Trout, Chinook, Poachers And More

My apologies for a lack of blogging lately — was wrapped up in that other thing we do here, producing a magazine to pay the bills that keep this page perking.

And now that the May issue’s been “put to bed,” as we say in the publishing biz — and with a little time before I dive into two more projects that MUST GET OUT THIS WEEK! — here are a few things that have crossed my desk that Northwest sportsmen may be interested in.

To wit:

Trout Limit Upped At Oregon’s Diamond Lake (ODFW PR)

Starting May 1, anglers can keep more trout from Diamond Lake for the 2011 season. An ODFW temporary rule May 1 – Oct. 27 lets anglers keep eight legal-sized trout per day instead of five. The rule still allows just one trout over 20 inches.

“This is going to be a great year to fish Diamond Lake,” said Laura Jackson, district fish biologist. “We’re starting the season with over 400,000 holdover trout – more than half of those are 16-plus inches, and the rest are in the 10 to 12-inch range. But with the lake’s productivity, even those smaller trout will be over 14 inches soon.”

The temporary harvest increase will help ODFW manage the Diamond Lake fishery to meet its ecological goals.

According to Jackson, forest fires and high gas prices interrupted the fishery in 2008 and 2009, leaving more trout in the lake. In response, ODFW reduced fingerling stocking in 2010 and is reducing it again this year. And although fishing was excellent in 2010, anglers released more than 76,000 fish.

YOU WILL BE ABLE TO KEEP MORE RAINBOWS IN THE UPPER TEENS AT DIAMOND LAKE THIS YEAR -- LIKE THIS PAIR CAUGHT THERE BY JAYCE WILDER A COUPLE SEASONS BACK -- THANKS TO A MASSIVE CROP OF HOLDOVERS AND A RECENT RULE CHANGE. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

“We’re working hard to meet the fishing and ecological needs of the lake – people keeping more fish this year will be a great help,” Jackson said. “We don’t want more fish left in the lake at the end of this season than what’s called for in our management plan. With gas prices rising again, we hope people make the most of their trip to Diamond Lake and keep the trout they catch.”

ODFW, the Forest Service, Portland State University and MaxDepth Aquatics are still actively monitoring Diamond Lake through creel surveys, benthic and water quality sampling. Jackson said factors, such as dissolved oxygen, benthics, zooplankton, fish growth and fish condition all met or exceeded desired levels in 2010.

“We’re hopeful the daily limit increase encourages people to keep more fish this year,” said Jackson.

Anglers are reminded that the Diamond Lake trout fishery opens this Saturday, April 23 with a limit of five fish per day until May 1 when it jumps to eight fish. Most of the lake is still under snow, ice and slush. Check with the Diamond Lake Resort for current conditions.

Swann Song For Fruitland Gobbler

Most of the year, Bill Swann can be found guiding the Columbia, Satsop and other rivers for salmon and steelhead, but come mid-April, he hangs up the rods and pulls down the shotguns and heads to Northeast Washington for turkeys.

Here’s a picture of the gobbler his son, Gabe, shot near Fruitland at 10 yards after Bill called it in.

GABE SWANN WITH HIS STEVENS COUNTY GOBBLER. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

Lower Columbia/Southwest Washington Fishing Report (Courtesy biologist Joe Hymer)

SALMON AND STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – 104 bank anglers kept 27 steelhead and released 2 fish.  43 boat anglers kept 18 steelhead and 1 adult spring Chinook and released 2 steelhead.  All the fish were sampled around the trout hatchery.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 700 winter-run steelhead, one summer-run steelhead and ten spring Chinook adults during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 57 steelhead into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek, and seven winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 10,500 cubic feet per second on Monday, April 18. Water visibility is five feet.

Mainstem Lewis River – 4 boat anglers released 1 wild adult spring Chinook.

North Fork Lewis River – 19 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead.  2 boat anglers had no catch.

Wind River – At the mouth 4 boat anglers kept 1 adult spring chinook.  1 bank angler had no catch as did 3 bank anglers in the gorge.

Drano Lake – 5 boat anglers kept 1 adult spring Chinook.  2 bank anglers had no catch.  Closed Wednesdays through June.

Klickitat River – 3 bank anglers had no catch.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – In general – catches are increasing in the Cathlamet area where anglers on some days averaged an adult chinook kept/released per boat.  Boat anglers in the Woodland area averaged over ½ fish per boat when including fish released.  Fishing from the Washington shore remains slow.   Tomorrow (Tuesday 19) is the last scheduled day to fish for spring Chinook on the lower Columbia.

Effort remains largely unchanged from the previous week but is still substantially less than the same time last year.

From April 14-17 we sampled 1,669 anglers (including 565 boats) with 205 adult and 2 jack chinook and 8 steelhead.  Overall boat anglers averaged an adult Chinook kept/released per every 6.5 rods while bank anglers averaged one per every 44.6 rods based on mainly completed and incomplete trips, respectively.

One hundred eighty-one (88%) of the adult Chinook caught were kept.  We sampled 132 (73%) of the fish kept.  One hundred fourteen (86%) of the fish sampled were upriver stock based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).    All eight of the steelhead caught were kept.

A total of 673 salmonid boats and just over 700 bank anglers (including 9 sampled just below Bonneville Dam but unable to count during the flight) were found during the Saturday April 16 effort flight count.  On the April 9th flight, just over 700 boats and nearly 850 bank anglers were counted.

On Saturday April 17, 2010, a total of 2,585 salmonid boats and over 1,500 bank anglers were counted.

Bonneville Pool – No report.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some spring Chinook.  From March 16-April 17, there have been an estimated 656 angler trips with 24 chinook kept  and 24 released.

John Day Pool – An estimated 15 adult hatchery spring Chinook were harvested in the John Day pool (Lake Umatilla) this past week by anglers.  WDFW staff interviewed 93 anglers and sampled two hatchery spring Chinook. No wild Chinook or any other species were reported. Very few boat anglers are targeting on Chinook but several bank anglers are currently fishing the Oregon shore line below McNary.

A Joint State hearing via telephone conference has been scheduled for 2 PM Wednesday April 20 to review the above Bonneville (Zone 6) recreational spring Chinook fishery.  Currently the fishery is scheduled to remain open through April 24th.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers are catching some legals.  Slow from the bank.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some legals.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles pool – Boat anglers averaged 2.7 walleye kept/released per rod.

TROUT

Silver Lake near Castle Rock – 32 anglers had 2 bass.  A lot of hours fishing but not much luck.  Water temp 51F.

Kress Lake near Kalama – 31 anglers with 2 rainbows kept (14” and 15”) and 16 released.  Lots of effort, very slow fishing.  Water temp 50F.

Horseshoe Lake in Woodland – 13 anglers with 1 rainbow (15”).  A lot of effort, low harvest.  Water temp 51F.

Merwin  Reservoir – 37 anglers with 136 kokanee kept and 20 kokanee.  Water temp 48F.  Fish the top 6-9 feet of water.

Klineline Pond – 110 bank anglers kept 103 rainbows and 3 brood stock rainbows plus released 23 rainbows.

San Juan Islands Blackmouth Fishing Report (Courtesy Kevin Klein, Friday Harbor, PSA San Juan Islands, CCA Northsound)

The 7th Annual Frank Wilson Memorial Blackmouth Derby ended with a big shot of fish on Friday, April 15th.

I headed to Salmon Bank at first light, and a flotilla of boats soon followed. We were all looking for that “last day fish” to unseat one of the money placings. After three hours of trolling, no fish. I had, however, lost two entire downrigger set-ups, 12lb. ball, snubber, rudder, cable and all. I was fishing solo, and down to one last 10 lb. ball

Debating whether to run in and go shopping I figured I might as well make a pass on the west side of Lopez Island while heading in the direction of the tackle shop. I got the gear down and started marking fish. A lot of bait and birds showed up, and the place was looking a little more interesting. My rod soon yanked down, and I had a hold of something pretty big. After a good fight I scooped it one handed with the net, dropped the rod, closed the purse and hauled her aboard. Beautiful, about 19 and clean shaven.

That was the one I had been looking for all year. I got back in the water, released two more and then finally tagged out on a nice 10 lb.er. All on the Irish Cream Hootchie Hooker. More boats showed up, along with the Orcas, as I was running for the scales. Turns out I should have run a little sooner, as my fish knocked Rich Warin out of third, but weighed two-hundredths of an ounce less than Marty Cevalier Jr.s second place fish. 19.23 lb.s vs. 19.25 lb.s, just a few drops of blood.

That wasn’t the only excitement for the day, as Carol Davis weighed in not one, but two fish bigger than Karen Rhineharts 12.70 lb.er in the final hours. The 13.48 lb. fish gave Carol the win in the Women’s division.

CAROL DAVIS A PAIR OF BLACKIES IN THE LOW TEENS WHICH WON HER TOP PRIZE IN THE WOMENS DIVISION AT THE FRANK WILSON MEMORIAL BLACKMOUTH DERBY IN THE SAN JUANS LAST WEEKEND. (KEVIN KLEIN)

Marshall Clarke caught a 7.74 lb. fish to win the kids top prize on the last day as well.

What an ending for a derby that saw adverse weather conditions, and scattered fish for most of the event. In all, 56 anglers weighed in 72 blackmouth. The first annual women’s division saw 10 participants in a heated race.

Thanks to Kings Marine and their vendors for the donations of the weekly prizes and some great door prizes for the awards ceremony. Sharon and her crew put in alot of hard work for this tournament, and raised $2500 for San Juan Island Emergency Services.

The final top placings are:
1st.  Raymond Ploghoft, 20.70 lbs, $1000
2nd. Marty Chevalier Jr.  19.25 lbs, $500
3rd.  Kevin Klein             19.23 lbs, $250
Women’s: Carol Davis     13.48 lbs $250
Kids: Marshall Clarke      7.74  lb.s $250
Mystery: Jerry Greene     6.74 lb.s  $250

Turns out the ending of the derby was just the beginning of the good fishing. A lot of fish were hooked throughout the weekend, with limits and multiple releases being the norm. Saturday and Sunday saw the “Draggin’ Ladies”, Carol Davis and Karen Rhinehart put on a show. The first day, Karen and her husband Lance put a nice 18 lb. blackmouth in the boat. Carol, fishing with life-skipper Andy Holman then caught a 15 lber.

Sunday saw a reversal as Karen and Lance caught a 15lber. Then, proving the family that stays together slays together, Carol decked a beautiful 18. Both these women are accomplished anglers in ther own right, with good fishing partners. Look out for these teams on the Northwest Salmon Derby series in the future.

The last two weeks of the season may be red hot in the San Juans, with what looks like some better weather.

More About Potential WDFW Consolidations In Senate Budget (AW)

As I reported last week, the Washington Senate’s operating budget would not do a wholesale merger of WDFW with State Parks, as SB 5669 had it, but it does contain back-office consolidations for a number of natural resource agencies.

When I blogged about it, WDFW officials were just digging into the document. Deputy Director Joe Stohr told me yesterday that it may mean that WDFW, DNR, etc, would share facilities and have no more than four regional offices.

Right now, WDFW has six and a handful of branch locations (Colville, Wenatchee, Pasco, La Conner, etc.).

“We’re looking at it, trying to understand what it contemplates,” says Stohr.

The Senate budget must be reconciled with the House budget before it goes to the governor.

Update on HB 1340: Up For Gregoire’s Signature Tomorrow (AW)

Speaking of the guv’nah, legislation that would increase penalties for spree poaching of wildlife is slated to be signed by Christine Gregoire tomorrow, April 20.

Basically, House Bill 1340 expands what can be considered unlawful hunting in the first degree, a class C felony. Previously, offenders had to have a previous wildlife misdemeanor within the past five years to get hit with that charge. But now someone who poaches three or more deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, caribou, cougars, black bears or grizzly bears within 24 hours or “course of events” can be charged straight away in the first degree.

“I’m sure we’ll have a number of times to apply it this year, unfortunately,” said WDFW Deputy Chief of Enforcement Mike Cenci.

The bill flew through the lower chamber on a 97-0 vote (with one member excused), and cleared the upper, 49-0.

It comes after at least four spree wildlife poachings in the past year and a half and with the recent jailing of a man who game wardens suspect has illegally killed over 100 animals.

The May Cover

Well, since I brought it up, I might as well show you what’s on the way for May:

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