Archive for June, 2011

Sept. Trial Date Set For Twisp Family Accused Of Killing Wolves, Other Federal Crimes

June 30, 2011

Not-guilty pleas were entered yesterday in a Spokane courtroom during arraignment hearings for three members of a Twisp, Wash., family accused of killing wolves and other Federal crimes.

A trial date of Sept. 6 has also been set for William “Bill” White, his son, Tom White and Tom’s wife, Erin White, according to Tom Rice, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern Washington.

The trio were indicted in early June by a grand jury on eight wolf-related counts, including two counts of illegally killing two wolves in 2008, two counts of conspiracy, and one count each of unlawful export of an endangered species,  smuggling, false labeling of wildife for export, and making false statements.

Tom White is accused of killing the wolves, one in mid-May 2008 and another in mid-December 2008.

According to Federal court papers, the alleged illegal activity was discovered on Dec. 22, 2008, when a shipping agent in Omak refused to pick up a bloody package, inside of which a wolf pelt was discovered. Detective work led law enforcement officers back to the family which lives just outside Twisp, where the state’s first wolf pack in 70 years settled.

The maximum penalty for killing Endangered Species Act-listed wolves is $100,000, a year in jail and civil fines.

More may have been killed. Court papers indicate that Bill White emailed about shooting three and say he spread poison to kill some as well.

According to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife spokeswoman in Denver, there has been no other case in the Northwestern U.S. where a person or group of people has been charged with killing more than one wolf.

Bill White was also indicted on four counts of smuggling goods into the U.S. and unlawful importation of wildlife.

A message left on his phone was not returned; the family have not had any public comments since the indictment.

Rice said the not guilty plea is a standard one when defendants appear before a magistrate judge.

“They can’t accept any other plea,” he says of the judge.

The trial date is subject to defense motions, Rice adds.

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First Signs Of Pink Run ’11 Show Off Coast

June 30, 2011

Apparently I have nothing better to do with my workday today than to compare odd-year ocean pink salmon catches.

One of the ad salesmen here breezed by my office a short while ago and said something to the effect of, “They’re catching pinks already at Westport!!!!!!!!!!”

Yeah, I know, I said, I blogged about that (OK, fine, posted a WDFW fishing report) yesterday.

He left quickly, my intention from the get-go.

But then I started wondering, Hmmm, that seems kind of early, and if it’s early, oh my god oh my god oh my god! it might mean the mother of all pink salmon runs is returning! topping the 9 million that came back in 2009! and Puget Sound will be renamed Pink Sound! and the sidewalks of Seattle will run pink with humpy blood! and I should invest all my money right now in a certain manufacturer of pink salmon fishing gear! and and and and …

And then I took a deep breath and thought, Man, you’ve got better things to do today than get all hyper about the coming of the pinkos.

But I checked into it anyway.

I don’t really think much can be made of this, but the straight numbers from the first ocean catch checks in early summer 2011 and 2009 are fairly comparable.

This year’s data is for all of one day, last Sunday, June 26, but according to WDFW’s Wendy Beeghley, an estimated 10 pinks were landed at Westport, five at La Push and 23 at Neah Bay.

Two summers ago and over a nine-day period at the beginning of the season (June 27-July 5), Beeghley reported a total of 72, 36 and 67 for those ports.

Multiply Sunday’s one-day catches times nine and you get 90, 45 and … oh, damnit, I’ve got to get my calculator out … crap, can’t find the thing … well, I’ll wing it and say 210 pinks for the first nine days of the ’11 season.

So, according to AW voodoo math — and completely and totally ignoring real-world affects on run timing between years — I’d say, Nine mil — you go down!

(This is probably why yours truly has not yet been invited to help with WDFW and ODFW’s inseason salmonid run updates.)

South 7 Reopening For Spot Shrimp July 6-9

June 30, 2011

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

Action: Recreational spot shrimp fishing will reopen for four additional days in south Marine Area 7.

Effective dates: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 through Saturday, July 9, 2011, south Marine Area 7 is open.

Species affected: Spot shrimp.

Location: South Marine Area 7. Please note that only the southern portion of Marine Area 7 is open for spot shrimp. This is the portion of Marine Area 7 south of a line from the Initiative 77 marker on Fidalgo Island (which is the eastern boundary between marine areas 6 and 7) to Point Colville on Lopez Island, then south of a line from Davis Point on Lopez Island to Cattle Point on San Juan Island, then south of a line due west from Lime Kiln Point light on San Juan Island to the international boundary.  This area includes the Iceberg Point, Point Colville, Salmon Bank and McArthur Bank shrimp fishing grounds.  The Biz Point spot shrimp fishing ground, which is just north of the Initiative 77 marker will not be open.

WDFW'S MARINE AREA 7 SHRIMPING MAP, SHOWING THE SOUTHERN ZONE WHICH WILL OPEN NEXT WEEK. (WDFW)

Reason for action: Sufficient recreational spot shrimp quota remains in this area for more days of fishing.

Other information: Of all the popular recreational spot shrimp fishing areas in Puget Sound, south Marine Area 7 is the most exposed to rough weather and sea conditions.  South Marine Area 7 has experienced westerly winds and relatively rough seas nearly every open day so far this season, keeping participation down.  Shrimp gear in Marine Area 7 may be pulled from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.

Upgrade To FishHead App Now Available

June 30, 2011

(NERVOUS WATER APPS PRESS RELEASE)

Nervous Water Apps introduces the FishHead 1.1 update to the very popular iPhone and iPod touch App.

FishHead is the ultimate on the water and planning fishing application.

Track Weather, Stream Flows, Tides and Lunar tables all from the palm of your hand.  FishHead organizes the information by location so that you see all of the pertinent fishing data to make on the water decisions.   It’s also equally effective at your home or at work.  Track the flows of your favorite stream.  Plan your trip around the best tides and look at the latest weather forecasts.  This app is designed for both the fresh water and saltwater anglers in mind.

The App has an advanced search engine which allows you to track your current location with the GPS chip in the iPhone or iPod touch; it will tell you the closest streams or tide stations.  Once your tide or river station has been selected it will align that information with the nearest weather station.  In your favorites view you can now view weather, tide or river flows and the lunar table.  If a weather station is down or providing inaccurate data it will automatically find the nearest station that is providing accurate data.  You can also search by current location, station name, city or zip code.

The favorites view gives you a snap shot of all of the pertinent weather, tide/river and lunar information all displayed on one view.  Each of the different categories can be viewed in greater detail by clicking the detail view which will now give you tide and river graphs and forecasts for weather and future and past tides events. Turn the phone for a horizontal view and the graph appears showing either the tide chart or river chart. Like many other iPhone Apps you can swipe from one favorite to the next.

While there are many other Apps that have weather, tides, and river flows.  There is nothing out there that compiles ALL of the relevant fishing information and organizes it for quick and easy detailed info.

(NERVOUS WATER APPS)

FishHead 1.1 Update new features and improvements:

    Improved interface which both more appealing to the eye and easier to use.
The Tide data is now global, so now saltwater and estuary anglers worldwide can now experience FishHead!!
Major performance enhancement for quicker downloads of information.
Added Map features to the favorite locations.
Added many missing river stations.
Added Buoy data for both coastal rivers and tides.  This Buoy data gives wave height and frequency information, water temps, wind speeds and current data when available.
Added hourly weather information including wind, precipitation, and temperature Graphs.
Added user interaction to the Tide Graph in the form of a slider.
Added Map quick navigation to favorites.

Fish Head is available on the iTunes Apps store for $6.99.

You can learn more at http://www.fishheadapp.com

For more information you can contact:

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon (6-30-11)

June 30, 2011

I’ve got my fishing plans firmed up for the Fourth — how about you folks?

If not, take a look at the latest weekly Recreation Report posted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, or read on for highlights brazenly ripped off here:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Warmer weather and weed growth has slowed fishing on many area ponds and lakes, but local streams are kicking out some nice cutthroat trout. Anglers should check fishing regulations for a particular waterbody before heading out.
  • The selective ocean coho season opens on Saturday.
  • Fishing has been picking up on Diamond Lake.
  • Spring chinook fishing continues to be good on the upper Rogue River.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Siletz River: Steelhead fishing is good with fish being caught throughout the main stem. Good numbers of summer steelhead typically return through July. Cutthroat trout season is open as well and can be very good using lighter tackle.
  • Tillamook Bay: Spring chinook fishing is dropping off, although many fish have moved to upstream areas. Trolling spinners or herring should still produce some bites. A few sturgeon are still being caught. Try the upper bay and Tillamook River tidewater for the best opportunity this time of year.
  • Trask River: Fishing for steelhead is slow, but a few summer steelhead are showing up. Fishing is fair to good for spring chinook. Fish are being caught in tidewater and in the river up to and above the hatchery.  Bobber fishing baits has been the most productive. The popular fishing hole at Trask Hatchery closes to angling after June 30. The success of the fishery in the hatchery hole depends on anglers using good judgment when fishing for concentrated salmon. Avoid techniques that increase the likelihood of snagging or foul-hooking fish, and please pack out your trash. Angling for cutthroat is fair to good. Small spinners or flies work well. The north, south and east forks are now closed to angling.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • With warming water temperatures, the holiday weekend should offer good fishing opportunity for springers and summer steelhead on the Clackamas River.
  • Detroit and Henry Hagg lakes have been chosen as venues for Cabela’s and the Outdoor Channel’s “Wanna Fish for Millions” promotion, which runs through July 14. Large trout and bass have been tagged with spaghetti tags that could be worth up to $2 million to the angler lucky enough to catch one. Anglers have to be registered at Cabela’s website to participate.
  • Summer steelhead and spring chinook have entered the Santiam basin and will be the main focus of anglers for the next several weeks.
  • Warmer weather and recent trout stocking should make for some excellent family fishing on lakes, ponds and streams throughout the zone. Read on to find a fishing hole near you.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Several of the Central Oregon lakes are accessible, stocked and providing great trout fishing.

NOBODY KNOWS THAT THE TROUT ARE BITING AT DIAMOND LAKE BETTER THAN RON PYLLKI OF MEDFORD WHO WON LAST WEEKEND'S BLACKBIRD DERBY TOP PRIZE OF $1,000 WITH THIS 5.7-POUNDER. ACCORDING TO DIAMOND LAKE RESORT, WHICH FORWARDED THE IMAGE, RON CAUGHT IT ON AN UNSPECIFIED FLY. THE RESORT REPORTS THAT EMERGERS, BUGGERS AND LEECHES ARE WORKING AND THAT FISHING IN THE SOUTH END IS "VERY GOOD." ELSEWHERE TROUT ARE BITING DOUGH BAIT, FLATFISH, NEEDLEFISH AND GANG TROLLS. (DIAMOND LAKE RESORT)

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • STOCKING NOTE: Campbell, Deadhorse and Fourmile lakes will not be stocked before the Fourth of July holiday due to snow depth. They will be stocked as soon as they become accessible.
  • Crappie fishing has been picking up on several area reservoirs including Owyhee, Brownlee, Gerber and Hells Canyon.
  • Access is now available for most desert Reservoirs. Angling for rainbow trout has been good at Duncan, Holbrook, Lofton, Thief Valley and Wolf Creek reservoirs, and at Lake of the Woods.

 NORTHEAST ZONE

  • The Jubilee Lake youth angling event scheduled for July 2, has been rescheduled to July 17 due to heavy snow pack and limited access.
  • Chinook fishing season has opened on Lookingglass Creek. Over 220 hatchery adults have been caught at the weir as of June 27.
  • Spring chinook also is open on the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam.

BROWNLEE ZONE

  • Crappie fishing has picked up and is good if you find a school.  The crappie are fairly large this year, with many over 12 inches. They are currently 15-30 deep, but are expected to spawn in the next few weeks so fishihng may get better. Use white or chartruese jigs with a crappie nibble. Catfish angling is picking up as well. Bass fishing is good. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their website http://www.idahopower.com/OurEnvironment/WaterInformation/Reservoir/

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Salmon catch rates ranged from fair to excellent on the lower Columbia this past weekend.  Boat anglers fishing in the estuary averaged 1.14 summer chinook caught per boat, while anglers fishing in the gorge averaged 0.91 summer chinook caught per boat.  Boat anglers fishing in the Portland to Longview area averaged 0.22 summer chinook caught per boat, while anglers fishing in Troutdale this past week averaged 0.11 summer chinook caught per boat.  Angler success continues to improve along the banks between Portland and the estuary where catch rates averaged 0.15 summer chinook caught per bank angler.  On the lower Columbia this past weekend there were 464 boats, and 535 Oregon bank anglers counted on Saturday’s (6/25) flight.  Shad angling slowed down slightly this past week; however, the best catch rates continue to be in the gorge.

MARINE ZONE

  • Anglers out of Astoria landed one ocean-caught chinook for every two anglers and two out of every 10 anglers landed a coho. (Coho fishing opened June 26 off the Columbia River.) But for the rest of the coast ocean-caught salmon are still few and far between. Fishing for fin-clipped coho opens July 2 off the central coast.
  • Last week private and charter boats alike returned with good catches of rockfish but lingcod were harder to come by. The catch for lingcod was down to one fish for every 10 anglers in most ports.
  • Last week halibut fishers had an additional three days to the all-depth sport halibut fishery off the central Oregon coast. This week fisheries managers will meet to decide if there is sufficient quota remaining for the spring all-depth season for the central coast area to continue. The area – from Cape Falcon (30 miles south of the Columbia River) to Humbug Mountain (south of Port Orford) – opened May 12 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only. It could have closed as early as June 11 if the 115,578-pound quota had been taken. The fishery may continue on one or more of the following days: July 7-9 and 21-23, until the quota is met. For landing estimates.
  • The next minus tide series begins early in the morning June 28 and continues through July 6.

WA, N OR Ocean Salmon Update (6-29-11)

June 29, 2011

(REPORT COURTESY WENDY BEEGHLEY, WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE)

Coastwide Chinook Mark-Selective Fishery

The Chinook mark-selective recreational fishery in the area between Cape Falcon, OR and the US-Canada border opened on June 18 operating under a quota of 4,800 marked Chinook.  Through its automatic closure date on June 25, a total of 2,396 Chinook were landed (50% of the quota).  The preliminary estimates of mark rates on legal-sized Chinook were 73% in the Columbia River area, 72% in the Westport area, 53% in the La Push area, and 67% in the Neah Bay area.

All-Species Fishery

The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Cape Falcon, OR and the US-Canada border opened on June 26.  The details for each catch are described below.

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

The all-species recreational salmon fishery opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 33,600 coho and a sub-area guideline of 7,400 Chinook.  On opening day, Sunday, June 26, a total of 357 coho (1% of the quota) and 126 Chinook (2% of the guideline) were landed. No pink were landed.

Westport

The all-species recreational salmon fishery opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 24,860 coho and a sub-area guideline of 16,900 Chinook.  On Sunday, June 26, a total of 223 coho (1% of the quota) and 362 Chinook (2% of the guideline) were landed.  An additional 10 pink were estimated landed.

La Push
The all-species recreational salmon fishery opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 1,700 coho and a sub-area guideline of 1,350 Chinook1.  On Sunday, June 26, a total of 49 coho (3% of the quota) and 13 Chinook (1% of the guideline) were landed.  An additional 5 pink were estimated landed.

Neah Bay

The all-species recreational salmon fishery opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 6,990 coho and a sub-area guideline of 3,200 Chinook.  On Sunday, June 26, a total 61 coho (1% of the quota) and 61 Chinook (2% of the guideline) were landed.  An additional 23 pink were estimated landed.

What’s Fishin’ In Washington (7-11)

June 29, 2011

Just in case the calender on your wall does not align with the one in your body — you know, the one that says it’s only like mid-May or something — there’s a big, big holiday weekend traditionally thought of as the kickoff to summer coming up which you might use to get afield and fish.

And there are plenty of opportunities coming up over the Fourth — and throughout the rest of July — across Washington, from Chinook in the sea to Chinook in the Big C, steelies and trout in the foothills, bass, walleye and panfish in the basin, to crabs in Pugetropolis.

For more, we shamelessly rip off WDFW’s entire Weekender report (and even bulk it up, with, ahem, oh, I don’t know, only pics from what might be one of the hottest fisheries in years which somehow the agency completely overlooked — for shame, Madonna and Bob J., for shame).

To wit:

NORTH PUGET SOUND

Summer has arrived, and anglers have their pick of numerous fishing opportunities. Freshwater anglers can cast for chinook at some the of region’s rivers, as well as trout and bass at local lakes. On Puget Sound, the crab season opens July 1 in most areas, and additional salmon openings are just around the corner.

“The salmon fishing season really gets going in July, when more marine areas open in Puget Sound,” said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “And with the high cost of fuel these days, anglers in the region might want to take advantage of these opportunities to hook a salmon close to home.”

Puget Sound salmon fishing opportunities in July include:

Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), which opens July 1.  Anglers can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon.
Marine Area 10 (Seattle-Bremerton), where anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, beginning July 1. However, anglers must release all chinook through July 15. Beginning July 16, anglers can retain hatchery chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – but wild chinook must be released.
Tulalip Bay “bubble” fishery remains open each week from Friday through noon Monday through Sept. 5. Anglers fishing the bubble have a two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon.
Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) opens for hatchery chinook retention July 16. Anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, but must release wild chinook and chum.

Thiesfeld said anglers should be aware that the inner Elliott Bay salmon fishery is closed in July this year to protect Green River naturally spawning chinook, which are expected to return in low numbers. Check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet for details on salmon fishing opportunities.

Tara Livingood, Puget Sound recreational salmon fishery manager for WDFW, reminds anglers that they are responsible for correctly identifying their catch. In past years, some anglers were checked at the docks with undersized chinook they misidentified as pink salmon, she said.

“It’s important that people take the time to learn the differences between each salmon species – both to protect the resource and to avoid a fine,” Livingood said. Descriptions of each salmon species can be found on the department’s recreational salmon fishing webpage and in the Fishing in Washington pamphlet. Anglers also can ask WDFW’s dockside fish samplers for a salmon identification card before heading out on the water.

Break out those crab pots. The Puget Sound crab fishery gets under way July 1 in most areas. The exception is Marine Area 7, where the southern portion (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) opens July 15 and the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia) opens Aug. 15.

EXPANDED DUNGENESS CRABBING OPPORTUNITIES OPEN IN PUGET SOUND IN JULY -- BUT MAKE SURE YOU KNOW YOUR SALLIES FROM YOUR JIMMIES BEFORE YOU GO. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Under new rules adopted earlier this year by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, all marine areas of Puget Sound will be open for crabbing Thursday through Monday of each week.

Mike Cenci, WDFW’s deputy chief of enforcement, said all crabbers should review the rules of the fishery before heading out on the water. “We’ve found that in the past a significant number of violations occur because people don’t take the time to fully understand the rules of the fishery,” Cenci said. “Those rules, such as properly measuring and identifying crabs, are important tools designed to protect the health of the crab population.”

Information on the rules, including how to properly record and report catch information is available on WDFW’s crab fishing webpage. The page includes links to a printable “Crabbing in Puget Sound” brochure and a “Puget Sound Recreational Crab Guide,” both of which have information on crabbing regulations.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.

In freshwater, portions of the Skagit and Cascade rivers are open for hatchery chinook salmon fishing through July 15. The Skagit is open to hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to Cascade River Road. On the Cascade, anglers can fish for salmon from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. The daily limit on the Skagit and Cascade rivers is four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length).

Portions of the Skykomish River are also open for salmon fishing. Anglers fishing the Skykomish, from the mouth to the Wallace River, have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook only.

The Reiter Ponds section of the Skykomish River opens June 29 for game fish, including hatchery steelhead. For more on that fishery, check the fishing rule change.

Trout fishing also is open at several of the region’s rivers and streams. Under the statewide rule for trout, there is a two-fish daily limit and a minimum size of eight inches in rivers and streams. However, some of the region’s rivers and streams have a rule requiring trout to be at least 14 inches in length to keep. For details on river fishing opportunities, check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

Meanwhile, lake fishing for bass, bluegill, perch, and crappie is steadily improving as water temperatures increase and fish become more active. “Early summer can be a tricky time for anglers, given the abundance of natural food and unstable weather patterns,” said Danny Garrett, WDFW fisheries biologist. “As we move into summer and temperatures rise, fish tend to feed in shallow water – about 2 to 5 feet – early in the morning and late in the evening.” When fishing for lunker bass, Garrett recommends topwater baits, such as buzzbaits, frogs, and poppers, and soft plastic twitch baits, including stick baits and flukes.

During the heat of the day, bass often move to deeper water near structures or other cover, Garrett said. In clear, deep lakes, such as Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish, anglers should focus on the outside edge of boat docks and along the weed line in 15 to 20 feet of water, he said, noting that a drop-shot technique with plastic bait is a good approach.

Discover Pass: Now that summer has finally arrived, hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians will be packing up tents, lanterns, binoculars and fishing poles to spend time with family and friends outdoors. Starting July 1, many will also need to purchase a Discover Pass for vehicle access to state parks, campgrounds, boat launches and wildlife areas.

The new pass, approved this year by the state Legislature, is designed to help keep 7 million acres of state recreational lands open after steep budget cuts. An annual Discover Pass costs $35, and a one-day pass $11.50, when purchased from WDFW online by phone or from retail license vendors.

State Parks will also sell the passes July 1-3 at its Olympia headquarters and regional offices in Burlington and East Wenatchee, in preparation for the Fourth of July weekend. The passes also will be sold at state park sites where staff is available.

“The Discover Pass allows state natural-resource agencies to maintain public access to millions of acres of state recreation lands,” said Phil Anderson, WDFW director. “Sport fishers and hunters have traditionally supported WDFW wildlife areas and water access sites through their license fees; now all who enjoy these lands will share in their support.”

The pass is required for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by WDFW, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The fine for not displaying the pass is $99.

However, some exemptions to the requirement apply.  For example, holders of most annual fishing and hunting licenses are not required to purchase a Discover Pass to use WDFW lands and water-access sites. For a list of these exemptions and other information, see the Discover Pass website or call 1-866-320-9933.

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA

The summer salmon fishing season is under way along the coast, where anglers are hooking some bright chinook and coho.

Fishing was good during the selective fishery (June 18-25) for hatchery chinook and that has carried over to the traditional season, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Anglers are doing well for chinook, as well as hatchery coho, which we are seeing more of this year,” Milward said. “It’s still early in the season, but signs are pointing to a good July for salmon anglers out on the coast.”

ANGLERS ABOARD THE FURY DID WELL DURING THE SELECTIVE CHINOOK FISHERY OUT OF WESTPORT. FISHING IS NOW OPEN FOR HATCHERY OR WILD CHINOOK, BUT ONLY HATCHERY COHO MAY BE RETAINED. (JIM KLARK, NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

Anglers fishing marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 2 (Westport-Ocean Shores), 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) can keep up to one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, but must release any chinook measuring less than 24 inches and hatchery coho less than 16 inches. Wild coho must be released unharmed. Those fishing marine areas 3 and 4 also are allowed one additional pink salmon each day.

Salmon fishing is open seven days a week, except in Marine Area 2 where anglers can fish for salmon Sundays through Thursdays. Salmon fishing is scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1, although those areas could close early if catch quotas are reached. Milward reminds anglers to check for any rule changes at WDFW’s website.

In Puget Sound, salmon fishing seasons open July 1 in marine areas 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and 12 (Hood Canal), while salmon fisheries in marine areas 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 13 (South Puget Sound) are already under way. Because salmon fishing rules vary depending on the marine area, anglers should check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet for all regulations before heading out on the water.

Tara Livingood, Puget Sound recreational salmon fishery manager for WDFW, reminds anglers that they are responsible for correctly identifying their catch. In past years, some anglers were checked at the docks with undersized chinook they misidentified as pink salmon, she said.

“It’s important that people take the time to learn the differences between each salmon species – both to protect the resource and to avoid a fine,” Livingood said. Descriptions of each salmon species can be found on the department’s recreational salmon fishing webpage and in the Fishing in Washington pamphlet. Anglers also can ask WDFW’s dockside fish samplers for a salmon identification card before heading out on the water.

Prefer shellfish? The Puget Sound crab fishery gets under way July 1 in most areas. The exception is Marine Area 7, where the southern portion (San Juan Islands and Bellingham) opens July 15 and the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia) opens Aug. 15.

Under new rules adopted earlier this year by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, all marine areas of Puget Sound will be open for crabbing Thursday through Monday of each week.

Mike Cenci, WDFW’s deputy chief of enforcement, said all crabbers should review the rules of the fishery before heading out on the water. “We’ve found that in the past a significant number of violations occur because people don’t take the time to fully understand the rules of the fishery,” Cenci said. “Those rules, such as properly measuring and identifying crabs, are important tools designed to protect the health of the crab population.”

Information on the rules, including how to properly record and report catch information is available on WDFW’s crab fishing webpage. The page includes links to a printable “Crabbing in Puget Sound” brochure and a “Puget Sound Recreational Crab Guide,” both of which have information on crabbing regulations.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.

Anglers still hoping to land a big flatfish will have one more day in marine areas 3 and 4, where halibut fishing will be open June 30 only. In Marine Area 1, the late season for halibut opens Aug. 5. The fishery there will be open three days per week (Friday through Sunday) until the quota is taken or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. Halibut fishing in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) is only open in the northern nearshore area.

Meanwhile, a few of rivers are open for salmon fishing, including the Hoh, Quillayute and a portion of the Sol Duc. Beginning July 1, a few other rivers open for salmon fishing, including the Bogachiel, Calawah and Nisqually.

Trout fishing also is open at several of the region’s rivers and streams. Under the statewide rule for trout, there is a two-fish daily limit and a minimum size of eight inches in rivers and streams. However, some of the region’s rivers and streams have a rule requiring trout to be at least 14 inches in length to keep. For details on river fishing opportunities, check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON

Summer chinook salmon will continue moving up the lower Columbia River in July in large numbers, joined by an even larger return of summer steelhead later in the month. Sockeye salmon, sturgeon and shad are also “in season” on the big river, and salmon fishing is open on the coast.

Although the Columbia River is still running high and cold, anglers have plenty of options for catching fish in July, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Anglers may need to change their tactics to match the conditions, but fishing should be good throughout the month,” Hymer said. “Sometimes the biggest challenge is figuring out which option to pursue on a given day.”

Summer chinook salmon are a good bet, especially during the first two-to-three weeks of July, Hymer said. According to the season forecast, 92,000 summer chinook – some weighing up to 40 pounds – are expected to enter the Columbia River this year, which would be the largest number since 1980.

BRENT HEDDEN AND THE BOYS HAD TO RELEASE THIS SLAB OF A JUNE HOG WHILE FISHING THE COLUMBIA IN JUNE. THE UNCLIPPED CHINOOK BIT A SPIN-N-GLO IN 6 FEET OF WATER. ANGLERS HAVE RETAINED OVER 2,600 SUMMER KINGS SO FAR THIS SEASON ON THE BIG CRICK. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Like last year, the six-week fishery for hatchery-reared summer chinook was made possible by the additional revenue produced by the new Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement fee.

“With water temperatures below normal, anglers will likely have the greatest success fishing closer to shore,” Hymer said. “Spinners work well under those conditions, although wobblers might be in order if the water temperature rises and the fish go deeper.”

The fishery runs through July 31 from the Megler Astoria Bridge up to Priest Rapids Dam. Anglers may retain up two adult chinook salmon with clipped adipose fins per day. All wild, unclipped chinook salmon must be released.

During the summer chinook fishery, anglers can retain hatchery steelhead and sockeye salmon to reach their daily limit of two adult fish. Under a total daily limit of six fish, the limit for adult fish may include two salmon, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each.

Based on preseason forecasts, 400,000 summer steelhead and 162,000 sockeye salmon will move into the Columbia River and its tributaries this year. Steelhead usually start coming on strong in late July, just as the summer chinook run starts to taper off, Hymer said. Anglers fishing for hatchery steelhead near the shore of the Columbia River are most likely to hook a sockeye.

“Sockeye are pretty single-minded about moving upriver, so anglers should really consider them a ‘bonus fish’ if they catch one,” Hymer said. “But bank anglers should do pretty well with the combination of hatchery steelhead and sockeye salmon this month.”

A lot of those steelhead will be heading up area tributaries, including the Lewis, Kalama and Washougal rivers – and particularly the Cowlitz River. Once the weather warms up, many will also dip into the White Salmon River and Drano Lake, where fishing usually heats up in late July.

Out in the ocean, salmon fishing is open through Sept. 30 off the coast of Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) and through Sept. 18 in ocean areas farther north. For more information, see the regional Weekender report for Region 6.

Rather catch a sturgeon? Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon have extended retention fishing through July 31 below the Wauna powerlines near Cathlamet and added fishing days June 30-July 2 and July 7-9 from Bonneville Dam upriver to The Dalles Dam. In the estuary fishery, the daily limit is one white sturgeon with a fork-length measurement of 41 inches to 54 inches. Anglers fishing the Bonneville Pool will have a daily catch limit of one white sturgeon, with a fork-length measurement of 38 inches to 54 inches.

As before, the area from the Wauna powerlines upriver to Marker 82 nine miles below Bonneville Dam will be open to retention fishing Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays through July 31. The Dalles Pool is also open to retention fishing until the annual catch reaches the 300-fish guideline. In those and other areas of the Columbia River, all green sturgeon must be released.

And don’t forget shad. While not as highly prized as salmon or sturgeon, they can put up a good fight and make for good eating, Hymer said. While their numbers appear to be down this year, more than a million of them will likely mount a charge up the Columbia this month. There are no daily limits or size limits for shad, the largest member of the herring family.

Fishing for walleye usually slows down at this time of year, but bass fishing tends to pick up in the summer heat. The McNary Pool is generally the best bet for bass.

The good news for trout anglers is that this year’s heavy snowpack is holding down water temperatures in most lakes and reservoirs, which should keep the fish biting well into summer, said John Weinheimer, another WDFW fish biologist.

“Cool water should prolong active fisheries in Swift Reservoir, Riffe Lake and a lot of other lakes and reservoirs throughout the region,” Weinheimer said. Two of those reservoirs, Lake Scanewa and Mayfield Reservoir in Lewis County, will each be planted with about 6,000 catchable-size trout in July, he said.

The bad news is that the snowpack has also delayed stocking a number of high lakes. WDFW usually stocks Goose Lake, a popular fishing lake in Skamania County, by early June, but the road there was still inaccessible to a tanker truck at the end of the month, Weinheimer said.

“We’re hoping the road will clear enough that we can get in there by the Fourth of July,” he said. “It’s a super-popular fishery and we know that a lot of people are waiting for word that it’s been stocked. The same is true of several other high lakes in the region.”

Meanwhile, Weinheimer suggests that angler cast a line at Northwestern Reservoir on the White Salmon River. “With the recent announcement that work to demolish Condit Dam will begin in October, this will be the last year to fish Northwestern, because it simply won’t exist after the dam is removed.”

Rainbow trout planted in Northwestern Reservoir range from 10-inch catchables to 5-8-pound broodstock.

EASTERN WASHINGTON

As water temperatures warm, fishing success shifts from coldwater trout to warmwater or “spiny ray” species like bass and bluegill.

“These fish are just more active in warmer water and are easier to catch now,” said Marc Divens, explains WDFW warmwater fish biologist. “There are some waters in the region that are specifically managed for warmwater species and others that are mixed waters, where trout fishing slows at this time and warmwater fishing picks up.”

With a “slot limit” on largemouth bass, Divens encourages anglers to keep and use the smaller fish caught. As explained under the statewide freshwater rules on page 27 of the fishing rules pamphlet,  only largemouth bass less than 12 inches may be retained, except that one over 17 inches may be kept. Up to five largemouth bass may be kept each day.

Smallmouth bass also have a size restriction – only one over 14 inches may be retained, with a daily limit of 10 fish. As with largemouth, anglers are encouraged to keep smaller bass. Overpopulation of these species can reduce the quality of fisheries.

Eloika Lake, seven miles north of Chattaroy off Highway 2 in north Spokane County, has largemouth bass, yellow perch and black crappie. Eloika is open to fishing year-round and has a WDFW access site, along with a resort.

Downs Lake, seven miles east of Sprague in southwest Spokane County, also has largemouth bass, yellow perch and black crappie. This quality crappie water is managed under a nine-inch minimum size and 10-fish limit on crappie.   Downs is open March through September and has a resort with a small boat launch.

Silver Lake, one mile east of the town of Medical Lake in Spokane County, has largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish. There’s a nine-inch minimum size and 10-fish limit on crappie there. Silver is open year-round and has both WDFW access and a resort.

Newman Lake, 12 miles northeast of Spokane in eastern Spokane County, has largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, black crappie, yellow perch, and bullhead catfish. Newman is open year-round and has two resorts, plus WDFW access.

Liberty Lake, about a mile from the Idaho border in eastern Spokane County, is a mixed species fishery where rainbow and brown trout rule at the outset of the season, from March through May, but the spiny rays come on through the summer. Liberty has virtually all of the warmwater species, including walleye, but both species of bass and yellow perch dominate.  There’s a WDFW boat launch available.

Sprague Lake, on the Lincoln-Adams county line, is a mixed-species water where Divens says fall surveys showed an abundant population of small largemouth bass. “There are a few up to five pounds, but most are 10 to 12 inches,” he said. “There’s also a developing panfish population – bluegill and crappie – but in general they’re still small and growing in size.” Sprague is open year round and has two resorts and a WDFW access.

Coffeepot Lake, 12 miles northeast of Odessa in Lincoln County, can be excellent for yellow perch, black crappie and largemouth bass, but it’s under selective gear rules. That means only unscented artificial flies or lures with one single-point, barbless hook are allowed.

The Twin lakes, in the Lake Creek drainage upstream of Coffeepot, have largemouth bass, perch, crappie, and other panfish. Upper Twin can be particularly good for bass. Both are open year-round and have Bureau of Land Management (BLM) access.

Deer and Loon lakes in Stevens County shift at this time of year from trout fishing to largemouth and smallmouth bass and other warmwater fish, especially at Deer Lake, 14 miles southeast of Chewelah. (Loon is a few miles further south, on the west side of Hwy. 395.) Both are open through October and have WDFW access and resorts.
Lake Roosevelt is famous for its walleye, but there’s a good population of smallmouth bass in the big Columbia River reservoir, too.

The Snake River in the south end of the region is also a good bet for summertime smallmouth bass plus nice channel catfish.

Good rainbow and cutthroat trout fishing can still be had these days, says WDFW Regional Fish Program Manager John Whalen, it just takes a shift in either place or time of day to fish. Lowland trout lakes are better in very early morning or late evening hours. Trout lakes at higher elevation, mostly in the northeast district of the region, remain productive longer in the summer.

Those afield on the Fourth of July and throughout the month are asked to exercise caution against sparking a wildfire. Despite the delayed arrival of summer weather, wildfire danger is growing with warmer, drier weather, especially in eastern Washington.

NORTHCENTRAL WASHINGTON

Anglers have been catching an assortment of trout and chinook salmon around the region, while warmwater fishing is finally heating up after a slow start to traditional summer weather.

“The Basin’s big three for good walleye and largemouth and smallmouth bass at this time are Moses Lake, Banks Lake, and Potholes Reservoir,” said Chad Jackson, a district fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). All three year-round-open waters also have populations of bluegill, crappie and yellow perch that can produce good catches through the summer. With the late run-off this year, these big waterways are still at or near high pool, which has slowed normal shoreline action at some reservoirs, such as Potholes.

Evergreen Reservoir on the Quincy Wildlife Area in Grant County is another good July fishery in the Basin, with walleye, largemouth bass, bluegill and other species.

Lower Goose Lake, one of the Seep lakes south of Potholes Reservoir, has a good crappie and bluegill fishery. For crappie, Lower Goose has a minimum size of nine inches and a daily catch limit of 10 fish. It also has a restriction that only five bluegill over six inches can be kept, although there is no daily limit on smaller fish.

Hutchinson and Shiner lakes, on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge seven miles north of Othello in Adams County, should be heating up this month for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and perch.

Meanwhile, fishing for spring chinook salmon on the Icicle River should continue to be good as more fish move through the system, said WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist Bob Jateff. The season continues on the Icicle through July 31, from the closure signs located 800 feet upstream of the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery barrier dam. The daily limit is three salmon, with a minimum size of 12 inches. A night closure is in effect.

BOB COOK SHOWS OFF ONE OF TWO SPRINGERS LANDED OUT OF ICICLE CREEK RECENTLY. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Summer chinook salmon fishing starts July 1 on the mainstem Columbia River and some tributaries above Priest Rapids Dam. The daily limit is six chinook salmon, minimum size 12 inches. Up to three adults may be retained, of which only one may be an unmarked wild fish. Anglers need to consult the current sportfishing regulations for specifics on the area they would like to fish. All salmon fitted with a colored floy (anchor) tag must be released as these fish are part of ongoing studies being conducted by the Yakama Nation and WDFW.

Jateff reports Pearrygin, Wannacut, Wapato, Spectacle, and Conconully lakes and Conconully Reservoir are all producing good catches of rainbow trout in the 10-12 inch range, with carryover fish up to 15 inches.

“Water temperatures are starting to rise a bit, but anglers can still catch some nice fish at a number of selective gear lakes,” Jateff said. “Blue Lake on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, Big Twin near Winthrop, and Blue Lake near Oroville can be productive during July if you use different fishing methods than earlier in the season. Fast-sinking lines are the norm, which allow the fly or lure to get to the proper depth. Anglers should play the fish as quickly as possible and not remove them from the water to help in recovery during these hotter months.”

The Sinlahekin’s Blue Lake, along with Okanogan County’s Bonaparte and Lost lakes, are under a new rule this year to help protect the common loon, a sensitive species in Washington that is likely to become threatened or endangered without improved survival rates. The rule prohibits the use of lead weights and jigs that measure 1½ inches or less along the longest axis. Ingestion of this small lead fishing tackle is a leading cause of fatal lead poisoning of loons, which have been known to nest on Blue Lake in the past and are currently nesting at Bonaparte and Lost lakes.

“The Methow River is currently running high, so serious trout fishing is probably delayed until the first week or two of July,” Jateff said. The Methow and selected tributaries are restricted to catch-and-release fishing under selective gear rules. A number of tributaries are closed to all fishing, so anglers need to consult current regulations before they head out. Any bull trout caught must be released unharmed and can’t be taken out of the water.

APPARENTLY WDFW CAN'T GET A REPORT ON RUFUS WOODS, BUT WE CAN TELL YOU WHAT WE AND OTHERS ARE SEEING -- IT'S HOT! GARRETT GRUBBS WAS UP THERE RECENTLY AND LANDED THIS BEAUT NEAR THE NETPENS ON A PANTHER MARTIN SPINNER. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

CORBIN HAN SHOWS OFF HIS RUFUS WOODS TROPHY, CAUGHT RECENTLY. "I HAD TO HELP HOLD THE ROD TIP UP A COUPLE OF TIMES, BUT THAT WAS IT," SAYS HIS FATHER, JERRY, ALSO PICTURED. "AT THE END OF THE FIGHT, CORBIN LIFTED UP AND PULLED THE FISH TO THE NET LIKE A PRO!! THESE ARE TOUGH FIGHTING FISH AND YOU BETTER BELIEVE THAT I WAS VERY PROUD." (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

SOUTHCENTRAL WASHINGTON

Area anglers have several good fishing opportunities in July, ranging from an extended spring chinook season on a portion of the Yakima River to newly stocked jumbo trout in three popular high-mountain lakes. On the Columbia River, the catch is running to walleye, shad and the occasional summer chinook salmon.

Citing the late arrival of this year’s run, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) extended spring chinook fishing through July 31 on the 20-mile stretch of the Yakima River between the Interstate 82 Bridge in Union Gap to the Burlington Northern Railroad bridge 500 feet downstream from Roza Dam. The daily limit remains two hatchery chinook, with clipped adipose fins.

“Fishing has been very good for springers, especially in that stretch of the Yakima River,” said Eric Anderson, a WDFW fish biologist in Yakima. “We expect to have hatchery fish available for harvest well into July.”

Anderson noted that fishing is closed for steelhead, and that terminal gear in the spring chinook fishery is restricted to one single-point, barbless hook with a hook gap (from point to shank) of three-quarters of an inch or less. Bait and knotted nets are allowed in the section of the river open to salmon fishing.

A Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead endorsement is required to participate in the fishery. For additional regulations, see the Rule Change notice on the WDFW website.

On the Columbia River, most anglers fishing below the Tri-Cities have been focusing on walleye. Creel checks conducted during the last days of June included 51 anglers aboard 22 boats with 50 walleye. Catches of shad are also picking up. Shad counts at McNary Dam topped 5,000 fish per day in late June, and are expected to keep rising through mid-July.

Anglers have also been picking up a few summer chinook below McNary Dam, but the action has been slow upstream of the dam, said Paul Hoffarth, a WDFW district fish biologist in Pasco. Summer chinook and sockeye can be harvested in the Columbia River below the Highway 395 Bridge (blue bridge), but only chinook with a clipped adipose may be retained. The Hanford Reach area of the Columbia River is also open to fishing for hatchery chinook salmon with clipped adipose fins.

Anglers also should be aware that sturgeon sanctuaries are in effect in many areas of the Columbia and Snake rivers.  These sanctuary areas below Ice Harbor, McNary and Priest Rapids Dams are closed to all fishing for sturgeon through July 31.

Meanwhile, fishing for stocked rainbow trout is still going strong on lowland lakes near Yakima, Ellensburg and Cle Elum, said Anderson, the fish biologist based in Yakima. He especially likes the prospects at Bear Lake and Clear Lakes in Yakima County and Easton Ponds in Kittitas County. Also, WDFW is planting hundreds of 1.5-pound jumbo trout in three popular “drive to” high-mountain lakes the last week of June. Those lakes include Leech and Dog lakes near White Pass, and Lost Lake near Snoqualmie Pass.

“These lakes will provide some outstanding fishing opportunities for the Fourth of July weekend,” Anderson said.

Mountain streams were still running high in late June, but fishing conditions should improve there and in high lakes through July, Anderson said. For kokanee, he recommends Bumping Lake, Rimrock Lake and Keecheus and Kachess reservoirs.

USFS Lays Out Baker Rules For Anglers

June 29, 2011

All of 58 sockeye were swimming around Baker Lake as of yesterday, June 28, but the Forest Service is preparing for thousands upon thousands more to be trucked up to the reservoir in the North Cascades and the potential for another fishery this summer.

Should that happen — and we’re crossing our fingers it does — the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest issued a press release reminding anglers they’ll be sharing the lake with other recreationalists, that their boat ramps are right next to campgrounds, the launch closest to the lake’s hottest spot at Noisy Creek will be closed to all users except those camped there or have cartoppers, and that parking fees ranging from $5 to $9 are in effect at their lots.

They’ve posted a map showing ramp locations, how many spots are available at each one and other rules.

Last year’s first-ever fishery here was based off a return of 14,239 sockeye to the Baker River trap, fish which were then hauled up to the lake and released. This year’s forecast is for nearly 10,000 more, and while the salmon first have to actually show up, it’s “pretty likely” there will be a season, according to the state fisheries biologist.

There will likely be many more seasons.

Puget Sound Energy, which operates Baker Lake Dam and the Kulshan Campground and ramp, has been enhancing the system for salmon over the years as part of dam relicensing and boldly predicts runs of 50,000 to 75,000 sockeye in coming seasons.

And WDFW biologist Brett Barkdull indicates that there’s a potential for limits of up to four sockeye — if a fishery is OKed this summer, he tells Northwest Sportsman he’ll push for a daily bag of three.

All fantastic news for anglers and sporting goods stores and other businesses in the North Sound.

But last year’s unexpected opener last July caught the Forest Service by surprise, and now district ranger Jon Vanderheyden is scrambling to satisfy families out for a quiet campout at their facilities in the mountains and anglers who want to get on the water for the first-light bite.

“We had folks running around at 5:30 in the morning looking for parking spots. There were definitely some ticked-off campers,” he says.

Vanderheyden says that this year workers have paved and striped additional parking at their Panorama Point Campground and are hoping to do similar at Horseshoe Cove Campground.

“Once one fills up, you’re going to have to go to another launch,” he says.

There will likely be increased Forest Service patrols and ticketing for parking in bad spots.

One other thing of note is that while USFS will not issue any new commercial guiding permits for the lake, five guides who were granted one-year permits last summer will be able to use theirs until they expire.

We reported on the issue and Vanderheyden then appeared on The Outdoor Line radio show to explain things.

“It’s going to take a little while for all of us to work the bugs out. It’s good to see a fishery, but we’ve got to respect the users and the resource,” he tells Northwest Sportsman.

With the sockeye runs that PSE and Barkdull expect in the future, angler cooperation will go a long way to keeping things running smoothly for all parties and keep us off the TV news.

For more on this emerging fishery, see the big map feature in the July issue of Northwest Sportsman!

Epic Days On The Nush

June 28, 2011

I don’t know what shocked me more: the fact that the Nushagak served up a big, fat, ditch-dead-smelly skunk to a trio of Pugetropolis anglers and then over 100 Chinook.

Then again, when you read those events occurred on the famed Alaska salmon fishing river within three days of each other, your brow and jaw do a dance that contorts your face and you find yourself really glad there’s not a Web cam trained on you.

In this case, it was a tale of epic and uncharacteristic fishing days by Terry Wiest of SteelheadUniversity.com and a Northwest Sportsman contributor that had my face going two ways at once.

Wiest was up on the Nush at Jake’s Salmon Camp for five days last week, came back over the weekend, sent me some stunning fish-fighting-under-the-midnight-sun images and posted a few others on his Facebook page.

Looked like a cool trip, I thought — hardcore angler and his buddies got out in the bush, caught some fish, had a good time, right on.

And then early this afternoon Terry emailed me a fuller accounting of the escapade, and that’s when my face started doing funny things.

My first reaction was, Preposterous!

But then I did a wee bit of fact-checking and thought, well … there weren’t that many fish around, but then there was a huuuuuge spike on the sonar just upstream of where he was fishing.

And Terry insisted it was true (editor’s note, July 1, 2011: Bob Toman’s camp was reporting good fishing as well) and since he’s never steered me wrong, I’m posting an edited version of his tale here (look for the full one on SteelieU, and see his FB page for photos and a video).

Nushagak River – June 19 – 23, 2011

Jake’s Nushagak Camp – Steelhead University

By Terry Wiest

Anticipation was high this year as we ventured on our third annual Steelhead University/Jake’s Nushagak Camp trip. The kings were starting to trickle in, and Alaska Fish and Game announced no commercial opener for kings or sockeye until after the escapement had been reached. This was fantastic after last year’s commercial slaughter in which they caught over 40,000 kings as bycatch during the sockeye harvest.

HEADING INTO THE BUSH. (TERRY WIEST, STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

JAKE'S SALMON CAMP, FROM THE PLANE. (TERRY WIEST, STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

We had a dozen fishermen in our group this year and would be joined by another 18, bringing the camp to full capacity. I would be fishing with my friends Terry Fors and Jeff Norwood, which would give us a solid hardcore lineup looking to put our knowledge to test against what has been known as Alaska’s great king salmon run.

Day 1: Yes Virginia, even in Alaska you can find a skunk!

Day one was unbelievable – and I mean I still can’t believe it. A big SKUNK!!!

What the heck was this? I have many adjectives to describe this and I’m sure many were thinking worse, but zilch on the Nushagak?

This was not due to lack of trying or anything to do with our guide (which happened to be No. 1 guide and camp manager Swanny). Something not to be proud to be a part of, we handed Swanny his first EVER skunking on the Nush.

We decided to check out the sonar station at Portage Creek which is just a couple miles upriver from Jake’s. Now this explains it – 66 fish came through in the last 24 hours. We thought, oh my god, what are we in for?

Last year was a down year due to the commercial overfishing, but there were at least several hundred coming though each day.

Day 2: Could it be a repeat?

Maybe day two would be better, we hoped. It was — but barely. Even with another top guide, Brian, we avoided another skunk with two fish.

Not much to say here except things have to get better. They said there’s fish in Bristol Bay, but they’re not moving upriver for some reason. Today’s sonar count was a pitiful 122 fish. Again, this is very uncharacteristic for this time of the run and things aren’t feeling very good.

Day 3: Captain Fred puts us on a few fish

I finally get to fish with the old man of the river, Captain Fred. Many call him grumpy or simply Old Man, I call him my friend.

CAPTAIN, NEE, "PROFESSOR" FRED, THE GUIDE. (TERRY WIEST, STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

We had some great stories to swap back and forth which made the time between fish seem to fly by, but old Fred’s a smart cookie and wasn’t about to let us have a bad day. Finally a respectable day on the Nush, but far from fantastic. The fish seemed very small compared to the last few years, but hey, we were getting fish. Our daily total for the three of us was 26 fish to the boat. Not bad considering only 981 passed through the sonar station.

Day 4: Captain Fred becomes Professor Fred: A legend is made

We were supposed to fish with Eli, the owner of Jake’s, but due to a medication reaction, Eli was in no shape to take us out. We would have gladly taken the boat out ourselves, but Swanny asked if we minded fishing with Fred again. Are you kidding? Fred’s great – let’s get this show on the road.

STANDARD DRILL IS TO TROLL A SIZE 7 WORDEN'S OR R&B LURES' INLINE UV SPINNER WITH A PAUTZKE'S SPAWN SACK DOWNRIVER. (TERRY WIEST, STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

Day 4 started out with an absolute bang – a triple to start the day.

As we came down through the tailout, Fred asked if we wanted to pick up and return to the top.

“Just another minute, Fred,” we said, “this looks like good water.”

Fred had explained that it was snaggy in the past, but that he did notice a new sandbar formed on the side. I think all that sand created a trench and we hit the slot perfect – fish on, fish on. A double and we’re at five fish the first drift.

KINGS RANGED IN SIZE FROM 8 TO 30 POUNDS, AVERAGING IN THE TEENS. WIEST ET AL FOUGHT THEM ON FETHA STYX'S SM-904-2 HOMEWATER RODS, DAIWA LUNA 300 REELS, AND 25-POUND MAXIMA HIGH VIZ. (TERRY WIEST, STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

We matched our daily total from the day before in four hours of fishing so we went in for lunch. Of course we tried talking Fred into skipping lunch, but he didn’t think Eli would appreciate that.

After lunch, back to the same drift and it was lights out! Now we were getting at least one fish a drift and most drifts between three and five fish. Doubles were the norm and several triples. The boats from other camps that were back bouncing just kept shaking their heads in disbelief — we were on fire!

JEFF NORWOOD WITH A PAIR OF NUSHAGAK KINGS. (TERRY WIEST, STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

TERRY FORYS HOLDS ONTO THE ROD. (TERRY WIEST, STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

As the 90-fish mark approached, we were all aware of how close we were to that legendary 100-fish mark — but also well aware of how little time we had left to achieve this milestone.

“Don’t worry, Fred, Eli said not to come in until we get 100.”

“We still have over an hour left, Fred, Eli said 7:00 was fine since you got us out late.”

We tried every excuse, but Fred just smiled. We had a 6:00 deadline.

At 5:45, we finished a drift with a triple, putting us at 99!

Are you kidding me!?

“Fire ‘er up, Fred, and let’s hit it.”

Luckily Fred didn’t hesitate and we were back up to the top of the hole.

Immediately we got a double – 100 and 101. Number 102 came just minutes after.

Fred said, “OK boys, one last drag through our new snag hole and we have to reel them up.”

Woo hoo – we end the day with a triple and count that as 105!

That hole is now known as the Double TJ hole (Terry, Terry, Jeff).

More importantly, Steelhead University graduated Fred to the title of Professor! We’re going to make you a legend, Fred.

Getting back to shore, rumors were already flying. Although Fred could barely move we worked him so hard, he was grinning from ear to ear. Yeah, buddy!

Oh, by the way, 2,238 fish past the sonar today. We expected much higher numbers with the catch we had, but at least it’s a good number.

We also landed over 70 kings from shore this night and numerous chrome bright chum — the Nush at its finest.

WHAT'S THERE TO DO ON THE NUSH AFTER A HARD DAY OF CATCHING AND RELEASING CHINOOK FROM THE BOAT? CATCHING AND RELEASING THEM FROM THE BANK ! WIEST AND OTHERS LANDED NUMEROUS CHINOOK AND THIS BRIGHT CHUM FROM THE BEACH USING A SPIN-N-GLO AND SPAWN SACK WITH A 1-OUNCE WEIGHT ON A FOOT-LONG DROP LINE. (TERRY WIEST, STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

And how’d Day 5 go? Well, you’ll have to dial up Wiest’s Web site later to find out, but let’s just say, when’s the next #!$#$ flight?!?!?!?!

FIGHTING ANOTHER ONE UNDER THE MIDNIGHT SUN. (TERRY WIEST, STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM)

Comment Deadline For Wolves In Western Parts of WA, OR Coming Up

June 28, 2011

You have one week to tell the Feds whether the few wolves in the western parts of Washington and Oregon are or aren’t the same as those in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and the amount of Endangered Species Act protection they should or shouldn’t have.

The public comment period on Canis lupus in the Pacific Northwest, a subset of a larger nationwide U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service status review of wolves, expires July 5.

Coming on the heels of Congressional delisting, the Federal agency is trying to determine whether wolves in the Cascades and western two-thirds of both states should be classified just like those to the east, neither threatened nor endangered, or a population separate from the Northern Rockies. If the latter, they would then figure out if continued ESA coverage is warranted or propose to delist them because they don’t meet certain guidelines.

It’s entirely separate from discussions on the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s draft wolf management plan.

Currently, there aren’t many wolves in the Cascades of either state. There’s at least a pair of related males in the Lookout Pack of North-Central Washington’s Methow Valley, possibly some on upper Ross Lake on the BC border, and a WDFW trapper has been in the Teanaway region between Cle Elum and Cashmere following up on reports over the past eight months, including a trail camera pic of a large, gray canid reputedly taken near Liberty along the Blewett Pass highway.

LARGE CANID TRACK FOUND IN THE GENERAL TEANAWAY AREA LAST FALL BY A HUNTER. HE SAYS THAT FOR REFERENCE, HIS BOOT SIZE IS 11. HE SAYS HE SAW FOUR WOLVES IN THE NORTH FORK TOO, AND POSTED HIS STORY AND A PIC HERE: http://hunting-washington.com/smf/index.php/topic,59824.0.html (PAT BILYEU)

The Lookout’s alpha male has DNA from Canada; it will be interesting to know whether those found further south share the same genetic makeup or are different, i.e., not its progeny.

The same goes for wolves in Oregon’s Cascades. According to USFWS, there have been “several credible reports” out of the Beaver State’s Central Cascades and Klamath Basin, including a 2009 photograph of one off U.S. 20 between Sisters and Springfield. This winter’s monthly updates from ODFW indicate tracks spotted here and there fanning out from three packs, including two breeding pairs, in the state’s northeast corner. Those packs are linked to reintroduced populations of Central Idaho.

To comment, go to regulations.gov and follow the instructions for Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029. Type “Pacific Northwest wolves” in your comment’s subject line. You can also send comments via the post office to Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

Columbia Summer Chinook Update (6-28-11)

June 28, 2011

Courtesy fisheries biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver:

Last week (June 20-26) anglers on the lower Columbia made 15,100 trips and caught 2,525 adult summer chinook (1,759 kept and 766 released) and 483 sockeye (366 kept and 117 released).  Boat angler effort increased from the previous week while bank angler effort was similar.  Catch rates for chinook increased for both boat and bank anglers, and sockeye catch rates picked up for bank anglers. Washington bank anglers were also catching quite a few more steelhead last week.

(Here’s his report for June 16-19: During the first four days of the summer chinook fishery, anglers made 9,600 trips and caught 1,300 adult summer chinook (855 kept and 446 released).  Bank anglers made the majority of the trips and catch although overall boat anglers had a higher catch rate.  On Sunday’s flight we counted over 1,100 salmonid bank anglers and just under 300 boats.)

Meanwhile, ODFW sent their weekly Lower Columbia fishing roundup out via Tanna Takata. To wit:

Salmon catch rates ranged from fair to excellent on the lower Columbia this past weekend.  Boat anglers fishing in the estuary averaged 1.14 summer chinook caught per boat, while anglers fishing in the gorge averaged 0.91 summer chinook caught per boat.  Boat anglers fishing in the Portland to Longview area averaged 0.22 summer chinook caught per boat, while anglers fishing in Troutdale this past week averaged 0.11 summer chinook caught per boat.  Angler success continues to improve along the banks between Portland and the estuary where catch rates averaged 0.15 summer chinook caught per bank angler.  On the lower Columbia this past weekend there were 464 boats, and 535 Oregon bank anglers counted on Saturday’s (6/25) flight.  Shad angling slowed down slightly this past week; however, the best catch rates continue to be in the gorge.

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for three salmon anglers; and 384 shad kept, plus eight shad released for 112 shad anglers.

Gorge Boats: Weekend checking showed eight adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults and two adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jacks kept, plus two unclipped summer chinook adults released for 11 salmon boats (37 anglers); and 92 shad kept for 13 shad boats (32 anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekly checking showed two adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults kept for 19 salmon boats (28 anglers); and one shad kept for three shad boats (six anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank: Weekend checking showed 22 adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, 13 adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jacks, seven adipose fin-clipped steelhead, and seven sockeye kept, plus 15 unclipped summer chinook adults, one unclipped summer chinook jack, and five sockeye released for 254 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats: Weekend checking showed seven adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, and two adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jacks kept, plus one unclipped summer chinook adult and one unclipped summer chinook jack released for 36 boats (85 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Jones Beach to the Astoria-Megler Bridge): Weekend checking showed eight adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, seven adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jacks, four adipose fin-clipped steelhead and two sockeye kept, plus one unclipped summer chinook jack released for 54 bank anglers.

Estuary Boats (Puget Island to the Astoria-Megler Bridge): Weekend checking showed six adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults and one adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jack kept, plus two unclipped summer chinook adults, one unclipped steelhead and six sockeye released for seven boats (19 anglers).

Bonneville Pool: Weekend checking showed one adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adult and two sockeye kept, plus six unclipped summer chinook adults and 19 sockeye released for eight salmon anglers; and 124 shad kept, plus 106 shad released for 46 shad anglers.

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed five adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, plus four unclipped summer chinook adults released for 52 bank anglers.

SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report (6-27-11)

June 27, 2011

(REPORT COURTESY FISHERIES BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

SALMON AND STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – At the barrier dam, 19 bank anglers kept 5 adult and 3 jack spring chinook, 1 steelhead and released 1 steelhead.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 118 spring chinook adults, 158 jacks, nine mini jacks, and 226 summer-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released ten spring chinook adults and 145 jacks into Lake Scanewa.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,100 cubic feet per second on Monday morning, June 27.

Wind River – No report on angling success.  June 30 is the last day to fish for spring chinook.  Salmon fishing on the lower river will re-open August 1.

Drano Lake – No report on angling success.  Effective July 1, open 7 days per week and the area near the outlet will be open to angling from a boat.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 2,225 salmonid anglers (including 228 boats) with 225 adult and 79 jack summer chinook, 152 steelhead, and 36 sockeye.  141 (63%) of the adult and 65 (83%) of the jacks were kept as were 123 (81%) of the steelhead and all but one (97%) of the sockeye.

Just under 1,100 salmonid bank anglers and 464 boats were observed on the lower Columbia mainstem during last Saturday’s (June 25) effort flight count.

Bonneville Pool – Light effort except for some bank anglers at Cascade Locks.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some summer chinook.

Lake Umatilla Summer Chinook Harvest Report June 20-26: An estimated 12 adult summer chinook and 9 jacks were harvested this past week in the John Day Pool. No wild chinook or steelhead were caught. Effort was fairly light with an estimated 220 angler trips for the week.  WDFW staff interviewed 39 anglers, 19% of the overall effort.  For the fishery that began June 16, 18 adult hatchery summer chinook and 25 hatchery jacks have been harvested.

WDFW staff also collect information from all other anglers. Walleye fishing has been very good for this time of year and shad fishing is improving.

Bass (1 boats, 2 anglers) 0 bass

Walleye (22 boats, 51 anglers) 50 walleye

Sturgeon (2 boats, 3 anglers) no fish (Catch & Release Only)

Shad (6 boats, 17 anglers) 67 shad

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines downstream – Catches improved at the Deep River/Knappton ramps where boat anglers averaged a legal kept per about every 4.5 rods.  The ports of Chinook and Ilwaco summaries will be sent in another e-mail, possibly later today.

Mainstem Columbia and its tributaries from Buoy 10 upstream to the Wauna powerlines (including all adjacent Washington tributaries) – White sturgeon may be retained daily through July 31.  Daily limit is 1 fish.  The minimum fork length is 41 inches and maximum fork length 54 inches.  Catch-and-release fishing is permitted on non-retention days.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Navigation Marker 82 – We sampled a legal kept by a boat angler in the Camas/Washougal area and one in Vancouver.

Navigation Marker 82 downstream – During the Saturday June 25 effort flight count, 287 private boats and 13 charters were tallied with the majority of the fleet observed in the estuary.

Mainstem Columbia from Bonneville Dam to The Dalles Dam including all adjacent Washington tributaries – Sturgeon may be retained June 30-July 2 and July 7-July 9.  The daily limit is 1 fish, minimum 38” fork length and maximum 54” fork length.  Catch-and-release fishing is permitted on non-retention days.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some fish.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers continue to catch walleye and bass.

TROUT

Mt. Adams Pond in Klickitat County – Planted with 2,200 half-pound and 10 three pound rainbows June 17.  No report on angling success.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Based on mainly incomplete trips, bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam averaged about 3.5 shad per rod when including the few fish released.  Some shad were caught by boat anglers in the gorge while the Camas/Washougal area continues to be slow.

Minority Group Sends More Comments On WA Wolf Plan

June 27, 2011

If ten worked for Idaho and Montana, ten can work for Washington too.

Concerned about game populations and impacts to livestock, six members of the state Department of Fish & Wildlife’s 17-person Wolf Working Group have submitted another opinion on the draft management plan for Canis lupus in the Evergreen State, this one accepting a few more breeding pairs, but also asking for a cap on the overall wolf population.

“We would agree with 10 BPs as long as there was a targeted maximum population not to exceed 200 wolves and the major items within this document are addressed,” wrote Jack Field, Duane Cocking, Ken Oliver, Daryl Asmussen, Jeff Dawson and Tommy Petrie in a 12-page letter sent to WDFW late last week.

Field, Dawson and Asmussen are cattlemen, Petrie and Cocking hunters, Oliver a former county commissioner in Northeast Washington. In a May 2008 opinion, the sextet stated support for eight breeding pairs equaling delisting to big-game status.

The letter follows the working group’s two-day meeting in Ellensburg which came on the heels of the release of WDFW’s revised wolf management plan in late May. The draft holds the line on 15 breeding pairs spread across three regions of the state, fewer than many folks had said they wanted in public comment.

Ten breeding pairs was the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s original goal back in the mid-1990s for each of the three states in the Northern Rocky Mountains recovery region (or a total of 30 pairs) to maintain for three years in a row. (Idaho and Montana adopted 15 breeding pairs as minimums in their subsequent state plans.) A benchmark reached long ago, state management was held up by lawsuits and Wyoming’s inadequate management plan. At the end of 2010, there were a minimum of 1,651 wolves, 244 packs and 111 breeding pairs in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and eastern thirds of Washington and Oregon. In May of this year, the species was finally delisted through Congressional action.

The minority group continues to want to eliminate the three-year waiting period between reaching recovery benchmarks and delisting from state protections, saying that the time lag between those points could result in a population of 496 wolves versus 262 — and that’s if nobody sues.

They question WDFW’s wolf habitat modeling work and says it is “unacceptable” that the agency’s plan takes a “wait and see approach on ungulate/wolf conflict” for game species like elk. By their mathematics, if state delisting is held up for two years, the number of elk killed by wolves could top the number harvested by hunters.

The lack of a wolf population cap also sends “a clear message that (the WDFW) intend to adjust hunter harvest levels to provide for wolf consumption first and hunters second,” the letter states.

The six espouse a “zonal” management approach for downlisting — that is, areas like the eastern third of the state should have fewer breeding pairs because of less habitat and prey — and support translocation, specifically moving wolves to the Olympic Peninsula which “contains a large amount of habitat and prey.”

They argue, “The absence of translocation and wolves to the Northwest Coast is discrimination against the effected people in the other three existing wolf recovery zones.”

In closing, they write:

“The proposed Wolf Plan will not create trust between the effected people (rural residents, cattlemen, sportsman and hunters) and the WDFW. Social acceptance of this Plan and the Wolf amongst effected people is needed to achieve success. The proposed Wolf Plan has the potential to criminalize effected people. The Wolf Plan as proposed will preclude de-listing (targeted maximum population). The WDFW needs to completely re-vise the Draft Wolf Plan and not ignore the comments from effected people and the comments contained within this Minority Opinion if they truly wish to create a document that does not deceive the public and thereby ensures for a sustainable wolf population.”

The entire opinion is downloadable in at least two places:

http://www.huntfishnw.com/index.php?board=41.0
http://hunting-washington.com/smf/index.php/topic,78539.0.html

As for other Washington wolf news, we’ve got our ears to the ground and expect developments this week, and WDFW is setting up a series of workshops this summer and fall to talk more about wolves and the Fish & Wildlife Commission will officially get the draft plan in August and is scheduled to make a final decision this December.

(EDITED JUNE 29, 2011 TO INCLUDE ID, MT STATE PLAN WOLF MINIMUMS OF 15 BREEDING PAIRS)

Reiter Stretch Of Sky Opening Early

June 24, 2011

For the fifth time in the past six years, fishery managers will open the Reiter Ponds stretch of the upper Skykomish River early for hatchery steelhead retention.

By the rules pamphlet, the water 1,000 feet below the outlet to the rearing ponds to 1,500 feet above it ain’t supposed to open until Aug. 1, but WDFW just announced fishing’s a go there as of 8 a.m. Wednesday, June 29.

WINSTON McCLANAHAN SHOWS OFF A SUMMER-RUN CAUGHT IN THE REITER STRETCH A FEW SEASONS BACK. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

The agency says that the local hatchery is “on target to collect enough summer steelhead broodstock to meet production needs.”

Access to the river is through the grounds of the rearing ponds, off Reiter Road east of Gold Bar, as well as a large pull-off just uphill from Zeke’s on U.S. 2.

Night closure and anti-snagging rules are in effect. The 8 a.m. opener is to “ensure an orderly fishery,” says WDFW.

Anglers will be greeted with high water — the Sky just downstream is running at just under 10,000 cubic feet per second this afternoon, about twice the median over the past 82 years. Because of the bouldery nature of most of this stretch, most anglers use a float and jig, tipping with bait.

Past years have seen openers on June 12 (2010), June 24 (2006), July 18 (2009) and July 21 (2007).

In general, Washington fishery managers have been attempting more and more to keep hatchery steelhead from spawning with wild runs.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, reader Brent Sanders, who was fishing with guide Ryan Bennett, sent us a pic and report from well downstream on the Sky: “High water with low viz. I hooked two and only landed one.”

(BRENT SANDERS)

Crabbing The Sound? Know Rules Before You Go

June 24, 2011

Page through the fishing regs and there’s a chance you’ll flip right past the Dungeness section.

Where almost every other species we chase around the Northwest has increasingly convoluted and hard to understand restrictions that require reams of paper to explain – adipose fins verboten this day but OK the next, barbless hooks not allowed here but fine next door, fishing closed unless open here but open unless closed there, special nets and gasless engines only on this lake, selective gear on this river stretch but bait OK below there, only left-handed anglers allowed on second Tuesdays yada, yada, yada – the crab compendium is refreshingly simple.

That’s because, well, crabbing for Dungeness is pretty damned basic.

No matter which bay you’re on, you haul up your trap, check to see if your catch is male (females go back) and measure across its back to see if it’s wide enough.

If you get two yesses in a row, you and Donald the Dungie have a dinner date.

A BIGGER SHARE OF THE ALLOCATION HAS PUGET SOUND CRABBERS EXCITED, BUT IT ALSO COMES WITH REQUESTS FROM WDFW AND THE SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY TO PLEASE KNOW AND FOLLOW THE RULES -- OUR FLEET IS ON "PROBATION" AS THE FISH & WILDLIFE COMMISSION WILL BE CHECKING IN TO SEE WHETHER "COMPLIANCE" HAS INCREASED. (STEVE MCNULLY)

While the Washington Department of Fish & Wildife’s pamphlet is currently at 140 pages, it only needs a single one (136) to set out those simple edicts – “and half of that is a picture,” notes Rich Childers, WDFW’s Puget Sound shellfish manager.

ODFW’s book has crab identification tips and regs on two different pages (98 and 104), but requires even less ink to do so.

SO WHY IN HELL am I writing about this then?

Because somehow crabbing has one of the highest violation rates of all fisheries. Shellfishers keep females, retain undersized males, and in Puget Sound forget to pull out their catch record card and record legals – or don’t have one altogether.

Some of it is blatant poaching, but there’s also just a lot of unfamiliarity with the rules, says Childers.

In the lead up to July’s openers in Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and parts of the San Juans and Strait of Juan de Fuca, he and Tony Floor of the Northwest Marine Trade Association have been on an outreach tour to better educate local crabbers. WDFW also fired off a press release today and has amped up its crabbing page.

The effort follows the Fish & Wildlife Commission’s decision last October to increase the sport fishery by a day and run it as a set season instead of under a quota.  As part of that, the commission will also get annual briefings on how well we do following the rules.

“It’s safe to say they expect an increase with the outreach,” Childers says.

“We’re on probation,” adds Floor, the NMTA’s fishing affairs director. “It’s up to all of us to educate everyone on the water.”

Mike Cenci and his crew of wardens will also be out on the salt running emphasis patrols in July and August, but WDFW is also sending out a pair of brochures to crabbers with info on how to sex, measure and record legal crabs.

“You don’t need a Ph.D. to understand the rules, just take some time to read them,” Floor says. “We’d like to keep this increased allocation and move forward with other species. We’ve got to do better and we’re being watched.”

With something on the order of a quarter million crab endorsements sold annually, he considers the fishery “critically imporant” for the future of the sportfishing industry.

Childers also emphasizes the importance of reporting your catch – “even if you don’t go or don’t catch any, the zeros are as important as anything.”

After Sept. 5, you’ll be able to report your summer sesh online, or just mail in your card to Crab Central in Oly; see your card for addresses.

Childers says that the more data WDFW has, the “greater accuracy in estimating the catch and developing future seasons.”

Those who don’t file will be dinged with a $10 fine when they buy their 2012 fishing license.

Also be aware that anyone crabbing in Puget Sound needs the $3 endorsement (free for crabbers under 15). You also need a state fishing license to crab in Washington.

To make sure you’re not among those with an empty card come Labor Day, we’ve asked salty dog Wayne Heinz to detail how it’s done. You can find his big four-page story on baits, traps, placement, how to talk like a pro crabber, etc., etc., etc., in the July issue of Northwest Sportsman.

Go, crab, catch many, cull, card – and chow down.

Columbia Sturgeon Season Extended In Two Zones

June 24, 2011

Sturgeon anglers will be able to fish for four more weeks on the lower Columbia River below the Wauna powerlines.

“There’ll be no break. The fishery will remain open for retention all the way through July 31st,” says Brad James, a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife biologist in Vancouver.

Previously it had been scheduled to close this Sunday, June 26, and reopen July 1-4.

WHITE STURGEON SEASON IN THE COLUMBIA ESTUARY, WHERE NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN CONTRIBUTOR ANDY SCHNEIDER CAUGHT THIS ONE, HAS BEEN EXTENDED THROUGH JULY. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

While catch per angler is slightly better than last year at this time, only half the anglers have shown up for the fishery and they’ve retained 1,000 fewer sturg. A total of 1,230 have been caught for the year through June 19; the season guideline is 6,800 and expected catch is 6,100. Even with the extension, managers think a total of 5,850 will end up being taken, probably a good thing with current concerns about the state of the stock.

Washington and Oregon will conference July 13 to review catch estimates and possibly modify the fishery if landings increase.

According to a fact sheet:

  • The 2011 catch guideline for this fishery is 6,800 white sturgeon.
  • The retention season adopted for the area below Wauna included January 1- April 30 (38-54 inch fork length), May 14 – June 26, and July 1 – 4 (41-54 inch fork length after April).   Expected catch was 6,100 fish.
  • The catch estimates for the 2011 season were modeled based on the average effort and catch during 2009-2010.  Based on 2010 only, when effort and catch rates were low, the 2011 catch projections would have been substantially less.
  • A conservative season for 2011 (90% of guideline), based on 2009-2010 catch data, was adopted due to uncertainty surrounding the projected effort and catch rates. 
  • Catch during the January through April portion of the fishery is typically minimal, with the majority of the effort and catch occurring from late May forward.
  • Catch rates so far this year have resembled 2010 instead of 2009-2010 average.  Catch through June 19 of this year is estimated at 1,230 kept from 9,000 angler trips (0.137 kept/angler) compared to 2,200 kept from 17,500 angler trips (0.125 kept/angler) in 2010.  Effort to date is tracking at 51% of 2010 and about 40% of the 2009-2010 average.
  • Catch rates have improved throughout the month June.  During June 1-12 kept catch averaged 40 fish/day, and increased to an average of 79 fish/day from June 13-19.  Catch rates have continued to increase based on Oregon creel data.  Data from June 20-23 indicate an average catch rate of 132 fish/day (Oregon only).
  • This year through June 19, Oregon catch rates have been about twice as high as Washington’s, so once Washington’s data is combined with Oregon’s, the average would likely be less than 132/day.
  • Based on a guideline of 6,800 fish and a cumulative harvest of 1,230 through June 19, 5,570 fish remain on the estuary guideline.  The currently adopted season includes 11 additional retention days through July 4.  Assuming a kept catch of 110 fish/day (average rate in July 2010), the expected catch for the balance of the season would be 1,210 fish for a total of 2,440 sturgeon, or 36% of the guideline.
  • The expected balance of 4,360 fish would allow for additional retention days.  Extending the retention season through July 31 (7 days/week) would add 31 retention days (June 27-30 and July 5-31) to the fishery.  At an average kept catch of 110 fish/day, this would add 3,410 fish, for a season total of 5,850, or 86% of the guideline.  Average daily kept catch could be as high as 132 fish/day from June 20 through July 31 and still remain within the guideline.

Managers also reopened the Bonneville Pool June 30-July 2 and July 7-9.

NEARLY 375 WHITE STURGEON REMAIN IN THE BONNEVILLE POOL QUOTA, PROMPTING MANAGERS TO REOPEN IT FOR SIX MORE DAYS IN EARLY SUMMER. (KIRBY CANNON)

How NRM Wolf Advocates Bit Themselves In The Ass

June 23, 2011

What might be the best article I’ve read on the lead up to this spring’s delisting of wolves in the Northern Rockies and parts of Washington and Oregon has now been posted in its entirety.

Previously, Hal Herring’s 4,500-word opus on wolf advocates’ lawsuits that held up state management for years after wolves were scientifically recovered, arrogance over locals’ concerns, estrangement from government biologists and then panic in the face of Congressional settlement of the issue was protected behind a paywall at High Country News. This week, it was published by the Cody (Wyo.) Enterprise as “Enviros ‘helped’ wolf lose protection.”

Herring is a hook-and-bullet journalist who blogs for Field & Stream. Previously he wrote that the delisting — brought about by a rider inserted into the Federal budget by Montana Senator Jon Tester (D) and Idaho Representative Alan Simpson (R) — “is a solution hated by the most radical environmental groups, and deemed unacceptable by the perpetually furious anti-wolf crowd. So it is probably just about dead-on.”

The nut of his new article:

It was a destructive cycle: The lawsuits inspired increasing anti-wolf fury; environmentalists responded with yet more lawsuits.

That model is no way to manage wildlife — or people.

But the beat just goes on. Groups are attempting to get the delisting thrown out as unconstitutional, and the RMEF and others flocking to defend it.

Of course, there are other takes on what happened (the state of Wyoming’s intransigence certainly hasn’t helped move management over to the states) which as wolf populations continue to grow in Washington and Oregon, I’ve dutifully read as well, namely the Christian Science Monitor‘s and Earth Island Journal‘s.

Those are interesting, but Herring’s piece is well worth the time.

A Furious King Bite Off Westport

June 23, 2011

Editor’s note: Salmon season between Cape Falcon, Ore., and Vancouver Island got off to a great start last weekend with anglers fishing off the mouth of the Columbia landing a hatchery king apiece.

Catch stats from fisheries biologist Joe Hymer show that 135 anglers in Washington’s Marine Area 1 and off Oregon’s North Coast brought back 136 Chinook.

Just to the north, the Westport fleet hauled nearly five times as many back to the dock, though the average was about one for every two anglers.

The ratio was roughly one for every four La Push fishermen and one for every 2.66 Neah Bay anglers.

Northwest Sportsman ad salesman Jim Klark found himself on a pretty hot bite in the middle of it all and filed the following report:

The long-awaited season opener for ocean salmon fishing arrived on June 18. I had spoken with Deep Sea Charters at the winter sports shows and had the June 19 date marked on my calender.

Have you been to Westport? You gotta go! It is perhaps one of the few true fishing villages on the West Coast. Arriving in Westport on Saturday just as the day’s fishing was concluding I asked Larry Giese at Deep Sea how the fishing had been that day.

“Spotty at best,” he told me.

Some folks did better than others and there was tons of bait, but the salmon had lockjaw.

I checked into the Islander Westport at the other end of town and wondered what tomorrow would bring.

Sunday morning 5 a.m. found me jumping aboard the Fury with Capt.  Mike Harris. He confirmed the tough fishing the day before as I searched for a spot for my lunch, fishing tackle and find a place to sit.  I was joined by nine other happy anglers, who had fished together before and we  all felt like we were on a ride at the fair as we went over the bar out of harbor. However, Harris reminded us to take a seat. “The bar looks a little snotty this morning,” he said.

(JIM KLARK)

We headed north and found a dozen other boats in pursuit of hatchery Chinook.  We all dropped our mooching rigs down 50 pulls and the gentlemen standing 10 feet from me yelled, “Fish on!” almost immediately.

As I reeled up my herring, I saw two bare hooks. As the morning wore on, some fish were “farmed,” a wild salmon was released and four nice hatchery fish were boated.

Me? I was blanking.

It’s funny how when you are not catching fish how you start to notice every little discomfort, ache and pain.

As for Capt. Harris, he started combing the waters with binoculars. At 1:30 p.m., he announced, “Reel ’em up, we’re moving.”

His 5-year-old son was on deck as well and a more determined angler you won’t find. As we arrived between Buoy 6 and Buoy 8, the red marker buoys just outside the Westport harbor entrance, I saw a Grady White with its net in the water and nice Chinook being boated. Harris, who was on the bow of the  boat helping his son, seemed to be reeling his son’s rig with a little more vigor than earlier. Suddenly right in front of me a king jumped and Harris handed the reel to his son with a “Fish on!”

“Reel em up pretty quick, you guys … Drop it to the bottom and reel em up. There is a ton of fish here,” he coached.

Helping his son was deckhand  Natasha and 12 minutes later, the lad had landed a nice hatchery fish. Just as that fish was landed another fish was hooked and then another. Seemed like we had found some cooperative fish. One angler released a coho (this Sunday, June 26, hatchery coho become legal in Area 2).

CAPT. HARRIS HOLDS UP HIS SON'S HATCHERY CHINOOK WHILE DECKHAND NATASHA BEAMS. (JIM KLARK)

Just as I was reeling my rig to the boat to check the  bait, the line screamed off the reel in the direction of The  Hula Girl, another charter boat that had arrived 40 yards off our stern. I raced to the corner keeping my line in front of me as it seemed this fish wanted to board the Hula Girl. I had forgotten how exciting a near wide-open bite can be — especially when you’re in it!  This fish seemed determined to not give up without a significant fight

“Hope it’s not a wild one,” I thought as I found myself halfway down the Fury‘s port side rail.

Harris was now at my side net in hand, encouraging me, “That’s it, keep the rod tip up … Stay at the rail … Reel down till you see the sinker … Now slowly lift the rod tip.”

I did, but the fish obviously did not like the net. I still had a tight line, though, and as the fish tired, a nice 20-pound hatchery fish was landed.

NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN'S JIM KLARK SHOWS OFF A KING CAUGHT ABOARD THE FURY DURING A FURIOUS AFTERNOON BITE LAST SUNDAY. (JIM KLARK)

As I looked around, I noted that in the twenty minutes it had taken to land the fish, at least another eight boats had arrived.

Word gets out fast in Westport when the bite is on.

Indeed, that guy in the Grady White must have wondered where his quiet afternoon went.

Shouts of “Fish on!” and “Get the net!” echoed all around us. All totaled, we kept 12 Chinook and released  numerous wild kings, coho and jacks.  I was just as excited as a 5-year-old to land mine.

HAPPY ANGLERS BACK AT THE DOCK IN WESTPORT. (JIM KLARK)

Westport caters to anglers and has a variety of charter operations and private boat launches. There are several RV operations as well as motels and hotels to choose from.

It also hosts several derbies. The Westport Charter Association Fishing Derby runs through September 30 while the Third Annual Washington Tuna Classic is August 27th. Don’t want to go out to sea? Westport also hosts a really fun salmon derby Sept. 15 to Oct. 31. The Boat Basin Salmon Derby allows anglers to compete for prizes with fish caught only in the Westport Boat Basin. That seems like a fun way to spend some time with the family without having to worry about getting seasick.

Starting this Sunday, wild kings can be retained along with hatchery coho and other salmon species. The fishery runs five days a week, Sunday through Thursday.  The bag limit changes from two hatchery Chinook to two salmon (one only may be a Chinook ).

Like I said, if you have not been to Westport you gotta go. It promises to be a good season this year if the first weekend is any indication. For more information, see www.charterwestport.com  or www.westportgrayland-chamber.org/fishing_info.php.

Another Day For North WA Coast Halibut

June 23, 2011

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE RULE CHANGE NOTICE)

Marine Areas 3 and 4 will reopen for another day of halibut fishing

Action:   Open the recreational halibut fishery in marine areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay) to recreational halibut fishing.

Effective date: Thursday June 30, 2011, from 12:01 a.m. through 11:59 p.m.

Species affected: Pacific halibut.

Location:   Marine areas 3 and 4.

Reason for action:   There is sufficient halibut quota remaining in marine areas 3 and 4 to re-open the recreational halibut fishery for one day. This rule conforms state rules to federal action taken by the National Marine Fisheries Service and approved by the International Pacific Halibut Commission.  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.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

June 23, 2011

From the High Cascades to the high seas, there’s something for just about every Oregon angler to target this weekend.

Today marks the start of an all-depths halibut weekend while the trout (and unfortunately bugs) are biting at highland lakes like Diamond.

Rick Rockholt at the resort there reports that most anglers are bagging their eight-trout limit (only one over 20 inches), even it it’s leaving them a wee bit welted from all the skeeters.

FISHIN' FIEND JAYCE WILDER SHOWS OFF A DIAMOND LAKE RAINBOW. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

He says PowerBait is working from shore, flatlining Needlefish and FlatFish off the eastern side, and fly fishing with emergers and Buggers on the south end is all working.

Rockholt also notes there’s a big derby with $5,000 in cash and prizes for big fish at the lake this Saturday, June 25. Sign up at the resort, over in Medford at Blackbird Shopping Center or down in Roseburg at Waldron’s.

But if Diamond and the vast Pacific are a bit further than your budget allows, ODFW has rounded up a mess of other ideas, including close-to-PDX springers. Here are more highlights, ripped straight from their weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Warmer weather and weed growth has slowed fishing on many area ponds and lakes, but local streams are kicking out some nice cutthroat trout. Anglers should check fishing regulations for a particular waterbody before heading out.
  • Spring chinook fishing continues to be fair to good in the Upmqua and Rogue rivers.
  • The bass have been biting on Hyatt Lake.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Coffenbury, Lost, Cape Meares, Hebo, and Town lakes were stocked with larger size trout the week of June 13. Due to a shortage of fish at Nehalem Hatchery, fewer fish were stocked than were planned; however fishing should still be good.
  • Siletz River: Steelhead fishing is picking up with fish being caught throughout the main stem. Good numbers are expected to show up any time. Cutthroat trout season is open as well and can be very good during the early part of the season.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Spring chinook fishing is picking up on the Sandy Rivers where a strong run of hatchery fish is expected this year. Good prospects are the mid-section of the River between the old Marmot Dam site and Oxbow Park.
  • Detroit and Henry Hagg lakes have been chosen as venues for Cabela’s and the Outdoor Channel’s “Wanna Fish for Millions” promotion, which runs through July 14. Large trout and bass have been tagged with spaghetti tags that could be worth up to $2 million to the angler lucky enough to catch one. Anglers have to be registered at Cabela’s website to participate. To register, go to www.cabelas.com/fishformillions.
  • Fishing for spring chinook and catch-and-release sturgeon continues on the Willamette River.
  • Summer steelhead and spring chinook have entered the Santiam basin and will be the main focus of anglers for the next several weeks.
  • Warmer weather and recent trout stocking should make for some excellent family fishing on lakes, ponds and streams throughout the zone. Read on to find a fishing hole near you.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Crappie fishing has been picking up on several area reservoirs including Owyhee, Brownlee and Hells Canyon.
  • Fishing for rainbow trout has been good at Priday Reservoir in Lake County.
  • Access is now available for most desert Reservoirs. Angling for rainbow trout has been good at Duncan, Holbrook, Lofton, Thief Valley and Wolf Creek reservoirs, and at Lake of the Woods.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • High water levels continue on many rivers so the best bets are still Wallowa Lake for trout and kokanee, and Kinney and Magone lakes and the valley ponds for trout.
  • Salmon season has been extended on the lower Umatilla river through June 30 and fishing continues to be good in the Pendleton area.
  • Chinook fishing season has opened on Lookingglass Creek. Over 150 fish were caught at the weir as of June 20.
  • Spring chinook also is open on the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam.

BROWNLEE ZONE

  • Crappie fishing has picked up and is good if you find a school.  The crappie are fairly large this year, with many over 12 inches. They are about 10-15 deep. Use orange or chartruese jigs with a crappie nibble. Catfish angling is picking up as well. Bass fishing is fair. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their website http://www.idahopower.com/OurEnvironment/WaterInformation/Reservoir/

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Effective Wednesday June 16 through Saturday July 31, angling is open for adipose fin-clipped summer chinook and steelhead in the Columbia River from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to the Oregon/Washington border above McNary Dam.
  • Sturgeon angling is open from Buoy 10 upstream to Marker 82; however, Buoy 10 to Wauna powerlines will be closed from Monday June 27 through Thursday June 30.  Retention above Wauna powerlines is allowed Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Shad fishing is good at Bonneville Dam.
  • Walleye fishing is good in The Dalles pool.

MARINE ZONE

  • Last week private and charter boats alike returned with good catches of rockfish but lingcod were harder to come by. About three or four lingcod for every 10 anglers was the norm for most ports, except Garibaldi. There, the 33 anglers surveyed who were fishing for lingcod landed 36.
  • Fishery managers added three days to the all-depth sport halibut fishery off the central Oregon coast. Fishing for Pacific halibut will be open Thursday, June 23, through Saturday, June 25, at all depths. The spring all-depth season for the central coast area – from Cape Falcon (30 miles south of the Columbia River) to Humbug Mountain (south of Port Orford) – opened May 12 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only. It could have closed as early as June 11 if the 115,578-pound quota had been taken.
  • Ocean-caught chinook are still few and far between. Anglers fishing out of Charleston, Newport, Garibaldi, Bandon and Winchester Bay landed a few fish, but no other ports reported chinook landings. Fishing will continue until Sept. 30 from Cape Falcon just north of Manzanita to Humbug Mountain near Port Orford.

 

Salamanders For Springers, And Other OR Poaching Follies

June 22, 2011

What was the name of that old TV show, Poachers Do The Damndest Things?

Well, maybe not, but the latest episode of the Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division’s monthly newsletter might be called that.

While the headlines are ours, the write-ups are theirs. To wit:

GREAT CRABBING SKILLS, VERY VERY POOR RULES PAMPHLET READING SKILLS

Tpr. Peterson (Tillamook) worked crabbers in Tillamook Bay and contacted a boat with crab pots on board. The crabbers told Peterson crabbing was pretty good and they had retained 24 crab; however, when Peterson inspected the crab, he found 20 female Dungeness and four short male Dungeness crab. He seized all 24 crab and cited the boat operator for Unlawful Possession Female Dungeness Crab.

THE MOST UNUSUAL SALMON BAIT WE’VE EVER EVER HEARD OF

Tpr. Warwick (Astoria) contacted a salmon angler at Jones Beach in Columbia County and found the angler in possession of 49 “water dogs,” or tiger salamanders. The angler was visiting from New Mexico and told Warwick he was using the salamanders as salmon bait. As these salamanders are a prohibited species, Warwick cited the angler for Unlawful Possession of a Prohibited Species.

IS THAT A CLAM IN YOUR POCKET, OR ARE YOU JUST (NOT) HAPPY TO SEE ME?

While working razor clam diggers, Tpr. Warwick (Astoria) observed a man place two handfuls of clams into his coat pockets despite having a clam bag. After observing several violations in his group, Warwick contacted them at their vehicle. The diggers eventually admitted to the violations. Warwick issued two citations for Exceeding the Bag Limit and two for Failure to Retain the First 15 Razor Clams Dug and three warnings for Digging Part of Another’s Bag Limit.

HOLY F@$%@%NG F@$K, IT’S THE F@$%@%G WARDEN, I GOTTA GET THE F$%K OUT OF HERE!

As Sr. Tpr. Allison and Sr. Tpr. Thompson (Central Point) crossed the Applegate River at Applegate, they observed a subject angling upstream turn and race up the embankment to his van. The troopers made a u-turn and contacted the subject at his vehicle. The subject claimed he was ignorant of the angling closure on the river and just wanted to take his sons fishing. The troopers explained the river was closed due to the presence of smolts. The troopers cited the man for Angling Closed Season and warned him for Criminal Trespass and Counseling in a Wildlife Violation.

CRAP, THEY’RE ONTO ME, I’LL JUST DUMP OUT ALL MY CLAMS, HIDE MY STUFF AND WALK TO GARIBALDI, MAYBE I WON’T GET A TICKET

Sgt. Lea (Coos Bay) observed two clammers for about an hour. One clammer was digging clams and putting them into both buckets. After a time, one subject returned to a residence on the bay while the other continued to dig. Lea contacted the returning subject, determined he was 15 gaper clams over his limit, and cited him for Exceeding the Daily Limit of Gaper Clams. This subject then walked back out to the other subject to tell him he was being watched. The second clammer dumped his clams out, hid his bucket and shovel, and then started walking down the beach. Lea contacted the second subject on the beach and discovered he did not have a shellfish license and had dug three gaper clams over his limit. Lea cited the second subject for No Shellfish License and Exceeding the Daily Limit of Gaper Clams.

BACK TO REMEDIAL STICK SHIFT CLASS

Tpr. Warwick (Astoria) and Tpr. Vogel (St. Helens) received a call of a subject keeping live salmon at Dibblee Beach in Rainier. Warwick contacted some subjects in a vehicle leaving the area and gained consent to search the vehicle. He did not find any salmon in the vehicle; however, the subject did act nervous during the contact. As the subject began to leave, he popped the clutch too soon; and the vehicle lurched forward, causing an illegal salmon to come out of concealment between the bed and the tool box. Warwick cited the subject for Illegal Possession of Nonadipose Fin-Clipped Chinook Salmon.

POPPED THE CLUTCH ALL RIGHT, BUT STILL CAUGHT

As Tpr. Fromme (Portland) entered Dodge Park on the Sandy River; three anglers noticed him, stopped angling, and walked quickly to their vehicle. Contacts with other anglers confirmed these three were fishing. He saw a truck with the three anglers inside leave the park at a high rate of speed. He made it to his truck and pursued the fleeing subjects. He overtook the vehicle just outside the park and performed a stop. Two subjects presented their angling license and harvest cards, and the third only produced a license. Fromme’s interviews roadside eventually found the angler was trying to flee because he had not purchased a harvest card and knew he was in violation. Fromme cited the subject for No 2011 Oregon Resident Harvest Card—Misdemeanor.

THAT WASN’T ME WHO WAS FISHING NERVOUSLY JUST NOW WITHOUT A LICENSE, NO SIR

Sr. Tpr. Maher (Springfield) worked anglers below Dexter Dam on the Middle Fork Willamette River. Shortly after 6:00 a.m., he saw some subjects who he recognized from previous contacts. One subject told Maher the day before he was not fishing and appeared nervous. After seeing this subject again, Maher set up across the river. Eventually, this subject nervously walked down the riverbank, retrieved a spin rod from a concealed location in the brush, and took a position near the river’s edge in a secluded location. Holding the rod in his hands, he looked up and down stream then casted the steelhead rigged line. This process was repeated four times. Maher drove to the location and contacted the angler who was sitting in the passenger seat of a pickup. Maher asked if he had caught anything. The angler looked surprised and proclaimed he was not fishing. Maher explained his observations and cited the angler for No Angling License and No Combined Angling Tag.

NO, THIS IS NOT HOW YOU TEST OUT NEW GEAR

Tpr. Imholt (Springfield) followed up on a suspect who shot a mallard duck while out target shooting. The suspect stated he just got a new scope and wanted to try it out, so he shot a duck off a pond in the woods from the road. The suspect did not realize there was someone watching him who reported in detail what they saw. Imholt cited the suspect for Hunting Waterfowl Closed Season and seized his rifle.

STURGEON IN THE STABBIN’ CABIN

USCG ran a multi-agency saturation for salmon anglers dubbed Operation Spring Catch … Of the anglers contacted, the troopers gave out nine warnings for and issued four citations, one for No Nonresident Angling License, one for No Resident Angling License, and two to one subject with a false license who concealed his crime. This subject presented a 2011 Oregon resident angling license and harvest card along with Washington identification where he claimed to live. The subject also claimed not to have caught any sturgeon; however, a consent search found a sturgeon had recently been in the cooler. Further questioning resulted in the angler consenting to a search of a van located in the parking lot of the park where a live adult sturgeon was found stuffed under the middle seat of the van. The sturgeon was still alive and returned successfully to the river. The troopers issued the subject citations for Possession of a Falsely Applied for License and Tag and Unlawful Possession of Sturgeon.

Walter! A True Fish Story By Olivia Parrish

June 21, 2011

Editor’s note: Sometimes you get reader stories that you just have to post immediately. Such is the case with Olivia Parrish’s tale of catching Walter the Trout. Arriving on our doorstep on the first day of summer — and on a glorious blue-sky day in the Emerald City no less — it’s brought smiles throughout our office today, so we thought we would share the 10-year-old Lynnwood angler’s handwritten tale.

“Time to get up,” my dad whispered quietly as he climbed up the ladder of my bed.

It was an early Saturday morning and we were going to Martha Lake on our little boat, The ORP. Of course I got ready and blah blah blah, but let’s skip to the good part.

So as we got on the water since it was opening day, it was sorta busy but we squeezed in. About 20 minutes in, I was the first one to get a fish in the net. Then my dad got some, then I got some, and on and on, but when I had about 8, I got a humungo tug on my pole.

That was when “Walter” even started pulling line out. I tried to stop the line from being pulled out all the way, but then all of a sudden Walter let go. Well, I thought.

Right then, mine and my dad’s hearts sank, for a few seconds that is. Right as I was reeling in my line to see if my flat fish was still on, I felt that huge tug again. I could not believe it, but it was not really a good time to freak out because I had to reel in Walter.

Before I knew it, there was a big fat trout thumping around in the bottom of the boat. All of a sudden people had amazed looks on their faces, including me and my dad. People everywhere saw what happened and I was the star of the lake.

OLIVIA AND WALTER, A NICE FAT TROUT SHE CAUGHT OUT OF MARTHA LAKE NEAR HER HOME OF LYNNWOOD, WASH., EARLIER THIS YEAR. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

So we fished for a bit longer but did not catch any more fish nearly as large. Soon it was time to head in and I knew that right as people saw my fish they would be thinking, “I can’t believe that this young 10-year-old girl would catch this big of a fish.” Right as we pulled the fish out of the cooler I knew that people were thinking what I thought they were because some people were even taking pictures of my fish on their phones.

Once people were done adoring my fish, we put The ORP back in the truck and headed back home. On our way home, the only thing that I could think about was Walter and I knew that I would never forget that very day!

THE END

Columbia Fishing Report (6-21-11)

June 21, 2011

Fisheries biologist Joe Hymer ain’t the only person tracking catches on the Lower Columbia.

Typically he sends his roundup for the north side of the big river as well as Southwest Washington rivers and lakes on Mondays (like he did yesterday afternoon).

It’s usually followed by a report from ODFW’s Tanna Takata for the Columbia up to the Oregon-Washington line above McNary Dam.

Here’s Takata’s report for salmon, steelhead and shad for boat and bank anglers on the river’s south shore:

COLUMBIA RIVER MAINSTEM, ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE UPSTREAM TO THE OREGON/WASHINGTON BORDER ABOVE MCNARY DAM:

Effective Wednesday June 16 through Saturday July 31, 2011 this section of the Columbia River is open to the retention of adipose fin-clipped summer chinook, adipose fin-clipped steelhead, sockeye (fin-clipped or not) and shad.  The daily bag limit is two adipose fin-clipped adult summer chinook, adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead, or sockeye in combination and five adipose fin-clipped chinook jacks.  All sockeye count toward the adult salmonid daily bag limit, regardless of size.

Salmon catch rates ranged from fair to good on the lower Columbia this past weekend.  Boat anglers fishing in the gorge averaged 1.0 summer chinook caught per boat, while anglers fishing in the estuary averaged 0.40 summer chinook caught per boat.  In the Portland to Longview area boat anglers averaged 0.36 summer chinook caught per boat, while anglers fishing in Troutdale averaged 0.13 summer chinook caught per boat.  Bank angling improved slightly from the previous weekends catch rates where bank anglers river wide averaged 0.13 summer chinook from Bonneville dam down to the estuary.  On the lower Columbia this past weekend there were 295 boats, and 562 Oregon bank anglers counted on Sunday’s (6/19) flight.  Shad anglers fishing in the gorge showed the highest catch rates where boat anglers averaged 16.3 shad caught per boat, and bank anglers averaged 2.53 shad caught per angler.

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for two salmon anglers; and 245 shad kept for 97 shad anglers.

Gorge Boats: Weekend checking showed three adipose fin-clipped summer chinook kept, plus one unclipped summer chinook released for four salmon boats (12 anglers); and 195 shad kept for 12 shad boats (33 anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed one unclipped summer chinook released for eight salmon boats (15 anglers); and no catch for one shad boat (four anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank: Weekend checking showed 17 adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, two adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jacks, two sockeye, and six adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus seven unclipped summer chinook adults, one unclipped summer chinook jack, one unclipped steelhead and one sockeye released for 192 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats: Weekend checking showed 10 adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, seven adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jacks, and one adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus five unclipped summer chinook adults and two unclipped summer chinook jacks kept for 42 boats (110 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Jones Beach to Tongue Point): Weekend checking showed eight adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, 10 adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jacks, three sockeye and 10 adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept for 64 bank anglers.

Estuary Boats (Puget Island to Tongue Point): Weekend checking showed 11 adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, six adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jacks, three sockeye, and five adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus five unclipped summer chinook adults, one unclipped summer chinook jack and one sockeye released for 40 boats (104 anglers).

Bonneville Pool: Weekend checking showed two sockeye kept, plus one unclipped summer chinook jack released for five salmon anglers; and 167 shad kept for 30 shad anglers.

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed one adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jack and one unclipped summer chinook jack released for 138 bank anglers.

SW WA, Lower Columbia Fishing, Sculpin Report

June 20, 2011

(COURTESY BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – A few spring chinook are still being caught by boat anglers in the lower river.  Through June 17, a total of 850 adult spring chinook are being held for brood stock.  Escapement goal for Cowlitz is 1,718 for hatchery brood and 2,000 to the upper watershed.  On average, the return is half over.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 37 spring chinook adults, 47 jacks, one mini jack, and 134 summer-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released three spring chinook adults and 40 jacks into Lake Scanewa.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 7,410 cubic feet per second on Monday morning, June 20. Water visibility is 10 feet.

Kalama River – Anglers are catching some steelhead.  Remains closed for spring chinook.

As of June 17, a total of 115 adult spring chinook are being held at Kalama Falls Hatchery.  The hatchery brood stock goal is 400 fish.  On average, the return is half over.

Through June 15, a total of 29 hatchery and 20 wild summer run steelhead had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.  At the same time last year, 338 hatchery and 64 wild fish had returned.

Lewis River – Light effort and catch. Remains closed for spring chinook.

As of June 15, just under 1,000 adult spring chinook are being held for brood stock.  The goal is 1,300 fish.  On average the return is 90% complete.

A total of 279 hatchery summer run steelhead had returned to the Merwin Dam trap as of June 15.

Washougal River – 122 bank anglers kept 14 hatchery steelhead and released 3 wild fish.  11 boat anglers kept 2 hatchery steelhead and released 1 hatchery and 2 wild fish.  The creel census program, funded by the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement funds, is now complete.

Through June 15, a total of 366 hatchery summer run steelhead had returned to Skamania Hatchery.  At the same time last year, 814 fish had returned.

Wind River – Effort is light though some spring chinook are still being caught.

Through June 19, a total of 1,788 spring chinook had returned to Carson National Fish Hatchery.  The escapement goal is 1,500 fish.

Drano Lake – Light effort though some spring chinook are still being caught.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers continue to catch a mix of adult and jack spring chinook and steelhead.

As of June 20 there are 184 adults at Klickitat Salmon Hatchery.  The hatchery escapement goal is 500 fish.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – For the first three days of the summer chinook season (June 16-19) , we sampled almost 1,200 salmonid anglers (including 150 boats) with 123 adult and 65 jack summer chinook, 58 steelhead, and 18 sockeye.  87 (71%) of the adult and 53 (82%) of the jacks were kept as were 42 (72%) of the steelhead and 16 (89%)of the sockeye though all sockeye, adipose fin clipped or not, may be retained.

Just over 800 salmonid bank anglers and almost 300 boats were observed on the lower Columbia mainstem during last Thursday’s summer chinook opener.

The Dalles Pool – Light catches of spring chinook though there were quite a few bank anglers trying.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco – Estimated harvest in the John Day Pool for June 13 through June 15 is 17 hatchery adult chinook.  No chinook jacks or wild chinook were caught the last three days of the fishery. Catch and effort was light and the water remains high and turbid.  A couple of the boat anglers are able to routinely catch Chinook.

For the 2011 spring chinook fishery in Lake Umatilla (John Day Pool) an estimated 978 hatchery adult spring chinook were harvested as well as 150 hatchery jacks. In addition 304 wild adult and 38 wild jack chinook were caught and released. Roughly 24% of the adult catch in this area were wild.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem – Fishing is slow from the bank in the estuary as is for boat anglers launching from the Knappton and Deep River ramps.  The ports of Chinook and Ilwaco data should be here shortly.  Above Wauna powerlines to Marker 82, we sampled 1 legal kept in the Kalama area.

Sturgeon effort was 125 private boats and 15 charters with most of the fleet observed in the estuary during last Thursday’s (June 16) effort flight count.

A Compact/Joint State hearing is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Thursday June 23, 2011.  Fisheries under consideration: Recreational sturgeon – Below Wauna (estuary) and Bonneville Pool.

The Dalles Pool – Light effort and catch.

WALLEYE, BASS, OTHER WARMWATER FISH, TROUT

Kress Lake near Kalama – 8 anglers with 2 yellow perch and 2 rainbows (one 16.5”) kept, 3 bluegill and 1 bass released. Good effort, low harvest.

Horseshoe Lake in Woodland – 25 anglers with 3 rainbow trout kept. Good effort, low harvest.

Kidney Lake near North Bonneville – 21 anglers with 11 rainbows and 12 sculpin kept, 4 rainbows and 35 sculpin released.

Bass Lake – No effort/activity. High water is covering a good portion of the trail.

Icehouse Lake near the Bridge of the Gods -3 anglers with 3 rainbow kept.

Tunnel Lake just east of Drano Lake – 3 anglers with 1 rainbow trout kept.

Rowland Lake near Bingen- 7 anglers with 1 rainbow kept and 2 bluegill and 1 bullhead released. Extremely windy over the past several days.

Horsethief Lake near Lyle – 2 anglers no fish. Extremely windy over the past few days.

Spearfish Lake near Dallesport – 3 anglers with 1 rainbow released. Extremely windy over the past few days.

Hess Lake – No effort/activity.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged 2 walleye and 10 bass per rod when including fish released.  Bank anglers averaged nearly 5 bass kept/released per rod.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Based on mainly incomplete trips, bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam averaged just over 3 shad per rod when including the few fish released.  Some shad were caught by boat anglers in the gorge and at Kalama.

 

During the Thursday June 16 effort flight count, there were 167 bank anglers fishing for shad while few boat anglers were found.

 

Another MJ Grow Found In Lower Crab Creek

June 20, 2011

Another spring, another grow op taken down in the Lower Crab Creek Wildlife Area of Central Washington.

A Department of Fish & Wildlife eradication team pulled just under 10,000 “freshly planted”  marijuana plants on the state land between Othello and the Columbia River recently.

“This is an area where we have long suspected, due to the remote and rugged terrain, of holding more gardens,” said Deputy Chief Mike Cenci.

WDFW made a bust here in late April 2010, seizing 1,700 to 2,000 seed cups.

Growers set up their illegal activities in the thick Russian olive stands, running hoses from nearby water sources for irrigation.

As with last year’s bust here, a suspect tending the grow escaped officers, but they seized a .22 pistol and a “high-powered air rifle.”

“The garden was very well camouflaged and screened, making it impossible for it to have been spotted from the air,” said Cenci.

We detailed the issue of pot grows on public lands on our blog and in the print issue of Northwest Sportsman last year.

“They cut rooms out inside the thickets and leave an upper story of canopy for cover from helicopters and planes,” says a local hunter who stumbles onto abandoned sites near springs and drainages in fall while stalking deer, in winter while pursuing coyotes or looking for shed antlers in early spring.

“But after April 1, I try to avoid the brush because of them,” he says.

Damage to the environment also concerns land managers. Just last week, a 91,000-plant grow was taken down in Northeast Oregon last Wednesday by a multi-agency task force. Discovered by spring bear hunters, growers had terraced a mile of a ravine. They also use powerful and dangerous chemicals on the crops.

Springfield Man Loses Hunt Privileges For Life After Plea Deal In Massive Deer Poaching Case

June 20, 2011

One of nine Springfield residents accused in what police have called the largest deer poaching case in state history will never be able to hunt in Oregon again.

Miguel A. Kennedy, 26, pled guilty to identity theft (four counts); forgery in the second degree (two counts); unlawful loaning or transfer of hunting tag; and racketeering and was sentenced last week to eight months in jail, $800 in fines and three years on probation, according to the Eugene Register-Guard.

The paper reports:

Racketeering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $375,000 fine, but Lane County Circuit Judge Jack Billings found “substantial and compelling reasons” for a much lighter sentence recommended by both the state and Kennedy’s defense attorney in a plea agreement.

Those reasons include Kennedy’s willingness to provide “truthful testimony” in the state’s case against others involved in the scheme.

As we’ve detailed in a previous post and in the June 2011  issue of Northwest Sportsman, Kennedy, Shane E. Donoho, 37, Rory E. Donoho, 60, and others are accused of killing 300 deer in the McKenzie Wildlife Management Unit over the past half decade, and face a raft of felony and misdemeanor charges including conspiracy, identity theft, computer crimes, possession of game parts, borrowing and loaning hunting tags, among others.

According to the Register-Guard, in his plea deal, Kennedy “admitted helping the ring’s alleged leader, 37-year-old Shane Donoho, ‘defraud’ the state Fish and Wildlife Commission by obtaining and hunting with licenses using other people’s identities.

Also named in the case:

Gerald S. Donoho, 64
Laura A. Donoho, 36
Sandra L. Shaffer, 59
Danny M. Hawkins, 60
Mary S. Normand, 61
Shawn Stone, 48

All entered pleas of not guilty in late April.

North American Conservation Model Wrong?

June 17, 2011

Michigan scientists are questioning the validity of parts of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

Two university researchers, both who reportedly have nothing against hunting, are calling into question some of the basic tenants of how game and wildlife is managed.

This will be hotly debated.

Here’s a link to a press release on the article, which has been published in the summer 2011 issue of The Wildlife Professional.

June 29 Arraignment For Twisp Residents Suspected Of Wolf Poaching, Smuggling

June 17, 2011

Three members of a Twisp, Wash., family accused of killing wolves, attempted export of an endangered species and other federal offenses have been summoned to appear in a Spokane courtroom late this month.

According to Tom Rice at the U.S District Attorney’s office, William “Bill” D. White, Tom D. White and Erin White will be arraigned June 29 at 1:30 p.m.

A grand jury handed down a 12-count indictment against the trio earlier this month.

The Methow Valley News has a large story on the case this week, including more about the concurrent state case against Bill and Tom for alleged deer and bear poaching.

For our previous coverage of wolves and wolf poaching in the Methow, see these links:

https://nwsportsmanmag.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/a-pattern-of-behavior-in-white-wolf-case/

https://nwsportsmanmag.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/twisp-family-killed-5-wolves-feds-say/

https://nwsportsmanmag.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/when-the-bbc-came-looking-for-wolves/

https://nwsportsmanmag.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/further-details-on-nw-wa-skinned-wolf-case/

https://nwsportsmanmag.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/more-robust-reward-offered-for-high-profile-wa-poaching-cases/

https://nwsportsmanmag.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/rural-legislators-question-wdfw%E2%80%99s-wolf-info-land-plans/

https://nwsportsmanmag.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/wa-wolf-packs-have-pups-but-lookouts-alpha-female-missing/

https://nwsportsmanmag.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/nw-wolf-watch-more-methow-pups-or-wolves-hit-wallowas/

At Least 3 More Days Of All-depths Hali Added Off OR

June 17, 2011

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

NEWPORT, ORE. – Fishery managers added three days to the all-depth sport halibut fishery off the central Oregon coast. Fishing for Pacific halibut will be open Thursday, June 23, through Saturday, June 25, at all depths.

The spring all-depth season for the central coast area – from Cape Falcon (30 miles south of the Columbia River) to Humbug Mountain (south of Port Orford) – opened May 12 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only. It could have closed as early as June 11 if the 115,578-pound quota had been taken.

The fishery will be open June 23-25 and may continue on one or more of the following days: July 7-9 and 21-23, until the quota is met.

“Following the June 23-25 opening, fishery managers will meet again to determine if there is sufficient quota for any further back-up dates,” said Lynn Mattes, halibut project leader for ODFW.

Open dates will be announced on the National Marine Fisheries Service hotline (1-800-662-9825) and posted on the ODFW Marine Resources Program Web site at: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/.

The central coast all-depth fishery summer season opens Aug. 5 and is scheduled to be open every other Friday and Saturday until the combined spring and summer season all-depth quota of 158,705 pounds is taken or Oct. 29, whichever comes first.

The high-relief area of Stonewall Bank is closed to halibut fishing to reduce incidental catch of yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish. Both species are considered over fished and must be released immediately. The closed area is defined by latitude and longitude waypoints, which are available on the Marine Resources Program Web site: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/regulations/sport_fishing/stonewall.asp

The daily bag limit is one fish and there is no minimum length for Pacific halibut. The possession limit is one daily limit at sea and three daily limits on land. The annual limit per angler is six fish.

Sport anglers are reminded that possession of groundfish is not allowed north of Humbug Mountain when a Pacific halibut is aboard their vessel, during all-depth Pacific halibut dates. The exceptions are Pacific cod (true cod, not lingcod) and sablefish (black cod) which may be retained with halibut between Humbug Mountain and Cape Falcon. Other non-groundfish species, such as tuna and salmon during authorized seasons, may be possessed with halibut on open all-depth Pacific halibut days.

More details on regulations can be found at: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/index.asp or in the booklet 2011 Oregon Sport Ocean Regulations for Salmon, Halibut and other Marine Species. General regulations can be found in the 2011 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

Bear Hunters Discover ‘Staggering’ Big OR Pot Grow

June 17, 2011

You read about the problem of pot growers moving into Washington and Oregon hunting grounds in the July 2010 issue of Northwest Sportsman and in our blog here and here, and now today comes word that spring bear hunters discovered what is believed to be the “largest outdoor marijuana grow to date in Oregon.”

It was busted on Wednesday at an undisclosed location in northern Wallowa County; officers arrested six suspects of undetermined nationality.

According to the Oregon State Police, the grow stretched over a mile long in a ravine, comprised 91,000 plants and included “miles” of irrigation. They say it appears to have been in the area for awhile.

Wallowa County pot growers' kitchen. (OSP)

Here’s the press release that just came out from the Oregon State Police:

A multi-agency investigation this week led to the arrest of six suspects at a remote northeast Oregon outdoor marijuana grow site early Wednesday morning.  The discovery is believed to be the largest outdoor marijuana grow to date in Oregon.  The investigation and arrests are leading Oregon law enforcement officials to urge citizens to be on the lookout for indications of illegal marijuana growing this summer while outdoors, and to immediately notify law enforcement officials if you come across suspicious activity or an area where an illegal grow site may be.

(OREGON STATE POLICE)

The investigation started this spring when a group of bear hunters came upon the grow site and reported it to local law enforcement.  On June 15, 2011 a multi-agency team, assisted by the Oregon State Police (OSP) SWAT team and air support from the Oregon Army National Guard, served a search warrant on U.S. Forest Service public lands in a remote section of northern Wallowa County.  When officers raided the site, six suspects were taken into custody and investigators got a good look at the size, magnitude and potential environmental damage related to the grow operation that had been ongoing for a substantial period.

(OREGON STATE POLICE)

Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen is urging the public to be very careful this summer while recreating outdoors, hunting, fishing, and camping because of the potential problems they may encounter while unexpectedly coming upon a potential grow site and those people involved with the illegal activity.  In the past, people arrested at many outdoor grow sites have been armed with weapons to protect themselves from police and others.

(OREGON STATE POLICE)

“The resources, time and effort these outdoor growers are committing to avoid detection and protect the site pose a significant risk and danger to the public and law enforcement officers,” said Steen.

La Grande Police Sergeant John Shaul, team supervisor of the Union/Wallowa County Drug Team, described the outdoor grow as “staggering”, encompassing a stretch over one mile in a ravine where growers disrupted the natural terrain with extensive terracing.  Over 91,000 plants ranging in size from starter plants to 10 inches were eradicated over a two day period.  The plants were concealed in several separate pods developed by removing trees and underbrush to camouflage the grow site, and “miles” of plastic irrigation tubing was also found.  Due to the ongoing investigation the exact location of the site is not be released at this time.

“Many people would be outraged at the damage to our public lands caused by illegal marijuana growers,” said Shaul.

Investigators found campsites and numerous weapons, including semi-automatic long barrel firearms and handguns.  Food, water and other supplies were found at campsites that could sustain the growers for several weeks.

Steen pointed out the potential public safety problems and the dangers associated with chemicals and pesticides used to grow illegal marijuana.  In some cases, environmental and natural resource damage is caused by stream diversions, vegetation damage, trash, pollution, and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

“An extensive amount of trash including tubing, plastic planter containers, herbicide and other toxic chemicals were dumped along a river’s edge,” said Steen.

The United States Forest Service, with the assistance of the OSP Fish & Wildlife Division, is going to survey the site to determine the magnitude of environmental damage, needed resources to clean up the site, and how to rehabilitate the altered terrain.

Arrested and lodged at the Union County Jail related to this investigation were:

* ARTURO B. BARRERA, age 26
* FEDERICO R. CARRASCO, age 24
* CHRISTIAN R. GONZALEZ, age 28
* FREDY F. MONTES, age 32
* JESUS A. SANCHEZ, age 21
* AUDEL C. SOTO, age 29

Investigators have not confirmed yet where the men are from.  They are all currently held on charges of Unlawful Manufacture and Possession of Marijuana.  The criminal investigation is ongoing, to include possible charges related to environmental crimes.

Law enforcement officials believe it is critical for the public be aware of the potential dangers and signs related to suspected outdoor marijuana grow sites.  People are urged to pay attention and be aware of possible signs of illegal outdoor marijuana growing activity including:

* Seeing vehicles and people in unusual locations, at odd hours, or dropping off or picking up people in remote areas
* Coming across a vehicle or person with an unusual supply of camping equipment or other items such as fertilizer, PVC pipe, irrigation hoses, small plastic planters, propane tanks, tents or tarps and gardening tools
* Unexpected encounters with people armed with firearms outside of hunting season or non-traditional hunting areas
* Finding fish kills in streams or large amounts of garbage in a remote area with empty bags of fertilizer or other chemicals, piping, plastic planters, and camping equipment
* Seeing people in remote areas starting to landscape or clearing land
* Noticing foot paths or trails that seem heavily used in non-traditional hiking or trail areas

“If you come across possible marijuana grow site, make a mental note of your location and any landmark, GPS coordinate, or other identifiers to help police easily find it.  Exit the same way you entered the area and be watchful for any unexpected surprises or people, then call police,” said Shaul.

State, county, local and federal law enforcement agencies involved in Wednesday multi-agency operation were:

* Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office
* La Grande Police Department
* Union/Wallowa County Drug Task Force
* Oregon State Police SWAT Team
* Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team
* Wallow County Search & Rescue
* Enterprise Police Department
* United States Forest Service Law Enforcement
* Union County Sheriff’s Office
* Baker County Narcotics Enforcement Team
* Oregon Army National Guard
* Oregon State Police Marijuana Eradication Team (A trained group of state troopers utilized by the Department and available to outside law enforcement agencies during the summer months to assist with the eradication and investigations related to outdoor marijuana grows)

June 17, 2011

NORTHWEST GUIDES

Mark Coleman, All Rivers Guide Service, allriversguideservice.com

All Ways Fishing, Randy Lato, www.allwaysfishing.com

Dave’s Guide Service, Dave Mallahan, www.steelheadandsalmonfishingguide.com

Don Schneider’s Reel Adventures, www.donsreeladventures.com

Cast Guide Service, www.smithriverfishing.com

Wild Rivers Fishing, www.wildriversfishing.com

Fight Club Guided Fishing, www.fightclubguidedfishing.com

Graser’s Guide Service (509-760-6743)

Greenwater Guide Service, Robin Nelson, www.greenwaterguide.com

Guide Service Northwest, www.guideservicenorthwest.com

Big K Guest Ranch & Guide Service, www.big-k.com

J&J Guide Service, Jim Stahl, www.jandjguideservice.com

JR’s Guide Service, www.jrsguideservice.com

Jeff Woodward Sportfishing, www.jeffwoodwardsportfishing.com

Josh Leach, www.guidejoshleach.com

Kyle Hall Outdoors, www.kylehalloutdoors.com

Linde’s Sportfishing, www.lindesportfishing.com

Obsession Fishing Guide Service, www.obsessionfishingguideservice.com

ONCO Sportfishing, www.oncosportfishing.com

Premo’s Guide Service, www.premofishing.com

Special Moments Guide Service, Curt Welch/Brian Lull, www.specialmomentsguideservice.com

Swanny’s Sportfishing, Bill Swann, www.swannysfishing.com

Team Hook Up Guide Service, Jack & Brandon Glass, www.hookupguideservice.com

Upper Columbia Guide Services, Shane Magnuson & Jerrod Gibbons, www.uppercolumbiaguideservices.com

Wind River Guides (509-528-6875)

WASHINGTON CHARTERS

Advantage Charters, www.advantagecharters.com

All Ways Fishing, Randy Lato, www.allwaysfishing.com

Angler Charters, www.anglercharters.net

Jambo’s Sportfishing, www.JambosSportfishing.com

Ocean Charters, www.oceanchartersinc.com

ONCO Sportfishing, www.oncosportfishing.com

Pacific Salmon Charters, www.pacificsalmoncharters.com

OREGON CHARTERS

Betty K Charters, www.bettykaycharters.com

Dockside Charters, www.docksidedepoebay.com

Prowler Charters, www.prowlercharters.com

Tidewind Charters, www.tidewindsportfishing.com

Tiki Charters, www.tikicharters.com

Secret Island Charters, www.secretislandfishing.com

OR, WA Hunt Permit Results Now Out

June 16, 2011

Just in case your “friends” have overlooked bragging to you about all the special hunting permits they got drawn for, Oregon and Washington draw results have been posted.

To find out if you were drawn for Peaches Ridge bulls, Hart Mountain pronghorn and other great hunts, check out WDFW’s and ODFW’s results pages.

Springer Run Beats Preseason Forecast

June 16, 2011

There’s a reason I never became an accountant, but by my fuzzy voodoo math, it appears that this year’s upriver-bound Columbia spring Chinook run came in at around 111 percent of the preseason forecast.

Through June 15, the last day that springers are counted as springers by WDFW and ODFW, a total of 205,431 had crossed Bonneville Dam.

That’s also slightly above the 10-year average of 203,294.1.

Managers had expected 198,400.

When you add in estimates for how many upriver kings were caught below the dam by nontribal sport anglers (8,700), nontribal commercial anglers (3,739) and tribal hook-and-line fishermen (2,300), it raises the total run to at least 220,170.

Figure that the bright folks in Vancouver, Clackamas and Portland will have final numbers — including how many were intercepted by seals and sea lions, etc., etc. — and the number may grow beyond that.

Despite its slow start, likely delayed by high, cold water, 2011’s run will finish out among the top six on record, and maybe even bump up to the fifth best.

Of note, the jack return through yesterday was also the second highest on record, 67,038, which may be good news for the 2012 return. The all-time best return of the so-called precocious three-year-old salmon was 2009’s 81,782; last year saw a return of over 320,000 adults.

Young Kitsap Co. Anglers Invited To Fishing Kids Event

June 16, 2011

(C.A.S.T. For Kids Foundation Press Release)

Thanks to the generous donations of several organizations, businesses and community groups, Kitsap County children ages 5 to 14 years old will have an opportunity to receive a hands-on fishing lesson at the Fourth Annual “Fishing Kids” event scheduled for Saturday, June 18, 9 am – 3 pm at Island Lake County Park, 1087 NW Island Lake Road in Poulsbo.

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

Groups of 50 children will come to Island Lake to learn proper fishing techniques from volunteer anglers and fish from the shore in 45 minute sessions.  Each pre-registered child will receive a Zebco rod & reel combo and an event t-shirt.  Participants will also have the opportunity to take part in water safety, boating and natural resource demonstrations provided by the Washington State Dept. of Fish & Wildlife.  Registration is limited to the first 300 youths.

This event is made possible through a partnership with local sportsman’s clubs and the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation. Event sponsors include: the Bremerton Sportsman’s Club, Kitsap Poggie Club, Long Lake Bass Club, North Kitsap/Bainbridge Island Trout Unlimited Chapter, Kitsap Fly Anglers, Kitsap County Parks & Recreation, The Suquamish Tribe,  AJO Consulting, Plaza Barber Shop, United Moving & Storage, Kitsap Federal Credit Union, Les Schwab Tires, Liberty Mutual,  Walmart Foundation, Zebco and Eagle Claw.

Lake Washington Sockeye Counts Posted

June 16, 2011

I don’t know why I do it.

I mean, there is little hope for the run.

Even less for a fishery this year.

Hasn’t been for four summers now, and we’re in a year-class that for some reason doesn’t know how to make babies.

But still, this whole week I haven’t been able to resist the tempation to compulsively click over to WDFW’s site to see if they’ve uploaded the first Lake Washington sockeye counts.

Counting at the Ballard Locks started Sunday, but on Monday morning there was nothing.

Same deal that afternoon.

Ditto thrice on Tuesday.

Nothing during working hours Wednesday.

But today — today, they’ve finally posted something.

And what are the counts looking like so far? Are more coming than expected? Will they make a mockery of the preseason forecast of 34,683? Should I go buy some red hooks!?!?!!?!?!

Tell me, man, tell me!!!!!!

Ahem, all of 886 have trickled through.

There are two ways to look at that.

On the one hand, that’s the fewest for the first three days of counting this millenium.

On the other, now we only need 349,114 more for a fishery!

And on the other, other hand, you can track the return to the Baker River on a new WDFW Web site recently posted. That run is more likely to deliver a season.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

June 16, 2011

Postcard from K. Falls:

We caught this monster trout last weekend near Moore Park in Klamath Falls. It was a family effort to reel it in and net it as it was almost too big for our net! Some locals told us that was typical size for trout there! It was very exciting.

IT TOOK THE WHOLE NOTEBOOM CLAN TO LOWER THE BOOM ON THIS KLAMATH LAKE RAINBOW LAST WEEKEND. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

The happy little guy is Matthew Noteboom, age 8. He loves fishing with his dad (everyday if he could). And we used size 6 Eagle Claw hook with minnow bait as recommended by a local tackle shop.

Julie Noteboom
Boring

If Klamath Falls is slightly outside the range of your fuel budget, there’s a host of other fishing opportunities to be had around the Beaver State. Here are highlights ripped straight from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Trout fishers should consider several local area lakes and reservoirs including Fish and Willow lakes and Lost Creek and Howard Prairie reservoirs.
  • Diamond Lake is ice-free and fishing will be improving with warmer, stable weather.
  • Spring chinook fishing in the North Umpqua in the Swiftwater area has improved recently.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Coffenbury, Lost, Cape Meares, Hebo, and Town lakes will be stocked with larger size trout the week of June 13. Fishing should continue to be good in those lakes over the next week or two.
  • Alsea River: Cutthroat trout season is open and producing fair to good results.  Most all streams in the basin are open to cutthroat trout angling unless specifically stated in the 2011 sport fishing regulations. Trout fishing is productive this time of year using traditional spinning gear or fly fishing.
  • Nestucca, Three Rivers: Spring chinook angling is fair. Fish are spread out in tidewater and the lower river, and in Three Rivers. Bobber fishing will produce the best results as flows drop, although trolling herring in the lower bay is still producing some fish. Summer steelhead angling is improving as more fish enter the system. Angling for cutthroat is fair throughout the river.
  • Siletz River: Steelhead fishing is starting to pick up. Summer steelhead are pulsing in and can be found throughout the entire river. Trout season is open as well and can be very good during the early part of the season.
  • Tillamook Bay: Spring chinook fishing remains fair to good. Trolling spinners or herring should produce some bites. A few sturgeon are still being caught. Try the upper bay and Tillamook River tidewater for the best opportunity this time of year.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Detroit and Henry Hagg lakes have been chosen as venues for Cabela’s and the Outdoor Channel’s “Wanna Fish for Millions” promotion, which runs through July 14. Large trout and bass have been tagged with spaghetti tags that could be worth up to $2 million to the angler lucky enough to catch one. Anglers have to be registered at Cabela’s website to participate. To register, go to www.cabelas.com/fishformillions.
  • 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.
  • Warmer weather and recent trout stocking should make for some excellent family fishing on lakes, ponds and streams throughout the zone. Read on to find a fishing hole near you.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Several of the Central Oregon lakes are accessible, stocked and providing great trout fishing.
  • Spring chinook fishing on the Deschutes continues to be good thanks to a later returning run.
  • Lake trout fishing has been good on Odell Lake, and kokanee fishing has been improving as the weather warms.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Anglers are reporting good catches of 8 to 10-inch crappie on Owyhee Reservoir.
  • Fishing for wild redband trout has been good for boat and bank anglers on Upper Klamath Lake.
  • Access is now available for most desert Reservoirs. Angling for rainbow trout has been good at Duncan, Holbrook, Lofton, Thief Valley and Wolf Creek reservoirs, and at Lake of the Woods.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • High water levels continue on many rivers so the best bets are still Wallowa Lake for trout and kokanee, and Kinney and Magone lakes and the valley ponds for trout.
  • Salmon season has been extended on the lower Umatilla river through June 30 and fishing has been good in the Pendleton area.
  • Chinook fishing season has opened on Lookingglass Creek. Approximately 24 fish were caught at the weir as of June 6.
  • Spring chinook also is open on the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Effective Wednesday June 16 through Saturday July 31, angling is open for adipose fin-clipped summer chinook and steelhead in the Columbia River from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to the Oregon/Washington border above McNary Dam.
  • Sturgeon angling is open from Buoy 10 upstream to Marker 82.  Retention above Wauna powerlines is allowed Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Shad angling is good at Bonneville Dam.
  • Walleye angling is excellent in The Dalles pool.

MARINE ZONE

  • 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 of rockfish. Lingcod catches improved over last week with many anglers getting at least one lingcod.
  • Ocean-caught chinook are still few and far between. Anglers fishing out of Charleston, Newport, Garibaldi, Bandon and Winchester Bay landed a few fish, but no other ports reported chinook landings. Fishing will continue until Sept. 30 from Cape Falcon just north of Manzanita to Humbug Mountain near Port Orford.

New Fishing Platforms Built At Drano’s Best Bank Spot, And Other News

June 16, 2011

Allen Thomas is a machine.

In one story today The Columbian‘s outdoor reporter has the scoop on new fishing platforms built by the Yakama Nation at the best spot to fish from the bank at Drano Lake, a popular salmon and steelhead fishery.

“We’re concerned if they are taking over the bank fishing,’’ (WDFW salmon manager) Cindy LeFleur said. “We don’t have that much up there.’’

Asked if non-Indians can fish off the platforms, she said: “They were built by Yakama members, I wouldn’t recommend it.’’

(Speros) Doulos, (Columbia Gorge) hatchery complex manager, has asked for a Department of Interior solictor’s office opinion on the platform issue.

“I’m going to assume the tribe has a right to construct a platform in the ceded area of the Yakamas,’’ Doulos said. “Until I get a solictor’s office legal read, I’m taking a hands-off approach.’’

In another article he’s got a piece on how Oregon and Washington fishery managers are closely monitoring the Lower Columbia’s sturgeon population.

Meanwhile, KATU in Portland reports on ODFW’s new tactic for keeping sea lions off docks: with a sprinkler.

Cheap, but effective — at least until the protected pinipeds move to another dock without a sprinkler.

Then there’s today’s 8:30 a.m. Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission conference call “to discuss the lack of harmony beaming from the state’s Wolf Working Group meeting last week,” according to Rich Landers of the Spokesman-Review.

The group, which met for two days in Ellensburg, remains split about how many wolves are enough to constitute recovery and delisting from state populations, but one organization that’s part of the 17-member citizen panel and that had previously called for more wolves now grudgingly is OK with the numbers and the plan overall, though retains some concerns with caught-in-the-act lethal take provisions.

DNR Investigates Giving Out Of Keys To State Lands

June 15, 2011

Washington Department of Natural Resources officials are investigating how and why keys to state timber lands in central King County were given out earlier this spring.

Much is unclear, but DNR communications director Bryan Flint confirmed this afternoon that someone at their South Sound region office in Enumclaw gave out gate keys to parcels in the Raging and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers near Preston and North Bend, apparently for bear hunting.

“Giving of the keys was not authorized,” said Flint.

D.N.R. LANDS IN CENTRAL KING COUNTY ARE IDENTIFIED AS BROWN IN THIS D.O.E. PUBLIC LANDS MAP.

He did not know when they were given out, if they were used, when they would be returned, or have many other answers.

“We’re still at the beginning of sorting this all out,” he said.

DNR headquarters was alerted to the situation by state legislators, including Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen) yesterday, Flynt said. A now-six-page-long thread on Hunting-Washington — “Dangerous Precedent- DNR Gives Gate Keys To Tribes for Bear Hunting, What’s Next” — was started Monday morning and yesterday afternoon Rich Landers of the Spokane Spokesman-Review blogged about it.

The thread includes an email from a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife wildlife biologist to an unknown party that, if legitimate, indicates that on May 20 a WDFW law enforcement officer gave the biologist the head’s up that a DNR manager had “issued gate keys and permission to hunt over bait on all their lands south of Hwy 18 to the Muckleshoot Tribe.  Our guess is that this is their way of solving their peeling problems.”

The “peeling problem” is bears chewing the bark off young Douglas firs, trying to get at the sugar-rich cambium layer after their winter slumber. The girdling kills the valuable timber. The issue has led WDFW to adopt a number of spring hunts in Western Washington to try and control damage.

It appears that DNR first tried that way to deal with the hungry bears.

“They approached us about establishing a spring bear hunt in that area” sometime last year, said WDFW spokesman Craig Bartlett. “We’ll likely propose that in the next three-year game package” to the Fish & Wildlife Commission.

The biologist’s apparent email indicates several concerns for the agency, including how the episode will appear to nontribal sportsmen. It says:

1)      WDFW officers will not be able to distinguish a tribal bait pile from an illegal one
2)      Officer safety could become a factor because of the confusion over who has a right to hunt vs those who don’t
3)      Non-tribal hunters will likely be dismayed because they don’t have access, can’t use bait, and can’t hunt at this time of the year
4)      Non-hunters in King County will likely be dismayed over bears killed in the spring using bait

A Muckleshoot spokesperson had no immediate comment today but indicated he would get back to Northwest Sportsman tomorrow.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the original version of this article, DNR spokesman Bryan Flint’s name was misspelled as Flynt. Our apologies.

Unlikely That Stevens Co. Dog Was Hybrid Wolf

June 14, 2011

Hair samples from one of two marauding dogs trapped and killed last weekend in southern Stevens County is being sent to a California university where it will be sequenced to see if the animal was a wolf hybrid.

That said, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife game warden who assisted local law enforcement in the trapping operation doesn’t believe it was based on its physical appearances, including “really small feet.”

“The face looks a little wolflike, but Pam (Taylor) says there’s no way it’s a wolf,” says WDFW spokeswoman Madonna Luers in Spokane.

Taylor worked with the biologists who caught and collared the alpha male from the Diamond Pack of Pend Oreille County in summer 2009.

Luers says the samples were being sent to the University of California-Los Angeles Conservation Genetics Resource Center, which has developed techniques that can distinguish the DNA of Canis lupus from Canis lupus familiaris, to help quell rumors.

The lab previously confirmed for WDFW that a large canid roadkilled nearby was a wolf and another roadkilled to the south of Lake Roosevelt was a hybrid.

The other animal trapped over the weekend was clearly a dog, Luers says.

“This has nothing to do with wolves. It’s us helping out the local sheriff’s office. We have traps, they don’t,” she said.

With the deaths of those two and one other, shot by a turkey hunter after being charged, the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office says that “the main part” of a pack blamed for the killing of dozens of livestock and pets in the area “has been eliminated.”

The news comes at the same time as fears about wolf impacts on Washington livestock and big game are being heightened and WDFW works on a final draft of its management plan for presentation to the Fish & Wildlife Commission in early August.

Columbia Fishing Report

June 14, 2011

(REPORT COURTESY TANNA TAKATA, ODFW)

COLUMBIA FISHING

Salmon catch rates improved for boat anglers fishing the lower Columbia this past weekend.  Boat anglers fishing in the gorge averaged 1.33 spring chinook caught per boat, while boat anglers fishing in the estuary averaged 0.71 spring chinook caught per boat.  In the Portland to Longview area boat anglers averaged 0.42 spring chinook caught per boat.  Bank angling for salmon remains fair.  On the lower Columbia this past weekend there were 314 boats, and 531 Oregon bank anglers counted on Saturday’s (6/11) flight.  Shad angler success was fair this past week.  Shad anglers in the gorge averaged 4.39 shad per bank angler and 25 shad caught per boat.

Gorge Bank: Weekly checking showed 496 shad kept, plus 26 shad released for 119 shad anglers.

Gorge Boats: Weekend checking showed one adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adult, and three adipose fin-clipped spring chinook jacks kept, plus three unclipped spring chinook released for three salmon boats (nine anglers); and 75 shad kept for three shad boats (seven anglers).

Troutdale Boats: No report.

Portland to Longview Bank: Weekend checking showed 15 adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adults, eight adipose fin-clipped spring chinook jacks, six adipose fin-clipped steelhead and six sockeye kept, plus three unclipped spring chinook adults, two unclipped steelhead and two sockeye released for 273 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats: Weekend checking showed five adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adults kept for 12 salmon boats (29 anglers); and 29 shad kept for four shad boats (nine anglers).

Estuary Bank (Jones Beach to Tongue Point): Weekend checking showed six adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adults, four adipose fin-clipped spring chinook jacks and five adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus two unclipped spring chinook adults and two unclipped spring chinook jacks released for 82 bank anglers.

Estuary Boats (Puget Island to Tongue Point):  Weekend checking showed three adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adults and four adipose fin-clipped spring chinook jacks kept, plus three unclipped spring chinook adults released for seven boats (19 anglers).

Bonneville Pool: Weekend checking showed one adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adult and one sockeye kept, plus two unclipped spring chinook adults and one unclipped spring chinook jack released for eight salmon anglers; and 146 shad kept, plus 38 shad released for 41 shad anglers.

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed 14 adipose fin-clipped spring chinook, and one adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 17 unclipped spring chinook released for 135 bank anglers; and no catch for two boats (five anglers).

STURGEON

On the lower Columbia this past weekend there were 189 boats counted from the gorge (below Marker 82) downstream to the mouth on Saturday’s (6/11) flight, 151 of which were in the estuary.  Water flows have been high and boaters should be mindful of large debris floating down the river.  Boat anglers in the estuary averaged 0.76 legal white sturgeon caught per boat.

Gorge Bank (below Marker 82):  No report.

Gorge Boats (below Marker 82): Weekend checking showed eight oversize and 15 sublegal sturgeon released for 11 boats (34 anglers).

Troutdale Boats: No report.

Portland to Longview Bank: No report.

Portland to Longview Boats: Weekend checking showed eight sublegal sturgeon released for one boat (five anglers).

Estuary Boats (Puget Island to Buoy 10): Weekend checking showed 79 legal white sturgeon kept, plus one legal, 10 oversize and 450 sublegal sturgeon released for 105 boats (357 anglers); and four sublegal sturgeon released for four charter boat anglers.

Bonneville Pool:  Closed for retention.  No report.

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed one legal white sturgeon kept, plus two oversize and 23 sublegal sturgeon released for 22 bank anglers; and 10 sublegal sturgeon released for one boat (two anglers).

John Day Pool: Closed for retention. No report.

With Tuna Season Ahead, Exciting Changes To OTC Format

June 14, 2011

(OREGON TUNA CLASSIC PRESS RELEASE)

Editor’s note: Live bait fishing for albacore will be a feature article in the upcoming July issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine.

It’s been a quiet winter for Northwest tuna fanatics, but that’s all about to change in the next few
weeks.

July 4th is the traditional kickoff for when tuna show up off the Oregon and Washington coast but don’t tell that to the “Tuna-holics” hanging out on the Salty Dogs chat forum on Ifish.net because I can assure you if the water warms up a tad bit a few folks will be sneaking offshore to try and land the first albacore of the season. Some publicize their intent while others just quietly sneak out of the harbor and hope to get into the longfins then radio in their “hooked up.”

Ah, the words we love to hear.

Jim Pex, Port Coordinator for Charleston/Coos Bay, and I were in Eugene in April to proudly accept the Outstanding Oregon Tourism Volunteer Awards at the annual Oregon Governors Conference on Tourism. Say what..That’s right a tourism award. We have been so focused on putting on tournaments that benefit the hungry that we didn’t realize one of the side benefits of bringing 60-80 teams into these coastal communities was the economic impact we were having. We knew we were drawing teams from far away as Montana, Nevada, California, Washington and even Samoa one year.

Community leaders in these coastal towns have been taking notice and have told us the economic impact of bringing our teams, support staff, volunteers and spectators is pumping $250,000-$300,000 into their communities at each event and when you multiply that times four, well, you do the math.

Plans are being finalized for the 2011 Oregon Tuna Classic season and just when you think it can’t get any better we’ve added some exciting new changes. Have you ever watched a FLW or Bass Masters weigh-in? They do it in front of a large crowd which is exactly what is going to happen this year with the OTC weigh-in. The teams will tag and offload their tuna into totes of ice, the fish will then be weighed on the stage in the big tent while everyone is having dinner, and at the season finale in Garibaldi we will have some special entertainment to ratchet things up even more.

Last year the OTC events were designated as qualifying events by the IGFA for the IGFA Offshore World Championships and they will continue to be classified by the IGFA again this year.

Additionally, this season local radio stations in each coastal community will be a conducting a contest for locals to go to the OTC website http://www.oregontunaclassic.org and cast their ballot for the new name of the tournament held in their community in 2012. The Oregon Tuna Classic will be the parent organization but each event will have its own name and identity going forward.

Local artists from those areas will compete to design the poster for the 2012 event in their community. Participants have ask us for more ways to win so we have something fun and exciting for those teams that like to pre-fish on Fridays. “Big Fish Fridays”…a side pot with a 100% payout.

The Emmy-nominated new show “The Joy of Fishing,” which came out on Fox Sports last fall, will be back to film another show at one of the events.

As you can see we’ve been busy planning this winter and it won’t be long now before the 2011 season will be off and rolling. Last year we jumped from 1,400 participants in 2009 to slightly over 2,000 participants in 2011. We plan to carry that momentum into this season for another great year.

If you’re a sponsor we thank you for your support, if you’re a participant we look forward to seeing you at the events, if you are a volunteer we are so appreciative of your help and if your someone who hasn’t witnessed the contagious energy of 650 people inside the big tent then you’re missing out and we welcome you to join us.

Tight Lines
Del Stephens
OTC Chairman

2011 Tuna Tourneys
Oregon Tuna Classic

Newport/Depoe Bay: July 23
Ilwaco: Aug. 6
Charleston: Aug. 20
Garibaldi: Sept. 3

Washington Tuna Classic

Westport: Aug. 27

Anglers Getting Out, About

June 13, 2011

I’ve been festering about how many of us are getting afield, what with high gas prices, the staggering-along economic recovery and this spring’s poopier than normal weather.

Now, one weekend’s worth of fishing photos and reports shouldn’t be hailed as a turn-around, but we’re getting out. Here’s a roundup:

Andy:

I am sending you a couple of pics. Just went summer steelie fishing in Forks with Mike Z. Caught a nice one spey casting.

We bagged our limit. Good fighters, bright and good eating.

Paul Ishii

(WRIGHT & McGILL PHOTO CONTEST)

(WRIGHT & McGILL PHOTO CONTEST)

(WRIGHT & McGILL PHOTO CONTEST)

Andy

There’s some hogs moving now, and still cleaning up on jacks too. Did some fishing for sockeye and managed to get one and released two wild Chinook and one wild steelhead, and caught my fair share of shad.

Kirby Cannon

CONSIDER THIS KING'S ENTHUSIASM KIRBED -- PORTLAND SALMON JUNKIE K. CANNON WITH ANOTHER KING FROM A LOWER COLUMBIA BEACH. (WRIGHT & McGILL PHOTO CONTEST)

LOCKDOWN AT CASCADE LOCKS FOR THIS SOCKEYE. (WRIGHT & McGILL PHOTO CONTEST)

Andy,

Thought you might like this. Wyatt Wellette, 3 years old, with his older brother, Colton, shows off one of their many bluegill taken from Bond Butte Pond on Sunday.

Best regards,
Troy Rodakowski

 

BROTHERS WYATT AND COLTON WELLETTE AND THEIR BOND BUTTE POND, ORE., BLUEGILL. (BILL WELLETTE)

Andy,
This is a pic of my daughter Annabelle’s and my halibut caught out of Garibaldi last weekend.
Adam Stark

A PAIR OF FLATIES FOR ADAM AND ANNABELLE STARK. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Cameron Jones of Chattaroy, Washington, fishing the beautiful streams of Eastern Washington near Horseshoe Lake.

Kevin Jones

 

STREAMS ARE OPEN FOR ANGLERS ACROSS MOST OF WASHINGTON. (WRIGHT & McGILL PHOTO CONTEST)

Caught our limits today (at Rufus Woods Lake), 6-8 pounds. Even the Timm Ranch is producing. Got this nice 10-plus-button rattlesnake.

Ernie Buchanan

(RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

I also took a couple fishing reports over the phone this morning.

In the North Sound, Brett Barkdull, a state fisheries biologist and avid angler, says of this year’s lingcod fishing “the word on the street is, it’s better” than the past couple. That may be a function of fewer anglers out; he says he fished for three-quarters of a day one recent Sunday in the Juans without seeing another fisherman.

Season runs through this Wednesday, June 15.

Down in the South Sound, Northwest Sportsman columnist “Uncle Wes” Malmberg reports slower fishing at trout lakes, but some biggees nonetheless.

He was outfished by brother Brett at Nahwatzel. No sooner had Wes landed a 3-pound, 10-ounce rainbow than Brett brought in a 4-pound, 2-ouncer. The lake, which is west of Shelton, has been stocked with over 500 3- to 6-pound broodstockers.

Over at Lost, they hooked seven while at Island, they kept four from 13 inches up to 16 1/2 inches, Wes reports.

“The new Smile Blade Fly gets a double thumbs-up,” says Wes about the new Mack’s Lures product which combines the body of a Bugger with one of the company’s mylar blades for super-slow-trolling speeds. “They smacked it so hard they hooked themselves. We tried our go-to Woolly Buggers but couldn’t get any hookups.”

A BEAUT FROM NAHWATZEL FOR NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN TROUT COLUMNIST WES MALMBERG ... (BRETT MALMBERG)

... BUT AN EVEN NICER ONE FOR OUR NEW TROUT COLUMNIST BRETT MALMBERG. (WES MALMBERG)

And finally, fisheries biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver has the following roundup for Southwest Washington and the Columbia River:

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Bank anglers are catching some spring chinook at the barrier dam while boat anglers are catching some steelhead around the trout hatchery.  Effective June 16, bank anglers may fish the south side of the river from Mill Creek to 400 feet or the posted markers below the barrier dam.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 109 spring chinook adults, 162 jacks, four winter-run steelhead and 131 summer-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 5 spring chinook adults, 150 jacks, and one winter-run steelhead into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,100 cubic feet per second on Monday morning, June 13. Water visibility is 10 feet.

Kalama River – No report on steelhead angling success.  Remains closed to fishing for spring chinook.  Through June 8, just 73 hatchery adults had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.  The escapement goal is 400 fish for hatchery brood stock

Lewis River – Light effort and catch.  Remains closed to fishing for spring chinook. Through June8, a total of 1,022 hatchery adults had been collected for brood stock.  The goal is 1,300 fish.

Wind River – Fish are being caught throughout the river but the coffer dam area was the best location.  No boats were observed at the mouth yesterday (Sunday June 12) and only eight vehicles at Milepost 7 and at the coffer dam.

Through June 8, a total of 926 spring chinook had returned to Carson National Fish Hatchery.  The escapement goal is 1,500 fish.

Drano Lake – Light effort but a few spring chinook are still being caught.  No boats were observed there yesterday.

Klickitat River – Anglers are catching a mixture of adult and jack spring chinook and summer run steelhead.  Up to 2 hatchery adult spring chinook may be retained in the upper river.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled over 1,400 salmonid anglers (including 82 boats) with 205 adult and 132 jack spring chinook, 83 steelhead, and 5 sockeye.  156 (76%) of the adult and 108 (82%) of the jacks were kept as were 68 (82%) of the steelhead and all of the sockeye.  92% of the adults and all but one of the jack spring chinook sampled were upriver origin based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).

Over 1,000 salmonid bank anglers and 300 boats were observed on the lower Columbia mainstem during last Saturday’s (June 11)effort flight count.

The summer chinook fishery gets under way June 16 from the Megler Astoria Bridge up to Priest Rapids Dam. One difference is anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam can retain two adult hatchery-reared chinook after June 16, rather than one.

Bonneville Pool – No effort observed at the mouths of the Washington tributaries. Beginning June 16, boat anglers can fish from Bonneville Dam upstream.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some adult and jack spring chinook.

John Day Pool – From  Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco:  Estimated harvest in the John Day Pool for June 6 through June 12 is 20 adult hatchery chinook and 33 hatchery jacks. An estimated 21wild adult chinook and 20 wild jacks were caught and released. Catch and effort picked up a bit this past week. Water is turbid and the flows are high.  Effort was light with 126 boats on the water fishing for salmon for the week. Salmon bank angler effort declined this past week with more bank anglers fishing for walleye than salmon. An estimated 961 adult hatchery chinook have been harvested in this fishery and 304 wild adults have been caught and released.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerline downstream – Overall fishing is still slow though slightly improved in the Deep River area.  Overall, private boat anglers averaged a legal kept/released per every 11 rods while charter boat anglers averaged one per every 11.5 rods.  No catch was observed from the bank. If an angler catches a fish, there was about a 20% chance it would be a keeper.

Sturgeon effort is slowly increasing with nearly 200 boats observed of which 125 of those were found in the estuary last Saturday.  In addition there were 14 charter boats.

Lower Columbia from the Navigation Marker 82 line to the Wauna powerlines –  We did not sample any keepers last week.

The Dalles Pool – Light effort and catch.  Through May, an estimated 138 (46%) of the 300 fish guideline had been taken.

John Day Pool – 4 boats/10 anglers released 1 sublegal (catch-and-release only).

BASS AND WALLEYE

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers continue to catch walleye while bank anglers are catching bass.

John Day Pool – 5 boats/9 anglers caught 19 walleye and 2 bass.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort and catches are increasing as are the dam counts.  Based on mainly incomplete trips, bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam averaged nearly 3 shad per rod when including the few fish released.  Some shad were caught by boat anglers in the gorge and at Woodland.    Bank angling effort for shad is increasing with over 350 anglers tallied; however, there were still few boats fishing for shad.   Daily counts at Bonneville Dam are now in the tens of thousands of fish.

Be Whale Wise, NMFS Tells Sound Boaters

June 13, 2011

(NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE PRESS RELEASE)

NOAA’s Fisheries Service issued new rules on vessel traffic, aimed at protecting Southern Resident killer whales in Washington’s Puget Sound. These charismatic marine mammals, popular with tourists, whale-watch operators and the general public, were added to the Endangered Species list in late 2005.

The Southern Resident population peaked at 97 animals in the 1990s, and then declined to 79 in 2001. It has seen slow growth since then, and now stands at an estimated 86 killer whales, about half of which are sexually mature. Scientists have identified the major threats facing the population as a shortage of its preferred prey of Chinook salmon, disturbance from vessels, and water pollution.

The new rules prohibit vessels from approaching any killer whale closer than 200 yards and forbid vessels from intercepting a whale or positioning the vessel in its path. This doubles the current approach distance of 100 yards. The rules went into effect May 16 and apply to all types of boats, including motor boats, sail boats and kayaks, in Washington’s inland waters.

N.M.F.S. POSTER HIGHLIGHTING NEW DISTANCE REQUIRMENTS FOR ORCA OBSERVERS IN PUGET SOUND. (NMFS)

Exemptions to the rules for safety include vessels actively fishing commercially, cargo vessels travelling in established shipping lanes, and government and research vessels.

The whales, which depend on their highly sophisticated natural sonar to navigate and find food, can be affected by underwater noise from boats and disturbed by vessels, including non-motorized ones, that approach too close or block their paths. The agency’s killer whale recovery plan, released in early 2008, calls for actions to reduce disturbance from vessels.

When the regulations were originally proposed in July 2009, they included a half-mile wide no-go zone along the west side of San Juan Island from May 1 through the end of September, where vessels were prohibited. Due to the extensive responses that were received during the public comment period, the final regulations do not include the no-go zone, and NOAA’s Fisheries Service will instead continue to gather information to consider the concept in future rulemaking.

Updates From WA Wolf Group Confab

June 10, 2011

Important updates on this week’s Wolf Working Group meeting in Ellensburg were filed by the Yakima Herald-Republic and Associated Press.

The citizen panel is looking at the latest revisions to the state’s draft wolf management plan.

Scott Sandsberry of the Yakima daily reports that “six of its 17 members remain ‘unable to live with’ the wolf numbers called for in the draft plan,” while Shannon Dinniny of the AP reports that Conservation Northwest’s representative said, “If the numbers go below 15 breeding pairs, this plan won’t have public support and it’s going to fall apart. Maybe that’s what some people want, but I don’t think that’s a good option for the state and for the overall goal of delisting and recovery.”

Also, Sandsberry blogs about the search for large canids in the Teanaway not far the meetings.

Wish I could blog more on this, but I’ve got work to do.

Rufus Anything But Dead

June 10, 2011

Dissolved-gas-laden river flows croaked over half of the 2.7 million trout in commercial netpens on Rufus Woods Lake in late May, but it appears that a fairly large number managed to escape when the weight of their dearly departed friends and families against the mesh moved the pens off their moorings.

The Colville Tribes were also able to release their broodstock redband rainbows beforehand.

And now they are all hungry.

Very, very, very hungry.

In fact, it’s rather amazing that Bill Herzog and his son River were able to return from their trip there Wednesday with all their fingers and toes.

Rufus Woods near the Timm Ranch was “boiling” with trout, Herzog reported to Joel Shangle, his cohost on Northwest Wild Country Radio.

“It’s spec-#@$%@$-tacular,” Herzog said in a voice mail left on Shangle’s phone.

The duo were able to hook fish from 6 to 10 pounds “at will.”

Their biggest was an 18-pounder.

“He said it looks like ‘a @#$!# halibut,'” said Shangle.

BILL HERZOG'S RUFUS WOODS HALIBUT, ERR, RAINBOW. (RIVER HERZOG)

Even better, on Wednesday morning, it was just a boy and his pa all alone, wailing on fish.

“It’s happening, my friend,” said Herzog. “It’s not dead.”

There are fears that with continued high spills out of Grand Coulee and a handful of turbines there still offline, high levels of gasses will remain in the system for at least another week and a half. A pointman for the company that owns the netpen operation has worried that the flows will “sterilize” the reservoir.

I checked with the state game warden for that reach of the Columbia. His report is that the fishing’s good — way too good for some greedheads.

“There are overlimits leaving by the coolerful,” said Sgt. Jim Brown of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife on Thursday morning. “We’ve gotta spend some time now writing tickets. It’s got the potential to be a good summer fishery, but the pigs come and clean it out.”

The daily limit is two trout.

So what should you use?

“Zog says that they hooked small fish on hardware (squid, etc.), but all the bigger fish wanted bait: nightcrawlers, Fire Bait, etc,” says Shangle.

If you want to have max fun, do like Brown suggests and fish selectively — flies, spinners, spoons, whatever, just nothing slathered with bait or scent. That way you can catch and release till the cows come home.

Per WDFW’s 2011 fishing prospects:
On the open waters of Rufus Woods or within Designated Fishing Areas, which are located and marked on the Colville  Reservation shoreline, either a Tribal permit or State license shall be acceptable.  A State license is required when fishing from the Douglas County shoreline; a tribal fishing permit is required when fishing from shore on tribal lands..  Boating access is good with launch sites at Bridgeport  State Park, the Army Corps of Engineers’ site upstream of Chief Joseph Dam, and at Seaton’s Grove two miles downstream from Elmer City.

Free Fishin’ Weekend!

June 9, 2011

And now for something completely different — anglin’!

This is Free Fishing Weekend in Washington and Oregon, and Free Fishing Saturday in Idaho — no license is required to go fishing, clamming or crabbing!

Well, good luck clamming in the Gem State, but besides that trivial detail, where should yee spend the weekend?

Well, I’ll tell you, this morning I had planned to round up lots of great info on where Northwesterners might head out with their unlicensed family and friends, but a little thing known as the Wolf Wars got in my way, and so I’m going to have to be far briefer than I’d like to be.

GO FISHIN'! ELLA GRACE WILEY SHOWS OFF A NICE TROUT FROM CENTRAL OREGON'S EAST LAKE! (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

In Washington, you might check out any of the waters mentioned in WDFW’s June Weekender report, which we blatantly ripped off and used for our own foul purposes here.

The two-pole endorsement is also not required on the lakes where allowed, but you will need a catch record card for some species; see the regs.

In Oregon, you should scan through ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report, which, due to the aforementioned Wolf Wars, we were unable to drag down and rend apart in our toothy maws to post as content to our own Web site.

And in Idaho, it would behoove Gem Staters to investigate IDFG’s regional fishing information here.

While everyone except those whose fishing licenses are currently revoked can participate, all the other rules in the regulations pamphlet apply.

‘A Pattern Of Behavior’ In White Wolf Case

June 9, 2011

The meat of yesterday’s coverage of the 12-count grand jury indictment handed down against members of a Twisp, Wash., family focused on the alleged poaching of wolves and its discovery when a FedEx agent refused to pick up a bloody shipping package at the Omak Wal-Mart in March 2009.

What was lost is that the Federal case also charges William “Bill” D. White with four counts of trying to import a moose and whitetail deer he’d shot in Canada back into the United States in November 2007, both illegally and undeclared when they should have been.

There’s also a case pending in Okanogan County District Court against him for poaching a trophy buck out of season and illegally hunting a bear with hounds, according to the lead state game warden there.

“One of the things we hear is that he’s a folk hero for allegedly killing wolves,” says Sgt. James Brown of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, “but this is a pattern of behavior.”

Mythologizing wildlife criminals may not be a particularly Northwestern characteristic, but it is here that Claude Dallas was popularized after he shot two game wardens in Idaho in the 1980s and escaped jail before serving 22 years for manslaughter.

YESTERDAY’S STORY ON THIS BLOG about the indictment said that Bill White and others are suspected of shooting wolves. However, a broader range of tools was allegedly employed, including trapping and poisoning.

“There were multiple methods in which wolves were killed, and that will come out at trial,” Brown says.

According to the 10-page indictment filed Tuesday in Spokane federal court, it alleges that Bill White:

Emailed a relative in Alaska in mid-December 2007 looking for “assistance in locating someone that knew how to snare wolves”;

Sent an email that on or about Jan. 24, 2008 he “and others were hunting wolves near his residence”;

Reported by email that in April and May 2008 he “was attempting to trap or kill wolves near his residence”;

In early January 2009, he “applied a pesticide in an order to unlawfully take and kill wildlife, including gray wolves”;

And sent an email in mid-January 2009 that he and others “shot several wolves, specifically two wolves in one group of nine and one wolf in another group of three.”

The indictment charges his son, Tom D. White, with two counts of unlawfully killing endangered gray wolves. According to court papers, Tom killed one in mid-May 2008, the other in mid-December.

A photo seized during a March 2009 search warrant shows Tom with a dead wolf. According to previous news articles, he said he shot it after it became entangled in a barbed wire fence. According to a search-warrant affidavit, it may have actually been caught in an illegal leghold trap then killed.

AN IMAGE FROM A COPY OF A MARCH 2009 SEARCH WARRANT AFFIDAVIT APPEARS TO SHOW TOM D. WHITE WITH A DEAD WOLF. (OKANOGAN COUNTY DISTRICT COURT)

Bill and Tom White must surrender a Remington .300 Ultra Mag rifle, a 1999 Dodge Ram pickup, “one large, toothed, leghold trap,” and a Moultrie trail camera, if found guilty.

For attempting to ship a wolf pelt out of the country, they and Tom’s wife Erin all also face one count each of smuggling goods from the U.S., unlawfully exporting an endangered species and false labeling of wildlife for export, the last a Lacey Act violation.

Amazingly, even after an Alberta man tipped Bill off that the unprocessed hide meant for him had been intercepted by police, Bill continued to try to kill wolves, federal papers show.

The maximum fine for killing an ESA-listed wolf is $100,000, up to a year in jail and civil fines of $25,000. Wolves were federally protected across all of Washington when the two poachings allegedly occurred in 2008. They remain so in the area where it took place, though wolves in far Eastern Washington have since been delisted from ESA, but remain under state protections.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in charge of wolves in the western two-third of the state and the agency which took the lead investigating the case, had no comment.

“There was a long, thorough investigation,” said spokeswoman Joan Jewett in Portland. “Now we have the indictment. The case is in the hands of the U.S. attorney. We can’t really comment at this point.”

The next step in the Federal case will be for the Whites to be summoned to Spokane for arraignment on the charges. A trial date will then be issued.

THE WHITES’ ALLEGED TARGET was the Lookout Pack, the state’s first in 70 years. Though it was likely the breeding pair had a litter in 2007 based on two good sightings elsewhere in Okanogan County, it wasn’t officially confirmed until July 2008. It was the subject of a Wenatchee World article the month before. After talking with Bill, reporter K.C. Mehaffey wrote:

White said he saw tracks this winter as large as those left by a cougar, only more oval in shape, with distinct toenail marks left in the snow. He said his son has seen one pack with nine wolves and another with four.

He said state and federal officials questioned the sightings, so he set up a remote camera and caught them on film. He said he also gathered hair at one location. One of the females captured on film shows clearly visible protruding nipples, indicating she’s nursing pups, he said.

White said he’s not happy about the sightings. After what the northern spotted owl did to the logging industry, he worries that gray wolves will only create more restrictions on public land.

“Are they going to rope it off and say no more logging or hunting or snowmobiling?” he asked.

White said he thinks one pack of wolves killed one of his hunting dogs that didn’t come back after a hunt this winter. “Everybody’s not supportive” of repopulating the area with wolves, he said, adding, “The cattleman’s the only one that’s going to make a sacrifice.”

In March 2009, after news broke about the investigation, White told the Methow Valley News:

“I’ve never been through anything like this,” said Bill White on Monday (March 30). On the advice of his attorney, he was reluctant to talk to the Methow Valley News. “It’s a painful deal, but when they have a hearing, it will all come out.

“I know, but I can’t say, if the wolves were bothering our animals. It’s not going to be like they’re saying,” said White. “It will all come out in the wash. It’s unfortunate that people make judgments, but this country has a pretty good legal system and I trust it will work.”

According to WDFW, the Lookout Pack shares DNA with coastal wolves in British Columbia. No evidence has surfaced that the animals arrived here any other way than on their own four feet.

At one point in 2008 the pack numbered 10; today only two, according to WDFW spokeswoman Madonna Luers. They both are apparently male, one the alpha. Another was poached in fall 2009; the alpha female mysteriously disappeared last spring.

AS FOR THE STATE’S CASE AGAINST BILL WHITE, Brown says it’s partially based on pictures seized from his computer.

“We determined there was a nice, big trophy mule deer taken out of season,” says Brown.

In an echo of the recent Tony “Saveelk.com” Mayer elk poaching case over in Idaho, Bill White reported one date as the buck’s harvest, sent emails indicating it was taken at another time, and an image of it shows it was taken on an entirely different day, Brown says.

As for the bear, the game warden was able to match up the background in an image of it to a ridge of Alder Creek Mountain near White’s property west of Twisp, thereby confirming it wasn’t taken somewhere else hounds might have been legal for pursuit.

“Poachers need to brag,” Brown says. “If you brag, there’s going to be an electronic footprint.”

AS IF ALL THIS WOLF NEWS WASN’T ENOUGH, WDFW’s Wolf Working Group is going over revisions to the draft wolf management plan in Ellensburg today.

Not too far from there, biologist Paul Frame is poking around the Teanaway in hopes of trapping large canids reportedly in the area.

From there’s it’s likely he will head for northern Pend Oreille County to figure out whether the Salmo Pack dens on the Washington side of the International border — and where it would count towards state recovery goals — or on the BC side. He may also check into reports of wolves in the Hozomeen area and Blue Mountains.

WDFW also posted a brand-new map of confirmed and suspected wolf ranges in Washington, part of the agency’s attempts to be more transparent about the state’s population.

(WDFW)

With how huge of an issue wolves are and large of a management plan is being proposed, WDFW may hold as many as four public workshops across the state this summer and fall.

The schedule is not set in stone, but the meetings would occur early in the month.

One thing that can apparently be said to be set in stone is the most contentious item in the entire wolf plan: how many wolves over three consecutive years are enough for WDFW to delist from state protections.

“Yes, we looked at the minority opinion, yes, we looked at public comments, yes, we looked at the blind peer reviewers, but the one thing that ain’t changing is 15 breeding pairs,” Luers says. “We’re taking that to the (Fish & Wildlife) commission.”

The minority opinion, written by ranchers and hunters on the working group, advocated for half that number while many public commenters asked for as many as 25 or 30. Two of the three peer reviewers felt that 15 wasn’t adequate.

In the revised draft plan, new modeling from Washington State University’s Carnivore Lab found that in six of nine scenarios, 15 pairs spread through the Cascades and five-oh-nine country would be adequate to ensure long-term recovery – as long as those numbers weren’t population caps.

Luers says that Wildlife Division assistant director Nate Pamplin told the working group that they could shuffle where those 15 occur around in the state. The revised plan designated six pairs for far Eastern Washington, five for the South Cascades and Olympics, four for the North Cascades.

Not so explicitly stated publicly is that to achieve that many pairs over three years would actually likely require a total of 23 packs as nearly a third of wolves apparently don’t breed every year, according to the plan.

Scott Sandsberry of the Yakima Herald-Republic and Shannon Dinniny of the Associated Press both have articles on the working group’s two-day confab.

The commission is scheduled to vote on a final version in December.

Luers says that the alleged wolf poaching by the Whites “sets back, delays the timeframe to delist them and manage as any other wildlife in the state.”

And Why Not One Last Columbia Springer Update?

June 9, 2011

It’s back up — the Columbia upriver-bound spring Chinook forecast.

As the run has surged and ebbed this spring with the surge and ebb of the mighty river’s flows, managers have also been yo-yoing with their expectation of how many of the salmon will return to the mouth of the Columbia, upsizing it, boosting it again but disagreeing on how high it might go, lowering it, dropping some more and now reversing course.

MOLLY FRANCIS SHOWS OFF A SWEET CHINOOK CAUGHT OFF THE BEACH THIS WEEK. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Here’s how the forecast has changed this season:

Preseason forecast: 198,400

With the run late or small and river flows high and cold, it wasn’t until early May that managers could update the return. What they saw during the first 10 days of May was the highest springer count for that period in the 2000s — 90,842, 72 percent of the run through the 10th — and one of the six best days of all time.

First inseason update: 210,000

From there the adult run began to tail off and the jack count pick up. Even so, on May 16 managers issued another update.

Second inseason update: 217,000 to 237,000

Through May 24, with the overall Bonneville count at 160,000 plus 10,000 or so caught below the dam, but daily counts down to the 600s (a function probably of high flows), managers ratcheted their predictions backwards a hair.

Third inseason update: 213,400

Through the end of May the dam count was 167,000 and with only 15 days officially left in the springer run, on June 1 the return was dropped by nearly 10,000.

Fourth inseason update: 204,000

But in the week afterwards and on the backs of a series of 2,500-fish days, today they added 10K back the bank account.

Fifth inseason update: 214,000

By the way, the jack count at Bonnie is just under 60,000, second only to the 82,000 that went over in 2009 and may have been one of the factors that lead to 2010’s big run, the third best on record.

As it stands, the increased adult run size above 198,400 — as well as high flows that have limited the catch for boaters though bankies have done well — allowed extended fishing periods on the spring stock below and above Bonneville, including a season right up to the otherwise scheduled June 16 summer king opener. It appears that nontribal and tribal anglers will come in below quotas.

Here are projected catches for all fleets:

Preliminary summary of 2011 Non-Indian upriver Chinook Catch

Fishery Mortalities
Mainstem commercial    3,467
Select Area comm.  (proj. to June 15)    272
Lower Col. R. Sport (proj. to June 15)    8,700
Z6 Sport  (proj. to June 15)    2,657
Snake River/Ringold sport    1,964
Actual and Projected season total    17,060
Allowed based on current run size    19,474

The mainstem commercial fisheries occurred below the mouth of the Willamette.

The select area commercial fisheries occurred in off-channel bays near Astoria.

The Lower Columbia sport fishery is ongoing below Bonneville Dam.

The Z6, or Zone 6, sport fishery is from Bonneville east to the state line just upstream of McNary Dam.

The Snake River/Ringold includes parts of Washington’s lower Snake and the Ringold hatchery area north of Tri-Cities.

2011 Treaty Indian Spring Chinook Fisheries
Ceremonial Permits 8,947
Zone 6 Platform/H&L 6,100
Downstream of Bonneville Dam Hook and Line 2,300
Actual catch through June 4 17,347
Projected catch (June 5-15) from ongoing fisheries 1,200
Actual and Projected season total 18,547
Allowed based on current run size 19,474
Balance 927

Twisp Family Killed 2 Wolves, Tried To Poison More, Feds Say

June 8, 2011

UPDATED JUNE 9, 2011: Two men in an Okanogan County family shot wolves and one spread pesticide to take still more. They and another woman also attempted to ship the pelt of one to Canada, a move that ultimately backfired on the trio.

That according to a 12-count indictment leveled by a grand jury in U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington Tuesday against William “Bill” D. White, his son, Tom D. White and Tom’s wife, Erin White, all of Twisp.

The Methow Valley News broke the story. It involves the alleged killing of at least two Endangered Species Act-listed animals as well as Federal charges of conspiracy, smuggling and making false statements.

“This is a long time in coming,” said Mike Cenci, deputy chief game warden of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife whose officers performed some of the first investigation into the case that’s over two years old now. “Enforcement is just as anxious as the public to see some resolution here.”

The Spokane Spokesman-Review reported that Bill White said that his family had no comment.

Federal documents indicate that in 2008, even as wolf advocates were celebrating the discovery of Washington’s first pack in 70 years, the Whites were busy targeting the animals which lived on or near their ranch under Lookout Mountain west of Twisp.

According to the 10-page indictment, the conspiracy to kill the wild animals began in December 2007 when Bill White asked a relative in Alaska for help finding someone who knew how to snare wolves.

That year there had been two solid reports of a large group of wolves in western Okanogan County, according to WDFW documents.

Emails from January 2008 indicate that Bill “and others” were hunting three wolves, according to the indictment, followed by more attempts to hunt and trap them in April and May of that year.

Sometime around May 13 Tom killed one wolf then another around Dec. 15, 2008, the papers say. He is charged with two counts of unlawful killing of an endangered species.

In between those events, the retired federal wolf trapper and biologist Carter Niemeyer and WDFW biologists captured the pack’s two alpha wolves and collared them. A litter of six pups was also photographed that summer by remote camera.

An email from Jan. 14, 2009, indicates that Bill White and others shot two wolves in one pack of nine and another in a group of three, the indictment says.

It’s unclear if the three wolves died.

Ten days prior to that day he spread pesticides to kill wolves, papers say.

COUNT 1 FROM THE FEDERAL INDICTMENT AGAINST MEMBERS OF THE WHITE FAMILY OF TWISP, WASHINGTON.

The case came to light in March 2009 following the discovery in late Dec. 2008 of a bloody pelt inside a shipping package at the Omak Wal-Mart. It was being mailed to an address in Alberta by someone who said her name was Allison. Surveillance camera footage eventually led back to the Whites, according to a 37-page search-warrant affidavit.

The federal indictment indicates that even after the Whites were warned by the Canadian man that officers had intercepted the package and thus were likely investigating the matter, Bill continued to try to kill wolves, spreading poison.

Cenci, pointing to a state case against the Whites involving illegal hound hunting, termed it not an issue of a rancher protecting his stock but a case of “poachers against wolves.”

“If proven that those charged have taken multiple animals from that pack, you could go so far as to say its potential extinction is on their hands,” he said.

At one time in 2008, the pack numbered as many as 10. Most recently it was estimated at two or three, both adult males.

“The loss here isn’t just the animals,” said Cenci. “There was a fairly large investment in research that was lost as well.”

On their Facebook pages, Conservation Northwest of Bellingham welcomed “this strong signal that poaching will not be tolerated” and its executive director Mitch Friedman howled, “Justice for the Lookout Pack!”

“Poachers like this who deliberately try to wipe out a population of endangered wildlife need to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Friedman also said in a press release.

Conservation Northwest has been working with the state agency on monitoring wolves and other animals in Washington’s North Cascades. Its trail cameras captured some of the first images of the Lookout Pack.

Earlier this year, the Bellingham-based organization and WDFW teamed up to seriously boost the amount of reward money offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of poachers, including $7,500 for wolves and $3,000 for “egregious” illegal deer and elk killing. Previously only $500 was offered, though hunters can get bonus special permit points for turning in poachers.

Ironically, Bill White once taught hunter education, but his certificate was suspended.

The indictment comes just days after the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission was updated on the latest revisions to the state’s draft wolf management plan and as WDFW and its Wolf Working Group convenes in Ellensburg for two days to go over the tweaks to the plan.

It also follows on last year’s mysterious disappearance of the Lookout Pack’s aged alpha female and in fall 2009 the poaching of another wolf believed to be from the pack by a pair of Western Washington men. Cenci says there has been no progress on the latter incident, and game wardens lack evidence on the first. Though he’s not privy to the entire Federal case, Cenci said that there’s no reason to believe more than five wolves were allegedly shot by the Whites.

And it comes after news that late last week Idaho anti-wolf activist Tony Mayer of saveelk.com plead guilty to misdemeanor wildlife violations of taking an elk out of season and won’t be allowed to hunt for three years.

The issue of wolves is an increasingly contentious one in Washington, with full-on online debate. I wrote a large article about the Lookout Pack in the May 2011 issue of Northwest Sportsman and expanded and updated it here.

Thought to have been wiped out of the state by the 1930s, for decades now wolves have been haunting the Cascades and Pend Oreille County. WDFW began work on its wolf plan in 2007 as it became obvious the species would soon spill over from reintroduced populations in Central Idaho and more would continue to filter into the state from Canada and North Idaho. There are no plans to bring any in from outside the state, but WDFW is setting baseline goals for how many will constitute recovery.

At the end of 2010 there were a minimum of 18 or 19 wolves in the state in three packs, a figure that’s probably higher now with pups in dens. Biologists will also search the Teanaway, Hozomeen area and Blue Mountains for more.

Despite the high interest in the case, no press release was issued by the Federal court, and a spokesman for Michael C. Ormsby, the U.S. attorney in Spokane, said that the court did not intend to comment on the case.

The next step will be for the Whites to be summoned for arraignment on the charges. A trial date will then be issued.

Penalties for killing ESA-listed wolves include up to a $100,000 fine, a year in jail and civil fines up to $25,000. The indictment also charges the Whites with smuggling, punishable by up to 10 years in jail, according to the Methow Valley News.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article said that the Whites allegedly shot five wolves. Tom White has been charged with killing two; it’s unclear whether three other wolves mentioned in Federal documents as been shot were among those two or other incidents.

SAFE For Salmon Bill Still Needs Help

June 6, 2011

Sportfishing leaders are saying keep the support coming as a work session in Salem last week neither moved the SAFE For Salmon bill to the full House for a vote — nor killed it.

In particular they’re saying that anglers should support HB 3657-3 which, if passed out of the House and Senate and signed, would strengthen sport fishing opportunities on the lower Columbia River during the spring and summer Chinook runs.

That amended version would also ban gillnetting between January 1 and July 31, except for in off-channel areas near Astoria.

Both fleets share the nontribal salmon allocation on the Columbia.

Last Thursday afternoon’s hearing before the Rules Committee drew many supporters, according to Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association in Portland, who thanked those who showed up during a workday or sent letters.

She says that anglers should continue to talk with Reps. Phil Barnhart, Tim Freeman and committee co-chair Andy Olson about the bill, pointing out that Oregon businesses prosper with more sport days on the water and gillnetters could continue to be able to work Youngs Bay, Tongue Point, Blind Slough and other downriver fisheries supported by hatchery releases there.

The trio can be reached at:

Andy Olson: rep.andyolson@state.or.us; 503-986-1415
Phil Barnhart: rep.philbarnhart@state.or.us; 503-986-1411
Tim Freeman: rep.timfreeman@state.or.us: 503-986-1402