Archive for August, 2009

SW WA Fishing Report

August 31, 2009

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Boat anglers in the lower river are catching a mixture of coho and steelhead. Some fall Chinook are also being reported caught.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 208 summer-run steelhead adults, 66 fall Chinook adults, eleven jacks, 33 spring Chinook adults, four jacks, 66 spring Chinook mini-jacks, two coho adults, two jacks and five sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 22 spring Chinook adults, two jacks and one coho salmon into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek and 22 fall Chinook adults and three jacks into Mayfield Lake at the Ike Kinswa State Park boat launch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,500 cubic feet per second with a visibility of 13 feet on Monday, August 31. Flows are expected to remain steady during the week.

Kalama River – Bank anglers are catching a mixture of fall Chinook and coho.

North Fork Lewis River – Anglers are catching a mixture of coho and steelhead

Washougal River – Bank anglers are catching some fall Chinook.

Wind River – Bank and boat anglers are catching some steelhead.

Drano Lake – Boat anglers averaged just under a steelhead per rod. Some coho are beginning to appear in the catch.

White Salmon River – Has been crowded. Boat anglers are mainly catching steelhead while bank anglers are catching a mixture of fall Chinook, coho, and steelhead. Unfortunately, most of the coho were not adipose fin clipped and had to be released.

Several permanent rules will be in effect on Washington lower Columbia River tributaries beginning September 1. They include:

Grays (including West Fork) and Elochoman rivers – Night closures, anti-snagging rule, and stationary gear restrictions;

Lower portions of Abernathy, Coal (Cowlitz Co.), Mill (Cowlitz Co.), and Germany creeks plus the Coweeman River – Closed to all fishing in September and October to protect naturally spawning fall Chinook;

North Fork Toutle River from the confluence with the South Fork to the mouth of the Green River – Night closure and anti-snagging rule;

Green River (Cowlitz Co.)from mouth to 400’ below salmon hatchery rack – Night closure and anti-snagging rule. Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.

Green River (Cowlitz Co.)– Closed waters from 400’ below to 400’ above the water intake at the upper end of the hatchery;

Kalama River from natural gas pipeline crossing to the deadline at the intake to the lower salmon hatchery – Fly fishing only;

Washougal River from Mt. Norway Bridge upstream to Salmon Falls Bridge – Night closure, anti-snagging rule, and stationary gear restriction. When anti-snagging rule is in effect, only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained (note: these rules are already in effect from mt. Norway Bridge downstream).

Buoy 10 – On the better days, boat anglers averaged nearly a fish per rod. Starting tomorrow (Sept. 1), all Chinook must be released but up to 3 hatchery coho may be kept. Note: The North Jetty remains open to fishing under Buoy 10 rules.

There were about 950 boats counted during last Friday’s (August 28) flight.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 1,193 boat anglers (517 boats) with 251 adult and 14 jack Chinook, 6 adult coho, and 11 steelhead. In addition we sampled 658 bank anglers with 70 adult and 4 jack Chinook, 4 adult coho, and 31 steelhead.

Nearly 800 boats were counted during the Saturday August 29 flight.

Anglers are reminded effective September 13 all Chinook must be released from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to a line projected from the Warrior Rock Lighthouse through Red Buoy #4 to the orange marker atop the dolphin on the lower end of Bachelor Island. This area will remain open to fishing for hatchery coho, hatchery steelhead, and hatchery sea-run cutthroats.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers off the mouths of the White Salmon River and Drano Lake are catching some Chinook.

STURGEON
Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort continues to be very light during the current catch-and-release only fishery. Less than a dozen boats were counted during last Saturday’s flight.

WALLEYE
Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers continue to catch walleye around Camas/Washougal. About a dozen boats were counted from there to the gorge last Saturday.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

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WDFW Lifts Limits On Some Eastside Waters

August 31, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Catch and size limits have been lifted temporarily for fisheries in about two-dozen eastern Washington waters scheduled for rotenone treatments to improve future fishing.

Anglers will be allowed to take unlimited fish from the targeted waters before they are closed for rotenone treatment to eliminate undesirable fish species that compete with trout, according to Jim Uehara, a fisheries manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Rotenone, a naturally occurring substance derived from the roots of tropical plants, has been found in scientific studies to present no significant health risk to people, pets, livestock or wildlife. The lake rehabilitations are carried out under a permit from the state Department of Ecology.

Most of the waters scheduled for treatment this fall have overly abundant populations of carp, tench, goldfish, sunfish or other small species, and most will be re-stocked next year with rainbow and/or cutthroat trout. Cee Cee Ah Creek in Pend Oreille County will be treated to remove eastern brook trout populations, in an effort to restore native westslope cutthroat trout.

By county, rule changes and closure dates for waters scheduled for treatment are:

* Grant County: Desert Wildlife Area Lakes (Harris, Dune, Sedge, Tern and Desert Wildlife Area ponds); Beda and Brookies lakes – No size or catch limits through Sept. 13; closed to fishing Sept.14 until further notice; at Beda and Brookies lakes, selective gear rules are no longer in effect; fishing allowed from a floating device equipped with a motor.
* Lincoln County: Fishtrap Lake – No size or catch limits through Oct. 11; closed to fishing Oct. 12 until further notice.
* Okanogan County: Buck Lake – No size or catch limits through Oct. 25; closed to fishing Oct. 26 until further notice.
* Spokane County: Hog Canyon Lake and Creek – No size or catch limits until Oct. 11; closed to fishing Oct. 12 until further notice. West Medical Lake – No size or catch limits through Oct. 25; closed to fishing Oct. 26 until further notice.

Oregon Coho Limits Upped

August 31, 2009

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Anglers will be allowed to keep an extra fin-clipped coho salmon in several lower Columbia River tributaries, starting Sept. 1 under special rules adopted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The rules, prompted by an exceptionally large run of hatchery coho to Big Creek and Youngs Bay, give anglers the opportunity to retain up to three hatchery coho per day in open waters of Bear Creek, Big Creek, the Clatskanie River, Gnat Creek; the John Day River (Clatsop County), the Klaskanine River; the Lewis & Clark River, Youngs Bay, and Youngs River.

Effective Sept. 1, the daily bag limit in these areas is two adult adipose fin-clipped steelhead or adipose fin-clipped coho or chinook in combination, plus an additional fin-clipped coho, but only in waters that are currently open to coho angling by permanent rule (see 2009 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for open waters). In a bag limit of three fish, the third fish must be a fin-clipped coho.

“We have a near record-run of hatchery coho returning to the lower Columbia River system this year and want anglers to be able to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Chris Knutsen, ODFW fish biologist for the North Coast Watershed District. “Coho fishing has been exceptional and prospects for continued success are very good. Some of these streams are closed to angling during the month of September, so anglers need to check their regulation pamphlet. Coho fishing in October should be excellent.”

Under permanent rules anglers are already permitted to keep two fin-clipped adult salmon or steelhead in any combination on the Willamette River below Willamette Falls in Oregon City, on the Clackamas River (including Eagle Creek) and on the Sandy. Effective, Sept. 1, the new “bonus bag” rule allows them to retain a third fish, if it is a hatchery coho.

Today Is Last Day For Columbia Offshore Salmon

August 31, 2009

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Sport fishing for salmon in the ocean between Leadbetter Point, Wash., and Cape Falcon, Ore., will close Monday, Aug. 31, at 11:59 p.m.

“The Columbia River ocean area has be having a great fishing season,” said Eric Schindler, ocean salmon project leader for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Fishery managers estimate that catches will be close to the adjusted catch quota of 96,500 fin-clipped coho by early next week. Landings slowed last week and early this week with poor weather conditions, and allowed fishery managers to leave the season open through the weekend.”

The decision came after National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Fishery Management Council, the states of Washington and Oregon, and ocean fishers reviewed the catch statistics of the ocean recreational salmon fishery in the Columbia River Ocean Salmon Management Area at a meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The closure does not include the popular recreational fishery inside the Columbia River upstream of Buoy 10. Coho are returning in huge numbers to the Columbia River. Fishery managers are forecasting that 700,000 coho will return to the river this year, which would be the largest return since 2001.

Sport fishing for fin-clipped coho continues in the ocean from Cape Falcon south to Humbug Mountain (near Port Orford) is expected to continue through Sept 30.

Lower Snake Opens For Kings Tomorrow

August 31, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Two sections of the lower Snake River in southeast Washington will open for fall chinook salmon fishing Sept. 1 with some changes from last year’s season, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

A good return of upriver bright chinook this year will allow the department to open the fishery on marked, hatchery-reared fish, said Glen Mendel, district fish biologist for WDFW.

The hatchery chinook fishery, which is not listed in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington sportfishing rules pamphlet, is scheduled to remain open through Oct. 15, but could close earlier if the allowable incidental impact to wild chinook is reached. The fishery is allowed under a federal permit that prescribes strict limits on the incidental catch of wild salmon protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Anglers can expect some changes from last year’s fishery, which was the first Snake River fall chinook fishery in nearly 30 years, Mendel said. Those changes include expanding the open area and new regulations.

The hatchery chinook fishery will be open from the Highway 12 Bridge (near the mouth of the Snake River) upstream to the no-fishing zone below Ice Harbor Dam, and from the Highway 261 Bridge crossing on the Snake River (approximately one half mile upstream from Lyons Ferry Hatchery) upstream to the no-fishing zone below Little Goose Dam.

In most of the open area, the daily catch limit will be two hatchery adult chinook (24 inches or greater), and four chinook jacks (less than 24 inches) either wild or hatchery-marked. Hatchery fish can be identified by a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar.

One exception is along the “wall” and walkway area upstream from the juvenile fish bypass return pipe (below Little Goose Dam), where the daily limit will be one hatchery adult chinook and up to two chinook jacks, Mendel said.

“Anglers must stop fishing for salmon once they retain the daily limit of adult hatchery salmon,” he said.

In addition, a night closure will be in effect for all species within the boundaries of the fishery, including steelhead. Retention of steelhead is traditionally allowed beginning Sept. 1.

Coho salmon, adult wild chinook and wild steelhead must be immediately released unharmed. Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for chinook or steelhead in the Snake River. No chinook or steelhead can be removed from the water unless the fish is retained as part of the daily catch limit.

Other fishing rules on the Snake River can be found in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet, available at license dealers and WDFW offices or at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm . Descriptions of fish species also can be found in the sportfishing rules pamphlet.

“It’s important for anglers to be able to identify their catch because wild chinook salmon, coho salmon and wild steelhead are in the Snake River during this fishery,” Mendel said.

New WDFW Honcho To Be Named In Sept.

August 21, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission members plan to select a permanent director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) during a public meeting Sept. 11-12 in Olympia, after selecting two finalists yesterday.

The finalists’ references and backgrounds will be checked over the next couple of weeks, according to Commission Chair Miranda Wecker. The commission is a nine-member citizen panel, appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW and select WDFW’s director.

The commission interviewed six applicants for the director’s position before selecting the two finalists. The department’s former director, Jeff Koenings, resigned last December after serving for a decade. Since then, Phil Anderson has served as interim director.

Minutes and audio transcripts of commission meetings are available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2009/ .

Volunteers Needed For Nehalem Basin Salmon Work

August 21, 2009

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will host a public meeting on Thursday, Sept. 10 in Manzanita to highlight volunteer opportunities in the Nehalem Basin.

The meeting will be from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Pine Grove Community Center at 225 Laneda Ave., Manzanita. ODFW biologists will outline several volunteer opportunities available through the Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program (STEP), including habitat restoration, conducting surveys and fish propagation.

“The STEP program is a chance for the public to become more involved in improving fish populations and habitat in the Nehalem Basin,” said Chris Knutsen, ODFW fish biologist. “We really want to talk to folks who are interested in enhancing fish runs and fisheries in the Basin, and have time or ideas to contribute.”

Recognizing that volunteers could play in important role in the restoration of native stocks of trout and salmon, the Oregon Legislature created the Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program in 1981. Since then volunteers have donated thousands of hours to habitat restoration, collecting survey data, conducting educational programs and rearing millions of salmon and trout eggs.

For more information about STEP and the upcoming public meeting, contact Chris Knutsen at (503) 842-2741.

2008 Deer Harvest Lowest In 10 Years

August 21, 2009

Washington’s buck harvest dropped last year relative to 2007’s general seasons and was among the lowest of the last 10 years, new figures from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife show.

According to their 2008 game harvest report, 31,581 deer were taken by 138,137 riflemen, archers and muzzleloaders last year, including 25,980 bucks and 5,601 antlerless animals, for a 22.9 percent success rate.

That’s off by over 1,465 bucks — though the antlerless harvest grew by around 50 — and down nearly 1 percent of success rate from the previous fall.

It’s also the lowest antlered take since 1998’s 23,672, which followed the bitter winter of 1996-97. That year, 1998, also saw the lowest all-deer take of the last decade, 27,407.

While over 2,000 fewer hunters purchased a deer tag in 2007, 1,000 less actually took to the field in 2008. By comparison, last year still saw 4,000 more hunters than 1997, the lowest year stats were immediately available for, but 14,000-plus fewer than 1999.

Rifle hunters saw the biggest misfire in 2008. We shot 1,831 fewer deer, including 1,629 fewer bucks. A total of 22,003 bucks were taken last season.

Best all-weapons harvest since 1997 was 2004, when 33,656 bucks and 39,359 deer died.

Flash: Rumor Schumor, B10 Staying Open

August 21, 2009

Quick news from Washington and Oregon fisheries managers: Buoy 10 will “continue as planned.”

That means, unless there’s a whopper catch, Chinook will remain open through August and coho will switch to 3-fish limits starting Sept. 1.

Through August 19, they say that anglers have caught 3,200 Chinook and 9,200 coho on a guideline of 10,700 kings and a quota of 119,100 coho.

It’s unclear where the closure rumors originated, but possibly confusion with the offshore Columbia River Zone coho catch that has ramped up quickly in August.

Also in the news: Following last week’s huge steelhead numbers at Bonneville, managers upped the A-run forecast by nearly 150,000 fish to 425,000.

That plus more than 50,000 B-runs means that Eastern Washington and Oregon as well as Idaho will see almost 500,000 steelhead this summer, fall and next winter.

So far, over 375,000 have gone over Bonneville, say managers.

“Only two yearly summer steelhead counts at the dam have surpassed 400,000 – the record total of 630,200 in 2001 and a follow-up run of 478,000 in 2002,” reports The Columbia Basin Bulletin this afternoon.

Bass, Bluegills, ‘Bows Biting At Potholes

August 21, 2009

The photos say it all. Just about every species at Potholes Reservoir in Washington’s Columbia Basin are biting.

ALLISON BAILEY OF PUYALLUP, WASH., SHOWS OFF A MAR DON DOCK BLUEGILL, CAUGHT ON RED WORMS. (MAR DON RESORT)

ALLISON BAILEY OF PUYALLUP, WASH., SHOWS OFF A MAR DON DOCK BLUEGILL, CAUGHT ON RED WORMS. (MAR DON RESORT)

Bluegills? Did ya see the pic above?!

Trout? Yessir.

Smallmouth? Did ya see the pic below?!

NIC AND MILLIE NICHOLS' SECRET SPOT GAVE UP SMALLIES TO 4 POUNDS, 10 OUNCES ON A NORTHLAND JIG TIPPED WITH A WORM. (MAR DON RESORT)

NIC AND MILLIE NICHOLS' SECRET SPOT GAVE UP SMALLIES TO 4 POUNDS, 10 OUNCES ON A NORTHLAND JIG TIPPED WITH A WORM. (MAR DON RESORT)

Crappie? Uh-huh.

Walleye? Yup.

Perch? Of course.

Catfish? Come on, need you even ask?!?! Of course they are.

So shows Mar Don Resort’s most recent fishing newsletter, a document chock-full of fish pics and tips on how anglers from around Washington have been nailing all those species from the resort’s own dock to Medicare Beach to the face of the dam to Goose Island to … well, you get the idea.

“Our water level on Potholes Reservoir is 1030.3. As the water continues to drop fish become more available on the face of O’Sullivan Dam, the Points, the face of the Sand Dunes, the Lind Coulee and especially the MarDon Fishing Dock,” reports Mike Meseberg.

For more, call (509) 346-2651.

Hell In A Livewell

August 21, 2009

Just when things were beginning to look up for largemouth and largie lovers at Lost Creek Lake, someone complicated it by illegally stocking yet another bass species in the upper Rogue River reservoir.

I’ve been following Mark Freeman’s reports on the struggles to bring back the fishery at the lake north of Medford. It yielded the Beaver State’s one-time record, an 11-pounder, when it was a true bucketmouth lake. But then somebody dumped in smallmouth bass in the 1980s and the fishery went downhill — at least for largemouth.

There have been signs of a comeback, we report in our September issue, which discusses the problems of bucket biology throughout the Northwest. Anglers have been planting willows for cover, 2,000 largemouth fry were transplanted here from elsewhere this past spring and it appeared the smallmouth population had stabilized.

But yesterday, Freeman, of the Mail Tribune, reported that Lost Creek now has a whole ‘nuther bass species in it: spots.

At least three small ones have been caught since 2006. The speculation is that someone drove them up I-5 from California’s Lake Shasta, a well-known spotted bass lake.

“It’s really a shame,” ODFW biologist Dan VanDyke in Central Point told Freeman. “It’s an illegally introduced species, and we find it completely unacceptable.”

Unacceptable it may be, but VanDyke suspects there’s now a reproducing population. It’s unclear how or if spots will affect the lake; the biologist says the bass will never do well in the lake due to colder winters.

But thought doesn’t seem to be a big thing among bucket biologists, a group one former Washington trout manager disparages as “bassholes.”

They sprinkle non-native “Frankenstein fish” here and there  — but also rainbows and cutt-bows in at least one case that contributed to the collapse of a grayling population in Northwest Montana.

Jim Vashro is a fisheries manager there. He has records of 500 illegal plants in the Treasure State and needs to enter 50 more into his database. Of 66 perch plants, almost every single one has seriously compromised the existing fishery (Lake Mary Ronan’s kokanee population declined 75 percent and perch made up 80 percent of its biomass) and results in stunted perch or bluegill or whatever is introduced.

“What makes bluegill fans think the outcome will be any better or different this time?” Vashro told my reporter Jerry Smalley on an illegal reintroduction at Carpenter Lake, formerly a top trout lake, after treatment. How’d that turn out? Writes Smalley, “Trout fishing is plummeting. Bluegills are the size of quarters.”

Bob Jateff, in North-central Washington, rotenoned one lake, stocked it with fingerling trout and the next spring found that someone had dumped in perch as well.

“As a biologist, it’s frustrating,” he told me. “You know what a lake can do. Spectacle has all the attributes of a wonderful trout lake – depth, access, lots of good bank fishing room.”

And yet he figures he’ll now have to spend another $50,000 in a few years to clean the lake.

That’s nothing compared to the $5 million to eradicate tui chub, introduced likely as baitfish, in Oregon’s Diamond Lake, or the $33 million spent so far to kill off pike that somehow got into California’s Davis Lake.

Then there are endangered species ramifications. Jeff Ziller, a biologist in Springfield, Ore., now has walleye – and walleye anglers – at Lookout Point Reservoir, in the upper Willamette River. He’s trying to recover threatened spring Chinook, bull trout and bite-sized Oregon chub there, but he can’t drain or rotenone the reservoir — it’s too big, plus there are those listed species.

But the Beaver State isn’t exactly sitting still anymore. One hundred and twenty river miles downstream from Lookout, Gov. Kulongoski signed a bill earlier this summer that made the maximum fine for illegally moving live fish $125,000 and/or a five-year jail sentence.

(“Cool,” said Vashro, when I told him that.)

That actually trumps the max Federal penalty for illegally shooting a wolf, plus ODFW can sue to recover the cost of rotenoning.

British Columbia attacks it from another angle: In one case where perch were illegally planted in eight lakes, the province closed fishing on all of ’em “because it removes the incentive for people to illegally move fish.”

This is not to vilify perch or walleye or bass. I enjoy fishing for them – as well as other nonnative fish – and I think they all have their places in managed fisheries. I also think that more education needs to be done on the damage and expenses wrought by bucket biology.

But I think that if Oregon’s serious about stopping bucket biology, they need to mimic what the judge did earlier this summer to that woman in the Yachats Valley who fed all those bears in her backyard. They need to crucify someone who tries to sneak Species X – whatever it might be, trout, carp, goldfish – somewhere that species ain’t supposed to be.

Maybe then people will start to get the message to leave fish management to the folks we pay to do it.

Name That Plug Contest Narrowed To Two Names

August 20, 2009

A name-that-deep-diving plug contest posted on Ifish.net has come down to the championship round.

Yakima Bait’s M2-SP FlatFish will either be known as the Eradicator or the Mag Lip, according to an email from company’s Buzz Ramsey.

M2-SP

Those are just two of the hundreds of names submitted for the contest Ramsey and Ifish’s Jennie Logsdon launched in late July. The original thread had over 550 posts and nearly 7,750 views.

The winning name will either net a poster known as Pickles or Waterbobber $200 in Yakima Bait gear.

In early voting, Mag Lip had a two-vote lead over Eradicator, 9-7.

Polls are open through midnight August 27.

Pink Run 2009 ‘Getting Hot’

August 20, 2009

“The big pink run of 2009 is getting hot!”

That’s Chester Allen’s report after a good morning yesterday at Dash Point on Puget Sound down near Tacoma. He got into some of the 688,000 humpies headed for the Puyallup River this summer and fall.

“Huge schools of pinks were breezing along just a short cast from the beach during the early part of the incoming tide,” he says. “Anglers spotted half-mile-long schools of pink salmon between Redondo and Dash Point.”

DASH POINT PIER PINK FOR CHESTER ALLEN. (CHESTER ALLEN)

DASH POINT PIER PINK FOR CHESTER ALLEN. (CHESTER ALLEN)

Fishing was good for everyone at Dash, not just fly guys like Allen, who also writes for the Tacoma News Tribune, “but fly anglers fishing lightly weighted pink flies — such as a hot pink, no-hackle Woolly Bugger — were hooking up on almost every cast, as the fish sometimes prefer whacking something near the surface. Buzz Bombers were catching fish, but not at the rate of fly anglers.”

With the peak of the run possibly occurring right now, you’ll want to get to Dash Point Park early to find a parking spot, but Allen says nearby Dash Point State Park can provide good fishing too.

Early is also among the best times to fish, but late’s OK too, he says.

“Fly anglers should have a floating or clear intermediate line in sizes 6 through 8. I use a heavy leader with an OX tippet — about 14 pound test — as these fish are not leader shy, and I like to get them in fast. I release most of my fish, but I do have three on the smoker right now,” Allen writes.

If you’re fishing from a boat, check out Terry Wiest’s advice, from our July issue:

Downrigging is going to be the most effective method. We use three Scotty 106 downriggers off my boat, running them at 25 and 50 feet for two anglers, 25, 40 and 55 feet for three anglers, and 25, 35, 45 and 60 feet with four.Once we find the depth they are biting at, we adjust all the lines to that depth.

When trolling, your speed, or lack thereof, is crucial. If you think you’re going slow enough, slow down some more. Troll with the tide. If you have enough room and there are no boats next to you, zigzag with the tide. In general, as you switch directions, your line will slow down, many times enticing a strike. If you’ve done the Lake Washington sockeye fishery, that’s the slow I’m talking about. You want your presentation to SLOWLY sway back and forth.

SPEAKING OF PRESENTATIONS, think, well, PINK! It may sound corny, but I swear these salmon will hit anything pink.
The ULTIMATE pink-catching combination is the Silver Horde Pink Katcher Kit! You cannot go wrong with this pre-tied setup.

(TERRY WIEST/STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

(TERRY WIEST/STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

It consists of a white 8-inch flasher, 16 inches of leader and a hot-pink hoochie. Put this combo 15 feet behind the downrigger ball and it should be fish on!

During our last pink year, 2007, I experimented a bit, substituting a Silver Horde Ace Hi Fly for the hoochie, and had tremendous success. This year the Lynnwood, Wash.-based company came out with the Pink Jr. Fly, and it should be phenomenal; I guarantee it’ll be on my line.
If fishing below 60 feet, remember that red, or pink, is the first color to disappear from the color spectrum beneath the surface. For that reason, pink isn’t as important, but it is important for the fish to see the bait. Switch to a UV or glow hoochie or an Ace Hi.

If you’d rather use an 11-inch flasher or dodger, that’s fine, but still troll slowly enough so that it “dodges” rather than turns over. Also, because of the larger flasher or dodger, even going this slow will have a little more action, so increase your leader to 18 to 20 inches.

If you’d rather not use a dodger or a flasher, that’s fine too. Put on a Silver Horde UV Kingfisher spoon.

(TERRY WIEST/STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

(TERRY WIEST/STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

With all of your presentations, use scent. Shrimp Smelly Jelly or Special Mix works great.
Diehard bait fisherman? No problem, dye your herring pink. Use the brine mix on Salmonuniversity.com, but instead of using the bluing, add Brite Pink Fluorescent Bad Azz dye.

PINKS WILL MAINLY RUN 3 to 5 pounds with the occasional 8- to 10-pounder. The state saltwater record is a little over 11½ pounds while the biggest freshwater fish was 2007’s 15.4-pounder.

That said, you don’t need to use normal salmon gear. Light tackle makes a world of difference when it comes to having fun, and these fish will provide it. A 6- to 10-pound rated steelhead rod is just plain old fun when you hook up.

Not a downrigger fan? No problem here either. In fact, a way to have an absolute blast with these fish is to cast Buzz Bombs. Remember, these fish are generally in the top 60 feet of the water column. Early mornings they’re not hard to find on your fish finder. Shut off the motor and cast just “past” the school if you can. Let the lure flutter down. If you don’t get a strike as it falls, start retrieving once it has fallen 30 to 60 feet (at the rate of about 1 foot per second). When retrieving, use a “twitching” motion and reel in the slack as it’s falling. As Tom Nelson from Salmon University can attest, you’ll receive some vicious strikes using this method.

What color Bomb? You know.

Now here’s a method that you won’t see many using on the salt, but take my word, it will flat-out catch fish – a No. 1 pink or 50/50 Dick Nite spoon weighted under a float!

Yep, the same lure that’s caught thousands upon thousands of pinks in the rivers works in the salt too.

(TERRY WIEST/STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

(TERRY WIEST/STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

Because these are such light spoons, you do need to have some weight before your leader and you also need to target the shallows, usually in lagoons or near beaches that are only 10 to 20 feet deep. This method is an absolute killer just north of Browns Point at the mouth of Commencement Bay. To hook it up, use a float (dink float works just fine), then 4 feet to a ¼-ounce weight, then another 4 feet to your spoon. Cast it out and let it drift with the tide. Just like we want our presentation from a downrigger to sway back and forth, so too do we want the spoon to just flutter and not turn over.

This is VERY effective when you see pinks moving through in schools. If you can’t see them in the shallows, try the aforementioned tactics. To see them effectively make sure you’re wearing good quality polarized sunglasses, like those from Ocean Waves.

ONCE YOU GET A PINK in the boat, it’s extremely important to bleed the fish immediately. Cut both gills and let them bleed out. After only a few minutes, clean the fish and put them on ice! Failure to bleed and clean fast will result in poor quality fish. But when done immediately, you’ll have some excellent table fare, especially for the BBQ or smoker.

Eastern Washington Hunting Prospects, News

August 20, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Sept. 1 is the opening of mourning dove and forest grouse hunting statewide. The south central region usually produces the second largest harvest of doves in the state (second only to the Columbia Basin). Most dove hunting is in Yakima County’s mix of farmlands and waterways where conditions usually hold the birds longer than other parts of the state.

Jeff Bernatowicz, WDFW district wildlife biologist, reports dove trapping efforts this year indicate numbers are up from 2008 and near 2006 and 2007 levels.

“Even with good numbers of birds in August, hunting success will depend on the weather pattern.” Bernatowicz said. “Warm weather is needed to keep the birds in the area.”

Bernatowicz also said initial reports indicate a much better year than 2008 for forest grouse populations, with the higher numbers in Kittitas County.

Rich Finger, WDFW district wildlife biologist from Moses Lake, predicts dove hunting ther will be similar to past years.

“Dove hunters may improve their success by securing access to wheat fields for a morning hunt,” Finger said. “Evening hunts can be lucrative in wheat fields or in traditional roosting areas. Look for large stands of trees, preferably with dead limbs, adjacent to water and surrounded by agriculture for best roost hunt results.”

Jeff Heinlen, WDFW wildlife biologist from Tonasket, predicts a below-average year for dove hunting in the Okanogan district because this year’s dove call count surveys show populations below the five-year average.

Heinlen expects forest grouse hunting to be better than last year throughout the Okanogan district. “We have blue, spruce, and ruffed grouse in the district,” Heinlen said. “Blue and spruce grouse populations are still down from past years due to the loss of habitat from the 175,000-acre Tripod wildfire in 2006, which affected game management unit 224 and the east side of unit 218. But a mild winter and favorable spring weather conditions throughout the district appear to have increased reproductive success in all forest grouse species this year.”

Heinlen reminds grouse hunters that sharp-tailed grouse, which are also located throughout the district, are not open to hunting. Check out game bird identification pictures on pages 37-39 in the Waterfowl and Upland Game Season pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm

Black bear hunting season is in full swing in the north end of the region and Scott Fitkin, WDFW Okanogan district wildlife biologist, says bears are well distributed.

“We have an excellent berry crop this year pretty much throughout the district and bears are in berry patches now.” Fitkin said. “Chokecherries are peaking at middle and lower elevations.  Huckleberries are plentiful currently at middle elevations, particularly east of the Cascade Crest. Berry crops nearer the crest at upper elevations are yet to ripen.”

Fitkin reminds bear hunters to be alert and aware of the heavy, non-hunting recreational traffic in the woods right now. “Hikers, mountain-bikers, wood-gatherers, berry-pickers, and campers are out and about in this beautiful late summer weather,” he said.

OTHER NEWS

SCOUT NOW FOR BUCKS Woody Myers, WDFW ungulate research biologist, says this is a good time to watch for white-tailed and mule deer .

“Bucks are usually very visible this time of year, early in the morning or late in the evening feeding in alfalfa or hay fields or other areas, both singly or in bachelor groups,” Myers said. “By the end of the month or early September, bucks begin to become less visible, more secretive, and less tolerant of other bucks as testosterone levels begin to increase and velvet is removed from their antlers. Doe-fawn groups are also more visible at this time of year, but remain so well into September.”

BERRY-PATCH BEARS Dana Base, WDFW northeast district wildlife biologist from Colville, says it’s black bear watching time because it’s also huckleberry picking time in the mountains. The north end of the region has one of the highest densities of bears in the state and many of them are feeding on huckleberries and other fruit-producing shrubs like wild plum, hawthorn, mountain ash, and chokecherry. For safe and enjoyable bear watching, Base advises letting the bears have the berry patch, giving them plenty of space, and using binoculars for close-up views. Base also notes that grizzly bear sightings have been increasing this summer in the northeast district, especially in the Selkirk Mountains in Pend Oreille County.

NO SEPTEMBER GOOSE SEASON Waterfowl hunters are reminded there is no two-day early September Canada goose season this year in eastern Washington, due to declines in resident goose production. That change was made by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in April. This month the commission shifted those two days to the October-January season when migrant geese are present in the state.

WOOTEN CAMPFIRE BAN LIFTED Hunters scouting for upcoming seasons who like to camp on WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County will be glad to know the campfire ban is lifted. Area Manager Kari Dingman says that with recent rains, the wildfire danger is lower and campfires are again allowed in WDFW campgrounds.

QUINCY LAKES WA ACCESS CLOSED The south entrance gate of the Quincy Lakes unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in Grant County will close indefinitely beginning Aug. 24 in response to gang-related graffiti tagging, garbage dumping and destruction of public property, including toilets, concrete walkways, parking areas and signs. The north entrance will remain open.

Closing one gate is expected to reduce unpermitted through-traffic on the north-south road through the unit. That road is traditionally closed to motor vehicles Oct. 1 through Feb. 28 during hunting season. Foot traffic is allowed year-round. Wildlife area users are encouraged to report vandalism and any other illegal activity to local law enforcement.

SOUTH-CENTRAL GREEN DOT ACCESS MEETING Hunters may be interested in public meetings coming up to discuss updates to “green dot” road management programs on WDFW’s Wenas, Skookumchuck, and Colockum wildlife areas. The evening meetings will be conducted on Aug. 25 in Ellensburg at the Hal Holmes Center and Aug. 26 in Selah at the Civic Center; watch for more details coming out soon.

CWD SAMPLES, PLEASE Kristin Mansfield, WDFW veterinarian, asks hunters who harvest a deer anywhere east of the Columbia River to arrange for tissue sample removal from the carcass to test for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Mansfield says the information gained will help better manage Washington’s deer and elk populations, which so far do not have CWD. Hunters can call (509) 989-6224 to make arrangements. For more information about CWD see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/cwd/ .

What’s Fishin’ In Washington

August 20, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Salmon fishing is going strong off the coast, bright coho are moving into the Columbia River behind hefty chinook, and pink salmon are striking lures throughout Puget Sound.

Those are just a few of the attractions awaiting anglers in the days leading up to the Labor Day weekend. Meanwhile, bowhunters are preparing for the deer and elk archery seasons that start in early September, when hunting seasons for upland birds also get under way in western Washington.

Salmon anglers fishing near Ilwaco and Westport continue to enjoy a “phenomenal” season, said Wendy Beeghley, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).  “This is one of the most successful fishing seasons I can remember,” she said. “We’ve had good weather, great turnouts and some of the best catch rates we’ve seen in years.”

Catch rates are also picking up fast on the lower Columbia River, where a strong run of coho salmon is now moving into the river behind an initial surge of chinook and a record-breaking wave of summer steelhead.  Pink salmon rule from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to southern Puget Sound, but coho are expected to make up an increasing share of the catch by the time Labor Day arrives.

Anglers should be aware that fishing rules change Sept. 1 on a number of waters around the state.  For details, see the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm on the WDFW website.

Recreational crabbers are also advised that the summer Dungeness crab fishery will close for a catch assessment in several areas of Puget Sound after the Labor Day weekend.  Six areas will close Sept. 7 one hour after sunset, including marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point). 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon). Crabbing will be open over Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-7.

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Sept. 15 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online.

For more information about fishing, hunting and wildlife-viewing opportunities available around the state, see the regional reports below:

North Puget Sound

Fishing: A big run of pink salmon continues to push its way into the region, and anglers are out on Puget Sound in large numbers trying to reel them in. “It’s certainly not lights out fishing, like in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but it’s been pretty good in a few areas,” said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. “It seems on some days its red hot for pink salmon, and on other days it’s only lukewarm.”

Anglers fishing the southern portion of the region – marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) – have had more success hooking pink salmon than those fishing elsewhere, Thiesfeld said.

Those fishing marine areas 9 and 10 have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, but must release wild chinook and chum salmon. Beginning Sept. 1, anglers will be required to release all chinook in both marine areas.

“Fishing in marine areas 9 and 10 has been a little more consistent in terms of catch rates,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll see the pink run pick up steam and fishing in other parts of the region improve in the coming weeks.”

At “Humpy Hollow ,” a portion of Puget Sound stretching from Shipwreck north to Mukilteo, fishing has been hit and miss, Thiesfeld said. Anglers fishing Humpy Hollow, or other waters of Marine Area 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), have a two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon. All chinook salmon must released. The regulations are the same for neighboring Marine Area 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay).

Thiesfeld said beach anglers on Whidbey Island also can find plenty of action for pink salmon – and the occasional coho salmon – at Bush Point, Fort Casey and Lagoon Point.

Another option is Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), where anglers have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, but can only keep one chinook. Anglers in Marine Area 7 must release wild coho and chum.

Meanwhile, crabbing is still open in the region. The crab fishery runs through Sept. 7 in marine areas 8-1, 8-2, 9, and 10. However, the fishery will remain open through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 7. Crabbing is open in all areas on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW’s sport-crabbing website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/ ) for more information.

It’s still early, but pink salmon also are starting to show up in the rivers. There have been a few reports of anglers having success fishing for pink salmon on the Snohomish River. Portions of the Skagit and Skykomish rivers also are currently open for salmon, while a portion of the Green River opens Aug. 22.

Freshwater salmon fishing opportunities will increase Sept. 1, when the Stillaguamish River opens and anglers can fish additional stretches of the Skykomish and Green rivers. Thiesfeld reminds anglers that there are special gear restrictions for the Green River. Anglers can check the rules and regulations for the Green – as well as all other fisheries – on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Fishing: It’s a banner year for salmon anglers as the coho-fest continues on the coast. Meanwhile, anglers can try for pink salmon in Puget Sound or take advantage of two-pole fishing in most area lakes. A few more weeks remain to catch crab throughout the region.

Salmon anglers fishing near Ilwaco and Westport continue to enjoy a “phenomenal” season, said Wendy Beeghley, WDFW fish biologist. “This is one of the most successful fishing seasons I can remember,” Beeghley said. “We’ve had good weather, great turnouts and some of the best catch rates we’ve seen in years.”

Anglers have been equally successful at La Push and Neah Bay, said Scott Barbour, WDFW fish biologist for the north coast. “The fish are everywhere and folks are having a good time catching them,” Barbour said.

All coastal areas are open seven days a week, including llwaco and Westport (marine areas 1 and 2), and La Push and Neah Bay (marine areas 3 and 4).

Wild coho must be released in all marine areas. Barbour advises anglers to check the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm for specific retention rules, limits and boundary guidelines.

If tuna strikes your fancy, the fishing’s been good in recent weeks, especially off Ilwaco, Beeghley said. “August is the best month for catching tuna as long as people can get out deep enough and the weather cooperates.” Tuna season is open year-round with no daily limit.

Anglers are required to release all chinook salmon in marine areas 5 and 6 (Sekiu and the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), but both areas remain open for retention of hatchery coho , pink and sockeye salmon . Creel checks conducted near Sekiu during the Aug. 15-16 weekend showed 892 anglers catching 723 pink salmon and 462 coho. These areas are open seven days a week, with a two-fish daily limit. Anglers may also add two bonus pink salmon to their daily catch. All chum, chinook and wild coho must be released.

Meanwhile, it was all about pink salmon in Marine Area 11 (Tacoma/Vashon), where clear skies and warm weather greeted anglers during the Aug. 15-16 weekend. A creel check conducted near Point Defiance showed 585 anglers with 271 pink salmon, but few chinook or coho.

“It’s a pink show right now in Puget Sound, but as August draws to a close, anglers should start targeting coho,” said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. “We’ve had one of the best summers for coho at Sekiu since 2004, and hopefully that’s a good indicator for September coho fishing in northern Hood Canal and the Sound,” Thiesfeld said.

The salmon fishery in Marine Area 11 runs seven days a week, with a two-fish daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon. The minimum size for chinook is 22 inches with no minimum limit for other species. All wild chinook must be released.

Salmon fishing opens Sept. 1 north of Ayock Point in Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), where the daily limit is four coho only. All other salmon species must be released. The same rules apply to Dabob and Quilcene bays, which opened for salmon fishing Aug. 16.

In southern Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), where the chinook fishery is under way, a recent creel check at the Hoodsport Marina showed an average catch rate of one chinook for every three rods. Up to two chinook may be retained as part of the four-fish daily limit. All chum salmon must be released.

For those interested in winning a boat, some cash or just getting out on the water, two derbies in the Northwest Salmon Derby Series are coming up in the region. The Sinclair Inlet Salmon Derby, held near Bremerton on the Kitsap Peninsula, is scheduled Aug. 22-23. Contact Gramdiok@msn.com for more information. Anglers traveling to the coast can participate in the Tokeland Marina, Willapa Bay Salmon Derby, which will be held Sept. 5. For more information, contact VickieWilburn@comcast.net . Participants in both derbies will be entered in a raffle for a 20-foot Stabi-Craft fishing boat, motor and trailer. For more information, visit http://www.discovernorthwestfishing.com .

Several rivers around the region open to salmon fishing Sept. 1, including the Carbon River in Pierce County; Copalis River, Van Winkle Creek and Joe Creek in Grays Harbor County; the Bear and Niawiakum rivers in Pacific County; and Clearwater River in Jefferson County. The Puyallup River opened Aug. 16.

Also beginning Sept. 1, anglers fishing in the Quillayute system – which includes the Bogachiel, Sol Duc, Calawah and Dickey rivers – can keep two adult salmon, plus two additional adult hatchery coho as part of the six-fish daily limit.

On the Hoh River, anglers will be able to fish for salmon seven days a week as of Sept. 1 and keep up to two adult fish as part of their six-fish daily limit.

Before heading out, anglers are advised to check the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm for specific regulations.

Recreational crabbers should be aware that the summer Dungeness crab fishery will close for a catch assessment in several areas of Puget Sound after the Labor Day weekend. Areas closing Sept. 7 one hour after sunset include marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point). 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon). Crabbing will be open over Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-7.

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Sept. 15 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2009 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2010 fishing license. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/index.htm .

Meanwhile, anglers can take advantage of the new two-pole fishing option now in effect on the majority of Washington’s 8,000 fishing lakes, ponds and reservoirs. The total cost for the two-pole endorsement is $24.50 ($6.50 for seniors). Anglers must also have a valid state fishing license. Because approximately 145 lakes and ponds are excluded from the option, anglers are advised to check the regulations carefully before they go fishing. More information and a list of excluded lakes and ponds are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/twopole/ . Endorsements are available from authorized license dealers, listed at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lic/vendors/vendors.htm , or from the WDFW at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ . Saltwater fisheries and fisheries on rivers and streams are excluded from the option.

Southwest Washington

Fishing:  Hefty chinook salmon that recently lit up the Buoy 10 fishery near the mouth of the Columbia River are now biting from Longview upstream as strong tides push increasing numbers of coho in from the ocean.  Meanwhile, summer steelhead broke the single-day record at Bonneville Dam several days in a row and bolstered catch rates for hatchery fish above and below the dam.

“Anglers are reeling in chinook salmon, hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead in good numbers, depending on what part of the river they’re fishing,” said Joe Hymer, WDFW fish biologist.  “Steelhead are leading the charge up the river, but chinook and coho are moving up right behind them.”

Fishing has also been good for hatchery steelhead at the mouths of several area tributaries, including the Cowlitz, Lewis and White Salmon rivers, plus Drano Lake, Hymer said.  Boat anglers fishing at Drano Lake averaged 1.2 steelhead per rod and retained just over half of them, according to a creel survey conducted the second week of August.

At Buoy 10, anglers averaged a salmon for every one to two rods that same week.  About one-third of those fish were chinook salmon, some weighing 40-plus pounds, but the tides literally shifted the following week, increasing the percentage of hatchery coho in the catch, Hymer said.

“A series of strong tides has brought more coho into the river,” he said.  “We could see another big surge of chinook, but these coho aren’t exactly shakers.  A growing number of these fish are running 14 to 16 pounds.”

Through August, the daily catch limit in the Buoy 10 fishery is two salmon (but only one chinook) or hatchery steelhead or one of each.  Minimum size limits are 24 inches for chinook and 16 inches for hatchery coho.  All salmon other than chinook and adipose-fin-clipped hatchery coho must be released.  Barbed hooks are allowed.  Daily creel counts are available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regions/reg5/buoy10.htm .

Starting Sept. 1, anglers must release chinook salmon at Buoy 10, but the combined limit for hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead will rise to three fish (including no more than two hatchery steelhead).

The north jetty is open for fishing seven days per week when the Buoy 10 area or Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) are open for salmon fishing. The daily limit and minimum size limits for the north jetty follow the most liberal regulations of either area.

Upriver from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line, hatchery steelhead have been keeping anglers busy from Longview to the Bonneville Pool.  (The all-time daily steelhead count at Bonneville – 34,053 – was set on Aug. 13.)  But recent reports of  anglers catching chinook between  Longview and Vancouver suggests heavier gear may be in order, Hymer said.

“The chinook fishery above Rocky Point can ramp up quickly,” he said.  “Anglers may want to think about switching from spinners and bait to wobblers – and fishing deep – if they want to pick up some chinook.”

Fishing deep isn’t a bad idea in any case, said Hymer, noting that the weather forecast calls for another hot spell.  Under those conditions, he recommends fishing to a depth of 50 feet and looking for fish at the mouths of tributaries, where the water is cooler.

“We’re also expecting a return to low-water conditions, so boaters need to be especially cautious around sandbars and rocks,” he said.  “We’ve already seen at least one boat stranded on a sand bar this season.”

Anglers fishing on tributaries to the Columbia River should also be aware of new rules adopted to protect wild salmon while providing greater access to hatchery fish:

* Bonus hatchery coho retention:   Anglers may retain up to six hatchery adult coho on all lower Columbia tributaries with hatchery programs, including the Cowlitz, Deep, Elochoman, Grays (including West Fork), Kalama, Klickitat, Lewis (including North Fork), Toutle (including Green and North Fork) and Washougal rivers.  Last year, the Cowlitz River was the only system with a daily limit of six hatchery adult coho.
* Release all wild chinook:   Anglers must release all wild chinook (adults and jacks) on the Elochoman and Kalama rivers, where mass-marked fall chinook that are two, three and four years old will be returning this year.  Very few five and six year-olds are expected, so this regulation provides additional protection for wild chinook adults with a minimal loss of sportfishing opportunity for older unmarked hatchery fish.
* Release wild chinook jacks:   This rule will be in effect on the Cowlitz, Toutle (including Green and North Fork), Washougal, Wind and White Salmon rivers, plus Drano Lake.  Two and three year-old mass-marked fall chinook will be returning to the Cowlitz, Toutle and Washougal rivers, while two, three, and four year-olds will return to the Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery.  Some strays from various hatcheries also can be found in the Washington tributaries above Bonneville Dam.
* Hatchery chinook strays on the Lewis River:   Anglers may retain stray hatchery chinook on the Lewis River and North Fork Lewis through September. While no fall chinook are released from Lewis River hatcheries, some stray tules are found in the system.
* Boat angling restriction on the North Fork Lewis River:   This regulation, which applies to the Cedar Creek area, will be delayed until October to give anglers greater access to the large number of hatchery coho expected to return to the river. The restriction on boats will still take effect in time to protect wild fall chinook, which are expected to return in improved numbers but just above the minimum escapement goal.
* Grays and Elochoman rivers opened Aug. 1:   The starting date for fall salmon fisheries was moved up to allow anglers to catch early arriving fish, particularly Select Area Bright fall chinook that stray into the Grays River.

Anglers looking for a different kind of fishing experience may want to consider a trip to an alpine lake.  Tips on fishing the state’s “high lakes” and recommendations of good places to go are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/outreach/fishing/highlake.htm .

“Fishing one of the region’s high lakes can be a terrific experience, and a great way to beat the heat,” Hymer said.  “Two words of caution:  In the Indian Heaven Wilderness lakes, the daily limit for trout is three fish.  Secondly, don’t forget the mosquito repellent.”


Eastern Washington

Fishing: Despite summer’s weather fluctuations, rainbow trout fishing remains excellent at Sprague Lake on the Lincoln-Adams county line. Lenny Hahn, WDFW enforcement officer from Spokane, recently checked anglers there, many with their daily catch limits of five trout. Hahn checked and photographed one 22-inch rainbow at Sprague that weighed nearly five pounds.

“I think fishermen have a good chance of catching similar sized rainbows at Sprague if they make the trip and put in the time,” Hahn said.

Hahn said trout limits are still being caught at Williams Lake in southwest Spokane County. Fishing action on trout and warmwater species at Downs and Chapman lakes in the same area was slower at last check.

Upper Spokane River catch-and-release fishing for rainbows over 19 inches has been good, but Hahn reminds anglers they must use selective gear – artificial flies or lures with one single-point barbless hook, no bait, and only knotless nets (see definition on page 24 of the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).

Steelhead are returning to the Snake River in large numbers this year, many already beginning to pass through fish ladders at the river’s dams. The steelhead catch-and-keep season opens Sept. 1, and although currently warm water temperatures may slow the bite, the action should pick up with cooler weather ahead. The mouths of the Snake’s tributaries like the Tucannon and Grande Ronde, and the confluence with the Clearwater on the Idaho border, are usually most productive at the start of the season.

Glen Mendel, WDFW southeast district fish biologist, reminds steelheaders that barbless hooks are required and the daily trout catch limit of six fish includes up to three hatchery-marked steelhead (healed scar at clipped adipose or ventral fin).

Anglers who like to camp on WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County while trout fishing the Tucannon River impoundments there, will be glad to know the campfire ban is lifted. Area Manager Kari Dingman says that with recent rains, the wildfire danger is lower and campfires are again allowed in WDFW campgrounds.

North Central Washington

Fishing:   Art Viola, WDFW Chelan district fish biologist, reminds anglers that Lake Wenatchee sockeye salmon fishing closed Aug. 11. Unexpected and substantial sockeye mortality occurred during migration up the Wenatchee River due to high water temperatures, and insufficient numbers of sockeye were available to continue the season.

However, Lake Chelan land-locked summer chinook salmon fishing will continue because there are sufficient numbers of stocked sterile, triploid chinook. Viola reminds anglers there is no fishing allowed within 400 feet of the mouths of all Lake Chelan tributaries, minimum size is 15 inches, and the daily catch limit is one salmon. “WDFW is trying to maintain the abundance of chinook in Lake Chelan at a level that minimizes predation on kokanee and cutthroat trout but still provides fish for harvest,” Viola said. The fishery will also help control the numbers of some naturally reproducing diploid chinook.

Bob Jateff, WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist, reminds anglers that adult sockeye salmon in Lake Osoyoos can be retained through Aug. 30. Sockeye salmon returns above Zosel Dam are predicted to be in excess of needs for wild fish to reach spawning grounds, so retention is allowable. Minimum size limit is 12 inches, and the daily catch limit is four sockeye salmon. All chinook salmon and all sockeye with colored anchor (floy) tag attached must be released.

South Central Washington

Fishing: Jim Cummins, WDFW fish biologist from Yakima, says this is a great time for hiking anglers to head for the high country and fish the mountain lakes. “The trails are maintained and the bugs are on the decline now,” he said. “Fishing for cutthroat, rainbow and eastern brook trout can be rewarding now until the snow falls.”

Cummins encourages anglers to check out the region’s “Primer for High Lakes” for a partial list of lakes and the species of fish in each, available in printed form at WDFW’s Yakima office and via the Internet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regions/reg3/highlakes.pdf .

Paul Hoffarth, WDFW district fish biologist from Pasco, says the best current fishing in the Tri-Cities area is for warm water species. Walleye, bass, and perch fishing has been excellent in recent weeks, he reports, especially in Lake Umatilla, the John Day Dam pool on the Columbia River.

Hoffarth reminds Columbia River fall chinook salmon anglers that the anti-snagging rule is in effect for salmon and steelhead between Bonneville and McNary dams. See page 15 of the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

The fall chinook sport fishery in the Hanford Reach is under way and scheduled to continue through Oct. 22. Hoffarth says the catch is usually slow until mid-September. He reminds anglers to release all steelhead caught in the Columbia River above the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco.

The lower Yakima River will open Sept. 1 for salmon fishing, including all areas from Prosser Dam downstream to the Columbia River. The night closure and anti-snagging rules will be in effect for all species.

The Snake River opens for hatchery steelhead retention Sept. 1, and Hoffarth says the summer run steelhead are returning in large numbers this year.

“They are already beginning to pass through McNary and Snake River dam fish ladders in increasing numbers,” Hoffarth said.  “River temperatures are warm and will likely slow the bite. But as temperatures cool, the steelhead fishing will improve and Tri-Cities area anglers should be in for a terrific early fall fishery.”

Hoffarth reminds anglers that barbless hooks are required when fishing in the Snake River for steelhead.

Eric Anderson, WDFW district fish biologist from Yakima, reminds anglers of the Sept. 1 – Oct. 22 closure of fall chinook and coho salmon fishing on the Yakima River from Hwy. 223 Bridge at Granger to Sunnyside (Parker) Dam, within the Yakama Reservation Boundary Reach.  During that time period, the night closure and anti-snagging rule restrictions are lifted for all other game fish species since they are not necessary to protect salmon.

Buoy 10, Nisqually Nets & Bear Break-ins

August 20, 2009

A weird batch of news this morning: Rumors that Buoy 10 will close, a KING 5 story last night on Nisqually tribal fishermen, nets and recreational anglers, and a recidivist bear with a death wish.

Let’s break ’em out:

BUOY 10’S JUST about to close!

That’s the rumor, at least.

When we checked in with A Man Who Would Know this morning, he told us the cumulative Chinook catch at the mouth of the Columbia was around 2,900 on a 10,000-fish guideline.

So why the worries and rumors? Last week saw a pretty good catch, including in the North Channel where Yakima Bait staffer and Northwest Sportsman columist Buzz Ramsey found some kings.

And while stronger tides in upcoming days bode better for coho fishing at the buoy and may provide “breathing room,” a rough ocean that forces anglers into the river or, say, a shot of upriver brights suddenly hitting the Columbia could ramp the king catch up super-fast, suggests AMWWK.

Another rumor to keep an eye out for: A fact sheet from Washington and Oregon managers updating the catch could be coming out today and provide Clarification.

UPDATE 11:06 A.M.: THE COLUMBIA RIVER COMPACT WILL HOLD A HEARING TOMORROW AT 1 P.M. ON COLUMBIA RIVER STOCK STATUS AND FISHERIES ISSUES

SEE THE STORY over on KING5 last night on the Nisqually? It was on easing tensions on the South Puget Sound river after alleged rude behavior on the part of sport anglers against tribal netters during last season’s Chinook run.

The Nisqually is, of course, famous for the arrests of Billy Frank Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, as well as his pal Marlan Brando back in the day.

Things appear to be going smoothly this year, reports Gary Chittim — as long as the fishing’s good for both groups, and tribal enforcement officers are thick.

AND THEN THERE’S the story on KDRV 12 in Medford about the bear with a death wish.

The bear has been breaking into the Howling Acres Wolf Sanctuary nearly every night for the last two weeks,” reports Tove Tupper. “The worse case scenario is that the bear keeps coming back, and eventually make its way to the wolves.”

WDFW To Update Skagit Release Site Search At Meeting

August 20, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

An additional public meeting has been scheduled Aug. 27 in Mount Vernon to discuss potential pheasant release sites in Skagit and northern Snohomish counties, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

The public meeting is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Senior Center, 1401 Cleveland St. During the meeting, WDFW staff will give an update on efforts to secure public and private lands to release pheasants for recreational hunting.

At a public meeting earlier this year, department staff presented a list of possible pheasant release sites, said Lora Leschner, regional wildlife program manager for WDFW.

“We’d like to meet with the public again and discuss progress toward securing alternative sites where we might be able to relocate our pheasant release operations,” Leschner said.

WDFW is seeking new areas to release the birds because restoration projects on the Skagit Wildlife Area’s Headquarters and Leque Island units will soon return those areas to estuaries. Both restoration projects are scheduled to be completed later this summer.

Restoration projects on the Skagit Wildlife Area are intended to restore important habitat for wildlife and fish, particularly salmon, Leschner said. WDFW owns and manages the entire 16,700-acre Skagit Wildlife Area to preserve habitat for fish and wildlife, and provide a site for outdoor recreation.

On Leque Island, about 110 acres of the Stillaguamish estuary is being restored. At the Headquarters Unit, the Wiley Slough project is designed to restore 160 acres of estuarine salmon habitat that was diked and drained to create farmland.

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

For more information on the Skagit Wildlife Area, see WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/skagit/ .

A Solid Steelhead Run Doesn’t Mean Salmonid Recovery

August 20, 2009

(NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION PRESS RELEASE)

The increased steelhead run is encouraging, but salmon and steelhead recovery in the greater Columbia Basin is still at risk under NOAA-Fisheries proposed recovery plan.

So says Liz Hamilton, Executive Director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, in response to the large number of steelhead returning over Bonneville Dam this week:

“We cannot equate one good year with true recovery. Most Columbia River wild fish populations are no further from extinction today than when the first populations were listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) more than 15 years ago.

This year’s bonus returns are largely the result of spilling more water over dams when these fish were migrating out to the ocean as juveniles. U.S. District Court Judge James Redden ordered those in-river improvements after conservation and fishing groups fought to have them instituted — over the vehement objections of federal agencies.

Alarmingly, the 2008 Bush plan, which is still pending in court, rolls back this salmon protection measure and federal agencies continue to state that steelhead prefer barges to migrating naturally in the river. The fish are telling us an entirely different story: since Judge Redden ordered spill, we’ve seen the best in-river steelhead survival since we started documenting it. And now we’re seeing the best returns too. And not only has this bolstered steelhead returns, but this has helped fall chinook and sockeye, which fuel sport, commercial and tribal fisheries from the Columbia River to ocean fisheries across the Pacific Coast. We are counting on Judge Redden to insist on maintaining these vital fish protection measures.

In addition to having stronger runs because of Redden’s spill, this week’s surge is in part due to exceptionally warm river temperatures, which causes fish to hang back in cooler water before heading up to the warmer reservoirs behind the dams.

What this year’s strong returns tell us is that we still have hope to recover endangered Snake River salmon and steelhead. When rivers are allowed to run just a bit more like rivers, salmon and steelhead are resilient enough to surprise us with their ability to rebound. Favorable snowpack and ocean conditions, combined with the court-ordered spill and river flow mandates, have done wonders for Snake River fish. Imagine what could happen if the four largest obstacles in their path, the four lower Snake River dams, were removed.

The future of these iconic fish along with their cultural and economic benefits hinges on the long-term recovery efforts we put in place. Thankfully Judge Redden’s foresight has bought us some time, but we have to make bold changes now to ensure that we continue to see wild salmon and steelhead returning to our rivers. A federal plan that turns back these protections just falls too short of what we in this region are capable of if we all sit down together.”

##

Columbia Zone Coho Catch Dips Slightly

August 19, 2009

New catch stats for last week show that the red-hot coho bite at the mouth of the Columbia River cooled a bit, but lemme assure you, from personal experience, it’s still damn good.

WDFW reports just under 15,000 silvers brought back to Ilwaco, Wash., Warrenton, Ore., and other ports off the big river’s mouth Aug. 10-16, a dropoff of 1,000 from the previous week.

Still, the quota is rapidly running out. With last week’s figures, 77.8 percent of the catch has come in, up from 60.8 percent as of Aug. 9.

Here are more numbers, by catch area for last week:

Area 1: 1.62 kings/coho per rod; nearly 15,000 coho, 785 kings landed. 77% and 83% of quota/guidelines caught.

Quotas are hard numbers, guidelines softer.

Area 2: 1.66 coho/kings per rod last week; just under 6,200 coho, 553 kings landed. 48.4%, 34% of quota/guidelines gone.

Area 3: 1.59 coho/kings per rod last week; 902 coho, 64 kings landed. 75.7%, 47.5% coho/king quota/guidelines caught.

Area 4: Best week yet, 1.21 coho/kings per rod + 1000 pinks. 66% of coho quota caught, but 103% of softer king guildeine in.

Coastwide, including the northern Oregon shore, anglers have caught 116,211 coho and 11,226 Chinook so far this season. Last week was among the top three weeks of catch per rod, at 1.57


What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

August 19, 2009

Kings in the Rogue, steelhead in the Columbia, trout in the mountains — there’s plenty of good fishing to be had around Oregon. Here are some of the highlights from ODFW’s weekly recreation report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Trout fishing on Lemolo Lake has been good and brown trout fishing continues to improve as water temperatures cool. The U.S. Forest Service has lifted the water warning for the lake.
  • The Rogue estuary is full of chinook and anglers are consistently catching chinook around the top of tide and as the tide is going out.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Prospects are good for chinook and steelhead on the tributaries of the mid and upper Willamette.
  • Fishing for bass and other warmwater species is picking up on the Willamette River and other locations throughout the region.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • With record-setting numbers of steelhead passing the Columbia Rivers dams look for some great summer steelhead fishing on the Deschutes River. Fishing on the has been good from the mouth to above Macks Canyon.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Angling has been good for trout on the Blitzen River, with many 8 to 12-inch trout in the Page Springs area, and a few larger trout higher in the system.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing in the Wallowa, lower Grande Ronde and Imnaha rivers and tributaries continues to be fair to good.
  • Morgan Lake has been stocked this year with legal and trophy-sized trout, and has been producing fair numbers of small crappie and catfish.
  • Wallowa Lake as been providing good opportunities for stocked rainbows.

SNAKE RIVER ZONE

  • BROWNLEE Crappie fishing has picked up again but the fish are 20 feet deep and have have a very soft bite.  Red and white jigs are working well. Catfish angling is very good with some large fish being taken. Bass angling has picked up and some legal sized bass are being caught. The water level is 17 feet below full. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.
  • HELLS CANYON Crappie fishing has slowed from a few weeks ago, but may pick up after the spawn.    Bass fishing has been slow. Fishing for 12 inch catfish has been good with some large fish being caught as well. Trolling for trout is fair-good.

COLUMBIA RIVER ZONE

  • The B run steelhead population destined for the Clearwater River is currently migrating through the lower Columbia River.
  • Action for fall chinook and coho is ramping up at Buoy 10.
  • Chinook fishing is improving in the lower Columbia above Tongue Point.
  • Walleye fishing is good near Troutdale and in the Gorge

MARINE ZONE

  • Halibut fishing was so good off the central coast last weekend that anglers took the entire remaining Pacific halibut quota for the season, closing the fishery. In fact fishing was so good the overage exceeded the remaining quota in the nearshore fishery (inside 40-fathom line).
  • NOAA Fisheries, the International Pacific Halibut Commission, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife determined no quota remains to continue the central coast fishery and close the all-depth sport halibut fishery off the central Oregon coast will not reopen. The nearshore fishery (inside 40 fathoms) will also closed also.
  • The Columbia River sub area, from Cape Falcon (30 miles south of the Columbia River) to Leadbetter Point, Wash. (north of the mouth of the Columbia River), remains open Fridays through Sundays.  Catch in the Columbia River subarea during the opener last week was poor and the fishery will continue for now. Seventy-four percent, or 3,304 pounds, of the summer quota remain for the Columbia River sub area. Fishing will continue every Friday through Sunday until the quota is taken or Sept. 27, which ever occurs first.
  • For more information on the halibut season
  • Coho fishing dropped to less than one keeper per angler in most parts of the coast.
  • Off the Columbia River about two out of 10 anglers landed chinook salmon. As of Aug. 1, the daily bag limit for chinook salmon north of Cape Falcon increased to allow up to two chinook salmon. The daily bag limit is now two salmon per day, and all retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip.
  • For season details about sport ocean salmon fishing visit http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/salmon/Regulations/OceanSport2009.asp.
  • The coast averaged one or two tuna per angler. The hot port was Newport where anglers landed an average of more than three tuna.
  • Fishers landed an average of between two and three rockfish coast wide. Lingcod were harder to come by with fewer than two in 10 anglers finding success.
  • The coast averaged between three and four crab per crabber. Many male crabs have recently molted so return soft-shelled crabs to the ocean so they can fill out. Crab that have recently molted are not filled out with meat and are considered of lower quality.

August 19, 2009

The inaugural Washington Tuna Classic will be held out of Westport on Sept. 12. Organizer Mitch King says participants in the nonprofit, all-volunteer tournament — which will benefit hungry folks throughout the region through Northwest Harvest as well as the Wounded Warrior Project and Disabled American Vets — will be similar to the Oregon Tuna Classic, except that you can enter as many tuna as you want.

MITCH KING. (WASHINGTON TUNA CLASSIC)

MITCH KING. (WASHINGTON TUNA CLASSIC)

August 19, 2009

Aug. 1: Oregon Tuna Classic out of Ilwaco, Wash. Opening day of salmon fishing at Buoy 10, Washington’s Marine Areas 8-1 and 8-2 and numerous streams in Oregon and Washington, as well as bear hunting in both states everywhere (except Northeastern A, Blue Mountains and Long Island in Washington.) 8th Annual Puget Sound Anglers-South King County Salmon Derby. Info: pugetsoundanglers.net.

Aug. 2: Last day of Budweiser-Lowrance King Salmon Derby out of Brewster, Wash.

Aug. 7-9: Oregon all-depth halibut fishery open Friday-Sunday from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain until quota of 165,861 pounds of fish caught; special halibut season between Cape Falcon, Ore., and Leadbetter Point, Wash. Quota: 15,375 pounds.

Aug. 15: Oregon Tuna Classic out of Charleston, Ore.

Aug. 24: Last day of Friday-Monday Inner Elliott Bay fishery.

Aug. 27-28: 10th Annual Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association Buoy 10 Challenge. Info: (503) 631-8859.

Aug. 29: Oregon Tuna Classic out of Garibaldi, Ore.; opening day of bowhunting season for deer and elk in Oregon.

Aug. 31: Last day of fishing on many Oregon streams.

Sept. 1: Buoy 10 coho bag limit increases to three per day, and coho opener on Oregon’s lower Nehalem, Yaquina, Coos and Coquille rivers. Also, Catherine Creek as well as Grande Ronde, Imnaha, John Day, Umatilla and Wenaha rivers open for fin-clipped steelhead. Washington bow deer and bear in Northeast and Blue Mountains open, as do grouse and mourning doves in Oregon and Washington.

Sept. 5-6: Youth hunting weekend at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area near Eugene.

Sept. 8: Bow elk season begins in Washington.

Sept. 12: Washington Tuna Classic out of Westport. Benefits Northwest Harvest and veterans groups. Info: washingtontunaclassic.com.

Sept. 12-13: Cascade Musky Association derby on Lake Mayfield. Info: Mark Wells, (253) 841-0171. Oregon youth hunt weekend at Klamath, Ladd Marsh and Sauvie Island wildlife areas as well as near The Dalles and Ontario.

Sept. 15: Westport Boat Basin Salmon Derby. Info: westportgrayland-chamber.org.

Sept. 15-25: High Buck Hunt in several Washington Cascades and Olympics wilderness areas and Lake Chelan NRA. Bandtail pigeon hunt begins in Oregon.

Sept. 19-20: Youth hunting weekend at Oregon’s Denman and EE Wilson wildlife areas as well as Willow Creek near Prineville.

Sept. 26: General fall turkey hunt opens in select Northeast Washington units. Washington Waterfowl Association Annual Seattle Banquet. Info: Rone Brewer (360-652-1264) or waduck.org

Sept. 26-27: Washington youth pheasant hunting weekend, as well as Irrigon Wildlife Area in Oregon.

Lemolo Algae Warning Dropping, Stockers Coming

August 19, 2009

The Roseburg, Ore., News Review reports that blue-green algae levels, which prompted a public health advisory at Lemolo Lake, was lifted earlier this week, and that trout will be stocked soon at the Oregon Cascades water.

The article also discusses how the bloom affected Lemolo Lake Resort, and why owner Scott Lamb says it lasted fewer days this year.

From 37 Miles Back To 7 Miles Out In 24 Hours

August 18, 2009

As Andy Schneider got out the bait at the Columbia River Buoy last Sunday morning, I had to chuckle because the cut-plug herring he was rigging up were just a wee bit smaller than the eastern brookies a friend and I had been hooking at a mountain lake just 24 hours before.

Indeed, the two scenes couldn’t have been more different. Goat Lake is 37 miles east of Granite Falls, Wash., in eastern Snohomish County’s Henry M. Jackson Wilderness, and exactly 3,154 feet above the heaving Pacific. It’s surrounded by cliffs, talus slopes and avalanche fields coming down from knife-edged 6,000-foot-high ridges.

Eric Bell and I tried battling through a big brush field to get to a little bay about halfway up the lake, but we only succeeded in getting absolutely soaked — and some nasty plant stung the both of us for good measure. So we went back and spot-hop fished towards the outlet.

A fellow angler told us action was pretty slow that morning but had been better the night before. I couldn’t really argue with the slow part. Bites were few on my all-silver size 1 Mepps, all-brass size 1 Dick Nite, green/silver and black/brass Panther Martins and purple beadhead Woolly Bugger and for Bell and his green Carey Special and assorted other flies. But a few runtish brookies were game. According to state stocking record, rainbow fry were planted in 2006.

As we left Goat, we saw that the aforementioned angler and a pal had given up on selective methods and were instead plunking bait from the comfort of their (slightly illegal) fire at their (slightly illegal) campsite.

GOAT LAKE, HOME OF STUNTED, CUT-PLUG HERRING-SIZED BROOKIES. (ERIC BELL)

GOAT LAKE, HOME OF STUNTED, CUT-PLUG HERRING-SIZED BROOKIES. (ERIC BELL)

I was in bed by 8 p.m. on that Saturday night in the desperate hope I’d get at least five hours sleep before driving the 200 miles to Warrenton, Ore. That’s where I met Andy Schneider, Tom VanderPlatt, two others and an angler whose identity will not be revealed here.

Said angler was brave — or foolish — enough to cross the Fish Gods by eating a banana at the Green Line outside Warrenton, where we were trolling a mix of Divers, Fish Flashes and herring or spinners. We released a wild coho there then spun our wheels trolling straight at Buoy 10 on the incoming before heading 7 miles offshore, to the CR Buoy.

The only mountains out here were the big rollers sweeping towards Oregon, gentle hills of green water that sent Schneider’s big Super Vee bobbing up and down. I nervously reread the back of the Bonine box and debated taking a second pill, but damnit, the instructions said you’re supposed to take them an hour before motion sickness might set in.

So I picked out the stump of a volcano on the eastern horizon and grimly tried to focus on it.

Only problem was, the damned rods kept going off.

Primarily it was the back two, both still running Divers, Flashes and cut-plugs. The one straight out the back on my side would suddenly have a seizure, then the one on the other side would shiver. A 13- or 14-pounder grabbed my bait, circled the boat, tangling three lines, and when I set the line back out after bonking the fish, I managed to tangle up two more lines.

THE BLOGGER WITH A 13- OR 14-POUND CR BUOY COHO. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

THE BLOGGER WITH A 13- OR 14-POUND CR BUOY COHO. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

It was chaos, but that’s coho fishing, said Schneider, aka AndyCoho — tangles, madness and lots of bites. Indeed, my second keeper was one of three fish that bit all at once and sent us into another frenzy.

One of the trio was on the rod of the angler whose name won’t be revealed. It bit right next to the boat. He lost it. He lost another at the net when the barbless hooks pulled out of the fish’s mouth. He leapt at his rod like a jumping jack only to be just a second too late many times. It became almost comical, and it was clear that while the Fish Gods were up against a pretty hot coho bite, they had some tricks up their sleeves for those who would flaunt the banana ban.

Speaking of comical, ever see The Gods Must Be Crazy? Remember that scene where N!xau, the Bushman, is standing on the engine hood of the love-struck biologist’s jeep and driving it backwards? An angler in a big white boat that came up behind us was doing a similar stunt.

He was standing on the bow (fortunately wearing a life preserver), holding onto his fishing rod with one hand, yelling at us for being in “his lane” and reaching through the walk-thru windshield and jerking the wheel this way and that with his other hand. After awhile, he weaved off to sea and left us alone.

But back to the cursed angler.

We splashed our way back in to the Green Line and dropped spinners for one last pass. By this time, though, the wind was blowing fairly good, as it does in the afternoon at Buoy 10, and so as we neared the dolphin that marked the Skipanon River mouth, Andy told us to pick up the gear. We all reeled in, and one of us actually had a fish on — a sculpin that was just a wee bit smaller than the brookies up at Goat Lake the day before. It was Banana Boy’s only fish of the day.

Run Failure From Hell

August 18, 2009

And you thought Washington and Oregon fishery managers couldn’t forecast their way out of a wet paper bag.

Canadian managers predicted a run of 9 million summer sockeye back to the Fraser River this year, but have since downgraded that.

Way down.

I mean, like waaaaaaaaaay down.

All of 600,000 are expected now, just 6.66 percent of the original forecast.

That’s according to a Northwest Fishletter article out today.

They report that two other stocks will come in at 50 and 23 percent of forecast too.

Why the disaster? Fishletter reports:

The (Pacific Salmon) Commission says the low returns may be due to factors in marine areas sometime between ocean entry in the late spring and early summer of 2007 and the adult return in 2009. Farmed fish critics blame sea lice that the sockeye might have picked up from netpens on their migration up the inside of Vancouver Island.

One run of Fraser socks, though, appears to be coming in at twice expectations.

They also report Alaska is seeing good sockeye returns to Bristol Bay but below forecast returns of pinks to Prince William Sound

220

August 18, 2009

Hunters will be able to shoot 220 wolves in Idaho this fall — if an injunction to restore endangered species protections in federal court is not granted.

Yesterday, the Fish and Game Commission voted to crop back the state’s wolf population by over 20 percent. Tags go on sale next Monday, Aug. 24, at 10 a.m. A resident tag costs $11.75, and a nonresident tag costs $186. Season would begin as early as Sept. 1.

The quota of 220 animals is split between the state’s 12 wolf managment units. Hunters will be able to take 55 in the Sawtooth Zone, 30 in the Panhandle and 27 in the Lolo. Quotas in the other nine areas range from five to 18 wolves. When quotas are reached in each zone, season there will be closed.

Successful hunters must report their kill within 24 hours by calling (877) 872-3190 and turning in the hide and skull to IDFG regional offices within five days. To find out whether a wolf hunt zone is closed, call (877) 872-3190.

Managers hope to reduce the overall population to 520 animals, the 2005 level. They say that’s the year when “wolf conflicts both with wildlife and livestock increased significantly.”

Wolves in the Northern Rockies were taken off the federal Endangered Species list last May and placed under state law. An estimated 1,000 live in Idaho. However, the Defenders of Wildlife is threatening to file an injunction to stop Idaho as well as Montana’s hunts.

The Idaho Statesman Journal’s story has generated 86 online comments.

Our September issue looks at the issue of wolf expansion in Washington and Oregon and what an Idaho hunt could mean for both states.

Columbia River Fishing Report

August 18, 2009

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH WILDLIFE)

COLUMBIA FISHING

  • The B run steelhead population destined for the Clearwater River is currently migrating through the lower Columbia River.
  • Action for fall chinook and coho is ramping up at Buoy 10.
  • Chinook fishing is improving in the lower Columbia above Tongue Point.
  • Walleye fishing is good near Troutdale and in the gorge.

Salmon, Steelhead and Shad:
Steelhead anglers had the best luck in the gorge this past weekend where boat anglers averaged 2.0 steelhead caught per boat and the bank anglers averaged 0.50 steelhead caught per angler.  Boat anglers in the St. Helens to Longview area averaged 0.07 fall chinook and 0.44 steelhead, while boat anglers in Troutdale averaged 0.08 fall chinook and 0.39 steelhead caught per boat.  At Buoy 10 this past weekend anglers averaged 0.83 fall chinook, 2.04 coho, and 0.02 steelhead caught per boat.

Gorge Bank:

Weekend checking showed 57 adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 35 unclipped steelhead released for 183 bank anglers.

Gorge Boats:

Weekend checking showed four adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept and two unclipped steelhead released for three boats (eight anglers).

Troutdale Boats:

Weekend checking showed four fall chinook adults, one fall chinook jack, and 14 adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 13 unclipped steelhead released for 69 boats (145 anglers).

Portland to Rainier Bank:

Weekly checking showed one adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept for 25 bank anglers.

St. Helens to Longview Boats:

Weekend checking showed four fall chinook adults, two fall chinook jacks, and 17 adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus seven unclipped steelhead released for 54 boats (123 anglers).

Estuary Bank:

No report.

Estuary Boats:

Weekend checking showed 288 fall chinook, 499 adipose fin-clipped coho, and four adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 71 fall chinook, 383 unclipped coho, and three unclipped steelhead released for 433 boats (1,328 anglers).

WALLEYE:Gorge Boats:

Weekend checking showed two walleye kept for one boat (three anglers).

Troutdale Boats:

Weekend checking showed seven walleye kept for eight boats (16 anglers).

Portland to Longview Boats:

Weekend checking showed no catch for one boat (two anglers).

Bonneville Pool Boats:

No report.

The Dalles Pool Boats:

No report.

John Day Pool Boats:

No report.

FWC To Interview Director Candidates This Week

August 18, 2009

Washington Fish & Wildlife Commissioners is scheduled to interview job candidates for a new WDFW director tomorrow and Thursday.

The all-day meetings, however, are closed to the public as the commissioners will be in a closed-door executive session. That’s typical for personnel matters in government.

Currently, Phil Anderson is the agency’s temporary director. He took the reigns after Dr. Jeff Koening resigned last December.

SW WA Fishing Report

August 17, 2009

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Lots of fish being caught near the Cowlitz mouth, mostly steelhead and a few fall Chinook.  Also a few sea run cutthroat are showing up in the creel near the trout hatchery.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 315 summer-run steelhead adults, 17 spring Chinook adults, seven jacks, 67 Chinook mini-jacks, one fall Chinook adult and three cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released three spring Chinook adults and three jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek, three spring Chinook adults and four jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, Washington, and 62 spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 2,620 cubic feet per second with a visibility of 14 feet on Monday, August 17.

Lewis River – Excellent at times for steelhead at the mouth.  Bank and boat anglers in the North Fork Lewis are also catching some summer run steelhead.

Wind River – Effort was light with 8 boats observed here yesterday morning.  No fish were found from the few boat anglers sampled.

Drano Lake – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged over 1.2 steelhead per rod.  Just over half the steelhead caught were kept.  A few adult fall Chinook are also appearing in the catch.  Effort has increased with just over a hundred boats counted here yesterday morning.

White Salmon River – Bank and boat anglers are catching summer run steelhead.  Bank anglers are also catching some fall Chinook.  Effort has increased with 68 watercraft found here yesterday.  SR 141 is very crowded with parked vehicles.

Buoy 10 – Effort and catch have increased.  Approximately 950 boats were counted here during Saturday’s flight.  Catches have ranged from ½ to a fish per rod.  A little over a third of the catch were Chinook.

Lower Columbia from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 890 bank anglers with 251 steelhead and  10 adult fall Chinook.  In addition we sampled 259 boat anglers (128 boats) with 118 steelhead and 10 adult and 1 jack fall Chinook.  Two thirds of the steelhead caught were kept.

Nearly 300 boats and 200 WA and 135 OR bank anglers were counted during last Saturday’s flight.  The most boats (79) were found at the mouth of the Cowlitz.

Hanford Reach – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW Fish Biologist in Yakima – We officially kicked off the Hanford Reach fall chinook fishery Sunday.  We  interviewed 5 boats and 5 bank anglers Sunday. None of the boats were fishing for salmon (sturgeon and walleye). All 5 bank anglers at Ringold were fishing for salmon. Bank anglers reported catching and releasing 1 adipose clipped steelhead. Expansion for the week was 6 steelhead caught and released.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort continues to be light during the current catch-and-release fishery.  During last Saturday’s flight, only 27 boats and 7 WA and 12 OR bank were counted.

WALLEYE

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal area are catching some walleye.  Twenty boats were counted from there to the gorge last Saturday.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission

No Way — 34K at Bonnie Yesterday

August 14, 2009

UPDATED 4:48 P.M.The third straight day of record counts at Bonneville Dam may mean that we will see more steelhead back to Columbia-Snake Basin streams than forecast.

Following an 18,671-fish day on Tuesday, Joe Hymer of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission was pointing towards the easing of a “thermal block” on the Columbia River as the reason for the surge. Water temps had been nearly 75 degrees before cooling to 72.

Then when Wednesday saw 28,314 steelhead go over the dam, he allowed that it was possible the run might come in above the 352,000 forecasted, but still pointed towards cooling water temps as the main culprit.

But today, with a whopping 34,054 going over the dam yesterday, the tide appears to have changed.

Fish counters definitely saw a dip in fish passage due to hot water, “But it’s now likely (the run) is larger than forecast,” Hymer says.

The previous one-day record since 1938 was 14,432 on Aug. 3, 2001.

All those steelhead kegged up below the dam led to the biggest catch in almost 35 years.

“Just over 8,300 steelhead were estimated kept from the sport fishery below Bonneville Dam during July 2009.  It’s the largest one-month total since at least 1975,” said Hymer.

Poachers Caught With 10 Percent Of One River’s Wild Kings

August 14, 2009

WDFW says that two anglers poached 10 percent of all the wild Chinook that have gone up the Dungeness River so far this summer. The stream is completely closed to fishing to protect the ESA-listed stock.

The pair were cited for multiple fishing violations, including possession of federally protected wild chinook salmon.

“Fishing in closed waters carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 and/or 30 days in jail. The maximum penalty for snagging alone is $5,000 and/or a year in jail. In addition, the two may face federal charges for taking protected fish,” the agency said in a press release.

WDFW is also stepping up enforcement patrols on other rivers in the state during the summer’s peak season, WDFW Sergeant Phillip Henry. On a recent patrol of the Skokomish River in Mason County, officers issued more than 50 citations for a variety of violations, including snagging, over-limits and fishing without a license.

“Poaching is an annual issue, but with most of Washington experiencing the hottest and driest summer in years, low water levels are making fish more vulnerable to snagging and other illegal activities,” Henry said. “We appreciate that most anglers follow the rules and hope others will act responsibly as well.”

Henry asks that anyone who witnesses poaching violations to call WDFW’s confidential toll-free Poaching Hotline at (877) 933-9847.

Effects Of July’s Heat Wave Felt On NW Waters

August 14, 2009

Late July’s heat wave killed nearly all of the juvenile steelhead at one Southwest Washington hatchery and is blamed for a die-off of spring Chinook in a Northeast Oregon river.

While hot water temperatures are also blamed for the sudden closure of the Lake Wenatchee sockeye fishery last week, WDFW reports that 96 percent of the 135,000 summer- and winter-run steelhead at the Fallert Creek Hatchery “died after being infected by a parasite that grows rapidly in warm water.”

Those fish would have been released next spring.

“Two years from now, we are going to have a lower return of fish for sport fishing,” says Cameron Sharpe, a supervisor at WDFW’s Kalama River Research Station.

The die-off hit juvenile steelhead raised from wild parents through the river’s broodstock program, but two other strains — domesticated steelhead and Skamanias — were untouched.

“We’re in the throws of figuring out what we’re going to do,” says Sharpe. “We’re in discussions about whether we’ll be able to replace (the dead juveniles) with domesticated and Skamanias. It depends on whether other hatcheries will have enough.”

“Elsewhere, about 200,000 coho salmon – 12 percent of the coho at the Washougal Hatchery – died from a bacterial infection after water temperatures reached 80 degrees at the facility,” the agency reports.

Nearly 240 adult and jack spring Chinook died in the upper Grande Ronde in early August, according to the Columbia Basin Bulletin. Water temps there reached as high as 83 degrees.

CBB also reports higher than usual mortality rates on springers in Oregon’s upper Umatilla.

And an estimated 4,000 bass and other fish died in a 4-mile section of the John Day River following a flash flood.

WDFW Issues Sekiu Anglers Warning Over Chinook Catches

August 13, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is stepping up enforcement patrols and considering additional fishing restrictions in the Strait of Juan de Fuca after finding that numerous anglers have violated regulations designed to protect wild salmon.

Fishing for chinook salmon in marine areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) closed Aug. 7. However, WDFW fish samplers and enforcement officers continue to encounter dozens of anglers with chinook, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for the department.

“We closed chinook retention in marine areas 5 and 6 early to avoid further impacts to wild chinook salmon,” said Pattillo. “If compliance in those two marine areas doesn’t improve, we’ll be forced to consider additional restrictions to protect wild salmon.”

Currently, marine areas 5 and 6 are open seven days a week for hatchery coho and pink salmon. Hatchery chinook retention in the two marine areas ended nine days earlier than scheduled because anglers had caught and released more wild chinook than were forecast in the pre-season estimates.

Pattillo said a number of anglers recently have been checked at the docks with undersized chinook they misidentified as pink salmon. He encourages anglers to release salmon they can’t positively identify.

Descriptions of each salmon species can be found on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/identification/pac_salmon.htm , and on page 72 and 73 of the Fishing in Washington sport fishing rules pamphlet, which is available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regs_seasons.html .

Anglers also can ask WDFW’s dockside fish samplers for a salmon identification card before heading out on the water.

“Anglers are responsible for correctly identifying their catch, so it’s important that they take the time to learn the differences between each salmon species before going fishing,” said Mike Cenci, deputy chief of enforcement for WDFW. “People who fail to learn the difference – or simply ignore the rules – are jeopardizing the resource and putting fishing seasons at risk for everyone.”

Steelie Record Broken, Again; Go. Fish. NOW!

August 13, 2009

UPDATED 4:30 P.M. That story below this one about the 60-year-old, one-day steelhead count record at Bonneville Dam being broken on Tuesday — file that under “old news.”

Yesterday’s count trumped it — by 10,000.

And tomorrow might even top that.

“It’s unprecendented,” says Joe Hymer of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission about the surge of steelhead at the dam.

His source, a WDFW fish-count supervisor, tells him that a whopping 28,314 steelhead were counted at the dam yesterday, topping the record 18,671 that went over the day before. That broke the all-time mark since 1938 of 14,432 on August 3, 2001.

While he says it’s possible this year’s run could be larger than forecast, cooling water temps of as little as 2 degrees appear to have sparked the spike.

“We’ve seen it before when it gets to 74 degrees in the peak of the Chinook run where (fish passage) just nose-dived,” he says.

Late July’s hot weather raised water temps to nearly 75, he says, but earlier today, the Columbia was running at 72.

The fish cam at Bonneville shows a “constant stream” of fish shooting through, Hymer says. In just one hour yesterday, 1,000 steelhead went through the Washington-side fish ladder.

“Today’s count may be even higher – 1,700 fish were counted in a single hour on the Washington side this morning!” Hymer adds.

A frame-by-frame video of just one hour at the fish ladder this morning posted on YouTube shows the flood. Set to “When Johnny comes marching home,” over a half-dozen salmonids can be seen at a time.

BONNEVILLE DAM FISH LADDER, OREGON SIDE. (ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS)

BONNEVILLE DAM FISH LADDER, OREGON SIDE. (ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS)

What does all that mean?

“Theoretically, there is 130,000 steelhead swimming around in the Bonneville Pool. It means an awful lot are kegged up at Drano,” Hymer says.

Official Northwest Sportsman advice: Grab a bobber and shrimp, grab a FatFish and go fish anywhere above Bonneville that offers a cool-water refuge for the steelhead.

“Herman Creek, Eagle Creek, Tanner Creek, Drano, mouth of the White Salmon,” suggests Rob Brown at Jack’s Snack & Tackle (503-665-2257) in Troutdale, at the mouth of the Columbia Gorge. “The guys I’m talking to are killing them.”

While Brown’s known for making spinners, stop by for shrimp instead this weekend.

“Under a bobber, use a solid black jig, coon shrimp, nightcrawlers. Cool waters are not spinner fisheries,” he says.

But in a few more weeks, you might want to swing by for the hard goods.

“The last five days of August, first part of September, if you’re not at Buoy 10, you better be at the Deschutes. I think it’s going to be unreal,” says Brown.

As if the high dam counts weren’t weird enough in this weird year — recall the bonanza of jack spring Chinook and 57-percent-of-forecast adult run — a whole ‘nother species made a dash through the fish ladders yesterday too.

“And the first pink of the season was counted too — don’t forget that,” Hymer says.

Elk Hunting Forecast Out

August 13, 2009

(ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION PRESS RELEASE)

Elk and elk hunting opportunities are plentiful across the U.S. and Canada, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has just released its annual roundup of hunt forecasts for 27 states and provinces, newly posted at www.rmef.org.

“Elk herds are in great shape across most of the West, thanks to a mild winter and normal moisture. And, of course, the ongoing habitat stewardship projects supported by our members and volunteers have helped, too,” said David Allen, president and CEO of the Elk Foundation.

This summer, RMEF passed the 5.6 million acre mark for elk habitat conserved or enhanced.

Storylines within the Elk Foundation’s 2009 elk hunt forecast include the amazing herd growth following elk restoration efforts in Kentucky, wolf impacts on elk and hunting in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, massive elk populations in Colorado and the trophy bull reputations of Arizona and Utah.

Here’s a condensed look at forecasts from top states and provinces for total elk populations. To see all the reports in their entirety, including contact information for respective conservation agencies, visit www.rmef.org. For even more hutning including sidebars, see the Sept./Oct. 2009 edition of the RMEF member magazine, Bugle.

Alberta
Elk Population: 20,000
Bull/Cow Ratios: N/A
Nonresidents: $298 and must be accompanied by an Alberta resident Hunter Host or licensed guide.
Southwestern Alberta has a reputation for big bulls where elk are managed to ensure that plenty of bulls live long enough to reach their full potential. A little farther north, some impressive bulls are killed each year in the Peace River area. Warmer and drier than normal conditions over most of the province brought elk through the winter in great shape. Expect good hunting prospects this season for trophy bulls and cows.

Arizona
Elk Population: 25,000
Bull/Cow Ratios: 35 to 40/100
Nonresidents: $151 hunting license (nonrefundable to enter drawing) plus $595 elk permit.
Arizona has one of the finest reputations in the nation as a trophy-producing destination. Any unit has potential for big bulls. More specifically, the units surrounding Flagstaff have been good. Units 1 and 27 on the east side, and 3A, 3B and 3C around Pine Top are units to consider as well. Arizona has seen favorable conditions for elk over the past several years and elk populations are stable in most regions. Elk numbers are increasing in the east-central portion of the state but additional antlerless tags are not being issued because biologists want more elk in this area.

CHAD PHELPS' 2008 BULL, TAKEN IN EASTERN OREGON WHILE HUNTING WITH HIS BROTHER PAUL (RIGHT) ON A SECOND-SEASON ANY-ELK TAG (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

CHAD PHELPS' 2008 BULL, TAKEN IN EASTERN OREGON WHILE HUNTING WITH HIS BROTHER PAUL (RIGHT) ON A SECOND-SEASON ANY-ELK TAG (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

British Columbia
Elk Population: 50,000
Bull/Cow Ratios: 20/100
Nonresidents: $189 hunting license, plus $277 elk tag. Must hire a licensed guide, or in certain cases may be accompanied by a resident hunter.
Coastal British Columbia saw significant snowpack but nothing terribly out of the ordinary for wintering elk. Over the central and southern portions of the province, snowfall was normal to slightly below normal. Elk herds are burgeoning in productive habitat. Elk are especially abundant in the Kootenay region, an attractive area for trophy hunters where bull harvest is limited to animals carrying at least six tines on at least one antler. Many trophy areas in British Columbia offer rifle hunting during the rut, an option that has become increasingly rare in North America, with a few notable exceptions.

California

Elk Population: 1,500 Rocky Mountain Elk,
6,000 Roosevelt’s, 3,900 Tule

Bull/Cow Ratios: 20 to 90/100
Nonresidents: $143 nonrefundable hunting license plus $1,163 elk tag.
The state’s coveted elk tags are in short supply, making general drawing odds slim. There are three auction tags: one for Grizzly Island, one for Owens Valley and one multiple-zone tag in which recipients can choose to hunt one of the three sub-species. A proposal is afoot to allow nonresidents to purchase landowner tags for 2010, a move that could increase access for those who can afford an outfitter. Lucky residents who pull an elk tag can expect excellent conditions this fall. Elk populations are stable to increasing in all areas. Elk are also increasing in the Lake Pillsbury region, where a new hunting area may be opened next fall.

DAN MILLER HARVESTED HIS 6x7 OUT OF A GROUND BLIND FROM 16 YARDS JUST EAST OF THE METRO SEATTLE AREA. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

DAN MILLER HARVESTED HIS 6x7 OUT OF A GROUND BLIND FROM 16 YARDS JUST EAST OF THE METRO SEATTLE AREA. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Colorado
Elk Population: 280,000
Bull/Cow Ratios: 25/100
Nonresidents: $546 bull tag, $251 antlerless.
Colorado offers a bit of everything. Limited-entry, tough-to-draw tags provide a legitimate shot at a world-class bull in some units, such as those in the northwest corner of the state, but hunters need 15 to 20 preference points to draw. Over-the-counter tags are widely available, giving hunters a shot at a bull. Most will be spikes and raghorns but mature bulls can be found in these hard-hunted units. The state also allots a plethora of antlerless licenses—though around 10,000 less than last year—giving meat hunters excellent odds. Hunters should have more opportunity at mature bulls this year as the harvest was generally down last year because of weather.

Idaho
Elk Population: 107,000
Bull/Cow Ratios: 10 to 50/100
Nonresidents: $142 hunting license plus $373 elk tag.
Have wolves eaten all the elk in Idaho? Not even close, says Brad Compton of Idaho Fish and Game. “We still have some good elk hunting. Wolves have had an impact on our herds in some parts of the state, but they’ve not been decimated like it’s been publicized.” Elk populations are fairly stable statewide with areas of western Idaho trending upward, while wolves have had the biggest impact on the Lolo and Sawtooth zones on the Idaho/Montana border. For 2009, caps will occur on tags offered in the Sawtooth and Diamond Creek elk zones. Idaho elk hunters enjoy around a 20 percent success rate on average. In an area such as the Lolo zone, elk are holing up more often in security cover. Compton suggests hunters who enjoy hunting whitetails in cover should try the same tactics for elk.

JOE ROBANSKE'S DAYTON, WASH., 2007 BULL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

JOE ROBANSKE'S DAYTON, WASH., 2008 BULL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Montana
Elk Population: 150,000
Bull/Cow Ratios: 5 to 25/100
Nonresidents: $593 for regular drawing, $1,500 for outfitter sponsored tags.
Elk populations in Montana remain at or above management objectives in most areas, but many hunters will have to work harder to find elk this fall. Quentin Kujala of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says tough wintering conditions in portions of western Montana decreased the number of yearling animals. Some areas will no longer offer over the counter, either-sex tags. Wolf impacts near Yellowstone National Park appear to be stressing elk populations. Anecdotal evidence from popular hunting grounds in the Snowcrest, Ruby, Centennial and Gravelly ranges suggest that wolves are dispersing elk in ways that make for tougher hunting. Finding a mature bull will remain tough in the region between Butte and Boulder, where extensive road access keeps bull/cow ratios extremely low. All in all, though, Treasure State hunters can expect a fine season.

Nevada
Elk Population: 11,000
Bull/Cow Ratio: 40/100
Nonresidents: $142 hunting license plus $1,200 bull tag or $500 antlerless tag.
With a 14 percent increase in adult elk numbers and a slight boost in bull/cow ratios from 2008, Nevada’s elk are thriving. Most areas have seen modest herd expansion with fairly rapid growth in Elko County. About 75 percent of the state’s elk are located in the eastern part of the state, where massive fires have converted brushlands to grasslands, hurting mule deer but boosting elk numbers. All of the state’s elk tags are issued by lottery. No matter where you hunt, the outlook is as good this season as it’s been in years.

New Mexico
Elk Population: 80,000
Bull/Cow Ratio: 45/100
Nonresidents: $547 standard bull tag, $772 quality bull tag.
For elk hunters, the “Land of Enchantment” lives up to its nickname with great opportunities to hunt elk in unique habitat, with potential for big bulls. From a management perspective, units fall into two categories: “quality” units that are managed for bigger bulls with low hunter densities, and “opportunity” units that have higher tag allotments to give more people a shot at an elk. Hunter success rates typically run from 35 to 50 percent in the quality units with many of the bulls killed being 6 years old or older. But hunters in the opportunity units do very well by most standards. Success rates run from about 12-30 percent. Overall, the state’s elk population is stable to slightly increasing.

Oregon
Elk Population: 120,000
Bull/Cow Ratios: 12 to 30/100
Nonresidents: $439.
Oregon’s elk population trend has been stable over the past decade. The state’s herd is split almost equally between the Roosevelt’s sub-species in the west and Rocky Mountain to the east, groups that see notably different management. For the most part, general season hunting with over-the-counter licenses reigns in the west, while limited-entry regulations dominate in the east. Bowhunting is the exception, with most areas open to archers carrying a general tag. “Conditions should be fair to good, similar to last year,” says Test. Success rates are higher in limited entry units, but hover around 10 percent for general season hunting.

THOMAS HARGET TOOK HIS FIRST ELK WITH A BOW LAST FALL IN OREGON'S GRIZZLY UNIT. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

THOMAS HARGET TOOK HIS FIRST ELK WITH A BOW LAST FALL IN OREGON'S GRIZZLY UNIT. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Utah
Elk Population: 67,000
Bull/Cow Ratios: 15 to 80/100
Nonresidents: $65 hunting license, plus $388 general tag, $795 limited entry tag, or $1,500 premium limited entry tag (allows hunting in all weapon seasons within a unit).
Utah is viewed by many hunters as one of the top destinations for trophy bulls, especially after last fall’s “Spider Bull” became the new world’s record nontypical. Elk enjoy rich habitat with populations stable or trending upward across the state. Permits are limited but over-the-counter bull tags are available if you’re willing to take a spike. New for 2009 is a regulation change that also allows the harvest of spike bulls in limited-entry units with an over-the-counter tag. Fewer unlimited areas allow hunting for any bull. Most of these are found in designated wilderness areas on the north and south slopes of the Uinta Mountains, where success rates run around 15 percent.

Washington
Elk Population: 58,000
Bull/Cow Ratios: 12 to 20/100 in most units
Nonresidents: $396.
Bull/cow ratios are at management objectives nearly everywhere. Couple that with a snowy but manageable winter where no areas suffered above average mortality, and hunters should expect a favorable hunting season. Bull/cow ratios in some Blue Mountains areas are running the highest in the state. Overall elk numbers remain stable in the Evergreen State with slight increases in the northeast and some decreases in the southwest where managers have moved aggressively to trim the herd in the Mt. St. Helens area. Washington still offers over the counter bull tags for Roosevelt’s elk in the west and Rocky Mountain elk in the east. Bulls in the west must have at least three points on one antler, while spikes-only can be taken on a general tag in the east.

Wyoming
Elk Population: 105,000
Bull/Cow Ratios: 11 to 40/100
Nonresidents: $577 for regular drawing, $1057 for special drawing, $288 for cow/calf.
Cowboy State elk populations are at or above objective and elk hunting opportunities have never been higher. Antlerless tags are abundant. Hunters can anticipate an exceptional elk season, with a few exceptions. Jeff Obrecht of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department cautions that access to the elk-factory Laramie Peak area is problematic with public lands highly fragmented and private lands heavily leased. Reduced forage on winter range left elk struggling in the southwest. Bull-to-cow ratios remain low east of Jackson where biologists are observing just 11 bulls to 100 cows. Leftover tags (after the drawing in 2009) went on sale on a first-come, first-served basis in early July.

One of the most notable changes in elk country for 2009 could be a wolf hunt in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Stay tuned to the respective state wildlife agencies for news and details. RMEF is a vocal supporter of state-regulated hunting to manage restored populations of gray wolves. For more info, visit www.rmef.org.

Tap Into Record Steelie Surge

August 13, 2009

A drop in water temperatures at Bonneville Dam earlier this week triggered a steelhead stampede, including what has been confirmed as the all-time record for one day.

According to Joe Hymer at Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, counters at the dam reconfirmed his calculations that the 18,671 hatchery and wild steelhead that crossed on August 11 were the most ever since counting began in 1938.

The previous record was 14,432 on August 3, 2001.

As of 9:23 this morning, the August 12 count had yet to be posted, but Hymer said that 1,000 steelhead moved through the ladder on the Washington side in a one-hour period yesterday and there were several 600- to 700-fish hours as well.

“Fish are flooding over now that the water’s cooled a couple degrees,” he said.

Last week, temps were as high as 74 degrees at Bonneville.

“It could be good fishing at the lower Wind, Drano Lake and White Salmon,” cool-water refuges on the Washington side, Hymer says.

The fish typically stay there as well as several Oregon-side tribs until Labor Day, he tips.

Hymer reports that a 20-pound B-run steelie was said to be caught at Drano over the weekend (and says there’s a story about a 44-pound upriver bright Chinook picked up from the beach at Frenchmans Bar in Vancouver).

Anglers run brined shrimp well under a bobber off the point at Drano, or troll herringbone plugs in the main lake.

As for the White Salmon, here’s Terry Otto’s article from our July issue on how to fish the lower river:

WHITE SALMON, Wash.—In the summer of 2001 I was introduced to White Salmon River steelhead, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Alone among the four western Columbia Gorge’s summer-run fisheries, the Big White, as the White Salmon is often referred to, is not just a frog-water fishery. Now, lots of fishermen do target the pooled mouth of the river, and the angling is similar to Herman and Eagle creeks on the Oregon side and Drano Lake on the Washington side.

TERRY OTTO AND A PAIR OF BIG WHITE SALMON RIVER STEELHEAD. (TERRY OTTO)

TERRY OTTO AND A PAIR OF BIG WHITE SALMON RIVER STEELHEAD. (TERRY OTTO)

But what draws me to the Big White each year is the fast water, all 10-plus miles of it between the Columbia and Condit Dam. This is a mouth-watering steelhead country – fast glides, riffles, pools, boulder-strewn runs and sweet tail-outs. It’s small enough you can fish the entire stream, whether you’re a fly fishermen or conventional angler like me who likes to drift fish.

That first year, I tangled with plenty of bright summers in the fast water and more accomplished anglers did even better. The Big White’s size, rugged beauty and aggressive steelhead draw me back every year.

STARTING THE SECOND WEEK of July, an armada of small boats gathers at the river’s mouth. Flyrodders and conventional anglers work the cold waters around the Highway 14 bridge.

The fast water above the pool gets some attention as well, and in good years when there are plenty of fish, locals hit it hard. Still, there are miles of good water, plenty of room to spread out.

Like all summer steelhead fisheries in the Gorge, the snow-cold waters of the White Salmon, usually running between 45 and 50 degrees during the hot season, are what brings the fish. Most caught here are seeking relief from the tepid Columbia; they pull into the Big White to wait out the summer heat before eventually migrating to Idaho. The fishery is best when summer heat hits early, before the bulk of the run has moved past. When an early summer collides with a strong return, fishing can be fantastic.

THE BEST ACTION can sometimes be right at the first riffle above the Bonneville Pool, which is also the most popular fast-water spot. There is about 200 yards of good water, and when the pool is high, the steelhead can be found in the upper end.

When pool level drops, fish often move down into the pool itself and hang right where the fast water dumps in.
However, plenty pull upriver as far as Condit Dam, so if you’re willing to hike a mile or two, you can find unpressured steelhead.

DRIFTING BAIT OR YARN is very effective, and I have found that sand shrimp are hard to beat when fish first arrive.

In August the bite can get a little finicky, and switching to yarn can be good then. However, I have seen steelhead taken on everything from a single-egg pattern fly to a No. 5 Blue Fox. The trick later on is to keep switching until you find what they want.

The Big White is a glacial river, and when it’s hot, the water will turn powder blue. This can actually make the steelhead more aggressive. Also, while the morning bite is often best, the fish can turn on at just about any time of day.

The steelhead are roughly a 50-50 mix of wild and hatchery fish; unclipped steelhead must be released.

The fish range in size from 4 to 15 pounds. Peak fishing is usually in August; September’s first cool snap sends them back on their way up the Columbia.

The river is accessible via a short but steep hike down from a parking lot on the west side of Highway 141, which parallels the river, about 1 mile north of Highway 14. – Terry Otto

NNWFR: The Mysterious Death Of A 50-pound Carp

August 13, 2009

Was it the Butler with poison nuts down by the lake, or did too many catch-and-releases and just flat-out obesity do “Benson” the British carp in?

The Wall Street Journal reports that an autopsy will be performed to determine the real reason the carp was found belly up at Bluebell Lakes recently.

Bensen, estimated at 52 pounds, had been released 63 times, according to the article, and was well-loved by Old World anglers.

“Within the fishing fraternity, she was like a film star, like Raquel Welch,” said Dave Wilmot, a fisherman from Nottingham, standing on the shores of Kingfisher Lake in a pouring rain this week. “Like Sophia Loren,” another angler piped in, and “equally difficult to catch.”

For what it’s worth …

Record Steelhead Surge Over Bonneville?

August 12, 2009

A record number of steelhead appears to have surged over Bonneville Dam yesterday.

Both the Fish Passage Center and Columbia DART sites report a whopping 18,671 hatchery steelies slipped through the concrete plug’s fish ladder.

Joe Hymer at Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission believes it’s the highest one-day count since 1938. The previous record was 14,432 on Aug. 3, 2001, he says.

It’s also a 10,000-fish jump from the day before.

Wild steelhead counts also jumped dramatically, from 3,016 on Monday to over 6,300 yesterday.

Counts at The Dalles Dam, the next dam above Bonneville, rose markedly earlier this month as well, from 512 on Aug. 7 to 2,688 on Aug. 10. John Day Dam also saw a 1,000-fish rise and there was a bump at McNary too.

‘Some Serious Coho And They Are Huge’

August 12, 2009

With smoking-hot salmon fishing on the Washington Coast and some coho already hitting the 15-pound mark, fishery managers will huddle later today and tomorrow to try figure out how to stretch fishing seasons.

“We have a call tomorrow at 9 a.m. and we’re going to try to move some fish from somewhere,” says ocean salmon manager Doug Milward in Olympia. “We’ve got a call at 4 this afternoon to determine from where.”

Around 28,000 coho have been landed in just the past two weeks at Ilwaco on the South Coast — and signs point towards strong continued catches there this week, says Milward.

“It’s just limits on charter and private boats” at Ilwaco and elsewhere, he says.

Milward says there’s a lot of feed in the ocean, and that he’s personally sampled coho up to 12 pounds.

“There are some serious coho, and they are huge … We’ve already seen 15s in the first days of August. If a 15 doesn’t get caught in August, it’s a 20 by September,” he says.

The hope at Ilwaco is that Buoy 10 will heat up soon — Milward expects it will — and take some of the pressure off Ilwaco.

Ilwaco anglers have caught 60.8 percent of the coho quota and 68.4 percent of the king guideline. Nearly 16,000 coho were brought back to port in the Columbia River Zone last week, the highest one-week tally of the season in Washington so far.

The La Push coho quota sits at 97.9 percent of the allowable catch through August 9. A catch of 1,324 coho there August 3-9 pushed the quota from 68.3 percent to almost 98 percent.

At Westport, there’s still a lot of room for both species. Only 38 percent of the coho quota and 29.4 percent of the Chinook guideline have been landed through last week.

La Push’s early season king guideline is at 40.7 percent — and the area enjoys a late-season Chinook fishery as well. The coho quota at Neah Bay is only 47.1 percent filled.

While Neah’s Chinook guideline is at 94.3 percent, Milward says that doesn’t worry him too much as over 50 percent of the coastwide catch is still available.

A guideline is a soft target while a quota is a hard line.

Anglers enjoyed catches of 1.72, 1.76, 1.79 and 1.13 Chinook and coho per rod at Ilwaco, Westport, La Push and Neah Bay August 3-9.

Milward says Neah’s low catch per unit has been pushed down by pinks; limit is two salmon plus two additional pinks.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

August 12, 2009

From corner to corner, you’ll find fishing action all around the Beaver State. Here are highlights from ODFW’s latest Recreation Report:

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Steelhead fishing on the Deschutes River between Macks Canyon and the   mouth is picking up, with cooler temperatures making the fish a little more aggressive.
  • Kokanee fishing is picking up on Lake Billy Chinook.

SOUTHWEST  ZONE

  • Fishing on Diamond Lake has been improving with the cooler temperatures.
  • Bass and crappie fishing on Howard Prairie Reservoir has been good, while some boat anglers have been catching limits of trout – some over 15 inches long.
  • Steelhead anglers are starting to see some success on the middle and upper Rogue River.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Prospects are good for chinook and steelhead on the tributaries of the mid and upper Willamette.
  • 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 and spring chinook are being caught on the Sandy River

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing in the Wallowa, lower Grande Ronde and Imnaha rivers and tributaries continues to be fair to good.
  • Trout fishing in Wallowa Lake has been good.

SNAKE RIVER ZONE

  • Brownlee crappie fishing has slowed but night fishing with lights is the most productive. Generally the best jigs to use are chartruese, red & white, or yellow & white. If fishing during the day for crappie, the fish are deep with a very light bite. Catfish angling is good.  Bass angling has been fairly slow this year.  The water level is 15 feet below full.  Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • The B run steelhead population destined for the Clearwater River is currently migrating through the lower Columbia River.
  • Action for fall chinook and coho is ramping up at Buoy 10.
  • Walleye fishing is good near Troutdale and in the Gorge.

MARINE ZONE

Nearly every angler on the central coast who targeted halibut during last week end’s all-depth opener was successful. Only one in three anglers were successful in the Columbia River sub-area.

The summer all-depth season Pacific halibut opened Friday (Aug. 7) off the central Oregon coast and the Columbia River. Off the Columbia, from Leadbetter Point to Cape Falcon, fishing is open Friday through Sunday until Sept. 27 or the subarea catch limit of 15, 735, whichever comes first. On the central coast, from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain, the summer season is every other Friday through Sunday until Oct. 31 or until the sub-area catch limit of 165, 681 is taken, which ever comes first.

Halibut fishing inside the 40-fathom line on the central coast is open seven days a week until a separate quota of 14,407 pounds is attained or Oct. 31, which ever comes first.
For more information on the halibut season.

Coho fishing is still good with catch rates a little less than two fish per angler on the central coast and less than two off the north coast. Brookings and Gold Beach were down around two coho for 10 anglers.

Off the Columbia River about three out of 10 anglers landed chinook salmon. As of Aug. 1, the daily bag limit for chinook salmon north of Cape Falcon increased to allow up to two chinook salmon. The daily bag limit is now two salmon per day, and all retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip.

Fishers landed an average of between two and three rockfish coast wide. Lingcod were harder to come by with fewer than two in 10 anglers finding success.

Crabbing picked up last week with Garibaldi, Winchester Bay and Florence posting the high numbers with an average of seven, eight and nine crab per crabber respectively. The rest of the coast averaged between three and four crab per crabber. Many male crabs have recently molted so return soft-shelled crabs to the ocean so they can fill out. Crab that have recently molted are not filled out with meat and are considered of lower quality.

Twin Rocks, Twin Limits Of Coho

August 11, 2009

No, Matt and Paula Little didn’t haul a great white back to port last weekend like a boatload of tuna anglers did further down the Oregon Coast, but they sure landed coho.

The Seattle couple were fishing out of Garibaldi with Norm Ritchie of Association of Northwest Steelheaders, and say that scent was key to catching their limit of three hatchery silvers apiece.

“Most boats were in maybe 160 to 200 feet of water, starting around (Twin Rocks) for a couple miles north with the current.  Trolling shallow with hoochies (white was best this day) with herring and anchovy both worked, but for some reason adding a gob of anchovy scent made the difference,” writes Matt, who sent us the below pic.

SIX COHO FOR MATT AND PAULA LITTLE, WHO WERE FISHING OFF TWIN ROCKS OUTSIDE TILLAMOOK BAY. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

SIX COHO FOR MATT AND PAULA LITTLE, WHO WERE FISHING OFF TWIN ROCKS OUTSIDE TILLAMOOK BAY. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

They also caught a “salmon-sized mackerel.”

Right before hauling up a mess a Dungeness, they snapped the above shot of their catch and waves breaking on Twin Rocks in the background.

As for sharks, there actually was one around, Matt reports.

“I did watch a shark chase after a salmon in a neighbor boat, but I don’t think it was ‘the’ shark,” he adds.

Depoe Shark ‘Drowned’ In Crab Gear: Paper

August 11, 2009

An Oregonian story posted last night details how that 12-plus-foot great white shark brought back to Depoe Bay last weekend became entangled in a fisherman’s crab gear and drowned.

“There was no movement,” skipper Dick Teeny told the newspaper. “It was just laying limp on top of our crab pots. A pot was stuck between the fins and the two gills. The shark had gone down on the crab pot and crushed it and when he did that he caught in the lines, which form a pyramid. He got his head in there and when he collapsed the pot, if he backed up, his gills were caught and if he went forward his fins were caught in the line.”

Teeny and crew had been out tuna fishing and stopped on their way back to port to check his crab pot.

GREAT WHITE BROUGHT BACK TO DEPOE BAY. (OREGON STATE POLICE)

GREAT WHITE BROUGHT BACK TO DEPOE BAY. (OREGON STATE POLICE)

The Oregon State Police are still investigating; we are waiting on a call-back.

The shark was seized and transported to the Hatfield Marine Science Center down the road in Newport.

Just don’t head for the Oregon Coast hoping to get in on The Next Big Fishery. It’s illegal to fish for or possess great whites in Oregon and the rest of the U.S.

“It’s the first white shark I recall being brought back to shore in Oregon,” adds Eric Schindler, who has been with ODFW’s marine sampling program for 25 years.

A YouTube video shows the shark in the water at the harbor in Depoe Bay. It’s then hauled out and across the launch ramp behind a boat which it was tethered to. After someone sits on the fish and pulls its head back exposing teeth, a small porpoise is extracted from it. The video had been viewed nearly 16,000 times as of early this morning.

There have been other reports of sharks off the coast in recent days, according to the Oregonian

Illegal, Barbed-fly-hook-flinging Guide Busted!

August 11, 2009

You can find all sorts of things on Craig’s List, even illegal fly fishing guides.

The Idaho Department of Fish & Game is reporting that they busted a 26-year-old Boise man for not only illegally guiding on the renowned South Fork Boise River, but doing so with a barbed fly!

According to IDFG, Christopher R. Bentley placed an ad on Craig’s List which came to the attention of the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association in early July as well as Fish and Game officers.

“He was contacted, interviewed and arrested while guiding clients on the South Fork Boise in mid-July,” IDFG reports.

Late last week, Bentley was sentenced to two days in jail, ordered to pay $1,152 in fines and court costs as well as $1,365 to the Outfitters and Guides Association, had his fishing and hunting privileges in Idaho suspended for two years (as well as 30 other states enrolled in a nationwide wildlife compact) and had to surrender his fishing rod and reel, according to IDFG.

Lake Wenatchee Sockeye Closing Tomorrow Evening

August 10, 2009

Citing “substantial and unexpected” mortality in the Wenatchee River “due to high water temperatures,” fishery managers are closing Lake Wenatchee to sockeye fishing an hour after sunset tomorrow, Aug. 11.

WDFW announced the rule change this afternoon via email.

“It’s a bummer,” said a down-sounding Art Viola, the system’s state fisheries bio, who we reached on his cell phone.

He and other state managers decided to hold a fishery because they expected a return of some 30,000 fish, plus or minus 2,000, to the lake. The spawning escapement goal is 23,000.

Since fishing opened Aug. 5, anglers have kept 2,040 sockeye.

But even early on it was clear that something unusual was going on. When we spoke with Viola on last week’s opener, he expressed concern about a “run stall.”

“They’re either not there or with two weeks of blazing hot weather, they haven’t come up the Wenatchee,” he told us then.

This afternoon he told us that at least 180 dead sockeye were found in the relatively cooler Icicle Creek, some dead fish were piling up at the Tumwater Dam fish trap and that rafters on the Wenatchee were also reporting seeing carcasses. He said that dead summer Chinook were also found in the Icicle.

“This was very unexpected. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Viola said about the weeks of extremely hot weather that hit the region, raising the Columbia’s water temps to as high as 74 degrees, 4 degrees above normal, at Bonneville Dam.

Still, Viola’s holding out hope that some of the lake-bound sockeye held in the relatively cooler Columbia.

“If we didn’t close it, we’d be really cutting into the spawners. Three or four years from now, the run wouldn’t be very good,” he says. “It’s not the end of the world, but we don’t want to make it worse.”

The fishery generates so much interest that on July 15, if you called up Viola, you heard this voice mail:

“This is Art Viola. If you’re calling about the possibility of a Lake Wenatchee sockeye season, the answer is, we still don’t know, but it’s looking more likely than it has in the past,” it says. “We’re watching the counts over Tumwater, and also Rocky Reach and Rock Island. And we’ll know more in a week or so. See you later. BEEP.”

As Viola began to feel the heat to hold a season, the hot weather also set in.

Sekiu King Closure, Schmeiku King Closure

August 10, 2009

The guys at WDFW closed Sekiu for Chinook last week, but ye would be a darned fool to black this port on the Strait of Juan de Fuca off your anglin’ radar.

Just ask Paul Nelson who fired us over the below shot of his daughters Brittany and Brianna Nelson with a whole pile of pink salmon they caught this past Saturday.

BRITTANY AND BRIANNA NELSON WITH A FINE MESS OF SEKIU PINKS. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

BRITTANY AND BRIANNA NELSON WITH A FINE MESS OF SEKIU PINKS. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Thumbs up backatcha, girls!

Pinks will continue to move through here in big numbers this month, thanks to this year’s forecasted return of 5-plus million fish.

Their catch also included a 17-pound hatchery silver — 17 pounds!!! Silvers will be a good bet at Sekiu through the rest of summer.

“Brianna used a green spatterback Coho Killer which we have never used before for the big silver. Man, they catch the heck out of salmon!” Paul Nelson writes.

Wild coho must be released until Sept. 19.

SW WA FISHING REPORT

August 10, 2009

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Boat anglers are catching some steelhead around the trout hatchery.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 585 summer-run steelhead adults, 15 spring Chinook adults, eight jacks, 118 Chinook mini-jacks and four cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released eight spring Chinook adults and seven jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek, 103 spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park, and two hatchery-origin cutthroat trout downstream to the Barrier Dam boat launch on the Cowlitz River.  The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife transported two cutthroat trout to the Tilton River downstream of Morton, Washington.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,180 cubic feet per second with a visibility of 13 feet on Monday, August 10.

Kalama River – Only one day of sampling last week but the bank anglers in the mid river were catching some steelhead.

Lewis River- On the North Fork, boat anglers are doing better for steelhead than bank anglers.

Wind River – Light effort though some steelhead are being caught.

Drano Lake – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged 1.3 steelhead per rod.  Just over half the fish caught were kept.  Effort is moderate with 45 boats counted there yesterday (Sunday August 9) morning.

White Salmon River – Including fish released, bank anglers averaged about a steelhead per every other rod plus a few Chinook jacks.  A couple dozen watercraft were found here yesterday morning.

Buoy 10 – Effort and catch is increasing.  On better days, anglers averaged nearly a fish per rod.  Most of the catch has been coho.  125 boats were counted during the Saturday August 8 flight.

Lower  mainstem Columbia from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line to Bonneville Dam  – During the first nine days of August we sampled 771 bank anglers with 199 steelhead and 275 boat anglers (131 boats) with 115 steelhead and 1 adult and 2 jack fall Chinook.  About 60% of the steelhead caught were kept.  For steelhead, best bank catches were from Longview downstream while boat anglers were doing well from Vancouver downstream.

111 of the 262 boats fishing for salmonids were at  the mouth of the Cowlitz during the Saturday flight.  In addition, 335 Washington and 117 Oregon bank anglers were counted up and down the lower mainstem Columbia below Bonneville Dam.

The Columbia has cooled a few degrees and fish counts are back on the rise at Bonneville Dam.  Yesterday, nearly 500 adult Chinook and 5,700 steelhead were counted.

Bonneville Pool – Only a  few boats were observed off the White Salmon River and Drano Lake yesterday.  No report on angling success.

John Day Pool – Only 1 boat with 3 anglers sampled last week and they had no catch.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Light effort and catch during the current catch-and-release fishery.  Only 31 boats were counted below Bonneville last Saturday.

John Day Pool – Last week 6 boats with 17 anglers caught and released 7 sturgeon.

WALLEYE AND BASS

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal area are catching some walleye.  Two dozen boats were counted from there to the gorge last Saturday.

John Day Pool – Walleye: 17 boats with 38 anglers caught 83 walleye and 93 bass.  Bass: 9 boats with 17 anglers caught and released 108 bass.

TROUT

Mayfield Lake – Bank and boat anglers are catching some rainbows.  5,000 catchable size rainbows are scheduled to be planted this week.

Riffe Lake – On the one day sampled last week, fishing was slow from the bank near the dam.

Swofford Pond –Light effort and no catch was observed during the one day sampled last week.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission

Two-Rods A Go In Oregon Too — In 2010

August 10, 2009

While Washington anglers get the green light to begin stringing up a second rod to fish most lakes as of Aug. 15, Oregon-side anglers will have to wait until Jan. 1, 2010 to do so.

Last Friday, the Fish & Wildlife Commission voted to allow Beaver State fishermen to use an additional line on most inland lakes, ponds and reservoirs.

The $16.50 endorsement can be purchased with a resident or nonresident fishing license

However, second rods won’t be allowed on reservoirs on the Columbia River and the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam.

Juvenile anglers age 13 and younger can fish two poles without an endorsement, according to ODFW.

“There has been a lot of angler interest in a two-pole rule,” said Rhine Messmer, ODFW Recreational Fisheries Program manager. “Some anglers will use two poles to catch more fish faster, while others will use the opportunity to experiment with different tactics or tackle and see what’s working the best.”

When fishing with two poles, all existing regulations such as daily bag limits, bait restrictions, and maximum/minimum retention sizes will still apply.

Other major changes to next year’s fishing regulations include:

The two-pole endorsement was approved as part of the 2010 Sport Fishing Regulations adopted by the Commission at today’s meeting. The 2010 regulations include several other key changes from 2009:

  • In the Northwest Zone, the new regulations move the chinook salmon angling deadlines on the Nehalem and North Fork Nehalem to help protect spawning chinook salmon.
  • In the Willamette Zone, Eagle Creek and the Sandy and Clackamas rivers will be open to the retention of fin-clipped (hatchery) coho year round. This will allow anglers to keep excess hatchery fish that remain in the rivers after the current coho seasons close. The McKenzie River from the mouth to Hayden Bridge will be open to the retention of fin-clipped chinook the entire year.
  • Also in the Willamette Zone, the Commission adopted a rule prohibiting float tubes and other floating devices from the St. Louis Ponds near Woodburn. Some of the ponds were opened to the flotation devices in 2009; however, to avoid potential angler conflicts floating devices will be prohibited starting in 2010.
  • In the Central Zone, the Commission approved a 16-inch maximum length limit for brown trout harvested from East Lake. The proposed change is the result of a Fish Health Advisory that advises anglers to avoid eating large brown trout from East Lake due to high mercury levels.
  • In the Northeast Zone, new regulations establish trout and steelhead seasons on a three mile stretch of Big Sheep Creek, where a recent land swap now provides public access.
  • In the Southeast Zone, new regulations help define the mouth of the Williamson River after the removal of nearby dikes, and create a new angling deadline on the Sprague River in response to the removal of Chiloquin Dam in 2008.

Chinook Season Extended On Chelan

August 10, 2009

WDFW has extended Chinook season on Lake Chelan indefinetly.

Daily limit remains one 15-inch-or-better king.

The lake is stocked with triploid Chinook, and has a naturally reproducing population as well.

ERIN FREISE OF MUKILTEO, WASH., WITH A 7-POUND LAKE CHELAN CHINOOK, CAUGHT AUG. 4. (DARRELL & DAD'S GUIDE SERVICE, 866-360-1523)

ERIN FREISE OF MUKILTEO, WASH., WITH A 7-POUND LAKE CHELAN CHINOOK, CAUGHT AUG. 4. (DARRELL & DAD'S GUIDE SERVICE, 866-360-1523)

The WA Lakes Where 2nd Rods Won’t Be Allowed

August 10, 2009

As we reported in mid-July, WDFW will begin allowing anglers to use a second rod while fishing most Washington lakes starting this month.

The $20 endorsements will be available for sale Aug. 13 and you can begin putting a second line out for trout, walleye, etc., as of Aug. 15.

However, there are 145 lakes where it won’t be legal, and river and saltwater fisheries have also been excluded. Here’s a county-by-county listing:

Para-juvenile Lake Adams
Quail Lake Adams
Headgate Pond Asotin
Columbia Park Pond Benton
Blackbird Island Pond Chelan
Lake Wenatchee Chelan
Aldwell Lake Clallam
Beaver Lake Clallam
Carrie Blake Pond Clallam
Dickey Lake Clallam
Lake Pleasant Clallam
Lincoln Pond Clallam
Sutherland Lake Clallam
Vancouver Lake Clark Includes all other waters west of Burlington-Northern Railroad from Columbia River drawbridge near Vancouver downstream to Lewis River
Big Four Lake Columbia
Dayton Pond Columbia
Blue Lake Cowlitz
Castle Lake Cowlitz
Coldwater Lake Cowlitz
Lewis River Power Canal Cowlitz Includes old Lewis River streambed between Swift No.1 Powerhouse and Swift No. 2 Powerhouse
Merrill Lake Cowlitz
Scanewa Lake Cowlitz Cowlitz Falls Reservoir
Silver Lake Cowlitz
Grimes Lake Douglas
Pit Lake Douglas
Long Lake Ferry
Beda Lake Grant
Brookies Lakes Grant
Dry Falls Lake Grant
Dusty Lake Grant
Homestead Lake Grant
Lenice Lake Grant
Lenore Lake Grant
Merry Lake Grant
Nunnally Lake Grant
Ping Pond Grant
Damon Lake Grays Harbor
Mill Creek Pond Grays Harbor
Promised Land Pond Grays Harbor
Quigg Lake Grays Harbor Located at Friends Landing near Montesano.
Shye Lake Grays Harbor
Vance Creek Pond #1 Grays Harbor
Vance Creek Pond #2 Grays Harbor
Wynoochee Reservoir Grays Harbor
Anderson Lake Jefferson
Gibbs Lake Jefferson
Horseshoe Lake Jefferson
Teal Lake Jefferson
Lake Sammamish King
Lake Union King
Lake Washington King Including that portion of Sammamish River from 68th Ave. NE Bridge downstream
Lake Washington Ship Canal King (Including Lake Union, Portage Bay, and Salmon Bay) waters east of a north-south line 400’ west of the Chittenden Locks to the MontLake Bridge
Mill Pond King Auburn
Old Fishing Hole Pond King Kent
Portage Bay King
Rattlesnake Lake King
Ravensdale Lake King
Salmon Bay King
Swans Mill Pond King
Koeneman Lake Kitsap formerly Fern Lake
Easton Lake Kittitas
Kachess Lake Kittitas RESERVOIR
Keechelus Lake Kittitas RESERVOIR
Kiwanis Pond Kittitas
Naneum Pond Kittitas
Cowlitz Falls Reservoir Lewis
Fort Borst Park Pond Lewis
Mayfield Lake Lewis RESERVOIR – From Mayfield Dam to Mossyrock Dam
Packwood Lake Lewis
Walupt Lake Lewis
Willame Lake Lewis
Coffeepot Lake Lincoln
Cady Lake Mason
Cushman Reservoir Mason
Prices Lake Mason
Stump Lake Mason
Aeneas Lake Okanogan
Big Twin Lake Okanogan
Black Lake Okanogan
Blue Lake Okanogan near Wannacut Lake
Blue Lake Okanogan Sinlahekin Creek
Campbell Lake Okanogan
Chopaka Lake Okanogan
Cougar Lake Okanogan Lost River
Davis Lake Okanogan
Ell Lake Okanogan
Green Lake Okanogan
Green Lake Okanogan Lower Green Lake
Hidden Lake Okanogan Lost River
Rat Lake Okanogan
Silvernail Lake Okanogan
Cases Pond Pacific
Middle Nemah Pond Pacific
Mooses Pond Pacific
Owens Pond Pacific
South Bend Mill Pond Pacific
Browns Lake Pend Oreille
Muskegon Lake Pend Oreille
Bradley Lake Pierce
De Coursey Pond Pierce
Ohop Lake Pierce
Tanwax Lake Pierce
Wapato Lake Pierce
Granite Lakes Skagit near Marblemount
Northern State Hospital Pond Skagit
Pass Lake Skagit
Vogler Lake Skagit
Drano Lake Skamania (Little White Salmon River) downstream of markers on point of land downstream and across from Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery and upstream of Hwy. 14 Bridge
Swift Reservoir Skamania From dam to markers approximately mile below Eagle Cliff Bridge
Ebey Lake Snohomish Little Lake
Fortson Mill Pond #2 Snohomish
Jennings Park Pond Snohomish
Monte Cristo Lake Snohomish
North Gissburg Pond Snohomish
Spada Lake Snohomish RESERVOIR
Amber Lake Spokane
Bear Lake Spokane
Medical Lake Spokane
North Silver Lake Spokane
Bayley Lake Stevens
Lucky Duck Pond Stevens
Mcdowell Lake Stevens
Rigley Lake Stevens
Kennedy Creek Pond Thurston
Long’s Pond Thurston
Mclane Creek Ponds Thurston
Munn Lake Thurston
Jefferson Park Pond Walla Walla
Lions Park Pond Walla Walla College Place
Baker Lake Whatcom
Diablo Lake Whatcom
Gorge Lake Whatcom
Lake Whatcom Whatcom See DOH Fish Consumption Advisories
Ross Lake Whatcom RESERVOIR
Squalicum Lake Whatcom
Garfield Juvenile Pond Whitman
Bumping Lake Yakima RESERVOIR
Clear Lake Yakima
Leech Lake Yakima White Pass area
Mud Lake Yakima
Myron Lake Yakima
Rimrock Lake Yakima RESERVOIR
Sarge Hubbard Park Pond Yakima
Yakima Sportsmen’s Park Ponds Yakima

Pink Boots, Iron Jigs & Albies

August 7, 2009

Del Stephens at the Oregon Tuna Classic fired off a tuna fishing report this afternoon that’s notable for A) how many seconds — seconds — of trolling it took before the first hook-up, B) how many fish he and his pretty crew caught in just the first 20 minutes of fishing, and C) the footwear of some of said crew.

Here’s his report:

Yesterday was one of those days to remember as Team Bad To The Bone went on a practice run to work on their jigging iron techniques. The ladies on the team questioned why we needed to leave so early, since this wasn’t a competition, so we decided to oblige and not leave the dock till 7:00am.

We needed a little fuel, put on some ice and pulled over to get a little live bait and before we new it it was 8:00am before we left Little Italy heading 60 miles SW to Tuna Town. There had been reports of jumpers so we thought we’d give it a whirl, heh what’s 60 miles on a flat ocean when you let the big dogs run.

An hour and a half later I was pulling the throttles back to troll speed… only 45 seconds of trolling was needed before the first hook up and it was off to the races….Pandemonium might be a better phrase for it as we shut down the engines, turned off the electronics, turned the tuna jets on and proceeded to put the “Whoop Ass” on the tuna for the next two and hour hours all in the same spot.

MEGAN, 22, GAINS LEVERAGE ON A TUNA. (DEL STEPHENS/OREGON TUNA CLASSIC)

MEGAN, 22, GAINS LEVERAGE ON A TUNA. (DEL STEPHENS/OREGON TUNA CLASSIC)

The tuna shuffle was alive and well running up and down the gunnels as multiple hookups had everyone running to keep up with their fish. Our youngest team member, Megan, chose to hangout on the nose of the boat and we were only stopped 20 seconds before she had her iron dropping off the bow and hooking up on the new rod that she’d won in Ilwaco for catching the biggest tuna on a Butterfly Jig. She continued to whack and stack’em thoughout the next couple hours without taking a break…actually got kind’ve grumpy and complaining when she started losing fish before I replaced her mangled and bent hooks. That made her a happy camper and she went back to perfecting her technique.

MEGAN AND WEDDY JIG IRON. (DEL STEPHENS/OREGON TUNA CLASSIC)

MEGAN AND WEDDY JIG IRON. (DEL STEPHENS/OREGON TUNA CLASSIC)

At 22 years old I’ve ruined her for any young guy to want to date…What guy in his right mind would want to take her fishing just to show him up. She has her own jig rod, now knows how to make assist hooks, tie her own jig on, tie a topshot onto braid, knows what size live bait hook to use for the bait she’s fishing, she’s a great cook, college educated with her mind on her career and is a great employee…I’m going to charge a commission for whoever snags her..

FORGET IT, SHE CAN OUTFISH YOU. (DEL STEPHENS/OREGON TUNA CLASSIC)

BEAUTIFUL GAL AND FISH -- AND STYLIN' BOOTS TOO. (DEL STEPHENS/OREGON TUNA CLASSIC)

Within an hour of being dead in the water we had jumpers boiling around the boat within 10 feet in any direction. The bite would taper off and give us a few minutes to get fish out of the bleed bucket and onto ice and within 10 minutes they’d be going again. No one took time to eat, get a drink or pee. You would’ve had to do that while fishing…

The only member of our team who had not hooked up on iron was struggling with the technique so we had some close one on one coaching and within 15 minutes he was hooked up and playing his first fish on iron.

By the numbers it was: 8:00am departure, 60 mile run to 45 X 125 or better known as Tuna Town, 8 fish in the first 20 minutes, 20 fish within 2 hours and the previously agreed upon number of fish we would stop at, 40 minutes…the time it took me to get them to quit putting their jigs back in the water before they had whacked another 10 fish….the end result, 30 fish on one bait stop….1.5 hours back, drop fish off to be carked and back in the slip at 4:00pm, wash the boat, have a celebratory Crown Royal Special Reserve drink at 5:30pm over dinner.

Today…plan for the next trip on sunday and get ready for the next tournament in Charleston next weekend…