire sub-area all-depth catch limit of 141,265 pounds of halibut is harvested. The near-shore season, for ocean waters inside the 40 fathom line, will be open seven days a week from May 1 until Oct. 31 or until the harvest quota of 12,284 pounds is achieved.

* The near-shore (inside 40 fathoms) halibut fishery between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain is remains open with more than 30 percent of the quota remaining.

* Fishing for lingcod remained at about one fish for every two anglers targeting lingcod. Most anglers surveyed filled their limit of bottom fish. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.

* The Oregon Department of Agriculture closed all recreational razor clam harvesting from Coos Bay to Bandon last month and extended the closure on July 2 north to Tillamook Head north of Cannon Beach due to elevated levels of domoic acid. Razor clamming remains open north of Coos Bay and south of Bandon.

* July has two minus tide series in the mornings: July 8-16 and 21-29. Razor clam diggers should watch for days when the marine forecast calls for combined swell and wind waves of less than eight feet.

* Mussel harvesting is open on the entire Oregon coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. The consumption of whole, recreationally-harvested scallops is not recommended. However, coastal scallops are not affected by toxins when only the adductor muscle is eaten.

What’s Fishing In Washington

July 7, 2010

The kokes are big at Cascade Lake and rainbows still biting, I can attest after fishing the Orcas Island lake three times over the Fourth of July weekend.

But beyond Washington’s archipelago, there are plenty of other fishing opportunities to be had across the Evergreen State.

Here’s more from WDFW’s Weekender:

NORTH PUGET SOUND

Summer has arrived, and anglers have their pick of numerous fishing opportunities. In the freshwater, anglers can cast for chinook and steelhead at some the region’s rivers, as well as trout and bass at local lakes. On Puget Sound, crab and chinook fisheries are under way, with additional salmon openings around the corner.

Salmon fishing got off to a good start in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), where anglers can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. Catch counts on opening day (July 1) in the San Juans show 46 anglers at the Bellingham ramp checked 12 chinook, while 65 at the Washington Park ramp brought home 15 chinook.

In Marine Area 8-2, fishing continues to be slow at the Tulalip Bay “bubble” fishery , said Thiesfeld. The fishery is currently open each week from Friday through noon Monday through Sept. 6. Anglers fishing the bubble have a two-salmon daily limit. Chinook must measure 22 inches in length to retain.

Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) also is open for salmon fishing, but anglers must release all chinook through July 15.

Anglers will soon have other opportunities in the region to catch and keep chinook. Beginning July 16, marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 open for hatchery chinook salmon retention. Anglers in those two areas will be allowed to keep hatchery chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – as part of a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Those fishing Marine Area 9 also must release chum salmon.

The chinook selective fisheries in marine areas 9 and 10 run through Aug. 31. Thiesfeld reminds anglers that regulations vary for inner Elliott Bay, Sinclair Inlet and public fishing piers in those marine areas. Check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ ) for more information.

When releasing salmon, anglers should keep the fish in the water and avoid using a net, Thiesfeld said. If a net is needed, use a rubber net or a soft knotless nylon or cotton net.

Thiesfeld also suggests that anglers:

* Look for the adipose fin while playing the fish, and use polarized sunglasses to reduce glare.
* Avoid the use of light tackle and play the fish quickly to avoid exhausting it.
* Modify tackle to reduce potential injury to the fish. For example, use circle hooks when mooching and only one hook on hoochies and bucktails.
* Use a dehooker to remove the hook.
* Cut the leader if the fish has swallowed the hook.
* Avoid touching or handling the fish, especially around the eyes and gills.
* Support the entire length of the fish if it must be lifted out of the water.
* Do not lift the fish by the tail or jaw.
* Gently place the fish back in the water.

Anglers can find information on selective fishing and selective fishing techniques on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/selective/techniques/ .

Meanwhile, the crab fishery is under way in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 and 10. Fisheries in those areas are open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend. The southern and eastern portions of Marine Area 7 will open July 14 under the same weekly schedule.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6Ľ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW’s sport-crabbing website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/ ) for more information.

In freshwater, anglers can fish for hatchery chinook salmon on the Skagit and Cascade rivers. The Skagit is open to hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River. On the Cascade, anglers can fish from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. Both stretches are open through July 15. The daily limit on the Skagit and Cascade rivers is four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length).

On the Skykomish , a new rule that went into effect July 6 prohibits the retention of chinook from the mouth upstream to the Wallace River, the only portion of the river that was open to salmon fishing. Low chinook returns to the Wallace River Hatchery prompted WDFW to close the river to chinook retention to help ensure enough salmon make it back to the hatchery to meet spawning goals. For more information, check the emergency rule change at http://bit.ly/aJ7YgD .

Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all fisheries on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

SOUTH SOUND, OLYMPIC PENINSULA

Anglers’ chances of catching and keeping a chinook salmon off the Washington coast have improved in recent days with the start of non-selective fisheries for chinook in all ocean areas. Chinook can now be retained coastwide, whether fin-clipped or not.

Now, another change in state fishing rules will allow anglers to keep two of those fish per day. Starting July 8, they will be able to retain two chinook – instead of just one – as as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

As in previous years, only coho with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained as part of that limit. Anglers may now retain coho in all ocean areas, although this year’s recreational quota for coho is 67,200 fish, down from 176,400 last year.

Patrick Pattillo, WDFW’s salmon policy coordinator, said the state initially took a cautious approach in setting the limits for the coastal chinook fishery this summer.

“With predictions of chinook stocks nearly three times as large as last year, we were concerned that we could see very high catch rates for chinook – as we did in 2002 – resulting in an early closure,” said Pattillo. “But from what we’ve seen so far, we no longer have that concern.”

Even so, the fishery has been productive – especially around Westport.  During the marked selective chinook fishery in June, anglers caught approximately 4,571 chinook off the coast between the opening and June 27. The vast majority of those fish were taken in Marine Area 2 off Westport where nearly 7,000 anglers landed 4,263 marked chinook. The mark rate there was 73 percent.

On July Fourth, when non-selective rules took effect, fish counters sampled 245 anglers in Westport with 129 chinook and 82 coho. In Ilwaco, the 603 anglers sampled had caught 733 coho and 83 chinook.

“The effort hasn’t been real high, yet, but it will build this summer,” said Doug Milward, WDFW ocean fisheries manager.  “It always does, especially around Ilwaco.”

Meanwhile, salmon fisheries opened July 1 in marine areas 5 and 6 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where early reports indicate fishing for hatchery chinook will be similar to last year’s successful fishery. The waters around Port Angles provided the best salmon fishing for the opener. Between July 1 and 4, creel counts showed that about 400 anglers reeled in approximately 160 chinook salmon at Ediz Hook.

Olson’s Resort and Van Riper’s Resort in Sekiu both provided reasonably good salmon fishing, with anglers throughout both marine areas also landing a few rockfish , lingcod and greenlings .

Elsewhere in Puget Sound, fishing effort has been generally light. In Marine Area 11 off Tacoma and Vashon Island, creel counts the week of June 28-July 4 produced 61 chinook. Most of those fish were caught off Point Defiance and near Gig Harbor. On July 3, 165 anglers were surveyed with five chinook and 88 flatfish . So far, very few coho have shown themselves in Puget Sound.

Marine Area 9, west of Whidbey Island, opens to salmon fishing July 16.

The rules for catching chinook and coho vary depending on the marine area. All of the seasons and rules can be found in the 2010 Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet . The pamphlet is free at the more than 600 stores that sell hunting and fishing licenses. It’s available at WDFW offices and at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

If crab is your seafood of choice, you’re in luck. Dungeness and red rock crab seasons are open in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and most areas of Puget Sound. Dungeness and red rock crab seasons are:

* Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (Tacoma-Vashon) – Opened June 18 and runs through Jan. 2, seven days a week.
* Marine areas 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 and 12 (much of Puget Sound) – Opened July 1 and are open Wednesday through Saturday through Sept. 6, and open the entire Labor Day weekend.
* Marine areas 7 South and East (south and east of the San Juan Islands) – Will open July 14 through Sept. 30, Wednesday through Saturday, and the entire Labor Day weekend.

There is a daily limit of five Dungeness crab in Puget Sound. Minimum size is 6Ľ-inches and only males in hardshell condition may be kept. In the Sound, all gear must be removed from the water on days when the fishery is closed.

The daily limit of red rock crab is six in all marine areas. Minimum size is five inches and either sex may be kept.

Crab fishing rules can be found on pages 137-139 of the 2010-11 edition of Washington’s Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet , which contains maps of all the marine areas and sub-areas. The pamphlet is free and available at the more than 600 stores where hunting and fishing licenses are sold. The pamphlet also can be downloaded from WDFW’s web site at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

Before heading out, crabbers should check for any emergency rule changes adopted since the fishing pamphlet was published. Those changes can be found on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ or by calling the Shellfish Rule Change toll-free hotline at (866) 880-5431.

Lake Aberdeen and Lake Sylvia in Grays Harbor County both received significant plants of rainbow trout this spring and well into June, and were among the 10 Region 6 lakes listed on WashingtonLakes.com’s “Top Lakes Scoreboard.” Lake Tarboo in Jefferson County and Lake Louise in Pierce County also made the list.

SOUTHWEST

Anglers continue to reel in hefty summer chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River, although the fishery is being reshaped by an influx of upriver steelhead, changing river conditions and new fishing opportunities on the coast. Other considerations include a record sockeye run and the fact that sturgeon retention is allowed in the estuary at least through July 11.

During the first four days of July, WDFW interviewed 310 boat anglers on the lower Columbia River with 21 adult summer chinook, 30 steelhead and no sockeye.  Also contacted were 989 bank anglers with 33 adult summer chinook , 124 steelhead and eight sockeye .

“The fishery has begun to change with the arrival of increasing numbers of upriver steelhead,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “Those fish are starting to draw anglers away from the deep water toward the bank, where they’re targeting hatchery steelhead and sockeye.”

Under this year’s expanded season, the daily limit for adult salmonids is two marked  hatchery chinook or marked hatchery steelhead (or one of each) on the mainstem Columbia River from the Megler-Astoria Bridge upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco.

The current mix of summer chinook and steelhead contains a significant portion of wild fish, so anglers should be sure to check for a clipped adipose fin and healed scar on both species, Hymer said.

Anglers can also count any sockeye measuring at least 12 inches toward their two-adult daily limit from the Megler-Astoria Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam.  Through July 6, just over 353,000 sockeye had been counted at Bonneville Dam, surpassing the previous record of 335,300 fish in 1947.

But counting sockeye is not the same as catching them, Hymer said. “These silver torpedoes are fairly single-minded when it comes to moving upriver so anglers should really consider them ‘bonus fish’ if they catch one,” he said. One sockeye was recently recycled downstream to the Massey Bar on the Cowlitz River three times during the same week and returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery each time.

Most hatchery steelhead caught in recent days were taken along the banks of the Columbia River from Longview downstream. Averaging four to six pounds apiece, these upriver fish are expected to light up a number of fisheries as they move toward hatcheries on the upper Columbia and the lower Snake River.  Look for them later this month at the mouth of the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers plus Drano Lake and the White Salmon River, where they typically dip into the cooler water of the tributaries to beat the heat.

Fishing is also expected to be good this month on the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis, Washougal and Klickitat rivers as separate runs of hatchery steelhead move into those tributaries to the Columbia River.

But, while summer steelhead have begun to upstage summer chinook, Hymer expects to see anglers catch a lot more salmon – including the occasional 40 pounder – before the fishery closes at the end of the day July 31. According to an updated forecast, 75,000 summer chinook will return to the Columbia this year – the fourth largest run since 1980.

Hymer notes, however, that fishing tactics for chinook salmon have changed since the fishery got under way last month.  Since then, average water temperatures have risen to 63 degrees and flows have dropped by half.

“Fishing tactics have changed to reflect the conditions,” Hymer said.  “Most anglers fishing for summer chinook are going deep – 20 to 30 feet down – and using large plugs wrapped with sardine fillets in addition to wobblers and other fall gear.”

One question is whether salmon fishing might be better in the ocean. All areas off the Washington coast are now open for the retention of both chinook and coho salmon. For more information, see the South Sound/Olympic Peninsula of this report. Anglers have also been catching good-size landlocked coho at Riffe Lake in recent days.

Another option is to fish for white sturgeon on the Columbia River below the Wauna powerlines, although that could present a challenge given the low catch rates in those waters. The current opening runs through July 11, after which fishery managers from Washington and Oregon will meet to discuss whether to again extend the fishery.

During the week ending July 5, private boat anglers interviewed at the Deep River and Knappton ramps averaged a legal-size sturgeon for every 9.5 rods. At the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco, 41 percent of charter boat customers caught legal-size fish, but private boaters averaged just one fish for every 12 rods.

Meawhile, the shad fishery has about run its course, but walleye fishing is picking up in The Dalles Pool. Bass fishing is also improving as water temperatures rise.

Trout anglers should know that Goose Lake near Carson has been planted with 5,500 catchable-size brown trout and 6,000 cutthroat since mid-June.

EASTERN

Fishing is picking up for warmwater species in waterways throughout the south end of the region, especially during cooler evening hours.  Smallmouth bass are found throughout the Snake River and channel catfish can be found in its backwaters and sloughs. Both species are caught near the mouth of the Walla Walla River.

Smallmouth bass may be caught below Prescott in the lower portion of the Touchet River. The Columbia River and its connected sloughs have yellow perch, crappie, smallmouth and largemouth bass, channel catfish, brown bullheads , an occasional walleye , and other species.

Waters in the north end of the region are also seeing warmwater fish action. The Pend Oreille River’s Boundary Dam reservoir is good for smallmouth bass, and its Box Canyon Dam reservoir is good for largemouth bass. Northern pike are also throughout the river. Stevens County’s Pierre Lake has largemouth bass, crappie, and bullhead catfish. Loon and Deer lakes in southern Stevens County have both species of bass, plus bullheads, perch, and bluegill . Pend Oreille County’s Diamond Lake is usually good for perch this time of year.

Long Lake, the reservoir off the Spokane River in northwest Spokane County has been good for crappie, perch and both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Chapman Lake in southwest Spokane County is also producing both largemouth and smallmouth bass catches, plus some kokanee . Downs Lake, also in the southwest part of the county, has a few perch and some really nice largemouth bass.

Spokane County’s Amber, Badger, and Williams lakes continue to provide good catches of rainbow and cutthroat trout during early morning or evening hours. Rock Lake in Whitman County also continues to be good for both rainbow and brown trout fishing.

NORTH-CENTRAL

Bob Jateff, WDFW district fish biologist, said salmon fishing in the mainstem Columbia River above Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster, and in the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers, was slow at the start on July 1.

“It’s picking up considerably now as more fish pass over Wells Dam and start to stack up off the mouth of the Okanogan River,” he said. “Anglers should check the current fishing rules pamphlet very closely, in addition to any emergency rule changes for opening dates and daily catch limits. And remember there is a night closure and anti-snagging rule in effect for the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers.”

Anglers can retain adult sockeye salmon in the mainstem Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam and in the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers. The daily limit is six salmon, but only up to three adult chinook , of which only one wild adult chinook may be retained. All sockeye and chinook with a floy or anchor tag attached must be released, and all coho and steelhead must be released. For all the details of this fishery, see http://bit.ly/cE8tGj .

Okanogan County lowland lakes are continuing to provide rainbow trout for both selective gear and bait anglers.

“Cooler weather this past month has kept surface water temperatures cooler and the trout more active than normal,” Jateff said.

The water level on the Methow River is starting to drop and will begin to provide opportunities for trout fishing during the catch-and-release season that began last month. Selective gear must be used and no bait is allowed.

“If you’re interested in spiny ray fishing try Leader Lake for bluegill and Patterson Lake for yellow perch ,” Jateff said. “There are no daily limits for either of these species in Okanogan County.”

Fishing at Banks Lake for rainbow trout, smallmouth bass , and walleye has been decent, according to last month’s WDFW creel reports. Anglers at Banks were averaging a little over an hour of fishing for every trout and bass caught, and about two hours for every walleye caught.  Some largemouth bass were also caught at an average rate of about four hours per fish, but the sample size was very low.

Art Viola, WDFW district fish biologist, reminds anglers that Blackbird Island Pond, a juveniles only fishery in Leavenworth off the Wenatchee River in Chelan County, will not open to fishing until July 15.

“We’ve had such an unusually cold spring that juvenile steelhead aren’t expected to leave until mid July this year,” Viola said. “So we won’t be stocking trout in the pond yet.”

Blackbird Island Pond is used as both a hatchery steelhead acclimation pond and a trout-stocked fishing pond for anglers under 15 years of age.

SOUTH-CENTRAL

Sockeye salmon have been moving up the Columbia River in record numbers in recent weeks, arriving in Central Washington waters just in time for the summer weather. But catching sockeye is proving to be a challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options for anglers right now, including chinook, rainbow trout, bass and catfish.

A creel check in the John Day Pool conducted the week of June 21-27 tallied 150 anglers in 60 boats, along with 36 bank fishers. The bank anglers caught an estimated 53 hatchery summer chinook and released 14 wild fish. No sockeye were observed in the catch that week, even though upwards of 21,000 sockeye passed by the John Day Dam each day.

The number of boaters dropped off dramatically the following week, as did the catch. Thirty-four anglers surveyed during the week ending July 4 had caught three hatchery chinook and released three wild fish. As in the previous week, all salmon were caught from the bank.

Paul Hoffarth, WDFW’s fish biologist in Pasco, credits high water in the Columbia River for the difficulty anglers have had catching salmon from a boat. Conditions, though, are improving. Flows in the Yakima River is back to normal, and the Snake and Columbia rivers have begun to go down, setting the stage for better bass and walleye fishing, said Hoffarth.

Hoffarth reminds anglers that all wild, unmarked chinook salmon and steelhead must be released. The daily limit is six hatchery chinook, up to two of which may be adults. Anglers must stop fishing once they retain the adult portion of their daily limit. Any steelhead retained counts toward the daily limit of two adult fish, said Hoffarth, who reminds anglers that the Yakima River is closed to salmon and steelhead fishing.

Steelhead fishing remains closed for the Columbia River upstream of the Highway 395 bridge and in the Snake River until the fall.

As for the difficulty of catching sockeye, WDFW fish and wildlife biologist Joe Hymer says that for a variety of reasons they are a hard fish to catch.

“Sockeye mainly feed on zooplankton/krill, and most (river) anglers don’t use gear that a sockeye would typically eat,” he said. “A lot of times they use gear that is too big.”

The single-minded nature of sockeye also makes them hard to catch, Hymer said.

“Sockeye move through an area pretty quickly,” he said. “In the lower Columbia, we see pretty good catches if the water is high and cool. But when the water drops and warms, the fish go deeper. Not until they get into a concentrated area like Lake Wenatchee and Lake Osoyoos, where anglers troll slow using gear that’s small and easier to bite, do catch rates go up.”

As in other areas, water levels in the upper Naches and upper Yakima tributaries have continued to drop, making them easier to fish. Eric Anderson, WDFW fish and wildlife biologist in Yakima, said this trend should continue through the summer, when fishing in most tributaries should be good for wild trout, cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout. Anglers should note that it is closed to fishing for or retaining bull trout, salmon and steelhead throughout the Yakima River basin.

“We have continued to stock lakes in the region and all are posted on the WDFW website’s catchable trout stocking reports,” said Anderson. “All of those reports have been updated with the latest triploid trout plants. “

Anderson reminds anglers they can research lakes by county by going to the 2010 Washington Fishing Prospects report http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/prospects/ .  He advises, however, that before heading out to an unfamiliar lake or stream, anglers should check the Washington Fishing Regulations at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/

“Each stream and lake you intend to fish may have different rules and catch limit restrictions,” said Anderson.

For those who don’t mind a little hike, Anderson says that as the weather warms and the snow recedes, Central Washington’s high mountain lakes provide good angling opportunities. The region’s high lakes fish stocking information is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/regions/reg3/r3_highlakes.htm

Kokanee are continuing to bite at Keechelus and Rimrock lakes, where the daily catch limit is 16 fish.

Jumbo triploid trout were planted at Lost Lake in Kittitas County, as well as in Dog and Leech lakes in Yakima County. These fish are running about 1.5 pounds each. Leech Lake is fly-fishing only. Also in June, 4,500 catchable-size trout and 200 jumbos were planted in Easton Pond in Kittitas County.

Sturgeon fishing remains open in Lake Wallula (McNary Dam to Priest Rapids/Ice Harbor Dams) through July of this year. However, sturgeon fishing is prohibited from in the sturgeon sanctuaries from Goose Island upstream to Ice Harbor Dam in the Snake River and upstream of the Priest Rapids Hatchery outlet to Priest Rapids Dam in the Columbia River.

Two-king Limit Starts Thurs. On Ocean

July 7, 2010

Oregon and Washington managers are tweaking salmon limits so anglers can keep a second Chinook on the ocean starting tomorrow, July 8.

LYDIA SCOTT OF SEATTLE WITH A FOURTH OF JULY CHINOOK OUT OF WESTPORT. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

The two-salmon bag remains in effect (release wild coho), but instead of only being able to retain a single king and single hatchery coho, there’s enough Chinook available that an additional one can be kept.

The rule change affects waters between Oregon’s Cape Falcon and the Canada border, and includes Washington’s Areas 1, 2, 3 and 4.

“I think it’s going to be excellent,” says Doug Milward,  a WDFW ocean salmon manager working on the rule change notice now. “They’re out there in good numbers.”

WDFW Closed Monday, July 12

July 7, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) offices, like those of most other state agencies, will be closed July 12 for the first of 10 unpaid, temporary employee layoff days.

Fishing and hunting license sales conducted over the Internet at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ and at retail vendors will not be affected by the closure. WDFW wildlife areas and water-access sites will remain open for public use during the layoff days, but WDFW hatcheries will not be open to the public during the layoff.

The statewide, temporary employee layoffs are mandated by ESSB 6503 (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=6503 ), adopted by the 2010 Legislature to help balance the state budget in the face of a revenue shortfall.

WDFW enforcement officers are exempt from the layoffs, under the law adopted by the Legislature. WDFW also has exempted fish counters who distinguish various species of salmon as they move past Columbia River hydropower dams. The federally required and federally funded fish counting must be conducted consistently while salmon are returning upriver.

Some WDFW employees who feed animals or perform other tasks that are critical to resource management will take alternate temporary layoff days.

In addition to July 12, scheduled state employee layoff dates in 2010 are Friday, Aug. 6; Tuesday, Sept. 7; Monday, Oct. 11; and Monday, Dec. 27. In 2011, scheduled temporary layoff dates are Friday, Jan. 28; Tuesday, Feb. 22; Friday, March 11; Friday, April 22; and Friday June 10.

More information on statewide office closures associated with the temporary layoff is available at http://www.ofm.wa.gov/layoff/default.asp .

Side-drifting A Bust, Cow Crew Find Success Back-trolling

July 7, 2010

After watching fireworks displays until almost midnight then tossing and turning as neighbors continued to set off loud “‘home-made” fireworks till the wee hours I was actually waiting for my alarm to go off. I was meeting with some good friends and chasing some Summer Steelhead in Washington.

As I rendezvoused with Pat, Kent and Tom in the pre-dawn darkness, it was evident that they were looking forward to fishing as well and we didn’t waste any time getting gear transferred to the boat and we were on the road again.  We arrived to an almost deserted boat ramp at Blue Creek on the Cowlitz, which was surprising since no matter what day you plan on fishing the Cow during the month of July, it’s always bustling with boats side-drifting or back-trolling and bank anglers drift fishing or doing that spey fishing thing.

We launched then rigged up side-drifting rods, cut eggs into nickel-sized pieces, picked out four-shot slinkies (after studying the flow of the river) and set aside leader rolls to be at the ready when we break off.  Fast forward two hours: no bites after side-drifting prime water.

What next?  We break out the Hot-N-Tots and coon stripe shrimp!  Nothing fancy, just a bait diver, 6 feet of leader to a 2/0 hook and a small dyed shrimp, then deploy 75 feet behind the boat.

(ANDY SCHNEIDER)

It didn’t take more than a minute before we discovered we had made the correct choice as Pat’s rod flattened and a chrome summer steelhead crashed the surface below the boat.  The next five hours brought five fish to the boat, with two lost and countless other “mystery bites” taken out of the shrimp.

While the Cowlitz may be known for side-drifting, we were definitely not alone back-trolling bait.  While I’m not prepared to give in completely to the back-troll, rest assured, I’ll always have some coon shrimp soaking in some Pautzke Nectar the night before!

FIVE FOR FIGHTING. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Thanks again for the great trip Pat, Tom and Kent!

SW WA Fishing Report

July 7, 2010

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – 21 boat anglers sampled at Blue Creek kept 8 steelhead while 2 bank anglers had no catch.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 726 summer-run steelhead, 360 spring Chinook adults, 51 jacks, 107 mini-jacks and one sockeye salmon during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. The sockeye salmon was the same fish that returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator three times last week. The fish was recycled downstream to the Massey Bar boat launch on the Cowlitz River.

Tacoma Power employees released 155 spring Chinook adults and 46 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,740 cubic feet per second on Tuesday, July 6. Water visibility is 16 feet.

Lewis River – At the mouth, 2 boat anglers sampled had kept 1 steelhead.

Drano Lake and the White Salmon River – New for 2010 – Both remain open for hatchery Chinook in July.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – During the first four days of July we sampled 989 bank anglers with 33 adult and 8 jack summer Chinook, 124 steelhead, and 8 sockeye.  In addition we sampled 310 boat anglers (136 boats) with 21 adult and 1 jack summer Chinook, 30 steelhead, and no sockeye.  Overall, 65% of the adult Chinook and 69% of the steelhead were kept.

Salmonid effort on Saturday July 3rd was heavy with nearly 400 boats and over 1,100 bank anglers counted during the flight.  Over 700 of the bank anglers were counted on the Washington shore.

Flows at Bonneville Dam are currently around 200,000 cfs or about half of the peak found in mid June.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers averaged an adult Chinook per every 12.4 rods when including fish released.  Light effort/catch from boats.  78% of the adult Chinook caught were kept.

Upriver Spring Chinook

  • The pre-season forecast was 470,000 adult upriver fish.  The preliminary final run size estimate is 315,100 adults (67% of forecast)

WILLAMETTE SPRING CHINOOK

  • The pre-season forecast for Willamette spring Chinook was 62,700 fish (adults and jacks).  To date, 85,800 Willamette spring Chinook can be accounted for from fisheries and passage.  The spring Chinook counting period at Willamette Falls continues through August 15.

Sockeye

  • Every day adds to the new record return of sockeye to the Columbia River.  Through July 5, just over 346,000 sockeye have been counted at Bonneville Dam (and that count does not include any sport catch below the dam).  The old record return, as measured when Bonneville Dam was completed in 1938,  was 335,300 fish in 1947.

Catch rates for legal size fish improved for charter boat anglers but declined for private boaters at the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco last week.   Forty-one percent of the charter boat anglers took home a legal size fish while private boaters averaged one per every 12 rods.  If an angler is lucky enough to catch a fish, there was a 29% chance it would be legal size.

STURGEON

Below the Wauna powerlines – Since July 1, catch rates for legal size fish improved for charter boat anglers but declined for private boaters last week.   Forty-one percent of the charter boat anglers took home a legal size fish while private boaters averaged one per every 11.2 rods.  If an angler is lucky enough to catch a fish, there was a 27% chance it would be legal size.

Considering it was a holiday weekend, sturgeon effort in the estuary was relatively light with nearly 200 private boats and 7 charters counted during last Saturday’s flight.

Scheduled to remain open for white sturgeon retention through July 11.  The cumulative catch through July 11 may reach 3,700 fish.  The catch guideline for the season is 9,600.  Fishery managers will review the catch data after July 11 to determine if additional fishing opportunity is available under the catch guideline.

Wauna powerlines to Marker 82 – Some legals were caught by boat anglers in the Longview-Kalama area.  During last Saturday’s flight, just under a hundred boats were counted.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged a walleye per rod when including fish released.  They also caught some bass.

TROUT

Mayfield Lake – Expected to be planted with 10,000 catchable size rainbows in July.

Tilton River and Skate Creek – Both are expected to be planted with nearly 9.400 catchable size rainbows in July.

Goose Lake north of Carson – Has been planted with 5,500 catchable size brown trout and 6,000 catchable size cutthroats since mid June.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort and catch is waning.  Bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam averaged 1.5 fish per rod.  Just 4 boats and 19 bank anglers were counted from the dam downstream during last Saturday’s flight.   

Courtesy Joe Hymer, PFMC

Imnaha, Wallowa Springer Fishery Extended

July 7, 2010

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The Imnaha and Wallowa rivers in Northeast Oregon will remain open to hatchery spring chinook fishing until further notice, fishery managers announced today.

“So far this year, unseasonably high water has really limited fishing opportunities,” said Jeff Yanke, ODFW district fish biologist in Enterprise.  “This means we’re able to extend the season so anglers and local communities can benefit from this strong salmon run.”

With local runs complete at Bonneville Dam, ODFW biologists now estimate 8,000 adult spring chinook will return to both the Imnaha and Wallowa Rivers.  Approximately 75 percent of the total return to each river will be marked hatchery fish available for harvest.

Current fishery regulations will apply through the extension period.  Anglers are reminded to ask permission before entering private property to fish, and to pick up trash when leaving. In addition, anglers are asked to respect tribal members that may also be fishing for spring chinook using traditional methods.

“The duration of the fishery will depend on environmental conditions and angler success, both of which we will be monitoring carefully”, said Yanke.  “Our goal is to optimize the fishing opportunity while meeting our conservation responsibility”.

Chattaroy Man Wins WA Moose Raffle

July 1, 2010

Harry Williamson of Chattaroy won Washington’s moose tag raffle in Spokane last night, the first ever awarded that way.

His was one of around 1,300 $10 tickets sold for a drawing put on by the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.

He will be able to take a bull or a cow with any legal weapon in any open unit in Region 1, according to INWC executive director Wanda Clifford.

“This was our first time at raffling a moose tag with the game department and quite an experience for us,” she says. “A large part of the profits go back to the WDFW. The rest of the funds go into our projects of big game, upland bird, hunter education and others.”

The group, founded in 1951, commits 20,000 hours of volunteer time annually towards wildlife- and hunting-related projects. Its Big Game Recovery Committee collects freshly road-killed deer, elk and moose to help feed hungry citizens in the region, a program former club president James A. Nelson detailed earlier this year in Northwest Sportsman.

The INWC was one of two groups allowed to raffle off hunts this year. The other, the Washington Chapter of the Foundation for Wild Sheep, had sold 2,524 tickets through the end of June for a chance to hunt a Rocky Mountains ram in the Blues, according to its Web site; typically, an average of 4,300 are sold. Deadline to buy is July 5.

WDFW also raffles off a number of special deer, elk, bighorn, mountain goat, bear, cougar and turkey. Deadline to purchase tickets this year is July 23. In 2009, the department’s drawings raised $224,544.

Moose populations in their Northeast Washington stronghold may not be growing like they once were, but the species has spread into the Blue Mountains, areas of the Palouse, the treed plains west of Spokane, the Okanogan and even a few have been spotted in the Wenatchee-Chelan County area. More than 120 special hunting permits have been available to hunters in recent years.

Clifford hopes INWC can hold a moose-tag raffle next year.

Sky To Close For Chinook Retention

June 30, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICE)

Chinook salmon retention ends July 6 on the Skykomish River

Action: Close chinook salmon retention on the Skykomish River.

Effective date: July 6 through July 31, 2010.

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Location: Skykomish River from the mouth upstream to the Wallace River.

Reason for action: Chinook broodstock collection at the Wallace River Hatchery is well behind the goal of 3,200. As of June 29, only 547 chinook broodstock have been trapped at the hatchery. The closure of the sport fishery for hatchery chinook on the Skykomish River is necessary in order to fulfill broodstock collection requirements. If the broodstock collection goal is met prior to July 31, the Skykomish River sport fishery for hatchery chinook may resume.

Other information: The Skykomish River from the mouth upstream to the Wallace River will remain open for hatchery summer steelhead and all other game fish.

Information contact: Jennifer Whitney, Region 4 Fish Manager (425) 775-1311

Record Sockeye Run Now Forecasted

June 30, 2010

Columbia River salmon managers are now forecasting 2010′s sockeye run at three times the preseason prediction, which if it comes in, would be an all-time record back to 1938.

“The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) updated the sockeye run to 375,000 fish at the Columbia River mouth,” reads an email this afternoon from Joe Hymer, a fisheries biologist in Vancouver. “This will be a record run size.”

As of yesterday, a total of 286,706 sockeye had crossed Bonneville Dam, the most ever counted at that point 144 miles above the mouth, according to data from the Fish Passage Center.

However, the record overall return to the Columbia is 1947′s 335,300, which was given a severe whack by downstream fisheries before it reached the dam.

As dam counts mounted a week ago, Washington and Oregon upped the preseason forecast to 250,000 and began announcing fishery opening on the Lower, Mid and Upper Columbia.

While catch expectations are low, Julian Zirkle at Fisherman’s Marine had some advice for how to slay sox on the lower river: “I’d say stay in close, use bright colors and smaller Spin-N-Glos.”

As for a Lake Wenatchee fishery, earlier this week, a WDFW manager said he was not in a gambling mood.

Hymer notes that the summer Chinook run has been slightly downgraded to 82,000, from 88,000, to the mouth of the Columbia.

Meanwhile, large numbers of summer steelhead are crossing Bonneville, 31,352 through yesterday, over 13,300 above the 10-year average and nearly 20,000 above last year’s whopper run.

Pautzke Adds 5th Color in Nectar Line

June 30, 2010

Pautzke Bait Company announced today that it’s adding a fifth color to its Nectar line of liquid bait enhancement products, just in time for the height of summer steelhead and salmon fishing seasons.

“Due to high demand … we’ve decided to come out with purple Nectar,” says Chris Shaffer, the Ellensburg, Wash., company’s director of operations, in an email to outdoor media. “It’ll be ready to ship and available in about two to three weeks.”

Other colors already available include original (red), blue, yellow and orange.

Nectar is made from cooked salmon eggs — the natural juice that runs off the Pautzke patented egg-cooking process — and can be squirted straight onto bait and lures or soaked in baits. In areas where chumming is legal the Nectar is often mixed in with sour milk, grains and bran.

“It’s no different than the other Nectars,” says Shaffer of the new shade, “but does do a great job dying things purple, i.e. prawns, coon shrimp, anchovies, herring, octopus, alewives, etc. Those of you fishing inland Chinook in California can use it to dye and scent the baits you are trolling for kings too.”

The addition should help anglers otherwise trying to create purple tint by mixing other colors.

40 Oregon Fisheries For The 4th

June 30, 2010

It took just four little letters — the hell with how far out they were — to set off fireworks earlier this week: T-U-N-A.

The first report of the season came back last Saturday, and though the catch is nowhere close to 2007′s stellar fishery at this same point, it lit up albie anglers as far away as Provo, Utah, on ifish.

But if heading 50 to 90 miles out to sea is a wee bit ambitious for your Fourth of July weekend, there’s a bunch of other, far more accessible fisheries to consider — trout fishing in the Cascades, largemouth fishing near Florence, cutts in coastal creeks, crappie in Eastern Oregon, to name a few opportunities.

ANGLERS ARE FINDING SOME STURGEON IN THE LOWER COLUMBIA RIVER, INCLUDING THIS KEEPER CAUGHT RECENTLY BY JENNA BLANC, HER FIRST. MANAGERS RECENTLY EXTENDED THE FISHERY. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Here are more highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • The Rogue River from Gold Ray Dam up to Dodge Bridge will open up to the harvest of non adipose fin-clipped spring chinook salmon from July 1 through August 31.
  • Trout fishing has been great on Howard Prairie Reservoir; bass and crappie are moving into the shallows and are biting.
  • Fishing for resident cutthroat trout is picking up in many rivers and streams. Flies or small spinners are the best bets.
  • Warmwater fishing is improving in several area lakes and ponds. Bluegill are staging in shallow water preparing to spawn and the males are very aggressive. Largemouth bass fishing at Hyatt Lake and Tenmile Lakes has been very good and a 7-pound bass was recently caught in Cooper Creek Reservoir.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Nestucca & Three Rivers: Spring chinook and summer steelhead angling has been fair to good. Bobber and eggs/shrimp will produce for chinook, with most action in the lower river below Beaver. Try spinners or bobber and jigs for steelhead as the water clears, especially in the upper river. Fishing for cutthroat trout has been fair, with fish spread throughout the river.
  • Salmon River: Cutthroat trout angling is fair to good and can offer anglers opportunity throughout the mainstem. Using small spinners, other lures or fly fishing can be very effective. Use of bait is restricted above tidewater until September 1.
  • Siletz River: Steelhead angling has kicked in for the summer and is providing a good fishery for many bank anglers. Good numbers of summer steelhead are returning now with many more expected through July. Fish can be found through out the mainstem with drift boat angling from Twin Bridges down to Morgan Park as flows allow and bank access from Moonshine Park up to the deadline. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair to good. Anglers can expect good fishing for cutthroat trout throughout most of the basin. Using small spinners or fly fishing can be very productive.
  • The Siuslaw River and Lake Creek are providing fair to good angling for cutthroat trout. Anglers can find good numbers of cutthroat trout in most areas of the main stem rivers. Using small spinners, spoons or fly fishing can be very effective. Use of bait is restricted until September 1 above tidewater.
  • Trask River: Fishing for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook has been fair to good. Bobber and bait in the deeper holes has been the most productive. A few summer steelhead are available throughout the river. Fishing for cutthroat trout has been fair to good. Fish will be spread out through the main river up to the county park.
  • Yaquina River: Angling for cutthroat trout in the Yaquina and Big Elk is fair to good. Generally using small spinners, spoons or other lures can be very effective. Fly fishing is also very productive. Use of bait is restricted above tidewater until September 1.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Spring chinook and summer steelhead are being landed in good numbers on the Clackamas and Sandy rivers. The bag limit has been increased to three adult salmon/steelhead in combination on these two rivers as well as on the the Willamette below Willamette Falls.
  • Steelhead and spring chinook are being caught in the McKenzie and Middle Fork of the Willamette Rivers.
  • More than 50,000 spring chinook and 20,000 summer steelhead have crossed Willamette Falls and are moving into the upper Willamette and its tributaries. Try fishing at San Salvador and Wheatland Ferry on the Willamette and around the mouths of the Tualatin, Molalla, and Santiam rivers.
  • Spring chinook are moving into the Santiam and McKenzie systems.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Fish on!!! Big Lava Lake continues to produce stellar catches of beautiful rainbow trout.
  • Trout fishing on the Crooked River has been good, and the recent population survey found larger trout this year compared to recent years.
  • Kokanee fishing has been good on Odell and Paulina lakes.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing continues to be good in several area lakes and reservoirs including Balm Creek, Thief Valley and Unity reservoirs and Highway 203 and Burns ponds.
  • The BLM has opened access up to Fish Lake on Steens Mountain and fishing should be good over the holiday weekend.
  • The Powder River is open for spring chinook with a daily bag limit of two fish.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing for 8 to 10-inch crappie continues to be good on McKay Reservoir.
  • Jubilee Lake has been stocked and the boat ramp will be open in time for the Fourth of July weekend.
  • Shad fishing on the Columbia River below McNary Dam is heating up.

SNAKE RIVER ZONE

  • Crappie are spawning and fishing is good at Brownlee Reservoir, especailly from a boat. Use jigs with a crappie nibble. Bass are biting but are fairly small. Some large catfish are being caught. Trolling for trout is fair. The reservoir is full. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.
  • Fishing for crappie with jigs from the bridge at Oxbow on Hells Canyon Reservoir is good.  Trout fishing should be good near the mouths of tributaries

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Effective June 26 angling is open for adipose fin-clipped summer chinook, adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead, and sockeye from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to the Oregon/Washington Border.
  • Shad fishing is fair below Bonneville Dam.
  • Sturgeon fishing is fair near Astoria.

MARINE ZONE

  • A few intrepid saltwater anglers were successful at landing albacore tuna last week. Some were more than 90 miles off shore, with the nearest report being about 50 miles offshore. As of last weekend, fewer than a hundred fish have been landed. By comparison, in 2007 more than 1,800 tuna were landed by the end of June.
  • Fishing for marked coho south of Cape Falcon to the Oregon/California border opened Saturday (June 26). Only about one angler in 10 were successful at landing a coho last week. Only marked coho (all coho must have a healed adipose fin clip) may be retained. That season will run through Sept. 6 or until the quota of 26,000 marked coho is met, which ever comes first. The bag limit is two salmon.
  • Fishing for Chinook was slow again last week with fewer than one in seven anglers landing a fish. The “All Salmon Except Coho” salmon season from Cape Falcon to Oregon/California  border opened May 29 and runs through Sept. 6. Bag Limit: Two salmon.
  • North of Cape Falcon to the Oregon/Washington border the “Selective Chinook Season” opened June 12 with few reports of fish landed. Fishing for chinook will continue through earlier of June 30 or 12,000 marked Chinook quota. Bag Limit: All salmon except coho. Two salmon per day, all retained Chinook must have a healed adipose fin clip.
  • Fishery managers added two days to the all-depth sport halibut fishery off the central Oregon coast. Fishing for Pacific halibut will be open July 1 and 2 at all depths. Being open for three days had a high likelihood of exceeding the spring quota, which would come out of the much-smaller summer quota. Based on that, and the fact that the next opening is for the 4th of July holiday weekend fishery managers decide to go with only two days. If any quota remains after that time, it will be rolled into the quota for the summer fishery.
  • Fishing for lingcod remained at about one fish for every two anglers targeting lingcod. Most anglers surveyed filled their limit of bottom fish. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.

Lack Of Upwelling Bad, Maybe Good News For Oregon Anglers

June 29, 2010

As giddy as we were about last weekend’s tuna catch 90 miles out of Newport, a bit of sobering news today about early-season ocean conditions off Oregon’s Central Coast.

“We have had the lowest amount of upwellings so far this year that anyone’s seen in 25 years. We have a very unproductive ocean out there right now,” says Brandon Ford, a marine resource specialist at ODFW’s office right across the street from the boat launch.

He says a remotely operated vehicle recently found 100 feet of visibility at Stonewall Banks, some 20 nautical miles out of Yaquina Bay.

Great for divers, but also indicative of “nothing in the water for anyone to eat.”

Visibility at the banks is usually just 10 feet, he says.

“It was spooky it was so clear,” Ford says.

The Pacific off Oregon is not completely devoid of food — gray whales, orcas and, of course, lots of halibut have been spotted out of Newport over the last month — but this spring and summer’s odd, cool weather due to El Nino has broken down the “northwest wind machine” that usually produces rich upwellings off the shore, bringing a smorgasbord of feed for all sorts of marine critters.

“What it does is it pushes the surface water inshore and draws up the cold, deep water that’s very nutrient-rich,” says Ford. “It hits the photo layer, causes an algae explosion and that triggers everything.”

Too much of an explosion, when bacteria can’t deal with the ocean’s extreme productivity, has caused anoxic dead zones in the past.

At the moment, he’s more worried about feeding conditions greeting outmigrating Chinook and coho smolts.

“Unless we get some winds …,” he says, but adds, “It’s almost too late for this year.”

Bill Peterson, a NOAA oceanographer also in Newport, also worries about what this year’s inconsistent winds may mean for young salmon and steelhead as well as sea birds which time their runs to the ocean and nesting to meet food availability — but he also points out that the lack of winds may benefit albie anglers.

“When the winds stop blowing in July and August, tuna can come in super-close to shore — 5 or 10 miles,” he says.

The upwelling basically forms a thermal barrier that blocks warmer tuna waters otherwise pushing toward the beach.

“People don’t realize offshore off Oregon stays warm all year round,” Peterson says.

Boats are out catching tuna in April, 300 miles offshore, he says.

But wait, I asked Peterson, if there’s 100 feet of viz and no food at Stonewall, why the hell would tuna come cruising in so close?

He doesn’t know exactly what they feed on, but points out that tuna, a blue-water species, have evolved to deal with the problem of finding forage in low-food environments.

“It’s the dilemma of a warmwater fish that’s warmer than the ocean. They’re stuck living in tropical water, but they can swim fast and chase anything down,” Peterson says.

More northerly fish can’t fin as fast, but live in far richer environments, he points out.

For this year, there’s time for the upwellings to kick in. Peterson says 2005 started out this same way — a neighbor of Ford’s caught tuna 5 miles out of Depoe Bay that summer — but by mid-July, the winds kicked in and it “ended up being a good year.”

But at this point the tuna fishing has a looooooong way to go. Ford points out that by this time during 2007′s huge tuna season, 1,800 had been brought back to the dock coastwide. So far, only 19 have been counted, though that tally is only for Newport.

The Central Coast’s first sport Chinook fishery in two years has also started out “poor … on the order of one in 10 anglers have been catching a salmon.”

Meanwhile, as if all that wasn’t enough bad news, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch yesterday tossed a “stink bomb” on the state’s commercial fleet when it recommended consumers “avoid” wild-caught salmon off Oregon south of Cape Falcon because they claim the fisheries are unsustainable.

That’s due to the “perilous” state of the Sacramento River fall king run, Seafood Watch explained to The Oregonian.

Defends Ford, “We took a very conservative position on the number of fish we can catch.”

Wenatchee Sockeye Manager Not In Gambling Mood

June 28, 2010

Sure, the numbers look outlandishly good at downstream dams and the preseason forecast has been doubled — just don’t expect that to translate into an automatic Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishery this summer.

“I’d say at this point it’s unlikely,” says Jeff Korth, WDFW’s regional fishery manager in Ephrata, this afternoon. “I gambled last year and I lost, and I’m not likely to do that again.”

Mathematical formulas based on downstream dam counts pointed to a run of 30,000 and led him to sign off on a fishery at the Chelan County lake last summer. However, only 15,000 actually came back, he says.

The run was also hit with substantial and unexpected” mortality due to very warm river conditions below the lake, forcing managers to close the season after only seven days of fishing.

Korth says that when he and other biologists talked about opening other waters in his region to sockeye fishing late last week, they went “around and around” about Lake Wenatchee, but couldn’t come up with a “for sure” way to predict that system’s run.

He claims there’s a strange inverse relationship with the size of the Okanogan River’s run.

“It’s likely we’ll see over 300,000, but like I say, the larger the run, the smaller the run” back to Lake Wenatchee, Korth says.

He anticipates only 7 or 8 percent of those fish to turn left at the Wenatchee and make for the faux-Bavarian town of Leavenworth, upstream of which is the lake.

“I need 25,000 to open it up any reasonable amount of time,” says Korth.

That number of fish would provide a surplus of 2,000 catchable salmon — a season for which might last a week, he says — and still leave enough in the lake to meet the escapement goal of 23,000.

About the only thing from a management perspective that makes sense any sense to Korth is that the lake opens every four years. Besides last year, it did so in 2008, 2004, 2001 and 1993.

Still, he will be monitoring the count at Tumwater Dam, 24 miles below the lake, and the last gatepost the salmon cross on their journey home.

“If we reach escapement, we’ll still have time to fish on them,” Korth says.

Stay tuned, and in the meantime, hit the upper Columbia’s pools if you want sox, man. Korth reminds us that the daily limit is a whopping six adult salmon.

Only three of those may be Chinook, and only one of those wild.

Marijuana Growers Invade Northwest Hunting Grounds

June 28, 2010

‘They were in some of the best hunting areas I know,’ says one hunter; ‘Grave concern over the threat to public safety,’ says a WDFW official.

ROYAL CITY, Wash.–Washington outdoorsmen say illegal marijuana gardens are cropping up where they chase big game and varmints, look for morels and near trails to alpine lakes, and if trends continue, a record number of plants could be seized on those public lands this summer.

AN OFFICER BELIEVED TO BE WDFW'S SHAWN MYERS CARRIES MARIJUANA PLANTS SEIZED AT A CHELAN COUNTY, WASH., BUST IN 2008. (SGT. DOUG WARD, WDFW)

Pot is now being cultivated everywhere from the Westside’s blacktail forests to the heart of North-central Washington’s mule deer country to the moose-rich northeastern corner to the creek bottoms of the Columbia Basin where ducks and doves gather along trophy trout waters.

“They were in some of the best hunting areas I know,” says a Northeast Washington man who turned in several 100- to 200-plant grows to law enforcement officials the last two years, and who asked not to be identified.

The largest plantations, funded by Mexican drug cartels, can be ten times as big and are protected by well-armed men.

“I take extra caution this time of year when I’m out and about,” says one North-central sportsman who wouldn’t have thought twice when heading afield just seven or eight years ago. “I’m not too worried about wolves, but being from the Okanogan Valley and hearing the stories, I wouldn’t leave home without a firearm.”

Then there are environmental issues. Growers terrace mountainsides, divert streams and springs, use a range of insecticides and pesticides and leave thousands of pounds of trash behind after late summer’s harvest.

Whether legalizing marijuana would bring a halt to the danger and damage is a good question, but in the here and now, as high summer comes on and with a low snowpack last winter, even more of the highly sophisticated, labor-intensive operations could be in the Evergreen State.

“I think this year’s going to be conducive,” says Lt. Richard Wiley of the Washington State Patrol.

WHAT’S BELIEVED TO BE the first bust of 2010 – “the earliest recorded growing effort in that area yet” – was discovered accidentally April 30 on state land near Royal City.

Department of Fish & Wildlife enforcement officers were actually training how to take down grows when they came across a suspicious bootprint at the Lower Crab Creek Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area.

“You always prepare for the unknown, but did we expect to detect a grow? No, we were surprised,” says WDFW Deputy Chief Mike Cenci.

According to the USA Today, 75 to 80 percent of outdoor marijuana grows occur on public lands, “right in the middle of our patrol beats,” wrote Cenci for a 2009 International Game Warden Magazine article.

He describes the location of the Crab Creek bust as in almost “impenetrable” Russian olive groves – “You can hardly see in front of you; your field of view is like 10 feet.”

Perfect escape habitat for cagey wild rooster pheasants – several of which Cenci saw – and good for growing pot.

The crop had yet to be planted, but camp was “fully outfitted” with propane tanks, sacks of fertilizer, hand tools and a mile of irrigation line to water the 1,700 to 2,000 seed cups with five seeds apiece that officers found.

“The ingenuity and work that goes into it is incredible,” says Wiley. One Washington grow was linked to water by 4 miles of buried hose, he says.

Indeed, these are not your everyday gardens or gardeners. He says the cartels put on “big training sessions” for how to run it all.

“The trend now is a live-in grower,” adds Cenci. “You hang out with your plants.”

He says the Royal City tender somehow escaped, but left two rifles behind.

“The growers are usually armed, a risk to us, a risk to sportsmen,” Cenci says.

During a 2008 bust near San Jose, Calif., a warden was shot in both legs and a grower killed. Cenci and eight other fish and wildlife cops went into the brush heavily armed – German-made submachine guns, semi-auto handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammo.

WDFW FISH AND WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS WHO ASSISTED IN THE LOWER CRAB CREEK BUST. (WDFW)

“I have a grave concern over the threat to public safety,” he says. “I generally look to California for trends, and the trend as it relates to this issue is not pretty. There have been a number of encounters with growers where the public narrowly escaped harm.”

Growers actually don’t want attention, and to limit it, food is backpacked in occasionally by a “lunchman.”

They also hunt and fish during the three to four months the marijuana needs to ripen. Birds, rabbits and fish made up part of the diet for guys at a 12,000-plant grow on Saddle Mountain National Wildlife Refuge north of the Tri-Cities busted in 2008. Those at a Republic-area grow last year butchered a moose.

WASHINGTON AND California are the top two outdoor marijuana-growing states, according to Wiley.

Since the border was tightened after 9-11 and then as eradication efforts ramped up, the number of plants found on Washington’s national and state forests, parks, recreation and wildlife areas as well as tribal and other lands has grown from 6,500 in 2001 to 589,000 last year.  In dollar terms, the confiscation of 228,000 plants in Oregon in 2009 represented a $451 million loss to the cartels, The Oregonian reported in late April.

“Our guess is we’re not finding most of them,” says Det. Steve Brown of the North-central Washington Narcotics Task Force.

The Evergreen State is the second most densely populated state in the West, but as hunters and anglers know, it also has vast amounts of remote land and tens of thousands of miles of logging roads and trails.

Thanks to the Eastside’s fruit orchards, vineyards and the Columbia Basin Project, there’s a ready supply of irrigation equipment and plenty of water to go along with hot summers. And with a little bit of pruning, the woods can be opened up to let more light in on the crop, yet still be tight enough to evade aerial detection.

“They cut rooms out inside the thickets and leave an upper story of canopy for cover from helicopters and planes,” says a Grant County hunter.

HE STUMBLES onto the abandoned sites near springs and drainages in fall while stalking deer, in winter while pursuing coyotes or looking for shed antlers in early spring.

“But after April 1, I try to avoid the brush because of them,” he says.

In spring and summer, mushroom pickers, off-trail alpine anglers, hunters scouting for deer, bear and elk and other outdoor users also stand a higher chance of coming across a plantation and its tenders.

“It’s an issue that’s a lot more concerning than a lot of people think,” says the Okanogan Valley outdoorsman, who also requested anonymity. “It’s definitely without a doubt one of the biggest concerns sportsmen have in our area anymore.”

The grows at Royal City and Saddle Mountain were at low elevation, but many are concentrated between 3,000 and 6,000 feet. They’ve been found everywhere from the high country between Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens to Sun Mountain near Winthrop to Tiger Mountain outside Seattle.

MOUNTAIN-SIDE GROW OP IN NORTHERN WASHINGTON. (NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON NARCOTICS TASK FORCE)

“While some signs will serve as warnings to hunters and fishers, the risk of stumbling onto a grow unaware is high. We are trying to educate the public,” Cenci says.

Sometimes it’s obvious something illegal is going on in the area – “wrong type of cars and people in the mountains,” recalls one Wenatchee-area hunter – but the best advice if you run across a grow is to get out of the area quickly.

“We advise people don’t talk to growers, don’t walk around the grow, punch in a GPS waypoint and walk out,” Brown says.

IN FALL 2007, a deer hunter reported a site way up Goat Creek, in western Okanogan County’s Methow Valley, that had been “put to bed” for the season, Brown says, “tarps on everything for use the next year.”

Sure enough, growers came back – and so did the sheriff one August day. The raid netted 10,000 plants and one arrest, Moyses Mesas-Barajas, 43, of Michoacan, Mexico.

That hunter could have collected up to $5,000. Funded by grants from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the State Patrol operates a special tip line to report grows. The amount available fluctuates year to year, but in 2009, it paid out $65,000, Wiley says.

“We have a formula for how many plants and how many arrests are made for how much of a reward they get,” he says. “It’s fairly successful. Ten to 15 percent of the plants that we eradicate every year comes from tips.”

Online, some hunters grumble they’ve called in tips and not been paid, but others also speak of handsome rewards – $4,000 for one up the Wynoochee Valley in the mid-1990s, $5,000 for one in Eastern Washington last year.

The key to collecting is to call (800) 388-GROW rather than local police departments (the line is a clearinghouse; info will be forwarded to sheriffs and regional task forces).

You can also report anonymously, but must stay on the line and talk to a person to be eligible for the money. Information on how to report after-hours tips can be found at wsp.wa.gov/crime/hotline.htm.

ERADICATION IS ONLY part of the battle for wildland managers, though.

“Environmental damage is a huge problem for people who have to clean them up,” says Brown.

Tanks of harmful chemicals and fertilizers, as well as trash and more must be gathered and hauled out from the backcountry.

“The expense is enormous,” Brown says. “A lot are in remote areas, so it has to be helicoptered out, and that’s not cheap for a couple days.”

Forest Service crews returned to Goat Creek last year to tear down makeshift housing, fencing and a watchtower, fill in water catch basins and rehab the grounds. Over 200 pounds of fertilizer as well as chemical containers were cleaned up to prevent spillage that might harm wildlife or water quality – all in all a huge effort that took workers and resources away from other projects and cost $12,906.22.

HELICOPTERING OUT SEIZED PLANTS DURING AN AUGUST 2008 RAID ON A GROW OP IN WASHINGTON'S MULE DEER RICH UPPER METHOW VALLEY. (OKANOGAN COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE)

In trying to impart the seriousness of the issue, Cenci needles his wildlife area managers when they get bent after someone parks in the wrong spot at an access site.

“Twenty thousand-plant grows are a little more of an impact,” he says, calling for more education and money to deal with the issue.

“We do need to throw more resources at this problem,” Cenci says. “The public safety danger and environmental impacts are beginning to dawn on folks.”

In the meanwhile he vows to continue to protect state wildlife lands.

“We can’t eradicate dope, but we can try to keep it off our lands,” he says. “We’re going to be aggressive about going after them.”

SW WA Fishing Report

June 28, 2010

Sammy the Sockeye is a persistent little guy.

He’s checked into the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery at least three times over the last seven days.

The fish first showed up early last week, was marked and then “recycled” back downriver to the Massey Bar boat launch on June 21.

Two days later he had swum back to the hatchery, was trucked back to Massey, and then showed up again on Friday.

“He’s determined,” said a staffer at the hatchery this afternoon.

With the hatchery trap not operating on weekends we’ll know later today if the spunky salmon has shown up again, she says.

Because he’s a wild sockeye — probably part of this year’s whopper return up the Columbia — anglers can’t keep him if they land him. Every year a handful turn left at the Cowlitz.

But it’s also not unheard of for salmonids to repeatedly return. She says a biologist once put a tracking device into a steelhead.

“He tracked him come back eight times,” she says.

There you go.

Here’s the rest of the Southwest Washington fishing report, courtesy of that oft-emailing bio, Joe Hymer:

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 490 summer-run steelhead, 66 spring Chinook adults, 16 jacks, 39 mini-jacks and three sockeye salmon during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released four spring Chinook adults and 13 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 7,800 cubic feet per second on Monday, June 28. Water visibility is 14 feet.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 1,926 salmonid bank anglers below Bonneville Dam with 133 adult and 10 jack summer Chinook, 136 steelhead, and 38 sockeye. In addition, we sampled 706 salmonid boat anglers (330 boats) with 29 adult and 3 jack summer Chinook, 40 steelhead, and 1 sockeye.   Overall, 59% of the adult Chinook and 72% of the steelhead caught were kept.  Just 2 of the sockeye were kept.

WDFW staff sampled the John Day Pool this past week for summer chinook harvest. Staff interviewed 60 boats (150 anglers) and 36 bank anglers.  An estimated 53 hatchery summer chinook were harvested.  An additional 14 wild adult chinook were released.  All chinook were caught and harvested by the bank anglers.

In addition to salmon, WDFW staff record the information from all other anglers. For the week

Walleye: 15 boats with 43 walleye;

Shad: 26 boats with 203 shad;

Sturgeon: 8 boats with 25 sturgeon (Catch & Release)

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines downstream – At the Deep River and Knappton ramps, boat anglers averaged a legal kept per every 5.8 rods.  Bank anglers also caught a few legals.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Marker 82 – Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal area caught some legals.  Slow elsewhere.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged nearly 3 smallmouth bass per rod when including fish released.  Some walleye are also being caught.

TROUT

Riffe Lake – Landlocked coho fishery is still hot.

Swofford Pond – Bank anglers are catching some rainbows and bluegills.

Goose Lake (north of Carson) – No report on angling success.  Planted with 3,000 catchable size brown trout and 3,000 catchable size cutthroats June 22.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Except for a couple boat anglers that had good luck in the Longview area, anglers averaged 0-1.4 shad per rod when including fish released.

The Dalles Pool – Bank and boat anglers are still catching some fish.

First Albies Greet NWS July ‘It’s On’ Issue

June 28, 2010

“‘It’s On!’” reads the cover of the tuna-tackling July issue of Northwest Sportsman just as reports of the first sport-caught albies of the year crop up!

According to reports on ifish and Northwest Wild Country, tuna were caught the weekend of June 25-26 well over the horizon from Newport, sending more than a few salty dogs into delirium — “How far (is) the 126 (line) from Provo??” writes Reel Obsession– and ushering in what could be a fantastic season.

While other regional and national magazines completely ignore this booming fishery, Northwest Sportsman has you covered with advice from our very own tuna hound, Andy Schneider. He interviews Tron Bull of Secret Island Fishing (907-738-4500) who was in on last weekend’s fishing.

“These fish will be eating everything they can, as fast as they can,” Bull tells Schneider. “Once it’s on, IT’S ON!”

The duo detail how to get in on the early-season bite, while Rob Tobeck of The Outdoor Line in Seattle speaks with another salty dog, Capt. John Keizer, for more tips.

But just in case all this albacore is Albanian to you, our Saltwater columnist Larry Ellis has an A to Z guide about what the hell everything from Albacoritis to cedar plugs to feathers to Mexican flags to pinheads to SSTs to zucchinis.

Elsewhere on the briny blue, our July issue covers the Chinook scene at Sekiu, Neah Bay and Central Puget Sound while Mark Veary launches his tupperware boat into the surf of Oregon’s Central Coast to tackle salmon just off the breakers.

If you’re more content to stick to fresher waters, fantastic, have we got a couple of GREAT runs for you to target!!

With six of the seven largest daily counts of sockeye ever recorded at Bonneville Dam over the past week and a half, Leroy Ledeboer details how to waylay those BC-bound buggers up in the Brewster Pool.

And with another big return of summer steelhead forecast to the Columbia, Terry Otto’s got the scoop on where to fish in the immediate Portland-Vancouver area as well as up- and downstream from there.

Buzz Ramsey, the legendary Northwest anglers, has tips on how to go about catching these fish sans snag-ups.

Local boy Jason Brooks reveals how to whack and stack summer Chinook below Wells Dam on the upper Columbia while Ellis went on one hell of a long road trip to map Brownlee Reservoir’s outstanding summer crappie and catfish bites.

Duane Dungannon, president of the Oregon Hunters Association, previews antelope season while Wil Askew discusses how Beaver State kids can score “first-time” tags.

Dave Workman, who’s gone on one or two hunting trips, talks about why you must bring along an extra rifle scope this season while new trout fishing columnist “Uncle Wes” Malmberg walks us through how to make a pretty mean worm troll.

And as if all that isn’t enough, we’ve also got articles on how marijuana growers are invading Northwest hunting grounds, the Dishonor Roll, bussin’ it to the fishin’ hole, how new technology is allowing salmon managers to map Chinook stocks at sea and the most outlandish fishing hat you’ll ever see. Period.

“Gross,” said my wife when she saw the photo.

All inside our huge July issue.

It’s on its way to homes and newsstands now!

Hi, My Name Is Attila The Fishing Hun

June 28, 2010

Just as parts of Oregon saw good runs of salmon this spring, so too was there a bumper crop of snaggers, if reports in the Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division’s monthly newsletter are indication.

Troopers wrote up piles of citations on the Rogue River as well as Big and Gnat Creeks.

They also ticketed overlimit clam diggers, rolled their eyes at fresh freelance adipose fin surgery, found numerous anglers fishing with two rods sans that pesky second-fish-pole validation, and dealt with all sorts of strange cases in the outdoors.

Here are high, err, lowlights ripped straight from OSP’s May newsletter:

HMMM, FUNNY HOW THIS HOMEMADE RULER MEASURES LONG

Sgt. Lea (Coos Bay) contacted three sport boat anglers at the Port of Charleston who said they caught several rockfish and two lingcod. Lea asked to see the lingcod and was told they were buried in a cooler but was assured they were over 23”.

The anglers were persuaded to produce the fish for inspection. The subjects had placed the fish on a homemade measuring board that indicated the fish were about 23” long; however, the measuring board was marked incorrectly, and the fish measured 19” and 20”.

Lea cited the boat owner and seized the fish.

NO FISHING ON WEDNESDAYS? PAH, THAT’S ONLY FOR PEOPLE WHO FOLLOW THE RULES

Rct. Herman (Astoria) and Tpr. Schwartz (St. Helens) conducted a boat patrol on the Columbia River. They contacted one angler using two rods. A consent search located several sturgeon fillets the angler said he caught that morning. The angler did not have a license or tag, and Wednesdays are closed to sturgeon. The angler also had a warrant.

The troopers lodged the angler at the Columbia County Jail and cited him for Angling Prohibited Method—Two Rods, No Valid Harvest Card, and Unlawful Possession of Mutilated Game Fish.

HI, MY NAME IS ATTILA THE FISHING HUN

Sr. Tpr. Frerichs (Roseburg) observed a subject catch several steelhead smolts on the north Umpqua River. The subject violently jerked the hook and guts out of two smolts, killing them, and tossed them into the river dead. The subject continued to catch more smolts until Frerichs contacted him.

The subject said he did not know trout season was closed.

Frerichs cited him for Failure to Release Trout Unharmed.

BIG HAUL — FOR OFFICERS

Tpr. Schwartz and Tpr. Vogel (St. Helens) conducted a Multnomah Channel and Gilbert River boat patrol …

While Schwartz approached a group of six anglers with eight active rods, one angler attempted to cut his line off but failed to clear the line from the rod’s tip. While discussing two rods, Schwartz noted a measuring tape and pliers near the water’s edge. He approached the tools and observed parachute line tied to nearby vegetation and leading into the water. He pulled up the line and discovered five undersized sturgeon, with three under 32 inches.

The subjects admitted to catching the sturgeon, as well as knowing they were illegal.

The troopers issued three citations for Unlawful Retention of Undersized Sturgeon, one for Aiding in a Wildlife Offense, two for Angling Prohibited Method—Two Rods three for Angling Prohibited Method—Barbed Hooks, two for No Angling Harvest Card, and warnings for Angling Prohibited Method—Multiple Hooks and Angling Prohibited Area.

Vogel contacted anglers upstream and issued citations for No Angling License and Angling Prohibited Method—Two Rods.

In all, troopers issued 18 citations and seized and released five sturgeon.

SO, I SHOT THIS BOBCAT WAY OUT OF SEASON … OH, YOU’RE AN OFF-DUTY FISH & WILDLIFE DIVISION OFFICER? WHOOPS.

Sr. Tpr. Cushman (Central Point) finished the follow-up on a subject hunting bobcat out of season who Sgt. Hand (Klamath Falls) initially contacted on his day off while Hand was turkey hunting.

The suspect actually took a picture of Hand and the turkey Hand bagged while bragging about his out-of-season bobcat success. The suspect was obviously unaware of who he was talking to.

As a result of the investigation, Cushman cited the suspect for No Hunting License and seized what was left of the bobcat. Cushman also warned the suspect’s hunting partner for similar offenses. Both men were extremely cooperative, especially when they realized who they had bragged to was a Fish and Wildlife sergeant.

BAD WEEKEND FOR YOUNG MAN

Sr. Tpr. Pearson (The Dalles) stopped a man on the Deschutes River access road in Maupin for a hazardous moving violation. The 20-year-old had consumed beer but was determined to be under the influence. He had a suspended driver license and was not wearing his seat belt. Pearson cited the subject for MIP—Alcohol, Driving while Suspended, Failure to Maintain a Single Lane, Failure to Wear Seat Belt, and UPCS—Less than One Ounce of Marijuana.

That same evening, Pearson and Sr. Tpr. Lindberg (Madras) spotted the subject near his campsite several miles downriver with six other subjects, and four were underage and in possession of alcohol. The troopers cited the four minors for MIP—Alcohol.

The next day, the troopers drove by the subject’s camp and noted him carrying a fishing rod and an open can of beer near the river. They cited him again for MIP— Alcohol. The subject angrily broke his rod over his knee to show his displeasure. He also did not have an angling license, but he had not started fishing when observed near the river.

WHAT A FINE MOM

While conducting angling license checks on the Clackamas River near Gladstone, Tpr. Fromme (Portland) noted a male and a female approaching him from the High Rocks area. When the female saw Fromme, she turned away and jumped over the bank into the briar bushes lining the Clackamas River.

Upon contact with the male, he told Fromme he did not know who the female was, but she had just ran across I-205, crossing both northbound and southbound traffic lanes.

He also told Fromme that the female she said was lost, extremely intoxicated, and looking for her children.

Fromme eventually found the female, who was very intoxicated. When he contacted the subject, Fromme could see full body scratches she sustained from falling down the embankment. He also noted she was soaking wet from falling into the Clackamas River.

Fromme’s subsequent investigation found her to be on felony post prison supervision with a no-alcohol clause. The subject stated she was lost and was trying to find her two infant children who she had left at a party with her fiancé.

Fromme took the subject into custody on a detention warrant and lodged her in the Clackamas County Jail without incident. Fromme was able to find the children and fiancé who were notified of the arrest.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.