Archive for June, 2009

Broodstockers Planted At Takhlakh

June 30, 2009

Paging “Uncle Wes” Malmberg, 200 3-pound broodstock trout were planted in Takhlakh Lake today, and they need some catching.

Actually, Malmberg hasn’t phoned HQ today, so perhaps our wandering trout writer was aboard one of a handful of boats working the 35-acre Southern Cascades lake just northwest of Mt. Adams.

TAKLAKH LAKE, LOOKING TOWARDS MT. ADAMS. (USFS)

TAKHLAKH LAKE, LOOKING TOWARDS MT. ADAMS. (USFS)

Takhlakh features a USFS campground of the same name, and there’s a boat ramp. It’s reachable via Forest Road 23 out of Randle or Trout Lake.

The fish came from the Goldendale Hatchery.

As for the name Takhlakh, it’s an old Indian name that “refers to the superstition that the lake is haunted by spirits of wild dogs. Tradition has it that some Yakima Indians would not turn their backs to the lake for dogs would emerge from the water to attack.”

Just in case you were curious.

So reports the Tacoma Public Library.

4:20 UPDATE: Malmberg DID call in today — to find out if I was staying home sick, like he and Amy suggested — or had come in to work. When I told him about this story, he told me that Takhlakh should also have brookies, and that they are susceptible to plunked worms.

Put a ‘crawler on a 3-foot leader with a egg weight, cast out and when the bait settles on the lake floor, give it a good jerk. That motion should attract the attention of trout, he suggests.

“Had an 11-year-old teach me that. He got his limit and had only been there a half hour,” Malmberg recalls.

The method sounds similar to Buzz Ramsey’s crawl retrieve, done with a pink Gulp! worm, a setup we detailed in our April Rig of the Month.

Advertisements

Southwest Washington Fishing Report

June 30, 2009

When David Rash and Scott Warter contacted us earlier today, their reports from the Cowlitz weren’t exactly glowing.

Warter, a guide with Kickassfishing.com, reported catching as few as two fish a trip during what should be really good fishing this time of year. In one day last summer, he went 17 for 24, he says.

But Rash, a Bonney Lake resident who spends a fair amount of time on the Southwest Washington tributary says he did catch a pair on Saturday. Below is one of the duo:

DAVID RASH WITH A JUNE 25 COWLITZ RIVER STEELHEAD. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

DAVID RASH WITH A JUNE 25 COWLITZ RIVER STEELHEAD. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Here’s more from Joe Hymer’s weekly roundup of fishing in this corner of the Evergreen State:

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Spring Chinook continue to be caught by bank anglers at the barrier dam while boat anglers are catching steelhead around the trout hatchery.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 20 spring Chinook adults, 13 jacks, and 112 summer-run steelhead during five days of adult fish collection efforts at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.  During the week Tacoma Power employees released two spring Chinook adults and 12 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam.

Cowlitz River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,120 cubic feet per second on Monday, June 29. Water visibility is ten feet.

Wind River and Drano Lake – Today (June 30) is the last day to fish for spring Chinook.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 1,461 bank anglers with 99 adult and 22 jack Chinook, 37 sockeye, and 47 steelhead.   We also sampled 605 boat anglers (256 boats)  with 62 adult and 6 jack Chinook, 2 sockeye, and 12 steelhead.    Success was best on the opener and slowed as the week progressed.

Through June 28, an estimated 16,771 angler trips have produced 1,360 adult Chinook kept and 419 released plus 873 sockeye kept and 57 released.  Adult Chinook may be retained on the lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam through July 5.

Effort was high last Saturday with 711 boats and 614 WA and 343 OR bank anglers counted

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met yesterday and downgraded the adult summer Chinook run size from the pre-season forecast of 70,700 to 58,000 fish.  However, TAC did not change the sockeye pre-season forecast of 183,200.

John Day Pool – WDFW staff  interviewed 41 salmonid  anglers in the John Day Pool.  Anglers reported harvesting 3 hatchery jack chinook and released 2 hatchery origin adult chinook and 1 wild adult chinook.

Bonneville Dam upstream – Adult Chinook (adipose fin clipped or not) may be retained beginning tomorrow (July 1).

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem from the mouth to the Wauna powerlines – Charter boat anglers averaged just over  a legal kept per every other rod while private boaters averaged one per every 5.7 rods.  Bank anglers were catching a few legals.  About one-third of the fish caught were keeper size.  Overall success was better earlier in the week.

Just over 500 private boats and 20 charters were counted during the Saturday June 27 flight. White sturgeon retention is scheduled to re-open July 2-5.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Marker #85 – Boat anglers from Woodland to Vancouver are catching some legals.  Fishing from the bank is slow.

One hundred sixty boats were counted during last Saturday’s flight.  Just over half were found in the gorge.

WALLEYE/BASS

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – The few boats sampled in the Camas/Washougal area had no catch.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers averaged just over a bass and 0.5 walleye kept per rod.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort, catch, and dam counts are declining.  Bank anglers from Camas/Washougal upstream and boat anglers from Vancouver upstream averaged about a shad per rod.    42 WA and 33 bank anglers were counted during last Saturday’s flight.  Less than 6,000 shad had been counted daily at Bonneville Dam the past few days.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers averaged over 4 shad kept/released per rod.  Bank anglers averaged over 1.5 fish per rod.

TROUT

Mayfield and Riffe lakes – Bank anglers are catching some rainbows at Mayfield and primarily landlocked coho at Riffe.

Swofford Pond – Bank anglers are catching some bluegills.

Tacoma Power continues to release catchable size rainbow trout in the Cowlitz River area. Last week trout from the Nisqually Trout Farms were stocked into Skate Creek near Packwood and into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton. On June 23, WDFW planted 474 half-pound rainbows into Forlorn Lake # 1 and another 474 fish in Forlorn Lake #2 in Skamania County.

Okanogan Opens July 1 For Kings, Sockeye

June 30, 2009

Starting tomorrow, July 1, you’ll be able to fish for summer Chinook and sockeye in the Okanogan and lower Similkameen rivers.

Not that there will be many salmon there that early, but WDFW also announced the Okanogan from the highway bridge in Malott up to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville would be open for other game fish species starting Sept. 1.

Traditionally, Okanogan-bound kings summer over in the Brewster Pool and offer good action into September. You can find out more about that fishery in our July issue, on sale now!

While counting of Chinook up this way just began yesterday, for 2009, fish passage over Wells Dam is above the 10-year average. Yesterday, lower Columbia managers downgraded this year’s summer king forecast from 70,700 to around 58,000.

Hatchery Reform Topic of July 10 Meeting

June 30, 2009

When Washington’s Fish & Wildlife Commission meets July 10, it will set new policies for conserving and recovering wild salmon and steelhead populations — i.e. hatchery reform — and one guide claims it means the end of mass-production of summer-runs on one important Southwest Washington river.

“This public policy and the Cowlitz River fish management plan will significantly impact the future of the Cowlitz River summer and winter steelhead by severely restricting the number of fish raised and released. The word is summer-run steelhead will be discontinued in less than six years,” writes Capt. Jerry Brown of J&L Guided Sportfishing in an email press release sent out late yesterday.

The Cowlitz is Washington’s most productive steelhead tributary, yielding just under 6,500 during 2007’s summer fishery (as well as another 5,767 winter-runs), according to WDFW preliminary catch data from the 07-08 season. It’s also good for hatchery coho.

Brown calls the steelhead fishery an “an important part of the local communities of Centralia, Chehalis, Toledo, Salkum, Castle Rock and Longview for generations. It is also a significant contributer to Washington’s economy as people travel from all over the state and nation to fish the Cowlitz River for these fabulous sport fish.”

He says the Cowlitz should remain a hatchery production river, which would play “a ‘key’ role in restoring wild fish runs by creating less pressure on other rivers where we are attemting to restore wild runs.”

In the Fish & Wildlife Commission’s agenda for that July 10 meeting is a greensheet. It summarizes 25 public comments on the proposed reform policies, and several times the Cowlitz is raised. WDFW’s official response in two instances is the same:

Through the Hatchery Action Implementation Plan process , (as described in the 21st Century Salmon and Steelhead Framework), watersheds of high (Primary) importance for conservation and recovery (Item 4 under Policy guidelines), medium (Contributing) importance and Low (Stabilizing) importance will be identified. Hatchery and Fishery reform will be implemented in a structured approach (as described in the Plans) to meet the recovery needs (high, medium, low) of each population. Those populations with medium or low importance to recovery can be used to support sustainable fisheries.

That agenda also states:

The Department believes that production at levels similar to today can be maintained at most facilities and at the same time provide protection for wild fish and the recovery of wild stocks. Hatchery and harvest reform are critical to sustaining healthy fisheries and the future of fishing in the state of Washington.

However, Brown is calling on anglers to attend the meeting, a chance also to brief three new commission members (Rollie Schmitten of Leavenworth, Bradley Smith of Bellingham and David Jennings of Olympia. It will be held in the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia, WA 98501

Columbia Summer Kings Downgraded Today

June 29, 2009

Let’s hope this trend doesn’t continue into fall, but another Columbia River Chinook run has seen its forecast reduced — though not so drastically.

Today, a consortium of Columbia River salmon managers met and downgraded the summer Chinook return to 58,000. Previously, the forecast was 70,700.

Earlier this year, spring Chinook predictions were slashed significantly after just under half of the return failed to enter the Columbia (though well over 80,000 jacks returned). The final June 15 count at Bonneville was 147,489, but does not include downstream catches. Just under 300,000 were expected to surge up the big river this spring.

Next up: fall Chinook, half a mil headed for the barn. Predicted, at least.

June 29, 2009

What do you get when you “expose” one of the Northwest’s most visited yet most secret steelhead spots? July’s Big Picture, a big, beautiful two-page photograph of the pool at the base of a certain Washington waterfall.

But there’s much more to our Mixed Bag this issue, including the 5 goofiest Northwest fishing lures, how anglers rescued an osprey during a fishing derby, the unusual story of the litter-despising Yubangees, where and how anglers and hunters recreate in Oregon, how a tuna derby helps “reel in hunger” for coastal communities in the Beaver State and a kokanee tournament new to the Northwest!

You can find our mag on convenience-store newsstands, Wal-Marts, some auto-parts stores and NEW this month, nearly 100 Fred Meyers throughout the Northwest!

June 29, 2009

Sitting in bed one night as we put together the last bits of our July issue, I wondered aloud what I should write this Editor’s Note about.

Amy shot me a look and suggested ice cream. I’d just “stolen” a bowl from her stash in the freezer.

Ice cream?!

Ugh, talk about a tough subject for an editorial in a hunting and fishing mag.

Top it off, the stuff was pink!

Oh, this would not go over well with our manly man audience.

But as the Oregon Strawberry-flavored dessert started to soften up, I remembered it was Tillamook Creamery-brand ice cream (we’ll get a half-gallon of Umpqua Dairy mojo next time, keep the boys in Roseburg employed). And one of the stories this issue just so happens to be about Tillamook Bay.

The proverbial wheels started turning …

Indeed, Kayakman Bryce Molenkamp takes us to that land of “cheese, trees and ocean breezes” for a tutorial with a local on where and how to land mighty Chinook alongside the Oregon county’s famous dairy herd.

And speaking of cows, Leroy Ledeboer shoots the bull with a pair of guides up in North-central Washington’s cattle country, the Upper Columbia, for how they’d lasso this year’s solid run of summer Chinook.

Speaking of solid July kings, this month will see the first season on the Skagit’s extremely well-built Chinook since that summer/fall when Pearl Jam and Nirvana both topped Billboard’s charts.

Speaking of charts, Andy Schneider and Mike Quimby take us off Oregon and Washington’s coasts for high-seas albacore, and the maps we’ve collected for the trip include keys on how to decipher chlorophyll concentrations and sea-surface temperatures.

Speaking of sea temps, Larry Ellis reveals that cooling fog off the Pacific keeps the topwater bassing at a white-hot pitch at Tenmile Lakes on the west side of Oregon’s Coast Range.

The Coast Range is where, as Terry Otto previews, you’ll find rebuilding populations of deer and elk, good news for bowmen and rifle hunters.

Speaking of stick-and-string and thunderstick toters, you guys won’t want to overlook Jason Brooks’ big piece on how to hunt Chelan County, Washington’s big muley bucks.

And speaking of big bucks, did you know that fishermen, hunters and shellfishers spent $1.5 billion in Oregon last year? As we detail inside the issue, it went for everything from new tackle and rifle scopes to motels, gas and food.

And, no doubt, after a day shellfishing, crabbing or salmon fishing on the bay, some of that dough was dropped at the Tillamook factory – Oregon Strawberry ice cream cones to keep momma and the kids happy. – Andy Walgamott

Speed Boaters Mar Fishing Experience

June 29, 2009

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “bikini hatch.”

It’s that time of year when lovely lasses can be seen flitting around Northwest lakes or rivers, typically from midday onwards and typically with a minimum of clothing. The hatch usually results in many missed strikes on the part of rather distracted anglers.

But there’s another hatch summertime fishermen have to deal with, one that’s not so pleasant: the “speed boat and skiier hatch.”

And Northwest Sportsman contributor “Uncle Wes” Malmberg walked into the hive this past Saturday morning on Spencer Lake, near Shelton, Wash.

“Got up at 2 a.m., left the house at 3:30, arrived at the ramp at 5:30, on the water by 5:45, picked up a trout right away on an olive Woolly Bugger, and then at 6:45, the first Jet Skiier of the morning came out,” says a still-disgusted sounding Malmberg this morning. “Then a half hour later, a super speed boat makes two laps, drops someone off at a dock and takes a victory lap weaving in and out of boats that were anchored up, trollers, even a guy in a rowboat.”

He later learned from the Mason County Sheriff’s Office there is no speed-boating-only time limitations at the lake.

“Another boat came out a half hour later and threw up a 3-foot wake,” he says.

Despite the conditions, Malmberg managed to land four 10-inchers on black beadhead or brown Buggers. Then he joined the exodus off the water a bit past 9 a.m.

Well, he tried to. He says a gust of wind put that speed boat across the ramp (it was being held by a passenger while the owner parked his rig).

“That was the icing on the cake,” Malmberg says.

Any words of contrition or apology when the boat driver returned?

“No. He asked how the fishing was,” Malmberg recalls.

He spoke to another angler who’d been out in a 12-foot aluminum boat: “He said, ‘They’re the reason I DON’T carry a gun.”

Because he’d use it on the speed boaters?

“Yeah.”

It was a sour ending to a promising looking lake early in the morning.

“You could see where they were rising — and then it was the attack from hell,” Malmberg says.

He does report that some of the trout appeared to be holding on bottom, and suspects there are some nice fish here too, based on stocking reports (1,400 1-plus-pounders, 6,500 10- to 12-inchers and one 10-pounder, but don’t look for UW back here anytime soon.

“It’s looking like October before I return there, and hopefully it’s raining,” he says.

Amen.

Crooked Trout Get Shock Treatment

June 29, 2009

ODFW biologists spent last week shocking the Crooked River to try and determine why trout populations on the popular Central Oregon stream plummeted in 2006, reports the Bend Bulletin.

It’s unclear why counts went from around 8,000 redband rainbow trout per mile in the mid-1990s to roughly 500 three years ago, but early suspects include something called gas-bubble disease and perhaps too much water coming out of a reservoir on the upper river.

“It has quite a reputation for being a good fly-fishing stream, especially for beginning fly fishers,” biologist Brett Hodgson told reporter Kate Ramsayer. “It’s a fairly easy place to fish, and there’s a lot of fish to be caught.”

Friday Funnies: 3 Fish and Game Laughs For The Weekend

June 26, 2009

Just a few minutes ago I received a forwarded plea from one of my writers concerning fox hunting in Colorado. Now, typically I don’t report on hunting issues well outside the Northwest, but in this case I feel it’s imperative that we, as sportsmen, stand with our brothers and sisters in Colorado.

Fox hunting is getting out of hand there, and it’s affecting one of that state’s other favorite species: rabbits.

(THE INTERNET)

(THE INTERNET)

.. Or at least that’s what someone claiming to be “Peter Cottontail” wrote …

Yesterday, after Moses Lake, Washington-based writer Leroy Ledeboer read my blog on the kid out “Fishing 4 Tuition” in front of Seahawks stadium earlier this week, he sent me this tale from when he was a salmon guide:

Andy, So you don’t like Huskies and Ducks, huh? Okay, then tomorrow you can use this one in your blog — a personal story of mine!

The first year I guided up in Alaska, things were very primitive in our river camp, so I took sponge baths, bathed in the icy Nushagak, that sort of thing. After six long weeks we were finally back in Dillingham, and my boss, Don Skinner — an old Husky alum — and I immediately hit the public showers. Only one was usable, so Don let me go first

When I finished, maybe after 5 minutes, Skinner remarked, “Wow, that was quick! What did you do, not use any soap?”

“Oh, I’m already clean,” I replied, “but remember, I went to college in Minnesota. I’m not a U.W. grad!”

Skinner groaned, “What’s that supposed to mean? That you don’t know how to really scrub?”

“No, it’s just that in Minnesota we were taught not to masturbate in public facilities!”

And then early this afternoon, while emailing back and forth with Larry Ellis, my main man in Brookings, Ore., about the August issue, he sent me his “skunk story”:

While wrapping a fishing rod at night, I heard a sound in the central heating vent below my feet. A skunk pushed up one end of the vent. I was not about to push it back down.

After trying for two hours to get the skunk out of the mobile, it cornered itself in one of the rooms. I called my neighbor who said to shoot it with a .22. I asked  if it would let loose. He said, “Not if you hit it in the head.”

I got out my .22, drew a bead on its noggin and blew its brains out. Feeling like a true skunk warrior, I confidently went into the kitchen to get a plastic bag to carry the remains out with.

Upon re-entering the room, the skunk suddenly started kicking its legs (like in the cartoons), raised its tail made a direct hit.

Choking and eyes tearing profusely, I told my neighbor about where I shot the skunk. He told me I didn’t hit it in the right part of the head.

Laughing my ass off, I wrote back, “Are you kidding me, Larry?”

“No kidding. I slept in my car for three weeks,” he replied.

I’m still chuckling. Have a great weekend, everyone!

AW
NWS

‘Fishing 4 Tuition’

June 25, 2009

A young guy in shorts and T-shirt was sitting in a low-slung lawn chair between the Seahawks stadium and events center yesterday afternoon. He wasn’t selling or buying tickets with passing Mariner’s fans, nor was he hawking nuts or sausages like the guy across the street at Joe’s Gourmet Grilled Dogs shouting, “Would you look at the size of this one!”

But he was looking for attention nonetheless. His hand-lettered cardboard sign “Fishing 4 Tuition” caught my eye, and since I’m a fishing mag editor, I had to wander over to see what he was up to.

Beside his chair was a small, beige tackle box and inside it were a mess of quarters, dimes, pennies and a pair of crumpled one-dollar bills.

“How much?” I asked.

“About $6,” he said.

I nodded. Didn’t seem like much for the foot traffic headed to the ballpark, but it was only 5 p.m.

“It’s not a good location,” he volunteered. “I was in Pioneer Square but got kicked out.”

I raised my eyebrows.

“I didn’t have a permit. I didn’t know you needed one,” he explained.

I didn’t either. Heck, none of the people who approach me on the streets of downtown Seattle for money appear like they have permits either — or any sort of papers, for that matter.

I didn’t ask what college he was collecting for. Maybe that was best. If he’d said anything but Wazzu, OSU, Gonzaga or Portland, I’d have reported him immediately myself.

Beside his chair a small radio played Abba’s “Dancing Queen” softly. And in one hand, he held a 7-foot fishing rod with one of those fluorescent tips. The pole was strung up and ready to fish too; a hook was buried in the sign and above that on the leader was a pink hoochie.

I asked if his theme was serious or just a put on.

He said he liked to fish, a lot. “Salmon,” he said, and we both nodded.

“You’re set up for pinks,” I noted; 894,692 are forecast to swim past Seattle into the Duwamish and Green River this summer and that rig will probably kill quite a few just a couple blocks over on Elliott Bay.

“Oh, yeah,” he said and we nodded again.

I asked if he’d be there again today. The Mariners are still in town, promising another “run” of potential “donors” at this afternoon’s game.

“Not likely,” he said.

Turning away, I said, “Well, good luck.”

“Thanks,” he said, and didn’t give me a dirty look for not dropping any coinage in his tackle box.

But if you are there when I go out for coffee this afternoon, kid, I’ve got a fiver for you — so long as you ain’t a Husky or a Duck.

ODFW: Show Us Your Beaver

June 25, 2009

ODFW wants to see your beavers, Douglas County residents.

Come on, get your mind out of the gutter.

The agency fired off a press release yesterday afternoon advising residents of the Southwest Oregon county that “for a limited time,” ODFW “will trap and relocate (problem) animals as part of a scientific study. In the wrong place, beavers can flood roads, fields, and yards, and damage trees while in the right place, they can create habitat for juvenile salmon.”

So far since May, ODFW has caught a glimpse of seven beavers, which they’ve radio-tagged and released in the North Umpqua basin.

They hope the male-female pairs will “develop habitat structures that are beneficial to fish populations.”

ODFW says the idea came out of the “Beaver Workgroup.”

No, seriously, the Beaver Workgroup — I can’t make stuff like that up, folks.

The BW is “a group of interested professionals who want to learn more about the ecological benefits beavers provide.”

“Possible future projects include a landowners’ incentive survey, a landscape-scale genetic study, and a study of trapping effects on beaver populations,” a press release adds.

(In all seriousness, if you’ll recall, there are some very interesting things going on on the Skagit Delta pertaining to beavers and Chinook smolts, which are detailed in a Seattle Times article we talked about a month ago or so.)

If you’ve got beavers and you live in Douglas County, give DeWaine Jackson or Terry Farrell at the Roseburg ODFW office (541-440-3353) a call, but remember, this offer is for a limited time only.

Bonus Area 2 Hali Day Coincides With Salmon Opener

June 24, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The recreational halibut fishery off the south coast of Washington will open for one more day, allowing anglers to fish for both salmon and halibut Sunday, June 28.

Enough quota remains to allow Marine Area 2 (Westport) to open for halibut fishing at all depths from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on June 28, which is also the first day of ocean salmon fishing out of Westport.

“Anglers look forward to the coastal salmon season, and this year is especially enticing given the large numbers of hatchery coho forecast to return,” said Kirt Hughes, regional fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Now, with another day’s worth of halibut on the salmon opener, anglers could go home with both species.”

Similar opportunities await anglers heading to Sekiu (Marine Areas 5), where the salmon season – which kicks off July 1 – overlaps with the last two days of the halibut fishery (July 2 and 3).

The primary season for halibut in Marine Area 2 will be closed after fishing ends June 28. However, the northern nearshore area between Grays Harbor and the Queets River will remain open to halibut fishing Thursdays through Sundays until the remaining quota for that area is taken. All other marine areas are now closed to halibut fishing except Marine Area 5.  Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will reopen Aug. 7, three days a week, Fridays through Sundays, until the remainder of the quota for that area is taken.

Seattle Apartment Raided In Bear Gall Investigation

June 24, 2009

Typically, The Stranger is the newspaper you would turn to for the latest news on Capitol Hill’s gay and music scenes, less-than-straight journalism about what’s going on at City Hall, or perhaps Charles Mudede’s unusual and entertaining pieces such as this week’s “The Sexiest Trees in Seattle.”

It’s rare that the alternative-alternative weekly will report on things that concern fish and game of the Northwest.

Rare, not unheard of. I seem to recall a story a couple years ago about some guy hunting rabbits in Seattle, and what should pop up in my Google News Alerts this afternoon but this article: “The Gall: Officials raid a Madison Park apartment looking for black-market bear.”

Not live ones, of course, but those “slippery, brownish green, bile-filled organs prized in Eastern medicine for their supposed restorative powers,” as Jonah Spanganthal-Lee reports.

As the story goes, based on an affidavit served June 8 during that raid, WDFW game wardens have been trailing the unidentified Japanese psychiatrist of late as he’s poked around some of the Evergreen State’s more bear-dense districts (the paper reports that a GPS tracker showed he traveled to several areas in Grays Harbor County).

The nature-loving suspect has had previous run-ins with authorities, according to the paper. He’s:

* Tried to buy gall bladders in Saskachewan

* Tried to bring furbearers across the Canadian border

* Tried to ship a gall bladder out of SeaTac

* Been questioned about poaching a mule deer near Omak

While Spanganthal-Lee reports that charges against the man had yet to be filed, during the search of his apartment, officers found “a dozen firearms, four bleached bear skulls, four boxes of ‘processed game meat,’ several packages of bear paws, assorted frozen bear parts, and four dried bear gallbladders.”

Perhaps it’s a good thing Urban Phantom, last month’s wandering bruin, turned around and went back north at Discovery Park instead of continuing through Seattle.

What’s Fishin’ Right Now In Oregon

June 24, 2009

Heck with the Siletz last weekend, I should’ve hit nearby Olalla Lake for steelhead. That’s where ODFW recently planted summer-runs.

Here are other highlights from the agency’s recreation report out fresh this morning:

MARINE ZONE

  • Salmon fishing in the ocean opened June 20 south of Cape Falcon and will open June 28 between Cape Falcon and Leadbetter Point (Wash.) The first weekend of the Cape Falcon to the Oregon/California border ocean recreational coho season had relatively light landings due to poor weather conditions. For those boats that made it out, catch rates were good with an average catch of 1.14 retained salmon per angler. The best fishing was out of Winchester Bay with a catch rate of 1.59 salmon per angler. For season details.
  • Halibut anglers off the central Oregon coast made good use of the first three back-up all-depth days landing about nine fish for every 10 anglers.
  • Fishery managers will meet Friday to determine if there is sufficient quota remaining to have a backup all depth fishing on one or more days July 2-4. The central coast all-depth season could have closed as early as June 6 if the 124,261-pound quota had been taken.
  • Fishing for Pacific halibut inside the 40-fathom line on the central coast continues to be open seven days a week until a separate quota of 14,407 pounds is attained or Oct. 31, which ever comes first.
  • Pacific halibut sport fishery off the Columbia River closed May 29. Fore more information on the halibut season.
  • Fewer than half of the fishers going after lingcod were successful at landing one fish. Anglers scored better with rockfish, greenling and other species in the marine bag landing about three fish per angler. The highest numbers came from Charleston where the average catch was six fish.
  • In most Oregon ports last week crabbers averaged between two and three crab, with crabbers out of Charleston getting an average of six.
  • Scuba divers may notice that male crab are already clutching female crabs waiting for them to molt so they can fertilize them. When the males are clutching females they don’t do anything else, like look for food and wander into crab traps.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Walleye are being caught on the Multnomah Channel.
  • Summer steelhead fishing is fair on the Clackamas River.
  • Fishing for bass and other warmwater species is picking up on the Willamette River and other locations throughout the region.
  • A few summer steelhead are being caught on the Sandy River

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Cape Meares Lake was not stocked as scheduled last week due to excessively warm water temperatures, with fish being diverted to Hebo and Town lakes. Other lakes were stocked as scheduled. No further trout stocking is scheduled until September. The 2009 stocking schedule is available online.
  • Angling for warmwater fish, particularly bass, should be good. Cape Meares, Lytle, Cullaby, Sunset, Coffenbury and Vernonia lakes offer fair to good populations of warmwater species. Weed growth will begin to make angling difficult in some areas.
  • Trout fishing in the lakes has been good and will remain productive until warm summer weather reduce trout activity. Many water bodies on the stocking schedule have 8 to 12-inch trout with some locations containing 2 pound trophy trout. This is a great time of year to get out and catch some rainbow trout.
  • Olalla Reservoir near Toledo was recently stocked with adult summer steelhead from the Siletz River.  These large fish provide an excellent additional opportunity for anglers.
  • Summer steelhead angling is excellent on the Siletz with fish spread upstream throughout the gorge area upstream of Moonshine Park (River Mile 54). Anglers are reminded that there are access restrictions in the gorge road upstream from Moonshine Park on weekdays due to heavy logging traffic on the privately owned road. The gorge road is open to the public on weekends and walk in angling is allowed during the week. In the upper river particularly good techniques are to use a bobber and jig or sand shrimp, or even to bait a jig with a little bit of shrimp. In addition to bobbers, drifting eggs close to the bottom and small to medium sized spinners can also be very effective.

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • June can be an excellent month to catch chinook on the Rogue.
  • Anglers continue to catch spring chinook on the North Umpqua River in the Rock Creek area.
  • Striped bass fishing on the Coquille River (near the town of Coquille) has been good.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • The Columbia is open to angling for adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead, sockeye, and chinook jacks from Tongue Point to the Oregon/Washington border above McNary.
  • Shad catches are holding up in the gorge.
  • Sturgeon fishing is good in the Astoria area.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Clear Lake and Rock Creek Reservoir have been stocked recently, and both offer good opportunity to catch a limit of trout.
  • Anglers are reporting some mint bright summer steelhead in the Hood River. Now is a great time to fish for them before hot weather increases glacial melt.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing conditions on the Chewaucan River have greatly improvedrover the last week with moderate flows and good insect hatches.
  • Angling on Fourmile Lake has been very good from both bank and boat for lake trout that range from 14-21 inches.
  • Dry fly-fishing on the Upper Williamson River should be some of the best of the year.

BROWNLEE RESERVOIR ZONE

  • Crappie are biting well on jigs and croppie nibbles about 2-8 feet down. Generally the best jigs to use are chartruese, red & white, or yellow & white. Catfish angling is fair-good using mormon crickets in the main river. The water is still cool in the Powder River Arm. Bass fishing has picked up some. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing on the John Day, especially the Middle and South Forks, has been good now that snowmelt has subsided and the river has dropped into shape.
  • The Umatilla and Walla Walla forest ponds have been stocked and are a great opportunity to introduce young anglers to fishing! Maps are available at the ODFW web site or the ODFW Pendleton District Office.

June 23, 2009

Duval Point Lodge: www.duvalpointlodge.com

Big Spring Resort: www.bigspringresort.com

Legacy Lodge: www.legacylodge.com

Oak Bay Marine Group: www.obmg.com

Ole’s Hakai Pass: www.ole.ca

Qualicum Rivers & Winter Harbour Resorts: www.qualicumrivers.com

Rivers Inlet Sportsmans Club: www.riversinlet.com

Queen Charlotte Lodge: www.queencharlottelodge.com

June 23, 2009

Charleston Marina: www.charlestonmarina.com

Oregon Coast Visitors Association:  www.visittheoregoncoast.com

Lane County Tourism: www.travellanecounty.org

Central Oregon Coast:  www.coastvisitor.com

Oregon Beach Vacations: www.oregonbeachvacations.com

Gold Beach: www.goldbeach.org

Big K Guest Ranch & Guide Service: www.big-k.com

Dockside Charters:  www.docksidedepoebay.com

Garibaldi Charters: www.garibaldicharters.com

Prowler Charters: www.prowlercharters.com

Secret Island Sport Fshing: www.secretislandfishing.com

Tidewind Sport Fishing: www.tidewindsportfishing.com

June 23, 2009

Alaskan Reel Affair Charters: www.reelaffair.com

Denny’s Guide Service and Bed & Breakfast: www.sitkafishcharters.com

Sitka Fly Fishing: www.sitkaflyfishing.com

Glacier Bear Lodge: www.glacierbearlodge.com

Monti Bay Lodge: www.montibaylodge.com

Rocky Point Resort: www.rockypointresortak.com

Yakutat Charter Boat Company: www.alaska-charter.com

Woxof Lodge: www.fishwoxof.com

Saltery Lodge: www.salterylodge.com/nw

Bear Valley Lodge: www.bearvalleylodgealaska.com

Explore Alaska Charters: www.explorealaskacharters.com

Millers Landing: www.millerslandingak.com

Summer Kings Biting At Bonneville

June 23, 2009

Chatting with Joe Hymer at Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission this morning, he reported that the summer Chinook fishery on the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam “started off pretty decent” for boat and bank anglers on yesterday’s opener.

Somewhere around that same time today, guide Bill Miller was boating a 42-pound hatchery hen, according to Buzz Ramsey, who called HQ just a bit ago. He says Miller was using an X4 FlatFish in the slower downstream waters of the Columbia.

Meanwhile, up at the dam, Buzz’s boat landed one and lost two, and he saw about a dozen others caught for 18 boats today.

RON HILLER WITH A SUMMER CHINOOK CAUGHT JUNE 23 BELOW BONNEVILLE DAM. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

RON HILLER WITH A SUMMER CHINOOK CAUGHT JUNE 23 BELOW BONNEVILLE DAM. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

He reports fast, cold water (4 to 5 degrees lower than last year), which typically makes for better spinner fishing, though if you can find slower stuff near shore, you might try a plug.

Buzz also says a few kings are being caught by anglers backtrolling, which is unusual because typically the summer fishery is an anchor show. Springers are often caught backtrolling, though.

For more on the wheres and hows, including guide Brandon Glass’s summer king setup, grab a copy of our uber-rare June issue!

Hymer also reports some sockeye being caught down in the Longview and Cathlamet areas. Try plunking a smaller green or red Spin-N-Glo tipped with a sand shrimp or prawn.

Yesterday, 10,000 sockeye went over Bonneville, and 71,537 have gone over so far this year, twice the 10-year average.

OR Coast Day 3: The Siletz

June 23, 2009

I have a new favorite river: the Siletz.

SILETZ RIVER JUST ABOVE WILDCAT BRIDGE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

SILETZ RIVER JUST ABOVE WILDCAT BRIDGE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Fished it last Saturday for summer-runs between Wildcat Bridge and the upper end of the gorge. That’s the stretch of the Central Oregon Coast stream which is only open for vehicle traffic on weekends, and though it seemed as if every steelheader in Lincoln County was out fishing that morning, my father-in-law and I still found plenty of places to wade through the brush to the water.

The Siletz up here is a mix of deep pools, small cataracts, pockets of boulders and quick runs. It winds through the Coast Range beneath a canopy of extremely verdant trees — or maybe that was just my polarized glasses.  But the water is clear: You can see right to the bottom in the more languid waters. However, the fish that struck the big lures I was tossing hit in the faster stuff. I was using rvrfshr spoons and Blue Fox spinners; the Siletz Watershed Council asks anglers to use gear that juvenile fish are less likely to hit.

JUST BELOW THE GORGE, THE SILETZ POURS OVER THE TOP OF LAYERS OF SEDIMENTARY ROCK DEPOSITED MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO IN THE PACIFIC BEFORE THE COAST RANGE FORMED. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

JUST BELOW THE GORGE, THE SILETZ POURS OVER THE TOP OF LAYERS OF SEDIMENTARY ROCK DEPOSITED MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO IN THE PACIFIC BEFORE THE COAST RANGE FORMED. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Plum Creek’s logging road above Moonshine Park provides good access and plenty of pullouts. Many of the wide sports are marked with plastic garbage bags. Anglers are encouraged to pack out their trash; while I did pick up someone’s bait container, I found the Siletz to be among the cleanest rivers I’ve ever fished along. Pretty refreshing, actually.

Most of the fishermen were focused on “The Gorge” area, perhaps due to ODFW’s report last week: “Summer steelhead angling is excellent on the Siletz with fish spread upstream throughout the gorge area.” It appeared that most were float fishing or tossing hardware. June and July are said to be the peak of the summer season.

WALGAMOTT WORKS THE GORGE. (JUERGEN ECKSTEIN)

WALGAMOTT WORKS THE GORGE. (JUERGEN ECKSTEIN)

For me, the tastiest looking water was actually the most difficult to get to. As we drove through a large clearcut above Steel Bridge, the water several hundred feet below and about a quarter mile through logging slash looked pretty darned good. Two other cars had the same idea; they had parked at the last good access before the road climbed up onto the mountains. We parked well below them and hung onto a helpful rope to get to a nice run just above the bridge. There’s plenty of tough-to-reach water up here ripe for anglers such as yours truly who don’t mind wading. Next time I’m in Newport to see the family, I told myself, next time.

CLEARCUT, UPPER SILETZ RIVER. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

CLEARCUT HILLSIDE, UPPER SILETZ RIVER. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

This is all logging country up here. As we turned around at Gobblers Knob, a semi pulling a huge flatbed came grinding up the road to yard an equally huge bulldozer out of the woods. You can bike up the road during the week. The river is open to 900 feet below Siletz Falls at River Mile 64.5.

One more note, there’s some talk about Polk County damming the South Fork.

While I’d originally planned to go out on the ocean for the coho opener with Andy Schneider — and probably should have gone with him to Astoria for sturgeon — the trip up the Siletz was pretty darn satisfying. Can’t wait to hit it again!

FRESH: SW WA Fishing Report

June 23, 2009

Here’s Southwest Washington and Columbia River fishing news fresh from WDFW and ODFW:

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Bank anglers at the barrier dam are mainly catching spring Chinook while boat anglers near Blue Creek are catching some steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 47 spring Chinook adults, 23 jacks and 92 summer-run steelhead during five days of adult fish collection efforts at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. During the week Tacoma Power employees released 21 spring Chinook jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam and eleven spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park.

Cowlitz River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,640 cubic feet per second on Monday, June 22. Water visibility is eight feet.

Lewis River – Anglers near the mouth are catching some steelhead.

Klickitat River – Only a few anglers were present during the couple days sampled last week.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 1,200 salmonid anglers with 40 adult Chinook (released), 27 jack Chinook, 41 sockeye, and 85 steelhead.  Effort remains fairly high with 292 WA and 147 OR bank anglers plus 157 boats counted during yesterday’s (Sunday June 21) flight.

Effective today through July 5, any adult summer Chinook (adipose fin clipped or not) may be retained below Bonneville Dam.

The Dalles Pool – Effort and catch was low.  Effort should increase when adult Chinook retention from Bonneville Dam upstream begins July 1.

John Day Pool – Anglers were catching some adult Chinook (which have to be released until July 1),  chinook jacks, and sockeye.  Just over a quarter of the effort was found to be targeting salmonids.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the mouth to Wauna powerlines – Catches improved with charter boat anglers averaging a legal kept per slightly better than every other rod while private boaters averaged one per every  3.5 rods.  Bank anglers were also catching some legals.

Catch rates in June started out slow, but improved as the season progressed, averaging 288 fish per day through mid-June, compared to 210 fish per day in early-June 2008 and over 340 fish per day in early June 2007.

A majority of the catch has been landed on the Oregon side where effort and catch rates have been higher.  Sampled catch in the non-charter fishery during June averaged 0.9 fish per boat on the Oregon side and 0.5 fish per boat on the Washington side.

Catch during June 1-14 is about 4,000 fish, bringing the year-to-date total to about 5,125 fish, leaving a balance of about 10,400 fish for the remainder of 2009.

Catch rates can improve quickly in June, making it difficult to make accurate catch projections for the remainder of the scheduled season.  Catch in this fishery during late June and early July averaged 644 fish per day in 2007 and 504 fish per day in 2008.

The projected balance provides for an average catch of about 575 fish per day for the 18 days remaining in the scheduled season.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Marker 85 – A few legals are being caught by boat anglers.  Fishing from the bank is slow.

WALLEYE AND BASS

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Anglers on the Steamboat Landing Dock are catching a few walleye.

The Dalles Pool – The boat anglers sampled did not catch any walleye.

John Day Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged slightly better than a walleye per rod.

TROUT

Mayfield Lake – Slow for rainbows though  Tacoma Power continues to release catchable rainbow trout in the Cowlitz River area. Last week trout from the Nisqually Trout Farms were stocked into Mayfield Lake at the Ike Kinswa State Park Day Use area.

Riffe Lake – Anglers are catching a mixture of landlocked coho and landlocked steelhead.

Swofford Pond – Slow for trout; a few warm water fish are being caught.

Goose Lake – Since June 12 had been planted with 4,500 browns averaging 2/3 pound each and 869 cutthroats averaging over 1.5 pounds each.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Bank and bank anglers from Camas/Washougal upstream averaged between just under ½ to just over 2 shad per rod when including fish released.  Yesterday’s count at Bonneville Dam (just over 11,000 fish) was the lowest in nearly a month.

John Day Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged nearly 8 shad per rod.  Bank anglers were also catching some fish.

NWS Trout Hounds Find Plenty Of Action

June 22, 2009

Four counties, five days, at least 60 fish released, seven lakes, 879 miles and 12 12-plus-inch trout in the cooler.

Yes, Northwest Sportsman’s rainbow warriors – “Uncle Wes” Malmberg, brother Brett, and Wes’s faithful fish hund, Hercules – had a good time last week as they swung through some of Western Washington’s troutiest districts.

The Bugger Brigade began in Mason County where they trolled up a 141/2-incher not 10 minutes out of the launch at Lake Nahwatzel. However, after that, it was difficult for the boys to catch anything but perch.

Nearby Lake Limerick was much more productive. “Ten-inchers by the dozen, four or five in the 12-inch range,” reported Wes via cell phone.

Day 2 found the anglers up by the border, on Whatcom County’s Silver Lake, but wind made trolling tough.

“It hadn’t blown all spring until we got there,” Wes reported. They landed one 12-incher before giving up.

The wind was also a factor on Lake Samish south of Bellingham, where they had three strikes and turned a 10-inch cutt loose.

And it was a problem at Skagit County’s Lake McMurray.

“These are my sure-fire lakes and we ain’t doing shit because the wind’s blowing,” Malmberg growled to me from the water. By then they were on their second lap around Campbell Lake, out on Fidalgo Island.

I asked how the mood was: Was there dissent aboard his 12-foot aluminum? How was his Maltese, Hercules?

“It’s been a rough three days,” acknowledged Cap’n Malmberg, “but we’re fine.”

With that he hung up, promising a report when he got home on Wednesday afternoon.

Indeed, things got much better after that.

“Sweet redemption,” Malmberg said from his home in Castle Rock, Wash. “I caught a 20-inch cutt and Brett nailed 16- and 17-inch rainbows within 30 to 45 minutes. Once we found them, it was bang, bang, bang.”

THIS 20-INCH CUTT WAS "UNCLE WES" MALMBERG'S BIGGEST FISH OF THE TRIP. (BRETT MALMBERG)

THIS 20-INCH CUTT WAS "UNCLE WES" MALMBERG'S BIGGEST FISH OF THE TRIP. (BRETT MALMBERG)

As always, the brothers Malmberg were bugging the fish with size 6 Woolly Buggers on a full sinking fly line. The color of the day was olive and black.

BROTHER BRETT'S BIG CAMPBELL LAKE RAINBOW. ("UNCLE WES" MALMBERG)

BROTHER BRETT'S BIG CAMPBELL LAKE RAINBOW. ("UNCLE WES" MALMBERG)

The last stop: Thurston County and Hicks Lake.

“We hooked and released 10-, 11-inch rainbows at will. We stopped counting at 20. We kept a 12-, 13- and 14-inchers with beautiful pink meat,” Wes said.

And from the sounds of it, you’ll see him again at Hicks this fall.

“Every place we went, we caught trout. It would be a great place to take a kid. One guy managed to catch five or six with a green Wedding Ring while fishing with his kid early on,” Wes said.

The four-day swing was actually a working trip for Wes, who is writing a book on Western Washington trout lakes.

Overall, the lakes scored “31/2 doggie treats” with Hercules “because we got blown off three lakes up north.”

“We never spent more that four hours on a lake and in some cases where we were blown off the water in 11/2 hours. Good trip. Brett enjoyed covering that many lakes and has many tales to tell now,” Wes said.

With Ocean Coho A No-Go, Estuary Sturg Is A Good Plan B

June 22, 2009

I am usually pretty good at picking the wrong line to stand in at the grocery store, the slowest lane on the interstate and the wrong brand of something on Amy’s grocery list.

So it goes with choosing where to fish.

If you recall my blog from last Friday, the plan was to fish with Andy Schneider for the ocean coho opener out of Depoe Bay, but weather conditions forced him to come up with a plan B: Lower Columbia sturgeon.

That was a wee bit of a drive up from Newport at o’ dark thirty (yes, I’m a freakin’ weenie, as another of my “loyal” writers pointed out this morning), so I went with the Siletz for summer steelhead instead. You’ll find out how that went when I get that tale done with, but let’s just say the bite was better for sturgeon. Here’s Schneider’s report from the estuary:

The Coast Guard had the bars restricted for most of the morning on opening day for ocean coho. We all had high hopes since there is a record run of coho feeding non-stop just a few minutes off of our Oregon beaches. Coho have been spotted jumping near massive bait balls up and down the coast. Bottomfishing charters have been having a hard time getting through the coho just to catch rockfish.

With a generous quota and a three-fish limit, I haven’t looked forward to an opener as much as the 2009 ocean coho opener. BUT the ocean didn’t cooperate with hundreds of us coho lovers. All northern bays/bars were restricted either to all vessels or to at least 26-foot vessels and buoys were reporting in with hostile seas.

I made the call the night before to change plans from ocean coho to estuary sturgeon.

Those estuary sturgeon proved to be a little elusive to us first thing in the morning, and with no or little wind I was beginning to worry I had made the wrong call.

As we searched for actively feeding fish, we found a husband-and-wife team release a keeper while they already had two keepers tied off to the side of their boat. We anchored beside them and watched them battle keeper after keeper (all released). Finally when they were exhausted, they left and we slipped in to where they were anchored. It took a full 5 minutes before we were into a keeper!

WITH OCEAN SILVERS A NO-GO, ANDYCOHO WENT FOR ESTUARY STURGEON INSTEAD. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

WITH OCEAN SILVERS A NO-GO, ANDYCOHO WENT FOR ESTUARY STURGEON INSTEAD. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

The last few hours of the day were a blur of bites, shakers and a few more keepers. Just when the action started to slow, Mr. Abel called us in and we found more action and put another keeper in the boat – THANKS, PAT!

We even had the opportunity to see a boat run aground (without injuries), then a couple of hours later tangle his anchor rope into his propeller. Mr. Abel even got to see this up close!

While not what was planned it was a good plan with great fishing, excellent food (thanks, Tom) and fantastic company!

Lake WA Sockeye Count Starts Off Strong, Fades Quickly

June 22, 2009

The caffeine had NOT kicked in this morning, but when I browsed my way over to WDFW’s Lake Washington sockeye count page around 9:45ish, I got a jolt that woke me right up: The numbers for the first three days were above 2006’s — the last season we had a fishery.

The agency’s Web page showed a total of 1,322 had passed through on their way to the big Seattle lake’s cool depths for the summer as of June 14; in the first three days of 2006, only 1,217 were counted.

I immediately had to waste even more time this morning on a nonstory, so I called up Steve Thiesfeld at WDFW and demanded to know what was going on and whether I should head for Outdoor Emporium’s red-hook aisle right this very instant.

He curbed my enthusiasm pretty sharply. Through yesterday, the official unpublished sockeye count is actually 5,064; 2006’s was 12,875.

“It may have started off strong, but reality is coming back to hit us,” he said. “It’s the lowest count for the 21st since 1995.”

Silver lining: Managers are upping the 2009 forecast. When WDFW and the tribes huddled for the North of Falcon salmon-season-setting process, they divined that 19,327 Lake WA sox would return. The projection is now 50,000 to 70,000 through the end of July, Thiesfeld now says.

“The fact that it’s coming back better than forecast is good, but there’s still no fish,” he says.

A total of 350,000 are required for Seattle to descend into sockeye insanity.

If last year had gone off like almost every summer Olympic year since 1984, there should have been a season, but not even 34,000 returned. For some reason, the large numbers of fry being counted in Lake Washington have not been returning as adults and managers don’t know why.

Could be the ocean, could be predators in the lake.

“There are lots of questions and nobody has any good answers now,” Thiesfeld says, then adds about salmon biology, “It’s not rocket science, it’s much harder than that.”

WDFW Chief Candidate: OR Rabbit Woman

June 22, 2009

That rabbit woman arrested last week in a Tigard, Ore., hotel with a bunch of bunnies might just be a good candidate for director of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

So wrote Dave Workman, a longtime agency watchdog/reporter, in his Seattle Gun Examiner column late last week.

Miriam Sakewitz “has the earmarks of someone who might make a crackerjack game biologist,” Workman writes, pointing to her propensity for raising and growing “bushels” of rabbits  at locations including her Hillsboro, Ore., home and a Chehalis, Wash., horse ranch.

“Think what she might be able to do for the state’s deer and elk herds. Turn that woman loose in the Columbia Basin with pheasants. Introduce her to grouse, chukar and quail.”

“No telling what she might accomplish at a trout or steelhead hatchery!” Workman said.

Yes, imagine using woods and waters of Washington to raise fish and game for anglers and hunters.

But then there’s that little matter of Sakewitz’s court-ordered “mental evaluation” as well as a 5-year ban from not only owning animals, but also controlling them, the Associated Press reports. That may not make her the fittest candidate for the search.

As it stands, the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission, which is officially charged with hiring a new director with the help of DOP Executive Careers, is in the process of developing interview questions for potential candidates.

‘Guarded Optimism’ For 2010 Columbia Springer ‘Bonanza’

June 21, 2009

What does this year’s massive return of jack spring Chinook (over 80,000, almost one half of the adult count at Bonneville) mean for next year?

As we’ve mentioned in previous stories, if you do the math, there’s a chance we could see a run of 1 million upriver Columbia springers/Snake summers in 2010.

But because this year’s jack run is so out of the ordinary — over three times the previous all-time high — there’s confusion about what it really means.

Late last week, NW Fishletter again took a look at the issue of all those jacks, and this paragraph caught our eye:

Nobody is actually saying (a million springers could return next year), but a few optimists are speculating that actually could happen. Most managers and scientists are guardedly optimistic that next year will likely be something of a bonanza, but when pressed, they find it almost impossible to quantify, especially after this year’s prediction was so far off, based on their old, somewhat workable methodology built mostly on last year’s high jack count.

This year’s forecast was, of course, for just under 300,000, a prediction based partly on jack counts, and editor Bill Rudolph points out that salmon-run forecasting tools may need some tweaking as we come to better understand how wildly ocean conditions can change. Indeed, biologists are increasingly focused on recent highly productive ocean conditions as an explanation for the high return.

Scientists have been measuring chemicals in smolts to see what might be happening that may be producing more jacks in years with much better conditions for growth. By measuring the insulin-like growth factor and testosterone levels of the young fish, they may be on track to answering why so many more jacks are showing up.

Last year saw the best copepod production in the North Pacific in 13 years, as well as other very strong trends that produced cold water, NW Fishletter reports, all good things for Chinook.

Stay tuned

ODFW Keeps Coos Bay Clammers Clam

June 21, 2009

ODFW has better detailed where to find clams in Coos Bay as well as how well local populations of molluscs are doing, a local TV station reports.

Butter and gaper clams are the most abundant in the bay, according to ODFW, KCBY reports, but there were fewer littleneck clams than were recorded during a 1970s survey.

The effort took over a year and includes the North Bend area as well. Results were unveiled last Thursday.

The study was funded by the legislature; according to the project director, lawmakers may make “the survey a permanent part of ODFW, which would enable them to conduct similar surveys in other Oregon estuaries in the future,” the station reports.

The Oregon Coast: Days 1, 2

June 19, 2009

Clouds moved in yesterday evening and the wind came up here on Oregon’s Central Coast. And sometime in the night it began to rain. This morning, the ocean was angry.

Which is what I say anytime the sea is rolling outside the windows of my inlaw’s home south of Yaquina Bay. In truth, it’s more like the ocean is somewhat miffed today, and that’s about how I feel too.

The plan to hit tomorrow’s coho opener out of Depoe Bay has been scrubbed, my captain, Andy Schneider, called to say as Amy, River and my mother-in-law wandered through Newport’s waterfront in the wind and light mist late this morning. So much for fresh salmon fillets for Saturday night.

I don’t blame Schneider, of course, it’s his boat. And it was all weather-dependent anyway. We’d made the rough plan about a month, month and a half ago as we were putting together our June issue of Northwest Sportsman. Schneider’s photo of friend John Bond on the cover holding a spinner-caught coho intrigued me and I wanted to know more about that action, so Schneider invited me out.

But after two weeks of relatively calm seas (one of our readers was, no shit, 75 miles out on a whale-watching/tuna expedition on “greasy-flat” seas June 10), the weather changed at practically the last minute. I saw it come in from the Northwest as we collapsed on the beach yesterday afternoon after the 300-plus-mile drive from Seattle. By dinner time, it had clouded over. What crummy timing.

River didn’t care, of course. He loves it here at Nana and Vaeterchen’s house. Down on the beach in the afternoon, he stomped on the sand castle towers and Winnie the Pooh sandcasts his mom and I made, found himself being buried in sand by his German grandfather, peed in a hole (he’s in potty-training, and since we didn’t have his potty and he wouldn’t stand up to pee …), and had lots of fun in the sun.

This morning, the little guy, dudded up in his blue cowboy boots as well as a warm sweater, toured the waterfront. First stop was Aunt Belinda’s for jellybeans (sour gummi’s for Mama). When we parked in front of the candy store, however, our first thought was that Auntie B and her killer Kahlua truffles had gone out of biz. The shop was empty and dark. But a sign on the door pointed one business down to their new location. Phew. Sounds like Mo’s, the famous Oregon Coast fast-food joint next door, might expand.

We strolled down the sidewalk, the rich smells from Trident wafting across the street and T-shirts emblazoned with “I Got Crabs in Newport, Ore.” hanging in windows. A pair of anglers walked out of Harry’s B&T with grins and a new trout rod. A sign in the shop’s window reads “Support Your Local Hooker.”

We went to check out the local sea lion herd, but only one of them, a blonde-headed beast, was hauled out on the dock. On the other side, a father and daughter were crabbing from the pier. They’d caught one red rock, but had only been tending their pot for 20 minutes or so when I spoke to them. Out in the bay, anglers who had been kept off the ocean by conditions were jigging for herring.

Walking back through the bayfront, I stopped in at Captain’s Reel Deep Sea Charters and thanked Cap’n Dave for running an ad in our June issue. He was rigging up a pair of salmon rods for tomorrow (they’re heading out at 1 p.m., if you’re interested). While he said some coho are being hooked on bottomfishing trips of late, it’s going to take some searching to find any concentrations of them.

We headed up Canyon Way and of course stopped in at the bookstore. River found a mess of kid’s stories he just had to have, and Dianne obliged (heck, she bought me a brand-new kickass Oregon mapbook too). Then we dropped in at Sandcastle Toys. River made a beeline for the train set and pushed locomotives around the tracks almost the whole while (and, yes, his dad spent a fair amount of time at the race car track, winding up the little speedster for repeated runs through the loops).

And that’s about the time that Andy Schneider called and left a message. When we got home, I returned the call and heard about Plan B: Columbia estuary sturgeon. Good bite, too.

Hmmm.

It seems like a long ways, I said, but it also sounded more productive than dragging herring around at Tillamook Bay for this year’s few springers.

Truth be told, I don’t think I’m quite up for the 2:30 a.m. wake-up call and long, windy drive up the coast to meet him at Warrenton at 6:15. River woke up last night around 3:30 and was awake for an hour at least. Amy couldn’t get him back to sleep, and it was only after she left and I rubbed his back that he dozed off. Right now, they’re both napping. I need a nap too, but Juergen’s got some plans for me and my muscles this afternoon. He wants to make a “tunnel” for River in our backyard out of a giant fishing net he found washed up on the beach. We’ll have to clean it out, mend it and pack it away for when he and Dianne come up in two weeks. And then I’ve got River this afternoon as Amy gets a massage and her eyebrows done back in Newport. So a run halfway back home is … well, it’s a tough proposition.

But damnit, I really didn’t come this far this weekend to not fish. So I’ve done a little sleuthing of my own and have come up with a Plan C for tomorrow. Turns out all those spinners and spoons I bought for ocean coho might just have another application …

I’ll detail that tomorrow, but first, it sounds like somebody’s woken up from his nap. Time to switch jobs from reporter/editor to dad again.

NWS Kayak Angling Columnist Lands 7ft Sturgeon

June 17, 2009

I get a little bit of grief about the Kayak Angling column I run in Northwest Sportsman each issue.

“Fishing from Tupperware? How absurd, nobody here does that!” folks claim. “That’s a SoCal thing.”

“This is the Northwest, jet-sled country!” others grumble.

Indeed, Washington, Oregon and Idaho is home to large number of aluminum-boat manufacturers, including our friends at Wooldridge, Raider Boats, Hewescraft, Boulton, Northwest Jet Boat, Precision Weld, Fish Rite, Smokercraft, Weldcraft, Duckworth, Custom Weld, etc.

And while I make sure a large proportion of our stories do speak directly to owners of those fine fishing machines, I felt that kayak anglers also deserved a little bit of space in the ol’ mag. It’s a “new” form of our sport and actually is applicable on a wide range of Northwest fisheries, from inland species to lings and rockfish in the ocean.

And that’s why I signed Bryce Molenkamp of Northwest Kayak Anglers up to write about fishing from plastic.

In recent months, he’s covered crabbing (June), bass (May) and downrigger trout fishing (April), and he kicked off his kayak kolumn back in December with a piece on fishing for Willamette River “dinos,” aka sturgeon.

“When you hook into that nice keeper, release the anchor, tighten up the drag, scream FISH ON! to all your buddies on the VHF and enjoy the slayride,” Molenkamp wrote that issue.

Yesterday, there was a whole lot more screaming from the Western Washington angler as he tied into five “heavyweight” sturg — and at least one of ’em was far bigger than a plain ol’ keeper.

The one pictured below gave Molenkamp, who is known as Zee online, “the show of a lifetime” — up close too.

84-INCH NORTHWEST STURGEON LANDED BY KAYAK ANGLER BRYCE "ZEELANDER" MOLENKAMP YESTERDAY, JUNE 16. (KARL STOMBERG)

84-INCH NORTHWEST STURGEON LANDED BY KAYAK ANGLER BRYCE "ZEE" MOLENKAMP YESTERDAY, JUNE 16. (KARL STOMBERG)

“This bruiser went aerial not 4 feet from me. Let’s just say I had to look up to follow it. I’ll never forget that,” Molenkamp writes. “I went on a slayride for about 45 minutes and after she blew bubbles, landed and released ‘er. Quite a rush to see her swim off safe and sound.”

Friend and fellow angler Karl Stomberg assisted in the catch.

“I’m so glad Karl was there to help me land the dino,” Molenkamp notes. “When they get this size, they’re impossible to land by yourself and he was a real pro. Couldn’t have done it without ya’, brother!”

There was another witness to the fight as well.

“A nearby powerboater swore I was nuts, but after landing and releasing, (he) said I was his ‘hero,'” Molenkamp adds.

He used a G.Loomis SAMR1084C mooching rod and Shimano Charter Special reel spooled up with 30-pound Sufix Performance Braid.

“I need to get the heavier BBR904C soon as the mooch rod was nearly a noodle with the big ‘un. Bait was the good ol’ sandshrimp on a barbless Gamakatsu 6/0 octopus hook,” he details.

The monster taped at 84 inches and Molenkamp figures it probably weighed around 180 pounds based on length.

“Beats my next heaviest fish by a long way.”

Unfortunately, the catch won’t do a darn thing for him in NWKA’s “Angler of the Year Contest.”

“The main AOTY rule is that all fish entered need to be legal to retain. The idea is that we get entrants going after fish that are in season and not molesting fish, like nate steelhead, just for some tournament. We all love the competition but we love our fish even more! And that’s pretty much how I feel about that dino. I was so stoked about landing that monster that afterward I was like, ‘Ooooh no AOTY points … WHO CARES?! That was the fish of a lifetime!!!”

Especially considering the “fish” was about the size of angler and kayak combined.

What’s Fishin’ Right Now In Oregon

June 17, 2009

From the South Coast to Central Oregon back to the Klamath Basin and out to the Beaver State’s Northeast Zone, trout fishing’s good right. Plus, on the North Coast, a host of lakes will see fresh “larger size” trout planted this week.

And then there’s the coho opener this weekend. I hope to hit it out of Depoe Bay with NWS writer Andy Schneider.

Here are fishing highlights from this week’s ODFW Recreation Report:

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • The Columbia is open to angling for adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead, sockeye, and chinook jacks from Tongue Point to the Oregon/Washington border above McNary.
  • Shad catches are holding up in the gorge.
  • Sturgeon fishing is good in the Astoria area.

MARINE ZONE

  • Salmon fishing in the ocean opens June 20 south of Cape Falcon and June 28 between Cape Falcon and Leadbetter Point (Wash.) The 2009 salmon season looks exceptionally good for coho with the highest quota in more than a decade.
  • Halibut anglers will get a few more all-depth days off the central Oregon coast June 18 through 20. High wind and big swell kept many boats in port during several of the all-depth halibut days this spring resulting in sufficient quota to keep the fishery open. The spring all-depth season for the central coast area – from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain – opened May 14 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only. It could have closed as early as June 6 if the 124,261-pound quota had been taken.
  • Fishing for Pacific halibut inside the 40-fathom line on the central coast continues to be open seven days a week until a separate quota of 14,407 pounds is attained or Oct. 31, which ever comes first.
  • Fewer than half of the fishers going after lingcod were successful at landing one fish. Anglers scored better with rockfish, greenling and other species in the marine bag landing between three and four coast wide, about one fish more, on average, than last week.
  • A minus tide series starts June 19 and continues through June 28 in the morning. Tide times can vary up to a couple of hours, depending where you are on the coast. Consult a tide table for the area where you will be. The entire Oregon coast is open to the recreational harvest of mussels, clams and other shellfish. However, harvesters should check for current closures on the ODA shellfish safety page or call the shellfish hotline, 1-800-448-2474.
  • In most Oregon ports last week crabbers averaged between two and three crab, with crabbers out of Charleston getting an average of seven. Scuba divers may notice that male crab are already clutching female crabs waiting for them to molt so they can fertilize them. When the males are clutching females they don’t do anything else, like look for food and wander into crab traps.

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • June can be an excellent month to catch chinook on the Rogue.
  • Spring chinook fishing on the North Umpqua has been fair to good in the Rock Creek area.
  • Trout fishing has been good at several area lakes including Fish and Garrison lakes, Lake Selmac and Howard Prairie. Warmwater enthusiasts might try Powers Pond where the bluegill and crappie bite has been good.
  • Weekly trout stocking has begun at campsites and key access points along the Rogue River upstream of Lost Creek Reservoir. Trout releases will continue through Labor Day to support the Rogue’s premier summer trout fishery.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Coffenbury, Lost Cape Meares, Hebo, and Town lakes are scheduled to be stocked with larger size trout the week of June 15. These fish should be about 1 pound each. The 2009 stocking schedule is available online.
  • Angling for warmwater fish, particularly bass, has been fair to good as lakes have warmed with recent good weather. Cape Meares, Lytle, Cullaby, Sunset, Coffenbury and Vernonia lakes offer fair to good populations of warmwater species.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Summer steelhead fishing is fair on the Clackamas River.
  • Fishing for bass and other warmwater species is picking up on the Willamette River and other locations throughout the region.
  • A few summer steelhead are being caught on the Sandy River

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Fishing on the Crooked River has been excellent and anglers are encouraged to hit the river before next week, when ODFW will be electro-shocking parts of the river as part of its annual population assessment.
  • Angling for bass and kokanee has picked up on Lake Billy Chinook.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing conditions on the Chewaucan have greatly improver over the last week with moderate flows and good insect hatches.
  • Angling on Fourmile Lake has been very good from both bank and boat for lake trout that range from 14-21 inches.
  • Dry fly-fishing on the Upper Williamson River should be some of the best of the year.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing on the John Day, especially the Middle and South Forks, has been good now that snowmelt has subsided and the river has dropped into shape.
  • Trout are still in the shallower waters at Magone Lake and fishing has been good

BROWNLEE, ERR, SNAKE ZONE

  • Crappie are biting well on jigs and croppie nibbles about 2-8 feet down. Generally the best jigs to use are chartruese, red & white, or yellow & white. Catfish angling is fair-good using mormon crickets in the main river. The water is still cool in the Powder River Arm. Bass fishing has picked up some. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.

Walleye Biting In Potholes’s Crab Creek Area: Resort

June 17, 2009

(MAR DON RESORT PRESS RELEASE)

Mid-June is a great time to enjoy the Potholes Recreation Area. Surface water temperatures are in the 70 degree range. Most bass have finished their spawn cycle. Also, with our new high water status due to increased irrigation needs our spawn is allowed to finish without becoming high and dry like the old days.

Walleye action is good in The Crab Creek area of The Sand Dunes. Walleye continue to show in The Lind Coulee Arm of Potholes Reservoir. Goose Island has been producing some deep water walleye, also.

JOHN DOUGLAS OF LAKE TAPPS, WASH., WITH A PAIR OF CRAB CREEK MOUTH WALLEYE CAUGHT ON AN UNCLE WALT'S DIAMOND BEAD SPINNER WITH WORMS. (MAR DON RESORT)

JOHN DOUGLAS OF LAKE TAPPS, WASH., WITH A PAIR OF CRAB CREEK MOUTH WALLEYE CAUGHT ON AN UNCLE WALT'S DIAMOND BEAD SPINNER WITH WORMS. (MAR DON RESORT)

The area around The MarDon Dock has been very good for smallmouth bass using Plastic Grubs, Yamamoto Senkos and Rapala Shad Raps.

Surface water temperatures over 70 degrees have been reported in the shallows in the Sand Dunes. Some bass are finished spawning in the extremely shallow areas. However many Bass in deep waters are still on the beds as of 6-12-09.

Columbia River Fishing Report

June 17, 2009

(FROM ODFW)

Weekend Fishing Opportunities

The Columbia is open to angling for adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead, sockeye, and chinook jacks from Tongue Point to the Oregon/Washington border above McNary.

Shad catches are holding up in the gorge.

Sturgeon fishing is good in the Astoria area.

SALMON STEELHEAD SHAD

Bank anglers caught summer steelhead, chinook jacks, and sockeye last weekend.   Shad angling is good in the gorge.

Gorge Bank:

Weekend checking showed 387 shad kept and 26 shad released for 188 bank anglers.

Gorge Boats:

Weekend checking showed 79 shad kept for 11 boats (35 anglers).

Troutdale Boats:

Weekly checking showed two shad kept and one adult chinook released five boats (12 anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank:

Weekend checking showed six adipose fin-clipped steelhead, three adipose fin-clipped jack chinook, and 11 sockeye kept, plus one unclipped jack released for 96 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats:

Weekend checking showed one adipose fin-clipped steelhead and two adipose fin-clipped jack chinook kept, plus four adult and two jack chinook released for 34 boats (74 anglers).

Estuary Bank:

Weekend checking showed eight adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead and three adipose fin-clipped chinook jacks kept, plus one adult chinook and three unclipped chinook jacks released for 13 bank anglers.

Estuary Boats:

Weekend checking showed no catch for one boat.

STURGEON:

The Columbia River Compact met on Thursday December 18 and adopted new sturgeon regulations for 2009.  For the news release, please check the link below:

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2008/december/121808.asp

Sturgeon anglers are reminded that effective Jan. 1, 2009, a new method of measuring sturgeon for retention will take effect statewide. Under the new rules, sturgeon will be measured from the tip of the nose to the fork in the tail (rather than the tip of the tail). The resulting allowed retention measurements are slightly shorter than the old method. As a result, the 2009 slot measurement for sturgeon caught in the Columbia River downstream of The Dalles Dam to the Wauna Power lines, including tributaries, will be 38 to 54 inches FORK LENGTH. Upstream of The Dalles Dam to the Oregon/Washington border, the fork length for sturgeon retention will be 43 to 54 inches beginning on Jan. 1. Below the Wauna Power lines, beginning May 9 through the close of the 2009 retention season, the fork length for sturgeon retention is 41 – 54 inches. Remember, all of these figures are simple conversions of the old method of measuring sturgeon. It does not mean you can keep smaller fish, only that the method of measuring “keepers” has changed. So, from Jan. 1 on, make sure that your sturgeon is of legal length under this NEW measurement technique.

Sturgeon angling is good in the estuary, but slow for legal size fish elsewhere in the lower Columbia.  All sturgeon angling is prohibited from Marker 85 upstream to Bonneville Dam during May 1 through July 31 to protect spawning sturgeon.

Gorge Bank:

No report.

Gorge Boats below Marker 85:

Weekend checking showed two legal white sturgeon kept, plus 10 oversize and 77 sublegal sturgeon released for 15 boats (50 anglers).

Troutdale Boats:

Weekly checking showed one oversize and 38 sublegal sturgeon released for five boats (10 anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank:

Weekend checking showed two sublegal sturgeon released for 12 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats:

Weekend checking showed two legal white sturgeon kept, plus one legal, two oversize, and 173 sublegal sturgeon released for 55 boats (129 anglers).

Estuary Boat & Bank:

Weekend checking showed 328 legal white sturgeon kept, plus one legal, four green, 42 oversize, and 1,071 sublegal sturgeon released for 378 boats (1,254 anglers); and one sublegal sturgeon released for 34 bank anglers.  Eighty charter boat anglers caught 15 legal white sturgeon and released five oversize and 25 sublegal sturgeon.

Bonneville Pool Boat and Bank:

Effective 12:01 AM Saturday June 6, the retention of sturgeon in the Bonneville Pool and tributaries is prohibited because the harvest guideline of 700 legal white sturgeon has been reached.  Catch and released angling is allowed through the remainder of the year.

The Dalles Pool Boat and Bank:

Effective 12:01 AM Sunday April 19, the retention of sturgeon in The Dalles Pool and tributaries is prohibited because the harvest guideline of 300 legal white sturgeon has been reached. Catch and release angling is allowed through the remainder of the year except during May 1 through July 31 from the west end of the grain silo at Rufus upstream to John Day Dam to protect spawning sturgeon.

John Day Boat and Bank:

Effective 12:01 AM Monday April 13, the retention of sturgeon in the John Day Pool and tributaries is prohibited because the harvest guideline of 165 legal white sturgeon has been met.  Catch and release angling is allowed through the remainder of the year except during May 1 through July 31 from Highway 395 Bridge near Umatilla upstream to McNary Dam to protect spawning sturgeon.

WALLEYE:

Gorge Boats:

No report.

Troutdale Boats:

No report.

Bonneville Pool Boats:

No report.

The Dalles Pool Boats:

No report.

John Day Pool Boats:

No report.

Seattle Fly Fishing Fair, Casting Contest June 20

June 17, 2009

(PRESS RELEASE)

The Jimmy Green Memorial Fly Fishing Fair and Casting Expo will be held June 20, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, at Lake Tye in Monroe, WA and is open to the public, free of charge.

What can you do at the Jimmy Green Memorial Fly Fishing Fair and Casting Expo?

You can meet and talk to the owners and managers of local Puget Sound fly shops, learn to cast a fly rod, get involved in protecting our local waters and fish, meet fly fishing guides, find a fly fishing club near your home, attend workshops, and compete in casting competitions for single-handed or double-handed fly rods.
Hot dogs, hamburgers and refreshments will be available during lunchtime at no charge for all Fair attendees.

There will also be two raffles, one for fly fishers who bring potential fly fishers to the event – the more people you bring, the more tickets you get! And a second raffle for potential fly fishers.

For more, go to http://jimmygreenflyexpo.com

Burning Woods, Burning Seas

June 16, 2009

Catastrophic forest fires and shell-eating seas — just a sampling of the storylines that have caught my eyes in recent days.

The first disaster is covered in two places: the Yakima Herald-Republic over the weekend and The Oregonian today.

Scott Sandsberry at the YHR writes about the upper valley’s “asbestos districts.” The Naches and Cle Elum areas of Yakima and Kittitas counties haven’t seen the major wildfires that Chelan and Okanogan counties to the north have, and Forest Service officials say it’s just a matter of time.

“… the forested foothills west of Yakima pose fire danger “every bit as problematic” as Chelan County’s 1994 fires, said Naches Ranger District fire fuels specialist Jim Bailey.

Although fighting those fires was complicated by more rugged topography, he said, the Naches District’s dense forests provide “more continuous fuel” to sustain wildfire.

Why is that worrisome? The Naches and Cle Elum areas are home to the Yakima elk herd, among the state’s biggest at over 11,000 head.

So as Sandsberry’s article points out, that’s why crews are out trying to burn out the forest floor where fuels accumulate.

“When we lose a forest like that, it takes a long time, 80 to 100 years, to get a forest back that we recognize or call as such,” said Richy Harrod, fire ecologist for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. “All you have to do is drive up the Entiat Valley and look.”

(We’d point out, however, that that Entiat fire, the Tyee blaze, was a boon for mule deer.)

Today’s Oregonian has an article that’s primarily about the last mill in Eastern Oregon’s Grant County and what its hardships getting sawlogs means to the community of John Day, but it also references forest fires and the dropoff of logging on public land that began in the 1990s, and the unforeseen consequences therein:

Over two decades, a litigious tug-of-war over public forests barred not only commercial activity, but also healthy maintenance.

Today, there’s agreement that the federal logging bans and lengthy lawsuits have had an unintended effect: allowing forests to become overgrown with brush and infested with beetles, making the forests in this region particularly vulnerable to fire, which wipes out possible timber resources and critical habitat.

In an interesting twist, The Nature Conservancy is now trying to make sure that mill, the Malheur Lumber Company survives, the paper writes.

Without mills and loggers and others who know how to work in the woods, areas with large public forests would suffer ecologically and economically, says (Diane) Vosick with the Nature Conservancy.

Forests need people who know how to thin trees, mills to create wood products and a market for the logs that are removed.

Roads in the woods create access for hunting, clearing out underbrush and burning old vegetation improves browse for deer, elk and other critters.

Then there’s the oyster disaster on Washington’s South Coast. In Sunday’s Seattle Times, reporter Craig Welch writes about how, since 2005, Willapa Bay’s oysters have had trouble spawning a new generation, and the culprit may be acidic seawater pumped out of the cold Pacific depths by summer’s offshore breeze.

While the killer could also be a bacteria, ocean acidification is a troubling prospect for Northwest anglers:

Corrosive waters can dissolve clam shells, eat away at corals and kill fish eggs. Already, scientists have taken pteropods, tiny marine snails that swim in the open ocean, from the Gulf of Alaska and exposed them to slightly acidified marine water in a laboratory. Their protective shells immediately dissolved.

Those creatures make up 60 percent of the food for Alaska’s juvenile pink salmon. Similar creatures support many of the major fish species in Alaska’s North Pacific, which in turn supports the billion-dollar Seattle-based industry that provides half the nation’s catch of fish.

Needless to say, the Gulf of Alaska is where many Northwest salmon stocks migrate through while out at sea.

As an oysterman quoted in the article says, things are out of whack. On land and at sea, complicating fish and game management. Just one more reason I’m damn glad I’m not a state or federal biologist.

Second Wolf Pack in Washington?

June 15, 2009

It’s all a bunch of maybes and might bes and perhaps’s and possiblies for the moment, but an image taken by a remote camera recently shows a female wolflike animal north of Spokane and could mean Washington has a second pack of wolves.

News came out yesterday in the Spokesman-Review about the picture of a “lactating female wolf in the middle of Pend Oreille County.”

In the article, Madonna Luers, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Fish & Wildlife, cautioned that it might also be a wolf-dog hybrid. (An animal found on a road dead on a road northwest of Spokane last summer did turn out to be a cross.)

“There’s a lot of don’t-quite-know-yets out there,” Luers told us this morning. “But if so, we’ll be announcing it to the world.”

The paper reports, “Hair samples have been taken from a bait site and testing is under way.”

This afternoon, a U.S. Forest Service biologist in Newport tells us the image came from a state DNR camera in an area of previous wolf sightings in Pend Oreille County, and that a pair has been traveling in the region. He says there are three established packs just over the state border in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

“If they’re there, they’re here,” he says.

Meanwhile, in the Methow Valley, it’s believed that the Lookout Pack’s alpha female has denned up where she had pups last year and has had another litter earlier this spring, though biologists are still working to confirm that. The Lookout Pack was the state’s first in 70 years.

Later this year, WDFW will publish their wolf management plan for a 90-day public review and comment period. Luers says the agency will hold 12 meetings around the state when it comes out.

Kings Biting Along BC Coast

June 15, 2009

Fifty-pound Chinook. One hundred-twenty-pound halibut. Catching and releasing 30-pound springs. All in the last week.

Ooooh, nelly, if that doesn’t get you fired up about fishing British Columbia, we don’t know what will. But maybe this will help:

“We’ve had the best start I have seen in 4 years. Everybody is getting into Chinooks with double and triple headers happening to the lucky ones. Cohoe and Andrews Points have been hot on both tides, with fish being taken from eight down to 70 pulls,” reports Shawn “Cookie” Pennell, fishmaster aboard the MV Charlotte Princess stationed at Langara Island in the Queen Charlottes.

MIKE SOKOLSKI WITH PART OF THE CATCH AT LANGARA ISLAND LAST WEEK. (OAK BAY MARINE GROUP)

MIKE SOKOLSKI WITH PART OF THE CATCH AT LANGARA ISLAND LAST WEEK. (OAK BAY MARINE GROUP)

For more, check out Oak Bay Marine Group’s fishing reports.

FRESH: SW WA Salmon, Steelhead, Trout, Shad Fishing Report

June 15, 2009

A few springers here and there, some steelies in the Lower Columbia, sturgeon down in the estuary and a billion shad in the river. That’s some of the action you’ll find on the Columbia River and elsewhere in Southwest Washington right now.

Here’s more from biologist Joe Hymer’s weekly roundup:

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Bank anglers near the barrier dam are catching some spring Chinook while boat anglers around Blue Creek are catching some summer run steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 109 spring Chinook adults, 60 jacks, and 73 summer-run steelhead during five days of adult fish collection efforts at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 38 spring Chinook adults and 46 into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge and  two spring Chinook adults and one jack into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam.

Cowlitz River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 7,960 cubic feet per second on Monday, June 15. Water visibility is over seven feet.

Kalama River – No report on steelhead angling success.  Through June 10, a total of 180 hatchery and 37 wild summer run steelhead had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.

Kalama spring Chinook adult returns continue to be below the hatchery escapement goal.  Through June 10, just 60 of the 500 fish needed for brood stock had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.

Lewis River – No report on steelhead angling success.  Through today, nearly 600 hatchery summer run steelhead had returned to the Merwin Dam trap.  Eighteen adult spring Chinook were in the trap today resulting in just under 1,000 fish for the season.  Up to 1,250 fish are needed to fulfill the  program needs.

Washougal River – Anglers are reported to be doing well for steelhead, in particular for “recycled” fish.  Through June 10, a total of 442 hatchery steelhead had been recycled downstream.

Wind River – Bank anglers in the gorge and upper river continue to catch some spring Chinook but effort has dropped to almost nothing.  Through today (Monday June 15), a total of 1,699 adults had returned to Carson National Fish Hatchery.  The goal of 1,200 fish has been met.

Drano Lake – Light effort and no catch observed.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers continue to catch a mix of spring Chinook and summer run steelhead.  The river up to the salmon hatchery is now open for hatchery adult Chinook retention.

Mainstem Columbia – Pretty heavy effort over the weekend and catches were good on the opener but have since slowed.  Overall, bank anglers from I-5 downstream averaged a salmonid kept/released per every 6.8 rods based on mainly incomplete trips.  Slower for boat anglers.  Most of the catch were summer run steelhead followed by adult and jack Chinook (adults had to be released) and sockeye.

Effective tomorrow (June 16), the mainstem Columbia from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to the Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco will be open to fishing for Chinook jacks (adipose fin clipped or not), hatchery steelhead, and sockeye.  From June 22 through July 5, adult summer Chinook may be retained below Bonneville Dam and beginning July 1 from Bonneville Dam upstream.

During the Saturday June 13 flight, a total of 333 WA and 241 bank anglers were counted from the I-5 Bridge downstream.

Lower Columbia flows have dropped over the past week.  Yesterday, the average flows at Bonneville Dam were 250,000 cfs.  Less than a week ago, flows had been in the 350,000 cfs range.  Flows are expected to remain lower for at least the next week and a half  (see http://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/river/station/flowplot/text/BONO3.QI.0.0.1.0.txt) for details.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the mouth to the Wauna power lines – Boat anglers sampled at the Deep River ramp averaged a legal kept per about every 5 rods.  Bank anglers were catching a few legals.

Data from the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco should be available by Wednesday.

Effort was high during the past weekend with almost 700 private boats and a couple dozen charters counted during the Saturday June 13 flight.  It should be noted there was a sturgeon derby in Chinook that day.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna power lines to Marker 85 –   Boat anglers in the Longview area are finding some keepers as are bank anglers in Woodland.

TROUT

Tacoma Power continues to release catchable rainbow trout in the Cowlitz River area. Last week trout from the Nisqually Trout Farms were stocked into Skate Creek and into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, Washington.

Swofford Pond and Mayfield Lake – Bank anglers are catching some rainbows.

Riffe Lake – Bank anglers are catching landlocked coho and steelhead.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers in the Kalama and gorge areas averaged nearly 3 shad per rod.  Bank anglers in the Camas/Washougal area averaged just over a fish per rod.

Through June 14, over a million shad had been counted at Bonneville Dam.  In comparison, just over a third of a million fish had been tallied by this time last year.

Money Minnows: Top Rods Made $57K, $44K in ’08

June 15, 2009

I am in the wrong business, folks. While I spent most of last year writing and editing about all things fish and game in the Northwest, one Nikolay Zaremskiy of Gresham, Ore., quietly reeled in nearly $58,000 worth of northern pikeminnows from the Columbia.

Together he and the runner-up in Bonneville Power Administration’s annual pikeminnow bounty program, David Vasilchuck of Vancouver, accounted for $102,380 during the May-October reward fishery.

The numbers come from Mark Yuasa’s column yesterday in the Seattle Times.

Some other crazy factoids gleaned from the article:

BPA paid out over $1 million bucks for a catch of just under 158,700 pikeminnows; they paid out $83,500 for another 167 tagged fish worth $500 apiece. Anglers spent 26,141 days chasing the fish, and caught just over 6.1 a trip.

Some other crazy factoids gleaned from BPA’s pikeminnow page:

Anglers have become better since the program began in 1990; catch per effort in the first years was as low as 2.09. However, total catch has declined from a high of around 267,000 in 2004. And angler participation is down from at least 1,469 individuals receiving payouts in 2006 to 1,177 in 2007 to 994 last year.

Perhaps to reverse that last trend, the pikeminnow powers that be are holding a how-to clinic this Thursday, June 18, at the Kennewick Sportsman’s Warehouse, 6603 W Canal Dr. Kennewick, WA 99336. It starts at 6 p.m. Class will be instructed by Tim Histand.

And in other pikeminnow news, the East Wenatchee Rotary Club’s 17th annual derby runs from 6:00 p.m. June 19 to 11:30 a.m. June 21. Prizes include Mercury and Yamaha kicker engines, fishing gear, fishing boat, depth sounder as well as cash. For more, call Bob Feil Boats and Motors (509-884-3558).

NFR, NHR: What I Want For Father’s Day

June 12, 2009

Dear Wife Amy,

Please see the below email I got this afternoon for what your hubster wants for Father’s Day next weekend:

New Nail Gun, made by DeWALT.


It can  drive a 16-D nail through a 2 X 4 at 200 yards.

This makes construction a breeze, you can sit in your lawn chair and build a fence.

Just get your wife to hold the fence boards in place while you sit back, relax with a cold drink and when she has the board in the right place, just fire away.

With the hundred round magazine, you can build the fence with a minimum of reloading.

After a day of fence building with the new DeWalt Rapid fire nail gun,
the wife will not ask you
to build or fix anything else, probably, ever again.

(THE INTERNET)

(THE INTERNET)

WDFW Set To Net Snohomish Chinook For Study

June 12, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

A study aimed at improving management of federally protected chinook salmon will get under way next week, when Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists expand efforts to monitor and track chinook returns to the Snohomish River basin.

Biologists will be capturing, marking and releasing chinook salmon on the Snohomish, Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers as the fish make their way upriver to the spawning grounds. Survey crews will then document the marked salmon found on the spawning grounds and caught in the sport fishery, as well as those fish that return to the Wallace River Hatchery and WDFW’s Sunset Falls fishway.

Information from the study will be used to assess the accuracy of traditional methods of estimating chinook returns, said Pete Hahn, a WDFW fish stock assessment specialist in charge of the study.

“Having accurate population information is a vital part of fisheries management,” Hahn said. “This study will help us improve estimates of chinook salmon abundance in the Snohomish River basin.”

Crews will be capturing salmon – primarily with two soft-meshed beach seine nets – Mondays and Thursdays of each week through mid-October. The fish will be fitted with a visible anchor tag and implanted with a small “PIT” (passive integrated transponder) tag, both of which provide information on the background of each individual salmon.

Hahn asks anglers who hook a tagged salmon to call Michael Mizell, a biologist with WDFW, at 360-902-2740 and provide the tag number and information on when and where the fish was caught. He encourages anglers who are releasing salmon to leave the anchor tag in the fish.

People who find a tagged salmon carcass also are asked to leave the tag in the fish and report the tag number to Mizell.

State and tribal crews will be surveying the basin’s spawning areas beginning in September. The crews will be tallying salmon carcasses and cataloging information from the fish equipped with tags.

Hahn said information collected by survey teams will allow WDFW to make a population estimate, which will be compared to other estimates made by counting salmon spawning nests, known as redds. Crews count redds by helicopter and by floating the spawning grounds in rafts.

Between 5 and 10 percent of the fish caught also will be fitted with small radio transmitters that are inserted into the stomach. The transmitters, which have a thin, flexible antenna extending from the salmon’s mouth, send out a constant signal that WDFW crews can track as the fish move upstream to spawn.

“The radio transmitters will let us follow the movements of individual salmon, giving us a better understanding of where these fish go, where they hold before they spawn and what rivers and tributaries they end up in,” Hahn said.

Anglers who catch and keep a hatchery salmon fitted with a radio transmitter also are asked to contact Mizell.

Funding for the study is provided by the Pacific Salmon Commission. The commission oversees the Pacific Salmon Treaty, which defines how the U.S. and Canada conduct salmon fisheries.

46,500 Perch Netted At Eastern Oregon Lake

June 12, 2009

An Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife biologist and his crews netted 46,500 yellow perch out of Phillips Reservoir in Baker County earlier this spring, the Baker City Herald reports.

Tim Bailey, who is working on a new management plan for the lake, told county commissioners earlier this week that he would have caught more had temperatures not dropped during the project.

While some anglers want a trophy perch fishery, more want the reservoir managed for big trout, the paper reports.

As it was, netting also yielded “373 pikeminnow … 264 rainbows, 223 black crappie, 144 suckers and 30 bass,” all of which were put back in Phillips, according to the article.

The paper reports he’ll try and net the lake again next spring. Perch were illegally introduced here. Bailey’s plan will present future options for the lake. Those might include perch-eating tiger trout or tiger musky, but bureaucratic hurdles would have to be cleared for either hybrid species.

Entiat Opens June 12 For Kings

June 11, 2009

Salmon fishing will open on North-central Washington’s Entiat River tomorrow, June 12, WDFW announced this afternoon.

“It’s really cool, but there’s lots of private property,” says Don Talbot at Hooked on Toys (509-633-0740) down in Wenatchee. “It is another chance to catch more salmon.”

It’s also the second year in a row anglers have been allowed to target hatchery Chinook returning to the Chelan County stream.

Fishery managers expect some 2,000 fin-clipped springers back, along with around 150 wild Chinook.

Fishing will be open from the Highway 97 Bridge near the mouth of the Entiat River, upstream approximately 6 miles to 800 feet downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery fish ladder entrance.

With landowner permission, you can slink a drifter onto the river and fish its three or four good holes below the hatchery, Talbot says.

Otherwise try the “old swimming hole” at the mouth or the access on the road side of the river.

Because it’s a selective-gear fishery, bait is not allowed, so drift Corkies and yarn, or swing spoons or spinners — but make the hooks barbless

Season runs through June 30. Daily limit two salmon, minimum size 12 inches.

Chinook and steelhead with adipose fins must be released.

Steelhead Opens On Lower Columbia Tomorrow

June 11, 2009

Almost a month later than usual, steelheading will open on the Lower Columbia River starting tomorrow, June 12.

Washington and Oregon fishery managers met yesterday and made the call to open the river below I-5.

Sockeye and hatchery jack salmon will also be open.

The states had held back on opening the fishery on May 16 because of this year’s weaker than expected and late spring Chinook/Snake summer Chinook run. Earlier this week, the return forecast was upgraded to 165,000 from 160,000 and before that a range of 120,000 to 150,000; it was originally forecast at 298,900.

Good places to fish for steelhead include plunking Spin-N-Glos off the beaches at Kalama, St. Helens and Sauvie Island.

On the boat side, Buzz Ramsey will report in our July issue:

When tides ebb – allowing the Columbia to flow – guide Bill Miller anchors in water 15 to 17 feet deep where he plunks spinners or plugs.

When currents are fast running, he relies on small size spinners for success and says that brass finishes always seem to provide the most consistent action for his clients.

As the current slows, he switches to X4- or X5-size FlatFish. His best producing plug finishes include fluorescent red, orange with black spots, and metallic pink.

The Columbia from I-5 upstream to the Highway 395 bridge in Pasco will open June 16 for steelhead, sockeye and hatchery jacks as well.

Early numbers at Bonneville show the steelhead run is slightly behind the 10-year average. However, the  sockeye return so far, 4,283, is nearly twice the 10-year average.

Just under 136,000 adult springers and 76,290 jacks have been counted there as well. June 15 is the last official day that springers are counted at the dam.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

June 10, 2009

Shad, sturgeon, bass, crappie and clams are all on the bite in Oregon. Well, maybe not the clams, but they will “fish” well in the coming weeks thanks to low weekend tides, according to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Recreation Report, updated today. Here are highlights:

COLUMBIA RIVER

* Over half a million shad have passed Bonneville Dam and some anglers on the Columbia have been reporting 30 and 40 fish days. Bank anglers can use many of the same access points used for sturgeon fishing, including areas near Bonneville Dam and sandbar areas in the lower river. Boaters should look for water 15 feet and deeper – the most popular spots are near Bonneville Dam. See the Columbia River zone report for most recent catch information.

* Sturgeon catch rates are good in the Astoria area. (FROM WDFW: Charter boat anglers averaged nearly a legal kept per every other rod while private boat anglers averaged one per every 6.3 rods.  Bank anglers were also catching a few keepers.  Overall, just over a third of the fish caught were legal size. Effort continues to build with nearly 370 private and 19 charters counted during last Saturday’s (June 6) flight. )

COAST

* The next few weeks are great times to clam and tidepool on the coast. This week, a minus tide series continues through June 12 in the morning. A second minus-tide series starts June 19. Tide times can vary up to a couple of hours, depending where you are on the coast. Consult a tide table for the area where you will be.

* Wet, winding weather kept many anglers off the water last week, but those targeting Pacific halibut off the central coast did well. Garibaldi, Newport and Depoe Bay charter boats scored a perfect one halibut for each angler of the boats sampled. Fishers from Garibaldi to Charleston were not far behind with more than eight out of 10 taking a halibut home.

* Although fishing inside of 40 fathoms is still open, the last pre-set, all-depth opener of the spring season was June 6. Fishery managers will meet Friday to determine if there is sufficient quota remaining to have a backup all depth fishing on one or more days June 18-20.

* Fewer than half of the fishers going after lingcod were successful at landing one fish. Anglers scored better with rockfish, greenling and other species in the marine bag landing between two and three coast wide.

NORTHWEST ZONE

* Coffenbury, Lost Cape Meares, Hebo, and Town lakes are scheduled to be stocked with larger size trout the week of June 15. These fish should be about 1 pound each.

* Warmwater fish, particularly bass, should be getting very active as lakes have warmed with recent good weather. Cape Meares, Lytle, Cullaby, Sunset, Coffenbury and Vernonia lakes offer fair to good warmwater opportunities.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

* Spring chinook fishing is fair on the Clackamas River.

* Sheridan Pond will receive about 1,000 trout for a June 13 Youth Angling Event Sheridan sponsors each year. Hundreds of folks are expected to this popular event. 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.

* Fishing for bass and other warmwater species is picking up on the Willamette River and other locations throughout the region.

* Shad fishing is in full swing on the Willamette.

NORTHEAST ZONE

* Crappie and yellow perch fishing has been good on McKay Reservoir.

* Pendland Lake has been stocked with legal-sized trout. These, and the fingerlings planted last year, should offer some good fishing.

* Wallowa Lake continues to provide good fishing for rainbow trout and kokanee.

Second Sound King Plan Update Meeting Set

June 9, 2009

About two weeks ago, when Urban Phantom was still on the loose in Seattle, WDFW held the first of two meetings on revisions to the Puget Sound Chinook management plan.

The bear of an all-day meeting covered the whys and hows of the agency’s thinking on why they want to tweak some parts of the conservation plan for the Endangered Species Act-listed species.

WDFW will discuss it again this Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Mountaineers building, 7700 Sand Point Way NE in Seattle. The public workshop will feature a panel discussion among outside experts in fisheries, hatchery management, environmental issues and other disciplines, according to agency interim director Phil Anderson.

“During the June workshop we will focus on ideas for improving the management of our fisheries to better support efforts to conserve and recover Puget Sound chinook salmon,” he said in a press release. “This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in Puget Sound chinook management to offer their thoughts on possible updates to the plan.”

The current plan — set to expire next April — defines conservation goals for state and tribal fisheries that harvest Puget Sound Chinook salmon. Under ESA law, no fisheries affecting those stocks can occur without a conservation plan approved by NOAA Fisheries.

The current Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan is posted on WDFW’s web site at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/papers/ps_chinook_management/harvest/

Pikeminnow 101 Classes Scheduled; Derby Ahead

June 9, 2009

If you’ve never fished for pikeminnows, two how-to clinics will be held over the next week and a half. Attend either or both, then take your newfound knowledge on the road to clean up at an upper Columbia fishing derby!

The first clinic is slated for Thursday, June 11, at 5:30 p.m. at WDFW’s Vancouver office, 2108 Grand Blvd. Vancouver, WA 98661. Class will be instructed by WDFW’s Eric Winther.

The second will be held the following Thursday, June 18, at the Kennewick Sportsman’s Warehouse, 6603 W Canal Dr. Kennewick, WA 99336. It starts at 6 p.m. Class will be instructed by Tim Histand.

The East Wenatchee Rotary Club’s 17th annual pikeminnow derby runs from 6:00 p.m. June 19 to 11:30 a.m. June 21. Prizes include Mercury and Yamaha kicker engines, fishing gear, fishing boat, depth sounder as well as cash. For more, call Bob Feil Boats and Motors (509-884-3558).

Lake Of The 5 $1,000 Fish; River Of The 1,500 $500 Fish

June 9, 2009

Pikeminnow aren’t the only fish in the Northwest with a price tag on their head. Rainbows over 13 inches from Lake Pend Oreille are worth $15 apiece, and at least five trout in the big Panhandle pond are good for a quick grand.

It’s all part of an effort to bring back a trophy rainbow fishery as well as rejuvenate the kokanee population, the Spokesman-Review reports today.

The Spokane paper says that 100 ‘bows were recently implanted with micro-tags worth from $50 to $1,000.

They’re too small to be seen but can be detected with a scanner. To find out if they’ve caught a winner, anglers should submit the fish heads to IDFG’s angler incentive program.

Directions for how to do that and where you can turn in heads can be found on IDFG’s Web site.

Idaho has been running the ‘bow-bonking program since 2006. In the agency’s latest newsletter, they report:

In many ways, 2008 was the most encouraging year we’ve seen to date. Anglers removed just over 13,000 lake trout and nearly 4,700 rainbow trout. The commercial netters removed an additional 11,761 lake trout. Between the (angler incentive program) and the netters, nearly 25,000 lake trout were harvested from the lake in 2008, bringing the total since the effort began in 2006 up to 63,597!

Increasing numbers of lake trout led to a decline in kokanee numbers and an out-of-kilter ecosystem, according to IDFG. The Macks are also worth $15 apiece (with no minimum size), and IDFG has been collecting some very interesting data on how the species moves around the lake thanks to acoustic tags they’ve implanted in some fish. The agency took the information and mapped Mackinaw summer and spawning areas.

(IDFG)

(IDFG)

Meanwhile, well downstream of Lake Pend Oreille, the pikeminnow sport reward fishery has been perking along, and this year features more specially tagged fish than ever before plus a pair of clinics.

“We’ll probably get out over 1,500 tags; last year it was 1,100,” says Russell Porter of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission in Portland this afternoon. “They’re all worth $500, so there’s a lot of money out there.”

He says around 30 have been turned in over a month or so of fishing since season opened May 1. The tagged fish are throughout the lower Columbia and lower Snake rivers; he says he gets lots of calls for exact locations. He didn’t give us any specifics either.

In a typical year, 60 percent of the returned tags are from the current year, but 40 percent come from the previous one, so theoretically there are more out there worth $500, Porter notes. After two years, the tags fall out, but last year someone turned in one that had been inserted nine seasons back, he says.

The aim of the reward fishery is to reduce the number of large pikeminnow in the Columbia and Snake rivers, and improve salmon and steelhead smolt survival. Damming both rivers allowed these native predators to flourish.

If you’ve never fished for pikeminnows, two how-to clinics will be held over the next week and a half.

The first is slated for Thursday, June 11, at 5:30 p.m. at WDFW’s Vancouver office, 2108 Grand Blvd. Vancouver, WA 98661. Class will be instructed by WDFW’s Eric Winther.

The second will be held the following Thursday, June 18, at the Kennewick Sportsman’s Warehouse, 6603 W Canal Dr. Kennewick, WA 99336. It starts at 6 p.m. Class will be instructed by Tim Histand.

NWS Pens Spend Day On The Water

June 9, 2009

This little fish writer went to market (work with us here) and this little fish writer stayed home — and both brought home hauls of fresh-caught food.

While Northwest Sportsman’s Terry Otto made a run out to Depoe Bay for rockfish and surfperch yesterday, our Leroy Ledeboer stayed home and yarded in a fine catch of walleye.

“This morning the walleyes were in the shallow bay right below our house,” the Moses Lake-based scribe and former Alaskan guide reports. “Trolled red spinner-worm combos in 6- to 8-foot water. The two largest were 23 and 22 inches.”

LEROY LEDEBOER'S MOSES LAKE CATCH YESTERDAY INCLUDED 22- AND 23-INCH WALLEYE. (LOIS LEDEBOER)

LEROY LEDEBOER'S MOSES LAKE CATCH YESTERDAY INCLUDED 22- AND 23-INCH WALLEYE. (LOIS LEDEBOER)

Otto steamed out of his home back in the hills near Sandy, Ore., to fish with Loren Goddard of Dockside Charters — and then, since he was on the coast, hit the beach for one more species.

“We caught gobs of rockfish and a few lings. The ocean was flat and lovely. After that I toddled down to Gleneden Beach and talked to some surfperchers,” Otto reports. “They were nailin’ ’em, so even though I didn’t have any sand shrimp, the hot bait, I fished with a couple small chunks of black bass fillet and caught a couple perch myself. Best day I’ve had in a while.

“The best part of ocean fishing is you never know what’s going to come up out of the depths. We also saw a lot of salmon, including a small silver that was chasing my jig around. We saw a lot of baitfish too,” he says.

Coho opens June 20 out of Depoe Bay and Newport, detailed in our June issue.

“Everybody chomping at the bit to get on those salmon,” Otto reports.

He says Goddard’s new, 10-foot-wide ocean boat is a pretty stable ride.

Lawrence Serves Up Fish Fry Fodder, And How

June 8, 2009

“Mom’s gonna have a fish fry, and some of these bad boys are gonna feed whoever shows up.”

That’s the word from “Uncle Wes” Malmberg of Castle Rock, Wash., after a successful trip out onto Lawrence Lake, southeast of Olympia yesterday.

He and his brother Brett, fresh off a shift at the hay-bail-squishing mill in St. Helens, Ore., brought home a stringer of seven fat trout.

“Ten minutes out of the launch, we landed a 131/2-incher. Ten minutes after that, we had a 151/2-incher,” Wes says.

As usual, the woolly-faced anglers were dragging around size 6 brown and olive Woolly Buggers on a full-sinking fly line.

“Hey, if you’ve got something that works, ride it,” Wes says.

The biggest fish of the bunch, an 18-incher, bit an olive Bugger around 11, he notes.

“It came out of the water. It took line. It went under the boat and around the boat,” Wes says. “They were all that way.”

"UNCLE WES" WITH A BEEFY RAINBOW CAUGHT OUT OF WESTERN WASHINGTON'S LAWRENCE LAKE YESTERDAY. (BRETT MALMBER)

"UNCLE WES" MALMBERG WITH A BEEFY RAINBOW CAUGHT OUT OF WESTERN WASHINGTON'S LAWRENCE LAKE YESTERDAY. (BRETT MALMBERG)

A few other anglers were out as well. He suspects they caught a few on Wedding Rings.

Over 10,000 catchable 8- to 12-inchers have been planted at Lawrence this spring, as well as 343 11/2-pound triploids.

“Hercules gave it a 5 out of 5 doggie-treats rating — till 11:30” when the power boaters started ripping up the lake.

Malmberg’s Maltese fishing hound also didn’t like the rough launch.

To get here, take Highway 507 east from Centralia or south from Spanaway. A half mile south of the town of Rainier, take the Vail Cutoff Road 4.4 miles then go north .5 miles on Lindsey RD SE and south 1 mile on Pleasant Beach Road to the boat launch.

As a sidenote, Wes received an email from Owin Hays’ of the TV show Outdoor GPS on Comcast Sportsnet that a photo of trout he  sent from Pattison Lake would be shown on yesterday’s episode.

ODFW Sets Coastal River Seasons For Wild Coho, Chinook

June 8, 2009

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday, June 5, approved a wild coho salmon season for four coastal rivers this fall based on predictions of a large coho return to the coastal rivers and streams.

At the same time, the Commission adopted emergency regulations for the fall chinook salmon that close some rivers and reduce the harvest limits on many others. For the second year in a row biologists are predicting poor returns of fall chinook to Oregon’s coast.

Wild coho fisheries opening in September

Starting Sept. 1, anglers will be allowed to retain adult wild coho caught in the tidewaters of the Nehalem, Yaquina, Coos and Coquille rivers.

The new fishery is a culmination of good ocean conditions and strong conservation efforts that have improved salmon habitat over the past 15 years, according to Robert Buckman, ODFW district fish biologist.

Wild coho are still listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, but conditions have improved enough that biologists believe modest harvest by sport fisherman will not put the population at risk.

“We think this strategy is consistent with conservation and sustainability of wild coho,” Buckman said, noting that a similar approach to coho fishing at Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes has worked well since it began in 2003. “The biology is very convincing that projected harvest rates do not present any significant risks to these coho populations.”

Anglers may retain up to one wild adult coho and one jack coho (coho smaller than 16 inches) per day, with a maximum of five adults and five jacks for the season, which runs through Nov. 30 or until a harvest quota of 4,000 fish is achieved. Each river has its own quota, ranging from 500 to 1,500 fish, and will close if that number is reached. The harvest limit is 6 percent of the total number of coho biologists expect will return to the four rivers this fall.

Chinook anglers will face reduced bag limits

While returns of coho salmon appear strong, biologists are predicting weak returns of fall chinook to coastal rivers and streams. In response, the newly adopted regulations were crafted to try to maximize fishing opportunity while protecting weak stocks.

“During the public comment period we heard over and over that people wanted us to keep as many rivers open as possible, even if it meant reduced bag limits,” said Ron Boyce, ODFW ocean salmon/Columbia River program manager. “We’ve been able to keep a full salmon season in most areas but anglers will have to pay special attention to the bag limit for the river they’re fishing.”

The coastal fall chinook season begins Aug.1 and continues through the end of the year.

This year, ODFW biologists have set river-by-river daily and seasonal bag limits based on the relative strength of the predicted return to that river. Harvest limits range from one adipose fin-clipped adult chinook per day and two fish for the season on rivers with weak stocks, to two fish per day and 10 for the season on rivers with more robust populations.

In addition, there is a seasonal limit of 10 non fin-clipped chinook salmon for all waters (Northwest and Southwest coastal rivers and open ocean terminal areas at the Elk and Tillamook rivers).

Three fisheries, the Nehalem and Winchuck rivers and the Chetco terminal area, will be closed to the harvest of chinook salmon.

Rivers with a bag limit of one per day and two per season: Siletz, Yaquina, Yachats, Alsea, Floras, Sixes, Hunter Creek, Pistol and Chetco.

Rivers with a bag limit of one per day and five per season: Necanicum, Tillamook Basin, Tillamook ocean terminal area, Nestucca, Salmon, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Coquille, Elk River and Elk ocean terminal area.

Rivers with a bag limit of two per day and 10 per season: Coos and Rogue.