Archive for April, 2009

Tweaks Coming To Rufus

April 30, 2009

WDFW today announced that either a tribal or state fishing license was now good for certain areas on the north shore of Rufus Woods Lake, an impoundment of the upper Columbia River that’s famous for its “escaped” netpen trout.

Previously, a tribal license was required, but “Colville Tribal Designated Fishing Areas” will be established there where either license is good.

The department also lumped kokanee into the two-trout limit.

Canal Bridge Closure Affects Fishermen

April 30, 2009

Bridges, as generals, pioneers and travelers know, are key. And when a bridge is blown up, broken or out of biz, it’s bad news for those on the wrong side.

So it goes for Central Puget Sound residents who might be heading to the west side of Hood Canal for Saturday”s start of shrimp season or lingcod in the Straits, or late-May’s halibut openers off Sekiu and Neah Bay. Starting tonight at midnight, the Hood Canal Bridge will be offline for six weeks as crews rebuild and retrofit parts of it.


Hood Canal Bridge on Highway 104 done gonna be closed for 6 weeks, making access to the northern Oly Peninsula and western Hood Canal tough for Seattle anglers. (WSDOT)

“The bridge closing is huge,” says WDFW biologist Steve Thiesfeld in Olympia. “Folks who aren’t thinking ahead are setting themselves up for a letdown. You don’t want to be stuck in traffic when the shrimp bell goes off.”

The bridge, which crosses the upper end of Hood Canal, is the quickest and fastest way to get from Seattle and Bremerton to the northern Olympic Peninsula and western canal boat ramps. The canal is, of course, the most popular shrimp fishery in Puget Sound, thanks to its large quota. Fishing there opens at 7 a.m. sharp May 2.

The work-around is driving south to Olympia and then north up Highway 101. WashDOT has posted how many miles and hours that might take.

Looking For A Gig? WDFW Seeks New Honcho

April 30, 2009

Wanted: Someone to manage 1,552 scientifically oriented employees at $325.5m game agency as well as oversee 800,000 acres of land spread all over state. Must be able to take flak from all sides. And it would be nice if you knew how to cutplug a herring and gut a deer.

Nearly five months after the previous director left, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife today posted a draft job description for a new boss.

The gig won’t appear on Craigslist — or at least just yet. First, the state’s Fish & Wildlife Commission must approve the job description’s wording at their early May meeting. And they’ll probably also hire an outside contractor to gather candidates and resumes.

But the draft outlines the opportunities and challenges of running WDFW, a department that must comanage sport and recreational fisheries with local Indian tribes in a state where multiple species of salmon and steelhead are also listed under the Endangered Species Act.

While staffers at Northwest Sportsman heartily recommended that the first question all applicants should be asked was, “When and where was the last deer you killed personally? And hitting one with your Volvo doesn’t count,” officially, the “desired experience and achievements” a candidate should possess include:

* Managed a diverse fishery and recovered ESA-listed stocks through an integrated strategy responding to multiple factors degrading those resources

* Managed and recovered wildlife populations through integration of habitat, prey species and predator species management actions

* Experience in expanding and sustaining opportunities for traditional and new use of public lands

* Expertise in agency budget development processes

* Expertise in administrative procedures for financial accountability to assure effective utilization of appropriated funds.

* Experience in the State and Federal legislative processes

* Experience in managing senior level staff

* Expertise in managing those who manager employees.

* Educational credentials in physical or biological sciences; public or business administration; or other related areas. Advanced degree would be preferred.

OK, so that rules out me.

The Fish & Wildlife Commission will discuss the draft in a conference call tomorrow, and consider it for approval on May 8-9. They’re in charge of hiring a new director.

Since Jeff Koenings resigned last December “to pursue new challenges,” Phil Anderson has been the department’s acting director. He formerly was the deputy director for resource policy, and was named chief through June 30.

Interviewing and hiring a new head has been delayed due to the state’s budget crisis, which has left a $22.5 million hole in WDFW’s asked-for budget for 2009-11.

Koenings was paid $11,430 a month in 2007, or just over $137,100 that year, records show. The Fish & Wildlife Commission won’t decide how much the new hire is paid — perhaps a little less than Koenings was. Rather, they will recommend to the governor who will ultimately decide based on state law.

Dad’s New Gig Doesn’t Work For Daughter

April 30, 2009

With all this grim news about the economy and Detroit and swine flu of late, we thought we’d share a little chuckle we received yesterday.

Jason Davis wrote in looking to find out where he could buy a copy of the May issue. You see, he sent us a picture of his daughter, Lauren, for one of the articles. Lauren’s all of 8 years old, but is daddy’s little fisherlady. In the photo we ran on p. 62 of the 132-page edition, she’s holding a shad she caught on the Columbia near Kalama.

“She is an avid shadder, but only to catch even bigger fish — she likes the oversize” sturgeon, Jason told us when he emailed the shot.

Her goal, he details, is a cover.

We have no doubt that’ll happen, but unfortunately, it might be a little while as pa’s summer plans recently got rearranged.

“I have to travel overseas for 90 days for the new job. Gonna miss all my summer-run/Deep River/Buoy 10 fun this year, I guess,” Jason wrote us.

“Lauren is not to happy about it,” he adds. “She gave me the line last night that I was cutting into HER fishing time with the new job and that just wasn’t gonna work for her, quote unquote.”

The Things Reporters Can’t Say In Print

April 29, 2009

Kyle Odegard of the MidValley Newspapers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley has been following the tale of Wilson, a young cougar bounding around the Corvallis area late this month. The cat has sparked editorials and letters to the editor, and now the reporter posts this interesting entry about how the cougar has actually backed the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife into a corner. “Some people have suggested that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is using the young Corvallis cougar as propaganda, that the agency is spreading fear and hatred toward mountain lion-kind, all in an attempt to annihilate the big cats,” writes Odegard in the newspaper chain’s Not Fit For Print blog. “Don’t buy that argument. It’s pure bunk.”

New WA Fish Regs: June 6 Opener For Most Rivers

April 28, 2009

The first five days of June will NOT go to waste on the Skykomish this year. The Northwest Washington river is one of just a few that is not switching to the new first Saturday in June opener.

However, the vast majority of other streams and rivers around the Evergreen State that have opened on the first will now open on June 6, according to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s brand spankin’ new fishing regs.

It’s a regulation change that may catch you unawares if you chase trout and other species on moving waters and beaver ponds.

Bryan Nelson at Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville says that most anglers didn’t know about it.

“I was pissed off as hell,” he says about first hearing of the new first-Saturday rule. “That’s five less days!”

June 1 had been the traditional statewide stream opener for two decades. But the idea to change it came from the Fish & Wildlife Commission when the annual sport-fishing rule change proposals process began last fall.

Item No. 22 reads: “The Fish and Wildlife Commission has asked staff to look at ways to open more fisheries on weekend days, allowing the majority of anglers a better chance to participate.”

The proposal was mentioned in WDFW press releases on October 6, January 28 and February 10.

It was supported by the Conservation Committee of the Washington Fly Fishing Club because it might benefit outmigrating salmonid smolts, but opposed by others who noted June 1 is easy to remember and that a Saturday opener would be more crowded.

It will be a wrenching change for anglers. According to a WDFW source, the June 1 opener has been in place since 1988. Before that, Western Washington streams opened on Memorial Day Weekend while those in Eastern Washington opened on the third Saturday in April, along with lakes.

That the opener is still June 1 on the Sky is good news for King-Sno anglers who like to chase the Sky’s summer steelhead and Chinook. Both species can be found in the river from the get-go. And we’ll preview that fishery in our June issue.

Two more steelie-king rivers, the Cascade and Skagit, will also open June 1.

So why do those two and the Sky get preferential treatment?

“It’s because we don’t want to have different openers for trout and for salmon,” says Northwest Washington fisheries biologist Brett Barkdull. “The Skagit, Cascade and Sky we wanted to open for Chinook on June 1, but didn’t want to have a five-day delay on when you could retain steelhead.”

“We’d like to have as many of those hatchery fish caught as possible. We want to allow people the opportunity to catch them. In the case of the Skagit and Cascade, the longer you wait, the more that make it to the hatchery where they just get thumped.”

If Barkdull was boss, he’d open those two rivers even earlier for Chinook, but those darned wild steelhead get in the way.

“We’re doing what we can to provide opportunities and protect steelhead,” he says. “We split it down the middle to what works best.”

Hatchery Reform Editorial Sparks Letters

April 28, 2009

In a letter to the Seattle Times, N. Kathryn Brigham,  Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission chairperson, writes, “Any attempt by the HSRG to change harvest activities through their report is inappropriate.”

Frank Urabeck adds that “…we now have the means to phase out use of nonselective gill nets that continue to hamper a speedier recovery of wild-fish populations.”

They’re commenting on a guest editorial by Jim Waldo of the Hatchery Scientific Review Group. He writes, “Opportunities are opening up to speed recovery of Columbia wild salmon runs, increase our return on investment in habitat restoration — and catch more fish.”

Keeping Invasives Out

April 28, 2009

Oregon may seem relatively “uninvaded” by nonnative species, but state officials are still offering anglers training in how to keep it that way. “The damages they inflict can range from harming native plant and animal life to causing restrictions on fishing and swimming to the expenditure of millions of dollars to get rid of them,” reports Kathy Korengel in yesterday”s Roseburg News-Review.

Where’s The Beefy Ones?

April 28, 2009

I don’t consider myself to be that good of a steelheader, but even I expected more than one hookup and a “maybe” on the Sauk River in the back half of April. But that’s all that bit over two Saturdays.

It took some serious negotiating with Mrs. Walgamott to get the time, but I couldn’t pass up the Sauk. The Northwest Washington river is known for its big, aggressive nates and early spring is prime time to be on the water.

Two hundred-mile round trip? So what. This year’s run was also supposed to have a larger 3-salt component than last year’s.

I was up there last weekend with an old friend fishing what I considered to be rather leisurely hours. But just as we slipped on our waders at 10 a.m., Sky-Guy blazed up Highway 530 dragging a black Riv-Tek test drifter.

Must’ve been some night at fish camp down at Howard Miller, we figured.

Greg, who taught me how to steelhead, was drift fishing big Corky-and-yarn combos, and I was swinging spoons. He didn’t touch anything but rocks. My lure made a big dip on the third cast in a spot I’d hooked the one two weeks before, but I couldn’t tell you whether it was a fish, a current tongue or what.

We were fishing an area that probably gets hit hard because of its easy access. It’s right along the highway, and not too far below the freelance, the-real-ramp-is-2-miles-further launch off Bryson Road.

We also snaked the VW down that logging road on the west side of the river upstream of the Concrete-Sauk Valley Road Bridge, otherwise known as Government Bridge. Two fly guys beat us to the spot, but soon floated on.

In other words, we were fishing anything but virgin water.

So maybe that’s some of it.

Or maybe the fish just weren’t in either spot, for whatever reason.

Or maybe Sky-Guy, Todd Ripley, et al, had soremouthed ’em all the previous days.

It wasn’t as if the river was out — it had dropped from a high of around 8,200 cfs earlier in the week to about 4,500. The color was gorgeous.

Maybe the run was early. Or maybe it’s late.

Or maybe the fish — despite a “good” forecast of 7,499 — just aren’t in this year.

I dunno. And neither does the biologist.

Yesterday, I fired off an email to Brett Barkdull, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s fishery biologist for the Sauk and Skagit.

“Where the hell are yer damned Sauk fish?” I wanted to know.

Turns out he’s puzzled too.

“Five of us biologists, and a guide were on the Skagit below Concrete (closed section) working on a acoustic tag project Sunday. We fished hard, landed a total of five fish. Terrible. We should have caught at least 20 down there; on a good year I would expect the limiting factor would have been arm fatigue! I just don’t know,” he replied.

On a hijacked thread at Piscatorials, there’s also concern about fish numbers. Smalma, aka former WDFW biologist and fishery manager Curt Kraemer, points out that there have been a few cases over the past three decades of the bulk of the run not showing until after mid-April. But looking at what’s happened to other systems’ runs in Western Washington this year, he’s a little bit worried.

Further down that same post, Todd Ripley, he of rvrfshr spoons, reports, “On a run size of nearly 8000 fish we should be experiencing 4-8 fish a day, every day…but we’re averaging less than two fish per day. The fish are really bright and fresh, every one of ’em, even all the bucks…I hope they’re just late due to the late winter and very cold water…”

If so, time’s running out for fishermen; you have till Thursday evening to hope the run arrives.

Plastic Gut

April 27, 2009

They haven’t made it illegal, but a state clear across the country today asked anglers to stop using those ubiquitous soft plastic lures. To protect trout as well as salmon, Maine wants anglers to switch to biodegradable lures.

Plastic lures are, of course, hugely popular with bass fisherman, but a growing corps of trout, salmon and steelhead anglers use them too.

A press release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife  says that if a trout eats a plastic tube bait, salamander, worm, etc., it “remains in that fish’s stomach for the rest of its life and may cause health issues such as ulcers and weight loss.”

A study conducted by two state fisheries biologists and a Ph.D at Unity College “found that 65 percent of brook trout voluntarily consumed soft plastic lures if they simply were dropped into water.”

“We found that fish retained the lures in their stomachs for 13 weeks without regurgitating them,” said MIFW pathologist Dr. Russ Danner. “They also began to act anorexic and lost weight within 90 days of eating a soft plastic lure.”

The lure takes up space that would otherwise be filled with natural things a trout would eat.

“There are estimates that as much as 20 million pounds of soft plastic are being lost in freshwater lakes and streams annually in the U.S.,” IFW’s press release says. “The average life expectancy for these soft plastic lures is more than 200 years.”

Some of Berkley’s Gulp! soft plastic baits are biodegradable and a company called Biobait claims its products break down in fish’s stomachs. An outfit called Green Tackle also sells what they say are “environmentally friendly” soft baits.

141-pder., Other Nice Hali Landed Over Opener

April 27, 2009

The guys on Gamefishin posted pics of several nice flatsiders caught in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca over the past several days, including a 141-pounder for Jean Garner, wife of Ron Garner whom Northwest Sportsman’s Tim Bush spoke to for our April issue halibut preview.

‘Salmon Standoff’ On The Columbia

April 27, 2009

In an article yesterday entitled, “Salmon Standoff,” The Oregonian’s Scott Learn rides along with “burly salmon evangelist” Jim Martin, Columbia River gillnetter Jim Wells and tribal angler Randy Settler and discusses a bill in the Oregon legislature that would move commercial fishing into lower river bays. It would help increase sport fishing opportunities, but folks like Wells and Settler are concerned.

ODFW To Close 94-y.o. Trout Hatchery

April 27, 2009

Mark Freeman reports on the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s plan to close Butte Falls Hatchery, in the business of providing stocker trout for Southwest Oregon waters for only 94 years.

Trout Opener Colder But Successful

April 27, 2009

Breeze through the opening day fishing report and you’ll notice an unusual species in the creel at Rowland Lake, down on the Washington-Oregon border: A turkey.

John Weinheimer, a biologist out of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Vancouver office, reported a tom with an 8-inch beard was among the harvest at the trout lake on Saturday’s big opener.

Elsewhere, though, anglers caught a good mix of recent stockers and carryovers, despite cold temperatures. According to WDFW’s Jon Anderson, who puts together a quick overview report right after the opener, state staffers spoke with “5,410 anglers with 12,497 trout from 121 lakes statewide” — plus one turkey.

He says anglers averaged 2.3 trout in the creel.

A few surprises in the top 10 lakes: Spokane County’s Williams Lake; Horseshoe and Island lakes in Kitsap County; Okanogan County’s Pearrygin Lake; Skagit County’s Erie Lake; Ward Lake in Thurston County; King County’s Steel Lake; Snohomish County’s Howard Lake; Silver Lake in Whatcom County; and Cedar Lake in Stevens County.

Here’s the rest of Anderson’s report:

Fish Program Manager John Whalen noted weather conditions in the early morning were cool, but clear, with light wind for eastern Washington. A light rain in the Spokane area began around noon. Fishing effort was strong at the lakes checked around the Spokane area, and also in southern Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, as angler numbers observed during 8 A.M. and Noon pressure counts remained consistent or increased in to the early afternoon. For lakes checked in Districts 1 and 2, the top average for the number of fish per angler checked, was observed at Williams Lake in Spokane County, with 5 fish per angler checked. Other top producers in Region 1 included Badger Lake (3.9), Fish Lake (3.6), Cedar Lake (3.95) and Deep Lake (3.7).

Jeff Korth reported a good opening day in Central Washington, but effort was a little low due to the effects of the wind on the boat anglers, keeping their catches on the low side. The weather was warm (50 degrees plus), clear, and sunny. Water temperatures were from 48-50° F. Overall angler participation was up from last year, but the wind kept boater participation lower than usual, and probably depressed catch rates on the bigger lakes. At the large lakes such as Warden, Park and Blue, the Westside versus Eastside participation was back to usual, with 55% of the anglers coming from western Washington, and providing a needed economic stimulus for the region.

Art Viola called in from the Chelan. Nice sunny weather, but windy (50 -600 F). Unfortunately, the previous month’s persistent cold weather, snow, mud covered roads and iced covered lakes precluded fish stocking at Beehive and Spring Hill reservoirs. Lack of technical help 2009 allowed the survey of only Wapato and Clear lakes. Early in the morning effort at Wapato Lake was similar to the past 6 years but many anglers left early because of cold windy conditions. The catch per angler was much improved compared to 2008. All fish were healthy and robust; yearlings were 13- 14 inches in length. Evidential, the 2008 fry survival and growth was good. Catch proportions were 4.3% carryovers, 92.1% yearlings and 3.6% carryover triploid rainbows. Effort at Clear Lake was up about 20% compared to past years but the wind drove many fishermen off the lake early. The largest fish seen at Clear Lake were four 18-inch rainbows. The rest of the trout caught were very small 9 –10 inches. Anglers were excited about the larger fish but much complaining was heard about the overall small size of the fish stocked.

Bob Jateff reported that the weather was a little unsettled, but there was a pretty good turnout for most of the lakes in Okanogan County. Catch rates were very good at Pearrygin, Conconully Lake and Reservoir, Leader and Alta. Selective gear waters, such as Big Twin and Blue (Sinlahekin) produced good fishing for those who could stand the wind and occasional rain. Catch rates were down at Jameson as was turnout, but should pick up in the coming weeks and he expects fishing to improve considerably there.

Chad Jackson reported from the south half of WDFW’s Region 4 that the morning’s weather was cloudy, drizzly at some lakes, and cold. Rattlesnake Lake was 20 degrees with wind chill and on the verge of snowing! Angler effort was ‘way down, and he thought that memories of last year’s Opening Day might have kept some from participating. Catches were slow in the early morning, and seemed to pick up from 10 a.m. to noon, when the sun began to come out. Boat anglers were generally more successful than shore anglers. There were high numbers of carry-overs harvested out of Langlois Lake. Several anglers reported that the fish didn’t bite too well at some lakes, and thought it was related to water temperatures. They kept at it, figuring that fishing would pick up later in the day.

John Weinheimer noted that in WDFW Region 5 they had overall cold and gray skies, very windy in some places. As in past years we saw a lot of catch and release fishing, and quite a number of people were happy with 2 fish each and didn’t stay for their limits. Overall people seemed to be having good time in spite of the weather. Fishing is expected to improve as water temperatures increase, and people are encouraged to keep fishing. John did note that he checked a nice Tom Turkey at Rowland Lake, with an 8-inch beard, which was a nice ‘extra’.

A combination of catchables, ‘jumbos’, and triploids resulted in a good mix of fish size in each creel, a few 14-17″ mixed with catchable size (9-11″) in south Puget Sound area lakes. Lakewood Hatchery specialist Jim Jenkins notes that WDFW rears the “jumbo’ rainbow trout at Eells Springs and Lakewood fish hatcheries in earthen ponds, and release them at 15-to-18 inches in length. These fat, 1-1/2 to two-pound fish provide some of the better quality fishing in Mason, Pierce and Thurston Counties. WDFW Area fish biologist Mike Scharpf noted that Pierce County anglers were really impressed with these fish.

In Thurston County, Larry Phillips reported that, with a couple of exceptions anglers fishing Thurston Co. Lake had very good fishing today. The quantity and quality of this year’s fish were very good, thanks to the hatchery staff at Lakewood and Eells Springs fish hatcheries. There were no real surprises this year with the exception of Deep Lake. Deep Lake was surveyed by former WDFW biologist Chuck Baranski who saw few catchable size fish in the creel. The lake was stocked in late March, and we have observed that catchable trout suffer significant mortality when stocked too far ahead of the opener. The survey at Summit Lake documented a good contribution from the 2008 fry plants. Based on a small sample size it appears that the fry comprised between 30-40% of all catchable length fish observed. Carryover rates were also very good relative to previous years. Of the 59 fish caught that were greater than 14 inches, 19 were carryovers. Also, five kokanee were caught, with the largest being 11”. This year’s kokanee fishery will likely be poor due to the fry shortage in 2007. High grading was also an issue with many anglers at Summit, Pattison, and McIntosh reported catching many fish that were too small. The message we continue to hear from anglers is “more large fish.”

WDFW Area fish biologist Rick Ereth reported on the nice fish in Grays Harbor County. The Elma Game Club raises 4-to-6 pound “quality” rainbows at Satsop Springs, which add to the mix of WDFW catchables, beautiful “jumbos”, and the triploids. Failor Lake had fair angling. A 6-½ pound rainbow won the Derby there. Anglers did all right at Aberdeen Lake as well, with the largest fish checked this morning being a 26-inch quality rainbow. Kim Figlar-Barnes called in from the Vance Creek ponds near Elma, where the water had cleared significantly from the brown and muddy from the previous winter’s floods. At Lake Sylvia, numbers of anglers were down from last year, partly due to the razor clam opening this morning. WDFW sampler Brian Berry reported watching a smiling 4-year old girl running up the bank toward her folks in the parking lot, holding her fishing pole with her trout following behind. Curt Holt called in from Pacific County, where the largest rainbow caught in Black Lake at the City of Ilwaco Derby weighed in at 3 pounds.

Elma Game Club Derby winners reported from Vance Creek Pond #1 included: In the 0-7 year age group, Elizabeth Disken caught a 6 lb, 13 oz rainbow; in the 8-15 year group, Justin Franz caught a 7 lb, 15 oz trout; in the 16-60 age group, Jesse Hayes caught a 6 lb, 8 oz fish, and in the over-60 group, Jerry McKinney caught a 1 lb, 15 oz ‘bow. The Derby at Aberdeen Lake had age 0-4 boys largest fish was 21 inches and 4.86 lbs; Age 0-4 girls largest was 23 inches at 5.24 lbs. Age 5-9 boys’ largest was the 24.5 inch, 7.39 lbs rainbow; age 5-9 girls caught a 23 inch, 5.95 lb fish. Age 10-14 boys’ largest was 22.75” and 5.94 lbs, the 10-14 year old girls’ biggest trout was 24 inches and 5.82 pounds.

Thom Johnson called in with reports for the Olympic Peninsula lakes. We had many volunteers help check anglers this season; special thanks to Bremerton Sportsmen’s Club, Freshies and Salties, Port Ludlow Fly-fishers, Kitsap Fly Anglers, PSA East Jefferson, PSA North Kitsap, and PSA South Sound. Overall, fishing was good with a good mix of catchables, jumbos, triploids, and broodstock in the catch. The highest fish/angler were recorded at Horsehoe (4.9) and Island (4.5), both in Kitsap County. Anderson Lake in Jefferson County, usually a hotspot, was closed due to toxic algae concentrations which posed a high risk to anglers. As usual, effort was fairly low on year-round waters on Opening Day. More triploids will be stocked in May in several waters and anglers can look forward to good fishing thru the spring and early summer.

Department staff and volunteers reported checking 5,410 anglers with 12,497 trout from 121 lakes statewide. Anglers checked statewide averaged 2.3 trout per fisherman. The top ten lakes for angler success were: Spokane County’s Williams lake; Horseshoe and Island lakes in Kitsap County; Okanogan County’s Pearrygin Lake; Skagit County’s Erie Lake; Ward Lake in Thurston County; King County’s Steel Lake; Snohomish County’s Howard Lake; Silver Lake in Whatcom County; and Cedar Lake in Stevens County.

April 24, 2009

Toxic Algae Scrubs Lake From WA Trout Opener

Dueling Deadliest Capts. On Sat. Seattle Radio

New WDFW Reg Conflicts With State’s Gun Laws?

The Hell’s The Deal With The Springer Run?

Oregon Cascades Lakes Open Saturday

Hatchery Reform On Fish Commission Agenda

Oregon Rockfish Limit Bumped Up

Beware Mussels, State Warns

Reinhart Pond Youth Fishing Event

Fishing Rule Change Ideas Sought

Buy An Elk Antler, Fund Winter Feeding

Three-Day Razor Clam Dig A Go

Jameson Lake Planted For Trout Opener

Spring Fishing Forecast Issued

Ranchers Want To Control ‘Killer’ Wolves

What’s Silver, Pink, And Orange Inside? 2009’s Hot Salmon Seasons

April 14, 2009

NEWPORT, Ore.—Three-coho limits on the ocean.
Biggest quotas in years.
Chinook guidelines instead of cutoffs.
A fishery that hasn’t been open for nearly two decades.
Bonus salmon for the fish box.
Ladies and gentlemen, please give us a moment to recompose ourselves. Some of this summer’s Northwest salmon opportunities have taken our breath away.
OK, we should be good now.
And so should fishing off Oregon and Washington’s coast, in the Columbia and inside Puget Sound and its rivers.
“I think it’s potentially going to be a very good year,” says Steve Thiesfeld, a Washington salmon manager. “There’s a number of exciting fisheries. There are gains in the ocean. A Skagit Chinook fishery for sports and the tribes. A big pink run is expected. It could be a very special year.”

THANKS TO STRONG forecasts for Columbia River and Oregon coast coho – 1 million more than last year’s preseason guess – both states will see vastly expanded quotas on the ocean for hatchery fish.
How vast? Last year, Oregonians were given a sliver of a silver allotment, all of about 20,000 coho for most of the coast.
Fast forward to 2009 and we should see overflowing coolers on the briny blue. The Pacific Fishery Management Council approved three-fish limits from, basically, Nehalem all the way south to roughly Port Orford.
Three-coho limits out where they bite best!
Fishing starts on June 20 and will be open seven days a week. The quota is 110,000 fin-clipped silvers. That’s the most since 1998. And there’s also a September season for 7,000 more!
From Nehalem north to Neah Bay, Wash., the number of bonkable silvers is even higher. Overall, 176,400 will be available. Last season’s quota for this area was a paltry 20,000. A full half of this year’s catch can come from just the waters between Oregon’s Cape Falcon and the north end of Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula. According to Oregon’s Ron Boyce, that’s the biggest coho quota there since 1992.
Seasons open June 27 off LaPush and Neah Bay, and June 28 off Ilwaco, Westport, Warrenton, Gearhart and Cannon Beach.
Chinook will be available too, though the quota remains about the same as last year, around 20,000.
Except for an Aug. 29-Sept. 7 fishery south of Port Orford, most of Oregon’s coast will again be closed for ocean kings to protect weak Sacramento and Klamath stocks. Commercial fishing will also be almost completely closed.
But do not confuse commercial closures with lack of recreational fishing opportunities!
The chance of mixed up messages worries Loren Goddard, a Depoe Bay charter captain.
“Folks hear about that commercial salmon closure on the news and they think the sport seasons are shut down too,” he says. “Nothing could be further from the truth. With that big (coho) quota and the three-fish limit we’ll be fishing hard out here all summer. It should be a stellar season!”
Goddard notes that while the halibut quota was cut by 20 percent, he makes better money when he runs two or three coho trips a day anyway. The coho are right outside the famously small harbor north of Newport, but he has to burn a lot of fuel to reach the halibut grounds.
Early on, those coho may be on the smallish side, perhaps around a 3-pound average along the coast. But come high summer, they’ll be packing on the pounds.
“They grow a lot in July and August,” says longtime Washington coast salmon creel sampler Wendy Beeghley. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see 12, 13 pounds by the end of August.”
NOAA-Fisheries, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission must still put their official stamps of approval on the saltwater fisheries this month.
When Sept. 1 rolls round at Buoy 10, at the mouth of the Columbia, coho limits will jump to three fish just as the early hatchery silver run peaks. You’ll also be able to keep six adult coho a day on Washington-side tributaries with hatchery runs later this year.

IN PUGET SOUND, the quotas have been removed for the relatively new and very popular mark-selective Chinook fisheries in Seattle’s backyard.
Marine Areas 9 and 10 have been open with a hard 7,000-fish cap the past two years, but they will now operate under a much more flexible guideline of 11,000 hatchery kings.
“Quotas can’t be exceeded, guidelines can,” says Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association.
Fishing will also be open for a month and a half off Seattle, Edmonds, Point No Point and Port Townsend – “prime choice spots,” says an excited Floor – more than two weeks longer than possible before.
That’s also the same season length as approved for hatchery Chinook fisheries in the central and eastern Straits of Juan de Fuca, also operating without a quota for the first time.
“The beauty of seasons over a quota is people can plan their vacations,” Floor notes.
The folks in Sekiu cheered.
And the beauty of selective fishing is that it empowers recreational anglers to help reduce the number of hatchery salmon that might spawn in the wild with native fish.
The new opportunities were hailed as a historic expansion for sport fishing. While the long march towards more selective salmon fishing opportunities has been made incrementally in past years, Floor says this year’s steps were “yards and miles” long.
And with reduced commercial harvest of Sound-bound kings in Alaska and B.C. over the next 10 years, the future of salmon fishing looks bright.
“I like the forecast in the years ahead when we should really see Chinook rebound,” Floor says.

THEN THERE’S THOSE lovable, huggable pink salmon.
Humpies are the smallest of all Pacific salmon, but by god they are the snappiest! Some 5.1 million of ’em should flood into Pugetropolis rivers – nearly 1.9 million to the Snohumpish, err, Snohomish alone.
That will translate into bonus limits in the Straits, San Juan Islands and almost all of Puget Sound. The metro area will run red with pink blood.
Which is not to say federal, state and tribal fishery managers went on a bender one night and said to hell with conservation for 2009. Pink stocks are very strong and many of the other opportunities this year target hatchery fish that have responded well to great ocean conditions. Fisheries have been shaped to minimize impacts on struggling wild salmon runs and conserve those stocks.
However, in one case, officials feel enough native summer Chinook will return to the Skagit River – 23,400 are expected – that we will get to fish on them for the first time since 1993.
And next winter, Chinook season in the nearby San Juan Islands will be expanded by two and a half months.
Oh, goodness, folks, we’re losing it again.
And while we’re also holding our breath for the fish to actually return, you can count on this: Northwest Sportsman will get you set up for the whole season, from Brookings to Astoria to Neah to PT to Tacoma, from silvers to pinks to chromers, from herring to hoochies to spoons, to … well, you get the picture. – Additional reporting from Terry Otto

I ‘Shudder’ When I’m Around You

April 14, 2009

The buck steelhead is shaking its head “no,” but what he’s really doing is trying to get the hen to say “yes.”
It’s a unique move called “shuddering” and it’s been captured on video by researchers at Oregon State University. Clips aired on Oregon Field Guide recently.
A remotely operated underwater camera films a randy male steelhead in a fairly shallow, swiftly moving stream pull up behind the hen. He starts quaking from head to toe, err, head to tail fin, in quick, slight movements that look like jiggling muscles or fat.
A moment later, video shows a second male trying the shudder shake, but his motions are more exaggerated, more side to side, and done slower.
OSU’s John McMillan, who has been studying how steelhead mate in the wild, describes the shuddering as a sort of “fishy foreplay.”
“The female is choosing the male who has the best shudder, who has the right moves,” he tells Oregon Field Guide. “Some males have depleted their energy stores to such a level from competition and mating that they’re no longer capable of shuddering at the speed or frequency the female prefers.”
Then there’s the little rainbow who also wants a piece of the action. Video shows the trout, which may be the same age as the sea-going hen but only 1/20th of her size, swooping in under her and into the gravel redd to try and mate with it while the buck’s attention is diverted.
Ahh, the sex lives of fish. Don’t miss it!

Welcome To NWS Mag Online, Here’s Your toolbelt!

April 14, 2009

If you don’t mind hanging out in a construction zone, welcome to Northwest Sportsman magazine’s official Web site.

Please pardon the noise – they’re still hanging sheetrock on most of the other pages, but this one’s pretty much finished up, so come on over here to the cooler and grab yourself a refreshment.

As you can tell by a quick look around the joint, we plan on bringing you fishing and hunting updates from around the region. Just like with the mag, we’ll be focusing on Northwest salmon and steelhead, deer and elk, trout and kokanee, bears and turkey, halibut and lings, waterfowl and upland birds, bass and walleye, clams and … well, everything else in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska that goes well with butter and/or beer.

But as we both know, there are many things in our world that don’t go on the grill – oh, watch yourself, they’re bringing in the moose mount for the Brag Board!

As I was saying, there are so many other things to talk about than just where to go to hunt and fish, so we’ll be rounding up pertinent outdoor news stories from a wide range of sources. We can’t write it all, there’s just too much going on. But together, the Web can.

Which is not to say we’ll be swiping everything. We will be providing our own content, of course – the editor’s blog, breaking news, outtakes from the mag, etc.

What’s that you say? You want to help build the site too? Have I got a hammer for you …