Archive for August, 2010

A Flame Run To Buoy 10

August 31, 2010

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll know that from time to time I make flame runs to far-flung fisheries.

Yesterday, it was Buoy 10 again.

If I’d been a little more on the ball, I would have just stayed in the area after my flame run down from Seattle on Saturday afternoon for a friend’s wedding in St. Helens, Ore., but … forethought is not my specialty.

But despite a lack of sleep, I did manage to make fairly decent mental notes about Monday’s fishing trip with Buzz Ramsey of Yakima Bait and Pure Fishing, Rob Phillips of the ad firm Smith, Phillips & DiPietro which handles Yakima/Worden’s, and the angler/writer/fish biologist Terry Otto. Buzz has been fishing these waters for decades, and Smith and Otto are good salmon anglers whose bylines I’m quite happy to provide space for in Northwest Sportsman.

As for myself, well, the weak link in the team can sort of write an OK story, so here’s an account of what turned out to be an epic fishing day (time wise) that I’m still recovering from.

1:02 a.m.: Alarm goes off — Madre de Dios, why am I doing this again?!?

1:08 a.m.: Turn coffee pot on. Vehicle’s already packed, so while java brews, pull on sweat pants, shirt, shoes and plop down in front of TV; discover fascinating and beautiful bucolic island of Sark, in the English Channel.

1:15 a.m.: Coffee done, pour mug, briefly consider running away to Sark, but realize there aren’t any Chinook or coho runs there, nor deer to hunt.

1:40 a.m.: Time to leave, destination Astoria’s East Mooring Basin. Realize don’t own thermos, so just take rest of coffee pot with me, put in level spot in back seat, hope it doesn’t spill. Hit I-5 southbound.

2:20 a.m.: The Fish Gods are with me! Highway workers in Tacoma apparently on lunch break, sail through without slowing below 65 mph. Booyah!

3:20 a.m.: Losing Seattle radio signals, so switch to CDs; resist temptation to play The Veils’ seemingly appropriate “The tide that left and never came back” for a fifth time at top volume.

4:55 a.m.: O, the joy! The lights and fumes of the Kelso-Longview industrial complex in view — time to exit I-5 and head west on U.S. 30.

5:14 a.m.: Arrive at East Mooring Basin parking lot; see a large man in some kind of rubber suit wandering around in dark, then disappearing into bathroom; decide to delay parking for a moment or two.

5:16 a.m.: Rearrive at East Mooring Basin parking lot; coast is clear. Open trunk, throw on rain jacket, waders, backpack with food, drinks.

5:17 a.m.: Approached by large man in rubber suit — phew, it’s just Buzz Ramsey in his Grundens.

5:20 a.m.: Jump into Ramsey’s sled with Otto and Phillips. Buzz has been here since Friday for the NSIA Buoy 10 Salmon Challenge derby, landing seven that day, 17 on Saturday and four on Sunday — as well as 10 on Aug. 18. With perfect tides (6.2 high at 5:30 a.m., 1.8 low at 11 a.m., 8.1 at 5 p.m.), hopes are very high as we put out of the harbor heading upriver in the rain.

Sometime later: Arrive 7 miles above Astoria, in the channel between Altoona, Miller Sands and Rice Island. This is where late last season Ramsey wailed on the salmon, and our hope is that our Toman squid spinners in red-and-white, etc., (which have been working well for Buzz who has also been handing them out like candy to area guides) will yield similar results. We’re running them behind a mix of divers, flashers and salmon bungees — basically an 8-foot-long getup — on linecounter reels and Berkley rods (naturally, since Buzz is a pro-staffer), and the fishfinder is thick with salmon-sized marks. Dunk our gear so it runs a bit off bottom (35 feet of line out in 20 feet of water, 60 in 30, etc.) and then head for what was once the world’s largest colony of Caspian terns — Rice Island.

Still later: There is next to nobody else around us as we troll downhill into the faces of thousands of fish — just us four, piles of dredge tailings on Miller Sands, and the lakelike Columbia. Rain/drizzle quits, soon we can see the broad, flat face of Oregon’s Nicolai Mountain, where the basalt layers dip to the river as part of a syncline, and the well-named Saddle Mountain; make note to check on why it’s so unusually steep, very odd for the coast ranges.

Later yet: As we head south-southwest off the western end of Rice Island, Buzz’s rod goes off, but the fish somehow throws the hook. A bit further along, Terry and Rob’s setups do unusual tricks — salmon? That, all the fish on the finder and the fact that two guide boats go racing up river lead us to make another pass, tho not quite so high up and more in the scum line.

Along around then: Between working his cell phone to find a better bite, Buzz tells us his very funny skunk story. Involves a small skunk, a live trap, a good solid spraying of said fisherman by said skunk, the application of quite a bit of tomato sauce, repeat. Lots of ducks flying around this a.m.; one long-ass skein of cormorants head up into Baker Bay. We troll up the “mother of all” grass patches.

Later: Head for the middle channel above the Astoria-Megler Bridge — and find the fleet. The lack of rigs pulling boats west on U.S. 30 while I’d sped towards the boat ramp, few trailers in the parking lot there and quiet water had led me to wonder if, on the second to last day for Chinook at B10, anglers had abandoned the fishery. No, they have not. Jump into conga line of around 50 boats trolling downhill towards the middle of the bridge. Not much action up high, but deeper into the pass, nets begin to flail. Begin to realize the difference between a so-so fisherman (yours truly) and someone of Buzz’s caliber — everything in his boat is perfectly organized and labeled, there’s plenty of extra lures, the rods and reels match, it’s a system, not a hodge podge, and I’m lucky enough to be tapping into a wealth of knowledge here.

Later yet: We’re below the bridge now, on the north side of Desdemona Sands, it’s around low tide and another large fleet has gathered. They’re just beginning to switch from trolling downhill to trolling east with the first of the flood. Buzz’s rod again goes off, but out of literally nowhere a giant-ass sea lion blindsides his nice Chinook and steams north with it. The line snaps and marine mammals are disparaged — choke on that treble, big fella! Terry lost a salmon to another sea lion here in mid-August with Buzz.

A short bit later: Terry’s rod goes off, and fortunately there’s no sea lion or seal around, but his leader breaks — argh! It seems like if it weren’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all today. Pleasant out under partly cloudy skies, no wind.

Not much later: After a second pass, Buzz takes us above the bridge against the Washington shore where there’s been a little Chinook bite right at the start of the flood tide recently. Dunk our gear around the Megler rest stop and head up past the wrecked ship for a pass.

Awhile later: Clouds parting, northwest wind building, seas getting bouncier during long ride to west of bridge for more passes upstream on the flood. Somewhere around here we learn of Buzz’s hellion days on Portland interstates. Back when there wasn’t quite the traffic volume, he’d take his El Camino out, stop on the freeway and do burnoffs. (Fortunately, the statute of limitations has run out.) Columbia begins to redden, as if Chateau Ste. Michelle just held the world’s biggest grapestomp on the Astoria-Megler Bridge. Actually, it’s an algae bloom. Fleet seems to be dwindling.

Sometime later: Realize just how big the Columbia is here — like 4 miles Oregon shore to Washington shore. And even though we’re “down at Buoy 10,” the actual buoy at the mouth of the river is nowhere to be seen, even as I peer sharply at the waters between the orange bluff of Fort Canby on the north side and the flat forest on the south.

Later: Decide to try north channel again, on other side of bridge. Set gear down around the rest area, troll with the flood upstream.

4 p.m.: Off the wrecked ship, my rod goes off, I grab it, check for sea lions over both shoulders and reel, reel, reel. Coho leaps beside boat, Buzz dips his net, checks for a fin, sees it’s a “smoothie” — a fin-clipped hatchery fish — and the salmon comes over the rail. Yeah, baby! Andy Schneider, step aside, there’s a new AndyCoho in the Northwest!

4:15 or so p.m.: After a mess of pics, loop around for another pass.

Later: As tide begins to change, bounce back out to the middle ground above the bridge, well above some sort of triangular yellow buoy allegedly out in the channel for “research” purposes, and make a couple passes. Very few boats now. Watch pelicans dive for baitfish; Buzz’s fishfinder is the color of a tie-dyed T-shirt there’s so much bait here. As sun sinks to the west, wind begins to die.

6:30 p.m., roughly: Give up and shoot back to the mooring basin 13 hours after it all began.

7:02 p.m.: Shake hands with Buzz, Rob and Terry then hit up Safeway Starbucks for go juice; discover the java fountains have been closed for the evening; recall coffee pot behind seat, glug the last of it cold, head west.

7:20 p.m.: Nice! — discover someone has installed satellite radio in car while I fished. Just out of Astoria, Seattle radio stations KNDD, KISW, KZOK and KMTT come through quite clearly (cool, Little Lion Man’s at No. 2 on The End’s nightly 7 at 7!); sounds as if NPR has been reprogrammed from thoughtful blather to light classic rock/pop.

7:45 p.m.: Radio stations fade due to hills blocking signal; can’t wait for mountaintop removal mining to hit area so can continue listening on future flame runs.

8:00 p.m.: Back onto Washington ground: fuel up at gas station with extra-tall cup of warmish coffee.

9 p.m.: Honk at Frito-Lay semi truck that may or may not be driven by Glen Bayer, of Gamefishin’s Fshn2gether4ever fame.

10:30 p.m.: Arrive home, fillet coho, stuff in fridge.

11 p.m.: Crash in bed.

UPDATE: 10:34 a.m., Sept. 1: Buzz was back at it yesterday, on the last day of Chinook retention, hooking five, landing four, keeping two, but he says the weather was flat-out awful. “It was an adventure. The weather was terrible — wavey, blowing really hard.” His bilge pump went out and his crew had to bail with a cooler. “It was tough … but I was having fun.”

Eastern Wash. Dove Prospects

August 31, 2010

Rob Phillips has been fishing on the lower Columbia River the past couple days, but tomorrow he’ll put down his fishing rod and sacks of Bob Toman squid spinners and pick up his shotgun and a box — better make it three — of size 7 1/2-shot.

Wednesday is opening day for mourning dove and Phillips, who lives in Yakima, will be working wheat fields near water sources for his share of the flying rockets.

Yakima County is annually among the top two counties for the migratory birds, usually second to Grant County. Together the two accounted for the bulk of 2008’s harvest, but opportunities exist in the Blues, upper Columbia, South-central Washington and Palouse.

Here are WDFW field biologists’ prospects for this season:

BENTON, FRANKLIN COUNTIES

The number of doves counted locally during the annual spring call count survey was lowest it has been for the last 10 years. Weather patterns, however, play a critical role in determining how many doves are present during the season opener. Therefore it is difficult to predict what the hunting will be like. Based on observations, it is likely to be an average to below average year for dove hunting.

GRANT, ADAMS COUNTIES

Dove hunting is expected to be similar to past years, though the cold spring and early summer rains may have taken on toll on dove productivity this year. Hunters may improve their success by securing access to wheat fields for the morning hunt. Evening hunts can be productive in wheat fields or in traditional roosting areas. Look for large stands of trees (preferably with dead limbs) adjacent to water and surrounded by agriculture for best roost hunt results.

Roost site hunting can be found along the north and west sides of Potholes Reservoir, the east side of Winchester Lake, and throughout the Desert Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Complex. The Gloyd Seeps Unit offers a mix of roost and crop hunting (wheat) on the sharecropped site at the north end of the unit by road 20.

WALLA WALLA, COLUMBIA, GARFIELD, ASOTIN COUNTIES

Doves are well scattered throughout the district, but the best hunting is located near the Snake, Touchet, and Walla Walla Rivers. Densities of doves are moderate. Doves appear to be responding to the cooler weather by forming flocks, and may migrate from the area early in the season.

Hunters will also find increasing numbers of Eurasian collared doves in southeast Washington, which should provide more hunting opportunity.

WHITMAN, SPOKANE, LINCOLN COUNTIES

Hunting prospects for 2010 should be similar to last year. However, District 2 is not a major dove area, with doves occurring at low population densities relative to the Columbia Basin and similar regions. As often as not, cool temperatures just prior to or during the dove season push many doves further south out of the District.

CHELAN, DOUGLAS COUNTIES

Informal surveys indicate that dove numbers may be up over last year. Recent hot dry weather has concentrated birds in traditional areas during late summer, so look for habitat that provide access to water as well as food.

YAKIMA, KITTITAS COUNTIES

Trapping indicated decent production. Even with good numbers of birds in August, hunting success will depend on the weather pattern. Warm weather is needed to keep the birds in the area.

KLICKITAT, SKAMANIA, CLARK COUNTIES

Klickitat County has the best dove hunting in our district, expect reduced opportunity this year. Hunters should remember that most quality hunting areas in eastern Klickitat County are associated with private hunting clubs. Some dove hunting opportunity in the Vancouver lowlands, i.e. Shillapoo Wildlife Area.

PEND OREILLE, STEVENS, FERRY COUNTIES

Hunting prospects for 2010 should be similar to last year, 2009. However, District One is not a major dove area, with doves occurring at low population densities relative to the Columbia Basin and similar regions. As often as not, cool temperatures just prior to or during the dove season push many doves further south out of the District.

The self-introduced Eurasian Collared-Dove is becoming more common in District One, particularly within town environments such as Colville and Northport. Considered an “exotic species”, Eurasian Collared-Doves are open to hunting year-round with no bag limit.

WA 2010 Deer, Elk Forecasts Out

August 31, 2010

With Washington’s bow deer season starting tomorrow and archery elk the week after — and muzzleloader and rifle hunts in the coming months — now’s a good time to get the scoop on this fall’s forecasts.

In recent years, WDFW wildlife biologists have been posting hunting prospects for their districts. The information varies by field staffer — slim for some parts of the state that certainly merit more words, nonexistent in other spots — but in general provides a snapshot of what muleys, whitetail, blacktail and Rocky Mountain and Roosevelt elk have faced in recent years and winters and what conditions look like heading into 2010’s hunt.

The bios also provide some information on public access and how to get onto private lands, as well as head’s ups on rule changes new this year.

We’ll look at bear, upland birds and waterfowl later this week, but for now, here’s a region-by-region big-game breakdown, starting in the middle of the state:

CENTRAL COLUMBIA BASIN

Deer: District 5 is predominately characterized by mule deer, but white-tailed deer do occur in small isolated groups and are most prominent in GMU 284 (Ritzville). Overall, deer hunters should expect average success rates during the 2010 season. Post-hunt fawn:doe ratios indicate herd productivity was moderate in all surveyed Game Management Units (GMU), but buck:doe ratios declined slightly following the 2009 season. However, with the mild winter conditions in 2009, post-hunt populations are believed to have experienced minimal levels of winter mortality.

POINTS 1 THROUGH 12 FOR WHY TO PUT IN FOR A DESERT UNIT TAG. (DICK HEMORE)

Most deer harvest occurs in GMUs 272 (Beezley) and 284. Although hunter success declined from 28% in 2007 to 22% in 2009 in GMU 272, this was largely caused by a 12% increase (1,210 hunters in 2007 vs. 1,359 hunters in 2009) in the number of hunters rather than declines in local deer herds. The number of hunters that hunted deer in GMU 284 (681 hunters in 2008 vs. 802 hunters in 2009) similarly increased by 18%, but hunter success remained relatively constant at 37%. Even though hunter numbers increased, total harvest in GMU 272 (319 deer in 2008 vs. 296 deer in 2009) decreased slightly.

In contrast, the increase in hunter numbers in GMU 284 resulted in a significant increase in total harvest (231 deer in 2008 vs. 298 deer in 2009).

Lastly, post-hunt surveys yielded buck:doe ratios of 16:100 in GMU 272 and 19:100 in GMU 284, during the 2009 season. GMU 284 is dominated by private property. Hunters should plan to seek out permission to access private lands and/or plan on hunting lands enrolled in the WDFW Access Program as little Wildlife Area land (~1,600 acres) occurs in this unit. GMU 272 includes 53,000 acres of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Complex, most of which is open to hunting.

All hunting opportunities in GMU 290 (Desert Unit) are issued through the public draw. With post-hunt ratios of 54 bucks:100 does, high success rates are expected to continue in 2010. Forty-one percent of land in GMU 290 occurs as the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area, thus public opportunity is widely available. The area consists of riparian areas, associated primarily with the Winchester and Frenchmen Wasteways, surrounded by rolling, sandy dunes and varying densities of shrub cover. The majority of the private agricultural land in this unit occurs throughout the western half.

Harvest in GMU 278 (Wahluke) is again expected to be low in 2010. Since 2001, total harvest in GMU 278 has averaged 35 deer and only 26 deer were harvested during the 2009 season. GMU 278 provides approximately 36,000 acres of lands as part of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Complex, most of which is open to hunting.

Elk: Elk are extremely rare in most GMUs located in District 5. Since 2000, harvest estimates suggest there have only been 2 and 10 elk harvested in GMUs 272 (Beezley) and 278 (Wahluke), respectively. However, 3 of those 12 elk harvested in GMU 278 were from the 2008 season. Elk do not occur in GMU 290 (Desert). These trends are not expected to change during the 2010 season.

If hunters wish to hunt elk in District 5 during the 2010 season, they are most likely to be successful in GMU 284. However, the majority of this GMU consists of agricultural and other private lands, so access may be difficult. The number of elk harvested in GMU 284 has gradually increased from 4 elk in 2005 to 25 elk during the 2008 season. However, only 12 elk were harvested during the 2009 season with an overall success rate of 11%.

It is difficult to predict elk harvest levels in GMU 284 during the 2010 season. Because harvest levels have, until recently, been extremely low, biologists do not conduct annual surveys for elk in GMU 284. Moreover, the elk harvested in GMU 284 are most likely part of a small herd that is known to occur near the border of GMU 284 and GMU 136 (District 2 located in Whitman County). Consequently, harvest in GMU 284 is probably dependent on whether or not that herd migrates to GMU 284 during the hunting season.

SOUTHERN COLUMBIA BASIN

Deer: Most of the District is private, open country farmland. Highest concentrations of deer (mostly mules with a few white-tails) are in GMU 381, with a large percentage migrating in from northern units starting in October/November. Hunter success rates (avg.=33% for modern firearm) tend to be high due to restricted access for hunters and a lack of cover for deer. There are some “Feel Free To Hunt” and “Hunt By Written Permission” acres where hunters can gain access to deer. Pre-season scouting is advisable in order to learn where to hunt. Classification surveys in December 2009 yielded an estimated 16 bucks and 43 fawns to 100 does. Both estimates were below the 5-year average.

Elk: Opportunity for elk hunting is limited in the District to lands surrounding the west and south boundaries of the Hanford Reach National Monument (GMU 372). Hunts are geared toward addressing crop damage on surrounding wheat farms, vineyards and orchards. Access is extremely limited to either a couple pieces of state land north of Prosser and Benton City (contact Region 3 Yakima office for maps) and private land through special permit drawings. The best way to secure access is to apply for a special permit through the Landowner Hunt Program (LHP). If selected, permit holders are guaranteed a one day guided hunt.

Most permits are limited to antlerless opportunity for youth hunters, but a few any elk permits are issued each year. Surveys in January 2010 yielded a total herd estimate of 677 elk with 50 bulls and 20 calves per 100 cows. The high bull ratio is typical for this herd since they can seek refuge on the federal Hanford lands during hunting season.

THE PALOUSE, EASTERN COLUMBIA BASIN

White-tailed Deer: The mild winter and the high forage production, due to the wet spring, should lead to high recruitment this year. Herds appear to be recovering well from the previous two hard winters. Number of mature buck may still be slightly lower than the 2008 high, but the persistent hunter should have ample opportunity to harvest a legal buck.

TERRI BATOR WITH A BIG PALOUSE RIVER BOTTOMS WHITETAIL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Mule Deer: Overall mule deer numbers appear to be stable, with some areas showing growth and some declines. Hunting prospects should be similar to 2009.

Elk: There are fewer elk in District 2 relative to District 3. Hunting prospects should be similar to 2009. Hunter access is an issue, since most of our elk herds are found on private land or on Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge (TNWR). New this year are the Turnbull permit only elk hunts (62 cow tags and 1bull tag) to address habitat damage. For those who missed the permit application deadline this year, the Turnbull permit hunts should be offered again next year.

BLUE MOUNTAINS

Deer: Mule deer and white-tailed deer populations have declined over the last several years due to lower fawn survival for mule deer, and EHD outbreaks in localized white-tailed deer populations. An EHD outbreak in 2008 along the Touchet River between the town of Touchet and Dayton killed approximately 500 white-tailed deer.

Mule deer populations appear to have stabilized along the breaks of the Snake River and in the lowlands. Mule deer populations in the mountains are still depressed, and hunters will find fairly low success rates in mountain units.

Although white-tailed deer populations have declined in localized areas, the population is still strong and will offer excellent hunting opportunity. The foothills of the Blue Mtns. and river bottoms hold the largest concentrations of white-tailed deer. Much of the foothill lands are in private ownership, so seek permission before hunting on private land.

W. SCOTT ALINEN'S LATE-SEASON BLUE MOUNTAIN FOOTHILLS WHITETAIL BUCK. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Elk: Elk populations are doing well and have increased over the last few years, with most sub-herd populations at or near management objective. Calf survival has improved in recent years, but is still 15% below optimum levels, which does have a negative impact on the number of spike bulls available for harvest. The Wenaha sub-herd (GMU-169) still remains well below historic population levels, which hurts overall hunting opportunity in the Blue Mountains. Hunters can expect hunting conditions to be similar to previous years. Hunters lucky enough to draw the “any bull” permit will find excellent hunting opportunity in 2010.

CLINT HEINZ WITH A 343 GROSS BLUE MOUNTAINS BULL FROM 2009. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Mild weather conditions this winter and excellent rainfall during the spring and early summer have provided for optimum antler growth. Several bulls scoring over 400 BC have been observed in the Blues, so bull permit holders should find excellent hunting opportunity this fall.

NORTHEAST

2007-08 and 2008-09 better than the white-tailed deer, but have shown the same spotty pattern with some areas having stable to increasing numbers and other areas a decline. Hunting prospects should be similar to 2009.

White-tailed Deer: The long-term population trend for white-tailed deer continues to be on the downside with the vast loss of acreage in cereal grain and alfalfa hay farm production. Two bad winters immediately prior to this last one have further exacerbated this situation. On the positive side, the year 2010 is so far shaping up weather-wise to be the best of all worlds for white-tailed deer in NE Washington.

ROB CUNNINGHAM'S 2009 LATE-SEASON WHITETAIL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Last winter was extremely mild, and the rainy spring led to a tremendous flush of green forage vegetation making “tall cotton” for white-tailed deer. The overall whitetail harvest will almost certainly be lower this year than in the previous ten or more years mainly on account of needed restrictions in antlerless harvest opportunity. Youth/Senior/Disabled Modern Firearm Hunters will only have four days, October 21-24 in which to lawfully bag an antlerless white-tail. Muzzleloaders will also be limited to antlered white-tail bucks only during their season and the same for Archery Hunters during the early season only, September 1-24, 2010.

Elk: There are fewer elk in District One relative to District Three. With rare exceptions the elk population does not appear to have been as heavily impacted as white-tailed deer from the two bad winters of 2007-08 and 2008-09. Hunting prospects should be similar to 2009. Finding elk is the biggest challenge with so much closed canopy forest within NE Washington where they can effectively hide and “sit out” the season. The most successful “deliberate” elk hunters in District One tend to be Archery and Muzzleloaders as their seasons are at a time nearer the rut when elk are more vocal, especially bulls. Most Modern Firearm elk hunters when they tag out on an elk within District One appear to be just lucky through an incidental encounter and shot opportunity as opposed to some strategic plan or active methodology like bugling, cow-calling, etc.

CHELAN COUNTY

Deer:

Chelan County. A mild 2009-10 winter and good fawn production should result result in more bucks available this year. While the presence of hair loss syndrome has been documented in Chelan County, we have yet to document decreases in deer numbers. Our post season buck to doe ratios have stabilized over the past few years and we are currently at our management objective

Douglas County. Hunting success in Douglas County will most likely decline in 2010 with harvest dictated primarily by access to private lands. The open nature of the habitats in Douglas County decreases buck escapement and lowers the age of bucks within the population. Road densities are high, ensuring access to almost all areas, and resulting in few older aged bucks post season. The impacts of extended drought conditions may also be playing a role in fawn production and survivorship.

SEPTEMBER 2010 COVER BOY ERIC BRAATEN WITH HIS MUZZLELOADER MULEY FROM LAST FALL, SHOT IN DOUGLAS COUNTY. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Elk: Elk are not a primary management emphasis for District 7, and as a result, little or no harvest occurs within some of the district’s Game Management Units. GMU 251 traditionally has the highest elk harvest, with GMU’s 249 and 245 coming in a distant 2nd and 3rd. The overall success rate on elk for these three GMUs is generally lower than the statewide average, indicating that for elk hunters, the Wenatchee district is not a prime location. Hunters should take note that GMU 251 changed to a “true spike” restriction in 2009 to aid bull recruitment in the Colockum herd. That restriction remains in place for 2010.

OKANOGAN COUNTY

Prospects for mule deer should be slightly better than last year throughout the district. Post season survey results of 20 bucks per 100 does (highest observed since 2002) in conjunction with a mild winter and good summer forage conditions points to good survival over the past year. Spring surveys resulted in mule deer fawn:adult ratios of 40:100. This level of recruitment means a moderately growing population for the past year.

White-tailed deer are less abundant than mule deer throughout the district but are found in most all valley bottoms. White-tailed deer have faired better than mule deer over the last four winters, so prospects should be somewhat better for those hunters targeting whitetails. Spring surveys resulted in fawn:adult ratios of 48:100. Most white-tailed deer are found on private lands in District six, so prospective hunters should seek permission in advance of the season to access private land.

YAKIMA AND KITTITAS COUNTIES

Deer: All data suggests the deer population is down by 30-50% since ~2003. The herd decline, first documented in P32 and P33 has spread south into P35 and P36 and east into PMU 34. Fawn production has been pretty good, but Hair-slip seems to be a nagging problem. There might be a slight increase in deer numbers this year.

Elk: Calf ratio data collected in February/March data indicated average recruitment in 2010. Since calves surveyed in March are spike bulls in the fall, bull harvest is expected to be increase after a poor 2009 season. PMU’s 33 and 36 had the best recruitment.

NORM MCKEAN'S 2009 BRANCH-ANTLER BULL, SHOT ON A PERMIT IN THE COWICHE UNIT. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

COLUMBIA GORGE

Deer: Battle Ground (564), as well as the Klickitat County GMUs, i.e. West Klickitat (578), Grayback (388) and East Klickitat (382). However, deer populations remain suppressed in the Cascade Mountain GMUs, ie. Lewis River (560), Wind River and Siouxon (572). 2010 should offer deer hunting opportunities as the previous two winters have been relatively mild.

Successful hunting for black-tailed deer is primarily a function of the effort, focus and energy that hunters put into the hunt. Blacktail deer thrive in heavily vegetated habitats and are often very nocturnal in nature. This means that successful blacktail hunters must be in position early in the morning and carefully hunt near sources of food and in secure cover.

Bucks travel more during the rut when they cover large amounts of territory searching for does in estrus. This makes bucks more vulnerable as they spend less time hiding and are sometimes found in “open” habitats, i.e. clear-cuts and meadows. Not surprisingly, approximately 1/3rd of the annual buck harvest in Region 5 occurs during the 4-day “late buck” hunt held each November.

Klickitat County deer hunters are reminded to check the 2010 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet to re-familiarize themselves with some significant changes in hunting regulations in the Klickitat GMUs that were implemente4d in 2009. The 2009 changes include significant boundary changes, implementation of the 3-point antler restriction for all user-groups in GMU 578 West Klickitat, removal of the general late muzzleloader deer season in 578 and elimination of antlerless deer hunting from the late archery season in GMU 388 Grayback.

Elk: Significant changes have been implemented for elk season in several Game Management Units. Elk hunters are strongly encouraged to review the 2010 Big Game Regulations to be clear on the new rules.

Most importantly, the new regulations affect elk hunting in GMUs 568 (Washougal), 574 (Wind River) and 578 (West Klickitat). ANTLERLESS ELK ARE NO LONGER LEGAL DURING ANY GENERAL MODERN FIREARM OR MUZZLELOADER SEASON IN THESE GMUs.

Additionally, the THREE_POINT ANTLER RESTRICTION HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTED IN THESE GMUs FOR ALL GENERAL SEASONS.

Antlerless elk hunting in these GMUs is now offered through the special permit process. Antlerless elk permits are available for both modern firearm and muzzleloader hunters. Tag numbers have been allocated at a level intended to maintain harvest and hunting opportunity at a level similar to that of the past 5-years in these GMUs. Again, please review the pamphlet and be familiar with these significant changes in elk hunting regulation in Washougal (568), Wind River (574) and West Klickitat (578).

SOUTHERN I-5 CORRIDOR

Deer: A mild winter will help improve the number of spike bucks this fall. Deer populations seem to be increasing west of I-5 as timber harvest takes place.

ROB CLAREY'S VAIL TREE FARM BLACKTAIL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Elk: St Helens elk population is responding to the increased permit levels and some units saw a reduction in take last year. A mild winter should improve bull survival and we hope to see some mature animals being available soon.

SNOHOMISH COUNTY

Deer: Black-tail populations in Snohomish County are consistent with recent years; the 2010 season expected to be like previous seasons. Hunters should contact the local US Forest Service district office for up to date information about road and trail conditions because severe weather in recent years has caused lots of damage to many roads and trails. Hunters should scout their preferred hunting areas well in advance because many state and private timberlands are now gated, with access restricted to non-motorized methods.

SOUTH COAST

Deer: Deer hunting in GMU 648, 651, 663, and 672 in particular should be excellent. Along the coast, GMU 658 has produced nice bucks. Condition of animals should be excellent given the mild winter.

HAYDEN WOLF'S 2009 FALL RIVER BLACKTAIL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Elk: Hunter success in GMU’s south of Hwy 12 continues to be good. In particular bull harvest in GMU 673 (Williams Creek) continues to be high.

CALLIE WILLIAMSON, THEN 10, AND HER 2009 WESTERN WASHINGTON BULL ELK. SHE POSES WITH DAD, DAVID. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Elk hunting in areas north of HWY 12 (GMU 615, 618, and 648) are improving annually and is likely due to improving habitat conditions.

SOUTH SOUND/HOOD CANAL

Deer: Overall deer hunting throughout the district should be comparable to last year.

There is good buck escapement. Green Diamond lands south of the Olympics present some of the best hunting opportunity due to the clearcuts which provide high deer densities. Many hunters enjoy hunting GMU 636 – Skokomish with its 2 point minimum restriction.

A CLOSE-UP OF THE AMAZING MOUNT OF RICK HAYES' MASON COUNTY BUCK (LEFT) AND THE BLACKTAIL IT FOUGHT TO THE DEATH WITH BEFORE HAYES CAME ALONG IN 2008. (RICK HAYES)

Elk: Elk hunting in this area consists almost entirely of permit only hunts. Success is expected to be down this year due to low bull escapement.

KING COUNTY

Black-tailed Deer: Hunting prospects should be similar to last year.

Deer in GMU 454 (Issaquah) continue to be managed with liberal seasons designed to prevent road kills and keep damage issues at acceptable levels in highly-developed areas.

This unit is approximately 90% private land and access continues to be a problem for hunters. Sportsman’s clubs may be trying to accommodate hunters by hooking them up with property owners interested in having a hunter harvest a deer on their property. Success in this unit and GMU 460 (Snoqualmie) may well depend on getting to know your neighbors and broaching the subject of hunting as a means of protecting their fruit trees and vegetable beds. Firearm restrictions are in place because landowners are concerned about safety. Bow hunters should have an advantage in gaining permission.

GMU 466 (Stampede) is a patchwork of private land, State lands, and Forest Service lands (Mount Baker-Snoqulmie National Forest). It consists largely of second growth timber with some old growth on Forest Service lands. This unit consists of a lot of steep ground, with about 2,500 feet in elevation change. Be prepared for early winter snowfall, which has the potential of standing hunters.

Hunters should scout their preferred hunting areas well in advance because many state and private timberlands are now gated, with access restricted to non-motorized methods. Annual harvest reports and harvest statistics based on hunter reporting can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/harvest/index.html

Elk: Hunting prospects should be similar to last year. See above comments for deer. Annual harvest reports and harvest statistics based on hunter reporting can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/harvest/index.html

SW WA Fishing Report

August 31, 2010

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Light effort and catch by boat anglers on the lower river.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 183 summer-run steelhead, 49 spring Chinook adults, four jacks, 33 mini-jacks, 40 fall Chinook adults, six jacks, one coho salmon, two sockeye salmon, two chum salmon and eight sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 45 spring Chinook adults and four jacks into the Cispus River, 30 spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park, and 40 fall Chinook adults, five jacks and one coho salmon into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,760 cubic feet per second on Monday August 30. Water visibility is 14 feet.

Drano Lake and the White Salmon River – Boat anglers are catching some steelhead.

Buoy 10 –

  • Chinook catch through August 29 totals 6,459 Chinook and 6,388 coho.  This catch represents 52% of the Chinook allocation and 54% of the coho allocation.
  • Catch projections for the final two days (August 30-31) include 500 Chinook and 800 coho).  This would bring the total catch projection for Buoy 10 to 55% of the Chinook allocation and 61% of the coho allocation through August 31.
  • Stock composition based on preliminary CWT data suggests that about 3,500 (56% of total catch) Lower River hatchery (LRH) stock fish have been harvested in Buoy 10, compared to a preseason expectation of 2,900 (23% of expected catch).

Although allowable total Chinook catch remains on the Chinook quota for Buoy 10, LRH impacts appear to have exceeded expectations so far.  Therefore, the fishery will close for Chinook retention as scheduled effective Wednesday September 1.  The fishery remains open for hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead as outlined in the current “Fishing in Washington” pamphlet.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville DamWe sampled 1,149 salmonid bank anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream with 101 adult and 4 jack fall Chinook and 64 steelhead, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 6.8 rods based on mainly incomplete trips. In addition, we sampled 2,529 salmonid boat anglers (1,065 boats) with 505 adult and 13 jack fall Chinook, 5 adult coho, and 33 steelhead, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 4.5 rods based on mainly completed trips.

  • August Chinook catch has been less than expected, with 1,000 Chinook kept from 25,000 angler trips through August 22.
  • Effort began to increase substantially last week, with 800 boats counted on August 25 and 1,500 on August 28.  Catch rates for last week were around 0.3 Chinook per angler trip.  Angler effort and catch rates are expected to continue to increase over the coming weeks.

Fall Chinook Stock Status Update:  Fall Chinook passage at Bonneville Dam totals 63,649 adult through August 29.  Passage is typically 50% complete on September 7.  To date, 82% of the adult passage is bright stock.

FEWER CHINOOK THAN EXPECTED ARE BEING CAUGHT IN THE COLUMBIA RIVER, BUT CRYSTAL ANDERSON GOT HERS, A NEAR-30-POUNDER. SHE CAUGHT IT WITHIN 10 MINUTES OF GETTING SET UP IN A HOGLINE AT THE MOUTH OF THE COWLITZ WHILE FISHING WITH HER BOYFRIEND, BRENT HEDDEN, AND USING A SIMON WOBBLER. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

At this time, it appears Chinook passage is tracking below expectations for both tule and bright stock fish.  Expectations include a total passage of 97,700 adults by August 29, with 71% bright stock fish.  The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) TAC will meet next week to review stock status.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers at the mouth of the tributaries are catching fall chinook and some steelhead.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the mouth to Marker 82 – Light effort and catch.  Only 7 boats and no bank anglers were counted during the Saturday August 28 effort flight count.  No legals were found in the few boats sampled in the Camas/Washougal area; however, some salmonid anglers are catching a few incidental sturgeon.

WALLEYE

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal area are catching some walleye.

Dunge-zilla

August 31, 2010

Come back from a fishing trip and you never know what will show up in your email’s pot — take Dunge-zilla, the crab caught earlier this summer near Sequim Bay by Steve McCully.

The McLeary, Wash., man, who just signed up for a subscription to Northwest Sportsman magazine, forwarded me a shot of a crab that weighed 4 pounds, 10 ounces after he cooked it for dinner.

STEVE McCULLY'S MONSTER DUNGENESS, WHICH HE SAYS WEIGHED 4 POUNDS, 10 OUNCES AFTER COOKING. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Was it a state record?

“We’ve got them up to 200 pounds … just kidding,” says Rich Childers, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s statewide shellfish manager.

As far as he knows no such mark exists in Washington, but he allows that McCully’s Dungie is large.

“Yeah, that’s a good-sized crab he’s got there,” Childers said this morning while looking at a jpeg of it at his Hood Canal office. “That’s probably a 9-, 91/2-inch crab.”

The minimum size for keepers in that area is 61/4 inches across the width of the carapace.

Childers says biologists see quite a few 71/2- and 81/2-inchers, less above 9 and the occasional 10.

“Rarely you’ll get one that goes 101/2 inches,” he says.

For McCully, there really was never a question that the crab easily met the size limit. In fact, they all did that day.

“I’d think the average crab I got from that pot that day was 21/2 pounds,” he says.

He weighed the big boy on a scale he uses to make sausages.

“Sixty-two years old and it’s the biggest Dungeness I’ve ever seen. I was just looking to cook him up and eat him,” he says.

McCully describes himself as semi-retired and will be heading out into Washington’s now-wetted woods for tomorrow’s bow deer opener, hoping to come home with the fixin’s for venison summer sausage.

But right now the focus is on one hell of a crab cake.

“Sure was a great meal!” he adds.

Last Day For B10 King Retention

August 31, 2010

Rumor in our boat yesterday at the Buoy 10 fishery was with the king catch well below the quota, there was a chance state fishery managers would extend Chinook retention into September, but word out of Vancouver, Olympia and Salem is that that will be a no go.

Today remains the last day you can keep kings from the actual Buoy 10 up to the Tongue Point/Rocky Point Line just upstream of Astoria.

ODFW explains: “Although the total Chinook catch was well below expectations, the allowable catch of wild tule Chinook, which are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, has already been exceeded.  Given that, extending the Chinook fishery at Buoy 10 may have resulted in less recreational fishing upstream of Tongue Point.”

You can continue to keep Chinook from the Rocky Point-Tongue Point line up to, basically, the mouth of the Lewis through Sept. 11, and above there to Bonneville, through the end of the year.

Fishing B10 yesterday, we marked tons of fish alongside Rice Island, upstream of the line, and lost one king there.

Through today, for the month of August, anglers are expected to have caught 6,959 Chinook, or 55 percent of the guideline, and 7,188 coho, or 61 percent of the allocation in the Buoy 10 fishery.

The hatchery coho fishery continues through the end of September, as scheduled.

TANJA SIVLEY CAUGHT THIS COHO ON AUG. 21 CASTING SPINNERS CASTING SPINNERS OFF THE BEACH AT HAMMOND, ORE., NEAR THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA. HATCHERY COHO RETENTION CONTINUES THROUGH SEPTEMBER IN THIS AREA. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Seasons Soon For Wenatchee, Met Steelies

August 28, 2010

With somewhere around 38,000 mostly hatchery steelhead headed back to the upper Columbia Basin, Washington managers hope to open fishing up soon.

“We’re shooting for the 8th,” says regional fisheries manager Jeff Korth in Ephrata. “We just need to get the blessing of NOAA.”

CHAD HURST HAD A LOT OF FUN DURING LAST YEAR'S STEELHEADING ON THE WENATCHEE, WHICH SHOULD OPEN TWO WEEKS EARLIER THIS YEAR. (PHOTO COURTESY CHAD HURST)

He says the Columbia up to Chief Joseph Dam as well as Wenatchee, Entiat, Methow and Okanogan Rivers would be open, though not the Okanogan until Oct. 1 to allow it to cool down.

“We’re shooting for a four-fish limit and a mandatory retention of hatchery steelhead — same as last year,” Korth says.

The idea is to keep as many of the clipped fish off the spawning grounds of the natural-origin steelhead as possible. The fisheries need to be permitted by the federal agency because steelhead here are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Last year, nearly 40,000 steelhead went over Priest Rapids Dam, the first dam above the Snake-Columbia cutoff.

Like 2009, this year the Methow will see the largest jag, some 15,000 steelies, while 4,000 to 5,000 are predicted to the Wenatchee and 4,000 to the Okanogan.

“It’s going to be nice to be open in September. Fishing should be good. Usually we’re always struggling to get it open by early October,” says Korth.

A large, early run with at least 8,000 wild fish is helping with the early opener this year, he says.

“We’ve got plenty of fish, so it should go through NOAA without a hitch,” Korth predicts.

Several Pot Grows Found In Okanogan Hunt Areas

August 27, 2010

For weeks now, my story on how marijuana growers have invaded the forests and fields where  Northwest hunters chase their quarry has been among the top draws to our Web site.

The number of plants seized outdoors, largely on public lands, has zoomed from 6,500 in 2001 to 589,000 last year in Washington alone.

As an example of the danger to sportsmen, just two weeks ago five deer hunters stumbled upon irrigation works on BLM land in California, were threatened by three armed growers and told to stay out of the area by a fourth in a vehicle.

Mexican drug cartels are believed to be behind the largest operations; the seizure of 228,000 plants last year in Oregon represented nearly a half a billion dollar loss in potential profits to the gangs, The Oregonian reported this spring.

When I wrote that article, we were coming out of a mild winter, were enjoying spring rains and it looked like Washington law enforcement agencies might pull even more plants. But cool, wet weather through early summer appears to have hindered growth, though it’s ripening now.

In recent weeks, officials have found several large grows, including 4,562 in Southeast Washington’s Columbia County, 1,300 in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and 2,550 from near the Nason Creek rest stop in Chelan County’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

The rest-stop bust included a bear that had been killed and whose meat had been hung up to dry, says WDFW Capt. Chris Anderson out of Ephrata.

And now comes word of several more busts. WDFW officers along with the Washington State Patrol helped take out a cluster of pot grows near Loomis on Aug. 18.

“The Okanogan County North Central Washington Narcotics Task Force had received information this spring in a delayed report from a hunter from last fall’s modern firearm deer season,” WDFW Enforcement Division Deputy Chief Cenci says. “The hunter had stumbled upon a harvested marijuana grow. This information was followed up by detectives who discovered the re-used grow based upon odor of marijuana. Subsequent pre flights were conducted of the grow and located. Several investigative methods were deployed and the connection to the suppliers was made. Through investigation it was determined that these suppliers were providing resources to several complex marijuana gardens. Mexican nationals were determined to be entering the marijuana gardens armed.”

When WDFW officers and others raided part of the garden, known as Mill Creek 2 and less than 2 miles from the agency’s Sinlahekin Wildlife Area HQ, they encountered two live-in growers, but weren’t able to detain them, according to Cenci.

He says the sites had large cisterns to irrigate the crop, chemicals for growing the plants as well as garbage pits.

A total of 7,000 plants were eradicated at two sites, Cenci says.

Then, this Tuesday, Anderson says that a “pretty good-sized grow, pretty elaborate,” was busted north of Winthrop off the East Chewack Road on Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest land.

The Methow Valley News says it occurred near Boulder Creek; two Hispanic males were arrested.

Anderson says the Loomis and Winthrop busts were “connected” by “a drug cartel that’s running grows all over Eastern Washington.”

The gardens are often tended by live-in growers, usually illegal immigrants.

The newspaper also reports another bust up Black Canyon Creek, near Methow, that included 8,000 to 10,000 plants, and says that over the past two weeks 30,000 to 50,000 plants have been pulled in the county.

Anderson adds there will likely be more busts ahead, in the Columbia Basin.

Responding to the report of the California hunters being threatened, Anderson says, “We haven’t had anything like that, but hunters are responsible for locating almost all the grows we know about.”

He says deer hunters typically find those in more mountainous areas, upland bird and waterfowl hunters those in the lowlands.

“The information we get from them is  invaluable,” he says.

That said, with a late pot harvest and the opening of statewide grouse, mourning dove and archery deer and elk seasons in the days ahead, a word of warning to hunters may be appropriate.

“We advise people don’t talk to growers, don’t walk around the grow, punch in a GPS waypoint and walk out,” Steve Brown of the North-central Washington Narcotics Task Force told me for my original article.

There’s a reward of up to $5,000, too, for information on grows. Funded by grants from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the State Patrol operates a special tip line to report grows. The key to collecting is to call (800) 388-GROW rather than local police departments (the line is a clearinghouse; info will be forwarded to sheriffs and regional task forces). You can also report anonymously, but must stay on the line and talk to a person to be eligible for the money. Information on how to report after-hours tips can be found at wsp.wa.gov/crime/hotline.htm.

Closing In On $350K Worth Of Pikeminnows

August 27, 2010

Nikolay Zaremskiy is on the doorstep of having earned a cool quarter million over the past five years catching pikeminnows — and nearly $350,000 since 2002.

With one month still to go in the sport reward fishery on the lower Columbia and Snake Rivers, the $54,000 worth of the fish he’s hauled in since the May 1 opener adds to the $45,567 he made in 2009, a record of  $57,772 in 2008, $46,400 in 2007, $45,351 in 2006 and a total of $99,000 during seasons from 2002 through 2005.

“He’s the top angler,” says Craig Miller at Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, which administers the program.

Miller adds that another high-earning fisherman, David Vasilchuk, is not that far behind this year.

Vasilchuk has netted $266,903 since 2003.

The two have been 1-2 among the top 20 anglers at the end of every season since 2005.

And with the thousands of pikeminnows they’ve caught so far during the 2010 season, they’re being paid in $8-a-pop increments when they bring their fish to check stations — $500 chunks if they catch specially tagged fish, of which Zaremskiy has reportedly caught 12.

Through last season, he had brought in a total of 37,889 pikeminnows since 2002, Vasilchuk 32,043 since 2003.

Both have been written about in local papers, including the Seattle Times, Salem Statesman-Journal, Forest Grove News Times and The Oregonian.

Others among the top 10 in recent years include David’s brother, Ivan, Thomas Papst, Timothy Histand, Viktor Orlovskiy and John Brown.

“People are making serious money with this program,” Russell Porter, also at PSMFC, told the Columbia Basin Bulletin for a story today. “And they’re having fun fishing while helping save young salmon. I encourage folks to come out with their families and give it a try. Even beginners can earn cash catching pikeminnow.”

Anglers are paid $4 apiece for their first 100 pikeminnows, $5 for the next 300, and then $8 for every fish after 400; last year, 92 anglers turned in more than 400.

The fishery aims to reduce the size of the native species by rewarding anglers for catching certain sized fish in an effort to reduce their predation on salmon and steelhead smolts. It’s been going on since 1990 and has yielded over 3.5 million pikeminnows.

The overall pikeminnow catch is also up this season, 30,000 above last year’s pace.

“It’s as good as we’ve had since 2007,” says Miller.

Through Aug. 22, 128,552 have been recorded at the program’s 21 stations everywhere from Cathlamet to Priest Rapids Dam to Clarkston; through Aug. 24, 2009, just under 100,000 had.

Early Opener For North-Central Washington Steelhead?

August 27, 2010

According to a story in the Wenatchee World today, WFDW is considering opening the upper Columbia River and some of its tribs for steelheading as early as “sometime late next week.”

SCOTT FLETCHER WITH A WENATCHEE RIVER STEELHEAD FROM LAST FALL'S SEASON. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Another large return of the sea-run rainbows is making its way to streams in the basin, as well as Idaho and Eastern Oregon rivers. Since April 1, 307,000 steelhead, including 126,000 wild fish, have gone over Bonneville, the first dam on the Columbia. Just under 16,000 have gone over Priest Rapids, the first dam above the Snake-Columbia confluence.

Wild steelhead on the upper Columbia are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and are not allowed to be kept, but WDFW is allowed to hold fisheries through a special permit from NOAA. In an interesting twist last fall, the state agency required anglers to keep all hatchery steelhead to keep them from spawning with natural-origin fish.

Last year WDFW announced the Wenatchee, Methow, Entiat, Okanogan and upper Columbia itself would open Sept. 29; the previous year, the agency opened the Methow, Okanogan and upper Columbia on Oct. 4.

It would be the fourth year in a row that the Wenatchee has been open for steelheading after a 10-year closure.

Thanks, PETA!

August 27, 2010

Gotta love PETA sometimes — they appear to have launched a Northwest huntress’s cable TV career with some silly campaign earlier this summer.

The group targeted Kristy Lee Cook, a former American Idol contestant and now star of a hunting show, Goin’ Country, urging her to join other Idol alums who advocate for animals.

Apparently they didn’t realize that, umm, hunters have been standing up for animals far longer than arguably almost any group in the United States.

Take it away Kristy Lee:

“Given that hunters have done more for American wildlife conservation than any other group in history, I make no apology for being one,” she said in a statement to FOX News. “Indeed, I join the ranks of millions of American hunters who celebrate our outdoor heritage and who conserve millions of acres of wild lands. These same people support more than 600,000 jobs across the country and provide a critical voice to encourage more investment in American conservation.”

Reports Mark Freeman of the Medford Mail-Tribune in a profile on the 26-year-old Eagle Point, Ore., resident, “The verbal jousting made headlines from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, and the show took off.”

Read more here.

Crabbing To Close In Most Of Puget Sound

August 26, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Recreational crab fishing will close for a catch assessment in most areas of Puget Sound at sunset on Labor Day, with summer catch reports due by Oct. 10.

Seven areas of Puget Sound will close to crab fishing Sept. 6, including marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point), 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal).

DAVID RASH SHOWS OFF DUNGIES FROM POINT DEFIANCE, IN AREA 11, ONE OF SEVERAL AREAS CLOSING IN EARLY SEPTEMBER FOR CRABBING. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Crabbing in all of those areas will be open the entire Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-6.

All sport fishers licensed to fish for crab in Puget Sound must submit summer catch reports to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) by Oct. 10 – whether or not they caught crab this year.

Crabbers may submit catch record cards to WDFW by mail at CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. They can also report their catch online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html   from Sept. 7 through Oct. 10.

Sport crabbers who continue to crab in areas of Puget Sound that remain open after Labor Day should record catches on their winter catch cards, said Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead for WDFW.

“This fishery is becoming more popular every year, which makes it more important than ever to track the catch as closely as possible,” Childers said. “Catch reports by individual crabbers are a critical part of that effort.”

Crabbers who fail to file their catch reports on time will face a $10 fine when they purchase a 2011 Puget Sound crab endorsement.

Childers noted that this year’s reporting deadline has been extended by more than two weeks to give crabbers more time to file their reports. Those who meet the deadline will be entered in a drawing for one of 10 free 2011 combination fishing licenses, which allow the holder to fish for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species.

Areas of Puget Sound scheduled to remain open after Sept. 6 include:

– Marine areas 7S, 7E, and 7N (Bellingham-San Juan Islands), which are scheduled to remain open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, closing Sept. 30.

– Marine areas 4 and 5 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and 13 in southern Puget Sound, which are scheduled to remain open seven days a week through Jan. 2.

For more information about recreational crabbing in Puget Sound, see WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab .

Buoy 10 Update

August 26, 2010

Latest numbers on the sport fishery at Buoy 10, at the mouth of the Columbia, courtesy of Joe Hymer/Robin Ehlke in The ‘Couv:

“Through Tuesday Aug 24, an estimated 29,400 anglers have kept 4,300 Chinook and 3,600 coho. 34% of the 12,500 Chinook allocation and 30% of the 11,900 coho allocation has been taken.”

Camping At Deception Pass

August 26, 2010

It’s still a bit early, but coho boats have begun to gather in an eddy just below the Deception Pass Bridge. They’re fishing cutplug herring behind dodgers and 2-ounce banana weights, pointing their bows towards the ocean from whence the silver salmon are returning to Northwest Washington’s Skagit River.

I was there yesterday between high and low tides (couldn’t get the family out of camp any sooner), hurling Buzz Bombs from cool, tree-shaded North Beach, and while nothing was biting for me, I saw at least three salmon hooked by the boaters. One was a dandy; it flew out of the water several feet, a shimmering bolt, then somehow spit the baited hook.

My wife, two sons and I were camped at the pass for a nice five-day, end-of-summer getaway. It got damp on Saturday night, but before and after, it was a fine vacation in the rain shadow of the Olympics, visible just across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Besides fishing, there’s all sorts of fun things for moms and dads with young’ns in tow to do in the area — hike up to Goose Rock bald and see the glacial grooves in the rock, have a barbecue on West Beach, skip rocks into the amazingly mellow (during our stay) eastern end of the straits, check out the spidery arms of an 850-year-old Douglas fir in the sand dunes, tour the big guns down at Fort Casey, pick the last raspberries and blueberries of the season at area farms, try and identify the fighter jets (River called them “flighter jets”) coming and going from the Navy field (I think yesterday was Wargame Wednesday or something) and, of course, cling tightly to kids’ hands as you walk the bridge over the foaming rips.

My favorite moment of the trip was hanging out at the northern overlook on Mt. Erie on sunny Tuesday afternoon, gazing towards the San Juans and picking out the shapes of Mt. Constitution and Turtleback Mountain. A hawk glided in to a dead tree in front of us before scaring the bejeezus out of a squirrel in another Doug fir. Nobody else came by, it was just Amy, Kiran then River and I for an hour.

Amy enjoyed our hikes, including around Bowman and Lottie Bays and out to Lighthouse Point. She also liked that there were no bugs — our second campout of the summer sans skeeters or bees — practically none here (credit to a very large population of spiders with webs everywhere in the salal) or up at Moran State Park on Orcas, where we stayed over the Fourth.

When we left for Deception Saturday morning, I was a little disappointed that I was able to fit everything into our car — yes, disappointed. If there had been a significant overage I had my mom and her car on standby to come with us, and that way I could have thrown my pontoon boat on our roof rack and trolled for trout at the park’s Cranberry Lake, but it was not to be. We ended up having room to spare, which still troubles me — what did I forget to pack?!?

Without my pontoon, I just brought my fishing gear from back in the days when I was a pier and beach rat — heavy lead. And we would have had coho for dinner Sunday night if I’d ever learned to tie a proper knot. Casting a blue-and-white Buzz Bomb off West Beach, I had a take, saw a silver shape in the surf, then the line went slack. Only a broken knot came back.

If that sounds like a fish story, I’ll tell you another one. The gal renting kayaks, canoes and paddle boats at Cranberry instructed some boys with fly rods to hit the deep hole. That’s where she said German brown trout to 30 pounds lurked; she claimed to have eaten several of them so far this year herself.

The hole is just off the road out to the campgrounds and West Beach, and plunkers gathered there, likely lured by stories of gargantuan browns, but their catch probably consisted mainly of the 5,500 hatchery rainbows WDFW planted this year.The lake was warm and weedy; somewhere I read that the water at the bottom is actually salty.

I was surprised by the number of Canadians at our camp loop; by my count, BC license plates tied and topped Washington cars and trucks on our last two nights. Amy claimed that that’s why the campground was so quiet at night, and that was nice compared to other spots we’ve stayed where our neighbors decided to stay up late and loud.

Yesterday, an older gent at North Beach explained that the Canadians were here because their dollar’s high value compared to ours. He wasn’t so concerned about economics, however. He and a pal were giving the coho boats a pretty solid binocularing. They were considering going out and wanted to know how the fishing was going. It was early yet, he said, but the catch seemed to give them hope.

Meanwhile, it shouldn’t be too hard to talk Amy into camping here again next August — there’s lots still to explore in the area.

Plus 2011 will be a pink year, and this is about the time when the salmon run in hordes through the pass.

By that time River, who is now 3, might just have graduated to his own rod and reel. On this trip, he would run over to help me bring my gear in when it got close to the beach, as well as stand by me and pretend to cast out and reel in with his stick. But I’ll have to be careful — his rod was definitely the hottest of the campout!

Lone Canid Spotted On Tonasket-area Trail Cam

August 26, 2010

A couple weeks ago, my dad sent me a link that shows a game-camera image of a lone canid sneaking through the brush somewhere in Okanogan County in late July. He’d stumbled onto it on a cabin-building Web site.

I forwarded the shot and link to WDFW and forgot about it until this morning.

The Omak Chronicle has shed some light on the photo.

It’s unclear if it is a lone animal or a cast off from the Lookout wolf pack in the Methow Valley, the paper reports, but it “appears to be stressed.”

The Wenatchee World also reports on it yesterday.

WDFW has since put up trail cams of their own; they also hope to capture it and sample the animal’s DNA. That would determine if it’s a wolf or a wolf-dog hybrid; there’s some suggestion that the animal’s tail-between-the-legs demeanor might mean it’s a hybrid.

However, Scott Fitkin, the state district wildlife biologist, isn’t so sure.

“Looking at the photo, nothing tells me it’s a hybrid,” he says, adding that its coat is similar to members of the Lookout Pack.

He says that the pack’s alpha female is still missing and is probably dead. That would leave one to four yearlings, perhaps one 21/2-year-old and the alpha male, though it’s unclear what the pack is doing.

Vault For Solo Shotgun Now Available

August 26, 2010

(TRUCKVAULT, INC., PRESS RELEASE)

TruckVault, Inc., leading manufacturer of secure in-vehicle storage systems, is bringing to market the world’s first shotgun solo-vault.

Designed to hold a single shotgun, the ShotLock™ Solo-Vault is the first product designed to keep home defense shotguns both secure and accessible.

Created as an answer to the homeowner’s need to keep a home defense firearm close at hand, “The ShotLock Solo-Vault is the perfect answer for the DIY home defense market,” stated Don Fenton, Sales & Marketing Director at TruckVault, Inc. “More and more people are using a shotgun as a home defense weapon; but there has never been a convenient and secure way to store one, while still keeping it quick and easy to access. The ShotLock Solo-Vault solves that problem.”

Constructed of 14-gauge steel, the ShotLock Solo-Vault stores a single semi-auto, pump or over/under shotgun. The small and compact size allows it to be mounted securely anywhere in the home or a vehicle.

“With its 5-button inline programmable lock, the ShotLock Solo-Vault can be opened and put a weapon in hand in less than 3 seconds,” explained Fenton.

Marketing plans to launch the ShotLock Solo-Vault include print advertising, television spots, Internet ads and sponsorships, an aggressive pricing strategy, and sleek, contemporary point of purchase. The ShotLock Solo-Vault is available online at http://www.shotlock.com and at select retailers.

ShotLock™ Solo-Vault Facts
Size: 7.5” x 5.75” x 2.25”
Weight: 4.25 lbs
Suggested Retail: $169
Website: http://www.shotlock.com
• Accommodates semi-auto, pump and over/under* shotguns
• 1000+ combination programmable push-button lock
• 2 year limited warranty
• 14 gauge steel construction
• Reversible left or right opening door
• Fully adjustable mounting hardware
• Mounts on a wall or in a vehicle, vertically or horizontally
• Made in the USA

About TruckVault, Inc. For more than 15 years, TruckVault has been building secure in-vehicle storage solutions for sportsmen, law enforcement, and commercial use.

TruckVault has been recognized throughout the years as a leader in firearms safety and as a producer of top-quality products, including being granted the shooting Industry Academy of Excellence Award for Accessory of the Year in 1999 and Safety Product of the Year in 2004 and 2006. In 2008, TruckVault was awarded the Cygnus Innovation Award.

WA South Coast Ocean Update

August 26, 2010

According to biologist Joe Hymer, “Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco), anglers averaged nearly a salmon per rod last week.  74% of the fish caught were coho.  Through Aug. 22, an estimated 49.8% of the coho quota and 57.0% of the Chinook guideline had been taken.”

SW WA Fishing Report

August 26, 2010

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Lower portions of Abernathy, Coal, Germany, Mill creeks near Longview and Coweeman River:  Under permanent rules, closed to all fishing in September and October to protect naturally spawning fall chinook.  Coweeman River from Mulholland Creek upstream closes to all fishing September 1 for the same reason.

New for 2010:  The lower portion of Cedar Creek (North Fork Lewis River tributary) from the Grist Mill Bridge downstream and Lacamas Creek (tributary to the Washougal River) from the foot bridge at lower falls downstream are closed to fishing in September and October to protect naturally spawning fall chinook and coho.  In addition, stream flows are increased on Lacamas Creek  in the fall when the water behind Round/Lacamas lakes is lowered for annual maintenance on the dam.  This increase in flows sometimes attracts fall Chinook to the creek.  The upper portion of Cedar Creek also closes to fishing September 1.

Cougar Creek (tributary to Yale Reservoir) – Under permanent rule, closes to fishing beginning September 1 to protect naturally spawning kokanee.

Toutle River – No report on angling success.  Anti-snagging rule and night closure begins September 1 on the North Fork Toutle River from confluence with South Fork to mouth of the Green River and the Green River from mouth to 400 feet below salmon hatchery rack.

The first couple fall chinook of the season had returned to the hatchery last week.

Cowlitz River – Some steelhead are being caught by boat anglers in the lower river.  The first fall chinook of the season had arrived at the salmon hatchery last week and three dozen sea-run cutthroat have returned to date.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 382 summer-run steelhead, 316 spring Chinook adults, 42 jacks, 65 mini-jacks, five fall Chinook adults, two jacks, one sockeye salmon and 14 sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 216 spring Chinook adults and 12 jacks into the Cispus River, 78 spring Chinook adults and 18 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, 60 spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park, and five fall Chinook adults and one jack into Mayfield Lake at the Ike Kinswa boat launch the during the week.  Mayfield Lake opens to fishing for salmon September 1.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,780 cubic feet per second on Monday August 23. Water visibility is 12 feet.

Kalama River – No effort on the lowest part of the river last week.  The first few coho of the season had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery last week.

Lewis River – No report on angling success.  The first four hatchery coho of the season had returned to the Merwin Dam trap last week.

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

Drano Lake – Eighty percent of the anglers sampled had caught a steelhead.  About two-thirds of the fish caught were kept.  Some fall chinook are also being caught.  About 80 boats observed here last Saturday morning.

White Salmon River – Both boat and bank anglers are catching some steelhead.

Buoy 10 – One of every 3 private boat anglers sampled at the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco/Fort Canby had caught a salmon.  Catch was tilted  slightly towards coho than chinook.  Chinook retention is expected to be allowed through the end of the month.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Chinook catches have picked up while steelhead catches have dropped off.  Last week we sampled 776 salmonid bank anglers with 20 adult and 1 jack fall Chinook and 62 steelhead, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 9.3 rods based on mainly incomplete trips. In addition, we sampled 696 salmonid boat anglers (335 boats) with 66 adult and 1 jack fall Chinook and 50 steelhead, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 5.9 rods based on mainly completed trips.  Overall, 71% of the steelhead caught were kept.  We again did not sample any coho.

From August 1-15, there have been an estimated 13,900 angler trips with 182 adult fall chinook and 2,699 steelhead kept and 1,476 steelhead released.  The total catch expectation for chinook for the entire season is 17,200 fish.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers at the mouths of the tributaries are catching some fall chinook.

Hanford Reach – During the first three weeks of sampling the Reach WDFW staff sampled a total of 7 days. Ten boats and 23 anglers were sampled during that time with 1 Chinook retained and 7 Steelhead released. Expanded catch data will be reported weekly starting next week.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from mouth to Marker 82 – Light effort during the current catch-and-release only fishery.

McNary Dam to Priest Rapids Dam – Catch-and-release only through January 31.

WALLEYE

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal area averaged just over a walleye each.

Courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

Walla Walla Spree Shooter Charged

August 26, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

A Walla Walla man was charged last week in Walla Walla County District Court with poaching four deer, based on evidence gathered earlier this month by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) enforcement officers.

Kyle O’Brien, 18, was charged with four gross misdemeanor counts each of hunting deer during closed season and wastage, one gross misdemeanor count of spotlighting big game, and one misdemeanor count each of shooting from a road and having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle.

ONE OF FOUR DEER ALLEGEDLY SHOT EARLIER THIS MONTH BY KYLE O' BRIEN, 18, OF WALLA WALLA. (WDFW)

WDFW Officer Rob McQuary received a tip Aug. 2 about two mule deer bucks that had been shot and killed found off Nelms Road, just north of Woodward Canyon Road in western Walla Walla County.  When McQuary found the two carcasses with velvet-covered antlers still attached, he and WDFW Officer Mike Johnson set up watch in the area to see if the shooter returned to remove the antlers.

Before 11 p.m. that night, O’Brien was observed by the officers shining a spotlight from a car and shooting a rifle seven times within a few minutes. The officers stopped and questioned O’Brien and said O’Brien admitted to shooting two deer that night and two the night before.

Officers recovered the two other mule deer nearby and seized O’Brien’s rifle.

A gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. In addition, criminal wildlife penalties can be assessed up to $6,000.

(WDFW)

New OR Coast Wild Coho Fisheries To Open

August 26, 2010

Three wild coho fisheries to open on Oregon Coast

August 25, 2010

SALEM, Ore. – A forecast for large numbers of returning coho salmon will allow anglers to harvest wild coho in three fisheries along the Oregon Coast beginning Sept. 1 and   Oct. 1.

The three fisheries  are:

Siletz River, mainstem open from   the mouth to Old   Mill Park boat launch (RM   36)

Sept. 1 to Nov. 30 or until a quota of 400 fish has been caught.

One adult wild coho per day and one for the season.

Coquille River, mainstem open from   the mouth to the Hwy 42S bridge (RM 25)

Sept. 1 to Nov. 30 or until a quota of 1, 200 fish has been caught.

One adult wild coho per day and five for the season.

Tenmile Lakes, North and South lakes open; closed downstream of Hilltop Bridge. Also closed is the canal between   lakes and all tributaries.

Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 or until a quota of 500 fish has been caught.

One adult wild coho per day and five for the season.

The daily and seasonal bag limits for each individual lake or river are in aggregate with all wild coho fisheries   in the Northwest and Southwest zones, including the long-standing coho fisheries in Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes. Anglers also may keep one wild jack coho   salmon as part of the daily bag limit on the three fisheries. Jacks are coho salmon between 15 and 20-inches long.

In addition, on Tenmile, Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes anglers may fish only one rod when the wild coho fishery is   open.

Even though wild coho along the Oregon coast are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, fisheries   biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife feel conditions have improved enough that monitored, conservative harvest by sport anglers will not   negatively affect the populations in these five basins.

Das Jet Boot

August 20, 2010

Aluminum fishing boat builders on the Snake River hope to tap into the German and other European markets.

CLARKSTON, Wash.–Salmon are beginning to recover in the Rhein, and though it may be a long, lonnnnng time before anyone’s hover fishing off the Deutsches Eck, Kölner Dom or Schoenburg Castle, aluminum boat manufacturers half a world away hope to hook into the market here.

Builders in Lewiston and Clarkston will fly to Düsseldorf, on the banks of the German river, this January to show off photos and videos of their lightweight, shallow-draft jet sleds.

They’ll do so at one of the world’s largest boat shows, which last January attracted nearly a quarter of a million people – four times as many who visited the last Seattle Boat Show – and it could lead to business well beyond Deutschland.

“We’re very, very, very excited,” says Brenda Bonfield, marketing director at Custom Weld.

ON THE FACE OF IT, the consortium–which also includes Bentz Boats, Hells Canyon Marine, Phantom Jet Boats, Renaissance Marine Group, Riddle Marine, SJX Jet Boats and Thunder Jet as well as Gateway Trailers – stand to gain much as boat sales remain sluggish in the U.S.

“Aluminum jet boats do exist in Europe, but (there) are very few and not the types built by the Snake River manufacturers,” says Paul R. Warren-Smith of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service in Frankfurt.

His is one of 150 overseas offices that help American small businesses crack international markets.

Last June, he and the editor of an influential German boating and yachting magazine came to the LC Valley for a ride-around, and he went away impressed.

“You can put a business card underneath them and they float,” Warren-Smith boasts.

PAUL WARREN-SMITH OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE'S COMMERCIAL SERVICE CLIMBS ABOARD A CUSTOM WELD JET BOAT WHILE KLAUS SCHNEIDERS, EDITOR OF THE GERMAN MAGAZINE SKIPPER (RED JACKET), LOOKS ON. (P'CHELLE INTERNATIONAL)

Since then, Bonfield and other builders have been attending seminars on shipping overseas, financing and learning about the “phenomenally important” CE mark which will allow their products to be sold in the 30-country European Economic Area, says their consultant Gary White of P’Chelle International in Kennewick.

Later this fall, German importers will fly to the valley for a looksee, and then in January, the group will pack up their product DVDs and Berlitz guides and head for Düsseldorf.

If all goes well, 15 to 25 jobs could be added back home down the line.

NORTHWEST BOAT BUILDERS have already cracked overseas markets – Russia for Boulton, Weldcraft and another manufacturer that didn’t want to be identified – but what Germany, the world’s third largest importer, offers is the strongest economy in Europe and a large middle class.

It’s a country the size of Oregon and half of Washington together, but with 82 million people. Of those, 1.5 million fish for many species we’re familiar with – trout, perch, walleye (Zander), pike, Atlantic salmon but also sea-run brown trout and tench – and just like here, there are active angler forums as well as weekly and monthly magazines dedicated to hot spots and tactics.

A recent article in Hamburg-based Kutter & Küste magazine featured an article on fishing around an island 20miles off Kiel as well as a piece entitled “Heilbutt: Schleppen Sie die Platten ab,” i.e., tips for halibut trolling (hey, didn’t we do that in our June issue?!).

Indeed, coastal fishing is where Warren-Smith thinks jet boats could shine.

“It will be easier to penetrate estuaries and tributaries all over Europe that before were inaccessible,” he points out.

However, while Germany is currently experiencing a boom in exporting and relatively low unemployment, its culture may provide some bumps along the way. Fishing, like hunting, is very regulated. There’s extensive studying to be done just to get a resident angling license, even more if you want to operate a motor boat.

Environmental consciousness is much higher, motors are verboten on some waters, buyers are less likely to buy on credit, and forget about finding a parking spot for your rig and sled if you live in the Altstadt, the old city.

BUT AS THE RHEIN and other European waters are cleansed of decades of pollution, the Snake River contingent can offer the continent a much wider range of products than just fishing boats.

“The niche markets that we envisage,” says Warren-Smith,“are in rescue operations, especially in the case of flash floods which are becoming more common in Europe due to climate change, enforcement, customs, police, firefighting – and military use.”

Outside of Fords, it’s rare to see American-brand vehicles on the Autobahnen und Landstraßen, but when it comes to boats, U.S.-built craft are eye-openers in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

“People who can afford the boats (in Russia) want American-named products,” says Mike Boulton, one of six aluminum boat builders on “Boat Row” in the Rogue River Valley, and who has two dealerships selling his craft in St. Petersburg.

A Russian builder there has gone so far to as to give its boats English names like Silver.

What Lewiston and Clarkston are offering will not only compete price wise with rigid inflatable boats, adds Warren-Smith, but take much more of a beating.

“Aluminum boats have the advantage that they are light and easy to transport, operate in very low water and withstand heavy impact with debris,” he says. “Unlike inflatables with low-hanging propellers, jet boats can be driven over rocks/trees with hardly any damage at all.”

Well, to an extent, but those strengths should go over well in Germany, where quality standards and expectations are very high.

It’s certainly where Custom Weld’s Bonfield thinks they have a chance.

“It’s not just airplanes,” she says, referencing another Northwestern manufacturing cornerstone. “We make the best boats in the world.”

BRING TACKLE TOO
An article posted on National Geographic’s Web site last May details the rise of urban angling around Europe as their waters are cleaned up, and the Department of Commerce’s Paul Warren-Smith points out there may be an opportunity for other Washington, Oregon and Idaho companies.
He says the huge Düsseldorf boat show also features a fishing gear section.
“We would like to have some U.S. manufacturers of fishing tackle going to the show,” he says.
Some, like Worden’s in Yakima, are already in Europe.
“We sell quite a few Rooster Tails and a few other products all over there,” says Rob Phillips with SPD Advertising.
They attend another large gathering,
the EFFTEX show.–

Sept. Northwest Sportsman Coming Out, Plus 2 New Mags!

August 20, 2010

AW: God, could you grant me an extension on autumn – like maybe make it two or three months longer?
God: Time stops for no man.

AW: How about an extension on this Editor’s Note?
God: That’s actually up to your press foreman – who just emailed, by the way.

AW: D’oh! But my main problem here, big guy, is that there’s just so much to do this time of year! It’s impossible to hit all these fisheries and do all these hunts that we’re writing about in our September issue – Tillamook Chinook, Cowlitz salmon, Willamette Valley doves and geese, Straits and Everett coho, ocean bottomfish, Cascades bucks …
God: Decisions, decisions.

SEPTEMBER 2010 NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN. THAT'S ERIC BRAATEN UP TOP WITH A MUZZLELOADER MULEY, SENT IN FOR OUR HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST, AND DOWN LOW IS HEATHER LUSK WITH A BIG COWLITZ CHINOOK FROM 2009, CAUGHT WITH SWANNY'S GUIDED FISHING.

AW: How about cloning me? What do you think about that? Maybe like make one me who can go deer hunting up to Okanogan County, another to hit the middle Rogue for steelies, another to stay home and help Mama with the boys, another to finish up work on the shed – actually, two or three more AWs for that last one, I’m not so good with hammers and power equipment. I could get so much done!
God: Mr. Walgamott …

AW: Look, it’s not my fault. You did a fantastic job on fall – your absolute best work, bub – but there’s blessedly little of it to go around!
God: Bub?

AW: Sorry.
God: Ever hear of living vicariously?

AW: Yar.
God: I think that’s the solution here. You hit the Okanogan, some of your readers go fish the Oregon coast, some hunt the Coast Range …

AW: … Err, sorry to interupt, sir, but the press guy’s really anxious to get this thing rolling.
God: And I’m anxious to get fall going too.

NEW MAGAZINES This month, Northwest Sportsman is also launching two new titles.

We recognize that a fair number of you are traveling sportsmen, which is why we’re launching Alaska Sporting Journal, a quarterly magazine dedicated to getting you, the Seattle/Portland/Spokane/Eugene angler and hunter, to the Last Frontier.

THE PREMIER ISSUE OF ALASKA SPORTING JOURNAL!

Written by Alaska insiders, we prep you for the trip of a lifetime to such destinations as Sitka, the Kenai Peninsula, Bristol Bay, and more!

We’re also putting out our first map book, a compilation of some of our best maps from our first two years – and then some. All totaled you’ll find 39 steelhead, Chinook, bass, walleye, bottomfish, turkey, elk and deer maps in the Northwest Sportsman 2010 Atlas

THE FIRST ISSUE OF NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN ATLAS.

Check newsstands around the Northwest for all three products! –Andy Walgamott

Lake Wenatchee Sockeye To Close

August 20, 2010

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

Lake Wenatchee closes for sockeye salmon fishing.

Effective date/time:   One hour after sunset Aug. 31, 2010.

Species affected:   Sockeye salmon.

Location:   Lake Wenatchee (Chelan Co.).

Reason for action:   By Aug. 31, most of the sockeye currently in the lake will have migrated to the White and Little Wenatchee rivers and will be unavailable to anglers. Continuing the fishery would also increase bull trout impacts.

Other information:   Trout and other game fish seasons will continue as described in the 2010/2011 “Fishing in Washington” rules pamphlet.

Information contact: Art Viola, (509) 665-3337, Jeff Korth (509) 754-6066.

Tulalips Release Turkeys On Reservation For Future Hunts

August 20, 2010

The Tulalip Tribes recently released 170 turkeys onto their Snohomish County, Wash., reservation.

After being raised from chicks obtained this past spring, the Rio Grandes were let loose this month in a meadow in hopes the birds would build a harvestable population, according to a press release from the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

The effort began several years ago with restoration of the meadow for wildlife habitat.

Tribal wildlife manager Mike Sevigny thinks that if birds breed next spring, there could be hunts next fall.

THE TULALIP TRIBES RAISED TURKEYS FROM CHICKS THIS SPRING, HELD THE BIRDS IN A PEN AND THEN RECENTLY TURNED THEM LOOSE ON THE RESERVATION NORTH OF EVERETT. (NWIFC)

The Tribes plans to release more game birds in the meadow.

Western Fall Elk Forecast

August 20, 2010

With elk hunting starting in just over a week in Oregon, now’s as good a time as any to get a head’s up on this fall’s prospects for wapiti in the Beaver State and elsewhere around the West.

According to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s annual hunting forecast, Oregon and Washington’s herds are believed to be stable, and while certain herds in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have taken definite hits from wolves, there are still around 100,000 elk in the Gem State, 150,000 in the Treasure State and 120,000 in the Cowboy State — 20,000 more than this time last year, and 40,000 above state objectives in that latter state alone.

MIKE AND JACK DONAHUE OF SEATTLE WITH MIKE'S FIRST ELK IN 20 YEARS OF HUNTING, SHOT IN KITTITAS CO., WASH., LAST FALL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

“Generally speaking, elk populations are in great shape and hunters have much to look forward to across the West, as well as in several Midwestern and Eastern states,” says David Allen, president and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in a press release. “A mild winter, much needed spring and summer moisture and our habitat conservation successes all factor into our optimism for the upcoming hunting season.”

He does note, however, that wolves continue to be a growing concern in regions where they share habitat with elk and other big game herds. In some areas, elk calf survival rates are now insufficient to sustain herds for the future.

EASTERN OREGON BULL ELK. (ODFW)

RMEF says the urgent need to control wolf populations is a localized wildlife management crisis now compounded by a recent court decision to return wolves to full federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. RMEF has asked Congress to intervene and grant management authority to the states.

A Montana Congressman has joined a Texan in cosponsoring legislation to remove wolves from the species that can be protected under ESA.

A statement on RMEF’s Web site above their hunting forecast addresses what became a war of letters earlier this year, where wolf activists “blatantly cherry-picked, manipulated and misrepresented the following population estimates to bolster their case for having more wolves in more places throughout elk country.”

Meanwhile, here is a state-by-state and province-by-province breakdown for the Western U.S. and Canada, straight from RMEF:

ALASKA
·       Elk Population: Kodiak Archipelago (GMU 8), 650; Etolin (GMU 3), not available
·       Bull/Cow Ratios: Not available
·       Nonresidents: $85 hunting license plus $300 elk tag, and must hire a guide
·       Hunter Success: GMU 8, 17 percent; GMU 3, 5 percent

Think you’re tough? Resume chest-thumping only after you’ve hunted GMU 3’s South Etolin Wilderness for a week in southeast Alaska. Rainfall exceeds 90 inches per year and the thick cover hides some of the world’s largest brown bears. Recent success rates hover around 5 percent with an annual average of six bulls killed for the entire unit. While bulls in the lower 48 average 700 pounds, bulls here can get up to 1,300. Consider yourself successful just for giving it a try. Zarembo Island northwest of Etolin has remained closed to hunting since 2006 because of low elk numbers.

For GMU 8 in southern Alaska, the odds are considerably better at 17 percent, though rest assured you’ll be hunting the fringes of hypothermia. Managers are trying to grow the herd to around 800-1,000 animals. Not bad when you consider in 1929 only eight elk were imported to the area from Washington’s Hoh Valley.

Fifteen years ago, these big-bodied bulls had comparatively tiny antlers. That all changed when herd numbers crashed with the winter of 1998-99. Lower herd numbers allowed more forage to flourish, and bulls took advantage of the all-you-can-eat buffet. Now, GMU 8 in southern Alaska gives you a shot at some mighty big Roosevelt’s. Area biologist Larry van Deale says some recent trophies would have made the record books had the hunters cared to enter them.

ALBERTA

·       Elk Population: 33,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: Not available
·       Nonresidents: $255, must hire a guide
·       Hunter Success: Not available
In the eyes of the record books, elk here live in the shadow of the province’s monster whitetails and beastly bruins. Yet there are opportunities for some fine elk hunting as elk expand east and south onto the prairies and parkland. As they migrate, managers establish more hunting opportunities—last year alone saw three new areas open to elk hunting. Some of the biggest bulls are in these new units. The northern-most units have hunts well into January, and landowners typically welcome responsible cow hunters with open arms.

The best (and only) shot for a nonresident is to go through an outfitter, as they are allotted roughly 10 percent of draw tags.

ELK ON THE WILD HORSE WIND FARM, KITTITAS CO., WASH. (PHOTO COURTESY OF PUGET SOUND ENERGY)

ARIZONA
·       Elk Population: 25,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 34/100
·       Nonresidents: $121 hunting license (nonrefundable to enter drawing) plus $595 elk permit
·       Hunter Success: 30 percent
This mega-bull state allows hunters the chance to chase elk 365 days per year—and you don’t need a Governor’s tag to do it. These over-the-counter hunts are designed to help keep elk numbers in check where they are less-than-desirable, like the North Kaibab Plateau. One catch, though—there are generally not a lot of elk in these areas and hunt success is low, but at least you don’t have to blow any bonus points on the hunts.

For hunters looking for more traditional seasons, opportunities abound. Even though the state claims 25,000 elk, its mesas and arroyos could be hiding upwards of 40,000, says Brian Wakeling, Arizona’s game branch chief. They conduct elk counts in August and September, and the thick tree cover makes it tough to get accurate counts with aerial surveys. Overlooked elk means better odds of success for you.

With abundant moisture this winter and little winterkill, elk herds are flourishing. Last year saw little daylight rut activity, with bulls bugling only by moonlight, which held bowhunter success to around 25 percent. Logic says those big bulls that survived merely got bigger for this season. Also bettering your odds is Fish and Game’s goal to get bull/cow ratios down to 25/100 to create more hunter opportunity. That translates into more bull tags.

A great resource on Arizona harvest data, drawing odds and hunting pressure is “Hunt Arizona” available on the department’s website at www.azgfd.gov.

BRITISH COLUMBIA
·       Elk Population: 50,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 20/100
·       Nonresidents: $189 hunting license plus $262.50 for elk permit. Must hire a guide.
·       Hunter Success: Not available
With 15 big game species to hunt, this province is a hunter’s paradise, boasting a thriving population of Rocky Mountain elk and some of the biggest Roosevelt’s bulls in the world, says Stephen MacIver, wildlife regulations officer. To hunt Roosies or Rocky Mountain elk in the province, one must first hurdle the odds of drawing a limited-entry tag. The odds are roughly 35:1. But, anyone, including nonresidents, can hire a guide, and lucky for you, guides are allotted a percentage of the tags.

If you watched the Olympics, you have an idea of what the winter was like for the entire province—mild. And that’s good news for elk. Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast in the far west have strong populations of Roosevelt’s. For Rocky Mountain elk, your best bet would be the Kootenay region in the southeast, which boasts the province’s highest success rates. Most of the area requires a minimum of six tines or more on one antler. So many bulls live long enough to reach their full antler-growth potential. Another good option is the agricultural zones in the Peace River region.

Visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw.

CALIFORNIA
·       Elk Population: 1,500 Rocky Mountains, 6,000 Roosevelt’s, 3,900 tules
·       Bull/Cow Ratios: 20/100 to 90/100
·       Nonresidents: $145 hunting license (nonrefundable to enter drawing) plus $1,173 elk permit
·       Hunter Success: 75 percent
Conditions are ripe for a world-record tule, says Joe Hobbs, California Fish and Game elk coordinator. For the East Park Reservoir Unit, good spring rains this year and a low harvest of old bulls last year have left the environment in top shape for antler growth. That’s the good news. The bad news? Your odds of drawing a bull tag there are 1 in 350. If you’re feeling really lucky, apply for Grizzly Island with bulls just as big and draw odds more than twice as bad (1 in 1,000). To add insult to injury, only one nonresident tag can be issued through the draw annually.

But other chances abound if you’re willing to shell out the cash for a number of auction tags: one for Grizzly Island, one for Owens Valley, a multiple zone tag, and tags offered by RMEF at Elk Camp. If odds and auctions aren’t your thing, private landowners receive a limited number of hunts to do with as they please, like sell it to you.

Forest fires over the past few years have herds in other parts of the state doing very well. The Marble Mountains unit in the northwest—much of it in the spectacular Marble Mountain Wilderness—is one of those areas, with 35 bull tags, 10 antlerless and 5 late-season muzzleloader/archery either-sex tags. It’s also an area worth looking into if you’re a first-time applicant, as 10 of those tags (9 bull, 1 either-sex) are randomly drawn, while the other 30 are based on preference points. Odds there hover around 2 percent— 8 percent if you have max points.

If the odds have you down, this might help. Talks are in the works to reestablish a free-ranging herd on 200,000 acres of grassland in the Central Valley. Plans are still in the feasibility stage, but that could mean more habitat, more elk and more elk hunting opportunity. In the northeast corner, elk that walked in  from Oregon and Nevada are now thriving, including some of the biggest bulls in America. To help ease a sometimes thirsty transition onto the Modoc National Forest, the RMEF helped pay for and install four 1,800-gallon wildlife guzzlers, which will improve year-round habitat in an area that already has one of the most sought-after elk permits in the state.

COLORADO
·       Elk Population: 286,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 30/100
·       Nonresidents: cow $354, any elk $544
·       Hunter Success: 23 percent
Let’s be honest, the land of the fourteeners is the land of plenty for elk and elk hunters, but it isn’t currently known for producing behemoth bulls. But that could be a different story this hunting season. The past two falls have been cursed with warm weather, leaving elk up high and the ground firecracker dry. In the northwest where many of the really big bulls roam, elk migration didn’t even begin until after regular rifle seasons were over. Couple that with abundant spring and summer moisture producing high-quality forage, and you have the perfect setup for high-quality bulls. Of course, you’re not going to be alone, as the state sees more than 200,000 hunters afield.

Those more than happy simply to go elk hunting and take home a couple hundred pounds of the world’s finest meat will notice the $100 fee increase for cow tags. Why? Elk populations have been carefully trimmed to at or near objectives in many places in the state. Colorado DOW has also recommended cutting 1,500 cow/either-sex rifle tags across the state. Places where herds remain above objective, such as the Gunnison Basin, will see more rifle tags available. For archery hunters there, over-the-counter licenses for units 54, 55 and 551 have been nixed. It’s all limited-entry now, as masses of bowhunters were pushing the elk onto private ranches where they remained the rest of the season.

In the west on the Uncomphagre Plateau, (GMU 61 to the west and 62 to the east) the best of both worlds awaits hunters. GMU 61 is a limited-draw area, while 62 sees quite a lot of hunters in this over-the-counter area. To help ensure the area stays full of elk and hunter opportunity, the Elk Foundation helped fund a habitat enhancement project, removing dense stands of pinyons and junipers. The scrubby pines proliferate due to fire suppression and choke out native grasses.

To get you started on the hunt or to jumpstart your to-do list for this season, check out DOW’s elk hunting videos on the web: http://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/Videos.

IDAHO
·       Elk Population: 101,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 25/100
·       Nonresidents: license $155, tag $417
·       Hunter Success: 20 percent
Since 2007, Idaho’s elk population has fallen by 24,000. And for the second year in a row, out-of-state tag revenues in the state have mirrored that trend. Hunters list wolves, the economy and nonresident tag prices as factors. This isn’t ideal for state wildlife coffers, but it could be ideal if you’re looking for elk hunting all to yourself.

Wolves have hit elk populations in the classic elk country of the Lolo, Sawtooth and Selway areas hard, and the state has capped tags. Bull:cow and cow:calf ratios are in tough shape, and the statewide population could fall below 100,000 for the first time in decades. But the declines are by no means across the board. Elk populations are at or above objectives in 22 of 29 elk hunt zones. And a mild winter boosted cow and calf elk survival rates across most of the state.

It’s no secret that wolves can hammer elk populations, but the most lasting damage is done by the jaws of subdivisions and mini-malls devouring habitat. When conservation-minded landowners want to see their land protected, the Elk Foundation is there to help. Donna Standley’s 350-acre ranch in the northern panhandle provides year-round elk habitat and she wanted to see it stay that way forever. So in 2009, she placed her property in a conservation easement with the RMEF.

Those elk populations around Donna’s ranch, and along the western and southern borders of the state, continue to be strong. The Beaverhead, Lemhi, Island Park, Teton, Snake River, Palisades and Tex Creek zones all have healthy herds and offer the kind of elk hunting Idaho is famous for.

Visit fishandgame.idaho.gov.

MONTANA
·       Elk Population: 150,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 5-25/100
·       Nonresidents: $593
·       Hunter Success: 22 percent
There are plenty of elk in many pockets of Big Sky country. In fact, Montana continues to boast the second highest elk population of any state by a margin of 30,000 animals. But some populations have plummeted in the past five years. The northern Yellowstone herd is down to 6,000 animals from 19,000 in 1996. Areas north of Yellowstone National Park have seen permits cut and over-the-counter tags change to a draw. Populations in the West Fork of the Bitterroot River and the lower Clark Fork River are 60 percent below objective, with just 7 calves per 100 cows. All antlerless tags have been cut, and bulls will be hard to come by. Elk populations are well below objectives throughout much of Region 1 in the northwest. Hunters will find elk widely dispersed and wary throughout their traditional ranges in the western third of the state where wolves howl.

But the farther one goes east of the Continental Divide, the more elk appear. Most of the eastern portion of the state is 20 percent above population objectives. And the Elk Foundation is doing its part to ensure those herds continue to flourish. The RMEF helped fund prescribed burns in the rangeland and timbered coulees of the Musselshell Breaks in 2009 to improve forage on BLM land for elk and other wildlife. In ranges like the Tobacco Roots and Gravellys, elk populations are healthy. Hunters venturing into antelope country might do well to explore the Little Belt Mountains for elk. Also be on the lookout for new Elk B tags sold over the counter in some units with too many elk.

The big bulls are most definitely out there. A mild winter and moist spring should make for optimum antler growth. But it’s doubtful they’re going to run in front of your truck. Lace up those boots, hump a few miles in, and you’ll encounter elk on their terms.

Visit www.fwp.mt.gov.

NEVADA
·       Elk Population: 12,300
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 32/100
·       Nonresidents: $142 hunting license plus $1,200 tag
·       Hunter Success: 44 percent
This year’s “baby boomer” award goes to the land of craps tables and bordellos. In the past two years, the elk population there has grown nearly 30 percent. The opportunities for hunters to chase them have followed suit. A few hundred tags more than last year will be issued this season, for a total of 3,350. Ten percent of those tags go to nonresidents who are looking at pretty decent 1:44 odds to draw a bull tag.

Elk herds here grow as sagebrush and bitterbrush succumb to drought and wildfire. Then grass takes their place. The mule deer aren’t happy about it, but the elk love it. The quality of bulls in the harvest remains high with more than 67 percent of bulls reported being six points or better. Landowners seem content as well. The state’s Elk Management on Private Lands Program distributed 66 tags to property owners to do with as they wish. Estimated revenue generated from those tags topped nearly $500,000 for the landowners. So if you don’t draw in the lottery, you can always track down a landowner—though they may not take plastic.

Visit www.ndow.org/hunt.

NEW MEXICO
·       Elk Population: 75,000-95,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 42/100
·       Nonresidents: $27 nonrefundable fee to enter drawing, plus $562 standard bull tag or $787 quality bull tag
·       Hunter Success: 30 percent
With a little bit of everything, the Land of Enchantment allows hunters to stalk alpine elk during a blizzard or drop down to the Chihuahuan desert and sweat it out chasing wapiti through mirages. Most hunters though seem content enough to stay nestled right in-between in the mixed conifer and pinyon-juniper stands.

Last year’s harvest tallies were average, and the state picked up great winter moisture. The hills greened up nicely this spring, providing herds plenty of forage.

Out-of-staters looking to hunt here will find no over-the-counter tags. Those who didn’t draw may be able to contact a landowner for one of their tags (be ready to write a fairly hefty check). The state has no bonus or preference point system, so—love it or hate it—every year, everyone has the same chance. Residents get the bulk of the tags, 78 percent.

The state’s units are broken into “quality” and “opportunity” hunts. The former will get you a better chance at bigger bulls, but odds are steep. You can only apply for three units in one season. Looking for close to a sure thing? The state offers four Enhancement Tags. Some go to raffles, others go to auction. Money from the tags goes back on the ground for landscape-level projects, like those found on the Gila in the southwest. The Gila elk herds make up around 20,000 elk, and the RMEF is pitching in funds to help the Forest Service return fire to nearly 95,000 acres. Doing so will remove understory debris, improving the forage in this quality- management unit regularly producing bruiser bulls.

Visit www.wildlife.state.nm.us.

NORTH DAKOTA
·       Elk Population: 2,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: Not available
·       Nonresidents: One auction tag available
·       Hunter Success: 42 percent
Big news this year is the potential for culling elk inside Theodore Roosevelt National Park using park volunteers. With 950 elk, the park is looking to control elk populations, possibly killing 275 elk for the next five years to get populations between 100-400.

For the rest of the state’s elk, things are pretty much status-quo. Managers issued 561 tags—with 245 any-sex and 315 antlerless tags, the same as last year. Almost all hunting is now in the western Badlands, but elk may be moving south from Canada into the Turtle Mountains in the state’s north-central portion. No hunting is currently permitted there, but in the future anything can happen with the right habitat.

Visit www.gf.nd.gov/hunting.

OREGON
·       Elk Population: 120,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 15/100
·       Nonresidents: license $140, tag $500
·       Hunter Success: 13 percent
Due to budget constraints, biologists aren’t exactly sure how many elk they have as aerial surveys have been limited. But they think herd populations are stable. And this year, managers plan to issue nearly 1,000 more permits than last season.

OREGON BOW ELK SEASON BEGINS AUG. 28. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Rocky Mountain elk dominate the east side of the Cascades while Roosevelt’s reign to the west. Most hunting in the steep and dark west is open to all comers with over-the-counter tags, while eastern Oregon is draw-only for rifle hunters. Bowhunters can still hunt most of the east side with a general tag. Those eastern elk have some new neighbors, as a couple wolf packs have established themselves in the northeast corner. Individual wolves are also dispersing into the state from Idaho.

A great new resource for both resident and nonresident hunters is an interactive map system (www.oregonhuntingmap.com). The map not only provides contours, Forest Service roads and trails, it also allows you to readily locate all the state’s wildlife management units and hunting access areas. It even includes a write-up for all access areas, along with a hunting report. Let’s hope every state gets on board with this one.

Visit www.dfw.state.or.us.

SOUTH DAKOTA
·       Elk Population: 5,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 75/100
·       Residents only
·       Hunter Success: 50 percent
So you want to hunt elk in South Dakota? If you don’t live there, better stick to pheasants, as elk tags are only available to residents. But as game managers look to build up herd numbers, you never know what the future may hold.

The state’s largest herd in the Black Hills National Forest numbered as many as 5,000 animals back in 2003. Aggressive management knocked that number down to the current 3,000. Public attitudes have shifted and there is once again a cry for more elk and more hunting opportunity. To reach a goal of 4,000 in the Hills, managers have had to cut rifle tags again this year to 1,065—a drop of 300 from last year. It’s all a means to an end, though, as “hunters want more elk, and I want more elk,” says Ted Benzon, big game biologist.

As part of a 12,000-acre, landscape-scale effort in the Black Hills, the Elk Foundation is working with landowners to protect their land from development. In 2010, the RMEF completed a 9-year effort to acquire 2,400 acres of private land adjacent to the Black Hills National Forest and Wind Cave National Park from willing landowners and transfer it to the Forest Service, forever protecting the finest elk country in the state snd creating 2,400 acres of new public land.

Unit 2, the state’s biggest unit, is managed as a trophy area. A third of the bulls killed are 6-points or better, some of them massive. In the past, the average has been 40-50 percent, and that’s what managers want to see again. Residents’ odds of hunting a bull in the Black Hills are a solid 1:10. If you pull a tag, make the most of it, as you have to wait nine years to apply again.

Want to hunt elk in your home state this year? Put in for a cow hunt as your first choice; you’ll get the tag.

Visit www.sdgfp.info/wildlife/hunting.

UTAH
·       Elk Population: 68,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 15-80/100
·       Nonresidents: $65 hunting license, plus $388 general tag, $795 limited-entry tag or $1,500 premium limited-entry tag
·       Hunter Success: 17 percent
Statewide, hunters kill bulls that average around 6½ years. At that age, you’re looking at a jaw-dropping wall-hanger or a nice-sized bull; it all depends on what the elk have been eating. Luckily, Utah has seen good moisture this past winter and spring, keeping the hills green and lush. Translation: healthy brutes with big headgear.

Before you start packing the truck, odds of drawing a limited-entry tag are going to be tough. Odds for residents to pull a limited-entry tag are 1:16. Nonresidents, 1:44. But as the state’s herd slowly grows, so grows tag availability. Consider that in 2003, there were around 60,000 elk and 86 nonresident, limited-entry tags. Now, with 68,000 elk there are three times as many tags available.

It’s going to be a tough draw for the most popular units, such as San Juan and Fillmore Pahvant, but there are over-the-counter options out there, especially for archery hunters who are willing to hike into wilderness. With an any-bull tag in their pocket, hardcore backcountry archers just might find the big boys without the big crowds.

Visit wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/hunting.html.

WASHINGTON
·       Elk Population: 55,000-60,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 12-20/100 in most units
·       Nonresidents: $432
·       Hunter Success: 8 percent
With more hunters per elk than any other state, you’d think the state’s woods would be overrun. Well, if you’re hunting near a road, they probably are. Venture five miles behind a gate or into wilderness, and chances are you’ll have the place all to yourself—except for all the elk of course. Managers help control densities by making hunters choose either westside Roosevelt’s or eastside Rocky Mountain elk. Both hunters and elk are split about 50/50.

Generally, herd numbers are stable this season, as they are coming off a very mild winter. Traditionally an elk stronghold, the Yakima herd has seen a drop in recruitment, thus special permits for both branch-antlered bulls and cows have been cut 30-40 percent. Good news, though, for that herd and others in the area between Yakima and Wenatchee. Thanks in part to facilitation from the Elk Foundation, the state swapped 21,000 acres of checkboarded land for 82,000 acres of private timberland. Both properties were valued at $56.5 million. The final product: 61,000 acres open to all as a new state forest.

While it may take some time for the Yakima herd to rebound, the state has plenty of other hot spots like the classic elk country of the Blue Mountains. This area in the southeast corner has seen an increase in bull permits the last few years. The southwest is another winner for OTC permits, especially on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest around Mt. St. Helens where managers are trying to knock down herd numbers.

CALLIE GUYOTA WITH ANICE WESTERN WASHINGTON ROOSEVELT. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

And finally, wolves have established at least two confirmed packs on the eastside. After three years of crafting, with much citizen input, the Division of Fish and Wildlife plans to submit a final wolf management plan to the State Fish and Wildlife Commission this fall.

Visit wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/.

WYOMING
·       Elk Population 120,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 23/100
·       Nonresidents: $577 for permit, $288 for cow-calf permit, $1,057 for special permit
·       Hunter Success: 43 percent
It’s true. Some places in Wyoming have seen significant impacts from wolves and other carnivores. The eastern half of the Cody herd next to Yellowstone has seen poor calf-recruitment, made worse by predation. Once a general hunting area, it is now a limited-entry draw. That area is home to the Shoshone National Forest where aspens are losing ground to encroaching conifers because of fire suppression. To give elk a boost, the RMEF helped pay for conifer removal across aspen stands in the greatest danger of disappearing. The landscape around Jackson Hole and the Gros Ventre and Teton Wilderness Areas will see tightened seasons and antler-point restrictions to try
and boost bull-cow and cow-calf ratios.

But outside the northwest corner, the state’s cup runneth over with elk, with the population up 15,000 from last year and many units far above their population objectives. The statewide objective is 80,000 elk. That’s 40,000 less than where the herd now stands. You’ll be hard pressed to find better odds of filling the freezer with a choice cow, and the state expects to have lots of leftover antlerless licenses. Aggressive seasons have been set in many places, including the Snowy Range, Laramie Peak and Sierra Madre.

Last year, the state shifted to a first-come/first-served online licensing system. Out-of-staters can now search for leftover licenses without having to wait in line (in Wyoming) for reduced and full-price tags. For those more interested in hunting bulls, the state allots 16 percent of its limited quota and general licenses to nonresidents. If you’re holding one of those tags, you have a very real chance of taking the bull of a lifetime. As always, regional wildlife managers offer great insights. After all, they’re the ones on the ground day in and day out.

Visit gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/hunting.

ELK ON THE TURNBULL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE OUTSIDE SPOKANE WILL BE HUNTED FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS FALL; 73 SPECIAL PERMITS WERE AVAILABLE THROUGH A DRAWING. (TURNBULL NWR)

For prospects in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentuck, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Yukon Territory, Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania, please see RMEF’s full forecast.

The organization has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.8 million acres, as well as works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

Fall Kings To Open In Hells Canyon

August 19, 2010

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

For the first time in recent history, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will open the upper Snake River for fall chinook harvest on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010.

The chinook fishery will open to sport fishing seven days a week concurrent with the annual Hell’s Canyon steelhead fishery. The river will be open from the Oregon / Washington border to the deadline below Hells Canyon Dam and will remain open until Oct. 31, or until a closure is announced.

The daily bag limit is two adipose fin-clipped fall chinook salmon per day, only one of which can be an adult salmon longer than 24 inches. Only barbless hooks may be used. Anglers are reminded to consult the 2010 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for other applicable regulations.

Fishery managers predict over 60,000 fall chinook salmon will pass Lower Granite Dam this year. This is more fish than needed for hatchery production needs and thus will be available for sport harvest.

Hells Canyon Dam is the farthest Snake River fall chinook will travel in Oregon, having migrated over 800 miles and passing 8 mainstem dams.

“We’ve had a great spring chinook season, a huge steelhead return is on its way and now there’s a new opportunity to retain fall chinook, ”said Jeff Yanke, ODFW district fish biologist in Enterprise. “We encourage anglers to take advantage of the excellent fall fishing in Hell’s Canyon.”

USFWS On The Way Forward For Idaho And Wolves

August 19, 2010

Here’s the text of a Q&A sheet/PDF prepared by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for a recent meeting of the Idaho Fish & Game Commission.

It was posted on The Wildlife News’ blog.

U.S. Fish Wildlife Service Pacific Regional Office
911 NE 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232-4181
http://www.jws.gov/pacific

Gray Wolves in Idaho: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Answers to Idaho Department of Fish and Game Questions

August 16,2010

• What is the history of wolf reintroduction in Idaho?

A detailed chronology of the reintroduction and events leading up to gray wolf reintroduction in Idaho is located on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ cms/wildlife/wolves/timeline.cfm

• Is there any possibility ofhaving a wolfhunting season unde1′ the current listing status in Idaho?

It is unlikely, now that the U.S. District Court has ruled that the gray wolf must be returned to the List of Threatened and Endangered Species. During the past six months, while the court deliberated, FWS has worked diligently with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to explore a variety of options for permitting a hunting season for wolves in Idaho and Montana (in the event the court ruled invalidated the delisting, which it did). FWS, however does not believe we would prevail against the inevitable legal challenge. This is a difficult and frustrating message to convey, and it is a decision FWS does not take lightly. However, we cannot promote decisions we know are legally indefensible, as this would only increase our collective frustrations over the long term, rather than relieve them.

• After the FWS receives our proposal to control wolves that are impacting ungulates, how long will it take the FWS to respond?

Upon receipt of all necessary documentation associated with a control proposal, including peer review and a record of public review and comment as required in the lOG) rule, we anticipate being able to respond within 60 days.

• Can Idaho get broader approval from FWS for wolfmanagement in response to ungulate population declines under section 10(J) of the ESA as it has for livestocll depredation response?

The NRM wolf lOG) rule was revised in 2008 to give states more latitude in managing wolves that were affecting ungulate herds within the experimental population area. Accordingly, the State may request broader approval for ungulate management. FWS must then make a determination that the requested action would continue to provide for the conservation of the wolf. Changes to the 100) regulations would also require rulemaking, including pu blic notice and comment.

Note: the 2008 lOG) rule is currently being litigated, and the outcome of that litigation may define sideboards within which we can amend the 1O(j) rule. At this time the 2008 revised 1O(i) rule remains in full effect.

• Why should the State ofIdaho remain the FWS’s designated agent?

This is Idaho’s question to answer. From FWS perspective, there are advantages for a state to be fully engaged in species management, including the direct contribution of state expertise and issues in management decisions. In addition:

• Continued demonstration of successful State management of wolves is critical to the legal argument for delisting wolves in Idaho. If IDFG is stripped of its ability to manage wolves under the approved State management plan, the likelihood of delisting wolves in Idaho may be substantially diminished.

• FWS will not manage wolves to achieve ungulate population objectives. Ungulate population management is the purview of the State, and as such, the State may address that priority by maintaining status as a designated agent.

• The State is currently better positioned than the Service to address on-the-ground depredation control issues. Lack of State management would mean increased presence of contract or Federal biologists in Idaho to handle on-the-groundmanagement.

• What is the FWS’s strategy to delist wolves and what is your timeline?

Any path forward to down-listing or delisting the NRM wolf will require rulemaking, including public notice and comment. A proposed and final rule, including adequate time for public comment, at minimum would take 18 months, and more likely 24 months to complete.

• What should Idaho tell hunters about future wolfpopulation levels and their impact on Idaho elk?

FWS supports the wolf population goals in Idaho’s State wolf management plan. FWS also supports lethal removal of wolves in the experimental population area when scientific evidence indicates that wolves are having an unacceptable impact on wild ungulate populations. FWS delisted wolves in Idaho based on recognition that wolves are biologically recovered in the State and a sound State management plan is in place, and FWS has recognized Idaho’s management of a fair-chase hunt conducted last year. Without condition, FWS shares the goal of a viable delisted wolf population under State management.

• Is FWS considering revising its Distinct Population Segment (DPS) policy to allow delisting along State lines? The FWS is not pursuing that option at this time.

• Will FWS appeal judge Molloy’s decision?

The Department of the Interior and Department of Justice have not determined whether or not to appeal Judge Molloy’s decision.

Meanwhile, a Montana Congressman has announced he’d cosponsor a Texan’s legislation that would make wolves exempt from threatened or endangered status under the ESA.

4-point Only For 117, 121 Units Whitetails?

August 19, 2010

A proposal to restrict whitetail buck harvest in two Northeast Washington game units gets a cold reception in today’s Spokesman-Review.

Writes outdoor columnist Rich Landers:

Looking into the Stevens County-based campaign to set four-point-minimum antler restrictions on white-tailed deer hunts in portions of northeastern Washington, one logical conclusion emerges:

Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Gary Douvia of Kettle Falls has compromising photos of other commission members.

… In the next week the commission will squander staff time and thousands of dollars – is the state budget crisis over? – on four public meetings across the state largely at Douvia’s behest. Three stakeholder meetings also were held earlier this summer.

The meetings start tonight in Puyallup and end in Yakima next Thursday.

At each, WDFW staff will discuss the proposal, brought about by a petition from the Stevens County Fish and Wildlife Advisory Committee, to change the 2011 hunting rules from allowing the harvest of any whitetail buck in GMUs 117 and 121 — 49 Degrees North and Huckleberry — to only those with at least four points on one side.

WHITETAILS LIKE JOSHUA GOODRICH'S NOVEMBER 2009 SPOKANE 3X4 WOULD BE LEGAL UNDER PROPOSED ANTLER RESTRICTIONS IN NEIGHBORING HUCKLEBERRY AND 49 DEGREES NORTH. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Leroy Ledeboer tackled the issue in our September issue. At the time of his reporting, regional wildlife director Kevin Robinette said this about WDFW’s position:

“If we’re convinced that a 4-point restriction would significantly improve our herd, then we’ll support it. If we’re opposed, it will be because we believe the bucks are doing fine under the present rules. Our mandate is to provide maximum recreational opportunities we can with our available resources, so that’s what we try to do.”

But according to Landers’ story, Robinette now typifies the agency’s thoughts this way:

“We don’t think we need antler restrictions. Northeastern Washington offers good escape cover for a good percentage of bucks to avoid hunters and grow to larger sizes.”

THE AREA PROPOSED FOR FOUR-POINT RESTRICTIONS STRETCHES FROM THE SPOKANE INDIAN RESERVATION NORTH TO KETTLE FALLS, EAST TO THE PEND OREILLE RIVER, SOUTH TO NEWPORT AND WEST TO DEER PARK. (WDFW)

Among those behind the proposal are Colville’s Danny Bell and Dale Denney, the latter gent the owner of Northwest Sportsman advertiser Bearpaw Outfitters.

Bell told Ledeboer it’s about helping out a struggling whitetail herd, hit by two bad winters in recent years and long-term declines in habitat:

“It’s about first saving, then rebuilding our whitetail herd. I used to see 30 to 40 deer right around my place. Now I see five or six. My neighbor, who has 1,200 acres, used to have hundreds on his land. Now he has a few dozen.

“Our mature breeding buck numbers are way down. The harvest overall has been low in recent years, but 70 percent of the bucks taken were 2 years or younger, so the mature bucks just aren’t out there.

“Consequently, too many does don’t get bred the first time around and have to go into a second estrus. That means their fawns are born later, making them much more susceptible to predation and winterkill.”

Denney cites changes in Pennsylvania whitetail regulations in the early 2000s — a 4-point rule and more antlerless permits.

“I’ve thoroughly researched this, and the consensus is it’s turned their hunt around. They now have a smaller but more productive whitetail herd. The doe-buck ratio is sound, the fawns are coming off on time, and hunters are now shooting bigger bucks.”

While Pennsylvania is as wooded as Northeast Washington, when restrictions began its forests were also more open due to overbrowsing by deer in the past. Landers’ article points out that in our brushy country, it may be more difficult to pick out how many antler points a buck might have, which could lead to bad decisions and headaches for enforcement officers who “are concerned about the number of fork-horn whitetails that might end up dead in the brush after a season with antler restrictions,” he writes.

Last year, 1,242 bucks were killed in the Huckleberry GMU by all hunters, including 144 spikes, 165 2-points, 289 3-points, 393 4-points and 251 5-points. Forty-nine Degrees North yielded 857 bucks, including 79 spikes, 117 forked horns, 167 3-points, 297 4-points and 189 5-points.

Both tallies are well below where they were in the early to mid-2000s.

Wanda Clifford, executive director of the Spokane-based Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, urges her members to attend the Spokane Valley and Colville meetings.

“The INWC has taken a stand not to support the 4-point restriction in these GMUs based on the Department’s scientific studies and lack of documentation that a point restriction used as a game management tool is beneficial,” a statement from her reads, according to INWC member and past president Jim Nelson.

Tonight’s meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Pierce County Library, PAC Room A & B, 3005 112th St. E., in Tacoma.

The others are slated for:

* Aug. 24, Colville Campus of Community College of Spokane, 985 S. Elm St., in Colville.

* Aug. 25, Center Place Regional Event Center, Great Room, 2426 N. Discovery Place, in Spokane Valley.

* Aug. 26, Yakima Convention Center, Room A, 10 N. 8th St., in Yakima. (Due to construction, visitors should access the convention center from the Yakima Avenue entrance or the North Parking Lot entrance.)

They also begin at 7 p.m.

Editor’s note (11:26 a.m., Aug. 26, 2010): The original version of this post misstated Wanda Clifford’s role with INWC. She is the group’s executive director, not its president. The latter post is held by Ken Hoff.

Ocean, Buoy 10 Salmon Update

August 19, 2010

There’s still plenty of room in the coho and Chinook quotas out of Ilwaco while the salmon catch at Buoy 10 begins to ramp up.

Joe Hymer of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission reports that last week, anglers in Washington’s Marine Area 1 on the south coast averaged .85 salmon per rod, with 71 percent of the catch being coho.

“Through August 15, an estimated 35.8% of the coho quota and 37.7% of the Chinook guideline had been taken,” he reported last night.

Further north, the Chinook guideline at Westport is 65.8 percent toast; nearly 18,500 have been caught there, including a marked 51-pounder by Olympia angler Jerry Dolgash.

51-POUNDER FOR JERRY DOLGASH OF OLYMPIA, SENT TO NWS BY HIS FRIEND TONY FLOOR.

Northwest Sportsman writer Terry Otto fished Buoy 10 yesterday with Northwest Sportsman columnist Buzz Ramsey and reports that they and three other anglers caught a total of 10 salmon, releasing four and keeping three Chinook and three coho.

Otto retained a 25-pound king and says that one of the other anglers on the boat had one 3 or 4 pounds heavier.

“One of Buzz’s friends told him about a 61-pounder caught that day,” he adds.

“Although we started off using a mix of spinners and herring, every fish came on the 6-1/2 Toman Cascade Squid Spinner,” reports Ramsey, a staffer for Yakima Bait, which makes the lure mentioned. “Eight of the 11 fish hooked were on red-and-white, one on chartreuse green dot.”

MIKE MCGUIRE HOISTS A NICE CHINOOK OUT OF BUZZ RAMSEY'S NET AT BUOY 10 YESTERDAY. (COURTESY BUZZ RAMSEY)

Otto also had one king stolen by a sea lion.

“Li’l bastard hung out near a good hole all day. We saw him rob another fisherman. The stater said that seal did real well for himself all day long by working that hot hole, according to reports,” he notes.

Joel Shangle at Northwest Wild Country Radio also posted a shot of guide Chris Vertopolous’s 45-pounder from yesterday.

4:30 P.M. UPDATE: HERE ARE PRELIMINARY CATCH STATS FOR BUOY 10 THROUGH YESTERDAY:

Aug 1-15: 8,500 anglers, 500 Chinook, 100 coho

Aug 16-18: 4,400 anglers, 1,450 Chinook, 700 coho

Total catch estimate Aug 1-18: 12,900 anglers for 1,950 Chinook and 800 coho

Allocation: Chinook – 12,500 fish (16% taken); Coho – 11,900 fish (7% taken)

ODFW Wants Your Buck Teeth

August 18, 2010

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

ODFW biologists are asking black-tailed deer bowhunters to send the department a tooth from the animal they harvest. ODFW staff uses the teeth to determine the age of the animals, which is used in population modeling efforts.

Accurate population estimation is a key goal of the Black-Tailed Deer Management Plan which was adopted in 2008 by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to strategically manage black-tailed deer populations consistent with available habitat and other land uses.

“These teeth are critically important to us. Black-tailed deer are not easy to count. They often move in the dark, in dense cover,” said Don Whittaker, ODFW Ungulate Species Coordinator. “The more information we have about the age of the deer in the population, the better decisions we can make about hunting seasons and the health of the species.”

Last year, bowhunters harvested almost 2,000 black-tailed deer.

“To get an accurate population estimate, we really need to get teeth from all of this year’s animals,” said Whittaker.

The age of deer can be accurately determined by analyzing tooth roots. Removing and returning a tooth to ODFW is relatively easy and in no way harms the taxidermy mount. Postage-paid envelopes and instructions are available at license sales agents or ODFW offices.

In six or seven months, hunters will receive a postcard showing the age of their deer.

The Columbian black-tailed deer is one of two sub species of mule deer in Oregon. The species is found from the Pacific Ocean coastline east to the forested portions along the east side of the crest of the Cascades. The Black-Tailed Deer Management Plan is available on ODFW’s website.

Tackling Cacklers

August 18, 2010

Interesting article in the Portland area’s South County Spotlight on cacklers, those Canada geese that for unknown reasons now flock to the Willamette Valley starting in September and eat their way through farm fields at sometimes shocking speeds.

A task force including ODFW, lawmakers, hunters and farmers is trying to come up with ways to deal with them, including hunting, though doing so would double hunt-monitoring costs, and eliminating the geese other ways raises the hackle of Alaska natives who want even more of the migratory birds.

Outdoor Weekend For Women Coming Up

August 18, 2010

If you’ve been reading our mag since we kicked off Northwest Sportsman in October 2008, you know we often feature women on our cover and inside our pages.

Gals on the open ocean with albacore, in wind-sheltered Puget Sound with a pink salmon, in the cool fall days of the Methow or Central Willamette Valleys with bucks.

(MAIN IMAGE: DEL STEPHENS; INSET: RYLEY FEE)

There’s a program that aims to get more women like our cover gals outdoors too.

Known as Washington Outdoor Women, it helps women access the outdoors through a weekend-long early-fall skills camp.

(GARY LUNDQUIST)

The next one’s coming up September 17-19 at Camp River Ranch in Carnation, the Girl Scout Camp on Lake Langlois.

It includes 20 different classes to choose from, everything from archery, basic freshwater fishing, big game hunting, fly tying and fishing, kayaking, map and compass work, survival skills and more.

The $235 tuition covers instruction, lodging, food and equipment needs; scholarships are available.

Registration deadline is Sept. 3, or when spots are filled — there’s space for 125. The event is open to women 18 years and older.

For applications, go to washingtonoutdoorwomen.org/registration.htm

If you miss this one, there are one-day workshops held around the year as well.

An outreach program of the Washington Wildlife Federation, hundreds of women have enrolled in WOW workshops since it began in 1998. It’s sponsored by WDFW, RMEF, Greater Seattle Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, Filson, Orvis and others.

Stocking Programs Could End With Condit Dam Removal

August 18, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

With removal of Condit Dam set to begin next fall, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will hold a public meeting Aug. 31 in Underwood to discuss the future of sport fisheries on the White Salmon River.

The informational meeting is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at the Underwood Community Center in east Skamania County, off the Cook-Underwood Road.

John Weinheimer, a WDFW fish biologist, said anglers will see significant changes in fishing opportunities on the White Salmon River with the removal of the 97-year-old hydroelectric dam that now stands 3.3 miles from the mouth of the river.

Removing Condit Dam will eliminate a major barrier to salmon and steelhead migration, creating new opportunities to restore wild salmon and steelhead stocks listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, he said.

But removing the 125-foot dam will also drain Northwestern Lake, ending the trout-stocking program in the reservoir, Weinheimer said. In addition, stocking of hatchery steelhead in the White Salmon River would be discontinued under a federal draft recovery plan that calls for restoring wild fish runs through “natural colonization.”

“Recovery actions now being proposed would eliminate stocking summer and winter hatchery steelhead and rainbow trout in the river,” Weinheimer said. “We want anglers to be aware of those proposed changes, and share their ideas about what kind of fishing opportunities they would like to see in future years.”

In past years, WDFW has stocked the White Salmon River with approximately 20,000 summer steelhead and 20,000 winter steelhead each year. In addition, the department has stocked Northwestern Lake with approximately 20,000 fingerling rainbows, 4,000 catchable-size rainbows and some larger broodstock and triploid trout each year.

Rich Turner, a senior fisheries biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service, will attend the upcoming meeting in Underwood with Weinheimer to discuss the goals and development of the draft Lower Columbia River Recovery Plan and what it will mean for sport fishing on the White Salmon River.  A draft of that plan will be available for public review next spring, Turner said.

For more information about plans to remove Condit Dam, see the website for PacifiCorp, which owns the dam, at http://www.pacificorp.com/es/hydro/hl/condit.html .

SW WA Fishing Report

August 17, 2010

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – No report on angling success.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 761 summer-run steelhead, 72 spring Chinook adults, 21 jacks, 60 mini-jacks, two sockeye salmon and six sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.  Tacoma Power employees released 40 spring Chinook adults and three jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, 35 spring Chinook adults and 12 jacks into the Cispus River, and 37 spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,420 cubic feet per second on Monday August 9. Water visibility is eleven feet.

Lewis River – Boat anglers on the mainstem Lewis are catching some steelhead.

Wind River – Boat and bank anglers near the mouth of the river are catching some steelhead.

Drano Lake – About three-quarters of the boat anglers sampled had kept/released a steelhead.  Over half the fish were kept.  We also sampled a coho there.

White Salmon River – Boat and bank anglers are catching some steelhead.  Bank anglers are also catching a few fall chinook.

Buoy 10 – Effort and catch has picked up significantly.  Just over 500 boats were counted in the Buoy 10 area during the Saturday Aug. 14 flight count.  Oregon had checked a salmon per every 4 rods yesterday; Washington about one for every 6 rods.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – We sampled 1,557 salmonid bank anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream with 7 adult fall Chinook and 331 steelhead, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 4.6 rods based on mainly incomplete trips. In addition, we sampled 637 salmonid boat anglers (298 boats) with 17 adult fall Chinook and 127 steelhead, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 4.4 rods based on mainly completed trips.  Overall, two-thirds of the steelhead caught were kept.  We again did not sample any coho.

Nearly 400 boats and 654 bank anglers were counted during the Saturday August 14 flight from Cathlamet to Bonneville.  Over three-quarters of the bank anglers were counted on the Washington side.  In addition, over one-third of the boats were found around the mouth of the Cowlitz.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers averaged a fish per rod when including fish released.  Catch was mainly steelhead though a few fall chinook are being caught.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some steelhead.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Light effort and catch during the current catch-and-release fishery.  No legals were found in the few boats sampled from Camas/Washougal upstream.  Just 14 boats and no bank anglers were counted from the mouth to Marker 82 last Saturday.

WALLEYE

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal and gorge areas averaged a walleye or more per rod.  15 boats fishing for walleye were counted from Camas/Washougal and the gorge last Saturday.

Coos Bay Tuna Tourney Yields 6,145 Pounds For Area Food Banks

August 16, 2010

(OREGON TUNA CLASSIC PRESS RELEASE)

Fishing the Northwest you have to be hardy but to fish the Oregon Tuna Classic this year
you also have to be patient and wait for Saturday morning.

When teams rolled into Charleston/ Coos Bay for the third leg of the tournament series they quickly heard about the bar restriction limiting boats 40 foot and under to crossing the bar. Later that evening, during the captains meeting, most everyone was anxious to hear what the Coast Guard had to say about the prediction for Saturday morning.

The message… “better get out there early before the ebb gets going strong” and early it was when 44 teams crossed a flat bar in the dark, well before daylight, and waited while roll call was repeated numerous times. It was just breaking daylight when all the boats finished checking in and the Coast Guard was told to shoot the flare sending teams west
in search of warm water and hopefully a few fat tuna.

At the end of the day 37 teams weighed in 4045 pounds of tuna at the Mill Casino where a large crowd of spectators and teams watched as the weights were called out by Mike “The Bear” from KDOCK radio. An additional 2,100 pounds of extra fish was also donated taking the total well over 6,145 pounds of fresh tuna going into the community food banks along the south coast.

Team Wildcat made their second appearance on the podium for this venue by taking the top honors with a 33 pound brute that pushed them well over the other teams with a five fish total of 131.10 pounds. They also won the Big Fish pot which paid out $750 on top of the $3,000 first place prize money.

Second place honors went to another new team to the tournaments this year by Team Chillabit with 124.15 pounds. Team Gales Creek Tuna Gafers secured the third place spot with 118.45 pounds giving them another podium placement for the season. The third place through sixth place teams were only separated by .9 pounds causing a close call for a few teams including mine for missing the podium by less than a pound.

The leader in the points standings for the official invite to the IGFA Offshore World Championships is now Team Just Keep Fishing followed closely by Team Green Lightning Laundry and Team Gales Creek Tuna Gafers.

Although anyone of the next three teams, Team Chillabit, Team Wildcat and Team Daiwa “Bad To The Bone” are not far behind the leaders and could steal it away if the leaders fail to score very well going into the season finale in Garibaldi in two weeks.

Captain Tred Barta will be there to film the event for his award winning show “The Best and Worst of Tred Barta” and will have the honors of crowning the season champion and hand out the official invite to the IGFA Offshore World Championships to be held next May in Cabo San Lucas.

This event draws close to 700 people and it should be a good time as we close the season on another tournament year. This event is the final push to generate funds for the food banks and will have a silent as well as live auction with a lot of great items. You don’t have to be part of a team to join us for dinner and enjoy the evening.

See you in two weeks when we roll into Garibaldi for the fourth and final leg of the tournament series.

— Del Stephens
OTC Chairman

Grave Budget Warning From Governor

August 13, 2010

Yesterday’s economic warning from Gov. Christine Gregoire could mean that in the short term WDFW and other state agencies have to cut another 4 to 7 percent from their budgets, and 10 percent during the next two-year biennium to deal with large revenue shortfalls.

A September revenue forecast will determine how much must be cut this fall.

The 10-percent cut, due to a $3 billion shortfall, would affect programs financed by General Fund money.

“Three areas that consume most of our General Fund dollars are enforcement, hatchery production and fishing-related activities like monitoring fisheries, and habitat protection — HPAP, fish passage, that sort of thing,” says Craig Bartlett, an agency spokesman in Olympia.

Hunting activities, however, are shielded from General Fund cuts.

“Hunting is largely supported by the Wildlife Fund,” Bartlett says.

WDFW has already seen 32 percent cut from its General Fund budget between the 2007-09 biennium ($110.3 million) and the recently approved 2009-11 biennium ($75.6 million), he says.

And that is leading to strange bedfellows for sport fishermen. Two WDFW hatcheries are being kept afloat through “generous” underwriting by the Colville Tribe and the Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association along with Suquamish Tribe, a Bellingham Herald article by Doug Huddle notes.

One hatchery raises and releases 10 million juvenile chum salmon in Hood Canal, the other provides about 409,000 trout and kokanee salmon fry to support recreational fishing in about 72 lakes in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties.

WDFW employees, like almost all state workers, are also being forced to take 10 days off without pay through next July.

Speaking with biologists and other WDFW staffers across the state, you can sense their stress from having to do more with less, frustration with leaving jobs undone, and worries about how difficult it may be to hold future fisheries that require intense monitoring.

Another Way Forward On Wolves: Hunters, Pressure WY

August 11, 2010

Yesterday, I found an interesting article on New West by longtime Western wildlife/conservation writer Bill Schneider that boiled down to compromise on the wolf front.

Today, I found another good read on Field & Stream, this one by the Web site’s field editor Keith McCafferty, who wrote up how the first wolf was legally killed by hunter Robert Millage in Idaho last year.

McCafferty writes:

If you want to hunt wolves again, or hunt elk in country where they are abundant, bring pressure to bear on Wyoming. Write to Wyoming’s governor, state game officials and congressmen and let them know that you, as a hunter, want them to write a wolf management program that satisfies federal guidelines. Better yet, get your local hunting club to do so. Money is what talks. Tell them you won’t hunt in their state until they comply.

Will it work? McCafferty can’t say for sure, and hints higher up that there’s always going to be places in the Northern Rockies where wolves aren’t recovered.

But it’s something for the anger embroiling Western hunters.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

August 11, 2010

Just lucked into a few minutes of phone time with Sam Waller down at Jot’s Resort on the Rogue.

“Been out fishing … I don’t know how many days in a row,” said the guide and lodge owner before running off to get his truck’s muffler fixed.

And that’s how it is with fishing across Oregon — so much to do that all those other chores become, well, chores.

Here’s the latest fishing news, courtesy of ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Bass fishing has been good throughout the mainstem and South Umpqua River.
  • Fall chinook are being caught in the lower Umpqua.
  • Largemouth bass fishing has been very good on Hyatt Lake.
  • Anglers are catching limits of trout on Lost Creek Reservoir.
  • Summer steelhead and half-pounder fishing has been picking up on the lower Rogue River.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Late summer is a good time to target bass and panfish on the Willamette River.
  • Summer steelhead and spring chinook have moved into the North Santiam River around Stayton.
  • Good catches of kokanee have been reported recently on Green Peter Reservoir.
  • Summer steelhead are in the Willamette River town run between Springfield and Eugene.
  • Trout stocking of most local valley lakes and ponds has come to an end for the summer due to warm water conditions. Lower and mid-elevation Cascade lakes are still being stocked and provide a good opportunity for trout fishing.
  • August is a good time to target largemouth bass in Fern Ridge Reservoir.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing on Campbell Reservoir has been excellent. Also check out nearby Deadhorse Lake to make a day of it.
  • Brown and rainbow trout fishing has been fair to good on the Lower Owyhee River.
  • There’s also been good trout fishing at Twin Lake (Halfway) and Fish Lake (Steens Mountain).

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing, both rainbow and brook, has been good on La Grande Reservoir.
  • Trout Farm Pond is stream-fed and trout fishing remains good during the warm summer months. It was two weeks ago.
  • Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be good on the John Day River.

BROWNLEE ZONE

  • Crappie spawning has slowed but good fishing is available. Fish very early morning or late evening. The fish are deep in the middle of the day (25-70 feet) and the bite is very light. Use 4 lbs. test and an ultra light rod. Use jigs with a crappie nibble (chartruese or red and whites have been good lately). Night fishing with lights is producing good catches. Bass are biting but are fairly small. Some large catfish are being caught using cutbait, worms or stink bait. Trolling for trout is fair. The reservoir is full. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Walleye fishing is good in the Troutdale area.
  • Steelhead angling has been good, especially for anglers fishing in the gorge.
  • Fall chinook season opened Sunday August 1 from Buoy 10 upstream to the Oregon/Washington Border above McNary Dam.
  • Sturgeon retention is closed from Buoy 10 upstream to Marker 82 in the Gorge from Sunday August 1 through Thursday September 30.  Sturgeon angling is prohibited between Marker 82 and Bonneville Dam to protect spawning sturgeon.

MARINE ZONE

  • Tuna have moved closer inshore and are between 20 and 30 miles off the central coast. Catches average about five fish per angler and the average size of the tuna is up over last year.

A FRIEND OF NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN READER JASON HARRIS HOLDS ONE OF 17 ALBIES THEY LANDED OUT OF DEPOE BAY AUG. 7. “CEDAR PLUGS WERE THE HOT TICKET FOR THE DAY, ALONG WITH A FEW LANDED ON SHAD-PATTERN SWIMBAITS,” REPORTS HARRIS. “THE HIGHLIGHT WAS HAVING FOUR ON AT ONCE AND LANDING ALL FOUR! SOOOOOOOOO MUCH BLOOD! ONE FISH (MINE) WENT 18 POUNDS AND THE REST WERE ALL BETWEEN 26 AND 33 POUNDS. THE GRADE AND QUALITY OF MEAT WAS THE BEST ANYONE HAS SEEN THIS YEAR.” (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

  • Salmon fishing is improving off the Columbia River with better than two out of 10 anglers getting chinook and eight out of 10 landing a coho. Anglers fishing Cape Falcon to the Oregon/Washington border are now allowed to keep up to two chinook salmon in the bag limit. Daily bag limit is now two salmon per day, and all retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip.
  • Off the central coast coho catches were about three for every 10 anglers while chinook were more rare – less than one for every 10 anglers. 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.
  • Lots of fishers turned out for an all-depth halibut opening last weekend and were successful. While not all the numbers are in yet, fishery managers suspect the remaining quota was taken and there will not be another all-depth opening this year. A final decision will be made later this week.
  • Even with the fishery moved in to the 20-fathom line, most anglers reported limits or near limits of rockfish. Only about one in five anglers caught lingcod.
  • This time of year crabbers may also catch “soft” crab that have recently molted. You can determine this by pinching the second joint of the claw, if it doesn’t feel rock hard, the crab has most likely just molted. While “soft” crab are still OK to eat, the meat may be watery and of poor quality.
  • Crabbing is improving, but the number of crabbers is also increasing. Most crabbers had 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.

‘The Client Asked To Borrow Officer Fairbanks’ Pen So He Could Write His (Unlicensed) Guide A Check’

August 10, 2010

WDFW’s spring-summer enforcement newsletter is out, and in addition to more details about the 2008 Christopher Mayeda/Blue Mountains bull elk poaching incident, its 59 pages contain a mess more stories about Washington’s fish and wildlife police at work.

Among the highlights:

Some Real Turkeys Out There

Region 1 officers conducted a turkey check-station on April 18 (opening weekend) in Lincoln County. Officers contacted 231 hunters, issued 21 arrests, and 18 warnings. Arrests consisted of: 7-Fail to tag turkey, 2-Transport turkeys without written statement, 6-No proof of sex, 2-Fail to produce wildlife for inspection, and 2-Felon in possession of firearms.

One vehicle with two subjects was contacted at the check station. They stated that they only had two turkeys. Upon further inspection, Officer Spurbeck discovered that they had a total of four turkeys with just legs, breasts, and no carcasses. The suspects had several tagging issues including not enough tags, no evidence of sex, and one subject was a convicted felon. Two firearms were seized and numerous charges filed with the prosecutor’s office.

Officer Hahn made a turkey case stemming from last season, when two subjects were shooting turkeys with arrows at night while the birds were in their roost. The suspects were trespassing this year in the same area and contacted by a landowner. Officer Hahn followed up on the suspect’s vehicle registration, and later obtained confessions.
Guided Steelhead Trip: $150; Look On Unlicensed Guide’s Face When Busted By Warden: Priceless

Officer Fairbanks was checking recreational steelhead fishermen on the Bogachiel River when he observed an obviously guided trip. Licenses are required to take passengers for hire for the purpose of fish guiding. One strategy used by some unlicensed guides to avoid being caught is to coach the client and advise inquiring officers that they are just fishing buddies as no license is required to take friends fishing.

The look on the guide’s face was priceless when the client asked to borrow Officer Fairbanks’ pen so that he could write his guide a check. Officer Fairbanks easily made the case of unlicensed guiding.

CSI: Forks

Officer Fairbanks received information that a couple of subjects had retained four wild steelhead from the Clearwater River. This exceeds the yearly limit for wild steelhead.

Upon locating the drift boat, the one subject present denied any knowledge of steelhead. Officer Fairbanks located four fresh egg skeins, which the suspect now claimed were from Chinook salmon on the Sol Duc River.

Officer Fairbanks offered to have the eggs genetically tested. The suspect then decided to admit to killing a wild steelhead hen and removing the eggs

What? You Can’t Gillnet At Night For Whitefish?

Grant County officers planned and participated in an emphasis patrol with the cooperation of the Grand Coulee Dam Security Patrol. The patrol was conducted in response to the annual whitefish fishery that occurs every winter on Banks Lake. The whitefish spawn near the rocky shorelines at night, leaving them easy targets for those wishing to snag, dipnet, or gill net.

Night vision goggles and security personnel at the Bureau of Reclamation were used to locate and identify the type of fishing activity that was taking place around the North Dam area in Grand Coulee. Officers watched several groups, and were able to intercept the fishermen as they headed back to their vehicle with bags of illegal fish.

When the officers contacted the first group of men, they claimed that they did not know that netting fish was illegal; however, they had hidden their dip nets in the brush prior to leaving and returning to their car. The emphasis patrol resulted in four different subjects receiving citations for fishing with dip nets.

‘Little Game Warden Buddies’ Point Out Poached 2-point

A homeowner was in his back yard and saw some magpies flying around. Magpies and crows are known among our officers as our “little game warden buddies” and are responsible for pointing out many poached animals or animal parts left in the field.

In this case, the attraction was a freshly boned-out deer, minus the skull cap, obviously taken during a closed season. Sgt. Brown and Officer Christensen responded and photographed the scene, taking the animal’s head (what was left of it) with them.

A bullet was recovered from the head and evidence at the scene appeared to implicate a neighboring residence. Officer McCormick found evidence dumped at a recycling dumpster including a two point deer rack and skull cap that fit the recovered head nicely.

Officers figured the suspects must have seen them the day they visited the site. The first strategy was to contact the suspects and talk to them about the incident. Not very cooperative, they refused to provide consent to allow the officers to search the property, so they obtained a search warrant.

When the officers tried to serve the warrant, the Mom refused to open the door. Tonasket Police Department and Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office arrived to assist and were about to force entry when the ex-husband showed up and failed to comply with Christensen on a security pat down for weapons.

He actively resisted and was arrested, later being booked for obstruction of a police officer. The mom opened the door and officers completed the search without further incident. Among the evidence recovered was a rifle, which the suspects had partially disassembled and hid in a closet.

‘Stache Gives Him Away

While checking the winter closure area in Robinson Canyon, LT Murray Wildlife Area, Officer Rogers observed a vehicle parked on private land near the elk fence. A check of the return gate showed a boot print.

About two hours later a subject came walking toward the gate from inside the closure. Officer Rogers took a photo of the subject walking through the gate. When the subject observed Officer Rogers, he turned and walked away inside the closure. Officer Rogers yelled the suspect’s name, advising the subject to stop and come back.

The subject turned and looked, then kept going. Officer Rogers called Sergeant Sprecher to help watch for the suspect attempting to leave the area. At about 12:30 pm, with no sign of the suspect, the surveillance was called off. The following morning Officer Rogers and Sergeant Sprecher contacted the man at his work site.

The man denied being inside the closure despite the picture of him walking through the posted re-entry gate. He went as far as shaving off his mustache hoping Officer Rogers would not be able to identify him.

He failed to realize that where his mustache had been the day before was white compared to the rest of his tan face. Several charges will be filed.

Further investigation of this suspect revealed he is a convicted felon, who purchased a duplicate deer tag in October 2009 after he reported harvesting a deer in September 2009. Officer Rogers continues to investigate the paper trail.

WA Permit Sales Boost Hunter Access To Private Land

August 10, 2010

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

OLYMPIA – Hunters are expected to gain access to more private land in Washington state this year than at any time in the past decade, thanks to record sales of special hunting permit applications last spring.

Changes in this year’s application process for special hunting permits increased sales by 85 percent, generating $520,000 in new revenues, said Dave Ware, game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Of that amount, about $400,000 will be available to develop and implement agreements with private landowners who agree to provide hunters access to their lands, Ware said. The remainder will be used to meet administrative costs associated with changing over to the new system.

“We told hunters we’d use that money to increase access to private lands and that’s what we’re doing,” Ware said. “We have staff out across the state talking to farmers, ranchers, timberland managers and other private land owners right now.”

Ware said WDFW expects to open up at least 200,000 additional acres to hunting this year under new agreements between the department and private landowners. Some landowners will also receive compensation for planting crops that attract birds or agreeing to accommodate duck blinds on their property.

Ware said the new initiative is designed to reverse the steady decline of land open to hunting due to population growth, suburban sprawl and crowding on public lands. Just over one million acres of private land is currently open to hunting under agreement with WDFW, compared to three million in the late 1990s, he said.

“Here and in other states, hunters consistently rank access to suitable land as one of their top priorities,” Ware said. “Enlisting landowners to open their gates to hunters isn’t a new idea, but we are taking an innovative approach to address the cost of meeting that goal.”

WDFW’s new approach involved expanding the range of options available to hunters who apply for special permits to hunt deer and elk. Those permits, which are awarded by random drawing, allow successful applicants to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

To improve their chances of receiving a special permit, thousands of hunters purchased applications in multiple categories, boosting sales to a new record.

“This entire effort is supported by hunters, for hunters,” Ware said. “The extra money they spent on special-permit applications this year will benefit hunting, whether or not they receive a special permit.”

Other beneficiaries of WDFW’s new initiative include private landowners who open their lands and rural communities that provide services to hunters who visit their area, Ware said. According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, hunters spend approximately $313 million in Washington each year.

More than 600 Washington landowners currently open their lands to hunters, Ware said.  Areas of the state targeted for expanding access include:

* Skagit Basin – WDFW will compensate landowners who plant cover crops for snow geese and allow hunting on their lands.  WDFW will also provide incentives to those who allow duck blinds to be constructed on their property.  Separate discussions are under way with major timber companies to open their lands to deer and elk hunting under an arrangement similar to that in effect on the St. Helens Tree Farm in southwest Washington. Agreements could potentially open up to 20,000 acres east of Sedro Woolley to hunting.

* Southwestern Forest Land – For the past three years, the Weyerhaeuser Company has opened miles of private timber roads near Mount St. Helens to hunters seven days a week during elk and deer seasons. Now, WDFW is working to get other area timber companies involved. Revenues from special-hunt applications will be used for necessary signage, dumpsters and other costs involved in managing hunter access.

* Chehalis River Basin – Discussions are under way with more landowners to construct duck blinds and give hunters access to their property during next year’s waterfowl season. The long-term goal is to establish more “quality hunts,” where hunters could reserve blinds and have a high likelihood of a successful hunt.

* Columbia Basin – Wildlife managers are offering to rent cornfields from landowners who delay plowing corn stubble and give hunters access to their property during waterfowl seasons in Grant and Franklin counties. Funding is available to landowners who maintain and improve their properties for waterfowl.

* Snake River Basin – WDFW will compensate wheat and other dryland crop farmers who provide access to their fields and who plant alfalfa, sweet clover and other flowering plants that enhance pheasant habitat. This funding can supplement payments received by landowners under federal Farm Bill programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program.

* Northeastern and Klickitat Forest Lands – WDFW is actively working with private timberland owners interested in cooperatively managing public hunting access, while maintaining their forestry operations.  Incentives help landowners address vandalism, road maintenance, trash dumping and fire hazards.

Writer Tackles Way Forward On Wolves

August 10, 2010

An interesting read over at New West on why the state of Wyoming is actually a wolf lover’s best friend, why wolf proponents should back off now unless they wish to see Congress gut ESA, how wolf numbers will continue to be kept in check by government shooters, and whispers of a settlement meeting between Northern Rockies game and fish agencies and plaintiffs that was all set to go — until U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy’s ruling last week.

It’s written by longtime wildlife/conservation-issues writer Bill Schneider in Helena, who also shares other ideas on the way forward on the wolf issue now that the animals are back on the endangered species list.

Meanwhile, a Democratic representative from Texas has introduced a bill in the U.S. Congress to amend ESA so wolves coudn’t be listed as endangered or threatened.

Skoke ‘Poop Patrol’ Finds Little, Writes Other Tix

August 10, 2010

The rule-breaking began before the Skokomish River even opened for Chinook, but so far this season is proceeding better than last summer’s s**t-stained fishery.

“We’re in better shape than this time last year,” says WDFW Deputy Chief Mike Cenci whose local officers have been focusing on the Mason County, Wash., river.

Just under 29,800 hatchery Chinook are expected this year, and fishing has been good so far.

Cenci says that somewhere around 1,500 anglers hit the Sunday opener — though some got a jump on the festivities.

“There was a fair amount of activity prior to August 1, i.e., closed-season fishing,” Cenci says. “There were quite a few citations issues — people tried to convince us they were fishing for ‘game fish'” which were open on the river at the time.

The Almost-too-creative-for-his-britches Award goes to one angler who announced that he’d just mark any Chinook he caught as coming from Marine Area 12-C, the bend in Hood Canal which the Skoke drains into and open for king retention.

Only problem was that he was a good 1/2 mile upstream from tidewater.

Oh, and fishing closed season for Chinook.

Since the opener, Cenci says “quite a few” tickets have been given out for snagging, failure to record fish, retention of wild Chinook, etc.

At one point last August, an emphasis patrol wrote 56 tickets.

Last summer’s other big problem — too many anglers who’d only read the cover of How To Shit In The Woods — seems to be under control this year, Cenci says.

“The officers were on poop patrol,” he says. “They saw one pile the whole opening week.”

Somehow it was determined that it likely came from a local farmworker rather than an angler.

Don’t ask us or Cenci how that was determined.

Sanicans have been placed in the area.

“The object this year is to not have the same problems as last year,” Cenci says.

There are also new fishing rules to be aware of.

Northwest Sportsman contributor Jason Brooks hit the Skoke this past weekend and sent us the following images.

MIND IF I SQUEEZE IN? (JASON BROOKS)

WAITING HIS TURN. (JASON BROOKS)

WARNINGS ARE FOR OTHER PEOPLE. (JASON BROOKS)

SW WA Fishing Report

August 10, 2010

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – No report on angling success.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 761 summer-run steelhead, 72 spring Chinook adults, 21 jacks, 60 mini-jacks, two sockeye salmon and six sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 40 spring Chinook adults and three jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, 35 spring Chinook adults and 12 jacks into the Cispus River, and 37 spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,420 cubic feet per second on Monday August 9. Water visibility is eleven feet.

Wind River – Light effort and no catch was observed.

Drano Lake – Effort has increased with around 100 boats there last Saturday (Aug. 7) morning.  Including steelhead released, boat anglers averaged close to a fish per rod.  About 60% of the steelhead caught were kept.

White Salmon River – Effort has increased here too with about 50 watercraft observed last Saturday morning.  Bank anglers are catching some steelhead.  Only a few boat anglers were sampled and they had no catch.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – We sampled 1,332 salmonid bank anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream with 4 adult and 2 jack fall Chinook and 391 steelhead, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 3.4 rods based on mainly incomplete trips. In addition, we sampled 285 salmonid boat anglers (137 boats) with 3 adult fall Chinook and 100 steelhead, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 2.8 rods based on mainly completed trips.  Overall, 68% of the steelhead caught were kept.  A few wild Chinook were released (anglers may have been confused with the recently concluded summer Chinook fishery that was hatchery fish only.  During the fall season, any Chinook adipose fin clipped or not may be retained).  We did not sample any coho.

Just over 300 boats and 535 bank anglers were counted during the Saturday August 7 flight from Cathlamet to Bonneville Dam.

In case you missed it, the highest steelhead daily count to date (9,337 fish) was tallied at Bonneville Dam yesterday.   Last year the daily counts reached 34,000 fish on August 13.

Bonneville Pool – Windy with just a handful of boats found at the mouth of Drano Lake and the White Salmon River last Saturday.  Anglers are catching some steelhead.

The Dalles Pool – Light bank effort below the dam and no fish were found in the sample.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the mouth to Marker 82 – A few legals were released by bank anglers in the Woodland and Longview areas.

Effort was light in the catch-and-release only fishery with 15 boats and 4 bank anglers counted from Cathlamet to Marker 82 last Saturday.

WALLEYE

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal areas averaged a walleye per rod.  Some walleye were also caught in the Kalama area.

18 boats fishing for walleye were counted from Camas/Washougal and the gorge last Saturday.

TROUT

In Skamania County, Takhlakh and Council lakes were planted with 5,038 and 4,503 catchable size rainbows, respectively, last week.

Hobbs Finishes 6th At Forrest Wood Cup

August 9, 2010

Orting, Wash., bass angler Ron Hobbs Jr. placed 6th in his first appearance at the Forrest Wood Cup, held on Lake Lanier in Georgia this past weekend.

He ended the championship tournament with the same weight and number of fish he had on day three — 35 pounds, 3 ounces and 15 bass — when his honey hole went dry.

“I had two main areas and I milked them for all they were worth,” he said. “In the end, my fish just ran out.”

However, he still walked away with $45,000.

RON HOBBS JR. OF ORTING, WASH. (FLW)

Kevin Hawk of Ramona, Calif., took first with a total of 50 pounds, 14 ounces of bass over the four-day tournament, including 14 pounds, 13 ounces on Sunday.

He won $600,000.

A total of 78 pro bassers began the tournament, including another angler from Washington, Sean Minderman, and two from Oregon, Jay Yelas and Rick Correa.

3 Public Meetings On Columbia Hatchery Future

August 9, 2010

Hatchery salmonid production would be cut 64 percent and harvest would drop by 50 percent under the most draconian of alternatives for the future of Federally funded Columbia River salmon and steelhead production.

It comes from a draft environmental impact statement released by the National Marine Fisheries Services late last week.

HATCHERY SALMON AND STEELHEAD PROVIDE THE BULK OF THE CATCH ON THE COLUMBIA SYSTEM. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

The other four alternatives for how the agency will distribute Mitchell Act money in the future ranges from no action to different levels of facility improvements that also lead to production and harvest cuts.

The Oregonian, reporting on the DEIS over the weekend, termed it “Federal biologists … strongest signal to date that the Columbia River Basin’s immense hatchery production — and the lucrative fishing opportunities that result from it — could be reduced to better protect wild salmon and steelhead runs.”

The act, passed in 1938 to compensate for damming up the river, funded production of 92 million salmon and steelhead in the Columbia system; 52 million are produced by states and others.

It provides $11 million a year, approximately.

Public comment is open on the DEIS. Three public meetings will be held next month.

Sept. 20, 2010; 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Clark Regional Wastewater District, 8000 NE 52nd Crt., Vancouver, WA  98665

Sept. 24, 2010; 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Kennewick Public Library, 1620 S. Union St., Kennewick, WA  99338

Sept. 30, 2010; 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Columbia River Maritime Museum, 1792 Marine Dr., Astoria, OR  97103

You can also comment by mail through Nov. 4.

18-year-old Arrested In Walla Walla Co. Deer Spree-killing Case

August 7, 2010

(MIKE CENCI, WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT DIVISION DEPUTY CHIEF)

The Walla Walla County coyote hunter knew the modern firearm mule deer season didn’t open until October 16, and yet he was staring at two dead bucks just north of Woodward Canyon Road. He did the right thing and called Fish and Wildlife Enforcement.

Officer McQuary could tell from a distance that the animals were well on their way toward spoilage from their bloated bellies. Obviously the shooter didn’t care about the meat……..no, this was probably about antler hunting and things only a psychologist can explain. McQuary called his partner, Mike Johnson, and they agreed to set up surveillance after dark in hope the bad guy would come back for trophies he didn’t deserve. Just before 11:00 p.m. the officers watched a car drive up a nearby road shining a spotlight out of the window.

Spot-lighting. Jack-lighting, Shining. It all means the same thing – a technique used by poachers. The hours of darkness are an active time for big game animals, especially when they need to escape the blistering Eastern Washington heat. It’s also an active time for poachers as they search fields, logged off areas and hillsides in an effort to find, blind and kill these animals. When faced with searing lights more brilliant than a million candle power shining into their eyes, they are immobilized and an easy target. Definitely not fair chase, and definitely not something any sportsman or woman would do.

Officer McQuary heard the crack of a gun- shot pierce the night. Over the course of two minutes he heard 6 more. Because the location was close to the two animals that had brought him here, he expected that this was their suspect. As he closed in on him with his blacked out patrol truck, he heard Officer Johnson’s voice over the police radio. The suspect just went by Johnson’s location at a high rate of speed, and he was still using the spotlight.

Dealing with armed poachers is always risky, and the officers took him down with that in mind. They found a 30.30 rifle with an empty shell casing in the chamber and live rounds in the magazine. It didn’t take long for the 18 year old to confess. And why not? It’s wasn’t as if there was much to hide here – he had been caught in the act. He admitted to shooting four deer total………the two the officers were investigating, plus two more. It was 2:00 a.m. at this point, and despite their best efforts, the dog tired officers were only able to find three out of the four deer. After some badly needed sleep, they located the fourth deer the next day. All were bucks, and one was a 5×5, classified as a trophy by Washington state law. This kid is in some real trouble. And I don’t mean just because he was caught poaching.

(WDFW)

(WDFW)

NW Basser Hobbs Moves Up To 7th At FW Cup

August 6, 2010

Ron Hobbs Jr. of Orting, Wash., brought in the day’s second largest haul of bass to move up five places at the Forrest Wood Cup in Georgia.

His 13 pounds, 5 ounces — only 3 ounces behind Larry Nixon’s limit today — also improves on yesterday’s 10 pounds, 14 ounces.

Cody Meyer of Grass Valley, Calif., leads with a total of 27 pounds, 6 ounces through day two of the four-day event held on Lake Lanier.

Jay Yelas, now of Corvallis, also moved up to 20th from 29th with an 8-pound, 11-ounce day.

Two other Northwest bassers, Rick Correa and Sean Minderman were eliminated, but go home with some prize money.

The Forrest Wood Cup is pro bass fishing’s most prestigious award; the winner stands to take home up to $600,000.

Goddamnit, I Just Got A Ticket For This, And Other Dishonor Roll Tales

August 6, 2010

Ripped straight from the Oregon State Police’s Fish & Wildlife Division’s June Newsletter:

Just Wanted To Shoot The S**t Out Of Something?

Tpr. Young (Prineville) received a report from a subject who witnessed the illegal take of a bear near Big Summit Prairie. After interviewing the complainant, Young located the suspect. When contacted, the suspect advised he saw a bear near the road he was driving down, stopped, and shot the bear numerous times with a .22 caliber rifle, killing it. The suspect did not harvest the bear and let it go to waste on the hillside. Young examined the bear and recovered two .22 caliber bullets. He seized the suspect’s rifle and removed and gave the bear’s head to ODFW for testing. Young issued the suspect citations for Taking Bear Closed Season and Waste of a Game Mammal.

But, Officer, The Other One We Shot Ran Off So We Had To Shoot Another

Tpr. Olsen (Salem) responded to a call of three individuals who Yamhill County SO deputies stopped in Sheridan and discovered a recently shot deer in the bed of their truck during the stop. After conducting several interviews, the three suspects explained to Olsen they shot the yearling doe only after wounding a buck they were unable to find. Olsen cited the shooter for Taking Deer Closed Season and Hunting Deer Closed Season and the other two suspects each for Aiding in a Wildlife Crime—Taking Deer Closed Season. Olsen seized the deer and two rifles as evidence. He donated the deer to the Union Gospel Mission.

Hi, I’m Skunk As A Drunk, Wanna See My Lishing Ficense?

Sr. Tpr. Hayes (Bend) contacted an angler at Mayfield Pond. During the contact, a subject got out of a car and staggered over to Hayes and belligerently asked if he wanted to see his angling license. After the contact, Hayes observed the subject operating his vehicle. He stopped the subject and subsequently arrested him for DUII, BAC .13.

“Record” Actually Somebody’s Pet Bird

On opening day of turkey season, Sr. Tpr. Cushman (Central Point) investigated a subject who reportedly trespassed to hunt on private property. While preparing a construction bid, the suspect spotted a tom and a hen turkey on the neighbor’s property. The suspect was not familiar with the neighborhood occupants, human or bird. He shot both turkeys over the fence, then he crossed the fence and retrieved them. The suspect likely felt he shot a record-sized turkey; that is, until a witness scorned him about shooting the neighbor’s pet turkeys. The suspect took both turkeys and left. The witness notified the turkeys’ owner. Upon contact, Cushman noted the suspect validated his tag and advised not only were two domestic turkeys taken, but the season was open for bearded or male turkeys only. Cushman cited the suspect for Hunting on the Enclosed Land of Another and seized and returned the turkeys to the owner. The tom weighed 47 pounds. The DA charged the offense as a violation. The trial court convicted the suspect and ordered him to pay a $345 fine and $200 restitution for the turkeys

But Officer, I Only Want The Big Ones!

On Alsea Bay, Tpr. Van Meter (Newport) noticed a clammer empty his sack and put clams back in as if he were counting them. The clammer left the area and put the visibly heavy sack in his pickup. As Van Meter walked toward him, he noticed she was a trooper and yelled he was high-grading. Upon contact, she counted 30 cockle clams over his limit and noted most were large. The subject pleaded to allow him to high-grade. Van Meter cited the subject for Exceeding Daily Limit of Shellfish—Clams, and the clams were returned to the bay.

But Officer, We’re Having A Huge Party

Nine troopers and five volunteers conducted a razor clam saturation patrol on Clatsop County beaches from Seaside to the Columbia River. Rct. Herman (Astoria) observed two diggers put two full jugs of clams in their truck then return to the beach with empty jugs and continued to dig. After the subjects returned to their truck a second time with full jugs, Herman contacted them. One subject had 22 clams in his jug, and the other had 16. After asking for a consent to search the truck, both subjects admitted to having another limit. In the truck, Herman found 52 clams. The diggers said they were going to have a party, so they wanted enough clams for everyone. Herman cited each subject criminally for Exceeding the Daily Bag Limit—Razor Clams. During the patrol, troopers seized 60 clams and donated them to the food bank. Herman cited another subject for Taking Part of Another’s Bag Limit of Razor Clams.

I’m Just Stupid

Sr. Tpr. Cushman (Central Point) checked an angler who tagged his fish in a very peculiar way. The angler put a check mark for the month and wrote the month and day for the day. The angler explained he thought “month” said “mouth” and the check meant that “yes, the fish was hooked in the mouth.” However, the subject had a hard time explaining how in some of the “mouth” boxes, he did not have a check mark but a number, suggesting the fish were hooked other than in the mouth. Cushman warned the subject for Fail to Properly Validate Tag.

I Am The Voice Of Your Conscience – That’s A Tail-snagged Salmon, Release It

Sgt. Meyer (Central Point) worked anglers at Casey State Park near the end of legal angling time, and most of the 20 anglers noted left. After about a half hour, in complete darkness, Meyer watched a subject hook and play a salmon for a long time, while another waited to net it. Meyer worked his way right up behind them. The netter had a headlamp on, and Meyer could easily see the hook in the fish’s tail in the light cast on the fish. The angler appeared to be ready to keep the fish. Meyer told him the fish was hooked in the tail, and the man argued the fish was a “biter” and a “keeper.” Meyer took a step closer. The netter turned and looked at Meyer; and, in doing so, shined his headlamp on a uniformed trooper. The men realized a trooper had been standing near them. Meyer pointed out the hook was still in the tail, and the fish was also a wild salmon. The angler released the fish.

A Stranglehold On Numerous Tickets

Tpr. Imholt (Springfield) checked several anglers at the Alton Baker Pond right after ODFW stocked it with trout. He observed two anglers catch and retain their limit and continue to fish. Imholt contacted the anglers, informing them once they had their limit of five fish, they must stop fishing. Imholt contacted 25 anglers and issued several citations for No 2010 Angling License, No Written Record of Transfer for Trout, and Continuing to Angle after Retaining Limit. Imholt found one angler cited also had a warrant for Strangulation. He lodged this subject into the Lane County Jail.

Goddamnit, I Just Got Ticketed For This, Episode 1

At the Chief Hole, Sgt. Meyer (Central Point) contacted a salmon angler observed using a very long leader preparing to leave. The leader measured almost 10 feet long. When Meyer began to issue the citation for Angling Prohibited Method—Leader over 6 Feet in Length, the man became very upset and belligerent, saying he just received a citation for the same offense. After checking, Meyer found Sr. Tpr. Cushman (Central Point) cited him less than three weeks prior for the same violation.

Goddamnit, I Just Got Ticketed For This, Episode 2

Sgt. Meyer (Central Point) and Sr. Tpr. Cushman (Central Point) worked the Hatchery Hole. Cushman saw a subject cast under the rope, trying to snag salmon 10 feet or so above the deadline where the fish swim into the hatchery. Cushman sneaked closer and watched the subject continue his illegal activities. When Cushman stepped out, the subject walked off. Knowing which vehicle was the subject’s, Cushman had Meyer meet him there. While Meyer waited, Cushman checked the area, but he could not find the subject. Cushman checked a nearby bathroom, but nobody appeared to be in the bathroom. He peered below the stall doors and did not see any feet on the floor. When Cushman pushed the unlocked stall door open, he found the subject standing on the toilet. Cushman and Meyer contacted the subject when he exited the bathroom. When Cushman began writing a citation for Angling Prohibited Area—Above the Deadline, the subject became very cantankerous, cursing and throwing his wallet down, for Sr. Tpr. Collom (Central Point) cited him for the same offense at the same location a few weeks prior.

That Road-Killed Cougar Sure Would Look So Good On My Wall!

Sr. Tpr. Klepp (Astoria) received a report of a subject unlawfully possessing a cougar. Klepp’s investigation revealed a suspect took a cougar from the side of the road on Hwy 26, then he obtained a cougar tag at a nearby grocery store. The suspect later, with the aid of two men, dressed and transported the cougar’s carcass, hide, and skull. Klepp retrieved the hide from the taxidermist and the skull and carcass from another person. All the suspects involved stated they thought they could legally take the road-killed animal provided the season was open and they had a tag. Klepp cited the suspect for Illegal Possession of Road-Struck Cougar.

‘Frustrated, Angry, Disappointed’ At Judge’s Wolf Ruling

August 6, 2010

Montana and Idaho wildlife officials decried the decision of a judge in Missoula to reinstate Federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies yesterday that also nixes their plans to hold a second season of fall hunts.

“We believe we made arguments to the judge that he could have relied on to uphold the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to delist the wolf,” said Joe Maurier, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, in a press release. “We will carefully examine the ruling to determine what options remain open to Montana’s wildlife managers.”

“This is a major setback for responsible wildlife management in Idaho. We have demonstrated our ability to conduct a hunting season in an orderly fashion,” added Idaho Fish and Game Commission Chairman Dr. Wayne Wright in another press statement. “It’s a shame when legal twists can trump wildlife management. This is not how the Endangered Species Act should work.”

The ruling even drew comment from the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland:

“For more than 15 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state wildlife agencies, tribes, conservation organizations, ranchers and other landowners have worked hard to recover gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Our collective efforts have brought this population to the point where it no longer requires Endangered Species Act protection,” said Strickland in a release.

Wolves were delisted in Montana and Idaho but not Wyoming in April 2009 by the Obama Administration.

However, U.S. District Court Judge Donald W. Molloy ruled in favor of wolf-proponents that the species had to be managed as a whole, not by the two states and Federal government in Wyoming.

“The Endangered Species Act does not allow the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list only part of a ‘species’ as endangered, or to protect a listed distinct population segment only in part as the Final Rule here does,” Molloy writes in a 50-page PDF containing his ruling, which can be found at National Parks Traveler.

“The northern Rocky Mountain DPS must be listed, or delisted, as a distinct population and protected accordingly,” he writes near the end of the document.

The ruling also puts wolves in the eastern portions of Washington and Oregon back under ESA protections.

“We’re frustrated; we’re angry; we’re disappointed,” Idaho Fish and Game Deputy Director Jim Unsworth said. “We’ve played by the rules, but his decision allows procedural technicalities to overcome sound science and common sense.”

Idaho’s sitting Republican governor and his Democratic challenger both said Idaho should manage its wolves; the state’s entire U.S. Congressional delegation said: “We look for a more reasonable decision from a higher court,” according to the Associated Press.  FWP has asked the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to immediately appeal to the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco.

“If we understand the ruling correctly, Judge Molloy is telling the federal government that because Wyoming still doesn’t have adequate regulatory mechanisms to manage wolves, you can’t delist the wolf in Montana and Idaho,” FWP’s Maurier said. “We simply can’t manage wildlife successfully in that environment. We must have the ability to manage wildlife, to do our job, to seek a balance among predator and prey. As a practical matter, as wildlife managers, we need the authority to respond to the challenges wolves present every day.”

His agency calls wolf recovery “one of the fastest endangered species comebacks on record,” and notes that minimum Federal recovery goals of 30 breeding packs and 300 individuals for three consecutive years in the  Northern Rockies were met in 2002.

U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE, 2009

The US Fish & Wildlife Service’s 1987 recovery plan called for 10 pairs and 100 wolves in Northwest Montana, central Idaho and the Yellowstone region, but 30 pairs and 300 wolves were considered more likely to foster recovery in the agency’s 1994 EIS for reintroduction.

But according to AP, the National Resources Defense Council, a plaintiff in the case, says “a true recovery number would be at least 2,000 wolves in the region.”

“We’re real close to recovery. We’ve got 1,700 wolves in the Rockies. But we’re not there,” AP quotes NRDC’s Matt Skoglund as saying. “We want to see a plan in place that ensures genetic connectivity among the subpopulations and ultimately guarantees a sustainable wolf population.”

“This decision is a significant victory for wolves, for the integrity of the Endangered Species Act, and for all Americans who care deeply about conservation,” said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife, according to the Idaho Statesman, adding, “The court’s ruling makes it clear that decisions under the Endangered Species Act should be based on science, not politics.”

Other plaintiffs in the case included Sierra Club, Humane Society of the United States, Center for Biological Diversity, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Western Watersheds Project, Wildlands Network and Hells Canyon Preservation Council.

At Hunting-Washington, the news was met with outrage; one poster wrote, “For those who were completely against (shoot, shovel and shut up) regarding wolves, do you still feel the same way?”

Another poster stood up for the Cowboy State’s intransigence in crafting a Federally approvable wolf plan: “We constantly talk about standing up for what is right in this country. Take a stand. THAT is exactly what Wyoming did and I for one applaud them and stand by them.  They were given a chit sandwich and refused to eat it, that makes them wrong??”

Since releases into Central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s, wolves have turned up in Colorado and Oregon; others have filtered in from Canada, where, according to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, some 75,000 exist.

Several Montana and Idaho elk herds have been hit very hard by wolf predation, but the predator’s numbers also appear to be leveling off.

IDFG has now stopped selling wolf tags for this fall’s hunt; last season, 188 were shot by hunters in Idaho, 72 in Montana. Both states had planned on increasing wolf harvest this season.

Meanwhile, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation called on the U.S. Congress to immediately review how ESA acts.

The Missoula-based organization said the ruling “opened a door for perhaps the greatest wildlife management disaster in America since the wanton destruction of bison herds over a century ago.”

“When federal statutes and judges actually endorse the annihilation of big game herds, livestock, rural and sporting lifestyles–and possibly even compromise human safety–then clearly the Endangered Species Act as currently written has major flaws,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO in a press release. “We have already begun contacting the Congressional delegations of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to ask for an immediate review of this travesty–and reform of the legislation that enabled it.”

RMEF also pressed their argument that “animal rights groups who continue to litigate over wolves are ‘gaming the system for their own financial benefit,’ (Allen) added, saying, ‘There are no elk in Iowa, but we are not suing folks to reintroduce them. This is simply a financial scam for the animal rights groups, and it’s all being paid for by the American taxpayer.'”

NW Basser In 12th Place After Day 1 At Forrest Wood Cup

August 5, 2010

Ron Hobbs Jr. of Orting, Wash., is tied for 12th place after day one of the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier in Georgia, landing 10 pounds, 14 ounces of bass to the weigh scale.

That’s 4 pounds, 2 ounces fewer than leader Kevin Hawk of Ramona, Calif.

Hobbs is fishing in his first FLW championship, one with a $500,000 payday.

Other Northwest bassers at the event include Jay Yelas, formerly of Texas but now residing in Corvallis and making his seventh appearance at the event. He weighed in 8 pounds, 11 ounces and is tied for 29th place.

Rick Correa of Sherwood, Ore., brought in three bass worth 5 pounds, 13 ounces, putting him in a tie for 43rd.

Sean Minderman of Spokane is tied for 65th with 3 pounds, 11 ounces.