Archive for May, 2009

Lab Pups For Sale

May 29, 2009

If you’re looking for Labrador retriever pups, Northwest Sportsman may be able to help.

We got this note from Rob Phillips, one of our contributors, just a bit ago.

“One of my good friends, a guy I hunt with frequently, has a litter of choc/black lab pups for sale.  I have hunted with the mother for a couple of seasons for pheasants and quail and she is a fantastic hunter…a natural pointer and has a really good nose.  My buddy has 4 pups left…a couple of chocolates and a couple of blacks…females and males.  He is asking $350 for the females and $300 for the males, which is a really good price if you have done any checking on registered Labs lately.  The pups are 8 weeks old, are AKC registered, have had all their shots and have had the dewclaws removed.

I know you might not be in the market for a pup right now…but you interact with a lot of hunters and if you know of anyone who might be interested in a really good Lab pup from great hunting lines, have them give me a call and I will shoot them to by buddy. I really appreciate you passing on this information.”

Email Rob at for more info.

Tazing Peter To Plant Paul — Or Something Like That

May 29, 2009

There are some lunker largemouth to be had in Southwest Oregon’s Lost Creek Lake right now.

They’re up in Catfish Cove.

Well, at least they were last weekend. Lonnie Johnson of the Oregon Black Bass Action Committee released them there before Memorial Day.

Green bass chasers found some of the 236 bucketmouths and fishing was pretty good, Mark Freeman of the Medford Mail Tribune reports.

Johnson hopes some of the fish survived the weekend because it’s the latest attempt to bring back Lost Creek’s once-stellar largemouth fishery. The lake was the one-time home of the 11-pound state record, but fell on hard times after smallies were illegally planted.

I’ve been sitting on this interesting story, trying to put it in a greater Northwest context, since I read a previous piece by Freeman on the lake’s issues a couple months back.

But part of this week’s article caught my eye: Lost Lake’s new largemouth were electro-shocked out of Davis Lake up in Oregon’s Central Cascades, the descendants of  … illegally introduced bass.

Ted Wise, the fisheries biologist for Davis, tells me that the lake in the headwaters of the Deschutes now has “a substantial biomass” of largemouth. “They essentially established a foothold and took over the lake.”

He’s managing Davis to bring back the once-stellar trophy trout fishery there; there’s no limit on largemouth.

And because of the lake’s special regulations — fly-fishing only — it made for pretty easy fishing on those tazed bucketmouths down at Lost Creek.

“They’ve been catching them so easily because all those Davis Lake fish have seen are flies,” Johnson told Freeman. “They’ve never seen spinnerbaits before. But they’ll probably spread out in just a couple weeks and (anglers) won’t be standing shoulder-to-shoulder in Catfish Cove anymore.”

Waterfowl Group Head Not Happy With WDFW

May 29, 2009

Rone Brewer, head of the Washington Waterfowl Association, is threatening to bring a halt to salmon-habitat restoration work on the Skagit Wildlife Area, according to the Everett Herald.

“If (WDFW) doesn’t make a solid commitment, soon, to provide funds and to follow mitigation priorities made by a citizen panel last year, Brewer said via e-mail he will try to stop part of the work by citing violation of Skagit County shoreline management policy,” the paper reports yesterday.

WDFW is working on restoring two sections of the wildlife area popular with waterfowlers and upland bird hunters, Leque Island and the Headquarters Unit. The agency held a meeting in Mount Vernon last week to discuss potential replacement sites. However, those sites were not named outside of generalities, according to the Herald.

One is along the I-5 corridor, one is in the Sedro-Woolley area, and one is in the Arlington-Oso area, plus a couple of other possibilities,” regional wildlife manager Lora Leschner told the paper.

This is a tricky issue for sportsmen as a whole. As we will report in our July issue, restoration work on the delta is part of the reason the Skagit River summer/fall Chinook run has thrived. According to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, hundreds of acres there have been worked on. And sports and tribal anglers will be able to fish on the run for the first time since 1993.

Habitat restoration equals more Chinooks,” state fisheries biologist Brett Barkdull tells us for our story.

But equally important is replacing lost hunting opportunity. The delta is prime wintering ground for mallards, pintail, teal, snow geese and waterfowl, and a longtime pheasant-release area.

For nearly 15 years I have donated countless volunteer hours getting state to address the losses of recreational access that have occurred and continue to occur as a result of fish restoration projects (on the Skagit delta),” Brewer wrote in an email, according to the Herald. “If the citizen-established priority mitigation items — a boat ramp and moorage — plus a minimum of $260,000 of other recreational mitigation work is not completed, I will attempt to stop the Wiley Slough project.”

Stay tuned.

Let Wild Springers Go On Rogue, ODFW Announces

May 28, 2009

(PRESS RELEASE) Retention of wild adult spring chinook salmon on the Rogue River, set to open June 1 will remain closed to protect wild fish stocks, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists announced today.

Harvest of adipose fin-clipped chinook, which make up the largest part of the run, is allowed. Below Gold Ray Dam, anglers can also continue harvesting wild jacks.

The Rogue River from the mouth upstream to Hog Creek boat landing is closed to harvesting adult non-adipose fin-clipped chinook salmon June 1 through July 10. Non-adipose fin-clipped jacks may be retained. Beginning July 11, non-adipose fin-clipped chinook may be retained with a bag limit of two adult salmon or steelhead per day, 20 per year, of which only 10 may be non-adipose fin-clipped chinook salmon.

The Rogue River from Hog Creek boat landing upstream to Gold Ray Dam is closed to the harvest of adult non-adipose fin-clipped chinook salmon June 1 through July 31. Non-adipose fin-clipped jacks may be retained.

A similar regulation is expected to be implemented between Gold Ray Dam and Dodge Bridge beginning in July pending updated forecasts. This emergency closure is needed to reduce angling impacts on adults and maximize spawning escapement for wild Rogue spring chinook salmon. Similar emergency closures were enacted in the previous three years.

Biologists do not believe counts will meet the conservation criteria adopted in the 2007 Rogue Spring Chinook Conservation Plan which calls for a minimum return of 3,500 wild spring chinook in any given year and a three-year average of 5,000.

As of May 15, the chinook run at Gold Ray Dam is 40 percent of the recent 10-year average at 1,949 fish. The 2009 run is projected to be an improvement over the last several years but is still expected to fall below the escapement needed to meet or exceed the conservation criterion of 5,000 wild spring chinook averaged over three years.

In addition to this temporary rule on wild spring chinook, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider harvest restrictions on coastal fall Chinook due to conservation issues with the populations. The commission meets in Salem on June 5, and proposed regulations would be in effect August 1 to December 31.

The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations. The agency consists of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, a commission-appointed director and a statewide staff of approximately 950 permanent employees. Headquartered in Salem, ODFW has regional offices in Clackamas, Roseburg, Bend, and La Grande with ten district offices located throughout the state. For additional information, please visit

Free Fishing Weekend Ideas: SW OR Edition

May 28, 2009

(PRESS RELEASE) During Free Fishing Weekend, June 6-7, Oregonian’s can fish, crab and clam for free, and local events can help parents introduce their children to the joy of fishing. Most events are geared toward kids and many provide loaner rods and reels as well as fishing instruction.

During Free Fishing Weekend, fishing licenses and tags are not required, although anglers must adhere to species, bag limit and size restrictions, as well as equipment limitations. People who already possess a combined tag for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut are required to use it.

Following are events taking place throughout Southern Oregon. All dates are Saturday, June 6 unless noted:

Curry County:

* Libby Pond, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. This event for kids 13 and younger features food, loaner fishing equipment and gear, and a fishing derby with prizes.
* Elk River Hatchery, June 6 and 7 from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. both days. More information: David Chambers, 541-332-7025.

Douglas County:

* Cooper Creek, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. This popular event has a kiddie pond for two to eight-year-olds, fly tying and casting lessons, loaner rods and reels, a fish cleaning station, and free hot dogs and Pepsi. Once kids go through an education station, they get a ticket for raffle drawings.

* Herbert’s Pond, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. ODFW is stocking 500 legal-size trout just prior to Free Fishing Weekend. Prizes, bait supplies and help for first-time anglers are featured at this event for kids 16 and under. Food and drinks will be available.

* Diamond Lake, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Many fish have been stocked in Diamond Lake and boat access is now available. There will be prizes for kids and help for new anglers.

* Lake Marie, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. This event is Sunday, June 7 for kids 14 and under. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. Rods and reels will be available, along with help for first-time anglers. Kids can enter a casting contest and receive a bounty for picking up litter. The hot dogs and soda are free to kids, and a nominal charge for adults will help pay for next year’s event.

* Rock Creek Hatchery, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. This event is only for disabled kids under 18 years old by invitation or contact made with the hatchery. Parents should call Marc Garst at 541-496-3484 to reserve a spot. Bait and fishing equipment will be provided, along with a complimentary lunch for the entire family.

Jackson County:

* Butte Falls Fish Hatchery, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. This event is for kids 12 and under. The fishing pond will be stocked with 3,000 legal-sized rainbow trout and about 150 three-pounders, and the kids can keep up to five total fish, two of which can be 16 inches and over. There will be loaner equipment and bait available.

* Expo Ponds, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Rods and reels will be available for loan and bait is provided, along with help for beginning anglers. Parent supervision is required.

* Fish Lake, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Fish Lake Resort.  A casting contest will be held, and prizes are available. For more information, contact Jeff Von Kienast at the U.S. Forest Service at 541-560-3440.

* Hyatt Lake, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. both June 6 and 7. Free breakfast starts at 8 a.m. This popular event features free camping and breakfast. Rods and reels can be borrowed and the bait is free. The BLM will provide boat rides.

* Lost Creek Lake, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. In addition to free fishing, folks can enjoy free camping and a noon BBQ on Saturday at Stewart State Park. For information, please call Stewart State Park at 541-560-3334. The Free Fishing Weekend event has prizes for kids, loaner rods and reels, free bait and giveaways.

Josephine County:

* Lake Selmac, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. There will be fun activities for kids, help for beginner anglers, free bait and loaner rods.  The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations. The agency consists of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, a commission-appointed director and a statewide staff of approximately 950 permanent employees. Headquartered in Salem, ODFW has regional offices in Clackamas, Roseburg, Bend, and La Grande with ten district offices located throughout the state. For additional information, please visit

Do These Guys Know Jack?

May 28, 2009

In late March, about the time that we first began to raise our eyebrows about the forecast of 298,900 Columbia River springers, the National Marine Fisheries Service made a bold prediction: 40,000 jacks, 16,000 more than the all-time record, would return this year past Bonneville Dam.

Boy, were they wrong — we’ve got 64,439 back so far this year.

Northwest Fishletter draws attention to the NMFS forecast in today’s bulletin.

A biologist with the federal agency made it in late March after looking at ocean trawler surveys last year, NW Fishletter reports.

But before you put too much faith in NMFS, they also forecast a return of 340,000 upriver spring/Idaho summer Chinook at the mouth of the Columbia this year, and the run is now only expected to come in at 160,000 give or take, the bulletin points out.

While author Bill Rudolph writes that the old rules for applying one year’s jack counts to the next year’s runs “don’t seem to make any sense any more,” he covers his bases with this:

Stay tuned for next year. Applying the old jack/adult ratio to the number of jacks counted at Bonneville this spring, would predict a spring upriver chinook in 2010 of a million fish or so.


NW Wolf Watch: More Methow Pups? OR Wolves Hit Wallowas

May 28, 2009

While Oregon biologists say that a pair of young wolves associated with a recent sheep kill near Baker City have headed for high ground, there are strong hints that there’s a second litter of pups in Washington’s upper Methow Valley.

“We think that she’s got pups on the ground at a den site,” says Scott Fitkin, a state wildlife biologist based out of Winthrop this afternoon, about the Lookout Pack’s alpha female.

That’s based on radio telemetry from the collar the wolf is wearing as well as Fitkin’s own observation.

“In the second week of April, she was very pregnant,” he says.

“The female’s been in the same spot for a month, and she’ll probably stay there for another,” adds John Rohrer, a U.S. Forest Service biologist, also in Winthrop. “Then, when the pups are eight weeks old, she will move them to a rendezvous site.”

Neither bio has an idea how many pups may have been born — last spring, six were photographed at a lowland, riparian rendezvous site just outside Twisp — but Fitkin hopes to learn more soon.

“We’ll certainly have trail cameras up to photograph the pups and document what we have, and that will begin in earnest next month,” he says.

Fitkin also wants to put a satellite collar on one of the wolves to better track the pack over the extremely rugged ground along the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, where they had their summer home last year. Trying to follow the alpha male and female, both wearing radio collars, was tough because of signal interruptions as well as the cost of aerial surveying.

Meanwhile, in Northeast Oregon, two “teenage” wolves got into trouble recently after photographed killing a couple dozen sheep, but according to an Associated Press story, they’ve since retreated to snowline in the Wallowa Mountains.

That article also details how a former Alaska bush pilot took a shot at a wolflike animal that approached to within 10 yards of him and his dog late last week in the Blue Mountains southeast of the Wallowas. The man says he looked for but didn’t find any sign of blood. ODFW’s wolf coordinator Russ Morgan said it would be “very unusual” for a wolf to act in such a way.

Back in the Methow Valley, a dead cow was found on the Golden Doe Wildlife Area recently, but preliminary findings are inconclusive as to why it died, according to Tom Buckley, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service spokesman in Spokane.

“It was pretty much gone except for hide and bones. There were no obvious signs of predation — tooth or claw marks on the hide or bullets — to indicate what killed it,” he says. “Certainly there were dog, coyote and larger canid tracks around it, but no wolf scat. Usually when you have a carcass eaten up, you find scat. Unofficially, we’re unable to determine the cause of death.”

The kill is detailed on the Methow Valley News’ online paper.

“It’s not common for wolves to kill an adult-size cow, but not unknown for adults to feed on a carcass,” Fitkin points out.

Rohrer hopes last year’s lack of livestock depredations continues this year, but is trying to figure out what to do once one occurs.

Meanwhile, the three remaining animals in the Lookout Pack appear to behaving well, according to an article written by the Wenatchee World’s KC Mehaffey and picked up by several newspapers, including the Spokesman-Review.

Other recent pieces by Mehaffey have included a report of pack members crossing Highway 155 at Carlton.

“All we know for sure is that a wolf crossed the highway,” Fitkin tells us. He later found out there was a large road-killed deer in the area.

We asked both bios what having two litters in the Methow Valley meant about the area as wolf habitat. Rohrer pointed out that only pup appears to have survived the winter, and that’s “kinda low. We don’t know why.”

Of course, valley resident Tom White is under federal investigation for killing one, perhaps two members of the pack. They are still listed as an endangered species west of Highway 97 in this part of Washington as well as much of Oregon.

“It’s not unusual to have 50-percent pup mortalities,” Fitkin says.

But then young wolves do also want to find their own home ranges and mates, he adds.

Last year, there were two other adults with the Lookout Pack, but where they’ve gone to is unclear. They may be forming their own pack or gone roaming too.

“There’s all kinds of cool stuff we need to find out about,” Rohrer says.

Free Fishing Weekend Fodder: La Push, Neah Hali Reopens June 6

May 28, 2009

(PRESS RELEASE) The recreational halibut fishery off the north coast of Washington will reopen June 4 and 6, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today.

Marine areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay) will be open for halibut fishing in all waters from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, June 4 and again on Saturday, June 6.

A catch assessment recently concluded by WDFW found that anglers caught 67,058 pounds of halibut in those two areas during a recreational fishery open May 14-23 on Thursdays and Saturdays only. That leaves 40,972 pounds still available for harvest under the quota for the northern Washington coast established by the International Pacific Halibut Commission, said Heather Reed, WDFW coastal policy coordinator.

If there is additional quota remaining after June 6, the fishery will reopen June 18, Reed said.

Meanwhile, halibut fishing in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will close at the end of the day Friday, May 29, while the halibut fishery in Marine Area 2 (Westport) will be open May 31 and June 7, with additional openings announced based on remaining quota. The fishery remains open five days a week (Thursday through Monday) in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and all other areas of Puget Sound except Hood Canal.

NFR, NHR: How Women And Men Shower

May 28, 2009

We got this in our email this morning, and though it’s not fishing or hunting related, it’s too damned funny NOT to post:


Take off clothing and place it in sectioned laundry hamper according to lights and darks.

Walk to bathroom wearing long robe. If you see husband along the way,

Cover up any exposed areas. Look at your womanly physique in the mirror — make mental note to do more sit-ups/leg-lifts, etc.

Get in the shower.

Use wash cloth, long loofah sponge, wide loofah sponge and pumice stone.

Wash your hair once with cucumber and sage shampoo with 43 added vitamins.

Wash your hair again to make sure it’s clean.

Condition your hair with grapefruit mint conditioner.

Wash your face with crushed apricot facial scrub for 10 minutes until red.

Wash entire rest of body with ginger nut and jaffa cake body wash.

Rinse conditioner off hair.

Shave armpits and legs. Rinse off.

Turn off shower.

Squeegee off all wet surfaces in shower.

Spray mold spots with Tilex.

Get out of shower.

Dry with towel the size of a small country.

Wrap hair in super absorbent towel.

Return to bedroom wearing long robe and towel on head.

If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.


Take off clothes while sitting on the edge of the bed and leave them in a pile.

Walk naked to the bathroom. If you see wife along the way, shake wiener at her making the woo-woo sound.

Look at your manly physique in the mirror. Admire the size of your wiener and scratch your butt.

Get in the shower.

Wash your face. Wash your armpits.

Blow your nose in your hands and let the water rinse them off.

Fart and laugh at how loud it sounds in the shower.

Spend majority of time washing privates and surrounding area.

Wash your butt, leaving those coarse butt hairs stuck on the soap.

Wash your hair Make a Shampoo Mohawk.


Rinse off and get out of shower.

Partially dry off.

Fail to notice the water on floor because curtain was hanging out of tub the whole time.

Admire wiener size in mirror again.

Leave shower curtain open, wet mat on floor, and light and fan on.

Return to bedroom with towel around waist.

If you pass wife, pull off towel, shake wiener at her and make the woo-woo sound again.

Throw wet towel on bed.

A Memorable Memorial Day Fishing Trip

May 27, 2009

Editor’s Note: “Uncle Wes” Malmberg sent us this memorable Memorial Day Weekend fishing trip story.

When my mom mentioned before Memorial Day Weekend that she would like to have some trout for her freezer, I thought to myself, what a fitting tribute to my father, a veteran of Korea and Viet Nam who was best remembered as the man who supplied all the fish for the holiday family gatherings.

So brother Brett and myself headed to Pattison Lake, in Washington’s Thurston County, to fill her order.

As we launched, I remembered a famous quote “I shall return,” and that is what we were doing — in search of the one that got away.

We tied on our brown Woolley Buggers, veterans of many trout battles. They were starting to look a little worse for wear, but had one more day left in them.

Trolling around this Puget Sound basin lake at 6:30 a.m. on a holiday seemed ludicrus, but with its 5 mph speed limit, I felt secure knowing that it couldn’t get too bad.

Soon, the first trout of the day was hooked and released, a fiesty 10-inch bow. As we continued to work our way to the other side from the boat ramp, I had the hook-up I was looking for. I’d strip line in and the trout would strip line out.

Finally, the net was put on him. It was a 20-inch bow something worthy of Dad’s memory.



We continued working the lake until 3:30 p.m., hooking and releasing more 9- and 10-inch trout than we could keep track of. At the end of the day, we had four trout between 11 1/2 and 12 inches, and the one at 20. Not too bad considering that the water’s surface temp was between 66 and 68 degrees

Mom was going to get her wish.

Hercules the Maltese fishing dog gave the trip a 5 out of 5 doggie-treat day — not only for the trout fishing, but the ham sandwiches and beef jerky enjoyed by all.

I know somewhere up there my dad smiled as two out of the three sons shared something together that they were raised to enjoy.

Thanks, Dad.

In memory of Nels D. Malmberg 1936-1976

Crappie, Kokes, Trout On Tap In Oregon

May 27, 2009

What’s biting in Oregon right now? May we suggest Brownlee crappie, Wallowa kokanee, Big Lava Lake trout, Baum Creek Reservoir trout and Coos Bay clams!

Here are highlights from this week’s ODFW recreation report:

BROWNLEE RESERVOIR: Crappie are biting very well on jigs about 2-8 feet down. Generally the best jigs to use are chartruese, red & white, or yellow & white.


  • Kinney Lake opened on Saturday and should provide good trout fishing.
  • Willow Creek Reservoir was recently stocked and fishing should be good.
  • Expect good fishing on the recently stocked Umatilla Forest ponds in the north Ukiah and south Walla Walla Ranger Districts.
  • Wallowa Lake is providing good angling for rainbow trout and kokanee.


  • On the lower Deschutes River the salmonfly hatch is nearing its peak in the Maupin area.
  • Green drakes are just starting to appear on the Metolius River, and anglers can look forward to some good action on the surface over the next few weeks.
  • Big Lava Lake and Laurance Lake Reservoir are both fishing well for trout.


  • Trout fishing on Balm Creek Reservoir has been very good for 10 to 14-inch fish.
  • Spencer Creek opened this Saturday and fishing is expected to be excellent for small rainbow trout.
  • Lake of the Woods was stocked last week with legal and trophy-sized trout, and fishing should be excellent this weekend.


  • Spring Chinook salmon are beginning to be caught below Leaburg Dam on the McKenzie and below Dexter Dam on the Middle Fork Willamette.
  • A new stocked trout fishery is now open on the South Fork of the Yamhill River.
  • A new fin-clipped trout fishery is now open on the lower Clackamas River.
  • Spring chinook fishing prospects are fair on the Clackamas and Sandy rivers.


  • Coastal streams are dropping and clearing. Fishing for summer steelhead and spring chinook has picked up in streams where those fish are present.
  • Many streams opened to trout angling beginning May 23. Check the 2009 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for open areas and bag limits.


  • Many area rivers and streams opened for trout fishing on May 23. Look for good cutthroat trout fishing on the Chetco, Elk and Sixes rivers. Or try out one of the two new fisheries opening on Hunters and Lobster creeks. As always, be sure to check the 2009 Sport Fishing Regulations before hitting the water.
  • Spring chinook fishing remains good on the lower Rogue River and on the Umpqua River below Amacher Park or at Swiftwater.
  • There has been good clamming in several areas within Coos Bay.
  • Diamond Lake is fishing well with many people getting limits, and an average of two trout per angler.

Canyon Creek Stocking A No-go For ’09 Stream Opener

May 27, 2009

This just in:  Canyon Creek in Clark County, Wash., will not be planted for the  June stream opener.

According to an email forwarded from local fisheries biologist John Weinheimer, “It appears there is not going to be access for our planting trucks or the public for quite some time due to washouts and snow drifts.  The stream is due to open June 6th. ”

Canyon, and most other streams, rivers and beaver ponds and Washington, have switched to a first-Saturday-in-June opener from the traditional June 1 opener.

The trout WDFW had planned for the creek will be released elsewhere.

“Additional catchable rainbow trout will be planted into Klineline Pond and Battleground Lake for the June 6th time period instead of Canyon Creek. We will plant the creek next summer when the road from Chelatchie is repaired,” says Weinheimer.

WDFW’s stocking schedule still calls for planting two streams in Lewis County and a handful in Klickitat County.

Fishing Lake Tapps With Randy Leininger

May 27, 2009

So I’ve got these sweet new polarized sunglasses that come with foam-lined snap-in goggles. The insert is supposed to help prevent bass anglers from tearing up when they go tearing across the lake in their sleek, sparkly boats.

Since I planned to go tearing across a lake in a sleek, sparkly bass boat and didn’t want to be a runny-eyed wuss in front of a guy I was fishing with for the first time, I packed the shades with all my other gear last Friday night. But when I got to Western Washington’s Lake Tapps the next morning, there was no sign of them in my backpack.



I checked all three of the pack’s pockets twice too.

Nothing, just a couple notebooks, an old issue of F&H News, some camera batteries, and the goggle part of the outfit. It was in the sunglasses case, where the sunglasses should have been, but weren’t.

And without the sunglasses, the goggles were as useful for preventing tears as an open screen door is at keeping flies out of the house.

And really, it didn’t matter, I was about to cry anyways. The morning had been a cluster from the get-to-the-lake-go.

If bass pro Randy Leininger hadn’t had to park his rig so far from the boat ramp, we probably could have gone back and grabbed his spare pair, the one he keeps for his nephews. But if you use the Allan Yorke Park launch – say, because you showed up at the north end park’s ramp at 5:30 a.m. and discovered the sign at the gate there says it doesn’t open for another “two hours” – you have to park your rig and trailer like 33 miles (or two city blocks) away.

And then there’s figuring out the launch codes at AYP. The two lanes are blocked by thick, 3-foot-tall yellow metal posts. You can’t lift them out, I didn’t think Leininger had a chain to pull them out, and nor can you snake your trailer around them. They only go down if you feed a machine your credit or debit card. If you’re coming here for the first time, hopefully a local pulls up to the ramp and explains this to you before things turn violent. That was our case.

So after spending 45 minutes worth of fishing time driving from the north end to AYP (note to Bonney Lake/Pierce County: Signs to the parks might help) and burning $8.50 JUST to put in, we weren’t in any mood to dilly dally over missing sunglasses. So I apologize, Mark Fisher at Wiley X, who set me up with the Blinks, I am unable to write a single thing about their tear-preventing properties.

Instead, I hunkered behind the windshield as Leininger, a 37-year-old fire-protection-systems salesmen by weekday, blasted out of the launch and then passed a slightly slower bass boat that had left the dock about half a minute ahead of us. They’d given us a report that cranks were working in the clearer water, plastics in the murky stuff. The gent driving said he’d caught eight over half a day of fishing.



Screw sleds, this is the way to roll. It took us less than five minutes to get from one end of the lake to other. Leininger estimated we were going 60 miles an hour on the glass-smooth water before pulling up on a point opposite the north ramp.

And he must have moved about as fast from the driver’s seat to the seven rods lashed to the deck. I don’t think I even got the spinnerbait I was going to try off my rod’s eyelet before he reeled in the first bass of the day.

Then again, this was a hot spot, according to the map marked up by local bass angler Todd Rock of Auburn Sports & Marine (253-833-1440) that appears in our May issue.

It didn’t take too many more casts with a spinnerbait before I was reaching for what Leininger was using, a jig of his own devising. Without getting too specific – he wants to keep some of his tricks to himself – it’s a leadhead that mimics a crawdad. He paints and ties up the jigs himself, then tags on the pincher end of a 4-inch Yamamoto craw in 176. Cast it out, let it hit bottom then drag/hop it back to the boat.

Speaking of boats, we were both chagrined to see that well before 7:30, rigs were pulling up and dumping in at the north launch.

Never mind, never mind, just concentrate on the fishing, I thought.

We quickly discovered that the smallmouth were holding on the west sides of north-pointing points. When we got too deep into coves or started picking up weeds with our lures, the bite turned off. Perhaps it was due to the slightly murkier waters in the back ends, or perhaps simply depth, but when we didn’t have dropoffs to deeper water nearby, fishing was slow.

From time to time we switched to crankbaits, spinnerbaits or drop-shots with minnows or worms and worked them off the rocky bottom structure, but nothing could match Leininger’s hand-tied jigs.

A diehard basser (his young son’s middle name is Banks, as in Banks Lake, and his daughter’s name is Marina as in, well, you know), he tells me he perfected the jigs in an aunt’s swimming pool, watching how they sat on bottom to get the design right. Right now, he’s giving them away, but in the back of his mind is the possibility of selling them. It wouldn’t be the first time: A few years back, he created and sold a jig for pink salmon anglers on the Duwamish River.

As the sun climbed higher through midmorning, we began to get as many bites by fishing the mainlake side of the boat as the shoreline side.

Truth be known, none of the bass were very big; they ranged in size from dinks to a bit under 2 pounds. But Leininger’s a big-bass catcher, winning a March tournament on Silver Lake in Cowlitz County, Wash., with a near-8-pound largemouth. He’s also been doing well on Lake Washington and Lake Union; you’ll see his tips for the latter in our June issue.

We also caught several rock bass, and Leininger had a big tiger musky follow a decent-sized smallie back to the boat. He also hooked one of the footlong mini muskies Mark Wells of the Cascade Musky Association and WDFW recently planted.



We called it a day a bit after noon, a successful outing, save for the hassles first thing in the morning.

If, by some miracle of god, you have plodded through all this blather to the end of my story, you may be interested to know that those damned sunglasses WERE in my backpack the whole time.

I found them in the front pocket when I got home.

Second Update Bumps Columbia Springer Forecast

May 26, 2009

State, tribal and federal salmon managers met today and bumped the forecasted return of Columbia River spring Chinook/Snake River summers to 160,000, plus or minus 5,000.

That’s slightly above the high end of the 120,000-150,000 range of the Technical Advisory Committee’s revised early May prediction, made after it was clear that the preseason guestimate of 298,900 back to the mouth of the Columbia would not show up.

Through Memorial Day, 105,511 have been counted at Bonneville Dam, as have 62,748 jacks. The latter count is six times the 10-year average and about 2 1/2 times the all-time record of 24,363 set in 2000. And there’s still two and a half weeks of counting left to go.

Why we’re seeing the “high jacking rate” and what it means for next year is unclear. But for right now it’s leading to good fishing in the Gorge. Here are reports forwarded by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission biologist Joe Hymer:

Wind River – Including jacks and fish released, boat anglers averaged a Chinook per every 3 rods while bank anglers in the gorge averaged a fish per rod.  About 40% of the catch were jacks.

From Charlie Cochran WDFW Technician: There have been 80 adult and 28 jack chinook PIT tag detections at Bonneville Dam from Carson National Fish Hatchery (CNFH) as of May 21.  Applying the CNFH tag rate produces estimates of 6,183 adult and 2,515 jack chinook through this date.  For comparison, the estimated run size on this date in 2008 was 5,455 and the final estimate was 5,951 adults at Bonneville Dam.

The in-season projected adult return for 2009, based on early, average and late timing data from 2000-2008, are 6,200, 6,298, and 6,498, respectively. The pre-season forecast to the mouth of the Wind was 6,900 fish.

The PIT tag interrogation system at Shipherd Falls were downloaded May 21.  There have been a total of nine adults from tag releases at CNFH detected in the ladder.  Applying the tag rate produces an estimate of 696 CNFH adults past Shipherd Falls.  This is an increase of 387 since the last download on May 13.  There have also been four jack chinook from CNFH releases detected in the ladder producing an estimate of 359 jacks.

Through May 26, a total of 191 fish had returned to CNFH.  The goal is 1,200.

Drano Lake – Boat anglers averaged nearly 2/3 spring Chinook per rod while bank anglers averaged one per every 6 rods when including jacks and fish released.  About 60% of the catch were jacks.  Closed Wednesdays through June 10.

Based on data from the Fish Passage Center site, 14,938 of the 934,438 (1.6%) 2006 brood Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery spring Chinook were PIT tagged.  Based on the DART web site, 74 Little White Salmon 2006 brood PIT tags have been detected at Bonneville Dam through May 25.  Applying the 74 PIT tags detected/1.6% smolt PIT tag rate = 4,625 Little White Salmon spring chinook jacks  have crossed Bonneville Dam through May 25.

The Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery had  1,510 fish as of May 21.  Goal of 1,000 has been attained.  Trap has been closed since Friday May 8.

White Salmon River – Light effort and no catch observed.

Klickitat River – Including jacks and fish released, bank anglers from Fisher Hill Bridge downstream averaged nearly 2/3 fish per rod.  Nearly 70% of the catch were jacks.  Some steelhead were also in the catch.

Uncork It And They Will Come

May 26, 2009

Every time I drive through Philomath, I’m conscious of two things: A) My wife’s repeated warnings about the speed traps the cops in this city on the backside of Oregon’s Coast Range run, and B) the Marys River.

The latter is a squiggly thing that shares its name with the highest mountain in the range (a 4,000-plus-footer just outside town) and one of the local lumber mills. The river winds out of dark evergreen forests into soft, rolling oak-and-meadow-covered hills before dumping into the Willamette not that far from Reser Stadium in Corvallis.

I’ve always wondered about fishing the Marys; ODFW reports that it and that other sinuous valley stream, the Long Tom,support healthy populations of native cutthroat trout, particularly in their upper reaches.”

Now there’s even more reason to pay attention to the Marys’ system: it’s home to spring Chinook

Well, a single  fingerling at least.

Last week, a 10-centimeter-long specimen was discovered here, the Eugene Register-Guard reports.

“This fish is listed under the Endangered Species Act, which means I have to file a report,” Karen Hans, a Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program biologist told the paper’s Kyle Odegard.

The “miracle fish” was found in Newton Creek, north of Philomath, in an area where a dam was taken out over two and a half years ago. In a curious twist, the paper reports, that removal came about because of a local high schooler’s senior project — and he found the fingerling.

The discovery raises the profile of the creek for further restoration projects. Since the time the cutthroat trout was discovered in the creek, however, it was considered salmonid habitat,” the bio also told Odegard.

This past weekend I was over at Kelsey Creek Farm, in Bellevue, Wash., for a picnic with my wife’s friends. Through the farm, now a park, flow a couple forks of Kelsey Creek, and in one of them, are fingerlings. I pointed out several to Amy and son River. Talking with a pair of biologists at that update to the Puget Sound Chinook management plan last week, they told me that hundreds of adult Chinook actually spawn in Kelsey Creek.

Hundreds, I said? Yep, 200 maybe, one said. Good-sized ones too.

Of course, not all those Chinook are supposed to be here. The bios think that the hatchery straying rate is pretty high.

But the habitat is there. It’s been improved, and beavers have returned — WDFW has had to install so-called “beaver deceivers” for the salmon to breast the rodents’ dams. And fish are utilizing the habitat.

The same thing now appears to be happening on the Marys’ Newton Creek.

To quote the Quaker Oats’ ads, Go, Salmon, Go!

Chelan Macks Biting, Kokes ‘Hit And Miss’: Guide

May 26, 2009
“The morning pattern of trolling for Lakers in that indeterminate flat between the Bar and Rocky Point continues to be consistently productive on North-central Washington’s Lake Chelan,” reports a local guide.
“From 6AM to 9AM or so troll those little F-7 flatfish within 5 feet of the bottom,” says Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad’s Family Guide Service (866-360-1523).
“Sometimes the fish are out in the flat in depths between 170 and 190. Other fish are stacked in the dips that drop below 200’ to as deep as 220’. Really keep working your lures when you have a fish on. Multiple hookups are very common working this pattern. These are nice solid fish averaging 4 to 6 pounds.
As an alternative pattern you might try the Bar early. Fish are showing up in numbers now,” he says.



“The kokanee bite continued to be hit and miss for my spies during this last week. Fishing the drop off out of Lakeside seemed to produce the most fish. The drop out of Mill Bay was occasionally good. The best combo continued to be a Mack’s Lures Flashlite in front of a Kokanee Pro Wedding Ring with 2 red hooks. Bait that combination with Pautzke’s Fire Corn. You will want to run your combination just above bands of fish that are 10’ to 20’ feet thick.
As the lake level rises, watch out for floating debris. We are already seeing more of it out there. Remember, as we get into our peak tourist season the ramps are getting more crowded. Strap on your patience,” Jones urges.
“Roses Lake produced some nice rainbows during the reporting period. Triploids in the 2 to 4 pound class were the best of it. Fishing from the shore with power bait was as good as anything. We had some mixed success trolling little jointed Rapala’s. Panfishing on Roses is still going great. The old worm and bobber trick next to the cattails should keep you into them. The amount of bluegill and perch that little lake produces is amazing,” he adds.

Bonneville Kids Event Not Only Great June 6 Fishing Op In NW OR

May 26, 2009

(PRESS RELEASE) One of the most popular youth angling events in Oregon will unfold near the shores of the Columbia River Saturday, June 6 when the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife hosts its 16th annual “Passport to Fishing” day below Bonneville Dam.



A fun-filled day of fishing and related activities is in store for the hundreds of youngsters who are expected to show up for the event at ODFW’s Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Oregon’s largest fish rearing facility. The hatchery is located 40 miles east of Portland at Exit 40 on Hwy. I-84. Registration will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The free fishing clinic for children ages 12 and under will have 10 stations where youngsters can learn about river care, water safety, casting, fish identification and other topics. After getting their “ODFW Passport” stamped at each station, young anglers can venture out to fish at one of several areas next to the hatchery that will be stocked with rainbow trout. Each youngster will be allowed a 30-minute fishing period and the opportunity to catch up to two rainbow trout. Most of the 3,600 fish will be 8 to 12 inches long, and a few will be trophy class fish weighing 2 to 3 pounds. Youngsters lucky enough to catch one of the larger fish will be eligible to win an additional prize provided by ODFW and its sponsors.



ODFW will provide all the poles and tackle kids need to catch a fish as well as bags and ice to keep their fish fresh until they get home. Personal fishing equipment will not be allowed.

Passport to Fishing at Bonneville is the largest of dozens of Free Fishing Weekend events that will take place across the state June 6-7.  More than 175 volunteers and staff representing several civic, sportsmen and government organizations will be on hand at Bonneville to make sure the event goes forward, rain or shine, without a hitch.

Free Fishing Weekend is an Oregon tradition – two days each year when the public is allowed to fish, clam, or crab anywhere in the state without a fishing license or tag. ODFW encourages adults to use this opportunity to take youngsters fishing. Other than the two-day waiver on purchasing a license, all regulations related to fishing locations, species, and catch limits still apply.



“Helping kids discover the benefits of fishing through events like this is one of our agency’s top priorities,” said Jeff Boechler, manager of ODFW’s North Willamette Watershed District, which stocks 25 lakes and ponds in the Portland metropolitan area. “This is a good time for people to get out and explore the wealth of recreational opportunities that Oregon has to offer right in their own backyards.”



Other Free Fishing Weekend Fishing Opportunities in the Portland Area:

Benson Lake will receive about 4,000 fish for Free Fishing Weekend. Benson Lake is in Benson Lake State Park, the exit before Multnomah Falls, off of I-84 going east.

Faraday Lake will receive about 2,000 trout for Free Fishing Weekend. The lake is two miles southeast of Estacada, off Highway 224 on the Clackamas River.

Harriet Lake will receive about 5,000 fish for Free Fishing Weekend. Harriet Lake is on the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River. Take U.S. Forest Service roads from Ripplebrook Ranger Station beyond Estacada.

Hartman Pond will receive about 1,250 trout for Free Fishing Weekend. The pond is in the Columbia River Gorge, off the Benson Lake State Park exit, going east.

Henry Hagg Lake will receive about 6,500 fish for Free Fishing Weekend. Take Highway 47 south from Forest Grove and head west on the turn-off south of Dilley.

North Fork Reservoir will receive about 7,500 trout for Free Fishing Weekend. The reservoir is located seven miles south of Estacada off of Highway 224.

Sheridan Pond will receive about 600 trout for Free Fishing Weekend. Sheridan Pond is located just south of Sheridan. Take Exit 33 off Highway 18 and head south. The pond is in Sheridan Wetlands Park on the left side of the road.

Timothy Lake will receive about 5,000 fish for Free Fishing Weekend. Timothy Lake is about 80 miles east of Portland past Mt. Hood. From Highway 26, turn onto Skyline Road, also known as U.S. Forest Service Road 42.

West Salish Pond will receive about 1,500 trout for Free Fishing Weekend. West Salish Pond is located in Salish Ponds Wetlands Park on the north side of NE Glisan Street, just west of NE 207th in Fairview.

For more information about Passport to Fishing, please call Jennell Hoehne, Volunteer Coordinator in Clackamas, at 971-673-6008. For more information about statewide Free Fishing Weekend events, check ODFW’s website.

Hunt Permit Troubles Linger In OR, But WA Filings Go Well

May 22, 2009

While Oregon hunters had a difficult time filing special permit applications the past few weeks, riflemen, archers and muzzleloaders in Washington had a relatively easy go of it this year.

But Mark Freeman of the Medford Mail Tribune reports that, thanks to updated software, Oregon hunters should have an easier time posting their applications now.

The deadline was originally May 15, but that has since been moved back, twice now, to June 1 due to slowdowns with Outdoor Central’s computers. ODFW manages their permit sales through the Tennessee company.

Freeman reports that some hunters have had to wait 45 minutes at sales counters to have their aps run through the computer; ODFW also set up PCs at their Salem office for hunters to use, he says.

“This marks the third consecutive year in which tag-sale deadlines have been extended since Outdoor Central took over as Oregon’s vendor for license and tag sales in early 2007,” Freeman writes.

On the north side of the Columbia, where the new early deadline was May 20, a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife spokeswoman reports that Outdoor Central’s system worked fine for online sales.

However, she says, a couple hundred hunters phoning in their aps had issues with the company’s 800 line. Their numbers were recorded in a phone log and this weekend, WDFW customer service agents will call the 200 or so hunters to make sure their applications are recorded.

“Our goal is to make every effort possible to contact those people,” says Jennifer Pickering in the agency’s Licensing Division.

The Great Seattle Bear Hunt: Update 3

May 21, 2009

Yesterday I was going through bear-hunt update withdrawals. Early in the morning, Seattle TV news stations were mum about “Urban Phantom,” and since I don’t have the Internet OR get a morning paper at home, I was in the dark.

But I was headed to a WDFW workshop up in Edmonds and surely someone there would know what the bear was up to, right?

Phil Anderson, the agency’s interim director, looked like he had weightier things on his mind — say, revisions to the Puget Sound Chinook plan and how the tribes and NMFS might feel about it? — than a bruin loose in Magnolia, Ballard, North Seattle and Shoreline, so I didn’t even bother with him.

Pat Patillo appeared buff enough to take on the bear — or crack a reporter in half for asking a stupid question. Skip him, I decided.

Jim Scott and Kyle Adicks certainly could tower over the bear, but they’d had their nose to salmon numbers in preparation for the meeting. Low odds they’d know anything.

A fisheries biologist I sat next to turned out to work in the same office as some of the bear trackers, but he didn’t have anything new.

And I forgot to ask another bio, Steve Foley, who also works in the same office, if he knew anything when I pestered him about those Northshore trout tribs that open in June.

Six hours later, at the end of the meeting and out of desperation, I approached Heather Bartlett, the salmon and steelhead division manager. She’d left the meeting suddenly in the afternoon — perhaps to take an important call on the location of the bear?!? But I struck out there too.

Suffering withdrawals, I rode the bus south out of Edmonds then walked a mile or so through what WDFW might want to update on their habitat maps as pass-through bear habitat before getting home.

Today, I’ve had a billion things to do, but when I read a report of a bear on Beacon Hill, just a bit east of our offices, an update on the creature could wait no longer.

Darren Friedel, a PIO for WDFW’s Northwest Region, called back about a half hour later. He termed the BH bear an “unconfirmed” report, and besides, as we both started thinking, if it had been Urban Phantom, he would have had to have walked through the U District, swam the Montlake Cut, trundled over Capitol Hill and somehow crossed over or under I-90.

“It’s highly unlikely it would be the same bear,” Friedel said.

My thoughts exactly.

But where is the Ballard bruin?

Friedel says the last credible sighting was last night around 10:30 p.m. in the Lake Forest Park area.

That means the bear is heading around the north end of Lake Washington towards Kenmore, Bothell and Woodinville, my old stomping grounds, and closer to the real bear woods.

Well, at least in my parents’ day. When Northshore was less settled and more woodsy, it wasn’t out of the realm to see bears there. The most dangerous thing that’s come through the collection of towns along Highway 522 of late was Vitaly Kalchik and his friend in December 1997, robbing a mess of  gas stations until they ran into a guy at the Woodinville 7-Eleven who was a better shot.

That was a hunt, cops trailing the bad boys out of Seattle, but this of Urban Phantom has turned from a hunt to a … well, it’s hard to say. As long as the bear ain’t doing any harm, it appears that WDFW is copacetic with it making its own way home. You’re getting there, UB, but there’s still some big highways to cross before you reach the bear woods. Best of luck.

OK, I’ve got to get serious about the July issue, call some guys back, so we’re going to end this screed right about here. Until the next bear update …

Good Walleye, Burbot Bite In Potholes Lind Coulee: Resort

May 21, 2009

Mar Don Resort reports good walleye action in the Lind Coulee Arm of the Columbia Basin’s Potholes Reservoir .

“Worm harnesses or Rapalas trolled have been producing walleye limits,” they say. ” Trolling in water 10 to 50 feet deep, fishers have been reporting good numbers of walleye. ”

The resort also says a mess of burbot have come into the tackle shop too; walleye anglers have been catching them 40 feet down.



“Walleye action has just begun to pick up in the Crab Creek Channel in The Sand Dunes,” Mar Don reports. “Good largemouth action has been reported using Flippin Jigs, Yamamoto Senkos, spinnerbaits and some topwaters.
Meanwhile, at nearby Warden Lake, Marine View resident Morris Hightower and son Curtis Hightower of Bremerton trolled up some nice rainbow trout and a 22-inch brown using a No. 7 Floating Rapala.



Lower Clack Opening For Hatchery Trout Retention

May 21, 2009

They’re not stocking it, but the lower Clackamas will open for hatchery trout retention starting this Saturday.

The bottom end of the Portland river had been a catch-and-release-only trout fishery, but biologists have noted more resident fin-clipped fish there the last two years.

Whether the trout are escapees from upstream reservoirs (which we detail in our May issue) or are just steelhead smolt that stuck around in the river, or both is unclear, but they’ll range from 14 to 16 inches.

The fishery could help reduce the impacts of hatchery salmonids on native salmon and steelhead in that section.

“We don’t want large numbers of hatchery trout competing with native steelhead, cutthroat trout and salmon so we changed the regulations to allow anglers to harvest these trout,” explains Todd Alsbury, district fish biologist for ODFW’s North Willamette Watershed.

There won’t be a large number in the river, he says, and they’ll be widely distributed, but they’ll likely bite lures, spinners and artificial flies.

Fish with an adipose fin should be gently released, he requests.

An ODFW spokesman says anglers shouldn’t expect this to become a stocked-trout fishery.

Daily limit is two fin-clipped trout a day with nominimum size from the Willamette River upstream to North Fork Dam, except in that section of the river between Rivermill Dam and Highway 211, where a five fish bag limit and 8-inch minimum length apply.

Rainbow trout over 20 inches in length are considered steelhead and can only be retained if you have a Combined Angling Tag or Hatchery Harvest Tag.

Icicle Opens For Springers This Friday

May 21, 2009

If you’re a total newbie salmon angler, you want to grab a copy of our May issue, head for Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee and get with Don Talbot ASAP. He’s successfully put fresh fishermen into Icicle Creek spring Chinook on the last three openers, and fishing will be a go tomorrow.

Here’s the scoop from WDFW:

May 21, 2009

Salmon fisihing opens on the Icicle River

Action: Opens salmon fishing on the Icicle River (Chelan County).

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Effective dates: May 22 through July 31, 2009.

Location: Icicle River, from the closure signs located 800 feet upstream of the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.

Daily limit: Daily limit two salmon, minimum size 12 inches.

Reason for action: In-season run analyses predict that about 5,000 salmon are currently enroute to the Icicle River. Although upper Columbia River spring chinook have been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the salmon returning to the Icicle River are not listed under the ESA. About 1,000 salmon are needed to meet hatchery broodstock. The 2009 return ensures that the hatchery will meet its escapement needs; the remaining fish will be available for harvest.

Other Information: Night closure will be in effect. Release fish with one or more holes punched in the tail of the fish (caudal fin). These fish are part of a study and have been anesthetized; the FDA requires a 21 day ban on consumption of these fish.

The 2009 opener is later than previous years due to a delayed salmon run. Listed steelhead spawning activity on the Icicle River also appears to be late. The delayed opener will ensure that the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery will be able to collect the needed salmon for broodstock and that most steelhead have finished spawning and cleared the river prior to the season opener.

WDFW Details Proposed Revisions To Sound Chinook Plan

May 21, 2009

Over and over yesterday in Edmonds, Washington salmon managers heard that the management plan for Puget Sound Chinook they’re busily updating should have strong linkages with hatchery reform.

And while the Department of Fish & Wildlife buys into fixing hatchery practices and the recommendations of the Hatchery Review Scientific Group, the brass also says it’ll be a tough sell when they talk to tribal fishermen about it this Tuesday.

The Skokomish and Nisqually tribes might be particularly tough customers. Part of the agency’s proposed plans for recovering wild Chinook over the coming years calls for significantly lowering the harvest on those two rivers in southern Puget Sound and Hood Canal.

How significant? Going from a 70 percent exploitation rate down to 46 percent on the Nisqually, 60 percent to 33 percent on the Skoke. That’ll primarily affect the Nisqually’s fishery, but sports and tribal anglers will feel it on the latter stream.

But recognizing the dramatic change, WDFW’s Phil Patillo says that those could be phased in over the revised plan’s life and beyond.

Patillo also told an audience of two dozen or so members of Puget Sound Anglers, Coastal Conservation Association and Kitsap Poggie Club as well as county biologists and others that the agency wants to look at ways to harvest excess hatchery Chinook coming through Lake Washington.

The agency’s framework for how and why they want to update the plan for managing the Endangered Species Act-listed stock also included a blizzard of statistics on how well the existing federally approved document has worked for wild/natural origin runs in the Skagit and Stilly, the equally bewildering mathematical tools used to forecast returns (to a word geek, their model sounds like a product you’d use as an oil filter) and what’s called the 21st Century Salmon and Steelhead Initiative.

It’s this last element, says Jim Scott, assistant director of WDFW’s Fish Program, that is “the new lens” for perceiving how differently salmonid management is being done today than just 10 years ago. Traditionally, stocks have been managed for maximum harvest, but the new tao is meeting or exceeding conservation goals.

“Certainly sustainable fisheries are important, but the primary focus is on conservation,” Scott said.

Hatcheries are no longer viewed as production facilities alone, either, in the new paradigm, rather as “tools only” to ensure recovery goals are met, he added. Instead of independent teams working on habitat, harvest and hatchery production management, they are to be integrated as well.

And no longer will plans address just a single species, but how they contribute to functioning ecosystems; Scott terms that “one of the fundamental statements” of the initiative.

WDFW probably didn’t plan it this way, but their workshop coincided with a tidal cycle in Puget Sound, a vast blue sweep of which was visible outside the third-floor meeting room at Edmonds City Hall. Phil Anderson, the agency’s interim director, kicked things off just after low slack and he wrapped the meeting at high.

But you wouldn’t have known it from his tone at the end. He noted serious challenges ahead — not only in discussions with the tribes (who comanage the state’s salmon and steelhead), but the lifespan of the document (perhaps it needs to be for a shorter period instead of longer) and how little time there is to hold another meeting with the public (June 12, at the Mountaineers new building at Sandpoint in Seattle) before getting it to the National Marine Fisheries Service for their exhaustive review so that we can have fisheries starting in May 2010.

“It’s a tall, tall order ahead of us to put this together in a short period of time,” Anderson said.

He hopes to have a draft of the revised plan posted on WDFW’s Web site later this week.

The Stringer That Got Away

May 21, 2009

No doubt both Terry Tracy and “Uncle Wes” Malmberg’s girlfriends have heard the story about the one that got away a few times. But yesterday they heard the story about the stringer that got away.

One minute the two Southwest Washington anglers’ catch of rainbows was dangling off the side of the boat, the next it wasn’t.

The fruits of eight hours worth of trolling around Clear Lake gone — and the loss discovered just as Malmberg and Tracy pulled into the boat ramp at the Thurston Co., Wash., water to go home.

“He thought I was kidding,” Malmberg recalls the day after the trip. “I said, ‘No, the stringer broke.'”

It was a mighty stringer too, he says, full of fat rainbows from 14 to 18 inches, caught trolling brown Woolly Buggers on a sinking fly line.

Now, we know what you’re thinking — just another fish story from a couple of guys who probably actually spent the afternoon at the bar. And that was probably their girlfriends’ first thought when they heard the story too.

But fortunately, the duo took a photo or two of the hefty catch before the fish gods reclaimed their own.



And we do know that this lake has been really productive of late.

This morning, Malmberg’s still smarting over the loss.

“I think they should put a ‘pound’ warning on those stringers,” he grumbles. “It was only a year old, it was metal and it broke. Twelve pounds may be the limit.”

Sure, the fish got away, but he and Tracy still enjoyed a day of great fishing, catching and releasing a mess of 10- to 12-inchers and landing some real nice ‘ns.

And despite the catastrophe, Malmberg says that his Maltese fish hound, Hercules, gives the lake five doggie treats out of five.

No doubt, the local crawdads are giving that broken stringer two pinchers up as well.

Spiess Named Dealer Sales Rep For Renaissance Marine

May 19, 2009

(PRESS RELEASE) Renaissance Marine Group, Inc., manufacturer of Duckworth Boats, Weldcraft Boats and Columbia Boats, announced today that independent dealer representative Jerry Spiess of Spiess Marketing, Inc. will provide dealer support for all three brands.

Spiess, who has been deeply integrated in the marine marketplace since 1993, has combined sales excellence with strong customer relationships to become an industry top performer.

“We’re excited to have Jerry on board. His knowledge and reputation with manufacturers and dealers throughout the U.S. will add great benefits to our team,” commented Dan Larson, Renaissance Marine Group President and CEO.

Spiess began his career in 1993 as the Western U.S. representative for Lund Boat Company.  As a life-long resident of the Northwest, he’s extremely familiar with the countless fisheries, dealers, manufacturers and inherent needs of the aluminum boat customer.

“Aluminum boats are what I know and love most,” said Spiess, “the opportunity to work with RMG and help achieve their growth plans is a challenge I welcome.” Spiess said.

Spiess will manage all three brands sold by more than 40 dealers throughout the western United States and Alaska. In addition, Spiess will be instrumental in expanding the dealer channels into new markets, executing sales promotions, and continuing to push product development in positive directions.

“The addition of Jerry Spiess reflects a widespread company commitment to providing our customers with best in class service and sales support to complement the world’s finest aluminum boats,” said Jerry Wooley, Executive VP and COO of Renaissance Marine Group.

Those Damned Side-drifters Ain’t Steelheaders!

May 19, 2009

Anybody’s who’s been following Bill Herzog’s occasional blasts at Northwest Wild Country of late knows the well-known Northwest angler has been down in the dumps about the condition of Northwest steelheading.

There’s just no comparison to the days when the Duke of metal-fishing and his compadres wandered the likes of Washington’s “Big Quilcene, Duckabush, Skokomish, Dosewallips, Dungeness, Nisqually, Carbon, Quinault and Skykomish” in March 1983, catching hundreds.

You couldn’t do that today, because A) Those rivers are mostly closed due to B) low runs.

Herzog’s latest blast came out yesterday, on the 29th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. But like the volcano’s wrath that otherwise quiet day, it’s a sideways blast. He rips side-drifters, likening the technique to the rise of soulless hair-metal bands of the late 1980s.

It is at turns hilarious – “I would rather get caught wearing a pink tutu at a Republican fund raiser wearing a Dallas Cowboy’s hat than lower myself to this brain dead way of fishing” – and maddening, especially if you’re a side-drifter.

Which is, frankly, a great way to fish. It’s deadly effective on hatchery steelhead, as deadly effective as a practiced angler using another technique.

Like Herr Herzog, I’ve become a devotee of spoons, especially this last year; every steelie I’ve hooked since last September has come on a rvrfshr. The jigs, Corkies, worms and spinners have all had the season off. I absolutely cannot wait for June 1 on the Sky, when I’ll be working the spoons in the spots Andrew Moravec talks about in our June issue for steelies — and Chinook.

What is old is new again.

Keep up the good fight, Bill. The guys at Gamefishin and piscatorial pursuits are all chewing on your Zogdom, your message that the state of Northwest steelheading is a sliver of what it once was resonates, and you’ve won a convert to your style of fishing. Becoming a well-rounded angler is a good goal – and a smart angler will pursue it.

But let us all fish the way we want to fish. We don’t need to be more fractured than we already are.

Tidewater Beavers Help Salmon On Skagit Delta

May 19, 2009

For the second day in a row, wild animal news made the front page of the Seattle Times.

Today, of course, it’s the Great Bear Hunt in the north end, but above the fold on yesterday’s paper was a story by Lynda V. Mapes that caught my eye as I walked past the newsstand.

Her piece was on beavers. She reports that on the Skagit River delta, where in the name of salmon restoration dikes are being taken out by man, the rodents are putting natural tide gates back in, and those pools are providing habitat and refuge for salmon.

She writes what biologist Greg Hood, who discovered the tidewater beavers, found in his studies of the brackish marshes:

“… by netting the tidal channels and beaver pools, he learned through fish surveys that chinook density was five times higher in pools created by the beavers. The pools also were loaded with detritus that fed invertebrates; in turn fed on by fish, including chinook, coho, chum and stickleback.

In the coupe de grâce, he discovered the shrubby uplands of the pools also defeated heron that prey on the young fish, because they don’t have enough space to land, and the pools are too deep for wading.

… (Hood said,) “It’s a system. Everything is connected. You start looking at one thread, and you find out it is connected to something else.”

By happenstance, tomorrow evening there will be a meeting in Mount Vernon to discuss where to release ringneck pheasants for hunting once their stocking sites on the Skagit Wildlife Area are flooded as dikes are removed.

The Great Seattle Bear Hunt: Update 2.75

May 19, 2009

Waiting for the bus yesterday afternoon at 3rd and Cherry in downtown Seattle, I told one of my fellow passengers that there was a chance we’d see a bear hunt in progress along 145th on the ride home.

I wasn’t joking around.

That was the last reported area the so-called “Urban Phantom” bear had been spotted when I spoke to WDFW’s Sgt. Kim Chandler a couple hours before. His wildlife agents were monitoring the animal’s whereabouts, though not actively pursuing it.

One Hundred and Forty-fifth happens to be on the edge of that great Northwest bruin bastion known as, well, Seattle. It divides the metropolis of Seattle from Shoreline, crossing Greenwood and Aurora avenues as well as I-5. It’s lined with houses, sidestreets, backyards, trees, parked cars, traffic lights. At one end you can get cheap gas, the other end lap dances. There are bus stops all along it.

The bear, probably a bewildered 2-year-old male who just wants to find the exit sign to Pugetropolis, wasn’t there as our bus came off I-5 and went west on the street, however. I looked down side roads for gold WDFW pickup trucks and news vans, but there was no sign of  ’em.

When I got off at my stop, I could hear news helicopters to the east. The bear was close, and my mind naturally slipped into fantasy bear-catching-hero mode:

Fish & Wildlife officers say that the bear came right at Walgamott the moment he got off the 304, and what they saw next amazed them.

“He got down in a three-point stance, like a football player, and tackled it, pinning the bear against the bus and allowing our game agents to rush in and tranquilize the bear,” said Sgt. Chandler.

Unfortunately, one officer was too quick with the syringe and Walgamott was injected with a serious dose of mojo meant for the animal.

But before the editor of Northwest Sportsman magazine nodded off and had to be carted home in a wheelbarrow by his wife and young son, he was heard to mutter something about 10th-grade junior-varsity football.

“Tackled ‘im jus like you taught me, Coach Bertram,” one officer recalls Walgamott saying.

But a chance to play hero and elevate the magazine’s name was not forthcoming on the walk home. I switched on the TV and the bear was, of course, Channel 4’s lead story; their chopper was live over Twin Ponds Park. You could see a pair of WDFW trucks below and a greenbelt beyond.

That patch was probably the closest thing to real bear habitat Urban Phantom had seen since hanging out in Discovery Park, on Magnolia Bluff, over the weekend. He was spotted there on Saturday, but disappeared until the early hours of Monday morning when he crossed the Ship Canal and headed north through Ballard, Crown Hill and Haller Lake.

Here’s the crazy thing: Here we are in a city of approximately 2 trillion and yet the bear still wanders free here this morning. Its last known location was back down around 145th. I rode past it again on the bus this morning without noticing a thing.

Of course, I was wrapped up in the latest issue of Montana Outdoors magazine — big engrossing article on trout streams and mine damage …

There’s a great quote from Sgt. Chandler in today’s Seattle Times. Eric Lacitis reports:

“Chandler grew exasperated Monday when reporters pestered him with questions about how dangerous Urban Phantom could be. Like, maybe he’d eat children?

‘This is not a public-safety issue,’ Chandler said. In this state, he said, ‘Do you know how many little kids have been eaten by a black bear?’

The wildlife agent made a ‘zero’ with his fingers.

‘You have more chance of getting run over by the KIRO news van than being eaten by a bear,’ the agent said.”

True. Or hit by a crashing news chopper. Or a WDFW pickup. Or a bus. Or a bikerider. There are a billion ways to die in the big city and being eaten by a bear is probably at the very bottom of likelihoods.

But just for a moment, perhaps the people of Seattle and Shoreline and Ballard and Magnolia may develop a sliver of empathy for those Northwesterners who live at the edge of predator country, places where cougars, bruins and even now wolves pass through on their rounds.

Hey, anything could happen. After all, a bear’s been loose in Seattle for going on 60 hours, and he’s been in the greater metro area for a week.

UPDATE: As of about 3 p.m., the bear had made its way out of Seattle into Shoreline, but WDFW hadn’t received any new reports of its movements since this morning. Its last known location was near Hamlin Park.

Hunting, Fishing, Shellfishing A $1.5b Biz in Oregon

May 18, 2009

Anglers, hunters and shellfishermen spent nearly 1.5 billion dollars in Oregon last year.

Yes, that’s “b” as in billion, as in bucks, bulls, B-runs, bronzebacks and bugeyes from Biggs, Baker City, Brookings and Burnt Woods.

The numbers were reported today by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

They’re from a  study conducted by Travel Oregon and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Overall, residents and nonresident hunters, anglers, shellfishers and wildlife viewers spent more than $1 billion on trips and $1.5 billion on equipment and activity-related purchases at Oregon-based retailers and suppliers.


ODFW says that the data, broken out by region and county, means that local decision makers will be able to more accurately evaluate the impact of changes in regulations, habitat, invasive species, land use, fish passage and other activities that could affect fish and wildlife recreation.

“For a number of years, we’ve recognized the need for reliable information regarding the economic importance of fish and wildlife recreation in the state,” said Roy Elicker, ODFW director, in a press release. “This partnership with Travel Oregon finally gives us a solid, statewide look at the business of wildlife-based recreation.”

Details from the study show that the fish-and-wildlife-rich North and Central Coasts and Central Oregon generate the most travel-related revenue, while Southern Oregon, the Willamette Valley and Portland area capture the most local dollars.

graph 2

The study is based on responses from resident and nonresident anglers, hunters, shellfish harvesters and wildlife viewers. It said:

* Nearly 2.8 million Oregon residents and nonresidents participated in fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and shellfish harvesting in Oregon in 2008.

* Of the total number of participants, 631,000 fished, 282,000 hunted, 175,000 harvested shellfish and 1.7 million participated in outdoor recreation where wildlife viewing was a planned activity.

The Great Seattle Bear Hunt: Update 1

May 18, 2009

The Great Seattle Bear Hunt, errr, Herding is focused for the moment on 145th St. and Corliss Avenue, just west of I-5, according to Sgt. Kim Chandler of WDFW’s Mill Creek office, whom we spoke to a moment ago.

That’s a bit north of where things left off this morning after game agents and Seattle Police officers chased reports of the animal last night from Ballard up to approximately 130th before the bear eluded them.

“He’s still running, going north,” says Chandler who was juggling media calls and crews out after the bear.

But they’re not trying to catch it, he says.

“He’s not doing anything wrong at the moment,” Chandler told us.

They’re just monitoring the situation, as it’s a bit busy for a full-court press with officers and dogs, reports.

The chase began in the wee hours near the Ballard Locks then wound its way north. A map created by a user of listening to police reports from the chase showed the bear heading generally northeasterly.

NE 145th St. is the boundary between Seattle and Shoreline, but it’s still largely a residential area, just with more and bigger trees than further south. The bear has a long way to go before it reaches more bruinlike habitat.

Rick Price of KIRO TV says the speculation is that the bear may have followed the BNSF tracks along Puget Sound tracks down from the north. The bluffs above the railroad line are generally quite wooded and include a number of local parks.

Brothers Malmberg Take On Pattison, And Limit

May 18, 2009

It sure was a hot day across Western Washington yesterday, and maybe nowhere more so than Pattison Lake.

That’s where the Brothers Malmberg pulled in limits of sweet-meated rainbows, and released a mess more.

“We hooked and released over 30 10- and 11-inchers,” reports “Uncle Wes” Malmberg, a Northwest Sportsman writer based in Castle Rock, Wash.

One of the trout his brother, Brett, kept was a 171/2-incher that was “stuffed with bugs.”



The duo fished the lake just south of Lacey from 8:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m. They were both trolling brown Woolly Buggers on full sinking lines.

Early on they were fairly close to shore, but as the sun rose, they went progressively further out into the middle of the 270-acre lake. They found better action in the main lobe of the lake, but released a few in the northern half, accessible by a shallow but navigable passage underneath a railroad trestle.

“We were catching them all over,” Wes reports.

He also says he hooked what at first felt like a snag, but the snag soon gave him a pretty good tussle.

“He got into my backing,” Wes says of the fish. “He stuck his head up about 50 feet away. I thought it was a salmon. Then he spit my hook.”

So far this year, Pattison has been planted with 509 3-pounders and 25,000 catchables.

The state access with a 5 mph speed limit, concrete ramp, two toilets and overflow parking.

Wes says that Hercules, his Maltese fishing dog who went along for the ride, would give Pattison “five out of five” doggie treats.

Oregon Special Permit Deadline Extended Till June 1

May 18, 2009

Computer slowdowns have let to a second deadline extension for Oregon special hunt permit applicants, ODFW announced. The new deadline is now June 1, almost two weeks later than the agency had extended it early last week.

However, as of this morning, Washington’s deadline is still May 20, a month earlier than usual.

“We understand the frustration customers and license sales vendors are experiencing and we apologize for the inconvenience this has caused,” Roy Elicker, ODFW director, said in a press release. “We are dealing with a system problem that has slowed down service, and we are working around the clock with our vendor, Outdoor Central, to get the problem fixed.”

Typically every year, May 15 is the controlled hunt deadline. On May 12, ODFW extended the deadline to May 19 due to a slowdown in the license sales system believed to be caused by the high volume of sales activity in the days leading up to the deadline. The system continues to be slow so ODFW is extending the deadline further.

To ease the long lines, ODFW is making mail/fax order controlled hunt applications available at all ODFW offices and license sales locations. The application is also available on page 15 of the 2009 Oregon Big Game Regulations.  Individuals can also download the application from the ODFW website.  It’s called 2009 Big Game Mail Order Application Form under Licenses and Fees section of Web site.

Hunters can fill out the application and either drop it off at an ODFW office; mail it to ODFW Licensing, 3406 Cherry Ave. NE, Salem, OR 97303; or fax it to 503 947-6117/6113. Mailed applications must be postmarked by June 1; dropped-off applications given to an ODFW office by close-of-business or 5 p.m. on June 1; and faxed applications received by 11:59 p.m. PT June 1.

Hunters are also encouraged to apply for controlled hunts online. Online sales are not experiencing the slowness that sales at license agents are, especially when done early in the morning or later in the evening.

Hunters need to purchase a hunting license and obtain a Hunter/Angler ID number before they can apply for a controlled hunt, but the license purchase can be made simultaneously. Hunter/Angler ID numbers stay the same from year to year, so even if you have not yet purchased a 2009 hunting license, you can write in your past ID number on your application.

The deadline extension will also delay the controlled hunt draw and results notification. The draw will occur by June 15 instead of June 5 and hunters will be mailed results notification no later than July 1, rather than by June 20. Draw results are usually made available online at the same time that notification postcards mailed. Any leftover controlled hunt tags will go on sale July 15 at 10 a.m. PT rather than July 1.

“We recognize these delays may impact planning for the fall hunts and we apologize again for any inconvenience,” said Elicker.

Some of Oregon’s big game hunts are limited entry, including almost all rifle hunting of deer and elk east of the Cascades and pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and Rocky Mountain goat hunts.  These hunts require a controlled hunt application.

Jack Count Now At 47,060

May 18, 2009

This year’s count of jacks at Bonneville Dam is closing in on the adult count — expect it to get closer still.

Through yesterday, 47,060 jacks had been counted as well as 85,732 adults. The 3-year-old kings have really run up the count in recent days, including a 5,700-fish day. And as adult counts continue to trail off, jacks traditionally come on in the later stages of the run, like right now.There’s slightly less than a month of counting left too.

It’s unclear what it all means, but last week we heard a new phrase for it: a “high jacking rate.”


WA Following Other States’ Lead on Lead?

May 18, 2009

Rich Landers of the Spokane Spokesman-Review reports that it looks like Washington is following national trends on restricting the use of lead weights and ammo in yesterday’s paper.

“Anglers have a sinking feeling about rising concerns over lead poisoning. Hunters are recoiling, too,” he writes in his lead.

A) Even biting a lead sinker closed might be bad for you, and B) Lead kills birds — and not just when shot from a gun, but can get them even before, the article states.

“Chukars, I thought, would be about the last thing impacted from lead shot. Their habitat is so remote. But studies in Oregon and found that up to 10 percent of the chukars bagged by hunters had lead shot in their gizzards — ingested before they were killed,” Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife upland game manager Mick Cope tells Landers.

Scott Sandsberry of the Yakima Herald-Republic also writes about lead this past weekend: “These are ominous times for muzzleloader enthusiasts, upland bird hunters and perhaps even trapshooters. Those gun-related pursuits — all of which entail the use of lead-based ammunition — could find themselves between the crosshairs as Washington state agencies and legislators move inexorably closer to banning the use of lead in ammunition.”

He says that DOE will reveal its lead action plan soon, and that has shooters in the Yakima Valley worried, including target ranges.

“You’ve got guys who go out routinely on a weekend and shoot four (25-shot) rounds of shot,”  Jim Pearson tells Sandsberry. “So you’re looking at someone spending $200 to shoot clay birds if they’re shooting bismuth or tungsten or one of those substitutes.”

‘High Jacking Rate’ And A Million Springers

May 15, 2009

If you’re not tired about reading up on spring Chinook jacks, may we suggest the Columbia Basin Bulletin’s piece today that features, among other things, a wild estimate of 1 million springers next year and the best phrase we’ve heard out of fish managers in awhile.

The monster estimate comes from Stuart Ellis, a Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission fishery biologist who is also chair of the three-state/feds/five-tribes Technical Advisory Committee. But he says it’s “not realistic,” just something you can come up with if you’re monkeying around with the fish-prediction models and this year’s jack return.

It’s off-the-charts weird — 30,528 jacks through Wednesday — and the best since 1960, according to one of our sources.

And these jacks are NOT just really, really thin 4-year-olds. Passive integrated transponder tags implanted in the returning fish confirm that, CBB reports.

The data from the chips reveals that this year’s jack-to-adult rate is an “unprecedented” 29 percent, CBB says. They add that last year’s was 14 percent and 2007’s 20 percent. Usually, high jack returns result in high adult returns the following year, but it’s just not translating through. We’re just getting a lot of jacks (and six-fish salmon limits, we might add) the last few years.

What’s causing that — and we swear to god we couldn’t have come up with this phrase even if we’d tried — “high jacking rate” is unclear to managers. But one at WDFW doesn’t think it will continue, CBB reports.

Let’s hope not. Ocean conditions were epic last year, and the outlook for 2010 is seriously good.

But then there’s that high jacking rate.

Lake With 800 Springers Opens Sat.

May 15, 2009

It’s been a lot of not-good news on the spring Chinook front recently, so how about we change that?

Starting tomorrow, Scanewa Lake on the upper Cowlitz River will be open for springers.

The opening comes courtesy of a “strong” returns of kings to the Cowlitz River Salmon Hatchery so far this year, WDFW says. The agency indicates 800 of the fish have been trucked up to the lake. Daily limit is six Chinook, but only two may be adults. Only hatchery kings are open as well.

Karen Glaser down at Barrier Dam Campground (360-985-2495) says that if this year’s like previous ones, they’ll probably be selling Wiggle Wart plugs in rainbow or purple shades to anglers heading up Highway 12 to the reservoir between Riffe Lake and town of Randle.

“We’ll see if it holds up,” she says.

A source at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery says the adults have been running 10 to 20 pounds.

And Glaser says this year’s jacks are pretty nice, running up around 22 and 23 inches.

On the Cowlitz, she says boaters are running shrimp  or eggs, diver and bait or backbouncing.

Request For A Washington Master Hunter

May 15, 2009

To Whom It May Concern,

We, the employees of the building that houses Pyramid Ales in Seattle, have a proposition for a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife-certified Master Hunter. This morning our block is being circled by a mighty trumpeting beast. We would like you to come down and exterminate it.

You would be free to do what you wish with its antlers … or hide … or tusks …. or horns … or eye teeth … or tail .. or scales … or whatever other impressive characteristic it possesses. The Mariners and Pyramid could probably use the meat somehow for this weekend’s home stand with the Red Sox — Beast Burgers? Bento Beast? Deep-fried Beast with a side of Garlic Fries? — but it could be yours as well if you wish.

We must admit we’re not actually sure what this great beast outside is, as we have not seen it. But it bellows at fairly regular intervals and seems to be going up and down 1st Ave. South and across Royal Brougham. Perhaps it is circling Safeco Field?

If so, that should make a kill pretty easy. We can get the keys to the rooftop stairway so you can find a perch on top of our building for a shot, or two, or three, or …

As for what sort of weaponery and ammo to bring, that’s a good question. Perhaps all of them? This beast sounds rather large, judging by the volume and blare of its call, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it were well armored by a shaggy coat or deep layers of fat or maybe even bony plates. Or all three.

We hope you can come soon. The racket the thing makes is intolerable and we cannot get any work done; the Northwest Sportsman magazine crew is especially frazzled as it is their absolute press deadline for the June issue.

Public safety is also a consideration. There will be many baseball fans coming to tonight’s game with the Sox and we’d prefer not to lose any to a stomping, or smooshing, or icky things like that. It just wouldn’t do for our businesses or SoDo’s reputation. And, of course, we’d like to get the gore, fur/scales, etc. cleaned up as soon as possible.

The Tennants of the 1201 1st Ave S. Building

PS: The great beast bells!! He comes this way!!! Come quick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PPS: Never mind, cancel the alert, just someone driving around the stadium with a noisemaker.

Special Deadlines Loom, Hunters

May 15, 2009

It’s that time of year, Northwest hunters, deadline to file for special permit applications.

Oregon hunters got a reprieve this week when ODFW extended the deadline through next Tuesday, May 19. Their licensing system slowed down earlier this week due to a high volume of traffic, so the application period was lengthened. Sales had doubled from one week to the next, and the agency felt there were probably 200,000 more applications to come.

Meanwhile on the Washington side, the deadline is one day later, midnight May 20, but officials there again reminded hunters that this year’s application period ends a month sooner than previous years. WDFW moved the deadline after hunters asked for more time to make their plans for the year; the hunting pamphlet also came out one month sooner.

Dueling Ideas On Diamond as FWC Gets Lake’s Draft Plan

May 15, 2009

Stock trophy trout, not fingerlings, at Oregon’s Diamond Lake. They’ll be better able to handle the invasive species sure to get dumped in the South Cascades fave, argues Diana Wales, a Roseburg attorney, in the News-Review recently.

The predacious trout we have stocked and will continue stocking will take care of the invasives, responds ODFW’s Steve Denney as well as county commissioner Susan Morgan in a rebuttal printed this Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the state’s draft management plan will be heard by the Fish & Wildlife Commission today.

Skagit Ringneck Release Sites Topic Of Meeting

May 14, 2009

Where do you put pheasants once their release sites on the Skagit Delta are more suitable for ducks than upland birds?

That’ll be the subject of a public meeting May 20 in Mount Vernon.

With dike restoration projects returning traditional ringneck hunting sites at Skagit Wildlife Area’s Leque Island and Headquarters units to estuaries, WDFW wants to talk with hunters about the options for putting the gamebirds on public and private lands elsewhere.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Senior Center, 1401 Cleveland St.

WDFW says the restoration work on 110 acres at Leque and 160 at HQ will benefit salmon.

To address concerns about lands lost to hunting, the agency says it has been working with a coalition of hunters, recreationists, farmers and other landowners to secure hunter access to private lands in the area.

For more information on the Skagit Wildlife Area, see WDFW’s website at .

Giant Kings Invade San Juans, For A Cause

May 14, 2009

If you see a pair of 15-foot-long Chinook circling the San Juan Islands, don’t be too alarmed. The 11-footers aren’t any harm either.

Over the past three or four weeks, the giant purple-backed and silver-sided salmon have been seen making their way around the Northwest Washington archipelago, poking around Orcas and Lopez islands, nosing into the beach here and there.

And they even go ashore at times.

The  giant fish are decals on the side of San Juan Propane’s brand-new 10,000-gallon gas tanker, and serve as a swimming, err, rolling billboard for the Coastal Conservation Association.



It’s the brainstorm of Kevin Klein, district manager for the Friday Harbor-based company, a long-time employee in the propane-delivery business and an avid angler since he was in kindergarten.

“What made me think about it was Alaska Airline’s Salmon-30-Salmon jet,” he tells Northwest Sportsman this afternoon.

San Juan had just built a new tanker to barge gas around the islands, but its big, blank white sides were ripe for a mural.

“It had a huge white space we could use for something,” Klein recalls. “I started thinking about an orca, then a salmon. Then I saw my CCA bumper sticker.”

He ran the idea past CCA-Pacific Northwest Director Bryan Irwin, who bit, so to say, and then found a decal company that could print the huge slabs and pretty soon was slapping them on the tanker.



“The blues are very vibrant. The photos don’t do it justice,” he says.

A semi-truck pulls the tanker on and off a barge and around the small country roads of the San Juans. Up front, on either side of the tanker, are the big boys, Chinook that look like they would be a match for one of the islands’ Orcas, or swamp an angler’s bay boat. Behind them are a pair of 11-foot Chinook.

Part of the stickers’ role is, of course, to sell propane, but arguably their bigger job is to advance the message of CCA around the islands, and Klein says the highly visible tanker gets double-takes and questions from drivers, pedestrians and ferry passengers.

You can see the fish, emblazoned with the words “Join CCA” from a fair ways off too.

“I’ve been on the ferry and seen them from a half mile away,” he notes.

For Klein, fishing’s a lifelong hobby, but the trends haven’t been good, which is why he decided to join CCA.

“I started fishing as a kid at 5 years old with my dad. Been out at Neah Bay for salmon, the Olympic Peninsula for steelhead. I’ve watched the decline of the runs. And like a lot of people, I’m tired of hearing bad news about fish regulations and fish appropriations. It seemed like sport fishermen were taking one hit after another. It was a bleak outlook for salmon in the Northwest — and they’re such a big part of our culture. I could see my 5-year-old wouldn’t have the opportunities I did.”

“I started reading about CCA and the successes they’ve had. It seemed like sport fishermen had had a hard time coming together — with splinter groups and anglers just pointing at problems but not coming together. I really saw CCA as that one spearhead that could unite sport fishermen. And I think that that’s what’s needed in the Northwest,” Klein says.

He’s quick to add that he’s also a member of Puget Sound Anglers, an older local conservation group dedicated to fisheries conservation.



The San Juans’ real Chinook will be showing up this summer, on their way back to Canada’s Fraser River and Washington’s Skagit. And while those fish can get pretty big, they’ll be no match for the four mighty kings now cruising the islands, delivering gas to the locals and new members to CCA.

Steelhead Jumps Into Angler’s Boat

May 14, 2009

The Daily News of Longview, Wash., reports an unusual fishing tale: A steelhead actually jumping into an angler’s boat.

Area resident Jim Toteff tells the paper that his friend and two others were fishing on Kress Lake in early May when it happened.

“A lot of fish were jumping,” Toteff told the paper. “One fish jumped about three times and the third time it landed in the boat.”

Just another angler’s fish tale?

“There’s good reason to believe that account:  WDFW has planted more than 100 surplus winter-run hatchery steelhead in Kress Lake since May 1,” the fisheries agency posts in yesterday’s Weekender report. “Both Kress Lake and Swofford Pond are also expected to receive weekly plants of surplus summer-run steelhead through June.”

WDFW To Lay Off 76, Cut Services Sharply

May 13, 2009

A $21 million-plus hole in the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s two-year budget will mean 76 employees are let go and many services curtailed, the agency reported late this afternoon.

The layoffs will be effective after June 30.

As much as possible, reductions were structured to preserve core department missions of conserving fish and wildlife, providing sustainable fishing, hunting and wildlife-viewing opportunities and maintaining field operations, WDFW Deputy Director Joe Stohr said in a press release.

However, there will be reductions in basic services, he said.

Hatchery fish production, wildlife species recovery activities, technical assistance for habitat protection, wildlife area maintenance, fish and wildlife population monitoring, customer service and outreach and education are among the activities that will be reduced under the 2009-11 operating budget approved  by the state Legislature this year.

Under that budget, WDFW will receive $81.2 million in support from the State General Fund, a reduction of about $30 million from the current budget period.  But other measures approved by the Legislature this year are expected to partially offset that reduction by generating more than $9 million in new revenues for the department.

“While these budget cuts are deep and painful, we recognize they could have been far worse without the support the department received from legislators,” said WDFW Director Phil Anderson.

One new measure, House Bill 1778, allows WDFW to collect a temporary two-year, 10 percent surcharge on sales of fishing and hunting licenses and permits, and is expected to generate about $6 million in revenue. The bill also allows the department to offer fishing with two poles on designated lakes, generating about $2 million over two years. Another new law, Senate Bill 5421, is expected to generate about $1.75 million over two years through a new stamp for recreational salmon and steelhead fishing in the Columbia River and some of its tributaries.

To mitigate the anticipated budget shortfall, the department has made ongoing efforts to increase efficiency, pursue outside partnerships and funding sources, and boost recreational license sales. Sales of recreational fishing licenses are up slightly so far this year, currently about $450,000 above 2008 sales for the same period, according to WDFW licensing managers.

More information about impending budget reductions at WDFW is available on the department’s website at .

WDFW Seeks Hatchery, Harvest Policy Comments

May 13, 2009

(PRESS RELEASE) The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public input on a proposed policy that would guide modifications to state hatchery operations as well as recreational and commercial fishery management.

The draft hatchery and fishery reform policy is designed to advance WDFW’s ongoing effort to ensure hatchery operations help conserve and recover naturally spawning salmon and steelhead populations while also supporting sustainable fisheries.

Key provisions of the policy include:

  • Increasing the use of methods that allow commercial and recreational fishers to selectively harvest abundant hatchery fish, which are marked with a missing adipose fin, while releasing wild fish.
  • Prioritizing improvements to hatchery broodstock management to reduce impacts to wild fish.
  • Using the principles and standards developed by the Hatchery Scientific Review Group, an independent panel of scientists established by Congress to evaluate salmon and steelhead hatchery operations in Puget Sound, the Washington coast and the Columbia River basin.

The proposed policy is available for review on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s website at .

Comments are due June 1.

Bonneville Jacks Trump King Adults

May 13, 2009

First, 2009 started out with a negative Chinook count at Bonneville Dam — we were actually at minus four Chinook in January.

Then the huge forecasted run of adult springers (298,000!! third best in 30 years!!), apparently shivering in their scales, wanted to think about it awhile before going past the dam.

Then half to 60 percent of ’em apparently decided against going over the dam altogether.

Then the jack count trumped the adult count.

Wait, wha?

Yes, yesterday, 4,660 three-year-old springers were counted at Bonneville while only 3,821 adults were.

Chock it up to a really odd run, but it turns out this year’s jack count is also the highest since at least 1960, and there is still — STILL! — a month’s worth of counting to go for these traditionally late-to-the-party-but-ready-to-get-it-on kings.

“Through May 12, a new record of 28,120 jacks have been counted at Bonneville Dam,” Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission supervisory biologist Joe Hymer pointed out to regional journalists this morning. “The old record, which includes counting through June 15, was 24,363 in 2000.”

We immediately fired back an email demanding to know what in the hell it all meant.

Duh! Go fish Wind River and Drano Lake, where you can keep six jacks, Hymer more or less replied. Course, Drano’s closed today (and all May Wednesdays plus June 3 and 10).

OK, fine, of course, yes, go fishing — grab our April and May issues and go, go, go. Me, Terry Otto and Buzz Ramsey all talk at length about why and how to fish the two Washington-side tribs east of Bonneville, and the guys at Gamefishin are working it too.

But damnit, what in god’s name is going on with this run of fish? The adult segment was supposed to be the big part this year, but the little buggers are taking over. Does this mean NEXT year is going to be the whopper adult run of all time?!?

It might actually point out that spring Chinook forecastology needs updating.

“There’s going to have to be more analysis for what the jack returns for this year mean for next year’s adults,” Hymer feels.

He told us earlier in the week that jacks “don’t appear like they mean anything anymore.”

Columbia Basin stocks may have to be forecast individually rather than as an aggregate, he says.

And this morning Hymer points to an odd trend that’s been developing from one year’s return to the next recently: “It’s an inverse relationship: more jacks, less adults.”

It’s supposed to be more along the lines of, if 10 percent of the jacks returned last year, this year XX number of adults will.

That’s the old model, anyway.

The Model T?

“It’s a puzzle,” WDFW’s Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator, said in the agency’s May 13 Weekender report. “We’ve had very high jack counts in the past couple of years — normally a strong indication of strong adult returns the following year. But the adults just haven’t arrived in the numbers we expected. This year, the jack counts have been even higher — literally off the charts — so we’re going to have to figure out what that means for next season.”

BEFORE THE RUN-SIZE FORECAST WAS DOWNGRADED, we had some really interesting information on how water temps retarded fish passage. Matt Keefer at the University of Idaho’s Fish Research Lab told us that cold water could again be at play, like last year.

We asked him a follow-up: WHY, biologically speaking, would that be a factor?

(Look, we’re stinkin’ English majors from Wazzu, not fish scientists from Moscow or Montlake.)

He emailed us back about an hour ago: “Fish physiology (like metabolism) and therefore fish performance (like swim speed) is strongly tied to water temperature.  In most years, Columbia spring Chinook are migrating at a time when temperatures are well below their ‘optimal’ performance temperature, particularly early in the run.  As the river warms, fish become much more active and move upstream more rapidly. That is why the midpoint of the run can vary by 4-5 weeks in warm versus cold years.  A difference of 2 C (~4 F) can have a pretty big impact.”

A paper he and others published suggests that, “As single predictors, in-river conditions generally explained more interannual variability in salmon return timing than did air temperature, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or the North Pacific Index.”

But then along comes 2009 with, yes, cold water but also a whole lotta jacks and a mysterious lack of predicted adults.

“Yep, every year seems like a new twist. Keeps us on our toes,” Keefer says.

OK, enough with springers for one morning, we’re going back to nailing the last nails shut on the June issue.

PS: By the way, that negative start to the year: We checked with the Army Corps of Engineers several months ago and they said that those four downstream-migrating kings were probably spawned-out Bonneville Pool fish — not early springers on some sort of bizarro reverse migration. But it sure as hell seems prophetic that this would be a messed up year.

ODFW Fishing License Sales Up 18%

May 13, 2009

What do folks do in a recession in Oregon? Duh, they go fishing.

“When the economy hung out the GONE FISHIN!’ sign, so did more Oregonians,” Mike Stahlberg writes in today’s Eugene Register-Guard. “The number of fishing licenses sold in Oregon during the first four months of 2009 is nearly 18 percent higher than last year, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife records show.”

He spoke to an ODFW economist who tells him that fishing and hunting license sales began to shoot up as the recession loomed, and a local fishing guide tells him that pressure on the rivers seems to have jumped 25 percent.

Stahlberg reports that this year’s seen 41,000-plus more fishing licenses sold along with 15,000 more hunting licenses. That could be due to fewer fish last year and license sales just evening out. The economist tells him it’s a resource thing: More game, more participation.

Baker City Editorial: ‘Move The Wolves’

May 13, 2009

Today’s Baker City Herald Editorial urges ODFW to move the wolves implicated in recent livestock killings. One was trapped May 3, the day before grays in the Northern Rockies, including this part of Oregon, were taken off the Federal Endangered Species Act list.

But where should they be moved?

“The best places for wolves, as the state wolf plan acknowledges, are federal wilderness areas,” the paper writes.

The closest wilderness is the nearby 361,000-acre Eagle Cap, but that’s too close to Keating Valley, where the depredations occurred.

So the paper points to the 177,000-acre Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness that sprawls into Washington or the Idaho-Oregon Hells Canyon Wilderness, at 131,000 acres, or the North Fork John Day.

Those areas would probably have their own livestock-wolf problems.

And it’s not like wilderness areas are the be-all, end-all solution either. Washington’s wolf pack reared its pups just outside the town of Twisp last spring, headed for the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness for the summer, then returned to the valley floor for winter. They were basically following the game, and the deer just aren’t in the highlands in winter.

But the young wolves in Eastern Oregon have developed a taste for nongame flesh. And that doesn’t cut it in ranching country.

The Amazing Lengths Anglers Go To

May 13, 2009

Bill Monroe details how death-defying anglers (or at least those not afraid of a dunking) fish off a bridge in Oregon City for Willamette River sturgeon in today’s Oregonian.

“James Langshaw of Oregon City scrambled down a crude ladder, stepped gingerly across 100 feet of moss-covered pipe and hopped onto a rock outcropping below the railing lining the sidewalk upriver from the West Linn Bridge,” writes Monroe. “An angler who tied into a sturgeon — it was too large to keep and too heavy to lift the 70 or so feet from the Willamette River to the railing — shimmied a cable noose and loop of rope over his rod, down the line and onto the exhausted fish in the water.”

The loop goes over the sturgeon down to its tail and then the big fish is lifted with help from the angler above to a shelf for measurement. This particular fish was too small, so Langshaw threw it back, Monroe reports.

He details why “The Wall” and a spot at West Linn that bank anglers also love is so dangerous, why the fishin’ hole is so hot and why city and state officials are trying to come up safer ways for fishermen to access the action.

“Both cities involved and the ODFW are worried about liability and potential damage to sturgeon too small or too large to meet the 38- to 54-inch fork-length window for keepers,” Monroe writes.

Fixes could cost from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Great story.

B.C. Tackle Companies Merge

May 12, 2009

(PRESS RELEASE) Gibbs Fishing Tackle and Delta Tackle, two successful British Columbia-based fishing tackle manufacturers announced last week that they are entering into a merger that will combine Gibbs and Delta into a new company: Gibbs-Delta Fishing Tackle.

This dynamic combination will create a more effective and efficient provider of quality fishing tackle to the sporting goods industry.

This merger is a logical “next step” that creates substantial value for new and existing customers of Gibbs and Delta. Both Gibbs and Delta have made strides in transforming their organizations into efficient manufacturing facilities, and the merger will further accelerate this process for both companies. The merger brings obvious synergies of cost savings to both companies operating under one roof: by pooling their expertise, they will continue to manufacture quality fishing tackle while offering enhanced ordering and shipping efficiencies, superior customer service and stronger product lines to their customers. They will be headquartered at the existing Gibbs facility on Webster Road in Delta, BC.

Under the terms of the agreement, Rob Alcock of Delta Tackle will assume responsibilities as Chief Operating Officer and Syd Pallister of Gibbs Fishing Tackle will assume responsibilities as Chief Financial Officer of Gibbs-Delta.



While the company supplies customers world wide, Gibbs-Delta is strongly encouraged by the continued growth in the halibut biomass and the projected increase in the salmon fishery runs along the Pacific Coast. Gibbs-Delta customers can expect some new and
exciting products to be unveiled soon.

“Our partnership promises an enormous range of benefits to our customers,” said Pallister, who is a co-owner of Gibbs-Delta. “Our focus is on providing great service and products, and maintaining our strong customer relationships.

“Delta and Gibbs share a long history of producing the best possible fishing tackle,” co-owner Alcock stated. “We will continue to create new and innovative products and look forward to presenting them to the fishing fraternity.”

Gibbs-Delta has a strong belief that it is the responsibility of everyone in the industry to support our fishing resource. Alcock is currently the President of the Sport Fishing Institute of BC (SFI); Pallister is the Immediate Past President of the SFI. Alison Obrecht, Marketing Manager of Gibbs-Delta is the President of the Family Fishing Society of BC.
Gibbs is Canada’s oldest and largest fishing tackle manufacturer, and was established in 1908 by the legendary Rufus Gibbs. They are known for their over 100 lines of lures, nets and sinkers for over 100 years. Delta Tackle has been manufacturing fishing tackle for over 25 years and is best known for their plastic injection and moulding, including their new Ultra Violet process.

Bonus Day For Hood Canal Shrimpers

May 12, 2009

Good news, Hood Canal shrimpers, WDFW has just approved a fifth day for shrimping. Season had been slated for four days, but enough spots remain in the quota to open shellfishing this Saturday, May 16.

Shrimping will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Enough quota remains in Hood Canal to offer shrimpers some more time on the water,” reports Mark O’Toole, a WDFW shellfish biologist.

Over the three days of season so far (the Canal’s open tomorrow), shrimpers have pulled in 57,500 pounds of prawns from Hood Canal. The 2009 quota for the area is 85,000 pounds.

Before season opened, O’Toole told us that anglers “pretty much fish everywhere north of The Great Bend. From Tahuya, Hoodsport north to Dabob Bay.”

However, WDFW also announced this afternoon that recreational shrimp fishing is closed effective immediately in Marine Area 8, is closing Friday evening in the north/central portion of Marine Area 7, and is closing Saturday evening in the southern portion of Marine Area 7 (the Iceberg Point and Salmon Bank areas).

Areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and 13 (south Puget Sound) are still open.

More information on shrimp seasons and rules is available on the WDFW shellfish hotline at 1-866-880-5431, or online at