Archive for September, 2009

E. Wash. Deer, Bird Previews

September 30, 2009

I don’t know about your part of Washington, but the part I’ve been roaming the last few days has been downright chilly — and I couldn’t be happier. It means hunting season is finally here.

Indeed, it snowed a couple inches at Stevens Pass and we’ve heard reports of freezing temps near Chelan. That’ll crisp up the apples, and get the bucks’ attention, signaling that it’s time to move out of the Kettles, the Pasayten and the Sawtooths for their winter ranges.

And as the deer put on their winter coats, hunters are beginning to don theirs. I chuckled when a friend emailed me this morning to say he’d quit shaving to grow out his beard for the midmonth opener to the rifle hunt. Time to start mine as well.

JEFF COMA'S 24-INCH-WIDE WHITETAIL FROM THE OKANOGAN. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

JEFF COMA'S 24-INCH-WIDE WHITETAIL FROM THE OKANOGAN. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Deer aren’t the only game in town this month. Prospects look pretty good around Eastern Washington for upland birds, especially quail, and there will definitely be local waterfowl around too.

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RANDY DAVIS OF SCHWANA WITH A CANADA. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

I’ll tell you, it just ain’t fair that there’s only one October on the calendar. We need at least two, and preferably four there’s just so much to do.

Here’s a roundup of prospects around Eastern Washington, courtesy of WDFW’s Weekender:

NORTHEAST WASHINGTON
Pat Fowler, WDFW southeast district wildlife biologist, said quail brood numbers are looking good, and the best areas to hunt are along the major river drainages – Walla Walla, Touchet, and Tucannon rivers, plus Asotin Creek.

“Chukar and gray partridge broods observed to date appear to be good sized, so hunting may improve from last year,” Fowler said. “The best areas to hunt chukar are along the Snake River breaks from Lower Granite dam upriver to the Washington-Oregon border, and along the breaks of the Grande Ronde River. Huns can normally be found in these same areas, but concentrate efforts along the edge of agricultural fields and brushy draws.”

WDFW’s Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area Manager Juli Anderson said that although Hungarian partridge can be tough to find on the area in central Lincoln County, they’re out there.

“I strongly advise hunters to bring a dog to find the Huns,” Anderson said. “There are no quail to speak of here and very few pheasants. Hunters need to be able to identify upland birds before shooting on and around Swanson Lakes to avoid take of protected sharp-tailed and sage grouse.”

RINGNECK HOUND "SKY" POSES WITH MASTER KIL KIM'S BIRDS. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

RINGNECK HOUND "SKY" POSES WITH MASTER KIL KIM'S BIRDS. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Anderson said waterfowl hunting opportunities will depend on the amount of water in the wildlife area’s potholes and in the Lake Creek drainage. “It’s very dry right now,” Anderson said. “Even our larger pothole lakes such as Florence Lake have dried up. Z-Lake off Telford Road might be the best bet for waterfowl, although it’s a mile-plus walk from the county road.”

Anderson expects mule deer hunting success in the Swanson Lakes area to be average to below average this fall.

“At the headquarters we’re seeing somewhat lower numbers of deer than we did last year,” she said.

Fowler reports Blue Mountains area mule deer and white-tailed deer populations have both declined over the last three years.

DYLAN KOHLER'S FIRST DEER, TAKEN LAST FALL NEAR REPUBLIC. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

DYLAN KOHLER'S FIRST DEER, TAKEN LAST FALL NEAR REPUBLIC. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

For mule deer, it’s been lower fawn survival, he said, and for white-tailed deer it’s been Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) outbreaks in localized populations.

“Mule deer populations appear to have stabilized along the breaks of the Snake River and in the lowlands,” Fowler said. “Mule deer populations in the mountains are still depressed, and hunters will find fairly low success rates in those areas. Although white-tailed deer populations have declined in some areas, the population overall is still strong and will offer excellent hunting opportunity. The foothills of the Blue Mountains and river bottoms hold the largest concentrations of white-tailed deer. Much of the foothill lands are in private ownership, so seek permission before hunting.”

WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman said that a new shooting range on the area, built last spring, is available for hunters to sight their rifles. The range is in the old gravel pit, about a mile south of the Last Resort campground off the Tucannon River Road. Dingman said hunters can drive to a parking area, then make a short walk to the range. The area is a “pack-it-in-pack-it-out” site, with no garbage disposal service.

The northeast district of the region is traditionally the white-tailed deer hunting capital of the state. Although the Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille county areas will still likely produce some of the best whitetail harvest, overall harvest may be lower this year than the average of the past decade, said District Wildlife Biologist Dana Base.

“The long-term population trend for white-tailed deer here continues to drift downward with the continued loss of acreage in cereal grain and alfalfa hay farm production,” Base said. “Two bad winters back to back, with excessive snow and cold, have further exacerbated this situation. Mule deer appear to have weathered these past couple winters better than the whitetails, but their populations also show the same spotty pattern as whitetail populations – some areas have stable to increasing numbers and other areas are in decline.”

NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON
WDFW district wildlife biologist Rich Finger of Moses Lake expects quail hunting to be fair to good this year in the Columbia Basin.

“Winter conditions were harsh for quail but did not likely cause large scale mortality,” Finger said.  “Spring conditions were fair with cool weather and localized rains in June that may have reduced productivity to some degree.  Riparian areas will offer the best hunting and hunters can increase their chances by securing access to private lands where pressure can be considerably lower.  If pressure is high, some coveys can be found settling into shrub cover a considerable distance from heavily hunted areas”

Finger says gray partridge occur in low densities in the Basin but are rarely targeted by hunters, taken incidentally while hunting other upland game birds.

“Most partridge will occur on private farm fields – particularly in the dryland wheat portions of Adams County and, to a lesser degree, Grant County,” Finger said.  “Gray partridge are a resilient bird and thus likely fared well through the winter.”

Most chukar partridge hunting in the district occurs in Moses Coulee and Coulee Corridor areas, Finger reported.

“Chukar are a challenging game bird to pursue,” Finger said. “Hunters can expect to chase their mocking calls across fractured basalt only to watch them flush out of range and glide out of sight.  Most chukar probably survived the winter in fair condition.  However, chukar numbers appeared to be low last fall and thus the adult breeding population may have been small despite the moderate winter conditions.  Expect another tough season for an already difficult quarry.”

Farther north in the region, WDFW district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin of Winthrop says California quail numbers appear to be up compared to last year due to favorable spring weather conditions improving nesting success. Quail hunting prospects are anticipated to be better than last year. Favorable spring weather conditions also likely improved nesting success for gray and chukar partridge within the district this year, Fitkin said, and hunting for those species could be somewhat better, too.

“Prospects for mule deer in the district continue to be down, due to an average 70 percent over-winter fawn mortality during each of the three winters prior to last winter,” Fitkin said.  “Even though last winter was not as bad, fawn numbers did not improve as anticipated with spring surveys showing 31 fawns per 100 does in the Methow and 42 fawns per 100 does in the Okanogan. We attribute this to poor forage conditions on the winter range.”

GARY LUNDQUIST'S 2008 MULEY, FROM THE TWISP RIVER. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

GARY LUNDQUIST'S 2008 MULEY, FROM THE TWISP RIVER. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Fitkin noted that white-tailed deer are less abundant than mule deer throughout the district, but are found in most all valley bottoms where they fared better over the last four winters.

Prospects should be somewhat better for those hunters targeting whitetails, he noted, but since most are on private lands hunters must seek permission for access in advance of the season.  Fitkin also noted that recent cooler, moister weather may improve deer hunting prospects for muzzleloaders already in the field.

New this year in the Columbia Basin is inclusion of Game Management Unit (GMU) 272 (Beezley) in the early muzzleloader mule deer season now open through Oct. 4. District biologist Finger reports most deer harvest in the Basin overall occurs in that unit and 284 (Ritzville), which has been part of the early muzzleloader season for both whitetails and mule deer.  Both units are also open for modern firearm deer hunting.

Finger noted that when hunters review the latest harvest reports (available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/harvest ), they will see success declined in GMU 272 from 28 percent in 2007 to 24 percent in 2008. But that was caused by a 12 percent increase in the number of hunters, he explained, rather than declines in local deer herds. He noted the number of hunters in GMU 284 similarly increased by 11 percent, but hunter success remained relatively constant at 34 percent.  Post-hunt surveys last year yielded buck-to-doe ratios of 21 per 100 in GMU 272 and 24 per 100 in GMU 284, suggesting moderate buck escapement rates during the 2008 season despite increased hunting pressure.

Finger reminds deer hunters that GMU 284 is mostly private property and that access permission must be secured prior to hunting. GMU 272 includes 53,000 acres of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Complex, most of which is open to hunting. He expects deer harvest in GMU 278 (Wahluke) – which is open now for early muzzleloader whitetail hunting and will be open for modern firearm hunting Oct. 17 – to be low again this year. Since 2001, total harvest in GMU 278 has averaged just 35 deer with hunter success running about 17 percent. GMU 278 does provide about 36,000 acres of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Complex, most of which is open to hunting.

“Overall, deer hunters in all groups should fare quite well during the 2009 season in the Basin,” Finger said.  “Last year’s post-hunt fawn-to-doe ratios indicate herd productivity was moderate in all surveyed units and buck-to-doe ratios have steadily increased the past few years. Despite last winter’s formidable conditions, we did not observe above normal winter mortality and populations are believed to have remained stable or increased slightly.”

Opening weekend of waterfowl hunting in the Columbia Basin should offer good numbers of mallards, teal, wigeon , and gadwall , Finger reported, even though overall duck production in the district was down about 25 percent this year.

MATT LITTLE WITH A LIMIT OF GREENHEADS FROM CRAB CREEK, TAKEN A BIT LATER IN THE SEASON. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

MATT LITTLE WITH A LIMIT OF GREENHEADS FROM CRAB CREEK, TAKEN A BIT LATER IN THE SEASON. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

“That will primarily affect early season hunting,” he said, “since the peak number of migrant waterfowl is usually in December.  Regardless, there will be local birds available on the opener, including some wood ducks concentrating in stands of flooded Russian olive trees in the wasteways.”

Finger said hunters using the Winchester Regulated Access Area should be cautious about pintails , which can be abundant there early in the season. Only two of the seven duck daily bag limit can be pintails.  Rules for using WDFW’s Regulated Access Areas can be found on page 28 of the 2009-2010 Migratory Waterfowl hunting pamphlet.

SOUTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON
Jeff Bernatowicz, WDFW district wildlife biologist from Yakima, reports quail populations are looking better for the first time in half-a-dozen years.

“Nesting was late but as summer progressed we saw more and larger quail broods,” he said. “I think hunters can expect better numbers than last year anyway.”

Gray or Hungarian partridge numbers in the district should also be better, but still not many birds, Bernatowicz says.

“Chukar populations have also been low the last few years, probably due to an extended drought,” he said. “But decent rain fell during May and June this year and good production was seen in some areas. Populations should be up, but probably below average long-term.”
Mike Livingston, WDFW district wildlife biologist from Pasco, reports few partridge, but probably a better year for quail hunting in the southeast end of the region.

“Spring precipitation was favorable with lots of nesting and brood rearing cover,” Livingston said. “We’ve had plenty of insects and seed producing plants for chicks. Field observations indicate lots of broods of various ages are present.”

Livingston says the best quail habitat in district is in north Franklin County on and surrounding WDFW’s Windmill Ranch Wildlife Area and the register-to-hunt Bailie Memorial Youth Ranch. Other areas include the Hanford Reach National Monument’s Ringold Unit, Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge along the Columbia, and the Army Corps of Engineers Big Flat and Lost Island Habitat Management Units along the Snake River.

“Anywhere along the rivers where riparian and herbaceous vegetation intersect will provide quail habitat,” Livingston said. “An ideal setting is where Russian olives or willows are adjacent to black greasewood or sagebrush.”

Local waterfowl production appears to be low this year in the south Basin, Livingston noted, with both breeding pair counts and brood counts below the five-year average for the district.
“There should be plenty of ducks for opening weekend, but success will likely taper off as the ducks get ‘educated,’” Livingston said. “Then we’ll have to wait for the migrants to arrive in the mid- to late-season.”

Good waterfowl hunting is available on small ponds and lakes on WDFW’s Windmill Ranch Wildlife Area, Bailie Memorial Youth Ranch and elsewhere in north Franklin County. The Army Corp of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provide hunting areas along the Snake and Columbia Rivers for both bank and boat hunters.

Waterfowl production in the northwest end of the region increased over a poor year in 2008, Bernatowicz reported.

“Most of the harvest in this district is on migrant birds later in the year,” he said. “Local grain production is up, and if favorable weather conditions occur, there should be enough food to hold migrants in the area.”

Bernatowicz notes there might be a slight increase in deer numbers this year in the Yakima district.

“Fawn production has been pretty good, but the hair-slip syndrome seems to be a nagging problem,” he said. “We’ve seen a deer population decline by 30 to 50 percent since about 2003, first documented in Game Management Units 328 – 346, then spreading south through GMUs 352 – 368.”

VIC MONAHAN'S BIG KITTITAS COUNTY BUCK. (VIC MONAHAN)

VIC MONAHAN'S BIG KITTITAS COUNTY BUCK. (VIC MONAHAN)

Livingston reports deer population estimates in the southeast district are below the five-year average for the area, and this year’s hunting may not be as good as last season.

“Our highest concentrations of deer, which are mostly mule deer with just a few whitetails, are in GMU 381 Kahlotus in Franklin County,” he said. “We get a large percentage migrating in from northern units later in October and November. Hunter success rates here average about 33 percent for modern firearm, but that tends to be high due to restricted access and lack of cover for deer.”

Livingston notes most of the district is private, open country farmland. There are some WDFW “Feel Free To Hunt” and “Hunt By Written Permission” acres where hunters can gain access to deer, but he advises pre-season scouting.

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Razor Clams Opening In Mid-October

September 30, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The first razor-clam dig of the fall season will get under way Oct. 16 if marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today. Additional digging opportunities are scheduled through Jan. 3

Evening digs are tentatively planned at Twin Harbors (Oct. 16-19); Long Beach and Copalis (Oct. 16, 17 and 18); and Mocrocks and Kalaloch Beach (Oct. 17 and18). Digging at all beaches will be restricted to the hours between noon and midnight.

“The results of our 2009 summer stock assessment show that Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch Beach have had an increase in their total allowable catch, while Copalis and Mocrocks are about the same,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. “This is great news for Kalaloch, which will have harvest opportunities for the first time since spring 2007.”

Kalaloch had been closed due to low clam abundance, but this year’s annual stock assessment shows approximately 3.5 million clams of harvestable size, Ayres said. The National Park Service scheduled the proposed digs at Kalaloch Beach, located within Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at other coastal beaches.

“We’re also pleased to be able to offer folks several opportunities to dig clams on the low tides around New Year’s, which is a very popular time,” Ayres said.

The best time to start digging is an hour or two before low tide, said Ayres, who also recommends that diggers check weather and surf conditions before heading out.

Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2009 annual shellfish/seaweed license or combination fishing license is still valid. Another option is a razor-clam only license available in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW website at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.

Olympic National Park superintendent Karen Gustin added a safety note for evening clam diggers, especially at Kalaloch. “Kalaloch is considerably more remote than the other clamming beaches, and visitors should be prepared for primitive conditions. With no streetlights or lighted buildings in the area, flashlights or lanterns are a necessity.”

A public meeting conducted jointly with staff from Olympic National Park will be held in Forks to further discuss razor clam populations at Kalaloch Beach. The meeting will be held Wednesday, Oct. 7, 7-8:30 p.m., at the Washington Department of Natural Resources conference room at 411 Tillicum Lane near Tillicum Park in Forks.

Besides the openings announced through Jan. 3, there should also be enough clams on most beaches to allow for harvesting later in 2010, Ayres said.

Tentative opening dates and evening low tides in October are:

  • Friday, Oct. 16 ( 5:50 p.m. -0.5 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Saturday, Oct. 17 (6:38 p.m. -0.8 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Sunday, Oct. 18 (7:23 p.m. -1.1ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Monday, Oct. 19 (8:06 p.m. -1.1 ft.) Twin Harbors

In addition, WDFW has tentatively scheduled four other digs through Jan. 3.

Digs scheduled in November include:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 4 (7:33 p.m. -1.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Thursday, Nov. 5 (8:18 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Twin Harbors
  • Friday, Nov. 6 (9:07 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Saturday, Nov. 7 (9:59 p.m. -0.5 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Saturday, Nov. 14 (4:34 p.m. -0.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Sunday, Nov. 15 (5:21 p.m. -0.7 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Monday, Nov. 16 (6:05 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Tuesday, Nov. 17 (6:47 p.m. -0.8 ft.) Twin Harbors

Digs scheduled December 2 through Jan. 3 include:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 2 (6:32 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Thursday, Dec. 3 (7:18 p.m. -1.4 ft.) Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Friday, Dec. 4 (8:04 p.m. -1.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Saturday, Dec. 5 (8:51 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Thursday, Dec. 31 (6:16 p.m. -1.1 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Friday, Jan. 1 (7:01 p.m. -1.8 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Saturday, Jan. 2 (7:45 p.m. -1.6 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Sunday, Jan. 3 (8:29 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Twin Harbors

Beaches scheduled to open are:

  • Long Beach , which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.
  • Twin Harbors Beach , which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.
  • Copalis Beach , which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.
  • Mocrocks Beach , which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
  • Kalaloch Beach , which extends from the South Beach Campground to Brown’s Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park.

Diamond Lake Fishing Report

September 30, 2009

(DIAMOND LAKE RESORT PRESS RELEASE)

Fall has arrived at Diamond Lake with a dusting of snow falling overnight. Water temperatures are dropping and trout are on the feed.

The hot spot all last week was the shallower water at the south end of the lake fishing near Short and Silent Creeks. Power Bait in Chartruse and Rainbow were the colors of choice. Night crawlers floated by a marshmallow 18 inches off the bottom or under a bobber with 4 feet of leader were a close second, but only because more anglers use Power Bait.

CHRISTINE MARSHALL OF EUGENE DISPLAYS A PAIR OF FAT DIAMOND LAKE RAINBOWS. (DIAMOND LAKE RESORT)

CHRISTINE MARSHALL OF EUGENE DISPLAYS A PAIR OF FAT DIAMOND LAKE RAINBOWS. (DIAMOND LAKE RESORT)

Trolling is also picked up. The winner of the 2009 Kokanee Power Trout Derby over the weekend landed a 3.75 pound trout on 3 and ½ inch Fire Tiger Rapala working 200 feet behind his boat.

Fly anglers are still making good catches near the south end of the lake. Wooly Buggers and leeches in black, brown, and olive are favorite patterns.

The weather has been blustery for float tube and kick boat anglers.

The weatherman is forecasting nicer weather on the way. In the absents fall storms trout fishing will remain good throughout October.
— Rick Rockholt

New Dock At La Grande’s Morgan Lake; Fishing Platforms Coming Soon

September 30, 2009

A new $67,000 floating dock is ready for business at Morgan Lake, just southwest of La Grande, reports The Observer yesterday.

The T-shaped 30-foot-by-30-foot structure on the north end of the lake was built with grant money from ODFW’s Restoration and Enhancement Program, according to the paper.

“Money from the Restoration and Enhancement grant is also being used to install four fishing platforms at Morgan Lake,” the paper reports. “The platforms will extend about 12 feet out into the water. The platforms will make it easier for people to fish at Morgan Lake and will also protect the shore from the wear and tear of anglers. (La Grande Parks Director Mark) Touhey explained that the platforms will result in fewer anglers fishing from shore, reducing soil erosion and the destruction of vegetation.”

September 29, 2009

5 COUNT: 5 Mobile Mountaineers

THE DALLES, Ore.—Oreamnos americanus, it turns out, can be anything but just another alpine homebody.

Take the billy that showed up in the middle of a wheat farmer’s field in North-central Oregon one day.

“If I hadn’t seen pictures or heard about another one,” the farmer told Keith Kohl, an Oregon state wildlife biologist based in The Dalles, “I wouldn’t have known what it was.”

Next the goat checked in at Macks Canyon on the lower Deschutes, and, when last seen in August, he was hunkered down near the river’s mouth eyeing anglers. As the story goes, one fisherman shouted to another standing across the river, “Hey, look behind you!”

And no, we’re not talking about some poor farmer’s escaped and possibly randy goat behind the guy. We’re talking about one of those white fluffballs.

“A mountain goat is 15 yards behind him,” recalls Kohl, who was told the story by Bill Monroe of The Oregonian. “So there’s a picture of a guy taking a picture of a goat.”

All along the banks of decidedly nonmountain goat habitat approximately 135 air miles west-northwest of the species’ Elkhorn Mountains stronghold.

ANOTHER GOAT WAS SPOTTED in –  of all places – an onion field southeast of the Elkhorns near Ontario last fall, and Kohl recalls the tale of a third bizarro billy that has gone even further.

WHO KNOWS WHERE THIS GOAT WILL END UP. IT WAS BORN IN OREGON'S ELKHORNS, EMIGRATED TO THE DALLES, AND WAS LAST SPOTTED IN WASHINGTON'S SOUTHERN CASCADES. (KEITH KOHL, ODFW)

WHO KNOWS WHERE THIS GOAT WILL END UP. IT WAS BORN IN OREGON'S ELKHORNS, EMIGRATED TO THE DALLES, AND WAS LAST SPOTTED IN WASHINGTON'S SOUTHERN CASCADES. (KEITH KOHL, ODFW)

“In September 2006 we got a report of a mountain goat at River Mile 38 on the John Day. A guy came into the office with a digi cam. He’d taken a picture of it on his property. ‘Is it still there?’ I asked. ‘Yeah.’ We went out and got to within 100 yards of it. The landowner said it had been there about a week.”

Next, it turned up in a cement culvert beside a paved road in Sherman County, where Kohl stuck it with a dart, but apparently not in the right spot.

Then the yearling billy ran off to The Dalles. When it was spotted in an equipment yard on December 26, Kohl managed to hit the right spot and slapped a radio collar on it.

So of course the mountain goat decided to hold tight almost a year, bouncing around the cliffs along I-84 near Browns Island, “playing tag” with semi-trucks and cars from time to time.

It wasn’t till fall 2007, as the rut came on, that it decided to turn its furry back on the Beaver State.

As Kohl drove up Washington’s Klickitat one November day with a receiver, he got a signal.  “Just out of Lyle, ‘beep, beep, beep.’ ‘That’s gotta be someone’s fish with a radio in it,’ I thought.”

Turned out it was the goat.

It’s since moved all the way upriver to the slopes of Mt. Adams where it presently lives.

THAT’S WHERE YOU’LL also find our fourth explorer, a Carl Lewis of a mountain goat that one day decided to strike across a vast gulf of flat forest on the northwestern edge of the Yakama Reservation.

“There are a lot of jokes about it standing on the edge of the Goat Rocks Wilderness, looking around and saying, ‘That looks like goat habitat,’ and sprinting” for Mt. Adams, says Dr. Scott McCorquodale, a state Department of Fish & Wildlife deer and elk specialist in Yakima.

Cliff Rice, another reseacher at the agency, recalls another unusual wanderer (see graphic).

“We collared him near Basin Lake east of Crystal Mountain Ski Area and it went east out to Fifes Peak, turned around, went back south of its previous area south of Crystal to the east slopes of Mt. Rainier. Then down to Ohanapecosh, Stevens Canyon and the Tatoosh Range,” he says.

GPS COLLARS ALLOW BIOLOGISTS TO TRACK DAILY MOVEMENTS OF BIG-GAME CRITTERS. (WDFW)

GPS COLLARS ALLOW BIOLOGISTS TO TRACK DAILY MOVEMENTS OF BIG-GAME CRITTERS. (WDFW)

SO WHAT IN THE hell are these animals thinking?

Why are they leaving their cozy upland homes, walking across terra ingoatnito, confusing farmers and semitruck drivers, crossing huge rivers and climbing volcanos?

Well, perhaps it’s not so mysterious if, say, your last name is Vancouver, Lewis, Clark or Thompson.

“That’s what males of every species do, they seek out new territories,” says Kohl.

McCorquodale agrees. “The young males are just prone to dispersal. Probably it’s to maintain gene pools. But they will suffer higher mortality as a whole. Females don’t tend to do it as much. They tend to inherit their home range from their mom.”

Rice estimates there are between 2,401 and 3,184 mountain goats in Washington (25 percent of which occur in the three national parks).

Sixteen hunting permits were given out for this fall’s season, 11 in Oregon.

Oregon’s herd took form in 1950 when five goats were transplanted from Washington’s Mt. Chopaka. Today there are 800 or so, 300 of which live in the Elkhorns.

Or were. Perhaps the next Onion Boy, Deschutes Dude or Gulliver has already bailed out of there. –Andy Walgamott

5 More Weird Wanderers

A bear nicknamed “Urban Phantom” and a young cougar both made news this spring and summer when they found themselves in a park less than 4 air miles from Seattle’s busy Pike Place Market. They came in from Snohomish and King County’s woods, not far as the crow flies.

But some Northwest predators do make pretty good jaunts. Case in point, the big cat that was collared in the Thorpe, Wash., area, released then disappeared. The GPS device was thought to have malfunctioned, but a year and a half later, a hunter came in with it and the cat.

“We got a call, ‘You wouldn’t believe what’s on this collar!’” recalls WDFW’s Scott McCorquodale. “It had traveled all the way down to just above the Columbia River, stayed there awhile then walked back to Oak Creek Wildlife Area,” covering some 175-plus air miles.

Females don’t always stick around the homestead either. WDFW ungulate researcher Woody Myers says that a cow moose captured in Spokane and moved 20 miles northeast of town showed up the next year 175 miles south, outside Riggins, Idaho, where it was unfortunately road-killed.

McCorquodale notes that during a study of Klickitat County mule deer, one doe tagged above the Columbia at Rock Creek, well east of Highway 97, went all the way to the west side of Mt. Adams, a distance of nearly 80 air miles.

And he adds, “One of the L.T. Murray (Wildlife Area) cows repeatedly went to the upper Green River on the Westside.”

But unlike the Blue Mountains yearling bulls that have dispersed from Washington to Idaho, the doe and cow were migrators, making those trips several years in a row.

THEN THERE’S THE UNUSUAL CASE of 05LO25. Oregon biologists are still puzzled by what this bighorn ram is up to.

It first was captured on winter range at the northern end of the rugged Wallowas in December 2005 when it was 11⁄2 years, and found again there the following December.

“After that he disappeared,” says Roblyn Stitt, a wildlife tech with ODFW’s Hells Canyon Initiative in Enterprise. “He was not located again until by fluke, he was seen in the main Eagle drainage on the southern end of the Wallowa Mountains on March 17, 2007 with two yearling rams. They had crossed the ridges and peaks of the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the dead of winter!”

"I WONDER WHAT'S OVER THERE," BIGHORN RAM 05LO25 (THIRD FROM LEFT) SEEMS TO BE SAYING. (ODFW)

"I WONDER WHAT'S OVER THERE," BIGHORN RAM 05LO25 (THIRD FROM LEFT) SEEMS TO BE SAYING. (ODFW)

For good measure, they crossed back over the range, reporting into their northern range two months later.

“Why did he do it? We haven’t figured that out,” says Stitt.  “But not too surprisingly our itchy-footed bighorn ram was missing on the most recent telemetry flight. We are confident he will show up soon, but where will it be?” –A.W.

Goat-lickin’ Good

When Cliff Rice wasn’t, well, clamboring around cliffs during five years spent studying mountain goats in Washington’s Cascades, you could find him behind a desk creating two- and three-dimensional maps of their movements.

His data, based off GPS collars, revealed a not-well-understood reason behind some of the species’  movements: mineral licks. While some goats hung close to these sources of mainly sodium, but also calcium and potassium, a couple traveled up to 20 air miles, crossing some incredibly rugged terrain in surprisingly fast marches.

One important lick can be found at Gamma Ridge, high on Glacier Peak’s northeast side. Rice’s maps show how it was visited by a pair of goats, 033GPF and 053GPF.

On June 29, 2006, the latter nannie headed out from Gamma, crossed east over the Cascade Crest and strode well down Chelan County’s Napeequa River in just four days. But the call of salt turned ol’ 053 in early July and she climbed up onto the knifebacked White Mountains and began to make another dash back towards the lick. However, in the high country, she hemmed and hawed for half a week before striking over Clark and Ten Peak mountains in a single day. Then, for 10 days, she repeatedly crossed and recrossed snowfields to access the lick. By early August, she’d pickled her tongue, recrossed the crest and returned to the low country of the upper Napeequa. –A.W.

September 29, 2009

Northwest Sportsman turns 1 year old with publication of our brand-new October issue, another big, meaty 132-pager on all things fish and game in Washington and Oregon.

Indeed, this issue is over twice as big as our premiere issue last fall, thanks to the heroic efforts of my fine stable of local writers as well as the ad guys.

Among the big, meaty articles are pieces on the record run of wild coho expected back to Oregon’s Siltcoos and Takhenitch lakes. Larry Ellis gets the scoop on why these stillwaters are so productive for coho, as well as how to fish ’em when the silvers come in through fall.

The news is also good on Washington’s North Coast and Grays Harbor basin, where a pretty good run of coho is expected back. Andrew Moravec has details five of the best fisheries around Forks, aka Vampireville, plus the Hump.

Elsewhere on the Oregon coast, if it’s October, it’s Tillamook time. Andy Schneider teams up with guide Pat Abel for a detailed look at how to fish for the bay’s big, big Chinook (here’s a hint, with big, big herring). We also cover the Rogue Bay and Port Orford big-king fisheries.

Then there’s that massive steelhead run flooding up the Columbia. Rob Phillips maps out how to whack and stack ’em as they stack up at McNary Dam on the state line. And I interview my “Main” man for the Snake, Spokane angler Jeff Main who’s got it dialed in at Wawawai, Almota and the Clearwater confluence.

Back towards Portland, the coho action continues late into fall, reveals Terry Otto, in his Stumptown column. And you’d be silly to overlook the smallmouth bite on the Willamette.

And closer to Pugetropolis, I’ve got the scoop on Lake Washington yellowbellies from Northwest Sportsman’s very own Capt. Perch, Brian Lull, and Tim Bush’s Sounder column is the craziest freakin’ thing ever — tips for Puget Sound salmon from an East Coast surf-fishing sharpie who also uses bass tactics for alpine lakes trout.

It spun my head too when I got the piece — but it’s pretty interesting too.

For you hunters, we’ve got a big glorious two-page photo spread on Rick Hayes’ bucks. He’s probably the guy on your cell phone with a pair locked-up blacktails. He came across them near his Shelton, Wash., home in fall 2007, and just recently got the duo back from his taxidermist (and a $2,000 bill). They look pretty dang cool.

We preview pheasant and quail seasons in Eastern and South-central Washington (a mix of good and really good news) and Eastern Oregon (improving) and go around the Northwest for October’s best rifle buck hunts — all of Western Oregon and in Washington, the Northeast and Southeast corners, Okanogan, South Sound and Columbia Basin.

I’ve got details on a massive Eastern Washington mule deer study, a Capitol Forest blacktail study, and have drummed up stories on  10 of the weirdest, most foot-loose big-game critters in the Northwest. My, how those Oregon mountain goats do love to travel!

We’ve brought a new columnist on board, fly guy Chester Allen. He’s all about Crooked River trout this issue. And just when you think you know what Buzz Ramsey’s gonna write about, he throws you a curve.

Plus we’ve got the famed dagger deal going on — we throw in a $40-50 lockback fillet knife for FREE when you buy a two-year sub for around $30.

Thanks for taking a look, we certainly do appreciate it!

AW
NWS

Hot Steelie Opener On Wenatchee

September 29, 2009

Don Talbot trundled a cooler down to the Wenatchee River very early this morning, and the few anglers gathered there for the steelhead opener chuckled.

But not for long.

“I’ve got a full cooler here,” notes Talbot, who was manning the fishing counter at Hooked On Toys (509-663-0740) in Wenatchee when we contacted him just after 10:30 today.

SHANE MAGNUSON WITH TWO WENATCHEE RIVER STEELHEAD FROM THE 2007 SEASON. (uppercolumbiaguideservices.com)

SHANE MAGNUSON WITH TWO WENATCHEE RIVER STEELHEAD FROM THE 2007 SEASON. (uppercolumbiaguideservices.com)

He says he bonked half of his daily limit of four hatchery steelhead at the Walking Bridge Hole just above the mouth, and the other anglers there also enjoyed good action.

So what the heck was the hot lure?

“Spoons first,” says Talbot, Ste-Lees, Wobble-Rites, Pot-o-Golds, “then bobbers and jigs, Corkies third. But we never even got to the Corkies.”

He spent part of the morning videotaping the fishing.

“I was a very busy man jumping all over the place,” he says.

So were the fish, by the sounds of Talbot’s report, jumping all over, throwing hooks — but not all of them. Two of the fish that hit the beach went at least 15 pounds, he says.

“I think some B-runs got lost,” Talbot chuckles.

The Wenatchee is open from the mouth to 800 feet below Tumwater Dam under selective-gear rules. Also, all adipose fin-clipped steelhead must be retained, and there is a night closure is in effect. Steelhead with one or more round holes punched in the caudal (tail) fin must be released.

Wenatchee, Other North-Central WA Rivers Open

September 29, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Starting Sept. 29, hatchery steelhead fisheries will open on the upper Columbia, Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Methow and Okanogan rivers, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

In addition, the Similkameen River will open to hatchery steelhead retention beginning Nov. 1.

On all rivers, anglers will have a daily limit of four adipose-fin-clipped hatchery steelhead, which must measure at least 20 inches in length. Steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be immediately released unharmed without being removed from the water. Anglers also will be required to release any steelhead with one or more round holes punched in the tail fin.

Anglers on all rivers will be required to retain any legal hatchery steelhead they catch until the daily limit of four fish is reached. After they have retained four fish, anglers must stop fishing for hatchery steelhead.

A strong run of wild and hatchery-produced steelhead returning to the upper Columbia River allowed the department to open the fisheries, said Jim Scott, assistant director of WDFW’s fish program. More than 33,000 summer steelhead had been counted at Priest Rapids Dam through Sept. 22, well above the overall return’s 10-year average of nearly 14,500.

The selective fisheries, which target returning hatchery fish that exceeds the number needed to meet spawning goals, were approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Services (NOAA Fisheries). The fisheries will not impede recovery of the region’s wild steelhead, which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), said Scott.

“This is a terrific fall fishing opportunity that also will help further fish recovery efforts by removing hatchery-origin steelhead and increasing the proportion of wild steelhead onto the spawning grounds,” Scott said.

Steelhead fisheries are carefully managed to assure that natural-origin steelhead returning to the upper Columbia River Basin survive to spawn. WDFW will closely monitor the fisheries and enforce fishing rules to ensure protection of wild steelhead, said Scott.

Most fisheries are scheduled to remain open through March 31, 2010, although they could close earlier if the allowable incidental impact to wild steelhead is reached, said Scott.

Areas that will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Sept. 29 include:

  • Mainstem Columbia River: From Rock Island Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply, except fishing from a motorized vessel and bait are allowed.
  • Wenatchee River: From the mouth to a sign about 800 feet below the most downstream side of Tumwater Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.
  • Icicle River: The Icicle will be open through Nov.15 from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam. Anglers fishing the Icicle also will be allowed to retain three coho (minimum size 12 inches) per day, but must release coho equipped with an anchor tag.
  • Entiat River: Upstream from the Alternate Highway 97 Bridge near the mouth of the Entiat River to 800 feet downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery outfall. Night closure and selective gear rules apply, except fishing from a motorized vessel is allowed.
  • Methow River: From the Highway 97 Bridge in Pateros upstream to the second powerline crossing, and from the first Highway 153 Bridge north of Pateros to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop. The second powerline crossing upstream to the first Highway 153 Bridge is closed to fishing. Night closure and selective gear rules apply, except fishing from a motorized vessel is allowed.
  • Okanogan River: From the mouth upstream except closed waters from the Lake Osoyoos Control Dam (Zosel Dam) downstream to the first Highway 97 Bridge below Oroville. Night closure and selective gear rules apply, except fishing from a motorized vessel is allowed.

In addition, the Similkameen River will be open from the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam beginning Nov. 1. Night closure and selective gear rules will apply.

Salmon and other gamefish gear rules do not apply during the hatchery steelhead season. Additional regulations for the fisheries are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

Welcome To EMRA, Formerly WDFW?

September 28, 2009

“You have reached the Ecosystem Management and Recreation Agency. If you have a question about hunting regulations, press 1. If you would like to reserve a campground at a state park, press 2. If you have a question about state wildlife areas, please call the DNR.”

That’s a phone greeting you might hear in the future if one particular consolidation scenario that Washington’s natural resources agencies are looking at comes to fruition.

Earlier this year, Gov. Gregoire asked the state’s Departments of Fish & Wildlife, Natural Resources, Parks, Health, Agriculture, Ecology and other groups to come up with ideas on how to reform management of their agencies, reduce costs and improve service delivery.

A week or so ago, the departments issued a 172-page document that looked at several scenarios combining the resource divisions into two, three, four and five agencies.

Basically for WDFW, the more individual agencies there are, the more the department’s functions might be split off.

Also, law enforcement functions would be combined with DNR and placed under the State Patrol or made into a separate agency.

It’s a lot to chew on, but you have about a month to try and digest it all. Public comments are being accepted through October 28.

Here’s a rough overview, courtesy of WDFW, on how it might all sort out for the department:

Overview:  Natural resource reform ideas and WDFW programs

Concepts in the “Ideas to Improve Management of Washington’s Natural Resources” document would have significant effects on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) organization and functions, with effects varying by option. This overview indicates where existing WDFW programs and activities would be placed under the various options.

Agency organization

The following ideas are outlined on pages 21-68 of the document as ways to reorganize natural resource agency structure:

1. Two-Agency Model – Would reorganize existing natural resource agencies into the following two new agencies:

1. Department of Environmental Regulation, which would manage environmental permits, land use, and other environmental issues. WDFW’s Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) program would be placed here under this model.

2. Department of Resource, Recreation, and Land Management, which would manage state lands and recreation.   WDFW’s fishing and hunting management, including commercial fishery management, would be placed here under this model. Management of salmon recovery, wildlife areas and water-access sites, and financial assistance for fish-passage projects also would be placed here.

2. Three-Agency Model – Would reorganize existing agencies into the following three new agencies:

1. Environmental Protection Agency, which would manage pollution impacts and land use.

2. Agriculture and Natural Resources Land Management Agency, which would manage state conservation and working lands (agriculture, logging, etc.) Management of WDFW wildlife habitat lands would be placed here under this model.

3. Recreation, Resources, and Ecosystem Conservation Agency, which would manage fish, wildlife and recreation; regulate hydraulic approvals; and address ecosystem-based management and recovery.  WDFW’s work with tribal natural resource co-managers, species conservation, hatchery management, fishing and hunting season-setting, hydraulic project approvals (HPAs), and management of recreational wildlife areas and water-access sites would be placed here under this model.

3. Four-Agency Model –Would keep the departments of Ecology, Agriculture, and Natural Resources remaining as they are and would create a new “Ecosystem Management and Recreation Agency.”

WDFW would be merged with State Parks to form a new Ecosystem Management and Recreation agency , under this model.   The Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Parks Commission would be combined into a single commission, or WDFW and Parks would be put under the authority of the Governor with a single advisory commission. Most current WDFW functions would be administered through this new, merged agency. (Except, as in the three-agency model, management of wildlife habitat lands would be placed in the Department of Natural Resources.)

4. Five-Agency Model –Would create five independent agencies and shift programs from current agencies to align related programs:

1. Environmental Protection Agency, which would manage pollution impacts and land use.

2. Agricultural Agency, which would support and promote agriculture.

3. Public Land Management Agency, which would manage state-owned lands. WDFW wildlife lands (both habitat and recreation lands) and water-access sites would be placed here under this model.

4. Resource and Ecosystem Conservation Agency, which would manage public resources (fish and wildlife), regulate natural resources activities, and address ecosystem-based management and recovery.  WDFW’s work with tribal resource co-managers; species conservation; hunting and fishing season-setting; and hatchery management all would be placed here under this model. The Puget Sound Partnership and the Salmon Recovery office, Biodiversity Council and Invasive Species Council also would be placed here under this model.

5. Environmental and Natural Resources Financial Assistance Agency, which would provide leadership and accountability for all natural resources and environmental grant and loan programs.  Natural resource grant and loan programs would be placed here under this model.

Note: Under all of the above agency-reorganization models, WDFW and DNR law enforcement functions either would move to the Washington State Patrol or be constituted as a combined stand-alone agency. The enforcement reorganization concepts are detailed under the “Sharing Services and Functions” section below.
The remaining reorganization ideas would not require agency consolidation to be implemented.

5. Unified State Vision – This concept would create a unified vision for all natural resources agencies to better enable state government to focus scarce time and money on the most important things. Under this idea, agencies would create a unified vision, mission, goals and outcomes for natural-resource management through strategic planning. Agencies would identify a common set of environmental threats and would prioritize and synchronize management strategies, and then collaborate to achieve the goals.

6. Re-align Regional Boundaries and Co-locate Regional Offices – Under this idea agencies, over time, would combine and relocate their current regional offices into regional offices made up of multiple agency employees, supported by shared work centers. WDFW’s existing regional boundaries likely would change under this model.

7. Collaborative Ecosystem-based Management – Under this idea, agencies would collaboratively establish goals and priorities in eco-regions, which are large geographic areas (such as Puget Sound), that have topographical and ecological characteristics that differentiate them from other eco-regions. This idea could use science and local planning and prioritization processes to better focus state efforts.

8. Formalize Multi-Agency Collaboration —Under this concept—known as “structured collaboration”—cross-agency teams and formal working relationships would be established among agencies. These cross-agency teams would have dedicated employees, budgets, and missions that focus on strategy, coordinated responses and shared responsibilities.  Multi-agency collaboration efforts could include current WDFW activities such as salmon recovery, watershed heath, state-tribal resource co-management, permit streamlining and state land acquisition.

Sharing Services and Functions

Ideas presented on pages 69-116 of the document address potential efficiencies that do not involve broad, multi-agency reorganization:

1. Share Geographic Information System (GIS) technology used to inventory, manage and map information about Washington’s natural and human-built environment. This information is used to manage natural resources, protect Washington’s environment, and ensure public safety.  WDFW’s GIS work would be included in this effort.

2. Coordinate Citizen Science –Under this idea, agencies and citizens would better collaborate to gather data.  The state Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) would be the lead agency in scoping, testing and implementing the citizen science project. WDFW’s citizen science efforts would be included in this coordinated approach.

3. Consolidate Natural Resources Law Enforcement – Several ideas are presented on pages 86-97 of the document:

1. Reclassify all natural resource agency law enforcement officers to expand their authority to that of general police officers. WDFW’s Enforcement Program already is designated as a general authority law enforcement entity; this change would affect DNR officers.

2. Combine law enforcement officers from the WDFW and DNR into an independent agency.

3. Create a Natural Resource Enforcement Bureau within the Washington State Patrol, staffed with enforcement officers from WDFW and DNR. WDFW officers would become part of the Washington State Patrol under this option.

4. Consolidate Grants and Loans – Two ideas are presented on pages 98-116 of the document:

1. Create a Natural Resources Financial Assistance Agency that would co-locate current grant and loan programs. This one agency would develop a web-based portal for customer access; standardize forms and reporting; and coordinate compliance of contractual obligations.

2. Create a Natural Resources Grants and Loans Council, which would create a centralized information portal and develop common forms, procedures, protocols, and performance measures. Under the council, grants and loans would remain in multiple agencies, but some of the current grant programs would be aligned along functional lines.  WDFW’s grant programs, including the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA), Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, Fisheries Restoration and Irrigation Migration Act, Landowner Incentive Program, Partnerships for Pheasants, and Grants to Wildlife Rehabilitators, would be included in these concepts.

Improving Environmental Protection, Permitting and Compliance

Concepts to improve environmental protection and permitting (on pages 117-146 of the document) include ideas to:

1. Update the Growth Management Act.

2. Expand pilot projects testing consolidated and coordinated permitting systems. WDFW’s Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) program could be included in this effort.

3. Grant agencies authority to do permit by rule and expand programmatic permits that create blanket requirements applicants must comply with in order to receive hydraulic project permits. Under this concept WDFW could develop programmatic HPAs for DNR forest-practice activities on state trust lands, and for maintenance activities associated with water crossings, overwater structures and bank-protection structures.

4. Consolidate regulation of dairy’s manure waste from two agencies to one.

5. Target delivery of incentive-based programs for landowners–Under this idea, the state Conservation Commission would be the point of contact for incentive programs. Conservation districts would coordinate with state, federal, local and tribal agencies to provide a package of tailored incentives to a landowner.  WDFW would be added to the State Conservation Commission as a full member under this concept. WDFW current participates only as an observer.

6. Implement Outcome-Based Environmental Management–Under this idea, the state would shift its emphasis for managing environmental resources from a single resource view to a view that attempts to achieve larger ecosystem objectives, such as restoration of endangered species and restoration of watershed processes. Under this concept, state agencies would aim to jointly administer natural-resource compliance monitoring and enforcement activities. WDFW species and habitat monitoring and enforcement activities would be included in this concept.

Streamlining quasi-judicial boards

Streamlining ideas, presented on pages 145-166 of the document, include concepts to:

1. Move Environmental Cases to Boards with Environmental Expertise—This would move general hydraulic permit appeals, surface mining reclamation permit appeals and derelict vessel appeals from the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) to boards with environmental expertise. General HPA appeals would be moved under this concept.

2. Redesign Boards into a single Environmental and Land Use Adjudicatory Agency – Under this idea the functions performed under the Environmental Hearings Office and the Growth Management Hearings Boards would be merged into a single adjudicative agency containing two major quasi-judicial components:  Appeals of natural resources and environmental regulatory matters, and land use related appeals. The Hydraulic Appeals Board would be moved out of the Environmental Hearings Office and would become part of the Pollution Control Hearings Board under this concept.

3. Growth Management Hearings Boards Efficiency and Structure.

4. Eliminate Duplicative Administrative Review for Certain Agency Decisions—This idea would eliminate the ability to request remission or mitigation of civil penalties from the Departments of Ecology and Natural Resources. Appeals of the civil penalty would go directly to the appropriate board. WDFW administrative orders and rule-making would be included in this concept.

5. Address Separate Appeals of Shoreline Master Programs—In this concept, all shoreline Master Program appeals would be referred to the Land Use Planning Appeals Board, which would consist of panels from members of the Growth Management Hearings Board and the Shoreline Hearings Board.

Methow Closing To All Fishing

September 25, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE)

The Methow River will close to fishing at 12:01 a.m. Saturday (Sept. 26), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

The early closure of the catch-and-release fishery, which was originally scheduled to run through Sept. 30, is necessary to avoid additional incidental catch of protected wild steelhead, said Jeff Korth, regional fish program manager for WDFW.

The fishery is allowed under a federal permit that prescribes strict limits on the incidental catch of wild steelhead, listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“We’ve recently seen an increase in the number of steelhead returning to the Methow, as well as in the number of anglers on the river,” Korth said. “That combination has resulted in quickly reaching the catch-and-release fishery’s ESA limit for incidentally caught wild steelhead.”

Korth said fishery managers are assessing the steelhead run to the region and – based upon wild and hatchery returns – could open a fishery within the next week for hatchery steelhead on portions of the upper Columbia River and some tributaries. That hatchery steelhead fishery would be allowed under a separate federal permit.

Anglers should check for updates on fishing seasons on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

Tighter Ling Limit Proposed

September 25, 2009

WDFW added two more fishing rule proposals to the 100-plus already out for public comment.

For the 2010-12 season, the agency wants to shrink the upper size limit for lingcod in Puget Sound and the central and eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca from 40 inches down to 36 inches. They also propose to make that the size limit for spearfishers who currently can take any ling.

“This additional change will afford extra protection to female ling cod, because these fish mature later and at a larger size than the males,” WDFW explains.

The other proposal would allow spearfishers to hunt rockfish out of Sekiu, Marine Area 5.

The deadline for submitting comments on these and other proposals is Dec. 1.

Meanwhile, WDFW has scheduled seven public meetings around the state to discuss the new fishing rules proposed by the department, the commission and the public.  Those meetings begin at 6 p.m. at all locations except Port Angeles, where the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Dates and locations include:

* Sept. 28 – WDFW’s Ephrata Office, 1550 Alder St. N.W., Ephrata
* Sept. 29 – WDFW’s Spokane Office, 2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley
* Sept. 30 – Carpenter’s Hall, 507 Third St., Yakima
* Oct. 6 – WDFW’s Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek
* Oct. 7 – Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Room J47, Port Angeles
* Oct. 8 – WDFW’s Vancouver Office, 2108 Grand Blvd., Vancouver
* Oct. 13 – WDFW Headquarters, Natural Resources Building, Room 172, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia

The Commission is scheduled to make final calls on the 100-plus proposals for 2010-12 at their early February meeting.

For more on all the proposals, go here and download the document.

Huge Oregon Bighorn Ram Taken

September 25, 2009

Douglas Edwards will never forget his hunt for a bighorn ram on Oregon’s Steens Mountain this past summer.

It was a trophy animal, for starters, measuring 163 6/8 B&C, but what happened immediately after he downed the big boy on that shale rock amazed him: The other rams in the herd didn’t run away. They did the opposite.

“They never ran (away), they ran right to him and made a huddle around him,” the Eugene, Ore., hunter told reporter Mike Stahlberg of the Register-Guard, a story which was picked up in yesterday’s Medfore Mail Tribune. “Even the rams high up on the mountain ran a couple hundred yards down that shale rock to him. They surrounded him. I’m not kidding. You couldn’t see my ram, laying on the ground.”

Edwards’ guide, however, told him that was not uncommon. Click here to find out how the hunt unfolded — and how long the other rams stayed around the biggest bighorn shot on Steens in 13 years.

Fish Rule Proposal Comment Period Extended

September 25, 2009

All those new fishing rules WDFW’s pitching — barbless hooks only in the Lower Columbia for salmonids, kiboshing the use of shad for oversize sturgeon, shorter keeper seasons on Northwest and Olympic Peninsula steelhead rivers, zeroing out rockfish limits in Puget Sound — the agency has decided to extend the public comment period by a month.

Originally, the Fish & Wildlife Commission was going to put on their listening ears at their Nov. 4-5 meeting, but the chance for the public to talk directly to the honchoes has been moved back to Dec. 4-5.

The deadline for submitting comments via email, fax, letter, smoke signal, whatever, has also been extended to Dec. 1.

Meanwhile, WDFW has scheduled seven public meetings around the state to discuss the new fishing rules proposed by the department, the commission and the public.  Those meetings begin at 6 p.m. at all locations except Port Angeles, where the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Dates and locations include:

* Sept. 28 – WDFW’s Ephrata Office, 1550 Alder St. N.W., Ephrata
* Sept. 29 – WDFW’s Spokane Office, 2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley
* Sept. 30 – Carpenter’s Hall, 507 Third St., Yakima
* Oct. 6 – WDFW’s Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek
* Oct. 7 – Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Room J47, Port Angeles
* Oct. 8 – WDFW’s Vancouver Office, 2108 Grand Blvd., Vancouver
* Oct. 13 – WDFW Headquarters, Natural Resources Building, Room 172, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia

The Commission is scheduled to make final calls on the 100-plus proposals for 2010-12 at their early February meeting.

For more on all the proposals, go here and download the document.

A Weekend On High

September 24, 2009

Northwest Sportsman contributor Jason Brooks spent last weekend on high, but when he got home, he wrote up the successful deer hunting trip for friends less able to get into Washington’s Cascades.

This particular “notebook” entry details how Chad Hurst, brother Kyle Hurst and he hunted in the Glacier Peak Wilderness during Washington’s legendary mid-September High Buck Hunt.

Rest assured, the boys were wearing orange while they hunted.

Mr. Brooks, take it away. — The Editor

Our weekend adventure started last Friday with an awesome day to hike into the high country. It was a short 3 miles into camp, but 2,000 feet up! Camp was set up just shy of 6,000 feet, but it was comfy.

(JASON BROOKS)

(JASON BROOKS)

It was a great evening to do a little glassing and we put to bed one really nice buck with some other deer, and a big bear, all in the same avalanche chute about a mile away.

brooks 2

The next morning we woke to rain and fog and a cold western wind. We hiked about 4 miles in the dark and fog and were able to find a cut at 6,400 ft through the granite ridge. Once on the other side and out of the wind it became a waiting game for the fog to clear.

brooks 3

brooks 4

And when it did finally open up for us, we realize we were still one drainage over from where we needed to be.

brooks 5

We learned the “hard way” that the only way into the small basin with the deer and the big bear was another 2 mile hike up and over another pass, and then you had to go along the base of the granite cliffs to find the cut and climb through it…it was now 4:30 and we were about 6 miles from camp on a cold, wet, windy day…we also had another nice bear below us about a mile away but realized that by the time we got to him it would be dark (about 1,000 feet below us).

So we headed back to camp. I got a grouse on the way back and we fried up some “grouse nuggets” for diner.  Finally a good night sleep under the tarp in my bivy bag, and we woke the next morning to more fog and it spitting snow on us. However Chad could see the basin below was in the sunshine so we waited about an hour and it burned off.

We started down the trail to another overlook for some glassing and on the way Chad spotted some deer. A nice 3×4 was with some does just over 500 yards away, of course downhill. We put on a sneak and closed the distance to 353 yards per the rangefinder (that is the compensated yardage for the downhill slope). The buck was up and feeding and we couldn’t get any closer and still see him due to the thick huckleberry patch he was in. So we sat down, steadied our rifles and Chad fired…then Kyle fired…and WOW! What a shot, the buck flipped over and was dead right there…Kyle hit him in the neck and said he put the crosshairs right at the deer’s ear…the bullet dropped about 12-14 inches and hit home! Chad felt he shot just over the deer and overcompensated for the yardage.

Here is a photo from where we shot to where Kyle’s deer was…it was in the small red patch you see past the dead snag.

brooks 6

Zoomed in a bit for a better look…what an awesome shot!

brooks 7

And here is the deer…not bad for only his second buck! He took up hunting 2 years ago and killed a 3×3 his first year…pretty much sat out last year due to a knee injury, and then bought his 30-06 (savage 110 combo) from Cabelas this summer…first time he pulled the trigger on an animal with this gun…oh, and I guess I can’t give him a bad time anymore for using over the counter Remington Core-loks…even if they do suck! J

brooks 8

Here is Chad still in disbelief at his brother’s shot…or maybe he is realizing how far it is back up to the top of the mountain and our camp…!

brooks 9

Another great weekend adventure! I can honestly say that at times during this hunt it was extreme…going over granite peaks, cutting across scree fields with boulders as big as cars, and the shear steepness of the country, but it was also one of the most fun and rewarding hunts I have ever been on.

Next weekend is my muzzle loader hunt in the high country with my Dad…I can’t wait. – Jason Brooks

Bass Pros Lane, Wolak Assume Roles With easy2HookUSA

September 24, 2009

(EASY2HOOKUSA PRESS RELEASE)

Easy2HookUSA manufacturer and marketer of the revolutionary new line of “knotless” fishing hooks announced today that Bobby Lane, Bassmaster Elite Series Pro and 2010 Bassmaster Classic qualifier, along with Dave Wolak, who recently won a qualifying berth in the 2010’s Bassmaster Elite Series have taken on consultant roles with the company.

Both Lane from Lakeland, Fla. and Wolak from Wake Forest, NC, who have been impact participants in the professional ranks all year have agreed to field test new hook prototype product for the company. They will provide feed-back to insure the company is providing the very best professional grade product to anglers at all skill and experience levels.

“We are thrilled to have Bobby and Dave on board,” said Ron Baskett, CEO of easy2HookUSA, “after the tremendous reception we received at the ICAST show in July, we wanted to strengthen our product development team to meet the exciting market opportunities that lie ahead for the easy2HookUSA brand.

In addition to bringing Bass Pros Lane and Wolak on board, the company recently announced that Anders Thomassen, a 23-year Mustad veteran and one of the premier senior- level executives in fishing hook industry worldwide has also joined the firm in consulting capacity.

Thomassen, a resident of Norway, will work with both the North American Division and the European parent company. He will be involved with in all aspects of the company’s operations from manufacturing to quality control to international sales and marketing.

Easy2HookUSA’s revolutionary new fishing hooks do not require anglers to utilize a “knot” when attaching their lines to a hook, but rather,  employ a “loop” “wrap” and “pull” tight process that totally eliminates the time-consuming need for tying a knot ever again!!

“Our new hooks eliminate the necessity of tying knots and do so without sacrificing the integrity of the line itself,” Baskett said, “this is a revolutionary approach to an age-old-angler frustration. With easy2Hook you can attach your line in seconds thereby increasing your chances for a successful fishing trip simply because your line is in the water a greater proportion of the time”!!!

Baskett said he believes the easy, convenient and hassle-free“knotless” feature of easy2Hooks will change the future purchasing habits of many anglers around the country and will also attract new participants to the sport who in the past found traditional hooks frustrating to use. He added because the company’s hooks do require anglers to tie a knot people with medically induced dexterity limitations may be able to take up the sport for the first time or resume their activities.
In addition to easy2Hooks, the company also manufactures and markets Bait Strap, single and double soft bait and spray attractant holders. Bait Straps allow anglers to clip their bait containers to their belts, fishing jackets, seat posts or wherever their preference. Both single and double models are available allowing for the use of multiple containers.

Easy2HookUSA’s “knotless” fishing hooks and other products are available at the company’s website: http://www.easy2HookUSA.com

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

September 23, 2009

Highlights from this week’s ODFW Recreation Report include fresh plants of trophy trout near Portland, a kids fishing event in Fairview, walleye on the bite in the Multnomah Channel and a mess of weekend opportunties across the rest of Oregon. Here’s more:

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Both Miller Lake and Lake of the Woods are open to fishing 24 hours a day, offering anglers a rare opportunity to target cruising brown trout that are most active after dark.
  • Trout fishing on Lake of the Woods will be excellent.
  • Smallmouth bass and crappie, including some up to 14 inches, are available on Campbell Reservoir in Klamath County.
  • Fishing for redband trout on the Sprague River should be picking up as water temperatures begin to cool and fish begin to feed actively.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Trophy rainbow trout are scheduled to be stocked in Coffenbury, Lost, Sunset, Cape Meares, and Town Lakes the week of Sept. 21. Hebo Lake will also be stocked with some additional larger trout made available this fall. This will complete all scheduled stocking on the north coast for 2009. Trout stocking will resume in March
  • In Tillamook Bay, a few chinook and hatchery coho are being caught, with fish available throughout the bay and tidewater areas. Casting or trolling spinners in the west channel or upper bay has produced the best for hatchery coho. A few chinook are being caught on spinners in the upper bay or by trolling herring in the lower bay or nearshore ocean. Angling for sturgeon has been slow, but sturgeon are present in the bay and upper tidewater of the Tillamook River. Fishing the upper bay and river tidewaters will help anglers avoid crab and other bait stealers. Crabbing in the lower bay has been good.

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Chinook fishing is getting underway in the Chetco River estuary with boat anglers picking up several fish below the Hwy 101 bridge last week.
  • Several area lakes and reservoirs were stocked with lunker trout recently including Ben Irving Reservoir, Cooper Creek Reservoir, Hemlock Lake, Lake of the Woods and Lake Marie. Good fishing should continue.
  • Fall chinook fishing is good in Coos Bay with the harvest of adult fish picking up over the last week.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Coho are crossing Willamette Falls in near record numbers. Try trolling spinners near the mouths of major tributaries.
  • 8,000 legal-sized rainbow trout will be planted in Henry Hagg Lake this week and again next week.
  • ODFW will host a youth angling event at West Salish Pond in Fairview Saturday, Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. to 2 pm. Stocking for the event will include 1,000 fish in the 1 to 1 ½ pound range.
  • Some nice walleye are being caught by anglers bouncing worms on the bottom of Multnomah Channel

CENTRAL ZONE

  • ODFW has temporarily lifted all daily catch limits, possession limits and minimum length requirements for Antelope Flat Reservoir and Walton Lake from Sept. 1 to Oct. 18. Both lakes will close Oct. 18 for chemical treatment to remove illegally introduced bullhead catfish.
  • Trout fishing remains steady on the Crooked River. Although the water is typically turbid, don’t let this keep you from trying a few dry flies=

SNAKE RIVER ZONE

  • Crappie fishing has picked up and the fish are heavy at Brownlee.  Red and white jigs are working well. Catfish angling is good with some large fish being taken. Some catfish are dying. ODFW is attempting to do some testing to find the cause. This occurred 3 years ago and was caused by a virus not harmful to humans.  Bass angling has picked up and some nice bass are being caught. Some perch are starting to bite as well.  The water level is 23 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.

MARINE ZONE

  • Tuna fishing continued last week with average landings of 4 albacore per angler in most ports. This is the second best tuna year on record.
  • Between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mt., the ocean is open for salmon through the earlier of Sept. 30 or 7,000 marked coho quota. Preliminary data show that landings averaged about one salmon for every three anglers last week. The daily bag limit is two salmon except closed to retention of Chinook. All retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip and be 16″ or longer.
  • Halibut anglers in the Columbia River subarea, from Cape Falcon (30 miles south of the Columbia River) to Leadbetter Point, Wash. (north of the mouth of the Columbia River), can continue to fish for halibut every Friday through Sunday until the quota is taken or Sept. 27, whichever occurs first.
  • Bottomfish anglers on average continue to land two or three rockfish coast wide. Lingcod landings are averaging one fish per four anglers.
  • Ocean crabbers brought in an average of 5 crab last week.
  • Estuary crabbers in August averaged eight crabs out of Coos Bay and three crabs out of Alsea Bay; elsewhere crabbers averaged between four and six crabs out of Tillamook, Netarts and Yaquina Bays. Crabbing in August was the best so far this year in most sampled bays. The best months for bay crabbing in Oregon are August through November.
  • Many male crabs have recently molted and now have soft shells and watery meat. Soft-shelled crabs are best returned to the water so they can fill out with higher-quality meat in the coming months.

Columbia A-run Forecast Nudged Still Higher

September 22, 2009

Fishery managers today revised the A-run of steelhead up the Columbia once again.

Today’s “fact sheet” now predicts a total of 584,000 will pass Bonneville Dam on the way to central Idaho, northeast Oregon and Eastern Washington rivers this fall and winter.

That’s up from the revised forecast of 565,000 which itself is more than double the preseason estimate of 279,000.

The new number is a record since 1984, the fact sheet says.

As for the B-run, those larger steelies headed for Idaho’s Clearwater, the forecast has been reduced from nearly 57,000 this year to around 40,000. Roughly speaking, that’s still around the 10-year average for that component of the run.

Managers also lopped about 66,000 off the fall run of upriver bright Chinook past Bonneville; the new prediction is 203,000.

Today’s fact sheet also mentions mortality problems with Chinook at the Spring Creek and Big Creek hatcheries. Those at the former facility are apparently more serious than those at the latter, where egg-take goals were reached.

Coho (And Walleye) At Carrolls

September 22, 2009

A friend of mine just phoned HQ to report the salmon-fishing jinx was off as he and his father trolled Carrolls Slough, on the Washington side of the Columbia, this morning.

He was also pretty excited about catching a 15- or 16-inch walleye, which took me a little by surprise.

That bite, according to recent reports, has mainly been in the Camas/Washougal area on up.

The Spencers have so far boated a nice-sized coho and released a slightly smaller Chinook (the Columbia is closed for kings below the Lewis).

CHRIS SPENCER OF LONGVIEW WITH A COHO FROM CARROLLS SLOUGH. (JAMES SPENCER)

CHRIS SPENCER OF LONGVIEW WITH A COHO FROM CARROLLS SLOUGH. (JAMES SPENCER)

They’ve been trolling plugs with the rest of the fleet of 50 boats or so. Joe Hymer’s weekly Southwest Washington fishing roundup yesterday reports good coho action at the mouth of the Cowlitz, just downstream from Carrolls.

Chris is dragging around a red Hot Lips with a yellow eye (he’s the walleye guy) and pa James (the salmon dude) is pulling a smaller tiger-striped Wart-style plug.

Two other fish have come off, Chris reports.

He took the day off to target walleye specifically, but says his dad is in “full salmon mode.”

ONE OF TWO COHO LANDED SEPT. 22 BY JAMES SPENCER OF KALAMA. (CHRIS SPENCER)

ONE OF TWO COHO LANDED SEPT. 22 BY JAMES SPENCER OF KALAMA. (CHRIS SPENCER)

And so would we be with all the coho in Southwest Washington right now.

Then again, this of the walleye at Carrolls is pretty interesting.

POST SCRIPT: I fired off that report about 45 minutes ago and went back to talking to Eastern Washington steelheaders. While I was doing so, I got two very excited voice messages from Spencer. To wit:

PHONE CALL 1: “Five minutes after I got off the phone with you, I got a silver to the boat, but he snapped my line and saw him jumping with my plug in its mouth. About a half hour to 45 minutes later, I managed to boat one. Fish on!!”

PHONE CALL 2: “Sorry about that last message. I literally caught a fish while I was leaving you a message. Gimme a call. I’m done fishing for the day. For the first time ever, I limited out on salmon.”

Yaquina, Nehalem To Close For Wild Coho

September 22, 2009

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The first wild coho season in 15 years on two coastal Oregon river basins will close this week as anglers reach harvest limits designed to provide what biologists hope will become Oregon’s newest sustainable salmon fishery.

Retention of non fin-clipped coho will close on the Yaquina and Nehalem rivers at the end of the regular fishing day on Wednesday, Sept. 23. Both rivers will remain open to adipose fin-clipped hatchery coho through the end of the year. In addition, the Yaquina remains open for chinook salmon under 2009 temporary rules.

The Yaquina and Nehalem, along with the Coos and Coquille rivers, opened to the harvest of wild coho Sept. 1 under a pilot project of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Under this initiative, proposed by ODFW and approved by NOAA Fisheries, anglers were allowed to keep non fin-clipped coho for the first time since 1994 when they were listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. ODFW biologists, who have been monitoring the coho populations, believed ocean and habitat conditions had improved enough that a limited season could take place this year without putting the wild coho population at risk.

Prior to the season, ODFW set harvest limits of 500 adult coho for the Yaquina and 1,000 adult coho for the Nehalem. The Coos River basin has already reached its harvest limit of 1,000 fish and was closed to coho retention Sept. 18. The Coquille River, which has a harvest limit of 1,500 adult fish, will remain open until Nov. 30 or its limit is achieved. As of Sept. 20, anglers on the Coquille had caught 187 wild coho.

“Wild coho catch rates have increased each week of the fishery,” said Robert Bradley, assistant district fish biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, who reported that the catch averaged 56 wild coho per day last week on the Nehalem.  “Good catch rates, combined with generally increasing effort each week allowed anglers to harvest the quota quicker than we expected going into the season.”

Fin-clipped hatchery coho may be retained in both the Yaquina and the Nehalem basins. In the Nehalem basin, where large returns of hatchery coho are expected, the “bonus bag limit” of three hatchery fish remains in effect.

Ringold Opening Sept. 22 For Steelhead

September 21, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Starting tomorrow (Sept. 22), Columbia River anglers will be allowed to catch and retain hatchery-reared steelhead throughout the Hanford Reach, where steelhead have been returning at more than double the 10-year average.

Under a new fishing rule approved by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), anglers will be able to retain up to three hatchery-reared summer steelhead per day between the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco and Priest Rapids Dam.

That area includes the upper portion of the Reach, stretching from the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford townsite to Priest Rapids Dam, which has not been open to steelhead fishing since 1996.

In addition, the steelhead fishery previously scheduled to open Oct. 1 in the lower portion of the Reach (from the wooden powerline towers downriver to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco) will begin a week early to allow anglers to catch more hatchery fish, he said.

In both areas, only hatchery fish measuring at least 20 inches that are marked for identification with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained.  All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and may not be removed from the water.

John Easterbrooks, regional WDFW fish manager for southcentral Washington, said the high number of returning summer steelhead has made it possible to expand fishing opportunities throughout the Hanford Reach.

“This is a great opportunity for anglers to catch some terrific fish under ideal early fall weather conditions, while also helping to prevent hatchery steelhead from crowding out wild fish on the spawning grounds,” Easterbrooks said.  “We want to give wild steelhead every opportunity to bolster future runs of naturally spawning fish in the upper Columbia tributaries.”

The hatchery steelhead fishery in the upper Hanford Reach is planned to run through Oct. 22, concurrent with salmon fishing for fall chinook and coho.  In the lower section of the Reach, the steelhead fishery will continue through Oct. 31 from the Highway 395 Bridge to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford townsite.

Because both wild and hatchery-reared summer steelhead in the Hanford Reach are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), WDFW was required to obtain a permit from the National Marine Fishery Service before opening the fishery.

“Under the ESA, using a selective fishery to remove excess hatchery fish is a recognized strategy in conserving wild stocks,” Easterbrooks said.  “That strategy is tailor-made for a year like this, with so many steelhead returning to the upper Columbia River.”

More than 30,000 summer steelhead had been counted at Priest Rapids Dam through mid-September, compared to the 10-year average of 12,500, said Paul Hoffarth, WDFW’s district fish biologist stationed in the Tri-Cities.  At the current rate, the total returns of summer chinook to the Columbia River could break the 630,200-fish record set in 2001, he said.

SW WA Fishing Report

September 21, 2009

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Ringold — Last week 447 boat anglers (204) boats kept 130 adult and 53 jack Chinook and 1 adult coho plus released 2 jack chinook and 1 hatchery, 16 wild, and 6 unknown origin steelhead.  The Wahluke area was the Chinook hotspot.

In addition, 32 bank anglers at Ringold kept 12 jack fall Chinook plus released 1 jack Chinook and 3 hatchery and 1 wild steelhead.

Effort is increasing with 112 boat trailers counted at Vernita last Saturday (Sept. 19) morning.

North Fork Toutle – Fall Chinook and some coho are being caught at the mouth of the Green.

Cowlitz River – Bank and boat anglers are doing well for adult coho on the lower river. In addition, some fall Chinook are being caught throughout the river. Some sea run cutthroats were also observed in the catch. Overall, anglers averaged over a half fish per rod when including fish released.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 3,397 coho adults, 86 jacks, 1,575 fall Chinook adults, 345 jacks, 214 summer-run steelhead adults, 19 spring Chinook adults, one jack, 102 sea-run cutthroat trout, two pink salmon adults, one chum adult and one sockeye adult during six days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 1,228 fall Chinook adults, 315 jacks, 52 coho adults and one jack into Mayfield Lake at the Ike Kinswa State Park boat launch, 955 coho adults, 19 jacks, 12 spring Chinook adults and one jack into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, and 409 coho adults, eight jacks and three spring Chinook adults in the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, Washington. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife transported nine cutthroat trout to the Tilton River and two cutthroat to the upper Cowlitz River basin.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,720 cubic feet per second on Monday, September 21, and water visibility is 14 feet.

Kalama River – Bank anglers averaged slightly over one adult coho per every two rods while boat anglers averaged 1.5 per rod. However, nearly two-thirds of the fish were released (wild or dark fish). Bank anglers were also catching some fall Chinook though the majority were released. Catches were spread throughout the river.

Lewis River – Including fish released, bank anglers around the salmon hatchery on the North Fork averaged slightly better than one adult coho per every two rods. Almost two-thirds of the fish were kept (released fish were wild or dark). Some coho jacks, steelhead and hatchery Chinook were also caught. Effort and catch was generally light on the mainstem Lewis.

Washougal River – Bank anglers were mainly catching adult fall Chinook.

Drano Lake – Anglers are catching a mixture of fall Chinook, coho, and steelhead.

White Salmon River – Bank anglers are catching some steelhead.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers are primarily catching fall Chinook.

Buoy 10 – Angling success varies from day-to-day but on the better days anglers averaged ½ coho per rod.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Chinook continue to be caught in the open area upstream from the Lewis. Boat anglers are doing well trolling for coho at the mouth of the Cowlitz.

Bonneville Pool – Not much sampling last week due to other duties.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort continues to be light in the current catch and release fishery. Beginning October 1, white sturgeon may be retained Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam.

WALLEYE

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Some walleye continue to be caught in the Camas/Washougal area.

TROUT

Mineral Lake – Planted with 195 rainbows averaging three-quarter pound each Sept. 16. Remains open to fishing through the end of this month.

Goose Lake – Planted with 1,766 cutthroats averaging 1.5 pounds each Sept. 16.

REPORT COURTESY JOE HYMER, PSMFC

16.72-pounder Wins Everett Coho Derby

September 21, 2009

The salt was the spot to fish if you wanted to catch a really big silver to weigh in during this past weekend’s Everett Coho Derby, but even anglers who hit the rivers caught salmon, despite the billions of humpies still around.

Overall, the annual event put on by the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club and Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club also saw a huge bounceback from last year. Over four times as many salmon were brought to the scales this go-around as anglers vied for thousands of dollars in cash, merchandise and a fishing boat provided by local and regional businesses.

“The weather for the first day was less than favorable in the morning with rain, wind and any other weather factor that can make a good fishing day less than perfect,” says a press release from derby organizers. “The fishing, though, for those who braved the bad weather was actually pretty good, with just about 500 fish weighed in on Saturday.  On Sunday, the weather did a complete turn around with sun, little wind and it was warm.  The fish cooperated on Sunday and more fish were turned in for a total of 904 adult fish and 91 youth fish on the final tally.”

Four of the five top fish weighed in this year came from either side of Whidbey Island.

Jay Kemp’s 16.72-pounder was the biggest overall, and it won the Mukilteo angler a $3,000 check. It was landed on the east side of the island, in Area 8-2.

Freeland’s Pat Flynn, who weighed his 16.52-pound Area 9 silver in on early Sunday afternoon, was second, winning him $2,000. He caught it on a spatterback squid and flasher, according to derby organizers.

PAT FLYNN'S 16.52-POUNDER CAME IN SECOND AT THE EVERETT COHO DERBY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

PAT FLYNN'S 16.52-POUNDER CAME IN SECOND AT THE EVERETT COHO DERBY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The third place fish, a 15.74-pounder caught by John Stone, was the only river fish in the top five. It came from the Snohomish, and netted the Everett angler $750. And because it was the biggest caught on a Dick Nite — a size “wee” spoon — Stone scored another $250.

Fourth and fifth place, a 15.62 and 15.48, both came from the Shipwreck in southern Area 8-2. They were weighed in by Gerald Johnson and Kyle Willis of Everett and Burlington. The latter angler’s fish was also the largest landed on a Silver Horde product, winning Willis an additional $250.

Sean MacCauley took first place in the youth division, thanks to his 14.64-pounder from Scatchett Head in Area 9. It just barely beat out Andy Haider’s 14.58, also from Area 9. They won $100 and $75.

All youths with a derby ticket took home a prize. Overall, 400 merchandise rizes were awarded.

The biggest prize was won by Heidi Jacobsen. After another name was drawn but the angler wasn’t present, her name came up and she won a 15-foot Alumaweld Super Vee with 25-horse motor and E-Z Loader trailer worth $16,000 from Three Rivers Marine and Tackle in Woodinville.

Nobody won the mystery fish prize worth $25,000  from Haggens/Top Foods.

Steve Grenier’s 13.66 was the largest coho landed by a Coastal Conservation Association member, winning him $500.

The smallest coho was a 2.18-pounder, weighed for the Youth Division, and a 3.06-pounder entered in the adult division.

Overall, 1,861 adult derby tickets were sold while 252 kids tickets were given away, according to derby organizers.

Large fish were the rule this year, with 70 fish weighed in over 12 pounds, 133 over 11 pounds and 242 over 10 pounds,” according to a press release from derby organizers.

Just over 1,100 coho were weighed in. They weighed a total of 9,177.88 pounds; the average weight was 8.34 pounds.

Last year, only 246 silvers were recorded, well below 2007’s 1,166 coho. But two of 2008’s top three also came from the Snohomish; a 18.16-pounder from the river won last year’s event.

Major sponsors of the event included Alumaweld Boats, Cabela’s, Cannon Downriggers, Cascade Turf, Coastal Conservation Association, Danielson, Dick Nite Spoons, Everett Bayside Marine & Outboards, EZ Loader Trailer, First Heritage Bank, Gamakatsu, G. Loomis, Haggen Food & Pharmacy, Hot Spot Fishing & Lures, John’s Sporting Goods, Kershaw Knives, Lamiglas Fishing Rods, Luhr Jensen, Lowrance, Mercury Marine Outboards, Mustang Survival, Okuma, Plano, P-Line, Port of Everett, Rubatino Refuse Removal, Silver Horde, Sports Authority, TCA Fishing Tackle, TOP Food & Drug, Three Rivers Marine & Tackle and Yakima Bait Company.

WDFW To Inspect Boats On I-5

September 18, 2009

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

As part of an ongoing effort to keep aquatic invasive species out of Washington waters, all northbound vehicles transporting watercraft past the Ridgefield weigh station on Interstate 5 will be required to stop for an inspection Friday, Sept. 25.

The mandatory inspections, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., is the latest in a series of more than two-dozen check stations for aquatic invasive species planned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) around the state this year.

Sgt. Eric Anderson, WDFW enforcement coordinator for the program, said signs will be posted notifying motorists of the inspection at the weigh station at Milepost 18, a key entry point for out-of-state boaters.

The inspections can usually be completed in 10 minutes, Anderson said.  But failure to stop for an inspection can result in a citation.

“We need the cooperation of boat owners to keep aquatic invasive species out of Washington waters,” said Allen Pleus, unit lead for WDFW’s Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention and Enforcement program.  “Once species like zebra and quagga mussels become established, they can be extremely destructive to native fish and wildlife while also causing millions of dollars in damage to public water systems.”

Invasive mussels, which attach themselves to boats or other water-based equipment, have spread quickly in recent years, Pleus said.  Since the 1980s, when zebra and quagga mussels entered the Great Lakes in ship ballast water, they have established themselves in more than 20 states, including California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

Neither species has yet been found in Washington waters, although WDFW has intercepted and decontaminated 17 boats infested with the tiny mussels in the past three years, Anderson said.

Importation of aquatic invasive species is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and up to a year in jail. Knowingly bringing such species into Washington is a felony and can result in even greater fines and jail time.

The emphasis of the check-station inspection program is to intercept invasive species, not penalize boat owners, Anderson said.

“Our primary goal is stop these species from entering our state,” he said.  “At the same time, we need boat owners to recognize the importance of inspecting and cleaning their vessels before moving them from one body of water to another.”

Because invasive mussels multiply quickly, they can threaten native fish and wildlife by consuming available food and smothering some species, Pleus said.  They can also clog water-intake systems at power plants, irrigation districts, public water suppliers and other facilities, causing millions of dollars in damage.

Pleus noted that mandatory check stations are just one way WDFW is working to keep invasive species out of Washington’s waters.  He said the department also works closely with the Washington State Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard and public agencies in Oregon and Idaho to detect and eradicate the tiny invaders on both recreational and commercial vessels.

More information on aquatic invasive species is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/ans/index.htm .

Coos Closing For Wild Coho; 3 Other Coast Rivers Still Open

September 18, 2009

Coos Bay and its rivers will close to the retention of wild coho at the end of the day today, but hatchery silvers as well as all Chinook remain open, ODFW announced this afternoon.

According to the agency, the quota of 1,000 wild fish has been met.

But if you’re still interested in this rare opportunity, the Coquille, Nehalem and Yaquina rivers remain open.

The Nehalem is where Oregon kayak angler Jeff Anderson caught his very first salmon (below) on September 4.

(LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

(LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

ODFW reports that coho are available through tidewater up past the North Fork, but best action is in the lower bay up to Wheeler.

Use spinners fished well off the bottom to avoid hooking Chinook, which are closed, the agency suggests.

On the Coquille, best fishing has been below the Highway 101 Bridge.

According to ODFW, through Sept. 13, 63 wild coho had been landed on the Coquille and 404 on the Nehalem.

There was no estimate for the Yaquina.

There is a 1,500-fish quota on the Coquille, 1,000 on the Nehalem and 500 on the Yaquina.

Big Coho Run On Now Up Willamette

September 18, 2009

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Fishery managers for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife were expecting banner returns this year, but the number of coho passing over Willamette Falls is exceeding even the most optimistic forecasts.

For the past week, ODFW’s fish monitoring station at Willamette Falls has been logging some of the largest returns since the facility began keeping records in 1946.

As of Sept. 13, 2,979 adult coho had crossed the falls on their way to spawning grounds in the upper Willamette and its tributaries.

(ODFW)

(ODFW)

“We have more fish over the falls already than we typically see for the whole year,” said Chris Kern, assistant fisheries manager for ODFW’s Ocean Salmon and Columbia River Program.

Fishery managers believe that if the current trend continues, the number of coho crossing into the upper Willamette could exceed the previous high of 17,900 adults counted in 1970.

What is more remarkable than the sheer number of fish is the type of coho that are returning to the upper Willamette. Almost all the fish counted at Willamette Falls were produced by natural spawning in the wild. The last time ODFW released hatchery-reared coho in the upper Willamette basin was in 1998, and the high returns in the early 1970s were generated from massive releases of hatchery coho fry and presmolts nearing 10 million annually.

“We’re not sure why, but for some reason they’re doing really well up there,” said Kern. “It looks like habitat restoration and other efforts are paying off.”  Coho are also known to be very adaptive and able to utilize habitat not used by other fish.

The large coho returns expected throughout the Columbia River and its tributaries prompted ODFW to raise the bag limit on coho to three fish per day in many areas, including the upper Willamette and its tributaries. Above Willamette Falls, anglers are allowed to keep three coho, regardless of whether they are fin-clipped or unclipped fish.

Biologists expect the coho return in the upper Willamette will continue through mid- to late-October.  Early on, angling for these coho will be best in the mainstem Willamette, particularly around the mouths of the larger tributaries like the Tualatin, Molalla and Yamhill rivers.  Once fall advances, and cool rain elevates tributary flows, the coho will move into tributary streams, where they will be more accessible to bank anglers.  ODFW advises that anglers read the 2009 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for information on gear restrictions and areas to fish.

“By the end of October it should be tailing off,” said Kern. “In the meantime, there should be lots of good opportunities for people to get out and catch these fish.”

Jack Kings Outnumber Adults At LGD

September 18, 2009

Here’s a new one: nearly 10,000 more jacks than adult fall Chinook have been counted at Lower Granite Dam this summer.

Since August 18, 18,329 two-year-old fall kings have passed the fourth dam on the Snake while 8,698 adults have.

The jack run so far is 8,000 more than the previous record, which was set last year, and more than 10 times the 10-year average, the Columbia Basin Bulletin reports.

Biologists are stumped about why so many immature fall kings are coming back.

“The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission’s Stuart Ellis said that the reason for the jack surge is a mystery for now. Fisheries officials will take a look at the situation after the season ends,” CBB reports.

Asked if jacks outnumbering adults has occurred often, Joe Hymer, a supervisory biologist with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission said, “Not typically, no.”

Then again, Columbia River jack counts have been off the Richter scale this year. Over 85,000 fall jacks have passed over Bonneville Dam through Sept. 15, three times the 10-year average, and this spring, over 81,000 passed the plug, over five times typical run sizes over the last decade.

However, Hymer points out that on the flip side, fall coho jack counts are low.

The Chinook jacks went out to sea last year while coho went out this spring, and they may have met very different conditions in the ocean.

“There may be some changes going on” off Washington and Oregon, Hymer says, pointing to reports of warmwater species such as Humboldt squid at Sekiu, Wash., and mackeral inside the mouth of the Columbia.

Big Changes Proposed For Steelhead, Sturgeon

September 18, 2009

When WDFW fired off a press release about their 2010-2012 fishing rule proposals on Wednesday, I posted some of the “highlights” here and a link to more information, then went back to hammering the last bits of the October issue into shape.

But I took the 100-page document home that night for further study.

Glad I did, because the deeper I read into it, the more my eyebrows rose.

WDFW is proposing a lot of big changes that steelheaders, Columbia River oversize sturgeon and salmon anglers, rockfishers and trout fishermen should keep an eye on.

Some of the tweaks would change the face of fisheries, and would result in less opportunity for us — but at the same time protect troubled stocks.

COLUMBIA RIVER

Anglers who back-troll FlatFish or Kwikfish or big spinners below the dams or troll Warts in the pools above for salmon or steelhead should know about proposal 31.

It would require anglers to ditch all their trebles for single, barbless hooks everywhere from the mouth of the Columbia up to McNary Dam.

“It’s going to hurt sport fishing, there’s no doubt, it’s going to hurt sport fishing,” says Buzz Ramsey, a noted Columbia River salmon and steelhead angler, brand manager for Yakima Baits and Northwest Sportsman columnist.

WDFW explains that the requirement would make it easier to release fish.

STEELHEAD

WDFW wants to chop two weeks off winter steelhead season on North Puget Sound rivers, just as wild stocks begin to return to them.

They want to move the last day of season from the end of February to midmonth on the Nooksack system, Pilchuck River, much of Pilchuck Creek, all of the Raging and  Snohomish, most of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie, and lower Stillaguamish rivers.

On the Skagit, selective-gear requirements from mouth up to Highway 536 would begin half a month earlier (Feb. 15) and the catch-and-release season from The Dalles Bridge to the Cascade would begin a month earlier as well.

The intent, explains WDFW, is to “provide more protection for wild steelhead present in these rivers. Most hatchery steelhead will have cleared these areas by the middle of February, so anglers are fishing for wild fish (catch-and-release) until the end of the month under current rules.”

However, hatchery steelhead areas such as the Sky from the Wallace to the forks, Snoqualmie above Plumb Landing and North Fork Stilly would remain open through the end of the month.

And a selective-gear, two-hatchery limit, fishing-from-an-unpowered-boat, Feb. 16-March 31 fishery would be opened from Highway 536 to The Dalles Bridge on the Skagit.

WDFW is also proposing a complex new “stream strategy” in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to protect waters that act as nurseries for juvenile anadromous fish. Rather than unlisted rivers, streams and beaver ponds being open under statewide rules and seasons, if they weren’t in the regulations, they would be considered closed waters.

“… Much of the juvenile rearing habitat for resident trout and Dolly Varden and anadromous salmon, steelhead, cutthroat, and Bull Trout is currently open for fishing. As a result, these juvenile salmonids are at risk of being incidentally caught and may not survive being handled and released, especially if bait is used,” the state explains.

The agency wants to reduce the number of rivers open for wild steelhead retention by three by closing seasons on the Hoko and Pysht rivers on the Coast and the Green River in King County.

While return numbers on the Hoko and Pysht are meeting goals, WDFW cites declining sport harvest, “an indication of a reduced return of an already small stock, and the need for a more cautious management approach.”

The number of unclipped steelhead on the Green has also been shrinking in recent years, they say.

WDFW also proposes to move back retention seasons on coastal streams from December 1 to February 16. Not many wilds are kept during that timeframe on the Sol Duc, Hoh, Bogachiel and others, but WDFW wants to protect the early segment of the run to promote diversity within the stocks.

“In the past, these early runs were large and known to migrate higher in the watershed during early high flows and occupy spawning areas not often accessed by later running fish,” a state document explains.

And as a preventive measure, the state is calling for new selective gear rules on all of the South Fork Calawah and parts of the Bogachiel, Hoh and Sol Duc, and catch-and-release (except for hatchery steelhead) on the latter two streams.

ROCKFISH

Perhaps hoping to stave off an Endangered Species Act listing, rockfish would be completely off-limits in Puget Sound, the San Juans and eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca. The daily catch now is the first legal one caught (yelloweye and canary rockfish can’t be retained).

“Populations of several species of rockfish have been in decline and the Federal government has proposed that three species of rockfish be listed under the Endangered Species Act; two species (canary and yelloweye) as threatened and one species (bocaccio) as endangered,” WDFW explains.

And in the western and central Straits, retention would be barred in waters deeper than 120 feet.

STURGEON

Shad, that candy for sturgeon below Columbia River dams during “a biologically sensitive time of year,” would be outlawed, to protect broodstock populations, under one proposal.

“Large adult sturgeon inhale whole shade and often end up getting hooked so far down the throat that the hook cannot be removed. Staff conducting weekly surveys for dead sturgeon found that up to 40% of oversize sturgeon carcasses contained hooks in the gut,” WDFW explains.

The agency appears to admit it wants to shift the focus of the sturgeon fishery to the smaller, legal-sized fish.

“Sport fishery opportunity can be maintained as focused on legal-sized fish with over-sized as incidental handle as opposed to an advertised exploitable resource,” says WDFW.

TROUT

To spread out the catch, daily limits for larger trout would be reduced at Blackmans Lake in Snohomish and Beaver Lake in King County as well as nearly five dozen others in Pierce, Mason, Kitsap, Jefferson, and Thurston counties where WDFW wants to begin planting bigger rainbows.

OTHER SPECIES

Other proposals include:

* Closing the west end of Sprague Lake to fishing to protect water birds

* Making the bank-fishing-only area at Drano Lake during spring Chinook fisheries permanent

* Encourage the harvest of hatchery summer Chinook over unclipped kings in the upper Columbia and Okanogan rivers with three-hatchery-fish OR one-wild king limits

* Reducing the daily Puget Sound crab limit to four from five but shifting the open days to Friday through Monday from Wednesday through Saturday.

The agency will hold seven meetings in the next month on all the proposals where the public can discuss the ideas with state staffers.

Meetings will be held:

Sept. 28 – WDFW’s Ephrata Office, 1550 Alder St. N.W., Ephrata

Sept. 29 – WDFW’s Spokane Office, 2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley

Sept. 30 – Carpenter’s Hall, 507 Third St., Yakima

Oct. 6 – WDFW’s Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek

Oct. 7 – Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Room J47, Port Angeles

Oct. 8 – WDFW’s Vancouver Office, 2108 Grand Blvd., Vancouver

Oct. 13 – WDFW Headquarters, Natural Resources Building, Room 172, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia

Every meeting except the one in Port Angeles starts at 6 p.m. The one in PA begins at 6:30 p.m.

The public will also have an opportunity to provide testimony and written comments on the proposed rule changes during the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Nov. 6-7 meeting in Olympia.

The commission will vote on final proposals in February.

Pheasants On The Fort, And Elsewhere

September 18, 2009

(EDITOR’S NOTE: THE FOLLOWING STORIES ARE BY JASON BROOKS AND TERRY OTTO; THEY APPEARED IN OUR SEPTEMBER ISSUE)

The dog was doing its best to be patient as it stared intensely into the Scotch broom. The hunter approached cautiously, shotgun and vest hanging below the waist all out of proportion to the hunter’s size.

(BILL OSTRANDER, PHEASANTS FOREVER)

(BILL OSTRANDER, PHEASANTS FOREVER)

Several other hunters and volunteers looked on, causing a bit of stage freight as the rooster bust loose from the brush. A quick shot later and the bird flew to freedom – but the hunter wore a huge grin anyway and everyone clapped.

This scene is a common one during Western Washington’s youth hunt, the “kick off” of upland bird season.

THIS YEAR THE HUNT is Sept. 26-27, and according to state upland bird manager Mick Cope, all sites in the Western Washington Pheasant Release Program will get birds for it. A few of the areas get special attention, thanks to volunteers and organizations that sponsor the hunts.

One such area is the northern release site at Fort Lewis, where the Puget Sound chapter of Pheasants Forever puts on a big spread during the Saturday opener. Chapter member Bill Ostrander has worked with the fort’s Northwest Adventure Center as a liaison for this hunt and is a regular releaser out there during the general season as well. Along with friends Dave Engstrom, JD Barrett and other volunteers, Ostrander puts on a BBQ to help those young hunters keep their energy and interest up. They solicit help from anyone with a trained dog who is willing to lend a hand to make sure each kid has a true hunt that will instill the desire to keep hunting. If you want to volunteer some time, a dog, or just help out where you can, contact the chapter (pugetsoundpf.org).

Though Fort Lewis currently doesn’t require nontoxic shot, some other release sites – Chehalis River, Chinook, Dungeness Recreation Area, Hunter Farms and Raymond Airport – do. Several state Fish & Wildlife lands also require nontoxic shot, including Skagit, Shillapoo, Snoqualmie, Vancouver Lake, Whatcom and Skagit.

Both Fort Lewis and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island have certain restrictions and pre-registrations prior to the hunt. The former instituted a $10 fee for processing the pass this year, and like in the past, all hunters must take a class prior to hunting on post. For more on Fort Lewis, call the Northwest Adventure Center at (253) 967-8282. For NAS Whidbey, call (360) 257-1009. — Jason Brooks

IN OREGON, 13 youth hunts are held across the state in September, and some of the sites are a great setting for upland hunting. One of the most popular is at the Denman Wildlife Area, near Medford, held Sept. 19-20 this year.

PREHUNT PHEASANT RELEASE AT DENMAN WILDLIFE AREA, MEDFORD, ORE. (ODFW)

PREHUNT PHEASANT RELEASE AT DENMAN WILDLIFE AREA, MEDFORD, ORE. (ODFW)

Clayton Barber is the manager of the wildlife area and has participated in the last ten youth hunts held there.

“It’s a blast,” he says. “The kids have a great time. There are lots of dogs, lots of kids, and lots of fun.”

There are reserved spots for 85 youngsters each day, and as kids check out of the field, late-comers and those without a reservation can check in, so everyone can get a chance to hunt.

The day starts with a breakfast sponsored by the Oregon Hunter’s Association. After chow, the kids are given a quick safety refresher and then a chance to try their shotgun skills with clay pigeons. Youths who need a chaperone are paired with volunteers, most of whom will have bird dogs for the kids to hunt over.

“Most of the kids come with parents or someone with a dog,” says Barber. “If they don’t have one we try to pair them with a volunteer that does. Some hunting clubs offer dogs for the hunts as well.”

His own dog has helped out kids in the past, and while he says you can get away without a pooch, usually the kids with dogs do better.

Barber does point out that they cannot guarantee that each youth will have a dog to hunt over.

Most kids at least get some shooting in, and the average is one bird per youth. Some kids with good shooting skills will get a limit of two pheasants. About 275 birds are released, and hunters are given maps to show the release sites.

Each hunt is a little different and kids 17 and younger can participate. They must carry a hunter education card and be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older, who cannot hunt. Reservations can be made after Sept. 1.

Once the morning hunt is over, it’s back to headquarters for a hot dog lunch. If it’s not too hot, some people will go back out.

“They do get some birds in the late morning and afternoon,” says Barber. “Usually the morning is best, though.” – Terry Otto

OREGON Youth Hunt Schedule

Baker City area (private land), Sept. 19-20, 50 kids, (541) 963-2138
Denman WA, Sept. 19-20, 80 kids, (541) 826-8774
EE Wilson WA, Sept. 19-20, 26-27, 70 kids, (541) 745-5334
Willow Creek (Prineville area), Sept. 19-20, 80 kids, (54) 447-5111
Heppner, Sept. 20, 30 kids, (541) 676-5230
Irrigon WA, Sept. 26-27, 60 kids, (541) 276-2344

Diamond Lake Fishing Report

September 18, 2009

(DIAMOND LAKE PRESS RELEASE)

The total numbers of trout being caught may not be as high but the quality of the
fish being caught has definitely risen. Diamond Lake Charter Boat customers are
averaging 3 trout each with at least one or two fish in the 17 to 20 inch range.

Fish are returning to shallower water at the south end of the lake fishing near
Short and Silent Creeks. Power Bait in Chartruse and Rainbow colors remain good
baits. Night crawlers floated by a marshmallow off the bottom or under a bobber
with 4 feet of leader are popular for Fall fishing. Small bait presentation is a must.

Make the Power Bait ball just large enough to float the hook and leader off the
bottom. Use about 1/3 of a night crawler with a garlic flavored marshmallow to
float it off the bottom.

Trolling is also picking up near shallower water. Needlefish, Flatfish, and Wedding
rings are favorite late season lures. Old fashioned Lake Troll Flashers trailed by a
chunk on night crawler is accounting for as many fish as anything else.

Fly anglers are still making good catches near the south end of the lake. Wooly
Buggers and leaches in black, brown, and olive are favorite patterns.

— Rick Rockholt

Goose Goosed With 1.5-pounders

September 16, 2009

WDFW reports planting Goose Lake, in Skamania County, with 1,800 cutthroat averaging 11/2 pounds today.

“Should be an awesome fall fishery until the snow falls,” said state fisheries biologist John Weinheimer in a forwarded email.

Goose is in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, just north of the Big Lava Bed. It features a campground.

Here are Forest Service directions to the camp:

From Highway 14 take the Wind River Highway, take road 65 to Road 60. About 8 miles of gravel road to the campground. An alternative way is taking Highway 141 from White Salmon to Trout Lake, west on Forest Road 60. About eight miles of gravel road to campground.


What’s Huntin’ In Washington

September 16, 2009

Doves, grouse and youth weekend opportunities highlight some of late September’s best hunting around Washington.

Here’s more from around the Evergreen State, courtesy of WDFW’s Weekender:

NORTH PUGET SOUND
Pheasant hunters should note that the department will release pheasants this fall at the Skagit Wildlife Area’s Samish Unit rather than the Headquarters Unit, where a substantial portion of land is no longer suitable for pheasant hunting. WDFW is temporarily moving its pheasant release program to the Samish Unit because an estuary restoration project has returned portions of recreational land on the Headquarters Unit to intertidal habitat for fish and wildlife.

“This is a stopgap solution for this year to address the loss of suitable pheasant release sites at Headquarters,” said Lora Leschner, regional wildlife program manager for WDFW. “We will continue to work toward securing alternative sites in the region where we can permanently relocate our pheasant release operations.” Pheasants will be released several days a week on the Samish Unit from Sept. 25 to Nov. 7.

EASTERN WASHINGTON
Hunters under 16 years of age have a jump on both upland game birds and waterfowl with a special statewide two-day season, Sept. 26-27. Participating young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is not hunting.

About 1,200 rooster pheasants will be released on a couple dozen sites throughout the region for the special youth-only hunting season. Pheasants will be released at several Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program sites, including Sherman Creek in Ferry County; Fishtrap Lake on the Lincoln-Spokane county line; John Henley in Whitman County; Willow Bar and Rice Bar in Garfield County; Hartsock in Columbia County; Chief Timothy in Asotin County; and Mill Creek, Wallula, Two Rivers Peninsula, Hollebeke and Lost Island in Walla Walla County. For information about these sites see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm  or call the WDFW Eastern Regional Office at 509-892-1001. Pheasants will also be released at some “Feel Free To Hunt” and “Register To Hunt” sites, mostly in the south half of the region, found on the WDFW mapping website GoHunt at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt .

“Wild pheasants have been holding tight in cover with water due to the lack of rain in the past month,” said WDFW Upland Game Bird Specialist Joey McCanna. “After several pilot brood surveys north of the Snake River, pheasant broods appear to be up from previous years. We’re cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the season ahead.”

Wild turkey early fall general season (no special permit required) hunting is open Sept. 26-Oct. 9 in northeast and central district units in the region. Dana Base, WDFW northeast district wildlife biologist, said numerous “casual” observations of large turkey broods over the summer suggest this should be a good season. Special permit turkey hunting gets under way at the same time in southeast district units in the region where turkey numbers are also relatively good.

NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGToN
Rich Finger, WDFW Columbia Basin district wildlife biologist from Moses Lake, says the basin is still holding a good number of doves , and depending on the weather, hunting could remain productive through the end of the season Sept. 30.

“Some dove hunters are having success around food plots planted by the Washington Waterfowl Association in the southeast corner of Section Four in the Gloyd Seeps area,” he said. “Hunters can also have success by focusing efforts on roost sites during the evening or harvested wheat fields during mornings and evenings.”

Hunters under 16 years of age have a jump on both upland game birds and waterfowl with a special statewide season Sept. 26-27. Participating young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is not hunting.

Mikal Moore, WDFW waterfowl specialist from Moses Lake, suggests youth waterfowl hunters take time now to scout out hunting spots for that special opportunity. “There are some good concentrations of mallards, northern pintail , and American green-winged teal throughout the state right now, particularly in the Columbia Basin and the Skagit,” she said. “White-fronted geese are also passing through.”

Moore recommends young hunters and their mentors brush up on duck identification, (see ‘Ducks at a Distance’ by Robert Hines, available on the Internet at http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/duckdist/index.htm ), and review the species bag limits in the waterfowl pamphlet available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm .

“Keep in mind that early season ducks have not achieved their breeding plumage yet and many drakes will have female-type coloration,” she said.  “Also remember to report any banded ducks or geese you harvest by calling 1-800-327-BAND or reporting online at http://www.reportband.gov . The band is yours to keep and you will receive a certificate detailing the age, sex, and banding location of the bird.”

Finger noted that in preparation for the youth hunt, WDFW will fill the northwest cell of the Winchester Regulated Access Area (WRAA) with water, starting the week of Sept. 21.  “Our ability to completely fill the basin will depend on the water level in the Winchester Wasteway,” Finger said, “At full pool the non-reserve huntable portion is about 10 acres and can support two to three groups of hunters.”

Such management efforts and assistance by the Washington Waterfowl Association in the Regulated Access Areas have resulted in an increase in smartweed, millet, and other moist-soil vegetation preferred by dabbling ducks, Finger noted.

“We expect this area to attract large numbers of waterfowl this year,” he said.  The Frenchmen Regulated Access Area will not be flooded for the youth hunt because of ongoing management activities, but water will be released prior to the October general season opener. “Desirable, moist-soil vegetation is increasing in this unit but it is not yet producing the abundance of forage resources that the Winchester area is producing,” Finger said. “The Gloyd Seeps area was not farmed this year but will be flooded in preparation for the October opener, as it has been in past years.”

Finger recommends that hunters contact the WDFW North Central Regional office in Ephrata (509) 754-4624) or see the Migratory Waterfowl rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm  for Regulated Access Area locations and restrictions.

About 1,000 rooster pheasants will be released on sites throughout the region for the special youth-only hunting season Sept. 26-27. Pheasants will be released at several eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program sites, including Sinlahekin and Chiliwist in Okanogan County, Chelan Butte and Swakane in Chelan County, and Banks Lake, Steamboat Rock, Gloyd Seeps, Quincy, Warden and Lower Crab Creek in Grant County.

For information about these sites, call WDFW’s North Central Regional Office at (509) 754-4624, or see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm . Pheasants will also be released at some “Feel Free To Hunt” and “Register To Hunt” sites found on the WDFW mapping website GoHunt at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt .

“Wild pheasants have been holding tight in cover with water due to the lack of rain in the past month,” said Joey McCanna, WDFW Upland Game Bird Specialist. “Biologists are reporting good pheasant broods in the Columbia Basin, so we’re cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the season ahead.”

Scott Fitkin, WDFW Okanogan District wildlife biologist from Winthrop, says forest grouse hunting should be fairly good in the Okanogan District based on the abundance of broods noted in the spring and early summer. Blue grouse in particular seem to be in good numbers and are now moving to higher elevations. Berry fields, meadow edges and forested ridges are good places to look, Fitkin says.

Higher elevations are also a good bet for early archery deer hunters. “Despite a meager snow pack, mild temperatures and summer rains have kept many high elevation meadows greener longer this year,” Fitkin said.

SOUTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON
Dove hunting is reportedly excellent in the south end of the Columbia Basin around the Tri-Cities and could remain productive if warm weather holds birds in the area through the season’s end Sept. 30.

Hunters under 16 years of age have a jump on both upland game birds and waterfowl with a special statewide season, Sept. 26-27. Participating young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is not hunting.

About 700 rooster pheasants will be released on several sites throughout the region for the special youth-only hunting season Sept. 26-27. Pheasants will be released at several eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program sites, including Colockum, Millerguard and Cottonwoods on Wenas/L.T. Murray in Kittitas County, Sunnyside in Yakima County, Big Flat and Ringold in Franklin County, and Hill Road in Klickitat County. For information about and maps of these sites, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm  or call WDFW’s South Central Regional Office at (509) 575-2740.

What’s Fishin’ In Washington

September 16, 2009

Pinks in the rivers, coho in Puget Sound and the Straits, sea-runs in the Cowlitz, Chinook and steelhead on the Eastside, trout in Spokane lakes — there’s plenty of opportunities to be had around Washington this weekend.

Here are some ideas, courtesy of WDFW’s Weekender:

NORTH PUGET SOUND
The bulk of the pink salmon run has moved into the rivers, where anglers have had success hooking humpies. Meanwhile, catch rates for coho salmon are starting to improve, likely signaling the arrival of ocean silvers into Puget Sound.

Some of the best coho harvest numbers were seen at fish checks in central Puget Sound. For example, 214 anglers were checked with 137 coho Sept. 12 at the Shilshole Ramp, while 423 anglers brought home 295 at the Everett Ramp. The following day, 221 anglers were checked with 172 silvers at Shilshole, while 214 anglers were checked with 163 coho at Everett.

Point No Point, Jefferson Head, Possession Bar and Shipwreck should be good spots to hook ocean coho, said John Long, statewide salmon manager for WDFW. Anglers fishing those areas, or other waters of marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, but must release chinook. In Marine Area 9, anglers also must release chum through Sept. 30.

Marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) are also open for salmon. Anglers fishing those two marine areas have a two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon. All chinook salmon must released.

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, there’s still time to catch crab but the opportunity is limited. In northern Puget Sound, only Marine Area 7 remains open for crab. Marine Area 7 is open Wednesdays through Saturdays each week through Sept. 30. The region’s other marine areas are closed for a catch assessment.

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.

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Sept. 21 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 . Crabbers who continue to fish in an open area after Sept. 7 should record their catch on their winter catch card which is valid from Sept. 8 through Jan. 2.

In the freshwater, anglers are hooking pink salmon on several rivers, including the Stillaguamish, Snohomish, Skagit and Green.

Elsewhere, Lake Sammamish is open for salmon fishing, with a daily limit of four salmon, up to two chinook may be retained. All sockeye must be released, and fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek.

Lake Washington opens today (Sept. 16) to coho fishing. Anglers are allowed four coho per day (minimum size 12 inches) from waters north of the Highway 520 Bridge and east of the Montlake Bridge.

Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all freshwater and saltwater fisheries in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA
With the ocean salmon season coming to a close, anglers are focusing on the coho fishery heating up along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In addition, more area rivers are now open to salmon fishing, although anglers are reminded of a partial closure on the Puyallup River.

Salmon fishing at Westport, (Marine Area 2), La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) closes Sept. 20, while Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) will remain open through Sept. 30.

However, a portion of Marine Area 3 will reopen Sept. 26 – Oct. 11 for a late-season fishery targeting coho and chinook salmon returning to the Quillayute River system. “The La Push fishery is very popular,” said Wendy Beeghley, WDFW fish biologist. “There’s still fish out there and judging from this year’s overall results, anglers should be successful.”

Anglers heading to the area may want to take part in the La Push Last Chance Salmon derby, scheduled Sept. 26 and 27. For more information, call the Forks Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-443-6757, or send an email to chambers@forkswa.com

Other coastal areas open to fishing include the salmon fishery east of Buoy 13 in Grays Harbor (Marine Area 2-2), which is open daily through Nov. 30, while Willapa Bay is open daily until Jan. 31.

Beeghley advises anglers to check the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm  for specific retention rules, limits and boundary guidelines. Anglers are also advised to check the Fishing Hotline at (360) 902-2500 for updated information on changes in coastal fisheries.

On the Strait of Juan de Fuca, anglers fishing in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will be able to retain two wild coho as part of their two-fish daily limit when the non-selective coho fishery opens Sept. 19-30. All chinook and chum must be released. Starting Oct. 1, anglers in the area may retain one chinook salmon as part of their two-fish daily limit.

Meanwhile, a non-selective fishery for coho and chinook gets under way Oct. 1 in Marine Area 6 (Port Angeles), where anglers will be able to retain one chinook as part of their two-fish daily limit. Through Sept. 30, all chinook, wild coho and chum must be released.

In south Puget Sound, anglers fishing in Marine Area 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island) will be allowed to retain wild chinook as part of their two-fish daily limit beginning Oct. 1. Anglers fishing in Marine Area 13 may also retain wild chinook, but must release all wild coho.

In Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), the daily limit is four coho only. All other salmon species must be released. The same rules apply to Dabob and Quilcene bays in northern Hood Canal.

Anglers are reminded that recreational fishing on the Puyallup River is closed from noon Sundays to noon Tuesdays, Sept. 20-22 and Sept. 27-29 due to public safety concerns and to reduce gear conflicts between sport anglers and tribal fishers. The section closed extends from the 11th Street Bridge in Tacoma to the City of Puyallup Outfall Structure across the river from the junction of Freeman Road and North Levee Road. Recreational fishing will remain open seven days a week upstream of the closed section. The lower section will reopen seven days a week beginning at noon Sept. 29.

Salmon fishing is now under way on the Chehalis River, which opened Sept. 16 from the Hwy 101 Bridge in Aberdeen to the Porter Bridge. The daily limit is six fish. Up to two adults may be retained, but only one may be a wild adult coho . Adult chinook and chum must be released.

Area rivers opening Oct. 1 for fall salmon fishing include the Elk, Hoquiam, Humptulips, Johns, Satsop, Wishkah and Wynoochee in Grays Harbor County; Kennedy Creek (upriver to the Hwy 101 bridge) in Thurston County; the Nemah River in Pacific County; and the Skokomish River in Mason County.

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.

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.

Recreational crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Sept. 21 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 .

Those who file their catch reports by the deadline will be entered in a drawing for one of 10 free 2010 combination fishing licenses, which allow the holder to fish for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species.

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON
Anglers are still averaging a coho per boat most days in the Buoy 10 fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River, but the action is shifting to the Cowlitz River and other tributaries below Bonneville Dam.  Several rivers will close to chinook retention Oct. 1, but new fishing opportunities – including a catch-and-keep sturgeon season above the Wauna powerlines – are also on the horizon.

Starting Oct. 1, anglers will be able to catch and keep white sturgeon Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from the Wauna powerlines upriver to Bonneville Dam.

“Fishing opportunities in the Columbia River Basin are again in flux,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “The chinook catch is tapering off, but we now have coho salmon in all of the major tributaries. “That fishery will continue to build through the end of the month, as the sturgeon fishery gets under way above Wauna.”

Best bets for hatchery coho in the coming weeks are the Cowlitz, Lewis, Kalama, Toutle, Elochoman and Grays rivers, Hymer said. Anglers have been catching both hatchery coho and chinook salmon at the confluence of the Cowlitz and Toutle rivers and where the Green River flows into the North Toutle.

Anglers may retain up to six hatchery-reared 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.  Except on the Klickitat River, only those fish with a clipped adipose fin and healed scar may be retained.

While coho are expected to be abundant this year, Hymer acknowledges that they can be reluctant to bite. The best time to catch them is after a heavy rain, or when water levels rise, he said. “Nothing cures lockjaw as well as a good hard rain,” he said.  “The action should also pick up when the late-run fish move into these river systems.”

Meanwhile, after a record catch in August, the fall chinook fishery below Bonneville Dam has tapered off in recent days.  Although fisheries for hatchery coho and steelhead remain open, anglers fishing the mainstem Columbia River must now release any chinook they intercept from the Lewis River downstream (see boundary map at http://bit.ly/AF4Qt ).

However, anglers still have an opportunity to harvest fall chinook on the mainstem Columbia from the Lewis River upstream.  One of the best spots should be in Bonneville Pool at the mouths of the tributaries plus in Drano Lake and the Klickitat River, Hymer said.

The Lewis is scheduled to close to chinook retention to protect wild fish, which are expected to return in numbers just above the minimum escapement goals.  Effective Oct. 1, anglers will be required to release all chinook salmon on the Lewis River including the North Fork.  In addition, fishing from any floating device will be prohibited on the North Fork Lewis from Johnson Creek to Colvin Creek.  Also effective Oct. 1, Colvin Creek will be closed to all fishing upstream to Merwin Dam to protect naturally spawning fish.

Several other regulations also come into play Oct. 1 to protect naturally spawning fish. All chinook must be released on the North Fork Toutle River from the Kidd Valley Bridge near Highway 504 upstream.  Adult chinook – but not hatchery jacks – must be released on the Green, Washougal (from Little Washougal River upstream) and the White Salmon River (from ½ mile above the Hwy. 14 Bridge upstream).  Marked, hatchery fall chinook – both adults and jacks – may still be retained on the Grays, Elochoman and Kalama rivers.

“This is one of the benefits of moving toward selective fisheries for fall chinook salmon,” Hymer said. “We need to protect naturally spawning fish, but anglers can continue to catch abundant hatchery salmon throughout the season.”

Looking for something a little different?  Anglers should try fishing for hatchery sea-run cutthroats on the lower Cowlitz River.  Bank and boat anglers stand a good chance to catch these aggressive foot-long fish on bait, lures, or flies.

While fishing opportunities routinely change with the seasons, Hymer admits that a recent influx of mackerel into the lower Columbia River caught him by surprise.  “First Humboldt squid off Sekiu and now this,” he said.  “Mackerel seldom come this far north and this is the first time I can remember fish reported in the lower river.  Ocean conditions are clearly topsy-turvy this year.”

EASTERN WASHINGTON
Snake River steelhead and chinook salmon fishing is slowly picking up. Catch rates are still very low for chinook in the only two open sections for that species – from the Highway 12 Bridge (near the mouth of the Snake River) upstream to the no-fishing zone below Ice Harbor Dam, and from Highway 261 Bridge crossing the Snake River (about one half mile upstream from Lyons Ferry Hatchery) upstream to the no-fishing zone below Little Goose Dam.

Steelhead catches are increasing in the upper river near the Idaho border, and along the “wall” and walkway area upstream of the juvenile fish bypass return pipe below Little Goose Dam.

Glen Mendel, WDFW southeast district fish biologist, reminds anglers that in the “wall” area below Little Goose Dam, the daily chinook catch limit is just one hatchery (adipose-fin-clipped) adult (24 inches or greater) chinook and up to two jack (less than 24 inches) chinook. In the rest of the two sections open for chinook, the daily catch limit is two marked hatchery adult chinook and four chinook jacks either wild or hatchery-marked.

WDFW Enforcement Sgt. Jim Nelson said that some anglers believe they can legally fish with two poles for steelhead and salmon in the Snake River reservoirs behind dams. Washington’s new two-pole option went into effect last month, but waters with anadramous and/or ESA-listed species are excluded from two-pole fishing, as described at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/twopole .

“I think since these reservoirs all carry names like Lake Bryan, Lake Sacajawea, Lake Wallula, some people are confused by the two-pole option, which is available at most of our lakes, ponds and reservoirs,” Nelson said. “Adding to the confusion is the fact that the state of Idaho allows two-pole fishing in anadramous-species waters.”

In Washington, the two pole endorsement is not valid on the Columbia or Snake rivers mainstem, except Rufus Woods Reservoir and Lake Roosevelt.

Whether with one or two poles, Lake Roosevelt is currently producing good catches of big rainbow trout , according to Chris Donley, WDFW central district fish biologist.

“Sprague Lake is also really cooking, too,” Donley said. “But both Roosevelt and Sprague are open year round, so this might be the time to take advantage of the last couple weeks of fishing on trout lakes like Badger, Coffeepot, Fish, and Williams, which all close Sept. 30. Badger, in particular, has some nice carryover cutthroat trout .”

Donley noted September can be really good for yellow perch fishing at southwest Spokane County’s Downs Lake, which also closes Sept. 30. Clear Lake, near the town of Medical Lake, has brown trout biting now and usually produces good catches of crappie and largemouth bass in late fall.  Clear Lake remains open through October.

“Amber Lake is taking off now for cutthroat and rainbow trout fly fishing,” Donley said. “It’s open through November, but the last two months are catch-and-release with selective gear rules.”

NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON
Bob Jateff, WDFW Okanogan District fish biologist from Twisp, reports chinook salmon are still being caught in the Brewster/Bridgeport area on the upper Columbia River. That salmon season is scheduled to close Oct. 15.

“The Methow River trout fishery is scheduled to close September 30th, but anglers should be aware that if incidental steelhead take limits are approached, sections of the river could close early,” Jateff said. “Anglers should avoid targeting steelhead during the trout fishery.”

Jateff also noted lowland lakes fishing in Okanogan County will pick up this month and next as water temperatures cool and trout become more active. Selective gear rule lakes, such as Blue Lake on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, and Big and Little Twin lakes near Winthrop, should all provide good fishing during the later part of September and through October.

SOUTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON

“This is a great time to fish for rainbow trout in the Yakima River upstream from Roza Dam and the Naches River,” said Jim Cummins, WDFW fish biologist from Yakima. “It’s catch-and-release in this stretch and the low flows and mild days make fishing this time of year a real pleasure.”

Cummins says the upper Yakima should produce rainbow trout for both boat and bank anglers. “Water is no longer being released from upper Yakima River reservoirs as the result of the annual ‘flip-flop’ designed to reduced flows where chinook salmon spawn in the upper Yakima,” he said. “Not only does this increase salmon spawning habitat and protect redds from winter low flows, but anglers can enjoy the increased fishing opportunity resulting from the low flows.”

Cummins also noted fishing success for rainbow, cutthroat , and eastern brook trout in high mountain lakes is generally best this time of year.  “You can enjoy mild daytime temperatures, cool evenings, and colorful vegetation and most of the bugs found in July and August are gone,” he said. “Just be aware that some hunting seasons are in progress as you hike in and out of these lakes.”

Lower Crab Limits Among New Rule Proposals

September 16, 2009

Single-point barbless hooks on the Columbia from mouth to McNary.

Reduce the daily limit of Dungeness crab in all areas of Puget Sound to four from five, but move fishing days to Friday through Monday instead of Wednesday through Saturday.

A complex new “stream strategy” in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to protect waters that act as nurseries for juvenile anadromous fish.

Those are just three of the 103 new sportfishing rule proposals WDFW rolled out today. The agency will hold seven meetings in the next month on all the proposals where the public can discuss the ideas with state staffers.

Other ideas include closing the west end of Sprague Lake to fishing to protect waterfowl, earlier winter closures to numerous Puget Sound steelhead streams, make this year’s Drano Lake bank-fishing-only area permanent, try again to open Spirit Lake at Mt. St. Helens with a lottery drawing, close wild steelhead retention on the Hoko and Pysht, and encouraging the harvest of fin-clipped hatchery summer Chinook over all kings in the upper Columbia.

Meetings will be held:

Sept. 28 – WDFW’s Ephrata Office, 1550 Alder St. N.W., Ephrata

Sept. 29 – WDFW’s Spokane Office, 2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley

Sept. 30 – Carpenter’s Hall, 507 Third St., Yakima

Oct. 6 – WDFW’s Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek

Oct. 7 – Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Room J47, Port Angeles

Oct. 8 – WDFW’s Vancouver Office, 2108 Grand Blvd., Vancouver

Oct. 13 – WDFW Headquarters, Natural Resources Building, Room 172, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia

Every meeting except the one in Port Angeles starts at 6 p.m. The one in PA begins at 6:30 p.m.

The public will also have an opportunity to provide testimony and written comments on the proposed rule changes during the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Nov. 6-7 meeting in Olympia.

The commission will vote on final proposals in February.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

September 16, 2009

What particular meats could this weekend in the Beaver State yield for you?

Crab, albacore, salmon, salmon, more salmon, steelhead, steelhead, more steelhead, rainbow trout, walleye, crappie, bottomfish and more!

Here are highlights from ODFW’s latest recreation report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Wild coho fisheries opened on the Coos and Coquille rivers on Sept.1.
  • Several area lakes and reservoirs were stocked with lunker trout last week including Ben Irving Reservoir, Cooper Creek Reservoir, Hemlock Lake, Lake of the Woods and Lake Marie. Good fishing should continue.
  • Chinook fishing slowed in the estuary of the Rogue River as most fish holding moved upriver. Look for the numbers of chinook and coho in the estuary to build all week as water temperatures climb in the river.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Trophy rainbow trout are scheduled to be stocked in Coffenbury, Lost, Sunset, Cape Meares, and Town Lakes the week of Sept. 21. This will complete all scheduled stocking on the north coast for 2009. Trout stocking will resume in March.
  • Angling for warmwater fish, particularly bass, should be good. Cape Meares, Lytle, Cullaby, Sunset, Coffenbury and Vernonia lakes offer fair to good populations of warmwater species. Lakes are beginning to cool off. Fishing may begin to slow, although fish often feed heavily prior to entering the winter period.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Coho are returning in such large numbers that ODFW has bumped the bag limit to three fish on the Willamette, Clackamas, Sandy, Molalla, Santiam, Yamhill and Tualatin rivers and Eagle Creek.
  • Trout stocking for Willamette Valley lakes, ponds and streams will continue through most of the year. The schedules are posted at our website. Note the scheduled stocking dates for each pond are set for the Monday of that respective week and may not coincide with the actual stocking date that could occur on any given week day.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • ODFW has temporarily lifted all daily catch limits, possession limits and minimum length requirements for Antelope Flat Reservoir and Walton Lake from Sept. 1 to Oct. 18. Both lakes will close Oct. 18 for chemical treatment to remove illegally introduced bullhead catfish.
  • Along with earlier stocking of legal trout, Kingsley Reservoir has received many excess summer steelhead that have returned to the Hood River.
  • Trout fishing on the Crooked River is picking up. Don’t be afraid to go after them with a dry fly.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Both Miller Lake and Lake of the Woods are open to fishing 24 hours a day, offering anglers a rare opportunity to target cruising brown trout that are most active after dark.
  • The Chewaucan River just above Paisley has been producing good catches of 8 to 12-inch rainbow trout.
  • Watch for fishing to improve on several area lakes and reservoirs as cooler fall temperatures set in.

NORTHEAST ZONE

    • The John Day pool on the Columbia River offers some great late summer and fall fishing for walleye, anglers are targeting the area near the mouth of the Umatilla River. The area also provides world class smallmouth bass angling, the smallmouth go on a fall feeding binge as juvenile shad begin their outmigration which is happening right now.  As water temperatures begin to cool the smallmouth action will continue to heat up.
    • Trout fishing on Magone Lake is picking up with rainbows feeding in the shallows and brook trout staging to spawn near the swimming beach.
    • Steelhead anglers should be checking their gear and practicing their casting because a near record number of steelhead are heading up the Columbia River and will be entering the rivers of eastern Oregon in late September and October.

      COLUMBIA ZONE

      • Action for coho is good at Buoy 10.
      • Fall chinook is still good between Warrior Rock and Bonneville Dam, with an average of 5,700 passing through the Bonneville ladder daily.
      • Coho are showing up at the mouths of tributaries in the Columbia.
      • Walleye fishing is good near Troutdale and in the gorge.

      SNAKE ZONE

      • At Brownlee, drappie fishing has picked up and the fish are heavy.  Red and white jigs are working well. Catfish angling is good with some large fish being taken. Some catfish are dying. ODFW is attempting to do some testing to find the cause. This occurred 3 years ago and was caused by a virus not harmful to humans.  Bass angling has picked up and some nice bass are being caught. Some perch are starting to bite as well.  The water level is 23 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.

      MARINE ZONE

      • Tuna fishing continued last week with average landings of 3 albacore per angler coast wide. This is the second best tuna year on record.
      • Between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mt., the ocean is open for salmon through the earlier of Sept. 30 or 7,000 marked coho quota. Preliminary data show that landings averaged about one salmon for every three anglers last week. The daily bag limit is two salmon except closed to retention of Chinook. All retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip and be 16″ or longer.
      • Cabezon retention by sport boat anglers is not allowed effective Sept. 12 through Dec. 31 because the ocean boat harvest cap of 15.8 metric tons has been reached. Cabezon have a high survival rate when released carefully. Shore anglers, including shore-based divers, may continue to keep cabezon.
      • Bottomfish anglers on average continue to land two or three rockfish coast wide. Lingcod landings are averaging one fish per four anglers.
      • Ocean crabbers brought in an average of 5 crab last week.
      • Estuary crabbers in August averaged eight crabs out of Coos Bay and three crabs out of Alsea Bay; elsewhere crabbers averaged between four and six crabs out of Tillamook, Netarts and Yaquina Bays. Crabbing in August was the best so far this year in most sampled bays. The best months for bay crabbing in Oregon are August through November.

      WDFW Buys Yakima Ranch, POCo Wetlands

      September 16, 2009

      At the same meetings that the Fish & Wildlife Commission hired Phil Anderson as the permanent WDFW director, they gave him about 4,050 new acres of land to manage.

      The commission voted to approve the purchase of a 2,340-acre ranch on Cowiche Mountain west of Yakima and 1,729 acres of wetlands and uplands in southern Pend Oreille County.

      The agency will buy the Worrel Ranch from Ron and Leanne Amer for $1,713,800, which was reportedly below the asking price of $2 mil but 10 percent above the appraised value.

      The ranch abuts a segment of WDFW’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area as well as the Cowiche Conservancy‘s Snow Creek Ranch.

      According to WDFW, it will help “protect a large area of high quality shrub-steppe habitat, benefiting elk, mule deer and big hom sheep; and, improve strategies to maintain the wildlife area boundary elk fencing.”

      An elk feeding station is due south of the ranch.

      And following up on 2008’s purchase of a 1,079-acre chunk of ground in the upper West Branch Little Spokane, commissioners voted to spend $5.7 million on phase two of the land buy.

      “This property is strategically located along the West Branch of the Little Spokane River connecting Fan Lake and Horseshoe Lake about 18 miles southwest of Newport,” a WDFW document reads. “The habitats include low-gradient streams intermingled with braided wetland complexes, beaver ponds, lakes, cottonwood galleries, and diverse associated upland habitats composed of aspen, and multiple species of conifer and shrubs. Wildlife utilizing this parcel includes whitetailed deer, elk, moose, black bear, and cougar, blue and ruffed grouse, golden and bald eagles and various hawks and owls. Acquisition of this property will preserve this high-quality habitat and will also help to protect the water quality of Fan and Horseshoe Lakes, which are popular for fishing, hunting, bird watching and environmental education.”

      (WDFW)

      (WDFW)

      The overall West Branch purchase from the Rustler’s Gulch Syndicate will cost $9.1 million, funded by a grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

      The land will be managed as a segment of the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area under Juli Anderson.

      Commissioners also voted to swap 5,100 acres of mostly forestland in Yakima and Kittitas Counties to the Department of Natural Resources for 9,000 acres of shrub-steppe. It’s the first part of a larger effort to consolidate land ownership blocks between the agencies.

      Play Keno Sans Tag, Lose Gun, OSP Warns

      September 16, 2009

      (OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE)

      The Oregon State Police (OSP) and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) will increase their presence in the Klamath County area-Keno Unit this hunting season to help improve the level of compliance among deer hunters.

      OSP estimates that anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of hunters in the Keno Unit are hunting without a valid tag.

      “Western Oregon general season deer tag holders are hunting the Keno Unit when the hunt boundary is the Rogue Unit. We see other hunters attempting to fill tags for their friends or hunting without tags at all,” said OSP Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Randall Hand. “Ultimately, this leads to additional harvest of deer, which reduces the number of tags that can be offered to lawful hunters.”

      Deer hunting east of the Cascades, including the Keno Unit, is managed through a controlled hunt system, meaning hunters need to apply for a tag each year and don’t always draw it. 750 deer tags were offered in the Keno Unit for the 2009 season. Deer hunting west of the Cascades is “general season,” meaning anyone can purchase a tag.

      OSP and ODFW will be using a wide array of tactics to increase compliance in several units. These tactics may include:

      • Wildlife Enforcement Decoys (also known as “Scruffy”)
      • Boundary area signs
      • Information & education campaigns

      Hand emphasized that even with the increased information, education and enforcement efforts, it is ultimately the hunter’s responsibility to know where they are and where the boundaries are for their hunt unit. Descriptions for the unit boundaries are online and listed in the 2009 Oregon Big Game Regulations found at most sporting goods stores and at ODFW offices.

      OSP troopers contacting those hunting deer without valid tags may be cited for a class A Misdemeanor and have their weapon seized.

      Hand pointed out the past success of similar efforts. Thanks to increased enforcement in the Interstate Unit over a four-year period, tag compliance rates increased from 68 percent to 91 percent and the deer buck to doe ratio doubled.

      Anglers Taking Clean-up In Own Hands

      September 15, 2009

      A plastic pop bottle floated by me early Saturday afternoon, and then about 5 minutes later, another bobbed its way down the middle of the Skykomish.

      My eyes narrowed as I glanced upstream to the guys fishing Hanson’s Hole. Damned litterbugs.

      Then again, it was a beautiful late-summer day, in the upper 70s, not a cloud over the Sky whatsoever. How did I know it wasn’t other river users, like rafters?

      Back when I was younger, Dad took me and my sisters down the Skykomish a bunch of times. Maybe someone’s canoe had run aground, tipped and all its contents gone overboard.

      Voyageurs, most of us are not these days.

      And there have been plenty of other summer afternoons when I’ve found myself sharing the river with kids, teens, 20-somethings and parents playing, swimming and partying along its banks.

      Wherever there are people, there are messes. Hence society’s need for maids, custodians, garbage men, cleaning services, etc.

      But these days it seems as if sport anglers are the only ones capable of making messes.

      When I got to work on Monday,I found that Gary Chittim, KING 5’s environmental reporter, had done yet another story.

      Following up on his late-August piece on the stinky mess anglers were leaving on the Skokomish, he was now showing piles of litter along the banks of the Puyallup while SkyKING broadcast images of a long skein of sport anglers midstream.

      My first reactions were, Damn, what the hell is Chittim’s deal? Why is he picking on us? Who the hell over at NWIFC is feeding him all these story ideas that put us in a bad light?

      But was the messenger really at fault?

      The bounty of salmon has brought out an uglier side of sports fishing as our ranks have swollen this summer, and while those TV news stories have noted that not all anglers litter or snag, the damage has been done. Our image had been repainted in nasty colors by the actions of some.

      Bait containers, lure packages, fishing line and poo along the rivers’ banks for all the world to see and smell will do that.

      I’m not going to single out toothless, mouth-breathing, skanky-pink-snagging hillbillies as the culprits. I’m not going to blame Eastern Europeans or Mexicans. I’m not going to defame Gamefishers or NWfishingaddicts either. I’m not going to blame teens. I’m not going to say it’s just new anglers at fault, or old anglers. And I’m not going to blame bait anglers, bobber fishermen or stuck-up purists.

      There is no one single segment of Angler Nation that is somehow most deserving of blame and shame for the crap that has stained our reputation — not to mention our favorite resource, the rivers.

      It is the individual who makes the conscious decision to litter — and the group that lets it go — who is at fault here.

      I have to agree with Smalma (aka Curt Kraemer, the former Snohomish County biologist), who writes about a Tom Nelson post on anglers’ images in the media of late.

      “An on point topic though IMHO it is not the media who is the villian here; rather it is us the recreational fishing community. We have allowed our fishing ethics to slip so far that for many of our anglers it is now a ‘right to instance success and limit catches’ by any means. Our ethic is no longer ‘fish first.'”

      But I must also admit that this topic is something I’ve held off on writing about several weeks, ever since we stunk it up the Skokomish. Why bring further shame upon the sport fishing community? Why rub our noses in the mess? Just work on the October issue instead.

      Indeed, the inertia was towards ignoring it. Or pretend it was just “slob” fishermen. Pretend it only happens in southern Puget Sound. Pretend everything’s fine.

      The banks of the Sky where I fished on Saturday were remarkably clean, after all.

      Then again, maybe the high water over Labor Day had just swept all the junk downstream or out of sight.

      Like the river was carrying away those two bottles that day.

      They were too far out to grab, so I watched them spin their way towards the Sound as I tied on a new crappie rig and made sure to keep my line clippings in my backpack rather than the ground.

      Perhaps, though, the spot had been cleaned up by other anglers in recent days.

      And this is what turned the tide and led me to post this blog.

      You probably won’t find this story on the evening news, but there’s a post today on Gamefishin, “Puyallup – Pay it forward.”

      Shaynemol reports that he packed out a “big garbage bag full of garbage” from that river this morning.

      “I’m writing this because I figure their are a lot of GF’ers out there, just like me, that have packed it in and packed it out, but never picked up someone else’s garbage, but it did dawn on me, “If not me, then who”. I now know that it takes about 5-10 minutes extra and that can pack out a little something each time they go fishing.

      I know a lot of people bash the Puyallup, but I grew up by it and now enjoy it because it is so close to home. I hate to see it desecrated by the odd-year crowds.”

      Answered BADANDY:

      “We had the same problem going on at the Stilly under the I-5 bridge a few years ago. I started doing exactly the same thing as well as others and it DID make a difference. Guys started barkin at folks when they saw them leaving their trash behind. Keep up the work man! We need good press and that it surely a way to get it!! My hats off to ya for doing something about it!!!!”

      Added wannafish:

      I have done that on the Carbon…the garbage weighed more than the fish.

      Codliveroil posted:

      I have picked up a safeway grocery bag full a time or two , I think it is inspiring , While I may not bring a garbag bag I will put a grocery bag in my pocket and do it too.

      Gonefishin said:

      I’ve done the same thing on the Snohomish. I issue a challenge to all Gamefishers to pick up some trash every time we go out. It’s my feeling that if enough of us set a good example. Maybe we can convert some of those litter bugs. If nothing else. Our fishing areas will be cleaner.

      The appropriately named Bag’Em congratulated:

      WTG Shaynemol, on both the fish catching and trash bagging.

      As for my Monday Puyallup report. Scale House – scored 5 bags of trash – 3 large trash bags and 2 grocery bags – plus one broken folding chair. Did not fish – so no catching report. But since no one’s fishing that area, made clean up much easier.

      Bag’em and haul’em out!

      I don’t know if any old time GFers remember … that is how I got my handle.

      I applaud fishermen who clean up their rivers, just as a matter of course. Guys who go out, fish, and then pack out a bag or so of litter. Guys who don’t need organization to get things done — but just think how much we could get done as a group.

      You may never be recognized for your efforts, you certainly won’t be paid for them, but you can rest at night knowing you’ve done more than your part to clean the river and in some small way improve our overall image.

      Thank you.

      You are my heroes today.

      Salmon Groups Disappointed In Revised BiOP

      September 15, 2009

      (SAVE OUR SALMON PRESS RELEASE)

      Today a broad coalition of businesses, clean energy advocates, and fishing and conservation groups voiced grave disappointment the Obama administration’s decision to follow a flawed Bush 2008 biological opinion for the Columbia-Snake Rivers. The plan has been criticized by scientists and the courts, and runs counter to the advice of Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), more than 70 members of Congress, three former Northwest governors, thousands of scientists, and more than 200 businesses from across the nation. The groups are joined in the litigation by the State of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho.

      NOAA Fisheries today filed documents with the U.S. Federal District Court in Portland, Oregon indicating that the federal government would continue to support an old Bush-era federal salmon plan, with only minor, cosmetic changes. The decision includes support for the Bush-era scientific analysis, legal standard, and disregard for the impacts of dam operations and climate change on salmon.

      Salmon advocates have long argued that this plan remains illegal under the Endangered Species Act and largely ignores the impact federal dams have on listed salmon and steelhead in the Columbia-Snake River Basin. In fact, this plan allows the roll-back of current in-river salmon protections. District Court Judge James Redden has agreed with salmon advocates in challenges to two prior plans.

      “This was a test for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke — on both economics and science — and this plan failed on both accounts,” said Zeke Grader, Executive Director of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “This decision will no doubt leave salmon in the perilous decline they have been in for years and communities up and down the coast and inland to Idaho will continue to suffer. For an administration so set on protecting and restoring jobs, this decision is a huge mistake and a clear signal to fishermen that their jobs don’t count.”

      Commercial and sportfishing representatives from up and down the Pacific Coast sent a letter to Secretary Locke last week urging him to meet with them to begin a dialogue on how to address the Pacific coast salmon crisis that has plague coastal communities over the last eight years. More than 25,000 jobs have been lost due to Columbia-Snake River salmon declines alone, and more jobs continue to be lost as major businesses that rely on salmon close their doors. Salmon advocates expect this new Obama plan to continue the practices of the Bush administration, allowing salmon declines to continue and salmon-related jobs and communities to suffer.

      “Although the Bush administration is gone, unfortunately it looks like its policies will live on for Columbia-Snake salmon,” said Bill Arthur Deputy National Field Director for the Sierra Club. “It’s a bit like the Night of the Living Dead, we keep fighting these failed and illegal salmon plans, but they continue to spring back to life. We had hoped that this administration wouldn’t buy this badly flawed plan pushed by the regional bureaucrats who are opposed to change and fear science and would instead work with us to craft a plan that was both legal and scientifically sound. It’s a grave disappointment to see another zombie plan instead. It’s now time for the Judge to bury this plan for good, and provide a fresh opportunity to get it right for the people, communities and magnificent salmon and steelhead of the Northwest.”

      The administration’s decision allows for a multi-year study — at some point in the future — of what is already a viable salmon recovery option — lower Snake River dam removal — and even then only if already depressed salmon numbers plunge even further.

      Todd True, one of the attorneys for the fishing and conservation groups in the litigation, said, “The government has failed completely to use the last four months of review for a serious, substantive, or cooperative effort to build a revised plan that follows the law and the science and leads to salmon recovery. Instead of the actions these fish need, they are offering a plan for more planning and a study for more studying. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their treatment of major changes to the dams and river operations, which are among the most critical issues for salmon survival and recovery. We look forward to explaining to the Court just how little this latest effort accomplishes. We can do much better — but not by trying to avoid the problems facing wild salmon in the Columbia and Snake rivers.”

      President Obama has made several public statements about protecting sound science. In his inaugural address, the President said that his administration would “restore science to its rightful place…” At the 160th Anniversary of the Department of Interior, he said that he would “help restore the scientific process to its rightful place at the heart of the Endangered Species Act, a process undermined by past administrations[,]” and look “for ways to improve the [ESA] — not weaken it.” The President echoed those statements in a speech before the National Academy of Sciences where he said: “Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over… To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy… [We will] ensure that federal policies are based on the best and most unbiased scientific information.”

      “This Bush salmon plan appears to be inconsistent with President Obama’s public statements about relying on sound science,” said Bill Shake, former Regional Director for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. “We scientists believed the President when he said he would protect science and strengthen the ESA, but Secretary Locke has seemingly allowed political pressure to circumvent a decision based on sound science. The federal agency action today is a true reversal of fortune for the Pacific Northwest economy, for an important American resource and endangered species, for communities that depend on salmon for their livelihood, and those who believe that policy should be based on science not politics. We had hoped for more because fishing families and communities deserve more.”

      Opponents of following the science have called the idea of removing dams dangerous in light of climate change concerns. Salmon advocates, however, point to expert analysis from the NW Energy Coalition and a new analysis from the Northwest Conservation and Planning Council to show that protecting salmon and providing for a clean energy future is both imminently doable and affordable.

      “We truly can have both clean, affordable energy and healthy salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest,” said NW Energy Coalition Executive Director Sara Patton. “It’s not an either/or. We have an abundance of untapped clean energy opportunities, so saying dam removal would lead to large increases in climate emissions is nonsense. The Northwest can show the rest of the country how to right our past mistakes while creating jobs and providing for a better future.”

      5-Steelie Limit Coming To Snake?

      September 15, 2009

      Just got off the phone with Glen Mendel. He’s a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife fisheries biologist for the Snake River.

      He was returning my call from late last week. I wanted to know, with that massive return of A-run steelhead heading up the Columbia right now, whether he had any plans to bump limits on the Snake this fall.

      “We’re looking at going to maybe five a day,” Mendel tells me.

      That, however, is contingent upon whether the Snake River comanagers — i.e. the states of Idaho and Oregon, and Nez Perce and Umatilla tribes — buy into it, and NOAA-Fisheries signs off on it, he says.

      A-runs return through Washington’s Snake River to Idaho’s Clearwater, Salmon and Boise rivers and Oregon’s Imnaha as well as Washington and Oregon’s Grande Ronde.

      Mixed in with all those fish are threatened wild steelhead, which is why Federal approval would be required.

      The current limit on the Snake is three hatchery steelhead a day.

      “We don’t want most of those to spawn,” says Mendel.

      Last week, managers updated the A-run forecast to 565,000, twice the preseason estimate.

      Talks on bonus limits have begun with Idaho managers, Mendel says.

      “We should know within two or three weeks,” he adds.

      Columbia, Salmon Bass: He’s A She

      September 15, 2009

      Two out of every three male smallies caught in the Columbia just below Bonneville Dam, and more than four out of every ten bass landed on the lower Salmon River are gender benders.

      A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey also found that intersex fish are more widespread, both in terms of species and basins affected, than previously believed.

      However, researchers for the federal agency don’t know why some male smallies develop immature female egg cells in their testes, or why female bronzebacks grow beards.

      “This research sends the clear message that we need to learn more about the hormonal and environmental factors that cause this condition in fish, as well as the number of fish afflicted with this condition,” said Sue Haseltine, associate director for biology at the U.S. Geological Survey in a press release.

      “This study adds a lot to our knowledge of this phenomena, but we still don’t know why certain species seem more prone to this condition or exactly what is causing it. In fact, the causes for intersex may vary by location, and we suspect it will be unlikely that a single human activity or kind of contaminant will explain intersex in all species or regions,” she also said.

      For example, said Hinck, at least one of their sites with a high prevalence of intersex — the Yampa River at Lay, Colo.— did not have obvious sources of endocrine-active compounds, which have been associated with intersex in fish.  Such compounds are chemical stressors that have the ability to affect the endocrine system and include pesticides, PCBs, heavy metals, household compounds such as laundry detergent and shampoo, and many pharmaceuticals. Yet other study sites with high occurrence of intersex were on rivers with dense human populations or industrial and agricultural activities, which are more generally associated with endocrine-active compounds.

      While the percentage of intersex smallies varied widely across the US, the rivers with the highest prevelance were the Mississippi at Lake City, Minn. (73 percent), Yampa at Lay, Colo. (70 percent), Salmon at Riggins, Idaho (43 percent), and the Columbia at Warrendale, Ore. (67 percent).

      The area just upstream of Warrendale, at Bonneville Dam, is believed to be the site of buried electrical equipment that is leaking PCBs. Health officials warn fishermen to only eat one meal a month of smallmouth caught from there.

      The

      Snake Dam Removal ‘Last Resort’ In Revised BiOP

      September 15, 2009

      A “strengthened” revised plan for protecting salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River watershed was released this morning by the National Marine Fisheries Service, but it says taking out dams on the lower Snake will only be considered “as a last resort.”

      Still, further study will be done on the question as hydropower operators work to recover 13 populations of ESA-listed salmonids in the massive basin.

      The new plan is in part a response to a May 2009 letter by US District Court Judge Redden.

      A press release from NMFS says in part:

      While the strengthened plan, known officially as the Adaptive Management Implementation Plan, includes further study of lower Snake River dam breaching as a possibility, it is viewed as an action of last resort. Dam breaching studies will be initiated if a significant decline in listed Snake River salmon populations is detected and if an analysis shows that dam breaching is necessary to stem those declines.

      The strengthened plan implements NOAA’s biological opinion in a way that more aggressively protects fish populations from decline from a variety of factors including the effects of climate change and other uncertainties that could emerge over the 10-year life of the biological opinion. The plan includes:

      • Immediate acceleration and enhancement of mitigation actions.

      • Expanded research, monitoring and evaluation to quickly detect unexpected changes
      in fish populations.

      • Specific biological “triggers” that, if exceeded, will activate a range of near and longterm responses to address significant fish declines. For instance, very low returns of
      a species could trigger increased hydro actions, stepped-up predator-control and
      hatchery measures, and possible modifications to existing harvest agreements.

      • Starting immediately, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will prepare a study plan to develop scope, budget and schedule of studies needed regarding potential breaching of the lower Snake River dams.

      “This plan is scientifically sound and precautionary. It is flexible enough to adapt to future changes, specific enough to tell us when immediate actions are needed, and forward-looking enough so that it will remain effective over its ten-year lifespan. For the sake of the people and fish of the Northwest, it’s time to set this plan in motion,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA Administrator.

      The filing of the strengthened plan follows a thorough consideration by the Obama Administration of the 2008 biological opinion and the science on which it is based. The administration listened to the views of federal, state, and tribal representatives; federal agency and independent scientists; and the parties suing the government over the biological opinion.

      The plan also responds to the points raised in a May 18 letter from Judge James A. Redden, who is presiding over the lawsuit.

      The implementation plan accelerates and enhances measures in the biological opinion to reduce harm to salmon, significantly improves efforts to monitor and evaluate the ecosystem and status of the stocks, and establishes significant measures to be taken if the status of the stocks declines.

      The biological opinion is required by the Endangered Species Act to protect the Columbia Basin’s listed salmon and steelhead populations. The strengthened implementation plan was jointly prepared by NOAA and the three federal agencies involved in the operation of the dams: the Bonneville Power Administration, Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.

      NOAA said the biological opinion as implemented through the plan is legally and biologically sound. The agency said it is based on the best available science, ensures that operation of the hydropower system will not jeopardize the continued existence of listed species and ensures an adequate potential for their recovery.

      SW WA Fishing Report

      September 14, 2009

      SALMON/STEELHEAD

      Toutle River – Anglers at the mouth of the Green River are catching fall Chinook and hatchery coho.  The first couple hundred coho of the season had returned to the hatchery as of September 9. ffective October 1, all Chinook must be released on the North Fork Toutle River from the Kidd Valley Bridge near Hwy. 504 upstream.

      Green River – No report on angling success.  Adult Chinook must be released beginning October 1; however, hatchery chinook jacks may continue to be retained.

      Cowlitz River – Lots of effort at the mouth of the Toutle where anglers are catching hatchery coho and some fall Chinook.

      Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 1,651 fall Chinook adults, 382 jacks, 451 coho adults, 15 jacks, 157 summer-run steelhead adults, 60 spring Chinook adults, 17 spring Chinook mini-jacks, 25 sea-run cutthroat trout and two pink salmon adults during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

      During the week Tacoma Power employees released 1,367 fall Chinook adults, 360 jacks, and four coho adults into Mayfield Lake at the Ike Kinswa State Park boat launch, and 324 coho adults, nine jacks, and 37 spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam.  Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife transported three cutthroat trout to the Tilton River and three cutthroat to the upper Cowlitz River basin.

      River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,510 cubic feet per second on Monday, September 14. Flows will be increased to about 4,500 cubic feet per second on Tuesday, September 15.

      Kalama River – No fish were sampled during one day of sampling on the lower river last week.  Anglers from the upper salmon hatchery downstream are able to keep hatchery adult and jack fall Chinook  through the end of the year.

      Lewis River – Anglers are catching hatchery coho.

      Effective October 1, all Chinook must be released on the Lewis River (including North Fork) and fishing from any floating device will be prohibited on the North Fork from Johnson Creek (located below the salmon hatchery) to Colvin Creek (located upstream from the salmon hatchery).  Under permanent rules, Colvin Creek upstream to Merwin Dam closes to all fishing beginning October 1 to protect naturally spawning fall Chinook.

      Washougal River – Anglers are catching fall Chinook.  Effective October 1, anglers must release adult Chinook from the Little Washougal River upstream; however, hatchery chinook jacks may continue to be retained.

      Drano Lake- Boat anglers are catching some steelhead.  Anglers should note that 6 p.m. Tuesdays to 6 p.m. Wednesdays during October are scheduled to be closed to all fishing during the tribal commercial fisheries.

      White Salmon River – No report on angling success.  Adult Chinook must be released from posted markers ½ mile upstream of the Hwy. 14 Bridge to the powerhouse beginning October 1; however, hatchery chinook jacks may continue to be retained.

      Klickitat River – Bank anglers on the lower river are catching fall Chinook.

      Buoy 10 – Private boat anglers are averaging about a coho per boat on most days.  Effective October 1, anglers will be allowed to keep hatchery coho jacks are part of the salmon and steelhead daily limit.  The daily limit will be 6 fish of which no more than 3 may be adults.  Up to 2 of the adults may be hatchery steelhead.  All salmon other than hatchery coho must be released.

      Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – From September 10-13 we sampled 514 boat anglers (238 boats) with 52 adult and 9 jack fall Chinook, 13 adult coho, and 1 steelhead.  We also sampled 151 bank anglers with 13 adult and 1 jack fall Chinook plus 2 adult coho.

      Anglers are reminded that effective today (September 14) all Chinook must be released downstream from a line projected from the Warrior Rock Lighthouse through red buoy #4 to the orange marker atop the dolphin on the Washington shore (upstream of the Lewis River) and upstream of the Rocky Point/Tongue Point Line.  However, fishing for hatchery steelhead, hatchery coho, and hatchery sea-run cutthroats in this area remains open.  A map of the upper boundary can be found at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/reg_changes/docs/ColRiverClosedSalmonMap.pdf.

      Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers are catching some fall Chinook and coho at the mouths of the Washington tributaries.

      Hanford Reach – Catch was higher in comparison with same week in 2008. Last week 69 Adult and 16 jacks were checked from 313 anglers (120 boats) at the Vernita, Ringold, and Waluke boat ramps. Best catches accrued at and around the Waluke boat ramp.  27 bank anglers at Ringold had 2 chinook jacks.  Effort has slowed at the mouth of the Yakima with effort  moving upriver.

      STURGEON

      Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Light effort and catch continues during the current catch and release fishery.  Beginning October 1, white sturgeon may be retained Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam.  From the Wauna powerlines downstream, all sturgeon must be released through the end of the year.

      WALLEYE

      Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers from Camas/Washougal upstream to Bonneville Dam are catching decent numbers of walleye.

      Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

      Humpy Wrastlin’ Good Times

      September 14, 2009

      So I went to the circus this past Saturday, and by that I don’t mean the Puyallup or Skokomish rivers, though I did fish for salmon.

      Amy, River and I hit the big top in Everett — elephants, tigers, nutso acrobats, clowns, women fired out of a cannon, the whole shebang.

      Pretty fun, actually — but it was a pretty close thing that it wasn’t me getting fired out of the howitzer.

      I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but in a sense, my life has become a circus act itself, with me tightrope walking between magazine job, pregnant wife, being a dad and expecting No. 2 around Thanksgiving.

      On Saturday, I figured I had just enough time to take my high-wire act to the Skykomish to fish for humpies for about an hour, hour and a half –maybe an hour and 45 minutes if I was lucky and there were no complications.

      The first major hurdle was getting River to sleep for his two-hour midday nap. No nap and he’d be our own little caged lion at the circus, which started at 3:30.

      Still, it’s fairly easy to get him to fall asleep. Drive car, play soothing music, maybe sing a lullaby or two, River nods off.

      Only this time he didn’t so easily. I had to keep driving up Highway 522 further than I wanted before he finally fell asleep and I could turn around to drop him off at my parents’ place. Where he woke up.

      Argh.

      I laid the 26-month-old on the couch and covered him up. He watched me with tired eyes, so I shooed my mom out of the room in hopes he would nod off as I made a quick sandwich.

      He still was laying down as I made for the door — but he was also still awake. I told mom to maybe hold his hand to help him get to sleep, then prayed he would drop off.

      I was already 15 to 20 minutes behind where I’d wanted to be, meaning even less time to fish, so I zipped out to Tualco on the Skykomish below Monroe and bounced across the farmer’s field/parking lot to its far corner where I jumped out of the car at precisely 11:42 a.m.

      There were more than a half dozen rigs there, which didn’t bode well, but all I needed was a rock from which to wail on the pinks. I skinnied under the barb-wire fence and then held onto my two float-rigged rods with one hand and a green rope with the other and rappeled down to the river.

      There were three guys in my spot — but all in the wrong spot.

      Well, “wrong” spot may be too strong as they had a pair of bonked pinks in the shallows.

      But they were also fishing with a big, ol’ downed tree in the water in front of them. Puzzling, especially considered there was an open rock downstream.

      Oh, well, it was mine now.

      I hopped aboard and started running my crappie-jig/speed-fishing routine.

      At this particular hole, and with this particular setup — bobber, 1/2-ounce egg sinker, 30-inch leader, 1/16- or 1/32-ounce jighead and pink/light pink crappie tube jig — you can make three, maybe even four casts a minute because you’re really only fishing about a 20- to 30-foot stretch of the river, and only fishing, at most, 10 feet out.

      Any further out and the setup becomes ineffective, possibly because of depth and current speed affecting its presentation. Run it too far downstream and you’re wasting your time with a wrist-reeling exercise.

      At least that’s what I’ve discovered in extensive test fishing here in previous seasons.

      Probably having a billion fish in the river helps too, no?

      Indeed, pinks were splashing their way upriver, past the gang of anglers on the bank about 30 yards further down, past the guys in the drift boat, flat bottom, kayak and, yes, float tube. They splashed on past me, up towards the horde at Hanson’s, and then towards Monroe and beyond. The Sky was pink, pink, pink.

      So it wasn’t too long before I had my first takedown — and first completely lost setup, a result of a bad knot-tying decision (an embarrasingly common occurence, I must admit).

      I reached for the other rod, which sported a size 1 half-and-half Dick Nite under a bobber. I’ve had fantastic luck on DNs in the past, mostly drift-fishing (earlier that day, and a bit below where I now fished, a friend hooked and released 15 on them), but I’ve found that they occassionally work underneath a float.

      With limited time, I gave it about five minutes, but without any takedowns, I set that rod aside and retied another crappie jig on the other.

      What followed was approximately 1 hour and 14 minutes of humpy wrastlin’ good times.

      Pink after pink bit (yes, bit; the hook was in the tip of their snout or upper jaw every time). I easily missed more strikes and lost more fish on than I got to shore. It was ridiculous, and I didn’t want to leave, even though the sun had moved well around on my left cheek and was beginning to peer accusingly into my eyes.

      Yes, I know, it’s getting late, now go away!

      I was starting to get bit another way and wanted to experiment with it. At the tail end of some drifts, as I either clicked the thumb-release over or began to reel up, fish were biting, probably as the jig swung up in their faces.

      I gave it another dozen last casts.

      And then another dozen more.

      But by now my fairly fine-tuned inner clock was starting to scream it was getting late. I’d budgeted about an hour of driving time between the river, River and home again, where I needed to pick up Amy before going to the circus, and the damned clock said I was pushing it.

      So, after a final satisfying battle with a humpy that got away at shore, I called it a day.

      As I walked past, one of the three anglers who’d been fishing above me (and catching fish) said, “You were thumpin’ them down there.”

      “Yeah,” I said, “but it almost wasn’t fair. I could see them coming through in big schools right in front of me.”

      I climbed up through the brush, jumped in the car and saw I’d used up every single available minute of fishing time. It was 1:33. I had 57 minutes to get River and meet Amy to go to the circus.

      River never did fall asleep at my folks’, but as I prepared for a pretty serious and deserved evil eye from Amy, I lucked out again. Junior zonked out JUST as we got back to our place, picked Momma up. And then he awoke fully refreshed as we arrived at the circus 40 minutes later.

      Phew, close one for AW.

      Otherwise, yours truly might just be blogging about his new life as a clown working for Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey.

      Isabella Fishing Well For NWS Writer

      September 14, 2009

      For the past two days, Northwest Sportsman contributor “Uncle Wes” Malmberg has been catching nice-sized trout at Isabella Lake, near Shelton, Wash.

      Yesterday, he and brother Brett hooked an 18-inch rainbow and 16-, 14-, 13- and 12-inch cutts, and as of noon today, they’d hit several more 12- to 16-inch cutts, all on olive Woolly Buggers.

      “You don’t have to fish deep; that’s a tip,” says Malmberg.

      However, he does say the fishing has been sporadic.

      “We put the boat in yesterday at 8 a.m. and had three to the boat in a half hour, and then it died,” he says.

      Boat Maker Held In Slaying Of Woman

      September 14, 2009

      The owner of a Northwest fishing-boat-building company murdered a 45-year-old woman Friday afternoon on the Long Beach Peninsula, police say.

      According to various news reports, officers witnessed Brian Brush, who owns North River Boats in Roseburg, Ore., fire shots into the grass. When they approached the 47-year-old man, he dropped the gun and raised his hands. The body of Lisa Bonney was found, shot in the back.

      Reports say she was walking away from an argument with Brush, with whom she once had a relationship but had since filed a protection order.

      Brush, who is being held on $5 million bail, is being held on investigation of first-degree murder.

      Bonney was a real estate agent on the Long Beach Peninsula.

      Brush as well as the boat company are being investigated for wire fraud by the FBI.

      The Interim Becomes The Chief

      September 13, 2009

      Phil Anderson, who’s served as the interim director at the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife since last December, was chosen yesterday to be its new director.

      The 59-year-old longtime Westport man was among six finalists for the position that the Fish & Wildlife Commission looked hard at over this summer before they voted to hire him permanently.

      Twin press releases from the Commission and WDFW laud him as “an avid hunter, fisher and birdwatcher.”

      Commission members said they sought a director with a strong conservation ethic, sound fiscal-management and leadership skills and expertise in intergovernmental relations.

      “We’ve had a healthy discussion on the future of the Department of Fish and Wildlife and we’re confident that together the commission and Phil will set the priorities to guide the department in its vital mission of protecting Washington’s natural resources,” said Miranda Wecker, chair of the citizen commission.

      Tony Floor, director of Fishing Affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association and Northwest Salmon Derby Series as well as a retired WDFW staffer, was hopeful for sport fishing.

      “I have known Phil for 35 years, by fishing alongside of him on his Westport-based charter boat to countless meetings at WDFW. He is as sharp as a blade and understands the sport fishing industry. It is my hope, through Phil’s experience and knowledge, that we can continue to elevate sport fishing and related seasons to a higher plateau. Easier said than done,” he said.

      A press release from the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission today is headlined “Anderson Good Choice to lead WDFW.”

      Anderson took over after the resignation of Dr. Jeffrey Koenings late last year, and so far the job has been anything but a cakewalk. The department had its budget slashed severely and had to lay off a large number of employees, neither good for morale. If Gov. Gregoire buys off on it, he will be paid $141,000 a year.

      Anderson previously served as assistant director of WDFW’s Intergovernmental Resource Management Program, leading the department’s North of Falcon team which sets annual salmon-fishing seasons for marine waters including Puget Sound and the coast. Anderson also is WDFW’s representative to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC).

      Anderson joined WDFW in 1994 after serving seven years on the PFMC as a private citizen, including duties as PFMC vice chairman and chairman. Anderson began his professional fishery career over 30 years ago as owner and operator of a charter fishing boat business. He attended Grays Harbor College.

      I can’t say I have a lot of experience with Anderson, but I’m willing to give the guy a chance, see what comes out of the agency now that we’re past the budget and personnel issues. For starters, he’s almost always returned my phone calls, which can’t be said for some of the brass in the wildlife department. When I’ve seen him in action, such as at North of Falcon or Puget Sound salmon management, he’s stressed working with the tribes, perhaps not a popular tone with some, but that’s what comanagement of the resources is about.

      Early online reaction at piscatorial pursuits included this by fishNphysichian:

      “Cautiously optimistic that Phil can take the agency to places it has never been.

      I think he will be a champion of maximally exploiting selective fisheries to ensure that conservation objectives are met.

      All we need is for the tribes to buy in the concept more whole-heartedly.

      Without the same conservation objectives, the co-managers are like two unyoked horses pulling a very heavy wagon. Each horse can pull as hard as it wants in the direction it wants, but until they have a mutually agreed upon game plan, that wagon ain’t goin’ nowhere.

      BTW… congrats Phil. I had faith in you every step of the way.

      Responded Grizz1

      The other finalist looked like a shoe in until the tribes put massive pressure on governor Gregoire who in turn put lots of pressure on enough commissioners to turn the vote in Phil’s favor. Those huge tribal contributions to Gregoire created just the political capital the tribes needed to get their good friend Phil into the office. Expect Phil to shed his temporary sheep’s clothing quickly and cave to the tribes. The next NOF series of meetings will be proof of this prediction. Selective fisheries such as those in areas 9 & 10 are already in jeopardy on the tribal drawing board. Politics as usual is in the driver’s seat.

      Cabezon Closing Off Oregon

      September 11, 2009

      (OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

      Sport boat anglers may not retain cabezon after Sunday, September 13, 2009. Fishing for other bottomfish – such as most rockfish species, lingcod and greenling – remains open.

      Cabezon harvest in Oregon has been limited in recent years by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission because health of the stock is uncertain.

      Landing data for the sport fishery indicates that the ocean boat harvest cap of 15.8 metric tons for cabezon has been met.

      Sport boat anglers may continue to harvest other legal species, but may not retain cabezon in the saltwater boat sport fishery. Shore anglers, including shore-based divers, may still keep cabezon.

      “Cabezon have an excellent survival rate when released,” said Lynn Mattes, assistant project leader for marine recreational groundfish fisheries for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Unlike rockfish, cabezon do not have swim bladders and therefore do not suffer from barotraumas (expansion or rupture of the swim bladder when the fish are brought up from deep waters) that can cause stress, injury, and sometimes death in rockfish.”

      WDFW Closing Part Of Puyallup R. 2 Days/Week

      September 10, 2009

      (WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

      The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is closing the recreational fishery on the lower section of the Puyallup River two days a week through the end of September due to safety concerns.

      Recreational salmon fishing on the river will be closed from noon Sundays to noon Tuesdays, Sept. 13-15, Sept. 20-22 and Sept. 27-29 in the portion of the river extending from the 11th Street Bridge in Tacoma to the City of Puyallup Outfall Structure across the river from the junction of Freeman Road and North Levee Road. This section of the river flows through the Puyallup Tribe’s reservation.

      Recreational fishing will remain open seven days a week upstream of the closed section. The lower section will reopen seven days a week beginning at noon Sept. 29.

      With a strong return of pink salmon this year, hundreds of recreational anglers are fishing the river, which is also open to tribal fishing two days a week, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for WDFW.

      “Unfortunately, we’ve received reports about gear conflicts and other incidents between the two groups, raising public safety concerns,” Pattillo said. “To reduce the safety risk and ensure that the tribe and the state can conduct an orderly fishery, the department is closing this section of the river.”

      Pattillo said WDFW enforcement officers will patrol the river to ensure the sport fishery closure is being observed.

      Regulations remain unchanged for other sections of the Puyallup River as described in the 2009-10 Fishing in Washington pamphlet available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

      Columbia-Snake Steelhead Forecast Upped Again

      September 10, 2009

      Managers today updated this year’s forecast for A-run summer steelhead back to the upper Columbia and Snake River systems to nearly twice what they’d thought it would be at the beginning of summer.

      “TAC has updated the Group A steelhead run to 565,000 fish, compared to the preseason forecast of 278,900 fish at Bonneville Dam,” a fact sheet from Oregon and Washington managers released this afternoon reads.

      However, they say it is too early to say if the big Idaho-bound B-runs will come in larger than forecast. There’s also a suggestion they may come in below.

      The A-run’s size is not surprising because during an 11-day period in mid-August, the old daily record of 14,432, set on August 3, 2001, was stomped every single day save for two. And two days saw nearly twice as many: 28,314 and 34,053 on August 12 and 13, respectively.

      Since then it’s dropped to average daily counts for this time of year.

      Nearly, 518,000 steelhead have gone over Bonneville Dam through September 9.

      “The overall summer steelhead run may be close to the record run observed in 2001,” managers say.

      “Add in the catch in the Lower Columbia (July saw a record harvest) and we may be in record territory,” adds Joe Hymer of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

      In 2001, over 600,000 steelhead went over Bonneville.

      Oh, No, The Jacks Are At It Again

      September 10, 2009

      Remember that whole off-the-chart jack Chinook run this spring on the Columbia?

      Not to be outdone, fall’s jack kings are running up the count at Bonneville Dam as well.

      “The total jack return is already the second highest since at least 1990,” a fact sheet released by Washington and Oregon salmon managers minutes ago reads. “The cumulative jack count to date is over twice as high as any cumulative jack count to date since at least 1990.”

      The counts at Bonneville through September 9 is 67,831.

      The ten-year average for August 1 through that same date? Just over 17,150.

      “A record daily jack count of 4,293 occurred on September 9,” managers add.

      This spring, nearly 82,000 jacks returned, more than three times the previous record.

      So what the heck does it mean?

      For starters, it means that a lot of Spring Creek fall tules, Bonneville Pool and upriver brights went out as 2-year-olds and found pretty good ocean conditions, says Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission supervisory biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver.

      So good that some of those jacks caught in the Lower Columbia in the past month and a half were the size of small adults rather than 3-year-old salmon.

      And how about next year? What might this surge of jacks mean for 2010’s URB run?

      While high returns of springer jacks have not neccesarily meant strong adult returns the following season in recent years, fall jack returns are more reliable for plugging into jacks vs. adult return prediction models, Hymer says.

      Stay tuned.