Archive for May, 2011

USFS Won’t Issue Baker Lake Fishing Guide Permits

May 31, 2011

Bad news for fishing guides hoping to run trips on Baker Lake for sockeye this summer: The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest’s district ranger says he will not issue commercial permits for the 3,100-acre reservoir in Washington’s North Cascades.

Several guides have expressed interest in taking clients out to hook into the red salmon which run 4 to 6 pounds, with a few bigger than that.

While state managers must wait another month and a half or so for the sockeye to actually return to the Baker River to determine if enough are available to even hold a season in the lake, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife biologist for the watershed says it’s “pretty likely” there will be.

“We’ve had a lot more smolts going out and that really helps the odds right there – having the juveniles in the first place,” says district bio Brett Barkdull in LaConner.

During last summer’s first season ever, several thousand were caught by anglers using tactics similar to those used on Lakes Washington and Wenatchee.

SOME ANGLERS FOUND IT EASIER THAN OTHERS TO CATCH SOCKEYE ON BAKER LAKE DURING LAST YEAR'S FIRST-EVER FISHERY, INCLUDING CHUCK SPANI'S BOAT. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

It’s also likely there will be more fisheries in the future thanks to salmon-friendly enhancements to the system by Puget Sound Energy, which operates two dams on the Baker River.

But because Baker Lake is almost entirely inside the national forest, it falls under the management authority of the Forest Service, says District Ranger Jon Vanderheyden in Sedro-Woolley — same as with wild and scenic stretches of the Skagit and Sauk Rivers and other northern Cascades streams that the USFS requires commercial permits to work.

LETTER RELEASED TODAY BY THE MT. BAKER-SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST ON COMMERCIAL FISHING GUIDING ON BAKER LAKE.

A letter from his office says that those are “typically offered in areas where there is a demand for such services that cannot be met through private means,” so things like mountain climbing and whitewater rafting trips, Vanderheyden says.

“Pretty much anyone with a raft can get out there and do it,” he says of Baker Lake sockeye fishing.

Well, can get out there and at least fish for them. In the initial season here actually catching sockeye didn’t appear to be quite as simple, and while anglers can read in magazines or online or listen to radio shows to learn from others how it’s done, there are few things that can match the expertise of a guided trip.

And on the flip side, the Skagit’s wild and scenic reach between Marblemount and Rockport isn’t exactly impossible for an angler with average drift boating skills to navigate.

Still, Vanderheyden says that last summer’s fishery on Baker “overwhelmed” the lake’s facilities, a handful of boat ramps and campgrounds.

“Our take is, why put even more?” he says.

His letter, sent out today, also says there will be “increased law enforcement presence” on the lake this summer and that citations will be issued for those “conducting commercial activities.”

That differs from how the USFS dealt with out-of-compliance guides in the past on other waters where USFS permits are required. Then, rangers educated guides rather than ticketed them, Vanderheyden says.

But with today’s notice, those caught offering trips for sale at Baker could be cited for a $125 fine while those “who knew the rules and were doing it” anyway may be hit with fines up to $275, he says.

Citations from $50 to $75 could also be issued to guides parking their rigs, he says.

As it stands, Vanderheyden says the USFS and WDFW will meet to talk about the future of the fishery. PSE is boldly predicting that runs of “50,000 to 75,000 are not unrealistic to expect in coming years” — two to three times as many as are forecast this summer.

As for what it would take to green light commercial guiding on Baker, it would start with “a needs assessment, environmental analysis and issuance of a prospectus,” the ranger’s letter says.

That would take money.

And as the saying goes, it takes money to make money.

Advertisements

SW WA Fishing Report

May 31, 2011

(REPORT COURTESY BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Elochoman River from mouth to West Fork and Grays River from mouth to South Fork and West Fork from mouth to hatchery intake/footbridge – Under permanent rules, open to fishing for hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead beginning the first Saturday in June (June 4th this year).

The entire South Fork Toutle River and the Green River from the mouth to the 2800 Road Bridge – Will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead beginning the first Saturday in June as outlined in the 2011/2012 Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet. Beginning June 4th, bait may be used. All tributaries to the South Fork Toutle and Green rivers will remain closed to all fishing.

Cowlitz River – Producing some spring chinook and steelhead.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 218 spring chinook adults, 102 jacks, 30 winter-run steelhead and 38 summer-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.                                                                                                                     

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 22 spring chinook adults, 52 jacks and two winter-run steelhead into the upper Cowlitz River at Lake Scanewa and 46 spring Chinook adults and 39 jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,730 cubic feet per second on Monday, May 31. Water visibility is eight feet.

Lake Scanewa (Cowlitz Falls Reservoir) – Opens to fishing for hatchery spring chinook and hatchery rainbows tomorrow (June 1).

Kalama and Lewis rivers – Anglers are catching some steelhead.  Both rivers are now closed for spring chinook.

East Fork Lewis River from the mouth to 400 feet below Horseshoe Falls (except closures around various falls) and the Washougal River from the mouth to Salmon Falls Bridge – Under permanent rules these areas will be open to fishing with bait for hatchery steelhead beginning the first Saturday in June (June 4th this year).

Wind River – The coffer dam area is probably the best for spring chinook though some fish are being caught throughout the system.  High flows make for difficult fishing at milepost 7.  A total of 254 spring chinook had returned to Carson National Fish Hatchery as of May 30.

Drano Lake – Boat anglers continue to catch some spring chinook.  Anglers should note the Wednesday closures have been extended through all of June.

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

Under permanent rules, the Klickitat River from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream will open 7 days per week beginning June 1. The salmon daily limit will be 6 fish of which no more than 2 may be adults. Two hatchery steelhead may also be retained. Release wild chinook.

The section from 400 feet upstream from # 5 fishway upstream to boundary markers below the Klickitat Salmon Hatchery will open to fishing for hatchery chinook jacks and hatchery steelhead beginning June 1 under permanent rules. Again, release wild chinook.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – We sampled 892 salmonid anglers (including 61 boats) with 33 adult and 44 jack spring chinook and 27 steelhead.  22 (67%) of the adult and 39 (89%) of the jacks were kept as were 21 (78%) of the steelhead.   All of the adults and all but one of the jacks sampled were upriver origin based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).

On the Saturday May 28 effort flight count, there were 89 salmonid boats and 549 bank anglers observed.

Bonneville Pool – Light effort and catch.

The Dalles Pool – For May 28-29, an estimated 114 angler trips produced 8 adult and 61 jack chinook kept.

John Day Pool –   From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WA  – Estimated harvest in the John Day Pool for May 28-30 is 22 adult hatchery chinook and 56 hatchery jacks. An additional 11 wild adult and 11 wild jacks were caught and released. Catch was light. Water is turbid and the flows are high, at or approaching 500,000 cfs.  Effort was moderate with 71 boats on the water on Saturday along with 44 bank anglers.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Navigation Marker 82 line downstream – No sturgeon creel data from the estuary is currently available.  We sampled some legals kept by boat anglers in the Camas, Longview, and Cathlamet areas.

Sturgeon retention was allowed from the mouth upstream to the sturgeon spawning sanctuary boundary (navigation marker 82 line) on Saturday.  There were 84 private boats and 5 charters plus 8 bank anglers counted during the effort flight count that day.    About two-thirds of the private boats were found from the Wauna powerlines downstream.

The Dalles Pool – No effort observed for sturgeon last week.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged nearly 8 walleye and bass per rod last week.

HYMER'S MINIONS DIDN'T CHECK THEIR CATCH, BUT A PAIR OF LONGVIEW-AREA IRONWORKERS DID WELL ON SMALLMOUTH BASS AT HORSETHIEF LAKE OVER THE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND. (CHRIS SPENCER)

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam and boat anglers in the Woodland area are catching some shad.  Effort is light with about a dozen bank anglers and just a couple boats counted during the Saturday flight.

The 1,565 shad counted at Bonneville Dam through May 30 is the lowest in nearly three decades.   In 1984, just 364 fish had been counted by that date.  Some years over a half million shad had been counted by this time.

TROUT

Plants of rainbow trout last week:

Kidney Lake near North Bonneville – 3,000 catchables

Little Klickitat River  – 1,080 catchables (juveniles only within the Goldendale city limits)

Maryhill Pond (Klickitat County) – 634 catchables

Spearfish Lake near Dallesport – 4,10 catchables and 145 three pound brood stock

Horsethief Lake near Lyle – 8,009 catchables and 145 three pound brood stock

 

 

Taking River Fishing, Part 2

May 31, 2011

“Do I get to go fishing?” River asks me one morning earlier this spring.

We’re out back, in the shed, where some of my outdoor gear is stored.

“Yes,” I say, but just as quickly, River’s attention is onto something else. Hanging next to the fishing rods are my elk and duck calls.

“Can I have your calls!?!” he asks.

They’re a favorite of he and his brother’s — the neighbors maybe not so much.

But intrigued, I ask, “Why?”

“So we can warn the fish!” River says.

“But we don’t want to warn them,” I reply. “We want to sneak up on them.”

This gives him slight pause. Slight, because as I take a rod out of the rack and prepare it for trout fishing, he picks up the rubber worm that had been on it since last summer and before I know it, the lure is in two pieces.

A good one it was too.

Yi yi yi, this will not be easy on me, this getting River into fishing.

I’ve been lax on this front. My oldest son … is challenging. Smart as his mother, he’s independent and head strong too.

Going on 4 years old now, it’s been nearly two years since our first trip together, and this time I won’t be bringing a tackle box full of hooks and bait scents — that trip it’s a miracle he didn’t hook himself and come home all lathered up in shrimp mojo.

I’m keeping it simple this time, still-fishing down at Green Lake. I figure that, freshly stocked, the Seattle strolling/trolling pond should be good for us from shore.

And if not, well, it gets Junior No. 1 out of Momma’s hair for awhile and gives us a bonding experience.

As with some of my other fishing trips, I took notes on the day. To wit:

Noon: Find a parking spot across the street from the lake. As I get fishing gear out of trunk, let River hold rod. Turn back and he’s whacking the grass with the ultralight setup. Stop! That’s not a weedeater!

ROD IN HAND AND BOBBERED UP, RIVER'S READY TO FISH GREEN LAKE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

12:03 p.m.: Join throng of people walking around lake — it’s a decent spring day for a change, and the masses are soaking up the partly cloudy skies. River wants to fish amongst a dense clumps of willows. As I try to explain why this won’t work so well for casting, he accidentally whacks me in face with fishing rod.

12:05 p.m.: Find nice, open spot with plenty of casting room. Take bait out of backpack — then fend River away from it. He’s thinking the corn is for him, I’m thinking they’re for the fish. I went with corn rather than the plentiful worms in our yard because River has decided the squirmy ones are his friends, and I don’t think he would react well to seeing one of his buddies skewered.

Bait up with a kernel or two, cast out, put rod in sand spike and retreat to park bench where River has a snack and we watch for the bobber to go down.

HIS FIRST ATTEMPT AT GRABBING A SNACK FOILED, RIVER GNAWS ON A GOODY MOMMA PACKED. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

12:10 p.m.: River gets down, goes over to rod and jiggles it. Abandons rod in favor of stomping in the water.

12:11 p.m.: He’s in over the top of his boots.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

12:13 p.m.: I decide it’s probably a good idea to get our setup further away from shore. Add weight to line and recast further out.

12:14 p.m.: Now wet pretty much up to his belly button, River stumbles in the sand for the first time.

12:20 p.m.: Sounds of Green Lake: Muted conversations, bike bells, dog barks, an audible sloshing coming from River’s boots.

12:24 p.m.: River’s now throwing sand: “I’m warning the fish.”

RIVER WARNS THE FISH THAT FISHERMEN ARE IN THE AREA. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

“You’re not supposed to warn the fish,” I say.

“Why not?”

Try to explain why not, succeed … to a degree.

12:27 p.m.: River wraps himself in fishing line, first going one way, then the other.

RIVER GIVES OUR FISHING LINE A BREAKING-STRENGTH TEST. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

12:33 p.m.: I switch to a plunking setup, form a ball of PowerBait around the hook, cast out and explain to River how we’re now going to watch the rod tip instead of a bobber for signs of a bite.

“Are you very good at sitting and watching?” I ask.

“Not very good,” River admits.

12:36 p.m.: Indeed, he brings a pile of wet sand over and dumps them on my notes.

12:38 p.m.: Makes a sand angel next to the rod. He makes a second one as well, though it’s harder to see — “This one’s invisible,” he says.

12:45 p.m.: Apparently standing in the water, stomping in the water and throwing things in the water do not require permission, but this does: “Can I sit in the water?” River asks.

Why not, I say.

12:50 p.m.: River finds a piece of plastic a bit bigger than a nurdle, but too small to identify where it came from.

“Can I throw this in the lake?” he asks.

I say no and try to explain that we want to keep Green Lake clean for the fish.

“Why?”

“Well, would you like to live in a dirty room or a clean room?”

You, of course, already know what this wet, sand-covered urchin’s answer was: “Dirty.”

12:55 p.m.: Despite all this, River’s having fun, is still fairly dry and is staying close by. As I enjoy the moment and the warm sun on my back, I think, “This is going better than I expected, this is — dare I say it? — going all right.”

12:57 p.m.: Reverie broken: River grabs rod, drops big glob of sand on reel.

12:59 p.m.: Next he wanders over to where the beach narrows and declares, “The tide is coming in.”

“It’s a lake, though, there is no tide.”

Recalling how the beach disappears and reappears at Carkeek Park on Puget Sound and down at Newport, Ore., River replies, “But the sand is all covered up.”

Sharp little observer, this kiddo is.

1:10 p.m. No bites, so I decide to move our operation over to the unoccupied swimming area. Bait up, cast out.

1:15 p.m.: River leaves muddy boot tracks on my notes.

1:18 p.m.: Accompanied by the sound of splashing, River asks, “Can I put my feet in?”

1:21 p.m.: “I think I got a nut in my boot,” River says, and drains both.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

1:22 p.m.: We’re fishing by a retaining wall that rises about 3 1/2 feet above the lake. It’s too tough to climb, so River needs help up and down it.

“I want down,” he says, so I lower him down.

1:22:30 p.m.: “I want up,” he says, so I lift him back up. We repeat this several times.

1:30 p.m.: I check our bait and recast.

1:31 p.m.: “My boots are full of water again,” says River, “Why do they keep filling up?”

1:35 p.m.: Seeing something that will carry much more volume, River says, “Daddy, I want to scoop water with that!”

“With what — the cooler?” I ask. “No.”

“Then I’ll use my boot,” he says.

1:40 p.m.: I give up on plunking. Let River eat the rest of the corn and I begin casting a fly and bubble.

1:50 p.m.: River kicks our jar of PowerBait into the lake.

1:52 p.m.: Dumps boots out yet again and announces, “I’m going to let them dry in the sun.”

1:55 p.m.: Discovers the dough bait lid is ajar. “I’m getting colorful hands,” he says.

POWERBAIT HANDS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

1:57 p.m.: Boot sun-drying scheme over: To facilitate the hand-cleaning process, he, for reasons not quite clear, throws both boots in the lake.

1:59 p.m.: Without a single bite and with a by now pretty soaked son, I tell River it’s time to pack up.

“But we didn’t catch any,” he protests, “and Momma will ask if we caught any.”

Here’s a good test, I think: “What will we tell her?” I ask.

“The fish didn’t come out today,” he replies.

He’s on his way to becoming a fisherman, I decide.

LET'S TRY SOME OF THESE NEXT TIME, DADDY! (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Editor’s note: Part 2 will focus on fishing out of a boat at Green Lake with River.

Northwest Sportsmen Getting Afield

May 31, 2011

Back to work after a long weekend, and as much as I want to crow about my son River catching his first fish ever this past Sunday, other Northwest sportsmen and -women have been afield of late as well.

Here’s a sampling of recent successes:

"ME AND MY DAUGHTER RYLEE LEWALLEN OUT THIS WEEKEND FISHING LIMITED OUT IN ABOUT AN HOUR. HERE ARE A FEW GOOD PICS OF SOME NICE TROUT ON THE UPPER MCKENZIE RIVER AT CARMEN-SMITH RESERVOIR. THANKS, CARL." (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

A TRIP TO HORSETHIEF LAKE YIELDED PLENTY OF 1.5- TO 2-POUND SMALLMOUTH BASS FOR LONGVIEW'S CHRIS SPENCER. (CHRIS SPENCER)

BOB SCHMIDT OF MACK'S LURES WITH SOME OF HIS FAMILY AND THEIR PILE OF LAKE CHELAN KOKANEE. (DARRELL & DAD'S GUIDE SERVICE)

 

"THIS IS A PHOTO OF MY SON, CODY, AND HIS FIRST BLACK BEAR HE SHOT ON PRINCE OF WALES ISLAND ON MAY 22, 2011 DURING A SELF-GUIDED HUNT. HE SPOTTED THIS BEAR FROM 1,500 YARDS AND WE STALKED TO WITHIN 186 YARDS. HE MADE A PERFECT SHOT WITH HIS MARLIN 336 LOADED WITH HORNADY 200 GR FTX BULLETS AND THE BEAR ONLY WENT 15 YARDS. HE WAS SO EXCITED AFTER SHOOTING THE BEAR AND I WAS A VERY HAPPY DAD! ERIC SPIEGEL, SEABECK, WASH. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

“HELLO ANDY, MY BUDDY AND I HAVE BEEN FISHING A LOT AT LAKE CHELAN THIS LAST MONTH. MOST OF THE FISH SEEM TO BE RUNNING SMALL THIS YEAR. THE KOKANEE ARE RUNNING FROM 8" TO 10" AND MOST OF THE CHINOOK ARE AROUND 3 LBS. THE FIRST PICTURE IS A 7.8 LB CHINOOK, THE SECOND IS A 7 LB LAKER AND THE THIRD IS A 6 LB LAKER. SCOTT FLETCHER.” (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

“MY GIRLFRIEND MOLLY FRANCIS PUT A HALT ON THESE TWO NICE JACKS. KIRBY CANNON, PDXSALMONJUNKIE.” (WRIGHT & MCGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

“MY NEPHEW THOMAS HARGGET AND HIS STEPDAD TRAVIS CLOWERS WITH A NICE AVERAGE BEAR ABOUT 200 POUNDS OUT OF THE SIUSLAW UNIT. SHOT THIS ONE FEEDING IN AN OPEN UNIT AROUND NOON AT JUST A LITTLE OVER 200 YARDS WITH A 300 WIN MAG. ENJOY CARL LEWALLEN.” (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

RIVER WALGAMOTT ADMIRES HIS FIRST KEPT FISH, A RAINBOW CAUGHT AT SEATTLE'S GREEN LAKE IN LATE MAY. HE WAS TROLLING A DICK NITE WITH HIS PA, NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN EDITOR ANDY WALGAMOTT, ON THE OARS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

May 30, 2011

Snider Creek Steelhead Plan Out, Comments Being Taken

May 27, 2011

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will accept public comments through June 30 on proposed management options for a hatchery steelhead program at Snider Creek, a tributary of the Sol Duc River in Clallam County.

After receiving public input on the Snider Creek program last fall, WDFW staff developed an analysis of the program and a range of management options that could include the establishment of wild steelhead gene banks – waters where no hatchery steelhead would be released.

TETHERED STEELHEAD, PART OF SNIDER CREEK BROODSTOCK STEELHEAD PROGRAM.

Gene banks are designed to benefit wild steelhead by minimizing the number of competing hatchery-produced fish on the spawning grounds, said Ron Warren, regional fish program manager for WDFW. Possible changes could not only affect the Sol Duc but the Calawah and Clearwater rivers as well, Warren said.

“Stakeholders at our previous public meetings asked for additional information on the risks and benefits of the Snider Creek program,” said Warren.  “We have put together that analysis and are now seeking public comment on the range of options, which are consistent with the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan.”

The management options and the analysis of the Snider Creek steelhead program are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/snider_creek/ . Those who would like a copy of the information on a compact disc can call (360) 249-4628.

WDFW also has scheduled two public meetings in June to discuss the management options. The meetings are scheduled for:

June 7 – From 6-8 p.m. at the Forks Sportsmans Club, 243 Sportsmans Club Road, in Forks.
June 9 – From 6-8 p.m. at the WDFW North Puget Sound Regional Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., in Mill Creek.

The Snider Creek program was created in 1986 as a joint project with the Olympic Peninsula Guides’ Association to increase fishing opportunities for steelhead on the Sol Duc River. The program is unlike most other hatchery efforts in that it produces offspring from wild steelhead rather than hatchery fish.

The 25-year contract for the program, which produces 50,000 smolts each year, expires in June 2011.

With the contract expiring, WDFW’s fishery managers are looking into the benefits of the program to determine whether it is consistent with current efforts to protect and restore wild steelhead populations, said Warren. The analysis includes a review of the program’s contribution to state and tribal fisheries and its effect on wild steelhead populations in the Quillayute River system.

Comments on the management options can be submitted by email to snidercreek@dfw.wa.gov or by U.S. Mail to: Snider Creek, 48 Devonshire Road, Montesano, WA, 98563.

Since entering into the Snider Creek agreement more than two decades ago, WDFW has made changes to hatchery operations to support naturally spawning salmon and steelhead populations, said Warren.

“Plans and policies adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, such as the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan and Hatchery and Fishery Reform policy, are driving our efforts to protect and restore wild steelhead stocks,” Warren said.

The commission’s hatchery and fishery reform policy is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/policies/c3619.html . The Statewide Steelhead Management Plan is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/steelhead/ .

Revised Wash. Wolf Plan Out

May 27, 2011

UPDATE: 10:30 A.M., JUNE 2, 2011: The Wenatchee World and Methow Valley News have articles on the revised plan.

Ranchers and dog owners whose animals are being attacked by wolves in Washington would be freer to shoot them while Canis lupus population levels needed to reach certain state recovery goals would be more restrictive.

Those are two of the main changes in a new version of the state Department of Fish & Wildlife’s draft wolf management plan, released today, though far from finalized.

It follows thousands upon thousands of public comments as well as scientific review, much of which seemed to focus — as everywhere else in the Northwestern U.S. — on how many wolves constitute recovery.

While many folks wanted to up the number of breeding pairs needed before wolves are taken off of state protections and potentially hunted as well as add a fourth recovery zone, the current plan keeps it at 15 over three consecutive years in three different regions of the state.

But whereas the previous version allowed a certain number of packs to be “at large,” the plan now requires set numbers in Eastern Washington, the North Cascades and South Cascades/Northwest Coast regions.

“That’s a little more restrictive,” says Madonna Luers, a WDFW spokeswoman.

Full delisting would require six breeding pairs east of Highways 97, 17 and 395 — the area where wolves were recently taken off of the federal Endangered species list but remain under state protections — five west of 17 and 395 and south of I-90, including the Olympic Peninsula, and four north of I-90 and west of Highway 97.

WASHINGTON RECOVERY REGIONS WITH CONFIRMED PACK LOCATIONS. (WDFW)

That would give the state anywhere from 97 to 361 individual wolves, the plan estimates, but says it may also take “take years to several decades” to reach the goal.

If the welcome that the Lookout Pack has received in the Methow Valley is any indication, it could take even longer.

That said, the revised document says that 15 pairs wouldn’t be a “cap” — “The plan does not place a limit on the numbers of wolves that will be allowed to live in Washington” — and while it pointedly notes that it is a recovery plan, it does address hunting: “After delisting, it is anticipated that the WDFW would recommend listing as a game species. Proposals to hunt wolves following delisting would go through a public process with the Fish and Wildlife Commission.”

Under the last version, livestock owners couldn’t shoot wolves caught in the act of attacking cows and other farm stock until they were listed as state threatened status — the midpoint of three layers of protection and a step below endangered, a level above sensitive — but in the new version now could at any listing level, Luers says.

Kill rules would be similarly relaxed for dog owners whose animal is under attack.

Wildlife managers would also be able to take more proactive actions if “at-risk” ungulate populations were being affected by wolf predation. The definition of “at risk” includes rare listed species such as woodland caribou and Columbian white-tailed deer, but also “a game species’ population that has experienced a dramatic decline from historical levels and has stayed at low levels for a significant period of time.”

That, however, would not mean, say, an elk herd that’s just below management objectives.

“The semantics will be debated at the (Wolf Working Group) meeting — what does that mean? If you’re still hunting a population, are they at risk? Probably not,” Luers says.

The new plan also talks about the state’s current wolf population, which WDFW is trying to get a better grasp of this spring. Luers says that the agency’s trapper, Paul Frame, will be in the Teanaway between Cle Elum and Leavenworth next week looking for wolves.

“We’ve gotten a number of pieces of information from there — remote cameras, sightings. Something’s going on. Some large canids are in the Teanaway,” she says.

“Large canids,” however, could also mean wolf hybrids, such as the one hit by a vehicle near Davenport in summer 2008.

Frame will also return to the Hozomeen area on upper Ross Lake and the Blue Mountains, Luers says.

At the end of 2010, there were a minimum of 18 or 19 wolves in three packs in the state. As it’s pupping season right now, it’s likely that number will be higher at the end of the year.

The new draft is available in redline and unmarked versions. The former version is 330 pages, the latter 295. In the redline document, the different colors correspond to the work of three different WDFW staffers who went over the plan, and there are many small tweaks.

“It’s the first new version in a year and a half,” notes biologist Gary Wiles. “There’s updated info on the Diamond and Lookout Packs, updated info on surrounding states. So much goes on with wolves, there’s a lot that needs updating.”

Indeed, since October 2009’s draft, which drew some 60,000 public comments, wolves in the Northern Rockies have been delisted, relisted and are now off the federal endangered species list in most of that recover region, with hunts planned in Idaho and Montana. Oregon’s population has grown from 14 to 21 at the end of 2010, though three have since died, two by agency control, one by other causes.

Back in Washington, more debate and public comment is planned in the coming months.

“Stay tuned,” says Luers. “We’ll see what the Wolf Working Group does with the plan. I suspect we’ll be tweaking it again. When it goes to the Commission there will be more opportunity for public comment.”

The wolf group — comprised of hunters, livestock interests, wolf advocates and others — meets June 8-9 to review the proposed revisions. The meeting will be held at the Heritage Center of the Kittitas Valley Event Center, 512 N. Poplar St., in Ellensburg, and will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., June 8, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 9.  As with past meetings of the advisory group, the working group’s meeting is open to the public but it is not a public-comment opportunity.

The commission will get the plan at its Aug. 4-6 meeting in Olympia.

Two commission workshops on the draft wolf plan are scheduled in eastern and western Washington in September and October. Those workshops will be open to the public. The commission is scheduled to consider adoption of the plan during its Dec. 2-3 meeting in Olympia.

Sturm, Ruger Pledges $1m To NRA If Company Sells 1m Guns In A Year

May 27, 2011

(RUGER PRESS RELEASE)

Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc., is proud to announce the “Million Gun Challenge” to benefit the NRA. Ruger pledges to donate $1,000,000 to the NRA if one million new Ruger firearms are sold between the 2011 and 2012 NRA Shows.

“Our goal is to present the NRA with a check for one million dollars during the 141st NRA Annual Meeting in St. Louis next April,” said Ruger CEO Mike Fifer. “This substantial donation would reflect a record-breaking feat in the firearms industry, as we believe no company has every sold one million firearms in a 12-month period. With the help of our loyal customers, we hope to make history and to share that accomplishment with the NRA.”

To learn more about Ruger’s extensive line of American-made pistols, rifles, revolvers and shotguns, and to follow the progress of the “Million Gun Challenge,” visit http://www.Ruger.com or Facebook.com/Ruger.

Rufus Woods Fishkill Update, And Other News

May 27, 2011

Rufus Woods’ free-roaming rainbow trout — the ones that anglers drive hundreds of miles to catch — at least had a chance to escape from the spike of dissolved gasses that appear to have killed an estimated 35,000 trout in the commercial netpens at the North-central Washington reservoir this week, and possibly hundreds of thousands more.

“The deeper a fish sounds, it can (better) regulate gas bubbles,” explains Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife biologist Chris Donley in Spokane. “The loss is in the fish that can’t sound, can’t adjust. That’s why they’re seeing losses in the netpens.”

He said it’s akin to the bends in humans.

Federal operators are running massive amounts of water through Grand Coulee Dam to try and lower Lake Roosevelt to make way for big spring runoff.

“The amount of water they’re dealing with is really something,” says Craig Bartlett, a WDFW spokesman in Olympia.

“We’re sending as much as we can in anticipation of bigger flows in June,” says Lynn Brougher at the Bureau of Reclamation. “We’re trying to keep storage space for bigger flows.”

She says that as long as operators have to spill at the rate they are, gas issues will continue. She says there is no gas deflector at Grand Coulee, but there is one at Chief Joseph Dam, which backs up the Rufus Woods pool.

While the netpens at Rufus have proved “leaky” in the past, much to the delight of anglers, they don’t just supply restaurants with fresh fillets. Colville Tribal fish managers contract with Pacific Aquaculture to release 4,000 a month through the colder parts of the year to enhance fishing opportunities on the 50-mile-long reservoir.

Over the coming months as federal water managers bring Lake Roosevelt up to the 1,290-foot elevation from 1,217, that will switch the fish losses from Rufus to Roosevelt through something known as “entrainment.”

“That’s where we’re going to lose a lot of fish. Just assume that fishing isn’t going to be as good next year in FDR,” says Donley, using the abbreviation for the reservoir’s full name, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The period of time needed to fill the lake may exacerbate the losses.

“We’re going to lose a lot of fish, especially kokanee,” says Donley.

For whatever reason, the landlocked sockeye salmon are more prone to leave as Roosevelt refills.

“There’s some mechanics at work while the reservoir refills that enhances entrainment,” he says. “It’s kind of intriguing.”

WDFW plants three-quarters of a million rainbows and a quarter million kokes in the reservoir annually and it’s easily one of the state’s best fisheries.

Some will probably end up in Rufus Woods, some perhaps further downstream.

The flip side is that higher flows should help salmon and steelhead smolts — many from ESA-listed runs — on their way downstream.

We’ve got several calls out to find out if any fish are showing up dead outside the netpens. Another WDFW spokesperson says that the fishkill is Department of Ecology jurisdiction as it’s a water-quality problem.

In other news, a massive halibut was bonked out of Port Angeles.

The Tacoma News Tribune picks up a Tri-Cities Herald piece on the state legislature putting $1.8 million towards the possible purchase of parts of a huge ranch near the Aridlands Reserve west of Hanford.

“It’s a beautiful property,” said Jeff Tayer, regional director for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If the land is purchased, public access is expected to be allowed on the land, which extends from the flats to the top of the mountain, where it borders the Arid Land Ecology Reserve of the Hanford Reach National Monument. The reserve is closed to the public.

However, $1.8 million will not be enough to purchase the 13,400-acre ranch.

Fish and Wildlife hopes to begin the process of appraising the land and starting negotiations with the family, said Tayer.

“We hope to buy it in pieces or to attract funding,” he said.

Starting tomorrow, Saturday, May 28, spring Chinook fishing will resume on parts of the Snake River, but it’s also being closed early on the Kalama and Lewis.

And ODFW has extended the season at The Hatchery Hole on the Trask River by a month thanks to surplus fish.

Meanwhile, Diamond Lake isn’t the only lake in the Oregon Cascades where the trout are biting. Jon Wiley sent me a pile of pics from Wickiup — which we detailed in our May issue — as well as some this week from Paulina.

JON WILEY REPORTS CATCHING A NUMBER OF NICE BROWNS SO FAR THIS SEASON IN THE SNOWY OREGON CASCADES ON AC COLE PLUGS LONGLINED EARLY IN THE MORNING. (JON WILEY)

It’s Clear, This Lake’s A Good ‘Un

May 26, 2011

It’s been a fulfilling work day — I got to go fishing for a full day, and I’ll be filling my boys’ belly with fresh-caught rainbow trout from a lake way down where The Great Glacier ground to a halt a few years back.

KEEPIN' EM (SORTA) COOL IN CLEAR LAKE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Clear Lake was a little stingy early this morning as we tried something a wee bit different, but once Northwest Sportsman trout columnist Uncle Westipher von Malbergian and I switched over to dark, large Woolly Buggers it was bloody murder.

Big fish was around 4 pounds while five went about a footlongish and another half dozen or so were kicked back into the 170-acre eastern Thurston County lake to grow a wee bit more.

WES MALMBERG CHECKS THE DIGITAL SCALE ON HIS BIG FISH, WHICH CAME IN JUST UNDER 4 POUNDS. IT'S LIKELY ONE OF THE 450 3-PLUS-POUND BROODSTOCK SEX WORKERS WDFW FURLOUGHED FROM THE EEL SPRINGS HATCHERY IN MID-APRIL. THE TAIL, HOWEVER, WAS PARTIALLY CHOPPED OFF IN THE PROP. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Using full-sink lines and Sage fly rods, initially we worked around the perimeter, gradually moving deeper. Most of our bites and fish came in the eastern half later in the day and fairly close to shore.

There was not another boat on Clear between 7 a.m. when I showed up and 2:30 p.m. when we left, though a handful of plunkers were doing their thang from shore in two areas.

BUGGER IT ALL ANYWAY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW has stocked the lake with 13,500 1/3-pound-or better catchables, 343 1.5-plus-pound triploids and 450 3-plus-pound broodstock rainbows.

Clear is southeast of Yelm, along Bald Hill Road SE. The state access is on the south end. It features two concrete ramps, a large area for maneuvering, and plenty of parking. There are also vault toilets for guys and gals.

WITH MALMBERG LATE TO THE LAKE, THE EDITOR DID HIS CIVIC DUTY AND PICKED UP SOME OF THE TRASH AT THE STATE ACCESS. BESIDES BEER CANS AND FISHING LINE, THE MOST INTERESTING FIND WAS PARMESAN PACKETS FOR SPRINKLING ON A PIZZA. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Area 2 Closes For Halibut

May 25, 2011

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE E-REG CHANGE)

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

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

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

Effective date: Marine Area 2 closes immediately. Marine Areas 3 and 4 will re-open June 2 and June 4, 2011, Thursday and Saturday only.

Species affected: Halibut.

Location:   Marine Areas 2, 3 and 4.

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

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

Backcountry Hunters Press For Colville Wilderness, Logging Plan

May 25, 2011

A group of hardcore hunters say they’re going to become even more active in a bid to protect national forest in Northeast Washington after a recent meeting with a local Congresswoman’s staff left them unclear about her position.

At issue is a plan to set aside tens of thousands of acres in the Colville National Forest as wilderness and national recreation areas as well as ensure a continued supply of timber for local sawmills.

It’s been gaining momentum, but now the Washington Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers says that opposition statements from a few threaten years of collaborative work by mill owners, environmental groups and others.

According to state BHA co-chair, former Eastern Washington University English professor and new Northwest Sportsman magazine contributor Jeff Holmes of Kennewick, an early-April meeting with Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ staff in Washington DC “went very well, with a staffer recognizing the need for a balanced approach that has something in it for everybody.”

But a follow-up confab late last week in Spokane with the Spokane Republican’s natural resources and agriculture pointman “left us less certain about the Congresswoman’s commitment to bringing the different sides of the issue to the table to work something out.  We hope this meeting was not representative of the Congresswoman’s current position because she has shown strong support for the balanced approach of the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition in the recent past.”

Previous indications are that McMorris Rodgers was willing to at least listen as the idea blossomed.

BHA says the Coalition’s proposal for Congress to designate new national conservation area, three national recreation areas, and new wilderness areas on the Kettle Crest, Abercrombie Mountain area and around the Salmo-Priest Wilderness would benefit wildlife, recreation and access, local businesses and hunters.

The recent developments riled the group.

“It once was the environmentalists saying no to everything, but now it’s a handful of extremists on the other end of the spectrum,” said BHA chair Joe Mirasole. “Everybody wants a piece of the pie and nobody’s gonna get the slice they want if we don’t start working together. It’s hard to reach a solution that has something for everyone when part of that ‘everyone’ slams the door shut.  Fighting instead of compromising invites the courts and Uncle Sam to come in and make bad decisions from DC.”

“Saying no will get us nowhere,” added Bart George, a local utilities district biologist and die-hard big game and hound hunter from Newport.  “Our national forests are owned by all Americans, and we need to work together to find local, balanced solutions that create the greatest good for the greatest number of people.”

The potential turn of events may have been presaged a couple weeks ago by an article on Crosscut headlined “Hailed last year for collaborating, Colville Forest factions have gotten nowhere.”

You may recall reading about BHA, Mirasole and Holmes in a previous blog post and in a Rich Landers column:

“We don’t advocate for political parties; we have no religious preferences,” Holmes said. “Our ranks are comprised of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats.”

“We don’t discriminate between fly fishers and bait fishers,” said Mirasole, a firefighter from Elk. “We don’t take a position on wolves. Those are all distractions from the fundamentals of protecting roadless areas for wildlife and for our kids.”

NEWFC bills itself as working “to demonstrate the full potential of restoration forestry to enhance forest health, public safety and community economic vitality.” According to BHA, since 2002 it’s helped move 25 thinning projects forward, reducing fire danger and producing logs for local mills.

We’ve detailed the proposal for the Colville here.

A person at McMorris Rodgers’ Spokane office referred media questions to the Congresswoman’s DC office. Staffers there had gone home for the day, but we left a message for a follow-up blog.

Buzz Named Among World’s 20 Best Anglers

May 25, 2011

I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging or anything — well, OK, I do — but twice in the past year I’ve fished with one of the 20 best anglers on the planet.

He’s from around here, has worked for a couple local tackle companies, you may have seen his name in our magazine, and he’s a pretty cool and down-to-earth dude to fish with. Get on his sled and you’ll probably hear about how he used to do burnoffs in his El Camino on the interstate in Portland years ago and last summer got hit twice (twice!) by the same skunk he trapped in his yard.

And who would this be?

Buzz Ramsey, of course.

BUZZ RAMSEY AND PAL TITO MONETEMOR WITH TITO'S 2009 BUOY 10 CHINOOK, AN IMAGE THAT WAS NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN'S AUGUST 2010 COVER. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

He is among those who made Outdoor Life‘s recent list of the 20 best.

Says the East Coast-based magazine:

In steelhead and salmon circles of the Pacific Northwest, bring up Buzz Ramsey’s name and you’ll likely hear the words “icon” and “authority.”

Ramsey’s many accomplishments include catching a 25-pound steelhead and a massive 30-pound steelhead, both of which spent some time as IGFA records.

Ramsey was inducted into the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame as a “Legendary Angler” in 1995; he’s also a hall of famer with the Association of Northwest Steelheaders.

Buzz is the only West Coast fisherman in the slideshow compilation. Heavily weighted towards American anglers, it also includes bass anglers Mike Iaconelli, Kevin VanDam and Rick Clunn and walleye angler Tommy Skarlis. Fly fisherman Lefty Kreh also sits on it.

So how did these guys make it when other worthy sticks didn’t?

Explains Outdoor Life: “In any listing of ‘the Best’ how do you rank one person over another? When it comes to anglers, the world of professional fishing provides a good jumping-off point, with its ample tournament results. We started there, then added other factors to the mix, including longevity, fishing records, and awards and honors that reflect the respect of angling peers. Only currently active anglers were considered.”

Ramsey is indeed well-known in the region, and we’re happy (and grateful and very lucky) to have him writing for us. He currently works for Yakima Bait, has since November 2009, where he promotes existing product lines and assists in the development of new ones. Prior to that he was with Pure Fishing as a regional services manager — his name adorns a popular salmon rod — and before that was a promotional and sales manager at Luhr Jensen for 30 years and worked at GI Joes.

Since 1995, he’s been fishing Hall of Fame member, set a pair of IGFA steelhead records in 1984, and has served as past president and a board member of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association.

He’s done some amazing stuff with a rod and reel, and maybe my favorite story is something he alluded to while we fished for Chinook during the 19th Annual Spring Fishing Classic on the Columbia last March:

2:45ish.: Time is running out if we’re going to weigh a springer for the derby, but if anyone can pull a Chinook out of nowhere, it would be Buzz. He tells us a story about catching one on a jig.

In North Dakota.

While ice fishing.

This is like 9th level Buddhism or something. I mean, who else do you know who’s ever caught a Chinook ice fishing?!?!? The man is one with Oncorhynchus.

BUZZ RAMSEY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Resort: Diamond 90 Percent Ice-free

May 25, 2011

Diamond Lake in the Oregon Cascades is 90 percent ice free and the North Ramp is open for biz.

Even better, anglers are catching fish.

That according to Diamond Lake Resort.

“Anglers have been doing very well despite cold water temperatures of 40 degrees causing the trout to bite very lightly. Power Bait fished 18 to 24 inches off the bottom has been producing the best. Trolling  is  improving with warming water temperatures. Pulling gang spinners trailed by a chunk of nightcrawler is attracting strike,” reports Rick Rongholt this morning.

DON WADE OF ROSEBURG WITH A STRINGER OF RAINBOWS CAUGHT SATURDAY, MAY 21, WITH PINK POWER BAIT FROM THE JETTY AT THE NORTH BOAT RAMP. (DIAMOND LAKE RESORT)

This season, Diamond’s daily limit has been boosted to eight 8-plus-inch trout, but only one over 20 inches. The rule is in effect until late October this year.

“A 41/2-pound fish was caught on a single salmon egg near our marina yesterday,” Rongholt says.

All that said, he warns of some weather ahead. The National Weather Service calls for a chance of snow or rain and below-freezing lows through Saturday.

For more, call the resort’s marina (800‐733‐7593 x 238) or go to diamondlake.net.

Managers Reopen Bonneville Tailrace To Boat Springer Angling

May 25, 2011

Salmon managers today decided to allow boat anglers onto the prime waters below Bonneville for the first time in two seasons.

Well, prime if the Columbia wasn’t running at 500,000 cubic feet per second and not forecast to dip below 450,000 cfs for the forseeable future.

They also approved reopening the Columbia from the dam to the state line east of McNary.

Some of Washington’s Snake could be greenlighted again as well.

In a fact sheet sent out this morning, Washington and Oregon officials say that there are 2,700 upriver-bound springers available for sport anglers at the current revised forecast of 213,400.

The waters from Beacon Rock to the dam will open this Friday, May 27, through June 15.

That stretch is currently open for bank fishing only, as it was last year as well.

The river below Beacon Rock is open for both boat and bank fishing.

Managers expect fewer than 1,600 springers to be retained in that area, a “conservative” estimate what with the high flows and waning run.

The river from the Tower Island power lines (about 6 miles below The Dalles Dam) upstream to Oregon/Washington border plus both states’ banks between Bonneville and the Tower Island power lines is a go the next day, May 28, through June 2.

We’re waiting on word about possible Snake River reopeners too.

“If the states adopt both recommendations as proposed, a total of 800 upriver spring Chinook (catch and release mortalities) would be available to allow some of the Snake River sport fisheries to re-open.  Washington will announce those seasons pending today’s decision,” says the fact sheet.

The Poacher Chronicles: OSP March Newsletter Out

May 25, 2011

Best day of the month? The one that OSP game wardens post their newsletter.

Here are highlights from the March edition:

Poaching Suspects Plead Guilty, Sentenced, Fined, Some Have Hunt Privileges Suspended

* Tpr. Schwartz (St. Helens) and Tpr. Herman (Astoria) cited two subjects who were snagging salmon from a raft at the mouth of Big Creek in September.

One of the two subjects was convicted of Aiding in an Angling Offense—Snagging Salmon. The court sentenced the subject to $422 in fines and assessments and $500 restitution to ODFW. The court has not sentenced the other subject yet.

* Sr. Tpr. Wilson (Ontario) investigated a case regarding a California resident who shot deer during the 2009 and 2010 deer seasons in Oregon and unlawfully applied for and received Oregon licenses and tags. In a plea agreement, the subject pled guilty to Unlawful Taking of Mule Deer— Misdemeanor.

The court sentenced the subject to three years hunting license suspension, $2,009 restitution to ODFW, $200 fines and fees ($500 originally with $300 suspended), and one year bench probation.

* In Grant County Justice Court, a defendant pled guilty to Hunting on the Enclosed Land of Another and Hunting Elk without a Valid Tag. The court dismissed one count of Tampering with Physical Evidence. The court sentenced the defendant to three years hunting license suspension, $633 fines and fees, 80 hours community service, and two years supervised probation.

* In Grant County Justice Court, a defendant pled guilty to one count of Exceeding Bag Limit—Buck Deer. The court dismissed one count of Borrowing Buck Deer Tag. The court sentenced the defendant to three years hunting license suspension, $500 fines and fees, pay cut and wrap fees, $800 restitution to ODFW, 40 hours community service, and two years bench probation.

* As a result of a lengthy deer poaching investigation Tpr. Weaver (Lakeview), Sr. Tpr. Bean (Gilchrist), Tpr. Ring, Sr. Tpr. Hayes (Bend), and a Lake County SO deputy worked on, two suspects were cited on numerous wildlife and criminal charges.

The first suspect pled guilty to Theft in the First Degree two counts, four wildlife violations, and Tampering with Physical Evidence. The court disposed charges with no conviction: Conspiracy to Commit a Class C Felony two counts, two wildlife violations, two wildlife misdemeanors, Theft in the Second Degree, and Criminal Trespass while in Possession of a Firearm.

The court sentenced the suspect to 30 days in jail, 10 years license suspension, $9,100 restitution to ODFW, and $1,750 fines and assessments.

The second suspect pled guilty to Theft in the First Degree two counts, two wildlife violations, and Tampering with Physical Evidence. The court also disposed charges with no conviction: Conspiracy to Commit a Class C Felony, wildlife violations, Theft in the Second Degree, and Criminal Trespass with a Firearm.

The court sentenced this suspect to 10 years license suspension, $8,300 restitution to ODFW, and $1,250 in fines and assessments.

Tax-cheating Company Pays Up Rather Promptly After Officers Visit Seafood Plant

At ODFW’s request, Sr. Tpr. Klepp (Astoria) contacted a local seafood processor in Astoria and advised the company manager he was no longer able to buy seafood under the company’s wholesale buyer’s license as a result of unpaid commercial fish taxes. The company failed to pay over $16,000 in taxes over the prior two months. Several days later, the tax bills were paid in full to ODFW headquarters and their buyer’s license was reinstated.

The Alton Baker Ponds Feel-free-to-fish-without-a-license Zone?

Tpr. Imholt (Springfield) patrolled Alton Baker Ponds. Upon arrival, two anglers immediately reeled in and started to walk away from Imholt, so he contacted them first. He discovered both did not have angling licenses. They said they did not know they needed an angling license to fish at the ponds. Imholt cited each for No Angling License.

River Dance

Sr. Tpr. Cushman (Central Point) patrolled the Rogue River and encountered two anglers at the Bridge Hole. When they spotted him, they performed a short dance, their eyes widened, and they shuffled about as if not sure if they should run, throw the rods down, cut the line, or stand there. They chose to stand there. Neither had licenses, so Cushman cited each for No Angling License.

Hey, Officer, Could I Borrow Your Pen To Fill Out My Tag For This Steelie I Caught A Couple Hours Ago And Then Went To Town?

On the South Umpqua River around Canyonville, a complainant informed Sr. Tpr. Merritt (Roseburg) that a subject caught a steelhead earlier that morning at a location farther downriver and left and returned later and continued fishing. When Merritt arrived at the location, the suspect was not in the area. While checking anglers, the suspect again returned, and another witness pointed him out. Merritt contacted the suspect and checked his tag, noting it lacked any entries. While Merritt inspected the tag, the suspect asked to borrow the trooper’s pen to fill out his tag. The suspect admitted to both catching a steelhead that morning, but he could not find a pen to fill out his tag, and returning to the Canyonville area. Merritt cited the suspect for Fail to Validate Steelhead Tag, and the suspect became upset. Merritt explained he caught the steelhead 2½ hours prior to the contact and had returned to town twice, leaving him plenty of opportunity to validate his tag.

Dude Ain’t Gonna Be Hunting Nowhere Near For The Rest Of His Life

Sr. Tpr. Niehus and Sr. Tpr. Randall (Klamath Falls) contacted a Klamath Falls subject to inform him his hunting license had been suspended for life through the Interstate Compact.

California caught the subject falsely applying for resident licenses in their state and, as a result of their investigation, suspended his hunting privileges for life in California. The subject’s privileges were then suspended through the Interstate Compact in Oregon.

State officials sent the subject notification of the revocation via certified mail which he refused. The troopers made a personal notification to ensure the subject knew he could not hunt in Oregon.

Dude Who Can’t Get Off His Ass To Shoo Deer From Sacred Bird Feeder Allegedly Shoots Them Instead

Sgt. Cyr (Baker City) completed his investigation into a subject that was shooting deer on his property with a pellet rifle. Neighbors had observed the subject shoot at deer that were eating his bird seed, and they noticed several injured deer in the area. They watched the subject shoot a doe and a fawn in the leg, and the doe was discovered dead on the property a short time later with a festered wound on one knee. Cyr located and seized the air rifle which was rated at over 1,000 feet per second. After interviewing the suspect at the Baker City office, Cyr cited him for Taking Deer Closed Season and Harassing Wildlife.

But, Officers, We Were Gonna Give Away Some Of The Meat From These Illegally Shot Bulls That We Thought Were Cow Elk

Dispatch received multiple calls regarding a group of subjects who shot at and killed multiple elk, including at least one bull, in Birkenfeld. Tpr. Herman (Astoria) and Tpr. Vogel (St. Helens) responded and found a truck at a residence with one cow elk and two bull elk with freshly cut off antlers in the bed. Three subjects with the truck had three landowner preference (LOP) cow tags.

The subjects stated they shot the two bulls on accident, thinking they were cows. They also said they had not cut off the antlers; they were cut off before they shot them. The subjects eventually admitted to shooting the bulls inadvertently; and once they realized they were bulls, they tried to conceal the fact by cutting off the antlers and throwing them in the Nehalem River. The subjects stated they were planning on keeping all three elk but were going to give away some meat. The troopers cited two of the subjects criminally for Take/Possess Bull Elk Closed Season and the third subject criminally for Aiding in a Wildlife Violation—Take/Possess Bull Elk Closed Season and seized the two bull elk and two rifles.

‘Dislike’: Felon Allegedly Posts Pics Of Self With Guns, Dead Animals

Members of the Central Point Team served a search warrant on a house in Medford. The suspect was a convicted felon from another state who had a business in Oregon. In the course of his employment, the suspect created an internet social media page on which he posted pictures of himself posing with big game mammals and firearms. Sr. Tpr. Allison obtained the search warrant. Allison, Lt. Gifford, Sgt. Meyer, Sr. Tpr. Cushman, Sr. Tpr. Floyd, and Evidence Tech Parrish served the warrant and contacted the suspect at his front door.

A search resulted in locating a black-powder pistol, ammunition, firearm cleaning supplies, and a computer with photos. The troopers packages of game meat and a 4 x 2 deer skull that matched a picture of the suspect kneeling behind the dead deer with a rifle.

Meyer and Cushman contacted a relative at a different location and talked to him about the situation. When Cushman returned to the office, this relative’s wife called on the phone crying. When the suspect heard OSP was investigating him, he took his rifles to the relative’s house. Cushman and Gifford returned to the relative’s house and seized two rifles and a shotgun. The troopers lodged the suspect for Convicted Felon in Possession of Firearms x 4 and Unlawful Possession of Big Game Parts x 2.

I’m Just Stupider Than A Box Of Rocks

While sitting at a traffic light, Tpr. Boyd (Springfield) noticed the driver in the vehicle next to him look at him and the marked door of his pickup. After the light turned green, the driver sped off. Boyd was able to pace the suspect at 90 mph in a 55 mph zone. The suspect also failed to drive within his lane of travel and was slow to yield. After Boyd stopped the suspect, he noted the suspect showed signs of impairment and failed SFSTs. Boyd took the suspect into custody and transported him to the Springfield Jail, .09% BAC. He cited and released the suspect for DUII—Alcohol, ESL 90/55, and Fail to Drive within Lane.

Columbia Summer Steelhead Fishery Begins

May 24, 2011

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blogs on summer steelheading on the Lower Columbia River and its tributaries, fisheries that easily yield 10,000 ocean-fresh fish annually.

“Dear, the steelhead should be in, let’s target them.”

And with that, last weekend Bob Spaur and his wife eschewed the recently reopened spring Chinook fishery on the Lower Columbia in favor of spunky summer-runs.

A good decision, it turned out.

“I don’t know how many boats they checked without fish — 50?” wondered Spaur yesterday as he sent me pics of the four fresh steelies he and Deb came back to the ramp with.

DEB AND BOB SPAUR WITH THEIR LIMIT OF LOWER COLUMBIA SUMMER-RUN STEELHEAD, CAUGHT LAST WEEKEND IN THE RAINIER-LONGVIEW STRETCH OF THE BIG RIVER. (BOB SPAUR)

True, the months a couple flips deeper in the calendar are much better known for steelheading on the big river — fueled by massive runs, Julys 2009 and 2010 yielded record single-month sport harvests of 8,221 and 8,213, respectively for Beaver and Evergreen State anglers — but close readers of catch data from the Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife will nod knowingly at the Spaurs’ decision: There be fish to catch in May too.

Über-fresh ones, fish so chrome and firm they put the best bumpers of Detroit’s glory days to shame.

“They’re loaded with fat — they’re very healthy right now,” Spaur says.

Even better: This kind of steelheading ain’t the kind you may be thinking of. You know, standing in a frigid mountain river at the crack of dawn with 50 of your closest buddies packed like frozen herring down at the hatchery’s Meat Hole, everybody splattering cured eggs over one another, slickery rock snot and involuntarily pierced body parts.

Nope, steelheading on the Columbia is a far mellower beast. Bring your lawn chair, for instance.

And a cow bell.

Well, maybe not a cow bell-cow bell, but little tiny ding-a-lings that you attach to your rod and it tinkles when you’ve got a bite.

Bring a beach ball. Bring the family. Bring a barbecue.

WAITING FOR THE BELL TO RING ALONG THE OREGON SHORE. (KIRBY CANNON)

Oh, and don’t forget the suntan lotion.

Seriously, these clouds will go away at some point this year.

But even if they don’t, the fish will bite. Just ask the Spaurs.

“There are days you can have 20-fish days,” says Bob, who has fished the Columbia “since I was a kid” and who pro-staffs for Pro-Cure Bait Scents of Salem and Brad’s Killer Fishing Gear of Longview, Wash. “We had opportunities for 13, 14 hookups (last weekend). Right now it’s tap-tap and they’re dropping it.”

They were fishing from a boat, and “it” in this case would be a prawn tail or coonstripe shrimp. They affixed it to a 2/O to 4/O Mustad fine-wire hook (No. 92604) behind a couple 6mm red beads, a size 4 watermelon Spin-N-Glo and another red bead.

That terminal tackle sits on all of a 24- to 26-inch leader — Spaur doesn’t know exactly how long it is, only that it’s about as the length of his lower leg — of 15-pound line attached to a large barrel swivel, a large bead, snap swivel, another large bead, a plastic weed shedder that anglers know as a golf tee and 20-pound mainline.

From the snap swivel, run a “dropper” line of 4- to 6-pound test to a pyramid sinker or other weight heavy enough to catch and hold bottom.

But flounder and sculpins are not the target species here: Your Spin-N-Glo will lift the meaty bait up off the bottom right into the path of steelies sneaking around structure in their path on the way upstream.

For those times when the current isn’t running so fast — despite its massive volume, the Columbia is tidally influenced — Spaur pins the red bead just above the winged bobber with a toothpick so that it will stay with the bait rather than rise to a middle point between prawn and dropper weight.

He also cures his bait in Pro-Cure’s Double Neon Red and dopes it up with the Oregon company’s Super Gel in shrimp/krill.

That rig translates pretty well for shoreline plunkers, but if all that sounds horribly complex, see the below pics or just stop by any sporting goods store near the Columbia. Guys like Cody Clark, James Harper and Rob Brown at Bob’s Merchandise in Longview, Wash., Harper’s Tackle in Woodland, Wash., and Jack’s Snack & Tackle in Troutdale, Ore., as well as the good folks at Fisherman’s Marine in Delta Park, Oregon City and Tigard, Ore., and Sporty’s in Clatskanie, Ore., all will be able to set you up for this fishery.

THE BUSINESS END OF BOB SPAUR’S PLUNKING RIG FOR STEELHEADING FROM A BOAT INCLUDES A TRIO OF RED 6MM BEADS. (BOB SPAUR)

CONNECTING YOUR MAINLINE (RIGHT) TO YOUR LEADER AND DROPPER WEIGHT INVOLVES A BARREL SWIVEL AND A SNAP SWIVEL, THE LATTER FOR ATTACHING A SHORT SECTION OF LIGHT LINE TO A WEIGHT. THE GREEN PLASTIC "GOLF TEE" HELPS PROTECT THE REST OF YOUR SETUP FROM WEEDS AND OTHER DEBRIS. (BOB SPAUR)

From boat or bank, right now, you’ll want to fish super-tight to shore as high flows push the bank-following fish even closer to the edge of the river.

“I’m fishing 4 to 6 feet of water, 8 feet max,” says Spaur.

He wouldn’t reveal the hot spot he and the missus picked up their limit (two adipose-fin-clipped steelies), but to slightly tweak the old saying, the Columbia from, say, Sauvie Island down to Jones Beach on the Oregon side and Cathlamet on the Washington side is your oyster now deep into August.

“Any of that lower river is going to be good,” he says. “Stay in tight with water like this. Even when it clears up, I’ll still be in 8 feet.”

He’ll run the prawn rig into July, but as the river warms in August, switches over to a Brad’s Wiggler with a dropper weight and fishes as deep as 45 feet.

The great thing about this fishery is that it’s doable from ship or shore and is close to tens of thousands of regular, occasional and lapsed anglers on both sides of the big crick.

(NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

We mapped some of the best accesses on the river in the May issue of Northwest Sportsman, partly based off of a great new map that ODFW has put together here. That Google Maps mashup details dozens of great beaches, including whether they’re free or fee accesses, have restrooms and amenities, as well as links to current reports and fishing regs.

ODFW'S SUMMER STEELHEAD MAPPING FEATURE. (ODFW)

It’s still early for summer-runs in the Columbia, and the lure of spring Chinook now and summer Chinook next month may cause some anglers to overlook this fishery — but not the Spaurs and others in the know.

“My wife just enjoyed it, a great afternoon,” Bob says.

And there’s a whole lot more afternoons to enjoy between now and September as this year’s run of some 390,000 summers move upriver.

CHROME BEAUT FROM THE LOWER COLUMBIA. (BOB SPAUR)

May 24, 2011

NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN JUNE 2011 TABLE OF CONTENTS

Ronde Trib To Open For Springers This Weekend

May 24, 2011

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

For the first time in a decade, Lookingglass Creek, a tributary to the Grande Ronde River, will open to fishing for hatchery spring chinook salmon on Saturday, May 28.

According to Tim Bailey, ODFW district fish biologist, the spring chinook season is possible thanks to changes in the local hatchery program.

“We’ve revamped the hatchery program for Lookingglass Creek in order to provide more consistent fishing opportunity,” Bailey said. Biologists predict this year’s return will be about 1,000 chinook, most of them hatchery fish.

The open area is from the Moses Creek Lane Bridge (County Road 42) upstream to the confluence of Jarboe Creek. The fishery will remain open until the harvest quota is reached. ODFW biologists anticipate the season will run through early July but will be monitoring the harvest weekly to insure the quota isn’t exceeded.

Anglers may retain two adipose fin-clipped chinook adults and five adipose fin-clipped jacks per day, with two daily limits in possession.  Jack salmon are less than 24 inches long.  Anglers do not need to record jack catch on their combined angling tags, but it is illegal to continue fishing for jack chinook once the adult bag limit is met.  Unmarked (wild) fish must be released carefully and unharmed.

As with the trout fishery, which also opens on the Creek on May 28, anglers are restricted to artificial flies and lures while fishing for salmon – no bait is allowed.

“There are threatened bull trout in Lookingglass Creek, and bait fishing could pose a threat to them,” Bailey said.

Access to the area open to fishing is through private timberlands owned by Forest Capital and open to public.  Anglers are reminded to respect private property by picking up their trash when leaving.

For more information about the fishery, contact the ODFW Northeast Region Office in La Grande at (541) 963-2138.

SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report (5-23-11)

May 23, 2011

(REPORT COURTESY BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Elochoman River from mouth to West Fork and Grays River from mouth to South Fork and West Fork from mouth to hatchery intake/footbridge – Under permanent rules, open to fishing for hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead beginning the first Saturday in June (June 4th this year).

The entire South Fork Toutle River and the Green River from the mouth to the 2800 Road Bridge  – Will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead beginning the first Saturday in June as outlined in the 2011/2012 Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet. Beginning June 4th, bait may be used.  All tributaries to the South Fork Toutle and Green rivers will remain closed to all fishing.

Cowlitz River – Anglers are catching a mixture of adult and jack spring Chinook, primarily in the upper river.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 533 spring chinook adults, 349 jacks, 21 winter-run steelhead, and 78 summer-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 46 spring chinook adults, 217 jacks, and six winter-run steelhead into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood and 62 spring chinook adults and 98 jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 9,620 cubic feet per second on Monday, May 23. Water visibility is eight feet.

Kalama River – Salmon catches are light.  Just 11 adult spring chinook (including 3 unmarked fish) had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery through May 20.  The escapement goal is 400 fish for hatchery brood stock.

Lewis River – Light effort and catch.  Just 85 adults had returned to the Merwin Dam trap through May 20 though hatchery personnel have only had sporadic access to the trap due to high river flows.    The hatchery escapement goal is 1,300 fish.

East Fork Lewis River from the mouth to 400 feet below Horseshoe Falls (except closures around various falls) and the Washougal River from the mouth to Salmon Falls Bridge – Under permanent rules these areas will be open to fishing with bait for hatchery steelhead beginning the first Saturday in June (June 4th this year).

Washougal River – Boat anglers are catching some hatchery summer run steelhead.  Slow from the bank.  River is backed up from the high Columbia flows all the way to the Sandy Swimming Hole.

Wind River – Boat anglers at the mouth and bank anglers in the gorge are catching spring chinook, a mixture of adults and jacks.  Bank anglers at the mouth were reported catching some fish.  A few 4 adult daily limits were reported.

Through May 22, a total of 68 spring chinook had returned to Carson National Fish Hatchery.  Escapement reports are available at http://www.fws.gov/gorgefish/returns.html.  The hatchery escapement goal is 1,500 fish.

Drano Lake – Boat anglers are catching some adult and jack spring chinook.  The bank angling area is inundated due to high water levels.  Anglers should note the Wednesday closures have been extended through all of June.

White Salmon River – No report on angling success.  The bank angling area is inundated due to high water levels.

Klickitat River – River was blown out earlier last week but some adult and jack spring chinook were caught later in the week.

Under permanent rules, the Klickitat River from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream will open 7 days per week beginning June 1. The salmon daily limit will be 6 fish of which no more than 2 may be adults. Two hatchery steelhead may also be retained. Release wild chinook.

The section from 400 feet upstream from # 5 fishway upstream to boundary markers below the Klickitat Salmon Hatchery will open to fishing for hatchery chinook jacks and hatchery steelhead beginning June 1 under permanent rules. Again, release wild chinook.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – We sampled 1,348 salmonid anglers (including 166 boats) with 78 adult and 244 jack spring chinook and 21 steelhead.  59 (76%) of the adult and 192 (79%) of the jacks were kept as were 17 (81%) of the steelhead.

We sampled 41 (69%) of the adult and 124 (65%) of the jacks and 7 (41%) of the steelhead kept.    32 (78%) of the adults and 123 (99%) of the jacks sampled were upriver origin based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).

On the Saturday May 21 effort flight count, there were 141 salmonid boats and 656 bank anglers observed.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – No sturgeon creel data from the estuary is currently available.  We’re picking up the port samplers’ data today.

Sturgeon retention was allowed from the mouth upstream to the sturgeon spawning sanctuary boundary Navigation Marker 82 line) on Saturday.  There were 61 private boats and a few charters plus a dozen bank anglers counted during the Saturday effort flight count.  Bank anglers at Kalama were catching some legals.

The Dalles Pool – Boat and bank anglers are catching some legals.

WALLEYE, BASS, AND OTHER WARM WATER GAME FISH

Silver Lake near Castle Rock –  From Stace Kelsey Inland Fish Program Region 5 WDFW:  The bite is on; however, the crappie are very small and what I saw was not of legal 9” min. size to keep.

HECK WITH THE CRAPPIE, TRY FOR THE BASS AT SILVER LAKE. FISHING FROM HIS BOAT WASN'T PAYING OFF, SO CHRIS SPENCER AND SON JAMISON HIT THE COWLITZ COUNTY LAKE'S NORTH END FROM SHORE LAST WEEKEND, CATCHING AND RELEASING AROUND 10 POUNDS WORTH OF LARGEMOUTH. (CHRIS SPENCER)

The Dalles Pool – Boat and bank anglers are catching some walleye and bass.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – 55 bank anglers and no boats were counted during the Saturday effort flight count.  Boat anglers in the gorge caught a couple fish earlier in the week.   Counts at Bonneville Dam counts are reaching a few hundred fish a day.

TROUT

Mineral Lake – Between May 16-18, planted with 7,296 catchable size rainbows.  No report on angling success.

Kress Lake near Kalama – Planted with 3,027 catchable size rainbows and 4 surplus hatchery adult winter run steelhead May 13.  No report on angling success.

Merwin Reservoir – From Stace Kelsey: Slowing down and taking a bit longer to get limits.

Plants of catchable size rainbows scheduled for SW WA streams that open June 4 (note: see http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/weekly/ for actual plants) –

  • Skate Creek – 7,500 (June-Aug.)
  • Tilton River – 8,000 (June-Sept.)
  • Canyon Creek (Clark Co.) – 5,000
  • Bird Creek (Klickitat Co.) -1,500
  • Bowman Creek (Klickitat Co.) – 1,000
  • Outlet Creek (Klickitat Co.) – 1,000
  • Spring Creek (Klickitat Co.) – 3,000
  • Little White Salmon River (Skamania Co.) – 3,000

Plants of catchable size rainbows and other trout scheduled for SW WA lakes (again see http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/weekly/ for actual plants):

  • Scanewa (Cowlitz Falls Reservoir) – 20,000 (June-Aug.) Opens June 1 for hatchery trout and hatchery salmon.
  • Mayfield – 30,000 (April-Sept.)
  • Council – 4,000
  • Goose (5,000 browns and 6,000 cutthroats in Spring and 4,000 cutthroats in Fall)
  • Takhlakh – 4,000

A Minimum Age To Hunt In WA?

May 23, 2011

COLUMNIST SUGGESTS REVISTING ISSUE IN WAKE OF HUNTER-ED INSTRUCTORS’ DISMISSAL

by Leroy Ledeboer

When the news broke that the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife had decertified Clare Cranston, a volunteer hunter education instructor in the Tri-Cities with a whopping 46 years of service under his belt, it definitely caught Northwest sportsmens’ attention.

 Original Spokane Spokesman-Review article: Long-time hunter ed instructors quit after state sides with parents; Tri-Cities Herald letters to the editor: Computers no substitute; Firm but fair; Outrageous action; Reprimand warranted; 13-page-long online discussion

Clare, after all, has not only spent huge amounts of his time and dollars to educate our youth on everything from hunter ethics to firearms safety, he’s also served as an integral part of other volunteer efforts, including a decade-long stint on the state’s Inland Fish Advisory Committee.

CRANSTON.

The issue: Although the Richland Rod & Gun Club had received only a handful of complaints in 53 years of running hunter education classes, last March three were submitted, perhaps the most serious that Clare had grabbed a 9-year-old lad and spoken harshly to him for inadvertently pointing a muzzleloader rifle at classmates.

The boy broke into tears.

“I was standing right behind him,” Cranston explains. “He’d done everything right until he turned and let the muzzle drop, directly at other students. If I could have grabbed his rifle, I would have, but that meant reaching over him. Instead, I took him by the shoulders and turned him around.”

Yes that weapon was unloaded at the time, but muzzle control is the No. 1 issue in firearm safety, and the students had been told that a single infraction meant they’d fail the class.

Maybe it was this fear of failing, maybe his instructor’s no-nonsense gruffness that brought on the tears, but in either case Cranston felt he’d done nothing inappropriate.

Firearms safety is paramount, he maintains, and that wasn’t about to change.

Apologies to the lad and his dad, plus going through sensitivity training would have saved Cranston’s certificate. The rest of his team of hunting educators was told they too had to go through that course.

Howard Gardner, the team leader who helped found the Tri-Cities program way back in 1957 and whom many consider this state’s most knowledgeable hunter education instructor, refused, stating it would be an admission of guilt, and he had done nothing wrong. He too was decertified.

Several other volunteers resigned in protest.

Unfortunately this incident could have a ripple effect across Washington. One Westside instructor told me, “I’m about ready to pull the plug, to decertify myself. I think the Department’s handling of this was totally wrong. Gun safety has to be absolute, and I personally would have no problem with grabbing a kid if he pointed his weapon at others. If I got a complaint about that or anything else I felt was the right action, I’d want the Department to have my back. If they don’t, then I don’t want to be part of this program anymore.”

AT 79, CRANSTON IS definitely old school, believes in discipline and doesn’t mince words. When it comes to hunter education, he totally rejects anything that smacks of today’s “feel good” approach.

And, like the rest of us old timers, Cranston cut his hunting teeth in a much different world, where hunter education was left to chance – the chance that Dad or an uncle had the knowledge, time and good sense to instill it.

Oh, it was a glorious world, all right, where 10-year-old buddies could grab their .22s or .410s and head into the wilds in pursuit of small game and varmints. Glorious, but its ugly downside was the occasional and perhaps inevitable gun mishap.

For Cranston that mishap came early, when a buddy shot himself in the chest with a .22.

“I’d loaned him one of my rifles and then stayed with him while my little brother ran for help,” he recalls. “Something like that really sticks with you, so yeah, I’m passionate about gun safety. I want to get the message out, to get it across that there aren’t any doovers. I stress that a rifle or shotgun is a tool, one that can give you a lifetime of pleasure but only if you use it correctly 100 percent of the time. There’s no margin for error.”

The three complaints leveled at Cranston and his cohorts all involved their handling of very young children, 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds. Maybe that was coincidence, but it gave me a flashback to an article I did several years ago and discovered that Washington has no minimum age requirement for hunting. Take the course, get passing grades, and you’re in – even at 5, 6 or 7.

Our Northwest neighbors all have some restrictions in place. Oregon doesn’t allow big game hunting before 11. Idaho allows 10-year-olds to hunt upland birds, water- fowl and small game, 12-year-olds to get big game tags. Until they turn 18, adult supervision\ is mandated. In Montana 12 is the threshold for beginners.

When I researched that article, a WDFW spokesman told me that the Hunter Education Program’s three separate areas – knowledge, attitude and skill – act as a safety net, weeding out most of the younger kids, but if an exceptional 8-year-old passes all three, then he or she deserves a license.

However, after talking to several prominent hunter education instructors and other sportsmen, I see at least a couple of flaws in this argument. For starters, it throws that entire weeding-out burden on the shoulders of our volunteer instructors.

“It’s just wrong,” states Ron Poppe, a longtime instructor now in charge of the Wenatchee-area program. “I totally disagree with having real young kids out there. Their stature isn’t suitable for handling a big-game rifle, even a youth model, and they simply don’t have the concentration to stay alert to what they’re doing. But if we ease up and certify them, they can get a big game tag.

“Too many parents bring in kids that are way too young, too immature, and when they fail, Mom or Dad just can’t accept it. It happens every class. Then the instructor comes out the bad guy. We get blamed for an 8- or 9-year-old’s failure when they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

“In Hunter Ed, we have so many vital concepts to get across such as when dealing with ammo, don’t trust anyone. If someone hands you fresh ammo, even if it’s your Dad or Mom, check it out. Make sure it’s right for your weapon.

“And gun control. On actual hunts situations are bound to arise. Sooner or later you will trip and fall down. No major problem as long as you handle your weapon properly and keep its barrel pointed in a safe direction. Getting these things across to any youngster is a real challenge. If they’re too young, too immature, it’s impossible.

“Even a very bright youngster can have major lapses. I had to flunk a 9-year-old who scored 74 out of 75 on the written exam – better than most adults who come through our program. Then in the field test he pointed his weapon right at me, so we had to fail him. That’s so difficult to explain. You might change the position of your gun 100 times during an outing and you can never make that mistake. This boy did so many things right, but he was young, so had mental lapses.

“I’d like to see a minimum age of at least 12, maybe even 13,” Poppe says. Ron Bruno, longtime president of the Wenatchee Sportsmen’s Association, is equally adamant.

“I was at one class where a 5-year-old was enrolled,” he recalls. “The kid sat on his dad’s lap, sucked his thumb and eventually fell asleep. Yet the instructor had no choice but to let him participate.

“And no matter what their age, their teachers have to be strict. Remember, these will be our fellow hunters, carrying weapons into the fields we hunt. They have to know what’s right and what’s wrong, and they have to be capable. Unless a kid is being physically hurt, there’s no such thing as too strict.”

ONE ARGUMENT AGAINST an age requirement has been that in this age of video games and multitude of other distractions, we have to get our kids involved early or we won’t get them at all. They’ll turn to other pursuits, and this national trend of fewer hunters taking to the fields each decade will only get worse.

But how many youngsters are we going to hook on the sport if their first shot at hunter education results in failure?

Unless we’re prepared to drastically lower our standards, that’s exactly what’s going to continue to happen.

And isn’t there value in deferred gratification?

Sans gun, let that avid 8- or 9-year-old join dad in the duck blinds or on his deer stands for a couple of seasons, enjoying the moment and getting valuable early tutoring. That first year with his own weapon will be so much sweeter.

Then there’s that “Let’s not create a one size fits all rule” theory, thus penalizing the truly exceptional 9-year-old. Let the parents have a real voice in when their kids are ready.

OK, but how many moms and dads can accurately judge their sons’ and daughters’ strengths and weaknesses? Nothing so bad about that. In fact, seeing our kids in a positive light might be part of being a good parent. Throw grandparents into this mix and those rose-colored glasses get a whole lot rosier. I watch my 10-month-old great-grandson totter around on his chubby little legs and envision him toting his first 20-gauge.

No, sometimes we just don’t get to choose. Sometimes, for the general good, we have to set age restrictions without fretting about exceptional cases. For example, a farmer friend of mine had his two strapping sons out in his fields handling everything from tractors and pickups to big dual-axle grain trucks before their 12th birthdays. By 14 those lads were far more competent than most 16- and 17-year-olds who make it through drivers ed.

Yet we make no exceptions. No one gets a drivers’ licenses before that arbitrary 16th birthday. It’s a good rule. It makes our highways just a little safer. Don’t our hunting fields deserve the same respect? NS

Go Rogue! 8 Great SW OR Memorial Weekend Fisheries

May 23, 2011

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

If your Memorial Day weekend plans include fishing, you’re in luck. Lakes and reservoirs in and near the Rogue Valley are all ice-free, stocked and ready to be fished.

Willow Lake, 43 miles northeast of Medford

One of the best opportunities to get away could be Willow Lake near the city of Butte Falls. “It’s a short drive to enjoy a peaceful day of fishing,” says Dan Van Dyke, Rogue District fish biologist. “It’s already stocked with legal-sized fish, and we’re releasing 1,500 larger trout that are about a pound each just in time for Memorial Day weekend.”

Willow Lake also features warm water game fish including bluegill, black crappie and largemouth bass. Anglers are encouraged to keep yellow perch that have been illegally introduced into the lake. Jackson County Parks offers tent sites, RV hookups and cabin rentals and a boat ramp is located near the campground.

Lost Creek Reservoir, 35 miles northeast of Medford

With a nearly full water level, Lost Creek is heavily stocked with rainbow trout. Spring chinook salmon are also stocked and count as part of the trout bag limit. Bank anglers should use floating bait or worms, while boat anglers can use a variety of techniques.

Fish Lake, 40 miles northeast of Medford

Fish Lake, near the summit of Highway 140 between Medford and Klamath Falls features excellent fishing for stocked rainbow trout and naturally produced brook trout. It’s a great place to take kids fishing, especially along the bank between two U.S. Forest Service campgrounds.

Spring chinook salmon are being stocked to feed on tui chub and fathead minnows that were illegally put into the lake. Currently, the water level is filling and anglers may launch boats at either the Forest Service boat ramp or at Fish Lake Resort.

Emigrant Lake, 20 miles southeast of Medford

Take advantage of the wet spring and fish Emigrant Lake now for rainbow trout while the water temperature is cool. Plenty of trout have been stocked and the best fishing is at the Emigrant Creek inlet and around the county park. Warmwater fish are also available. Anglers should note a health advisory has been issued recommending limits on consumption of all fish from Emigrant except rainbow trout due to mercury levels.

Applegate Reservoir, 23 miles southwest of Medford

The water level is nearly full and trout fishing should be good. Stocked spring chinook salmon count as part of the trout bag limit. The reservoir also offers largemouth and smallmouth bass. Copper and Hart-ish boat ramps are the main boat access sites.

Lake Selmac, 51 miles west of Medford

Near Cave Junction, this reservoir is heavily stocked with trout and is also managed for a trophy largemouth bass fishery. Many warmwater fish can be found along the shoreline. Josephine County Parks offers camping and boat ramps.

KEVIN HIENZ SHOWS OFF AN 8.5-POUND LARGEMOUTH CAUGHT AT LAKE SELMAC LAST SUMMER. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Howard Prairie and Hyatt reservoirs, southeast of Medford

About 30 minutes east of Ashland, both reservoirs are good trout fisheries with trout up to 20 inches not uncommon. Camping, boat ramps and resorts are offered at each reservoir.

The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations. The agency consists of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, a commission-appointed director and a statewide staff of approximately 950 permanent employees. Headquartered in Salem, ODFW has regional offices in Clackamas, Roseburg, Bend, and La Grande with ten district offices located throughout the state. For additional information, please visit http://www.dfw.state.or.us.

A Very Large Walleye Caught

May 23, 2011

Talk about the power of positive thinking: Wayne Heinz gave you tips for catching a state-record walleye in our March issue of Northwest Sportsman, and then last weekend nearly landed it himself.

In that issue, the Richland, Wash., writer interviewed fellow Tri-Cities anglers Mike Hepper — he of the standing state mark — and his friend Del Bareither about how they target trophy prespawn sows on the Columbia and its sloughs.

Even gave us their hot-spot map.

With its sources, Q&A format and Heinz’s unique writing style — he won first place for magazine hunting stories in the regional writers association’s awards banquet earlier this month — it’s easily one of my favorite articles of the year.

WAYNE HEINZ AND HIS TROPHY WALLEYE. (WAYNE HEINZ)

Since then, the region’s experienced late winter, late-late winter and, for good measure, late-late-late winter. Temperatures have been 5 to 6 degrees below normal, retarding the spring Chinook run, and Heinz says the big river itself is just 54 degrees out in the middle … not too far off the prime range for walleye to start thinking about shacking up.

So last Friday afternoon, after working on another story for an upcoming issue of Northwest Sportsman, Heinz thought he’d try his hand at landing a whopper.

“Why? I really thought I could do it,” says the author of How to Catch Salmon, Sturgeon, Lingcod, Rockfish, and Halibut Along the Pacific Coast.

Up to this point, the biggest walleye he’s ever landed went 12 pounds.

He dunked his boat in and headed for a backwater not far below the mouth of the Snake River.

After last week’s much-needed sunshine, the water temperature in shallow, rocky-bottomed Casey Slough was around the 70-degree mark, and Heinz thought he’d start out catching some smallmouth. They’ve been fishing well, though the local rivers are all in flood mode.

He picked up his “wimpy spinning rod” loaded with 6-pound line, a 1/4-ounce jig with 5-inch black-with-red-flake curl-tail worm and cast onto a murky reef that’s about 100 feet offshore.

Reeled in, cast again, and dagnabit if he wasn’t snagged up just like that.

Some days are like that.

But this is also the McNary Pool, home to some very, very large walleye. Heinz points out he was fishing just a mile from where Hepper caught his 19.3-pounder back in February 2007, and in that March issue he reported that in January Hepper had landed an 18.3 and Bareither a 17.4 in the reservoir.

“You keep your rod tight, just in case,” he says.

Indeed, head shakes told him he wasn’t latched onto a sodden log or the Ice Harbor Member of the Saddle Mountains Basalt flow, rather something alive. And big.

“Once I saw him, the sweat poured off my brow,” Heinz recalls.

Except for another boat a couple hundred yards off, he was all alone.

“My partner cancelled out,” he says.

The large fish twisted and torqued his bass rod, diving underneath his own craft three times before he could net it.

“I missed him twice,” Heinz says.

So there he was standing at the gunnel with an undersized aluminum net needing some sort of divine piscine intervention.

“‘Fish gods, make him dive into this net,'” Heinz says he said. “Sure enough he goes into it.”

But the walleye was so heavy that he worried the net handle would have broken had he tried to lift the fish out of the water.

So Heinz reached down and grabbed both sides of the net, as if he were bringing a crab pot aboard, and yarded the monster into the boat.

“It’s all belly. I’d say it’s a 13- or 14-pound walleye with 4 or 5 pounds of eggs,” he says.

He says it taped out at 34 1/2 inches long and 21 1/2 inches around. Online weight calculators yield a host of figures all the way up to just south of 20 pounds, and his scale rang it up as 19.6 pounds — three-tenths of a pound above Hepper’s.

“At that point I thought I had the state record,” Heinz recalls. “That was it, I was done, I gotta get to Safeway as fast as I can.”

He quickly adds that he didn’t have much faith in his Berkley scale, though.

The nearby boat had a Rapala scale, and on it the fish went 18.4, he says.

The final weight on an Albertson’s scale was 18 pounds, 4 ounces, Heinz says.

We’ll never know how big the walleye really was the moment it came aboard.

“It milked eggs and bled all over the boat,” he says.

But it may have been the biggest in the region of the year.

“I’ve heard of the occasional 13- to 15-pound fish,” says Jason Bauer of Northwestwalleye.com, “but have not heard of anything close to 18 this year. Lots of rumors were swirling around a Moses Lake fish, but that was debunked weeks ago.”

It seems odd that a hen would be carrying its eggs so “late” in the season, but Heinz points back to the cold water out in the mainstem. Perhaps river temps had risen enough to trigger the fish to move shallow and spawn.

And perhaps if he’d had company, things would have turned out differently, but alone and excited about his bleeding catch, he thumped the fish.

“Looking back, I regret killing it,” Heinz notes. “There’s no glory in runner-up.”

But it does add to the glory of Northwest walleye fishing.

“It shows the fishery we have — it’s world class. Nowhere else can you do this. Nobody is going to match Columbia River walleye fishing,” he says.

Sun Cuts Through Diamond Ice, Boats Out

May 20, 2011

This week’s glorious sunshine didn’t just lift the spirits of all Northwesterners, it burned through part of the thick ice cap on Diamond Lake in Oregon’s Cascades, and for the first time this season, boats are able to get onto the famed trout lake.

“At last, the lake is thawing and we have about a quarter of lake with open water,” reports Rick Rongholt at Diamond Lake Resort today, Friday, May 20. “We have several boats on the water this morning.”

No word on their success just yet, but Rongholt says they launched at the north ramp which as recently as May 11 was iced in.

“Open water is near the north end of the lake extending from the ‘Cheese Hole’ to just offshore of Thielsen View Campground,” he says.

Yesterday afternoon he sent the local Coast Guard ice breaker, err, the resort’s charter pontoon boat, out to help open up the lake even more. An aerial image posted on his Web site shows blue water as well.

DIAMOND LAKE ON THE AFTERNOON OF MAY 19, 2011. (DIAMOND LAKE RESORT)

“Pass the word, ‘The ice is coming off Diamond Lake and fishing season is finely here,” Rongholt says.

The daily limit has been boosted to eight 8-plus-inch trout, but only one over 20 inches. The rule is in effect until late October this year.

The sun’s shining on the lake again today, but the forecast calls for a chance of showers Saturday and Sunday, and maybe even, ugh, snow on Monday.

Hermiston Men Must Pay $15K Fine For Elk Poaching

May 20, 2011

A Northeast Oregon man and his father must pay a $15,000 fine after being convicted on charges of poaching a trophy bull elk with a rifle during last year’s bowhunting season.

The State Police’s Fish & Wildlife Division reports it seized the rack of the 10×7 at the residence of Jorey M. Peterson, 25, and Michael L. Peterson, 47, both of Hermiston, after receiving information they’d illegally taken it in the Walla Walla Unit.

“Local landowners had observed this particular elk in the same area for several years,” said Senior Trooper Rick Carter, lead investigator on the case.

10X7 BULL ELK INVOLVED IN THE PETERSON CASE. (OSP)

OSP also found the location where the animal was killed and determined it had since spoiled and the meat wasn’t fit for human consumption.

The huge fine comes thanks to a bill passed in 2009 by the Oregon Legislature which substantially boosts penalties for poachers convicted of killing trophy class animals, including bull elk with 6 or more points on an antler. Other penalties include:

* $7,500 for mule deer with at least four points on one antler, blacktail with three points on one antler, whitetail with four points on one antler and antelope with one horn 14 inches or greater.

* $25,000 for “mountain sheep” with at one full-curl horn and for mountain goats with one horn 5 inches or longer.

OSP reports that in mid-March, Jorey Peterson pled guilty in Umatilla County Circuit Court to Theft First Degree, Waste of Wildlife, and Illegal Take of Wildlife, and was sentenced to:

* $15,000 joint restitution with his father to ODFW
* 180 days in Jail – suspended
* 3 years bench probation
* 3 years hunting license suspension and forfeiture of seized evidence to the State of Oregon

The agency adds that Micheal Peterson also pled guilty in the same court to Theft First Degree and Aiding in a Wildlife Violation.  He was sentenced to:

* $15,000 joint restitution with his son to ODFW
* 180 days in Jail – suspended
* 3 years bench probation and forfeiture of seized evidence to the State of Oregon

The case was one of three highlighted in OSP Fish & Wildlife’s September 2010 newsletter focusing on poached trophy elk last season. Among the other cases, in early March, Adam M. Schreiber pled guilty in Benton County District Court to illegally killing a 6×7 on the lower Alsea River and was also fined $15,000 in restitution payable to ODFW as well as had his hunting privileges revoked for three years, according to OSP.

1 More Day For Sound Spot Shrimpers

May 20, 2011

Spot shrimp will open for one more day of fishing next week in areas of Puget Sound and Hood Canal, WDFW just announced.

The agency says that the Discovery Bay Shrimp District, Marine Areas 8-1 (Skagit Bay/Saratoga Passage), 8-2 (Port Susan/Port Gardner), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island), and a portion of Marine Area 10 outside of Elliott Bay, west of a line from West Point to Alki Point, will reopen Wednesday, May 25, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

ELLIE LEHMAN SHOWS OFF ONE OF DOZENS OF SPOT SHRIMP SHE AND HER FAMILY HAULED UP OFF OF CAMANO ISLAND DURING THE MAY 7 OPENER. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Though catches were good during the May 7 opener, WDFW says that wind and sea conditions kept some anglers off Puget Sound.

“That left enough spot shrimp available under the quota for one more day of fishing in these areas,” said shellfish biologist Mark O’Toole.

The first opener was also marked by the deaths of two shrimpers off Camano Island, 13-year-old Austin Anglin and 68-year-old Wilfred Whetham.

The Hood Canal Shrimp District will also open May 25 as previously scheduled, and will reopen for one additional day June 8, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., says WDFW.

The limit is 80 shrimp a day, and you’ll need a 2011-12 fishing license.

Starting June 1, sport-fishing seasons for coonstripe and pink shrimp will get under way in the following areas:

Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2, 9 and 11, with a 150-foot maximum fishing depth restriction.

The north/central portion of Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), with a 200-foot maximum fishing depth restriction.

Marine Area 13 in southern Puget Sound.

All spot shrimp must be immediately returned to the water during those fisheries, which run through Oct. 15.

Boat Sale On This Weekend At Alderwood Mall, Wash.

May 20, 2011

(SEATTLE BOAT SHOW PRESS RELEASE)

Buy your new or pre-owned boat at the Seattle Boat Show Spring Sale on now through Sunday May 22 at the Alderwood Mall parking lot in Lynnwood!

Compare 100 boats side-by-side from the region’s biggest dealers. Shop aluminum fishing boats, fiberglass fishing boats, runabouts, sportboats, cruisers, personal watercraft and more all on trailers.

Win great prizes from West Marine, including a $500 Gift Card!

The Seattle Boat Show Spring Sale is open from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. each day.

PLUS, Tune in to 710 ESPN radio on Saturday morning from 6-9 a.m. for The Outdoor Line fishing show to hear an interview with one of the Spring Sale exhibitors!

For driving directions, click on http://www.SeattleBoatShow.com.

Boat Brands at the Spring Sale: Alumaweld, Aspen Power Catamarans, Axis, Bayliner, Bryant, Chaparral, Cobalt, Glastron, Hewescraft, Hydra-Sport, Larson, Malibu, MB, River Hawk, Sea Ray, Stabicraft, Striper, Tige, Trophy, Yamaha

Boat Dealers at the Spring Sale: Aspen Power Catamarans, Breakwater Marine, Granite Boatworks, Lake Union Sea Ray, Lynnwood Motoplex, Seattle Boat Company, Seattle Watersports, Stabicraft, Three Rivers Marine, Tom-N-Jerry’s Boats

Guides Find Five Springers On Clearwater This Morning

May 18, 2011

Idaho guide Jason Schultz reports dropping river levels and a good early bite on the Clearwater this morning.

A PAIR OF CLEARWATER KINGS. (HELLS CANYON SPORT FISHING)

“Our guide Jim McCarthy (208-816-0840) took a couple clients this morning and I jumped in to lend a hand on what turned out to be a great morning of fishing. We hooked five springers, landing four, all by 7 am,” reports the owner of Hells Canyon Sport Fishing (208-305-4549) based in Lewiston. “It was hot action and we had a blast! Our first fish was wild and released unharmed. The next three went in the box and I am sure will be on sombody’s BBQ later tonight!”

A CLEARWATER KING FOR A CLIENT OF GUIDES JASON SCHULTZ AND JIM McCARTHY.. (HELLS CANYON SPORT FISHING)

Schultz reports using a variety of gear.

“Diver and bait, back-trolling Kwikfish, plunking Spin-N-Glow and shrimp all seem to be producing well,” he says.

“Fish are scattered from Lewiston to Kooskia,” adds Schultz.

IDFG reports that a total of 55 adult Chinook and one jack have been kept so far for the season on the Clearwater, mostly down low from Railroad Bridge to Cherry Lane Bridge.

Anglers are averaging 105.5 hours per springer for the season, one per every 99.5 hours from May 9-15.

River flows crested Monday at 16 feet at Orofino and 15 feet at Spalding and have since dropped 3 feet, according to the Northwest River Forecast Center. However, it’s forecast to rise again later this week.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon (5-18-11)

May 18, 2011

Grandpa’s Recipe For Increasing Fishing License Sales

To the state of Oregon, add:

Generous dollops of angling opportunity;

A sunny, warm forecast for the most populous part of the state;

Tagged fish in two lakes that may be worth merchandise prizes, or perhaps $1 million;

Mix and drizzle over landscape.

With ODFW’s 2011 resident license sales off by 15.5 percent through the end of April compared to the same period last year, the above recipe might just help swell the coffers AND, more importantly, get folks outside this spring.

Here are some of the highlights around the Beaver State, courtesy of the weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • The Rogue River continues to offer good spring chinook fishing.
  • Fishing for big brown trout on Lemolo Lake has been very good.
  • Trout stocking is well underway throughout the zone and fishing has been good at several lakes and ponds including Arizona, Expo and Medco ponds, and Applegate and Fish lakes.
  • Largemouth bass are staging for spawning in the shallows of Tenmile Lakes – there are lots of two to four-pound bass available for anglers crafty enough to outsmart them.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Trout fishing should remain good in north coast lakes over the next few weeks as water temperatures remain relatively cool. Coffenbury, Cape Meares, hebo, and Town lakes will be stocked again just prior to Free Fishing Weekend in early June.

TWO HUNDRED "TROPHY" TROUT ARE BEING STOCKED IN OLALLA LAKE OUTSIDE TOLEDO THIS WEEK. THAT'S WHERE RYDER SHARPE AND HIS GRANDPA CAUGHT THIS PAIR OF RAINBOWS EARLIER THIS SPRING. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

  • Tillamook Bay: Sturgeon fishing is fair. Effort was relatively light on the last tide series. Two good low tide series in May should provide good fishing conditions, especially if river flows remain elevated. Fish sand shrimp on the bottom near the channel edges during the outgoing tide, especially during low tide series. Move often to find fish if you are not getting bites. Spring chinook fishing was good in the lower bay and in the terminal area during the softer tide series last week. The upper bay should produce good catches during the upcoming minus tide series. Trolling spinners should be a good bet.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Fishing for spring chinook and catch-and-release sturgeon continues on the Willamette River. Reports indicate that chinook fishing remains good but the sturgeon bite has been red hot.
  • Summer steelhead and spring chinook have entered the Santiam basin and will be the main focus of anglers for the next several weeks.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Spring chinook seasons are open on both the Deschutes and Hood rivers.
  • Reports of good trout fishing on several popular lakes, including Antelope Flats Reservoir and Crane Prairie, Wickiup, North Twin and South Twin lakes.
  • On the lower Deschutes, trout have moved into the riffles looking for salmonfly and stonefly nymphs, and there are reports of lots of adults in the Maupin area.

DIAMOND LAKE ZONE (Courtesy Diamond Lake Resort)

  • There has been very little angling effort made over the last week because the lake still 99% covered with at least 8 inches of slushy snow and ice.We are making progress but unseasonable cold weather and snow has slowed the spring thaw dramatically. There are some large wet spots showing in the center of the lake which means
    we could have open water there within a week.

    We are still in the “Twilight Zone”, the ice and snow covering the lake is not safe to venture out on, there is very little open water to fish from the shore and all the boat ramps are still iced in 2 ½ feet of snow still covers road #4795 and all USFS campgrounds and boat ramps are still closed due to late season snow fall.

    Dry camping is available at Diamond Lake Resort.

    Warmer weather is forecast for later this week so keep your fingers crossed and get that trout
    rod and reel ready.

    Our best guess is we will have boats on the lake the by Memorial weekend.

LEMOLO LAKE ZONE (courtesy Northwest Sportsman contributor Larry Ellis)

  • “Andy,

    We caught browns like this all day long (May 14).

LARRY ELLIS WITH A LIMIT OF LEMOLO BROWNS. (LARRY ELLIS)

  • This was without a doubt the hottest German brown trout fishing I have ever experienced. Between two of us we conservatively caught 60 brownies. The fish averaged between 11 and 15 inches but we saw salmon-size browns rolling all over the place.
  • My question is with this many browns making a comeback, how big will they be next year?   They should even be a little larger in July.  I talked to two Roseburg gentlemen who have fished this lake for well over 30 years and they told me even the good old days were never this good.

    Best,

    Larry”

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing has been good on Chickahominy Reservoir and it was stocked again last week.
  • Fishing is getting good on Krumbo Reservoir with anglers regularly catching large trout.
  • Heart Lake and Lofton and Holbrook reservoirs are now accessible and while they haven’t been stocked yet this year, there are likely holdover fish available.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • With high water levels limiting opportunities in many rivers, the best bets for weekend fishing may be Wallowa Lake and many of the lower elevation lakes and ponds.
  • Spring chinook are arriving in the Umatilla River in fishable numbers. Anglers should closely monitor river flows and take advantage of the fishing opportunity as soon as the river drops into shape.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Angling is open for salmon, steelhead and shad in the Columbia River from the Tongue Point line upstream to the Beacon Rock Boundary plus the Oregon and Washington banks upstream to Bonneville Dam.
  • Walleye angling is excellent in The Dalles Pool.
  • Sturgeon angling is open from Buoy 10 upstream to Marker 82.

MARINE ZONE

  • The popular all-depth Pacific halibut fishery on the central coast got off to a good start last weekend; the next open days are May 26-28. The nearshore fishery has also been productive. Landing estimates should be available later this week at the following link: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/estimates/index.asp.
  • Last week private and charter boats alike returned with good catches of rockfish and lingcod with an occasional kelp greenling and cabezon; many anglers had limits or near limits.In an online “ODFW Fishing Report,” one angler reported that bottom fishing out of Charleston was phenomenal using “fake sand shrimp/flies and 12-oz bottom bouncer with 9-inch split tail rubber shrimp.
  • Several anglers fishing out of Charleston and Winchester Bay have been successful in landing ocean caught chinook. Fishing will continue until Sept. 30 from Cape Falcon just north of Manzanita to Humbug Mountain near Port Orford.
  • May is an excellent month to go clamming. There is a morning minus tide series from May 14 to the 22. If that weren’t enough, there are two early morning tides on May 30 and 31!
  • Recreational shellfish harvesting status as of May 17:
    • Razor clam and mussel harvesting is open along the entire Oregon coast from the Columbia River to the California border.
    • The consumption of whole recreationally harvested scallops is not recommended. However, coastal scallops are not affected by this closure when only the adductor muscle is eaten.

Long Winter Hurts Methow Fawns

May 18, 2011

Good surveying conditions and an increasing herd led to the highest spring mule deer count in Okanogan County in nearly two decades, another potentially good sign for this fall, but this winter’s snowier weather may impact hunting two seasons from now.

Jeff Heinlen, a local state wildlife biologist, says that “almost 3,000” deer were surveyed in the Methow and Okanogan Valleys, the heart of some of Washington’s best muley hunting country.

Roughly two-thirds were in the former valley, one third in the latter during the late March-mid-April driving-route count, he says.

However, winter 2010-11 appears to have taken a toll on young deer in the higher, colder, snowier Methow. Fawn-to-adult ratios were 27:100 there, down from 41:100 following 2009-10’s weak winter.

“Deep snow doesn’t work for the energetics of a fawn,” says Heinlen.

He says the snows came in mid-December and were still on the ground deep into March.

Potentially that could be bad news for the 2012 hunt when those fawns will be 2 1/2 years old, the age-class that, with the three-point minimum for muleys, makes up a large part of the annual kill.

That said, ideal rain and forage conditions next year could also spur antler development on younger bucks and plug that gap, he says.

“It’s hard to have a crystal ball,” Heinlen adds.

The lower, warmer, more snow-sheltered Okanogan Valley saw its snow in March, but the previous months were easier, Heinlen says. The fawn:adult ratio there was 41:100.

“Forty-one’s OK — that does allow for some increase,” he says, adding, “Twenty-seven, I’d rather not see that.”

Overall in Okanogan County outside the Colville Reservation, there were 31 fawns for every 100 bucks and does, nine below last year’s count, but more than were seen during the 2006, ’07 and ’08 surveys.

High marks back through 1993 include 60:100 in 1999 and 56:100 in 2000 while low marks include 17:100 following 1996-97’s horrible winter and 18:100 coming out of 2005-06’s.

WDFW performs the spring count during the green-up when the deer are out and easier to count, but this year’s was delayed a bit by lingering wintry conditions.

Lower than usual snowline may have also just made more deer visible than other years.

“The deer population has been increasing the past three years, but the bigger factor is the timing,” says Heinlen.

Only the 2010 spring count of 2,711 deer comes anywhere close to this year’s. Low marks have included 844 and 764 in 1993 and 1994, respectively, and 1,260 in 2004.

MULE DEER COUNTED IN SPRING 2010 ON THE SCOTCH CREEK WILDLIFE AREA, A 16,560-ACRE, FIVE-UNIT STATE PROPERTY IN CENTRAL AND NORTHEAST OKANOGAN COUNTY. (WDFW)

WDFW runs two annual deer surveys here, the other in late fall following the hunt. Last autumn’s found 24 bucks per 100 does, fourth most back through at least 1991.

That said, the agency feels the Okanogan’s herd is still in a long-term gradual decline over the past three and a half decades based on harvests and population estimates.

“This is likely a function of the reduced productivity of aging shrubs (particularly bitterbrush and ceanothus) and the lack of recruitment of new shrubs under continued fire suppression regimes. As a result, even during periods of extended mild winter weather, the population is not rebounding to the historic highs of the mid 1900s, suggesting a reduction in landscape carrying capacity for deer,” Heinlen and district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin write in WDFW’s 2010 game status and trend report.

WOLVES Since this is also where Washington’s first pack in 70 years set up, I asked Heinlen about the latest news on the wolf front.

He says it’s believed there are only two left in the Lookout Pack, the alpha male and another. Biologists are watching for denning activity, but nothing may happen this year.

“We suspect (the other wolf) is one of (the alpha’s) pups,” acknowledges Heinlen.

The pack is the only one outside of the Northern Rockies’ population that was delisted from the Endangered Species Act earlier this month. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is taking comments on whether it should be lumped in with those animals, or if the western portions of Washington and Oregon should have its own distinct unit.

In other wolf news, ODFW trapped and killed two from the Imnaha Pack due to livestock kills last year and this spring. They also recollared the alpha male with a working GPS collar after its initial collar failed last year.

“We hope the experience discourages the alpha male from returning to this area, which is private land with livestock operations,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator, in a press release.

TURKEYS Heinlen adds that the Okanogan’s spring turkey hunt has been “pretty slow.”

“We’re not sure why. Our populations are probably down a lot. Upland birds were hit by spring rains last year, and it’s probably the same for turkeys,” he says.

The hunt continues through May 31.

Chinook Limits Upped At Drano, Wind

May 18, 2011

With more than enough springers expected to meet hatchery eggtake goals, Washington salmon managers boosted the daily limits for hatchery Chinook at Wind River and Drano Lake.

In twin e-regs sent out late yesterday, the state Department of Fish & Wildlife says that the adult limit at both waters east of Bonneville Dam will jump from two to four a day starting tomorrow, May 19, and the overall limit will be six a day.

MULTIPLY THIS CATCH BY 2 AND YOU GET THE NEW ADULT LIMIT OF HATCHERY CHINOOK FOR DRANO LAKE STARTING TOMORROW, MAY 19. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

According to the agency, Carson Hatchery on the Wind “is expected to meet its escapement goal and surplus hatchery origin fish are available for harvest. There is insufficient time to adopt permanent rules.”

Just above Drano Lake, “When the hatchery ladder was opened for a single day between May 12 and13, a total of 1,662 spring chinook entered Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery escapement goal is 1,000 fish. Surplus hatchery fish, including jacks, are available for harvest.”

On his Facebook page, yesterday guide Bob Barthlow posted images of driftwood on Drano and reported, “The water is so high today, all the wood has floated off the bank….color is good though…”

Here are the texts of the emergency rule changes:

Daily limit at Drano Lake increased for hatchery spring chinook salmon

Action: Up to six hatchery spring chinook may be retained. Up to four may be adult chinook.

Species affected: Chinook

Effective dates: May 19 through July 31, 2011

Location: Drano Lake downstream of markers on point of land downstream and across from Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery and upstream from Hwy. 14 Bridge.

Daily limits: The salmonid daily limit will be six fish. Up to four may be adults of which no more than two may be hatchery steelhead. Release all salmon other than hatchery chinook. Release all trout other than hatchery steelhead. Minimum size 12 inches for salmon and 20 inches for steelhead.

Other information: Night closure, bank only fishing area near the outlet, and Wednesday closures will remain in effect through June.

Reason for action: When the hatchery ladder was opened for a single day between May 12 and13, a total of 1,662 spring chinook entered Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery escapement goal is 1,000 fish. Surplus hatchery fish, including jacks, are available for harvest.

The Wednesday closures through June are necessary for the Yakama tribal fisheries scheduled to occur on those dates.

Information contact: (360) 696-6211. For latest information press *1010.

Daily limit increased for hatchery spring chinook at Wind River

Action: Up to six hatchery spring chinook may be retained. Up to four may be adult chinook.

Species affected: Chinook

Effective dates: May 19 through June 30, 2011

Location:

Wind River from mouth (boundary line markers) to 400 feet below Shipherd Falls
Wind River from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls to 400 feet below the coffer dam
Wind River from 100 feet above the coffer dam to 800 yards downstream of Carson National Fish Hatchery.

Daily limits: The salmonid daily limit will be six fish. Up to four may be adults of which no more than two may be hatchery steelhead. Release all salmon other than chinook and release wild chinook downstream from Shipherd Falls. Release all trout other than hatchery steelhead. Minimum size 12 inches for salmon and 20 inches for steelhead.

Other information: Night closures will remain in effect. In addition, the anti-snagging rule remains in effect from the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge upstream. Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.

Reason for action: The hatchery is expected to meet its escapement goal and surplus hatchery origin fish are available for harvest. There is insufficient time to adopt permanent rules.

Information contact: (360) 696-6211. For latest information press *1010.

Guide: Chelan Koke Bite ‘As Good As It Can Get’

May 17, 2011

Most pics I get from Anton Jones show big numbers of Lake Chelan Mackinaw on a stick, but one he sent out today shows a whole lotta kokanee on a stringer.

And the owner of Darrell & Dad’s Family Guide Service (866-360-1523) reports that the koke bite at the east end of the big ol’ fjord is “as good as it can get.”

JOHN SWENSON OF CHELAN WITH SON, JOEL AND GRANDKIDS TROY AND MEGAN WITH THEIR PILE OF CHELAN KOKANEE CAUGHT SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011, WITH GUIDE ANTON JONES. (DARRELL & DAD'S GUIDE SERVICE)

“The area near Lakeside Park is best. Trolling those Mack’s Lures mini Cha Cha Squidders and Kokanee Pro Wedding Rings rigged behind Mack’s Lures Flash Lites caught loads of 11-inch kokanee,” he says in an email fishing report sent out this afternoon. “Bait those presentations with Pautzke’s Fire Corn in natural and orange. A 000 or 0000 dodger works well too.  Fish 15 to 25 feet down over a 45- to 65-foot bottom.”

Of Octopus, Halibut And Chinook

May 17, 2011

My two kayak kolumnists are pushing the envelope in terms of what you can catch from Tupperware — Bryce Molenkamp hauled up a freakin’ giant octopus this past weekend — but another member of the plastic Navy may have pushed the bounds of good sense.

An angler going by the name Fishnut from the Marysville, Wash., area reports going at least 4 miles offshore to fish for halibut on Partridge Bank at the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Saturday.

He says sea conditions were good and a game warden who “boarded” his vessel was relieved to see he had good safety equipment.

All totaled, he reported pedaling (some kayaks are paddle-powered, others by pedals) 15 to 20 miles out and back to Whidbey Island, but didn’t get any bites.

We’re sure that Fishnut took all due precautions and that the weather window was ideal before Saturday night’s rains came in, and it’s true that you can die in the surf right next to shore, but still … ahem, no need to be the Northwest’s first kayak fishing casualty and put a cloud over the sport.

Back to that weird catch. Molenkamp, of Shoreline, Wash., was also out for halibut with a whole gang of kayakers at Neah Bay when he thought he snagged the bottom.

But it gradually gave way and pretty soon he had a big octopus suctioned to the bottom of his Hobie.

Pictures and underwater video detail the battle with the 5-foot-long, eight-armed denizen of the deep.

I have to admit never looking up the regs for this species, but giant octopus retention is open year-round, daily limit one. The regs state that they can only be caught by hand or with an instrument that doesn’t puncture them, except that they can also be kept when fishing with a hook and line. Marine Area 12, Hood Canal, is closed to, umm, octopussing — or whatever it might be called.

BRYCE MOLENKAMP (CENTER) AND HIS GIANT OCTOPUS. (NORTHWESTKAYAKANGLERS.COM)

Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for WDFW, terms them an occasional catch made mostly by halibut and lingcod anglers.

“They’re a pain to throw back, because every time you try to lift them up, they sucker down,” he says.  “Easiest if you can coax them into a bucket, then hold the bucket over the side upside down in the water. In short order, they’ll make a run for the bottom. Some guys just hang on to them for halibut bait.”

On the springer front, some bad news and some good.

The Columbia is now running at 430,000 cubic feet per second at Bonneville Dam, but before it hit that level, there were at least some fish caught following Sunday’s reopener on the lower river.

Here’s the report issued earlier today by ODFW fish checkers:

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed three adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adults and 15 adipose fin-clipped spring chinook jacks kept for 46 bank anglers.

Gorge Boats: Weekend checking showed one adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adult and five adipose fin-clipped spring chinook jacks kept, plus two unclipped spring chinook jacks released for three boats (five anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed 18 adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adults and 11 adipose fin-clipped spring chinook jacks kept, plus seven unclipped spring chinook adults and two unclipped spring chinook jacks released for 50 boats (132 anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank: Weekend checking showed 30 adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adults, 23 adipose fin-clipped spring chinook jacks and nine adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus four unclipped spring chinook adults, five unclipped spring chinook jacks and one sockeye released for 195 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats: Weekend checking showed three unclipped spring chinook adults kept, plus one unclipped spring chinook jack released for four boats (eight anglers).

Estuary Boats: No report.

Well upstream of the estuary, WDFW today announced a closure as well as an opening that’s sure to please Don Talbot and the boys in the Wenatchee Valley.

The Ringold stretch of the Columbia north of the Tri-Cities will close as of 9 p.m. Friday, May 20, due to very low returns so far — none to the trap and very few age-5 fish in the sport fishery, which has been open since May 1.

Icicle Creek will open this Saturday, May 21, for spring Chinook, limit three per day, minimum size 12 inches. According to WDFW, an in-season analysis estimates 9,000 are headed back to the smallish stream near Leavenworth, including 6,000 adults and 3,500 jacks.

So far, though, only 2,874 Chinook have made it past Rock Island Dam, the first dam below the Wenatchee River into which the Icicle drains.

The open area begins 500 feet below the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery and 800 feet above the mouth. Salmon with a round hole or holes punched in their tail, however, must be released, and there is a night fishing closure.

ICICLE CREEK IS SMALL, BUT THIS YEAR'S RUN IS EXPECTED TO BE LARGE. SCOTT FLETCHER SHOWS OFF A NICE ONE LANDED DURING THE 2009 SEASON. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Springer Run Size Bumped Up Again; SW WA, Columbia Fish Report (5-16-11)

May 16, 2011

The Columbia spring Chinook run was upsized again today. Federal, tribal and state salmon managers now expect a range of 217,000 to 237,000 to return to the mouth of the big river this season.

Last week they updated the return to 210,000 from 198,400 based on a very strong start to May.

In recent days, however, the count at the Bonneville fish ladder has dropped. It was just under 3,100 on Sunday, bringing the dam tally to 149,312.

Fisheries biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver points out that flows there have also spiked from the mid-200,000-cubic-foot-per-second range to the high 300,000s today — and they’re forecast to hit 525,000 cfs this week.

“It’s going to be huge,” he says of the Columbia.

As for the fishing report, he says that anglers “did well” on yesterday’s reopener on the lower river, catching “lots of jacks and some adults.”

Indeed, if anything’s kept pace — well, sorta — with the flows it’s the jack count which now appears to be the second best on record. It sits at 27,636 through Sunday, better than all except one year back through 1960, and not too far behind 2009’s insane return at this same point.

“It’s a definite positive,” says Hymer. “It’s telling us there’s still good survival.”

Columbia springers return as 3-year-olds — or jacks as they’re known — 4s and 5s, and the strength of one year-class gives managers a glimpse of the following year’s return because most jacks stay at sea while a large percentage of the 4s and 5s return.

While the new runsize prediction is a fair ways from the current count of 149,000-plus, Hymer points out that somewhere around 12,000 were intercepted between the river’s mouth and Bonneville by sport and commercial anglers — who knows how many the sea lions have taken — and that June will probably see another “blip” as Snake River summers — which are lumped in with springers in the forecast — make their way up the Columbia.

He says that managers will continue to monitor the count to figure out if there’s additional fishing opportunity — say, in the mid-Columbia and Snake, perhaps, where salmon anglers are otherwise twiddling their thumbs.

Otherwise, Idaho rivers are open though rivers there are also high and fishing is real slow.

Meanwhile, Hymer’s also been busy with his Monday fishing roundup. To wit:

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Anglers on the lower river and in particular at the barrier dam are catching adult and jack spring chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 213 winter-run steelhead, twelve summer-run steelhead, 177 spring chinook adults, and 97 jacks during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 20 winter-run steelhead, four spring chinook adults and 79 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam and two winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 10,600 cubic feet per second on Monday, May 16. Water visibility is seven feet.

Kalama River – Some spring chinook and steelhead are being caught.  Through May 13, a total of 9 adult spring chinook (including 3 unmarked fish) had returned to the trap at Kalama Falls Hatchery.  The escapement goal is 400 fish for hatchery brood stock.

Lewis River – Light effort and catch.  A total of 69 adult spring Chinook had entered the Merwin Dam trap as of May 13.  The hatchery escapement goal is 1,300 fish.

Flows at Merwin Dam are 2,900 cfs today which is just over half the long-term mean of 4,850 cfs for this date.

Wind River – The mouth has slowed a bit since earlier in the week last week.  Quite a few jacks in the catch.

Drano Lake – Same here, slowed a bit since earlier in the week last week and quite a few jacks around.  Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery opened the ladder for just under a day last week and over 1,550 adults and 110 jacks entered the trap.  The escapement goal is 1,000 fish.

Klickitat River – Spring chinook catches improved last week.  Some steelhead were also found in the catch.

From Joe Zendt Fisheries Biologist Yakama Nation Fisheries Program – Lyle Falls adult trapping is still intermittent due to fishway improvement construction and high flows this week but there have been a handful of spring chinook adults (~50 or less) pass through the fishway.  No reports of any returns to the hatchery yet.

Yakima River – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco – WDFW staff interviewed anglers fishing the Yakima River three days during the past week. Only two anglers were fishing for salmon and they had no catch.

After nearly reaching historical daily high flows of 6,000 cfs for May 15, the river is expected to drop the next several days.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Lots of jacks and pretty good effort on yesterday’s re-opener!  We sampled 305 salmonid anglers (including 56 boats) with 27 adult and 65 jack spring chinook and 4 steelhead.  19 (70%) of the adult and 57 (88%) of the jacks were kept as were all of the steelhead.

We sampled 13 (68%) of the adult and 32 (56%) of the jacks and all of the steelhead kept.    10 (77%) of the adults and 30 (94%) of the jacks sampled were upriver origin based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI.

Despite the crummy weather, just over 400 boats and 466 bank anglers were counted during yesterday’s flight.

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met today and upgraded the adult upriver run size to 217,000-237,000 fish returning to the mouth of the Columbia.  The pre-season forecast was 198,400.

Flows at Bonneville Dam are expected to reach a whopping 525,000 cfs late tomorrow evening (see http://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/station/flowplot/textPlot.cgi?id=BONO3&pe=QI).

Ringold – From Paul Hoffarth – Fishing remains slow and flows are high.  An estimated 9 adult hatchery and 2 hatchery jacks have been harvested from May 1 to 15. In addition 6 adult wild spring Chinook and 2 wild Chinook jacks have been caught and released.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – No sturgeon creel data is currently available.

Sturgeon retention was allowed from the mouth upstream to the sturgeon spawning sanctuary boundary (navigation marker 82 line) on Saturday May 15.  There were almost 150 private boats and a couple charters plus 66 bank anglers counted during the Saturday flight.  On Sunday when below Wauna was open for retention but catch and release only above, there were just 20 private boats and 1 charter and no bank anglers counted.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some legals.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaging an impressive 5 walleye and 25 bass per rod!

TROUT

Klineline Pond – 57 bank anglers kept 111 trout.  Worms under a bobber produced good results.

Fort Borst Park Pond near Centralia (juvenile waters only) – Planted with 3,500 catchable size rainbows May 9.  No report on angling success.

Battleground Lake – Planted with 4,550 catchable size rainbows May 10.  No report on angling success.

SHAD

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Opened to fishing for shad today (May 16).  No report on angling success.  Only a few dozen fish have crossed Bonneville Dam to date.

First-ever South OlyPen Outdoor Show This Weekend

May 16, 2011

(PRESS RELEASE)

The first-ever South Olympic Peninsula Outdoor Adventure & Recreation Expo is scheduled for the Grays Harbor Fairgrounds in Elma for a two-day run May 21-22, 2011.

Representatives from the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds & Tourism Department, along with outdoor enthusiasts from Mason County, will be presenting the Outdoor Expo in a coordinated effort to showcase the outdoor experiences, destinations, festivals and events in the two-county region.

“We encourage local businesses involved in the outdoor tourism markets, along with festival-event promoters and lodging providers to participate in this new Outdoor Expo. This is a perfect opportunity to let the traveling public, along with outdoor enthusiasts, know what is offered locally.” said Brent Hunter, the Grays Harbor Tourism Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator.

“The purpose of the event is to demonstrate that both counties are the primary outdoor adventure, activity and sportsmen’s destinations in Western Washington.”

“We are blessed with a diverse topography from spectacular mountains, lakes, forests, streams, estuaries and ocean beaches that are inhabited by a wide range of fish, shellfish, wildlife and game,” Fair and Events Coordinator Rod Easton said. “All this makes for a tremendous opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts. Along with fishing, hunting and camping enthusiasts, we will also welcome surfers, cyclists, kayakers, hikers and boaters. There are also several surprises in store to insure that the event is attractive to a full-spectrum of people who simply enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer in Grays Harbor and Mason counties.”

The Outdoor Expo will be a unique opportunity for businesses that cater to sportsmen such as, charter operations, hunting and fishing guides, and outfitters to showcase their local-area knowledge and expertise. Exhibitors will share space at the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds Pavilion and Exhibit Hall with live demonstrations, outdoor product promotions and possibly even some skill contests.

“The first Outdoor Expo will be promoted in the media on a regional level, targeting people who live and work in the I-5 corridor. I also think that residents of the two-county area will be surprised to find what they can explore and enjoy in their own back yard.” Hunter said.

Mike Bruner, the Fairgrounds and Tourism Department Manager, said “This is an event that our management team has wanted to host for a long time. We had been brain-storming on this for quite a while. Brent and Rod had worked hard to put together the groundwork for the show and were ready to announce it to the public when, ironically, we were contacted by Dale Hubbard, from the Mason County Daily News. He had been working on a similar event in Mason County that hadn’t made it off the ground yet. We all thought, wow…. This would be a great opportunity for stakeholders in the outdoor and tourism industries within the two Counties to get together to promote our outdoor assets, as well as our related businesses and lodging providers, to Western Washington Sportsmen. As an avid outdoorsman, I’m excited for the event.”

Northwest Sportsman will be at the show both days with our world-famous dagger deal — a CRKT Big Eddy Fillet or Kershaw fillet knife with a two-year subscription, while supplies last.

Applications for exhibitor/vendor space for the Outdoor Adventure & Recreation Expo can now be made for the event at the Grays Harbor County Fair & Exhibit Center by contacting Rod Easton or Brent Hunter at 360-482-2651 or 800-621-9625, or e-mailing them at reaston@co.grays- harbor.wa.us and bhunter@co.grays-harbor.wa.us.

The Grays Harbor Fairgrounds is owned and operated by Grays Harbor County. Visit their web site at www.ghcfairgrounds.com and to learn more about local tourism click on www.visitgraysharbor.com.

Jack Count Soaring

May 14, 2011

I don’t mean to take away from tomorrow’s Lower Columbia reopener for spring Chinook, but, umm, have you seen the jack count lately?

A total of 18,530 of ’em have gone through Bonneville Dam so far this year, and even though counting continues through May 31, it’s already among the top four tallies on record and at their current pace will almost assuredly move into second place by the time the weekend is over.

Only three years top it, according to data from the Fish Passage Center — 66,631 in 2009; 21,259 in 2000; and 20,835 in 1976 –and those are figures for the whole run.

Recent days have seen as many as 3,400 and 3,900 rush the dam; high marks in 2009 including 4,900- and 5,700-jack days.

Why am I burning your eyes up with this info? Jacks are seen as one indicator of the next year’s returns. The 2001 and 2010 springer runs were two of the three largest on record, though the 1977 return wasn’t much to write home about (well, at least compared to runs this millenium).

At one time jack counts figured heavily into Columbia salmon managers’ forecasting tools, but in the past two years they’ve looked at many more factors in making their predictions.

For what it’s worth, something to watch.

Cub Scout Fishing Day With Local Muskie Inc. Chapter

May 14, 2011

(NATHAN B. GRANLUND, YOUTH DIRECTOR NW TIGER PAC, CHAPTER #57 MUSKIES INC.

Traditions are always a special part of anybody’s life and it is no exception when it comes to bringing new anglers into the sport of fishing. Muskie’s Inc has always stood behind the youth fishery philosophy and Chapter #57 NW TIGER PAC takes great pride in ensuring that movement continues today.

On Saturday May 7, 2011 members of Chapter #57 and many volunteer parents of Cub Scout Pack 478 Den 5 all came together at Bradley Lake Park in Puyallup, Wash., to give these future anglers a greater perspective and outlook on fishing. Some of the Cub Scouts were able to wet a line for the very first time ever, what a treat that was!

Even more special was being able to hand out brand new rods, reels, tackle boxes and tackle for each Cub Scout to take with them to help them with starting their angling journey.

It was a moment that many of these boys will not soon forget, and Chapter #57 was very proud to be a part of such a great day.  Even though the day may have had rain it didn’t stop these boys from wanting to be out on the lake learning and aspiring to become future anglers.

To top off the event for a very fitting close the boys were entertained by getting to enjoy watching an Osprey do its own fishing by landing a decent size meal right in front of the whole group.

(MUSKIES INC. CHAPTER 57 NW TIGER PAC)

A special thanks goes out to every volunteer and specifically Miles McDonald for cooking such a phenomenal lunch for everyone, Pete Jensen for donating full bags of fishing tackle for each Cub Scout, Joe French and his son Jesse for the photography and helping with teaching the Cub Scouts to fish, Jani K for coordinating and working with the chapter to ensure things went smoothly, Mike & Dan Fuller for taking time to help with teaching and rigging gear up for those that needed help, Blake Purdum for being a mentor and guide to showing the boys about how the fishing reels worked and how to cast their line, Darryl Wegter for taking the time and giving your full attention to helping each and every Cub Scout with answering questions and teaching them how to fish and last but certainly not least Norm Dillon and the Support of Chapter 57 NW TIGER PAC Muskie’s Inc. for helping to make this event such a Memorable and Successful event.

Without all of these members in place to give of their time this event wouldn’t have been what it was.

To all those that helped in sponsoring this event such as Wholesale Sports and Outdoors, Musky Hunter Magazine, and the Seattle CGEA, Muskie Inc Chapter #57 NW TIGER PAC also personally wants to send out a BIG THANK YOU for helping to provide each Cub Scout with the gear needed to have a great day of fishing. You all ROCK!!!

A $1 Million Fish In One Of 9 WA, OR, ID Lakes?

May 13, 2011

Could a fish worth $1 million be swimming around Washington, Oregon or Idaho?

Maybe.

In a nationwide contest put on by Cabela’s and with cooperation from game agencies, Henry Hagg and Detroit Lakes in the Beaver State, Potholes Reservoir and Washington, American and Sprague Lakes in the Evergreen State, and CJ Strike and Lucky Peak Reservoirs and Lake Couer d’Alene in the Gem State are among the 65 waters across the country where specially tagged trout, bass and other species have been captured and released.

ODFW FISHERIES BIOLOGIST TOM MURTAGH PREPARES TO TAG A LARGEMOUTH BASS TO BE RELEASED INTO HENRY HAGG FOR THE $1 MILLION FISH PROMOTION PUT ON BY CABELA'S AND THE OUTDOOR CHANNEL. THE CONTEST FUNS FROM MAY 14 THROUGH JULY 14. (ODFW)

Many will win their catchers prizes like Costa sunglasses, Sterry Topsider shoes, Abu Garcia reels, Berkley line, AT&T computer routers, and Cabela’s gift cards, and one will be worth $1 million.

According to ODFW, the contest starts May 14 and continues through July 14, and participants must register on-line to be eligible for prizes. Register by going to the Cabela’s Web site, cabelas.com/fishformillions.

“We are very excited about Oregon’s participation in the ‘Wanna Go Fishing for Millions’ contest,” said Matt Eastman, host of Outdoor Channel’s “Wanna go Fishing” program. “If $2.2 million doesn’t get your juices going I don’t know what will.”

That’s the combined value of the prizes, with a grand prize of $1 million. Participating water bodies have from 10 to 15 fish, each tagged with small “spaghetti” tags with unique numbers. Anglers lucky enough to catch a fish with one of these tags can claim their prize by entering the tag number and other information on the Cabela’s website.

In addition to the prizes, anglers will have the benefit of catching some nice fish. At Hagg Lake, for example, ODFW biologists have tagged a total of 15 bass ranging from 2 to 5 pounds.

“Can you imagine the excitement of catching a 5-pound largemouth bass and finding a tag that could be worth a million dollars?” said Gary Galovich, ODFW’s Western Oregon warmwater fish biologist.

At Detroit Lake, ODFW’s Marion Forks Fish Hatchery tagged and released 12 3-pound rainbow trout for the contest.

“Trout don’t hold up like bass, and you could find them just about anywhere in Detroit Lake,” said Alex Farrand, assistant district fish biologist for ODFW’s South Willamette Watershed.

ODFW opted to participate in the contest in an attempt to encourage people to get out and discover the joy of fishing, according to Rhine Messmer, ODFW’s Recreational Fisheries Program manager.

Lower Columbia Reopening For Springers

May 13, 2011

The Lower Columbia will reopen for springers starting Sunday, May 15, and an old friend from earlier this season will also be there: high water.

Currently the river is rolling at about 285,000 cubic feet per second at Bonneville, and is forecast to be at 353,000 cfs by Sunday and a whopping 470,000 cfs by Wednesday.

“That’s a lot of water,” says fisheries biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver.

He does allow that there will be springers to catch in the big river — jacks and adults — as well as summer steelhead and sockeye.

While the boat fishing area has been moved closer to the dam, plunking from shore may be your best bet. Here are some rigs you might consider using:

(NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

For a map of the better plunking beaches, see our May issue, on newsstands now!

High but cold water and a later-returning run depressed sport catches in March and April.

However, since late April, springers have been pouring over Bonneville Dam, leading managers to upgrade the run size this week by 11,000 fish or so to 210,000.

That also gives the nontribal fleets more fish to catch.

At least 11,555 have been caught so far by sport anglers below Bonneville, from there to the Washington-Oregon border east of McNary Dam and on the Lower Snake as well as by the commercials, according to a fact sheet sent out earlier today.

“This leaves a balance of 3,800 upriver fish currently available for the recreational fishery downstream of Bonneville,” says the fact sheet.

According to Allen Thomas of The Columbian, managers will meet on Monday and may bump the run projection even higher.

WDFW’s Cindy LeFleur says that the decision to reopen the lower river fishery for springers doesn’t apply to the waters above Bonneville Dam and the Snake River.

“The Columbia River fishery above Bonneville Dam closed May 10 after anglers reached their catch allocation under the new run forecast. On the Snake River, spring chinook fishing will close below Ice Harbor Dam May 14 and on the rest of the river May 16. There, too, anglers are expected to reach their current catch allocation after a stretch of good fishing,” reads a press release from WDFW.

“We may consider reopening fisheries in those areas if strong returns of spring chinook salmon keep bumping up the run forecast,” LeFleur said in the release.  “But that will be a separate decision.”

Here are the regs, according to a notice from WDFW:

2011 Lower Columbia River Spring Chinook Recreational Fishery

Sunday May 15 through Wednesday June 15, 2011.

Area: Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Beacon Rock (boat and bank) plus bank angling only from Beacon Rock upstream to Bonneville Dam.

The boundary at Beacon Rock is defined as: A line projected from a sign posted on a dock on the Oregon shoreline across to the exposed downstream end of Pierce Island, then across to a sign posted on the Washington shoreline at Beacon Rock.

Catch limit: Retention of sockeye, adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon, and adipose fin-clipped steelhead allowed.  Sockeye salmon count towards the adult limit regardless of size.

Daily bag limit includes up to two adult salmon/steelhead in combination, but only one may be a Chinook.

Lower Columbia Springer Reopener Being Discussed Today

May 13, 2011

Columbia spring Chinook managers are considering reopening the lower river as soon as this Sunday, May 15.

A fact sheet out late this morning says that there are 3,800 kings available for the recreational fleet below Bonneville Dam at a run size of 210,000, which is the latest estimate for this year’s return back to the river’s mouth.

Open areas would be slightly tweaked from where they were in March and April. The Columbia up to Beacon Rock would be open for boat angling, while the water from Beacon to Bonneville would be bank-only.

Sockeye and steelhead would also be allowed in the bag.

Fishing would be open through June 15 (the rest of the river opens the next day).

“The proposed season is expected to remain within the available catch guideline at a run size of 210,000 fish,” says a fact sheet from managers who will meet this afternoon.

It also says that sport fleet advisors told them we would like the Columbia to reopen asap.

A total of 136,842 springers have gone through the fish ladder at Bonneville so far this season, including 102,090 in May alone.

WA, OR Again Authorized To Take Out Sea Lions

May 13, 2011

The federal agency overseeing California sea lions said today that Washington and Oregon can “lethally remove” up to 85 of the salmon eaters a year at and around Bonneville Dam.

That after a lawsuit forced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to better explain its rationale to a court for previously allowing both states to take out the pinnipeds.

“This is not an easy decision for our agency to make, but a thorough analysis shows that a small number of California sea lions preying on salmon and steelhead are having a significant effect on the ability of the fish stocks to recover,” said William W. Stelle Jr., NOAA-Fisheries regional director, in a press release. “Today’s authorization allows state fisheries and natural resource agencies to carefully remove California sea lions to reduce their effect on vulnerable fish species.”

A number of Chinook, summer steelhead and other salmonid stocks in the Columbia Basin are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. California sea lions are also protected by the Marine Mammal Act, but the overall population “is considered healthy and stable, and estimated to be a robust 238,000.”

They have been chowing down on fish in the Lower Columbia in increasing numbers over the past decade. Last year, they ate an estimated 5,000 salmon and steelhead — and that number is considered a low figure.

To get a better grasp of how many they do eat, scientists are currently running a study with spring Chinook to see how many make it from where they’re PIT-tagged in the lower river to Bonneville Dam.

That said, NOAA says predation may be down this year due to a late start to the Chinook run and perhaps because the sea lions have found something else to eat.

“What is worrisome this year is that sea lion predation likely occurred disproportionately on early arriving spring Chinook, which can lead to significant population effects in coming years,” said NOAA.

While the permit authorizes killing more than seven dozen,the feds figure the annual cull will be around 30 sea lions.

A letter of authorization sent to Phil Anderson, director of Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, states that only individual sea lions known to be eating salmonids at or around Bonneville between January 1 and May 31 may be targeted.

WDFW and ODFW can trap them or send in marksmen to shoot them in specific areas around the dam. For longer shots, gunners will need a .240 or better caliber rifle while inside of 25 yards, they can use the same weapon or a 12-gauge loaded with 00 buckshot or slugs.

Only non-lead-based ammunition can be used.

Since 2008, 37 sea lions have been removed; 10 were sent to “public display facilities,” one died during examination and 26 were euthanized.

The giant beasts are also causing problems in the Willamette where an angler bringing in a spring Chinook last weekend was pulled overboard in a tussle over the fish in his net. Fishermen are authorized to try and scare them away with slingshots and paintball guns, and ODFW had been hazing them there but has since run out of funding to do so, a Portland-area TV station reported recently.

The Hunt-Fish Questions People Google

May 12, 2011

OK, now I’m just goofing off because our June issue cover discussions have ground to a heated halt. People don’t like my cover choices, I don’t like their cover treatments.

So I thought I’d take a moment to answer some of the search terms that have led people to our blog of late.

To wit:

should i report hood canal shrimp poachers

Hell, yes! And here’s the poaching hotline: 911 if it’s in progress, (877) 933-9847 if it’s not.

whats available for fishing in washington state

Everything in the water except orcas and scuba divers.

were to catch springers

If this is actually a question about the location — i.e., where — to catch spring Chinook, may we point you in the direction of the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis, Willamette, Sandy, Wind, Umatilla and lower Snake Rivers and Drano Lake on the Columbia River system; on the Oregon Coast, consider the Nestucca and Trask Rivers and Tillamook Bay, the Rogue from its mouth all the way up to Cole Rivers Hatchery, and Cleveland Rapids, River Forks and Amacher on the mainstem Umpqua as well as the lower North Umpqua.

is salmon fishing open between the dalles and john day damns

No. And they’re dams, not damns — though if you’ve seen that PBS documentary you might disagree.

how many grizzlies are there in the northern cascades?

For all we know there are none. Or maybe two dozen. The population estimate is as high as 20 or 25, but as a biologist pointed out to me last year, it’s also zero.

why brian lull hates blacktail deer

You would to if you had his deer hunting luck and had spent a miserable day and evening lost in an overgrown clearcut last Halloween while party girls back home got drunker and drunker.

what female eggs looks like in a pregnant largemouth bass

What? Do you have like a sonogram on your boat or something?

When do elk calve in western oregon

Mid-May deep into June — at least at Dean Creek near Reedsport.

5 common animals in the central and southern cascades forests

Bigfoot, sidehill jaggers, ODFW biologists, pot growers and the last hairy tree hugger still chaining themself to old growth.

number of wolves in rocky mountatin recovery area

A whole helluva lot, but fewer fairly soon. Earlier this week, IDFG reported to me they’d sold 600 resident tags ($11.50) since offering them late last week. The agency is trying to get a better handle on the overall population before setting any seasons as it was “out of the business for awhile.”

are wolves delisted in western washington?

No.

should we delist species

Well, yes if they’re scientifically recovered.

look behind you cougar

Sh*t!

what happened to kaufmann’s streamborne?

See the below question

kaufmanns fly shop bankrupt

Next.

bringing marijuana to summer camp

Probably not a good idea.

when is klineline stocked with fish?

Pretty damned regularly … between January and late April.

fishing report ringold springs washington wa

Ringold – From Paul Hoffarth (via Joe Hymer): The Ringold area “Bank Only” sport fishery for spring Chinook opened May 1.  Angler effort remained low during the week with less than 6 anglers per hour fishing for salmon . WDFW staff interviewed 23 anglers fishing for salmon this past week. One hatchery and two wild fish were reported caught.  Based on the effort an estimated 4 hatchery adult chinook were harvested and 6 wild adult chinook were released for the week.  No other fish were reported in the catch.  No chinook have entered the Ringold Hatchery trap to date.

is diamond lake still frozen oregon

As of yesterday, it was 99 percent covered with ice but melting fast, reported Diamond Lake Resort. Lemolo just down the mountain a ways is reputedly en fuego for browns.

when is fishing expo at grays harbor fair grounds

May 21-22.

elk being shot

Right now?!?! Quick, here’s the poaching hotline for Washington: 911 if it’s in progress, (877) 933-9847 if it’s not. In Oregon, it’s (800) 452-7888.

what indian tribe nets drano lake

The Yakamas.

is drano lake federal waters

Ummmm, no. Federal waters begin 166 miles downstream of it, and extend from the 3-miles-offshore mark to 200 miles out. BUT if your question really is more about whether Drano is considered a federally navigable waterway — and thus, do you need a Coast Guard operators license to guide it — the answer would be yes. Don’t have one, do you?

how to fish drano springer fishing

You drag around the below rig:

Or just pull an orange magnum-sized Wart/Wiggler/Fat Fish.

i fish prawn spinners

Good choice too.

how far do returning spring chinook salmon travel in a day

University of Idaho researchers found they travel anywhere from 7.5 to 20.5 miles day, depending on water conditions. The later in the season and the warmer the water, the faster they swim, adding 1 to 3 miles a day every two weeks. If you’re bored out of your gourd, pick a random PIT tag here and follow its progress up the Columbia system.

can a muskie eat a goose

Cut up and chummed, yes; whole, probably not.

Poachers, 462,000 ‘Bows, Kings, Clams And 14 Percent Declines

May 12, 2011

UPDATED: 12:07 P.M., MAY 12, 2011 A wee bit busy today with the June issue, so I’m letting others do the Northwest hunt/fish news roundup work for me.

In his Spokesman-Review column today, outdoor writer Rich Landers names six accused and convicted deer and elk poachers from the greater Spokane area, and details a case involving a Cheney-area hunting club that WDFW wardens infiltrated and busted 10 people for allegedly exceeding deer limits and other violations.

A few years back, WDFW’s chief complained about getting poaching cases through the Spokane County court system, but it appears that prosecutors there now may be working more with wildlife enforcement. Writes Landers:

“A lot of cooperation is needed to make these cases,” said Capt. Mike Whorton, who supervises the Spokane Region officers.

Poaching cases would get bogged down in the overcrowded court dockets without the help of Spokane County prosecutor’s District Court Supervisor, Brian O’Brien, Whorton said. “His leadership has really ramped it up for us.”

You may have noticed that another major cooperator often is involved in major poaching busts.

Indeed, the eyes of the public are the front lines of wildlife enforcement. Tipsters, too, work largely under our radar, for the benefit of all.

So how exactly does the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife know that they are over 400,000 rainbows finning around in Diamond Lake? A Medford Mail-Tribune reader named Jim B. of Central Point also wondered that, and today the paper answers the question.

.. take the number of fish the lake started with, add the number of stocked fingerlings, adjust the fingerling numbers to account for mortality, then subtract the number of fish taken out of the lake by anglers as well as those that died after being caught and released.

Go here for the rest of the calculus.

Bad news for Jeff Main and Jeff Holmes: Good catches on the Snake River means it will be shut down for spring Chinook a couple weeks earlier than planned. WDFW announced rule changes in a press release yesterday afternoon.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today that spring chinook fishing on the Snake River will close as of Saturday, May 14, below Ice Harbor Dam, and as of Monday, May 16, in the Little Goose and Clarkston areas.

All three areas were originally scheduled to remain open through the month, but a review of the harvest to date indicates the allowable catch will be reached sooner than expected, said John Whalen, WDFW eastern regional fish program manager.

“The fish were slow in getting to the Snake, but when they did arrive they came in large numbers,” Whalen said. “Fishing has been extremely good over the past week.”

The catch limit for the Snake River fishery is governed by a federal permit, because the wild portion of the run is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Whalen said there is a chance the fishery could reopen, noting that the forecast for this year’s spring chinook run was increased today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

It earned the agency a “dislike” on their Facebook page.

But at least there will be one more clam dig this spring. WDFW says:

The last dig of the season will begin at Twin Harbors Beach, where morning clam digging will be open May 18-22. Mocrocks Beach will be open for digging May 20-22, and Long Beach will be open May 21-22.

No digging will be allowed at any beach after noon.

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

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said the upcoming dig is possible because turnout was lower than expected during the six-day opening earlier this month.

“Most diggers got their limits during the last opening, but we also had some competition from shrimp and other fisheries opening in the region,” Ayres said. “Whatever the case, we have enough clams available for another dig at three beaches.”

That said, it’s also becoming more clear that fewer folks are heading afield this spring.

Stats that I received from WDFW earlier this week show that fishing license sales for April 2011 were off by more than $1 million compared to April 2010 and April 2009 — $6.57 million vs. $7.65 million and $7.60 million.

Those are base license figures and do not include the 10 percent surcharge or dealer or transaction fees, according to spokesman Craig Bartlett.

April 1 is the beginning of the Washington license year, though they can be purchased well beforehand — annually WDFW sends out an early-December press release pitching them as holiday gifts — but the numbers do show a 14 percent decline between last April and the previous two.

While Washington’s figures are for last month alone, those I just received from ODFW also show a 14 percent decline in Oregon resident fishing license sales versus the past four years.

According to the agency’s David Lane, 70,743 were sold between Dec. 1, 2010 and April 30, 2011 while an average of 81,996 were sold in those same five months in 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007.

The difference between this year’s sales and last year’s to this same point is even bigger — a 20 percent dropoff. A total of 87,660 were in anglers’ back pockets by the end of April 2010.

While Oregon resident combination and hunter licenses are also down, Sports Pac sales are above 2010’s figures and holding their own over the four-year average, and are up by 750 or so for juveniles, according to Lane’s numbers.

So, go figure.

So what’s going on?

Maybe it’s the weather keeping us all indoors longer than usual. April was among the coldest in Seattle and wettest in the Willamette Valley, and March wasn’t that much more amusing.

Maybe it’s the economy. Would be nice if more jobs were being created like, say, a part-timer to read through all this Northwest Sportsman copy so I can blog/blather more often.

Maybe it’s gas prices.They’ve spiked to a dollar or so more than at this same point last year.

Ask yourself or your friends why they didn’t get their license yet. If you’ve got some other ideas, email me at andy@nwsportsmanmag.com.

Columbia Springer Run Upgraded

May 11, 2011

Columbia salmon managers have upgraded the spring Chinook run to 210,000 and will discuss a recreational reopener on the lower river this Friday afternoon.

That after earlier this week sticking with their preseason estimate of 198,400 fish back to the mouth of the mighty river.

THERE'S A RAINBOW ON THE HORIZON -- IS THERE A TROVE OF MORE DAYS ON THE COLUMBIA FOR SPORTS UNDER IT? (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Since getting off to a late and sluggish start, the salmon have been pouring over Bonneville Dam the past two weeks, fueling good fishing at Wind River and Drano Lake.

In fact, the count for the month of May through the 10th is the highest of any May in the 2000s. According to stats pulled from the Columbia DART site, this month has seen 90,842 of the 125,600 to go over the dam so far this season.

That’s 23,000 more than the next closest May 1-10s this decade (2010 and 2002).

With the upgraded run size there is also slightly more room in the nontribal allocation for above-Bonneville-bound springers.

“Based on the U.S. v Oregon agreement, non-Indian fisheries are limited to a total of 19,110 upriver spring Chinook (kept plus release mortalities) and an ESA impact rate of 1.9%. About half of the non-Indian allocation remains available at this time,” reads a fact sheet sent out this afternoon.

Oregon and Washington managers are recommending a commercial fishery later this week.

In an email sent out minute ago, Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association in Portland says that recreational advisors are meeting with fishery managers this afternoon to discuss options.

“There are close to 6,000 (kept + released mortalities of upriver spring Chinook, which does not count Willamette fish caught in the Columbia) left at the 210,000 run size,” she writes.

She hopes to get the river reopened before snowmelt hits, and says the scuttle is that at this point it wouldn’t happen until next week at earliest.

But we’ll see what the managers decide.

Meanwhile, fishing continues on the Snake River. Angler Jeff Holmes of Kennewick has been hitting it and counted 140 boats yesterday below Ice Harbor Dam, many of which were anchored up in hoglines.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon (5-11-11)

May 11, 2011

It’s a’melting — but not fast enough.

Right now Diamond Lake is a giant “slurpy,” says Rick Rockholt of the resort on the famed Oregon Cascades fishery, too iffy to ice fish and not open enough for boating.

Well, that’s not entirely true. A photo he sent along this afternoon does show some open water at the north ramp — at least 12 feet of it. So trolling will be a bit tight.

Rockholt reports the lake — still 99 percent iced over — has been bereft of anglers all this week, but before the ice got poor, some did manage to drill through it and bring in some rainbows.

KATY, STEPHEN AND DANIEL HUNTER OF UMPQUA, ORE., FISHED THROUGH HOLES IN THE ICE JUST SEVERAL DAYS BEFORE IT BECAME TOO UNSAFE TO GO OUT ON. (DIAMOND LAKE RESORT).

For updates, watch his Web site, diamondlake.net.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of other fishing options around Oregon this weekend, starting with the big all-depths halibut fishery.

For more, see ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report!

All-depth Weekend Coming Up

May 11, 2011

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Three of the biggest fishing days so far this year may well be Thursday, Friday and Saturday when all-depth halibut fishing opens on the central coast.

If weather and ocean conditions permit, hundreds of boats leave ports along the Oregon central coast to fish deep for Pacific halibut. While fishing inside 40 fathoms is open seven days a week while the season lasts, most anglers find success in deeper water – sometimes as deep as 600 feet or more.

Depth regulations and dates for the Pacific halibut season are different depending on which area of the coast anglers fish:

    Central coast fishery, from Cape Falcon just north of Manzanita to Humbug Mountain near Port Orford: Anglers may fish inside the 40-fathom line (defined by waypoints) is open seven days per week, May 1 through Oct. 31 or until the 13,800-pound quota is met. The all-depth fixed dates for the spring season are May 12-14, 26-28, June 2-4 and 9-11. Backup days are June 23-25, July 7-9 and 21-23. The spring catch limit is 115,578 pounds. The summer season opens every other Friday and Saturday (Aug. 5-6, 19-20, Sept. 2-3, 16-17, 30-Oct. 1, 14-15 and 28-29) until the entire central coast, all-depth season combined (spring and summer) quota of 158,705 pounds is taken or Oct. 29, which ever occurs first.

    Columbia River fishery, from Leadbetter Point, Wash., to Cape Falcon, Ore.: The spring season for this area opened May 5, three days per week, Thursday-Saturday, until the 10,793-pound quota is met or July 16, whichever occurs first. The summer fishery opens Aug. 5, three days per week, Friday-Sunday, until Sept. 30 or the spring and summer combined quota of 15,418 pounds is met

    South of Humbug Mountain the season opened May 1 and is open seven days a week through Oct. 31.

For a complete listing of open dates and areas go to: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/seasonmaps/Halibut 2011 regs.pdf

Salty Dogs Find Hali, More In Strait

May 10, 2011

There have been a few unusual scenes so far in Washington’s inside halibut season, including the catch of a large skate and a rarely seen way to bring a flattie home — but one that I can also appreciate.

DEVIN SCHILDT SHOWS OFF A 35-POUNDER CAUGHT AT EASTERN BANK, CAUGHT ON A HOOCHIE & HERRING RIG. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

IT'S FLAT, BUT IT'S NOT THE FLATTIE YOU MAY BE THINKING IT IS. "WHAT FIGHTS 'BIGGER' THAN A 100-POUND HALI?" ASKS DEVIN SCHILDT, WHO HAULED UP THIS SEA BEASTIE. "WHAT MAKES YOU THINK YOU'VE GOT A 100-POUND HALI? WHAT ISN'T A 100-POUND HALI?" A SKATE. "NOT UNCOMMON AT ALL TO CATCH THOSE IN THE STRAIT," SAYS WDFW FISHERY MANAGER RON WARREN. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

A PAIR FOR MEMBERS OF THE SALT PATROL CREW, CAUGHT NEAR PROTECTION ISLAND WITH SKIPPER JOHN KEIZER. (SALT PATROL)

KEIZER SAYS THE ABOVE HALIBUT WERE CAUGHT ON HERRING AS WELL AS STOCKER TROUT CAUGHT BY HIS GRANDDAUGHTER AT SPORTCO AND WHICH HE INJECTED WITH PAUTZKE HALIBUT AND ROCKFISH NECTAR. HE ALSO SAYS HE USED A SCENT DISPENSER OFF HIS SPREADER BAR. (SALT PATROL)

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOUR FISH IS TOO BIG FOR THE COOLER -- OR YOU FORGET IT? WELL ... STRAP IT TO THE BACK OF YOUR CAR, OF COURSE, JUST LIKE DEER IN THE OLD DAYS AND THAT BULL ELK LOADED ON THE DODGE COLT IN MONTANA A COUPLE FALLS AGO. THIS IMAGE IS MAKING THE EMAIL ROUNDS AND COMES FROM JOHN WAYNE MARINA NEAR PORT ANGELES AND WAS TAKEN THIS PAST SATURDAY. (THE INTERNET)

Halibut season continues in Washington, and this weekend is an all-depth fishery in Oregon.

Free Lure, Seminars, Goodies At Three Rivers Marine’s 11th Anniversary This Weekend

May 10, 2011

That’s right, all you Northwest sportsmen (and gals), Woodinville, Washington’s Three Rivers Marine & Tackle is celebrating their 11th anniversary with free seminars  and free goodies — all you have to do is mention Northwest Sportsman for your FREE Worden’s Silver Magic Kokanee lure!

Come out to their celebration sale on May 13th & 14th for FREE hot dogs, pop, balloons for the kids, and a FREE kokanee seminar with the Northwest’s premier koke-a-holic, the one and only Bill Herzog at 11 a.m!

THREE RIVERS MARINE WILL GIVE AWAY A FREE WORDEN’S SILVER MAGIC KOKANEE LURES TO THOSE WHO STOP BY THEIR SHOP MAY 13 AND MENTION NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN.

And now might be the time to give a BIG thanks to and congrats from all of us here at Northwest Sportsman magazine (and Web site) to Scott, Dave, Curt, Shirley and the rest of our friends at Three Rivers Marine & Tackle for a job well done and the support you’ve given us since day one.

Here’s to another successful 11 years.

Brian Lull
Sales Director,
NW Sportsman Magazine & Website

Mark’s Marine Of Hayden Lake ‘Fishes For Food’ This Weekend

May 10, 2011

(MARK’S MARINE PRESS RELEASE)

This weekend is the “Fishing for Food” event at Mark’s Marine. Please help us to get the word out so that we can fill a Lund fishing boat with non-perishable food for the Kootenai County Food Bank.

Together we can help to reel- in hunger.

Details

Non-perishable food only please

The first 200 people to donate will receive a free Logo hat of their choice.

Everyone who donates food will be entered to win a free Fish Fishfinder provided by Mark’s Marine.

Event Hours

Friday May 13: 9 am – 6 pm

Saturday May 14: 9 am – 6 pm

Sunday May 15: noon – 4 pm

About Mark’s Marine

Mark’s Marine has been your Inland Northwest Fishing boat dealer for over 40 years.  We specialize in aluminum fishing boats and pontoon boats and we have one of the largest marine accessories departments in the area.

Throughout the year we try to support the local fishing community with a number of seminars and sponsored tournaments.  The “Fishing for Food” event is just one more way we’re trying to give back to the community.

Spring Catch Promotion

During the Fishing for Food event we will be running a number of special deals focusing on our entry level packages from each boat line that we carry.  Get on the water in time for Memorial Day with these hot deals.

Mark’s Marine is at 14395 N Government Way just north of the town of Hayden, Idaho. Located halfway between Lake Pend Oreille and Lake Coeur d’Alene on Highway 95, Mark’s Marine is centerally located to all the major lakes and only minutes from Hayden Lake.

Salmon News Update

May 10, 2011

There’s some Columbia salmon news out there today.

Allen Thomas of The Columbian follows up on yesterday’s news that fishery managers are sticking with their preseason forecast of 198,400 springers to the mouth of the big river, and will noodle a lower river reopener to catch the balance of the sport allocation.

And in a Portland courtroom, U.S. Judge James Redden heard arguments Monday on the latest federal plan to save salmon in the big river.

The Oregonian and Columbia Basin Bulletin both have stories.