Archive for November, 2009

Tribal Officer’s Reasoning Released In Brinnon Elk Case

November 29, 2009

The latest twist in the investigation of why two Port Gamble S’Klallam officers detained nontribal elk hunters near Brinnon is revealed in an article by Eric Hidle of the Peninsula Daily News.

It’s based on officer Gus Zoller’s account of what led him to believe the men had poached the bull.

His comments are part of a 168-page report released by the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office, brought about by one of the hunter’s filing a complaint of illegal detention. It includes WDFW and the county sheriff’s investigations.

The tribe is still preparing its report.

The county prosecutor has not decided whether to press charges or not.


New OR Boating Fee Begins Soon

November 29, 2009


Oregon boaters will soon be on the front lines of a war against aquatic invasive species. Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, operators of manually powered boats (paddle craft) 10 feet or longer and all registered boats (power and sail) and are required by a new law to purchase an Aquatic Invasive Species Permit to fund prevention and control programs.

The environmental protection law, created by the 2009 Oregon Legislature, is designed to protect Oregon’s waters from destructive invaders including the quagga and zebra mussels that are rapidly spreading across the nation degrading water quality, depleting native fish and waterfowl populations and costing millions of dollars in maintenance of water and power facilities. The new program will be implemented by the Oregon State Marine Board and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

New Fees

  • Registered boaters will pay an automatic $5 surcharge as part of their boater registration.
  • Out-of-state motorboat operators need to purchase an annual permit for $22 ($20 permit plus $2 agent fee) through ODFW license agents, ODFW offices that sell licenses and on the ODFW Web site. Out-of-state permits will not be sold through boat registration agents or the Oregon State Marine Board.
  • Non-motorized boat operators (canoes, kayaks, sailboats, drift boats, etc.) will need to purchase and carry an annual permit. Permits can be purchased starting Dec.1 at ODFW license agents, ODFW offices that sell licenses and on the ODFW Web site for a cost of $7 ($5 permit plus $2 agent fee). Permits are required for both residents and nonresidents and are transferable to other non-motorized craft, but every vessel on the water must have a permit.
  • Guides, outfitters, livery operations and boating clubs should purchase their permits directly from the Oregon State Marine Board.

The Oregon State Marine Board and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are implementing the new Aquatic Invasive Species Program, which will include education outreach, voluntary boat inspections and decontamination of infected boats to stop the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

For information about the new Aquatic Invasive Species Program, visit To purchase permits online, visit ODFW’s Web site,

Wallowa Trophy Muley Poached

November 29, 2009


Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s help to solve the unlawful killing of a mule deer buck in the Minam Unit in Wallowa County.  A reward of up to $250 is offered by the Oregon Hunter’s Association for information related to this case that leads to an arrest.


According to OSP Senior Trooper Kreg Coggins, the investigation indicates the mule deer buck was killed November 13th above Big Canyon in Littlefield Orchard off Deer Creek Road.  Coggins encourages anyone with information regarding suspicious activity, persons, or vehicle in that area during the time should contact OSP.  The caller may remain anonymous.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call the TIP (Turn in Poachers) line at 1-800-452-7888.

Clam Dig A Go Next Weekend

November 29, 2009


Action: Opens razor clam season

Effective dates: 12:01 p.m. Dec. 2 through Dec. 5, 2009

Species affected: Razor clams

Days and times:

  • 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


  • 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.

Reasons for action: Harvestable surplus of razor clams are available.

Information Contact: Dan Ayres (360) 249-4628.

More Cuts To WDFW?

November 29, 2009

Allen Thomas of The Columbian reports on Phil Anderson’s remarks that more painful cuts are coming to his agency, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Change Would ‘Alter Foundation Of Angling’

November 29, 2009

With public comment on a host of sport-fishing rule change proposals coming up before the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission next weekend, Doug Huddle of the Bellingham Herald outlines some of the important issues for North Sound anglers to pay attention to.

“One, if adopted by the commission, will alter the foundation of sport angling for gamefish in this state,” the longtime outdoor scribe writes in yesterday’s paper.

Where Dead Deer Go

November 25, 2009

KDRV reports on what happens to road-killed or -injured deer and elk in Jackson and Josephine counties of Southwest Oregon.

Tuna Limit For WA?

November 24, 2009

While public comment on a broad range of sport-fishing rule proposals may be the most cantankerous item at the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission’s Dec. 4-5 meeting, there’s another brief that’s just starting to raise eyebrows.

Michelle Culver, director of WDFW’s coastal region, will give a presentation on the status of the state’s offshore albacore fishery.

“The question before the Commission is,” she says, “Do they want to consider a bag limit for recreational anglers? We’re not making a recommendation one way or the other.”


Currently, there is no limit as more and more Evergreen State anglers and an increasingly dialed-in sport fleet pursue the species.

To the south this year, Oregon enjoyed its second most successful sport fishery ever. According to ODFW’s Eric Schindler in Newport, 42,055 were brought back to harbors up and down the coast. Only 2007’s catch of 58,000-plus was bigger.

Culver says she’ll be giving Washington’s Commission background on how other states and NMFS manage the species. In Oregon, basically the daily limit is 25 as part of a mixed bag of pelagic species. California has a split bag: 25 in the north, 10 in the south.

She says that as part of NMFS’s rule-making process for the 2011-13 seasons, albacore issues are being looked at next year.

If NMFS were to adopt a limit, they would ask states to follow suit.

States can be more restrictive than the feds, but not more liberal, Culver says.

While some may bristle at limits, in Oregon, where tuna fishing’s better, very few anglers load the boat. In fact, says Schindler, the average fisherman only brings back four a trip.

But that potential high bag limit is “like a casino,” he notes.

It helps draw customers to charters and coastal towns– even though the odds of hitting a big payout are small.

“The majority of people are never going to get to 25,” Schindler says. “The majority of people are going to be happy with ten or less.”


From what he’s hearing, there’s not really a big push on to impose recreational limits either, but there is some federal concern about commercial efforts on the highly migratory species.

Right now, it’s an unlimited commercial fishery, without trip limits or vessel limitations, he says.

“The jist we’re hearing from NOAA is capping effort, not increasing it,” Schindler says.

Albacore stocks are considered high right now, but the commercial effort on them “is not deemed sustainable going into the future if stock levels go back to average,” he says.

Culver says that if the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission is interested in setting a limit, it could be brought up again at their February or March meetings. NMFS has it on their calendar for June meetings.

‘Anti-vehicle Device’ Found In Wildlife Area

November 24, 2009


The Idaho Department of Fish and Game recently discovered an anti-vehicle device on Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area south of Lewiston.

The homemade device, a truck tire filled with concrete and rebar spikes, was concealed in an area commonly used for illegal off-roading and was likely placed to discourage this activity. Motorized travel on Fish and Game lands is allowed only on open, established roads.

“We understand the public’s frustration with those who don’t follow the motorized rules, but this is taking it too far by putting public safety at risk,” said Justin Barrett, Fish and Game habitat biologist who manages the area.

Mud-bogging, the ritual of driving vehicles through wet areas has caused significant long-term damage in the area. Mountain meadows and streams are especially appealing to mudboggers because of the availability of water and moist soils, yet these areas are very important for wildlife.

Anyone with information regarding this device or who witnesses illegal off-roading on Craig Mountain are encouraged to contact the Fish and Game office at 208-799-5010.

Much of Craig Mountain was purchased as mitigation for the loss of habitat from the inundation of Dworshak Reservoir. Cooperative agreements among conservation groups and several state and federal land management agencies ensure that public lands on Craig Mountain are managed to benefit wildlife and natural habitats while providing diverse recreational opportunities.

Unfortunately, mud-bogging is not conducive to maintaining habitats suitable for wildlife in this area. In fact, the long-term damage caused by off roaders is one of the main reasons some areas have been closed to motorized vehicle use.

Coverage Of Redden Columbia Salmon Hearing

November 24, 2009

Here’s a roundup of articles on what came out of yesterday’s hearing in U.S. District Court Judge James Redden’s courtroom.

The Oregonian: Working plan looks closer for Northwest salmon protection

Associated Press: Judge likes NW salmon plan but sees legal flaw

Seattle Times: Federal judge praises new salmon-protection plan

Idaho Statesman: Salmon plan is close, judge says

OPB: Redden salmon decision will take more time

Speeding Stop Yields Poached Buck

November 24, 2009


Editor’s note: We have our newest entrant into The Dishonor Roll (debuting in the December issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine), one Eric Eugene Burris who allegedly poked this trophy muley during closed season south of Hood River.

An Oregon State Police (OSP) Sunday traffic stop south of The Dalles ended with more than a speeding citation after a trooper found an illegally killed trophy sized buck in the bed of the pickup.  A Portland-area man who is believed to be responsible for killing the deer was also arrested for failure to register as a sex offender and lodged in jail in The Dalles.


On November 22, 2009, OSP Trooper Brent Ocheskey stopped a Ford Ranger pickup after spotting it traveling 79 mph in a 55 mph speed zone on Highway 197 south of Dufur.  As Ocheskey walked up to contact the driver he saw an approximately 250 lb. trophy sized 4 X 4 buck deer in the pickup’s bed shot with an arrow.

Subsequent investigation during the traffic stop indicated passenger ERIC EUGENE BURRIS, age 31, from Portland, is alleged to have unlawfully shot the buck with bow and arrow in the White River Unit, which was closed during the open late season archery hunt.

BURRIS was taken into custody for Unlawful Taking Deer and two counts of Failure to Register as a Sex Offender.  He was also cited for Unlawful Possession of an Open Container of Alcohol.

Operator JOSHUA EDWARD LEPOIDEVIN, age 25, from Portland, was cited and released for Aiding in a Game Violation, Violation of the Basic Rule to wit: 79 mph in a 55 speed zone, Driving Uninsured, and Unlawful Possession of less than an Ounce of Marijuana.

The deer and a compound bow were seized as evidence.

BURRIS was lodged at the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility (NORCOR) in The Dalles.  The NORCOR website does not currently list him as an inmate.

He-Man Spotted Hauling Deer Out Of Woods

November 24, 2009

I’m going to admit that none of the deer I’ve shot bent the hook at the butcher’s.

Just for fun a couple weeks ago, I nested the rack of my 4×5 whitetail inside the antlers of the admittedly small 21/2-year-old muley I shot last month, and those of a 2-point blacktail inside the whitetail’s.

Even so, without a helper, those and a couple other deer haven’t exactly been easy to drag off the mountain, through the clearcut or up a canyon, in one exhausting case.

That last one was a doe up near Entiat, Wash. Nearly killed me and Dad, even after we cut it in half. The icing on the cake was that when I took it to the butcher, the gal who took my order assumed the deer had rolled to the bottom of the canyon after I shot it rather than being shot there.

Oh, sure, I have a friend who threw a small whitetail spike over his back and hauled it out of the forest, but dead critters are not easy to move. That’s why they invented game carts, sleds, horses and mules!

Which is why a pic I got earlier this week threw me for a loop — He-Man Scott Shafner throwing a full-grown blacktail buck on his back and tramping out of the woods.


True, Shafner should have kept his hunter orange on after he shot the deer near Belfair, Wash., during the late rifle hunt that wrapped up last weekend, but still, it’s a pretty cool feat of strength.

“Scott’s an avid distance cyclist, so his main routine is getting up at 3 a.m. to bike 50 miles or more before work,” explains friend Al Schultz who sent the photo taken by another man in the hunting party, Dave May. “He also jogs and does weight training and exercises …”

“I think in reality he only carried the deer like that for a quarter mile (he actually began jogging with it like that after we dressed it out, he was just stoked!). We dragged it the rest of the way,” he says.

By GPS, they were around 2 miles from the rig, Schultz believes.

Yo, Scott, we got a spot up at Deer Camp if you wanna come up!
POST-SCRIPT: My writer Leroy Ledeboer pointed out another solution — two strong sons. I’ve got one already, and No. 2 is due tomorrow.
“It’s okay,” Ledeboer emailed.  “Get River and (your unnamed son) into weight training early. Then by the time they’re teens, they can be your sherpas.”
“On one great high hunt, my sons and I were way up at about 7500 ft., miles and miles from our vehicle.  We’d been out 4 days, had two boned bucks to pack out and they were really anxious to make it back to the vehicle asap.”
“Their solution: lighten Dad’s load.  I came out carrying a rifle, my sleeping bag and a change of clothes!
“Now, I was still in my 40’s at the time, but the boys were like 18 and 22 – So let ’em each pack a deer and split the rest of our gear.  With a 10 lb. pack I could keep pace.”

Weather Schmeather: NWS Goes Hunting, Fishing

November 23, 2009

This weekend’s radar had more red and green than a Christmas tree set up for Black Friday, but the weather didn’t halt a pair of Northwest Sportsman hands from getting afield.

Ad sales manager Brian Lull hunted deer on the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula while our resident Troutist, “Uncle Wes” Malmberg, worked Lake Nahwatzel on the Olypen’s southeast side for trout.

“It rained, and it rained, and it rained, and it rained,” says Malmberg. “And then when we got home, it stopped raining.”

But the moist 2 1/2 hours on the 269-acre Mason County lake on Saturday were also pretty darned productive too.

“The black Woolly Bugger kicked ass,” Malmberg says. “We kept ten 13- to 17-inchers for the smoker. Tis the holiday season. Smoked fish makes the best gift. People go nuts over it.”

He was fishing at midday with brother Brett. They were trolling fairly close in, following the 15-foot contour, but running their flies high in the water column.

“The fish were in the top 4 to 5 feet,” he says.

Bait trollers weren’t doing quite as well, and Malmberg reminds, “People gotta remember fish look up, not down.”

The fish, part of an October stocking, were quite energetic too.

“As soon as you hooked up, they came flying out of the water,” says Malmberg.

Lull was trying to bag his blacktail in the Coyle unit, which was open for the four-day any-buck late hunt.

He says he saw eight deer overall, a respectable number for the Westside, and on Friday evening came nearly face to face with a buck, but it quickly disappeared into dark underbrush.

Others were more successful. Al Schultz passed along a couple shots of Scott Shafner who bagged his buck yesterday near Belfair.



SW WA Fishing Report

November 23, 2009


Grays River – No report on angling success for hatchery steelhead below the Hwy. 4 Bridge.  From the Hwy. 4 Bridge upstream to the South Fork and the West Fork from the mouth upstream to the hatchery intake/footbridge opens to fishing for hatchery steelhead Dec. 1, two weeks earlier than in recent years.

For lower Grays River flows, see

Cowlitz River – Effort and catches are light from Massey Bar downstream.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 3,135 coho adults, 118 jacks, 332 sea-run cutthroat trout, 77 winter-run steelhead, 60 summer-run steelhead, 14 fall Chinook adults and one chum salmon during seven days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 337 coho adults, five jacks, three fall Chinook adults and five cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, 864 coho adults and 52 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, 654 coho adults and 23 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, and 533 coho adults and 18 jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellowjacket Creek.  A total of 408 hatchery-origin sea-run cutthroat trout and one unmarked summer-run steelhead adult were recycled downstream to the Barrier Dam boat launch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,030 cubic feet per second on Monday, November 23. Water visibility is eight feet.

Blue and Mill creeks (tributaries to the Cowlitz) – Lower sections of these streams open to fishing for hatchery steelhead beginning December 1.  In addition, hatchery sea run cutthroats may be kept on Blue Creek.  See the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington pamphlet for details.

Toutle River including North Fork and Green – November 30 is the last day to fish for salmon.

Kalama River – No report on angling success.  Through November 18, four hatchery winter run steelhead had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.  This compares to nearly 500 fish that had returned by this time last year.

Lewis River – Anglers continue to catch coho though the majority are dark fish which were released.  The first 15 hatchery winter run steelhead of the season had returned to Lewis River traps as of November 18.  In comparison, 52 fish had returned by this time last year.

Flows at Merwin Dam were 8,000 cfs this morning, down from last week’s high of nearly 12,000 cfs.

Washougal River – No reports on angling success.  As of November 18,  twenty-one hatchery winter run steelhead had returned to Skamania Hatchery. In comparison, twice as many fish had returned by a week earlier last year.

For lower Washougal River flows see

Klickitat River – Bank anglers on the lower river continue to catch coho though about half the fish were released.  November 30 is the last day to fish for trout including hatchery steelhead on the Klickitat.  However, salmon fishing remains open below the Fisher Hill Bridge while fishing for whitefish from fishway #5 upstream opens December 1 .  Special gear rules will be in effect for whitefish.


Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam – Sturgeon catches have slowed in the gorge.


Swift Reservoir – November 30 is the last day to fish for trout and salmon.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

Redden Salmon Plan Hearing Begins

November 23, 2009

With rigs towing fishing boats parade outside his Portland courtroom this morning, U.S. District Court Judge James Redden is now hearing arguments on whether the latest plan to protect endangered salmon in the Columbia River system is up to snuff.

He’d invited the Obama Administration to have a looksee before a final ruling. The administration’s submitted plan is said to be “slightly revised” from the Bush-era plan.

Scheduled to attend today is no less than the new head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, believed to be there to bolster the Fed’s case that the plan — Redden’s trashed two previous incarnations — is viable.

The state of Oregon, Nez Perce tribe and others say it’s not.

The importance of today’s event is underlined in an AP article in the San Jose Mercury News:

“Redden holds a hearing Monday that is likely to be the last before he rules for a third time on government plans to manage Columbia River dams to save fish species protected by the Endangered Species Act but in precarious shape for decades. Twice before in litigation stretching back to the 20th century, he’s turned thumbs down.”

The Oregonian is running a live blog from court. Reporter Matthew Preusch says that Redden made this statement after taking a seat:

“This I think is the most significant hearing we’ve had so far, and I really think that with a little more work, we’ve got a Biop.”

The Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, which sides with Oregon and the Nez Perce, fired off a press release before the hearing:

On September 15, The Obama administration decided to adopt a 2008 Bush administration plan — including support for the Bush-era scientific analysis and legal standard — over the strong objections of regional fish biologists, former Northwest Governors, people and businesses across the nation.

NSIA continues to extend an open invitation to the Administration’s newly appointed NOAA Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, to sit down with its business leaders to better understand the devastating economic impacts this plan will cause for their industry, comprised largely of small family businesses.

The Longview Daily News weighed in yesterday with an editorial that says since the Obama Administration’s plan is taking fire from all sides, “that generally tells us the government has it about right.”

Brinnon Elk-Tribal Case ‘Way More Complex Than Anticipated’: Prosecutor

November 23, 2009

We had thought we’d hear word from the Jefferson County, Wash., prosecuting attorney’s office last Friday on whether or not she would charge two Port Gamble S’Klallam fish and wildlife officers who detained nontribal elk hunters near Brinnon, but a report in the Peninsula Daily News indicates she is not limiting herself to a time frame in making a decision.

“The issues are way more complex than I had anticipated,” Julie Dalzell told reporter Eric Hidle, adding, “We are dealing with the laws of two separate nations here, and I need to read up on tribal law.”

The two officers, whose names haven’t been released, responded to an incident in early October in Brinnon, well outside the tribe’s reservation. After approaching three elk hunters and one man’s young son at gunpoint, they detained the group for one to two hours.

State Fish & Wildlife officials say that the men were hunting legally on private land they had permission to hunt. One of the hunters, Adam Boling, filed a complaint of illegal detention with the county.

“I certainly believe they went beyond the scope of what their authority was,” Mike Cenci, WDFW’s deputy chief of enforcement, told Northwest Sportsman.

A spokeswoman for the Port Gamble S’Klallams has told NWS that the law showing how those officers had jurisdiction to respond would be revealed after the tribe saw final copies of the state and county’s investigations.

Chinook, Cuttie Cavalry To The Rescue!

November 20, 2009

Yakima Herald-Republic reporter Ross Courtney details how nearly three dozen biologists “charged” their way through “Lake Naches” earlier this week, saving some 500 young Chinook, trout and steelhead.


They were working in western Yakima County, where a landslide damned then rerouted the Naches River in early October.


Courtney reports that the fish were in ponds left behind by construction work, and were removed 6 miles downstream.


ODFW Videotapes Pack Of 10 Wolves

November 19, 2009

A one-minute, 32-second video posted on ODFW’s Web site shows a pack of 10 wolves moving up a snowy slope in eastern Wallowa County last Thursday.

The video was shot by state wildlife biologist Pat Matthews, and written about in the Baker City Herald today.

“ODFW has been regularly monitoring this pack but until this video was taken, we only had evidence of a minimum of three adults and three pups making up the pack,” Russ Morgan, the state’s wolf coordinator, says in a statement on ODFW’s site. “Pups can be difficult to distinguish at this distance, but it appears there may be as many as six pups in the video.”

There’s a second pack elsewhere in the county, towards the Washington border. ODFW officials will try to count each pack’s pups next month.

“For a pack to be defined as a ‘breeding pair’ (an important step in wolf conservation) it must produce at least two pups that survive to December 31 of the year of their birth. Under Oregon’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, the Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider delisting wolves from the Oregon Endangered Species List when four breeding pairs for three consecutive years have been documented in eastern Oregon,” ODFW says.



Author Details ‘How Sportsmen Saved The World’

November 19, 2009

Well, it sure as hell is November, this pounding rain on the third floor of the Pyramid Brewery building here in Seattle is telling me, and how better to kill time when the rivers are out than with a book?

Well, there is also waterfowling, but work with me here, fellas.

I’ve got three books going right now — plus the latest National Geographic and, if I could find it again on this disaster of an office, Montana Outdoors — but I’ve laid them all aside for a brand-new hardcover that arrived at HQ yesterday: How Sportsmen Saved The World, by E. Donnall Thomas Jr.

An eye-catching title to a Northwest sportsman’s magazine editor, that one.

Thomas, if you don’t know, is a Montana/Alaska resident who has written 15 books and whose works appear in bowhunting and gun-dog mags as well as Gray’s Sporting Journal, Big Sky Journal, Fish Alaska and Ducks Unlimited, according to his publisher, The Lyons Press

His latest book’s premise boils down to this: “Faced with human development’s ever-increasing demands upon habitat, wildlife today needs more advocates than ever before. When wildlife advocates work together, wildlife wins; when they bicker, they lose.”

Though we hunters fought and won the battle to bring wildlife back and preserve habitat for them, we’ve been losing the battle for public support for decades.

Of the 42 1/2 pages I have read so far, more than a half-dozen are dog-earred, pointing to salient thoughts of the author. Right now I’m working through the extinctions of the heath hen, Labrador duck and passenger pigeon, and near collapses of the North American bison herds and turkey flocks. All known tragedies and success stories, but Thomas makes clear the primary cause those critters were or were almost wiped out: market/commercial hunting.

Not regulated, scientifically managed sport hunting, like we practice today.

It’s a crucial, crucial difference, and one sometimes misused to blame us today for why we nearly lost those species back when.

To be sure, hunters and managers haven’t always done our quarry huge favors, even in modern times, as Worth Mathewson’s Band-tailed Pigeon: Wilderness Bird at Risk has shown in the decline and near collapse of bandtail populations on the West Coast.

But the press release that came with How Sportsman Saved the World promises Thomas will show how early conservation giants like Teddy Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold and others’ “contributions … to the environment have been far more substantial that those of ‘environmental’ organizations that have taken a stance against hunting and fishing.”

As for when public opinion began to turn away from us, early on in the book, Thomas points to the 1940s movie Bambi as the catalyst for a misidentification of the threat of hunting, but he also finds an interesting ally in Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring: “Carson showed that the real threat wasn’t coming from hunters, but from a technology-obsessed society gone awry.”

It was an “unstated” part of her book, though, and Thomas says that “hunting became a public relations casualty in the environmental consciousness Carson’s work aroused.”

And that’s a pity, because we often have the same goals as the greenies: lots of wildlife, and good habitat for them. But we’re locked into adversarial relationships instead, or deeply mistrust it when organizations like the Sierra Club announce they’re pro hunting.

I suspect, but don’t know for sure, that this book may be a great tool we can use in the defense of hunting.

We’ll see. I’ll try to keep blogging about this, but no guarantees. The Missus is very, very, very pregnant and I think I may have little time to do anything but change diapers shortly.


Chetco Opener Report: 45-, 35-pounders

November 19, 2009

A happy-sounding Larry Ellis just called in from Brookings, Ore., with a report on today’s Chetco River Chinook opener: a pair of good-sized kings, 45- and 35-pounders for the boat.

He says the wild fish bit chrome/chartreuse-billed sardine-wrapped plugs — a Mag Lip (formerly the M2-SP) and a K-13 Kwikfish.

He and a fishing partner were fishing just below Loeb Park.

Ellis describes the larger fish as between chrome and colored up, but the smaller one is a “chrome, chrome fish. It looks like it just came in.”

The Chetco is now open up to river mile 10.5, commonly known as the Ice Box hole.

The fishery above Highway 101 had been kept closed past the Nov. 7 scheduled opener due to low water. ODFW managers were concerned that too many fish would be caught in tidewater and mainstem holes, but higher flows have alleviated that threat.

Ellis is now snapping pics, but planned on heading back out to punch a hatchery king to fill out his daily limit on the Chetco.

UPDATE 4:47 P.M. Here’s guide Andy Martin’s report from the opener:


The opening day of salmon season on Southern Oregon’s Chetco River produced limits for many of the boats on the water, and some of the hottest action seen in years, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing ( in Brookings.
Andy’s group caught its limit within the first hour of fishing, and then caught and released more fish, including a king close to 50 pounds, before arriving at the takeout before lunch.
“There were salmon in every hole and the bite was incredible,” says Martin. “We got two hookups as we were letting line out while running the new Mag Lips FlatFish.”
The Chetco opened Thursday above the Highway 101 bridge after being closed since March. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was concerned about a smaller-than-average return to the Chetco, as well as low flows. Heavy rains earlier this week prompted the opener.
“Thanks to a closure of ocean commercial fishing the past two years in Southern Oregon and California, we were seeing what is turning out to be a much bigger-than-expect run on the Chetco,” Martin said. “ODFW easily got all of its fish for the hatchery, the fishing in the estuary below the bridge was better than normal, and during the opener, there were fish everywhere,” says Martin, who guided a angler to a 58-pound salmon in September during the lower river season, one of the biggest fish in years from the Chetco.
The hot lure during the opener was Worden’s new Mag Lips FlatFish, previously known as the M-2SP FlatFish, in combinations of chrome, chartreuse, green and pink. Andy wrapped the plugs with sardine fillets marinated in Pautzke’s Nectar. The plugs were flat-lined from his drift boat.
Salmon fishing also has been hot on the Smith and Elk rivers. After this weekend’s expected heavy rain, the rivers should be in prime shape for Thanksgiving week.
Guide Randy Wells of Fish Oregon Alaska is heading to the coast to help Andy accommodate customers and groups on the Chetco, Smith, Elk and Sixes rivers. To book a trip, call (206) 388-8988 or e-mail


The opening day of salmon season on Southern Oregon’s Chetco River produced limits for many of the boats on the water, and some of the hottest action seen in years, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing ( in Brookings.
Andy’s group caught its limit within the first hour of fishing, and then caught and released more fish, including a king close to 50 pounds, before arriving at the takeout before lunch.
“There were salmon in every hole and the bite was incredible,” says Martin. “We got two hookups as we were letting line out while running the new Mag Lips FlatFish.”
The Chetco opened Thursday above the Highway 101 bridge after being closed since March. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was concerned about a smaller-than-average return to the Chetco, as well as low flows. Heavy rains earlier this week prompted the opener.
“Thanks to a closure of ocean commercial fishing the past two years in Southern Oregon and California, we were seeing what is turning out to be a much bigger-than-expect run on the Chetco,” Martin said. “ODFW easily got all of its fish for the hatchery, the fishing in the estuary below the bridge was better than normal, and during the opener, there were fish everywhere,” says Martin, who guided a angler to a 58-pound salmon in September during the lower river season, one of the biggest fish in years from the Chetco.
The hot lure during the opener was Worden’s new Mag Lips FlatFish, previously known as the M-2SP FlatFish, in combinations of chrome, chartreuse, green and pink. Andy wrapped the plugs with sardine fillets marinated in Pautzke’s Nectar. The plugs were flat-lined from his drift boat.
Salmon fishing also has been hot on the Smith and Elk rivers. After this weekend’s expected heavy rain, the rivers should be in prime shape for Thanksgiving week.
Guide Randy Wells of Fish Oregon Alaska is heading to the coast to help Andy accommodate customers and groups on the Chetco, Smith, Elk and Sixes rivers. To book a trip, call (206) 388-8988 or e-mail

Going Rogue, ‘Coho Cowboy’ Style

November 19, 2009

Mark Freeman profiles how Grants Pass gas station owner and river guide Troy Whitaker figured out how to catch middle Rogue River coho.

In an article yesterday in the Medford Mail Tribune, Freeman writes that few anglers target the silver salmon so far upstream, but Whitaker started to figure out how to be successful at it six years ago while steelheading on the Southwest Oregon stream.

In a word: plugs — but not casting them, as Willamette Valley and Western Washington coho anglers have learned to do.

County Howls About FWC Chair’s Comments

November 19, 2009

One person’s “honest” assessment of future commercial spring Chinook fisheries on the Lower Columbia is another’s “doomsday address.”

Comments by Miranda Wecker, chairwoman of the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission, in mid-October stirred two of the three Wahkiakum County commissioners to fire off a “sharp letter” to Gov. Gregoire, reports The Daily News of Longview, an article that’s being forwarded around parts of the fishing world this morning.

Wecker was warning lower river communities about possible restrictions next spring, the paper says.

Managers are working on “catch balancing,” moving a larger share of the catch to upriver states and tribal anglers, as outlined by Bill Monroe in The Oregonian. They haven’t fared as well in recent years with later and later runs, and returns as low as 42 percent of the preseason forecast.

The commissioners, whose county reportedly earns 5 percent of its economy from commercial fishing,  contend she’s showed blatant favoritism towards sport fishermen, a charge she does not deny.

The Daily News’ Greg Garrison writes:

When asked Tuesday about that response, Wecker said there’s no question the split is tilted toward sport fishermen.

Wecker explained that sport anglers make about 180,000 trips to the river per year. She told the coalition there are fewer than 50 active commercial licenses on the Washington side of the river.

“It just struck us all as fair to give (sport fishermen) two-thirds of the fish,” she said Tuesday. “To give 50 people a third of the impacts seems to us to not be a reflection of hostility to commercial fishing. That just sounded equitable.”

The paper says commissioners quibble with Wecker’s stated size of the lower river spring Chinook commercial fleet (the article says a WDFW source pins it around 65 this past year) and interpret her comments on the relative health of the Puget Sound commercial fishery negatively.

Wecker, who is from Naselle, just a ways down Highway 4 west of the Wahkiakum County line, tells the Daily News she doesn’t believe commercials will be shut out of the springer fishery, but does say she feels “there are going to be years in which fishing will be very limited.”

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

November 19, 2009

While all of the lower 101/2 miles of the Chetco River will now be open for Chinook starting tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 19, make no mistake, the Southwest Oregon river’s tributaries remain closed for fishing, reports the Curry Coastal Pilot.

Elsewhere in the Beaver State, here’s a roundup of weekend fishing ideas, courtesy of ODFW’s Recreation Report:


  • With some salmon and steelhead fisheries winding down, and poor water conditions slowing others, now is a good time to consider some fall trout fishing on area lakes. Trout fishing on Lake Selmac, Expo Pond, Reinhart Pond, Applegate Reservoir, Agate Lake, Garrison Lake, Butterfield Lake, and Upper and Lower Empire Lakes should remain good well into the fall.
  • Recent rains should also improve coho and steelhead fishing on the middle and upper Rogue River.
  • With recent rains increasing water levels, the Chetco River has re-opened for steelhead and chinook fishing.


  • Siltcoos Lake: The coho fishery in the lake is under way. Fair to good numbers of fish are moving into the lake. Anglers are having fair to good success however the bite has been sporadic. Trolling or casting spinners or other lures can be effective. Best times are normally early or late in the day and after rain events. The month of November typically produces the best catch rates. Anglers may retain one wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho and 1 jack coho per day. There is a seasonal limit of five wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho per year.
  • Tahkenitch Lake: The lake coho fishery is picking up. Fair to good coho numbers are moving into the lake. Anglers are having fair success but coho in lakes can be very picky and the bite can be sporadic. Trolling or casting spinners or other lures can be effective. Best times are normally early or late in the day and after rain events. The month of November typically produces the best catch rates. Anglers may retain one wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho and 1 jack coho per day. There is a seasonal limit of five wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho per year.


  • Large brood trout released recently at Junction City Pond near Eugene and Walter Wirth and Walling ponds near Salem should still be available. The fish are 4- and 5-year-old rainbow trout from ODFW’s Roaring River hatchery and range in size from 8 to 18 pounds.
  • The coho run is winding down on the Sandy River, Eagle Creek and the upper Willamette, although some fish should still be available for the persistent angler.
  • The sturgeon bite on the lower Willamette River is improving.


  • For fly fishers, the Crooked, Metolius and Fall rivers offer good year-round trout fishing opportunities.
  • November and December can offer fine fishing on Crescent Lake for brown and lake trout until access is limited by snow.


  • Rainbow and brown trout fishing on the lower Owyhee River remains fair to good, but be on the lookout for (and avoid) brown trout redds in the gravel.
  • Fishing for brown trout on Miller Lake has improved with colder water temperatures. Call the U.S Forest Service office in Chemult for information on access.


  • Fish for steelhead and coho on the Umatilla River has been good, though many of the coho are getting dark.
  • Steelhead fishing remains fair to good on the lower Grande Ronde, Imnaha, and John Day rivers


  • Hells Canyon Reservoir: Approximately 500 steelhead have been put in the reservoir as of Nov. 9 and approximately 1,100 more are expected to go in by the third week of November. These surplus steelhead are considered trout in the reservoir. No tag is needed but only one can be kept per day if over 20 inches


  • Bottom fishing is good when ocean conditions permit.
  • A series of minus tides after dark this week will provide clamming opportunities for those with lanterns. Recreational and commercial clam harvesting is open on the entire Oregon Coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. This includes clam harvesting on beaches and inside bays.
  • Mussel harvesting, from the mouth of the Columbia River closed south of Bastendorf Beach near Charleston to the California border because of elevated levels of paralytic shellfish toxins. The closure of mussel harvesting north of Bastendorf Beach north to the Columbia River is now open.
  • Crabbers in Coos Bay brought in an average of 10 crabs. Other ports report catches between four and five.


‘Catch-balancing’ And The ’10 Springer Run

November 18, 2009

The headline on The Oregonian’s Web site claims “Columbia River spring chinook decision process explained,” and outdoor reporter Bill Monroe takes his best stab at how state, tribal and federal fishery managers on the big river are attempting to divvy up the 2010 run through “catch balancing.”

Monroe explains the rationale behind the phrase:

The management scheme is changing this fall, primarily the result of some understandably upset tribal fishers who not only didn’t get as many of this past year’s spring chinook as lower river sport and commercials did, they also had to sit and watch the downriver glut in silence. The run was very late over Bonneville Dam and tribes missed the most important ingredient of their spring celebration rites – the fish.

In the offing is a potentially large run of springers in 2010 — or not, depending on how managers account for this spring’s record-walloping jack return (and of course whether the jack’s surviving brothers and sisters flip their fins at us, or come in in herring-biting hordes).

Monroe’s article outlines eight or so steps to achieve catch balancing of the 2010 run and then gives an example of how it works with a theoretical run forecast of 300,000.

Theoretical, mind you — don’t get all cranky just yet about the splits in who gets what.

He’s also included a link to a PowerPoint PDF presented Nov. 12 by ODFW on next year’s run management, complete with graphs and more that show:

* Final run size for each year since 2000 for the upper Columbia, Willamette, and Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis and Sandy rivers

* The error between final run size and preseason forecast (42 percent to 149 percent of preseason forecast the past five years alone)


* Sport and nontreaty commercial impact limits and actual impacts since 2002

* Catch and release mortalities for sport-commercial and tribal fleets since 2001

* A “harvest rate schedule,” i.e., how many fish on progressively larger run sizes can be bonked

* Notes an agreement between Washington, Oregon and Idaho fishery managers to “address Idaho’s concern about lower river fisheries harvesting the early-timed Idaho hatchery fish” and “To send a letter to the three Commissions indicating further coordination between staffs preseason.”

* A summary that says the “early season fisheries will be managed for at least at 30 percent buffer of the predicted run size.”

Got all that?

Oh, then there’s trying to come up with an actual forecast for 2010, which we talk about in our December issue of Northwest Sportsman, fired over to the printer yesterday.

OSP Looking For Tips On Vernonia Spike Poaching

November 18, 2009


Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s help to identify the suspects involved in Wednesday morning’s illegal killing of a spike bull elk in the Saddle Mountain Unit near Vernonia.  A reward of up to $1,000 is offered by the Oregon Hunter’s Association for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.

According to OSP Trooper Tim Schwartz on November 17, 2009 at approximately 9:50 a.m. he and Recruit Trooper Vogel responded to the reported complaint.  Witnesses advised three unknown people were attempting to salvage the spike elk in the area of Keasey Road and Columbia River Mainline.  They were seen leaving the area in a newer model white Chevrolet Suburban with unknown dealer plates heading south on Keasey Road toward Vernonia.

The spike bull elk was found, including the head which had been removed and concealed beneath vegetation.  The elk’s four quarters and back straps had also been removed.

Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to call the Turn in Poacher (TIP) number at 1-800-452-7888.

WA Anglers, Columbia Endorsement Required 4-1-10

November 18, 2009


Starting April 1, anglers who fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries will be required to purchase a new endorsement that will help maintain and improve fishing opportunities throughout the basin.

The Columbia River Recreational Salmon and Steelhead Pilot Program endorsement was authorized by Senate Bill 5421 during the 2009 Legislative session. The annual endorsement was one of several license fee changes approved by the Legislature earlier this year to help offset a $30 million cutback in state funding for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The total charge of the endorsement, after transaction and dealer fees, will be $8.75. The endorsement and recreational fishing licenses for the licensing year that begins April 1, 2010 can be purchased beginning Dec. 1, 2009.

Funds generated from the endorsement fee will support the evaluation of selective fisheries in the Columbia River Basin, said John Long, WDFW’s statewide salmon and steelhead fisheries manager. Funds also will be used for other management activities, including fisheries enforcement, data collection and monitoring.

Selective fisheries allow anglers to catch and keep abundant hatchery fish, which are marked with a missing adipose fin, but require that they release wild fish.

“This program is designed to support current selective sport fisheries for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries, and – to the maximum extent possible – expand those opportunities in the future,” said Long.

The endorsement will be required, along with a fishing license, for anglers 15 years of age and older to fish for salmon and steelhead on the Columbia River and its tributaries when open to fishing for those species.

WDFW, working with the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Recreational Advisory Board, has proposed a list of rivers, lakes and other waters in the Columbia River basin where the endorsement will be required. That list, available on the department’s website at , is one of more than 100 proposed sportfishing rules for 2010-12.

List of proposed endorsement fee waters

Mainstem Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line to Chief Joseph Dam

Deep River (Wahkiakum County)

Grays River (Wahkiakum County)

  • Grays River, West Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  • Grays River, East Fork (Wahkiakum County)

Skamokawa Creek (Wahkiakum County)

Elochoman River (Wahkiakum County)

Mill Creek (Lewis County)

Abernathy Creek (Cowlitz County)

Germany Creek (Cowlitz County)

Coal Creek (Cowlitz County)

Cowlitz River (Cowlitz/Lewis Counties)

  • Blue Creek (Lewis County)
  • Lacamas Creek (Lewis County)
  • Mill Creek (Lewis County)
  • Olequa Creek (Lewis County)
  • Tilton River (Lewis County)
  • Mayfield Lake (Lewis County)
  • Riffe Lake (Lewis County)
  • Lake Scanewa (Lewis County)
  • Cispus River (Lewis County)

Coweeman River (Cowlitz County)

Toutle River (Cowlitz County)

  • Toutle River, North Fork (Cowlitz County)
  • Toutle River, South Fork (Cowlitz County)
  • Green River (Cowlitz County)

Kalama River (Cowlitz County)

  • Gobar Creek (Cowlitz County)

Lewis River (Clark/Cowlitz Counties)

  • Lewis River, North Fork (Clark/Cowlitz Counties)
  • Swift Reservoir (Skamania County)
  • Lewis River, East Fork (Clark County)
  • Cedar Creek (Clark County)

Salmon Creek (Clark County)

Washougal River (Clark County)

Washougal River West (North) Fork (Clark County)

  • Little Washougal (Clark County)

Camas Slough (Clark County)

Drano Lake (Skamania County)

Hamilton Creek (Skamania County)

Rock Creek (Skamania County)

Wind River (Skamania County)

White Salmon River (Klickitat/Skamania Counties)

Klickitat River (Klickitat County)

Walla Walla River (Walla Walla County)

  • Mill Creek (Walla Walla County)

Touchet River (Columbia/Walla Walla Counties)

Grande Ronde River (Asotin County)

Snake River mainstem (Walla Walla/Franklin/Columbia/Whitman/Garfield/Asotin Counties)

  • Palouse River (Whitman County) (below the falls)

Tucannon River (Columbia/Garfield County)

Yakima River (Benton, Yakima, Kittitas Counties)

Wenatchee River (Chelan County)

Icicle River (Chelan County)

Lake Wenatchee (Chelan County)

Entiat River (Chelan County)

Methow River (Okanogan County)

Okanogan River (Okanogan County)

Lake Osoyoos (Okanogan County)

Similkameen River (Okanogan County)


Wen. World Issues Opinion On Wolves

November 17, 2009

The Wenatchee World editorial board wrote it last weekend, and the Spokane Spokesman-Review picked it up today as an “Outside View” — an opinion piece that supports WDFW’s current draft wolf management plan.

Wolves are not optional. We cannot declare the state a wolf-free zone or build an impenetrable wolf barrier along our border to keep out the interloper Canis lupus from Idaho or British Columbia. We can’t pack them up and send them to Issaquah. We certainly cannot send out wolf extermination patrols to do away with them.

In this regard, some of the anti-wolf sentiment expressed so vociferously at the state’s recent meetings in Okanogan and Wenatchee has no serious point. The question is not whether there will be wolves in Washington. The question is how to manage them. For that, the state Department of Wildlife’s proposed wolf management plan seems as reasonable as a plan could be.

Public meetings on the plan, which in part describes recovery as 15 packs in three areas of the state for three consecutive years, wrapped up last week in Wenatchee, though comments are still being taken through Jan. 8.

Currently, Washington has two confirmed packs — the Lookout and Diamond packs in Okanogan and Pend Oreille counties — though it’s possible there’s a third in the Blue Mountains along the Oregon border.

The piece calls BS on allegations that the packs were reintroduced in “secret wolf-by-night relocation scheme, as some claim,” and continues by saying “It is the state’s obligation to protect them until they are plentiful enough to be self-sustaining. Then, when they are removed from the endangered species list, it will be its obligation to manage the population at a reasonable level.”




SW Washington Fishing Report

November 17, 2009


Cowlitz River – Anglers continue to catch a mixture of fall Chinook, coho, and steelhead.  A 41 pound Chinook was caught at the barrier dam last week.  Most of the salmon catch was observed in the upper river.  Flows below Mayfield Dam are increasing and expected reach 8,000 cfs today.  Flows are expected to remain at that level for at least the next week or so.

Kalama River –  More steelhead than salmon continue to be observed in the creel.

Lewis River – Anglers continue to catch coho although the majority of the fish are now being released.  Flows below Merwin Dam were 4,400 cfs which is less than the long-term mean of 6,100 cfs for this date.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers from the Fisher Hill Bridge continue to catch coho although fishing reportedly had slowed some the past few days.  Anglers still averaged over 1.3 fish per rod when including fish released.    A higher percent of the fish caught are being released.

Flows at Pitt continue to range from 750 to 950 cfs the next few days, similar to the long-term mean.

Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers at the mouth of the Klickitat continue to average slightly less than a coho per rod.  Effort has declined with only 10 boats counted there yesterday morning.


Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam – Catches in the gorge have improved with the higher flows.  Bank anglers just below the dam averaged a legal kept per every 6 rods.  Flows below Bonneville Dam have been between 120,000 and 140,000 cfs the past week.

An estimated 16,100 angler trips in October produced 2,200 legal size fish.  Most of the fish were caught by Washington and Oregon bank anglers fishing just below Bonneville Dam.


Silver Lake near Castle Rock – 4,269 catchable size rainbows were planted there Nov. 9.

Courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

Coho Spread Deep Into Willamette Valley

November 16, 2009

This year’s bumper run of coho up the Willamette is tapering out, but not before salmon have made it as far up as the Gate area on the North Fork Santiam and other rivers around Albany, Ore.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” ODFW fisheries biologist Karen Hans told the Albany Democrat-Herald in an article posted today. “Most of the fish are in the Yamhill and Tualatin rivers, but we have been getting reports they are in the Luckiamute, Santiam and Calapooia rivers as well.”

Through yesterday, 25,034 adult coho and 2,082 jacks have passed over Willamette Falls, around 9,000 more than the previous record, set in 1973, according to the paper.

There were so many fish this year that ODFW bumped the bag limit above the falls to three a day.

Razor Clams NOT Closing On WA Coast

November 16, 2009

An AP story early this afternoon said that a yearlong closure of razor clamming on the Washington coast would cost local communities $22 million in lost revenue.

Wait a minute, I thought to myself, we’re digging clams right now, what’s going on here? Why are we talking about a closure? That wasn’t in WDFW’s press releases! And what’s this of the algae bloom? Better get to the bottom of this one — and head off any potential confusion.

So I called my clam man, Dan Ayres, a state shellfish biologist based out of the Montesano office.

Right now he’s in “windy, stormy Ocean Shores,” with 300 other marine biologist sorts attending the “Fifth Symposium on Harmful Algae in the U.S.” — and hoping the lights don’t go out.

“We’re not anticipating closing the fishery and we don’t see any blooms in the future,” says Ayres.

The deal is, this morning, the University of Washington and NOAA reported on the results of an economic study that reveals how much closing the October-April razor clam season due to a theoretical harmful algae bloom would cost the towns of Long Beach, Tokeland, Westport, Hoquiam, Ocean Shores, Pacific City, etc., etc., etc.

They say:

Researchers found that harmful blooms of the Pseudo-nitzschia alga threaten coastal counties that depend on the tourism boom associated with the 7-8 month razor clam dig season on the state’s southwest coast.


The new study estimates that during prime dig days, as many as 30,000 people – including families – take advantage of the recreational fishery.

Twenty-two million’s just part of the economic loss too.

“Reduced lodging, transportation, and dining sales would also translate to a direct loss in labor income of $13.3 million to residents of affected areas, including a small commercial fishery,” NOAA reports.

The most recent outbreak that affected clamming occurred in 2002-03.

The next question for NOAA to answer, Ayres says, is why the the blooms occur.

He says they begin in a “big tidal eddy” outside the Strait of Juan de Fuca where upwellings concentrate nutrients in late summer and early fall.

But blooms only occur some years, and it’s even rarer that they are blown to shore by storms.

When they do, however, razor clams take the toxins into their systems and store them in their fat. While the poison doesn’t affect creatures without central nervous systems, the danger to humans leads to closed seasons.

It’s not till the spring spawn that the toxins work out of the clams’ systems, says Ayres.

“The razor clams can’t be eaten until those toxins leave them,” he says.

NOAA’s study updates the value of the fishery, he adds. A 1989 study by the Grays Harbor Development Council estimated a yearlong closure would cost $6 to $7 million, based on diggers spending $25 each per trip, he says.

Elk Hunter Rescues Abandoned Horses

November 16, 2009

Terry Cairns headed out hunting in early November and unexpectedly came back with five horses.

He found them two weekends back, on the Western Washington elk opener, cold, wet and hungry.

The animals were apparently abandoned on logging roads outside Elbe, Wash., according to a report on KOMO 4 last night.

So Terry and his wife Twyla got their horse trailer and herded the quintet inside and took them to their home in Buckley.

“I’m just a compassionate person – about people, about animals. And I just don’t see not doing anything,” Cairns says in the TV interview.

One horse has since died, but the Cairns are now trying to find to find homes for the survivors.

Cool story.

CB World Reports On Yaquina Clammer’s Concerns

November 16, 2009

The Coos Bay World writes about Oregon Clam Diggers Association head Bill Lackner’s concerns about the new NOAA homeport planned for Yaquina Bay.

He worries about the destruction of eel grass and recreational opportunities in the bay.

“Eel grass beds are dynamic, necessary for a whole host of marine species. What we’re willing to give up just isn’t worth it,” Lackner tells the World.

He also calls the loss of clamming areas “counterproductive” to tourism.

An ODFW biologist, Bob Buckman, confirms the richness of the habitat where the federal agency wants to build docks near the Hatfield Marine Center, in South Beach. However, the article says that mitigations for the project have yet to be worked out.

The Newport News-Times reports the port could be worth $370 million over its 20-year lease. But Lackner, the World writes,

Just wants to make sure wildlife has somewhere to live, and recreational clamming and crabbing doesn’t die out.

“I’m the only one that beats the drum because I care about clamming,” Lackner said. “Somebody, somewhere, at some point in time has to point this out to them.”


Part Of NF Nooksack A No-Fish Zone In Dec. 1

November 14, 2009


Fishing to close Dec. 1 on a portion
of the North Fork Nooksack River

Action: A portion of the North Fork Nooksack River will be closed to fishing.

Effective dates: Dec. 1, 2009, until further notice.

Species affected: All gamefish.

Location: The North Fork Nooksack River from the yellow post located at the upstream most corner of the hatchery grounds, approximately 1,000 feet upstream of the mouth of Kendall Creek, downstream to the Mosquito Lake Road Bridge.

Reasons for action: The Kendall Creek Hatchery in recent years has been unable to secure sufficient eggs from returning hatchery winter steelhead to meet basin production goals.  Closure of the fishery is needed to collect sufficient fish to meet egg-take needs.

Those Damned Salmon

November 13, 2009

And you thought the 2009 Columbia springer forecast was blown!

A Canadian judge has been picked to head up an investigation into why and how runs of Fraser River sockeye salmon came in at as low as 7.2 percent of the preseason forecast.

Ten million were expected, including 9,000,000 summer stock, according to Northwest Fishletter, but only 1.4 mil came back overall, a paltry 650,000 of which were those summer fish.

However, the Cannucks did get the Fraser pink return right, NFL reports. It came it around 20 million, around 10 percent above the forecast.

The article says that critics of fish farming blame netpens along the young sockeye’s outmigration path up the inside of Vancouver Island … which is also the way that Fraser pinks take to the North Pacific.

NFL also reported yesterday that the Skagit summer/fall Chinook run came in slightly above the preseason forecast of 24,000 (which is at odds with what the state biologist is telling me).

Which is much better than what Columbia Chinook managers came up with. The springer run was just 57 percent of forecast.

Well, there’s always 2010.

Report: ’09 Skagit King Run Best Since ’74

November 13, 2009

UPDATED: Northwest Fishletter is reporting that this year’s Skagit River summer/fall Chinook run was the best since 1974.

They say that “around 25,000” wild kings returned to the North Puget Sound river.

However, WDFW biologist Brett Barkdull says final surveys haven’t been completed. The 25,000-count comes from a Seattle City Light press release.

WDFW does report that at least 94 summer Chinook also returned to the Marblemount Hatchery.

The preseason forecast called for 24,039 hatchery and wild fish.

This year was also the first time the Skagit was open for summer/falls since 1993, though catches weren’t spectacular during the split-week recreational and tribal fisheries.

State managers actually struggled with opening a season too. It was the first directed fisheries on wild Chinook in Puget Sound since the stocks were listed for protections under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1999.

“We are going after wild stocks and that was a struggle, so that’s why the fishery is so conservative,” WDFW Puget Sound Salmon Manager Steve Thiesfeld told me for a July issue article.

Of this year’s forecasted return of 24,039 Chinook, only 639 were expected to come in with clipped adipose fins; typically in the Northwest, it’s the other way round, hatcheries outnumbering wilds.

State biologists also worried why last year’s forecast unexpectedly missed wide left.

“For some reason the 4-year-olds didn’t come back,” noted the river’s biologist, Brett Barkdull. “Something like that makes you doubt your models.”

But over the past 15 years, there’s no doubt that spawner escapement trends to the brawny North Cascades river have been upwards. In the 1990s, it was routine to get 5,000 kings back, but this decade has consistently seen returns double that. And three of the past five years have seen a whopping 20,000 or more on the gravel.

Then-interim WDFW manager Phil Anderson is credited by Skagit tribes with working out a deal to open last summer’s fishery.

Puget Sound Rockfish Comment Extended

November 13, 2009


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has extended the public comment period on a new draft conservation plan for rockfish in Puget Sound and has scheduled three additional public meetings to discuss the plan with the public.

Under the new timeline, WDFW will accept comments on the draft conservation plan through Jan. 4, 2010. The draft conservation plan is the preferred alternative among several presented in a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which is required by the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).

The DEIS and draft conservation plan are available on WDFW’s website at . Those who would like a copy of the plan on a compact disc or in print can call (360) 902-2844.

“We decided to extend the deadline and add additional public meetings after receiving numerous requests from people to allow for more time to review the plan and provide comments,” said Craig Burley, WDFW fish division manager.

The draft conservation plan provides the framework for new strategies and actions in areas including fisheries, monitoring and education to conserve and protect rockfish populations in Puget Sound. Three species of rockfish in Puget Sound – bocaccio, yelloweye and canary rockfish – currently are being considered for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Comments can be submitted by email to , by FAX to (360) 902-2946, or by U.S. Mail to: WDFW SEPA Desk, 600 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

In addition, people can submit comments, as well as discuss the draft plan with WDFW staff, during public meetings scheduled for:

* Nov. 30 – From 7-9 p.m. at the Bremerton City Hall, 345 6th Street, Bremerton .
* Dec. 2 – From 7-9 p.m. at the Seattle Aquarium , 1483 Alaskan Way, Seattle.
* Dec. 3 – From 7-9 p.m. in Angst Hall at Skagit Valley College’s Mount Vernon Campus, 2405 East College Way, Mount Vernon .

Wolf Meetings Wrap Up In Wenatchee

November 11, 2009

In what has become headcount journalism (guilty as charged), wolf foes appear to have taken the evening in Wenatchee at the 12th and final meeting on WDFW’s draft wolf management plan.

“Speakers who opposed the plan outnumbered those who said they favored it two-to-one,” reports Rachel Schlief in the Wenatchee World today.

The now-familiar thoughts included worries about “the loss and displacement of deer and elk, the economic impact on livestock owners and how the state will ensure funding the plan.”

Schlief also reports on a geography professor from Ellensburg who pointed out that possible wolf range in more densely populated Washington is far lower than in Montana and Idaho, but also quoted a Conservation Northwest staffer, who’s also a hunter, who said the ecosystem balance wolves might help restore was more important than getting “an elk every year” to him.

It’s impossible to say for sure from the news coverage, but looking at headlines, it would appear that those opposed to wolf recovery in Washington outnumbered those who supported during the public comment meetings.

Here are some of the headlines coming out of those forums:

WENATCHEE:  Wolf foes outnumber friends at Fish and Wildlife hearing in Wenatchee

OMAK:  Wolf opponents circle at Okanogan hearing

SEQUIM: Wolf management plan draws big crowd; Few fear the big, bad wolf

SEATTLE: More Wolves, Not Less, Seattle Says

ABERDEEN: Hunters tell state wolves not welcome here

COLVILLE: Wolf plan is unpopular with local residents

YAKIMA: Community voices wolf concerns at WDFW forum

While the meetings have wrapped up, comment is still being taken three ways through Jan. 8:

FAX: (360) 902-2946

Mail: WDFW SEPA Desk, 600 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501-1091.



What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

November 11, 2009

Here are highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:


  • Clamming has been excellent in Coos Bay. There will be some good negative tides near the end of the week.
  • With rain expected this week, anglers on the Elk River can expect some really good fishing for chinook this weekend through early next week.
  • Several area lakes recently received a supplemental stocking of larger and trophy-sized trout. These include Hyatt Lake, Lake Selmac, Expo Pond, Reinhart Pond, Applegate Reservoir, Agate Lake, Garrison Lake, Butterfield Lake, and Upper and Lower Empire Lakes. Trout fishing in these waterbodies should remain good well into the fall.


  • SILTCOOS LAKE: The coho fishery in the lake is under way. Anglers are catching some coho which have recently entered the lake. Trolling or casting spinners or other lures can be effective. Best times are early or late in the day and after rain events. The month of November typically produces the best catch rates. Anglers may retain one wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho and 1 jack coho per day. There is a seasonal limit of five wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho per year.
  • TAHKENITCH LAKE: The lake coho fishery is slow to fair. Anglers are catching some coho which have recently entered the lake. Trolling or casting spinners or other lures can be effective. Best times are early or late in the day and after rain events. The month of November typically produces the best catch rates. Anglers may retain one wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho and 1 jack coho per day. There is a seasonal limit of five wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho per year.


  • Trout fishing has been improving with declining temperatures and there should be good fishing on several area lakes and reservoirs including Fourmile Lake, Grande Ronde Lake, Lake of the Woods and Thief Valley Reservoir.
  • Rainbow and brown trout fishing on the lower Owyhee River remains fair to good, but be on the lookout for (and avoid) brown trout redds in the gravel.
  • Fishing is closed in all streams unless designated otherwise.


  • Large brood trout will be released this week at three Junction City Pond near Eugene and Walter Wirth and Walling ponds near Salem. The fish are 4- and 5-year-old rainbow trout from ODFW’s Roaring River hatchery and range in size from 8 to 18 pounds.
  • The coho run is winding down on the Sandy River, Eagle Creek and the upper Willamette, although some fish should still be available for the persistent angler.
  • The sturgeon bite on the lower Willamette River is improving.


  • Trout fishing on Magone and Olive lakes has been good.
  • Steelhead fishing is good on the lower Grande Ronde, Imnaha, and Snake rivers.


  • Several area lakes closed to fishing after Saturday, Oct. 31. Be sure check the regulations or reports below before heading out.
  • For fly fishers, the Crooked, Metolius and Fall rivers offer good year-round trout fishing opportunities.


  • BROWNLEE RESERVOIR: Perch fishing has been good from shore at Hewitt Park.  Crappie fishing is good also and the fish are heavy.  Pink and white jigs are working well. Catfish angling has slowed but some fish are still being taken. Bass angling is fair.The water level is 30 feet below full and Hewitt Park ramp is accessible. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.
  • HELLS CANYON RESERVOIR: Approximately 500 steelhead have been put in the reservoir as of Nov. 9 and approximately 1,100 more are expected to go in by the third week of November. These surplus steelhead are considered trout in the reservoir. No tag is needed but only one can be kept per day if over 20 inches.

SNAKE RIVER below HELLS CANYON RESERVOIR: Fishing for adipose fin-clipped steelhead has opened and the fishing is very good. The bag limit for steelhead increased to five adipose fin-clipped steelhead per day, with no more than three 32 inches in total length or greater. There are a lot of fishermen in the area, so please use good fishing ethics.

Elk, And Then Some

November 11, 2009

What happens when an editor gets a mess of elk hunting photos? He dreams about elk.

Buzz Ramsey, Greg Stanger, Mike Donahue, Gary Lundquist, Brett Cooley, Norm McKean and Jason Brooks have all fired pics of 2009 bulls over to me in recent days, and just before waking this morning, I had a mess of unusual dreams — but thanks, guys!

Hunting elk, elk camp, elk woods, elk in the snow, elk on game poles, elk, elk, elk, elk, elk, elk, elk.

So I figured I’d share the eye candy today, show off a few of the REAL bulls and stories from those hunters.

WE’LL RUN ‘EM IN ALPHABETIC ORDER, starting with Northwest Sportsman contributor Jason Brooks’ weekend hunt on a high, snowy ridge — unfortunately, far away from where the elk actually were that day:


Here’s an update about the weekend. So Chad comes over for his first ever Westside elk hunt. We head out at 2:30 am on Sat to the trailhead where I took Adam in Sept., hoping those bulls were still in the same basin.

It’s snowing lightly as we head up the trail at 5:00 am. By the time we climb the 2,000 feet up to the ridge at 5,000 feet we are in almost 2 feet of snow.



For some reason we decide to head to the peak of the mountain instead of skirting across open slopes with 2 to 3 feet of snow on huckleberry fields. I don’t know, call me crazy, but a snow slide body surf just doesn’t sound like an Olympic sport. As we near the top of the peak I am pushing snow up to my waist.



We look over into the basin and nothing. In fact, we never cut a fresh track and I knew that everything was in the timber, keeping out of the wet stuff.



We decided to bail off and head back to the truck, and as we got back to the main ridge we ran into two guys who were camped up there. They say to us how they heard it was supposed to “warm up” by Tuesday and they were going to stay hoping to catch the animals moving.

By the time Chad and I hit the truck (six hours after leaving it) it was snowing hard. Within an hour it had dumped about 4 to 5 inches on the road. I can only imagine what it was like on the ridge! Those guys will easily be in 3 to 4 feet of snow by the next day and by Tuesday … well, no amount of rain will melt that much snow! I hope they wised up and got out of there.

Anyway, we head out and make the 2 1/2-hour drive home. Just as we pass Eatonville I tell Chad, “There’s some elk out your window.”

He replied, “Ya, right…wow,” and couldn’t believe it — 13 elk with 11 cows, 1 spike and a 5×5 only 20 yards from the road … in a plot of land that was posted “For sale” and no tresspassing.



We decide to turn around and knock on the door of the farmhouse next to the land, figuring if it was for sale, maybe the owner won’t be so protective of the elk, but no answer. So we drive back and I take a few pictures of the elk so Chad has proof that there really are elk over here!

The elk move off after I got out of the truck for the photoshoot, and it was a good thing since they were so close to the road with traveling elk hunters passing them — take away the temptation from those who can’t help themselves.

So, we should have known this was going to happen, as this is how Chad’s season has been all year. First he misses the buck that his brother killed (high hunt) then I get the flu and can’t be there for our Chelan County deer hunt. He calls me the last few hours of the last day and tells me he found a 4×4 on his way home — 120 yards behind a “no tresspassing” sign. I tell him that the sign in illegal and that it is on public land (I knew exactly where he was since I sent him there after he got out of the high country, asking for a good hunt on the way home).

Since Chad just completed his Master Hunter program he felt that even if the land was public and some land hoarder who is anti-hunting posted it to scare others away, it just wasn’t worth it, so he drove home. He called the game department the next day in Wenatchee and they confirmed that it was DNR public land. My dad also called the game warden, who he knows and is a friend. The warden is pretty upset and also states this is public land and they have already cited a land owner in the area for doing just that — posting public land as private to keep people away. The agent was going to take down the sign the next day and confront the possible suspect.

So, here we are again, looking at a nice, legal bull, in an open unit, on the only day Chad can hunt, during the last hour. And we took a few pictures, waved goodbye as the elk pushed into the timber.



And you know what, we felt good about it. Sometimes we get reminded through life’s little temptations, and that makes the rewards just that much better when you do things right and it all does finally come together. I just don’t get those who poach.


This spike was taken within the Bethel unit (spike-only) of Eastern Washington within two hours of legal shooting time on opening day of modern firearm season, Saturday, October 31.

Brett's Elk-Blaze


It was 450 pounds on the hoof, and since I had to pack it up an incredibly steep hill, I boned it out completely — 130 pounds of de-boned meat was harvested and my wife and two sons couldn’t have been happier with meat for the winter.


I shot this bull last Friday (in Kittitas County) and it was the first morning of (son Jack’s) first hunt with me. Not to mention it was my first bull after hunting elk for over 20 years. Needless to say, it made for a great story and an extremely memorable event for both of us. As you can see on his face, he was pretty excited.

donahue elk


After a long day of packing and hiking, we were extremely exhausted but I don’t think I could’ve scripted how I would shoot my first elk any better than how it unfolded.

GARY LUNDQUIST FORWARDED THIS PIC and story of Dan Gallagher’s unusual velvet spike, a rare phenomenon, but one that does occur, according to the state big-game biologist for the Colockum, south of Wenatchee.

The 2009 elk hunt started out well. I got my elk on opening day. This year the new rule is true spike bull in the Colockum area that I was hunting. The spike I shot was still in full velvet which is very unusual for this time of year.

gallagher elk


I saw many elk this year including a herd of approximately 250 elk right before dark Wednesday. We spent many hours in preseason scouting and 615 miles on my ATV which paid off.

NORM MCKEAN TOOK ONE OF THE BIGGER PERMIT BULLS we’ve seen, a whopper from the Cowiche west of Yakima.

This 6×7 bull taken by tractor salesman Norm McKean on Oct. 30 2009 at approximately 3:15 p.m. at 518 yards with a Weatherby Accu-Mark 30-378 Mag.& Leupold 4.5×14 Custom Calibrated Scope.



YOU MAY RECOGNIZE THE NAME BUZZ RAMSEY and his hat from Northwest salmon and steelhead waters, but that dark Stetson does double duty protecting him from midfall’s snows.

He needed it on the opening day of his big-bull permit hunt in the Peaches Ridge unit just east of the Cascade Crest near the Yakima-Kittitas County line. Not only did he get his elk (a spike), but his group got two other bulls that day, including a 5×5 that required six guys, cable, come-a-longs, a snatch block, game sled and two vehicles to pull out of a deep canyon.

“They dropped over the edge and they didn’t get to it for an hour,” says Ramsey of his hunting partners who went down to retrieve Tye Hunter’s branch bull. “It was so steep you couldn’t even see the guys.”

buzz 1



buzz 3


buzz 4


buzz 5


buzz 6


buzz 7


Thanks, guys, for the pics and stories, I do appreciate it!

Razor Clam Digs On This Weekend

November 10, 2009


Action: Opens razor clam season

Effective dates: 12:01 p.m. Nov. 14 through Nov. 17, 2009

Species affected: Razor clams


  • 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.


  • 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

Reasons for action: Harvestable surplus of razor clams are available.

Clam diggers got the go-ahead to proceed with an evening razor-clam dig starting Saturday, Nov. 14. Tentative dates have also been announced for upcoming digs in December and January.

Twin Harbors will open for digging Nov. 14-17, while Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks are scheduled to open Nov. 14-16. Kalaloch Beach will be open for digging on Monday, Nov. 16 only. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) gave final approval after a series of marine toxin tests confirmed the clams were safe to eat.

Digs at all beaches will be held on evening tides, with digging restricted to the hours between noon and midnight. The National Park Service approved the one-day dig at Kalaloch Beach, located within Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at the other beaches.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, advises clam diggers to check weather and surf forecasts before heading out.

“With the rough weather we had during the last opener, digging dropped off significantly as people played it safe,” Ayres said. “On the plus side, there’s likely enough clams remaining in the quota to offer more digs later.”

Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin also reinforced taking night dig safety precautions, especially at Kalaloch.

“Kalaloch is considerably more remote than the other clamming beaches, and visitors should be prepared for primitive conditions,” she said. “With no streetlights or lighted buildings in the area, flashlights or lanterns are a necessity.”

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 options are available on the WDFW website at .

Want Wolves? Take ‘Em, I-5 Corridor: Rancher

November 10, 2009

Ranchers and others in Okanogan County let their feelings be known on wolves in Washington at the first draft-management-plan meeting held in a county where a pack actually exists.

“I’m all for translocating wolves,” Dave McClure, a local rancher is quoted as saying by K.C. Mehaffey in the Wenatchee World today. “I think they should all be translocated to the I-5 corridor, where they can be appreciated.”

Methow Valley rancher Larry Campbell is suspicious that WDFW brought the wolves here rather than the animals wandering in by themselves, and he wants state officials to take lie-detector tests.

All three comments drew applause, Mehaffey reports.

(State staffers adamantly say that they have not introduced any wolves to Washington, but rumors persist in some valleys.)

Okanogan County is home to the Lookout Pack, which had a second litter of pups last spring. In mid-October, WDFW biologist Scott Fitkin told me they were still above Lake Chelan, in the Sawtooth Range.

wolf 2


The Diamond Pack runs in Pend Oreille County north of Spokane.

However, two other Methow Valley residents expressed support for wolf recovery during the meeting.

Mehaffey reports that more than 150 people attended, which would make it the largest of the 11 meetings held so far.

There’s one more on the docket, tonight at 6:30 p.m.  in Wenatchee at the Chelan County PUD Auditorium, 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.

After that, you may submit public comments three ways through Jan. 8:

FAX: (360) 902-2946

Mail: WDFW SEPA Desk, 600 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501-1091.


Troopers Crack Down On Poachers

November 10, 2009


Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife troopers in southern Oregon are encouraging people to report poaching activity, especially now that most rifle deer hunting seasons are ending and many large bucks are illegally killed in the following days.

“Our troopers are actively pursuing their game of choice, and our quarry is the poacher,” said Sergeant Kirk Meyer from the OSP Fish & Wildlife Division at the Central Point office.

Last week, OSP Fish & Wildlife Division troopers received information of a large 4X4 buck that was shot at a local area golf course. An investigation revealed that the large buck had been seen in the area for weeks until it was unlawfully killed by a man who did not have a deer tag. The month long deer hunting season was winding down with just a few days to go when the large buck was shot.

State Police troopers seized the carcass from a 39-year old Rogue River man who illegally tagged it with his tag. The 67-year old Medford man who shot it wanted the head for a taxidermy mount.  He tagged it with the tag he purchased after killing it.



“Our investigation found that this person took advantage of a new rule allowing someone to purchase a tag after the season opened.  Despite signing a statement swearing he had not yet hunted for the game for which the tag was purchased, he had already killed the deer,” said Meyer.

Misdemeanor charges for TAKING DEER WITHOUT A DEER TAG, FALSE APPLICATION FOR A DEER TAG and LOANING A DEER TAG are pending against both men.

In a second incident, troopers received information this week of some men on ATVs on a mountainside near Central Point in an area where deer poaching has previously been reported. A trooper was in the area looking for the men when he saw them coming down the mountain on ATVs and one of them was hauling a dead buck. The deer hunting season had ended last Friday, except for youth hunters with a tag who were allowed to hunt through the weekend.

With the help of responding troopers, the three men were found inside a shed at a Central Point home. The freshly killed buck was hanging in the shed and they were skinning it. There were two other bucks also found hanging in the shed, and a third was found already butchered inside a freezer in the home.  The four bucks and two rifles were seized.



Cited to appear in Jackson County Circuit Court related to the second incident were:

* ROBERT LUND, age 37, from Central Point, for Exceeding the Bag Limit – Deer and Unlawful Possession of Deer
* TIMOTHY GEYER, age 31, from Central Point, for Taking Deer Closed Season
* ROBERT OCH, age 43, from Central Point, for Aiding in a Wildlife Crime – Taking Deer Closed Season

As most rifle deer hunting seasons have ended, Sergeant Meyer stressed the importance to check the 2009 Oregon big game regulations for information about late hunting seasons still to come for muzzle loaders and bow hunters.  Anyone with information about possible poaching activity in their area is asked to call the statewide TIP (Turn in Poacher) Hotline at 1-800-452-7888.

SW WA Fishing Report

November 9, 2009


Cowlitz River – Including fish released, bank and boat anglers averaged slightly better than a fish per every 2 rods.  Catch was a mixture of fall Chinook, coho, steelhead, and sea-run cutthroats.  Most of the Chinook were caught near the barrier dam while coho, steelhead and sea-run cutthroats were caught from there downstream.  Most of the Chinook were dark and released.  About half the coho were also released with the majority wild fish.

Through November 4, over 64,000 hatchery and just under 5,000 wild adult coho along with 18 hatchery winter run steelhead had returned to the salmon hatchery.  In addition, nearly 1,100 hatchery sea run cutthroats had returned to the trout and salmon hatcheries.

Flows at Mayfield Dam were expected to increase to nearly 6,000 cfs today and then drop to about 5,000 cfs for the next week or more.  On the lower river, the water was reported to be turbid.

Kalama River – Anglers continue to catch a mix of coho and steelhead.  Last week the majority of the catch observed were steelhead.  Overall bank anglers averaged a fish per every 2 rods when including fish released.

By November 4 the first hatchery winter run steelhead of the season returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.

Lewis River – Bank anglers near the salmon hatchery averaged nearly a fish per every 2 rods when including fish released.  The majority of the catch were adult coho of which 2/3 of the fish caught were kept.

Washougal River – Effort has been light.  The first two hatchery winter run steelhead of the season had returned to Skamania Hatchery through November 4.

Klickitat River – Bank and boat anglers on the lower river averaged nearly 1.5 coho each.  Some of the fish have a little color and were released.  Some fall Chinook were also caught with the majority dark fish that were released.

Flows at Pitt were just over 800 cfs this morning which is close to the long term mean for this date.  Flows are expected to decrease slowly over the next several days.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Light effort and catch.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers at the mouth of the Klickitat averaged just under a coho per rod.  A few Chinook and steelhead were also caught.


Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam averaged a keeper per every 14 rods.  Boat anglers in the gorge also caught some legals as did a few in the Longview area.

Through October, an estimated 4,300 (38%) of the 11,268 fish from this year’s guideline for above Wauna had been taken.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSFMC


Another German Wall

November 9, 2009

As world attention focuses on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall today, another German wall comes to my mind.

A few years ago, while honeymooning in Deutschland, my wife and I swung through the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a walled medieval city in northern Bavaria. It’s a tourist trap, for sure, but pretty cool — Fachwerk houses, marktplatz, historic Rathaus, soaring towers, crazy legend from the Thirty Years War, Kriminalmuseum, churches, burggarten, the whole nine meters.

Early that day we walked the mile-long Stadtmauer, or city wall, which protected Rothenburg during the Middle Ages, and at one point, I looked over and was surprised to see the space above someone’s garage door filled with deer antlers.

Waidmann’s heil!

For a brief moment, it was like we were back in Winthrop or Twisp, Wash., somewhere hunters are proud to display their game publicly.

Of course, the racks weren’t very large — stags, these weren’t. Rather, they were from the great Dane-sized roe deer that roam the countryside.

I snapped a picture and Amy and I moved on around the wall.

Last week, there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about deer elsewhere in Germany, and of a much larger size.

In the Bayernwald, fences, border guards and more kept the red deer from migrating between the forests and mountains of Bavaria and the Czech Republic, between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, between West and East for 30 years.

Even two decades after the staredown ended, the animals haven’t really resumed going back and forth across the formerly militarized zone.

Instead, they “mysteriously turn around when they approach” the former border,” WSJ reports.

“In the past, the deer didn’t go to the Czech side because of the fence,” biologist Marco Heurich told reporter Cecile Rohwedder. “Now the fence is gone but they still stop at the border.”

Well, most do anyway. A single stag from either side (a German named Florian, a Czech named Izabel) have braved the border and stayed on the other side. Intrigued researchers have slapped radio collars on the deer to study their movements.

But if they’re anything like the mountain goats of Oregon’s Elkhorn Mountains, more and more stags will begin to cross the line to seek out new territory and mates.

That may improve the hunting for Germans. Believe it or not, the very densely populated country has a very rich and socially accepted hunting tradition that continues to this day.

James Hagengruber did an excellent piece on it in Montana Outdoors several years ago.

While getting a hunting license can take up to a year of study — “and half fail on their first try” — Hagengruber writes, “Because they maintain the health of the land and wildlife populations and have a strict code of ethics and honor, hunters continue to occupy a place of respect in most communities.”

He reports that hunters, not the state, manage the game, which also includes wild boar, and that they must file management plans for their leased areas (hunting apparently isn’t allowed often on public land). They can also sell their kill at markets and to restaurants.

I didn’t know this when I ordered the Wildschwein, or wild boar, last Christmas in Dinkelsbühl, another Bavarian walled city (Amy’s from Cologne; we were traveling with her family). Unfortunately, no Jagermeisters had bagged any in recent days, so I got the Hirsch, or deer, instead. Pretty good.

Germany is twice the size of Washington but has a population of 81 million or so, so how’s there any room for hunting?!?

If you drive along the Autobahn, or almost any other Bundestrasse in Germany, you’ll see numerous hunters’ huts in the fields, on the edges of woodlots, at the edges of town — even hard up against the highway itself.

The huts come in a variety of forms, but are generally boxy things. Supported by stilts, they sit about 10 feet off the ground. A ladder leads up inside, and they have windows that allows the hunter inside to see in three directions.

I’ve seen some roe deer in the countryside, but only in the Austrian Alps, at a farm high on a ridge, have I seen red deer. They look similar to our elk, though their butts aren’t white or tan like ours.

And while some Bavarian big game appear to stop short at the border, other animals aren’t. Apparently, moose and wolves are making their way into the former East Germany from Poland, especially outside Berlin, which brings this post back full circle. (Interestingly, the comments from Deutsch hunters and farmers sound quite familiar to those you hear here as wolves expand into the Northwest.)

All right, just now John, our production guy here at Northwest Sportsman, brought me more December issue pages to proof, so I had best pinch off this rumination and get back to work.

They’re Watching You

November 9, 2009

It’s not just armchair adventurers who frequent Northwest fishing and hunting bulletin boards these days.

Rich Landers of the Spokane Spokesman Review does a piece on how fish and wildlife enforcement officers in the Northwest are cruising online sites and finding cause for investigation, in some cases. He writes:

Monitoring the Internet also has given wildlife agents insight on people who boast online about their fishing and hunting exploits.

“By surfing certain types of Internet pages, like the ‘big buck’ sites, we are finding issues that at least prompt a cursory investigation,” (WDFW Capt. Mike) Whorton said.

“However, a lot of time, they turn out to simply be liars’ pages.”

Wait a minute, not everyone’s telling the truth online?!?

Up To 35 Percent Cut Possible In Sturgeon Fishery

November 6, 2009

Following last night’s meeting in Vancouver on Columbia River sturgeon fishing, the Columbia Basin Bulletin is reporting that managers are talking about cutting quotas up to 35 percent on the river below Bonneville Dam.

They’re considering the sharp cut because fewer young sturgeon have been reaching keeper size in recent years.

Oregon and Washington fishery officials are considering three alternatives, CBB reports:

The first would reduce the 40,000 guideline in proportion to the recent decline in the population estimates for legal fish, about 12 to 24 percent.

The second would reduce the allowable harvest in proportion to the estimated decline in legal and sub-legal abundance, from 16 to 35 percent.

The most conservative option would drop the allowable catch even further as a buffer because of the uncertainty surrounding the status of the broodstock population.

Managers are unsure of why populations are declining, but if there’s good news, it’s that broodstock — or oversize — sturgeon numbers appears to be stabilizing, if not rising some, CBB reports.

Peachy Keen Hunt On Peaches Ridge

November 6, 2009

A certain well-known Northwest salmon and steelhead angler just phoned in with a peachy keen hunting report from Peaches Ridge.

Buzz Ramsey says that his group of 10 hunters, including six with any-bull tags, have so far bagged five in the Naches and Taneum units hard against the Cascade Crest in Kittitas and Yakima counties.

“We could have gotten more spikes too — one guy saw four spikes — but there are some committed big-bull hunters in the group,” he says.

Ramsey was one of the lucky hunters. He bagged a spike, though could have taken any bull he’d seen.

He reports that their camp got two spikes and a 5×5 on the Oct. 26 any-bull hunt opener, and then two more spikes on the general season opener last Saturday.

Both seasons continue through Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ramsey says he’s on the road for Northeast Washington to get himself a whitetail buck. The late rifle hunt opens tomorrow in seven Stevens, Pend Oreille and Spokane county game units.

And if he’s successful, that should pretty much fill up the freezer at Casa Ramsey. He and son Wade have already put two Oregon muleys in it, and one afternoon last week, while Buzz was butchering his spike at home, Wade got his Washington side buck.

Who needs Chinook, coho and steelies anyway!

A Busy 9 Days In Deer Season

November 6, 2009

Sixteen-hour shifts, 22-hour shifts, ’round-the-clock watches.

Exhausted Fish & Wildlife officers curled up on the hard floor back at headquarters.

One hundred and twenty citations issued in just nine days by five guys.

Vehicles impounded. Rifles seized. Dead deer taken away.

A suspect hauled off to jail.

While my father and I and several friends were hunting the Methow Valley’s highlands during last month’s general deer season, Sgt. Jim Brown and the rest of the Okanogan Detachment of WDFW’s Enforcement Division were trying to keep order everywhere else — and having a hard go of it.

“The common thread is these people come from elsewhere — and I’m not singling out the Coast — and they disconnect their brains. Did you think you were going to the moon and there were no game laws?” Brown wonders.

According to a local paper, most of those citations occurred in the Methow Valley, and included the usual suspects — “trespassing and alcohol violations” — but five hunters also shot at a robotic deer decoy.

One guy who allegedly shot at a real deer and shouldn’t have was Jack W. Hill of Darrington, caught by the State Patrol along the Conconully Highway outside Okanogan with a 4×4 at, oh, 2 a.m.

Brown says because the man, described as in his 20s, has been convicted before, it was a felony offense. Hill was booked and jailed and had his Jeep Grand Cherokee seized.

Two other men were cited for illegally shooting two does, not tagging them, killing them in an area not open for does and for illegally transporting them. Their Nissan Frontier was seized, and while it has since been bought back, Brown says a criminal case is still pending.

It’s always busy, of course, when it comes to the general rifle hunt in Okanogan County, one of the state’s top destinations for big muleys. And Brown says he’s always asking for more help from elsewhere in the state, but they’re just not available.

That meant 10- and 16-hour days for he and his officers, even two who were out 22 and 24 hours, the latter lengthened by the arrest of Hill. Brown says his men were too exhausted to drive home after their shifts, so they rolled out sleeping bags and crashed in the office.

“I came into the office and said, ‘What’s this?'” Brown recalls.

And no, they didn’t get overtime.

“These guys are dedicated,” says the sergeant.

As it was, the 120 citations represent 20 to 25 percent of the annual case load for the detachment, which also covers northern Douglas County, Brown says.

He seems to have a particular distaste for trespassers hunting on private land who won’t leave, or who leave gates open, or who cut fences.

“It gives (landowners) a bad taste in their mouth,” he says.

And then, he says, hunters wonder why a rancher won’t give out permission to access their land.

“Well, let me tell you the history behind that guy,” he says.

Brown himself hears about it. He’s a hunter, but when he goes a’knocking on farmland doors, he doesn’t reveal that he’s a warden.

“Those guys who do that stuff give all hunters a bad name,” he says.

Release Details Hunter Death In Wheeler Co.

November 6, 2009


EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on the life and times of Howard Means, described as a passionate hunter and fisherman since childhood, please see his obituary in The Oregonian.)

Wheeler County District Attorney Daniel Ousley announced today that a Wheeler County Grand Jury convened on Thursday, November 5th, to review investigative facts into the death of 61-year old Howard Franklin Means from Portland.  The Grand Jury carefully reviewed witness accounts in addition to Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office video taped interviews, photographs, and collected physical evidence items.  The Grand Jury then handed down no indictments, concluding the actions of those involved in the death of Mr. Means were justified as self defense and in defense of another person.

The investigation was led by the Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office with the subsequent assistance of various Oregon State Police enforcement divisions, Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office, and Oregon State Police Forensic Services Division.  Evidence collected and information developed during the investigation that was presented to the Grand Jury came from three involved adults; two independent witnesses camped at the scene of the altercation; the Oregon State Police Crime Laboratory; the Oregon State Medical Examiner; and, the Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office whose two deputies involved in the investigation are certified and licensed as Deputy Medical Examiners by the State of Oregon.

The investigation developed evidence and testimony that determined the following factual sequence of events during the late afternoon of October 7, 2009 in the “Priest Hole” camping area along the John Day River in Wheeler County:

Howard Franklin Means was camping in the area and had killed a mule deer buck prior to the incident, which was field dressed, covered by fabric and hanging in a tree approximately 220 feet from his tent in a neighboring camping area.

A separate hunting party comprised of three adults and an 11-year old juvenile male from the Scappoose and Hillsboro areas were on a family hunting trip and camping in the same general area.  These individuals were identified as Gary Havlik, age 63; Russell Havlik, age 33; Daron Havlik, age 30, and a related 11-year old juvenile male.  On the evening of October 7th, the Havlik family was looking for a wounded deer shot by another party and was observed to be wounded in the area of the Priest Hole camp area.  They entered an area where a third party of hunters began to set up camp in the vicinity of Mr. Means’ camp.   These two hunters were not involved in the impending altercation and served as independent witnesses during the investigation and subsequent Grand Jury presentation.

Witness testimony developed during the investigation and presented before the Grand Jury indicates Gary Havlik approached the independent witnesses, engaging them in a conversation and inquired if they had observed the wounded deer his family was seeking.  At this moment Mr. Means appeared and accused Gary Havlik of attempting to steal his hanging buck deer, subsequently producing a 9mm semi-automatic handgun he pulled from the back of his belt.  Mr. Means, at very close range, pointed the handgun directly at Gary Havlik who denied attempting to take Mr. Means’ deer and never made claim for the animal.  Gary Havlik subsequently laid his hunting rifle on the ground and pleaded to Mr. Means not to point his handgun into his stomach and chest area.

Gary Havlik’s sons, Daron and Russell, approached their father and Mr. Means from a brushy area after hearing their father’s pleas.  They also requested Mr. Means to remove the handgun from their father’s stomach and to put his handgun down.  There was never a claim by any member of the Havlik hunting party to Mr. Means’ harvested deer, although he continued to assert that their intention was the theft of his deer.

Witness accounts described Mr. Means as upset, angry and apparently very intoxicated as he continued to refuse their pleas and pointed his handgun into Gary Havlik’s stomach and chest area.

Fearing for his father’s life, Daron Havlik attempted to shoot the handgun out of Mr. Means’ hand with one round from a .357 handgun.  This shot caused injury to Mr. Means’ hand and firearm.  Despite the injury, Mr. Means’ retained hold of his handgun and subsequently fired one round at Daron Havlik that passed through his shirt sleeve without seriously injuring him.

Daron Havlik subsequently again returned fire from his handgun striking Mr. Means.  Russell Havlik, who was next to his juvenile son, also fired at least one round from a .30-06 bolt action hunting rifle at Mr. Means in defense of his family.

As determined by the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office, Mr. Means died at the scene from the gunshot wounds.  Additional evidence indicated Mr. Means’ blood alcohol content (BAC) level at the time of his death was reported to be .24 percent.



Poached Blacktail Among Top 130 In B&C Book

November 6, 2009

The green score on that buck poached on private land near Sandy, Ore., earlier this week?

A whopping 153 5/8, making it among the top 50 blacktails in the Boone & Crockett Club’s record book for the Beaver State, according to Bill Monroe’s article in The Oregonian.

But according to the club’s Justin Spring, that score also puts it among the top 130 of all blacktails taken in Oregon, Washington, California and lower British Columbia.

It scores even higher as a nontypical, 157 1/8 due to points growing out of its bases, Monroe writes.



The buck was shot last Saturday by Lamont Coleman, according to the Oregon State Police. The 45-year-old Sandy resident is due in a Clackamas County court to face two Class A misdemeanors, trespassing with a firearm and hunting on the enclosed land of another.

His  rifle was been seized and the meat is being butchered and donated to the Portland Rescue Mission.

As for the antlers, Monroe reports that they may go into OSP’s “Trailer of Shame, ” a traveling display of big game mounts illegally taken by poachers … paid for by fines levied on poachers.”

It also includes elk, antelope, bighorn sheep and mule deer.

But when it comes time to credit who that big blacktail rack belongs to in the B&C book, it will be written up as property of Oregon, Spring told Monroe.

The rack will also be remeasured after a 60-day drying out period.

“It will shrink a bit, but if taken to an official Boone & Crockett measurer, the shrinkage is minimal,” Spring told me.

He says it was indeed taken to a longtime official measurer.