Archive for May, 2010

Trask ‘Hatchery Hole’ Springer Fishery Extended

May 27, 2010

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

With a strong early showing of hatchery spring chinook, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has decided to extend the fishing season at the “hatchery hole” on the Trask River through June 15.

The hatchery hole is a section of the Trask River located 200 feet above and 900 feet below its confluence with Gold Creek. This area was originally scheduled to close May 31. However, ODFW recommended extending the season by two weeks because biologists are confident that sufficient hatchery spring chinook will be available to meet the Trask Hatchery’s broodstock needs.

“All indications are that the hatchery spring chinook return is large enough to support this additional harvest opportunity,” said Robert Bradley, ODFW fish biologist.

The director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has the authority to adopt temporary rules in situations where biological data allows expanded recreational opportunities. Temporary rules adopted by the director must be approved by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission at the next regular meeting.

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Huge Changes In Sound, Straits Fishing Rules

May 26, 2010

Streams and beaver ponds are also now ‘closed unless open,’ a 180-degree reversal designed to protect ESA-listed salmonids.

GOLD BAR, Wash.—The fish were never large – except on one notable occasion – but now we may never get to fish the middle Wallace in summer for them again.

It was one of many streams as well as beaver ponds that were summarily closed or were slapped with more restrictive rules this year, part of sweeping changes affecting Western Washington waters everywhere from Neah Bay to Mt. Rainier to the Canadian border as managers try to protect weak salmonid stocks.

THE AREA UNDER NEW STREAM AND BEAVER POND REGULATIONS. (WDFW)

So much for the age-old delights of wandering down any ol’ crick or clambering out on a beaver dam on a hot summer day and flipping spinners, flies, salmon eggs or worms for whatever’s biting.

True, the affect probably won’t be felt by a large percentage of Pugetropolis’s angling public, but it will be a loss for the guys who might have a stream in their backyard they like to fish, or adventurous kids 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,” notes one North Sound angler.

A FRIEND WHO WORKED at the state park on the Wallace found out about the fishing. When the sun burned down on July days, he, another pal and I would dive off the trail up to Wallace Falls, wade through the ferns down to where the forks of the river met and work our way up- and downstream.

There was little room for backcasting as we hopped from rock to rock, but the fish didn’t seem to care. They eagerly bit Hare’s Ears and Prince Nymphs.

And we didn’t care that the fish were small. It was really more about getting afield with friends, staying cool and being somewhere that few others went.

The best spot was a pool below where the river slashed down a diagonal 66-foot “flume.” At the bottom the Wallace bit into a rock wall that not 150 feet above us supported hordes of hikers tramping past completely unaware of the hidden glen. From the shadows underneath the overhang, 10- to 12-inchers would zip out and grab whatever floated past.

Once, however, we caught glimpses of a far larger fish, something around 10 to 12 pounds. Of course it didn’t bite.

What that megafish in the small pool was I couldn’t say. But it probably had something to do with why fishing the middle Wallace in summer is no longer an option.

TO BE CLEAR, the Wallace – like almost all Puget Sound streams – is no Deschutes, Yellowstone or other über-trouty river.

Wild winter-runs, summer Chinook and bull trout use it for spawning and rearing habitat, and juveniles of the species – as well as resident rainbows and coastal cutts – were most likely the fish we caught. The first three are now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

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

To that end, the agency overhauled the fishing pamphlet, rolling out a new 18-page section, “Puget Sound and Straits Rivers – Special Rules.”

Before, all unlisted streams and beaver ponds in those two regions were open June 1-Oct. 31 under blanket statewide rules – daily limit two, minimum size 8 inches, baits such as eggs and worms OK.

But now it’s the reverse: If your fave ain’t in those dozen and a half pages, fishing’s a no-go.

And many of those that still are open now fall under selective-gear rules, meaning single, barbless-hooked flies and lures only, and no smelly gunk.

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

Burley couldn’t quantify how many streams and ponds were closed as a result – a minimum of 175 creeks, 71 rivers, a slough, a ditch, and beaver ponds in Mason and Kitsap Counties and Big Beaver Creek Valley do remain open – but he feels that anglers will appreciate being able to open the rules book and clearly read whether their stream is fishable or not.

KNOWN AS WDFW’s “stream strategy,” the changes came out of last fall and winter’s rules-making process.

Some anglers had wanted to be even more restrictive — 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 tweaks.

It’s all part of larger modifications to regional fisheries in the wake of those ESA listings, the latest of which came in May 2007 and protected Puget Sound and Straits steelhead. As I reported in April, the commission last winter OKed shortening winter steelheading by two weeks on many rivers. WDFW has quit using late-arriving hatchery fish to meet egg-take goals and no longer stocks smolts in streams where they can’t collect returning adults. The idea is to separate hatchery and wild runs as much as possible to prevent crossbreeding.

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.”

IT’S ONE MORE GRIM reminder that the good old days are long gone.

Ages ago, Bob Heirman wrote Snohomish, My Beloved County: An Angler’s Anthology about the glory days of fishing the waters east of Everett. Reread it today and you’ll realize the world we’ve lost.

“They had rivers and streams back then that I drive over every day that used to be full of salmon and steelhead,” says Eric Bell of Granite Falls, a friend who went on some of those Wallace trips. “I can’t imagine anything living in them.”

Maybe something will again someday. The new rules at least better protect younger fish in a host of freshwaters before they brave the ocean. If these new rules work, WDFW has mulled going statewide with them. –Andy Walgamott

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS IS AN EXPANDED VERSION OF A STORY THAT APPEARED ONLINE IN LATE APRIL.

June Issue A Real Smorgasboard Of Ops

May 26, 2010

A friend of mine was having some troubles springer fishing on the Columbia system during only the best fishing of the decade – issues with his crews, tackle, sea lions, weather – so he said the hell with it.

But Chris didn’t quit fishing, just hung up his salmon gear and dug out his bass stuff.

Pretty soon I started getting excited phone calls and emails.

“What’s the minimum size for smallies on the Columbia?”

“Do you know of any bass clubs?”

“I wish I’d contacted these guys beforehand.”

“I caught two 12-inchers, a 14-incher and a 191/2-incher.”

“Today my best friend was a 5-inch Senko worm in my favorite top-secret color. I picked up most of my fish when they missed my spinnerbait. I would throw that worm right back to where I had the hit and they’d pick that worm up right away. Cool to do things you see and read about and have it actually work.”

Very cool indeed.

Chris, whom I’ve known since Wazzu 18 years ago, has a love-hate relationship with fishing. I kid you not: I have literally seen him down on his knees repeatedly stabbing a bird’s-nested baitcaster.

Whenever he goes fishing, some sort of hilarity ensues, often at his own expense. It would make a pretty entertaining book.

But I admire his dedication to a sport that gives him such fits. Last September, his grand plan to find Lower Columbia walleye blew up when that massive run of coho wouldn’t leave his plugs alone. He trolled with it, though, and enjoyed a couple weeks of pretty good fishing and fresh grilled salmon dinners.

In an increasingly polarized world, one where even we fishermen seem to be falling into ever-narrowing niches of salmonid anglers only, bassers only, fly guys only, salty dogs only, it’s refreshing there are generalists like Chris still out there, guys who don’t give up on the sport just because their fish doesn’t want to play ball or some new reg gets in the way of what they’ve always done.

This issue’s for you, muchacho.

When your bass quit biting, I’ve got a jetty trip lined up for you (pages 28-30).

When the rockfish and lings are done feeding, try poke poling for wolf eels (pages 102, 103).

Then I’ve got a mess of trout and kokanee lakes for you to try (pages 42, 44, 48, 52, 54,56, 58 and 60).

When those poop out, Chinook and steelhead are back up to bat, bub (pages 32, 34, 36, 74, 78, 86, 90 and 92).

And when you’ve had your fill of those guys, it’s spinyrays – walleye and panfish – again (pages 62, 68, 70 and 94).

Yeah, that’s a lot to do, and yeah, once again Northwest Sportsman stomps the balls off of our ya’ll-hollerin’ 60-paged competitors from Down South.

JUNE 2010 NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN, COVER IMAGE BY TONY FLOOR.

What’s Fishin’ In Warshington

May 26, 2010

If you’re into Washington’s odder species, we can report that the shad are now running up the Columbia and the northern pike bite on the Pend Oreille River is “hot.”

But there’s also plenty of steelhead, springers, trout, bass, halibut, lingcod and more to be had right now around the Evergreen State.

Here are some ideas for the Memorial Day Weekend as well as Free Fishing Weekend June 12-13, courtesy of WDFW’s Weekender:

NORTH PUGET SOUND
Spring fishing seasons are winding down in the marine areas, but saltwater anglers are still catching halibut and lingcod. In the freshwater, anglers are having some success at lakes around the region, where numerous rivers will soon open for trout and – in a few waters – salmon.

Portions of the Skagit and Cascade rivers open for chinook salmon fishing June 1. The Skagit will open to hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. On the Cascade, anglers will be allowed to fish for salmon from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. Both stretches are open through July 15. The daily limit on the Skagit and Cascade rivers will be four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length).

Fishing for salmon, as well as trout and other gamefish , also will open June 1 on portions of the Skykomish River . Salmon fishing will be allowed from the mouth to the Wallace River, Thiesfeld said. For salmon, anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook.

The Stillaguamish River below Marine Drive also will re-open June 1 for trout and other gamefish. Thiesfeld said anglers should be aware that a section of the South Fork Stillaguamish River was mistakenly omitted from the new sportfishing rules pamphlet. That section of the Stillaguamish, from Mountain Loop Highway Bridge upstream, will open for gamefish June 5. For more information on the South Fork Stillaguamish regulations, as well as the Stillaguamish River opener, check WDFW’s emergency rules website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ .

Elsewhere, trout fishing will open at several of the region’s other rivers and streams beginning June 5. Under the statewide rule for trout, there is a two-fish daily limit and a minimum size of eight inches in rivers and streams. However, some of the region’s rivers and streams have a rule requiring trout to be at least 14 inches in length to keep.

Meanwhile, lake fishing for bass, bluegill, perch , and crappie is steadily improving as water temperatures increase and fish become more active, said Danny Garrett, WDFW fisheries biologist. When fishing for these species, focus on areas where there are bridge pilings, boat docks, rock, submerged trees and bushes, grass beds, lily pads, and flooded vegetation along the shoreline, he said.

“Smallmouth bass use many of the same habitats as largemouth bass, but smallmouth are often more abundant around rocky points, riprap, and offshore rock piles,” Garrett said.  “Both species are highly adaptive to specific lake conditions, and habitat use will vary from lake to lake.” For smallmouth and largemouth bass, Garrett recommends using spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, crankbaits, jigs, and plastic baits that include worms, tubes, and creature baits.

Perch and bluegill can also be caught with an assortment of artificial jigs, spinners, and flies, although many people prefer to use live worms under a bobber, he said. Anglers fishing for perch and bluegill should try fishing around several different pieces of cover in the lake until a group of fish is found.  “Generally, a single, small area will produce many individuals, since both species tend to congregate in large groups,” he said.

Lakes where anglers can find quality bass and panfish fishing include Lakes Whatcom and Terrell in Whatcom County; Lake Goodwin in Snohomish County; Big Lake in Skagit County; Lakes Washington, Union and Sammamish in King County.

On Puget Sound, the northern portion of Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) opens June 1 to catch-and-release fishing for salmon. Fishing will be allowed north of a line from Point Monroe to Meadow Point.

Farther north, the Tulalip Bay “bubble” fishery begins June 4. Except for a one-day closure on June 19, the fishery is open each week from Friday through noon Monday through Sept. 6. The fishery will reopen Sept. 11 on a Saturday and Sunday-only schedule through Sept. 26. Anglers fishing the bubble will have a two-salmon daily limit. Chinook must measure 22 inches in length to retain.

Fishing for lingcod is still an option. The fishery runs through June 15 in the region. During the hook-and-line season (May 1-June 15), there’s a one-fish daily limit for lings, with a minimum size of 26 inches and a maximum size of 36 inches.

Time is running out to hook a halibut . The last opener of the season in marine areas 6-10 is scheduled for May 28-30. Anglers have a daily limit of one halibut and there is no minimum size limit.

The region’s spot shrimp fishery is closed, but shrimpers can soon fish for coonstripe and pink shrimp in some marine areas beginning June 1. For details on shrimp fisheries check WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/shrimpreg/shrimpindex.shtml .

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA

Anglers fishing for halibut, lingcod, steelhead and lake trout will soon have some other options to consider. Starting June 5, dozens of area rivers will open for trout fishing and all four marine areas off the Washington coast will open to fishing for hatchery chinook salmon June 12.

In addition, the first three areas of Puget Sound – marine areas 4, 5 and 13 – will open for crab fishing June 18.

“People have been looking forward to these fisheries all year long,” said Ron Warren, regional WDFW fish manager. “Fishing really shifts into high gear as we move into the summer season.”

Anyone interested in getting a sneak preview of what’s to come can do so during Free Fishing Weekend , scheduled June 12-13 this year. During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. Also, no vehicle use permit will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the 600 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as size limits, bag limits and season closures will still be in effect. (For that reason, no crab fishing will be allowed in Puget Sound during Free Fishing Weekend, because no areas will be open to crabbing at that time.) Anglers will also be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut they catch that weekend.

Catch record cards and WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. The pamphlet is also available on WDFW’s website at ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ ).

Meanwhile, anglers continue to reel in halibut in a number of coastal areas – weather and ocean conditions permitting. WDFW recently announced that marine areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) off the north coast will reopen June 3 and 5, after low catches due to rough weather left 43,367 pounds of the big flatfish available for harvest.

“Halibut fishing has been great when the weather cooperates,” says Erica Crust, a WDFW ocean port sampler. “The first week of the north coast opener yielded great success rates and fish averaging just over 20 pounds. But the second week saw lower success rates due to the poor weather, when anglers couldn’t get out to the more popular fishing grounds.”

Here’s a status report on other coastal halibut fisheries:

* Columbia River (Ilwaco): Marine Area 1 remains open three days a week, Thursday through Saturday, until 70 percent of the quota is reached, or through July 18. The fishery will then reopen on Aug. 6 and continue three days a week (Friday through Sunday) until the remaining quota is reached, or through Sept. 26, whichever occurs first. The 2010 catch quota is 13,436 pounds.
* South Coast (Westport/Ocean Shores): In Marine Area 2 the recreational halibut fishery closed May 25 with the exception that halibut fishing is allowed in the northern nearshore area seven days a week until further notice.
* Strait of Juan de Fuca/Puget Sound: Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will be open May 28 through June 19. Marine areas 6 through 10 (Strait, Port Angeles Admiralty Inlet and Everett) will be open May 28-30. The 2010 combined catch quota for these areas is 50,542 pounds.

“Time is running out to catch halibut in Puget Sound,” Crust said. While fishing has generally been slow, an exception is the area around Port Angeles, where anglers have had some success with landing halibut along with a few greenlings, lingcod and cabezon .

Coming up the weekend of May 29-30 is the Port Angeles Salmon Club’s annual halibut derby. The entry fee is $40, with $20,000 in prizes. To learn more go to http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/event/halibut-derby .

The lingcod season in Puget Sound continues through June 15 in marine areas 5-13.  Lingcod season on the coast (marine areas 1-4) is open through mid-October.

But the main event for many Washington anglers is the salmon fishery that opens off the Washington coast June 12. The first part of the season, targeting hatchery chinook,  runs seven days a week through June 30 in marine areas 1-4. Anglers will be required to release wild chinook (which can be identified by an intact adipose fin) and all coho.

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. This year’s coastwide chinook quota is 61,000 fish, compared to 20,500 last year.

“This is the first season we will have a selective fishery for hatchery chinook in the ocean,” said WDFW Director Phil 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.”

Anglers also will be allowed to catch and keep hatchery coho during the second part of the season, which is scheduled to run from early July through mid September. For more information on ocean salmon season, see the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available free from license dealers and posted online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

SOUTHWEST

The mainstem Columbia River is closed to fishing for adult spring chinook salmon and the summer chinook fishery doesn’t open until June 16. Still, anglers are finding plenty to do as salmon and steelhead continue moving up the tributaries, retention of white sturgeon in the Columbia River estuary has reopened, and the shad season is now under way below Bonneville Dam.

Anglers fishing between the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line and the Interstate 5 bridge have also been catching hatchery steelhead and hatchery chinook jacks, although turnout has been relatively light since the season opened May 16.

“There’s no obvious standout right now, but anglers have a lot of opportunities to catch fish if they are willing spend some time at it,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “Some of these fisheries are just getting started, and will only get better in the weeks ahead.”

Whatever fishery they choose, veteran anglers can expect some company during Free Fishing Weekend , scheduled June 12-13.  During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state.  Nor will a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement be required to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to revive an old hobby or to introduce friends and family to fishing,” said Craig Burley, fish division manager for WDFW. “Adults can introduce kids to fishing on a wide variety of waters around the state.”

Meanwhile, anglers continue to catch spring chinook salmon – and an increasing number of hatchery steelhead – on tributaries to the Columbia River both above and below Bonneville Dam.

Drano Lake and the Wind River may still offer the best chance of catching hatchery spring chinook, although catch rates have dropped off in recent days as more fish move upriver, Hymer said. At Drano Lake, catch rates have dropped to one fish for every 4.3 boat anglers and one for every six bank anglers at Drano. On the Wind, anglers have followed the fish upstream to the stretch between the coffer dam and the hatchery.

But early-arriving summer steelhead are breathing new life into fisheries on the Washougal, Cowlitz and Klickitat rivers, Hymer said.  The barrier dam is still the focus of the spring chinook fishery on the Cowlitz River, but anglers are catching incoming summer steelhead throughout the river.

“The fishery for hatchery summer steelhead should heat up in all of these rivers in the next few weeks,” Hymer said.

Under permanent regulations, the fishery on the Klickitat River will expand upstream to the boundary markers below  the salmon hatchery June 1. In addition, WDFW has adopted a number of new rules that reflect strong returns of hatchery steelhead and spring chinook to other rivers.

* Cowlitz River:   Anglers may now retain up to three hatchery steelhead per day from the Hwy. 4 bridge at Kelso upstream to Mayfield Dam. As before, all game fish except hatchery steelhead must be released through June 4.  Beginning June 5, the daily limit for trout will be five fish, of which up to three may be hatchery steelhead. Anglers fishing from the mouth to Mayfield Dam are reminded they may retain steelhead with a clipped right ventral fin and a healed scar at the location of the clipped fin.

* Lake Scanewa: The lake, also known as Cowlitz Falls Reservoir, is currently open to fishing for hatchery spring chinook.  Lake Scanewa will revert to permanent fishing regulations beginning June 1.
* Washougal River:   Anglers fishing from the Mt. Norway Bridge downstream may now retain up to three hatchery steelhead.  That limit will also be in effect from the Mt. Norway Bridge upstream and in the West (North) Fork when those waters open for hatchery steelhead fishing June 5.  Selective gear rules are in effect on the lower river, where bait is prohibited through June 4.
* Toutle River tributaries:   The lower portions of the South Fork Toutle and Green rivers opened for hatchery steelhead fishing May 22 – two weeks early – by emergency regulation.  Early-opening waters include the stretch of the South Fork Toutle River from the mouth to the 4700 Road Bridge and the Green River, from the mouth to 400 feet below the water intake at the upper end of the hatchery. Through June 4, selective gear rules are in effect; no bait may be used. Other rules remain the same as noted in the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet.
* Wind River: The daily catch limit for hatchery origin spring chinook salmon has been increased to four fish in the area open to fishing, and anglers can substitute hatchery steelhead for up to two of those fish. Jack chinook also count toward the daily four-fish limit. Release wild chinook downstream from Shipherd Falls. The anti-snag rule has been rescinded from the mouth to the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge, but remains in effect from the bridge upstream where only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained. Other rules remain the same as noted in the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet.
* Drano Lake: The daily catch limit for hatchery spring chinook salmon has been increased to four fish, and anglers can substitute hatchery steelhead for up to two of those fish. Hatchery jack chinook also count toward the daily four-fish limit.  The sport fishery will be closed June 2 and June 9 and the bank-fishing only area near the outlet of Drano Lake will remain in effect through June.  The anti-snag rule has been rescinded through June.

Rather catch a sturgeon ?  The retention season for white sturgeon opened May 22 from Buoy 10 to the Wauna powerlines seven days a week. The daily limit is one sturgeon between 41 and 54 inches (fork length), with a statewide annual limit of five fish.

Approximately 160 private boats and 14 charter boats turned out for opening day, with private boaters averaging about one legal-size fish for every 11 rods on the Washington side of the river.  Catch rates were somewhat better on the Oregon side, where boat anglers caught a legal-size sturgeon for every seven rods.  Bank fishing was slow on both sides of the river.

“The opener wasn’t a barn-burner, but it was a respectable start,” Hymer said.  “Both in the estuary and farther upriver, fishing should pick up once water temperatures warm up.”

Farther upstream, a creel survey turned up three legal-size sturgeon among 41 boat anglers between the Wauna powerlines and Bonneville Dam, where the retention fishery has been open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays since Jan. 1. The daily limit there is one sturgeon between 38 and 54 inches (fork length). All sturgeon angling is prohibited from Marker 82 upstream to Bonneville Dam through August to protect spawning sturgeon.

Many Columbia River anglers also have been busy reeling in shad . Fifty-one anglers fishing from the Oregon bank in the gorge caught or released 148 shad, according to a weekend creel survey.  Eight boat anglers were also surveyed with 53 shad, the largest member of the herring family.

Shad fishing opened May 16 on the mainstem Columbia River below Bonneville Dam, with no daily limits or size limits. While not as highly prized as sturgeon or salmon, they can put up a good fight and make for good eating, Hymer said.

“Shad fishing will continue to improve in the weeks ahead,” he said.  “Right now, about 2,000 a day are crossing Bonneville Dam.  I’d recommend that anglers who want to target shad wait until the dam counts reach 10,000 – or 100,000 – fish per day if they really want to catch some fish.”

Daily counts of fish passing Bonneville and other Columbia River dams are available on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website at http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/op/fishdata/home.asp .

What kind of rig works best for shad? Wil Morrison, administrative assistant for the WDFW regional office in Vancouver, has developed a set-up that has attracted quite a following, including at least one local outdoor columnist. Here’s how he does it:

Start with a No. 6 open-eye siwash hook.  Slide on a No. 7 gold barrel swivel on the hook and pinch the eye closed. Tie this to a 58-inch leader of 12-pound test fishing line.  Slide on a 7/32 solid brass bead, then tie it all to a three-way swivel. From the center point of the three-way swivel, tie a 10-to-15-pound drop line with a 20-inch dropper and 4-to-6 ounce weight. Then tie the other end of the three-way swivel to the main line of your favorite light-to-medium fishing pole.  This lure is most effective when fished from a boat anchored in 10-to-20 feet of rushing water.

For more information on shad, including fishing tips and recipes, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/outreach/fishing/shad/shad.htm .

Here’s the report for trout anglers:

* Mayfield Lake – Boat anglers are catching some rainbows.  The lake is scheduled to receive another 20,000 catchable-size rainbows in May, after being stocked with 25,000 fish in April.
* Riffe Lake – Bank anglers are catching some landlocked coho.
* Battleground Lake – Stocked with 6,500 rainbows weighing up to two-thirds of a pound each in mid-May.
* Little Klickitat River – The juvenile only waters were stocked with 495 catchable-size rainbows May 19.
* Maryhill Pond (Klickitat Co.) – Stocked with 504 catchable-size rainbows May 19.

EASTERN
The Snake River’s hatchery spring chinook salmon season came to an earlier-than-expected end May 22 because of the size of the run and catch rates. The fishery, open on four sections of the Snake, was scheduled to run through June 30. But as WDFW regional fish program manager John Whalen said, “the run leveled off at 340,000 chinook, instead of the forecasted 470,000, coming upstream.”

Whalen noted that despite the early closure, the run was still one of best in decades.

WDFW district fish biologist Glen Mendel of Dayton reported harvest rates ranged from 15 to 36 hours per fish at Little Goose Dam during the last week of fishing, with over 500 fish harvested in that stretch.  At Ice Harbor Dam, the harvest rates were 15 to 68 hours per fish kept with a total harvest of more than 700 fish. Catch rates around the Lower Granite Dam and Clarkston were significantly lower than the other areas.

Trout fishing in rivers and streams opens June 1 – or June 5 in waterways where trout spawn and need the protection of a later opener. That includes some sections of tributaries to the Pend Oreille River, like Cedar, Calispell, Harvey, LeClerc and Ruby creeks, parts of the Spokane and Little Spokane rivers, and portions of such Snake River tributaries as Asotin Creek and the Grande Ronde, Touchet, Tucannon and Walla Walla rivers.

However, the section of the Kettle River on the Ferry-Stevens county line from Barstow Bridge upstream opens May 29, as do portions of the Colville and Little Pend Oreille rivers in Stevens County. Check the fishing rules pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/ ) for all river and stream regulations, listed by waterway, including section boundaries, catch and size limits and gear restrictions.

Other fisheries are going strong throughout the region. Lake Roosevelt anglers are catching nice-sized rainbow trout and kokanee , although – with water levels dropping – fishing activity could slow down. Walleye fishing on the reservoir is improving from the Kettle Falls area to the Spokane arm. Walleye anglers need to remember that the Spokane arm is downstream from the Hwy. 25 bridge over the Spokane River, and that the Spokane River upstream from that bridge doesn’t open for walleye until June 1.

WDFW central district fish biologist Chris Donley of Spokane says most waterways are fishing well now, from trout lakes like Amber, Williams, West Medical, Fishtrap and Sprague to mixed-species lakes like Downs for perch and bass ,  Bonnie for panfish , and Long Lake (Spokane River reservoir ) for crappie . “It’s that time of year when you can’t help but catch fish,” Donley said.

WDFW northeast district fish biologist Bill Baker of Colville reports northern pike fishing on the Pend Oreille River is hot now. He also says fishing for rainbow trout is good now at Curlew Lake northeast of Republic in Ferry County. The lake receives hatchery fry plants but also has net-pen reared rainbows. The rainbow fry planted in Ellen Lake last fall are coming on now, too, he said. Ellen is 14 miles north of Inchelium and, like Curlew, has a public campground.

Rocky, Waitts and Starvation lakes in Stevens County are also fishing well. The catch-and-keep season at Starvation Lake ends May 31, then switches to catch-and-release through October.

That change illustrates why anglers should make sure to check the rules before hitting the lakes. Recent patrols turned up violations at Medical Lake, where regulations are different from nearby West Medical Lake. Selective gear rules (no bait, only artificial flies or lures with one single-point, barbless hook, and only knotless nets) are in effect at Medical Lake, where the daily catch limit is simply two trout measuring at least 14 inches.

Anglers are also reminded to pick up fishing line and other trash that may cause entanglement or ingestion problems for birds and other wildlife. WDFW Officer Pam Taylor recently retrieved a drowned osprey from Loon Lake, where it had fishing line and a lead shot weight wrapped around its wing.

Officers in the south end of the region recently reported lots of good-sized smallmouth bass being caught on the lower Walla Walla River, where fishing for non-trout species is open year-round.

WDFW Tucannon Fish Hatchery crews recently stocked 3,293 quarter-pound rainbow trout in Asotin County’s Golf Course Pond, a small impoundment open to fishing year-round off the Snake River near the bottom of Alpowa Grade west of Clarkston. They also stocked 300 quarter-pound rainbows and 50 one-plus pounders in Walla Walla County’s Lions Park Pond, open year-round to juvenile anglers under 15 years of age.

NORTH-CENTRAL
WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist Bob Jateff says several rainbow trout lakes are providing good fishing now and through June. Pearrygin, Wannacut, Conconully Reservoir, Conconully Lake, Spectacle and Alta are producing rainbows in the 8-12 inch range with winter-carryover fish up to 15 inches.

“Remember, when fishing with bait the first five fish caught are considered part of the daily limit whether kept or released,” Jateff said. “This rule is in place to minimize hook and release mortality on fish caught with bait.”

Several lakes in Okanogan County are under selective gear rules with catch-and- release regulations during the summer months.  These waters – Big and Little Green, Rat, Campbell, Davis, and Cougar lakes – all have rainbows. Rat Lake also has brown trout .

“Aeneas Lake is a fly fishing only water that has provided good fishing for rainbows 14-16 inches with an occasional brown trout up to 18 inches,” Jateff said.  “Aeneas has several campsites, a boat launch and toilet, so it’s a good choice for a family weekend outing.”

Trout fishing in rivers and streams opens June 1 – or June 5 in many waterways where trout spawn and need the protection of a later opener. That includes some sections of the Entiat, Icicle, Lost, Methow, Okanogan, Similkameen, Twisp and Wenatchee rivers, along with tributary streams.

Check the fishing rules pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/ ) for all river and stream regulations listed by waterway, including section boundaries, catch and size limits and gear restrictions.

WDFW enforcement officers remind those fishing on lakes to check that lake’s specific rules, too. Recent patrols have resulted in citations for some, like using bait and keeping too many fish on the Sinlahekin’s Blue Lake, which is under selective gear rules with a one-trout daily catch limit. Officers also note the new two-pole opportunity this year at some waters, like Okanogan County’s Pearrygin Lake, doesn’t mean anglers can have two daily catch limits.

Warmwater fish species are starting to come on at many waters throughout the region. Walleye are in the catch, along with trout, on Rufus Woods Lake. Largemouth bass , which are under a slot limit statewide (only bass less than 12 inches, except one over 17 inches, can be kept, up to five total) are being caught at Banks Lake. Bluegill and crappie are coming out of Leader Lake, west of Okanogan.

WDFW Wells Fish Hatchery crews recently stocked 25, one-plus-pound rainbow trout in Conconully Lake in Okanogan County.

Fishing for spring chinook salmon continues on the Icicle River in Chelan County through July, as long as the predicted run of about 11,000 salmon holds up. WDFW district fish biologist Art Viola reminds anglers the daily catch limit is two salmon, minimum size 12 inches. All fish with one or more round holes punched in the tail or caudal fin must be released. These fish are part of a study and have been anesthetized; the FDA requires a 21-day ban on consumption of these fish.

MONDAY MORNING SPRINGER FOR ICICLE CREEK ANGLER SCOTT FLETCHER. "I WAS IN A BIT OF A SLUMP SO MY 10-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER BAILEY MADE ME A GOOD LUCK TICKET THE NIGHT BEFORE," HE WRITES. "IT READ 'FISH LUCK FOREVER.'" LOOKS LIKE IT WORKED! (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

SOUTH-CENTRAL
While the spring chinook fishery at Ringold closed on May 21, the Columbia River below Priest Rapids Dam will reopen for summer chinook on June 16. Only hatchery chinook, identified with a missing adipose fin, can be retained. The daily limit will be six chinook salmon, only two of which can be adult fish.

Paul Hoffarth, WDFW’s district fish biologist based in Pasco, estimates that 466 hatchery spring chinook were harvested in the Ringold area during the season, and 44 wild chinook were caught and released.

The lower Yakima River closes for spring chinook fishing on May 31, although the upstream fishery from the I-82 bridge at Union Gap to Roza Dam will remain open through June 30. Fish counts at Prosser and Roza dams are available at http://www.cbr.washington.edu/dart/adult.html  and http://ykfp.org/yakindex.htm .

Smallmouth bass fishing in the lower Yakima River has been spotty this spring with an increase in flows and turbidity. However, fishing should improve as the water recedes and clears. Channel catfish are being caught in the lower Yakima and Walla Walla rivers. Walleye fishing is beginning to pick up in the Columbia River both above and below McNary Dam. Shad are beginning to move through Bonneville Dam and should be arriving below McNary in strong numbers by mid-June.

“Chinook fishing continues to be good in the Yakima, and many lakes have been planted with catchable-size rainbow trout , says Eric Anderson, WDFW’s district fish biologist in Yakima and Kittitas counties. “The cool weather has definitely improved the bite.”

To find which lakes have been planted, and when, please go to WDFW’s hatchery website at ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/stocking/weekly/ ).

WDFW Closes Most of Area 2 For Halibut, Reopens 3,4

May 26, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICE)

Halibut fishing in Marine Area 2 will close for the remainder of the season (nearshore to remain open), and marine areas 3 and 4 to re-open for halibut fishing on June 3 and 5

Action:   Close the recreational halibut fishery in Marine Area 2, except that halibut fishing is allowed in the northern nearshore area from the Queets River (47º31.70’N. latitude) south to Point Chehalis (46º58.00’N latitude) and east of a line approximating the 30 fathom depth contour as defined by the following coordinates until further notice.

* 47 º 31.70 N. lat, 124 º 37.03 W. long
* 47 º 25.67 N. lat, 124 º 34.79 W. long
* 47 º 12.82 N. lat, 124 º 29.12 W. long
* 46 º 58.00 N. lat, 124 º 24.24 W. long

Re-open Marine Areas 3 and 4 (Neah Bay and La Push).

Effective date: Marine Area 2 closes immediately. Marine Areas 3 and 4 will re-open June 3 and June 5, 2010, Thursday and Saturday only.

Species affected: Halibut

Location:   Marine Areas 2, 3 and 4

Reason for action The Marine Area 2 recreational halibut fishery is projected to have taken the Pacific halibut quota set aside for the primary season.  A separate quota set aside is sufficient to continue to allow halibut fishing seven days per week in the northern nearshore area.  There is sufficient halibut quota remaining in Marine Areas 3 and 4 to re-open the recreational halibut fishery for two days. This rule conforms to federal action taken by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council.  Anglers are encouraged to check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website or hotline for information regarding re-openings.

Information contact: Heather Reed, (360) 249-4628 ext. 202

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The recreational halibut fishery off the north coast of Washington will reopen June 3 and 5, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

Marine areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay) will be reopen for halibut fishing in all waters from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, June 3 and again on Saturday, June 5.

The halibut fishery in those areas was open on Thursdays and Saturdays, May 13-22.  Poor weather last weekend resulted in fewer fish being taken than was expected. Sufficient quota remains in these areas to offer anglers two days in early June, said Heather Reed, WDFW coastal policy coordinator.

Through May 22, anglers caught 57,812 pounds of halibut off the north coast. Anglers have an opportunity to catch the remaining 43,367 pounds available under the quota, starting with the openings on June 3 and 5.

The fishery is closed to halibut fishing on May 27 and 29 in order to assess the May catch and give anglers time to prepare for the next opening.

Meanwhile, the primary halibut fishery in Marine Area 2 has closed for the remainder of the season.  The northern nearshore area, which has a separate quota, will remain open seven days a week until further notice. Halibut fishing in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) remains open three days per week, Thursday-Saturday.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

May 26, 2010

Here’s hoping Memorial Day Weekend brings with it memorable fishing across Oregon!

I’ll be among the thousands upon thousands of anglers out in the Beaver State chasing everything from fresh summer-runs to fresh stocker trout to springers to crappie to lings to halibut to … oh, just check out the latest from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST

  • Trout season opened May 22 on many area rivers and streams. As the weather gets warmer and water levels drop the cutthroat trout fishing will pick up on rivers such as the Chetco, Elk and Sixes.
  • Many boat anglers have been catching their limit of trout on Fish Lake, with some fish up to 18-inches long being taken.
  • The lower Rogue River (opened) to the retention of wild spring chinook on Saturday, May 22 – about 10 days earlier than normal.

NORTHWEST

  • Coffenbury, Cape Meares, and Lytle lakes, and Vernonia Pond will receive a supplemental stocking of legal size and larger rainbow trout the week of May 24. These fish are in addition to the fish on the stocking schedule, and should provide good fishing opportunity over the Memorial Day weekend.
  • Nestucca and Three Rivers: Steelhead angling has been fair. More summer steelhead are showing in the catch. Bobber and jigs are working, as are small spinners or corkies/yarn. Spring chinook angling is improving as more fish enter the system. Concentrate on tidewater or lower river areas early in the season. Bobber and eggs is a good technique. Casting spinners in tidewater areas will produce some fish also. Angling for cutthroat trout opened May 22. Angling should be fair to good, with fish spread throughout the river.
  • Tillamook Bay: Angling for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook has improved. Fish are available throughout the bay and tidewater. Try trolling herring along the jetties or near the coast guard station, especially on softer tide series. Spinners usually produce best in the upper bay, with bobber and eggs/shrimp productive in tidewater areas. Angling for sturgeon has been slow. Best catches generally come from the upper bay and Tillamook River tidewater as the spring goes on.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Steelhead and spring chinook are starting to show up in the McKenzie and Middle Fork of the Willamette Rivers.
  • Shad fishing is picking up on the Willamette River and Multnomah Channel.
  • Timothy Lake on Mt. Hood has been stocked twice in the past two weeks with a total of 9,000 rainbow trout in preparation for the Memorial Day Weekend holiday.
  • Spring chinook are still being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel.
  • More than 39,000 spring chinook have crossed Willamette Falls and are moving into the upper Willamette and its tributaries. Try fishing at San Salvador and Wheatland Ferry on the Willamette and around the mouths of the Tualatin, Molalla, and Santiam rivers.
  • Steelhead fishing is fair on the Clackamas River, with both summers and winters being caught. A few spring chinook have been caught in the lower river over the past week.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • There are still good hatches of golden stone and salmonflies on the Deschutes River from Maupin to Warm Springs.
  • Antelope Flat Reservoir has been stocked with trout and is open for fishing.
  • Fishing on Lake Billy Chinook has been good for both kokanee and bull trout.
  • Kingsley Reservoir has been stocked and should offer some excellent spring fishing.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing on Klamath and Agency lakes is improving for both bank anglers and those trolling plugs and spoons.
  • Rainbow and brown trout fishing also is improving on the lower Owyhee River.
  • The Powder River is open for spring chinook with a daily bag limit of two fish.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing for 8 to 10-inch crappie has been good on McKay Reservoir.
  • Several are lakes and ponds have been recently stocked and should provide some good fishing over the holiday weekend. Check out Kinney Lake and Marr, Honeymoon, Tepee and Wallowa Wildlife Area ponds.

MARINE ZONE

  • Unseasonably cold weather kept many fishers home for the second all-depth halibut weekend. Those who did get out did well out of most ports. As a reminder to anglers: this coming weekend is not an all-depth weekend. The remaining regular all-depth weekend for the central coast, between Cape Falcon near Manzanita and Humbug Mountain south of Port Orford, spring season will be June 3-5. Extra back-up dates of June 17-19, July 1-3, July 15-17, and July 29-31 are available as long as the total catch does not exceed 105,948 pounds. The summer sport halibut season will be every other Friday and Saturday from Aug. 6 to Oct. 30 or until the entire sub-area all-depth catch limit of 141,265 pounds of halibut is harvested. The near-shore season, for ocean waters inside the 40 fathom line, will be open seven days a week from May 1 until Oct. 31 or until the harvest quota of 12,284 pounds is achieved.
  • The bottom fish bite was good out of Depoe Bay and Newport with most anglers landing one or two lingcod and an average rockfish catch of about five. Fishers out of other Oregon ports caught between two and three rockfish and lingcod were scarse. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.
  • The “All Salmon Except Coho” salmon season from Cape Falcon to Oregon/California  border opens May 29 and runs through Sept. 6. Bag Limit: Two salmon, closed to retention of coho until June 26 when the “Selective Coho Season” also opens. Only marked coho (all coho must have a healed adipose fin clip) may be retained. That season will run through Sept. 6 or until the quota of 26,000 marked coho is met, which ever comes first. The bag limit is two salmon.
  • June has two minus tide series in the afternoon and early evening: June 9-18 and 22-30. Razor clam diggers should watch for days when the marine forecast calls for combined swell and wind waves of less than eight feet.
  • Crabbing was generally poor all along the coast last week with average catches between one and three crab. Crabbing in the ocean this time of year can be very productive, but also dangerous because of wind, sea and bar conditions.

Fairview Canyon Poacher Apologizes

May 26, 2010

An East Wenatchee, Wash., man has issued an apology for a poaching incident in late January.

In a letter to the Wenatchee World, Joe Ells, a local school teacher, admits to illegally shooting a pair of mule deer in Fairview Canyon, south of the Wenatchee River near Monitor.

He had been charged with four counts of unlawful hunting in the second degree in Chelan County District Court. No seasons were open at the time.

Two other men, Kenneth McGraw of Leavenworth, Wash. and Michael Pennington of Kent, Wash., were also charged.

Ells letter also says:

My action caused many people to be upset, and I can understand why they were. I have offended the sensibilities of some people in our community, smeared the good name of those who hunt deer legally, shamed my profession and caused my family much undue stress.

There is no excuse for my actions that day. What I did was wrong, and I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Officer Graham Grant of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the people of Chelan County, my family, friends, and coworkers, my students and their parents.

My only salvation is in knowing that this will never happen again, and that with time, people may not forget, but they will forgive my moment of weakness.

(WENATCHEE WORLD)

According to WDFW, Ells, McGraw and Pennington had been out coyote hunting when they came across deer gathered on the winter range. They opened fire, killing three does and one yearling. Three of the deer were found in the back of Pennington’s Toyota Tundra. The truck and four rifles were seized.

The Wenatchee World later reported that Pennington was attempting to become a Master Hunter at the time.

Mixed News On Boat Sales Front

May 26, 2010

Boat buying tanked when the recession bit in the Northwest — but hope is on the horizon for dealers.

New figures from the National Marine Manufacturers Association show that new jet, inboard and outboard boats, engines, trailers and accessory sales dropped 13.3 percent in Alaska between 2008 and 2009, 15.9 percent in Washington, 18.3 percent in Idaho, 18.7 percent in Oregon and 21.2 percent in Montana.

“Last year was the worst year of all time,” said one salesman who calls on numerous boat dealers around the Northwest.

That said, first quarter 2010 data from NMMA also shows a nationwide slowing in the sales declines of new powerboats – down 12 percent compared to a decline of 35 percent during the first quarter 2009 – as well as a 2 percent increase in boat services such as repairs/services, storage, insurance, taxes and interest payments worth $6.3 billion.

Sales of pre-owned powerboats increased 7.7 percent to 780,300 and increased 5.4 percent in dollars for a retail value of $8.5 billion in 2009 too.

Leading this new-boat sales recovery are small aluminum outboard boats, says a press release from NMMA. Sales of those in the 18-foot range increased 30 percent during the first quarter 2010.

The jump is said to provide an early indicator that a recovery in new boat sales is coming — though the rise was most pronounced east of the Rockies.

“Consumer spending and consumer confidence increases in March and April have helped boost new aluminum outboard powerboat sales, leading a recovery for the recreational boating industry as overall new powerboat sales declines slow,” says Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA, in a press release. “This growth can signal a return of the entry-level boater and the outdoors enthusiast and angler to boating and overall growing trend in fishing.”

The top ten states for aluminum boat sales last year were, in order, Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois and Georgia.

“We anticipate 2010 new powerboat sales to remain flat with 2009 as the economic indicators that impact our industry – consumer confidence, housing and credit markets, as well as unemployment— start to improve and open the door for boat sales to begin increasing in 2011 and 2012,” notes Dammrich. “The growth in the aluminum outboard boat market is consistent with recent trends showing increased fishing license sales and is an indicator of the beginning of a turnaround for new boat sales. Consumer spending has been increasing for seven months and recreational boating will get its share of new consumer spending as the economy continues to recover.”

That would be good news for Northwest boat dealers such as Three Rivers Marine & Tackle, Auburn Sports & Marine, Master Marine, Boat Country, Bob Feil, Lake Union Sea Ray, Verle’s and Valley Marine in Washington and Stevens Marine, Sigler’s Marine and Y Marine in Oregon, among other outlets for Wooldridges, Alumawelds, Hewescraft, Arimas and more.

Washington boaters of all types spent $338,733,741 on their watercraft, engines, trailers and more in 2009, down from $402,881,675 in 2008 and well off 2005’s $638,026,034.

Oregon recorded $148,255,108 in sales last year, down from $182,273,601 the previous year and a high of $404,682,021 in 2004.

However, at the same time, Beaver State anglers didn’t let the recession stop them from fishing. They purchased over 303,000 licenses in 2009 , the most in the 2000s, despite unemployment of up to 11.2 percent.

Elsewhere in the region, California boat and accessory sales were off by nearly 30 percent, Utah’s by 33.8 percent.

In the national survey, only one state, Iowa, showed an increase last year, up 3.5 percent.

Entiat Opening For Chinook

May 25, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE)

Salmon fishing opens May 26 on the Entiat River

Actions:   Opens salmon fishing on the Entiat River (Chelan County).

Daily limit:   Daily limit two salmon, minimum size 12 inches.

Species affected:   Chinook salmon.

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

Effective dates:   May 26, through June 30, 2010.

Reason for action: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) estimates over 800 hatchery origin, spring chinook are expected to return to the Entiat River in 2010. WDFW believes a selective fishery to remove excess  hatchery spring chinook is warranted to increase the proportion of wild spring chinook on the spawning grounds as detailed in WDFWs ESA Section 10 Application for Permit 1554.

Other Information:   Mandatory release of adipose present chinook and all steelhead and bulltrout (whether adipose fin clipped or not clipped).  Knotless nets required, bait is allowed. The anti-snagging rule and a night closure will be in effect, and no fishing from motorized boats. Columbia River salmon and steelhead endorsement required.

Information contact: Art Viola (509) 665-3337, Wenatchee District Office (509) 662-0452 or Jeff Korth, Ephrata Regional Office (509) 754-4624

Pot Growers Start Early At Wildlife Area

May 25, 2010

On a training exercise in the western Columbia Basin earlier this spring, Washington Department Fish & Wildlife officers discovered “the earliest recorded growing effort in that area yet” when they stumbled onto a marijuana growing plot on state game land.

WDFW Deputy Chief Mike Cenci, who was in on the raid, says it occurred near Royal City on April 30.

“You always prepare for the unknown, but did we expect to detect a grow? No, we were surprised,” he said this morning.

As two teams of well-armed officers practiced moving through the thick cover, they came across the site as well as an alleged grower cooking a cup of noodle soup, Cenci says. The man got away, but left enough personal information behind in a tent that a warrant was later issued for his arrest.

Cenci describes the location as in almost “impenetrable” Russian olive groves.

“You can hardly see in front of you — your field of view is like 10 feet,” Cenci says, noting that it’s also very difficult to sneak around in the thickets. “Move an inch, break a twig, make a sound.”

Officers became suspicious when one spotted a boot track, Cenci says. At the camp they found 1,700 to 2,000 seed cups with five seeds apiece as well as a mile of irrigation line.

“The grove of trees had been hollowed out in several areas in preparation for planting,” he says. “The camp was fully outfitted with propane tanks, a large supply of food, stove, numerous large bags of fertilizers, several hand tools and two rifles.”

WDFW OFFICERS ARMED WITH MP 5s, GLOCK .45s AND PLENTY OF AMMO POSE WITH SOME OF THE 1,700 MARIJUANA SEED CUPS DISCOVERED ON STATE WILDLIFE LAND IN THE COLUMBIA BASIN. (WDFW)

He calls the Lower Crab Creek and Desert Wildlife Areas in the western Columbia Basin “good habitat for this kind of activity” due to their thick cover and relative remoteness.

The area is also home to several quality trout fishing lakes as well as waterfowl and upland bird hunting in the fall and winter.

Mexican drug cartels are believed to be funding the illicit farms. It’s yet to be seen how many of the illegal plants Washington law enforcement officials will pull this year, but if trends hold up, those discovered by Cenci’s officers could kick off a record haul. With increased efforts to tackle the problem since the early 2000s, the number seized in raids on outdoor fields has gone from 6,500 in 2001 to 135,000 in 2005 to 296,000 in 2007 to 589,000 last year, according to articles by the Seattle PI, Yakima Herald-Republic and Spokane Spokesman-Review.

It’s not just a matter of counting up the plants, burning or helicoptering them out and being done with it. Pesticides are used to control bugs, thousands of pounds of trash must be packed out and it’s not like Honey Bucket is coming out and servicing the plantations.

“These guys cause some serious environmental damage,” Cenci says.

While a 2008 AP article says Washington ranks second in outdoor marijuana growing, and a USA Today story later that year says that up to 80 percent of the illicit crop is grown on state and federal lands, Cenci vows to keep law enforcement pressure on the problem in Washington.

“We can’t eradicate dope, but we can try to keep it off our lands. We’re going to be aggressive about going after them,” he says.

The state offers a reward of up to $5,000 for information on marijuana grows. An anonymous tip line has been set up at (800) 388-4769.

SW WA Fishing Report

May 24, 2010

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

South Fork Toutle River from the mouth to the 4700 Road Bridge and Green River from the mouth to 400’ below the water intake at the upper end of the hatchery – Open to fishing for hatchery steelhead.  Selective gear rules in effect through June 4. No report on angling success.

Under permanent rules, the entire South Fork Toutle River and the Green River from the mouth to the 2800 Road Bridge will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead beginning June 5.      Under permanent rules, all tributaries to the South Fork Toutle and Green rivers remain closed to all fishing.

Cowlitz River – Some spring Chinook are being caught around the barrier dam.  Steelhead catches were more scattered.

Through October, anglers may now retain up to three hatchery steelhead per day from the Hwy. 4 Bridge at Kelso upstream to Mayfield Dam.  All game fish except hatchery steelhead must be released through June 4.  Beginning June 5, the daily limit for trout will be five fish, of which up to 3 may be hatchery steelhead. Release wild cutthroat.  From the mouth to Mayfield Dam, anglers are reminded they may retain steelhead with a clipped right ventral fin and a healed scar at the location of the clipped fin.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 146 winter-run steelhead, 100 summer-run steelhead, 646 spring Chinook adult and 115 jacks during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,560 cubic feet per second on Monday, May 24. Water visibility is 14 feet.

Lake Scanewa (Cowlitz Falls Reservoir) – Open to fishing for hatchery spring Chinook.  No report on angling success.  Reverts to permanent fishing regulations beginning June 1.

Tacoma Power employees released 309 spring Chinook adults, 75 jacks and two winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa at the Day Use Park above Cowlitz Falls Dam and  147 spring Chinook adults and 31 jacks into the Cispus River  during the week.

Kalama River – Effort and catch has been light though some spring Chinook and steelhead are being caught.

A total of 152 adults have returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery as of May 21.  The 5 year average cumulative total to date is 16.49% of the run.   Using the average run timing returns to date would convert to a run size of 922 adults to Kalama Falls Hatchery.  The hatchery escapement goal is 438 adults.  Pre-season forecast (total return to the Kalama) was 900 adults.

Lewis River – Light effort and catch.  A few spring Chinook and steelhead are being caught.  Flows below Merwin Dam were 4,100 cfs this morning, slightly higher than the long-term mean of 4,570 cfs for this date.

Washougal River from mouth to Mt. Norway Bridge – Through Oct. 31, up to three hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.  Through June 4, selective gear rules are in effect; no bait may be used.

No report on angling success. Approx 70 summer run adult steelhead are being recycled to Hathaway Park in Washougal this afternoon

Flows at Hathaway Park are dropping but still about 1,000 cfs today.  Water temperature has decreased to approximately 48 degrees.  See https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/wrx/wrx/flows/station.asp?sta=28B080#block0 for information.

Washougal River from Mt. Norway Bridge to Salmon Falls Bridge and West (North) Fork Washougal River from intake at Skamania Hatchery upstream- Effective June 5 through Oct. 31, up to three hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.

Wind River – It appears the large numbers of fish that were present in the gorge earlier last week have moved upriver between the coffer dam and the hatchery.  Effort and catch is fading quickly at the mouth.

Based upon earlier trapping and Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags detections at the Shipherd Falls Trap, over 3,000 fish had passed the fall as of Thursday May 20.  Through May 24, a total of 1,070 spring Chinook had returned to Carson National Fish Hatchery.  The hatchery escapement goal is 1,500.

Wind River from the mouth (boundary line/markers) to 400 feet below Shipherd Falls and 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)– The salmonid daily limit is a total of 4 fish or which no more than 2 may be hatchery steelhead.  Chinook jacks count as part of the salmon daily limit.  Release all wild Chinook from Shipherd Falls downstream.  Night closure is in effect.  The anti-snag rule has been rescinded from the mouth to the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge but remains in effect from the bridge upstream where only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.

Drano Lake – Catch is fading with a Chinook per every 4.3 boat anglers and one per every 6 bank anglers, respectively.  Over 3,000 fish entered the hatchery trap when it was briefly opened last week.

Drano Lake – Open to fishing for hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead through July except closed to all fishing on Wednesdays through June 9.  Through June 30, the salmonid daily limit is a total of 4 fish of which no more than 2 may be hatchery steelhead. Hatchery chinook jacks count as part of the salmon daily limit.  Release all wild Chinook.  Night closure is in effect.

Through June, 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 – Anglers continue to catch about equal numbers of spring Chinook and summer run steelhead from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream.  About 20 vehicles per open day last week.

Flows at Pitt are currently 2,150 cfs, slightly less than the long-term mean of 2,510 cfs for this date.  At mid week, flows are expected to increase to the long-term mean.  River was turbid earlier last week.

Lower Columbia from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to the I-5 Bridge – Both bank and boat anglers averaged a steelhead kept/released per every 12 rods based on mainly incomplete and completed trips, respectively.  A few hatchery Chinook jacks (which can be kept) and adults (which have to be released) were also caught.

Effort is relatively light with 18 boats and 200 bank anglers counted during the Saturday May 22 flight.  Effort was scattered throughout the lower river.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the mouth to the Wauna powerlines – Pretty good turnout on the May 22 retention re-opener.  About 160 private and 14 charter boats were counted during last Saturday’s flight count.   The largest concentration of private boats were around Tongue Point.

Catches on the Washington side were slow with one in 11 boat anglers sampled at the Deep River/Knappton ramps catching a legal size fish while none of the bank anglers checked had caught anything.

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

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to the Marker 82 line – Boat anglers were catching some legals.  Just over a hundred boats and a few dozen bank anglers were counted during last Saturday’s flight.  Over half the boats were found from Vancouver to the gorge.

Mainstem Columbia River from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam (including all adjacent Washington tributaries) – Except in the sturgeon spawning sanctuary and closed waters described below, 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.

Sturgeon Spawning Sanctuary: 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 through August.

Through July, angling for all species is prohibited from a line between the upstream end of Sand Island near Rooster Rock and a marker on the Oregon shoreline, downstream to a line between the lower end of Sand Island and a marker on the Oregon shoreline.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Bank anglers at the Steamboat Landing docks in Washougal were catching some shad.   Almost 60 bank anglers were counted on both the Oregon and Washington shores just below Bonneville Dam during last Saturday’s flight count.    No report on angling success on the Washington side.

Bonneville Dam daily counts have ranged from 1,000- 2,000 shad per day for the last week.

TROUT

Mayfield Lake – Boat anglers are catching some rainbows.  Expected to have received 20,000 catchable size rainbows in May.  This follows the 25,000 fish planted in April.

Riffe Lake – Bank anglers are catching some landlocked coho.

Battleground Lake – 6,500 rainbows up to 2/3 pound each were planted May 15 and May 18.

Little Klickitat River – 495 catchable size rainbows were planted May 19 (Note:  Juvenile only waters with Goldendale city limits.  Opened April 24).

Maryhill Pond (Klickitat Co.) – 504 catchable size rainbows were planted May 19.

Malmbergs Get Best Of Panther

May 24, 2010

The Malmberg boys are claiming a new personal best catch record: 63 trout caught at Panther Lake over eight hours on Saturday.

They only kept four between them, a pair of 14-inchers and two 16s.

“What a fun lake,” says the older of the two, “Uncle Wes,” this morning. “Fished from 8 to 4 and averaged eight an hour. Couldn’t believe people were keeping 8-inchers.”

Their old record of 50-something fish was set on Nahwatzel Lake, west of Shelton, last winter, Wes says.

Panther sits on the Mason-Kitsap County line and is listed at 100 acres, but Wes says only about two-thirds is fishable — well, at least for the way he and bro Brett hit it. They once again ran black-and-olive and black Woolly Buggers in size 6 off a full-sinking fly line around the lake, staying well off the shallower areas.

While Wes and I did well on Carey Specials last week at Island Lake in Mason County, he said that pattern produced nothing for them.

He says that at most there might have been a total of four boats on Panther at any one time.

“There were a lot of nice folks,” he adds.

Panther has been stocked with 4,672 8-inchers, 300 1.2-pound “jumbos” and 275 1.5-pound triploids this year.

On Sunday, Wes tried Island again, catching four, though three trout though three had sores on their sides.

Even more ominous: the PWC hatch has begun.

“Saw the first Jet Ski and speed boats of the year,” Wes muttered.

There was also a boat-ramp rumor of an angler getting busted for too many 14-plus-inch trout in his limit. New regulations in the pamphlet this year limit the number of fish 14 inches or greater to just two a day at dozens and dozens of waters in Mason, Island, Thurston, Pierce and Jefferson Counties, though the overall limit remains five trout.

Seattle Sockeye Hatchery Still A Go: Internet Post

May 22, 2010

A post on Gamefishin.com today seems to indicate that construction of a permanent sockeye hatchery on the Lake Washington system is still a go.

Questions about the future of the facility arose in late April following the release of an independent scientific study on sockeye populations in the Cedar River and elsewhere in the Basin. Then, in early May, with word there had been a pause in the process, sport anglers were asked to pressure Mayor McGinn and the City of Seattle to continue to support the hatchery.

A phone call and email from this reporter to a spokesman in the mayor’s office to clear up Mayor McGinn’s stance on the facility went unreturned.

But Baywolf, aka Perry Menchaca, on Gamefishin recently received a response purportedly from April Thomas of the mayor’s staff.

In the email message, Thomas writes that Seattle Public Utilities scientists as well as WDFW, Muckleshoot Tribe and Federal agencies have discussed the study, and as a result “… We plan to stay on schedule with the normal project delivery steps for the hatchery, and we expect the new hatchery to be completed by late summer of 2011.”

It’s been a long struggle to build a new hatchery, fought for years in the courts, but Thomas notes that city must mitigate for building the Landsburg Dam in the early 1900s.

“One of the significant benefits of this history is a robust adaptive management program for this hatchery, and specific protocols for monitoring of the Cedar River system and sockeye runs. This program and its protocols, with regulatory oversight, enable us to continuously account for new science, and thereby adjust the production level of the hatchery,” the email response to Menchaca’s question says.

Early – And Big? – Steelie Run Brewing

May 21, 2010

Thanks to a strong early showing of summer-runs back to the Cowlitz and Washougal, WDFW announced this afternoon that starting tomorrow, May 22, the daily limit will be upped to three adipose-fin-clipped steelhead a day.

ADAM BROWNE'S BEEN DOING WELL ON THE WASHOUGAL RIVER SO FAR THIS SEASON. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Yesterday, the agency also said that the lower South Fork Toutle and Green Rivers near Mt. St. Helens were opening two weeks earlier than printed in the regulations.

Meanwhile, across the river, Oregon anglers like my writer Terry Otto have been finding early summers on the Sandy.

NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN CONTRIBUTOR TERRY OTTO WITH A SANDY RIVER SUMMER STEELHEAD FROM EARLIER THIS WEEK. (TERRY OTTO)

The count at Willamette Falls is pretty damned good too.

“It’s looking like a 20,000-plus summer steelhead year, which we haven’t had for a long time,” ODFW biologist Jeff Ziller tells Mike Stahlberg of the Eugene Register-Guard.

And the count at Bonneville is off the charts for this time of year. It’s nearing 8,900, the highest it’s been through May 20 at least back through 1990, close to twice the 10-year average and 59 percent higher than during last year’s whopper run which topped out at just over 600,000.

“The Skamanias, and Cowlitz, are off to a good start,” notes Joe Hymer, a supervisory biologist with the Pacific Marine States Fishery Commission in Vancouver.

Skamanias are hatchery summer steelhead widely used in rivers such as the Kalama, East Fork Lewis, Washougal, Big White Salmon and Klickitat on the Washington side, and McKenzie and Santiam on the Oregon, among others.

But what all those steelies mean for the summer is unclear.

“What we don’t know is, is it early and big, or is it just early like we saw with upriver and Lewis and Cowlitz spring Chinook?” wonders Hymer.

The A- and B-run steelhead, which fueled last fall and winter’s fab fishing in North-central and Southeast Washington, Central Idaho and Northeast Oregon, return up the Columbia a bit later in the season.

Still, here’s hoping it’s a big run the whole way round because our June issue, which we just got advance copies back from the printer today, talks about how to fish for ’em in the mainstem Columbia as well as a quartet of Washington-side tribs below Bonneville Dam, and Buzz Ramsey’s got a pile of tricks for scamming Skamanias too!

The May issue talks about intercepting these bad boys on the McKenzie and South Santiam as well.

UPDATE MAY 22: ADAM BROWNE REPORTS KILLIN’ IT ON THE ‘SHOUG YESTERDAY, BRINGING FOUR TO THE BANK, THOUGH ONE POPPED OFF THERE AND ANOTHER WAS WILD.

NOAA Submits ‘Final’ Columbia Salmon Plans

May 20, 2010

In handing over papers to a Federal court in Portland this morning, NOAA-Fisheries called their supplemental biological opinion for threatened Columbia River salmon “legally and biologically sound.”

It follows up on Judge James Redden’s February advice to NOAA to fold an Adaptive Management Implementation Plan into their 2008 Biop, part of a longer struggle between federal agencies and the judge over protections for Chinook, sockeye and steelhead, among other species.

The agency and others reviewed new science, including “updated adult returns data, further information about cormorant predation on fish, and more details on the possible biological effects of climate change,” and today announced “six new actions to further identify and protect against the uncertainties caused by climate change, toxics, invasive species and hatchery fish.”

Three scientists also performed a blind peer review.

A statement from NOAA also says the BiOp now “ensures that operation of the (Federal Columbia River Power System) is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence or destroy or adversely modify the critical habitat of Snake River spring/summer Chinook, Snake River fall Chinook, Snake River steelhead, Snake River sockeye, middle Columbia River steelhead, upper Columbia River spring Chinook, or upper Columbia River steelhead … The 2010 Supplemental BiOp is legally and biologically sound, and provides strong protection for Northwest salmon and steelhead.”

Here’s how Northwest reporters synthesize NOAA’s plans:

The Oregonian: Obama Administration backs Bush-era plan for Columbia Basin salmon

The NOAA Fisheries Service said it found “no major surprises” in its review of the Bush Administration’s 2008 biological opinion and only “modest changes” in the science governing fish recovery.

Associated Press, as picked up by a TV station:  Feds Slightly Revise Plan On Columbia River Salmon

After spending three months undergoing a court-ordered review, the Obama Administration submitted its plan to make the Columbia Basin’s hydroelectric dams safer for endangered salmon with only minor changes.

UPDATED MAY 21: Here’s reaction to the new plan:

“These guys came out with Band-Aids when we’re hemorrhaging from a major artery,”  Nicole Cordan of Save Our Wild Salmon told the Associated Press. “These are species that are already imperiled, and they’re saying, ‘We’re going to do less for them.'”

“Any fish living above the dams are ESA listed, and that isn’t going to change with a tweak here and a twist there,” Glen Spain, Northwest rep for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, said in the same article. “It’s disappointing to see them do little or nothing and dance around the big issues once again.”

“The most recent science all points in the same direction — climate change is upon us and it is already impacting our waters,” ODFW’s former fisheries chief Jim Martin said in a statement posted on the LA Times. “The only answer is that this administration has — against its promises and exclamations — allowed politics to trump sound science.”

In a long piece, the Columbia Basin Bulletin has more quotes from all three sides — Feds, salmon advocates and industry.

‘It’s Looking Like A 20K-plus Steelhead Year’: Willy Bio

May 20, 2010

Gotchyer copy of the May Northwest Sportsman?

I sure as hell hope so — in it are a pair of maps for steelheading the McKenzie and South Santiam Rivers which should benefit from a monster run heading up the Willamette right now.

“It’s looking like a 20,000-plus summer steelhead year, which we haven’t had for a long time,” ODFW biologist Jeff Ziller tells Mike Stahlberg of the Eugene Register-Guard.

Through May 15, there are 10,438 summer-runs over Willamette Falls.

Before they get into the McKenzie and South Santiam, hit ’em at the Town Run, between Eugene and Springfield.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

May 20, 2010

The ice is all gone, wild springers are opening early on the Rogue, shad are showing, the trout truck driver’s on overtime, bugs are blooming and it’s an all-depths halibut weekend — what’s not to like about your prospects around Oregon?!?!

Here are highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Diamond Lake is now ice-free and the fishing has been very good, with several people getting their limits.
  • The lower Rogue River will open to the retention of wild spring chinook on Saturday, May 22 – about 10 days earlier than normal.

A STOUT STICK OF STUD TROUT FROM DIAMOND LAKE. (DIAMOND LAKE RESORT)

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Steelhead and spring chinook are starting to show up in the McKenzie and Middle Fork of the Willamette Rivers.
  • Lake of the Woods
    A boy and his fish
    – Photo by Lance Johnson-

    A few shad have been caught recently on the Willamette River near Oregon City.

  • ODFW will host a free youth fishing event Saturday, May 22 at Mount Hood Pond on the Mount Hood Community College campus from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The pond will be stocked with approximately 4,000 trout, and ODFW staff and volunteers will be available to help youngsters with fishing gear and technique.
  • Spring chinook are still being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel.
  • More than 28,000 spring chinook have crossed Willamette Falls and are moving into the upper Willamette and its tributaries. Try fishing at San Salvador and Wheatland Ferry on the Willamette and around the mouths of the Tualatin, Molalla, and Santiam rivers.
  • Steelhead fishing is good on the Clackamas River, with both summers and winters being caught. A few spring chinook have been caught in the lower river over the past week.
  • Detroit Reservoir will receive its fourth stocking of 10,000 trout this week.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • There have been good hatches of stoneflies – golden stones and salmonflies – on the Deschutes River.
  • Crane Prairie Reservoir trout fishing has been great.
  • Big Lava Lake trout fishing has been very good.
  • Odell Lake kokanee fishing has turned on and anglers are having great success.
  • Please note that through temporary rule, the opening date for the mainstem Metolius River upstream from Allingham Bridge has been changed to coincide with the Saturday May 22 stream opener date, not Sunday May 23 as stated in the 2010 angling synopsis.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • The Umatilla spring chinook season is under way with the area downstream of Threemile Dam producing good catches of spring chinook.
  • Wallowa Lake continues to put out record-setting kokanee.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Summer steelhead opened May 16 between Tongue Point and the I-5 Bridge.
  • The shad fishery opened May 16 below Bonneville Dam.
  • Sturgeon fishing is good in the gorge below Marker 82.

MARINE ZONE

  • For the first all-depth halibut weekend anglers scored a near perfect nine fish for every 10 anglers out of Garibaldi, Newport and Charleston; seven halibut per 10 anglers out of Winchester Bay, and five halibut for every 10 anglers out of Astoria and Depoe Bay.
  • The bottom fish bite was good out of Astoria with most anglers landing two ling cod and an average rockfish catch of about five. Fishers out of Depoe Bay had a catch rate of about one ling per angler and four rockfish. Other ports reported catches of one ling for every two anglers and between three and four rockfish. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.
  • The last week of the month, May 24-31, is a minus tide series providing good 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.
  • Garibaldi and Charleston reported the best crab catches with four and five crab per angler. Other ports were in the one to two crab per angler. Crabbing in the ocean this time of year can be very productive, but also dangerous because of wind, sea and bar conditions.

An Idea For Stocking Streams In ESA Country

May 20, 2010

This ain’t the 1980s, when I can recall seeing huge schools of freshly stocked rainbows kegged up in Central Washington’s Icicle Creek. But down in Oregon, biologists think they’ve figured out how to put trout into streams for anglers without getting in the way of threatened salmon and steelhead.

ODFW is stocking the South Yamhill River with 2,000 8- to 12-inchers this week in preparation for opening day of trout season on Saturday, May 22. Another 2K will go in two weeks later.

It’s the second year the agency has put trout into the river just upstream of Willamina along the highway out to Lincoln City, though it wasn’t a decision made lightly.

Planting fish into streams was very common 20 years ago, but has been almost completely stopped out of concern over possible impacts to threatened salmon and steelhead populations, says ODFW. The fish have instead been stocked in lakes and ponds where they won’t compete with their sea-going relatives for food and cover.

To the north, WDFW is struggling with similar issues, but has taken a different tack this year. Washington’s new fishing regs close or tweak the rules for every river, stream and beaver pond between Neah Bay, Mt. Rainier and the Canadian border, part of the new “stream strategy,” approved by the Fish & Wildlife Commission last February, to protect juvenile ESA-listed Chinook, steelhead and bull trout from hooking mortalities.

I write about those new rules in our June issue, reminiscing about the sunny summer afternoons friends and I spent on a Yamhill-sized river east of Monroe, Wash. Crick fishing’s long been in my blood, from those campouts at Ida Creek along the Icicle to wandering mountain, foothill, even urban streams and pitching spinners or bait into tiny holes.

Joe Maurier, the director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, hit it on the head in his editorial in the latest issue of Montana Outdoors when he wrote “What I like most about small stream fishing is that it takes me into the heart of nature.”

Heart of nature, meet the New Reality.

New Reality, meet fishery agency efforts to get people out angling — with less impact on some of the fish.

Tom Murtagh, ODFW’s district biologist for the North Willamette Watershed, believes that it is important for kids to get to know their local rivers, and fishing is a great way to help them do that.

“I just remember how much river fishing meant to me when I was a kid,” said Murtagh in a press release. “The whole purpose of this program is to reconnect people from local communities to the rivers in their backyards and the wonderful opportunities they can find there.”

To avoid bringing harm in the way of baited or treble hooks to outmigrating steelhead smolts, his agency is timing the releases for after that pulse as well as planting only triploid trout, which can’t breed. Both tweaks helped get the support of NOAA Fisheries and key stakeholder groups, ODFW says.

It also helps that the Yamhill’s winter-runs aren’t critical to overall recovery of the upper Willamette’s population, listed as threatened in January 2006.

The fishery is open through Oct. 31 from the confluence with the North Yamhill near McMinnville, upstream about 20 miles to Rock Creek near Grand Ronde. Multiple locations in the 5-mile stretch from Gold Creek Road Bridge down to Willamina, which has the most public access off Yamhill River Road, will be stocked.

Anglers may harvest up to five hatchery trout, with an 8-inch minimum size limit. Hatchery trout have had their adipose fin removed for easy identification. In addition, ODFW recently adopted a temporary rule allowing anglers to keep two wild trout, 8 inches or greater in size in all tributary streams in both the Tualatin and Yamhill basins. Therefore, anglers fishing in the South Yamhill near Willamina have the unique opportunity to retain five trout, of which three may be hatchery trout with no minimum size limit, and two may be wild trout 8 inches or greater.

Fishing is limited to artificial flies and lures to protect those native fish.

Tell you what: All I can think about right now is river fishing for summer-runs. Recent images from Adam Browne on the Washougal and Terry Otto on the Sandy are killing me, and I’ve just ordered a mess of spoons from rvrfshr and earlier this week clipped the trebles off a handful of spinners from Worden’s.

And while all I want to catch these days are adult steelies and leave the lit’l’ns alone, I think what ODFW’s doing on the South Yamhill is a pretty good idea.

Here’s hoping the results stand up over time.

Island, Before The Storm, Fishes Well

May 19, 2010

The rain’s coming down pretty good now, and the wind’s picking up, but right before today’s storm reached the Shelton, Wash., area, Island Lake fished well for “Uncle Wes” Malmberg and I.

Oh, and for Herc, his Maltese fish hound, too.

You may know Malmberg as Mr. Woolly Bugger — his favorite fly pattern, oft touted in his articles — but today, he switched things up on me, lashing a pair of size 6 Carey Specials at the end of the fast-sinking lines.

We pushed his well-used 12-foot aluminum off around 9 a.m. and couldn’t have been more than 100 yards from the ramp and heading northeast when the first fish whacked my fly. Didn’t stick, but a good sign for starters.

Malmberg’s all about “breaking down the lake,” a phrase I’ve seen over and over in his columns, and true to form, we broke Island down by trolling an upside-down U from the ramp all along that northern shore to the big bay on the eastern side, turning around and running another U except in slightly deeper water.

With those sinking lines taking our flies well down in the water column, we actually picked up a fair number of perch, though they were too runty to even bother filleting.

But the rainbows — they were anything but runty. For unknown reasons, I decided my first nice one, a 14-incher, had to go in the cooler. It was all up the yardstick from there — a 15-incher for Malmberg, another around that size that I released, his 18-incher which went 2.1 pounds on his Rapala handscale.

Then, as the cloud deck lowered, the sun went bye-bye and I said, “Hey, why aren’t we trolling the south end?”, I had a serious take that answered that question. The nice-sized ‘bow broke the surface three times in a row, came at me quickly, but when it neared the boat, began fighting seriously, diving underneath it, going airborne 3 feet again, pulling the line towards the engine. Mentally for a second, it was like I had a big ol’ meat salmon or steelhead on, and I got very careful. True, it wasn’t the biggest Island Lake rainbow to come aboard Malmberg’s boat, nor the biggest I’ve caught, but we both whistled at the impressive battler in the net. It also went 2.1 on the scale.

With our pairs of 14-plus-inchers we could have continued trolling for smaller ones — Island, planted with 3,601 8- to 12-inchers and 288 1.5-pound triploids, is one of around five dozen lakes in south Puget Sound with new size restrictions — but we could see the writing on the clouds and headed for the launch.

A QUARTET OF ISLAND LAKE RAINBOWS FROM 14 TO 18 INCHES. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The only other boat on the water also came in as the first raindrops hit, reporting just a single 8- to 10-incher on PowerBait.

Down the road a ways, I stopped at Verle’s — where Malmberg bought those brown-and-olive-bodied, foil-wrapped Careys — and chatted with Michelle, Arnie and Ron who all keep pretty close tabs on the amazing trout and even bass fishing to be found in this corner of the Sound and Canal. Arnie said a young boy in a row boat had caught a rainbow of 5 or 6 pounds recently on Island.

Malmberg, who lives outside Shelton, extended an invite to come back down and fish, and with some free time coming up in early June, today’s trip means it will be a tough decision to try for steelies on the Sky and Snoqualmie, or head back to Mason County for more of a sure thing.

SW WA Fishing Report

May 17, 2010

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Spring chinook are being caught at the barrier dam while steelhead are being caught from there downriver.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 336 winter-run steelhead, 67 summer-run steelhead, 487 spring Chinook adults, 30 jacks and one mini-jack during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.  Tacoma Power employees released 280 spring Chinook adults, 17 jacks and seven winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa at the Day Use Park above Cowlitz Falls Dam and 80 spring Chinook adults and six jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, Washington.

Flows have been steady at 3,560 cfs (except for the weekly flushing flow).  A total of 2,669 adults have returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator as of May 14.  The 13 year average cumulative total to date is 24.12% of the run.   Using average run timing returns to date would convert to a run size of 11,066 to the separator.  The 2010 pre-season forecast (total return to Cowlitz)was 12,500 adults.

THE 'SHOUG DIDN'T MAKE HYMER'S REPORT, BUT ADAM BROWNE CAN SAY THAT THE LITTLE STREAM WAS GOOD LAST WEEK FOR SUMMER-RUNS, THESE CAUGHT ON TWO SUCCESSIVE DAYS FOR THE WASHOUGAL ANGLER. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Kalama River – Anglers are catching a mix of spring Chinook and steelhead.

A total of 62 adults have returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery as of May 14.  The 5 year average cumulative total to date is 10.5% of the run. Using average run timing returns to date would convert to a run size of 590 adults to Kalama Falls Hatchery.  Hatchery escapement goal is 438 adults.  The 2010 pre-season forecast (total return to Kalama) was 900 adults.

Lewis River – More steelhead than spring Chinook are being caught.

Through May 12, a total of 783 hatchery adult spring Chinook had returned to the trap at Merwin Dam.  This compares to 119 fish at the same time last year.

Through May 10, a total of 150 males and 150 females have been shipped to Speelyai Hatchery for brood stock and 188 fish planted into Swift Reservoir for reintroduction habitat prep.  Goal:  1,300 fish for brood stock and up to 500 for habitat preparation in the upper watershed.

2010 pre-season forecast (total return to the Lewis) was 6,000 adults.

Wind River – Effort and catch has dropped at the mouth while fishing in the gorge has improved.  About one in four boat anglers at the mouth caught an adult spring Chinook last week.  Over half the bank anglers sampled in the gorge had caught a fish.

There have been 211 adult and four jack chinook with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags from Carson National Fish Hatchery (CNFH) detected at Bonneville Dam adult ladders as of May 12.  Applying the tag rates from CNFH produces estimates of 16,335 adults and 232 jacks over Bonneville Dam through May 12.

The final run size of Wind River origin adult spring chinook over Bonneville Dam using early, average, and late timing data from 2000-2009, projects to  16,641, 18,038, and 20,650, respectively.  PIT tag detections have tapered off over the past week and it appears that the final run at Bonneville Dam will fall between 17,000 and 18,000.  The 2010 pre-season forecast (total return to the Wind) was 14,000 adults.

Through May 17, a total of 251 spring Chinook had returned to Carson National Fish Hatchery.  Daily counts are available via phone @ 509.427.5905.  Hatchery escapement goal is 1,500 fish.

Drano Lake – Catch rates remain good though a little slower than the previous week.  About 40% of the boat anglers sampled had caught a spring Chinook while bank anglers averaged one per every 6.5 rods.

There have been a total of 255 detections of 2006 brood Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery (LWSNFH)  PIT tagged adult spring Chinook at Bonneville Dam as of May 16.  Applying the juvenile tag rate from LWSNFH (14,938 PIT tagged from a release of 934,438 smolts or 1.6%) produces an estimate of 15,951 LWSNFH origin four-year-old chinook over Bonneville Dam through May 16.  The 2010 pre-season forecast (total return to Drano Lake) was 28,900 adults.

The ladder at the hatchery was opened for one day on May 6.  700 fish were counted in less than 24 hours.  The ladder has been closed since.  The hatchery escapement goal is 1,000 fish.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream are catching equal numbers of spring Chinook and summer run steelhead.

5,000 PIT tags were put into both the 2005 and 2006 brood spring Chinook smolt releases from Klickitat Hatchery.  Through May 16, nine four-year-old and one five-year-old Klickitat Hatchery PIT tags had been detected at Bonneville Dam.  The total 2005 and 2006 brood smolt releases from Klickitat Hatchery were approximately 606,000 and 615,306 fish, respectively.  Using the PIT tags recovered at Bonneville Dam/5,000 PIT tagged Klickitat Hatchery smolts released = smolt to adult survival rate of 0.02% and 0.18% for the 2005 and 2006 broods, respectively. Applying this survival rate to the entire releases, then approximately 1,229 Klickitat Hatchery origin adult spring chinook, including 1,108 four-year-olds and 121 five-year-olds, have crossed Bonneville Dam through May 16.

Through May 13, a total of 82 hatchery and 5 wild adult spring Chinook had been counted at the trap at Lyle Falls.  The trap daily counts are available at http://www.ykfp.org/klickitat/Data_lyleadulttrap.htm.

The 2010 pre-season forecast (total return to the Klickitat) was 4,500 adults.

Yakima River – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco:  For the week of May 10-16, an estimated 18 hatchery spring chinook were harvested in the lower Yakima River (I-182 to Horn Rapids Diversion). For the season, an estimated 41 adult hatchery spring chinook have been harvested and 9 wild chinook have been released.

Lower Columbia from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line to the I-5 Bridge – Open to fishing for hatchery steelhead and hatchery Chinook jacks.   Through June 15, salmonid daily limit is 6 fish of which up to 2 may be hatchery steelhead.  Adult Chinook and all other salmon must be released.

On yesterday’s opener, bank anglers from Longview downstream averaged a steelhead kept/released per every 6 rods while boat anglers in the Longview area averaged one per every 9 rods based on mainly incomplete and completed trips, respectively.

Ringold – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco:  For the week of May 10-16, anglers harvested 105 adult hatchery spring chinook at Ringold. No wild chinook were reported in the fishery. For the season, an estimated 406 adult spring chinook have been harvested with 44 wild chinook released.

Bonneville Dam passage of Chinook through May 16 totals 221,282 adults.  This is the highest cumulative count to date since 2002 and the 3rd highest count to date (1977-current).

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met today and updated the upriver run to 340,000 adults at the Columbia River mouth.  TAC will continue to meet at least weekly to review passage at Bonneville Dam.

Non-treaty impacts to ESA-listed spring Chinook are projected to be 1.93% compared to the 2.3% guideline at a 340,000 run size.

At the current 340,000 run size projection, non-treaty fisheries are projected to have a remaining balance of about 1,200 upriver spring Chinook for harvest under the catch-balancing agreement.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the mouth to the Wauna powerlines – No report on angling success.  Through May 21, white sturgeon must be released.  Effective May 22 through June 26 white sturgeon may be retained daily.  Daily limit will be 1 fish, minimum size 41” fork length and maximum size 54” fork length. Catch-and-release fishing is allowed during non-retention days.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to the Marker 82 line – Boat anglers in the gorge and around Vancouver were catching some legals.  Just under half of the 143 sturgeon boats counted during last Saturday’s (May 15) flight were found from the Marker 82 line downstream to Corbett.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Open to fishing for shad.  No report on angling success.  Daily counts at Bonneville Dam are increasing with 775 fish tallied yesterday.  For daily counts see http://www.cbr.washington.edu/dart/adult.html, http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/op/fishdata/home.asp, or http://www.fpc.org/currentdaily/HistFishTwo_7day-ytd_Adults.htm.

For more information about shad including biology, history, where, when and how to catch them and how to prepare your catch  and some recipes, see http://www.wdfw.wa.gov/outreach/fishing/shad/shad.htm

TROUT

No plants for last week other than nine surplus hatchery winter run steelhead averaging 10 pounds each were released into Kress Lake near Kalama.

Update On Columbia Springers

May 17, 2010

WDFW announced this morning that Ringold on the Columbia and the Snake River will close for spring Chinook fishing at the end of this week.

The former closes as of 9:30 p.m. Friday, May 21 while the latter closes at the end of the same day.

Emergency rule change notices for both say “The upriver spring chinook run size is now expected to be 340,000 compared to the preseason forecast of 470,000.  Based on the current run size projection, the allowable catch of salmon has been achieved.”

A fact sheet from WDFW and ODFW out yesterday afternoon hinted this was coming. It reads:

* The Snake River sport fishery opened on April 20 and 24 for spring Chinook, depending on area.  Catch through May 8 is estimated at 559 fish kept and 10 released.  WDFW is estimating a total of 2,249 kept plus release mortalities in this fishery through May 21.

AMONG THE 2,500 SPRINGERS CAUGHT ON THE SNAKE, THIS ONE WAS LANDED BY JEFF MAIN OF SPOKANE AT LITTLE GOOSE DAM. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

* The Ringold sport fishery opened on May 1 for spring Chinook.  Catch through May 9 is estimated at 301 fish kept and 44 released.  WDFW is estimating a total of 542 kept plus release mortalities in this fishery through May 21.

* WDFW will consider closing these fisheries this week.

* At the current 340,000 run size projection, non-treaty fisheries are projected to have a remaining balance of about 1,200 upriver spring Chinook for harvest under the catch-balancing agreement.

* Non-treaty impacts to ESA-listed spring Chinook are projected to be 1.93% compared to the 2.3% guideline at a 340,000 run size.

A total of 29,502 upriver-bound Chinook have either been bonked or died through catch-and-release mortality in the sport fishery from the mouth of the Columbia up to Ringold and in the Snake, 117 percent of the allocation for a run of 340,000.

Non-treaty commercial netters have killed 9,071, or 62 percent of their allocation at the same run size.

Tribal fishermen have caught 38,327, or all but 1,453 springers available at 340K.

Citizens Recognized By WDFW

May 17, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Kim Thorburn, a retired physician from Spokane, has been named Volunteer of the Year by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for her efforts to help bring sage grouse and sharp-tailed grouse back to Lincoln County.

Thorburn, who has spent the past year radio-tracking birds relocated to the county by state biologists, was one of several Washington citizens recognized for their contributions during a WDFW awards ceremony May 13.

“Kim Thorburn’s dedication to this project has helped us keep track of these birds and given us a better understanding of their home range,” said WDFW Director Phil Anderson, who announced this year’s awards. “She’s a prime example of the important contribution citizen volunteers make to this department and to this state’s fish and wildlife resources.”

Sage and sharp-tailed grouse are both native to eastern Washington, but are now listed by the state as a threatened species.

In accepting her award, Thornburn brimmed with excitement as she announced that the first sage grouse released by WDFW since 2008 had just hatched chicks.

“I’m thrilled, and frankly surprised to win an award for something I enjoy doing so much,” she said.

Other citizen awards announced by WDFW for 2010 include:

* Organization of the Year :  The Renton Fish & Game Club received this year’s award for nearly four decades of work on WDFW lands in Okanogan County.  In that time, club members have built and repaired miles of fencing, cleared acres of weeds and brush and restored numerous riparian areas and springs.  This year’s “Omak Work Party” is dedicated to installing 1.5 miles of fencing on the Buzzard Lake Wildlife Area.

* Landowner of the Year:   For two decades, Ann Nourse has given WDFW access to a critical monitoring site for fish populations on her property on Taneum Creek in central Washington.  Despite opposition from neighbors, she has shown unwavering support for the long-term monitoring effort, earning the department’s recognition.

* Educator of the Year:   Since 1996, Ginger Gumm and Daniel Poleschook Jr. of Loon Lake have spent thousands of hours observing, photographing and studying common loons in Washington.  They have also been directly involved in collecting dead and dying loons and scheduling necropsies to document causes of mortality.  Their reports and articles have focused public attention on the hazard posed by lead fishing weights to loons and other birds.

OSP: On Spring Campout, High Schoolers Blast Elk Herd

May 17, 2010

Four Astoria High School students stand accused of multiple wildlife crime charges for allegedly shooting four elk in Northwest Oregon last month.

According to the Oregon State Police, the four boys were camping on state forest land in Clatsop County around April 9 when they went out “hunting.”

No season was actually open, but OSP says that one of the boys fired a rifle at a large herd of elk while another shot a shotgun at an injured one from a closer distance.

Of the four animals killed, one was a pregnant cow. Only a “small portion” of meat was taken; the rest was left to waste, according to OSP.

The juveniles, who were not named, were cited with the following wildlife crimes:

16-year-old male
* Unlawful Take of Elk – Closed Season (4 Counts)
* Wasting Wildlife (4 Counts)

15-year-old male
* Unlawful Take of Elk – Closed Season (4 Counts)
* Wasting Wildlife (4 Counts)

16-year-old male
* Aiding In A Wildlife Offense to wit: Unlawful Take of Elk – Closed Season

16-year-old male
* Aiding In A Wildlife Offense to wit: Unlawful Take of Elk – Closed Season

UPDATE: THE DAILY ASTORIAN HAS MORE ABOUT HOW THIS CAME TOGETHER, STARTING WITH HOW THE CULPRITS ALLEGEDLY SHOWED IMAGES OF THE ILLEGAL KILLS AROUND CAMPUS.

“One of the things we realized right away was that they were showing images, a number of images, to friends at the high school and talking about it,” OSP Sgt. Jeff Scroup said.

When an officer went to the high school to investigate further, there was no sense of shock or surprise, the usual response when a state trooper shows up.

“Everyone knew why we were there,” Scroup said.

Sig Sauer Joins Ranks Of Many NWS Advertisers On Facebook

May 17, 2010

With the mushrooming growth of Facebook, it should come as no surprise that those in the fishing and hunting world are showing up on the site. For instance, Northwest Sportsman.

We joined back in February, but this past weekend, SIG SAUER officially got on board. The New Hampshire-based company, which makes firearms for military, law enforcement and commercial use, and which advertises in our magazine, made the announcement during last weekend’s NRA annual meeting in Charlotte.

“With the explosion of Social Media over the past few years as a way to directly interact with your customers, a decision was made at SIG SAUER to join the revolution and open a Facebook Fan Page,” the company said in a press release. “The goal of the page is to create a place for fans to interact directly with the company and with other enthusiasts, where they can discuss and review SIG’s various products, its shooting team, Academy and learn about upcoming events.”

Bud Fini, SIG SAUER’s vice president of marketing said his company’s excited about tapping into the site.

“Companies around the world are beginning to realize the benefits of connecting directly with their customers through social media platforms, including Facebook,” he says.

You can find their fan page by typing in SIGSAUERInc on Facebook’s search page.

And that got us to wondering, what other Northwest Sportsman advertisers could you can find on Facebook? So we started punching in company names and found:

Pautzke Bait Company

Three Rivers Marine & Tackle

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Dick Nite Spoons

Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association

Brandon Glass of Team Hook-up Guide Service

Ocean Charters

Victoronix

Plano

Pavati Marine

Stevens Marine

Lyons Ferry Marina

Honda Marine

Rockaway Beach, Oregon

Nootka Sound Resort

Wooldridge

Clackacraft

Michelle Nelson Taxidermy

Wholesale Sports

Benchmade

Doug’s Boats & Outdoor

Bearpaw Outfitters

Bonneville Power Administration

Silverthorn Resort

Shandy & Sons Charters

Wild Strawberry Lodge/Alaska Premier Charters

Togiak River Lodge

Fred Meyer

Columbia Open Again For Salmonids

May 17, 2010

Just in case you overlooked it in the fishing pamphlet, the Columbia River between I-5 and Tongue Point near Astoria reopened for salmonid fishing.

You can’t keep adult Chinook, but the daily bag from May 16-June 15 in that stretch is six. That can include up to two adult hatchery steelhead or a pile of hatchery Chinook jacks (kings less than 24 inches).

While WDFW’s Robin Elhke has been pretty mum about the official summer steelhead forecast, some in the fishing industry are pretty excited.

““If early indications in local rivers are a barometer of what’s in store for steelhead anglers this summer then fishing should be outstanding,” said Trey Carskadon of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association in a press release. “Fishing’s already been good and will continue to improve each week into the summer.”

Last year resulted in historic highs with all-time daily records for steelhead passage broken at Bonneville Dam. So far this season, over twice as many have gone over (8,520) as through the same date last year.

Hatchery adult Chinook retention, daily limit two, is slated to start June 16 from the mouth of the Columbia up to Priest Rapids Dam.

“And this is just the start,” said Carskadon. “The Northwest is expecting to see a full season for summer Chinook with no closures expected for the first time in four decades; some good offshore salmon opportunity; a very good Buoy 10 season; some great fall Columbia River fall Chinook fishing and better returns on the North Coast for fall Chinook.  If ever there was a year to buy a fishing license this is it.”

Deadline Approaches For WA Hunt Permits

May 17, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Time is running short for hunters planning to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons.

Hunters have until midnight May 26 to submit applications for permits that qualify them to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

Permit winners will be selected by random drawing conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in late June.

Applications may be purchased from license vendors statewide or on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/special_permits.html .  Applications must be submitted on that website or by calling 1-877-945-3492 toll-free.

This year’s applications include a range of new hunting options for deer, elk, moose, and big-horn sheep recently approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, said Dave Ware, WDFW game division manager.

“Hunters have told us they want to be able to apply for a specific type of hunt – say, `buck deer’ or `second deer’ – rather than have all deer permits drawn from the same pool,” Ware said.  “This new application process gives them that option.”

Under the new system, hunters can submit applications in multiple special-hunt categories, Ware said. “Points” accrued by hunters toward special permits in previous years have been applied to each of the new permit categories created under the new system.

Instructions and details on special-permit hunts are described in the 2010-11 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet, available at WDFW offices, license vendors, and online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regs_seasons.html .  Additional information is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/permits/2010_changes_faq.html .

Before applying for a special-hunt permit, hunters must purchase an application and any necessary hunting licenses and transport tags online, by phone, or from a licensed dealer for each species they wish to hunt.  The cost for each application is $6.50 for residents, $60.50 for non-residents, and $4.10 for youth under 16 years of age.

Ware reminds hunters to update their mailing address in the system when purchasing their special hunting permit applications and licenses.  Each year, hundreds of special hunting permits are returned due to invalid addresses.

Results of the special-permit drawing will be available online by the end of June at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wa/specialhuntlookup . Notification postcards will be sent via mail by the middle of July.

Lake Chelan Area Fishing Report

May 17, 2010

(DARRELL & DAD’S GUIDE SERVICE PRESS RELEASE)

What’s hot is trolling the Bar for lake trout on Lake Chelan at dusk.  Rufus Woods has been producing nice numbers of 2 to 5 pound triploids.  This continues to be peak time for the catch and release season at Omak Lake for Lahontan Cutthroat.  Start making your plans to fish the June 1 opener on Grimes Lake.

On Chelan the very best of it for me has been the last hour of light on “the Bar” just off the Mill Bay boat launch.  T4 purple glow flatfish have been scoring on double- digit fish.  For some reason these fish have moved off there by morning and are replaced by 4 to 7 pound fish.  The lower basin and the face of Manson Bay have rounded out my morning repertoire of locations.  Those double glow Kingfisher lite spoons on the outriggers have been consistently connecting on the outrigger rods.

Fish the south end of Omak Lake for Lahontan’s.  Try trolling fast with Silver Horde darting plugs with the single hook harness or slow with Rushin’ Salmon Wobbler by Critter Gitter.  Remember single barbless hooks thru the end of May.

SPOKANE'S GUY BYRD SHOWS OFF A TYPICAL OMAK LAHONTAN; IT WAS CAUGHT MAY 3. (DARRELL & DAD'S)

The kid’s fishing party at the Chelan Golf Course was another rousing success.  This is a great event sponsored and supported by the Lake Chelan Sportsmen’s Club, the Chelan Falls and Wells Dam hatchery people, the Lake Chelan Golf Course and Hooked on Toys.  However, it would not happen without the efforts of Al Brooks, another of our areas unsung hero’s.  Thanks Al, for making a difference.

Your fishing tip of the week is to wet those knots before pulling them tight.  This will prevent the line from being weakened by heat generated friction.  It’s easy enough to lose fish without having that happen.  Your kid’s tip of the week and is to let them struggle just the right amount.  I watched my 8 year old granddaughter make another step in her angling career.  I was focusing my efforts on helping a younger grand kid and let her to her own devices.  She has “caught” a lot of fish where I have cast the rod, hooked the fish and handed it to her to reel in.  This time she caught a fish where she baited the hook, cast the lure, set the hook and landed the fish solo!  She was excited.  Think Mama bear and let them struggle to learn!

Seahawks Fishin’ This Weekend

May 14, 2010

(C.A.S.T. FOR KIDS FOUNDATION PRESS RELEASE)

The 4th Annual Seahawks Fish & Feast Charity Fundraiser for the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation will be hosting over 20 special needs children and their families for a morning of fishing with players, coaches, and sponsors, and an afternoon of festivities Sunday, May 16th starting at 7:30am off the docks of the VMAC Training Facility.

Players and coaches scheduled to participate this year include Deion Branch, John Carlson, Josh Wilson, Nick Reed, Mike Teel, Mike Reilly, Mitch Erickson, Ricky Foley, Coach Pat McPherson, and Coach Dan Butkus.

Twenty families have been invited through the local school district and various children’s agencies. Early Sunday morning will kick-off with a boater’s meeting, followed by 3 hours of guided fishing on Lake Washington. The boats will return for lunch provided by Famous Dave’s and festivities such as competing against player combine scores and an on-shore kids fishing tank. A vast silent auction will also offer several items from local businesses and the Seattle Seahawks.

“We are very excited for this year’s event!” says Andrea Estes, Development Consultant with C.A.S.T., “The Seahawks and our organization have worked hard to make this year’s event the best yet and will look forward to its outcome. The C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation truly values the support of our community and the unique opportunity for the kids that this fundraiser offers.”

The C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation, established in 1991, provides disabled and disadvantaged children an opportunity to enjoy a quality outdoor recreational experience through the sport of fishing.  The foundation, based in Renton, takes thousands of children fishing each year.  Each participating family receives fishing equipment to keep and learns all angling techniques enabling the continuation of outdoor recreation.

Special thanks to this year’s sponsors; Presenting Sponsor Pinnacle, Seahawks, Siemens, First Savings Bank Northwest, Ombrella, Argosy University, Amdian, Famous Dave’s, Top Pot Donuts and Prop Gallery.

To learn more about getting involved with next year’s event please go to www.castforkids.org and contact andrea@ae-consulting.net for more information.

Diamond 100% Ice Free, Booting Limits

May 13, 2010

(DIAMOND LAKE RESORT PRESS RELEASE)

Diamond Lake is 100 percent ice free, and the weatherman is calling for nice weather through this weekend.

The Forest Service says it will likely open the north end of Diamond Lake Campground beginning this weekend.

Now is the time to catch the trout Diamond Lake is famous for.  Most trout being caught are 13 to 15 inches in length, perfect for the frying pan. Many anglers are connecting with trout in the 18- to 20-inch class.

MIKE DEARDORFF, JIM HILL AND FRED BAKER OF THE JUNCTION CITY AND EUGENE AREAS SHOW OFF LIMITS OF 16- TO 19-INCHERS CAUGHT AT THE SOUTHERN OREGON CASCADES LAKE. (DIAMOND LAKE RESORT)

The water is cold, 45 degrees, and the best offerings have been Power Bait in rainbow, chartreuse, and orange colors plunked off the bottom with a sliding sinker and 18 inches leader.

Trolling Needlefish and other small lures have produced fish.  Trolling will only get better as the water warms.

A quarter million trout are waiting for anglers as Diamond Lake starts its fourth season following the 2006 treatment to rid it of trash fish.

You can call our marina for up to the minute reports or check out our website at http://www.diamondlake.net.

Fisheries NW Volcanoes Have Created

May 13, 2010

It was 30 years ago this month that I was sure the Germans had invaded the countryside of my youth.

I heard three muffled blasts that Sunday morning and ran outside to take up a position to plink at the Panzers.

They never came, probably a good thing for a kid armed with only a BB gun and dirt-clod grenades.

A far bigger gun had actually gone off – Mt. St. Helens splattering herself halfway to Berlin.

MT. ST. HELENS FROM THE SOUTH. (ROBERT KRIMMEL, USGS)

Upwards of 7,000 deer, elk and bear, some 12 million hatchery Chinook and coho fingerlings and 57 people died in the May 18, 1980, eruption.

As horrendous a toll as that was, brand-new landscapes were also created for wildlife.

The massive landslide that came off the volcano’s north face and triggered the eruption also plugged the outlets of Coldwater and Castle creeks. Two new lakes were born, and since stocking at one, they’ve both become quality trout fisheries for rainbows into the mid- to even high teens.

CASTLE CREEK VALLEY BECAME CASTLE LAKE WHEN LANDSLIDE DEBRIS FROM THE VOLCANO DAMMED THE TOUTLE RIVER TRIBUTARY. (ROBERT L. SCHUSTER, USGS)

IT’S BEEN THIS WAY for eons. Ocean plates colliding with and sinking under the North American continent fuel our rumbling, grumbling giants. And volcano building and erosion up and down the Cascades has created many lakes that Northwest sportsmen enjoy these days.

They’re not all alpine trout waters either. For instance, about 2,500 years before St. Helens went topless, she fired off a massive lahar that dammed up a low valley near the town of Toutle, says Willie Scott, a geologist at the Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver.

Water backed up, spinyrays were eventually stocked and today, you can find bass tournaments and great crappie fishing at Silver Lake.

2,500 YEARS AGO, A MASSIVE LAHAR DAMMED UP ANOTHER TOUTLE TRIB, CREATING WHAT WOULD EVENTUALLY BECOME SILVER LAKE, WHERE LONGVIEW'S CHRIS SPENCER CAUGHT THIS 19-INCH LARGEMOUTH ON TUESDAY, MAY 11. (CHRIS SPENCER)

Then there was the Electron Mudflow. Some 530 years ago, rock weakened by acids on the southwest face of Mt. Rainier suddenly gave way, says Scott.

Near the burg of Electron, where the mountains meet the Puget Sound lowlands, the flow was nearly 100 feet deep. It advanced into a side valley and plugged what once was “probably a marshy lowland forest,” he says.

The shallow lake, still studded with the stumps of drowned trees, is today’s Lake Kapowsin, known for its bass and panfishing.

From the flanks of Mt. Baker came lava and debris flows that served to enlargen Baker Lake, which supports good spring kokanee fishing. (Modern dams bullwark Baker and Silver).

And duck hunters can also give a tip of their camo hats to our seemingly idyllic snow-capped peaks.

“A lot of the areas like the Nisqually and Skagit deltas have grown from sediment swept down from volcanoes by lahar,” says Scott. “The Sandy River delta was built from lahars from Mt. Hood.”

WHILE GLACIERS carved out many Washington’s high lakes, lava flows are responsible for creating many of those on the Oregon side of the range, including a who’s who list of some of today’s better trout fishing waters.

Scott says Lake of the Woods, and Davis and Waldo Lakes owe their origins to such.

“Sparks, Lava and Hosmer were all dammed by young lava flows – the ones that built Mt. Bachelor,” he adds.

LAVA LAKE, WHERE KOLE HENDRICKS CAUGHT THIS RAINBOW, IN FALL 2008 WAS CREATED WHEN LAVA FLOWS BLOCKED A STREAM VALLEY. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

(Washington’s Merrill Lake, on the upper Kalama, was similarly created.)

The headwaters of many of Oregon’s most celebrated trout streams – the McKenzie, Williamson, Deschutes and Metolius – have their beginnings in cool, fertile springs bubbling up through the basalt too, says Scott.

Then there are the crater lakes – and not just That One. Paulina and East Lakes, known for brown trout and kokanee fishing, sit in Newberry Crater, a half-million-year-old, still-active volcano.

MANY OREGON CASCADES LAKES AND RIVERS OWE THEIR ORIGINS TO LAVA FLOWS (RIGHT) BLOCKING VALLEYS, BUT HERE PAULINA AND EAST LAKES SIT IN ANOTHER VOLCANIC FORM, THE CRATER OF A SHIELD VOLCANO. (LYN TOPINKA)

Reflecting on all that volcano-related activity, Scott says, “Damn, that’s what’s created fishing in the Northwest.”

Well, there was that little spill in the Columbia Basin known as the Missoula Flood, and that whole Canadian ice cube thing that left so many lakes in Pugetropolis. But what happened at St. Helens in our times, and what’s occurred throughout the Cascades back when, show that some of our best fisheries are hot in more than one sense.

A NO-GO ZONE STILL

When St. Helens erupted, the landslide that created Castle and Coldwater lakes also sluiced Spirit Lake, its contents and ol’ Harry Truman up over a ridge and down the Toutle Valley.

What was left of the lake was a gray, log-filled anoxic dead zone.

SPIRIT LAKE, POST-ERUPTION. (LYN TOPINKA, USGS)

But eventually life returned, and so too did rainbow trout. The first, nicknamed Harry, was netted in 1993.

“The fish really took off in 2000,” notes Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife biologist John Weinheimer in Vancouver.

During sampling in July of that year he held one that was over 2 feet long – an amazing size for a lake where the forage base was relatively small organisms.

TITLE PAGE FROM A WDFW PAPER FROM THE EARLY 2000s SHOWING WEINHEIMER AND A VERY LARGE RAINBOW FROM SPIRIT LAKE. (WDFW)

Spirit was not supposed to be stocked and it’s still a mystery who put Harry back in the lake, but now that the fish are there, Weinheimer and a local fly fishing club are among those who’d like to open the lake to limited fishing. It would present anglers with a nearly out-this-world fishing experience just outside the volcano’s crater.

However, the lake and 30,000 surrounding acres have been set aside for scientific study, a one-of-a-kind chance to record how plants and animals come back from catastrophic eruption.

“The pace (of recovery) is picking up,” notes Peter Frenzen, a U.S. Forest Service researcher.

He likens it to a snowball effect. Recent winterkills and more liberal state hunting management have led to an elk population more in line with the carrying capacity inside the blast zone, what has essentially been a giant meadow. And that’s allowed trees to not only take root but flourish.

“There are some fairly happy tree seedlings that have their tops,” says Frenzen.

Scientists say the area should remain closed to public access.

“Some people say, ‘It’s been 30 years; aren’t you done yet?’ But if you think about the life of a forest, 30 years is nothing,” says Frenzen. “Some of the most interesting things are just starting to happen. The experience continues.”

They had enough friends in the state legislature this year to again kibosh fishing plans that were passed out of the House but died in budget reconciliations.

Meanwhile, the window for catching those really big fish at Spirit appears to be fading as the fish stabilize with habitat and feed themselves. But as the May issue of National Geographic notes, there are still lots of 20-inchers in the shallower waters.

What’s Fishin’ In Washington

May 12, 2010

Springers biting in Southwest, South-central and Southeast Washington, more trout heading for North Sound waters, anglers battling good numbers of halibut in the Straits, good rainbow action in North-central and the far eastern part of the state, shrimping in South Sound — why, there’s something for every sort of Evergreen State anglers right now.

Here’s a roundup ripped straight from WDFW’s Weekender:

NORTH PUGET SOUND

Spring fisheries are under way and anglers have their pick of several fishing opportunities in the region. Halibut and lingcod seasons are open, shrimping is still an option in one marine area and hungry trout are biting at many of the region’s lakes.

WDFW is adding more trout this month to several of those lakes, including Lone Lake in Island County; Green, Meridian and Sawyer lakes in King County; Mountain Lake in San Juan County; Pass, Campbell and Vogler lakes in Skagit County; Gissburg Lake in Snohomish County; and Squalicum and Toad lakes in Whatcom County.

Under statewide rules, anglers have a daily limit of five trout on most lakes. Released legal-sized trout, caught with bait, count toward the daily bag limit. Complete information on stocking schedules for rainbow, cutthroat and triploid trout is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/

Anglers should be aware that Rattlesnake Lake in King County, which opened to trout fishing April 24 with a five-fish limit, switched to a year-round, catch-and-release fishery May 1. Selective gear rules still apply.

On Puget Sound, anglers are hooking some nice lingcod . Catch counts at the Armeni Ramp indicate 15 anglers caught nine lingcod May 8 and seven anglers checked five lings the following day. Elsewhere, seven anglers at the Edmonds sling brought home six lingcod May 5, while 39 anglers checked at the Everett ramp caught seven lings May 9. During the hook-and-line season (May 1-June 15), there’s a one-fish daily limit for lings, with a minimum size of 26 inches and a maximum size of 36 inches.

The halibut season also is under way. The season is scheduled to run through May 30 in marine areas 6-10, where fishing will be open three days a week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – and closed Sunday through Wednesday except for Memorial Day weekend when those marine areas will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Anglers have a daily limit of one halibut and there is no minimum size limit.

Shrimping is still an option in the north Sound, but only in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), which will be open May 21 and 22. Shrimp fisheries in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) are closed. More details on the shrimp fishery are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/shrimpreg/ .

Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all fisheries on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA

Halibut, shrimp, lingcod, clams and trout dominated fishing in the first half of May and – with rivers set to open the first Saturday in June – the good times are just beginning.

CALEB ASHER, 4, SHOWS OFF A PAIR OF 20-PLUS-INCHE RAINBOWS FROM TEAL LAKE IN JEFFERSON COUNTY. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Bad weather and nasty ocean conditions during parts of the razor-clam season last fall and winter will pay dividends May 15-16 when up to four ocean beaches will open for one last dig. Normally the diggers have met the annual beach harvest quotas by now, but this season’s slow start left enough clams for another May outing. The openings will begin on morning tides on the following beaches and end both days at noon:

* Saturday, May 15, 8:15 a.m., -1.6 ft.: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks
* Sunday, May 16, 8:58 a.m., -1.6 ft.: Long Beach, Twin Harbors only

Kalaloch beach in Olympic National Park will remain closed to clam digging both days.

Diggers should be aware 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.

Dan Ayres, WDFW’s coastal shellfish manager, estimates that by the time this dig closes 4 million razor-clams will have been harvested from Washington beaches. That is up considerably from the 2.9 million average for the past 10 years. So, too, is the number of diggers. Since the season opened last October, approximately 300,000 trips were made to dig clams, well over the 10-year average of 239,000 digger trips.

Shrimpers will also get another crack at a daily limit this month in Discovery Bay and in Marine Area 11 (Tacoma/Vashon).  After the catch for the initial openings in those areas, WDFW extended the season on the following days:

* Discovery Bay Shrimp District :  7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, May 20, and Saturday, May 22.
* Marine Area 11 :  7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, May 20

Discovery Bay opened to shrimping May 1 and May 5 for the first time since the season closed in 2005.  However, shrimping was fairly slow, allowing shrimpers additional time on the water.

The best shrimping earlier this month was on Hood Canal where Mark O’Toole, WDFW’s Puget Sound shrimp management biologist, described the season this way: “Last Wednesday 85 percent of the boats limited. Shrimping just doesn’t get any better than that.”

In the three days it was open nearly 68,000 lbs. of shrimp were hauled in from Hood Canal, so it looks like Wednesday, May 12 will be the final day of the fishery. The abundance of shrimp wasn’t unexpected. When test pots were hauled up from Hood Canal in April they contained more shrimp then had been seen in pots there for the past decade.

Shrimping rules are published in the state’s annual Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which is sold in stores that sell fishing licenses. That information is also available on WDFW’s web site at ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations ).

On the coast, halibut fishing also proved productive, once the weather improved.  “Rough weather delayed the openings at Ilwaco, but once the weather improved the fishing was pretty good,” said Heather Reed, WDFW’s coastal marine resources policy coordinator. “At Ilwaco they averaged a half a fish per person, and the halibut were good size, averaging 23 lbs. There was great fishing out of Westport, but the fish were smaller – about 14 lbs. Neah Bay opens Thursday (May 13) and Port Angeles is going gangbusters.”

At the end of this month, the Port Angeles Salmon Club will hold its annual Halibut Derby over Memorial Day weekend, May 29-30. The entry fee is $40, with $20,000 in prizes. To learn more go to http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/event/halibut-derby )

Halibut openings for Washington’s marine areas are:

* Columbia River (Ilwaco): Marine Area 1 opened May 1, and will remain open three days a week, Thursday through Saturday until 70 percent of the quota is reached, or through July 18. The fishery will then reopen on Aug. 6 and continue three days a week (Friday through Sunday) until the remaining quota is reached, or through Sept. 26, whichever occurs first. The 2010 catch quota is 13,436 pounds.
* South Coast (Westport/Ocean Shores): Marine Area 2 opened May 2, two days a week, Sundays and Tuesdays. During the fourth week in May the fishery will be open Sunday only (May 23). Beginning the following week the fishery will resume the Sunday, Tuesday structure until the quota is reached. The northern nearshore area opened May 2, seven days per week and will remain open until the quota is reached. The 2010 catch quota is 35,887 pounds.
* North Coast (La Push/Neah Bay): Marine areas 3 and 4 will open on May 13, two days per week, Thursdays and Saturdays, through May 22. If sufficient quota remains, the fishery will reopen June 3 and 5. If sufficient quota remains after that opener, the fishery will reopen starting June 17. The 2010 catch quota is 101,179 pounds.
* Strait of Juan de Fuca/Puget Sound: Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will be open May 28 through June 19. Marine areas 6 through 10 (Strait, Port Angeles Admiralty Inlet and Everett) will be open May 1 through May 30. These fisheries will be open three days a week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, closed Sunday through Wednesday except for Memorial Day weekend when they will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The 2010 combined catch quota for these areas is 50,542 pounds.

Anglers should be aware of a couple of changes in effect for the first time this year in Marine Area 2. The retention of lingcod seaward of the 30 fathom line will be allowed on days that the primary halibut season is open. Also, the boundary of the northern nearshore area has changed so that it lines up with the coordinates of the 30-fathom line.  The northern nearshore area will go from 47 31.70 N. lat south to 46 58.00 N. lat and east of the 30 fathom line.

In the Strait and Puget Sound, the halibut and lingcod fishing was best up north. Creel counts at the Ediz Hook boat launch in Port Angeles had 258 anglers catching 147 halibut on May 7. The following day, at the same boat launch, creel counts showed 210 anglers with 68 halibut.

In the north Sound, anglers were having luck catching Pacific halibut, lingcod and kelp greenling off the Coronet Bay public ramp. In south and central Puget Sound, fishing was slow to non-existent.

With better weather, fishing for lingcod continues to improve off the coast, says Erica Crust, WDFW’s ocean port sampler. Crust observes that private boats have begun venturing out, and the catch rate on charter boats continues to be good.

Crust reminds anglers that recreational fishing for bottomfish (excluding lingcod during halibut season) is not allowed in waters deeper than 30 fathoms in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) from March 15 through June 15.  However, anglers may retain sablefish and Pacific cod in these waters from May 1 through June 15. Retention of canary and yelloweye rockfish is prohibited in all areas.

The minimum size for lingcod in marine areas 1-3 is 22 inches, while the minimum size in Marine Area 4 is 24 inches. All areas are open seven days a week. Additional information about the lingcod fishery and other bottomfish is available on the WDFW Fishing Hotline (360) 902-2500 or online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .

On Saturday (May 15), hundreds of kids will show up at American Lake Park in Lakewood for this year’s Kid’s Fish-In event. For $10, kids 14 and under get a Zebco rod and reel, which they get to keep, a Kids’ Fish-In tee shirt and time on American Lake to catch a couple of good size trout. Pre-registration was required, but in the days leading up to the fish-in there were still time slots available. To learn more, or to sign up for the event, go to ( http://www.gopaw.org/kids_fish-in_program ) or call (253) 983-7887. Or, say Lakewood Parks and Recreation officials, just show up Saturday.

To view which lakes have been stocked by WDFW, or soon will be, click on ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/ .  For tips on fishing options by water and county go to ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/prospects/ ).

SOUTHWEST

The spring chinook fishery is now closed on the mainstem Columbia River from the mouth to McNary Dam, but anglers are still catching springers on a number of tributaries to the big river.  In addition, sport fishing opens May 16 for hatchery steelhead and hatchery jack chinook below the Interstate 5 Bridge and for shad below Bonneville Dam.

Anglers will be allowed to catch and keep up to two hatchery steelhead as part of their six-salmonid daily limit in the mainstem Columbia. Shad don’t count, since there’s no daily limit or minimum size.

Meanwhile, there’s still a chance that the sport fishery could reopen for spring chinook on the Columbia, but only if the number of fish counted at Bonneville Dam significantly exceeds current expectations, said Guy Norman, WDFW regional manager for southwest Washington.

“Given the catch to date, it doesn’t look like there’s room for more sport opportunity,” Norman said.  “The run will have to bust out of the range on the high side to provide more opportunity.”

Norman’s comments were based on a new run-size forecast of 350,000 upriver spring chinook, with a range of 330,000 to 370,000 fish.  The update is down from the pre-season forecast of 470,000, but would still represent the second or third-largest upriver run since at least 1938. The record is 440,000 fish in 2001 followed by the next year with nearly 335,000 fish.

Lower river anglers caught 23,533 upriver spring chinook by the time fishing ended April 18. The catch above Bonneville Dam was expected to reach 3,400 fish by May 10, when fishing came to a close.

Among the tributaries, Drano Lake was still the hotspot during the week ending May 9, when creel checks found that just over half of the boat anglers took home a spring chinook under crowded conditions.   Bank anglers averaged a fish for every 3.5 rods. Anglers are reminded the lake is closed to all fishing on Wednesdays through May.

Bank angling was slow on the Wind River last week, but just over 40 percent of the boat anglers caught a spring chinook.  Conditions can also get crowded on the Wind, although fishing is now open above Shipherd Falls, helping to relieve some of the pressure.  Fishing above the falls is open upstream to within 800 yards of the Carson National Fish Hatchery, but is closed 400 feet below the coffer dam and 100 feet upstream of the coffer dam.

Elsewhere, anglers have been catching a mix of hatchery spring chinook and hatchery summer-run steelhead on the Kalama, Lewis, Cowlitz and Klickitat rivers.  Deep River recently re-opened from the mouth to town bridge, providing additional fishing opportunities for both species. Lake Scanewa, on the upper Cowlitz River, is also now open for hatchery spring chinook fishing. The lower East Fork Lewis and Washougal rivers are open to fishing for hatchery summer run steelhead under selective gear rules (no bait) until the general season begins in early June.

Daily limits for anglers fishing the Cowlitz, Lewis and Kalama rivers include up to two marked adult chinook, plus two marked adult steelhead.  Anglers can take two hatchery chinook or two hatchery steelhead or one of each at the Wind River, Klickitat River or Drano Lake.  In all cases (except the upper Wind River), unmarked wild fish must be released.

Mark-selective fishing rules will also be in place during the summer chinook fishery, which opens June 16 from the mouth of the Columbia River to Priest Rapids Dam.  Anglers will be allowed to keep up to two marked hatchery fish but will be required to release any wild summer chinook they intercept.

With 89,000 summer chinook expected this year, fishery managers hope to keep the fishery open from mid-June through July, said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.  Moving to a selective fishery will help ensure a full season, while preserving wild broodstock for the new Chief Joseph Hatchery, scheduled to open in 2012, he said.

Starting May 22, fishing for white sturgeon will open seven days per week through late June below the Wauna powerlines on the mainstem Columbia River. The daily limit is one fish with a minimum fork length of 41 inches and a maximum of 54 inches.  Hymer said sturgeon fishing has been picking up above the Wauna powerlines, where more than a hundred boats and 62 bank anglers were counted during a recent overflight.

Above Wauna, anglers may retain one white sturgeon per day between 38 inches and 54 inches in fork length on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  Anglers are reminded Bonneville Dam downstream 9 miles to Marker 82 is closed to fishing for sturgeon and Sand Island Slough near Rooster Rock is closed to fishing for all species including sturgeon.

In The Dalles Pool, boat anglers have been catching bass and walleye , while those fishing Merwin and Yale reservoirs have been reeling in kokanee .  Anglers with an appetite for trout should be aware that the following waters were stocked during the first week of May:

* Fort Borst Park Pond near Centralia: 2,019 catchable size rainbows.
* Lewis Co. Park Pond near Toledo: 580 triploid trout averaging 1.5 pounds each.
* Lake Sacajawea in Longview: 2,222 catchable size rainbows.

LARGEMOUTH ARE BEGINNING TO GUARD THEIR NESTS AROUND WASHINGTON. CHRIS SPENCER OF LONGVIEW CAUGHT THIS 19-INCHER YESTERDAY. (CHRIS SPENCER)

EASTERN

Glen Mendel, WDFW district fish biologist in Dayton, said the latest creel checks show hatchery spring chinook salmon fishing on the Snake River is starting to pick up in the Clarkston area.

The last check in the Ice Harbor Dam area shows 11 shore anglers with one harvested hatchery chinook for an average catch rate of 66 hours per fish, and nine boat anglers with two harvested hatchery chinook and one released wild chinook for an average catch rate of 42 hours per kept fish.  About 300 chinook have been harvested in the fishery since it opened April 20.

Creel checks in the Little Goose Dam area show 44 anglers on the “wall” (walkway area in front of the juvenile fish collection facility near the dam) with seven harvested hatchery chinook and one released wild chinook for an average catch rate of 29 hours per fish kept; 71 shore anglers with 13 harvested hatchery chinook and eight released wild chinook for an average catch rate of 33 hours per kept fish; and 16 boat anglers with no fish.

Meanwhile, creel checks in the Lower Granite Dam area show seven shore anglers with no fish and three boat anglers with one released wild chinook. The Clarkston area fishery check showed five shore anglers with one harvested hatchery chinook for an average catch rate of about nine hours per fish kept, and 23 boat anglers with three harvested hatchery chinook for an average catch rate of 36 hours per fish kept.

Mendel notes that updates on run numbers are expected soon. Anglers should check WDFW’s website for any changes in the fishery.

Only hatchery-marked (adipose-fin-clipped) chinook of at least 12 inches can be retained in these fisheries, with a daily catch limit of two adults and four jacks (less than 24 inches). One exception on the catch limit is in the area near Little Goose Dam, including the “wall,” where only one jack and one adult can be retained. All steelhead and all wild chinook must be released immediately. Barbless hooks no larger than 5/8-inch from point to shank are required for all species except sturgeon. See all the rule details at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=887 .

Rainbow trout fishing continues to be productive at many of the region’s well-stocked waters.  WDFW Spokane Fish Hatchery Manager Ace Trump recently reported seeing five-fish limits reeled in within three to four hours by a couple of anglers at southern Stevens County’s Deer Lake. “They were pulling plugs and fishing between four and 12 feet down and staying in around 15 feet of water,” Trump said.  “They picked up most of their fish in the narrows.  I was pulling plugs at around 18 to 20 feet down in 22 to 30 feet of water and picked up one rainbow and two fairly nice lake trout .”

WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area Manager Juli Anderson said rainbows are biting at the area’s walk-in-only Z-Lake. Anderson reminds anglers that rattlesnakes and ticks are out now with warmer weather, so be prepared.

NORTH-CENTRAL

With an expectation of about 11,000 spring chinook salmon on their way to the Icicle River in Chelan County, a fishery will begin May 13 on a section of that waterway.

WDFW Northcentral region fish program manager Jeff Korth says up to two salmon of 12-inch minimum size can be harvested daily in the Icicle River from the closure signs located 800 feet upstream of the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.

Korth says that although upper Columbia River spring chinook have been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the salmon returning to the Icicle River are not listed under the ESA.  With about 1,000 salmon needed for hatchery broodstock, the size of this year’s run means remaining fish will be available for harvest.  A night closure will be in effect. Anglers must release fish with one or more round holes punched in the tail of the fish (caudal fin).  These fish are part of a study and have been anesthetized so there is a 21-day ban on consumption of these fish.

The Icicle salmon fishery is expected to run through July 31.

WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist Bob Jateff of Twisp reports that despite recent cooler weather, Pearrygin Lake, Conconully Reservoir and Conconully Lake continue to provide good fishing for rainbow trout.  Most fish coming out of those waters are running 10-12 inches with winter-carryover fish up to 15 inches.  WDFW Enforcement Officer Cal Treser recently checked shore fishermen on Pearrygin who averaged two fish each.

Jateff also reports selective-gear-rule lakes such as Big Twin and the Sinlahekin’s Blue are producing good catches of rainbows in the 12-16 inch range.  Rat Lake, near the town of Brewster, is catch-and-release-only under selective gear rules and can provide some very fast fishing for rainbows 10-14 inches, plus a few brown trout .  Aeneas is a fly fishing only lake, but is producing excellent catches of rainbow in the 14-16 inch range in addition to brown trout up to 18 inches.

Treser also reported shore anglers at year-round Patterson Lake, west of Winthrop, were recently using Powerbait to catch trout. A boat angler on Patterson was catching a lot of yellow perch .

“Fishermen need to remember to pick up their waste fishing line and lure wrappers,” Treser said. “I have had a couple of birds recently entangled by fishing line, including one loon.”

SOUTH-CENTRAL

Fishing for spring chinook salmon is closed from the mouth of the Columbia River to McNary Dam, but anglers are catching an increasing number of springers in the Yakima River.

Paul Hoffarth, WDFW district fish biologist from Pasco, reports that an estimated 20 hatchery spring chinooks were harvested in the lower Yakima River during the week ending May 9. In addition, eight wild chinook were caught and released. Anglers averaged 39 hours per chinook, up slightly from a year ago.

Creel reports indicate an estimated 225 adult hatchery marked (clipped fin) spring chinook were harvested at Ringold for the week of May 3-9.  An estimated 44 wild chinook were caught and released.  WDFW staff interviewed 166 anglers, 18 percent of the effort during the week. Anglers averaged one chinook for 17 hours of fishing, eight hours better than a year ago. For the season, 301 hatchery steelhead have been harvested.

Hoffarth reminds anglers that, because of budget cuts, this will be the last spring chinook fishery at the Ringold. It will remain open for hatchery steelhead and other species.

The daily limit is two hatchery-marked chinook (clipped and healed adipose fin) of at least 12 inches. Wild salmon (adipose fin intact) must be immediately released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release. Gear is restricted to one, single-point, barbless hook with a hook gap from point to shank of 3/4 inch or less.  Use of bait is allowed. Fishing for steelhead remains closed. All steelhead must be immediately released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release. For all rule details, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .

Eric Anderson, WDFW’s district fish biologist for Yakima and Kittitas counties says there have been lots of anglers on the Yakima River, and that fishing has begun to pick up after a slow start.

“We’re seeing more fish in the river,” said Anderson. “Just yesterday (May 11) anglers kept six hatchery fish and released seven wild salmon. The hatchery is continuing to stock catchable-size trout in area lakes and ponds.”

Many of the region’s lakes are open and stocked year-round. A schedule of all lake trout stocking can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/stocking/weekly/ .

Anderson and Hoffarth remind anglers that many streams in central and eastern Washington will remain closed until the June 5 opener to protect downstream migrating salmon and steelhead smolts and spawning trout and steelhead.

Anderson and Hoffarth note that the Yakima Greenway Path and several boat launches provide excellent access to the Yakima River from Selah to Union Gap. Maps can be found at http://www.yakimagreenway.org/map.html.
There is also access at Harrison Road and from the Yakima Canyon Highway above Harrison Road. Boaters should be aware that the river can be a challenge to float, particularly from the Terrace Heights Bridge down to Century Landing at Union Gap. For the lower reach of the Yakima, access maps are posted at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/salmon/when_where_best_area-yakima.htm .

WDFW Reopening Some Shrimp Areas

May 12, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE RULE CHANGE NOTICE)

Recreational spot shrimp fishing reopening in
Marine Area 11 and Discovery Bay

Action: Recreational spot shrimp fishing will reopen for one day (Thursday, May 20) in Marine Area 11 and two days (Thursday & Saturday, May 20 & 22) in the Discovery Bay Shrimp District.

Effective date:

Marine Area 11: 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Thursday, May 20, 2010.

Discovery Bay Shrimp District: 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Thursday, May 20 and Saturday, May 22, 2010.

Species affected: Spot shrimp.

Location: All waters of Marine Area 11 and the Discovery Bay Shrimp District.

Reason for action: Sufficient recreational spot shrimp quota remains for more days of fishing.  The standard Wednesday weekday open day is being shifted to Thursday to avoid a less favorable minus tide.

Other information: The Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) shrimp fishery closed at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12, and will not reopen.  Due to the extremely high catch rates this season in Hood Canal the quota has been attained in four days and no additional days of fishing will be allowed.  Marine Area 7 will be open from one hour before sunrise on Friday, May 21 until one hour after sunset on Saturday, May 22.

Contact: Mark O探oole, La Conner, (360) 466-4345 ext. 241 or Brandon Bryant, La Conner (360) 466-4345 ext. 247.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

May 12, 2010

Spend the next two days filling out your special permit applications — they’re due Saturday, May 15 — because there’s a mess of fishing going on across Oregon for this weekend.

The Rogue’s been hot for springers, stocker trout are still flooding into lakes across the western half of the state, hatches are coming off of Central Oregon rivers and there are lings and shellfish to be had on the coast.

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

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Trout stocking is well underway on area lakes and ponds. Check out the stocking schedule to help plan your next trip.
  • Chinook fishing on the middle and upper Rogue River is starting to pick up and should continue to improve as more fish enter the upper river.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • South, Town and Cape Meares lakes are scheduled to be stocked with legal size rainbow trout the week of May 10. Trout scheduled to be stocked in Hebo Lake will instead be split between South and Town lakes, increasing the number fish released into those lakes. Fishing should be fair to good in many of the lakes and ponds that have been stocked this spring.
  • 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.
  • Wilson River: Steelhead angling is fair to good. Fish should be spread out. Many fish are dark and should be released, but a few bright summer steelhead are available also. With water levels dropping, bobber and jigs will be very effective. Angling for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook is slow, but should improve over the next few weeks.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • ODFW will host free youth fishing events Saturday, May 15 at Sunnyside Pond near Sweet Home and Alton Baker Canoe Canal in Eugene. These sites will be stocked with extra trout and ODFW staff and volunteers will be available to help youngsters with fishing gear and technique.
  • Spring chinook are still being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel.
  • More than 19,000 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 receive its fourth stocking of 10,000 trout this week.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Warmer days are bringing some good insect hatches on the Deschutes and Crooked rivers.
  • Crane Prairie Reservoir is ice-free and trout fishing has been great.

UMATILLA ZONE

  • The Umatilla spring chinook season is under way with the area downstream of Threemile Dam producing good catches of spring chinook.
  • There will be a fishing event May 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Peach Pond. The pond is located on Ladd Marsh near La Grande.  Loaner rods and reels, and bait will be available for new anglers who don’t have their own.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Angling is CLOSED for spring chinook in the lower Columbia from the Buoy 10 line upstream to McNary Dam.
  • Summer steelhead angling opens May 16 between Tongue Point and the I-5 Bridge.
  • The shad fishery will open May 16 below Bonneville Dam.
  • Sturgeon fishing is good in the gorge below Marker 82.

MARINE ZONE

  • The bottom fish bite was off and on last week; the weekend saw good landings in various ports. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.
  • There are two more minus tide series this month: May 12-19 and another 24-31. 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.

Icicle Springers Open Thursday, May 8

May 11, 2010

A complete total newbie salmon fisherman – a guy who may not be able to tell you the difference between a cut-plug herring and a plug nickel – will walk away with a springer on the Icicle Creek opener if Thursday, May 13’s opener goes like those in recent years.

It’s been all but automatic on the small eastern Cascade Mountains stream. Scott Fletcher did it in May 2008, Albert Alcala did it the year before and some dude from Texas lassoed one in 2006.

Like the others, Fletcher – a Californian better versed at appraising houses and landing bass – found himself at Hooked On Toys (509-663-0740) in Wenatchee with an itch to catch salmon right before season opened. He’d heard Don Talbot was the guy to talk to, and sure enough, the sharpie showed him how to rig up a red-and-white Spin-N-Glo and 8- to 16-ounce pyramid weight, depending on current, and plug cut a herring.

All Fletcher had to do was show up at 3 a.m., wait for legal fishing light – and then wait some more.

“I stuck it out when everyone else had left, and about 9:15 a.m. my rod went off with the fight of my life,” he recalls when we spoke to him last spring. “He turned out to be 10 pounds, 10 ounces. It was the best looking fish I had ever seen.”

SCOTT FLETCHER'S OPENING-DAY 2008 ICICLE CREEK SPRINGER. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

THERE SHOULD BE A WHOLE LOT more good-looking fish this season too.

WDFW says that a whopping 11,000 are on their way back to the hatchery; they only need 1,000 to meet eggtake goals. So far, 9,536 springers have gone over Rock Island Dam, including 51 PIT-tagged fish headed for the Icicle. A total of 150 Leavenworth fish with the passive integrated transponders have been counted at Bonneville Dam this year.

The creek is open from the closure signs located 800 feet upstream of the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.

Daily limit is two salmon, but those with one or more round holes punched in their tail must be released. They’re part of a study and have been anesthetized; the FDA requires a 21-day ban on consumption of these fish. There’s also a night closure in effect.

When the Icicle opens, you may find a bleery-eyed Shane Magnuson of Upper Columbia Guide Services (509-630-5433) and his bleery-eyed clients (whom he meets as early as 3 a.m.) anchored up in his Willie drifter midcrick.

“It’s a sit-and-wait fishery,” he told us last year. “Most of the time those fish are going to run up from the Wenatchee first thing in the morning or last thing in the day. But if it’s high, it can get a midday run.”

Travis Collier, manager of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, confirms the salmon’s early-running nature, based on passive integrated transponders, or PIT tags, in the fish.

“There’s a lot of movement in the mornings, entering into the ladder from midnight to 7 a.m.,” he says.

Not only are these moving fish, but because the Icicle lacks any real depths, you’re not fishing this like other king streams.

“We find a run slot and run a 3- to 4-ounce cannonball and a No. 2 Spin-N-Glo and red-package whole herring,” Magnuson says.

He can get his herring to spin with special hook placement, but says you can get the same effect with an anchovy helmet. Greens, chartreuses and limes are good winged bobber colors, he says.

On warm days when the river colors up from runoff, he may break out a diver and M2 FlatFish.

“But as soon as it gets any clarity, you gotta go back to bait because the fish get spooked by them.”

There’s only about 2.7 miles of creek – “It’s a river in the springtime,” corrects Magnuson – to fish from a drifter, and much, much less from the bank. Best shore access is from 500 feet downstream of the hatchery to its hard turn north, primarily plunking water with a bit for drift-fishing on the corner.

There’s also room for two anglers on friendly terms to fish below the East Leavenworth Road Bridge.
Take-out is about 1 mile below the Icicle’s mouth, on the Wenatchee’s south side. The lower 800 feet of the creek have been closed to fishing.

OVER THE PAST eight years, the Icicle has opened in May’s back half, but most springers have been caught in June, according to preliminary catch stats from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

“They really come in pulses,” says Collier. “You gotta be here when the run shows up.”

But fish are also bonked in May and, he notes, into July.

“They’re still quality fish. They haul through the system,” Collier says.

Watch its progress past Columbia River dams by monitoring PIT tag passage of “LEAV” fish at cbr.washington.edu/
dart.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT HOOKED, Don Talbot’s probably looking for yet another bright-eyed newbie.

“With a rookie, no problem,” he told us last spring. “You gotta have someone who’s optimistic, with optimism in his heart.”

The personification of that – and, well, cheapness – might have been that 2006 Texan. Talbot says the angler would only spend $40 on a rod and reel, refused to buy waders for the frigid water, but did spring for some “really nice” sand shrimp.

“I told him to cast it like a bass lure,” Talbot says. A toss or two later, bam, fish on.

Alcala was plunking a herring below the hatchery. Fletcher’s no longer a newbie. He went on to record 25 more salmon on his catch card that year, including summer kings and sockeye, and he’s now sending us shots of triploids and upper Columbia steelhead as well.

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS LARGELY BASED ON ONE THAT RAN IN OUR MAY 2009 ISSUE, ON PAGES 84 AND 85.

Fishing Groups Blast WA DOE

May 11, 2010

Sport and commercial fishing interests today blasted the Washington Department of Ecology’s decision to deny a petition to aid downstream migration of threatened salmon by increasing water releases in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

“In denying our petition which would allow for increased spill, Ecology is ignoring the number one tool available to help our Northwest salmon economy recover and become strong again,” said Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, in a press release. “Spill is a proven, effective action that helps to ensure that there will always be sustainable salmon runs for the people and communities that depend on them. But with Washington’s standards in place, the fish will be denied the spill they so desperately need.”

NSIA and others filed the petition March 8 but say DOE shot it down in a decision dated last Friday, May 7.

“This is an extremely disappointing decision,” said Glen Spain, Northwest Regional Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, a trade organization for West Coast commercial fishing families. “We filed this petition to help give salmon more of what they need to survive, as well as help the coastal and inland communities who depend on them for their livelihoods.  In denying our Petition, Ecology is ignoring both science and economic reality.”

According to a press release from the group, which also includes Earthjustice, even in low water conditions, spilling water over the dams has helped produce some of the best returns of salmon and steelhead seen in many years. The returning salmon have given a shot in the arm to sport and commercial fisheries in the Columbia River at a time when the rest of the West Coast salmon fishing picture has been a disaster.

However, spill in the Columbia and Snake Rivers is currently artificially constrained by Washington’s total dissolved gas (TDG) standards and the petition sought to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spill water in greater volume than is permitted under current restrictions. Ecology is refusing to spill to levels requested by fish managers for protection of baby salmon as they make their journey to the ocean, the press release says.

It continues, saying Washington’s standards allow a TDG level of 120 percent in the area immediately below a dam’s spillway (the tailrace), but erroneously restrict it to 115 percent in the area just above the next dam downstream (the forebay). The petition asked Washington to remove the 115 percent forebay TDG limit or increase it to 120 percent, since the current limit is artificially capping what regional fish managers have said is needed for increased salmon survival. In 2006, for example, the existing 115 percent limitation reduced spring spill for salmon migration by 4.1 million acre feet, and led to reduced numbers of salmon and steelhead that survived migration through the lower Columbia and Snake River dams, according to the Fish Passage Center.

“The State of Oregon did the right thing and changed its spill standard last year to benefit salmon, but Washington is simply refusing to follow suit – even though both states considered the issue in a joint process,” said Earthjustice attorney Amanda Goodin in the release. “We had hoped Washington would follow that lead and adopt the same common-sense, biologically-sound approach to give endangered salmon a better chance of surviving. Unfortunately, that proved too much to expect, and salmon will suffer due to this disappointing decision.”

A long article in a recent Northwest Fishletter looks at how spill in the Columbia and Snake has affected sockeye stocks.

SW WA Fishing Report

May 11, 2010

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Anglers are catching a mix of spring chinook and steelhead.

A CLIENT OF GUIDE ANDY SHANKS SHOWS OFF A MIDSPRING CHINOOK FROM THE COWLITZ. (ISLAND GUIDE SERVICE)

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 545 winter-run steelhead, 35 summer-run steelhead, 288 spring Chinook adults and 24 jacks during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 81 spring Chinook adults, twelve jacks, and five winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa at the Day Use Park above Cowlitz Falls Dam and 110 spring Chinook adults, 14 jacks, and two winter-run steelhead into the upper Cowlitz River at Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, Washington.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,540 cubic feet per second on Monday, May 10. Water visibility is ten feet.

Kalama River – Anglers are catching a mix of spring chinook and steelhead.

Lewis River – Generally light effort and catch.  Most of the catch has been summer run steelhead.

Wind River – Just over 40% of the boat anglers had caught a spring chinook last week.  Bank angling, including in the gorge, was slow.

Drano Lake – Just over half the boat anglers caught a spring chinook last week.  Bank anglers averaged a fish per every 3.5 rods.  Effort has been heavy, especially on Thursdays.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers from Fisher Hill Bridge downstream are catching a mix of spring chinook and summer run steelhead.

Yakima River – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WA: An estimated 20 hatchery spring chinook were harvested in the lower Yakima River this week. In addition, 8 wild chinook were caught and released. Anglers averaged 39 hours per chinook.

RingoldFrom Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WA: An estimated 225 adult hatchery spring chinook were harvested at Ringold for the week of May 3-9.  An estimated 44 wild chinook were caught and released.  WDFW staff interviewed 166 anglers, 18% of the effort during the week. Anglers averaged one chinook for 17 hours of fishing. For the season, 301 hatchery steelhead have been harvested.

Upriver run size update:

  • Bonneville Dam passage of Chinook through May 9 totals 194,901 adults.  This is the highest cumulative count to date since 2002 and the 3rd highest count to date (1977-current).
  • The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met today and determined the upriver run will likely be about 350,000 adults (range 330,000-370,000).
  • TAC will continue to meet at least weekly to review passage at Bonneville Dam.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to the Marker 82 line – Catch of legal size fish is increasing though effort remains similar to past weeks.  Just over 100 boats and 62 bank anglers were counted during the Saturday May 8 flight.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some of both species.

TROUT

Plants of rainbows into SW Washington waters last week:

Fort Borst Park Pond near Centralia – 2,019 catchable size rainbows

Lewis Co. Park Pond near Toledo – 580 Triploid Trophy Trout averaging 1.5 pounds each

Lake Sacajawea in Longview – 2,222 catchable size rainbows

Freak Show Rolls On: Near-9-pd Koke

May 10, 2010

Look up “serendipity” today and you might see a pic of Northwest Sportsman magazine next to the listing. With our May issue all about the kokanee of Northeast Oregon’s Wallowa Lake, the water promptly put out another state record for us.

NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN'S MAY ISSUE FOCUSES ON WALLOWA LAKE AND ITS KOKANEE.

True, you’ll also probably find us next to the definition for “blind-ass luck,” but the latest beast is an 8-pound, 13-ouncer, caught Saturday by Bob Both of nearby Lostine.

BOB BOTH AND THE NEW STATE RECORD KOKANEE. (BOB BOTH)

“It was impressive,” says Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist Bill Knox who stopped by the Joseph Sports Corral to see it. “It was big and deep, and thick from side to side.”

He says the final paperwork is still to come in, but it will be the next state record.

Eagle-eyed Joel Shangle of Northwest Wild Country Radio alerted us after Both posted a bit about the kokanee and his setup on Ifish:

… It was an 8.85 pound fish that had a length of 26 inches and a girth of 17 1/4 inches. I caught the fish on a green and red wedding ring with a silver smile blade and shoepeg corn. I was also using a Luhr Jensen Bolo and was fishing 18-20 feet deep in 23 feet of water.

The fish put up a good fight, going airborne four times, according to Both’s tale. An on-the-water digital scale reading said 8.14 pounds, but he took the fish to town for an official score.

It’s the third new record of 2010 and 7th in a spectacular record-wrecking run that began in 1999.

“I don’t know if this will be the last one,” says Knox.

In fact, Both, who retired from the U.S. Forest Service’s Enterprise fire crew three years ago and hit the lake very hard last year, doesn’t expect it to last long.

“It’s a record for now,” he said when reached at home this afternoon.

Previous high marks included Wan Teece and her 8.23-pounder caught in March, Gene Thiel and his 7-pound, 8-ounce koke caught in February and Jerry Logosz and his 7-pound, 1-ouncer caught last July.

BOTH'S KOKE IS A HALF POUND HEAVIER THAN THE PREVIOUS RECORD, AN 8.23-POUNDER CAUGHT IN MARCH BY ANOTHER LOCAL ANGLER. (BOB BOTH)

Both says he has frozen the koke and will send it to a taxidermist in Minnesota to have it mounted.

Knox reports that Wallowa is still pretty cold — 42 degrees on top — and that we’re still on the early side of the good fishing period.

“The fishing’s actually quite slow,” says Knox, “but quite a bit of what they’re catching are big fish.”

Both, however, has got it dialed in with his Wedding Ring/Smile Blade/corn/Bolo Blade setup, limiting last Friday with five fish that weighed a total of 20.21 pounds and five more out of the lake today, the biggest of which was 22 inches.

Once you find fish, stay on them, Both tips.

So far this year, he says he’s caught 83 over 16 inches, but he doesn’t consider himself to be a trophy angler.

“I don’t go up there to catch a record,” Both says. “I go up there to catch them, and smoke and can them. I make a pretty mean kokanee dip.”

That said, his catch edges even closer to the standing world record, 9 pounds, 6 ounces from Lake Okanagan, in British Columbia.

Knox isn’t willing to comment on whether that mark will be broken, but there’s more than the usual crowd interested in Wallowa.

“When they’re catching fish that size that early in the year,” says Gary Miralles, a kokanee tackle maker we spoke to for our May issue, “the fish are going to gain weight in April, May, June, even July. There’s no doubt in my mind there’s one over 9 pounds. I wouldn’t doubt if a new world record came out of there … I think whoever has the biggest fish by July wins. I plan on spending some time up there myself in June and July.”

Springer Run ’10: around 350K

May 10, 2010

Oregon and Washington salmon managers today said that the spring Chinook run back to tribs above Bonneville Dam will end up somewhere around 350,000, with a range of 330,000 to 370,000.

That’s well below the preseason forecast, but is at the lower end of the seven predictions that were averaged to come up with that figure of 470,000.

Through yesterday, 194,401 springers had topped Bonneville, “the highest cumulative count to date since 2002 and the 3rd highest count to date (1977-current),” according to a fact sheet from ODFW and WDFW.

Another 32,336 springers had been caught in sport and commercial fisheries below the dam, while sport anglers had landed 4,297 in the middle Columbia and Snake so far.

“The run has to get to something near 400,000 to consider any more lower river fisheries,” said Cindy Le Fleur of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife this afternoon.

She says managers will meet each Monday to review the latest data.

“We’re still in the peak of the run — that halfway point,” Le Fleur says.

With room in their quotas, tribal fishermen were greenlighted for a 3.5-day mainstem gillnet fishery above Bonneville as well as a below-dam season for the pricey salmon (going for $19.99 a pound filleted at my grocery store yesterday).

True Barn Door Caught In Straits

May 10, 2010

An estimated 225-pound halibut was landed in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca Saturday by Woodinville, Wash., angler Ryley Fee.

RYLEY FEE (LEFT) AND HIS ESTIMATED 225-POUND HALIBUT. (COURTESY RYLEY FEE)

According to his Facebook page, the 75-inch-long fish yielded over 130 pounds of fillet.

Fee credits the team of anglers he was with on the water west of Port Townsend and north of Discovery Bay. He describes the bite and fight on Piscatorialpursuits:

“We picked this fish up on a mound northwest McCurdy Pt. between Dallas and the Yellow can in 180 F.O.W. Fish bit a Black Label herring with a Silver Horde 10 inch Splatterback Hoochie skirt over the herring, 125# test leader off a spreader.

FEE AND FISH. (COURTESY RYLEY FEE)

“That’s probably the biggest one I’ve heard of caught so far,” says WDFW’s Larry Bennett, a longtime catch sampler for the norther Olympic Peninsula.

He says a pair of 200-pounders were also brought back to John Wayne Marina as well this season, and on Saturday, Isaac Buell hauled in an unexpected 149-pounder to Port Townsend.

Bennett says Buell and a friend had actually been out lingcod fishing near Partridge Point, on Whidbey Island, when they hit that fish — plus a 49-pounder.

Fee’s fish is right up there with some of the larger halibut landed in the Strait in recent seasons. Bob Aunspach at Swain’s in Port Angeles, a store which holds an annual halibut derby, says he’s seen fish from 150 pounds up to 220 to 230 pounds in the back half of this decade.

“Sure is a big fish,” adds Ron Garner, a local big-but catcher. “There are some big barn doors out there.”

The state record is a 288-pounder caught at Swiftsure Bank, at the west end of the Strait by Vic Stevens in September 1989.

By all accounts, halibut fishing in the Straits is pretty good so far this year.

“Probably the best I’ve ever seen – ever,” Aunspach says. “Good numbers — a lot in that 50-and-under range. Some really big catches.”

Adds Lori Peterson, a WDFW catch sampling manager, “We’re averaging a fish a boat in Area 6.”

According to Bennett, 952 anglers in 452 boats caught 415 halibut in three days of sampling at five different ramps. Friday saw some of the best catches — 147 flatties for 258 anglers aboard 116 boats that docked at Ediz Hook, he says.

“A lot of fish in the 20- to 25-pound range — that’s probably average,” he says.

Last week’s tides were very good for fishing — minimal movement — but a daytime minus tide might make it tough this weekend, Bennett says.

While the catches are good, he says something else is going on: “We’ve got everyone and his brother out there — that’s kind of panic fishing.”

Last year, season was open 31 days, he says, this year only 13 days due to reduced quotas from Federal managers.

Halibut fishing in Area 6 is open May 1-May 22 Thursdays through Sundays, and May 28, 29 and 30, daily limit one.

Asked if we’ll see any more monster’s like Fee’s over the next three weekends, Garner responds, “I think so.”

His cell phone’s voice message indicates he just might be on the water those weekends too.

Fee will have more on his catch later this week.

Over on the Pacific, Terry Wiest of SalmonUniversity says that the halibut there seem to be “noticeably smaller” this year. He and a friend did find a pair in the upper 20s to low 30s this past weekend out of Westport.

A PAIR OF 100-POUND-PLUS HALIBUT FOR CONNIE AKERILL AND JERRY, FISHING WITH PACIFIC SALMON CHARTERS. (MARK AKERILL)

For an interesting recounting of the weather-delayed opening day of season out of Ilwaco, check out Scott Sandsberry’s article

EDITOR’S NOTE: AN EARLY VERSION OF THIS STORY SAID THAT FEE HAD CAUGHT THE FISH YESTERDAY, SUNDAY, MAY 9. THAT WAS INCORRECT; HE CAUGHT IT THE DAY BEFORE, MAY 8.

Mid-Columbia To Close For Springers

May 7, 2010

UPDATED 12:40 P.M.: Oregon and Washington salmon managers announced this afternoon that the mid-Columbia River will close Monday, May 10, for spring Chinook.

The decision affects the river from the Tower Island power lines (roughly 6 miles below The Dalles Dam) upstream to McNary Dam as well as the Oregon and Washington banks from Bonneville Dam to the Tower Island power lines.

They estimate that through May 9, 3,400 springers will have been caught in that stretch by sport anglers.

With the current return estimate of 310,000 to 370,000 upper Columbia system springers, a “closure is necessary to ensure other fisheries have similar opportunity at the reduced run size level,” a fact sheet out this morning says.

However, the managers reopened hatchery salmon and steelhead fishing in the four SAFE areas near the mouth of the Columbia starting tomorrow, May 8. They had closed Youngs Bay, Knappa Slough and elsewhere after a large number of upriver-bound springers unexpectedly moved into them.

“Based on the results of the test fishing and limited commercial fishing in the Select Areas, the number of upriver fish in these areas has decreased and is expected to remain at low levels,” the fact sheet says.

Overall, 174,000 springers have passed Bonneville Dam as of May 6, “the highest cumulative count to date since 2002 and the 3rd highest count to date (1977-current),” the fact sheet states.

It also indicates that the overall recreational and commercial upriver springer catch from the mouth up into the Snake and upper Columbia through May 9 will stand at 36,623.

ANGLERS LIKE JEFF MAIN OF SPOKANE HAVE BEEN CATCHING SPRING CHINOOK IN RECENT DAYS ON THE SNAKE RIVER. THIS ONE BIT AT "THE WALL" AT LITTLE GOOSE DAM. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

3 More Springer Spots Opening

May 7, 2010

Even as the springer run over Bonneville appears more and more like it won’t meet preseason predictions, WDFW and ODFW today announced three more openers in the Columbia River system.

With around 800 Chinook already at Washington’s Scanewa Lake according to local fisheries biologist Wolf Dammers, the Cowlitz River reservoir will open May 8 for hatchery Chinook, daily limit six, but only two adults.

“Guys come over from Yakima to fish it,” he says. “There can be, on a busy weekend, 100 boats.”

Tacoma Power trucks the springers up from the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery to the remote lake, also known as Cowlitz Falls Reservoir.

“They’re in real good shape,” says Dammers of the fish.

He says radio-tagging work show that they tend to hold in the reservoir for a long time, but the fishery’s limiting factor is runoff from Mt. Rainier’s glaciers which clouds the water when it warms up, typically by early June.

“Most of the guys use herring,” Dammers says. “That’s the bait of choice.”

He says springers will be put into the lake as long as the salmon hatchery has a surplus. Tacoma Power also has been plunking springers into the Cispus River and Skate Creek, both of which are open now.

Up in Northeast Oregon, the Wallowa and Imnaha Rivers will open May 22, ODFW said this afternoon. Managers expect a total of 3,000 adult springers to both rivers, and while runoff might make things a go of it early on, catch rates are expected to rise as flows drop, a biologist says.

Meanwhile, a Columbia River salmon manager this afternoon still didn’t have word whether we’d reached the midpoint of the run which is expected this week.

“We’re right in there,” said Cindy Le Fleur at WDFW’s Vancouver office.

When the midpoint is know, managers can say whether or not there will be additional fisheries.

In recent days, the dam count has begun tailing off; yesterday, 4,289 went over Bonneville, though the count was as high as 9,184 as recently as Monday. Peak day was 11,697 on April 21, with total passage through May 5 of 167,659.

Earlier this week, managers indicated the run could end up somewhere between 310,000 and 370,000, and today’s Northwest Fishletter has two more guesses:

Another passage predictor developed by the University of Washington has estimated that about 63 percent of the upriver run had passed Bonneville Dam by May 2, and pegged the return at about 262,000 fish. A different UW analysis pegged the return to Bonneville at 49 percent.

The preseason forecast was 470,000, an average of seven different predictors that spat out run sizes from 366,000 to 528,000.

Last Clam Dates Tentatively Set; Diggers Spent $27m

May 6, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced a tentative razor-clam dig scheduled for later this month on several coastal beaches.

A final decision will be made next week after marine toxin tests are run to determine if the clams are safe to eat. If the tests come back as expected, four ocean beaches will open on Saturday, May 15 and two beaches will open the following day. The openings are all on morning low tides. They are:

* Saturday, May 15, 8:15 a.m., -1.6 ft.: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks.
* Sunday, May 16, 8:58 a.m., -1.6 ft.: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only.

Kalaloch beach will remain closed.

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 birds are particularly vulnerable this time of year,” said Ayres. “Signs clearly mark the area and instruct people to stay on the hard-packed sand.”

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.

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. Options include buying 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 licensing options are on the WDFW website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov .

Licenses can be purchased online or at any of the approximately 600 vendors who sell recreational licenses. A list of vendors is at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/

The next razor-clam season will likely open in October. Ayres says the precise date will depend on tides, the results of marine toxin tests, negotiations with tribes that share the fishery and WDFW’s razor-clam assessment, which will be conducted this summer.

Prospective clammers for this month’s dig should be warned that overnight and weekend repairs to Interstate 5 between Tacoma and Lacey will make it considerably more difficult to get to and from Washington’s coast. A schedule of closures can be found at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/pavementrehab/i5martinwayto48thst

Ayres estimates that approximately 300,000 trips will have been made to Washington beaches to dig clams by the time this season closes. Since the season opened last October, an estimated four million razor-clams were harvested from beaches that stretch from the mouth of the Columbia River north to Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park. That number is considerably higher than the 2.9 million average for the past 10 years. Ayres says the larger harvest reflects an increase in the total number of clams available “compliments of Mother Nature.”

WDFW also estimates that razor-clam diggers spent approximately $27 million during their visits to coastal communities during this season. The estimate is based on data collected during a survey of Washington razor clam diggers, sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and conducted by the University of Washington.

T

ODFW To Talk Groundfish

May 5, 2010

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Meetings in five Oregon ports will discuss sport and commercial groundfish issues for 2011 and 2012.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) is currently setting harvest levels and management measures for the next two years of recreational and commercial groundfish fishing. Eight West Coast groundfish species are declared overfished with six of those species affecting fisheries off Oregon.

In April the PFMC adopted preferred harvest levels for both depleted and healthy stocks, as well as a range of management measures for all groundfish fisheries. At the next PFMC meeting on June 12-17 in Foster City, Calif., the council will take final action and adopt management measures that will be recommended to the National Marine Fisheries Service for implementation.

“It is important that fishers attend the ODFW meetings so they can tell Oregon’s representatives to the PFMC what messages to give the council,” said Gway Kirchner, Assistant Program Manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Resources Program.

The meetings will be:

  • Astoria, 7 to 9 p.m. May 17 at the Holiday Inn Express, 204 W. Marine Drive;
  • Newport, 7 to 9 p.m. May 18 at the Holiday Inn Express, 135 SE 32nd St.;
  • North Bend, 6 to 8 p.m. May 19 at the North Bend Library, 1800 Sherman Ave.;
  • Brookings, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. May 20 at the Best Western Beachfront Inn, 16008 Boat Basin Road, Harbor;
  • Port Orford, 6 to 8 p.m. May 20 at the Port Orford Library, 1421 Oregon St.

The meetings will start with a general session to discuss harvest levels, then commercial and sport fishing breakout sessions to discuss specific management measures. If individuals are unable to attend the meetings, input can be submitted by e-mail at gway.r.kirchner@state.or.us or by calling Gway Kirchner at 541-867-0300 ext. 267. Input may be received up until June 10.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

May 5, 2010

Limits of rockfish out of Garibaldi and lings biting elsewhere; trout in a plethora of ponds; springers surging upstream into the Rogue and lower Columbia tribs;  youth angling events — sheesh, there’s a ton of fisheries around Oregon to check out this weekend!

Here are highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Trout stocking is well underway on area lakes and ponds. Check out the stocking schedule to help plan your next trip.
  • Chinook fishing on the middle and upper Rogue River is starting to pick up and should continue to improve as more fish enter the upper river.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • South, Town and Cape Meares lakes are scheduled to be stocked with legal size rainbow trout the week of May 10. Trout scheduled to be stocked in Hebo Lake will instead be split between South and Town lakes, increasing the number fish released into those lakes. Fishing should be fair to good in many of the lakes and ponds that have been stocked this spring.  Warmwater species will begin to be more active as lakes warm up, although cool spring weather is slowing that process.
  • Spring Chinook are available in Big Creek, Gnat Creek, and the NF Klaskanine. Good opportunities are available in these streams for adipose fin-clipped Chinook that have passed through the select area fisheries. The select area fisheries remain closed at this time, allowing fish to continue to move into these tributaries.
  • Nestucca River: Steelhead angling has been fair. The catch is a mix of bright summer steelhead and winter steelhead in various conditions. Many of the winter steelhead are dark and should be released. Bobber and jigs are working well as the water drops, but drifting small lures or baits near the bottom is producing fish also. Spring chinook will begin to sow in small numbers any time now. Fishing will improve in May. Concentrate on tidewater or lower river areas early in the season. Bobber and eggs is a good technique. Casting spinners in tidewater areas will produce some fish also.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • ODFW will host a free youth fishing event Saturday, May 8 at Commonwealth Lake. The lake will be stocked this week with more than 200 legal-sized and larger rainbow trout. ODFW staff and volunteers will be at the site from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help youngsters with fishing gear and technique.
  • Several huge brood trout will be released at various sites throughout the month of May. These are fish that have been used to produce eggs at ODFW’s Roaring River hatchery and need to be removed to make way for younger brood stock. The first one to be released was a 29-pound trout that was released in Timber Linn Pond near Albany. The other sites and release dates are as follows: Canby Pond (May 7), Walter Wirth Pond in Salem (May 13), Waverly Lake, Albany (May 14), Sunnyside Park Pond, Sweethome (May 21), and Thistle Pond, west of Alsea, (June 12).
  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel.
  • More than 14,000 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 receive its fourth stocking of 10,000 trout this week.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Warmer days are bringing some good insect hatches on the Deschutes and Crooked rivers.
  • Crane Prairie Reservoir is ice-free and trout fishing has been great.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • The Umatilla spring chinook season is under way with the area downstream of Threemile Dam producing good catches of spring chinook.
  • There will be a fishing event May 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Peach Pond. The pond is located on Ladd Marsh near La Grande.  Loaner rods and reels, and bait will be available for new anglers who don’t have their own.

MARINE ZONE

  • Ocean conditions did allow some fishers to get out for bottom fish last week. Only Garibaldi reported fishers getting limits of rockfish. Most other ports reported three or four rockfish per angler caught. About one in four anglers caught lingcod along the coast. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.

Cabela’s Coming To Eugene Area

May 4, 2010

Cabela’s today announced plans to open a store in Springfield, Ore., next year, according to a press release from the company.

The Beaver State’s first Cabela’s, the 58,000-square-foot facility will be located in the Gateway Mall at 3000 Gateway Street.

Construction is expected to begin in mid-August.

The Sidney, Nebraska-based company has three other stores in the Northwest; Lacey, Wash. (185,000 square feet), Boise (175,000 sq. ft.) and Post Falls (125,000 sq. ft.), Idaho.

The new store will include an aquarium, conservation-themed wildlife displays and trophy animal mounts as well as a gun library, fly fishing shop, general store and bargain cave.

For the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, it presents another group to work with as it tries to get more folks outside.

“Cabela’s brings a strong tradition of supporting hunting, fishing and camping through clinics and classes. We look forward to possibly partnering with them to get people outdoors,” says David Lane, the agency’s marketing coordinator in Salem.

New Springer Run Guess: 310K-370K

May 4, 2010

Even though the count at Bonneville is the highest it’s been since 2002 and third highest since 1977, it looks like the upriver spring Chinook forecast may come in lower than anticipated.

“It is still too early for TAC to provide a reliable point estimate but TAC provided a range of 310,000-370,000 based on passage to date,” a fact sheet from Washington and Oregon fishery managers out this morning says. “TAC also estimates that the run timing for 2010 is somewhat earlier than the very late runs seen in the last five years, and anticipates that the 50% passage date will likely occur sometime this week.”

A total of 158,562 have gone over the dam through May 3, nearly 50,000 more than the 10-year average. Another 35,275 that would have have been killed in sport and commercial fisheries (below Bonneville: sports: 23,533; nets: 8,787; another 2,955 middle and upper Columbia and Snake river non-treaty fisheries).

This year’s prediction called for 470,000 above-Bonneville springers. However, that number is actually an average of seven different forecast models that rang up a runsize of anywhere from 366,000 to 528,000.

There’s no word about any general Lower Columbia fishing reopener in the fact sheet — managers are still waiting to do that early-May run update — but commercial fisheries at four SAFE areas down by Astoria was approved late this morning.

“Volunteer test fishing conducted in Youngs Bay upstream of the Old Youngs Bay Bridge on Sunday, May 2 showed a high abundance of locally-produced spring Chinook (110 fish observed) with zero upriver fish,” the fact sheet states.

They were closed a couple weeks ago because of large catches of upriver-bound Chinook there.

The fact sheet says that, depending on how those go, sport fishing may be reopened at Deep River, Knappa Slough, Tongue Point and Youngs Bay.

There’s room in the preseason guideline for about 3,000 more of those springers to be caught by sports and netters below Bonneville.

SW WA Fishing Report

May 3, 2010

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Some spring chinook and steelhead are being caught.  Most of the chinook are being caught at the barrier dam while steelhead are being caught throughout the river.  Anglers should note the south side of the river from Mill Creek to the Barrier Dam is closed to all fishing through mid June per permanent regulations.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 1,105 winter-run steelhead, 26 summer-run steelhead, 614 spring Chinook adults and ten jacks during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.  Tacoma Power employees released 271 spring Chinook adults, four jacks and 22 winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa at the Day Use Park above Cowlitz Falls Dam, 237 spring Chinook adults, three jacks and 14 winter-run steelhead into the upper Cowlitz River at Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, Washington, and one winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,540 cubic feet per second on Monday, May 3. Water visibility is nine feet.

Kalama River – Some spring chinook and steelhead are being caught though the river has been turbid at times.  The first 7 spring chinook of the year returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery last week.

THE KALAMA YIELDED THIS SPRINGER LAST WEDNESDAY. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Lewis River – Generally light effort and catch the couple days we sampled.  A couple hundred spring chinook were in the Merwin Dam trap today.

Wind River – Slightly less than one in every 3 boat anglers had caught a spring chinook when sampled last week.  Bank anglers at the mouth were also catching some fish.

No report from Shipherd Falls upstream that opened May 1.  However some fish should be present as total passage of hatchery chinook at the Shipherd Falls trap through April 25 was approximately 300 fish.  The trap was pulled on Sunday, April 25.  There will be no further counting of chinook through the trap until early June, 2010.

Drano Lake – Just over 40% of the boat and bank anglers had caught a spring chinook when sampled last week.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream are catching some spring chinook and summer run steelhead.

Bonneville Pool – Some spring chinook are being caught by bank anglers just outside the mouth of Drano Lake.

The Dalles Pool – About one in five bank anglers while one in six boat anglers had kept/released a spring chinook when sampled last week.  Overall 82% of the fish caught were kept.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth Washington Dept of Fish & Wildlife District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WAFor the week of April 26 – May 2, an estimated 558 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 282 salmon anglers this past week and sampled 90 hatchery chinook. For the season, an estimated 1,453 adult hatchery chinook have been harvested and 298 wild chinook were released.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam – Sturgeon catch has improved from Kalama upstream with one in five boat anglers keeping/releasing a legal size fish last week.  Effort remains light with just over a hundred boats and 40 bank anglers counted during the Saturday May 1 flight.

The Dalles Pool – Slow for legal size fish.  Wednesday May 5 is the last day of the year that sturgeon may be kept from The Dalles Pool.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – The few boat anglers sampled did well on walleye.  Some bass were caught by bank anglers.

John Day Pool – The few boat anglers sampled did well on bass and walleye.

TROUT

Last week’s trout plants:

Kress Lake near Kalama – 19 surplus hatchery winter run steelhead averaging 10 pounds each;

Battleground Lake – 4,000 catchable size cutthroats and 1,500 rainbows averaging ¾ pound each;

Klineline Pond – 4,000 catchable size cutthroats;

Lacamas Lake near Camas – 10,000 catchable size browns

Anglers Urged To Write Seattle Mayor

May 3, 2010

With word that there’s been a “pause” in awarding a bid to build the long-awaited new sockeye hatchery on Western Washington’s Cedar River, anglers are being asked to email Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and tell him to trust the science of state, tribal and city biologists.

“Some of us believe the sockeye run is just as important as the Space Needle,” reads an “action alert” being forwarded to fishermen and recreational angling interests today.

It follows up on WDFW’s release of an independent review of the salmon in the Lake Washington system as well as a Seattle Times article that indicates the document could affect the plans to expand the hatchery.

The review said that too many sockeye fry flooding into the lake in odd years hurts adult returns, and finds other factors that may be at play in the salmon’s up-and-down cycles, and which have been down since 2006.

“My expectation is we will go on pause,” Judith Noble at Seattle Public Utilities told Times reporter Lynda V. Mapes in an April 28 article.

SPU is building the facility, which for years had been tied up in court, but then earlier this year got a final permit to begin construction.

WDFW will hold a public meeting May 28 in Issaquah to talk about the document; Mapes’ article indicates that tribal bios aren’t too pleased with it.

The fishery is immensely popular when it opens; around 60,000 were caught by sports anglers alone during the last opener, in 2006.

Anglers are being urged to write McGinn (Mike.Mcginn@seattle.gov) as well as cc acting SPU chief Ray Hoffman (ray.hoffman@seattle.gov) and WDFW director Phil Anderson (Philip.Anderson@dfw.wa.gov) in their own words about how wonderful the sockeye fishery is, that they understand there’s new science, to not just pull the plug on the project, and that adaptive management is the way to proceed.

The email says there are ways to get around the production bottleneck for fry at the lake’s south end such as trucking the fish to “the middle of the lake where this is adequate food.”

For more, see the text here.

A spokesman at the mayor’s office could not immediately be reached for comments.

Wind, Wind, Go Away!

May 3, 2010

The calendar says May, but it might as well be March — the start of the month that comes in like a lion.

Northwest anglers have been battling strong winds for about a week and a half now, including on Washington’s trout opener.

I found myself in the thick of the gale last Thursday on Drano Lake, well known for windy days, but talking and emailing with other anglers today, battles with the breeze have also been taking place on Puget Sound and Drano again yesterday, Wind River on Saturday and across the Columbia Basin for the past week.

“Right now we’re in the middle of a dust storm,” growled Northwest Sportsman writer Leroy Ledeboer in Moses Lake around 1:30 p.m. today.

So nobody’s out fishing walleye on the lake, Leroy?

“Hahahahahahahahaha,” he laughed maniacally. “You’d have to have a pretty big boat and be kinda nuts.”

The Basin’s covered in a massive wind warning that extends from Snoqualmie Pass to Devils Lake, North Dakota while large swaths of Northeastern Oregon fall under dust storm warnings.

Basically, the fish get the day off.

Johnny Burg at the National Weather Service in Seattle says today’s storm is typical of a winter one, but that the jet stream has also directed its focus at the Northwest over the past week.

Temps should be in the mid-60s, but they’re only in the low 50s, he says; the snow level’s down to 2,000 feet.

Remember those warm days last January and February, the ones that made me weep about my melting ice fishing coverage?

Recent weather is “just Mother Nature’s way of saying ‘Now you’re going to pay for the good weather last winter,'” Burg says.

That’s A Lotta Perch!

May 3, 2010

A whopping 300,000 yellow perch were netted out of Phillips Reservoir last month — six to seven times as many as last year’s effort.

ODFW put nets into the Eastern Oregon lake, once a popular and lucrative trout fishery, for two and a half weeks right after ice-off when the fish come shallow, reports the Baker City Herald.

The perch were illegally stocked at some point during the 1980s or 1990s are so crazily productive that they’ve overpopulated the lake and stunted themselves.

We wrote about the perch problem last fall. Here are some images from last spring’s haul, which netted an estimated 46,500 perch:

HAULING IN A NET SET FOR PERCH, PHILLIPS RESERVOIR 2009. (ODFW)

NET FULL OF PERCH, PHILLIPS RESERVOIR 2009. (ODFW)

PERCH NETTING AT PHILLIPS RESERVOIR 2009. (ODFW)

ODFW also netted two years in a row in the mid-2000s, gathering a total of 300,000.

This year, the dead ones were hauled off to a farmer’s field, the paper notes. The agency will also net next spring, the Herald writes.