Sockeye Opening On Upper Columbia

June 28, 2010

With the sockeye run now exceeding even the updated run forecast, anglers will be able to fish for the salmon even further up the Columbia.

WDFW announced that fishing on the river above Priest Rapids Dam as well as in the Okanogan and Similkameen Rivers starts as early as this Thursday, July 1.

With the big bag limit, you could keep up to six sockeye a day.

As of this morning, the dam count at Bonneville stands at 258,825, nearly 9,000 more than last week’s revised forecast that allowed managers to open up the river below PRD this past Saturday, 133,000 more than the preseason prediction, and nearly 200,000 more than the 10-year average — and this decade has seen some good runs in recent summers.

While it appears the peak of the run has now passed the dam, this year’s return will go down in the record books. It can claim six of the top seven daily counts at Bonneville since 1938, including the top two, last Thursday’s 30,690 and last Wednesday’s 30,374.

Here is more from WDFW’s emergency rule change notice:

Rule:   Daily limit 6 salmon. Up to 3 adult chinook, of which only one wild adult chinook  may be retained. Sockeye minimum size 12 inches.  All coho and steelhead must be released. Release all sockeye and chinook with floy (anchor) tag attached. There is an anti-snagging and night closure in effect for Rocky Reach Dam to Turtle Rock and the Okanogan and Similkameen Rivers.

Effective dates and locations:

(1) July 1 – Aug 31, 2010, Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to Wanapum Dam.
(2) July 1 – Oct 15, 2010, Columbia River from Wanapum Dam to Wells Dam.
(3) July 16 – Aug 31, 2010, Columbia River from Wells Dam to Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster.
(4) July 1, 2010 – Oct 15, 2010, Columbia River from Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster to Hwy 17 Bridge in Bridgeport.
(5) July 1, 2010 – Oct 15, 2010, Okanogan River from the mouth to Hwy 97 Bridge immediately upstream of mouth.
(6) July 1, 2010 – Sept 15, 2010, Okanogan River from Hwy 97 Bridge immediately upstream of mouth to Hwy 97 Bridge crossing at Oroville.
(7) July 1, 2010 – Sept 15, Similkameen River from the mouth to Enloe Dam.

Species affected: Sockeye salmon

Reason for action: Sockeye salmon returns above Priest Rapids Dam are predicted to be well in excess of needs for wild fish escapement to the spawning grounds.  The population is not listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Subpar Sturgeon Fishery Extended

June 25, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Anglers will get at least 15 more days to catch white sturgeon in the Columbia River estuary, beginning June 27.

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon, in a joint state meeting Thursday, agreed to extend the fishery after assessing catch data for the year to date.

The states’ action rescinds a closure scheduled June 27 and allows anglers to catch and retain legal-size white sturgeon through July 11 between the mouth of the Columbia and the Wauna powerlines near Cathlamet.

Those additional fishing days are designed to give anglers an opportunity to catch an estimated 6,550 sturgeon still available for harvest in the recreational fishery, said Brad James, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The catch guideline for that season is 9,600 fish.

“Both angler participation and sturgeon catch has been below expectations for the season,” James said. “That left room for some extra fishing days.”

As during the regular season, the daily catch limit is one white sturgeon, with a fork-length measurement of 41 inches to 54 inches. All green sturgeon must be released. Fishery managers will review the catch data after July 11 to determine if additional fishing opportunity is available under the catch guideline.

Sockeye Opens Tomorrow On Columbia

June 25, 2010

This news comes two days late for Julian Zirkle, but with record numbers of sockeye over Bonneville Dam this week, ODFW and WDFW today added the species to the two-adult-salmonid daily limit on the Columbia River between the Astoria-Megler Bridge and Priest Rapids Dam.

Notices from both agencies say season will open tomorrow, June 26, and run through July 31.

“I caught four of them,” says Zirkle, a tackle counter staffer at Fisherman’s Marine (503-283-0044) in Delta Park. “I was using small pink Spin-N-Glos, and did good with a bit of yarn on an egg loop.”

He dabbed a bit of shrimp gel on his yarn and kept his plunking outfit pretty tight to the beach.

“I was casting within 40 feet of the bank” based on his reel’s linecounter, Zirkle says.

He says his lead line was only an inch or two long.

Other anglers incidentally catching the salmon that day at Dibblee Beach near Rainier, Ore., were using shrimp tails. Joe Hymer, a fisheries biologist in Vancouver, adds dyed prawns and even Power Bait to the list of baits that yield sockeye.

A friend of Northwest Sportsman contributor Andy Schneider adds that sox have even taken whacks at Wobblers put out for Chinook in past years, but that sizing down to a smaller treble or siwash hook might be better. The friend, a plunker, indicates that the sockeye were also suspended 5 to 10 feet off bottom.

Zirkle reports the fish were from 3 1/2 pounds to 5 pounds.

While targeting hatchery summer Chinook and steelhead June 16-20, anglers caught and released an estimated 760 sockeye in the Lower Columbia, according to a fact sheet released yesterday. And though at least 195,122 have gone over Bonneville Dam through June 24, many more are still reported splashing around in near-shore areas all the way down to the big river’s estuary.

“Sockeye salmon returns to the Columbia River are now projected to be two times greater than predicted and the escapement needs for the Okanogan and Wenatchee rivers are likely to be achieved,” says a WDFW emergency rule change notice sent out by email. “These upper Columbia populations (Wenatchee and Okanogan) are not listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Impacts to the ESA-listed Snake River component are projected to be less than 1% of the run.”

The run back to Washington’s Wenatchee and Okanogan Rivers and Idaho’s Snake/Salmon River was originally estimated at 125,000 but updated earlier this week to 250,000, which raises the chances of opening Lake Wenatchee for sockeye retention sometime later this season.

The last five days alone have seen 138,076 clear Bonneville, including now the first (30,690; June 24), second (30,374; June 23), fourth (26,873; June 21), fifth (25,128) and sixth (25,011; June 20) largest daily counts on record back to 1938. One or two more days with counts anywhere near those tallies will put 2010′s run into the record books, topping 1955′s 237,448.

Sport anglers are expected to catch around 1,200, tribal fishermen more than 10 times that through July 8 in gillnet and hook-and-line fisheries.

While the salmon and steelhead daily limit remains six fish, only two of which may be adults, sockeye will count as part of the adult daily limit.  All other salmon other than hatchery chinook and sockeye must be released. Release all trout, including steelhead, from the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco upstream.

Meanwhile, back downriver, Zirkle has this advice for PDX/’Couv anglers interested in getting in on this emerging fishery:

“I’d say stay in close, use bright colors and smaller Spin-N-Glos,” he says.

WA Special Hunt Permit Aps, Sales Up Sharply

June 24, 2010

Earlier today we posted news that WDFW’s fishing license revenues jumped by over $2 million in the 2009-10 license year as the agency sold nearly 940,000 freshwater, saltwater, combo, shellfish and other permits.

A reader on our Facebook page wondered about how special hunting permit sales went, so we got back with a source at WDFW who just emailed us this:

“I’m pleased to tell you that we sold 230,000 special hunt permits this year, raising $1.1 million,” says Craig Bartlett, a spokesman in Olympia. “That’s up from 125,000 permits and $654,000 last year.”

Applicants are now allowed to make more choices than ever when applying to hunt deer, elk and other big game. In previous years, hunters could only apply for all deer — buck or antlerless — on one application, but this year, they could apply for bucks on one, antlerless on another.

Each application costs $6.50 for residents, $4.10 for youth under 16 years of age and $60.50 for non-residents.

“All of those additional revenues will be used to increase hunter access to private lands and improve habitat for game animals,” WDFW game division manager Dave Ware said. “We’ve already started working with landowners around the state to achieve those goals.”

Bartlett promises a news release later today.

2 More All-depth Hali Days Added

June 24, 2010

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

NEWPORT, ORE. –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.

“The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries and the International Pacific Halibut Commission decided that 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, it was decided to only open the fishery on Thursday and Friday (July 1 and 2),” said Lynn Mattes, halibut project leader for ODFW. “If any quota remains after that time, it will be rolled into the quota for the summer fishery, which begins in August.”

The spring all-depth season for the central coast area – from Cape Falcon (30 miles south of the Columbia River) to Humbug Mountain (south of Port Orford) – opened May 13 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only. It could have closed as early as June 5 if the 105,948-pound quota had been taken.

The central coast all-depth fishery summer season opens Aug. 6 and is scheduled to be open every other Friday and Saturday until the combined spring and summer season all-depth quota of 141,265 pounds is taken or Oct. 31, whichever comes first.

“The nearshore fishery (inside 40 fathoms) still has approximately 50 percent of its quota remaining, so fishery managers decide that no actions are necessary for that fishery at this time,” Mates said.

The high-relief area of Stonewall Bank is closed to halibut fishing to reduce incidental catch of yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish. Both species are considered over fished and must be released immediately. The closed area is defined by latitude and longitude waypoints, which are available on the Marine Resources Program Web site:  http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/regulations/sport_fishing/stonewall.asp

The daily bag limit is one fish and there is no minimum length for Pacific halibut. The possession limit is one daily limit at sea and three daily limits on land. The annual limit per angler is six fish.

Sport anglers are reminded possession of groundfish is not allowed north of Humbug Mountain when a Pacific halibut is aboard their vessel during all-depth Pacific halibut dates. The exceptions are Pacific cod (true cod, not lingcod) and sablefish (black cod) which may be retained with halibut between Humbug Mountain and Cape Falcon. Other non-groundfish species, such as tuna and salmon during authorized seasons, may be possessed with halibut on open all-depth Pacific halibut days.

More details on regulations can be found here or in the 2010 Oregon Sport Ocean Regulations for Salmon, Halibut and other Marine Species booklet. General regulations can be found in the 2010Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

WDFW Coffers Get Boost During Recession

June 24, 2010

Just as their angling brethren south of the Columbia took to the water when the economy tanked, so too did Washington fishermen — and WDFW’s coffers benefitted by a couple million bucks.

A whopping 939,455 bought fishing permits of all kinds during the April 1, 2009-March 31, 2010 license year, a 14 percent jump over the year before, and the most going back to at least 2001-2002, according to state figures obtained by Northwest Sportsman today.

“Whether that’s due to the economy, a new-found appreciation of fishing or a combination of factors is anyone’s guess,” says WDFW spokesman Craig Bartlett in Olympia.

While the statewide unemployment rate in 2009 was 8.9 percent, last summer saw very large returns of pink salmon to Puget Sound, coho to the Skagit River, and silvers and steelhead to the Columbia River system.

In fact, so many steelies returned to the upper Columbia and Southeast Washington that fishery managers required anglers keep every single hatchery fish they caught on the former and boosted limits to five a day on the latter.

Oregon, of course, shared in much of that same fishing bounty, and ODFW also saw best-of-the-decade freshwater resident fishing license sales during the state’s Jan. 1-Dec. 31 license year.

Even with unemployment as high as 11.6 percent, the agency sold 303,267, 30,000 more than the next closest year, 2007, when unemployment bottomed out in the low 5s, and 50,000 more than the lowest license sales year, 2005, when 6 percent were laid off.

Interestingly, the 2005-06 license year also saw the lowest sales of the decade in Washington too, 768,593, according to state stats.

The Idaho Department of Fish & Game reported their highest fishing license sales since 1999, nearly 473,600 last year as well.

The nearly 940,000 licenses Washington sold include freshwater, saltwater, combo, shellfish and other permits, and raised $20.4 million, nearly $2 million more than the next closest year, 2004-05, and $2.7 million more than 2009-09. A 10 percent surcharge approved by the state Legislature that went into effect late last July probably contributed to the total, though how much is unclear.

In WDFW’s $432 million 2007-09 operating and capital budgets, user fees such as commercial and recreational fishing and hunting licenses, fines and forfeitures, etc., contributed $65.8 million. The Federal government pumped in $128.7 million, the state general fund $110.4 million, and the balance came from local revenues, bonds and other sources.

Commercial and recreational fishing and hunting license fees,
fines and forfeitures, and miscellaneous revenue.

Area 1 Halibut To Close

June 24, 2010

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

Halibut fishing will close after Friday June 25 in Marine Area 1

Action:   Close the recreational halibut fishery in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) after Friday, June 25.

Effective date: 12:01 a.m. Sat. June 26, 2010.

Species affected: Pacific halibut

Location:   Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco).

Reason for action:   The halibut quota is expected to be met in Marine Area 1 after June 25, 2010.  Anglers are encouraged to check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website or hotline for information regarding re-openings.

Information contact: Heather Reed, (360) 249-4628 ext. 202.

A 30K Day At The Dam

June 24, 2010

After a slight dip in the dam count on Tuesday, sockeye poured over Bonneville in record numbers yesterday — 30,374.

That tops the previous high mark by 3,262 fish, a record that’s stood since July of 1955.

Not surprising, though, that it was topped. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday’s counts were the fourth, second and third highest, respectively, on record since dam counts began in 1938.

“Lots more fish yet to come based upon reports in the estuary,” says Joe Hymer, the oft-quoted fisheries biologist in Vancouver.

(COLUMBIA D.A.R.T.)

Yesterday’s tally also brings the total for the year to 164,432, nearly 3.5 times the 10-year average through June 23. The run typically is half over by June 25, according to a fact sheet from WDFW and ODFW out early this afternoon.

The surprising run spike may be due to high water conditions. It’s certainly led to salmon managers to spike the preseason forecast of 125,000; yesterday, Northwest Sportsman learned it had been doubled to 250,000.

“We’re recommending that we open on Saturday” for retention, says Cindy Le Fleur, a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Columbia River salmon manger in Vancouver, “but we’ve got to get the results of the meeting first.”

The meeting will be a teleconference with Oregon managers. If they buy into a fishery, the Columbia would open from the Astoria-Megler Bridge up to Priest Rapids Dam. Washington managers in Region 2′s Ephrata office would make the call on opening the river and reservoirs above PRD, she says.

“Sockeye catch is expected to remain well within ESA limits,” the fact sheet says. “The majority of the catch occurs below Bonneville Dam. Bonneville Dam passage will be 50% complete by the proposed retention start date. Staff estimates a total catch of less than 1,200 fish for the proposed season.”

The doubling of the forecast “should also allow the Wenatchee escapement goal of 23,000 to be met,” the sheet says.

The July issue of Northwest Sportsman covers how to catch sox in the Brewster Pool, as well as what’s driving big returns the past few seasons.

What’s Fishin’ In Washington

June 23, 2010

This spring’s weather has produced a mixed bag of good news, bad news for Washington anglers.

High rivers and rough seas are the bad for salmon and steelhead anglers while cool weather has kept trout lakes, well, cool and productive.

But as we slide into July, fishermen will get a new target: crab. Dungies open in most of Puget Sound, as do hatchery Chinook in the Straits.

Here’s more on what’s fishing around Washington, courtesy of WDFW’s Weekender:
NORTH PUGET SOUND

Fishing has been slow for anglers on the saltwater, but catch numbers could rise as more marine areas open for salmon in July. On the rivers, anglers continue to cast for steelhead and spring chinook, and some have recently hooked a few nice fish.

Meanwhile, the crab fishery opens July 1 in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island) and 12 (Hood Canal). Fisheries in those areas will be open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ 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 Marine Area 8-2, fishing continues to be slow at the Tulalip Bay “bubble” fishery , said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. 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.

The catch-and-release salmon fishery in the northern portion of Marine Area 10 continues through June 30. However, beginning July 1, anglers fishing in the marine area can retain up to two salmon daily with no minimum size limit. Anglers must release chinook salmon.

Another option is Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), which also opens July 1 for salmon. Anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon but can only keep one chinook. “The San Juans really started off strong last year,” Thiesfeld said. “Hopefully, the opener will be just as good this year.”

Looking for some competition? The Bellingham Salmon Derby is scheduled for July 9-11 with a top prize of $5,000. For more information on the derby, which is hosted by the Bellingham Chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers in association with the Northwest Marine Trade Association, is available at http://www.bellinghampsa.com/derby.htm .

In freshwater, portions of the Skagit, Cascade and Skykomish rivers are open for hatchery chinook salmon fishing. 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 for salmon 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).

The Skykomish is open from the mouth to the Wallace River through July 31. Anglers fishing that portion of the river have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook salmon. Jennifer Whitney, WDFW regional fish biologist, advises anglers to keep checking WDFW’s website for information about potential fishing regulation changes on the Skykomish River. “Returns to the Wallace River Hatchery so far have been way down this year,” she said. “We will continue to watch this run closely and if it doesn’t improve we may need to close the river to salmon retention to ensure the hatchery gets enough fish to meet its spawning goals.”

The Reiter Ponds section of the Skykomish River is also open for fishing and some anglers have had success hooking hatchery steelhead there recently. That section of the river (1,500 feet upstream to 1,000 feet downstream of the Reiter Ponds Hatchery outlet) opened June 12 after the hatchery collected enough steelhead broodstock to meet spawning goals.

Anglers should be aware that a section of the South Fork Stillaguamish River was mistakenly omitted from the new sportfishing rules pamphlet. That section of the Stillaguamish, from Mountain Loop Highway Bridge upstream, opened for gamefish June 5. Fishing regulations include catch and release, except two hatchery steelhead may be retained. Selective gear rules also apply, and fishing from a floating device with a motor is prohibited.

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 will have more options to catch salmon in the days ahead as coastal area open to retention of hatchery coho and unmarked chinook, and new fisheries open on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Crabbers will also be able to drop pots in seven popular areas of Puget Sound, starting July1.

Through June 20, salmon anglers had caught 2,759 marked chinook salmon in the state’s first selective chinook fishery off the Washington coast. All but a few hundred of those fish were taken in Marine Area 2 (Westport), where three in four anglers took home a fish. Mark rates for chinook have been averaging about 70 percent.

“The ocean fishery has been up and down from one day to the next, but anglers have definitely been taking home some nice chinook salmon,” said Doug Milward, WDFW ocean fisheries manager. “Chinook caught off Westport have been averaging around 15 pounds, which is big for this point in the season.”

Starting July 4, anglers fishing off Westport will also be able to count hatchery coho and unmarked chinook toward their daily limit. The new rule will take effect July 1 in marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay).

“Like the chinook, this year’s coho have been bigger than usual,” Milward said. “This fishery should keep getting better and better.”

Wendy Beeghley, a WDFW fish biologist who monitors the catch, asks that all anglers return completed logbooks after each day’s trip to help fishery managers keep track of the catch. “If you like this fishery, you can help keep it going by filling out the logbook and returning it to WDFW,” she said. Logbooks can be returned to fish checkers or by pre-paid mail.

Elsewhere, a chinook fishery will open in marine areas 5 and 6 (Strait of Juan de Fuca) on July 1. The daily limit in those two areas is two fish at least 22 inches in length. All wild salmon must be released.

Meanwhile, recreational halibut fishing went out with a bang June 19, when anglers fishing off Neah Bay and La Push closed out the season by catching most of what was left of this year’s quota.

The one-day opening, plus good weather, gave coastal anglers the chance to catch both salmon and halibut on the same day, and some took advantage of that unique opportunity, said Erica Crust, WDFW’s ocean port sampler.

Looking ahead, seven popular areas of Puget Sound will open to fishing for crab July 1, including marine areas 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1 (Deception Pass/Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan/Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal).

Dungeness and red rock crab seasons include:

* Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 and 13: Opened June 18 and run through Jan. 2.
* Marine areas 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 and 12 (much of Puget Sound) – Will open at 7 a.m., July 1 and are open Wednesday through Saturday through Sept. 6, and open the entire Labor Day weekend.

There is a daily limit of five Dungeness crab in Puget Sound. Minimum size is 6 ¼-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.

Trout and steelhead fishing got under way June 5 in area rivers, including the Skokomish, South Fork Skokomish and Dungeness. Anglers should note that selective gear rules are in effect on those rivers to protect wild summer steelhead. Details on rules and limits are online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

Tanwax Lake in Pierce County is off to a good start for largemouth bass and rainbow trout . In Kitsap County, Wildcat, Buck, Island and Wye lakes have all received high marks from anglers fishing for largemouth bass and trout. Duck Lake in Grays Harbor County also has been getting accolades from anglers fishing for trout and crappie .

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON

Summer chinook salmon are entering the lower Columbia River in large numbers, although catching them is proving to be a challenge. High, turbid water and floating debris have been giving anglers – especially boat anglers – a workout during the opening days of the season, said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.

“Conditions are definitely tough for boat anglers,” Hymer said. “People have been catching some nice fish, but they have to deal with some extra challenges due to the high water and debris.”

Under these conditions, fishing from the bank has some advantages, Hymer said. During creel checks conducted during the first week of fishing, 1,463 bank anglers caught 62 adult chinook and released 25. The 572 boat anglers checked that week reported catching 33 adult summer chinook salmon and releasing 15 others.

Under new rules effective this year, anglers may retain only hatchery-reared chinook with a clipped adipose fin and healed scar. All wild, unmarked fish must be released. That is also the case with steelhead , which are showing up in the catch from the mouth of the Columbia River to Bonneville Dam.

“The trade-off is that this year’s summer chinook fishery is scheduled to run straight through July, rather than just a couple of weeks like last year,” Hymer said. “That wouldn’t have been possible without moving to a selective fishery.”

During the first week’s creel check, bank anglers reported catching 61 steelhead and releasing 13 others. Boat anglers surveyed that week caught eight steelhead and released five more. Anglers fishing the Cowlitz River have also been catching some hatchery steelhead.

According to the pre-season forecast, 88,800 summer chinook will return to the Columbia this year – the largest number since 2002.  About a third of those salmon are estimated to be five-year-olds, some weighing up to 40 pounds.

Under this year’s rules, anglers may retain up to two adult hatchery chinook or hatchery steelhead (or one of each) on the mainstem Columbia River from the Megler Astoria Bridge upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco  All other salmon – including sockeye – must be released.

That may change, however, given the unexpectedly large number of sockeye counted at Bonneville Dam in recent days, said Cindy Le Fleur, WDFW Columbia River policy coordinator. As of June 22, just over 134,000 sockeye had been tallied at the dam – already more than predicted – and the 26,873 counted the previous day was the second-highest on record for a single day since 1938.

“The rule requiring anglers to release sockeye was adopted because Lake Wenatchee was not expected to reach its escapement goal this year,” Le Fleur said. Given the strong return, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon may reconsider that decision during a teleconference scheduled Thursday (June 24) at 3 p.m.

The scheduled closure of the sturgeon fishery downstream from the Wauna powerlines will also be up for reconsideration during that meeting, Le Fleur said. Sturgeon fishing has been slow in that area – and throughout the lower Columbia River – for a number of weeks, which may allow fishery managers to extend the season, she said.

Any changes in the sockeye retention rule or the sturgeon season below the Wauna powerlines will be announced on WDFW’s website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/ ), the statewide Fishing Hotline (360-902-2500), regional hotline (360-696-6211 ext. 1010) and in a statewide news release.

For anglers hungering for shad , the Dalles Pool is clearly the place to be. During the week ending June 20, bank anglers averaged nine shad per rod although fishing was slow for boat anglers.  Below Bonneville Dam, anglers have been averaging between zero and two shad per rod.

Rather catch warmwater fish? Boat anglers fishing The Dalles Pool have been averaging two walleye and a bass per rod. In the John Day Pool, 10 boats reported catching 15 bass and seven walleye.

At Riffe Lake, bank anglers fishing at the dam and Taidnapum have been averaging two landlocked coho per rod, kept or released. Anglers should also be aware that Goose Lake north of Carson was stocked with 2,500 catchable-size brown trout and 3,000 catchable-size cutthroat June 15.

EASTERN WASHINGTON

This is the time to fish Lake Roosevelt, including the Spokane River arm, for some of the tastiest freshwater fish – walleye . Bill Baker, WDFW northeast district fish biologist, said walleye are distributing throughout the waterway now that they’ve spawned. The daily catch limit is eight walleye and there’s no minimum size, although only one over 22 inches may be retained.

The Seven Bays area and many other spots upstream on the big reservoir are also good for kokanee and rainbow trout fishing. The daily catch limit for kokanee is six fish, although no more than two can be wild fish. The limit on trout is five, but only two over 20 inches may be retained.

With all three species of fish very catchable, it’s a good time to purchase the new $24.50 two-pole endorsement, which allows anglers to use two poles while fishing at Lake Roosevelt and many other lakes throughout the state. For more information about the endorsement, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/twopole/ .

Anglers might want to consider spending a weekend camping at one of the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area’s campgrounds – Evans, Fort Spokane, Gifford, Hunters, Keller Ferry, Kettle Falls and Spring Canyon. Most are on a first-come, first-served basis, but groups need to reserve camp sites. For details see http://www.nps.gov/laro/ .

Baker also noted that fishing has been good at many rainbow trout lakes in the northeast district. For example, Pend Oreille County’s Big Meadow Lake, about seven miles west of Ione on the Meadow Creek Road, is yielding catches of up to 16-inch rainbows.

At the opposite end of the region, the Tucannon River impoundments are cranking out catches of hatchery-stocked rainbow trout . The Tucannon River itself, from the mouth to the Tucannon Hatchery bridge, is also open to fishing.  Anglers who have purchased the new $8.75 Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement can retain up to three hatchery-marked steelhead from the Tucannon’s open waters through October. Selective gear rules and a prohibition on internal combustion motors are in effect upstream of the Turner Road bridge at Marengo.

WDFW’s W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman said Tucannon lake or river anglers, and other outdoor recreationists who camp on the area, are finding everything very green and lush, thanks to recent rains. But that ample vegetation will be fuel for wild fires soon, so she reminds visitors, including Fourth-of-July holiday celebrants, to comply with the area’s restrictions on fires and a ban on fireworks. All WDFW wildlife areas and water access sites throughout the region are under the same fireworks ban and similar fire restrictions. For details by area, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/ .

Anglers can get a little bit extra out of their fishing license at the Spokane Indians Baseball Club’s fifth annual “Fish and Wildlife Night” on Tuesday, July 6, when game tickets are discounted with the presentation of a valid fishing or hunting license. The game will feature fish and wildlife activities between innings and stadium fish and wildlife displays.

NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON

Bob Jateff, WDFW district fish biologist, said lowland lake fishing for rainbow trout has been holding up pretty well in the Okanogan district. “Cooler, wetter weather has been keeping the water temperatures down a bit, and that has contributed to better than average catch rates for the month of June,” he said.

Jateff said good selective-gear waters are Chopaka, Aeneas, and Blue lakes in the Sinlahekin, and Big and Little Twin lakes near Winthrop.  Other waters that are still providing decent fishing are Wannacut, Pearrygin, and Alta lakes.

WDFW Enforcement Officer Cal Treser recently reported checking numerous limits of trout on Lake Pearrygin, along with large crayfish. “If you want to try spiny ray fishing, fish Patterson Lake in the Winthrop area for yellow perch and Leader Lake west of Okanogan for bluegills and crappies ,” he said.

Jateff also noted the Methow River is still running high, but as water levels start dropping, resident rainbow and cutthroat trout will be catchable. Smaller creeks and rivers can provide fishing opportunities even when the major rivers like the Methow are still running high. “Anglers should pay close attention to the regulations on the Methow because there have been a few changes this year,” he said.

Chinook salmon fishing on the mainstem Columbia River and selected tributaries above Wells Dam is scheduled to start July 1.  New daily bag limits put in place this year will allow anglers to keep up to three adult chinook salmon, but only one of those can be a wild adult. Anglers should consult the current sportfishing rules pamphlet, because there are certain areas that anti-snagging and night closure rules are in effect.

SOUTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON

High water contributed to a slow start in the fishery for hatchery summer chinook salmon on the Columbia River downriver from Priest Rapids Dam and for hatchery steelhead downstream from the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco.  None of the 60 anglers surveyed in the John Day Pool had caught any salmon or steelhead, although fishing was good for other species.

During the week ending June 20, anglers fishing the John Day Pool caught 259 shad from 15 boats and 15 bass and seven walleye from 10 boats.

“The Columbia, Snake, Yakima and Walla Walla rivers are all running high, improving some fisheries, such as catfish , but making most of the fisheries, especially salmon, problematic,” said Paul Hoffarth, a WDFW fish and wildlife biologist in Pasco.

Hoffarth is optimistic that fishing will pick up for salmon and steelhead as river conditions improve and more summer chinook move past McNary Dam into the mid-Columbia and its tributaries.

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, Hoffarth said.

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

The spring chinook fishery runs through June 30 on the Yakima, and anglers continue to catch fish in the area between Union Gap and Roza Dam. Surveys indicate that the best fishing is between the Naches River and Roza Dam. There is a daily limit of two hatchery salmon with a clipped adipose fin; wild chinook must be released unharmed.

Water levels in the upper Naches and upper Yakima tributaries are continuing to drop and clear up. Eric Anderson, WDFW fish and wildlife biologist in Yakima, said his trend should continue in the weeks ahead into the summer months, when fishing in most tributaries should be good for wild trout, cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout.

Even though waters in the Columbia and Snake rivers remain high, fishing for smallmouth bass and walleye should improve as those waters recede and get warmer, Anderson said.

Sturgeon fishing remains open in Lake Wallula (McNary Dam to Priest Rapids/Ice Harbor Dams) through July of this year. Be aware, sturgeon fishing is prohibited 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 (white sturgeon sanctuaries).

Anderson reminds anglers that most streams have reduced catch and size limits for trout. In addition, there are catch-and-release zones on the Yakima River above Roza Dam, in sections of the Naches River and in Rattlesnake Creek where all trout must be released unharmed. In most large mainstem rivers and streams in the Yakima basin, anglers must use single barbless hooks and no bait.

Lake fishing in Central Washington remains strong, and WDFW is continuing to stock many lakes in the days leading up to the long Fourth of July weekend. Alpine lakes are also an option in the weeks ahead.

“The high country is starting to open up as the snow levels recede,” said Anderson.  “There are many excellent opportunities to fish high mountain lakes, most of which are hike- to only.”

Information on high lake stocking in Yakima and Kittitas counties can be obtained from the website link at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/regions/reg3/r3_highlakes.htm . Anglers need to check directly with WDFW’s regional offices for high lake fish stocking information in other areas.

Meanwhile, kokanee are biting at Keechelus and Rimrock lakes. While they generally run small (9-11 inches), Anderson points out that anglers can keep up to 16 of them daily.

Powerline Lake and Marmes Pond were planted with rainbow trout earlier this spring, but Hoffarth said the cooler temperatures this spring should keep the bite going for a couple more weeks. Both of these lakes are walk-in only.

Jumbo triploid trout are being 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 are being planted in Easton Pond in Kittitas County.

Other recent lake stocking reports can be checked at the WDFW website http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/stocking/weekly/ .

WDFW advises anglers to always check the fishing rules pamphlet for details on a specific river or stream, including what gear is allowed and catch limits. The Fishing in Washington Sportfishing Rules guide is available free at stores that sell fishing licenses. The pamphlet also can be downloaded at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ . That web page also contains a link to emergency rules that have been enacted since the pamphlet was published.

Sockeye Forecast Doubled – Fisheries Soon?

June 23, 2010

Salmon managers will get together via teleconference tomorrow to talk about this year’s surprising sockeye return to the Columbia, and could open a season as early as this weekend on the lower river if they like what they see.

Over 77,000 have gone over Bonneville Dam the last three days alone — “the second, third and fourth highest counts on record,” says Joe Hymer, a fisheries biologist in Vancouver — and word is that this season’s run forecast has been doubled to 250,000.

“Some folks think it will be higher than that,” says Hymer.

While Monday’s count of 26,783 came within 329 fish of tying the all-time record of 27,112 set July 7, 1955, a total of 134,058 have topped the dam through yesterday.

Not a lot is known about how to catch the shoreline-running salmon outside of an old fashioned fish wheel, but some sockeye have been caught incidentally and released by bank anglers probably plunking Spin-N-Glos and shrimp while targeting summer Chinook and steelhead in the Lower Columbia since last week’s opener.

“Reports on the river are that there are still sockeye rolling all the way down to the estuary,” Hymer adds.

The fish are running 3 1/2 pounds or so, with some out to 5 and 6 pounds, he says.

Based on passive integrated transponder, or PIT tag, data, a large number of sockeye counted at Bonneville appear to be bound for Lake Wenatchee. While the preseason forecast called for only 14,300 fish back to the Chelan County lake, a doubling of the run size would provide enough to open up a fishery there for the second season in a row.

Yesterday we reported that 1955′s run of 237,748 was the largest on record. That was the largest on record at Bonneville according to data from the Fish Passage Center, but did not include downstream harvest. Hymer says the all-time run record is 355,300 from 1947.

As for the summer Chinook fishery, it’s been clouded by high, dirty water, but true kings from the upper Columbia have begun entering the catch, including salmon to 40 pounds, Hymer says. Best fishing has been around Bonneville.

While the volume of water has been hampering anglers, it’s delighting Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association.

“Everybody’s salivating over the outmigrating spring Chinook smolts,” she said this afternoon. “Two years from now, I’ll buy you a beer, dinner, a guided fishing trip for springers if we don’t get 350,000 back.”

You’re on, Liz.

In the meanwhile, I’m scrounging around for more definitive wisdom on slaying sockeye in the lower river.

EDITOR’S NOTE: THE ALL-TIME RECORD FIGURE IN THE SIXTH TO LAST PARAGRAPH HAS BEEN UPDATED FROM 319,052 IN 1952 TO 335,300 IN 1947 AFTER FURTHER CHECKING BY THE SOURCE, JOE HYMER.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

June 23, 2010

Here’s the latest fishing roundup from around Oregon, courtesy of ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Spring chinook fishing on the upper Rogue has been good above Shady Cove.
  • Spring chinook fishing has also been good on the North Umpqua from Amacher up to Swiftwater.
  • 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: Water levels continue to be good for this time of year. Forecasted dry weather will allow the river to drop this week. Spring chinook and summer steelhead angling has been fair to good. Bobber and eggs will produce for chinook. Try spinners or bobber and jigs for steelhead as the water clears, especially in the upper river. With the good flows, boaters should find success with diving plugs or diver and bait. Fishing for cutthroat trout has been fair, with fish spread throughout the river.
  • Tillamook Bay; Fishing for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook has been consistently good, but is winding down as the month goes on. Fish are available throughout the bay and tidewater. Try trolling herring along the jetties (but stay out for the construction safety zone) or near the coast guard station, especially on softer tide series. Spinners or plugs usually produce best in the upper bay, with bobber and eggs/shrimp productive in tidewater areas. Fishing for sturgeon has been slow. Fish were reported to be jumping in the upper bay recently. Best catches generally come from the upper bay and Tillamook River tidewater during the summer time. Check baits frequently as small fish and crabs can clean your hooks quickly.
  • Trask River: Fishing for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook has been good. Fish are being caught throughout the lower river and up to the Dam Hole, with some fish available up to the county park. A few summer steelhead are available throughout the river. The season at the hatchery hole at Trask Hatchery closed to angling June 15.
  • Yaquina River: Angling for cutthroat trout is now open for the season. The Yaquina basin has a good population of cutthroat trout and can offer anglers great fishing opportunities. 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 46,000 spring chinook and 18,000 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

  • Fishing on Crane Prairie is the best it’s been in years with anglers catching fish up to 5 and 6 pounds.
  • Trout fishing on the Crooked River has been good, and the recent population survey found larger trout this year compared to recent years.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing has been good in several area lakes and reservoirs including Krumbo and Pilcher reservoirs and Highway 203 and Burns ponds.
  • Trout fishing is picking up on the Chewaucan Rivera above Paisley.
  • 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.
  • Trout fishing has been good on Kinney, Magone and Wallowa lakes.
  • Shad fishing on the Columbia River below McNary Dam is heating up.
  • There will be a free fishing event Saturday, June 26 at the Umatilla National Forest pond 5412.  The event begins at 9 a.m. and a hotdog lunch will be served at noon. The event is open to the public with special invitation to anglers under age 14. Sponsored by the Blue Mountain Flycasters and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. For information and directions please contact Bill Duke at the ODFW Pendleton office 541-276-2344.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Effective June 16 angling is open for summer chinook and summer steelhead from Tongue Point to the Oregon/Washington border.  Angling is slow but should improve when water levels decrease.
  • Shad fishing is good below Bonneville Dam.
  • Sturgeon fishing is fair near Astoria.

MARINE ZONE

  • Fishing for marked coho south of Cape Falcon to the Oregon/California border opens Saturday (June 26). 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.
  • Fishing for halibut was good last weekend. Fishery managers will meet later this week to determine if there is sufficient quota for more all-depth open days. Three more openings – July 1-3, July 15-17, and July 29-31 – are available as long as the total catch does not exceed 105,948 pounds.
  • Fishing for lingcod remained at about one fish for every two anglers targeting lingcod. Average catches of rockfish and greenling were about three to five per angler last week, depending on the port. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.
  • 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.

Another Columbia Bass Study To Begin

June 22, 2010

A federal council has approved funding a new study of smallmouth bass predation on salmon smolts in the Columbia River to the tune of $350,000.

According to a story in last Friday’s Northwest Fishletter:

The study will look at suspected “hot spots” for smallmouth bass in the forebays at McNary, John Day and The Dalles dams, and try to compare them to tailrace areas thought not to be hot spots for the bass, based on pikeminnow catch data.

The proposal will also try to figure out the role of juvenile shad in the diets of non-native predators.

This follows up on 2008′s Biological Opinion which tasks hydropower managers with reducing the impact of introduced non-native fish on salmonids, as well as a meeting of scientific minds in late summer that year, Fishletter reports.

We summarized ideas that came out of that meeting in our February 2009 issue with the below table:

(NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

UPDATE JUNE 25, 2010: THE COLUMBIA BASIN BULLETIN TODAY HAS A LARGE PIECE ON THE NEW STUDY.

CBB ALSO REPORTS ON A SNORKELING SURVEY OF SMALLMOUTH BASS OCCURRING FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW ON THE UPPER JOHN DAY BY U.W. GRAD STUDENTS.

Big Sock Count Trumped A Day Later

June 22, 2010

Sunday’s huge slug o’ sockeye at Bonneville Dam, some 25,000 fish, was the second largest in 72 years of record for exactly 24 hours.

Yesterday’s count was 26,783, just 329 fish shy of tying the all-time record of 27,112 set July 7, 1955.

That bumps the overall count to 108,930 — 72,260 more than the 10-year average — and it would appear to be the highest count through June 21 since record-keeping began in 1938, a quick check of data at DART and FPC shows.

The count is also quickly approaching the preseason forecast of 125,200.

The biggest sockeye runs on record in the Columbia-Snake system occurred in the mid-1950s: 237,748 in 1955 and 235,215 in 1953.

In modern times, the 2008 run hit 213,607.

As for other species, a total of 18,731 steelhead have crossed Bonneville Dam through yesterday — more than 6,600 above the average this decade — as well as 277,389 spring Chinook, 17,397 summer Chinook, 793,465 shad and 848 lamprey.

SW WA Fishing Report

June 21, 2010

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Boat anglers at the Trout Hatchery are catching some steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 138 spring Chinook adults, 36 jacks, 34 mini-jacks and 224 summer-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 47 spring Chinook adults and 23 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood and 18 spring Chinook adults and eleven jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam at the Day Use Park during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,530 cubic feet per second on Monday, June 21 and are likely to remain steady during the week. Water visibility is 14 feet.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 2,035 salmonid anglers (including 252 boats) below Bonneville Dam with 135 adult and 12 jack summer Chinook, 87 steelhead, and 25 sockeye.  Overall, 70% of the adult Chinook and 79% of the steelhead caught were kept.  All sockeye were released.

The 25,011 sockeye counted at Bonneville Dam yesterday was the second highest daily count since at least 1938.  The record is 27,112 fish on July 7, 1955.

During last Saturday’s flight, over 250 boats and nearly 850 bank anglers counted.  Effort was spread throughout the river.

River flows as measured at Bonneville Dam are expected to increase the next few days from just below 300,000 cfs to just over the mid 300’s.  At the dam, water visibility has been poor the past couple weeks with just 2-3 feet of clarity.

The Dalles Pool – Windy most of the week.  Including fish released, bank anglers averaged an adult Chinook per every 9 rods.  Fishing from boats was slow.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WA:   WDFW staff sampled the John Day Pool this past week for summer chinook harvest. Staff interviewed 41 boat and 19 bank anglers with no reported catch.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below the Wauna powerlines – At the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco, catch rates remains largely unchanged from the past few weeks – slow.  Charter boat anglers averaged a legal kept per every 5.3 rods while private boaters averaged one per every 13.4 rods.  If an angler is lucky enough to catch a fish, there was a 28% chance it would be a legal fish.

Same for the Deep  River and Knappton ramps – Catch rates remain largely unchanged with one in every 7.8 boat anglers keeping a legal size fish.  Fishing from the bank was slow.

Just over 300 private boats and 15 charters were counted during the Saturday June 20 flight.

Saturday June 26 is the last scheduled day for sturgeon retention below the Wauna powerlines.  The states of Oregon and Washington are planning to have a telephone conference later this week.  Stay tuned.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to the Marker 82 line – Some boat anglers from the Lewis upstream were catching some legal size fish.  Fishing is slow from the bank.

Less than 100 boats and 10 bank anglers were counted during last Saturday’s flight.

The Dalles Pool – The handful of boat anglers sampled had released an average of a couple sturgeon each.

John Day Pool:  From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WA:   7 sturgeon released from the 5 boats sampled.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged nearly 2 walleye and a bass per rod.  Bank anglers were catching some bass.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WA:    15 bass and 7 walleye from the 10 boats sampled.

TROUT

Riffe Lake – Bank anglers at the dam and Taidnapum averaged 2 landlocked coho kept/released per rod.

Goose Lake north of Carson – Planted with 2,500 catchable size browns and 3,000 catchable size cutthroats June 15.  No report on angling success.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Catches averaged from 0-2 fish per rod when including fish released.  Less than 100 bank anglers on each side of the Columbia and only a few boats were counted during last Saturday’s flight.

The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, bank anglers averaged almost 9 shad per rod.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WA:    259 shad from the 15 boats sampled.

Huge Slug O’ Sox Hits Bonnie

June 21, 2010

Well, here’s one way to jump the editor’s sleepy eyebrows: Second highest daily count of sockeye EVER at Bonneville Dam yesterday — 25,011.

That according to Joe Hymer of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

The count goes back to creation of the dam in 1938.

“The record is 27,112 fish on July 7, 1955,” Hymer writes in an email to fish hounds, scribes and others this morning.

So far, 82,057 have gone over Bonneville; the preseason forecast calls for 110,300 back to the Okanogan River, 14,300 to the Wenatchee River (too few for a Lake Wenatchee fishery) and 600 to Idaho.

No season has been declared, but in our July issue, we talk about what’s behind the large returns and how to fish them on the Brewster Pool:

Reports Leroy Ledeboer:

SO WHAT’S BROUGHT about this remarkable story? John Arterburn, fisheries biologist for the Colville Confederated Tribes, stationed in Omak, says we can’t focus on a single entity.

“Actually, five factors have come together,” he says. “First, up in Canada they’ve been doing several things right. They have a new fish management tool in place, which essentially gets water managers to talk over critical decisions with fisheries managers, and make decisions that don’t harm our resource. Instead, they work together to make sure both sides come out OK.

“Then the Okanogan Tribal Nations Alliance has been running a big hatchery program at Skaha Lake, raising and releasing hundreds of thousands of juvenile sockeye every year.

“Skaha is above the current fish barriers. Juveniles can get out, but adults can’t re-enter. Eventually, they may change that, simply by removing the barriers, which would create lots of new spawning and rearing habitat, but now it’s all out of Osoyoos, the next lake downriver.

“But that’s been the third real positive. We’ve had very good natural production out of Osoyoos in recent years, primarily because so many adults have returned. So between Skaha’s artificial production and Osoyoos natural production, tons of juveniles have been heading out to sea each spring.

“Then, the fourth factor, when they get out into the ocean, conditions have been favorable, so here again survival rates have been high, leading to these good returns.

“And finally, our sockeye have a weak commercial harvest. They can’t really be targeted in the Lower Columbia because Snake River sockeye are on the endangered species list, and once our fish get past that confluence, there’s very little netting.”

Plus sockeye tend to come in a big pulse, arriving by the thousands, swamping the gillnetters, but then they keep moving, Arterburn adds.

“Yeah, netters might load up for a few days, taking hundreds, but then the sockeye are gone, and it’s a real small percentage of the total.”

ANGLERS TOO HAVE a hard time targeting these delicious little salmon – that is until they stack up in the Brewster Pool, primarily at that broad mouth of the Okanogan. In recent years, 2008 gave us a partial season while last summer’s run brought with it a relatively generous four-adult-fish limit.

Anyone who has repeatedly targeted those huge Chinook in this pool knows that a 2-pound sockeye will whack a mighty big target, a hefty cut-plug herring, a tuna stuffed Super Bait or even an oversized FlatFish with a sardine wrap.

But now, even after only a couple of seasons, sockeye techniques are emerging that work particularly well in the pool …

The July issue should be hitting subscribers as early as the end of this week and early next week!

Well-known Lab Passes Away

June 18, 2010

Sad news from overnight: Jack the Labrador who retrieved many a mallard, Canada and ringneck — and was even in training to be a Chinook and kokanee hound — passed away yesterday.

That word from Jeff Witkowski, his owner.

From their home in Chelan, Wash., the pair hunted the western side of the Columbia Basin and made a great team, Jeff dropping the drakes and geese into waters large and small or over snow-covered fields, and Jack the chocolate Lab dutifully retrieving the birds.

In warmer days, they could be found on the Brewster Pool and Lake Chelan waylaying big kings and bountiful kokes.

Photos of their exploits peppered the old Fishing & Hunting News and popped up in Northwest Sportsman, happier days.

“He was very famous,” Jeff says. “Everyone knew him because he was always out huntin’ and fishin’, but also because of the many times you printed his photos in your magazines.”

This past January, the hunter noted his hound was getting up there in age and was beginning to slow down.

You’d never have guessed the latter by the number of duck and goose leg bands Jeff had slipped onto Jack’s collar.

Or maybe you would have.

Jeff hoped Jack would make it onto one more cover before the Lab ended his career, and sent me a pile of photos from some great days early last winter.

I posted them, sent Jeff a link, and when he ducked back indoors from another dazzling day afield with Jack, he replied, “Time to go scout for next goose day, maybe jump shoot a little. Same routine, day after day – scout, hunt, sleep, scout, hunt, sleep… Will it ever end?”

It did.

“He went out on the porch to catch an afternoon nap, went to sleep and never woke up,” Jeff emailed just after 3 this morning.

(Goddamn, my eyes are moist and I’m choking up — having two sons has turned me into an emotional wreck, and I never met Jack.)

“I was sure lucky to get to hunt with him for 12 seasons,” Jeff added. “Dang, I miss him already. Jack was one fine Lab.”

He will appear again, but in the meanwhile, our condolences.

JACK. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

JACK AND JEFF AFIELD. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

JACK WITH WILD RINGNECK. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

A KOKE FIEND. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

JACK LIVES ON AS THE MASCOT OF JEFF'S GUIDE SERVICE. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

Limits Upped For Portland-area Steelies, Chinook

June 18, 2010

Stories in The Oregonian and KGW.com report that the combined bag limit has been raised for steelhead and spring Chinook to three hatchery fish a day on the Sandy, Willamette and Clackamas starting today.

The bump in the bag is thanks to big early returns of steelhead, credited on the same conditions that produced last year’s big coho return.

“Lower water temperatures and higher flows are creating very, very good – almost ideal – fishing conditions,” The Oregonians quotes biologist Todd Alsbury as saying. “Plus, there haven’t been a lot of people out fishing.”

Shasta Tackle Announces Its Gear Helped Catch Record Koke

June 18, 2010

Ron Campbell was pretty cagey earlier this week about what gear he used to catch that pending world-record kokanee out of Wallowa Lake.

“It was pretty standard gear that I was using,” the Pendleton, Ore., angler told us late Monday morning, about 30 hours after landing the 9-pound, 10.7-ounce landlocked sockeye at the Northeast Oregon lake. “I think the fish could have been caught on anything — Wedding Rings, Apexes, hoochies. There’s no big secrets on this one.”

In other words, Mack’s Lures, Hot Spot or Shasta Tackle gear, some of the biggest players in the kokanee world.

By yesterday evening, however, the man behind Door No. 3 was raising his hand.

Around 6:39 p.m., an email from Bestfishinginoregon.com popped into my inbox that read:

Campbell was waiting for the maker of his lure to announce it. Gary Miralles of Shasta Tackle told us himself late Wednesday: The fish was caught with a Shasta Pee Wee hootchie (Tequila Sunrise pattern) behind a Sling Blade UV Silver Tiger dodger.

Then around 7:50 p.m., I got a call from Northwest Sportsman contributor Larry Ellis saying basically the same thing after an email from Miralles.

So, there you go.

UFO Spotted Near Spokane (Well, Sort Of)

June 17, 2010

So, among the many ways I’ve wasted time today, this one takes the cake: watching a bunch of very strange radar echoes in the Spokane area.

No, really, there is a fishing and hunting tie-in!

Unless it’s aliens.

Friends of the family are over in Spokane right now and this afternoon reported it was pretty wet, so naturally I went to the National Weather Service’s Spokane page for the latest forecast.

Looks like more showers overnight, guys, a break into Saturday, then the possibility of rain through the rest of the weekend.

Oh, and a chance of more UFOs.

Say what?

At the top of the Service’s site is an intriguing link I just had to hit: “Unusual Radar Echoes

How do you not click on something like that?

Especially if the World Cup’s done for the day, your mag’s gone to press, and the next one appears to be under control.

In amazement I watched and rewatched the interesting echoes, which first appear to the south and then the west of Fairchild Air Force Base.

A large blue cluster pops up then moves off over the wheatfields and pines near the Lilac City.

UNUSUAL RADAR ECHOES SEEN ON SUCCESSIVE MID-MAY DAYS SOUTH OF SPOKANE. (NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE)

Of course I had to call the Weather Service office for more information.

Hey, I might be slackin’, but I’m still a reporter.

I got Ron Miller on the line. He’s a meteorologist with the Service.

“I guess it is technically a UFO, since it’s unidentified,” he told me.

According to the narrative on his Web site, the “strange phenomenon” first appeared on the radar over a five-day period in mid-May.

This phenomenon developed each day at approximately the same time (around 4:30 a.m.) and over the same location, near the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge south of Cheney,” says the Service. “Each day the phenomenon seemed to fan out with the prevailing low-level winds and disperse by 5 am.”

The blob — which was several thousand feet thick and miles wide — arose from the area of Long Lake then headed northwest the first three days, then east and northeast the last two.

After cold weather hit the area, the blob disappeared, but then on June 6, 7 and 8, came back, again going with prevailing winds.

Nothing on June 9, but early the morning of June 10, it switched locations and originated near Reardan.

So, Ron, what the hell is really going on?

“It’s either birds or bugs,” he says, adding, “or something else.”

Bugs seems unlikely, unless all that fertilizer the farmers use has triggered the world’s hugest mayfly hatch and thoroughly messed with their circadian rhythms.

So I called up the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

AW: “Hey, was there a huge-ass flock of birds at the refuge back in May?”

Jason, budget tech unfortunate enough to pick up the line when I called: “That’s what we’re thinking. Geese or ducks. The spring migration when they’re moving through — I’m not a radar expert, but it’s the only thing I can figure.”

So back to radar expert Ron at the Weather Service.

He points out that the echoes always arise around sunrise, always go with the prevailing winds, then disperse and disappear.

“Is this new this year, or have we just not noticed it?” he asked rhetorically. “We don’t know, but nobody’s really noticed.”

Well, nobody’s noticed it near Spokane.

Radar watchers around the country have, though.

If you search the Weather Service’s Web site for “bird radar,” you’ll get a few echoes.

According to a piece put together by the Green Bay office, what we saw near Spokane at sunrise earlier this winter, err, spring, looks a lot like something called a “roost ring.”

“As the birds take flight in the morning, they often leave the ground in what is called a ‘roost ring’ — a radar signature formed as they fly into the radar’s coverage area.”

An early-rising weatherman out of the Louisville, Ky., office tromped out to the site of strange echoes he was seeing and discovered:

Just before sunrise, a large flock of birds took off from a wooded patch of land there. The exact species of bird is not known (we are not bird experts), but they congregated into a stream aloft and took off to the east and south. They may be some form of Starling based on other large flocks of birds seen recently around the Louisville area …

Then there’s this from the Jacksonville, Fla., office:

Sometimes, the radar beam intersects other objects, including birds.  When there is a high density of birds in one location, typically during bird migrations, sometimes as the birds take flight the radar beam intersects the flock.  This happened in several locations across coastal Southeast Georgia on the morning of October 25, 2009, right around sunrise.  This is a favored time for birds, particularly waterfowl, to leave their nocturnal nesting sites on bodies of water to either continue their migration or return to their favorite daytime refuges.

Interestingly, there’s this potential use of radar data for, ahem, “bird watchers” who may or may not be armed:

Many bird enthusiasts utilize radar imagery to track migration patterns. Radar imagery has also been helpful to both birds and humans regarding aviation safety. Most airport terminals use radar data to track birds as they cross flight paths to avoid collisions.

Think of it as Terrafin not for albies, but quackers — your duck hunting tip of the day.

Unless the echoes do turn out to be aliens.

Then you might want to go with buckshot.

UPDATE JUNE 21

SCRATCH THE BUCKSHOT. JUST GOT OFF THE PHONE WITH A  BIOLOGIST AT THE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE WHO WAS AT GROUND ZERO MAY 19 WHILE THE PLUME WAS OCCURRING AND HE SAW … ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

“I SAW NO BIRDS,” SAYS MARK RULE, WHO’S BEEN AT TURNBULL 18 YEARS. “I DIDN’T EVEN SEE ANY CLOUDS OF INSECTS.”

HE ALLOWS THAT IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN A HATCH OF BUGS TOO SMALL TO SEE, BUT ALSO POINTS OUT THAT WHATEVER IT WAS ROSE AS HIGH AS 5,000 FEET AND WAS A MILE WIDE.

“I DON’T KNOW WHAT SORT OF INSECTS WOULD HATCH IN THAT SORT OF ABUNDANCE,” HE SAYS.

THE BLOB ALSO MOVED AGAINST PREVAILING WINDS ONE MORNING, AND RULE SAYS LOCAL BUGS STAY LOW AND CLOSE TO THE WATER.

SEEMS LIKE SWAMP GAS WOULD ALSO BE UNABLE TO FLOAT OFF AGAINST THE WIND.

“IT’S STILL A MYSTERY,” RULE NOTES.

AT THE SAME TIME THAT SPOKANE’S RADAR WAS PICKING UP ALL THAT WEIRDNESS, CLIFF MASS AT THE U.W. DID A BLOG ABOUT HOW MIGRATING BIRDS WERE BLOWING UP THE RADAR AT NIGHT.

IGFA Awaits World-record Kokanee Documents

June 17, 2010

IGFA officials will be checking their mailbox next week for a package from Pendleton, Ore.

“We’re waiting on Ron to submit the record and we’ll go from there,” says Jack Vitek, world records coordinator for the Florida-based International Game Fish Association.

Ron would be one Ron Campbell, the gent who caught that 9-pound, 10.7-ounce kokanee last Sunday morning, the latest in a string of record-wreckers to come out of the Northeast Oregon’s Wallowa Lake.

CAMPBELL AND HIS SUPER-SIZED KOKANEE LAKESIDE AT WHAT ONE MAN DUBBED "WOWLOWA" LAKE. (RON CAMPBELL)

His is the pending world record, and is at least 4.7 ounces heavier than the standing mark, a BC fish caught in 1988.

To certify it, Campbell must send IGFA a hank of his fishing leader, weight certifications and an application form, says Vitek.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he says.

Then there will be a minimum 60-day waiting period from June 13 before it’s approved officially.

That’s to give other anglers a chance to try and catch an even bigger kokanee.

With the way things are going there this year, that’s probable. Already, Wallowa’s given up 8.85, 8.23 and 7.5 state records in 2010′s first six months, as well as more than a few 7-, 6- and 5-pounders.

And the feeling is that there may be an even bigger koke in the lake too.

Campbell himself thinks that.

The week before he gained regional notoriety, he hooked into something big but lost it.

Who’s to say whether it was the fish he caught last Sunday, but stranger things have happened.

For instance, according to Bestfishinginoregon, Campbell himself held the Oregon largemouth record, an 11-pounder from McKay Reservoir.

Plus his brother, Larry, caught the-then state-mark koke out of Wallowa back in 2000. That fish was around half the size of Ron’s.

Wallowa’s remarkable productivity of large kokanee is being credited to a low number of fish in a recent year class and mysis shrimp. Introduced to the lake in the 1960s following what appeared to be a successful experiment to grow bigger kokes at a BC lake, the light-sensitive freshwater crustaceans aren’t normally available to the sight-feeding kokanee except at either end of daylight. However, some of the landlocked salmon appear to have adapted to feeding on the shrimp.

Vitek will be going through the 25 to 30 record applications he receives each week in search of the Campbell family’s latest monster.

I was actually surprised at the volume of mail IGFA gets, but he outlined a host of categories anglers can apply to.

There’s the all-tackle category for all game fish caught on line under 132 pounds of breaking strength.

Then there are the line-class records, which are subdivided into male and female categories.

Fly fishermen have their own book, broken into saltwater records for men and women, and a single freshwater group.

And the kids have two categories, Junior for 11- to 16-year-olds and Small Fry for youngsters to age 10. Both groups are subdivided by sex as well.

“For argument’s sake, for Atlantic sailfish, there would be male Junior, female Junior, male Small Fry and female Small Fry record holders,” Vitek says.

And for argument’s sake, we’ll say that Wallowa’s run ain’t done — 10-pounder, anyone?

EDITOR’S NOTE: AN EARLIER VERSION OF THIS STORY MISIDENTIFIED JACK VITEK OF IGFA AS JASON VITEK. OUR APOLOGIES.

Beaver Pond Closure ‘A Horrible Loss’

June 17, 2010

Bob Heirman’s running out of places to stock trout.

He rattles off the names of beaver ponds scattered across Snohomish County, waters on foot-wide rills where he can’t put fish these days.

I’ve never heard of any of these ponds, and I’ve lived and/or fished in the Puget Sound county most of my 38 1/2 years.

(Should’ve written down the names for googling, but 2009 this ain’t.)

Then again, Heirman’s got twice as many seasons on me, and is the dean of angling in Snohomish County.

He literally wrote the book on it, which I cited in our June issue. While putting together our July issue, I got a call from him.

He wasn’t happy.

New rules approved by the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission last winter outlawed fishing in every single beaver pond in Snohomish as well as King, Skagit and Pierce Counties and the vast majority of Whatcom County.

Every.

Single.

One.

The regs took affect earlier this month.

When Heirman, who has been secretary/treasurer of the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club for the past 51 years, talked to the state Department of Fish & Wildlife this spring about the group’s pond plan, he was told it would be a no go.

No need for him to stock fish where those buck-toothed rodents with the flat tails swim because fishing in them is no longer allowed.

It represents a sweeping overhaul of the rule book, a 180-degree reversal of long-standing policy. Before, every single one of eastern Puget Sound’s innumerable beaver ponds were open from June through October with two-trout limits, 8-inch minimum size, bait OK.

“It’s a horrible loss of angling opportunity,” says Heirman.

A horrible loss for freshwater fishermen in a region already hemorrhaging opportunity (see The State Of Steelheading 2010, April Northwest Sportsman).

Only beaver ponds in Kitsap and Mason Counties, and Ross Lake’s boat-in-only Big Beaver Valley remain open.

The new rules also closed many streams, ratcheting up gear restrictions on others to selective fishing only.

THE AREA UNDER NEW FISHING REGULATIONS FOR BEAVER PONDS AND STREAMS. (WDFW)

THE STATE’S REASONING is to protect juvenile Chinook, steelhead and bull trout, all listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, from hooking mortality in their rearing habitats.

Well and good and understandable.

Our runs of spring, summer and fall kings, and winter steelhead are nowhere remotely close to where they were, and need to be given two helping hands.

Except that Heirman contends anadromous fish don’t use the beaver ponds he’s packing, nor do they jump over impassable falls like the one on upper Woods Creek north of Monroe, so why close them?

He says anglers don’t fish these waters to limit out on a pair of dinky smolts, rather to harvest another predatory species.

“They’re never going to recover fish by closing beaver ponds. The harvest of cutthroat trout is extremely important, and they don’t get it,” Heirman says.

“They” would be WDFW. He says he sees many new faces at the Mill Creek regional office these days, and contends they don’t know the waters they’re managing, but slapped a blanket rule over everything anyway.

“They’re nice people,” he says, “but this is a severe closure on waters that don’t affect anything … They’re scared of their own shadow.”

This from the man whose name not only graces a 343-acre nature park at what once was one of the premier steelheading spots in the county, but just last summer was named WDFW’s volunteer of the year and praised by Director Phil Anderson for his decades of toil in service of fish and fisheries.

Whatever plaque that went with it might’ve been round-filed when Heirman’s plan to plant $1,000 worth of 11- to 14-inch triploid rainbows – 233 pounds worth, he says, reading off the receipt – for the campers up the South Fork Stillaguamish this summer was nixed by the agency too.

BUT SPEAKING OF TRIPLOIDS, Oregon’s been riding the brakes pretty hard on stream stockings for the past 20 years to protect young fish too, though they’ve let up some on a Willamette Valley trib.

Over the past two springs, a small stretch of the South Fork Yamhill, which drains out of the eastern flanks of the Coast Range outside McMinnville, has been planted with several thousand trips and opened for fishing in late May.

The Willamette also has listed Chinook and steelhead, so what gives?

District fisheries biologist Tom Murtagh says the Feds approved the fishery because the Yamhill side of the watershed isn’t needed to help rebuild those listed springer and winter-run stocks, more prevalent on the basin’s Cascade side.

The late timing of the opener helps ease any angling impacts on outmigrating smolts, reconnects locals with their watershed and provides a consumptive fishery in an area lacking one, ODFW notes.

“We’re looking at where we can continue this — not dumping heavy fisheries over sensitive runs,” says Murtagh. “This was one area we could do that.”

Last year saw a “reasonable turnout” amongst fishermen, he says, and over on Oregonfishingforum, Dinghy shows off his catch from earlier this month. Murtagh plans to plant the river again next year.

Granted, WDFW is short on staff and money– and apparently time to clearly think through some of their actions — but I would hope that in the months and years ahead, the agency would re-examine the beaver pond and stream closures with an eye on putting Bob Heirman back to work, stocking trout in places it makes sense.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

June 16, 2010

While Oregon’s eyes may be turning to the state’s northeast corner after Wallowa Lake gave up yet another record-setting kokanee, this weekend’s opportunities also include an all-depths halibut fishery.

But as rivers continue to subside, there are springers and steelies to be had in the Willamette drainage, today is the Columbia River summer king opener, nice-sized rainbows are going into coastal waters this week, it’s “best in years” trout fishing on Crane Prairie and there’s good action to be had at Brownlee Reservoir.

NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN WRITER ANDY SCHNEIDER (RIGHT) FOUND BITING SPRINGERS ON THE COAST RECENTLY. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Here are highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Spring chinook and summer steelhead are being landed in good numbers on the Clackamas River. Look for prospects to improve as the recent high flows subside.
  • Summer steelhead and spring chinook prospects are improving on the Sandy River.
  • Steelhead and spring chinook are being caught in the McKenzie and Middle Fork of the Willamette Rivers. Anglers should pay attention to water levels and temperatures to increase success. Additionally, anglers should expect new debris hazards (stationary and floating) and take steps to ensure a safe and successful trip.
  • More than 44,000 spring chinook 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 system.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Cape Meares, Town, South, Coffenbury, and Lost lakes will be stocked with larger trout (about 1 pound each) the week of June 14. This will conclude trout stocking for the spring. Trophy trout stocking is scheduled for September in several lakes.
  • Nestucca and Three Rivers:  Water levels continue to be good for this time of year. Forecasted dry weather will allow the river to drop this week. Spring Chinook and summer steelhead angling has been fair to good. Bobber and eggs will produce for Chinook. Try bobber and jigs for steelhead as the water clears, especially in the upper river. With the good flows, boaters should find success with diving plugs. Fishing for cutthroat trout has been fair, with fish spread throughout the river.
  • Tillamook Bay: Fishing for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook has been consistently good, but will begin to wind down as the month goes on. Fish are available throughout the bay and tidewater. Try trolling herring along the jetties (but stay out for the construction safety zone) or near the coast guard station, especially on softer tide series. Spinners or plugs usually produce best in the upper bay, with bobber and eggs/shrimp productive in tidewater areas. Fishing for sturgeon has been slow. Best catches generally come from the upper bay and Tillamook River tidewater as the spring goes on.
  • Trask River: Fishing for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook has been good. Fish are being caught throughout the lower river and up to the Dam Hole, with some fish available up to the county park. A few summer steelhead are available throughout the river. The season hatchery hole at Trask Hatchery closed to angling June 15.

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Spring chinook fishing on the upper Rogue has been good above Shady Cove.
  • Fishing for resident cutthroat trout is picking up in many rivers and streams. Flies or small spinners are the best bets.
  • Salmonflies are emerging along the upper Rogue, and creating the opportunity for some excellent dry-fly fishing.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Fishing on Crane Prairie is the best it’s been in years with anglers catching fish up to 5 and 6 pounds.
  • Fishing on Lake Billy Chinook has been good for both kokanee and bull trout.
  • Anglers are still catching bright spring chinook on the lower Deschutes River near Sherars Falls.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing has been good in several area lakes and reservoirs including Klamath Lake, Lake of the Woods, and Krumbo and Thief Valley reservoirs.
  • Trout fishing is picking up on the Chewaucan Rivera above Paisley.
  • 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.
  • Trout fishing has been good on Kinney and Magone lakes.
  • Wallowa Lake continues to turn out record setting kokanee, including a 9 pound 10.7 ounce bruiser caught on June 13.

BROWNLEE ZONE

  • Crappie are spawning and fishing is good. Bass are biting but are fairly small. Catfish are also biting. 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 16 angling is open for summer chinook and summer steelhead from the Astoria-Megler Bridge to the Oregon/Washington border.
  • Shad fishing is good below Bonneville Dam.
  • Sturgeon fishing is fair near Astoria.

MARINE ZONE

  • Fishing for Chinook was slow again last week with fewer than one in seven anglers landing a fish.
  • 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 determined last week there is enough quota remaining for a three-day additional all-depth opening June 17-19. Three more openings – July 1-3, July 15-17, and July 29-31 – are available as long as the total catch does not exceed 105,948 pounds. The summer sport 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.
  • Fishing for lingcod improved this week with one fish for every two anglers targeting lingcod. Average catches of rockfish and greenling were about three to five per angler last week, depending on the port. 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 due to elevated levels of domoic acid. Razor clamming remains open north of Coos Bay and south of Bandon.
  • 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.

Springers 2010, By The Numbers

June 16, 2010

With the book on the 2010 upriver spring Chinook run officially closed at Bonneville Dam as of yesterday, it’s time to take a look back at how the return and fisheries fared.

Official preliminary estimates will be out in a week or so, but here’s our unofficial look at the run, by the numbers:

TOM SNAZA'S SPRINGER WAS ONE OF OVER 35,000 CAUGHT BY SPORT ANGLERS IN 2010 ON THE MAINSTEM COLUMBIA AND SNAKE RIVERS. HE CAUGHT HIS OUT OF CATHLAMET AS THE RUN BUILT IN LATE MARCH. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Size of 2009 jack run (used to estimate 2010′s run size): 81,782

Rank: 1st since 1938, four times larger than previous record

2010 adult preseason forecast: 470,000

Rank since 1938: 1st

No. of models federal, tribal and state fishery managers initially used last fall to begin figuring out preseason forecast: 18

No. of actual preseason forecasts: 7

Range of preseason forecasts: 366,000 to 528,000 (470,000 was the average)

Date of first fish passage at Bonneville: Jan. 3 (two)

Date first 10 fish had passed: March 8

Date first 100 fish had passed: March 19

Date first 1,000 fish had passed: April 3

Date first 10,000 fish had passed: April 13

Date first 100,000 fish had passed: April 26

Date first 200,000 fish had passed: May 10

Largest single day count: 11,697 (April 21)

Quintuple-digit days: 1

First inseason forecast update (May 4): 310,000 to 370,000

Second inseason forecast update (May 10): 350,000, with a range from 330,000 to 370,000

Third inseason forecast update (May 17): 340,000

Run size at Bonneville through June 15, the last day Chinook are officially counted as springers: 280,118

Below-Bonneville mainstem recreational catch (keep plus release mortalities): 23,533

Below-Bonneville mainstem commercial catch: 7,609

Select Areas Fisheries Enhancement (SAFE) commercial catch: 1,462

Minimum below-Bonneville treaty catch through May 10: 3,010

Rough final below-Bonneville treaty catch: 5,000

Below-Bonneville sea lion catch (through May 27): 5,392

Bonneville dam count + lower river sport, comm, minimum treaty and pinniped catches: 321,124 above-Bonneville-bound Chinook entering the Columbia River

Rank since 1980: 3rd to 2001′s 439,885 and 2002′s 334,599, and ahead of 2003′s 242,603 and 2004′s 242,603

Overall sportfishing effort below Bonneville: 166,027 trips

Rank: 2nd highest effort since 2002

Overall recreational catch below Bonneville (upriver + SAFE, Willamette-, Cowlitz-, Lewis-, etc., bound springers: 29,125

Rank: 1st , followed by 2001′s 22,714 and 2008′s 19,612

Overall commercial catch (mainstem + SAFE areas): 28,829

Overall treaty (gillnet, hook-and-line, ceremonial on mainstem Columbia above and below Bonneville) catch: 41,508

Sportfishing catch on Columbia and Snake Rivers above Bonneville (through-May 21 estimates): 5,949

Catch allocations of upriver Chinook at above-Bonneville run size of 340,000:

Recreational below Bonneville: 19,874

Commercial below Bonneville (mainstem + SAFE): 14,651

Treaty: 39,780

Above-Bonneville sport (Bonneville-McNary, Ringold, Snake): 5,255

2010 jack count at Bonneville: 16,510, 5,063 below 10-year average, 4th lowest since 2000

9 Pounds, 10.7 Ounces

June 15, 2010

Called ODFW to figure out which weight the agency is going with on that potential world-record kokanee caught over on Wallowa Lake on Sunday morning, and according to two sources, it will go into the books at 9 pounds, 10.7 ounces, or 9.67 pounds.

OFFICIALLY, 9 POUNDS, 10.7 OUNCES. (RON CAMPBELL)

The whopper, caught by Ron Campbell of Pendleton, was put onto state-certified scales at two different local grocery stores which produced weights of 9 pounds, 7.8 ounces and 9 pounds, 10.7 ounces.

According to fisheries biologist Bill Knox in Enterprise, Campbell told him the lighter result came from a scale where the fish overlapped the edges, while a tray was used to contain the whole fish on the other device, then the tray’s weight was subtracted.

Jessica Sall, an ODFW spokeswoman in Salem says that since the International Game Fish Association was allowing the larger of the two sizes, ODFW would concur.

Both weights are over the standing world record, a 9-pound, 6-ounce fish caught in Lake Okanagan, B.C., in 1988.

Sall put Campbell’s fish at 27 3/4 inches long and its girth at 17 3/4 inches.

“I’m relatively certain it’s going to be the new record,” says Knox, terming its status at the moment “unofficial” as documents are still being worked on.

But with how quickly those marks have been falling this year — four in 2010′s first six months — Knox quickly adds, “Unless it gets beat.”

Indeed, the records could continue falling deep into summer as the fish will continue to grow until preparing for the spawn.

“Both the males and the females, their fat reserves as they start to mature go into their reproductive organs. When the males start to get humps, they look bigger, but they’re not, they’re thinner,” Knox says. “Females keep a lot of weight in their eggs. There’s a lot of fat tissue that goes into their eggs.”

Wallowa’s kokes spawn in the Wallowa River as well as along the lakeshore.

“They stage at the river mouth in late August and the peak of numbers in the river is the third week in September,” says Knox. “Lakeshore spawning occurs in the first week of November.”

Contrary to what I wrote in the May issue about three different kokanee populations at the lake, Knox says there’s really only one, but it’s very plastic. He says fish of the same origin spawn in the river and the lake.

The Oregonian and East Oregonian have articles on Campbell’s catch.

Northern Rockies Wolves Back In Court

June 15, 2010

With around 100 protesters and at least one placard reading “Kill Wolves” outside his court this morning, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy heard arguments about wolf protections in the Northern Rockies states.

Defenders of Wildlife and others say that packs must be managed as a whole throughout the region rather than by the states of Montana and Idaho, where they were delisted last spring, and the federal government in Wyoming, where wolves remain under protection of the Endangered Species Act, according to the Associated Press.

AP also reports that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s baseline for recovery in the region, a minimum of 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves in each state, is being challenged.

“We hope the Fish and Wildlife Service will go back to the drawing board and come up with something that will work,” said Earthjustice’s Douglas Honnold, the attorney for the plaintiffs, according to AP.

The Fed’s reintroduction of wolves into Central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s appears to be working quite well. Joined also by wolves moving across the Canadian border, there were just over 1,700 in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming at the end of 2009.

Some Idaho wolves have swam the Snake and now there are at least two packs in Northeast Oregon, where five ranchers were given depredation permits after a series of livestock losses. There are at least two packs in northern Washington as well, one with ties to Northern Idaho, the other with bloodlines into BC and Alberta.

Anti-wolf feelings have reached a fever pitch, swelled by one man’s recent suggestion that sweeteners are fatal to wolves, which didn’t go over so well with an enforcement officer with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Judge Molloy promised a ruling “as quickly as I can,” reports The Missoulian.

SW WA Fishing Report

June 14, 2010

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Some spring Chinook and steelhead are being caught at the barrier dam.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 197 spring Chinook adults, 36 jacks, 20 mini-jacks, 197 summer-run steelhead and two late winter-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 117 spring Chinook adults and 27 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Lake Scanewa Day Use Park above Cowlitz Falls Dam during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,500 cubic feet per second on Monday, June 14 and are likely to increase during the week. Water visibility is nine feet.

Kalama River – Flows were high most of the week and effort was light.

Lewis River – Light effort though some spring Chinook and steelhead are being caught.  Flows below Merwin Dam are currently 6,563 cfs, which are 70% higher than the long-term mean of 3,840 cfs for this date.

Wind River – Spring Chinook continue to be caught around the coffer dam area.

Drano Lake – Light effort and catch.  Closed to all fishing on Wednesdays through June.

Lower Columbia from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to the I-5 Bridge – Anglers are catching a mix of chinook, steelhead, and sockeye.  Including fish released (adult Chinook, wild Chinook jacks, wild steelhead, and sockeye), bank anglers averaged a fish per nearly every 3 rods while boat anglers averaged one per every 5 rods based on mainly incomplete and completed trips, respectively.

Bank angling effort was high last Saturday with nearly 700 anglers counted along the Washington and Oregon shores last Saturday June 12.  Boat effort was lighter with 55 counted during the flight.

Effective Wednesday June 16, hatchery adult Chinook may be retained from the Megler-Astoria Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam.  Sockeye must be released.

At Bonneville Dam, flows are expected to drop slowly from a high of nearly 400,000 cfs this past weekend to 320,000 cfs by next weekend (see http://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/river/station/flowplot/text/BONO3.QI.0.0.1.0.txt for details).  Water visibility at the dam is approximately 3 feet.

  • The 2010 forecast of 88,800 adults to the Columbia River mouth is 165% of the 2009 return of 53,900 adults, and would represent the highest return since 2002.
  • Based on the 2010 forecast, daily counts at Bonneville Dam are expected to average about 2,900 Chinook per day during June 16-30 and then steadily decrease to 700 fish per day by the end of July.  Passage is typically 50% complete by the end of June.
  • An estimated 453,000 upriver summer steelhead are expected to pass Bonneville Dam in 2010, which is 139% of the recent 10-year average of 326,000 fish.  The minimum run size of lower Skamania steelhead averaged 65,000 fish during 2005-2009.
  • The 2010 sockeye forecast of 125,200 fish to the Columbia River mouth is considered a strong run compared to the 10-year average of 97,000 fish.  The forecast includes 14,300 Wenatchee stock, 110,300 Okanogan stock, and 600 Snake River sockeye.
  • The predicted Wenatchee return is 62% of the 23,000 fish escapement goal for that system.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem from the mouth to the Wauna powerlines – Effort was high during last Saturday’s sturgeon derby and free fishing weekend though catch rates were low, at least as measured at the Knappton and Deep River ramps.  At those ramps, boat anglers averaged a legal kept per every 7.2 rods.  No legals were sampled from the bank.

Almost 500 private boats and 19 charters were counted during last Saturday’s flight.  Last year, nearly 700 private boats and 24 charters were counted.

The ports of Chinook and Ilwaco data should be available by tomorrow.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines to the marker 82 line – Not much action for the few anglers we sampled.  About 40% of the 174 boats counted during last Saturday’s flight were found in the gorge.

TROUT

Mayfield Lake – Bank and boat anglers are catching rainbows.

Swofford Pond – Some rainbows and a few perch are being caught.

Riffe Lake – Including fish released, bank anglers at Taidnapum and near the dam averaged 2 landlocked coho per rod.

Klineline Pond – No report on angling success.  Planted with 2,052 catchable size rainbows June 9.

Rowland Lake near Lyle – No report on angling success.  Planted with 2,082 catchable size rainbows June 8.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Limited sampling showed boat anglers near Woodland were catching some fish.  During last Saturday’s flight, over 800 bank anglers were counted with most of the effort observed just below the dam.

Yesterday, the count of nearly 90,000 shad at Bonneville Dam was the highest daily count to date this year.  Overall, over 600,000 shad have been counted at the dam, about 60% of the 1 million fish that had been counted at this time last year.

Possible World Record Koke Landed At Wallowa

June 14, 2010

A truly humongous kokanee weighing at least 9 pounds, 7.8 ounces was landed at Northeast Oregon’s Wallowa Lake yesterday, nearly 2 ounces more than the standing world record and almost 11 ounces heavier than the new state record set just last month.

Ron Campbell of Pendleton, Ore., landed the fish while trolling just after daybreak.

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

RON CAMPBELL AND HIS HUGE KOKANEE, CAUGHT AT WALLOWA LAKE JUNE 14, 2010. (RON CAMPBELL)

Also tearing him up, his phone, ringing in with calls from tackle manufacturers, taxidermists, TV shows and reporters. The standing world record is a 9-pound, 6-ounce kokanee, caught by Norm Kuhn in June 1988 at Lake Okanagan, British Columbia.

“It’s not certified, but it’s going to be the new world record,” says Campbell, hard at work this morning figuring out the forms to make it all official.

A private fire investigator who works across the West and Hawai’i, Campbell did not reveal the exact setup that landed the fish.

“It was pretty standard gear that I was using,” he says. “I think the fish could have been caught on anything — Wedding Rings, Apexes, hoochies. There’s no big secrets on this one.”

Secrets or not, kokanee gear makers have been filling the pages of Northwest Sportsman with advertisements linking their tackle with the unusual number of record fish to come out of Wallowa over the past year.

Last July, Jerry Logosz caught a 7-pound, 1-ouncer on a red Apex Kokanee Killer behind a Shasta Tackle Sling Blade Dodger which Gene Thiel topped with a 7-pound, 8-ounce koke jigged up in February.

Wan Teece bumped Thiel off with her 8.23-pounder caught in March on a Mack’s Lure Wedding Ring Double Whammy Kokanee Pro tipped with maggots.

Then that fish was aced out by Bob Both‘s 8-pound, 13-ouncer in May. Both’s bit a Wedding Ring/Smile Blade/corn/Bolo Blade setup.

Interestingly, Ron 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, LAKESIDE WITH HIS RECORD KOKANEE. (RON CAMPBELL)

But catching the 27-plus-inch-long fish so early meant the local grocery stores and their state-certified scales were still buttoned up for a couple hours.

When Campbell did get the fish into Safeway in Enterprise and the Joseph Family Foods, he got conflicting weights.

However, 9 pounds, 7.8 ounces is actually the lighter of the two marks, according to state fisheries biologist Bill Knox. The higher was somewhere around 9 pounds, 10 ounces, he believes.

Knox was outside Sunday morning when he got the news.

“I was mowing my lawn when someone came and hollered at me, ‘Some folks are looking for you!” he says.

He still doesn’t want to be pinned down on whether Wallowa’s kokanee are as big as they’re gonna get.

“I don’t know if it’s over yet. (Ron Campbell) claims he had a bigger one on the week before, but lost it,” Knox says.

Campbell says that in recent weeks he’s landed a 7-3 and several in the 5-pound range.

He’s aiming higher too.

“Oh, yeah, I’ll be right back up there. I don’t know where the peak’s going to come at Wallowa. Only time will tell,” he says. “Who knows — that’s the thing about records.”

One thing he does know, though, is that while landlocked sockeye are notoriously light-jawed, Wallowa’s monsters are real battlers.

“If you’re gonna land that record, you gotta have good gear,” he advises.

Knox says that overall fishing remains “fairly slow,” but that smaller fish are beginning to show up in the creel. He terms that a “good thing.”

“Big fish are an indicator of low abundance. On top of whatever else is going on to produce big fish, seeing some small fish in decent numbers is a better sign in terms of it makes me less concerned we’re about to crash,” he says.

A sonar survey last summer revealed something on the order of 260,000 young kokanee in the lake, up nearly 400 percent from the previous year.

We wrote about the fishery, management issues and things to do in the region in our May issue.

NWS Writer Finds Coastal Springers

June 11, 2010

(ANDY SCHNEIDER)

2:00am came awfully early, especially in the middle of the work week; but watching a rod fold with line blistering off the reel just a few hours later made it all worth an early wake up.

No one I’ve talked to has seen June water conditions as ‘ideal’ as those we have seen this last week on the coastal tributaries.  With recent reports of excellent fishing in the lower bay, it was only a matter of days before those fish surged into the rivers and I wanted to be there to intercept them.

My friend Brian and his wife Linda joined me in a float on one of Tillamook Bays Tributaries.  We launched a full half hour before sunrise, but were still boat number 3 in line.  One of the boats in front of us was a very successful local guide that has his own line of egg cure, so I knew that to be successful fishing behind him we had to switch tactics a little.  So we rigged up some Mag Lips and headed off in the pre-dawn darkness.

BRIAN HAWKINS WITH A TILLAMOOK TRIB SPRINGER. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

A half mile drift took us to a little slot of water that has produced Steelhead in the past, so we deployed the plugs 55-feet below the boat and I started rowing against the current, bringing our plugs to a slow walking pace down river.  Halfway through the slot Linda’s rod started bouncing wildly in the rod holder, Linda grabbed the rod and started battling.

It became evident quickly that this wasn’t a Spring Chinook, but it turned out to be a dandy Sea Run Cutthroat Trout, at least 4 pounds and full of fight that a Summer Steelhead would envy.  Though we could have kept the fish, we released it looking for something a little larger.

The next hole consistently produces fish and is usually busy with bank and boat anglers, but we found it deserted and once again deployed the plugs.  Brian had just set his rod in the holder when I see a huge boil where his plug should be working.  Then I see a fish come rocketing out of the water just and I realize that it’s inhaled Brian’s plug.

Brian sets the hook on the fish and starts playing ‘catch-up’ since the fish took 20-feet of line off the reel before he could get it out of the rod holder.  Brian’s fish took to the air 2 more times before I slipped the net under it and once again appreciated how ‘Special’ these coastal Springers can be; a 25-pound fish launching itself out of the water, line blistering runs and a tug of war battle that makes you soar the next day….these fish definitely deserve a lot of respect.

All I knew as few fished the next few holes was that I was next at bat and was watching the rods intently and just happen to catch the second the fish took the inside rod and buried and kept it buried until Brian got the rod out of the holder and I rowed the boat to slower water so I could fight it.  As I dropped the anchor I saw the fish take a jump landing flat on it’s side with a loud, “Ker-slap!”

This embarrassing Side Flop really seemed to motivate the fish to fight harder than was really necessary and I couldn’t seem to budge the fish out of the fast water even with rod bending effort.  But my constant pressure must have finally have exhausted it and Brian was able to net the fish and I couldn’t have been happier.

The very next hole down was a fellow angler who said that he has been spending 10-hours a day fishing the same hole….but with only a Summer Steelhead to show for it the day before.  As we floated through the hole and just about to slip out, I saw a fish roll as it moved into some sheltered water behind a snag.

Well, I couldn’t let this opportunity slip by, so I rigged up some eggs on my Back-Bouncer rod and casted just a few feet upriver of the snag just as I got a text from my friend Tom.  Just as I hit ‘Send’ on the reply I felt a little tug as something picked up my eggs, I could barely get my phone put away before my rod was loaded up with a fish that had already turned and moved out of the hole.  I handed the rod to Linda and she battled it for a few minutes, but eventually lost the battle as the fish couldn’t be stopped.  This turned out to be the last bite of the day, but I’m not complaining going 2 for 3 on coastal Springers!

While these June river conditions may not come around again in my lifetime, I’m still going to be ready if they ever do, Mag Lips and all.

THE AUTHOR (RIGHT) AND BRIAN HAWKINS WITH A NICE JUNE SPRINGER. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

World Cup Madness Strikes NWS Editor

June 11, 2010

Once upon a time in one of Washington’s most well-known steelhead and salmon fishing valleys, yours truly took up the sport … of soccer.

During fall, when the Skykomish, Sultan and Wallace Rivers ran thick with Chinook, coho, humpies, chums and summer-runs and our fathers journeyed off the map of our grade-school world to hunt deer and elk, Lee Griggs, Chris Groeneveld, Jeff Gilman, me and a mess of other boys kicked the round ball.

My dad was our coach, and many of the players and I would ride the bus from Sultan Elementary out to my house at the end of Trout Farm Road along the Sultan River and with those lakes behind the back fence, wait for Dad to come home, then somehow all pile into our ’57 Mercury and head for practice.

At first, our field was next to an old cemetery that one day would hold the too-young son of friends of our family. Some nights, after practice, and before parents came to haul our team away, we’d chase somebody’s chickens among the gravestones.

Lotta energy the Sultan Eagles had, especially Gilman.

It took us a couple years, but by our third season in the Sky Valley league, we started to get good, crushing the teams down in Monroe and Snohomish. Lee scored most of our goals, but I put my share in the net.

Divorce ended those soccer days at the end of fifth grade.

Though I played the sport still in junior high and high school gym classes — much to the chagrin of the shins of several classmates — as well as on occasion in the years since, my career path circled back to the fish that filled the Skykomish’s rivers and the game our fathers chased far afield.

Sometimes I curse the fact I didn’t insist on continuing with soccer in the Northshore School system –  shown Toby Ziegler, Ron Woods and the others that poor country folk can kick it too — but in the meanwhile, I’ll be tuning in to the World Cup this month and next.

Today, the world’s game kicks off in South Africa, and Brazil is again favored, as are the Spaniards.

England stands a chance too, and believe it or not, the US could go deep.

Wish I was on that team.

Probably I’ll pull for England as well as African teams — I’m a sucker for kids from the continent ever since Cameroon’s improbable run in 1990′s cup.

And, of course, I’ll be rooting for Deutschland as my wife’s from Köln, her dad from Wilhelmshaven. Somewhere in our closets is a German soccer jacket we bought along the Rhein in Oberwesel or Sankt Goar or Bacharach one morning on our honeymoon in 2006 (yesterday was our fourth anniversary). I think before I knew the name Buzz Ramsey or Jim Teeny, I knew of Franz Beckenbauer and other West German greats my dad spoke of.

Then there’s France, Les Bleus.

One of my all-time favorite sports moments was watching the 2006 quarterfinal match between France and Brazil with Amy at St. Andrews near Green Lake, in Seattle. The soccer pub was absolutely packed; we had to stand for most of the first half before somebody at the bar inexplicably decided to go home.

You fool, I thought — and quickly shoved Amy into his seat and ordered more beer.

We were pulling for France — Brazil is the Yankees of the World Cup — when in the 57th minute Zinedine Zidane took a free kick deep in the Brazilian’s territory, lofting it over the heads of a phalanx of charging Frenchmen and scrambling defenders, and perfectly onto the boot of Thiery Henry, all alone on the right side.

One-nil.

St. Andrews exploded, I nearly wept — shit, I’m just about teary eyed writing this four years later — and the bartender shouted out mock instructions from the Brazilian’s coach, “Whatever you do, do not mark their best player!”

I can’t say there’s a lot of similarity between soccer and hunting and fishing, outside of the rarity of goals and shooting a buck or catching a steelhead, but there it is.

Ahhhh, and that’s enough blogging for deadline day.

I do actually have to get back to the July issue now, twist the boss’s arm for four more pages so I can fit in all these stories on albacore, Chinook, steelhead, etc., do my final edits, tweak the coverlines, come up with better headlines — somehow pull another edition out of the void and onto the press.

All with matches streaming live.

Reiter Opens This Weekend For Steelheading

June 10, 2010

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

Reiter Ponds section of Skykomish River opens June 12

Action: Open the Reiter Ponds section of the Skykomish River to recreational fishing.

Effective date: 8 a.m. June 12, 2010.

Species affected: All game fish, including steelhead.

GOT STEELIES? REITER PONDS APPARENTLY DOES, SO FISHERY MANAGERS ARE OPENING THE AREA JUNE 12, WELL BEFORE THE DATE LISTED IN THE FISHING REGULATIONS. WINSTON McCLANAHAN CAUGHT THIS SUMMER-RUN JUST BELOW THE TERMINAL FISHERY TODAY, AT PROCTOR CREEK. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Location: Skykomish River from 1,500 feet upstream to 1,000 feet downstream of the Reiter Ponds Hatchery outlet.

Reason for action: The Reiter Ponds Hatchery has collected enough summer steelhead broodstock to meet production needs.

Other information: There is a night closure and anti-snagging rule in effect.  Also, fishing from a floating device is prohibited.

Dolly Varden/Bull Trout – minimum size 20″ – may be retained as part of trout daily limit.

All other trout – minimum size 14″, daily limit two.

Other game fish – statewide minimum size and daily limit. That information can be found on page 27 of the 2010-11 Fishing in Washington sportfishing rules pamphlet.

Public access through the Reiter Ponds Hatchery grounds is allowed daily between 6 a.m. and dusk. However on opening day fishing does not begin until 8 a.m. to ensure an orderly fishery. On Aug.1, this section of the Skykomish River reverts to rules listed in the sportfishing rules pamphlet.

Information contact: Jennifer Whitney, District 13 Fish Biologist (425) 775-1311.

USGS STREAM FLOWS FOR THE SKY NEAR REITER PONDS SHOW THE RIVER IS DROPPING TODAY AFTER NUMEROUS RAIN-FUELED BUMPS SINCE SEASON OPENED ON THE RIVER JUNE 1. (USGS)

OR Hali Hounds Get 3 More All-depth Days

June 10, 2010

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Fishery managers added three days to the all-depth sport halibut fishery off the central Oregon coast. Fishing for Pacific halibut will be open June 17 through 19 at all depths.

“Weather kept many boats in port during several of the all-depth halibut days this spring, resulting in sufficient quota to allow the fishery to continue,” said Lynn Mattes, halibut project leader for ODFW.

The spring all-depth season for the central coast area – from Cape Falcon (30 miles south of the Columbia River) to Humbug Mountain (south of Port Orford) – opened May 13 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only. It could have closed as early as June 5 if the 105,948-pound quota had been taken.

The fishery will be open June 17-19 and may continue on one or more of the following days: July 1-3, 15-17 and 29-31 until the quota is met.

“These dates were set pre-season in case quota remained after the fixed dates,” Mattes said.

Open dates will be announced on the National Marine Fisheries Service hotline (1-800-662-9825) and posted on the ODFW Marine Resources Program Web site at: www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/.

The central coast all-depth fishery summer season opens Aug. 6 and is scheduled to be open every other Friday and Saturday until the combined spring and summer season all-depth quota of 141,265 pounds is taken or Oct. 31, whichever comes first.

The high-relief area of Stonewall Bank is closed to halibut fishing to reduce incidental catch of yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish. Both species are considered over fished and must be released immediately. The closed area is defined by latitude and longitude waypoints, which are available on the Marine Resources Program Web site: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/regulations/sport_fishing/stonewall.asp

The daily bag limit is one fish and there is no minimum length for Pacific halibut. The possession limit is one daily limit at sea and three daily limits on land. The annual limit per angler is six fish.

Sport anglers are reminded possession of groundfish is not allowed north of Humbug Mountain when a Pacific halibut is aboard their vessel during all-depth Pacific halibut dates. The exceptions are Pacific cod (true cod, not lingcod) and sablefish (black cod) which may be retained with halibut between Humbug Mountain and Cape Falcon. Other non-groundfish species, such as tuna and salmon during authorized seasons, may be possessed with halibut on open all-depth Pacific halibut days.

More details on regulations can be found at: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/seasonmaps/Halibut%202010%20regs%2003152010.pdf or in the 2010 Oregon Sport Ocean Regulations for Salmon, Halibut and other Marine Species booklet. General regulations can be found in the 2010Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

Neah, La Push To Reopen One More Day For Halibut

June 10, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

With 26,776 pounds of quota remaining, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will reopen in marine areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay) to halibut fishing on Saturday, June 19.

Though that is a lot of quota for this late in June, Heather Reed, WDFW’s coastal policy coordinator, said there is not enough pounds left for a two day opening.

“There’s still quota remaining because poor weather early in the season kept people from heading out on the water,” Reed said. “The remaining quota is sufficient for a one-day opening on a weekend day, when more folks can participate.”

WDFW’s sportfishing rules pamphlet contains the rules and seasons for all of Washington’s fisheries. It is free and available at the approximately 600 stores that sell fishing licenses. It also can be viewed and downloaded at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .  Rules specific to halibut are at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/halibut/ .

With 26,776 pounds of quota remaining, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will reopen in marine areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay) to halibut fishing on Saturday, June 19.Though that is a lot of quota for this late in June, Heather Reed, WDFW’s coastal policy coordinator, said there is not enough pounds left for a two day opening.

“There’s still quota remaining because poor weather early in the season kept people from heading out on the water,” Reed said. “The remaining quota is sufficient for a one-day opening on a weekend day, when more folks can participate.”

WDFW’s sportfishing rules pamphlet contains the rules and seasons for all of Washington’s fisheries. It is free and available at the approximately 600 stores that sell fishing licenses. It also can be viewed and downloaded at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ . Rules specific to halibut are at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/halibut/ .

Free.

June 9, 2010

They say nothing in life is free, but they are wrong.

The fishing advice I give out on this blog is free, for starters.

You’re also free to walk off with your fishing partner’s copy of Northwest Sportsman.

And this weekend, you can angle all the hell over the Northwest for free.

Yeah, fish all day Saturday for free, then turn around and do it again all day Sunday.

Go, catch salmon, slay steelhead, fight sturgeon, troll trout, dig clams, bother bass, whack walleye, it won’t cost you a plug nickel, red cent or your last dime.

Well, outside of the price of gas, bait, tackle, boats, motors, rods, reels, line, scents, etc., etc., etc.

But those are just details, my friend, because this weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Washington and Oregon.

Both states’ Departments of Fish and Wildlife have set aside a weekend in June to get more people out fishing. True, daily limits and all other regular rules apply, but you don’t need a license to take part in the festivities.

In Oregon, they’ve lined up a host of fishing events around the state.

Price of admission? That would be free.

There are 13 events in Southern Oregon, four in Central and Eastern Oregon, one at the Leaburg Hatchery, plus 14 lakes around the greater Portland area are receiving fresh doses of stocker trout.

Then there’s the big event, at Bonneville Hatchery, the 17th annual “Passport to Fishing” day for kids 12 and younger. To make it even freer, ODFW is supplying all the rods, reels, tackle and bait, plus bags and ice to carry home the 3,600 trout kiddos can catch.

All totaled, there are 35 organized events, which ODFW has summarized online.

For even more ideas, check out the weekly recreation reports for the Northwest, Southwest, Willamette, Central, Southeast, Northeast, Marine and Columbia zones.

Washington fishery managers point out that this weekend coincides with the offshore hatchery Chinook opener, lingcod fishing on the coast and Puget Sound, good warmwater fishing on the Eastside, shad and sturgeon in the Columbia, among other ops.

And guess what — you can also fish with two rods at all Washington waters open for such too.

For free.

For more ideas — for free — may we suggest WDFW’s Weekender report?

You will, however, need a catch card on the Washington side, but those are available for, yep, free at license vendors.

It’s not just the Internet where you can get everything for free, there’s a whole (real) world awaiting Northwest anglers this weekend.

Flood Washes 40 Percent Of Springer Fry Away At NE OR Hatchery

June 8, 2010

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

ODFW today reported the loss of approximately 40 percent of the spring chinook fry at Lookingglass Hatchery near Elgin. Fry are young salmon 2-3 inches in length.

According to Ron Harrod, ODFW acting regional hatchery coordinator, the loss occurred on June 3 after several days of heavy rain caused Lookingglass Creek to flow over the top of the screens at the hatchery intake point.  The high, muddy water carried debris that plugged the water system that supplies water to the fry.

While approximately 494,000 spring chinook fry were lost, 60 percent of the hatchery’s spring chinook fry were unaffected, including 60 percent of those from the popular Imnaha River fishery, Harrod said.

“Obviously there will be some impact on adult returns four years from now, but it’s very difficult to predict exactly what the impact will be,” Harrod said. For example, good smolt survival and ocean conditions could help offset the impact of the fry loss.

Oregon Raises $550K On Big Game Raffles, Auction

June 8, 2010

Raffles and auctions of 2010 Oregon big game hunting tags grossed $547,187, the lowest figure since 2006, but still raised $309,576 for the Access and Habitat Program and $200,811 to big game research and management.

The remaining $36,800 was retained by the sportsman/conservation organizations that sponsored the events, but for access and habitat work in Oregon.

According to ODFW, the auction of 11 special big game tags grossed $368,000 including $110,000 for a bighorn sheep tag.

A total of 55,333 raffle tickets were sold grossing $179,186, including $62,696 in ticket sales for a bighorn sheep tag.

Proceeds from the deer and elk tags will go to the Access and Habitat Program to fund wildlife habitat and hunter access improvement projects in the state. Proceeds from the pronghorn, bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goat raffles and auctions fund the research and management of those species in Oregon.

Participating groups included national, state and local chapters of Safari Club International, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Oregon Bow Hunters Association, Wild Sheep Foundation, Unlimited Pheasants and Oregon Hunters Association.

Winners of the special tags enjoy an extended season and expanded hunt area. Here are how much each auction brought in, and who won raffle tickets:

* Bighorn Sheep – $110,000 (Wild Sheep Foundation, Reno, Feb. 6)
* Statewide Elk- $26,000 (Safari Club International, Santiam River Chapter, Albany, Feb. 6)
* Statewide Deer- $24,000 (Mule Deer Foundation, Salt Lake City, Feb. 12)
* Statewide Elk – $26,000 (Unlimited Pheasants/Mule Deer Foundation, Klamath Falls, Feb. 20)
* Pronghorn – $7,000 (Mule Deer Foundation, Klamath Chapter, Klamath Falls, Feb. 20)
* Statewide Deer – $33,500 (Oregon Bow Hunters Association, Lincoln City, Feb. 27)
* Governor’s Statewide Deer/Elk Combination – $45,000 (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Reno, March 5)
* Statewide Deer – $21,000 (National Wild Turkey Federation, Rogue Gobblers, Medford, March 20)
* Statewide Elk – $31,500 (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Roseburg Chapter, Roseburg March 20)
* Statewide Elk – $21,000 (Oregon Hunters Association, Lincoln County Chapter, Newport, April 10)
* Statewide Deer – $23,000 (Oregon Hunters Association, Canyonville, May 15)

2010 raffle sales

* Statewide Combination Deer and Elk raffle: $17,020.50
* Deer raffle: $24,141
* Elk raffle: $42,514
* Rocky Mountain Goat raffle: $24,739
* Pronghorn raffle: $8,076
* Bighorn Sheep raffle: $62,696

2010 Raffle Winners

* Statewide Combination Deer and Elk – Alfredo Julian, Vancouver, Wash.
* Statewide Deer – Robert Hall, Los Gatos, Calif.
* Southeast Oregon Deer – Raymond Wurdinger, Dayton
* Central Oregon Deer – Lawrence Grassman, Christmas Valley
* Northeast Oregon Deer – Russell Bingaman, Imbler
* Statewide Elk – Gerald Warnock, Portland
* Northeast Oregon Elk – Benjamin Arata, Amargosa, Nev.
* Central/Southeast Oregon Elk – Michael Sheets, Redmond
* Western Oregon Elk – Kenneth Wallace, Cottage Grove
* Rocky Mountain Goat – Dennis McGanty, McMinnville
* Pronghorn – Michael Kaiser, Eagle Point
* Bighorn Sheep – Alfredo Julian, Vancouver, Wash.

In 2009, raffles and auctions pulled in over $565,000; in 2008, $560,000; in 2007, $600,000; in 2006, $542,577; in 2005, $515,800.

SW WA Fishing Report

June 7, 2010

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Some spring Chinook are being caught at the barrier dam.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 206 spring Chinook adults, 32 jacks, 169 summer-run steelhead and four late winter-run steelhead during four days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. Tacoma Power employees released 59 spring Chinook adults and 11 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood and 65 spring Chinook adults and 14 jacks into Lake Scanewa at the Day Use Park above Cowlitz Falls Dam during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,560 cubic feet per second on Monday, June 7. Water visibility is eight feet.

Lewis River – Effort and catch is light though some steelhead are being caught by bank anglers at the salmon hatchery.  Flows below Merwin Dam are a high 8,800 cfs this morning but down from the nearly 12,000 cfs last week.  Long term mean is about half of today’s flows.

Wind River – Still some spring Chinook being caught at the mouth though most of the catch was from the coffer dam upstream to the hatchery.  River was high and turbid at times last week.

Drano Lake – Light effort and catch.  Zero to 9 boats were observed on the lake.

Klickitat River – When the lower river was in shape, it was good for bright spring Chinook and steelhead.  Flows at Pitt are 3,150 cfs today which is 40% higher than the long term mean for this date.  Flows are projected be above the long term mean for the next several days.

Lower Columbia from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to the I-5 Bridge – Steelhead catch has improved the past couple days.  Overall boat anglers averaged a steelhead kept or released per every 3 rods while bank anglers averaged one per every 5.6 rods based on mainly completed and incomplete trips, respectively.  Bank anglers are also catching a few hatchery spring Chinook jacks.

Flows on the mainstem Columbia as measured at Bonneville Dam are twice what they were in the spring.  Yesterday, the average discharge at Bonneville Dam was 343,000 cfs.

Megler-Astoria Bridge to the I-5 Bridge – Effective June 16 through July 31, hatchery adult Chinook may be retained.

I-5 Bridge to the Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco – Effective June 16, open to fishing for hatchery Chinook 9adults and jacks) and hatchery steelhead.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem downstream from the Wauna powerlines – Fishing has improved with boat anglers averaging 0.5 legals kept per boat at the Knappton and Deep River ramps.   Bank angling was slow.

At the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco, charter boat anglers averaged a legal kept per every 5.1 rods while private boat anglers averaged one per every 7.4 rods.  37% of the fish caught were keepers.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines to the Marker 82 line –  Of the few anglers sampled, none had caught a legal size fish.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – The few boat anglers sampled in the Camas/Washougal area kept about a fish per rod.  Daily counts increased to over 70,000 fish at Bonneville Dam yesterday.

TROUT

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

Riffe Lake – Lots of effort.  Bank anglers averaged 1.5 landlocked coho per rod.  Fish were caught near the dam and at Taidnapam.

Group Hails ‘Salmon Stimulus Plan’

June 7, 2010

It wasn’t just ODFW that benefited financially from increased fish runs in the Northwest. A regional angling organization says the “Salmon Stimulus Plan” has helped out a number of businesses during otherwise difficult economic times.

“Boat sales are improving, which is helping regional boat builders and dealers,” says the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. “Retail tackle sales have been brisk. Rod, reel and tackle manufacturers are ramping up, adding workforce and looking forward to a much better year. And fishing guides, hotels, restaurants have all been the beneficiaries of fishing opportunity that provided much-needed stimulus to those businesses that depend on salmon and steelhead fishing opportunity around the region.”

While 2009 saw Oregon unemployment as high as 11.6 percent, according to the state Employment Department, ODFW sold the most fishing licenses of the decade, 303,267, 30,000 more than the next closest year, 2007, when unemployment bottomed out in the low 5s, we reported in May.

According to the press release, one two-store Portland outdoors store began “seeing significant gains in business volume” around the time the Buoy 10 Chinook and coho fishery at the mouth of the Columbia started picking up steam.

“It really hasn’t slowed down,” added Dan Grogan, president of Fisherman’s Marine & Outdoor, in a press release statement. “Fall fishing was OK, but the winter steelhead fishery this past January, February and March along with the anticipation of a large return of spring Chinook kept people coming through our doors and spending money. I can’t stress how important these fisheries are to our business and all of our vendors’ businesses … it’s huge.”

As for boat sales, uncertainty with the spring Chinook fishery last year combined with a severe economic downturn produced a “punishing one-two blow” to Stevens Marine in Portland, said president Paul Mayer.

“The fact is, that when there’s meaningful fishing opportunity for salmon and steelhead in the Northwest we sell boats – lots of them,” he stated in the release.

The same good fishing last summer seems to have carried over to this year and has anglers thinking about buying boats again, Mayer said.

“Followed by the news that spring Chinook fishing was expected to be good – that really tipped the market over and we’ve seen a much better business climate and results in 2010 than we had in 2009,” he said.

This year’s expectations are also high, starting with the first Chinook fishery in two years off most of the Oregon coast, a very large forecasted summer steelhead run up the Columbia as well as over a month of fishing for summer kings in the big river.

“We’ve dubbed this year ‘The salmon stimulus plan,’ thanks to consistently good fishing that is putting hundreds of people back to work and creating important business opportunities that had been lost the past couple of years,” said Liz Hamilton, NSIA’s executive director.

She hoped Oregon legislators would see the economic benefits the fisheries were generating, “literally tens of millions of dollars to this state and millions more in added tax base, and move quickly to assure the future of these iconic Columbia Basin salmon runs that feed so many communities.”

Hamilton said the state’s leadership in pushing for spilling more water in the Columbia River to aid the downstream passage of salmon and steelhead smolts and fishing policies and seasons that produce big returns “really does pay off.”

Pend Oreille Pike Explosion

June 7, 2010

Rich Landers covers the surprising growth of northern pike populations in Northeast Washington’s Pend Oreille River in a big article yesterday.

“Where we caught three or four fish in a net last year, we were catching six to nine or more,” WDFW biologist Marc Divens told the Spokane Spokesman-Review outdoor reporter.

WDFW and the Kalispell Tribe netted the river on two occasions this spring, catching nearly 800 of the fish, which are believed to have come downriver from Montana and Idaho and are now breeding.

About 10 years ago a friend who worked for the tribe told me about pike in the Pend Oreille. It was kind of a local secret at that point, but the fishery has become more and more known with Landers’ coverage as well as articles in the old Washington Fishing & Hunting News.

The PO used to be known for its largemouth bass angling — it plays host to the fourth of five tourneys this weekend — but more and more anglers are targeting northerns.

The majority of the anglers coming to the river are fishing for pike,” Kalispell bio Jason Connors tells Landers. “That’s a big change in just the past few years, when most anglers were after bass or other fish.”

And this fall, NW Tiger Pac will hold a northern pike derby on the river.

Leroy Ledeboer covered the spring fishing in the May issue of Northwest Sportsman:

THE PIKE DIDN’T STOP at the state line. In Washington they’ve established at least footholds, Long Lake (also known as Lake Spokane) and the Pend Oreille River.

But unless they’re keeping mighty quiet about it, very few anglers are specifically targeting Long’s northerns despite the fact that it’s held our state record, a 34-pounder since 2004. The monsters that get nailed on that reservoir usually fall to bass guys flipping the right cranks or spinnerbaits.

Long’s pike, which most likely came down the Spokane River from CDA, have a fantastic prey base but apparently haven’t found any real spawning grounds, so what you have is a fairly small number of large fish.

On the other hand, the pike in the Pend Oreille are definitely propagating, creating a fishery where the bulk of your catch will be in the 3- to 7-pound class, with a fair percentage of low to midteeners. And you’ve always got a shot at a real trophy, a mid-20’s or even 30-pound monster.

“Yes, it’s becoming better known all the time, primarily as a place you might nail that trophy pike,” notes John Norisada, manager of the fishing department at Spokane’s Wholesale Sports (509-891-1900). “Once we get into late April and May, when the river is at full pool and the turbid water disappears, you can sight fish all those back bays where the pike will be sunning themselves and lying in wait for their next meal.”

A REPLICA MOUNT OF THE 30-POUND, 48-INCH NORTHERN PIKE JENNY NORISADA CAUGHT OUT OF THE PEND OREILLE RIVER. (JOHN NORISADA)

ALTHOUGH SOME BACK BAYS have local names, Norisada says they’re not really important. The key is to motor up the main channel until you spot what looks like a good back bay then switch over to your electric and motor quietly in and get ready to cast to your target.

“You’ll want a good pair of polarized glasses to do your spotting,” he adds. “They’ll just be lying up in the 3- to 4-foot shallows, where the water is warmest and baitfish are the most plentiful.”

Originally it was bassers who came back with tales of pike hook-ups, and the spinnerbaits, cranks and spoons designed for big largemouth will still work, though tossing somewhat larger sizes for these toothy predators is now the rule.

“We’ve also had good luck with bigger swimbaits in perch, white, gold, any minnow imitation,” Norisada says. “But a lot of big spoons work well too, ones that imitate minnows, or Dardevles in a variety of colors.

“Sometimes, though, especially early on, it seems as if they won’t hit anything, but usually by May it’s ‘game on.’ Pike are ambush hunters and get pretty active when conditions are right.

Suspending jerkbaits, like the Rapala Husky Jerk or Lucky Craft Point, can be particularly effective. But we’ve gone to 80-pound fluorescent carbon leader instead of steel because when the pike are finicky, that helps.”

If you want more latitude, purchase a Kalispel tribal permit to fish the bays on the reservation at Usk and northwards, but Norisada says he’s always found plenty of opportunity without that.

Those shallow back bays should be good through May and possibly right through early June, but as summer comes on and the water recedes, it’s time to move out farther and fish the weed lines, anywhere from 7 to 10 feet.

NOW THAT THE Pend Oreille is gaining popularity as a trophy pike fishery, we can only maintain that through catch and release. Even that real prize pike, that 30 lb. behemoth you want for your wall, can be carefully measured, photographed and then released because today’s replicas are every bit as good as any dead fish mount. –Leroy Ledeboer

A SELECTION OF PEND OREILLE PIKE LURES. (JOHN NORISADA)

Whale Close In Off Edmonds

June 7, 2010

A whale is being reported between the Edmonds ferry dock and marina breakwall, according to a woman whose office is nearby.

“He is mostly on his side. He rolls over sometimes and sprays water out his blow hole. He seems pretty bummed,” says Michelle Fleming of Seattle earlier this morning. “My co-worker thinks he’s like 20 feet long. I can see his fins come up and he is moving around right out between the ferry terminal and the pier.”

WDFW Enforcement has received another report of the incident and was trying to contact NOAA.

As of 11:30 a.m., the whale was still in “pretty close in to shore,” but had not beached itself, as this blurb earlier intimated.

Plenty Of Trout Still At 2 Seattle Lakes

June 7, 2010

Who would have ever guessed that rowing very slowly around a lake all day would make a person so sore?

Not exactly a glowing endorsement for my pontoon boat’s manufacturer, I know, but it was worth it as I look back over this past weekend.

With the Missus and boys down south, I was able to spend much of Saturday and most of Sunday on a trio of Seattle lakes, catching and releasing over 30 rainbows and losing about half that many more.

I had my best luck at Green Lake — yes, that Green Lake, the one that people stroll/power walk/jog around in Seattle — in the rain yesterday, catching 18, but on Saturday, 11 came to the boat at Lake Ballinger, three at Echo Lake. Both of the latter two lakes are near the Shoreline Costco off Aurora.

Big fish at all three went about 14 inches; it was the first one I caught at Green and it nearly ripped the rod out of the boat, The Creek Company’s ODC XR 10 pontoon.

Two others were just under that mark while an 8-incher brought up the rear.

An olive Woolly Bugger did most of the damage, catching rainbows at all three lakes under sunny, overcast and raining skies, but a brown one performed well too while good ol’ Dick Nites in half-and-half and white-and-red yielded a handful at Green during a lull in the action.

While there was a whole pile of other boats trolling an array of gear at Ballinger — two guys in a raft dragging PowerBait had a pretty nice stringer going — there was only one other guy on the water at Green, a float tuber.

That guy claimed Green fishes best in the rain, and that’s what I found — good in the morning drizzle, slow around midday under just cloudy skies then better fishing when it began misting again. He caught a 16-incher on some sort of white fly that the fish destroyed.

Despite the lake’s reputation, the rainbows at Green are in beautiful shape, are chunky and most fought well while the fish at Ballinger might as well have been weeds as I reeled them in.

I worked around Green’s entire perimeter, and found fish near the bathhouse, along the north shore and in the bay by the boat rental, but the best area was south of Duck Island.

The water south of Ballinger’s island, the lake’s deepest, was also the most productive.

On Echo, it was the east side of the lake, from the dock with the blue canoe and pink Adirondack chair south 50 yards or so.

My setup at all three lakes was pretty simple: a 5-foot hank of 6-pound-test Pline leader behind an 1/8-ounce bullet weight and small barrel swivel on an ultralight trout rod.

My trolling speeds varied from just about dead as I worked the sharp dropoff on Echo’s east side to walking pace at Green to keep my setup out of the weeds. When I got home and looked up Green’s contours in my Lakes of Washington book, I was surprised to see that the water I’d primarily concentrated on was only between 10 and 15 feet deep.

From Green’s bank, there are all sorts of access points to plunk or fish with a bobber. Interestingly, though, I didn’t catch any fish while trolling in front of shore sitters.

That said, I was surprised so many fish were still available at Ballinger and Green, and I would guess that as long as it doesn’t heat up significantly, good fishing should continue at both.

Green has been planted with 21,000 8- to 12-inchers and 638 1.5-pounders, Ballinger with 5,000 catchables and Echo with 1,000 of the smaller rainbows.

WDFW Completes Eder Ranch Buy

June 5, 2010

The last part of what’s being called “literally the largest northernmost private holding of shrub-steppe habitat in the United States” was approved for purchase by Washington’s Fish & Wildlife Commission.

A short while ago, WDFW announced it had acquired the final 748 acres of the Eder Ranch in northern Okanogan County, the last part of a project to secure the 5,738-acre property just east of Oroville.

The ranch belonged to Charles and Sally Eder. The asking price for the last jag was $565,000. Funds came from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

The overall buy provides linkage for shrub-steppe habitat on both sides of the border and protects vulnerable land from development, WDFW says.

“This habitat type is under extreme development pressures on both sides of the lntemational boundary. Along with significant white-tail and mule deer winter range protection, this propertyhas habitat for shrub-steppe obligates, such as sharp-tailed grouse, long-billed curlews, burrowing owls, sage thrasher, loggerhead shrike, Brewer’s sparrow, lark sparrow, sage sparrow, pygmy short homed lizard, desert night snake, spadefoot toad, and pallid
bat.”

Just to the east of the ranch, the land has been subdivided into many smaller parcels.

Of note to hunters, since 2007, WDFW has conducted an annual midsummer raffle to allow a very limited number of riflemen, archers and muzzleloaders to chase deer on the ranch.

PART OF THE EDER RANCH, EAST OF OROVILLE AND NOW OWNED BY WDFW. (WDFW)

The agency began acquiring the ranch in June 2007 with a grant from BPA which allowed for purchase of 3,300 acres.  WWRP funded another 1,692-acre buy in December 2008.

The last 748 acres have also been reserved as “life estates” for the lifetime of the Eders and their children.

The area will be managed as part of WDFW’s Scotch Creek Wildlife Area.

The Commission also approved the purchase of a 448-acre conservation easement on the Hundley property along the Yakima River in Kittitas County to protect riparian habitat used as a migratory corridor for elk, deer and other wildlife.

NSIA Psyched For Summer Kings — And Not Just The Fishing

June 5, 2010

(NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION PRESS RELEASE)

On June 16, the mainstem Columbia River from the Astoria Bridge at the mouth to Priest Rapids Dam will open for a full season of summer Chinook fishing with a mark select fishery that is scheduled to last through the opening of the Fall Chinook fishery on August l.

In a mark-select fishery, hatchery fish-which have had their adipose fin removed-may be retained. Wild summer Chinook will be release unharmed. This will not only provide more protection of wild fish, mark-select fisheries nearly double the length of the time sport anglers can spend on the water.

Because of low return numbers, sport fishing for summer Chinook ended in 1974 and did not reopen until 2002. In 2005, the states agreed to a fishery that was catch and kill of wild summer Chinook. That decision was opposed by NSIA and the majority of sport clubs, but supported by the gillnet fleet.

NSIA has since advocated that anglers voluntarily release wild summer Chinook, and retain the adipose marked hatchery salmon, while urging the responsible agencies to prohibit retention of wild summer Chinook.

In 2002, a selective sport season provided the Northwest with the economic and cultural benefits of nearly 55,000 angler trips in less than six weeks. In contrast, the catch-and-kill wild fish policy in effect in 2007 translated into 28,000 angler trips.

Mark-select fisheries can help keep hatchery fish off spawning beds, provide more protections to wild fish and dramatically increase the economic benefits sport fisheries provide to communities.

Today’s summer Chinook are remnants of a huge race of salmon, once known as “June Hogs” for their size and strength. June Hogs, known to reach up to 70 pounds, were nearly eliminated when most of their spawning and rearing grounds were blocked by the building of the Grand Coulee Dam and from overfishing.

“It’s gratifying to know that in 2010, more wild summer Chinook will reach their spawning beds in the upper Columbia and its tributaries. Some of these mighty salmon enter the Columbia in May and June and end up spawning in Canada via the Okanogan River. It’s a real testament to the tenacity of wild fish and their genetics” said Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association.

Buzz Ramsey, brand manager for Yakima Bait, added, “Although summer Chinook come in all sizes, they often average 25 to 35 pounds and can reach weights of 40 pounds or more. These salmon pass close to the homes of many Northwest residents, sustaining rural jobs as they move up the Columbia. And summer Chinook are accessible to those fishing from the bank or a boat. Since the reopening of this fishery in 2002 after a 29-year fishing closure, this has become a favorite fishery for many Northwest residents, including me and my family!”

Hamilton finished: “Given the unemployment rates in Oregon and Washington, having a full summer Chinook fishery, followed on August 1, by nearly three-quarters of a million fall Chinook, returns will punctuate that sportfishing means business. Policies that create full sport fisheries sustain jobs in every corner of the Northwest.”

2 More Scientists Join NSIA Board

June 3, 2010

(NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION PRESS RELEASE)

Retired scientists, Dr. Douglas DeHart and Dan Diggs have been appointed to the Science and Policy Board for the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association (NSIA), bringing the number of science professionals to six.

The newly expanded advisory board lends accumulative career experience of over 230 years in natural resource and fishery management expertise to NSIA.

The Science and Policy Board advises the Board, staff and Government Affairs directors on the scientific and regulatory management implications prior to the development of industry policy positions.  NSIA science advisors are unpaid volunteers.

Dan Diggs joins NSIA after a 35-year career at US Fish and Wildlife Service, retiring as the Fisheries Program Assistant Regional Director responsible for all aspects of Fisheries Program in Pacific Region.  Of great value to NSIA is his most recent focus on hatchery reform efforts throughout the Northwest, Columbia River Basin endangered species adjudication issues, development of National Fish Habitat initiatives in the Northwest, U.S. vs. Oregon policy issues, and as the FWS representative to the Columbia Basin Federal Caucus.

Mr. Digg’s latest honor was the February 2010 Oregon Chapter of American Fisheries Society’s Award of Merit for career long advancement of the principles of science in managing fisheries programs.

Dan is married, an avid angler and conservationist, with two sons and three grandchildren.

Dr. Douglas DeHart is a familiar face in Oregon natural resource management with 35 years of state and federal fishery agency experience, much of that in the Columbia Basin.

Dr. DeHart received his B.S. in Biology from Harvard University, M.S. in Fisheries from Oregon State University, and Ph.D. in Fisheries from the University of Washington.  His expertise spans fishery research, hatchery operations and reforms, and habitat restoration programs.

Career positions have included fishery research coordinator for the Corps of Engineers Portland, Bioengineering Chief for National Marine Fisheries Service, Chief of Fisheries for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and senior fishery biologist at the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He has special expertise in the design, operation, and evaluation of fish passage and screening facilities and was recently appointed by the Director to the Fish Screening Task Force for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Doug is an avid boater, has two grown sons, and maintains a small consulting firm in Oregon City.

Chair and coordinator of NSIA’s Science and Policy Board, Rod Sando welcomed the two new partners.

“It is a pleasure to apply our collective experience and knowledge to an organization at the forefront of fishery management issues in the northwest.  We welcome these extremely competent people to the science board.  This greatly strengthens the qualifications on the NSIA bench, enabling us to be even more effective in the future,”  said Sando.

June Shooting Events In NE WA Announced

June 3, 2010

Billed as the 1st Annual Northeast Washington Ultimate Shooting Events, the public is invited to a weekend of shooting competition and instruction June 13 in Colville, while members of a local NWTF chapter can also compete in a weekend-long coyote hunt in Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille Counties with cash prizes plus a raffle varmint rifle.

Sponsored by the Colville Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Remington Arms, Marlin Firearms and Washington For Wildlife, the shooting events will be held at the Colville Gun Club.

“The purpose of this event is to provide fun and exciting events for all levels and types of shooters,” says a press release sent out by one of the organizers, Dale Denney of Bearpaw Outfitters.

Burgers, drinks and snacks will be sold by a local 4-H shooting team which is raising money to compete at
the National 4-H Shooting Competition in late June.

If you preregister by June 7th, it’s free and insures your entry in the free events, and if you participate in at least one of the Remington shooting events and are present for the drawing at 5:00 p.m. June 13, you
will be eligible to win a $100 early bird prize.

The coyote hunt features cash prizes for the four teams who turn in the most coyotes while all participants have a chance to win a Remington Tactical Varmint Rifle donated by Remington Arms.

Coyote hunters who pre-register by June 7 will also be eligible to win the $100 Early Bird Raffle. To compete, you must be a member of the Colville chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and register by 9 p.m. Friday, June 11. Late entries will not be accepted. Interested hunters are encouraged to join the Colville Chapter; membership is only $50.

The lineup includes:

Coyote Hunting Competition
When: June 12-13
Cost: Free, but Colville NWTF chapter membership required (join for $50)
Where: Hunt anywhere in Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille Counties
Prizes: Remington Varmint Rifle, cash for top 4 teams, $100 early bird raffle
More info: http://colvillenwtf.com/coyotecontest.html

Remington / Marlin Free Shooting Events
When: June 13
Cost: Free
Where: Colville Gun Club (3 mile east of Colville on Highway 20)
Prizes: Remington baseball caps and promotional gear
More info: http://hunt.info/shootingcontest.html

Ultimate Shooting Competition
When: June 13
Cost: $20 per event (categories: pistol, rifle, bow, muzzleloader, shotgun)
Where: Colville Gun Club (3 mile east of Colville on Highway 20)
Prizes: 70% cash payback on each 4- or 5-person event, 5% Ultimate Shooter Cash Purse from all events.
More info: http://hunt.info/shootingcontest.html

Remington / Marlin Free Shooting Clinic
When: June 13
Cost: Free
Where: Colville Gun Club (3 mile east of Colville on Hwy 20)
Prizes: None, this is an opportunity for individuals to learn how to shoot Remington guns and ammo under professional supervision.
More info: http://hunt.info/shootingcontest.html

Mining Puts Chetco On Endangered List: Group

June 2, 2010

American Rivers came out with their annual ranking of the most endangered rivers in America, and this year’s list includes the Chetco River, home to some whopper Chinook and steelhead — as well as gold.

A company wants to begin suction mining the Southern Oregon stream this summer, but American Rivers, calling the Chetco a “rare priceless treasure” in a sample letter, is asking people to write to the state’s two U.S. Senators as well as a House Rep to request they withdraw the National Wild and Scenic stretch as well as Rough and Ready Creek and Baldface Creek from mining activity.

OPB has a story that details more about the company’s plans, the concern of a local guide and why state biologists think summer would be an OK time to mine.

The Chetco produced a 58-pound Chinook last season for a client of guide Andy Martin.

In previous years, American Rivers has put other regional rivers on its most endangered list, including the Lower Snake last year, Rogue in 2008, White Salmon in 2007, Willamette and Boise in 2006, Skykomish in 2005, Spokane in 2004 and the Hanford Reach in 1997 and 1998.

Bumper Steelie Run Forecast

June 2, 2010

Columbia River managers have finally come out with a forecast for 2010′s upriver summer steelhead run, and it’s a doozy — 453,000 Skamanias, A-runs and B-runs, of which 73 percent will be keepable hatchery fish.

That figure is well over last year’s initial forecast for above-Bonneville-bound fish — 351,800 steelhead — though the run actually came in at just over 601,000.

(WDFW)

The forecast was made in a PDF entitled “2010 Columbia River Mouth Fish Returns Actual and Forecasts,” which is expected to be posted in a day or so.

The highlight may be a very strong return of B-run steelies. Twice as many of those big beefy battlers heading for Central Idaho as came in last season are expected this year.

A person familiar with the forecast credits “positive ocean conditions, which were reflected in last year’s strong return of Group A (mainly 1-salt fish).  We are hoping to see some of that benefit carry over to Group B (mainly 2-salt fish).”

Already this year, anglers have seen good fishing for some early Skamania-strain stocks such as those returning to the Washougal and Klickitat on the Washington side and the upper Willamette on the Oregon side.

So far this year, 10,125 steelies have gone over Bonneville, 4,000 more than the 10-year average and 5,000 more than at the same time in 2009.

Based on stats from a joint ODFW/WDFW 2009 spring and summer salmonid stock assessment, if the run of 453,000 does come in, it would be the fourth largest since 1984; if the B-run comes in as expected, it would be second only to 2002′s 129,000; if the A-run comes in, it would be the third largest to last year and 2001.

To intercept the runs, check out the June issue of Northwest Sportsman for details on fishing the Columbia River as well as four Southwest Washington tribs, plus Buzz Ramsey’s tips for scamming Skamanias.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

June 2, 2010

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the public pier off the Rogue Ales brewhouse in Newport so crowded as I did last weekend. On one tide, crabbers lined it from one end to the other practically.

Yaquina Bay itself was also pretty packed with boaters tending their pots.

Out on the ocean, I counted no less than 15 sport and charter boats making repeated southeasterly passes off of Lost Creek.

And up on the Siletz there were several steelheaders’ trailers at Twin Bridges, and a report of cutthroats, or bluebacks, down low.

Seems like that weekend just ended, but at midweek, we’re on the downhill slide to this weekend.

With that in mind, ODFW’s updated their weekly Recreation Report; here are highlights.

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Trout fishing on Applegate and Howard Prairie reservoir has been very good.
  • Many boat anglers have been catching their limit of trout on Fish Lake, which is scheduled to be stocked again this week.
  • Bass, bluegill and crappie are starting to move into shallow waters and fishing for them has been good on several lakes and reservoirs. Largemouth bass are on their spawning beds in several waters including Powers Pond and Tenmile lakes.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Coffenbury, Cape Meares, Town, and South lakes will be stocked with legal size rainbow trout the week of June 7, prior to free fishing weekend. Angling should be good.
  • Hatchery winter and summer steelhead have been released into Olalla Reservoir multiple times this spring and will continue into June. Hatchery steelhead are considered “trophy trout” and a hatchery harvest card is not necessary.
  • Tillamook Bay: Fishing for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook has been consistently good. Fish are available throughout the bay and tidewater. Try trolling herring along the jetties or near the coast guard station, especially on softer tide series. Spinners usually produce best in the upper bay, with bobber and eggs/shrimp productive in tidewater areas. Fishing for sturgeon has been slow. Best catches generally come from the upper bay and Tillamook River tidewater as the spring goes on.
  • Trask River: Steelhead angling has been fair. Fish are spread out through the river. Fishing for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook has been good. Fish are being caught throughout the lower river and up to the Dam Hole. Due to the apparent good return of spring Chinook, the season in the hatchery hole at Trask Hatchery has been extended through June 15.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • ODFW will host a free youth fishing event Saturday, June 5 at the Alton Baker Canoe Canal from 09:30 AM – 1:00 PM. The site will be stocked with 1500 legal, 250 larger sized, and 5 trophy trout. ODFW staff and volunteers will be onsite to assist youth anglers during the event.
  • Steelhead and spring chinook are being caught in the McKenzie and Middle Fork of the Willamette Rivers. Anglers should pay attention to water levels and temperatures to increase success.
  • Shad fishing is picking up on the Willamette River and Multnomah Channel.
  • Spring chinook are still being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel.
  • More than 42,000 spring chinook 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.
  • Steelhead fishing is fair on the Clackamas River, with both summers and winters being caught. A few spring chinook have been caught in the lower river over the past week.
  • Summer steelhead fishing is picking up on the Sandy River.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • There are still good hatches of golden stone and salmonflies on the Deschutes River from Maupin to Warm Springs.
  • Antelope Flat Reservoir has been stocked with trout and is open for fishing.
  • Fishing on Lake Billy Chinook has been good for both kokanee and bull trout.
  • Kingsley Reservoir has been stocked and should offer some excellent spring fishing.

GUIDE CRAIG MOSTUL'S BEEN FINDING GOOD FISHING IN CENTRAL OREGON. (CRAIG MOSTUL)

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Recent unstable weather has hindered fishing success throughout the zone, but persistent anglers have been rewarded.
  • Fishing on Ana Reservoir has been very good for anglers using bait.
  • Rainbow and brown trout fishing also is improving on the lower Owyhee River.
  • 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 has been good on McKay Reservoir.
  • Several are lakes and ponds have been recently stocked and should provide some good fishing over the holiday weekend. Check out Kinney Lake and Marr, Honeymoon, Tepee and Wallowa Wildlife Area ponds.
  • Peach Pond and Morgan Lake have been stocked with legal and trophy-sized trout.

SNAKE RIVER ZONE

  • Brownlee: Crappie are spawning and fishing is good. Bass are biting but are fairly small. Catfish are also biting. Trolling for trout is good. The reservoir is almost 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

  • The “All Salmon Except Coho” salmon season from Cape Falcon to Oregon/California  border opened May 29 and runs through Sept. 6. Preliminary reports from Newport show a catch rate of one chinook for every seven anglers among private and charter-boat fishers. No other reports were in by the deadline. Bag Limit: Two salmon, closed to retention of coho until June 26 when the “Selective Coho Season” also opens. 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.
  • June 3-5 is the last regular all-depth halibut fishing weekend. Fishery managers will evaluate the catch next week to determine if there is enough quota remaining for additional all-depth openings. Extra back-up dates of June 17-19, July 1-3, July 15-17, and July 29-31 are available as long as the total catch does not exceed 105,948 pounds. The summer sport 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.
  • No bottom fishing reports were in before deadline. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.
  • June has two minus tide series in the afternoon and early evening: June 9-18 and 22-30. Razor clam diggers should watch for days when the marine forecast calls for combined swell and wind waves of less than eight feet.
  • The entire Oregon coast is now open to recreational and commercial clam harvesting.
  • 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.

SW WA Fishing Report

June 2, 2010

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Bank anglers at the barrier dam are still catching some spring Chinook.  Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 150 spring Chinook adults, 40 jacks, 73 summer-run steelhead and 34 late winter-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 60 spring Chinook adults and 18 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, and four spring Chinook adults and eight jacks into Lake Scanewa at the Day Use Park above Cowlitz Falls Dam during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 9,880 cubic feet per second on Tuesday, June 1. Visibility is ten feet.

South Fork Toutle River and Green River – No report on angling success.  Effective the first Saturday in June, bait may be used and the fishing area for hatchery steelhead will be extended up to the 2800 Road Bridge on the Green and the entire South Fork will be open.  Under permanent rules, all tributaries to the South Fork Toutle and Green rivers remain closed to all fishing.

Kalama River – Generally light effort though some steelhead are being caught.  No spring Chinook were sampled last week.

Lewis River – Light effort.  More steelhead than salmon are being caught.

East Fork Lewis – No report on angling success.  Effective the first Saturday in June, steelhead anglers may fish with bait and the area will be expanded upstream to 400 feet below Horseshoe Falls (with closures around other falls).

Washougal River – No report on angling success. Effective the first Saturday in June, bait may be used and the fishing area for hatchery steelhead will be extended up to the Salmon Falls Bridge.   Hatchery steelhead daily limit remains 3 fish.

GOOD FISHING'S BEEN REPORTED ON THE WASHOUGAL, WHERE THE LIMIT WAS UPPED TO THREE A DAY. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Wind River – Spring Chinook are being caught throughout the system though best checks were from the coffer dam to the salmon hatchery.

Drano Lake – Light effort though some spring Chinook are being caught.  Closed to all fishing Wednesday June 2 and June 9.

Klickitat River – Spring Chinook and summer run steelhead are being caught on the lower river below the Fisher Hill Bridge.

Beginning today (June 1) Fisher Hill Bridge downstream is open 7 days per week and the salmon daily limit is 6 fish of which no more than 2 may be adults. In addition, the upper river from 400 feet above #5 fishway upstream to boundary markers below Klickitat Salmon Hatchery is open for hatchery steelhead and hatchery Chinook jacks.  Wild chinook must be released.

Lower Columbia from Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to the I-5 Bridge – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged a steelhead per every 6 rods while bank anglers averaged one per every 10 rods based on mainly complete and incomplete trips, respectively.

Bank angling effort was pretty heavy with 558 anglers counted along the Washington and Oregon shores during the Saturday May 29 flight.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem below the Wauna powerlines – At the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco, charter boat anglers averaged a legal kept per every 7.3 rods while private boaters averaged one per every 10.9 rods.  At the Knappton and Deep River ramps, one in every 30 boat anglers caught a legal size fish.  Bank anglers between Chinook and Knappton were also catching a few legals.   Overall, About 35% of the fish caught were legal size.

During the Saturday May 29 flight, 156 private and 14 charters were counted.  About 40% of the private boats were found around Tongue Point.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines to the Marker 82 line – Boat anglers  in the Longview area were catching some legals.  Overall effort was fairly light with 93 boats and 10 bank anglers counted during the Saturday May 29 flight.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Our  sampling has been focused on salmonids and sturgeon through some boat anglers sampled in the Longview area caught some shad.  About a dozen boats were counted in the Lady Island (Camas) area last Saturday.

TROUT

Recent plants of trout:

Knuppenberg Pond (Lewis Co.) – 667 catchable size browns May 25;

Battleground Lake – 3,100 rainbows averaging 2/3 pound each May 24;

Kidney Lake near North Bonneville – 1,515 catchable size rainbows May 25;

Spearfish Lake near Dallesport – 3,015 catchable size rainbows May 25;

Horsethief Lake near Lyle – 4,500 catchable size rainbows May 24

Fairview Canyon Poachers All Plead Guilty

June 1, 2010

Three men involved in poaching four deer on wintering grounds west of Wenatchee have been sentenced to a total of nearly 90 days in jail.

“This is the most time I’ve gotten on a game case,” said Roy Fore, a Chelan County deputy prosecutor today.

Two of the men, Joe Ells of East Wenatchee and Michael Pennington of Kent, must each serve 30 days apiece, as well as pay $1,050 in fines and $4,000 penalties to WDFW after pleading guilty to shooting two deer apiece.

Kenneth McGraw of Leavenworth got 28 days in jail, $700 in fines and $4,000 in wildlife penalties for pleading guilty to two counts of complicity, Fore said.

“My sense is it’s a little on the harsher side, but (their actions were) on the more egregious side,” he said.

Three of the four deer shot were does, the fourth a yearling.

Ells, a school teacher, sent a letter of apology to the Wenatchee World last week apologizing for the incident.

There is no excuse for my actions that day. What I did was wrong, and I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Officer Graham Grant of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the people of Chelan County, my family, friends, and coworkers, my students and their parents.

Fore says it was not part of any bargain and that Ells had mentioned at the time of his guilty plea he’d like to do that.

All three men also are not allowed to hunt for the next two years, according to the prosecutor.

A Full Inbox Is A Happy Inbox

June 1, 2010

It’s 11:30 Tuesday morning, and I have still not reached the bottom of all the emails that piled up over Memorial Day Weekend.

Wolves running amuck! More Google Alerts than you can shake a stick at! Press releases from ODFW, OSP and WDFW! Story pitches! Kokanee depthfinder questions! And — thankfully — articles for the July issue.

But I’m going to take a break from answering, deleting, laughing as well as cringing in horror to post some of the images that collected in my inbox while yours truly was christening the Ojalla Bridge butt slide on the Siletz River, finding agates and more on the Oregon Coast over the four-day weekend.

Call this our collection of smiles, happy Northwest sportsmen and -women with their catches — plus a couple surprise pics.

To wit:

A COUPLE YEARS AGO I DID A STORY ON THIS GUY, NORTHWEST WASHINGTON BIG-BASS CATCHER ROGER DAVIS. LOOKS LIKE HE'S STILL UP TO HIS OLD TRICKS, CATCHING MONDOMOUTHS OUT OF SMALLER LAKES, THIS ONE AN 8-POUNDER THAT BIT A SWIMBAIT. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

THIS GUY'S JUST KILLING ME -- ADAM BROWNE, WITH YET ANOTHER SUMMER-RUN FROM WASHINGTON'S WASHOUGAL RIVER. STOPPED BY IT YESTERDAY AFTERNOON AND IT APPEARED TO BE COMING BACK INTO SHAPE AFTER RAINS. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

JOHN GOODMAN CALLS THIS LONG LAKE (SPOKANE) LARGEMOUTH "NICE," BUT AT A PURPORTED 7 POUNDS, 9 OUNCES, WE'D THROW A "VERY" INTO THE FRONT OF THAT. HE CAUGHT IT LATE LAST MONTH. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

WE'LL SWITCH THINGS UP WITH THIS BIG BULL ELK THAT TUAN MYLES OF EUGENE STUCK TWO SEPTEMBERS AGO IN NORTHEAST OREGON. HE'D CALLED THE HERD MASTER TO 27 YARDS, THEN HAD TO PACK IT 500 YARDS UP AND OUT OF A RAVINE. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

ROGER DAVIS (ABOVE) USES THOSE SWIMBAITS ON BASS, BUT MICHAEL FLOYD USES THEM ON A SLIGHTLY LARGER, AND TOOTHIER PREDATOR -- TIGER MUSKIES. HE CAUGHT THIS 47-INCHER OUT OF LAKE TAPPS, EAST OF TACOMA, RECENTLY. HE'S A PRO-STAFFER FOR NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN ADVERTISER AUBURN SPORTS & MARINE. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

IF YOU'RE INTO NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON MULE DEER HUNTING, YOU PROBABLY KNOW THE FACE OF BIG-BUCK KILLER GARRETT GRUBBS, BUT THE ORCHARDIST ALSO LIKES FISHING THE CLEARWATER RIVER, USUALLY FOR STEELIES BUT HERE HOLDS A PAIR OF SPRING CHINOOK CAUGHT ON THE IDAHO RIVER THIS SEASON. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

OUCH, OUCH, OUCH, OUCH, OUCH. ANDY SCHNEIDER'S WRITING A STORY ON ALBACORE TUNA FOR OUR JULY ISSUE, AND WILL BE DETAILING THE DANGERS OF THRASHING FISH AND TREBLE-HOOKED CEDAR PLUGS. I STILL CAN'T LOOK AT THIS SHOT WITHOUT SQUIRMING. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

LET'S SEE, ROUNDED FUZZY EARS -- DO THOSE BELONG TO A GRIZ OR JUST A BLACK BEAR? I CAN NEVER REMEMBER, BUT WHATEVER THE HELL THIS IS, IT WAS WANDERING AROUND IN A FRIEND'S WOODSY BACKYARD A COUPLE NIGHTS AGO. (ERIC BELL)

PAUL NELSON RECALLS FISHING LARSON LAKE, IN BELLEVUE, WASH., AS A KID, AND NOW THAT HE'S MOVED BACK TO THE AREA, HE'S TAKING HIS DAUGHTERS THERE TO FISH. HERE BRIANNA, AGE 10, SHOWS OFF A CUTTHROAT, CAUGHT ON A SPINNER AND WORM, FROM THE POND. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

AMONG THE ANGLERS FINDING SOUTHWEST OREGON SPRINGERS THIS YEAR, KRISTY WILLIAMS, WHO CAUGHT HER FIRST BACK IN APRIL. THE CURTIN RESIDENT, 16, SAYS THE SALMON WEIGHED 20 POUNDS. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

TECHNICALLY, THIS PIC OF AMANDA WILLIAMS DIDN'T COME VIA EMAIL, BUT SINCE THAT SWEET RAINBOW DID BITE OVER MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND, WE'RE ADDING THE 7-YEAR-OLD AND HER CATCH TO THIS POST. SHE CAUGHT IT AT DUCK LAKE NEAR OCEAN SHORES, WASH. ON A WEDDING RING AND WORM. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)


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