Archive for April, 2010

Drano Dive Bomb

April 30, 2010

1:25 a.m.: Leave house north of Seattle yesterday, destination Drano Lake for a 5:30 rendezvous at boat launch. Coffee cup full; breakfast beside me; warm clothes, life vest and lucky blue cooler in trunk; gas tank full.


1:40 a.m.: Remember I had wanted to check voice mails before left house; briefly worry that my boat ride, Northwest Sportsman writer Andy Schneider, may have canceled the trip — realize I didn’t bring rods or plugs as a backup plan; plan C: Beg ride at boat ramp.

1:41 a.m.: Remember I had wanted to load up empty CD player; decide to catch up on current events and listen to BBC World Service.

2 a.m.: Argh, stuck in a “rolling slowdown” in SeaTac. Outta the way, Staters, I’ve got fish to catch!

4 a.m.: Traffic constrictions near Castle Rock. ARGH!

5 a.m.: Traffic constrictions on eastbound I-84. AHHH!!!!!!!!!

5:20 a.m.: Dive into Stevenson convenience store for quick coffee refill. Ahhh, life better.

5:35 a.m.: ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Traffic reduced to one lane on Highway 14 due to rockslide work.

5:43 a.m.: Arrive Drano Lake, 239.1 miles from home; quickly suit up, dash across highway and find Andy and his friends Linda and Brian as well as Andy’s dog Ollie waiting in the wind. Sorry, sorry, sorry!

5:45 a.m.: Embark; troll main lake with Mag Lips in Green Envy, Fickle Pickle and (?) Thumper, all with sardine wraps, and all at precisely 75 feet off the rod.


6-7:45 a.m.: Many nets waving around.

6:05:17 a.m.: Linda’s plug gets bit.

6:05:58 a.m.: Linda’s spring Chinook is in the boat.

6:20 a.m.: Man in rowboat lands Chinook.

6:45 a.m.: Nearby man fights Chinook that appears to be headed back to Pacific Ocean.


7:25 a.m. Brian lands Chinook.


7:50 a.m.: Rain cloud takes another lap around mountain to pour on us again; wonder where Rowboat Man went.

8-9 a.m.: Coordinate pick-up site with guide David Johnson, who, with the Willamette River mudding up, has a rare day off; Rowboat Man spotted, still fishing.

9:15-16 a.m.: Laugh as man in boat jets past us while still dragging his rope-rigged fish across the water; smile knowingly at boaters beside us yelling “Fish! Fish”; realize joke is on us — while we’d been watching the angler’s springer bounce along the waves, one had been chomping at one of our plugs.


9:20 a.m.: Arrive at the nadir, the Toilet Bowl; run up to real toilet bowl; meet Johnson in the boat; he’s brought enough bait for the entire fleet working Drano’s west end.

9:31 a.m.: Join Merry-Go-Round, dragging prawns and green or red-and-white blades; Johnson tries a sand shrimp.


9:46 a.m.: Notice film crew in the Toilet Bowl.

10:15 a.m.: Watch guys in a 12-foot Livingston fight, land Chinook.

10:22 a.m.: Become entangled in other boat anglers’ gear; watch numerous other entanglements caused by fleeing fish, lines being overrun by other boaters, bankies’ and boaters’ gear colliding, etc., etc., etc.



9:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.: Make approximately 306 swirls around the bowl; action sporadically good; note how Schneider works boat very deep into corner of the boat-fishing area, sometimes actually pointing his sled towards Columbia until the last moment before turning hard and creeping very, very slowly through “the sweet spot” by the bridge while taking kicker in and out of gear; note how other anglers are running Fish Flash with their prawns and actually doing better than the prawn-and-blades boys.

Noonish: Miss personal best opportunity at a hook-up: While cutting sideways through the loop, pick up rod, set at 22 feet, after it bounces as if hitting bottom … in 28 feet of water. ARGH!

1ish: Wonder why two guys in small boat insist on dragging plugs in the confined waters of the Toilet Bowl, someone makes a comment, they reply loudly; Johnson nods off.

1:10 p.m.: Chat with Chris Donley, a state fisheries biologist for the Spokane area fishing the lake with his dad and two friends.

2 p.m.: Flushed out of the Toilet Bowl; drop Johnson off, head for the boat ramp, call it a day with two Chinook in the box, a far cry from Schneider’s trip the previous Thursday, but fun nonetheless.


2:40 p.m.: Flee Drano Lake at top speed; brake heavily for lane closure just 3 miles from lake.

2:45 p.m. Begin mental list of 38 reasons for skunking, item No. 1: Didn’t wear lucky boxers from days used to regulate with Warts from the bank; No. 2: Lucky blue cooler not so lucky after all.

7:15 p.m.: Arrive home.


What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

April 28, 2010

This season’s good springer fishing has spread to the Umatilla River while lakes across Oregon are getting fresh batches of stocker trout. Meanwhile, you can also catch steelies, walleye and even bull trout in parts of the Beaver State.

Here are highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:


  • Trout fishing has been good in several Coos County lakes including Powers Pond, Empire Lakes and Tenmile Lakes.
  • Steelhead fishing on the Rogue River has been good in the Grants Pass area, with all the standard techniques producing fish.


  • Battle Lake was stocked last week. South Lake was also stocked, making up for a missed stocking earlier when snow blocked access. Sunset, Lost, and Coffenbury lakes, and Vernonia Pond are scheduled to be stocked the week of April 26. Fishing should be fair to good in many of the lakes and ponds that have been stocked this spring.
  • A youth angling event is scheduled for Saturday, May 1 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Vernonia Pond. ODFW and volunteers will be available to assist young anglers wanting to learn about fishing. Adult anglers are encouraged to refrain from fishing the lake immediately before the event to ensure there are sufficient numbers of trout to provide good catch rates for the youngsters.
  • Fishing in most mid coast lakes has been very good so far this spring and should continue to provide anglers with great opportunities well into June. Most water bodies have been stocked several times this spring and at least once with trophy sized trout. Check the online stocking report for specific weeks and lakes to be stocked.
  • Hatchery winter steelhead have been released into Olalla Reservoir several times this spring. Hatchery steelhead are considered “trophy trout” and a hatchery harvest card is not necessary.



  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel.
  • More than 9,000 spring chinook have crossed Willamette Falls and are moving into the upper Willamette and its tributaries.
  • Steelhead fishing is good on the Clackamas River, with both summers and winters being caught. Spring chinook should be moving into the system as well.
  • Detroit Reservoir will be stocked with 10,000 trout this week and Henry Hagg Lake will be stocked with 7,000 trout as the trout season gets into full swing across the region.



  • Warmer days are bringing some good insect hatches on the Deschutes River.
  • Good returns of winter steelhead to the Hood River have produced good fishing and it should continue into early May.
  • Trout fishing is picking up on Lake Billy Chinook with reports of some legal-sized bull trout being caught.


  • The Umatilla spring chinook season is under way with the area downstream of Threemile Dam producing good catches of spring chinook.


  • Spring chinook are beginning to move upstream and should be available in the Bonneville, The Dalles, and John Day Pools.
  • Walleye angling is good in The Dalles Pool.

New Rules For Sound, Straits Streams

April 28, 2010

New this season, Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca streams and beaver ponds have their own  section of rules.

If your favorite isn’t listed in those 18 pages of Washington’s 2010-11 fishing regulations, it ain’t open to fishing anymore.

So much for wandering along any ol’ small backwoods stream on a hot summer day and flipping spinners, spoons, flies or worms for whatever’s biting.

The regs were posted the same day that three species of Sound/Georgia Basin rockfish came under protection of the Federal Endangered Species Act. And they represent the state Department of Fish & Wildlife’s latest attempts to conserve salmon, steelhead and char, numerous stocks of which in Pugetropolis have also been listed over the past decade.

“Frankly, some of our populations are not healthy and we need to take extra measures to return them to healthy levels,” says Craig Burley, the agency’s Fish Division manager.

The change represents a wrenching reversal of course for anglers.

Before, you could fish every river or tributary between Neah Bay, Elbe and Sumas during the June-through-October general statewide season unless it was specifically closed in the regs.

But come this Saturday, May 1, only the streams and beaver ponds in Mason and Kitsap counties and in Ross Lake’s Big Beaver Creek valley listed in the new section (see page 32) will be open.


The idea is to protect young salmonids in rearing habitats where they’re “at risk of being incidentally caught and may not survive being handled and released, especially if bait is used,” WDFW says.

The affect probably won’t be felt by a large percentage of the angling public, rather by guys who might have a stream in their backyard or adventurous folks who beat the brush to access hidden waters.

“It makes me cry to see that the stream I grew up fishing for cutts will be closed,” noted one North Sound angler.

Burley couldn’t quantify how many waters have been summarily closed in one fell swoop, but he points out that as big of a change as the new regs are, they’re similar to something already in the pamphlet. Statewide salmon seasons are also managed as closed unless listed as open.

He feels that Sound and Straits anglers will appreciate being able to open the pamphlet and read whether their stream is definitely open or not.

The new regs, known as the “Stream Strategy,” came out of WDFW’s rules-making process last fall and winter.

Some anglers had wanted even more restrictive rules — no bait, barbless hooks, or close all rivers with anadromous runs — while others thought more review was needed or that only streams with low runs should be affected.

At its February 4-6 meeting, the Fish & Wildlife Commission approved the strategy with some modifications.

They also shortened winter steelheading season by two weeks on many Sound rivers, and WDFW has also quit using late-arriving hatchery fish for eggs as well as stocking smolts in streams where they can’t be collected when they return as adults.

Burley says the agency is struggling to protect fish and meet conservation goals while at the same time trying to provide quality recreational opportunities. An angler himself, he says the goal is to make sure today’s resources are around for our children and grandchildren, “and in some instances that means restricting fishing.”

If the new protections work out for Pugetropolis’s young steelies, Chinook and bull trout, WDFW has considered going statewide with them.

THE REGS ALSO INCLUDE new restrictions to protect rockfish in the Straits, San Juan Islands and Puget Sound. It’s now illegal to fish for lings, hake, cabezon, pollock, cod and other bottomfish in waters greater than 120 feet deep in part of Marine Area 4 as well as all of Areas 5-13. And rockfish retention has been closed in Areas 6-13.

Trail Cam Leads To Massive Fines For Ore. Man

April 28, 2010


A trail camera left at an illegal bear bait in Oregon in 2008 has led to the conviction of a former Idaho resident on wildlife related violations that occurred in Idaho.

On April 12, 2010, Aaron Loosli, formerly of Rexburg and now of La Pine, Ore., was sentenced in Idaho’s Madison County for unlawful possession of a bull moose in October of 2004.

Information stored on the camera implicated a number of other individuals in illegal wildlife activities both in Oregon and Idaho. A joint investigation between Oregon and Idaho wildlife enforcement officers resulted not only in this conviction, but a variety of other charges.

The investigation resulted in the confiscation of numerous illegally taken trophy animals. Officers involved in the investigation said this was not about subsistence poaching to feed a family, but lust for trophy quality animals.

While investigators were able to charge Loosli with nearly 30 violations as the result of their investigation, legal maneuverings resulted in only the bull moose charge moving entirely through the court system.

Loosli’s sentence issued April 12 included:

* Nine-year revocation of hunting privileges.

* One-year of determinant, two years indeterminate jail time (suspended).

* $10,000 civil penalty to be paid to the State of Idaho at $200 a month.

* $500 in fines plus $181 in court costs.

* 150 hours of community service.

* 30 days in jail served in either Idaho or Oregon.

* Shall not carry any weapons during probation.

Daniel Parker of Bend, Ore., was also found guilty for his role in the illegal killing of this same bull moose. He received a similar sentence. Because of the interstate Wildlife Violator Compact both individuals will lose the privilege to hunt in the participating 33 states for the next nine years.

“This case demonstrates the distance that wildlife criminals will cover, as well as the staggering number of animals that they can illegally kill over the course of a few years,” Idaho Fish and Game Regional Investigator Robert Howe said.

Feds List 3 Sound Rockfish Species

April 27, 2010

Score another ESA listing for Sam Wright.

Today, NOAA declared three types of rockfish in Puget Sound as either threatened or endangered.

The move comes despite WDFW’s half-decade-long ban on retention of canary and yelloweye in Puget Sound, a new ban on keeping any rockfish in the San Juan Islands and eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca as well, and new fishing-depth restrictions put in place starting May 1.

In the Georgia Basin, which includes Puget Sound and Georgia Strait, NOAA designated those two species as threatened and bocaccio rockfish as endangered. The latter listing means the species is at high risk of extinction; a threatened listing means they’re vulnerable to extinction in the near future and in need of protection.

Sam Wright of Olympia had also asked the Feds to list greenstriped and redstriped rockfish, but scientists found those to be at low risk of winking out.

It follows up on the retired WDFW biologist’s 1999 request to federally protect 18 Sound species, including the above rockfish as well as types of cod, hake, pollack and herring. Listings were not warranted at that time, NOAA said. The same year he also pitched Columbia River smelt unsuccessfully then in 2007, successfully got Puget Sound steelhead onto the threatened list.

According to NOAA, all three rockfish species were “historically harvested at high levels, depleting their numbers. Rockfish are long-lived and mature slowly, with only sporadic episodes of successful reproduction, making them especially vulnerable to overfishing.”

The species have also been incidentally caught by anglers after other species, and are suffering from nearshore habitat degradation, pollution and lost fishing gear, the agency says.

NOAA notes that there’s already a “broad state and federal effort to improve the Sound’s water quality and habitat through the Puget Sound Partnership, which is aimed at conserving all marine life, including rockfish.”

A number of other Sound species, including resident orcas, Chinook and chum salmon, steelhead and bull trout are also protected under ESA; fishing continues for salmon and steelhead, though there will be further restrictions on the latter species when the fishing regs come out soon.

WDFW director Phil Anderson promised to work closely with NOAA, and says the state’s rockfish conservation management plan will be released this summer.

“Today’s decision by NOAA-Fisheries to list three Puget Sound rockfish species for protection under the Endangered Species Act is the latest step in an on-going effort to conserve and rebuild these important, slow-growing and highly vulnerable fish,” Anderson said in a press release. “Since the 1980s, WDFW has attempted to stop the decline by imposing increasingly stringent measures to protect Puget Sound rockfish and welcomes federal support for this effort.”

He notes that WDFW has required anglers to release canary and yelloweyes in the Sound since 2004, and that few bocaccios turn up in sport or commercial harvest.

Anderson points out that “harvest restrictions, alone, will not be enough to recover these fish, which have suffered the effects of pollution, declining environmental conditions and increased predation by marine mammals.”

Puget Sound anglers will see a new 120-foot depth restriction in the regs this season to reduce mortality of rockfish incidentally caught in other fisheries. Those deeper waters are where most adult rockfish are found, according to NOAA.

Meanwhile, Wright has petitioned the Feds to list Puget Sound coho as threatened; they’re currently a species of concern.

For more on rockfish, see the San Juan Journal’s article, WDFW’s 105-page draft rockfish plan, comment on which is open through May 21, and the Seattle Times April 28 article. The Times reports that a soon-to-be-released analysis will detail “conflicts between rockfish survival and summer salmon seasons. That document would lay the groundwork for any changes in fishing.”

NWS Scribe Finds Potholes Walleye

April 26, 2010

About the same time that tens of thousands of Washington moms and dads were serving up stocker trout breakfasts yesterday, Northwest Sportsman writer Leroy Ledeboer and crew were out cleaning up on walleye.

Ledeboer, of Moses Lake, was “guiding” his old friend Dan Whitmus as well as Paul Ness of Southern Idaho on Potholes Reservoir’s Lind Coulee Arm. They used silver Smile Blade-worm combos for nine walleye.


Ledeboer says the fish ranged from 15 to 19 inches and that Ness, who regulates in Central Idaho for steelhead but hadn’t done much of any walleye angling, did most of the damage.

Ledeboer also kept a sizable hen smallmouth that sucked in a bait too far while they had stopped the boat to fight one of the walleye.

With this weekend’s Rod Meseberg Spring Walleye Classic, the fishing’s turned on at just the right time, Ledeboer notes. Something like 30 boats were in the arm yesterday.

He was back out today and was “plagued” with small walleye though watched another boat do pretty well.

For updates or more information, call Mar Don Resort (800-416-2736), on Potholes’ southwest corner.

A Breezy Opener

April 26, 2010

The wind whistled through the blooming dogwood as I strapped my brand-new pontoon boat to the top of the fish rig this past Saturday morning. Ugh, I thought, of all the days it has to blow.

It was the trout opener, the biggest annual gathering of Washington fisherkind of the year — as well as the first day of the year to fish several Oregon lakes — so I wasn’t going to bag it either.

Well, I thought shaking my head, it is April, after all. And at least I’ll be able to check off fishing in the wind out of yet another type of boat.

I’d hoped that the breeze would be a wee bit lighter further inland from our house on the slope towards Puget Sound, but it wasn’t the case at 11-acre Echo Lake off Aurora (which is actually a year-round water, but with time constraints, my best option to get afield that day). So, layered up with three fleeces, waders, lifejacket, parka, three pieces of leftover pizza and a mess of lures and flies, I launched the pontoon, kindly supplied by Creek Company, and splashed in.

And was promptly blown back to shore.

By then it was too late to back out — Amy and the boys had roared off to the zoo — so I battled into the wind, just as tens of thousands of others across the Everbreezy State did, and like everyone else, found trout.

Here’s WDFW’s wrap-up report from around the state:

Although the weather was cool, and at times rainy and quite windy, most anglers who ventured out around the state had a successful opening day of lowland lake fishing.

WDFW biologists provided the following information on the opener:

REGION 1 FISH PROGRAM Manager John Whalen noted that windy conditions contributed to an observed decline in anglers venturing out to area lakes for the traditional April trout fishing opening day. Steady winds out of the west southwest at 25 miles per hour, with wind gusts up to 30 mph, hampered fishing activity and created some back-ups at lake boat ramps as people worked to re-unite their boats and trailers. In District 2 angler counts on monitored lakes in the Spokane area were down an estimated 50 percent from the turn out observed for last year’s near perfect opening day conditions. While average fish per angler harvest numbers were down, most anglers interviewed were satisfied with their catches. Rainbow trout in the 14 to 16 inch range were observed in angler catches on several lakes in District 2, with some fish up into the low 20 inch range. District 1 also reported windy fishing conditions, with trees being blown down at Trout Lake (Ferry Co.) and Rocky Lake (Stevens Co.). Some of the best fishing in District 1 was observed at Cedar Lake (Stevens Co.) with a harvest average of 5 fish per angler. Deep Lake (Stevens Co.) also fished well with 3.6 fish per angler, along with Rocky Lake (Stevens Co.) with 4.4 fish per angler.

CHAD JACKSON IN EPHRATA reported that anglers fishing Grant County opening day lakes this year were greeted with chilly and very windy (15-30mph) conditions that persisted until about noon. These conditions definitely impacted angler participation and success, especially boat anglers. Most anglers waited out the weather as evidenced by the noon peak effort counts at every opening day lake except for Warden Lake (8:00AM peak count). However, observed angler participation and success improved right around noon when the wind began to die down and air temperatures rose. During the 8:00AM to 12:00PM creel survey, angler success was best at Park and Warden lakes. Anglers averaged a little better than 3 trout harvested per angler. The remaining lakes averaged less than 2 trout per angler. Trout size at all the opening day lakes was good ranging between 11-13 inches. Park Lake had the largest yearling trout ranging from 13-15 inches followed by Blue Lake at 12-13 inches. With the weather shaping up in the afternoon, the expectation is that most anglers will catch, or come close, their limits of trout.

ART VIOLA IN CHELAN COUNTY reported nice sunny weather, but windy (50 -600 F). Unfortunately, again this year, persistent cold weather, snow, mud covered roads and ice covered lakes precluded fish stocking at Beehive and Spring Hill reservoirs. The DNR closed the road to Lilly Lake precluding angler access; consequently anglers had access to only two opening day lakes: Wapato and Clear lakes.

Early morning effort (boat and shore angler counts) at Wapato Lake was only about 33% of angler effort surveyed in the past 8 years. Catch per angler was improved compared to 2009. All fish were healthy and robust; yearlings (1+) were 13- 14 inches in length, evidentyl the 2009 fry survival and growth was good. Carry over fish (2+) were 14- 18 inches. Catch proportions were 7.1% carryovers to 92.9% yearling rainbows.

Effort at Clear Lake was up compared to past years, likely because of the lack of access to other area lakes. The largest fish seen at Clear Lake were five 16 –19 -inch rainbows. The rest of the trout caught were 12-13 inches. Anglers were excited about the larger fish, but much complaining was heard about the lack of access to other area lakes.

IN OKANOGAN COUNTY, Bob Jateff reported that generally, the fishing was good on the opener. The weather was cool and windy, but sunny. Anglers were pleased to catch a few bigger triploid rainbows in some of the production waters, such as Pearrygin and Alta. In addition, both Conconully Lake and Reservoir produced some nice fishing for rainbow trout. The selective gear waters such as Blue in the Sinlahekin had rainbow in the 11-16 inch range. Blue Lake near Wannacut was good fishing for Lahontan Cutthroat in the 14-18 inch range. Big and Little Twin in the Winthrop area produced rainbow in the 10-16 inch class. Jameson, despite some early season algae problems, was a good producer for rainbow with carryover fish to 15 inches.

FOR PIERCE AND THURSTON COUNTIES, catch today was dominated by jumbo rainbow trout with some triploids and broodstock fish mixed in. In a few lakes the standard catchable size fish made a significant contribution to the catch. In most lakes their contribution was minor; they should show more strongly in the catch over the next few weeks as lakes warm. Lakewood Hatchery specialist Jim Jenkins notes that WDFW rears the “jumbo’ rainbow trout at Eells Springs and Lakewood fish hatcheries in earthen ponds, and releases them at 15-to-18 inches in length. These fat, 1-1/2 to two-pound fish provide some of the better quality fishing in Mason, Pierce and Thurston Counties.

WDFW Area fish biologist Mike Scharpf (Pierce County) and Larry Phillips (Thurston County) reported that, with a couple of exceptions, anglers had very good fishing today. Anglers in the two local Clear Lakes in Pierce and Thurston counties reported catching more than 5 fish each, taking home more than 3. The quantity and quality of this year’s fish were very good, thanks to the hatchery staff at Lakewood and Eells Springs fish hatcheries. Most anglers were very satisfied with the number, size, and appearance of the fish. Creel checkers also noted that bullhead catfish and crappie showed in some lakes. This is a little bit earlier in the year than average. Checkers also noted that osprey and bald eagles enjoyed fishing success on some of the lakes, too.

MOST NORTH SOUND LAKES had fair catch rates despite the cloudy and cold weather. Notable exceptions were Lake Geneva in King County, where all anglers checked had limits, and Steele Lake also in King County, with 3.9 fish retained per angler. Storm Lake in Snohomish County had 4.3 trout kept per angler, although effort was low. In Skagit County, Erie and Heart Lake had 4.0 and 4.7 fish kept per angler, with a good showing of triploids.

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON anglers were met with rain, cold, wind, and the occasional snow flurry, similar to most parts of western Washington. Anglers in Rowland Lake (Klickitat County) and Kidney Lake (Skamania County) did a lot of catch-and-release fishing, although anglers did hang on to a large 2-3 pound brown trout in Kidney Lake and 2 broodstock (one over 12 pounds) in Rowland Lake. Swift Reservoir had a good showing of coho to keep anglers busy.

ON THE COAST, WDFW Area fish biologist Rick Ereth reported that angling at Duck Lake (Grays Harbor County) was slow. Bad weather and turbid water combined to keep both catch and angling effort down. However, good catches of large crappie have been reported from the north end of the lake. Failor Lake had fair angling, with the largest fish a lunker of 6 lb 7oz. Curt Holt called in from Pacific County, where the largest rainbow caught in Black Lake weighed in at 3.25 pounds.

IN HOOD CANAL, Thom Johnson and Mark Downen had many volunteers help check anglers again this season; special thanks to Bremerton Sportsmen’s Club, Freshies and Salties, Port Ludlow Fly-fishers, Kitsap Fly Anglers, PSA East Jefferson, and PSA South Sound. The quantity and quality of this year’s fish were very good thanks to the staff at WDFW’s Eells Springs and Lakewood fish hatcheries. The weather was cold, windy and rainy in Kitsap and Mason counties and a bit nicer further north in east Jefferson County – – this cut fishing short on some lakes as the anglers headed for cover. Overall, fishing was fair to good with a good mix of catchables, jumbos, triploids, and broodstock in the catch. The highest catch rates were recorded in east Jefferson County at Anderson Lake (3.3 fish kept/angler) where most rainbows measured a whopping 15-17”, in Kitsap County at Wye Lake (3.5 fish kept/angler), and in Mason County at Haven Lake (3.6 fish kept/angler). Bay Lake in Pierce County was good fishing with 3.7 fish kept/angler. Anglers are encouraged to fish Anderson Lake soon as it is likely that the lake will close early this season due to recurring toxic algae concentrations which can pose a high risk to anglers. A diversity of lake fishing opportunities abound in Hood Canal District and anglers can readily find a great way to pass the time fishing with family and friends. More catchables, jumbos, and triploids will be stocked in May in several District lakes and anglers can look forward to good fishing thru the spring and early summer.

Department staff and volunteers reported checking 4,801 anglers with 11,100 trout from 116 lakes statewide. Anglers checked statewide averaged 2.2 trout per fisherman.

The top ten lakes for angler success were: Stevens County’s Cedar and Rocky lakes; Hart Lake, McMurray Lake, and Erie Lake in Skagit County, Snohomish County’s Storm Lake; Geneva and Steele Lakes in King County, Swift Reservoir in Skamania County and Bay Lake in Pierce County.

2010 Lakes Opening Day Data CPUE means Catch Per Unit Effort (fish per rod)

County Lake Anglers Checked

Fish Kept Fish/Angler Comments
Chelan Clear Lake 79 237 3.00 A few 18-20″ fish.
Wapato Lake 42 155 3.69 Some large carryover rainbows.
Douglas Jameson Lake 55 137 2.49 Yearling rainbow 10″.  Carryover rainbows 14″.
Ferry Trout Lake 6 15 2.50 Largest fish was a 10” rainbow. Cool and windy, one tree down
Grant Blue Lake 61 112 1.84 Plus 4 released, total CPUE= 1.9. Yearling rainbows averaged 12.5 – 13 inches.  Tiger and brown trout in the catch.
Deep Lake 71 61 0.86 Plus 14 released, total CPUE=1.1. Shoreline anglers near the boat ramp fared well. Boat anglers were severely hampered by high winds.
Park Lake 19 55 2.89 Plus 10 released, total CPUE= 3.4. Yearling rainbows averaged 12.5 – 13 inches.  Tiger and brown trout in the catch.
Perch Lake 46 43 0.93 Plus 14 released, total CPUE= 1.2. Rainbow trout ranged from 11-15 inches.
Vic Meyers 15 18 1.20 Brown and brook trout reported in catch.
Warden Lake 31 105 3.39 Plus 6 released, total CPUE=3.6. Yearling rainbows averaged 12 inches.
Grays Harbor Aberdeen Lake 80 162 2.03 Plus 102 released, total CPUE=3.3. largest fish 19″.
Duck Lake 11 4 0.36 Plus 1 released, total CPUE=.45. Bad weather, water was turbid. N end of the lake has been good for crappie.
Failor Lake 58 105 1.81 Plus 101 released, total CPUE= 3.6. Largest fish 6 lb 7 oz, 24 3/8 inches.
Sylvia Lake 24 87 3.63 Plus 7 released, total CPUE=3.9. Largest fish 16″.
Vance Creek Pond #1 60 63 1.05 Derby winning fish were 4.55 and 5.35 lbs.
Vance Creek Pond #2 35 56 1.60 Largest fish 19″.
Island Deer Lake 12 31 2.58 Plus 3 released, total CPUE= 2.8.  Low turnout, cold.
Jefferson Anderson 74 246 3.32 Hot fishing, mostly 15-17″ rainbows; largest 20″ carryover.
Horseshoe Lake 3 2 0.67
Ludlow Lake 15 29 1.93 Plus 20 released, total CPUE=3.3. Some hi-grading for jumbos; largest 17″.
Sandy Shore Lake 54 146 2.70 Good mix of catchables and jumbos; largest 23″ broodstock.
Silent Lake 16 28 1.75 Plus 47 released, total CPUE=4.7. Some hi-grading for jumbos to 14″.
Tarboo Lake 25 33 1.32 Plus 15 released, total CPUE=1.9. Largest 20″ broodstock.
King Cottage Lake 32 52 1.63 Plus 20 released, total CPUE= 2.25.  Short trips due to weather.
Geneva Lake 15 75 5.00 Plus15 fish released, total CPUE=6.  Everyone caught limits, satisfied with size and condition of fish.
Langlois Lake 39 122 3.13 Plus 88 released, total CPUE=5.4. Cold and rainy, anglers were satisfied with numbers and size of fish.
Margaret Lake 48 141 2.94 Plus 206 released, total CPUE= 7.2. Cold and windy.
North Lake 22 21 0.95 Plus 14 released, total CPUE= 1.6.
Pine Lake 45 105 2.33 Plus 117 released, total CPUE=4.9.
Rattlesnake Lake 51 88 1.73 Plus 331 released, total CPUE=8.2.
Steel Lake 38 148 3.89 Plus 93 released, total CPUE=6.3.
Walker Lake 24 33 1.38 Plus 53 released, total CPUE=3.6. Weather was cold.
Wilderness Lake 43 118 2.74 Plus 32 released, total CPUE= 3.5. Kids got some big fish, largest 23″.  Rainy and cold.
Kitsap Buck Lake 15 34 2.27 Plus 18 released, total CPUE 3.5.
Horseshoe Lake 19 40 2.11 Largest 20″ broodstock.
Mission Lake 28 55 1.96 Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 18″ carryover.
Panther Lake 46 92 2.00 Lots of triploids and jumbos.
Wildcat Lake 41 68 1.66 Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 23″ (6 lb) broodstock.
Wye Lake 31 107 3.45 Plus 73 released, total CPUE=5.8. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 23″ broodstock.
Bainbridge Island Pond Juvenile derby – great event – report pending
Poggie derby Juvenile derby – great event – report pending
Klickitat Horsethief Lake 16 45 2.81 Windy, rainy, cold.
Rowland Lake 45 116 2.58 Plus 197 released, total CPUE=6.9. People were happy to catch and release. Most fish were 15″ and over diploids.  Two broodstock caught, one over 12 lbs.
Spearfish Lake 2 2 1.00 Too cold, rainy, and windy to fish.
Lewis Carlisle Lake 61 45 0.74 Many small coho caught and released.
Fort Borst Park Pond 66 99 1.50 Plus 58 fish released, total CPUE=2.7. Cold and rainy
Mineral Lake 154 258 1.68 Plus 133 released, total CPUE=2.53. Rain/snow.
Mason Aldrich Lake 14 46 3.29 Plus 22 released, total CPUE=4.8. Some high-grading for jumbos to 14″.
Benson Lake 54 130 2.41 Plus 83 released, total CPUE=3.94. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 19″ triploid.
Clara (Don) Lake 15 24 1.60 Plus 23 released, total CPUE=3.13. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 20″ carryover.
Devereaux Lake 24 16 0.67 Low catch rate likely due to early stocking and predation by cormorants; largest 22″ broodstock.
Haven Lake 25 90 3.60 Largest 18″ triploid.
Howell Lake 21 20 0.95 Plus 42 released, total CPUE=2.95. – many catch-and-release anglers.
Panhandle Lake 0 0 NA 4-H Camp closed and limited angler access.
Phillips Lake 36 44 1.22 Plus 30 released, total CPUE=2.05. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 16″.
Robbins Lake 20 20 1.00 Largest 14″ jumbo.
Stump Lake 38 97 2.55 Plus 56 fish released, total CPUE=4.0. Light pressure, anglers were satisfied.
Tiger Lake 66 107 1.62 Plus 45 released, total CPUE=2.3. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 16″ triploid.
Wildberry Lake 10 1 0.10 Lakeside owners happy with fish stocked.
Wood Lake 8 8 1.00 Plus 12 released, total CPUE=2.5. Some high-grading for jumbos to 14″.
Wooten Lake 56 138 2.46 Plus 67 released, total CPUE=3.66. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 17″ cutthroat and 18″ rainbow.
Okanogan Alta Lake 127 332 2.61 Yearling rainbow 9″. Carryover rainbow 13″.
Conconully Lake 121 251 2.07 Yearling rainbow 10-11″. Carryover rainbow 14″. Largest fish 24″.
Conconully Res. 65 130 2.00 Yearling rainbow 11″. Carryover rainbow 14″. Largest fish 20″.
Fish Lake 93 272 2.92 Yearling rainbow 10-11″.
Pearrygin Lake 33 146 4.42 Yearling rainbow 10″. Carryover rainbow 14″. Triploid rainbow 15-17 inches.
Pacific Black Lake 28 11 0.39 Plus 3 released, total CPUE= .5.  Largest fish 3.25 lbs, 19 3/8 inches.
Pend Oreille Big Meadow Lake 8 22 2.75 Largest fish was a 14″ rainbow. Cold and snowing, windy.
Yokum Lake 11 28 2.55 One 12.5″ cutthroat. Cool and windy.
Pierce Bay Lake 107 401 3.75 253 catchables, 100 jumbos, 48 carryovers; largest 16″.
Clear Lake 91 290 3.19 Plus 205 released, total CPUE=5.4. Kokanee up to 13″, many fish greater than 12, a few greater than 16″.
Ohop Lake 11 17 1.55 Plus 16 released, total CPUE=3.0. Lots of anglers, bite a little slow, cold and windy.
Rapjohn Lake 68 219 3.22 Plus 30 released, total CPUE=3.7.Happy anglers, most fish greater than 12″, many greater than 16″.  A few crappie.
Silver Lake 69 166 2.41 Plus 47 released, total CPUE=3.1. Anglers happy to see resort open, brown bullhead catch higher than normal this time of year.
Spanaway Lake 9 13 1.44 Cold, wet and windy.  Not much effort.
Tanwax Lake 60 126 2.10 Plus 57 released, total CPUE=3.1. Lots of anglers, fishing a little slow. Anglers familiar with the lake caught limits – lots of fish still in lake!
Skagit Erie Lake 46 186 4.04 Plus 57 released, total CPUE=5.3. Happy anglers enjoyed triploid trout.
Heart Lake 31 146 4.71 Plus 49 releases, total CPUE=6.3.  Best fishing in a long time, anglers liked triploid trout.
McMurray Lake 74 281 3.80 Plus 35 released, total CPUE=4.3. Anglers liked size, catch rate and condition of fish.
Sixteen Lake 35 71 2.03 Plus 22 released, total CPUE=2.7.  4 holdovers (16″).
Skamania Kidney Lake 36 47 1.31 Plus 99 released, total CPUE=4. Anglers happy to catch and release fish.  One large brown trout 2+ lbs caught.
Northwestern Reservoir 9 28 3.11 Plus 114 released.
Swift Reservoir 46 175 3.80 Plus 23 released, total CPUE=4.3. 109 of the catch were coho, plus 66 rainbow.
Snohomish Armstrong Lake 26 66 2.54 Plus 48 released, total CPUE=4.4. Light rain.
Bosworth Lake 27 68 2.52 Plus 83 released, total CPUE=5.6. Cold.
Echo Lake (Maltby) Not surveyed.
Howard Lake 65 182 2.80 Plus 64 released, total CPUE=3.8.
Ki Lake 51 95 1.86 Plus 59 released, total CPUE=3.0. Cold and breezy.
Martha Lake (AM) 30 70 2.33 Plus 55 released, total CPUE= 4.2. Good mix of adults and kids.
Riley Lake 32 95 2.97 Plus 52 released, total CPUE=4.6. Anglers satisfied with fish size.
Serene Lake 17 25 1.47 Plus 15 released, total CPUE=2.4. Some limits, some 100% released.
Stickney Lake 1 2 2.00 Plus 2 released, total CPUE=4.  Cold and windy.
Storm Lake 10 43 4.30 Plus 14 released, total CPUE=5.7. Lower effort, trout healthy.
Wagner Lake 1 1 1.00 Windy and cold.
Spokane Badger Lake 64 109 1.70 Largest rainbow caught was 23″.
Clear Lake 38 22 0.58
Fish Lake 104 105 1.01 Several 22-27″ tiger trout caught.
Fishtrap Lake 35 77 2.20
West Medical Lake 81 180 2.22
Williams Lake 90 211 2.34
Stevens Cedar Lake 10 50 5.00 Largest fish was a 13′ rainbow.  Cool and windy.
Deep Lake 7 25 3.57 11″ rainbow and 11″ cutthroat checked.  Cool and windy.
Mudgett Lake 8 20 2.50 Largest fish was a 19″ rainbow.  Cool and windy.
Rocky Lake 19 84 4.42 Largest fish was a 14″ rainbow.  Very windy – some trees down.
Starvation Lake 13 43 3.31 Largest fish was a 13″ rainbow.  Cool and windy.
Waitts Lake 27 64 2.37 Largest fish was a 20″ brown trout. Cool and windy.
Thurston Clear Lake 64 237 3.70 Plus 83 released, total CPUE=5.0. Best fishing in last few years.  Catch was mostly 12-14″ diploid fish with a few legal plants at 9-11″.
Deep Lake 64 131 2.05 Plus 29 released, total CPUE= 2.5.  Fishing good for most anglers but effort was lower due to weather.
Hicks Lake 38 32 0.84 Plus 5 released, total CPUE= 1. Fishing relatively poor.  Most fish caught were 12-14″ jumbo diploids, few legal plants observed.
Long Lake 37 111 3.00 Plus 19 released, total CPUE= 3.5. Great fishing relative to recent years. Rainbows up to 18″.
McIntosh Lake 70 124 1.77 Plus 127 released, total CPUE= 3.6.  Good fishing with many rainbows up to 14″.
Pattison Lake 60 106 1.77 Plus 66 released, total CPUE= 2.9.  Many large fish in creel. Several brood stock up to 20″ observed. About 40% of the catch was legal plants.
Summit Lake 65 174 2.68 Plus 48 released, total CPUE= 3.4. Many carryover fish observed in the creel (14-17″) Effort down due to weather.
Whatcom Cain Lake 28 75 2.68 Plus 32 released, total CPUE=3.8. Catch rates a little low, but anglers happy with size and condition of fish.
Padden Lake 46 156 3.39 Plus 15 released, total CPUE=3.7.  46 of the 156 fish kept were triploids. Lots of families despite crowded boat ramp and harsh weather.
Silver Lake 192 316 1.65 Plus 113 released, total CPUE=2.2.
Toad Lake 43 110 2.56 Plus 101 released, total CPUE=4.9. Lots of triploids caught.

SW WA Fishin’ Report

April 26, 2010



Cowlitz River – Spring chinook and steelhead are being caught, primarily from the trout hatchery to the barrier dam.  The first 14 hatchery summer run steelhead of the season were trapped at Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery last week.

Flows have been steady at 3,540 cfs (except for the weekly flushing flow).  A total of 1,280 spring chinook adults have returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator as of April 23.  The 13 year average cumulative total to date is 6.97% of the run (range 1.1 ~ 12.8).  Using average run timing returns to date would convert to a run size of 18,364 to the separator.  The pre-season forecast was 12,500 adults returning to the Cowlitz in 2010.

Kalama River – Both spring chinook and steelhead are being caught.

Lewis River – Some spring chinook and steelhead are being caught in the North Fork; light effort and catch on the mainstem Lewis.

Flows below Merwin Dam were 4,200 cfs today which is slightly less than the long-term mean of 5,100 for this date.

Wind River – Overall one in every three boat anglers caught a spring chinook.  Some fish are being caught by bank anglers at the mouth and in the gorge.

There have been a total of 81 detections of Carson National Fish Hatchery (CNFH) Integrated Transponder (PIT) tagged adult spring Chinook at Bonneville Dam as of April 21.  Applying the juvenile tag rate from CNFH produces an estimate of 6,282 CNFH chinook over Bonneville Dam through April 21.

The final CNFH run size projections at Bonneville Dam, using early and average timing data from 2000-2009, are 10,593 and 21,547, respectively.  The pre-season forecast was 14,000 adults returning to the Wind in 2010.

There have been 80 spring chinook passed at Shipherd Falls through April 21.

For more information about PIT Tag observations, see

CNFH daily counts will be available beginning May 1 via web site and phone. Web site address is  Main office number is 509 427 5905.

Wind River from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls upstream to boundary markers approximately 800 yards downstream from Carson National Fish Hatchery (except closed 400 feet below to 100 feet above the Coffer Dam) – From May 1 through June 30, the salmon and steelhead daily limits will be a total of 2 chinook or hatchery steelhead or one of each.  Unmarked chinook may be retained in this section of the Wind. Night closure and anti-snag rule will be in effect.  Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.

Drano Lake – About 40% of the bank and boat anglers at Drano Lake had caught a spring chinook when sampled last week.  About 120 boats observed here last Saturday (April 24) around noon.

There have been a total of 108 detections of Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery(LWSNFH)  PIT tagged spring Chinook at Bonneville Dam as of April 25.  Applying the juvenile tag rate from LWSNFH produces an estimate of 6,756 LWSNFH adult chinook over Bonneville through April 25.

The pre-season forecast was 28,900 adults returning to Drano Lake in 2010.

White Salmon River – Spring chinook are no longer released here but there have been sporadic catches of stray fish based on angler reports.

Klickitat River – Some spring chinook are being caught by bank anglers from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream.

The first few spring Chinook of the year have been counted at the Lyle Falls adult trap.  Trap counts will be updated starting this week on the Yakama Indian Nation website at

Flow at Pitt were 2,250 cfs today which is close to the long-term mean of 2,330 for this date.

Bonneville Pool – Bank angles just outside of Drano Lake are catching some spring chinook.

The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, just over one in every 3 bank anglers kept/released a spring chinook while about one in six boat anglers had caught a fish. Overall  78% of the fish caught were kept.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco: For the week of April 19-25, an estimated 549 adult hatchery chinook were harvested and 138 wild chinook were released. The majority of the harvest were retained by bank anglers fishing the Oregon shore. WDFW staff interviewed 336 salmon anglers this past week and sampled 85 hatchery chinook. For the season, an estimated 748 adult hatchery chinook have been harvested and 154 wild chinook were released.


§  Bonneville Dam passage of adult Chinook through April 25 totals 95,512.  This is the highest cumulative count to date since 2003 and the 3th highest count to date since 1977.

§  With the total Bonneville count plus upriver impacts in treaty and non-treaty fishing below Bonneville Dam, 129,679 upriver spring Chinook can be accounted for.

§  The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met today and says it is still too early to update the run size.   TAC will be meeting regularly to review dam counts and harvest data.


Lower Columbia from Bonneville Dam downstream – Effort and catches remain light except in the gorge.  A total of 123 boats and 200 bank anglers were counted during the Saturday April 24 flight.  Just under half the boats and over three-quarters of the bank anglers were found in the gorge.

Lower Columbia from the mouth to the Wauna powerlines – White sturgeon may be retained daily through April and from May 22 through June 26.  Daily limit 1.  Maximum size is 54” fork length. Through April, minimum size is 38” fork length.  Effective May 22, the minimum size will be 41” fork length.  Catch-and-release fishing is allowed during non-retention days.

From Bonneville Dam downstream 9 miles to a line crossing the Columbia from Navigation Marker 82 on the Oregon shore through the upstream exposed end of Skamania Island, continuing in a straight line to a boundary marker on the Washington shore:  CLOSED to fishing for STURGEON May 1-Aug. 31.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged a legal per every 2 rods when including fish released.  Bank angling was slow for legal size fish.

From John Day Dam downstream 5.4 miles to the west end of the grain silo at Rufus, Oregon:  CLOSED to fishing for STURGEON May 1-July 31.

John Day Dam to McNary Dam (including all tributaries) – The retention of sturgeon is prohibited through the rest of the year.   Catch-and-release fishing is permitted.  From McNary Dam downstream 1.5 miles to Hwy. 82 (Hwy. 395) Bridge:  CLOSED to fishing for STURGEON May 1-July 31.


The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged 1.3 walleye per rod while bank anglers averaged 2.6 bass per rod when including fish released.

John Day Pool – Few boat anglers sampled and those that were sampled had no catch.


Klineline Pond – 47 bank anglers kept 58 catchable size and 1 brood stock rainbow and released 19 catchable size rainbows.  Planted with 2,000 rainbows averaging 2/3 pound each and 256 averaging 1.5 pounds each last week.

News From TAC

April 26, 2010

The “Technical Advisory Committee” for Lower Columbia River fisheries met today and decided there wasn’t enough information to open one fishery (commercial springers), but there was enough to close a second (sport sturgeon).

1) Even with the spring Chinook count at Bonneville Dam up to 95,000-plus, TAC “met today and says it is still too early to update the run size. TAC will be meeting regularly to review dam counts and harvest data.”

2) As for the sturgeon fishing at Rooster Rock, a site that has attracted “hundreds of anglers, particularly in recent weeks” and accounted for something on the order of 1,200 of the 1,300 white sturgeon caught between Wauna and Bonneville Dam this year, TAC is recommending closing that starting this Thursday, April 29.

“Angler catch rates have been high in this area, and total catch from the site is substantial,” TAC’s fact sheet reads.

WDFW Schedules May Lake Wash. Sockeye Workshop

April 23, 2010

In the California Delta, longfin smelt are in so much trouble that they warrant an “uplisting” from threatened to endangered, federal managers say, though they decided against doing so earlier this month.

Six hundred miles due north in Lake Washington, populations of the thin, 7-inch-long silvery fish have grown large enough that in some years they appear to be reducing the survival of young sockeye which fuel a hugely popular Seattle backyard fishery when the adults return.

But there are other factors at play too in why the salmon’s runs aren’t measuring up to what they were in the 1970s and 1980s.

A recently released independent review of the big lake’s natural and hatchery sockeye populations and their productivity talks about what’s going on, and now WDFW wants to talk about the 65-page document’s findings at a public workshop May 26.

“This information provides a starting point for discussions with tribal co-managers, our constituents and other stakeholders about future sockeye salmon management in Lake Washington,” said Jim Scott, assistant director of WDFW’s fish program, in a press release this afternoon. “We’d like to hear from anglers and others interested in Lake Washington sockeye as we look into the productivity of these fish in the watershed and how we currently manage our sockeye fisheries there.”

Fishing for the tasty salmon had reliably occurred every even year between 2000 and 2006, but since then runs have been too low for any seasons. This year’s forecast is for 123,000 to return, well below the current goal of 350,000 spawners.

Among other things, the “Cedar River and Lake Washington Sockeye Salmon Biological Reference Point Estimates,” authored by Scott McPherson of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and James C. Woodey, Ph.D., a fisheries consultant, finds that:

odd-year sockeye are less productive than even-year fish;

fry tend to hit Lake Washington too soon — “before or early in the spring bloom period, potentially placing the fry at risk due to suboptimal food resources for large populations entering in the south end of the lake”;

and that much more study is called for.

The meeting is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at WDFW’s Issaquah Hatchery, 125 W Sunset Way.

Opening Day 1988 (Or 1989)

April 23, 2010

Among the many opening days of trout season I recall, few stand out as well as 1988 or 1989’s.

Sorry, I really should remember what year it occurred, but I was borderline hypothermic at the time.

Indeed, it was a cold, miserable morning day on a Cascade Mountains lake. Even from miles and miles away I could tell it was going to be wet. As we cruised up the highway through rain in Greg’s dad’s yellow Buick station wagon towards my dad’s place in North Bend, Wash., I could see that the snow line was right below the level of the lake.

But Greg, Eric and I — all buddies in our sophomore or junior year at Woodinville High School — had warm clothes, and it was the opener after all.

We had to get out, rain or shine. It’s tradition.

At Dad’s we piled out of the Buick and loaded our gear and Greg’s raft into Dad’s van along with his raft, then headed for the hills.

Soon we were off the county road and following muddy Weyerhaueser logging roads up towards clouds spitting rain and snow at us.

I don’t quite remember why, of all lakes, we had to hit Calligan that opener. Dozens more were available at lower and probably warmer and drier altitudes, all stocked for reliable bites.

Perhaps Dad had read something about it in the old Washington Fishing & Hunting News.

Or maybe Greg and I couldn’t get it out of our minds after finding it in the old Lakes of Washington book.

Or maybe it was the decent-sized cutt that had washed out of a feeder creek as Dad, my sisters and I drove through it on a rainy day the previous spring.

Yeah, must have been the fish. Heck, if one’s in the creek, just imagine how many more must be in the lake!

We pumped up the rafts and pushed off, generally trolling fairly close together.

We made slow paddles around the middle of the big lake, getting soaked by the fat flakes — rafts aren’t the best craft for fishing in crappy weather — and then cold.

Nothing bit.

The outlet end of the lake intermittently brightened, raising my hopes things would dry up, but then would go gray again as more snow and rain clouds barreled into the mountain valley.

After awhile we pulled ashore — on the opposite side of the lake from the boat ramp.

We had to get warm. We were all wet — as were the woods. But fortunately, somebody had been putting cedar shingle bolts together, so we poached a couple for kindling.

Can’t say it was a warm fire, but it and lunch gave us enough energy to head back out, and then just bag it all together as the weather worsened.

Rather than going all the way back to the launch, we cut across the thin upper end and beached the rafts. Dad went to bring the van uplake while Eric and I ran up and down the gravel road trying to warm up.

Eric recalls the day as one of the bleakest of his life and, only half jokingly, is still surprised one of us didn’t succumb.

I don’t think I was much use loading the rafts and rods in. All I wanted was to get out of my coat and in front of the heater.

We slammed the doors shut, said goodbye to Calligan and spun our way out of the mountains.

THE FORECAST FOR TOMORROW calls for possibly similar conditions at the lake and elsewhere in Washington’s North Cascades as well as the eastern side of Oregon’s Cascades, according to the National Weather Service.

West of the mountains, there’s a 50 percent chance of rain in Washington, lower in Oregon, but it may be dry in the Columbia Basin.

It’s April, after all, which also means an assload of trout have been stocked this spring and last fall in preparation for tomorrow’s big day — 20.5 million alone in Washington, according to WDFW.

If you haven’t figured out where to go yet, their stocking plan is available online as is the most recent weekly planting report.

In Oregon, the big news is that Diamond Lake is iced up and unlikely to thaw in time for boat angling, though there are some shore spots with open water. Lemolo Reservoir, however, is ice-free and should produce browns, trophy rainbows and fresh stockers.

And I’m guessing tomorrow will indeed be a whole lot more productive than that day up at Calligan, one that still brings shivers to me.

But I’ll be out tomorrow. See you on the water.

May Issue Loaded With Fishing, Family Getaways

April 23, 2010

I must confess that two summers ago, I camped right beside a trout-filled lake and didn’t fish it once.

Didn’t fling a single fly, toss a spinner or plunk dough from our little beach at Pearrygin Lake, or off the dock down the way.

Nope, I spent the entire trip trying to keep a 1-year-old boy under control. It actually took three of us, two adults and our preteen niece, but even so, there was no time to break away.

It was a sobering entry to fatherhood for this formerly footloose fisherman.

Never before had I gone camping without wetting a line.

My 30-year streak?

Sideswiped by a whirling dervish of a dirt-and-charcoal-covered toddler.


It was also a bit embarrassing for a sporting magazine editor. So much so that for our next family camping trip – last Fourth of July on Orcas Island in the San Juans – we called in reinforcements, four more adult hands.

It worked. I was able to troll and bank fish around the shores of a pair of lakes at the big state park there.


That gave Amy and I some confidence. The next month just we three camped at Wallowa Lake State Park under Oregon’s Alps and I spent half a day on the water with a local kokanee guru.

OF COURSE THIS PAST WINTER we added another boy to the lineup, so my new one-year camp-fishing streak may be in jeopardy.

But a funny thing happened on those two campouts last summer: I enjoyed the fishing as much as I did playing tourist – wandering around towns, licking ice cream cones, snapping pictures of murals and funny signs and going on hikes and scenic drives with the fam.

I wrote about our trip to Wallowa last year, and with all those King Kong-sized kokanee they’re catching up there, expanded upon it with fishing tips, sights to see and family fun to be had in our May issue.

Indeed, this issue’s for all you anglin’ Daddies who’ve found yourselves in a similar predicament: needing a Northwest Getaway that works for the fam and, if the moment should arise, has fishing handy.

For our special section, I asked writers across the Northwest for their ideas.

They sent me great pieces on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula and Oregon’s Newport, Astoria and Florence areas; Ross Lake, Mt. Adams, Bend and the upper Rogue in the Cascades; clamming and oystering in Puget Sound and Hood Canal; and more!


WE ALSO PREVIEW spring pike and walleye fishing in Eastern Washington and the Idaho Panhandle and follow spring Chinook up the Rogue, Willamette and Yakima Rivers as well as into Tillamook Bay.

Speaking of springers, a Southwest Oregon guide got to wondering about the tooth marks on his diver, so he began tinkering with how to turn the device into a bait itself. This issue he reveals two years’ worth of research to Larry Ellis with a Rig of the Month you don’t want to miss.


We also head offshore for halibut with Andy Schneider in search of The Chicken Ranch and Banana Bank, armed with a mess of timely tips from a guide out of Garibaldi.

And there’s also trout fishing to be had at Kitsap Lake right outside Bremerton and Lost Creek Reservoir, outside Medford.

Our columnists again cover a wide range of topics — Terry Otto on the fall of a controversial though popular bank-fishing spot on the Willamette; Buzz Ramsey on tipping, err, tipping lures, not cows and waitresses; Mark Veary on 3 great tactics for kayak angling; and Ellis lines up Chinook seasons on the coasts.

On the hunting front, Dave Workman details the three best cartridges for varmints, Wil Askew chases down late-season turkey and bears while Duane Dungannon reveals Oregon’s new dog-days cat hunt.

New columnist Ralph Bartholdt talks about the dangerous new places wolves are pushing Northern Rockies elk, and there’s good news for Washington mule deer and whitetail hunters.

All that plus sturgeon poachers, the Jackass of the Month, Mt. St. Helens, dam removal, ODFW’s Greenback Hatch, the Waterdog Shack and more in our biggest issue yet — the 160-page May issue, out to newsstands and subscribers in April’s last week.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go chase down two little boys. –Andy Walgamott

ODFW’s Greenback Hatch Peaks In May

April 23, 2010

SALEM–If your store sells resident Oregon fishing licenses, hire extra clerks for the big rush next month.

Statewide, May sees the highest sales of the year. As many as one out of every five licenses are bought now, even though one-third of the annual permit that anglers renew each January is in effect wasted.


“I can’t say with certainty why May is such a big month for license sales, but I surmise this is when the casual angler starts thinking about fishing,” says David Lane, the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s marketing coordinator in Salem. “The weather is turning for the better. They’re looking at their calendar for summer trips. Kids are going to be out of school soon, so more free time with them. All these factors and more come together in May, so they go and buy.”

SINCE AT LEAST 1999 and likely before, May has reliably posted the biggest numbers of the year.

May 2001 tops all with 58,738 resident fishing licenses sold, ODFW data shows, followed by Mays in 2009 (57,126), 2003 (55,062), 2002 (53,344) and 2007 (52,292).

Among other reasons to get out next month: general trout and halibut openers, ice-off on Cascades lakes, shad and sturgeon in the Columbia, spinyrays beginning to bite more reliably around the Beaver State, the start of the pikeminnow reward fishery, and Memorial Day Weekend.

But April’s sales are no slouch, nor are June’s, and you can still find upwards of 30,000 Oregonians buying their licenses as late as July.

In fact, for one business in 2009, two of the four best months for all license sales actually came even later – August and September – says Dan Grogan, co-owner of Fisherman’s Marine & Outdoor in Portland. That aligned with a good salmon season at Buoy 10 and in the Columbia.

An ODFW bar chart also generally aligns with Grogan’s tackle sales. He says the best months for his two stores, which stock gear for everything from Cabo to crappie, are March into September.

But bait, cure and lure sales are very touchy. If fishing on the Columbia closes for some reason, Fisherman’s can see a 20 to 25 percent dropoff almost overnight, he says.

BACK TO LICENSE sales. Since summer 2008, another factor’s been at play, one that Mike Stahlberg of the Eugene Register-Guard nailed last May when he wrote: “When the economy hung out the GONE FISHIN!’ sign, so did more Oregonians.”

Last year saw A) unemployment as high as 11.6 percent, according to the state Employment Department, and B) the highest license sales of the decade, 303,267. That’s 30,000 more than the next closest year, 2007, when unemployment bottomed out in the low 5s, and 50,000 more than the lowest license sales year, 2005, when 6 percent were laid off.

The Idaho Department of Fish & Game also reported their highest fishing license sales since 1999, nearly 473,600 last year.

This recession has come at the same time that Oregon has seen huge runs of coho and steelhead everywhere from Astoria to Hebo to Sandy to Umatilla to Wallowa.

“No one likes to be unemployed,” Lloyd Graves, a painter on furlough, told a Wall Street Journal reporter snooping around the banks of the Nehalem last January, “but this couldn’t happen at a better time.”

As one ODFW spokesman I talked to noted, there’s a sense that some of the fishing is actually for subsistence. The Journal spoke with Graves’ fishing partner, Adam Rice, an unemployed carpenter who said he’d packed away 85 pounds of salmon and steelhead fillets.

(As an aside, a friend of mine was shocked at the number of anglers out on Kress Lake near Kalama, Wash., on a mid-April Thursday morning after WDFW planted it with 2,000 trout, but could understand it because many, like himself, were laid-off construction workers.)

For the record, Oregon hunting license sales were also up in 2009. Preliminary figures show the agency sold 298,562, the most since 2001 and nearly 20,000 more than 2007 and 2008.

AS STRONG AS sales have been, ODFW and others would like to know more about the mysterious rationale of the license-buying public, which is almost as strange as the ways of the fish we all chase.
While there are large annual variations in license sales each month up into summer, interestingly they smooth out by August.

“There’s just so much that goes into why people fish or why they don’t,” Lane says. “We’re just starting to scratch the surface of that.”

The agency is looking for ways to bump up license volume at nontraditional times of the year.

“How do we start making the sales in those shoulder months either at the end or the beginning?” Lane wonders.

As he noodles that question, here’s another: Will another bumper hatch of greenbacks come off the water this year?

Already Idaho’s sales are above 2009’s, and while Grogan points out he’s not competing with Joe’s anymore, he notes that this February and March’s license sales were around twice as high as the same months last year. –Andy Walgamott

Drano Windy, But Hot Today For NWS Pen

April 22, 2010

A few numbers for you: eight for 15; 30-40; 7,000, 9,000 and 11,000.

What ties them all together? Drano Lake.

With the count at Bonneville Dam blowing up this past week, Northwest Sportsman contributor Andy Schneider hit the Columbia Gorge water today and reports landing six hatchery springers and releasing two wilds.


Fishing conditions were pretty brutal, though, with 30 to 40mph winds howling over the lake and pushing his boat all over.

“It was so windy we couldn’t land most of the fish,” Schneider reports.

He says that when he turned the boat and headed east, the wind was picking up the water in his hot-water box and spraying he and his two fishing partners.

The kings were biting “Green Envy” Mag Lips (all-chartreuse) and prawn spinners with red-and-white blades about equally, Schneider reports.

“When the bite started to slow on the main lake, we decided to pull in close to the western shoreline and troll near the entrance of the lake with prawns.  If anyone has trolled the entrance of Drano, it’s appropriately known as the Toilet Bowl since all you do is troll round and round, waiting for your turn at the ‘sweet spot’, located right at the entrance deadline.

“First pass through the Bowl, Tom (VanderPlaat) hooks up.  Second pass, I hook up and hand the rod to Brian (Hawkins) just to see Tom’s rod go down and I grab that one; DOUBLE!!

“Third pass, Brian is looking for his last keeper, but no love.  Fourth pass, Brian hooks a native.  Fifth pass, Brian finally tags out — DRANO LIMIT!

Schneider says he saw maybe 30 fish caught for the 30 boats braving the gale.

The lake, which is really the drowned mouth of the Little White Salmon River, is open six days a week (closed Wednesdays for tribal netting) with a limit of two adult hatchery Chinook or two hatchery steelhead, or one of each. Also beware the bank-only area at the mouth.

“Thursday’s always the best day,” Schneider says. “The opening-day effect.”

The forecast calls for around 28,900 springers back to Drano — the largest forecasted run in four decades — and Wind River fish come acourtin’ too.

WDFW Green Lights 6-Day Clam Dig

April 22, 2010


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today finalized a six-day razor-clam dig for the end of April and early May at up to five area beaches. The openings are all on morning low tides, and no digging will be allowed any day after noon.

Beach openings, along with morning low tides, will be:

* Tuesday, April 27, 6:21 a.m., -1.0 ft.: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Wednesday, April 28, 7:06 a.m., -1.4 ft.: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Thursday, April 29, 7:50 a.m., -1.6 ft.: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Friday, April 30, 8:32 a.m., -1.5 ft.: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks
* Saturday, May 1, 9:15 a.m., -1.0ft.: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch
* Sunday, May 2, 9:58 a.m., -0.7ft.: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch

The National Park Service scheduled the dig at Kalaloch Beach, which is located within the Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at other coastal beaches.

Dan Ayres, WDFW’s coastal shellfish manager, reminds diggers that portions of the beach at Long Beach and Twin Harbors are closed to the public to protect nesting western snowy plovers, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The closed portion at each beach includes the area above the mean high tide line. At Long Beach, the closed areas are located north of the Oysterville Road from the state park boundary north to Leadbetter Point.

At Twin Harbors, the closed areas are located from just south of Midway Beach Road to the first beach-access trail at Grayland Beach State Park. Clam diggers are reminded that the entire northern section of Long Beach is closed to all driving starting at noon each day during this razor clam opener.

“Signs clearly mark the area and instruct people to stay on the hard-packed sand,” Ayres said.

Under WDFW rules, harvesters may take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 taken, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s limit must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers 15 years or older must have an applicable 2010-11 fishing license to dig razor clams on any beach.  Anglers can buy a combination license or an annual shellfish/seaweed license. Also available are razor-clam only licenses in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW website at .

Licenses can be purchased on-line or at any of the approximately 600 vendors who sell recreational licenses. A list of vendors is at .

Ayres reminds prospective clammers that overnight and weekend repairs to Interstate 5 could make it considerably more difficult to get to and from Washington’s coast. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced that repairs to the highway between Lacey and Tacoma will close north and soundbound lanes through September, resulting in traffic backups that could stretch for miles.

First 5-digit Day At BD

April 22, 2010

Yesterday saw the year’s first five-digit day at Bonneville Dam. Just under 11,700 spring Chinook were counted there, raising the total for the year to 68,432.

What does it all mean?

Well, managers are wondering that too.

“The question is, is (the run) early? Is it big? Or both?” says Joe Hymer of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission in Vancouver.

There are now signs that some elements of the forecasted record upriver return of 470,000 might be early, a vast improvement since the days in March when yours truly fretted about the run being late.

Wind River fish sometimes chill at places like Drano Lake before heading for Carson National Fish Hatchery, but Hymer reports some are already in the Wind River itself.

There are also something on the order of 1,000 kings back to the Cowlitz already, he says, as well as many in the Lewis, both of which may indicate an earlier run.

Or is the run big?

That’s what the big sport catch and commercial take point towards, Hymer notes. The two fleets killed a combined 32,197 above-Bonneville-bound kings below the dam through April 18, 71.2 percent of which were accounted for by recreational anglers.

A big run would get the managers off the hook for allowing the upriver mortality by sporties to screech past the preseason guideline of 17,200, put in place to give Eastside anglers a chance to dip their gear in as well as protect listed wild stocks.

Then, when you factor in Willamette, Cowlitz and other stocks in the tally for the Lower Columbia, the sport catch of 29,125 is the largest ever, reports Al Thomas of The Columbian today.

Add that to the 18,018 caught by commercials in the mainstem Columbia and bays near Astoria and the 2010 all-stock catch totals 47,143.


Or … is the run big and early?

As recently as March 31, only 14 percent of the 10-year average had passed the dam. But with yesterday’s count, the run is now 10,000 fish above that mark.

It’s now the fourth largest return through April 21 since 2000 — and is nipping at the tail fins of the third largest. It follows behind 2001’s 254,884; 2003’s 102,951; and 2000’s 77,775.

If you add in the below-Bonneville catch of upriver fish, you get a count of 100,629.

But those other years’ counts would also be elevated by adding in the downriver catches, which, frankly, yours truly is too lazy to look up.

Leading the charge this past week, springers headed to Rapid River Hatchery on the Little Salmon River. PIT tag counts at Bonneville indicate at least 305 kings bound for the Central Idaho stream have gone over in the past seven days. Forty-five springers headed to both Drano Lake and the Clearwater River have also been tallied, as have 42 heading for the upper Grande Ronde’s Catherine Creek.

This much is for sure: There be some fish around. Thomas got ahold of ODFW’s Steve Williams for his piece, quoting him as saying, “The river looks pretty fishy. But until they pass the dam, it’s hard to know how fishy it is.”

Meanwhile, as we await early May’s run-size update — and whether that will show enough fish to again drop hooks into the Lower Columbia — there’s plenty of springer fishing to be done.

Diamond Lake Thawing … A Bit

April 21, 2010

WEATHERMAN: “And for those of you looking for a little fresh pow, Diamond Lake Resort is reporting 3 inches of snow overnight and winter conditions holding on. And now to Sports …”

SPORTSCASTER: “The resort is also reporting that it’s very unlikely boats will able to launch at the popular Southern Oregon Cascades lake for this weekend’s opener, where tens of thousands of 15- to 17-inch rainbows await — as well as one worth $500 — but there is hope for some anglers still.

A press release sent this afternoon from Rick Rockholt at the resort reads ‘Not all is Doom and Gloom! The lake’s ice covering is very rotten and there is a little open water for bank fishing in front of Diamond Lake Resort. Anglers willing to  venture to the mouth of Short Creek and Silent Creek at the south end of the lake will find about an acre of open water at each. There are the Lake Creek outlet at the north end of the lake. Be sure to read the angling closure signs there.'”


You can watch the lake thaw at by clicking on the fishing report, or call the marina (800-733-7593 ext. 238) before you go.

And now back to you at the Newsdesk.

BROADCASTER: “Thanks for those reports. In other news …”

Jameson Lake Stocked

April 21, 2010

Just in case you missed the news in WDFW’s most recent Weekender, trout are being stocked in Jameson Lake for this Saturday’s opener.

Water conditions at the Douglas County lake, a popular water that has long attracted anglers from hundreds of miles, have been good enough this spring for the agency to plant somewhere around 18,000 8- to 11-inch rainbows this week.

“The clarity was much, much better,” says Bob Jateff, the state biologist who manages the lake. “That’s how we came to the conclusion to stock it.”

Jameson has suffered from “algae” blooms in recent years, including one in 2005 that resulted in a large fishkill. Last April, word didn’t come out until just days before the opener that fish had been planted.

“Last year at this time, it was very, very brown,” says Jateff. “It didn’t have an encouraging look to it at all.”

He says that this go-around oxygen and water temperature tests were also good.

And several trout swimming around in a small netpen at the lake “did quite well for the four or five days they were in there,” Jateff adds.

Over 135,000 fry were released last fall for the fishery, but the biologist isn’t quite sure how well they overwintered, though there have been reports of jumpers this month and last, which would indicate that some made it through.

We wrote about Jameson and its troubles in our April issue. The cyanobacteria blooms are primarily fueled by phosphorous in the lake as well as runoff from local cattle operations. Without a flush or other solution, the blooms will likely continue.

Last year’s opening-day catch was on the order of 1/2 a fish a rod, but this Saturday should be better thanks to a warm March, says Jateff.

“I’m expecting fish activity to be better,” he says.

Jack’s Resort co-owner Ginger Merritt (509-683-1095) had hoped triploids would be stocked, but Jameson wasn’t on the list of lakes the Fish & Wildlife Commission signed off on.


What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

April 21, 2010

Just in case you’re like just waking up from a coma or something and are wondering where to go fishing this weekend, April 24 (that would be three days from now) is the trout opener in Oregon.

Thousands upon thousands of rainbows are being stocked around the Beaver State for the big day — but before heading to Diamond Lake, Rip Van Winkle, call 1-800-733-7593 ext. 238 because it be frozen.

But it’s not all trout this weekend. Spring Chinook are surging above Bonneville and up the Willamette and Rogue Rivers, and there are steelhead and bottomfish to be head as well.

Here’s more from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:


  • Applegate and Emigrant Reservoirs and Garrison Lake all have been stocked and are fishing well. have been stocked and offer some good fishing.
  • Lemolo Lake, Hyatt Lake and Howard Prairie Reservoir open this Saturday and anglers should expect some good fishing.
  • The lower Rogue River continues to turn out chinook, while steelhead fishing has picked up in the Grants Pass area.


  • Hebo Lake and Battle Lake are scheduled to be stocked the week of April 19. South Lake is tentatively scheduled to be stocked the week of April 19 also if snow levels have receded to allow access to the lake. Fishing should be fair to good in many of the lakes and ponds that have been stocked this spring.
  • A youth angling event is scheduled for Saturday, April 24 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hebo Lake. ODFW and volunteers will be available to assist young anglers wanting to learn about fishing. Adult anglers are encouraged to refrain from fishing the lake immediately before the event to ensure there are sufficient numbers of trout to provide good catch rates for the youngsters.
  • Fishing in most mid coast lakes has been very good so far this spring and should continue to provide anglers with great opportunities well into June. Most water bodies have been stocked several times this spring and at least once with trophy sized trout. Check the online stocking report for specific weeks and lakes to be stocked.
  • Hatchery winter steelhead have been released into Olalla Reservoir several times this spring. Hatchery steelhead are considered “trophy trout” and a hatchery harvest card is not necessary.


  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel. The best catch rates have been reported from Oregon City upriver to Willamette Falls.
  • Winter steelhead fishing is good in the Clackamas and Sandy rivers and Eagle Creek. Steelhead are spread throughout both systems and some good catches have been reported.
  • A youth angling event will be held Saturday, April 24 from 9-2 p.m. at Trojan Ponds near Hwy. Rainier. All necessary equipment will be provided and volunteers will be on hand to assist young anglers. Call the Clackamas ODFW office for more information at 971-673-6034.


  • The Central Oregon Cascades Lakes opener is this upcoming Saturday, April 24. Crane Prairie Reservoir, Wickiup Reservoir, Odell Lake and South Twin Lakes are ice free and accessible and the fishing should be great. Please note, however, that at this time ODFW has been advised that Big Lava Lake, East and Paulina Lakes are still inaccessible as of Tuesday, April 20 and are projected to not be accessible on opening day Saturday, April 24.
  • Warmer days are bringing some good insect hatches on the Deschutes River.
  • Good returns of winter steelhead to the Hood River have produced good fishing and it should continue into early May.
  • Trout fishing is picking up on Lake Billy Chinook with reports of some legal-sized bull trout being caught.


  • Trout fishing has been good on the Ana River with reports of hold-over trout being caught.
  • Bank anglers have been having some luck fishing for trout in Klamath Lake.


  • Willow and McKay creeks open this Saturday and should offer some good early-season fishing.


  • Spring chinook, steelhead, and shad angling is CLOSED in the lower Columbia from the Buoy 10 line upstream to Bonneville Dam.
  • Spring chinook are beginning to move upstream and should be available in the Bonneville, The Dalles, and John Day Pools.
  • A few legal size sturgeon are being caught by boat and bank anglers in the gorge as well as in the Portland to Longview area.
  • Walleye angling is good in The Dalles Pool.


  • Fishing for rockfish, lingcod and other groundfish is good when ocean conditions allow.
  • The next minus tide series begins April 27 and continues through May 3 providing opportunity for clam diggers. Razor clam diggers should watch for days when the marine forecast calls for combined swell and wind waves of less than eight feet.
  • The entire Oregon coast is now open to recreational and commercial clam harvesting.

Big Changes To McKenzie Trout Fishing

April 21, 2010

If you’re a fan of trout fishing on the McKenzie River, better read this piece by Mike Stahlberg on the big changes this year in where hatchery fish are going for this weekend’s opener.

The Eugene Register-Guard reporter says there will be new hot spot while a popular stretch will be “something of a dud.”

“You can bet your waders on this turn of events because state fishery managers have overhauled the McKenzie trout-stocking plan for the first time since 1997,” Stahlberg writes.

The river has seen a tug-of-war between fly fishermen who want to keep the pressure off wild redband rainbows and bull trout and the state which plants thousands upon thousands of fish for anglers to catch and keep.

Springer Catch Sets Record

April 20, 2010

The catch of 29,125 springers in the Columbia River is a new record, according to a fact sheet released by Washington and Oregon salmon managers this afternoon.

It breaks the old mark, set during 2001’s whopper run, by over 3,300.

And angler effort, some 166,000-plus trips from February through April 18, the last day of fishing below Bonneville Dam, was the highest since 2002.

However, the goal of only killing 17,200 above-Bonneville spring kings via wooden shampoos or handling mortality was exceeded by over 5,700 fish.

Managers had wanted to limit the take because of catch-sharing agreements to make more kings available to upriver anglers as well as keep impacts on listed wild stocks down.

As for commercial fishermen, they have caught slightly over 18,000 springers on the Columbia and in the SAFE fisheries near Astoria, including 8,798 upriver-bound salmon.

The combined non-treaty catch of 32,197 upriver springers is well below the management guideline of 38,000, but late this afternoon, managers did close the fisheries in Youngs Bay, Tongue Point, Blind Slough/Knappa Slough and Deep River to commercial and recreational sport fishing for Chinook.

The fact sheet states that passage at Bonneville — 47,721 through yesterday — “is the highest cumulative count to date since 2003 and the 8th highest count to date (1977-current).”

“TAC is meeting weekly to review passage at Bonneville Dam, but it is still too early to make any conclusions regarding run size,” it also reads.

SW WA Fishing Report

April 20, 2010



Cowlitz River – Anglers are catching spring Chinook and winter run steelhead, primarily from the trout hatchery to the barrier dam.  From boundary markers at mouth to Mayfield Dam – Through July, hatchery salmon daily limit is 6 fish.  Up to 2 adults may be retained.  Only hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho may be retained.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 1,444 winter-run steelhead, eight summer-run steelhead, 232 spring Chinook adults and one jack during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.  Not included in the total above were a thousand spring Chinook that returned to the  separator over the weekend.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released twelve winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, 108 spring Chinook adults, one jack and 61winter-run steelhead into the Cispus River above Yellowjacket Creek, and 83 spring Chinook adults and seven winter-run steelhead into the upper Cowlitz River at Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, Washington.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,530 cubic feet per second on Monday, April 19. Water visibility is ten feet.

Kalama River – No report on angling success.  From boundary markers at mouth to 1,000’ below upper salmon hatchery – Through July, salmon daily limit is 6 hatchery Chinook.  Only 1 adult may be retained.

Lewis River – Light effort at the mouth.  Mainstem Lewis from mouth to mouth of East Fork and North Fork Lewis from mouth to overhead powerlines below Merwin Dam – Through July, salmon daily limit is 6 hatchery Chinook.  Only 1 adult may be retained.

Washougal River – No report on angling success for hatchery steelhead.  From the mouth to Mt. Norway Bridge is open to fishing for hatchery steelhead.  Through the first Friday in June, selective gear rules are in effect; no bait may be used.

The first three hatchery summer runs of the year returned to Skamania Hatchery last week.

Wind River – Effort and catch is increasing at the mouth.  About 80 boats were observed there last Saturday afternoon.  Wind River from the mouth (boundary line/markers) to 400 feet below Shipherd Falls – Through June, open to fishing for hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead.  Daily limit is a total of 2 salmon or hatchery steelhead or one of each.  Release all wild Chinook.  Night closure is in effect.

From the mouth to the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge – Through June, the anti-snag rule has been rescinded.    From May 1 through June 30, the anti-snag rule will remain in effect from the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge upstream. Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.

Wind River from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls upstream to boundary markers approximately 800 yards downstream from Carson National Fish Hatchery (except closed 400 feet below to 100 feet above the Coffer Dam) – From May 1 through June 30, the salmon and steelhead daily limits will be a total of 2 chinook or hatchery steelhead or one of each.  Unmarked chinook may be retained in this section of the Wind. Night closure and anti-snag rule will be in effect.  Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.

Drano Lake – Effort and catch is also increasing here.  Around 100 boats were observed here Saturday morning.  The lake is closed to all fishing on Wednesdays through May.  Through June, night closure is in effect but the anti-snag rule has been rescinded.  Bank fishing only west of a line projected from the eastern most pillar of the Highway 14 Bridge to a posted marker on the north shore.

Klickitat River – Light effort and no catch observed from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream.  Through May, open Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays only.  Daily limit 2 hatchery Chinook, hatchery steelhead, or one of each.  Night closure and anti-snag rule are in effect.

Lower Columbia from I-5 Bridge downstream -Last week we sampled 5,111 boat anglers (2,196 boats) with 1,669 adult and 11 jack chinook and 19 steelhead.  In addition, we sampled 969 bank anglers with 69 adult and 2 jack chinook and 12 steelhead.  Unlike the previous couple weeks, fish were caught throughout the river.

Overall, 86% of the adult Chinook caught were kept.  Of the 1,346 adult chinook kept that we sampled, 82% were upriver stock based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).

On Saturday April 17, a total of 2,585 boats and 1,393 bank anglers were counted during the flight.  1,114 (43%) of the boats and 490 (35%) of the bank anglers were counted from Warrior Rock to the I-5 Bridge.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Closed to fishing for salmon, steelhead, and shad.   Scheduled to reopen May 16 for shad.  From the I-5 Bridge downstream, scheduled to reopen May 16 for hatchery steelhead and hatchery Chinook jacks.  From the I-5 Bridge to Bonneville Dam, scheduled to reopen June 16  for hatchery steelhead and hatchery chinook.

Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam – Through May 31, open daily to fishing for hatchery Chinook, hatchery steelhead, and shad. Bank fishing only from Bonneville Dam to the Tower Island powerlines located about 6 miles downstream from The Dalles Dam.  Daily salmonid limit is 6 fish (hatchery chinook or hatchery steelhead), of which no more than 2 may be hatchery adult chinook or hatchery steelhead or one of each. Release all wild chinook.

Bonneville Pool – Bank anglers just outside Drano Lake are catching some spring Chinook.

The Dalles Pool –  Including fish released, bank anglers averaged a spring Chinook per every 3 rods.  Boat anglers were also catching a few fish. Around ¾ of the fish caught were hatchery fish that were kept.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth Washington Dept of Fish & Wildlife District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WA: For the week of April 12-18, an estimated 118 adult hatchery chinook were harvested and 7 wild chinook were released. The majority of the harvest were retained by bank anglers fishing the Oregon shore. WDFW staff interviewed 138 salmon anglers this past week and sampled 18 hatchery chinook. For the season, an estimated 129 adult hatchery chinook have been harvested and 7 wild chinook were released.


Lower Columbia Bonneville Dam – Effort remains light except for bank anglers on the Oregon side of the gorge.  54 boats and 15 WA bank anglers were counted during the Saturday April 17 flight.  241 bank anglers were counted at Rooster Rock.

Mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 to the Wauna powerlines (including  all adjacent Washington tributaries) –White sturgeon may be retained daily through April and from May 22 through June 26.  Daily limit 1.  Maximum size is 54” fork length. Through April, minimum size is 38” fork length.  Effective May 22, the minimum size will be 41” fork length.  Catch-and-release fishing is allowed during non-retention days.

Mainstem Columbia River from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam (including all adjacent Washington tributaries) – White sturgeon may be retained Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only through July 31 and from October 1 through December 31. Daily limit 1. Minimum size is 38” fork length and maximum size is 54” fork length.  Catch-and-release fishing is allowed during non-retention days.

From Bonneville Dam downstream 9 miles to a line crossing the Columbia from Navigation Marker 82 on the Oregon shore through the upstream exposed end of Skamania Island, continuing in a straight line to a boundary marker on the Washington shore:  CLOSED to fishing for STURGEON May 1-Aug. 31.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers were catching some legals; slow for legal size fish from the bank. Sturgeon may be retained daily until the pool guideline is met. The daily limit is 1 fish, minimum size 43” fork length and maximum size 54” fork length.  From John Day Dam downstream 5.4 miles to the west end of the grain silo at Rufus, Oregon:  CLOSED to fishing for STURGEON May 1-July 31.

John Day Dam to McNary Dam (including all tributaries) – The retention of sturgeon is prohibited through the rest of the year.   Catch-and-release fishing is permitted.  From McNary Dam downstream 1.5 miles to Hwy. 82 (Hwy. 395) Bridge:  CLOSED to fishing for STURGEON May 1-July 31.


The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged a walleye per rod.  Some bass were also being caught.


Recent trout releases in SW Washington waters:

South Lewis County Park Pond near Toledo – 4,255 catchable size browns April 12;

Lake Sacajawea in Longview – 7,110 catchable size browns April 8;

Kress Lake in Kalama – 352 triploid trophy rainbow trout averaging 1.5 pounds each April 13;

Horseshoe Lake in Woodland – 608 triploid trophy rainbow trout averaging 1.5 pounds each April 13;

Battleground Lake – 2,500 half-pound plus and 256  triploid trophy rainbow trout averaging 1.5 pounds each April 12 and 14;

Klineline Pond – Some of the 425 four-pound and 90 seven-pound brood stock rainbows plus thousands of catchable size rainbows left over from the Kids Fish-In Event held on April 10 should be available in the pond.

Klineline Pond fishing closure for Hooked on Fishing Event

Action: Closes Klineline Pond to fishing by the public one day prior to the fishing event as well as the day of the event.

Effective date:

  • April 30 – 12:01 a.m., entire pond closed to public fishing
  • May 1 – Pond open to participants in the Hooked on Fishing event.
  • May 2 – Pond opens to the public

WDFW And Earth Day

April 20, 2010

“At WDFW, every day is Earth Day.”

So reads the press release that popped into my in-box right before noon today.

I recoiled, nearly breathless in shock for a moment.

What, is the agency mockingly known by some as the Washington Department of No Fish & No Wildlife now the Washington Department of Forbes & Wolves?

The Department of Flowers & Woodpeckers?

Frogs & Wolverines?

Fescues & Warblers?

“But we’ve always been that Department,” defends Craig Bartlett, a spokesman in Olympia.

His was one of two names on the press release, so I’d given him a buzz immediately after receiving it.

The Earth Day statement comes straight from the top, director Phil Anderson.

“Our first priority,” Anderson says in the release, “is to conserve our state’s fish and wildlife. As new challenges to those resources emerge, we have a responsibility to address them. At WDFW, every day is Earth Day.”

Anderson’s been in the Department’s driver’s seat since December 2008 after the previous head, Jeff Koenings, resigned. And from the get-go, Bartlett says he has stressed conservation above all else.

Once upon a time, Washington’s fish and wildlife agencies sang a somewhat different tune.

Recalls one longtime Washington hook-and-bullet writer, a former Department of Game director noted in an old state fishing guide that the measure of their success was fish in the creel and birds in the bag.

“I used to beat up on the WDFW with that quote all the time back in the 1980s,” he remembers.

Times changed. Goals shifted.

“There definitely has been a change since the 1970s and 1980s – by necessity,” acknowledges Bartlett. “Environmental conditions have changed. The Department’s point is, that has to be recognized. Fish in frying pans – we want to keep that possible, but measured against environmental conditions.”

Thursday is, of course, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. WDFW notes that since that first one back in 1970, (just under two years before this editor was born), the state’s population has doubled to 6.8 million. Another 6.8 million will be here by the time the 80th anniversary rolls around.

We’re also nearing the 40th anniversary of the Federal Endangered Species Act. Since it was signed by President Nixon in 1973, stocks of Washington Chinook, coho and steelhead have been listed for protection – as have caribou, Columbian whitetails, turtles, whales, grizzlies, sea lions, pelicans, owls and a whole host of other critters. More are under consideration while a wider host of species fall under state protections.

Anderson says that rapid growth has “greatly accelerated the loss of natural habitat available for native fish and wildlife.”

Back in 1970, there was no North Cascades Highway, only one functioning dam on the Snake and no mile after mile after mile of giant white windmills harnessing the Columbia Gorge’s hurricane. A few years before then, my family hunted blacktail where today are thousands upon thousands of new homes on “Redmond Ridge” not far outside Seattle.

Anderson adds that “conserving natural habitat is unquestionably the greatest single challenge we face as resource managers.”

According to WDFW, a document that guides its strategic planning found that 70 percent of the state’s arid grasslands and estuarine wetlands are now gone as is 50 percent of the Eastside’s prairie habitats. Anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of the land along our rivers and streams has changed, and 90 percent of the old-growth forests have been tipped over.

Yeah, and wildlife populations might be better off today, the fish-hunt writer retorts, if the old Departments of Game and Fisheries as well as WDFW had actually stood up to some of the development rather than just mitigated for it.

They do own or manage around 850,000 acres of the state and have wildlife easements with many farmers and ranchers. And Dan Budd and the folks in the real estate office are always buying land – especially in Okanogan County, home to some of the most desirable getaway property in Washington and one of the state’s largest deer herds and even sage grouse.

Where once upon a time, it was those muleys as well as elk and pheasants and salmon and steelhead in the bag that mattered most, these days, WDFW is casting a wider net, looking at landscape- or ecosystem-level planning, by budgetary necessity.

“We can’t afford to manage just one species at a time,” Anderson explains. “We need to plan for the greater good.”

Then there are invasive species to deal with, and not just that yellow-flowered shrub a former governor’s wife spotted in Scotland and thought would look lovely in the median of I-5. WDFW has to be on the alert for stuff like zebra and quagga mussels which they say “can take a heavy toll on native species and cause million of dollars in damage to public infrastructure.” Anderson says checkpoints have stopped 17 boats with mussels so far.

My shock at his use of the phrase “Every day is Earth Day at WDFW” wore off.

After all, it’s not like anglers and hunters don’t realize how important habitat and conserving wildlife is. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has alone conserved or enhanced something on the order of 5.7 million acres of habitat.

And last year, Washington outdoorsmen and others supported WDFW with 134,000 hours of free volunteer work. Valued at $15 an hour, “That’s 2 million dollars of work that wouldn’t have been done otherwise,” WDFW’S deputy director Joe Stohr in Olympia told me last summer. “There’s a huge passion for the resources.”

“Fisherman and hunters are among this nation’s first conservationists,” Bartlett acknowledges. “We rely on them to be our eyes and ears out there.”

He says the agency saw the occasion of Earth Day as a good time to show the general public that they do more than just set fishing and hunting regulations.

“It was an opportunity to remind people of our other missions,” he says.

As much as we might squirm about the Department we all watch so compulsively touting its greenness, well, we hunters and anglers have to admit that we’ve been green all along – it’s just that the shades on our sleeves are patterned to blend in with Washington’s woods and shrub-steppe.

And while Earth Day might once have been the province of hippies and tree-huggers, Anderson himself is a hunter and angler.

“Phil sees a symbiosis between hunting and fishing and conservation,” says Bartlett. “It’s not one at the expense of another. It’s trying to keep populations at a surplus that can be taken.”

In an increasingly tough place to do so.

ODFW Sets Big-Game Meetings Schedule

April 20, 2010


ODFW will host a series of public meetings around the state to present information and accept public comment on proposals for hunting regulations, including the possibility of making the wearing of hunter orange while hunting mandatory in Oregon.

Currently, ODFW strongly encourages but does not require that hunters wear hunter orange while hunting. Due to concerns about vision-related hunting fatalities, the Fish and Wildlife Commission is considering making the wearing of hunter orange mandatory while hunting. The Commission requested that ODFW staff research the issue and propose various rule options. Meeting attendees will hear these options and may offer public comments about them. Proposed rule options should be online at the Web site below no later than the end of next week (April 30).

The Commission will be briefed on the proposed hunter orange rule options during the June 4 meeting in Salem, when they will decide whether to move forward with formal rule-making. If they decide to proceed, final rules regarding hunter orange would be considered at the Oct. 1 meeting in Bend when 2011 big game regulations will be set.

Also at the series of public meetings, ODFW staff will provide information about big game herd health and numbers, propose the number of controlled big game hunting tags to issue this fall and review concepts for 2011 big game regulations. Fall big game tag numbers for 2010 controlled hunts will be available online in early May under the Hunting Resources page:

Oregon offers both general seasons and controlled hunts for big game (deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, Rocky Mtn goat, cougar, and black bear). The number of tags for controlled hunts is limited and hunters must apply for them by May 15 each year. The Commission will adopt 2010 fall big game tag numbers at their June 4 meeting in Salem.

Also during the statewide public meetings, those interested in Oregon’s Mule Deer Initiative (MDI), an effort to boost declining mule deer numbers, are encouraged to offer public comments about the MDI plan. The plan is available online at:

Meeting attendees can also offer input on game bird hunting regulations, which the Commission will set at the Aug. 6 meeting in Salem.

Written comments about any of the above topics can be sent to ODFW Wildlife Division, 3406 Cherry Ave NE, Salem, OR 97303 or e-mailed to Members of the public may also testify in person at Commission meetings.





Enterprise May 3 3 – 6 pm ODFW Enterprise District Office
Baker City May 3 5 – 7 pm ODFW Baker City District Office
2995 Hughes Lane
Lakeview May 4 6 – 8 pm Eagle’s Lodge – 27 South “E” Street
John Day May 4 5:30 – 7 pm Grant County Health Dept. Johnny Titus Rm
528 E Main St
Condon May 4 6 pm USDA Conference Room
333 S. Main St
Heppner May 5 6 pm ODFW Heppner District Office
54173 Highway 74
Klamath Falls May 5 6 – 8 pm OSU Extension Service
3328 Vandenberg Rd Klamath Falls
Ontario May 5 7 pm MDT OSU Extension Office
710 SW 5th St
Springfield May 6 7 – 9 pm Oregon Dept. of Forestry

3150 East Main St

Grants Pass May 6 7 pm J.J. North’s Grand Buffet
1150 NE E St
La Grande May 6 4 – 7 pm ODFW NE Region Office – 107 20th St
The Dalles May 6 6 pm The Dalles Screen Shop – 3561 Klindt Dr
Salem May 10 7 – 9 pm ODFW Headquarters Office
3406 Cherry Ave NE
Seaside May 10 4 – 7 pm Seaside Convention Center – Seamist Rm
415 First Avenue
Pendleton May 11 3 – 7 pm Pendleton Convention Center
1601 Westgate
Redmond May 11 7 – 9 pm Redmond High School Rm 37
675 SW Rimrock Dr Redmond
Newport May 12 6 – 8 pm Hatfield Marine Science Center, 2030 SE Marine
Science Dr. Bldg. 904 Rooms 30 – 32
Clackamas May 12 7 – 9 pm ODFW NW Region Office. Bldg. 16
17330 SE Evelyn St
Charleston May 12 6 – 8 pm North Bend Public Library
1800 Sherman Ave North Bend
Medford May 13 7 pm The Eagles Club
2000 Table Rock Rd
Roseburg May 18 7 pm ODFW Roseburg Regional Office
Conference Rm, 4192 N Umpqua Hwy
Burns May 19 7 – 9 pm Glory Days Pizza
960 Oregon Ave

Now What, Spring King Fans?

April 20, 2010

With Sunday’s close of springer fishing on the Columbia below Bonneville — and word of potential mainstem reopenings not coming down the pipe until early May — where might you head for your Chinook fix?

No need to fill both tanks, the Multnomah Channel and Willamette River coursing through downtown Portland are open seven days a week for two hatchery springers, an opportunity that Northwest Sportsman kayak kolumnist Mark Veary got on big time this past weekend. We’ll have more on fishing the Willamette in our May issue, which went to press yesterday and should be out on stores middle next week.

There’s also the Cowlitz, where U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks limited a week ago on kingers into the low 20s.

The Lewis, Clackamas and Sandy Rivers as well as Tillamook Bay’s rivers are options, and if you’re in the neighborhood, the Rogue has seen hot bites at times.

But you’ll find most of the Chinook opportunity above Bonneville, where counts are closing in on 50,000 for the year.

First up is the Wind River, on the Washington side. In our April issue, salmon hound Andy Schneider tips:

If you’re on a budget, or just starting in with springers, the Wind just may be your fishery. All that’s needed is $4 for an orange Magnum Wiggle Wart or Mag Lip. A Wart dives to the perfect depth for the shallow-water fishery, and catches king whether trolled fast or slow, a characteristic that also helps when trolling with or against the wind that pushes down the gorge.

Worden’s Mag Lip (formerly the M2SP) has given Wind anglers an advantage in recent years by allowing a bait wrap to be added to a diving plug. Productive colors range across the chart.

The Wart and Mag Lip can be flat-lined or casted with 20-pound mono off a light/medium-action rod (casting or spinning) rated 12-25.

Trolling herring on a short dropper (12 inches) and short leader (5 feet) is also a good early-season technique. Plugcut a green or red-label bait and troll at the same speed as everyone else, keeping your lead dragging bottom. Prawn spinners catch springers here too.

Then there’s Drano Lake where Schneider was yesterday, landing one Chinook as well as one holy-hell of a snag. More on that later. For now, here’s Oregon fish fiend Terry Otto’s advice on fishing the Washington tributary:

It will be hard to ignore Drano this year given the projections. If the run comes in as expected, the lake could see a return of 28,900 adults, the best return since the 1970s.

According to Jim Stahl of J&J Guide Service (425-347-1615), the fishing gets good once enough fish pile into the lake, and usually starts to peak in the second week of May. The fishery will slowly taper off during June.

There are three main trolls. Up inside the point near the mouth of the Little White Salmon River is a good place to look for springers as they stage before entering the hatchery.


“At times you’ll mark so many fish on your electronics up there, it’s amazing,“ he says, “but it can be tough at times to get them to bite. If you do catch it on a good day it can be lights out.”

Another good troll covers the east end of the lake, but be cautious of the shallow water and snaggy bottom near the east end.

By far the most popular troll is at the outlet and it is usually the most productive. Anglers circle from in front of the boat launch and work their way west into the corner. As you come to the edge of the bridge piling drop your baits to the bottom and troll east as the bottom rises from about 30 feet up to 24 or 25 feet.

“That’s where probably 90 percent of the fish are caught,” notes Stahl.

He starts each day with his baits spread through 10 feet of the water column until he finds the depth they are holding at, and then he adjusts the other rods accordingly.

“The fish often suspend at 21 to 22 feet,” says Stahl. “A good approach is to drop your bait to the bottom and come up one or two cranks.”

He has three main baits: spinner and prawns, Mag Lip plugs and plug-cut herring.

“I start with all three of them and see what they want that particular day,” he says.

Last year he had good success with herring, and for some reason the salmon wanted flashers, an oddity.

Beware the new bank-fishing-only area at Drano, defined as that part of the lake from the easternmost Highway 14 bridge pillar to a post on the north bank — much of which is a fine area to throw Mag Warts. And remember that Drano is closed all Wednesdays through May.

Upstream, you have Underwood and the Klickitat River, both on the Washington side, and the lower 4.5 miles of the Hood River on the Oregon shore, where a “strong” run is expected. The Hood also provides good bank fishing opportunities.

The Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day pools are open, and last week the middle reservoir kicked out 37 springers for 157 bankees, according to ODFW, while 13 boats managed to only land one. There were no immediate reports for the Bonneville and John Day pools, but at least 23,788 have gone over The Dalles Dam and 12,571 over John Day Dam.

Up in walleye country below McNary Dam, Dennis Dauble of the Tri-Cities checked in with a local guide for the wheres and hows in our April issue:

Mid-Columbia guide Bruce Hewitt (Going Fishing Guide Service; 509-430-6448) fishes this stretch every year starting in late April. He favors a downstream troll using cut-plug herring off 5- to 6 foot-long leader and an inline flasher.


“Fish near the bottom with smaller-sized herring or anchovies where you can get them,” Hewitt suggests.

He advocates keeping a tight spin on your bait, even if it requires sewing the mouth of whole herring shut.

“Because most springers run 10 to 15 pounds, there is no need to use 4/O and 5/O hooks as for the fall run. You can size down to a 2/O if using good quality hooks like Gamakatsu or VMG.”

With an expectation of some 200,000 hatchery kings expected to head up the Snake this year, the lowest part of the river — from Highway 12 up to the no-fishing area below Ice Harbor Dam — opened today. And though it hasn’t been that productive in past years, Dauble got some more tips from Hewitt:

Watch for McNary salmon counts to build before chancing a trip up the lower Snake. The main boat launch is a Hood Park. Once on the water, you won’t find much company because opportunity is limited.

As an example, although the river necks down on the north shore downstream of the navigation lock – in theory funneling and concentrating upstream-migrating springers – the feature-less channel is U-shaped from dredging. In addition, boats are vulnerable to barge traffic and high velocities from spilling. Thus, it’s easier to work shorelines well downstream of the dam.

Indeed, one characteristic that Hewitt likes about the lower Snake River is that “fish tend to be closer to shore.” Here he mixes in size 13 Kwikfish and Worden’s FlatFish with the more traditional herring offering.

There is a small but loyal bank fishery on the south shore downstream of Ice Harbor Dam for springers sneaking up the inside of Goose Island in less than 10 feet of water.

This Saturday, much more of the Snake will open in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

In the Evergreen State, fishing has been expanded too. Open waters include from the railroad bridge below the Tucannon River mouth up to 1 mile above Little Goose Dam; from Casey Creek upstream 6 miles to the fishing deadline at Lower Granite; and from Blyton Landing boat ramp 12 miles above Lower Granite 19 miles upstream to the launch behind the Quality Inn in Clarkston.

One of the more infamous though productive areas in that whole stretch is The Wall at Little Goose, where the daily limit is one adult and one jack — but you gotta stop fishing after you catch that adult king, under new regs this year. I spoke to Spokane angler Jeff Main about that fishery in our April issue:

All the water rushing out of Little Goose Dam in spring pushes fish to the side of the river and makes it tough to hold bait in the current. So the anglers who fish The Wall – below the dam on the south side – use cannonball weights of up to 48 ounces, according to Spokane fisherman Jeff Main.


“That’s just to keep your stuff in front of you and not in the next guy’s rig,” says the combat fishery vet.

He makes his own cannonballs melting down tire weights from a buddy and sells them on Craigslist for $10.

Anglers’ baits are basically just 5 feet apart, and typically they’re herring these days, prawns in years past. Main’s involves a pair of spreader bars and a cutplug and a whole herring, a light leader to the weight and 30- to 60-pound mainline.

After rigging up, Main goes to one of the 12 built-in pole holders the Corps of Engineers has affixed to the railing (there’s room for another dozen and a half anglers if they’ve brought their own holders), drops his bait in and puts the rod in the bracket.


Sounds easy, right? Let’s back up a moment. To claim one of those rodholders or a spot on the rail, it’s a mad dash when a gate opens at 6 a.m. and anglers drive and dive for the available spots.

“That’s part of the rush of fishing. You jam it in park, jump out and grab any spot,” Main says.

After hooking a fish, the angler fights it from above and sends a buddy down a walkway to the river.

“There’s a 10- to 15-foot difference between the angler and the netter,” he says.


Indeed, it’s not your ordinary fishery, but Main says you do meet some interesting characters at The Wall.

“It’s not like the Grande Ronde where it’s finesse fishing and the scenery’s beautiful. But a lot of fish are caught there, and that’s why we go,” he says.


This Saturday also sees Chinook openers on a host of Idaho rivers, including parts of the Clearwater and its North, South and Middle forks; lower Salmon River; and Little Salmon River.

And IDFG and ODFW jointly opened the Snake River from Dug Bar up to Hells Canyon Dam. They expect something like 15,000 springers to run into the dam, far more than managers need for egg-take goals. The daily limit is four hatchery fish, but only two adults.

‘The Kayak Guy Checked A Limit’

April 19, 2010

Northwest Sportsman’s ko-kayak angling kolumnist Mark Veary has been regulating on the Multnomah Channel.

He’s limited on springers the last two times out — Friday and yesterday.

“Herring have been failing me this year so I switched over to a spinner with no bling,” reports the Hillsboro man. “I managed two on Friday and another two on Sunday. Life is good.”

Uhh, yeah, we’d say so.


But Sunday actually started out pretty slow, Veary reports, with few hook-ups.

“After a pee break and some nourishment we were back on troll against a fairly heavy current. Progress was less than .5 mph and I opted for a 6-ounce weight to ensure I was in the zone.”

“Looking up at the shore I silently remarked to myself that I’d hooked a few fish in this location. And, as if on queue, my rod starts a slow throb. ‘No way…’ Yup! Throb, throb … BENDO! Ka-ching! Chrome lovin’ flopping around in my lap,” he writes.

Afterwards, looking to paddle from one side of the channel to the other, he had an interesting moment as an offshore boat decided to thread the needle between Veary and another small craft 30 feet away.

There was some cursing.

But the angler found redemption when his rod went off the second time.

“I was loving the walk back to my car with a limit on the clip! Every jaw dropped and even the fish checker was beside herself,” Veary writes. “Most boats had scratched up maybe 1 fish for 4 rods today and the kayak guy checked a limit. When I asked what the score for the day was, the gal from DFW smiled and said, “You just doubled it!”

Score one, err, two, for the Tupperware Navy.

North-Central WA Fishing Report

April 19, 2010


What’s hot continues to be jig and float fishing for triploid rainbows on Rufus Woods Reservoir.


Also continuing hot is trolling for lake trout during the mid-morning period through the “potholes” in the area downlake of The Bar on Lake Chelan.  Roses Lake continues to be productive for recently stocked fish and some nice holdovers.  This is the heart of the catch and release season at Omak Lake for Lahontan Cutthroat.

At Rufus find concentrations of fish by trolling flies then sit on them with a sized down jig and bobber presentation to really ring up the numbers.  Watch Mack’s Lures web site as they develop some new products to take the guesswork out of this technique.

On Chelan, fish are scattered throughout the lower basin.  Work deeper as the sun gets higher.  The venerable U20 luminous Chartreuse Flatfish continues to be productive on the downriggers.  However, the hottest thing has been Silver Horde’s Kingfisher “Lite” in the either the Green or Flame Spatter Back colors.

The recent warm spell has caused the water to hit the magic 50-degree mark on Lake Chelan.  This should cause the Kokanee fishing to come on fast.  Stock up on Mack’s Lures Flash Lite’s and Double Whammy Kokanee Pro wedding rings.  Simplify the baiting process by buying a variety of colors of Pautzke’s Fire Corn.

Fishing on Roses Lake continues to be good.  Troll with wedding rings or still fish Pautzke’s new Fire Bait on slip sinker rigs.

Fish Omak with Silver Horde darting plugs with the single hook harness or those same Kingfisher lite spoons that we are using on Chelan.  Remember, single barbless hooks.

Term of the Day: ‘Cleptoparatism’

April 16, 2010

What happens when you mix two species of meat eaters with a bunch of meat? That’s right, cleptoparatism.

That’s what’s occurring at Bonneville Dam as California sea lions and Steller sea lions gather to feast on a building spring Chinook run.

As salmon have begun pouring over the dam — 7,719 alone yesterday, and 23,106 for the year — some of the big, fat Stellers haven’t been acting so stellarly. They’re snatching the salmon out of the mouth of their smaller relatives. While Californias can weigh as much as a grizzly bear, 1,000 pounds, Stellers can be double that size and then some — up to 2,500 pounds.

But the lighter lions aren’t backing down either.

Reports the Columbia Basin Bulletin:

“To date, Steller sea lions have stole fish from California sea lions 115 times, from other Stellers 5 times, and California sea lions have stolen prey from other California sea lions 9 times. California sea lions to date have been observed to catch 667 salmonids, and Steller sea lions have caught 237 salmonids.”

A record number of Stellers have gathered at the dam this year, though numbers of Californias are down, CBB reports. It’s believed both brands have killed 1,140 springers and steelhead so far, as well as 1,094 sturgeon, a record amount of sturgeon that is still growing though the pinnipeds are switching over to salmon.

Managers are culling some of the Californias, but can only haze away the Stellers due to more stringent federal protections.

Dam King Count Jumps 7,700

April 16, 2010

Ummm, just in case you weren’t among those 1,500 boats off Vancouver last Saturday, or haven’t slapped one of the 18,714 Columbia springers caught through April 11 on your grill, or still need some sort of official confirmation that the salmon are in, they’re officially in.

Yesterday’s dam count at Bonneville was 7,719, the biggest day of the year, and the biggest one-day springer tally since May 4, 2008.

After a slow start, the run is quickly catching up to the 10-year average. A total of 23,106 Chinook have gone over so far this year, 67 percent of the 34,537 that have passed the dam through tax day over the past decade.

As recently as March 31, only 14 percent of the 10-year average had passed the dam.

The forecast calls for around 470,000 upriver springers this year. Managers huddled Wednesday after the sport catch blew through the roof last week, but decided to keep the river below I-5 open through the regularly scheduled close of season, this Sunday, even though it was likely that the catch guideline for upriver-bound kings would be broken.

This morning, my Southwest Washington spy reports that yesterday’s score at the Kalama Marina at 3 p.m. was 51 boats with 52 springers, and he says his girlfriend spotted something like 100 boats waiting to launch out of Goble this morning.

That usually reliably on his post font of all things Columbia springerific, Joe Hymer, has abandoned his Vancouver office this morning and is probably amongst the madness somewhere on the lower river, perhaps menacing the sea lions with his fish bonker, cursing the sluggards at the launch line or racing to the top of the drift for another downhill run.

Fishing should pick up upstream too. Detail from the dam count through yesterday indicates that at least 193 PIT-tagged springers headed for Rapid River in Central Idaho have gone over Bonneville, 41 to Wind River, 34 to Catherine Creek on the Grande Ronde, 26 to Drano, 24 to the Clearwater and 23 to Icicle. Hatchery managers place passive-integrated transponders in the heads of a portion of their juvenile salmon and can track their movement via arrays set up at select dams and hatchery wiers.

Earlier this week, WDFW and ODFW announced Snake River system opening dates.

WA Coast King Quota Tripled

April 15, 2010


Salmon anglers will have improved fishing opportunities for chinook on the coast and in the Columbia River, while most recreational fisheries in Puget Sound will be similar to seasons adopted last year, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Meanwhile, Oregon’s Fish & Wildlife Commission next week will be asked to adopt 2010 ocean salmon seasons for sport and commercial fisheries for state waters in keeping with Pacific Fishery Management Council guidelines that will be adopted April 15.

South of Cape Falcon, the PFMC is expected to adopt the first significant ocean fisheries for chinook salmon since 2007. However, the fisheries will still be relatively restricted because stocks of Sacramento River chinook salmon continue to be weak for the third straight year.

North of Cape Falcon the PFMC may adopt larger quotas for chinook salmon due to higher forecasts for Columbia River chinook. Coho salmon predictions are down, however, and quotas will be smaller than last year.

Washington’s 2010 salmon fishing seasons, developed by WDFW and treaty Indian tribal co-managers, were approved today during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) meeting in Portland. The fishing package defines regulations for salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington’s ocean and coastal areas.

“This comprehensive package of fisheries meets our conservation goals for wild salmon populations, while providing a variety of salmon fishing opportunities on abundant stocks,” said Phil Anderson, WDFW Director. “Developing these fishing opportunities wouldn’t be possible without strong cooperation between the state, the tribes and our constituents.”

One of the most promising opportunities this year will be fishing for chinook salmon on the coast and in the Columbia River, said Anderson.

Nearly 653,000 fall chinook are forecasted to return to the Columbia River this season, about 234,000 more chinook than the number returning last year. The increased numbers represent strong returns to Spring Creek and other Columbia River hatcheries, which traditionally have been the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery.

As a result of the anticipated run, the PFMC today adopted a recreational ocean quota this year of 61,000 chinook. That’s well above the 2009 ocean chinook quota of 20,500.

The PFMC also implemented a pilot mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in Washington’s ocean areas. Mark-selective fisheries allow anglers to catch and keep abundant hatchery salmon, which are marked with a missing adipose fin, but require that they release wild salmon.

The selective fishery for hatchery chinook in marine areas 1-4 will run from June 12-30. Anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook.

“This is the first season we will have a selective fishery for hatchery chinook in the ocean,” said Anderson. “By using this management tool we can meet our conservation goals and give anglers an additional opportunity to fish for hatchery chinook in the ocean.”

While the chinook forecast is up, the Columbia River coho return is expected to be down this year. Nearly 390,000 Columbia River coho are projected to make their way along Washington’s coast this summer, compared to one million coho in 2009 – the largest return in nearly a decade.

The PFMC, which establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific Coast, set a recreational coho harvest quota of 67,200 coho. Last year’s ocean coho quota was 176,400.

Recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and coho will begin July 1 off LaPush, Neah Bay and Ilwaco and July 4 off Westport.

All areas will have a two-salmon daily limit, only one of which may be a chinook. As in past years, only hatchery coho salmon with a clipped adipose fin can be retained in ocean fisheries.

In the Columbia River, the Buoy 10 fishery will be open for chinook and coho beginning Aug. 1. Through August, anglers will have a two-salmon daily limit, only one of which may be a chinook. From Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, anglers will have a daily limit of two fish, but must release chinook.

The mainstem Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam will be open for recreational salmon fishing from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. Anglers will be allowed to retain one adult chinook as part of their daily bag limit. Beginning Sept. 12, chinook retention will only be allowed upstream of the Lewis River.

In Puget Sound, most salmon fisheries in the marine areas will be similar to last season, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for WDFW.

However, one major change for 2010 will occur in the Elliott Bay chinook fishery. Responding to a low forecast of Green River wild chinook, fishery managers reduced the Elliott Bay recreational fishery from four days each week to three – Friday through Sunday, said Pattillo. The fishery is scheduled to begin July 2, but salmon fishing after Aug. 8 will be closed unless in-season tests show the run is large enough to meet spawning goals for wild chinook.

In the freshwater, the Skokomish River fishery was converted to a selective fishery for hatchery chinook this year to meet conservation goals for wild chinook, said Pattillo. The Skokomish, from the mouth of the river to the Highway 101 Bridge, will be open from Aug. 1 through Sept. 30 with a two salmon-daily limit, but anglers must release wild chinook and chum.

In addition, state and tribal fishery managers altered their fishing seasons on the Skokomish River to avoid gear conflicts, said Pattillo. The Skokomish River upstream of the Highway 106 Bridge will be closed to sportfishing each Monday from Aug. 1 through Sept. 13 (with the exception of Sept. 6) to ensure treaty tribal fishers can fish unimpeded, he said.

To avoid similar gear conflicts, the recreational fishery on the Puyallup River also was changed, said Pattillo. This summer, a portion of the Puyallup River – upstream of Freeman Road – will open for salmon fishing Aug. 1, about two weeks earlier than last year. Downstream of Freeman Road will remain closed to salmon fishing until Aug. 16, when it will open for fishing seven days a week except closed Aug. 22, 29, 30 and Sept. 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14.

“We worked closely with the Puyallup Tribe to develop fisheries on the Puyallup River that maintain opportunities for anglers and tribal fishers, and help increase safety,” said Pattillo.

Specific regulations for marine areas in Washington and a portion of the Columbia River will be available next week on WDFW’s North of Falcon website ( ).

Beware, Invasives: ODFW Rolls Out ‘One Of The World’s Most Awesome Squirt Guns’

April 15, 2010

ODFW’s rolling out “one of the world’s most awesome squirt guns,” reports Henry Miller of the Statesman-Journal, part of the agency’s effort to fight invasive species.

Officially known as the GHO Series Hydroblaster, “the trailer-mounted pressure washer … shoots 140-degree water at 3,000 pounds per square inch out of a 225-gallon tank (and) has just one purpose: to blow away aquatic weeds and critters from boats and trailers so they can’t set up shop in Oregon’s waters,” the longtime outdoor writer reports.

And it sounds like one of the guys who’ll be manning the gun is a bit giddy to give it a try this weekend at Hagg Lake.

“It not only blasts the stuff off, but it kills it,” ODFW tech Jason Teem tells Miller. “I’m really excited; it’s a great toy.”

Miller reports that Oregon got the device for a bargain from California.

ODFW will place four more blasters around the state by late May.

Rep. Dicks Limits On The Cowlitz

April 14, 2010

Watch out, Brian Baird. When legislative boundaries are redrawn after the census, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks might be tempted to try and extend his district over to the Cowlitz.

Washington’s fishin’ federal politician found good fishing on the river this past Monday with Tony Floor of the Northwest Marine Trade Association and Carl Burke, a sport-fishing industry lobbyist, limiting with a pair of low-20s spring Chinook.


The crew also picked up 18- and 14-pound springers, plus a pair of steelhead.

They were fishing below Mission Bar out of Burke’s sled, Floor reports, and Dicks was running a fluorescent pink shrimp behind a Jet Diver.

“He is prepared to claim the Cowlitz River as part of his 6th Congressional district!” joked Floor in an email this afternoon.

The 69-year-old, 17-term Democrat has represented the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas in Congress since 1977.

But he can often be seen fishing outside those boundaries — especially when Congress is in recess.

After the bruising health care debate, Dicks kicked off his two-week break by participating in last month’s Anacortes Salmon Derby, up in Rep. Rick Larsen’s 2nd District. He took 11th place with a 17.10-pounder.


He was actually leading the derby at one point with that fish, reports the Tacoma News Tribune, but fell out of the money. Still, it won the Congressman a Scotty Downrigger, according to organizers.

The TNT reports that Dicks is a “life-long moocher,” a reference to the herrring jigging technique pioneered by Japanese American anglers in Seattle, but had to downrig that day as he was fishing with a known salmon troller, Larry Carpenter of Master Marine.

A staunch advocate of sport fishing and mass marking of hatchery fish, Dicks can often be heard on Northwest Wild Country Radio and appeared last January on The Outdoor Line.

So what’s fishing with the Congressman like? Earlier this year, Floor wrote:

Fishing with Norm is like riding on the space shuttle, from lift off to 100,000 feet. The floating in space part comes at the end of the trip. In order to ride with Norm, I take 10 swigs of Geritol, 14 chocolate bars and hibernate for a week prior to the trip. Following the trip, I hang upside down in the closet for 24 hours inducing a coma reaction for two weeks. He is high energy and the man loves his salmon fishing. Passionate? Try a positive application of fanatical. Every fish is “I got ’em, boys! It’s the big one!!! Get your gear out of the water!!!” Somebody, help me now.

The Cowlitz trip came at the end of Congress’s recess. Floor says he got a call from Dicks on his way to the airport and back to D.C.

“‘It was a marvelous beginning and end to my break,'” Floor says Dicks said.

Continue Springer Fishing

April 14, 2010

A fact sheet out from Washington and Oregon salmon managers says that even though it’s likely a guideline for how many upriver-bound springers can be handled by sport anglers will be topped beforehand, season on the lower Columbia will continue through the previously scheduled last day, Sunday, April 18.

The document reads:

* Given recent effort and catch rates, it is very likely that the lower river recreational fishery will reach its preseason guideline before April 18.  However, as outlined in Winter Fact Sheet #3 the states intend to use their discretion relative to the pre update run size buffer and total fish available for use in the recreational fisheries to meet recreational fishery objectives set at the February 18 Joint State Hearing.

* Recreational fisheries will continue as adopted.

To preserve some salmon for upstream anglers and protect listed wild stocks in light of recent years’ late and short runs, managers have been working with a catch — keepers plus release mortalities — of 17,200 above-Bonneville-bound springers, and restricting angling from I-5 to Bonneville Dam. The fact sheet says that 87 percent of that mark has been filled through April 11, a handle of just under 15,000 kings.

The river from interstate to the dam was closed after April 3, but the Columbia below I-5 remains open.

Last week saw smoking fishing and a huge effort. Of the 2,300 boats on the river last Saturday, 1,500 — as well as 700 bank anglers — were working the Columbia between I-5 and the north end of Sauvie Island. Northwest Sportsman’s Andy Schneider was among the fleet wailing on the fish there.

The fact sheet also revises yesterday’s kept-fish estimate to a total of 18,714 in the river below Bonneville. through the 11th. Another 2,663 have been released.

When yesterday’s fish count at Bonneville is posted, it will likely put the run over 10,000 for the season. Through late winter, the run at the dam had only been 10 percent of the 10-year average, but it has since increased to about 40 percent.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

April 14, 2010

Stats from ODFW show that Oregon fishing license sales peak in May. The agency has sold anywhere from 40,000 to nearly 60,000 that month over the past decade. It’s puzzling, especially considering that some of the year’s best opportunities are right now.

From Brookings to Wallowa, the Columbia River to the Blitzen River, there are plenty of fish to be had across the Beaver State — springers, steelhead, stocker and wild trout, surfperch, lingcod and more.

Here are some of the top opportunities right now, according to ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:


  • Lucky kids! Arizona Pond, a youth-only fishery between Gold Beach and Port Orford, will be stocked this week with 1 pound trout and fishing will be really good.
  • Spring chinook fishing on the lower Rogue really picked up over the weekend with both boat and bank anglers doing well.
  • If the ocean swells quiet a bit, surfperch fishing should be good.


  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel.
  • Winter steelhead fishing is good in the Clackamas and Sandy rivers and Eagle Creek. Steelhead are spread throughout both systems and some good catches have been reported.
  • A youth angling event will take place Saturday, April 17 at Junction City Pond from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. All necessary equipment will be provided at this free event, and staff and volunteers will be available to assist young anglers.


  • The Crooked River is back. This winter anglers were catching more trout than whitefish. Recently water levels have been up, but fishing has been good.
  • Start making plans for spring chinook fishing on the Deschutes River, which should peak in early May.
  • The Hood River continues to turn out good numbers of winter steelhead.
  • Pine Hollow Reservoir, Rock Creek Reservoir and Taylor Lake all have been recently stocked and offer some great spring trout fishing.


  • Trout fishing on the Blitzen River has been good and should remain so until flows and turbidity increase during spring runoff.
  • Several area lakes and ponds have been stocked with legal-sized trout including upper Cow Lake, Haines Pond and Hwy 203 Pond.


  • The Wallowa Wildlife Area and Marr Ponds recently have been stocked with legal-sized trout and surplus hatchery steelhead.
  • Anglers are reminded that steelhead season closes on northeast Oregon Rivers April 15 (except the Snake River which is open through April 30).


  • Spring chinook fishing was phenomenal in the lower Columbia River last week.
  • A few legal size sturgeon are being caught by boat and bank anglers in the gorge as well as in the Portland to Longview area.
  • Walleye angling is good in The Dalles Pool.


  • After many days of storm surge, anglers found success when the weather broke. While ling cod catches were down, most anglers limited on large rockfish.
  • A morning minus tide series begins April 14 and continues through April 20 providing opportunity for clam diggers. Razor clam diggers should watch for days when the marine forecast calls for combined swell and wind waves of less than eight feet.
  • The entire Oregon coast is now open to recreational and commercial clam harvesting.
  • Mussel harvesting is open on the entire Oregon coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. The consumption of whole, recreationally-harvested scallops is not recommended. However, coastal scallops are not affected by toxins when only the adductor muscle is eaten.


  • Cape Meares, Smith, Tahoe, Lytle, Town, and Hebo lakes, and Lorens Pond and Nedonna Pond were stocked with legal size rainbow trout the week of April 5. South Lake was not stocked due to snow. Stocking will be rescheduled when access to the lake is clear. Coffenbury Lake, Lost Lake, and Vernonia Pond are scheduled to be stocked the week of April 12. North coast lakes on the stocking schedule have all been stocked at least once this spring. Fishing should be fair to good.
  • Fishing in most mid coast lakes has been very good so far this spring and should continue to provide anglers with great opportunities well into June. Stocking has occurred several times in most water bodies of which many received trophy sized trout. Check the online stocking report for specific weeks and lakes to be stocked.

The Kids Are Alright

April 14, 2010

The kids these days!

This past weekend’s youth turkey hunt in Oregon as well as Washington’s the previous weekend was quite the success, if photos received at Northwest Sportsman are any judge.

Among the young bird blasters, Riley Johnson, Gage Nelson, Bryce Askew, the aptly named Hunter Parini and Michael Cook Jr.

Here are their pics and stories:

Riley had two long days of hunting with a number of opportunities, LOTs of walking, listening, setting up and doing everything possible to entice a tom to come in. All of them had their own set of challenges which kept us from being successful. However, on the last day in the last hour, we were able to find some birds (thanks to T.C. Ashley) gobbling up a storm in an area where we could try one last time.

Our guides/friends — Kim Thompson and Tyler Myers, along with Kim Mitchell and Riley’s younger sister Peyton — postioned themselves about 15 yards above Riley and me. Kim T. started his “courtship” letting out a menagerie of hen calls. We could hear various groups of toms gobbling throughout the canyon and one group about a 1,000 yards away across the other side gobbling.

As Kim T. continued with his hen calls, they would gobble a bit closer and closer. You could hear the “gobble” echo through the trees and canyon walls.

This went on for about 30 minutes where we could tell they were right on top of us but still couldn’t see them.A hen had came up within 10 feet away from us on my left hand side in the thick brush (we could not see her, but we could hear her) where she began to chirp with a sound utilized when a turkey is a bit concerned something is not right.

About 30 yards below us two toms walked out slowly. In between Riley and the turkeys were a number of old junipers. We were sitting quietly next to one tucked in with Riley’s 20-gauge Montifeltro Bennelli positioned on her shooting stick pointing in the direction of the two turkeys – being careful NOT to make one wrong movement. The two toms continued to dip their heads and let out loud “gobbles” as they moved across the field downhill from Riley and me. They were essentially answering Kim T’s courtship hen calls to hopefully add to their harem of hens.

Riley was listening to me whispering to her: “Relax and wait a second until we can determine which one to shoot.” Riley’s heartbeat and breathing were beyond “excitement” and exponentially increasing with each passing second. I wanted her to shoot the one on the right but she didn’t have a clear shot. She kept whispering, “I don’t see it.”

I reached over to pull the shooting stick towards me and told her to lean against my right shoulder and look between the two junipers. She said, “OK, I see him.”

I said, “Take him, take him now.”

She said, “Now?”


(I was trying to continue to keep my voice at a whisper, but when Riley tells the story she says, “He was yelling at me telling me to shoot”).

KA-BOOM! … and down goes Fraser!

It was a perfect shot and an unbelievable ending to an awesome trip.

After taking a bunch of pictures and talking about the entire weekend, I instructed Riley how to carry the trophy tom over her shoulder for the hike out. She said, “Wait a minute” to readjust her long blonde hair to the other shoulder. She had proven herself to be a bonified turkey hunter, but was still a 100% teenage girl.

Thank you again to T.C. Ashley, Kim Thompason and Tyler Myers!  It was AWESOME!  Something neither she nor I will ever forget — and her little sister, Peyton, is all ready for next year.

— Todd W. Johnson




My 11 year-old-son Gage went on his first turkey hunt this past Saturday in Eastern Oregon and successfully bagged a turkey within 30 minutes of opening morning. If you know Gage, you realize 30 minutes was an eternity for him.

We spotted the tom over 150 yards away on a hillside opposite the field we were set up in. With a couple yelps and purrs the game was on. A few gobbles later he left his hens and took off on a dead run until 30 yards from us to stop and strut his stuff for a brief moment. Then before my son could even put the bead on him, he put his head down and continued his charge toward the decoys. He then excitedly circled the jake and hen decoys several times while my son tried to get a good shot at 20 yards.

Finally after I gave a loud yelp he presented a target and Gage pulled the trigger and the rest is history.

The Rio Grande tom weighed 20 pounds with 1-inch spurs and 9 1/2-inch beard.

It’s moments like this  that make all the work in child raising well worth it.

–Mike Nelson


Had a great weekend with the youth turkey hunting opener here in Oregon. Lots of birds gobbling on Saturday and Bryce managed to tag her eighth bird in her short (only 15 years old) hunting career. Tough hunt, great memories and it all worked out perfectly … Well, not for the tom.

— Wil Askew


All Hunter M Parini,  age 11, wanted for his 12th birthday was for his father to guide him on a  a spring turkey hunt. So we headed east to Davenport, Wash., for the special spring youth hunt April 3-4.

On April 4th, Easter, at 7:05, hunter bagged his first longbeard – 22 pounds. Double bearded, 10 inches and 3 inches, with 3/4-inch spurs. What a bird for the first one. It’s going to be tough to top that!!!

— Gene Parini


Mikey Jr’s first turkey. It was a jake; he got him near Riverside, Wash., on opening day of the youth season.

–Michael Cook


Congrats, kids, you’re well on your way to becoming very successful Northwest sportsmen and -women!

Mikey jr’s first turkey. It was a Jake he got him near riverside Washington on opening day of the youth season

Spring Bear Hunting Forecast For Oregon

April 14, 2010


Spring bear hunting opened April 1 in western Oregon and the western Blue Mountains and remaining hunts open tomorrow, April 15.

A mild winter and light snow pack in the Blue Mountains and Cascades means hunters may be able to get out earlier than usual. ODFW staff expect bears will be out of their den 7 to 10 days earlier than usual in the W. Blue Mtns hunt area, and the SW Cascades should pick up before May.

Hunting will start slower on the mid-coast, where extended winter-like conditions are expected to keep bears very inactive during the early part of the season. “But that doesn’t mean early season hunts can’t be fruitful,” notes Stuart Love, ODFW district wildlife biologist in Charleston. “Often the earliest bears to come out of dens are boars and the larger animals.”

Wildlife biologists offer these tips for spring bear hunters:

* Look for open areas where bears will be moving through or foraging, including clear-cuts, meadows and open slopes that have cleared of snow.
* Earlier in the season, focus on south-facing slopes with rapid spring growth and open canyon slopes, where bears can be seen feeding on grass and digging roots.
* Predator calls are recommended later in the season when elk begin calving. Use calls near open meadows in forested areas.
* Find good vantage points and utilize optics to locate bears; early morning and late afternoon to evening are the best times to glass.
* Know your target—remember it is unlawful to take cubs less than one year old or sows with cubs less than one year old.
* See below for more information on conditions and locations to hunt. Hunters should be always be prepared for snow and limited access, especially early in the season. Visit ODFW’s online Hunting Access Map for more hunting locations.

Almost all spring bear seasons are controlled and require application by February 10 each year. The 4,000 2010 SW Oregon spring bear tags provided on a first-come, first-serve basis sold out on February 20 this year. All hunting seasons close on May 31.

Mandatory check-in of bears, and hunt reporting

For the last two years, successful bear hunters have been required to check-in their bear’s skull at an ODFW office within 10 days of the harvest so biologists can collect a tooth and take certain measurements. (More information) Bear skulls are also required to be unfrozen when presented for check-in. (It is very difficult to extract a tooth from a frozen skull.) ODFW also recommends hunters prop the bear’s mouth open with a stick after it is harvested, again to make tooth extraction and measuring easier.

This data collection is a critical part of the method ODFW uses to track Oregon’s bear population. ODFW also asks any hunter that takes a female bear to collect and turn in its reproductive tract, which helps determine reproduction rate and frequency. See page 34 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations for more information.

Separate from the check-in requirement, all hunters who purchased a spring bear tag are required to report their hunt results online or by phone (1-866-947-6339). Reporting is required even for those that did not go hunting or were unsuccessful. ODFW uses this information when setting hunting seasons.
As of March 11, 44 percent of 2009 spring bear tag holders reported their hunt results, a big improvement from 2008’s 8 percent. While there are currently no penalties for not reporting, penalties may be introduced for future hunting seasons if hunters continue to not report.

Northwest Region

Scappoose-Saddle Mountain units (Hunt 710A, season April 1-May 31)

This is a new hunt. Bears appear to be well-distributed throughout Saddle Mt Unit (based on previous years’ damage information) and most areas are well along in green-up. ODFW had not received any reports of bear sightings in the Scappoose Unit prior to the recent cold and stormy weather, and bear densities are naturally lower here. Hunters should locate green grass openings on south slopes and skunk cabbage patches along the riparian zones for their best chance of success. Bear activity should improve towards the middle of the season.

Locations: In Saddle Mountain, good road access is available to most lands in the Clatsop State Forest with non-motorized access available in many private industrial forest lands in both units (expect Hampton Affiliates land in Clatsop County to be closed to entry, however). Walk-in and mountain bike-in access can be an advantage to the hunter where private foresters are offering that style of access. (Bears are very wary of vehicle noise and tend to move away from well-traveled roads so quietly moving hunters on foot or bike may have the advantage.) Remember public land is limited in the Scappoose Unit; hunters will need to check each private timber landowner’s access policy before entering private lands.

Wilson-Trask units (Hunt 712A, season April 1-May 31)

Last year, 269 hunters took 18 bears, a 6.69% success rate.
Green-up is well ahead of usual this year, especially closer to the coast. With current weather conditions, hunters should concentrate in river and creek bottoms and south-facing grassy slopes with new plant growth. Bear activity is normally slow in the early half of the season so hunters should plan their trips accordingly.

Locations: State and federal lands in the units include the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests and Siuslaw National Forest. Some industrial forest landowners allow spring bear hunting as well. Private forest and agriculture lands dominate the eastern side of the Trask unit; access is by permission only.

N. Cascades (Hunt 716A, season April 1 – May 31)

Last year: 213 hunters took 22 bears, a 10.33% success rate.

Expect better hunting later in the season (late April/early May), but if you want to get out early, start along riparian corridors at lower elevations. Watch weather forecasts to help predict snowmelt; warmer weather will be key for vegetation growth and increased bear activity. Snow in higher elevations will restrict access.

Locations: Santiam Unit: remember the Marion and Linn County portions outside of the Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forests are not included within the hunt boundary and are closed. The McKenzie Unit is open only on the Willamette National Forest. Hunters can find south-facing slopes throughout the Mt. Hood NF. The Clackamas and Collawash River drainages have a higher concentration of open ground and some good areas for glassing. Hunters can also find good concentrations of bears in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness Area.

Alsea-Stott Mt. (Hunt 717A, season April 1 – May 31)

Last year: 155 hunters took 6 bears, a 3.87% success rate.
Bears have been active for a month or so already in the Alsea Unit, though no damage complaints or problems have been reported. Late March and early April weather was more winter-like (high winds, precipitation and low elevation snow) but the snow does not remain around very long. Hunters should look for bears at lower elevations along streams or open areas with a south or southeast aspect.
Location:  Access is fair on mainline forest roads but expect some roads to be impassible in April. Siuslaw National Forest lands on the central coast south of Waldport have well-maintained roads, making them good places to hunt.

Southwest Region
(Season April 1 – May 31)

Tags for this hunt are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis and sold out on Feb. 20, 2010.

Snow pack this year appears to be below normal so access should be good throughout the upcoming season. However, bear activity is normally slow in the early half of the season and the mid-coast experienced extended winter-like conditions. While that means bears may be hard to locate in the early season it doesn’t mean these hunts can’t be fruitful. Often the earliest bears to come out of dens are boars and the larger animals.

Bear numbers in the entire region have been stable for many years. In general, bear density is greatest closer to the coast. Good spots to check are skid roads and side roads that are untraveled with lots of grassy margins and bear sign. Hunters should put their emphasis on watching clearcuts and natural clearings. The Biscuit fire area around the Kalmiopisis Wilderness Area in the Chetco unit continues to offer better visibility than other areas. While visibility is not as good in the Tioga and Siuslaw units, bear numbers are good there as well.

Locations: There is lots of public land in the SW Oregon hunt, including national forestland (Siuslaw, Rogue-Siskiyou, Umpqua, Willamette), BLM land and state land like Elliot State Forest. Do your homework and call private timberland companies as some offer access; local landowners include Weyerhaeuser, Plum Creek, Menasha/Campbell Group, Roseburg Forest Products, and Lone Rock Timber Co. Hunters can access public land and some private timberland through the Jackson Cooperative Travel Management Area (JACTMA). JACTMA restricts use of certain roads through April 30; for a map contact an ODFW office.

High Desert Region

South Central (Hunt 731A, season April 15 – May 31)

Last year, 103 hunters took 2 bears, a 1.94% success rate.

Bear populations are stable to slightly increasing but low compared to other areas of the state. The highest bear densities are in the Cascade Mountains with lower densities in the drier, semi-desert portions of the hunt area. Areas for hunters to check include the Keno Unit, western portion of the Sprague Unit, and the Gearhart Mountain area in the Interstate Unit. Focus on the unburned fringes around 2002 fires (Grizzly Fire in the Interstate Unit and the Toolbox/Winter Fire in the Silver Lake Unit) and in riparian areas. In the northern portion of Fort Rock unit bear populations are low and hunters should expect low success. Bear activity is most common west of Highway 97 in the vicinity of riparian vegetation.

Locations: Public access is good within the Fremont-Winema and Deschutes National Forests and on open private timberland. Access for the opener will be excellent given the mild winter and lack of snow pack. Please respect private property, avoid driving on soft or muddy roads.

White River (Hunt 741, season April 15- May 31)

This is a new hunt this year, so tag holders will be pioneers. Bear densities are good in the White River, especially within forested areas. Like other spring hunts, effort should be focused within clear-cuts and meadows early and late in the day. The edges of the major drainages, such as the White River, Badger and Tygh Creeks, should be good places to find bears on the eastern edge of the unit.

Locations: Access is good, with the majority of bear habitat found on public lands. The western edge of the unit has a good amount of county and private timber lands that should provide good opportunity. Be sure to get permission if hunting on private lands.

Hood Unit (Hunt 742, season April 15-May 31)

Last year, 30 hunters took 6 bears, a 20% success rate.

Winter snowpack has been well below average this year, allowing bears to come out of hibernation early and in good shape. The recent spring snow events may help to get bears into lower elevation clearcuts where they are easier to find. Later in the season, when beehives are out in orchards for pollination, hunt forestland near the beehives or seek permission to hunt on private orchard ground that borders the timber.

Locations: Both public lands (Mt. Hood National Forest and Hood River County land) and some private industrial forestland are open to hunting; check with private landowners for access rules and permission.

South Blue Mtns (Hunt 746A, season April 15-May 31)

Last year, 178 hunters took 4 bears, a 2.25% success rate.
The hunt area experienced a light winter. Snow levels are high and should not have much effect on hunter access. Bear populations are stable or increasing but this hunt is still challenging due to the heavy forested terrain which makes it difficult to spot bears. Observations from an ongoing statewide bear study suggest that the northwest section of the Murderers Creek, Beulah, and Northside units have higher bear densities. Hunters often use this tag as an opportunity to scout new hunting areas for next fall’s deer and elk seasons, turkey hunt, or collect shed antlers. Remember it is legal to take naturally shed antlers, but not skulls with antlers attached. Last year’s success rate was low; 178 hunters took 4 bears.

Northeast Region

W. Blue Mountains (Hunt 749A, season April 1 – May 31)

Last year: 150 hunters took 32 bears, a 21.33% success rate (highest of all spring bear hunts).

This year’s warm weather combined with mild snow pack will have the bears out as much as 7-10 days earlier than usual (so early to mid-April rather than late April). Bear density is highest in the northern portion (north of Interstate 84) and lower as one goes south and west in the hunt area. Early season bear activity is concentrated along the lower elevation fringes of national forest land. Bears follow the green-up elevation band; concentrate on timbered slopes with small openings with lush green moss, sedge, or grassy areas.

Locations: The hunt boundary contains a large amount of public land including the Umatilla National Forest.

Starkey (Hunt 752A, season April 15 – May 31)

Last year: 145 hunters took 6 bears, a 4.14% success rate.

Bear numbers are strong. The area received less snow than last year and access will be easier than in 2009. Hunters that use the Dry Beaver-Ladd Canyon road closure area routinely encounter spring bears. Be sure to check access and road conditions before heading out to hunt.

Wallowa District Hunts (Season April 15- May 31)

Access is much better than it was last year but high elevations are still blocked by snow and hunters will not be able to drive on unplowed roads for the opener. There has been little bear activity so hunters are safe in waiting until later in the season to head out. Bear numbers should be about the same as last year. Bear activity generally improves by the first week of May.

Remember the Noregaard, Whiskey Creek and Shamrock Travel Management Areas will be in effect in the Sled Springs unit through May 31; maps are available at entrance points or at ODFW’s Enterprise office.

756 and 756T (youth hunt), Wenaha Unit: Last year, 138 hunters took 29 bears, a 21.01% success rate. For 756T, 32 youth hunters took no bears.

757A and 757T (youth hunt), Sled Springs and Chesnimnus Units: For 757A, 210 hunters took 26 bears a 12.38% success rate and for youth hunt, 65 hunters took 8 bears, a 12.31% success rate.

Hunt 759A, Snake River Unit: Last year, 258 hunters took 30 bears, an 11.63% success rate.

Hunt 760A and 760T (youth hunt), Minam and Imnaha units: For 760A, 179 hunters took 28 bears, a 15.64% success rate and for 760T, 15 youth hunters took no bears.

Pine Creek-Keating-Catherine Creek (Hunt 762A)

Last year, 321 hunters took 28 bears, an 8.72% success rate.

Baker District has received no damage complaints or sightings yet but boars should start coming out soon. Baker experienced a mild winter with moderate snowfall. An early spring has led to open conditions at low and mid-elevations. Higher elevations near Pine Creek and McGraw Overlook still have deep snow. In the Keating Unit hunters will find snow-free areas in some of the lowest portions of the national forest. Many of the mid and high elevation roads in all units are still impassible; contact USFS or ODFW for conditions before heading out.

Locations: Low to mid elevation areas above Hells Canyon Reservoir or Pine Creek are recommended; later in the season try the upper portion of McGraw Creek.

Lookout Mt. Unit (764)

Last year, 23 hunters took 3 bears, a 13.04% success rate.

Moderate snow at high elevation will limit access in the early season. But low to mid elevation areas of Lookout Mtn. unit are snow free. Try south facing slopes near the treeline above Brownlee Reservoir. Private lands limit access; make sure you obtain landowner

Oregon Spring Turkey Hunting Forecast

April 14, 2010


More than 15,000 people are expected to turkey hunt this spring in Oregon during the six-week season that runs from April 15-May 31 and the special youth-only hunt April 10-11.

The area surrounding Roseburg in southwest Oregon still leads all other areas in turkeys harvested. The Melrose Wildlife Management Unit once again took top ranking during 2009’s spring turkey season with 855 turkeys harvested by 1,265 hunters, the most turkeys taken of any unit.

In recent years, more hunters have been heading over to eastern Oregon to hunt because there is more public land and success rates are rising. Last year, 55 percent of all spring turkey hunters hunted the eastside. Units with good hunter success in 2009 included Mt. Emily, Wenaha and Sled Springs. Murderers Creek and Heppner units also yielded good harvests in 2009.

Hunters new to the sport can check ODFW‘s turkey hunting brochure (pdf) for hunting tips and other information. Remember that while turkeys are habitat generalists, they prefer rolling hills and oak woodlands interspersed with meadows or pastures. They tend to avoid dense brush.

Here are how prospects break down around the state:

Northwest Region

Trask and Willamette Units: Turkey hunting in the eastern portion of the Trask and northern portion of the Willamette Unit remains difficult for hunters who do not have access to private lands since turkey flocks are concentrated on local farms and ranches. Hunting should be good for those hunters lucky enough to have obtained permission to hunt. Those willing to knock on doors may find some willing landowners and hidden flocks of turkeys.

Scappoose Unit: Turkey populations are extremely low and not widely distributed. Hunters will need to have scouted early to find turkey flocks and obtained permission to hunt on private property.

Stott Mt. and Alsea Unit: Turkeys are often found on the private agricultural lands with rolling oak woodlands adjacent to the larger private timber holdings. Remember to get permission to hunt on private land.

Santiam and McKenzie Units: Concentrate your efforts in the rolling oak hills and agricultural fringes along valley foothills from Carlton to Sheridan. Turkey flocks in the Santiam Unit are typically concentrated on the eastern side of the forest closer to the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and the White River Wildlife Area. There is also some public land in portions of the Santiam and McKenzie units at the lower elevations of Willamette National Forest. Be prepared for winter-like conditions once you leave plowed roads.

2009 spring turkey hunting statistics

Scappoose – no harvest
Wilson – no harvest
Trask – 29 birds by 93 hunters
Willamette – 194 birds by 453 hunters
Santiam – 151 birds by 510 hunters
Stott Mt. – 7 birds by 58 hunters
Alsea – 129 birds by 374 hunters
McKenzie – 137 birds by 496 hunters

Southwest Region

Jackson, Josephine, Curry Counties

Turkey numbers appear to be above average with most turkeys in low to mid elevations of oak and conifer mixed forests, with their associated meadows and clearings. Turkeys will be feeding on green grasses and insects. Use locator calls before light or after dark to locate roosting trees; then set up in an area of their travel and begin calling as light approaches.

Turkeys can be found in about every BLM property in the area—try Williams Creek, Thompson Creek, Kane Creek, Galls Creek in Applegate Unit; Lake Creek, Butte Falls, Worthington Road for the Rogue Unit; and for Evans Creek Unit try Long Branch, east Evans Creek, Jumpoff Joe Creek and Pleasant Creek. Private lands hold numerous turkeys, be sure to ask for permission before hunting.

Douglas County

Hunters can expect an excellent spring gobbler season this year. Last summer’s chick/poult counts were above the 15-year average with 6.3 poults per hen, and coupled with our mild winter the amount of gobblers available for harvest should be above average. During the first part of the spring season the hens will be off nesting so most gobblers will be receptive to calls from hunters. (Keep in mind that overcalling by hunters in an area can lead to less response from gobblers.)

Most turkeys are found in oak savannah habitat which is mostly on lower elevations in the Umpqua Valley. Hunters should always ask for permission before hunting any private lands. Many private lands are tied up by hunting guides who pay landowners for hunting rights so you may have a difficult time gaining access without paying a fee, even later in the season.

There are many acres of federal land for turkey hunting on Roseburg BLM and Umpqua National Forest. The public areas to try hunting turkeys are N. Bank Habitat area (BLM land) just northeast of Roseburg; northwest and southwest (BLM lands) portions of the Melrose unit; the Tiller area (USFS & BLM lands) which is southeast of Roseburg plus Oak Flats and Toketee Air Strip (USFS land) east of Roseburg.

Coos County

There is limited opportunity to hunt turkeys in Coos County. Pre-hunt scouting is important because populations are spotty in distribution. The densest populations are generally found in eastern Coos County near agricultural lands.

2009 spring turkey hunting statistics

44% of the spring turkeys were harvested in the SW Region
32% of the hunters hunted in the SW Region

SW Region TOTAL – 2035 birds harvested by 4830 hunters (By Wildlife Management Unit)

Siuslaw – 137 birds by 460 hunters
Indigo – 79 birds by 137 hunters
Dixon – 108 birds by 309 hunters
Melrose – 855 birds by 1,265 hunters
Tioga – 72 birds by 165 hunters
Sixes – 22 birds by 108 hunters
Powers – 22 birds by 79 hunters
Chetco – 7 birds by 29 hunters
Applegate – 230 birds by 532 hunters
Evans Creek – 201 birds by 625 hunters
Rogue – 302 birds by 1121 hunters

High Desert Region

The White River Unit (which includes White River Wildlife Area) remains the most popular place to hunt. The unit saw the highest number of hunters last year—1,797 hunters taking 302 birds. With hunting pressure high on the White River Wildlife Area, those that want less company should wait until later in the season to head out.

Hunters should focus on areas within three miles of either side of the eastern boundary of the Mt. Hood National Forest, on the line running from the Warm Springs Reservation to the Columbia River. The majority of turkeys will be in that band. The northern portion of the unit is mainly composed of private lands and hunters must have permission to access these lands.

In Crook County, the better opportunities will be on national forestland in the Ochoco and Grizzly Units. Winter conditions were generally mild and turkey survival appears to have been good. Spring started earlier than normal, and green-up has been early and rapid. Birds have moved from many lower elevation wintering areas to higher elevation public lands. Some north-slope areas still have snow and hunters should contact both the Ochoco National Forest and Prineville BLM offices for road conditions and motorized access restrictions. Motorized restrictions remain in effect year-around in the South Boundary Cooperative Travel Management Area (TMA) along the southern boundary of the Ochoco National Forest. Maps of the TMA are available at entry portal signs and at ODFW and Ochoco National Forest offices in Prineville.

Hunters should have a fair opportunity in Jefferson County in the Metolius Wildlife Management Unit. Birds had good survival this winter and are widely scattered. The best locations are on Green Ridge from Black Butte north to the Warm Springs Reservation. Contact the Sisters Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest for road conditions and motorized access.

In Harney County, turkeys are restricted to the northern portion of the county on or near national forest land. Mild winter conditions should have resulted in good over-winter survival. However, local turkey populations remain at a very low level. Access into the national forest should be better than usual, but roads at higher elevations or on northern aspects may be blocked by snow until mid-May or later.

For Klamath County, turkeys are restricted to the Keno Unit. Hunting access is good in the southern portions of the Keno Unit, which is predominantly either open to hunt private timberland or BLM land. A mild winter season has resulted in open access to traditional turkey hunting areas, and over-winter survival of turkeys was likely high. Several releases of turkeys were made into the Keno Unit this winter to help supplement the population. Areas to check for turkey activity are south of Highway 66 and west of the Klamath River Canyon to Copco Road. Turkeys can also be found north of Highway 66 around Johnson Prairie.

2009 spring turkey hunting statistics

Keno – 7 birds by 151 hunters
Klamath Falls – 0 birds by 7 hunters
Upper Deschutes – 0 birds by 65 hunters
Paulina – 7 birds by 22 hunters
Maury – 7 birds by 22 hunters
Ochoco –50 birds by 424 hunters
Grizzly –0 birds by 165 hunters
Metolius – 36 birds by 352 hunters
Maupin – 0 birds by 7 hunters
White River 252 birds by 1,797 hunters
Hood – 43 birds by 151 hunters
Beulah – 0 birds by 72 hunters
Malheur River – 22 birds by 108 hunters
Owyhee – 29 birds by 43 hunters
Whitehorse – no harvest or effort
Juniper – no harvest or effort
Silvies – 22 birds by 115 hunters
Warner – 0 birds by 7 hunters
Interstate – no harvest or effort

Northeast Region

Baker County

Turkey numbers going into the winter were high in Baker County and over-winter turkey survival should have been high due to the mild winter. The recent warm weather has triggered a spring green-up at lower elevations. Hunters should concentrate their efforts near these areas. There is public land hunting access on BLM and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. ODFW Elkhorn Wildlife Area opens to the public April 10, 2010. Remember to ask for permission before hunting on private properties.

Grant County

Turkeys are widely distributed throughout the district. Get a map and understand property boundaries as many of the turkeys are on private property and permission is needed to hunt. The John Day Valley is primarily private land but hunters can access public land along the north and middle fork of the John Day River in the Malheur and Umatilla National Forests and at the ODFW-managed Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area.

Morrow, Gilliam, Wheeler Counties

Turkey numbers on Forest Service land and surrounding forested areas have been increasing over the past few years. The over-winter survival appears good again this year due to the mild winter conditions. Hunters will want to focus on mid and lower elevation and south-facing slopes that are free of snow. Hunters should target the north slopes of the Blue Mountains as well as the North Fork John Day drainage. As the snow recedes, the turkeys will continue to move upslope following the receding snow line.

Umatilla County

Turkeys inhabit Umatilla County in good numbers all along the front face of the Blue Mountains and they are expanding into new areas. These areas are dominated by private land and access is sometimes difficult. However, turkeys do inhabit some public land areas as follows: central Ukiah Unit on national forest land, southern Ukiah Unit on Pearson Ridge and surrounding drainages, Umatilla National Forest lands in the eastern portion of the Heppner Unit, Umatilla National Forest lands on ridges below Black Mountain in the Mt. Emily Unit. As a result of below-average snowfall this winter and early spring, access to the mid-elevation interface of public (national forest) and private lands could be easier than the last two years in April. Turkeys will inhabit the low and mid elevation areas while the snow is still present in high elevation habitats. Low elevation areas are dominated by private ownership and permission is needed to hunt.

Union County

Turkeys are moving upslope and out of their winter range; many are already on their summer range. Look for birds at the north end of the Grande Ronde Valley, Palmer Valley and the south end of the Catherine Creek unit. The highest concentrations of birds will be in the Sled Springs, Wenaha and Mount Emily units. Turkey numbers should be above average this spring due to high winter survival. Hunters can expect less snow than in previous years and more road access for the opener.

Wallowa District

Turkeys wintered well and production was good this year so numbers are up over last year. While there are still lots of areas blocked by snow, there is not as much snow as last year and areas should open up much earlier. Initially, birds can be found in timbered areas near the valley fringe. Later in the season birds are expected to be widely scattered throughout forested areas so hunters should put in some time hiking, listening, and looking for signs of turkey activity. Hunters are reminded that cooperative travel management areas are in effect in the Wenaha and Sled Springs units including on Forest Capital Partners property.

2009 spring turkey hunting statistics

Biggs – 0 birds by 43 hunters
Columbia Basin – 14 birds by 50 hunters
Fossil – 65 birds by 280 hunters
Northside – 22 birds by 180 hunters
Heppner – 165 birds by 554 hunters
Ukiah – 93 birds by 374 hunters
Desolation – 58 birds by 223 hunters
Sumpter – 79 birds by 230 hunters
Starkey – 22 birds by 302 hunters
Catherine Creek – 36 birds by 230 hunters
Mt. Emily – 180 birds by 395 hunters
Walla Walla – 50 birds by 173 hunters
Wenaha – 122 birds by 302 hunters
Sled Springs – 151 birds by 280 hunters
Chesnimus – 22 birds by 58 hunters
Snake River – 29 birds by 72 hunters
Minam – 65 birds by 122 hunters
Inmana –22 birds by 43 hunters
Pine Creek – 58 birds by 237 hunters
Keating – 36 birds by 194 hunters
Lookout Mtn. – 7 birds by 7 hunters

Junction City Pond Youth Derby This Weekend

April 14, 2010


Young people interested in catching a fish will find a great opportunity April 17, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Junction City Pond.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will stock more than 3,000 rainbow trout for the Junction City Moose Lodge’s annual youth fishing derby. The trout are provided for the event as part of the Department’s Youth Angling Enhancement Program. The trout come from ODFW’s Willamette Hatchery in Oakridge.

Rods, reels and bait will be available to those young anglers who do not have their own fishing equipment.

Anglers under the age of 14 can fish for free. A juvenile license is required for anglers 14-17 years of age.

To ensure enough fish will be available for the event, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to ask the general public to refrain from fishing the pond before Saturday’s event.

Junction City Pond is an 8-acre pond located about two miles south of Junction City on Highway 99W on the west side of the highway.

WDFW Announces Snake Springer Rules

April 13, 2010


Action:   Expands the area open for spring/summer chinook fishing on the Snake River and increases the daily limits.


Species affected:   Spring chinook


A) Snake River from the South Bound Highway 12 Bridge upstream about 7 miles to the fishing restriction boundary approximately 400 feet below Ice Harbor Dam.

B) From Railroad Bridge, about 0.5 miles downstream of the Tucannon River mouth, up about 9 miles to the Corps of Engineers boat launch (approximately 1 mile upstream of Little Goose Dam along the south shore). This zone includes the area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility (includes the walkway area locally known as “the Wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility).

C) From Casey Creek upstream about 6 miles to the fishery restriction area below Lower Granite Dam.

D) From Blyton Landing Boat Launch along the Snake River Road in Whitman County (about 12 miles upstream of Lower Granite Dam) upstream about 19 miles to the boat dock behind the Quality Inn in Clarkston. (The boundary line is from the white sign for Hells Canyon Tours approximately 100 ft upstream of the boat dock that has the small green roofed shed on the south shore) across to the culvert with tanks and trailers on the north shore.

Dates: April 20, 2010 through June 30, 2010 below Ice Harbor Dam (Area A);
April 24, 2010 through June 30, 2010 for areas B, C and D.

Reason for action: The predicted return of 470,000 upriver spring chinook allows for expanded fishing opportunities in the Snake River within Washington.  Expectations are for nearly 200,000 hatchery chinook to return to the Snake River.

Other Information: Only adipose-clipped spring chinook adults or jacks can be retained in these fisheries.   The minimum size of any retained chinook is 12 inches.  Jacks are less than 24 inches long.  The adipose fin-clipped fish must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin.  Fishing must cease as soon as the adult chinook daily limit is retained.  All chinook with the adipose fin intact, and all steelhead, must be immediately released unharmed.  chinook harvest or retention is limited to 2 adults and 4 jacks per day.

EXCEPTION: The area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility, which includes the walkway area locally known as “the Wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility.  The daily bag limit for this limited area is one jack and one adult, but an angler must cease fishing when the 1 adipose-clipped adult is retained.

In addition: The following rules will be in effect for anglers fishing for all species in these areas of the Snake River during the salmon fishery:  Barbless hooks only, night closure in effect, and it shall be unlawful to use any hook larger than 5/8 inch (point of hook to shank).  Anglers cannot remove any chinook or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit.  Anglers are reminded to refer to the 2009/2010 Fishing in Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet (in effect through April 30, 2010), and the new 2010-2011 sport fishing rules pamphlet (in effect May 1, 2010) for other regulations, including safety closures, etc.  Angler catch rates will be monitored closely and Snake River salmon fisheries may be closed prior to June 30 based upon conservation needs.

Information contact:   John Whalen (509) 892-7861

Weekend Clam Dig A Go!

April 13, 2010


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today finalized a razor-clam dig for this weekend at three Washington beaches. The openings are all on morning low tides. They are:

* Friday, April 16, (8:32 A.M., -0.7) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Saturday, April 17, (9:12 A.M., -0.7) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only
* Sunday, April 18, (9:56 A.M., -0.6) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only

No digging will be allowed after noon at any of the beaches. Under WDFW rules, harvesters may take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 taken, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s limit must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers 15 years or older must have an applicable 2010-11 fishing license to dig razor clams on any beach.  Anglers can buy a combination license or an annual shellfish/seaweed license. Also available are razor-clam only licenses in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW website at .

Licenses can be purchased on-line or at any of the approximately 600 vendors who sell recreational licenses. A list of vendors is at .

Dan Ayres, WDFW’s coastal shellfish manager, reminds diggers that portions of the beach at Long Beach and Twin Harbors are closed to the public to protect nesting western snowy plovers, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The closed portion at each beach includes the area above the mean high tide line. At Long Beach, the closed areas are located north of the Oysterville Road from the state park boundary north to Leadbetter Point. At Twin Harbors, the closed areas are located from just south of Midway Beach Road to the first beach-access trail at Grayland Beach State Park. Clam diggers are reminded that the entire northern section of Long Beach is closed to all driving starting at noon each day during this razor clam opener.

“Signs clearly mark the area and instruct people to stay on the hard-packed sand,” Ayres said.

Prospective clammers who live north of Lacey should be warned that overnight and weekend repairs to Interstate 5 will make it considerably more difficult to get to and from Washington’s coast. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced that repairs to the highway between Lacey and Tacoma will close north and soundbound lanes between now and September, resulting in traffic backups that could stretch for miles.

WDFW also has tentatively scheduled a dig for the following dates and beaches. A final decision on the dig will be based on the results of tests for toxins to determine if the clams are safe to eat.

* Tuesday April 27, 6:21 a.m., -1.0: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Wednesday, April 28, 7:06 a.m., -1.4: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Thursday, April 29, 7:50 a.m., -1.6: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Friday, April 30, 8:32 a.m., -1.5: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks
* Saturday May 1, 9:15 a.m., -1.0 : Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch
* Sunday, May 2, 9:58 a.m., -0.7: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch

The National Park Service scheduled the dig at Kalaloch Beach, which is located within the Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at other coastal beaches.

Buzz’s New Springer Bait

April 13, 2010

Remember our Rig Of The Month from last August? Big huge contraption, about 10 feet long, loaded with gear, holo tape and doodads including a pink worm, deadly on the coho out at Buoy 10, tied by Buzz Ramsey.

Well, the man’s at it again. He’s got something new for another Columbia River salmon species — springers.

Yep, the worm’s back — as is a herring, a Spin-N-Glo, some tubing, a little epoxy, a pair of … oh, just go check out Bill Monroe’s column, then see Buzz’s Wall Photos on his Facebook for more details on what goes into the rig.

Springer Catch Up To 18.4K

April 13, 2010

The latest figures from the lower Columbia River show that sport anglers have kept 18,438 spring Chinook so far this season — 11,553 in April alone and nearly 8,900 in the seven days between April 5 and 11.

Another 2,621 Chinook have been released this year, according to figures from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife out this morning.

With upriver-bound springers making up 79 percent of the catch and probably a similar percentage of the release, the sport impact is creeping ever closer to the 17,200 available before managers perform a run update.

That’s a ways off, but we may have some answers about where things go from here soon.

“We’re going to put out a fact sheet tomorrow and be able to tell you what happens then,” says Cindy Le Fleur, a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Columbia River manager. The run is jointly managed with ODFW.

As for the hot bite, the waters from the northern tip of Sauvie Island up to roughly the I-205 bridge have been best this month, with 4,886 bonked in that stretch above the Willamette and 3,879 popped into the fish box below the Oregon river’s mouth.

About half of that water remains open through this Sunday, April 18.  The Columbia above I-5 to Bonneville Dam shut down April 4. The waters above the dam are open through May 31.


Dam counts have picked up substantially with just under 10,000 through Bonneville as of yesterday thanks to four quadruple-digit days in a row at the ladder, including 3,545 on Saturday.

Fishing’s come a long ways since reporters — mea culpa, yours truly — wondered where the hell the fish were and publicly gnashed our teeth over the managers and their damned “record run” forecast of 470,000 back to tribs above Bonneville. But then things began to pick up with 700 kept through mid-March, 2,462 by the next week, nearly 7,000 by the end of the month and 9,600 kings through April 4.

Overall, anglers have made 124,664 trips for springers, a significant economic boost to Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington.

RMEF Vols Impact 1 Acre Of Wildlife Habitat Every 6 Hours

April 13, 2010

Volunteers for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are helping to enhance or conserve one acre of wildlife habitat for every six hours worked, according to a press release today from the Missoula-based conservation organization.

The stats were released ahead of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, April 18-24, 2010, first designated in 1974.

“Our organization depends on volunteers who are passionate about conserving elk country, and we do our best to deliver efficient, measurable, on-the-ground results. I’m proud of our numbers over the past year,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.

According to RMEF, the organization has more than 10,000 volunteers nationwide who conservatively average 80 hours of donated labor a year, everything from coordinating banquets and other fundraising events to assisting wildlife and land managers by building wildlife watering devices, conducting elk research, removing unneeded fencing and countless other jobs.

Last year, the 800,000 hours of donated labor conserved or enhanced 132,000 acres of habitat for elk and other wildlife.

“Together we’re impacting more than just habitat for elk and other wildlife. We’re also ensuring a future for the experiences and lifestyles and values that are borne of elk hunting,” Allen said.

Since launching in 1984, RMEF has tallied 5.7 million acres of mostly public-land habitat enhanced or conserved, and 585,000 acres opened or secured for public hunting.

SW WA Fishing Report

April 12, 2010



Cowlitz River – Anglers are catching winter run steelhead and spring chinook.

Kalama River – No report on angling success.  The first couple of summer run steelhead of the season returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery last week.

Lewis River – Some spring chinook are being caught at the mouth.  The first 25 spring chinook and 5 summer run steelhead of the season returned to the Merwin Dam trap last week.

East Fork Lewis from mouth to top boat ramp at Lewisville Park and Washougal River from mouth to Mt. Norway Bridge – Opens to fishing for hatchery steelhead Friday April 16. Selective gear rules will be in effect; no bait may be used.

Wind River – A few anglers are starting to appear with a half dozen boats last Saturday and 10 on Sunday.  No catch was observed.

Drano Lake – Effort is increasing with half dozen boats last Saturday and around 20 on Sunday.  A few spring chinook were reportedly caught.

The lake will be closed to all fishing on Wednesdays beginning this week through May.  Effective April 16, bank fishing only west of a line projected from the eastern most pillar of the Highway 14 Bridge to a posted marker on the north shore.

Klickitat River – Some newly arriving summer run steelhead are being caught by bank anglers from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream.

Lower Columbia from Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge – Last week we sampled 3,283 boat anglers (1,405 boats) with 1,130 adult and 1 jack chinook and 1 steelhead.  In addition, we sampled 439 bank anglers with 26 adult chinook and 2 steelhead.  91% the adult chinook were caught from Section 4 (Warrior Rock) upstream to the I-5 Bridge.

Overall, 87% of the adult Chinook caught were kept.  Of the 931 adult chinook kept that we sampled, 91% were upriver stock based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).

On Saturday April 10, a total of 2,314 boats and 689 bank anglers were counted during the flight.  1,516 (66%) of the boats and 397 (58%) of the bank anglers were counted from Warrior Rock to the I-5 Bridge.

The Joint Staff will review recreational catches through April 11 early this week and will provide another update at that time.  Stay tuned!

Bonneville Pool – Bank anglers just outside Drano Lake are catching some spring chinook.

The Dalles Pool – Effort and catch of spring chinook are increasing.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFE District 4 Fish Biologist – For the week of April 4 through April 11, there were an estimated 24 boat trips and 122 bank anglers fishing for spring chinook in the John Day Pool (Lake Umatilla). WDFW staff interviewed 20 boats and 34 bank anglers. The majority of the boats were fishing for walleye or sturgeon and the bank anglers were primarily fishing for chinook. No catch was reported for salmon.


Lower Columbia below Bonneville DamExcept for the gorge, effort and catch remains light.  A total of 61 boats and 140 bank anglers were counted during last Saturday’s flight.  However, 113 of the bank anglers were counted at Rooster Rock.   

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some legals; slow from the bank.  Through March, an estimated 154 (51%) of the 300 fish guideline had been taken.


The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged over a walleye per every other rod.  In addition, some bass were caught.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers are catching some walleye.


Year round lakes planted with catchable size rainbows up to one-half pound each last week were:

South Lewis County Park Pond near Toledo – 3,042 fish

Lake Sacajawea in Longview – 3,016 fish

Kress Lake in Kalama – 2,067 fish

Lacamas Lake in Camas – 3,500 fish

Commission Tweaks Permit Hunt Process, Antlerless Tag Levels

April 12, 2010


The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission set this year’s general hunting seasons and special-hunt permit drawings during a public meeting here April 9-10.

The nine-member citizen commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also approved several land transactions and heard public comments on proposed new rules designed to address property damage and other conflicts between landowners and wildlife.

New hunting rules approved by the commission reflect changes in game populations since the current three-year plan was adopted last year.  They include:

* Reducing antlerless elk hunting in the Yakima area.
* Reducing antlerless deer hunting in northeast Washington and the Olympic Peninsula.
* Providing additional permits for spring black bear hunting and delaying start dates for fall black bear hunting in some areas.
* Increasing permit hunting for cougar in southeast Washington.
* Changing the fall turkey hunt in southeast Washington from a limited permit-only hunt to a general hunt.

Along with the new hunting rules, the commission also approved a new application system for special-hunt permits that will give hunters more options by allowing them to apply for deer and elk permits in several different categories.  The system applies “points” accrued by unsuccessful permit applicants from previous years to each of the new permit categories.

Another change allows hunters who use archery or muzzleloader equipment to carry hand guns for personal protection.

The amended hunting rules, which take effect May 1, will be included in WDFW’s new Big-Game Hunting pamphlet, which will be available by late April at license dealers, WDFW offices, and online at .

On another matter, the commission approved an easement on 16.5 acres of WDFW’s Chelan Wildlife Area for a Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) electrical power transmission line. The PUD will pay WDFW $6,748 as compensation for the easement, plus an annual mitigation payment of $4,217 for wildlife habitat impacts.

The commission also approved the acquisition of:

* 29 acres in Pierce County as a new site for WDFW’s Voight Creek Fish Hatchery, supported by $440,000 from a state legislative capital budget appropriation.
* Almost 150 acres of tidelands and uplands in Mason County for salmon, shorebird and waterfowl habitat as part of WDFW’s South Puget Sound Wildlife Area. Those lands will be secured with $197,000 from federal wetlands grants and state wildlife grants.

The commission also received public comments on new rules proposed to address property damage and other conflicts between landowners and wildlife. As directed by the 2009 Washington Legislature (SHB 1778), the proposal includes specific requirements for both lethal and non-lethal control, and identifies new sources of technical assistance for property owners. Claims for crop damage would be paid only after an assessment by a professional crop insurance adjustor.

The commission, which originally heard public comments the proposed “wildlife interactions” rules at a March 12-13 meeting in Olympia, will be briefed by WDFW staff on adjustments to the proposal during a May 7 conference call.

The commission directed staff to make additional landowner outreach efforts regarding the proposal before final action is taken at a June 4-5 public meeting in Spokane.  The proposed Wildlife Interaction Rules are posted on the commission’s website at .

RMEF Blasts Defenders

April 12, 2010

As a battle of letters heats up, the latest from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation blasts the Defenders of Wildlife and Western Wildlife Conservancy for contradictory stands.

“On one hand you trumpet the success of the overall elk populations in [Montana, Idaho and Wyoming]  (which are managed by those states, I might add),” writes RMEF president M. David Allen in an April 9 letter, “and on the other hand you reject those same three states’ ability to manage wolves. That is a curious contradiction. Either these states know what they are doing or they don’t.”

The wildlife advocacy groups are at odds over elk and wolves in the Northern Rockies where numbers of the introduced and naturally returning predators have met federal recovery goals every year since 2002 and increased their overall numbers for 15 straight years.

However, lawsuits and Wyoming’s inadequate management plan kept regulated hunts from occurring until this past fall and winter. Montana hunters killed 72 wolves, Idaho’s 188; both states’ seasons were considered successes, at least by state managers.

This skirmish in the greater wolf war began in early February. RMEF data was cited in an opinion piece written by Kirk Robinson of the Western Wildlife Conservancy and published in a Utah newspaper to argue that elk populations have continued to climb in Idaho despite 1995’s reintroduction of the species to the central core of the state.

That and other statements hit a nerve with Allen, who fired back at WWC, DOW and “others for their disingenuous use of data on wolves and elk” in late February.

High elk numbers overall gloss dramatic declines in some herds in recent years, such as those around Yellowstone and on the Idaho-Montana border in the Lolo-Bitterroot region where there appear to be plenty of wolves, though hunters on the Gem State side were unable to meet the local quota, possibly due to thick country.

DOW came back with a March 30 letter arguing that the recovery goals of 100 to 150 wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming don’t ensure long-term sustainable populations, and the species faces continued resistance to recovery all the way up to the Governor’s Mansion in some areas.

“Strong, balanced, science-based federal and state plans are necessary to overcome this opposition to wolf recovery,” write Mike Leahy, Rocky Mountain director of Defenders of Wildlife, and Robinson. “Through your publicity campaign against us, RMEF appears to be trying to benefit from increasing the conflict over wolves, even as you accuse us of the same. Our proposed solution, however, is not more conflict but more collaboration. We have called for a scientific review of wolf recovery criteria to incorporate the best available science, followed by a regional stakeholder process to guide development of state plans that meet wolves’ biological needs while addressing the legitimate concerns of affected people and communities.”

Another scientific review, Allen wonders. Why, by who and what the heck’s wrong with the plans in place now?

“Why isn’t the wildlife science of three of the leading western states (Wyoming, Montana and Idaho) and the USFWS credible? Is it that you are not getting the answers you are looking for? If so, that is not subscribing to science that is manipulating it to get a desired answer,” Allen writes. “We live within the rules and game management policies of all the state agencies and when we have differences of opinion we go to them and work it out like adults. The United States has the best system of wildlife management in the world, yet you reject the system of states managing their wildlife. Among your tactics are filing lawsuits to stall and extend the process and then point fingers at others like RMEF and say we are polarizing the conflict! Managing wildlife in court is a recipe for disaster.”

Allen calls for “sensible balance” and says that “current wolf numbers have long since crossed over the tipping point.”

He says that wolves should be managed like any other predator on the range, and now that they’re considered recovered by the Feds, managed by state agencies.

“This wolf amnesty program is poor wildlife management. The American sportsmen deserve better respect for all they have contributed to wildlife while groups like yours play games with the system,” he writes.

Allen says this isn’t the Old West anymore, it’s a region populated by millions and facing increasing habitat challenges.

“Man must manage wildlife and we have done so very successfully for over a century,” Allen says in a press release. “We’re long past the day when wolf populations can be left unchecked. Right now this is simply a wolf amnesty program and the results are becoming alarming.”

Allen does extend an olive branch to meet with Leahy and Robinson at RMEF’s Missoula offices, and for their part, Leahy and Robinson say they don’t oppose hunting — so long as there’s a regionally sustainable population of wolves.

But Allen says that if their “organizations do not begin to subscribe to sound wildlife management soon, this disaster will lay squarely on your hands for history and the public to judge.”

NWS Writer Finds Hot Springer Bite

April 12, 2010

Man, why weren’t we fishing this far below the Interstate when I went out with you earlier this month, Andy Schneider!?!?

Oh, yeah, that’s right, the Willamette was kind of pukey.

The Columbia has since reprised itself for the Northwest Sportsman contributor. He and his crews found pretty good — though very crowded — fishing over the weekend off Vancouver’s west side.

Here’s his story:

Since finding a couple of weeks off this summer proved to be impossible for me this year, I decided to take two weeks off in the peak of Springer Season.  It was tough to wait until my weekend arrived, especially with good reports coming from the Columbia all week, but my vacation arrived and I started out bright and early Friday with a Soldier just out of Basic, his Dad John LeCarno and my good Friend Tom VanderPlaat.  Within the 1st 100 yards of our 1st Pass Tom hooks up with his 2nd Springer of 2010.  Then it’s the Soldier’s turn and Joel lands his 1st Springer of 2010 in a light rain before heading back to a dry and warm Southern California.


Saturday arrived and I had the pleasure of fishing with my Wife and son and 2 friends for work Mike Fung and Shawn Seals.  After fishing Friday and finding everyone in the Portland Metro area that owned a boat on the water, I figured it couldn’t get anymore crowded for Saturday, so off we headed to the river….at 4am…..again!  But I was wrong there were more boats than ever!  Oh well, it was a sight to see, even if fishing proved to be poor (which it didn’t).


On our 1st pass Missy hooks up and hopes were high. On our way to the top of the run, I attempted to count boats….I quickly lost count just after 100, but I estimated right around a thousand boats in the lower run we were making (Caterpillar Island to Frenchman’s Bar).  On our second pass Mike Fung and Shawn Seals hook up with nice Springers and on our 3rd and last run of the day, my Son Ayden and I found our fish.  5 fish with 5 bites, all before noon, catching can’t get too much better; even in such crowded conditions.  Green Label Herring, Plug Cut and spinning 20-inches off the bottom did the trick for all 5 fish.

Now off to actually start my fishing vacation….


North-central Bucks Carry Racks Late

April 9, 2010

The photo of a trim mule deer buck popped into my email about two hours ago.

Taken from a distance, the image shows the buck looking straight ahead, but at a slight angle away from the camera. I couldn’t tell how many points he had on his rack, but I could see that the antlers stuck out just outside his alert ears.

Then I started thinking, ‘Hey, when was this taken? It looks almost like green-up out there.’

I emailed the bio and found out the shot was snapped just two weeks ago at the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area, in Okanogan County.

Wait, I thought, don’t bucks lose their antlers in winter??!?


WDFW’s Scott Fitkin says he and others saw 10 to 12 other bucks with one or both sides of their racks still on when they did their postwinter surveys late last month.

He says he’s not sure why the deer were holding onto their headgear so late.

For that matter, neither is Woody Myers, a state Department of Fish & Wildlife ungulate researcher in Spokane.

“It’s a mystery,” he says.

A few whitetails around the Lilac City had their hats on late as well, he says.

“It’s not unusual, but it’s not the norm,” Myers says.

(After we posted this article to our Facebook page, Mathew Wildman in Springfield, Ore., responded by saying he’d just seen a four-pointer today, April 9.)

Antler drop appears to be tied to rut timing, latitude and rising hormone levels.

“It’s all geared to birth,” Myers says. “The whole timing of the rut is geared so birth occurs at the peak of spring, giving does and fawns the best forage available.”

In Washington, deer typically breed from late October into December, lose their antlers between mid-December and mid-February and have fawns in late spring and early summer.

Down in Texas, deer rut later — late December and January — so they drop later. Those in Central and South America’s verdant jungles get busy year-round and drop their racks whenever.

But antler drop is not a uniform north to south progression. Myers has seen muleys up near the Canadian border drop their racks before those in South-central Washington.

As for this year’s late racks, he says that our less severe winter may have something to do with it.

“Perhaps something has happened that’s led to testosterone levels remaining high,” he also speculates. “But I just don’t know.”

OSP’s Feb. Poaching Files

April 8, 2010

The Oregon State Police just posted their February 2010 newsletter, and as always it makes for some head-shaking reading.

Here are some of the lowlights as reported by OSP plus a good deed:


In September 2009, Sr. Tpr. Johnson (John Day) and Tpr. Hutchison (Patrol) received a report that unknown suspect(s) shot and injured a doe off of Wall Creek Road, north of Monument. The suspect(s) drove away, leaving the doe critically injured, trying to crawl around using only her front legs.

The doe would not have survived her injuries, so she was put down and salvaged. Two fawn deer were also shot and killed that day at the same location and left to waste. Johnson was able to salvage one fawn.

Several 7.62 x 39 casings were recovered from the road. Tpr. Ritter (John Day) continued to work the case and eventually received a tip that led him to two suspects, a man and woman.

Ritter determined the female shot all three deer with the male’s AK-47 rifle, and both suspects left the scene in the male’s pickup, knowing the doe was critically injured and suffering. They drove to the male’s friend’s house, where the male asked his friend to hide his AK-47 after telling him they just shot a deer with it. The friend refused to hide the rifle.

Ritter arrested both suspects, and they were transported to the Grant County Jail.

Ritter cited the female for Animal Abuse in the First Degree, Wasting Wildlife (x 3), and Taking Doe Deer Closed Season (x 3) and the male for Aiding in a Wildlife Violation—Wasting Wildlife (x 3) and Aiding in a Wildlife Violation—Taking Doe Deer Closed Season (x 3).

Ritter later located the rifle at the male’s mother’s residence in Prineville. The male’s mother brought the rifle to Ritter the following day and it was seized.


Sr. Tpr. Bennett (Grants Pass) contacted two subjects angling on the Rogue River. Bennett discovered one subject caught two steelhead; one fin-clipped, one nonadipose fin-clipped (wild). Anglers can retain wild steelhead over 24 inches in this area, with a limit of one per day and five per year.

Bennett asked the anglers if they measured the wild steelhead. The anglers said they had, and it measured 25 inches. Both fish were properly tagged. Bennett, with the keen eyes he has, questioned the length of the wild fish. Bennett measured the fish at 23½ inches. He examined the angler’s tape measure. The fish did measure 25 inches using their measuring tape.

Bennett warned the anglers and instructed them to get a more accurate tape.


Tpr. Vogel (St. Helens) found two dump sites near St. Helens and Rainier and located names/addresses in the garbage. Vogel contacted and cited two suspects criminally for Offensive Littering.

Sr. Tpr. Niehus (Klamath Falls) also concluded a dumping case. A subject drove to the new Hidden Valley gate, found it closed, and dumped numerous tires and garbage. A trail camera took photographs.

With the help of a landowner agent, Niehus developed a suspect. Upon contact, the suspect told Niehus his truck did not run. Niehus took photos of his truck and compared them to the suspect vehicle photos. He confirmed the trucks were the same and recontacted the suspect, who was on his way to see his probation officer. The suspect admitted to the offense.

Niehus lodged the suspect in jail for Offensive Littering.


At a local reservoir, Sr. Tpr. Collom (Central Point) just started watching one subject sitting in a lawn chair with four poles around him, when two subjects on bikes rode past Collom over to where the first subject was fishing.

Collom could tell these two subjects mentioned something about seeing him on the other side, because he saw the first subject and two others immediately begin searching in his direction and then, as fast as they could, reel in their fishing lines.

Collom then contacted the anglers. He cited two of the subjects for No Angling License and warned the first subject for Angling with Two Poles.


Sgt. Meyer, Sr. Tpr. Thompson (Central Point), and Sr. Tpr. Bennett (Grants Pass) conducted a boat patrol on the Rogue River below Grants Pass. They checked 75 anglers on 23 boats and the bank, examined 10 steelhead, and issued several warnings.

They also rescued an expensive fishing rod. Two drift boat anglers had drifted close to the bank where trees and brush hung over. They inadvertently drifted through the brush, and a fishing rod was pulled out of the boat. The rod dangled in the river attached by a short line to a lure snagged in the brush. The anglers could not maneuver close enough, and the bank was too steep.

The troopers saved the day to the slight chagrin of the anglers.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

April 8, 2010

Trout from the coast to the Snake, California to Washington highlight the weekend recreation opportunities in Oregon.

But Chinook are also available in the Beaver State’s northwest and southwest corners, plus bottomfish and shellfish.

Here are highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:


  • Trout fishing has been excellent on Powers Pond and Butterfield Lake with anglers landing a combination of newly stocked trout and larger holdovers from last fall.
  • Lost Creek Reservoir will be stocked with 10,000 legal-sized trout this week.
  • On the lower Rogue River, winter steelhead fishing overshadowed chinook fishing thanks to a nice push of steelhead over the weekend. However, look for chinook fishing to improve this week as water levels drop and water temperatures rise.


  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel.
  • Winter steelhead fishing is good in the Clackamas and Sandy rivers and Eagle Creek. Steelhead are spread throughout both systems and some good catches have been reported.
  • A youth angling event will be held from 9:30-1 p.m. at Cottage Grove Pond east of Cottage Grove on Saturday, April 10. All necessary equipment will be provided at this free event and volunteers will be available to assist young anglers. Call the Springfield ODFW office for more information at 541-726-3515.
  • A youth angling event will be held from 9-2 p.m. at St. Louis Ponds north of Salem, with all necessary equipment provided and volunteers on hand to assist young anglers. Call the Clackamas ODFW office for more information at 971-673-6034.
  • Henry Hagg Lake will be stocked this week with 12,000 legal-sized rainbow trout.


  • Trout fishing on the Blitzen River has been good and should remain so until flows and turbidity increase during spring runoff.
  • Several area lakes and ponds have been stocked with legal-sized trout including upper Cow Lake, Haines Pond and Hwy 203 Pond.


  • Several area lakes and ponds are being stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout as well as some surplus steelhead. Check out Peach, Weston and Seventh Street ponds.
  • Anglers are reminded that steelhead season closes on northeast Oregon Rivers April 15 (except the Snake River which is open through April 30).


  • Spring chinook fishing was good last week above St. Helens. Angling should be excellent downstream of there when the water clears.
  • A few legal-sized sturgeon are being caught by boat and bank anglers in the gorge as well as in the Portland to Longview area.
  • Walleye angling is excellent in The Dalles Pool.


  • This month ODFW started its seasonal surveys of ocean fishers. Currently ODFW surveys Garibaldi, Depoe Bay, Newport, Charleston and Brookings. Although the ocean has been very rough during most of April, some anglers were able to get out. The survey showed most of effort coming out of Depoe Bay and Newport where fishers reported catches of between two and three rockfish and less than one ling cod per angler. The best catches of crab were out of Brookings with more than five per angler and the worst was Newport with one crab per angler.
  • A morning minus tide series begins April 14 and continues through April 20 providing opportunity for clam diggers. Razor clam diggers should watch for days when the marine forecast calls for combined swell and wind waves of less than eight feet.
  • The entire Oregon coast is now open to recreational and commercial clam harvesting.
  • Mussel harvesting is open on the entire Oregon coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. The consumption of whole, recreationally-harvested scallops is not recommended. However, coastal scallops are not affected by toxins when only the adductor muscle is eaten.