Archive for the ‘HEADLINES’ Category

WA Cougar Hunting Liberalized; WDFW Worker Dies; No Wenatchee Sockeye

August 19, 2011

A spate of news releases from WDFW out this afternoon, one following up on a story in The Columbian on the death of fish surveyor Mark Snepp yesterday:

A fisheries worker for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) died yesterday (Aug. 18) while participating in a steelhead survey on the Wind River.

Mark Snepp, 47, apparently died while walking the bank of the river and recording fish data reported by his diving partner, said Pat Frazier, southwest regional fish program manager for WDFW.

Team members called 911 and notified the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the cause of Snepp’s death. An autopsy will be conducted within the next few days.

“This is a sad day for the department,” Frazier said. “Mark joined the department just last year and showed a real dedication to fish and wildlife stewardship.”

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The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved amendments to cougar hunting regulations during a conference call today.

The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), amended cougar hunting regulations in six counties in eastern Washington, where a pilot project authorizing cougar hunting with the aid of dogs was not extended by the Legislature this year.

That amendment increases cougar hunting opportunities without the aid of dogs in Klickitat, Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties to continue to meet management objectives in those areas.

In addition, the commission modified the criteria for determining when cougars are removed to address public concerns about pet and livestock depredation and personal safety. The change allows for cougar removals when complaints confirmed by WDFW staff in a given game management unit exceed the five-year average.

WDFW game managers recommended the amendments to cougar hunting regulations as an interim measure until the 2012-14 hunting season package is developed. Public discussion of the 2012-14 hunting seasons is scheduled to begin this month. More information on those public meetings is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/release.php?id=aug1511a .

For more information about future commission meetings, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/ .

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The return of sockeye salmon to Lake Wenatchee is not strong enough to allow a recreational fishery in the lake this year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today.

Although more than 185,000 sockeye have passed Bonneville Dam this year, only about 14,000 of them are expected to enter Lake Wenatchee, said Jeff Korth, WDFW regional fish manager in Ephrata.

That is well short of the 23,000-fish goal for spawning escapement in the lake, Korth said.

“We know this is disappointing news for anglers, especially since the lake has opened for sockeye fishing for the past three years,” Korth said. “But the number of sockeye counted between Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams is low, and very few are entering the Wenatchee River.”

While the overall run of sockeye to the Columbia River has been relatively high, most of these fish appear to be headed for the Okanogan River and on into Canada, Korth said.

“The four- and five-year old sockeye that make up the bulk of this year’s run to Lake Wenatchee were spawned in years with very low sockeye abundance,” Korth said. “So there’s good reason to believe returns will improve in the years ahead.”

DNR Buys 2,845 Acres Near Lake Roesiger

August 19, 2011

One of my friends lives in a clearcut — it’s not as bad as it sounds — in central Snohomish County. House on 5 acres out in the country, can’t see any of his neighbors in the development, lots of wildlife, nice place.

Not too far to the south, the state Department of Natural Resources recently bought 2,845 acres, a move that, in part, keeps homes from ever similarly dotting the logged-over uplands just west of Lake Roesiger.

At one point, the owner of the property wanted to put a monstrous 6,000-home mini city in there. But two years ago, the plan for what was later called “one of the worst development ideas in county history” fell apart.

Earlier this year, DNR pooled their money with the county, and now the agency will hold a media tour next Tuesday to showcase the buy for which it contributed $6.58 million.

OUTLINED AREA SHOWS EXTENT OF LAKE ROESIGER LAND BUY. TAN MARKING AT TOP IS DNR LAND AS WELL. (DNR)

According to a press release sent out yesterday, the forest “will be managed to provide revenue for public school construction, habitat, and clean water plus providing additional opportunities for public recreation.”

While a master plan is developed, the site will be closed, but DNR spokesman Bryan Flynt says it will be accessible on foot by hunters — not that state foresters think there’s a lot of game, he says.

A PowerPoint document from a DNR commission meeting shows that there are over 1,300 acres of Doug firs 25 years old or less — that thick, closed-canopy stuff that doesn’t make for good habitat — and another 1,000 acres of alders and other deciduous trees the same age. About 58 acres are 25 to 31 years old.

LOGGING DECK ON NEWLY ACQUIRED DNR LAND. (DNR)

“There are not a lot of tall trees; harvesting is decades away,” says Flynt.

That said, with how many critters creep around my buddy’s place up the road and “flying” over parts of the land in Bing Map’s “birds eye” view, my sadomasochistic desire to hunt blacktail has been reignited.

Ocean Salmon Fishing Update (8-17-11)

August 17, 2011

(REPORT COURTESY WENDY BEEGHLEY, WDFW, VIA FISHERIES BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)
The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Cape Falcon, OR and Leadbetter Point, WA opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 33,600 coho and a sub-area guideline of 7,400 Chinook.  During the week of August 8, a total of 7,232 coho and 1,908 Chinook were landed. Through Sunday, August 14, 16,765 coho (50% of the sub-area quota) and 3,729 Chinook (48% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.   Two total pink have been landed in this area during the season.

Westport
The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Leadbetter Point and the Queets River opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 24,860 coho and a sub-area guideline of 16,900 Chinook.  During the week of August 8, a total of 2,880 coho, 5,296 Chinook, and 324 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, August 14, 8,812 coho (35% of the sub-area quota) and 14,396 Chinook (82% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

La Push
The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between the Queets River and Cape Alava opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 1,700 coho and a sub-area guideline of 1,350 Chinook1.  During the week of August 8, a total of 236 coho, 233 Chinook, and 260 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, August 14, 997 coho (59% of the sub-area quota) and 1,068 Chinook (76% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

Neah Bay
The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Cape Alava and the US-Canada border opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 6,990 coho and a sub-area guideline of 3,200 Chinook.  During the week of August 8, a total of 295 coho, 490 Chinook, and 1,014 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, August 14, 2,512 coho (36% of the sub-area quota) and 2,245 Chinook (67% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

 

Fishing License Check On Willamette Turns Up Woman Wanted On Multiple Warrants

August 17, 2011

As we detailed in the September 2010 issue of Northwest Sportsman, our game wardens sometimes come across some pretty unsavory characters while patrolling Washington’s and Oregon’s woods and waters.

While almost all angler and hunter checks do go smoothly because for the most part we’re upstanding, law-abiding citizens, sometimes the subjects contacted turn out to be convicted felons with guns, people wanted on nationwide extradition warrants, men on the lam from rape and strangulation charges.

So it went yesterday morning during a routine fishing license check on the banks of the Willamette at Sellwood Park.

OSP trooper Matt Fromme asked Kimberly Lynn Staats, 40, and her boyfriend for their angling licenses — neither had one, according to an agency spokeswoman — and ended up arresting Staats for multiple outstanding warrants, including, according to the agency:

 * Fugitive from Justice out of Clark County, Wash., where she was wanted on a felony Forgery warrant.
* Felony warrant for identity theft (five counts) and forgery in the second degree (five counts) out of Multnomah County, Ore.
* Misdemeanor warrant for fail to appear on assault, harassment and attempt to coercion charges out of Washington County, Ore.

KIMBERLY LYNN STAATS, 40, OF SOUTHEAST PORTLAND. (MULTNOMAH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE VIA OSP))

An OSP press release says that the Southeast Portland woman was arrested without a problem and put up in the Multnomah County jail.

Staats and her boyfriend were also cited for no nonresident fishing license.

Fish and wildlife enforcement officers point out that while police typically respond to known situations, they often go into situations not knowing who or what they will find.

King Catch, Effort Ramps Up At B10

August 17, 2011

The latest catch estimates from the Lower Columbia show a near-tie for Chinook this month between the Buoy 10 fishery and the 130 miles of river from just above Astoria to Bonneville Dam as the fall run begins to push in.

A total of 622 kings have been landed between the buoy that marks the mouth of the big river and the Rocky Point-Tongue Point line about 14 miles upstream, with 564 of those caught last week. The first week’s tally was 58.

AMONG THE 564 CHINOOK BONKED AT THE BUOY LAST WEEK, THIS NICE ONE BY ANDREW DAVIES OF LONGVIEW, WASH. HE AND BRO SPENCER WERE FISHING A MIX OF DIVERS, FLASHERS AND BOB TOMAN AND SPINNER DAVE'S SPINNERS, THE LATTER WITH HOOCHIE ACTION. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Effort also ramped up there. Between Aug. 1-7, there were 1,049 angler trips while last week there were 3,662.

A total of 39 coho have been kept at Buoy 10 for the season as well.

All that according to a fact sheet put out this morning by the Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife.

Managers expect us to catch 10,950 kings and 7,000 silvers there.

In the Columbia from east of Astoria to the dam, a total of 649 kings have been conked — as have 6,795 steelhead.

Angler effort there was 14,265 over the month’s first week, 14,213 in its second.

Managers model around 20,730 kings and 1,000 coho caught in this long stretch of the river.

Westport Returns To 5-day-a-week Salmon Fishing

August 17, 2011

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Effective immediately, the salmon fishery off Westport will once again be restricted to five days a week – Sundays through Thursdays.

Anglers have been allowed to fish daily off Westport (Marine Area 2) since early August, but a significant increase in the recreational catch prompted a return to the Sunday-through-Thursday schedule, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Since opening ocean waters off Westport to daily fishing, the number of anglers has dramatically increased and we saw record numbers of chinook caught,” Pattillo said. “Making this change now is necessary to keep the chinook fishery off Westport open.”

Anglers can still fish for salmon daily off Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4).

Last week, fisheries managers also made the decision to limit anglers fishing off Westport and Ilwaco to one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit. That change went into effect Sunday (Aug. 14).

Pattillo reminds anglers fishing in ocean waters off La Push and Neah Bay that they can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit. Anglers fishing marine areas 3 and 4 are also allowed one additional pink salmon each day.

Ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1.

Fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season, and announce any other changes on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ .

Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum-size limits and area catch guidelines, is available in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .

Lower Columbia Fishing Report (ODFW, 8-16-11)

August 16, 2011

(COURTESY TANNA TAKATA, ODFW, VIA FISHERIES BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

Anglers are beginning to catch a few fall chinook in the lower Columbia and the steelhead catch rates continue to be good as well.  In the gorge boat anglers averaged 0.07 fall chinook and 1.53 steelhead caught per boat, while anglers fishing the Portland to Longview area averaged 0.31 fall chinook and 0.41 steelhead caught per boat.  In Troutdale boat anglers averaged 0.05 fall chinook and 0.35 steelhead caught per boat.  Catch rates for bank anglers in the gorge are good but slow elsewhere.  At Buoy 10 this past weekend anglers averaged 0.15 fall chinook and 0.02 coho caught per angler.

Gorge Bank:

Weekend checking showed 23 adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 22 unclipped steelhead released for 150 bank anglers.

Gorge Boats:

Weekend checking showed one fall chinook adult and 13 adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 10 unclipped steelhead released for 15 boats (39 anglers).

Troutdale Boats:

Weekend checking showed three fall chinook adults, one fall chinook jack and 12 adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 11 unclipped steelhead and one sockeye released for 65 boats (136 anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank:

Weekend checking showed four adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus one unclipped steelhead released for 105 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats:

Weekend checking showed 43 fall chinook adults, one fall chinook jack and 45 adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 12 unclipped steelhead and two unclipped coho released for 140 boats (313 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Jones Beach to Clatsop Spit):

Weekend checking showed one adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept for two bank anglers.

Estuary Boats (Tongue Point to Buoy 10):

Weekend checking showed 68 fall chinook, five adipose fin-clipped coho, and one adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus five fall chinook and 14 unclipped coho released for 168 boats (486 anglers).

Buoy 10, Lower Columbia, SW WA Fishing Report (8-15-11)

August 15, 2011

The number of anglers at Buoy 10 is beginning to ramp up and the latest catch stats show about a half a Chinook a boat.

A pair of Northwest Sportsman readers actually did better than that last week.

Spencer and Andrew Davies of Longview spent three days fishing near the mouth of the Columbia and report hooking seven and bringing three over the side.

“We were using green Delta Divers and green flashers with Bob Toman spinner (white/orange with a pink squid) and also a Spinner Dave’s (green/chartreuse w/chartreuse squid and chartreuse/orange w/chartreuse squid),” says Spencer via email.

THE DAVIES BOYZ OF LONGVIEW GOT INTO A FEW KINGS AT THE BUOY 10 FISHERY, WHICH EXTENDS FROM THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA UPSTREAM ABOUT 14 MILES TO ASTORIA. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Meanwhile, kings and a TON of steelhead are being caught further up the Columbia, according to the latest dispatch from fisheries biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver. To wit:

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Steelhead are being caught throughout the river with the best catches around the trout hatchery.  Sea run cutthroats are being caught on the lower river.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 44 spring chinook adults, 25 jacks, 33 mini-jacks, 631 summer-run steelhead, three sea-run cutthroat, one fall chinook adult, and two sockeye salmon during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 51 spring chinook adults, 16 jacks, and one fall chinook adult into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek, 63 spring chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park, three sea-run cutthroat into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, and one summer-run steelhead and two sockeye salmon adults into the Cowlitz River at the Barrier Dam boat launch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,720 cubic feet per second on Monday morning, August 15. Water visibility is 13 feet.

Kalama and Lewis rivers – Some steelhead are being caught.

Wind River – Light effort with just a couple boats daily at the mouth.

Drano Lake – Boat anglers averaged about ½ steelhead per rod last week.  Effort is increasing with up to 45 boats counted last Saturday morning.

White Salmon River – Bank anglers are catching some steelhead.  About 30 water craft here early Saturday morning; no report on angling success.

Buoy 10 – Chinook catches are slowly improving with nearly ½ chinook per boat average yesterday.  A few more coho are also showing in the catch.  Daily sampling summaries can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/buoy10/.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled just over 2,700 salmonid anglers (including 313 boats) with 58 adult and 16 jack fall chinook, 1,151 steelhead, and 1 sockeye (released).  We still haven’t sampled our first coho.  691 (60%) of the steelhead were kept.  All the adult fall chinook were kept and a few “small” jacks were released.

Bonneville Pool – Good catches of steelhead outside the mouths of Drano Lake and the White Salmon River.  About 20 boats each morning off the White Salmon and similar numbers off Drano.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the mouth to the Marker 82 line – Only a few anglers were sampled during the current catch-and-release only fishery.

WALLEYE AND BASS

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Some walleye are being caught by boat anglers from Woodland to the gorge.

WDFW Dials Back Westport, Ilwaco King Limit

August 12, 2011

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Starting Sunday (Aug. 14), anglers fishing off Westport and Illwaco will again be restricted to one chinook salmon as part of their daily limit of two salmon off the state’s southern coast.

State fisheries managers increased the daily limit to two chinook last week, but a sudden surge in the recreational catch prompted a return to the one-chinook rule in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) and Marine Area 2 (Westport), said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW),

“The number of anglers fishing out of Westport this week increased dramatically and their success in catching chinook was better than any week in recent history,” Pattillo said. “While we’re reluctant to go back to one chinook a day, this change is necessary to keep this fishery open for a full season.”

Pattillo noted that the new chinook catch limit will apply only to marine areas 1 and 2.  Anglers fishing off La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) can continue to catch and keep two chinook as part of their daily limit – which also allows them to keep one additional pink salmon per day in those areas.

Prior to last week’s decision to increase the chinook limit off Westport and Ilwaco, WDFW found that catch rates were lagging well behind last year’s pace, Pattillo said. But that changed abruptly this week, when the number of anglers fishing those areas jumped 30 percent over the same period last year.

“We couldn’t ignore that much of a change in the fishery,” he said.

Ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1.

Fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season, and announce any other changes on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ .

Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum-size limits and area catch guidelines, is available in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .

Closely Watched By Waterfowlers, Willapa NWR Releases Final Plan

August 12, 2011

(U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE PRESS RELEASE)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today released the final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (CCP/EIS) for Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Washington. The CCP/EIS outlines the management goals, objectives and strategies that will guide the Refuge for the next 15 years.

The CCP/ EIS was developed to provide scientifically grounded guidance for improving and managing the Refuge’s habitats for the long-term conservation of migratory birds, native plants and animals. The planning team modified the plan and the preferred alternative to reflect the many comments received during the public comment phase of the draft CCP/EIS. A Record of Decision formally finalizing the CCP/EIS will be signed in 30 days. Implementation of the long-term management actions and projects depends on the availability of funding over the next 15 years.

The final plan includes a new section describing public comments and concerns expressed regarding the draft CCP/EIS during the public comment period and the Service’s responses to public comments.

Changes to the wildlife and habitat sections based on public feedback include:

In the South Bay Units, the number of acres of diked impoundments targeted for restoration to historic estuarine habitats (open water, intertidal flats, and salt marsh) was reduced from 749 acres to 611 acres; On the Riekkola Unit, 93 acres of short-grass fields will be managed for Canada geese and Roosevelt elk instead of being removed, as proposed in the draft plan; The amount of late-successional forest was increased by two acres, for a total of 6,180 acres with proposed habitat restoration of the current headquarters facility site.

Priority public use programs are expanded in the final plan and include opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography and environmental education and interpretation. Other changes to the preferred alternative specific to the wildlife-dependent public use opportunities include:

Revised location of the new parking area, which will include year-round access to a new car-top boat launch at Dohman Creek; Expansion of waterfowl hunting on South Bay Units (5,570 acres) and regulated goose hunting on Riekkola Unit (100 acres) to include three blinds for goose hunting (including one barrier-free blind) and two blinds for waterfowl hunting (including one barrier-free blind), concurrent with tidal restoration; Development of a new hiking trail to Porter Point that will be open year-round to all Refuge visitors, concurrent with tidal restoration; Outside the hunting season, the blinds on the Riekkola Unit may be used by all Refuge visitors for wildlife viewing and photography.

The plan identifies actions necessary for enhancing, protecting and sustaining the Refuge’s natural resources, including a strategic land protection plan for future land acquisition, a forest management plan, improvements to habitats, migratory bird populations and threatened, endangered or rare species.

When Congress amended the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act (Act) in 1997, it incorporated an underlying philosophy that “wildlife comes first” on refuges. The Act provided the Service with guidance for managing refuges to ensure the long-term conservation of fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats. It also established six priority public uses on National Wildlife Refuges: wildlife observation and photography, hunting, fishing, interpretation and environmental education. The Act also requires all lands within the Refuge System to be managed in accordance with a CCP to ensure that the management of each refuge reflects the purposes of that refuge and the mission, policies and goals of the Refuge System.

Willapa National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife, and for conservation purposes in and around Willapa Bay. Subsequent acquisition of lands over the last 70 years has expanded the refuge to approximately 16,000 acres. Current wildlife and habitat management activities include wetland restoration, stream and riparian restoration, salmon reintroduction, grazing and pasture management, invasive species and weed control, forest management, and migratory bird and endangered species management and monitoring.

Willapa National Wildlife Refuge includes several rare remnants of old-growth coastal cedar forest. The Refuge preserves habitat for spawning wild salmon, hundreds of thousands of migrating shorebirds, and threatened and endangered species such as the marbled murrelet. The Refuge preserves a number of unique ecosystems including diverse salt marshes, rich tide flats, rain-drenched old growth forest, and dynamic coastal dunes. The Refuge is a great place to see what the Pacific Northwest looked like 100 years ago.

Visitors to the refuge can enjoy viewing a wide variety of wildlife, from spawning salmon in the Refuge’s numerous streams, Roosevelt elk on Long Island, and the tens of thousands of migrating shorebirds that crowd the beaches at Leadbetter Point and shores of Willapa Bay.

The final CCP/EIS is posted on the Refuges’ Web site at http://www.fws.gov/willapa/  The printed document is available at the Astoria Public Library in Oregon, and these Timberline Regional Libraries: Ilwaco, South Bend, Naselle, Ocean Park, and Raymond.

B10 Catch Up To 58 Kings; Steelie Fishing Strong

August 10, 2011

A fact sheet from Columbia River fishery managers out late this afternoon shows that for the first week of the Buoy 10 season, a total of 58 Chinook and two coho were kept while another 16 kings were released.

It’s early yet at the mouth of the big river, of course, and the better fishing is well above there, and for a different brand on the Oncorynchus label — steelhead.

Stats show that just under 3,000 summers were kept from the Rocky Point-Tongue Point line up to Bonneville while another 2,376 were released from August 1-7.

AMONG THE LUCKY ANGLERS OF LATE, IRONWORKER TONY OROZCO WHO NABBED THIS SUMMER-RUN AT WILLOW GROVE ON THE WASHINGTON SIDE OF THE COLUMBIA JUST BEFORE THE TURN OF THE CALENDAR. (CHRIS SPENCER)

According to fisheries biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver, over 40 percent of the action occurred up in the Gorge west of the dam.

Though the run started out slow, over the past two weeks, over 96,000 have gone over Bonneville, topping the 10-year average for that period by nearly 20,000 fish.

Another 151 kings were also retained in that water.

Anglers made an estimated 1,116 trips to the Buoy 10 salmon fishery, 14,265 to the combined salmon-steelhead fishery in the Lower Columbia.

Managers expect us to catch 10,950 kings and 7,000 coho at B10 and 20,730 Chinook and 1,000 coho from Astoria to the tailrace.

Ocean Salmon Update (8-10-11)

August 10, 2011

(COURTESY WENDY BEEGHLEY, WDFW, VIA FISHERIES BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Cape Falcon, OR and Leadbetter Point, WA opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 33,600 coho and a sub-area guideline of 7,400 Chinook.  During the week of August 1, a total of 2,983  coho and 713 Chinook were landed. Through Sunday, August 7, 9,533 coho (28% of the sub-area quota) and 1,821 Chinook (25% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.   Two total pink have been landed in this area during the season.

Westport

The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Leadbetter Point and the Queets River opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 24,860 coho and a sub-area guideline of 16,900 Chinook.  During the week of August 1, a total of 1,218 coho, 3,156 Chinook, and 297 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, August 7, 5,932 coho (24% of the sub-area quota) and 9,100 Chinook (54% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

La Push

The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between the Queets River and Cape Alava opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 1,700 coho and a sub-area guideline of 1,350 Chinook1.  During the week of August 1, a total of 140 coho, 326 Chinook, and 287 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, August 7, 761 coho (45% of the sub-area quota) and 836 Chinook (62% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

Neah Bay

The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Cape Alava and the US-Canada border opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 6,990 coho and a sub-area guideline of 3,200 Chinook.  During the week of August 1, a total of 257 coho, 325 Chinook, and 1,763 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, August 7, 2,218 coho (32% of the sub-area quota) and 1,756 Chinook (55% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

Pend Oreille Pike Briefing Today

August 10, 2011

Fishery biologists from the Kalispel Tribe of Northeast Washington will today brief members of the Northwest Power & Conservation Council on the “exponential” growth of northern pike in the Pend Oreille River.

They estimate that there are now from 8,000 to 10,000 in Box Canyon Reservoir between Ione and Newport alone, up from 300 or so in 2004.

Citing data that shows the average length of sampled fish has declined from 33 inches in 2006 to 19 inches this year, tribal biologists also say “the ‘glory days’ of trophy pike are behind us.”

Now, the worry is that the voracious and easy to catch predators will “undermine” massive investments in the restoration of native species in the basin, affect the tribe’s largemouth bass program, and move further down the Columbia system.

Indeed, a roughly 3-year-old pike was landed in Lake Roosevelt last month and the tribe’s Jason Connor doesn’t think it was the only one in the massive reservoir.

According to a PowerPoint presentation to be given to the NPCC at the Northern Quest Resort in Airway Heights, Wash., this morning, the Kalispels hope to secure long-term funding for pike suppression and population monitoring, get northerns designated as an invasive species, promote and reward harvest, and make retention mandatory.

Some of that would require cooperation with the state Department of Fish & Wildlife, which is watching developments closely.

At the same time, interest in the rare fishery has skyrocketed. Angler use of the reservoir has grown from an estimated 4,000 hours a year in 1990 to 76,000 hours in 2010, according to tribal stats. And variations of “Pend Oreille pike” are among the search terms bringing the most viewers to our WordPress site’s archived articles.

In summer, fishing’s good from boat or bank whether you’re dangling dead baitfish under a float or throwing anything from high-dollar stickbaits to broomsticks with hooks.

And it is drawing fishermen from as far away as Puyallup.

KEVIN BYE WITH A NORTHERN CAUGHT IN THE USK AREA OF THE PEND OREILLE RIVER LAST MONTH. (WRIGHT & McGILL EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

That’s where Kevin Bye is from. He made a mid-July run over, catching a couple in Tacoma Slough on spoons, and plans on making a return trip in the next month.

But at the same time that he’s hoping to hang a 20-plus-pounder, he’s also concerned about overpopulation and other issues.

“On one hand, it’s a great fishery and certainly offers up something unique that the rest of the state doesn’t have,” Bye said via email yesterday. “On the other hand, I’m concerned about what impact they could have if and when they make it into the Columbia. I figure it could take some time for them to get through (Lake) Roosevelt and I agree with the article in Northwest Sportsman about the northerns having a difficult time reproducing in there. There certainly are some big northerns hanging out in the river, but there needs to be some serious thinning of the herd with the juveniles.”

NSIA Joins Businesses Asking For ‘Decisive Change’ On Columbia-Snake Salmonid Restoration

August 9, 2011

(NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION PRESS RELEASE)

The Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association (NSIA) joins over 1,000 American businesses that have come together to ask President Obama for decisive change in failed policy to restore endangered wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Over 200 sportfishing businesses have joined the letter released today, following U.S. District Judge James Redden’s ruling on August 2, 2011, which found the Administration’s current salmon plan illegal.  Salmon are a mainstay of economies and jobs for the entire west coast and critically important for thousands of Northwest outdoor and sportfishing businesses.

Other letter signers also include commercial fishing businesses; outdoor retailers and equipment makers; food, farm, restaurant and tourism businesses; and clean energy businesses.

“My family owned and operated stores and all the sportfishing businesses we purchase from in the Northwest and along the West Coast are at risk if the government’s 20-year failure to restore endangered Columbia/Snake salmon doesn’t change,” said Dan Grogan, co-owner of Fisherman’s Marine and Outdoor with three stores and headquarters in Oregon. “We need President Obama to comply with the court’s ruling, and to work with Northwest business leaders to correct his salmon policy and save jobs and those dependent on them.”

“It’s not just about fish, this is about all the family-wage jobs and all the industries these fish help support including the sportfishing industry. We need a transparent and science based approach to Columbia/Snake salmon recovery efforts,” said Scott Weedman, co-owner of Three Rivers Marine and Tackle in Woodinville, Washington. “We need a plan that works for both salmon and people in the region. We don’t have that yet, but I am confident we can get there with good leadership.”

The 1,000-plus businesses ask the President to begin collaborative talks among all stakeholders including sportfishermen “to craft a lawful, science-based plan that restores salmon, protects this important food source, puts thousands of people to work, and helps to build a cleaner energy future.”

Their letter is also being delivered to members of Congress.

NSIA was founded in 1993 by a collection of sport fishing industry business leaders who understood the need for a strong voice in the local, state, regional and federal governments. NSIA is not a sports club but an industry lobby group, with lobbyist in both Washington and Oregon, representing the business interests of the many members that depend on the sport of fishing for their livelihoods. NSIA is involved in every major salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and shellfish fisheries issue across the region.  For more information go to nsiafishing.org

RMEF Tips For Field Judging Bull Elk

August 9, 2011

(ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION PRESS RELEASE)

MISSOULA, Mont.–A trophy bull can turn up almost anywhere in elk country but opportunities to take one are rare. When a monster steps out, a hunter often has no time to count antler points, much less compute scores. But not always. Sometimes there’s ample chance to really focus and size up an elk in your search for the bull of a lifetime.

Will you know a world-class trophy if you see one?

“All elk hunters are fascinated by antlers, but not everyone recognizes what it takes to grow trophies. Big headgear is a product of genetics, age and nutrition provided by great habitat,” said David Allen, president and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “Learning to field judge antlers will help you understand even more about the elk you’re looking at, whether it’s one for the record books–or one to let walk away and grow up.”

RMEF offers the following general guidelines adapted from material provided by Boone and Crockett Club. For details, read “A Boone and Crockett Club Field Guide to Measuring and Judging Big Game.” Visit http://www.boone-crockett.org.

(TURNBULL NWR)

Counting Points–Most mature bull elk are 6x6s. An elk’s first antlers are usually spikes. In good habitat, a bull may have a 5-point rack as a 2-1/2-year-old and then a small six-point rack as a 3-1/2-year-old. Its best antlers, however, usually come at age 9-1/2 to 12-1/2, so remember that not every 6×6 is a trophy. Instantly identifying a six-point bull is not difficult. The fourth point, sometimes called the dagger point, is normally the longest point and most distinctive feature of an elk rack. If the main beam goes straight back from the dagger you’re almost certainly looking at a five-point antler. If there’s another point rising upward behind the dagger, perhaps making a horizontal “Y,” then you’re looking at a six-point antler.

A perfect, typical trophy rack has a combination of long points, long beams, good mass and a wide spread. However, some of these criteria are more important than others. Let’s look at each.

Beam Length–Most great elk have long main beams. In the all-time records book, the average beam length of the top 10 typical heads is over 58 inches. However, the average beam length of the bottom 10 is 55-4/8 inches–not much difference. If a bull appears able to “scratch his rear-end with his antlers,” it likely has the frame to be a trophy. No need to spend much more time considering beam length.

Inside Spread–Boone and Crockett records show a wide variation on spreads of trophy elk. Interestingly, the narrowest head in the book outscores the widest, which should be enough to tell you that spread isn’t everything. The top 10 typical entries range from 38-2/8 to 53 inches of inside spread for an average of 46-2/8 inches. The bottom 10 range from 38 to 49-4/8 inches for an average of 42-4/8 inches. Again, not a significant difference. In the field, simply look for a spread that stretches well outside the ears. This should indicate a spread somewhere in the low to mid-40s, and that’s really all you need be concerned about.

Mass–Most really big elk have heavy antlers that carry good mass through the length of the main beam. However, mass is very hard to judge. It’s unusual to have a lot of time to look at a big bull and mass is not where you should spend most of it. Just remember that very few elk considered “big” in the more visible characteristics have thin antlers. When hunting, quickly look for antlers that are visibly as large or larger in circumference than the ear bases, which are about 9 inches around. More importantly, the antlers should maintain that thickness to at least the fifth point.

Tine Length–If you have time to study a bull, really look at the tines. Length of the points is the single most important trophy criteria. The good news is that point length is one of the easiest things to judge because there is a yardstick. On a big American elk, the distance from the burr of the antler to the tip of the nose is about 15-4/8 inches. Let’s start at the bottom of the antlers and work up. A curved brow tine that appears to reach the end of the nose will be about 18 inches long. The next two points are usually shorter, but they still need to approach the burr-to-nose yardstick. Now comes the truth-teller, the dagger point. The dagger point is usually the longest point, and on a monster bull it will be half-again longer than the burr-to-nose yardstick, or even almost double that measurement. On a 6×6, the last point matters a lot. It has to be strong, at least 8 or 10 inches. This is less important if the bull is a 7×7, but you still need some inches in the top of the rack.

For a typical American elk, Boone and Crockett requires a minimum of 360 points to enter the Awards Book, and 375 points for entry into the All-time Records Book. For most bulls, inside spread is only 10-15 percent of its score. Mass is usually less than 20 percent. Beam length is worth close to 25 percent. This math means tine length accounts for about 40 percent of the score, sometimes more but rarely less.

So let’s look through the spotting scope at a really good 6×6 American elk. Get your notebook out. The bull seems to have really long beams, almost scratching his rump. Estimate 55 inches on each side: 110 points. Spread is fairly wide but not noticeably splayed out. Figure 45 inches of inside spread: 45 points. Mass isn’t huge, but pretty good. It starts at a normally heavy 9 inches and keeps it pretty well, maybe 30 inches of circumference on each antler: 60 points. So far, the bull is totaling 215.

Now let’s work out the points. The brow tines curve nicely and seem to pass the tip of the nose, about 18 inches each: 36 points. The next two points are about 16 inches each on both sides: 64 points. The daggers are quite good, about half again longer than the burr-to-nose yardstick. Let’s give them 22 inches each: 44 points. The back fork is also pretty good, about 8 inches on each side: 16 points.

Assuming both sides are equal, with no deductions for lack of symmetry, and you’re looking at a bull that will score 375–a Boone and Crockett-class typical bull!

Pinks Pushing Into Sound

August 8, 2011

Big pink salmon catches continue in the Straits, and now anglers are picking up fair numbers deep into Puget Sound.

On Saturday, 171 were brought into the Redondo ramp halfway between Seattle and Tacoma, and yesterday 163 came in to the Point Defiance launch, 82 at Ballard’s Don Armeni Ramp, 55 to Everett’s 10th St. Ramp and 41 to Cornet Bay on northern Whidbey Island.

By comparison, 466 were counted at just one of Olson’s docks in Sekiu on Sunday.

The figures come from the latest creel sampling done by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

For the week and first seven days of August, 318 were counted at five Central Sound ramps, 225 at a half-dozen or so launches in the North Sound, 535 in the South Sound and Hood Canal, and a whopping 3,413 in the Straits.

23-plus Pounder Wins SKC-PSA Salmon Derby

August 8, 2011

(SALMONUNIVERSITY.COM PRESS RELEASE)

Approximately 380 anglers took to the water Saturday, August 6th in search of a $3,000.00 fish.  In the end it was Dennis Graham who boated a 23lb 9oz Chinook off Jefferson Head that would claim the top prize in the 10th Annual South King County Puget Sound Anglers Salmon Derby.

A total of 57 fish were weighed in between Marine Areas 10, 11 and 13 with most fish coming from MA 11.

“We’re very proud of the fact that all participants who weighed a fish and showed up to the ceremony walked away with a prize valued at a minimum of $50.00 for their efforts” said Co-chairman Terry Wiest.

“Because of our generous sponsors we had prizes lined out through 50th place totaling over $10,000 which included $3,000, $1,500 and $1,000 for the top three fish”.

The top 5 fish were:

1st           Dennis Graham                 23lb 9oz                $3,000

2nd          Andrew Clark                     22lb 15oz             $1,500

3rd           Jerry Holly                           22lb 6oz                $1,000

4th           Rick Owens                         21lb 9oz                Electric Downrigger

5th           Bart Mahugh                      19lb 12oz             Fetha Styx Rod

*  The top 3 prizes were cash, after that it was an open prize lot with the fisherman/woman choosing the prize of their choice.

“We’re already working on next year” said Co-chairman Bill Lee, “we want to be able to carry on the tradition of providing a top quality derby, providing top quality prizes and most importantly being able to donate the proceeds to our designated charities.”

King Co. Man Poached Elk, Deer, WDFW says

August 8, 2011

A tip last week led Washington game wardens to the residence of a central King County man who they allege illegally killed a cow elk as well as several mule deer in Okanogan County last fall after hunting season closed.

The case began when WDFW Officer Jason Capelli got a fourth-hand report of a possible elk poaching in the Selleck area of the upper Cedar River watershed. That eventually led to wildlife officers obtaining and serving a search warrant on the suspect at his house.

According to Deputy Chief Mike Cenci, the search and interrogation by five officers turned up more on the closed-season cow killing and “an attempted closed season elk, possession of wildlife found dead, and five illegal mule deer harvested in the Okanogan in November of 2010.”

Four of the five deer were bucks. Their racks were seized as was elk meat, a van and six firearms.

“One of the most telling pieces of evidence was the loaded .22 rifle and spotlight on the seat of the van that was parked next to the house but the owner of the van didn’t know anything about those items,” Cenci says.

SW WA, Lower Columbia Fishing Report (8-8-11)

August 8, 2011

(COURTESY FISHERIES BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – 11 bank anglers at Blue Creek kept 1 steelhead while 2 boat anglers near the mouth kept 1 adult fall chinook.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 35 spring chinook adults, 31 jacks, 45 mini-jacks, 767 summer-run steelhead, three sea-run cutthroat and one fall chinook adult (the first of the season) during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 12 spring chinook adults and 16 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Lake Scanewa Day Use Park, 13 spring chinook adults and 14 jacks into the Cispus River near the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek, and 72 spring chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park.  Also during the week they released two sea-run cutthroat into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and one sea-run cutthroat and one summer-run steelhead into the Cowlitz River at the Barrier Dam boat launch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,760 cubic feet per second on Monday morning, August 8. Water visibility is 13 feet.

North Fork Lewis River – 19 bank anglers kept 4 steelhead.

Drano Lake – Effort and catch is beginning to increase.  41 boat anglers kept 18 steelhead and released 20.  Boat counts increased from 25 on Friday morning to 45 on Saturday.

Buoy 10 – Some fall chinook and a few coho are being caught.  Effort remains relatively light.

WA daily creel sampling summaries are available @ http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/buoy10/.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 2,445 salmonid anglers (including 214 boats) with 23 adult and 5 jack fall chinook, 775 steelhead, and no coho.  448 (58%) of the steelhead were kept.  Most of the fall chinook were kept though a few were “small” jacks or tule adults were released.

"HOOCHIES, SPIN-N-GLOS, SHRIMP AND COON SHRIMP = STEELHEAD," REPORTS CHRIS SPENCER OF LONGVIEW, WHO PLUNKED AT WILLOW GROVE LAST FRIDAY WITH JEREMY BALLARD (ABOVE) AND ANOTHER COWORKER WHO ALSO LANDED A STEELIE. "ABOUT 40 RODS ON THE BEACH AND FOUR FISH CAUGHT ALL DAY NOT. ALL THE FISH WHERE CAUGHT BY GUYS RUNNING A HOOCHIE UNDER THEIR SPIN-N-GLO WITH A SAND SHRIMP OIL SOAKED PIECE OF COTTON STUFFED INSIDE OF IT. A COON SHRIMP ON THE HOOK TOPPED OFF THE COCKTAIL," SAYS SPENCER, WHO LOST A FISH. (CHRIS SPENCER)

Nearly 1,000 salmonid bank anglers and 400 boats were observed on the lower Columbia mainstem last Saturday (Aug. 6).

Bonneville Pool – 42 boat anglers kept 55 steelhead and released 36.  Most of the effort was off Drano Lake and the White Salmon River.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the mouth to the Navigation Marker 82 line – We only sampled 1 angler last week during the current catch-and-release only fishery.

During last Saturday’s effort flight count, sturgeon effort was just a dozen and a half for both boats and bank anglers.

WALLEYE

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Some walleye were kept by boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal area.

Ten walleye boats were counted from Camas/Washougal upstream to the gorge during last Saturday’s effort flight count.

TROUT

Last week’s report stated Swift Power Canal was planted with 1,700 rainbows averaging five pounds each and 1,416 averaging 1.5 pounds each on July 18. Actually, those fish were released into Swift Reservoir. 

(COURTESY ODFW FISHERIES BIOLOGIST TANNA TAKATA)

On the lower Columbia this past weekend there were 382 salmonid boats and 184 Oregon bank anglers counted from Bonneville Dam downstream to Tongue Point on Saturday’s (8/6) flight; and 36 salmonid boats fishing Buoy 10.  Anglers fishing in the gorge continue to have good catch rates for steelhead, where boat anglers averaged 1.17 steelhead caught per boat and bank anglers averaged 0.54 steelhead caught per angler.  Fall chinook are beginning to show up in the lower river.

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed 25 adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 21 steelhead released for 85 bank anglers.

Gorge Boats: Weekend checking showed one fall chinook and nine adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 18 unclipped steelhead and one pink released for 23 boats (63 anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed three fall chinook adults, one fall chinook jack and 17 adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 27 unclipped steelhead released for 86 boats (186 anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank: Weekend checking showed one adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus one unclipped steelhead released for 75 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats: Weekend checking showed two fall chinook adults and 10 adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus one fall chinook and 13 unclipped steelhead released for 64 boats (148 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Jones Beach to Clatsop Spit): Weekend checking showed no catch for 16 bank anglers.

Estuary Boats (Tongue Point to Buoy 10): Weekly checking showed 32 fall chinook kept, plus nine chinook and three unclipped coho released for 149 boats (399 anglers).

Bonneville Pool:  No report

Increased Fees — And A New Op From Fees

August 5, 2011

Call it the stick and carrot approach, but WDFW fired off a pair of news releases late this afternoon that A) warned Washington sportsmen to brace for higher license fees as of Sept. 1 and B) highlighted a summer Chinook river that was recently opened thanks, in part, to a special fee anglers must pay to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia.

While only maybe a dozen guys or so a day have been hitting the Wenatchee since August 1’s first-time-in-28-years opener, WDFW manager Jeff Korth expects that number to climb as flows drop, more kings arrive and anglers begin to dial it in.

Here are those press releases in full:

Increased Fees

Starting Sept. 1, the base cost of most Washington hunting and fishing licenses will increase.

This is the first general recreational license fee increase in more than a decade.

The 2011 Legislature approved the new fees to help meet rising costs and a shortfall in revenue for managing hunting, fishing and the fish and wildlife populations that are the focus of those activities.

Not all license fees will increase, and some will decline, including those for youth, seniors and persons with disabilities.  New license fee prices are available on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/license_fees.html .

“The new fees are critically important in maintaining fishing and hunting opportunity and make it possible for the department to fulfill its dual mission of conserving species while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation across the state,” said WDFW Director Phil Anderson. “The fees reflect the cost of managing specific fisheries and hunts, and are competitive with fees charged in neighboring states. At the same time, we made an effort to encourage broad participation through youth and senior discounts.”

The new fees are expected to generate about $8 million annually for activities that support hunting and recreational fishing. Recreational license and permit revenue is used to manage fisheries and hunting seasons, produce trout and steelhead for recreational fisheries, enforce regulations, monitor fish and game populations and help maintain wildlife lands.

Revenues from the license fee increase will replace a temporary 10 percent license sale surcharge that expired in June, and will fill a projected deficit in the account that funds fishing and hunting activities. Without the license fee increase, WDFW would have been forced to make major cuts in hunting and fishing seasons and opportunities.

“Fishing and hunting contribute more than $1.4 billion a year to the state’s economy, benefitting local communities, small business owners and the people they employ,” Anderson said. “Maintaining fishing and hunting opportunity is vital to Washington’s economy and quality of life.”

Increased opportunity

The Wenatchee River salmon fishery–recently opened for the first time in at least 25 years–is the latest result of the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement program.

Since April 2010, all anglers 15 years and older fishing for salmon or steelhead on the Columbia River or its tributaries have been required to purchase an $8.75 endorsement to support management of those fisheries. The endorsement pays for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fishery management activities including scientific monitoring and evaluation, data collection, permitting, reporting and enforcement.

The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually to avert recreational fishery closures and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River basin.

“This program has made it possible to maintain existing opportunity and open new fisheries such as the Wenatchee River hatchery summer salmon season,” said WDFW Fish Program Assistant Director Jim Scott.

The Wenatchee River fishery opened Aug. 1 from the river mouth at the confluence with the Columbia River to 400 feet below Dryden Dam. Anglers are allowed to retain two hatchery-marked (adipose-fin-clipped) adult and jack summer chinook salmon per day. The season runs through Oct. 15 with selective gear rules and night closure in effect. Anglers are required release fish other than hatchery chinook salmon.

Another section of the Wenatchee River, from the mouth of Peshastin Creek to the Icicle Creek road bridge west of Leavenworth, will open Sept. 1 through Oct. 15 for retention of hatchery summer chinook salmon under the same rules.

Season and rule details are listed on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=1077 .

The Wenatchee River fishery is allowed because hatchery summer chinook returns to the river are expected to exceed spawning escapement needs, WDFW’s Northcentral Regional Fish Program Manager Jeff Korth explained. Hatchery summer chinook are not listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, but Upper Columbia River spring chinook are listed as endangered and steelhead and bull trout are listed as threatened. The majority of spring chinook and bull trout have already migrated to the upper Wenatchee River, but a few steelhead remain in the area of the recently-opened fishery.

“Monitoring the impacts of the fishery on listed stocks is essential, but monitoring and other management activities for this fishery are expensive,” Scott said.

Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement program was created by the 2009 Washington Legislature (Senate Bill 5421). A board of citizens representing four regions within the Columbia River basin reviews fishery proposals and has been instrumental in the success of the program.

Besides the Wenatchee River fishery, the endorsement program also supported salmon or steelhead seasons on other rivers in the Columbia River system, including the Snake, Entiat, Methow, Okanogan and Similkameen.
+

Donoho Case DA Named OR ‘Wildlife Prosecutor’ Of 2010

August 5, 2011

A deputy county attorney whose work has led to a number of southern Willamette Valley poachers being thrown in the clink with huge dents in their wallet has been selected as Oregon’s fourth “Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year.”

The award was given yesterday to Lane County’s Jay Hall, who recently prosecuted several members of the Donoho clan of Springfield as well as the illegal killing of four bull elk near Cottage Grove early last year.

JAY HALL, CENTER, POSES WITH HIS AWARD ALONGSIDE ODFW'S STEPHEN MARX AND OSP'S CAPT. JEFF SAMUELS. (OSP)

“Deputy District Attorney Hall has a passion for wildlife and is a sportsman himself.  He is dedicated to the protection of Oregon’s natural resources through the vigorous prosecution of those who violate wildlife and other criminal laws,” said Captain Jeff Samuels of the Oregon State Police’s Fish and Wildlife Division, one of several members of the Oregon Sportsmen’s Coalition which sponsors the award.

A former deputy sheriff in Deschutes County, Hall was hired in late 2009, has been on several ride-alongs with game wardens, is said to be an “excellent communicator” with them, and was nominated for the award by troopers who work with him on wildlife cases.

“ODFW appreciates Deputy D.A. Hall’s work prosecuting wildlife cases in Lane County,” said Steven Marx, the agency’s South Willamette Watershed District Manager in Corvallis. “His efforts, and others in district attorney offices around the state, is helping to ensure the safety of our wildlife and the protection of our natural resources.”

According to OSP, his first significant case was one involving the shooting of four elk by John K. Atwater, then 50, on private land and out of season in October 2009. Atwater and five men who assisted him in attempting to move the bulls all pled guilty, with Atwater getting 40 days, $6,000 in restitution to ODFW and $6,675 in fines.

(OSP)

Hall also prosecuted the first case under Oregon’s new “Trophy Law” involving new restitution penalties that took effect January 2010 for the unlawful take of trophy-class animals.  In February 2010, a Cottage Grove area resident was arrested for the unlawful taking of a four-point buck for which he later pled guilty.  He was sentenced to pay the entire $7,500 restitution to ODFW, additional fines, 10 days in jail, 18 months probation, and ordered to serve 100 hours of community service.

And he was the lead prosecutor in the Donoho poaching case, which we’ve reported on here and in Northwest Sportsman magazine. According to OSP, he assisted in writing and executing a search warrant for and prosecuted the case which began in 2010 and involved the take of about 300 deer and elk over five years and other criminal offenses. All nine suspects were convicted, with the ringleader Shane Donoho getting 360 days in jail and fines of $42,000 due to ODFW and $3,200 to OSP.

Hall is quoted by the Eugene Register-Guard as saying, “What used to be hunting season is now jail season” about Shane and his father Rory’s unique sentence where both men will serve four 90-day stints in jail just as fall deer hunts begin for law-abiding Oregon sportsmen, a sentence that begins this October and runs through 2014.

ANTLERS SEIZED DURING SEARCH WARRANTS SERVED DURING THE DONOHO CASE THIS PAST WINTER. (OSP)

Past winners of the award include:

2009: Tillamook County Deputy District Attorney Joel Stevens
2008: Wallowa County District Attorney Mona K. Williams
2007: Columbia County Deputy District Attorney Dale Anderson

Other members of the Sportsmen’s Coalition include:

Oregon Hunters Association; Oregon Federation for North American Wild Sheep; Izaak Walton League;
Oregon Duck Hunters; Oregon Mule Deer Foundation; Oregon State Shooting Association; Safari Club International;
Oregon Falconers Association; National Wild Turkey Federation; National Rifle Association; Oregon Guides and Packers; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Oregon Bow Hunters; Traditional Archers of Oregon; Oregon Association of Shooting Ranges.

More On Judge Molloy’s Ruling On Wolf Delisting

August 4, 2011

There are a host of articles and press releases out today on yesterday’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy against a lawsuit contending that the Congressional delisting of wolves in Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington and Oregon this spring was unconstitutional.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has just fired off a news release terming it and a tentative agreement between the Feds and the state of Wyoming “two good steps towards wolf management.”

Wolf advocates think the ruling lays out a groundwork for, yep, further appeals.

The judge himself, bound by precedent, doesn’t exactly agree with what he decided, writing, “The way in which Congress acted in trying to achieve a debatable policy change by attaching a rider to the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 is a tearing away, an undermining and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law.”

Here’s a roundup of info and comments:

Rob Chaney, The Missoulian: Molloy upholds delisting of wolves in Montana, Idaho

Matt Volz, Associated Press (Helena Independent Record): Congress’ action on wolves upheld

Eric Barker, Lewiston Morning Tribune: Judge upholds congressional wolf rule for Idaho

Barring a last-minute appeal, Idaho and Montana wolf hunts will proceed this year.

Ocean Salmon Fishing Update (8-4-11)

August 4, 2011

(REPORT COURTESY WENDY BEEGHLEY, WDFW, VIA FISHERIES BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)*
The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Cape Falcon, OR and Leadbetter Point, WA opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 33,600 coho and a sub-area guideline of 7,400 Chinook.  During the week of July 25, a total of 1,375 coho and 127 Chinook were landed. Through Sunday, July 31, 6,550 coho (20% of the sub-area quota) and 1,108 Chinook (15% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.   Two total pink have been landed in this area during the season.

Westport*
The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Leadbetter Point and the Queets River opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 24,860 coho and a sub-area guideline of 16,900 Chinook.  During the week of July 25, a total of 667 coho, 1,938 Chinook, and 196 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, July 31, 4,714 coho (19% of the sub-area quota) and 5,944 Chinook (35% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

La Push
The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between the Queets River and Cape Alava opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 1,700 coho and a sub-area guideline of 1,350 Chinook.  During the week of July 25, a total of 78 coho, 107 Chinook, and 119 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, July 31, 621 coho (37% of the sub-area quota) and 509 Chinook (38% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

Neah Bay
The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Cape Alava and the US-Canada border opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 6,990 coho and a sub-area guideline of 3,200 Chinook.  During the week of July 25, a total of 312 coho, 320 Chinook, and 1,321 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, July 31, 1,961 coho (28% of the sub-area quota) and 1,431 Chinook (45% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

* Editor’s note: As of Sunday, Aug. 7, these two Washington marine areas switch to 2-king daily limits.

Areas 1, 2 To Go To 2-King Daily Limit

August 3, 2011

I have JUST figured out how to get this pesky salesman out of my hair as I grind on the September issue: Get WDFW to open up South Coast Chinook fishing to two-a-day limits.

And, wallah!

The agency JUST sent out this press release:

Beginning Aug. 7, anglers fishing in ocean waters off of Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) and Westport (Marine Area 2) can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

With that change, anglers will be allowed to keep two chinook per day in all four ocean areas. Anglers fishing La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) have been allowed to keep two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit since Aug. 1.

All ocean areas are open to salmon fishing seven days a week. Wild coho must be released in all four areas. Anglers fishing marine areas 3 and 4 are also allowed one additional pink salmon each day.

STARTING SUNDAY, AUG. 7, WASHINGTON'S MARINE AREAS 1 AND 2 SWITCH TO TWO-KING DAILY LIMITS, MUCH TO THE JOY OF WESTPORT AND ILWACO ANGLERS LIKE LYDIA SCOTT, SEEN HERE WITH A KING FROM LAST SUMMER. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the department initially limited anglers coastwide to one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit to ensure that the fishery would remain open for the entire season.

“But after five weeks of fishing, enough of the quota remains to allow anglers two chinook per day in the four marine areas without exceeding the recreational catch quota,” Pattillo said.

Ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1.

Fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season, and announce any other changes on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ .

Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum-size limits and area catch guidelines, is available in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .

LMT: Molloy Rules Against Wolf Advocates

August 3, 2011

The Lewiston Morning Tribune is reporting that U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula has ruled against predator advocates’ contention that the Congressional delisting of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies this spring was unconstitutional.

The two-sentence article posted to the paper’s Web site also says that the decision will thus allow Idaho and Montana’s fall hunts to proceed.

The latter state has a quota of 220 wolves while the former’s hunt will largely be an open general hunt with harvest limits in certain zones, trapping and hunters and trappers required to report their take within 72 hours.

There were a minimum of 566 wolves in Montana and 705 in Idaho at the end of 2010.

The reported decision comes a day after another U.S. District Court judge, this one in Portland, ruled that salmon mitigation plans by Federal agencies in charge of the Columbia hydropower system were too vague and sent it back for yet another reworking.

WDFW Puts Out Trail Cams Outside Colville

August 3, 2011

WDFW has placed trail cameras in an area of central Stevens County where two weeks ago or so, free-roaming canids confronted kenneled dogs.

A landowner who lives in the Sprouty Loop Road area east of Colville feels the animals challenging his were wolves.

State spokeswoman Madonna Luers confirms wolves are one possibility, as are coyotes, feral dogs — like two killed in earlier this summer elsewhere in the county — and wolf-dog hybrids.

“We’re looking into it and taking it seriously, but we don’t have anything definitive to say, ‘It was wolves,'” she says.

The episode came to light after a local hunting outfitter posted information online last week.

The location is roughly 4 miles east of Colville on Highway 20. The nearest known pack, the Smackout wolves, are 20 air miles away, a distance which is nothing for a roaming wolf.

A biologist and enforcement officer interviewed the landowner then placed remote photographic equipment nearby in case anything came back.

As for those two marauding animals killed in June, one looked enough like a wolf or hybrid that WDFW considered sending hair samples to a California lab, but ultimately did not.

“We ended up not sending in a sample because everyone was sure they were dogs,” says Luers. “It’s several hundred dollars to run a DNA analysis. It was determined not to bother.”

Free-roaming dogs have been a problem in Stevens County for awhile.

‘Redden’s River’ Backs Feds’ Salmon Plan Up, Again

August 3, 2011

The Columbia River was named for the ship of merchantman/explorer Robert Gray way back in 1792, a time when it ran thick with runs of Chinook, coho, steelhead and sockeye.

These days, with much diminished returns, in some circles the big crick is being renamed Redden’s River, for the U.S. District Court judge in Portland who yesterday once again threw the Feds’ plan to mitigate salmon recovery in the face of hydropower generation back at the agencies for yet another try.

Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, who may have coined the Columbia’s new moniker, says the Bonneville Power Administration and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just took a “major legal thumping.”

Redden told them to come back within two and a half years with a better take.

Here’s a roundup of articles:

Columbia Basin Bulletin: Redden Orders New Salmon BiOp By 2014; Says Post-2013 Mitigation, Benefits Unidentified

The Oregonian: Federal judge shoots down plan for Columbia River Basin dams and salmon for third time

The News Tribune (Tacoma): Judge Rejects Protection Plan

And here’s reaction from U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rogers (R-Spokane) as reported by Rich Landers of the Spokesman-Review:

“I am extremely disappointed with Judge Redden’s ruling which threatens to preempt years of hard work by our stakeholders in order to serve a narrow special interest. The BiOp represents a longstanding consensus by experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, public utilities, municipalities, and tribes. Contrary to the Judge’s opinion, we’ve seen record fish runs in many parts of the Snake River as a result of the measures put in place at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. The fact of the matter is, dam removal should not be an option.”

Baker Sockeye Count A Record

August 2, 2011

Sockeye are still on their way, but the latest numbers from the Baker River show that the 2011 run already has topped all previous years.

“It is officially the best ever,” confirms local fisheries biologist Brett Barkdull this afternoon.

Through Sunday, 24,201 have returned to the trap on the Skagit River tributary, nearly 4,000 better than the previous high mark, 2003’s 20,235.

A total of 15,915 have been hauled up to and released into Baker Lake, where anglers have begun to dial in the fishery which opened for the first time last summer.

“It’s better than a fish a rod. It’s better than the best it got last year in terms of fish per rod,” says Barkdull. “There’s a higher percentage of guys catching fish this season.”

The inaugural season saw a few “haves” and many “have nots,” he says.

Cooler water temps and higher reservoir levels this year have spread the fish out; a thermocline has not formed, he says.

The season is open until further notice.

The count at the trap will continue to grow, but Barkdull says the run is “over the hump.”

The Lake Washington sockeye run has also exceeded the preseason forecast by roughly 8,000 fish.

The Tumwater Dam count below Lake Wenatchee is at all of 18 fish; the 10-year average for this date is 17,565.

Good things are expected to continue at Baker Lake, where new juvenile fish collection equipment and other measures have yielded great outmigrating classes. Dam operators anticipate returns of 50,000 to 75,000 sockeye a year in the future.

NW Salmon Advocates Buoyed By Judge’s Ruling

August 2, 2011

Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association is declaring victory after word that US District Court Judge James Redden in Portland has made a ruling on Federal dam operations in the Columbia River.

An AP story by Jeff Barnard says:

A federal judge in Oregon ruled Tuesday the Obama administration’s attempt to make federal hydroelectric dams in the Northwest safer for protected salmon violates the Endangered Species Act.

In a sternly worded ruling, U.S. District Judge James Redden in Portland, Ore., wrote that the plan, known as a biological opinion, is too vague and uncertain on specific steps that will be taken in future years to improve salmon habitat.

Redden added that he doesn’t think the government can meet the standards of the Endangered Species Act by habitat improvements alone, and it is time to consider new options, including removing some of the dams.

The judge left the plan in place through 2013, when federal agencies must come up with more specific projects to help salmon through 2018.

Scott Learn of The Oregonian reports:

The decision sends the exhaustive planback to federal agencies for a redo for the third time, with a focus on habitat improvement after 2013. The current plan stays in place until 2013, the judge said.

It’s a partial victory for environmental groups, the state of Oregon and the Nez Perce tribe, which opposed the plan.

It’s a partial loss for the federal government, a coalition of other Northwest tribes and river user groups, including irrigators and farmers.

$2,750 In Rewards Offered For Damascus Buck Poaching Info

August 2, 2011

(OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE)

With the help of the Oregon Hunters Association and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, two rewards are offered for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally killing a blacktail deer near Damascus in late July.  Rewards of up to $2500 by the HSUS and $250 by the Oregon Hunters Association are offered to help solve this case.

(OREGON STATE POLICE)

On July 20, 2011 at approximately 10:15 p.m. several shots were reported being heard in the area of SE 242nd Avenue and SE Bohna Park Road.  A dead deer was found in a field and the preliminary investigation by Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division Trooper Mark Schoenborn indicates the deer was killed using a small caliber rifle.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Trooper Schoenborn at (503) 490-4856 or Trooper Chris Boeholt at (971) 313-1172.

B10 Opens (No Surprise) Slow

August 2, 2011

Fifteen boats loaded with 35 anglers came back sans salmon to three Washington boat ramps during yesterday’s Chinook and coho opener at the mouth of the Columbia.

It’s a not unexpected start to the fishery known as Buoy 10, which is expected to see over three quarters of a million Chinook and over a quarter million coho pass through this season.

IN ADDITION TO A BIG CLASS OF UPRIVER BRIGHT CHINOOK, GOOD NUMBERS OF COHO ARE EXPECTED BACK TO THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA, WHICH IS WHERE CODY CLARKE AND HIS DAD, A.J., LANDED THIS SILVER. (WRIGHT & MCGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Daily updates are posted here: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/buoy10/.

Data there shows that on last year’s opener, which fell on a Sunday, 37 boats and 105 anglers managed one Chinook.

On 2009’s opener 19 boats and 45 fishermen could only scratch up a single king.

All of 11 boats and 34 boats were checked on Aug. 1, 2008, and nobody brought any salmon back in.

Creel sampling from those previous Augusts show that catches peak from mid- to late August, with good coho fishing continuing into early September.

WDFW samples at the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco and the ramp at Fort Canby. The Buoy 10 fishery stretches from the actual 10th buoy up to the Rocky Point-Tongue Point line just upstream of Astoria.

Late in last August’s fishery, biologist Joe Hymer estimated that Buoy 10 would end up yielding around 7,000 kings and 7,200 silvers for the month.

For more on the best times, tides, tips, check out two products from Northwest Sportsman out now.

Our August issue, on shelves now, with Andy Schneider’s hot new setup for Chinook, guide Pat Abel’s playbook for this season, and more!

Our latest map atlas compilation, featuring Buzz Ramsey’s 10 commandments and a great hot spot map for the fishery!

SW WA, Lower Columbia Fishing Report

August 1, 2011

(REPORT COURTESY FISHERIES BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – No report on angling success.  Last week Tacoma Power recovered 39 spring chinook adults, 38 jacks, 66 mini-jacks, 669 summer-run steelhead, one sea-run cutthroat trout and one sockeye during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released four spring chinook adults, 34 jacks, and two mini-jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Lake Scanewa Day Use Park and one sockeye and one sea-run cutthroat trout at the Barrier Dam boat launch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,070 cubic feet per second on Monday morning, August 1. Water visibility is 13 feet.

Lewis River – On the mainstem Lewis, 11 boat anglers released 2 steelhead.  On the North Fork, 11 bank anglers kept 2 steelhead and 2 boat anglers kept 1 steelhead.

Hatchery summer run steelhead returns to Washington lower Columbia facilities, with the exception of Skamania Hatchery on the Washougal, continue to be down from the same point last year:

River                     2010                       2011

Cowlitz                 5,298                     3,030

Kalama                 1,776                     462

Lewis                     5,310                     1,568

Washougal          1,354                     1,702

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled almost 3,000 salmonid anglers (including 250 boats) with 13 adult and 14 jack summer chinook, 1,309 steelhead, no sockeye, and maybe 1 pink (at least that’s what the angler thought it was and it may have been).  Half the jacks were kept as were 56% of the steelhead.  All of the adult chinook were released as required.

For the month of July, Washington alone sampled almost 2,900 steelhead kept/released.    Just over half the fish were kept. 

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some steelhead.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem from the mouth upstream to Wauna powerlines – The catch-and-keep fishery in the estuary ended with a bang for boat anglers.  Nearly all the charter boat anglers kept their one fish daily limit and private boat anglers averaged a legal kept/released per every 2.6 rods.  If an angler caught a fish, there was about a 40% chance it was of legal size.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines upstream to the Navigation Marker 82 line – We sampled legals kept by bank and boat anglers from Kalama to Longview.  Slow elsewhere.

The entire mainstem Columbia from the mouth to Chief Joseph Dam is now catch-and-release only.  Only the

The entire mainstem Columbia from the mouth to Chief Joseph Dam, except in the sturgeon spawning sanctuary described below, is now catch-and-release only.  Only the area from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam will re-open for catch-and-keep fishing.  In that area, white sturgeon may be retained Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only beginning October 8. 

Sturgeon Spawning Sanctuary:  From Bonneville Dam downstream 9 miles to a line crossing the Columbia from Navigation Marker 82 on the Oregon shore through the upstream exposed end of Skamania Island, continuing in a straight line to a boundary marker on the Washington shoreCLOSED to fishing for STURGEON through August.from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam will re-open for catch-and-keep fishing.  In that area, white sturgeon may be retained Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only beginning October 8.

SHAD

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – No shad anglers were sampled.

WALLEYE AND BASS

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Some walleye were kept by boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal to Vancouver area.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged over 3 walleye and 10 bass per rod when including fish released.  Bank anglers are catching some bass.

TROUT

Swift Power Canal – Planted with 1,700 rainbows averaging five pounds each and 1,416 averaging 1.5 pounds each on July 18.

Council Lake (Skamania County) – Planted with 5,892 catchable size rainbows July 27.

Takhlakh Lake (Skamania County) – Planted with 4,003 catchable size rainbows and 192 averaging three pounds each July 19-26.

Triploids To Open For Retention On Part Of Brewster Pool

July 30, 2011

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

 A 17-mile stretch of the Columbia River between Bridgeport and Brewster, Washington, is about to become a hotspot for triploid trout fishing.

From Aug. 1-31, anglers will be allowed to catch and keep triploid rainbow trout in the mainstem Columbia River from the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster to the Highway 17 Bridge in Bridgeport, under a new regulation issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The target of the fishery is a large number of triploid trout that escaped from a net-pen facility on Rufus Woods Reservoir in June and have now passed downstream into the Wells pool area below Chief Joseph Dam, said Jeff Korth, a WDFW fish biologist.

Pacific Seafoods, which owns the net-pen facility, estimates that 117,500 triploids escaped in June through a breach in a net-pen. Many of those fish run 4 to 5 pounds apiece, Korth said.

“Anglers have been catching those fish in Rufus Woods Reservoir for the past couple of months, which is great,” he said. “But we do have some concerns about the growing number of triploids turning up below Chief Joseph Dam, because they could interfere with juvenile steelhead downstream.” 

Korth said the triploids are “voracious” eaters and could pose a threat to juvenile steelhead, some of which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Under the new rule, the daily limit will be four triploid rainbow trout, with a minimum size 12 inches. All steelhead must be released, and must not be completely removed from the water.

Most steelhead do not start arriving in the area until September, but Korth said anglers should be aware of the differences between a steelhead and a triploid rainbow trout.
Signs will be posted at all boat launches that list distinguishing features of the two types of fish. The fishery will be heavily monitored, Korth said.

“The differences are pretty obvious,” he said. “Triploids are big and fat, while steelhead are long and skinny. But if there’s any doubt, anglers should release the fish back into the water.”

DESCRIPTIONS:

Triploid Rainbow Trout: Tail fin frayed and rounded                       
Small head, oversized body                          

Steelhead: Fin structure good with distinct margins
Normal head, slender body

More On WDFW’s Final Wolf Plan And Deer-Elk Impacts

July 29, 2011

Over successive days next week, state and county officials in two different locations of Washington will take up the subject of wolves.

In Olympia on Thursday, Aug. 4, the Fish & Wildlife Commission will open up WDFW’s just-published 516-page “Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan for Washington,” a path to eventual delisting of Canis lupus from state protections and a guideline for managing the species’ interaction with livestock, ungulates and humans. The seven-member citizen panel is scheduled to make a decision on it in early December.

The day before and 280 road miles away in North-central Washington, Okanogan County commissioners will hold a public hearing on their proposal to ask the state to delist the “deleterious exotic wildlife” now. One commissioner believes that the forerunner to today’s Department of Fish & Wildlife had no basis for listing wolves as endangered under state law to begin with. According to the Methow Valley News, Bud Hover also questions whether the wolves here are native to the state and speculates that WDFW may have reintroduced them, something the agency denies and in fact is a fantasy but will continue to resonate with some.

Meanwhile, with wolves here to stay, a further reading of the recommended plan highlights some positive tweaks for elk, deer and hunters.

In WDFW’s original draft, four alternative management paths were identified, and like any good multiple choice question, two of the options were unlikely. The other two can now be seen to basically boil down to Let’s-have-lots-of-wolves-all-over-and-let-’em-chew-on-game-all-they-want-till-they’re-recovered and Let’s-have-wolves-but-we-don’t-need-to-have-them-everywhere-and-we’re-not-so-sure-about-how-to-manage-the-whole-chewing-on-game-thing.

Ultimately, WDFW went with a modified version of the latter.

Again, the nut of the final plan is that the benchmark for state delisting — a gateway to potential future hunts — would be to have at least 15 breeding pairs over three consecutive years in three recovery zones (five in the eastern third of the state, four in the North Cascades, six in the elk-rich Southern Cascades/Southwest Washington/Olympics).

In the toolbox is translocation — moving wolves around the state to meet recovery goals. They didn’t agree on everything, but members of the agency’s Wolf Working Group who want lots of ’em and those who don’t want lots of ’em but nonetheless want to “share the joy” of wolves with hunters elsewhere in the state both supported this element. If used, it would move wolves to the Southern Cascades where prey, in the form of the Yakima and St. Helens elk herds, roam. That said, before any animals are darted and loaded into crates, because translocation would occur most likely on federal and state lands, WDFW would have to hold meetings, write plans, talk to the public, revise plans, talk more to the public, etc., etc. etc., a process that requires money — a wee bit problematic for the agency at the moment.

While the plan pointedly says that 15 breeding pairs is considered a minimum to achieve recovery, at that level and because not all wolves breed every year, the state would actually have something like 23 packs and from 97 to 361 wolves, according to WDFW’s best guess.

So, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, how will the plan deal with the impact of all those wolves on wapiti, deer and other hooved game mammals so Washington don’t end up like deepest darkest Yellowstone?

Here is what’s in the agency’s final wolf plan and how that differs (italics and bold-italics for key statements as I see them) from the previous preferred alternative and the other major alternative, which was supported by those who wanted lots of wolves and a fourth recovery zone in the western third of Washington.

Element: Ungulate management

Revised Alternative 2 Final Preferred July 28, 2011: Manage for healthy ungulate populations through habitat improvement, harvest management, and reduction of illegal hunting, consistent with game management plans.

Alternative 2 Draft Preferred October 2009: Manage for healthy ungulate populations through habitat improvement, harvest management, and reduction of illegal hunting. Manage harvest to benefit wolves only in localized areas if research has determined wolves are not meeting recovery objectives and prey availability is a limiting factor.

Alternative 3: Manage for healthy ungulate populations through habitat improvement, harvest management, and reduction of illegal hunting. Manage harvest of ungulates to benefit wolves in each recovery region until recovery objectives for the region are met.

Here is how WDFW’s thinking on wolves-deer/elk/caribou/etc. conflicts would be guided:

Element: Wolf-ungulate conflict management

Revised Alternative 2 Final Preferred July 28, 2011:  If the Department determines that wolf predation is a primary limiting factor for at-risk ungulate populations and the wolf population in that recovery region is healthy, it could consider moving of wolves, lethal control, or other control techniques in localized areas.

The status of wolves statewide as well as within a specific wolf recovery region where ungulate impacts are occurring would be considered in decision-making relative to wolf control. Decisions will be based on scientific principles and evaluated by WDFW.

Alternative 2 Draft Preferred October 2009:  After wolves are delisted, if research determines that wolf predation is a limiting factor for at-risk ungulate populations, could consider moving of wolves, lethal control, or other control techniques in localized areas.

Alternative 3: After wolves are delisted, if research determines that wolf predation is a limiting factor for at-risk ungulate populations, could consider moving of wolves, or other non-lethal control techniques in localized areas.

So what does “at-risk” mean?

“There was a lot of debate inside the agency on that,” says Gary Wiles, a state wolf biologist who has been up to his eyeballs in wolf plans for nearly two years straight.

The answer is now front and center in the plan’s Definition of Terms:

At-risk ungulate population — Any federal or state listed ungulate population (e.g., Selkirk Mountain woodland caribou, Columbian white-tailed deer), or any ungulate population for which it is determined to have declined 25% or more below management objectives for three or more years and population trend analysis predicts a continued decline. For populations for which numeric estimates and/or management objectives are not currently available, it will not be possible to use a specific threshold to assess a need for management action. Instead WDFW will use other sources of information related to the population, such as harvest trends, hunter effort trends, sex and age ratios, and others.

“Compared to the draft of two years ago, this is more specific,” Wiles notes. “It’s not so general or open ended, it’s putting bounds on what we’re talking about.”

As it stands, before voting on the recommended plan in December, the Fish & Wildlife Commission will hold four public hearings over the next four months, but of note for 509ers, only one of those will be held in Eastern Washington.

Spokeswoman Madonna Luers says that’s a cost-savings function. Three of the four align with commission meetings already scheduled in Olympia.

To hold them elsewhere would begin to rack up dollars. Her unofficial estimate is that it costs more than $100 a day to pay for hotel, per diem and travel of a single employee.

Wolf meetings would likely require not only the agency’s director Phil Anderson to be in attendance, but also the assistant director, Nate Pamplin, wolf manager Harriett Allen, Wiles, the commission itself, its staffers such as Susan Galloway, and others.

“Real quick, that’s a couple dozen people,” Luers says.

The upcoming commission hearings are slated for Thursday, Aug. 29, in Ellensburg, and Thursday, Oct. 6 and Nov. 3, in Olympia.

To Help Steelies, Salmon Cr. To Open For Bass, Brookies

July 29, 2011

New advice for Ralph Bartholdt: Think Salmon Creek, brother.

Earlier today my North Idaho contributor sent me an email looking for advice on whether he should head to the Okanogan or Methow River on a fishing trip.

I advised the latter — little does the fool know that one of my other writers was in his neck of the woods all this week, killing it on the Joe — but I’m retracting that and pointing Ralph instead to this little stream below the twin Conconully reservoirs.

Salmon there opens Monday, Aug. 1, for the first time in perhaps more than a decade.

True, it will not feature this nice rainbows and cutts just now becoming available on the Met due to high water, but it’s part of an effort by WDFW and the Colville Tribes to clean certain predatory species out of the creek and make it more “hospitable” for steelhead, according to state fisheries biologist Bob Jateff (who we earlier this week savagely disparaged for not being available to answer questions on the Wenatchee River summer king opener and today managed to, ahem, find at his desk on the second dingaling).

Through Oct. 31, you’ll be able to keep 10 smallmouth bass and 10 eastern brook trout a day with no size restrictions.

“It’s a nice little creek and it has some nice little pools, especially up by Conconully Dam,” Jateff says.

Tribal survey work turned up 2- to 3-pound bass, which likely came down from the reservoirs, and 10- and 11-inch brookies, he says.

“People are going to have to be very careful about private property,” however, Jateff warns. “There’s a fair amount down low. Closer to the dam, there’s more public land.”

That access dichotomy may impact what managers are trying to do with the creek, but for now it’s a new opportunity.

Get there via Salmon Creek Road or Spring Coulee Road out of the town of Okanogan. State land occurs in the first 4 miles below the Conconully Dam; get a detailed map of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area for more.

With the fishery operating under selective gear rules, your best bets will be small spinners like Rooster Tails and Panther Martins, and caddis, ant, hoppers and other flies.

WDFW is requiring that all other salmonids other than eastern brooks be released, and say that steelhead cannot be removed from the water.

Jateff says he has some creel survey work planned here.

USFWS Proposes Waterfowl Seasons

July 29, 2011

(U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE PRESS RELEASE)

Washington D.C.  –   The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced proposed hunting season lengths for the upcoming 2011-2012 late waterfowl seasons. The proposed federal frameworks include duck hunting season lengths of 60 days in both the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, 74 days in the Central Flyway (with an additional 23 days in the High Plains areas), and 107 days in the Pacific Flyway.

The proposed frameworks also include a full season on pintails with a 2 bird daily bag limit in nationwide, and a full season on canvasbacks with a 1 bird daily bag limit nation-wide.

WATERFOWLERS ONCE AGAIN WILL BE HUNTING DEEP INTO WINTER IN THE PACIFIC FLYWAY. THE U.S.F.W.S IS PROPOSING ANOTHER 107-DAY DUCK SEASON. RANDY BELLES AND HIS COUSIN, DAN, TOOK THIS MIXED BAG ON THE UPPER COLUMBIA IN DECEMBER 2008. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

States select their season from within the federal frameworks that establish the earliest season beginning and latest ending dates and the maximum season length and bag limits. The proposed late season waterfowl frameworks will appear in a mid-August edition of the Federal Register for
public comment. Flyway-specific highlights of the proposed late-season frameworks are below:

Pacific Flyway (Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming):

–  Ducks: Under the proposal, States are allowed a 107-day general duck season between September 24, 2011, and January 29, 2012. The proposed daily bag limit is 7 ducks, including no more than 2 mallard hens, 2 redheads, 2 pintails and 1 canvasback. In addition, an 86 day season for scaup can be chosen with a daily bag limit of 3.

–  Geese: 107-day seasons are proposed for the Pacific Flyway between September 24, 2011, and March 10, 2012. Proposed basic daily bag limits are up to 10 light geese and 4 dark geese. There are exceptions to the basic bag limits and season structures for geese in many States, so consult State regulations for specific details. In California, Washington and Oregon, the dark goose limit does not include brant. For brant, the proposed season lengths are 16 days in Oregon and Washington and 30 days in California, with a 2-bird daily limit. Washington and California are able to choose seasons in each of the two zones described in state regulations.

The Service’s 2011 Waterfowl Population Status Report summarizes information about the status of duck and goose populations and habitat conditions during spring of 2011. The preliminary estimate of total ducks from the 2011 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey was 45.6 million birds. This estimate represents an 11% increase over last year’s estimate of 40.8 million birds and is 35% above the long-term average. The 2011 total pond estimates (in Prairie Canada and the United States combined) was 8.1 million, an increase of 22% over last year and a 62% increase above the long-term average.

Annual survey results guides the Service’s waterfowl conservation programs under authority of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Service works in partnership with state biologists from the four flyways ? the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific ? to establish regulatory frameworks for waterfowl hunting season lengths, dates, and bag limits. Combined, these results form the largest data set on any wildlife species group in the world. They help provide equitable hunting opportunities while ensuring the long-term health of waterfowl populations.

To see the “Status of Waterfowl” report as well as last year’s harvest figures, please see http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/. To view a video of the Status of Waterfowl video visit: http://flyways.us/status-of-waterfowl/video-report/.

The mission of the Service’s Migratory Bird Program is to ensure long-term ecological sustainability of  migratory bird populations and their habitats for future generations, through careful monitoring, effective management, and by supporting national and international partnerships that conserve habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.

WA Wolf Plan Out

July 28, 2011

That thump that just hit the Internet?

The 516 pages of WDFW’s final wolf management plan/environmental impact statement.

It’s available here.

It appears that 15 breeding pairs over three years across various parts of the state remains the threshold for removal from statewide protections. A minimum number, it would equate to an estimated 97 to 361 wolves running around Washington.

The new official population estimate Northwest Sportsman got yesterday was that there are 25-30 adults and yearlings in the state — a figure which does not include pups — and five confirmed packs. The plan says there are also possible packs in the Blue Mountains and upper Skagit River area.

Other highlights (or lowlights, depending on your viewpoint):

• The distribution of breeding pairs among recovery regions was changed from the Draft to the Final EIS Preferred Alternative. Pairs that could have occurred anywhere in the state for downlisting to Sensitive Status and delisting were assigned to specific recovery regions. For downlisting to sensitive status, 3 breeding pairs that could have occurred anywhere in the state were assigned to the Eastern Washington and Northern Cascades recovery regions. For delisting, 6 breeding pairs that could have occurred anywhere in the state were assigned among the three recovery regions.

• Lethal take by livestock owners of wolves caught in the act of attacking livestock on 6 private lands they own or lease was changed to allow it to occur at all listed statuses, rather than only after reaching threatened status, with a permit from WDFW and after documented depredation had occurred in the area and measures to resolve the problem had been deemed ineffective.

• Lethal take by private citizens of wolves in the act of attacking pet dogs was previously allowed when wolves reached Sensitive status; in the revised Preferred Alternative, it is not allowed while wolves are listed.

• Management of wolf-ungulate conflicts was changed. In the Draft Preferred Alternative, the WDFW could consider moving, lethal control, or other control techniques for wolves in localized areas after wolves were delisted, if research determined that wolf predation was a limiting factor for an at-risk ungulate population. In the Final Preferred Alternative, the WDFW could consider control of wolves at all listing statuses if it determines that wolf predation is a primary limiting factor for an at-risk ungulate population, and the wolf population exceeds delisting objectives within that recovery region. WDFW would consider the status of wolves statewide as well as within a specific recovery region where ungulate impacts were occurring in decision-making. The definition of an “at risk ungulate population” was revised from the Draft EIS to the Final EIS.

Next up for the plan, Aug. 4’s Fish & Wildlife Commission meeting.

Happy reading.

What’s Fishin’ In Washington (7-28-11)

July 28, 2011

Chromers and crabs, socks and cutts, ‘eyes and ‘gills — they’re all available around Washington this month.

And where, might you ask?

Well, let the good folks at WDFW who put together the Weekender be your guide:

NORTH PUGET SOUND

Anglers are reeling in chinook and coho in Puget Sound, where crabbing is still an option and two additional marine areas open for salmon Aug. 1. Others are also having some success at Baker Lake, which recently opened for sockeye salmon.

Anglers fishing Baker Lake can retain up to three adult sockeye salmon that exceed 18 inches in length from the log boom barrier at Baker Dam upstream to the mouth of the upper Baker River. All other salmon, as well as bull trout, must be released.

“The fish are biting, it’s just a matter of finding them,” said Brett Barkdull, fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Most anglers have done well once they get over them, and I expect that to continue into August as more sockeye make it into the lake.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: For more, see Wayne Kruse’s excellent column today in the Everett Herald.)

The sockeye salmon fishery at Baker Lake is open until further notice, said Barkdull, who reminds anglers to check for any rule changes at WDFW’s website.

Meanwhile, freshwater anglers are gearing up for upcoming salmon openers on select rivers. Those rivers include:

Skagit River: Opens Aug. 1 from the mouth of the river to the mouth of Gilligan Creek. The Skagit from the mouth of Gilligan Creek to the Dalles Bridge at Concrete opens for salmon fishing Aug. 16. Anglers fishing those sections have a three-salmon daily limit, plus one additional pink salmon. All chinook and chum must be released.
Snohomish River: Opens Aug. 16 with a three-salmon daily limit, plus one additional pink salmon. Chinook and chum must be released.
Green River: Opens Aug. 20 from the 1st Ave. South Bridge to Interstate 405. Anglers fishing the Green have a daily limit of six salmon; up to three adult coho and chum (combined) may be retained. Chinook must be released.

Beginning Aug. 16, Lake Sammamish will also be an option for freshwater salmon anglers, who will have a daily limit of four salmon, and can retain up to two chinook. All sockeye must be released, and fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek.

On Puget Sound, anglers can fish for salmon in marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton). Those fishing Marine Area 7 can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon. They must, however, release wild coho and chum starting Aug. 1.

Anglers fishing marine areas 9 and 10 can keep hatchery chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – as part of a two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon.  Wild chinook must be released. Anglers fishing Marine Area 9 also must release chum salmon, and – effective Aug. 1 – so will those fishing Marine Area 10.

August brings other opportunities in the region to catch and keep salmon. Beginning Aug. 1, marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) open for salmon. Anglers fishing those two areas will have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, but must release chinook.

Check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet for details on current salmon fishing opportunities.

Prefer shellfish? The Puget Sound crab fishery is under way in most marine areas. The exception is the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia) of Marine Area 7, which opens for crab 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.

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.

Discover Pass: Now that summer has finally arrived, hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians are packing up tents, binoculars and fishing poles to spend time with family and friends outdoors. Effective July 1, they 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. The fine for not displaying the pass is $99.

With some exceptions, 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). However, 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

Summer salmon fishing is in full swing along the coast, where anglers are hooking bright chinook and nice-size coho.

“Fishing has been good for both chinook and coho in all marine areas,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “In the coming weeks, I expect fishing to get even better as more salmon return to our coastal waters.”

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. Marine areas 1, 3 and 4 are open to salmon fishing seven days a week, while Marine Area 2 is open Sundays through Thursdays each week.

Salmon fishing is scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1. However, fisheries in those areas could close early if catch quotas are reached. Milward reminds anglers to check for any rule changes at WDFW’s website.

Anglers are reminded that regulations in Marine Area 4, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line, change beginning Aug. 1. Anglers fishing that area will have a daily limit of two salmon, plus one additional pink salmon. But they must release chinook, chum and wild coho.

Elsewhere in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, anglers are still having some success hooking salmon in marine areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), as salmon fisheries in marine areas 11 (Tacoma/Vashon), the southern portion of 12 (Hood Canal) and 13 (South Puget Sound) continue to gain momentum.

Because salmon fishing rules vary depending on the marine area, anglers should check the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet before heading out on the water.

Meanwhile, the Puget Sound crab fishery is under way in most marine areas. The exception is the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia) of Marine Area 7, which opens for crab 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.

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.

Halibut fishing is also still an option. The late season for halibut in Marine Area 1 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 currently open in the northern nearshore area seven days per week until the quota is reached or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first.

In freshwater, the recreational salmon fishery on the Skokomish River will get under way Aug. 1 downstream of the Highway 106 Bridge and Aug. 2 upstream of the bridge to the Highway 101 Bridge under regulations similar to last year. The daily bag limit on the Skokomish will be two salmon for anglers fishing from the mouth of the river to the Highway 101 Bridge through Sept. 30. Anglers must carefully release any wild chinook salmon they catch. They also must release chum salmon through Oct. 15.

Anglers will be required to release any salmon not hooked inside the mouth, and retain the first two legal salmon they catch. In addition, single-point barbless hooks are required and a night closure and anti-snagging rule will be in effect.

The Skokomish River from the Highway 106 Bridge upstream to the Highway 101 Bridge will be closed to recreational fishing on designated Mondays and Tuesdays to avoid potential gear conflicts with treaty tribal fishers. Those closures are scheduled for Aug. 1, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30 and Sept. 6.

Recreational fishing downstream of the Highway 106 Bridge will remain open seven days a week through the fishing season. For more information, see the fishing rule change on the WDFW website.

Several other rivers are open for salmon fishing elsewhere in the region, including the Bogachiel, Calawah, Hoh, Nisqually, Quillayute and the Sol Duc. Beginning Aug. 1, the Puyallup River, from the City of Puyallup outfall structure across the river from the junction of Freeman Road and North Levee Road to the Carbon River, also opens for salmon fishing.

The lower section of the Puyallup, from the 11th Street Bridge to the City of Puyallup outfall structure, opens to salmon fishing Aug. 16. Anglers should be aware that the lower section of the river is closed Aug. 28, 29 and Sept. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13.

For more information on the Puyallup River regulations, as well as rules for other fisheries open in August, check the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet.

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON

This year’s fall chinook fishery opens Aug. 1 on the Columbia River, where a strong run of upriver brights is expected to push the total return well above the 10-year average. Of the 776,300 “falls” included in the pre-season forecast, nearly 400,000 are projected to be upriver brights – the highest number since 1987.

Those fish, together with hatchery coho and summer steelhead, should make August a very good time to fish the lower Columbia River, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“We’re definitely expecting a big turnout by anglers for these fisheries,” Hymer said. “The fall chinook fishery usually starts slow, then accelerates quickly through the month of August. The great thing about upriver brights is they tend to keep biting as they move upriver.”

MORNING AT "BUOY 10" ... OR AT LEAST A FEW KLICKS EAST OF THERE NERE THE ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE. (BRIAN LULL, NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

FISH ON! (BRIAN LULL, NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

BUOY 10 CHINOOK. (BRIAN LULL, NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

While the fall chinook season opens upriver to Priest Rapids Dam, most of the action during the first few weeks focuses on the popular Buoy 10 fishery in the lower 16 miles of the river. Fishery managers estimate that anglers will catch nearly 11,000 chinook salmon by Aug. 28, when the retention fishery for chinook closes in the Buoy 10 area. They also estimate anglers will catch 7,000 coho in that area by the time that fishery closes at the end of the year.

The daily limit for the Buoy 10 fishery is two salmon, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each. However, anglers may retain only one chinook salmon (minimum size, 24 inches) per day as part of their daily limit through Aug. 28. Only those steelhead and coho marked with a missing adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained. This requirement does not, however, apply to fall chinook, which may be retained whether marked or unmarked.

Additional rules for the Buoy 10 area and other waters upriver are described in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

Bank anglers planning to fish near the mouth of the Columbia River should be aware they will need to purchase a Discover Pass to park on State Parks property near the North Jetty. With some exceptions, the pass is now required to park a vehicle on lands managed by State Parks, WDFW and the state Department of Natural Resources. The Discover Pass was created by the Legislature earlier this year to keep recreation lands open to the public in the wake of steep budget cuts.

An annual Discover Pass costs $35 and a one-day pass is $11.50, when purchased online from WDFW (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/), by phone, or from retail license vendors. However, holders of most annual fishing and hunting licenses are not required to purchase a pass to use WDFW lands and water-access sites. For more information, see the Discover Pass website (http://www.discoverpass.wa.gov/) or call 1-866-320-9933.

By mid-to-late August, the bulk of the chinook run usually begins to move upstream while increasing numbers of coho move into the Columbia River behind them. For anglers following upriver brights upstream, Hymer recommends fishing deep, between 40 and 50 feet down. For a lure, he suggests a wobbler anchored with a heavy weight.

“Chinook go deep when water temperatures are high so that’s a good place to find them,” Hymer said. “At the same time, anglers should take care not to drop anchor in the shipping channel. That can lead to real trouble.”

While 2011 is not expected to be a banner year for hatchery coho, those fish will help to round out anglers’ daily limits at Buoy 10, Hymer said. WDFW currently expects about 270,000 coho to return this year – similar to 2010 but down significantly from the exceptionally large run of three-quarters of a million fish two years ago.

“Coho will still contribute to the fishery,” Hymer said. “At Buoy 10, they usually bite best on herring and spinners, and then bait and lures later in the tributaries.”

Meanwhile, plenty of hatchery steelhead are still available for harvest, said Hymer, noting that the smaller “A-run” fish should keep biting through mid-August. By then, the larger “B-run” steelhead – many weighing in the teens – will start arriving to pick up the slack. Together, returns of both runs are expected to total about 367,000 fish, about the same size of last year’s total run.

The succession of hatchery steelhead, fall chinook and coho salmon should also provide good fishing on area tributaries for months to come, Hymer said.  Like the mainstem Columbia River, most tributaries open for fall chinook Aug. 1, although fishery usually doesn’t take off until September. Meanwhile, Drano Lake and the White Salmon River are good places to try for steelhead looking for cooler waters.

Like last year, anglers will be allowed to retain up to six adult hatchery coho on all tributaries to the lower Columbia River with hatchery programs. Those rivers include the Cowlitz, Deep, Elochoman, Grays (including West Fork), Kalama, Klickitat, Lewis (including North Fork), Toutle (including Green and North Fork) and Washougal.

Chinook retention is limited to marked, hatchery fish on these river systems, except on the Klickitat and Deep rivers where unmarked chinook can also be retained. Mark-selective runs will also be in effect on the Wind and White Salmon rivers, plus Drano Lake. Anglers are advised to check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet and any emergency rules applicable to specific waters before leaving home.

Of course, salmon and steelhead aren’t the only fish available for harvest in August. Walleye fishing can be good in the Columbia River near Camas, as well as in The Dalles and John Day Pools. Bass fishing is also heating up from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam.

For trout, the high wilderness lakes around Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens offer unparalleled fishing experiences for those willing to brave the mosquitoes. Riffe Lake in Lewis County is still giving up some nice landlocked coho, and Goose Lake north of Carson has received 6,200 brown trout, 6,000 cutthroat and 500 rainbow since the end of June.  Hatchery sea-run cutthroats should also provide some opportunity on the lower Cowlitz beginning in late August.

Anglers planning to fish Northwest Lake in Klickitat County should be aware that all boat access will be closed as of Aug. 15, when PacifiCorp will start drawing water from the lake in preparation for decommissioning Condit Dam. Boat ramps at the campground and off Powerhouse Road will also be closed, effective July 29. Bank fishing will still be allowed, but PacifiCorp representatives caution anglers to be careful of mucky shoreline conditions.  Crews are scheduled to breach the 123-foot dam in late October, opening up miles of salmon and steelhead habitat.

EASTERN WASHINGTON

The month of August usually means a slow-down in fishing throughout the region, but this summer’s cooler and wetter conditions are keeping the action decent on both trout and warmwater fish species.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) district fish biologist Chris Donley said the most successful trout fishing is still during very early morning or late evening hours. But mid-day anglers under cloud cover are also reeling in nice catches.

Some of the best rainbow and cutthroat trout lakes close to Spokane are Amber, Badger, Clear, Fish, Williams, and West Medical lakes in Spokane County, and Fishtrap Lake in Lincoln County. The lower Spokane River has nice rainbows and browns, but river anglers need to be aware of catch limits, gear restrictions, and other rules listed in the fishing pamphlet.

Mixed species waters are also a good bet. Along with some trout, yellow perch, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and crappie can usually be caught at Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County, Downs and Chapman lakes in southwest Spokane County, Newman and Liberty lakes in eastern Spokane County, Eloika Lake in north Spokane County, and the Spokane River reservoir of Long Lake and Deer and Waitts lakes in Stevens County.

In the north end of the region, rainbow trout, kokanee and walleye fishing continues to be good at Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam. Kokanee fishing is also productive at Stevens County’s Loon Lake during night time hours.

Some of the high elevation lakes on U.S. Forest Service property in the northeast district that are stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout may be good destinations for camping and fishing weekends. In Ferry County, try Davis, Ellen, Empire, Swan and Trout lakes. In Stevens County, try Gillette, Heritage, Sherry, Summit, and Thomas lakes. In Pend Oreille County, try Carl’s, Cook’s, Frater, Halfmoon, Leo, Mystic, Nile, No-Name, Petit, South and North Skookums, and Yokum lakes. Find specific locations and more about these mostly small fishing lakes in WDFW’s 2011 Fishing Prospects.

Catfish and sturgeon fishing is usually productive in the Snake River system in the southeast part of the region in August. Catfish are often landed in the backwaters and sloughs throughout the mainstem Snake, as well as in or near the mouths of tributaries like the Tucannon River.

Sturgeon fishers are reminded of the minimum 43-inch and maximum 54-inch tail fork length and daily catch limit of one sturgeon. The Snake and its tributaries upstream of Lower Granite Dam are catch-and-release only for sturgeon. The section of the Snake just east of the Tri-Cities, from the mouth to Ice Harbor Dam, is also catch-and-release for sturgeon starting Aug. 1.

On the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area along the Tucannon River in Columbia County, anglers are still catching lots of hatchery-stocked rainbow trout in several of the area’s man-made lakes. WDFW area manager Kari Dingman reports that cooler temperatures this summer have helped keep those fisheries productive longer than normal.

“Anglers who camp on the Wooten are reminded there are no campfires allowed at this time,” Dingman said. “Even though it’s still relatively green for this time of year here, especially on the south end of the wildlife area, it’s drying out fast and the grass is quite tall and thick. We recently had several campfires left unattended when the campers packed up and left.”

Wherever anglers go, they are reminded to be extra careful with anything that could start wildfires. Outing plans should include a check on campfire restrictions on state or federal public lands.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a burn ban in effect through Sept. 30 on all forest lands under Department of Natural Resources jurisdiction. That means all outdoor burning is banned with the exception of recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds. The use of gas and propane barbeques and self contained stoves are allowed. Visit DNR’s website for fire information by county.

NORTHCENTRAL WASHINGTON

Anglers fishing for chinook and sockeye salmon are starting to pick up fish on the mainstem Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam upstream to below Chief Joseph Dam. Sockeye running three to four pounds and chinook up to 20 pounds are being taken in that area, reports Bob Jateff, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Chinook are best caught on trolled plugs or cut herring,” he said. “Sockeye are caught primarily with prawn spinners.”

Jateff reminds salmon anglers of the night closure and anti-snagging rule in effect in three areas – from Rocky Reach Dam to the most upriver point of Turtle Rock, the Okanogan River from the mouth upstream to Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville, and the Similkameen River from the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.

Beginning Aug. 1, anglers can retain adipose-fin-clipped adult and jack summer chinook salmon in the lower mainstem Wenatchee River, where summer chinook returns are predicted to exceed spawning escapement needs. The daily limit is two adipose-fin-clipped summer chinook (adult or jack). All other fish must be released and selective gear rules and night closure are in effect.

The section of the Wenatchee River opening for chinook fishing Aug. 1 extends from the mouth (confluence with the Columbia River) to a point 400 feet below Dryden Dam is open through Oct. 15. From Sept. 1 through Oct. 15, the fishery will expand to include waters stretching from the confluence of Peshastin Creek to a line perpendicular to the river at a marker on the opposite shore, (approximately 1,000 feet above Dryden Dam) to the Icicle Creek road bridge on the west end of Leavenworth. All chinook with a floy (anchor) tag attached and/or caudal punch must be released.

On the Methow River, an increasing number of trout anglers are starting to show up as water levels start to recede after a prolonged period of high flows, Jateff said. “At this time of the year, weighted nymphs will be the choice for fly anglers, but large dry flies will also produce fish,” he said, adding that anglers should still be extremely cautious when wading or floating the river.

Resident rainbow, cutthroat, and whitefish are the main species available in the Methow. All bull trout must be released and must not be removed from the water.  Selective gear rules are in effect in this catch-and-release only. Jateff advises checking the current sportfishing pamphlet carefully as there certain sections on the Methow that are closed to all fishing.

WDFW habitat biologist Ken Bevis of Winthrop confirms that fly fishing can be highly productive as rivers and streams in Okanogan County drop into shape. “Try skittering a bushy dry fly across tail-outs of deep pools in the crystal clear streams,” he said. “The action can be fast and furious, even if the fish are only eight inches or so. But be sure you know the difference between trout, so you can follow the regulations.”

As water temperatures warm, some lowland lakes will provide angling opportunities for spiny ray fishermen, Jateff said. He notes that Patterson Lake, near Winthrop, has yellow perch as well as smallmouth bass. Spectacle Lake, southwest of Tonasket, has yellow perch in the 10 inch range as well as a sizeable rainbow trout population.

Leader Lake, near the town of Okanogan, has bluegill in good numbers, but yellow perch were illegally introduced there and are now threatening that fishery, Jateff said. “We are urging anglers to remove as many perch as possible from Leader Lake – regardless of size – to maintain the current quality bluegill fishery there.”

SOUTHCENTRAL WASHINGTON

Walleye fishing has been very good on Lake Umatilla this summer – and will likely heat up even more as water temperatures rise through August. Meanwhile, the summer heat is also clearing a way through the snow to trout fishing opportunities on dozens of alpine lakes.

As of late July, anglers were averaging more than three walleye per rod on Lake Umatilla, the 67-mile reservoir below McNary Dam on the Columbia River, according to Paul Hoffarth, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) stationed in the Tri-Cities.

“Fishing has been terrific at all the usual spots – Umatilla, County Line, Irrigon, Boardman and Paterson,” Hoffarth said. “Walleye really put on the feed bag when the water heats up, so we can expect to see some more great fishing in the weeks ahead.”

There is no minimum size limit for walleye at Lake Umatilla, although there is a daily limit of 10 fish, only five of which can measure over 18 inches and only one of which can be over 24 inches. There is also no minimum size for smallmouth bass, which are also showing up in the catch. There is a five-fish daily limit for smallmouth bass, only three of which can exceed 15 inches.

Still fishing for sturgeon? Be aware that sturgeon fisheries switch to catch-and-release rules Aug. 1 at Lake Wallula (the McNary Pool of the Columbia River) and the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam.

On the other hand, anglers can catch and keep up to two hatchery steelhead – identified by a clipped adipose fin – from the mouth of the Columbia River to the Highway 395 bridge at Kennewick/Pasco. Fishery managers are projecting a strong run of 390,900 summer-run steelhead this year, many bound for the Snake River and mid-to-upper Columbia River.

The Snake River will open for hatchery steelhead fishing Sept. 1, and WDFW expects to open sections of the Columbia River above the Highway 395 bridge later this summer or early fall. Look for announcements at the WDFW website.

Anglers can also look forward to good fishing for fall chinook salmon in the weeks ahead. A strong run of 760,000 “falls” is expected to cross McNary Dam this year, including 175,000 upriver brights headed for the Hanford Reach and points north.

“The fishery officially kicks off Aug.1 up to Priest Rapids Dam, but fishing doesn’t really catch fire in our area until September,” Hoffarth said. “With so many fish expected this year, fishing should be good once it gets going.”

The daily limit on the Columbia River is six chinook, of which two may be adults. Anglers are not required to release chinook with intact adipose fins, but must stop fishing after they retain two adult chinook. See the current Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet for additional information.

On the Yakima River, salmon fishing closes July 31 at the end of the day, but will reopen Sept. 1 for fall chinook in the lower river. Eric Anderson, a WDFW fish biologist in Yakima, said the spring chinook fishery in the upper section between Union Gap and Roza Dam finished strong, despite high flows in May and June.

“Catch rates for springers really picked up in July as water levels dropped and more fish moved into the area,” Anderson said. “Now anglers are looking ahead to the fishery for fall chinook.”

Water levels are also dropping in streams flowing into the upper Yakima and Naches rivers, improving fishing conditions for wild rainbow and cutthroat trout, Anderson said. Anglers should be sure to check the regulations for those streams, and release all salmon, bull trout, and steelhead, he said.

An increasing number of high lakes are also becoming accessible to trout fishing around White Pass, Chinook Pass and Snoqualmie Pass as the snow continues to melt under the summer sun. WDFW stocks some small, hike-in lakes with rainbow or cutthroat trout, and some also have naturally reproducing eastern brook trout populations. Specific information on trout stocking in area lakes is posted on the WDFW website.

“Good fishing is now available for planted trout at Clear and Dog lakes in the White Pass area, and for kokanee averaging nine inches at Rimrock Lake off Highway 12,” Anderson said. “Kokanee is also available at Kachess and Keechelus lakes off Highway 90, and fishing is good for both kokanee and cutthroat at Bumping Lake off Highway 410.”

Anderson notes that all of those waters are closed to the taking of bull trout, “so anglers need to release any bull trout they intercept,” he said. Anderson adds that hikers and anglers should check trail conditions before heading out, because some are still covered in snow. Information about current trail conditions is available from the U.S. Forest Service office in Naches and the Forest Ranger office in Cle Elum.

Ocean Salmon Fishing Update (7-28-11)

July 28, 2011

(REPORT COURTESY WENDY BEEGHLEY, WDFW, VIA FISHERIES BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)
The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Cape Falcon, OR and Leadbetter Point, WA opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 33,600 coho and a sub-area guideline of 7,400 Chinook.  During the week of July 18, a total of 1,397 coho and 174 Chinook were landed. Through Sunday, July 24, 5,175 coho (15% of the sub-area quota) and 981 Chinook (13% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.   Two pink have been landed in this area!

Westport
The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Leadbetter Point and the Queets River opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 24,860 coho and a sub-area guideline of 16,900 Chinook.  During the week of July 18, a total of 1,247 coho, 1,228 Chinook, and 88 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, July 24, 4,047 coho (16% of the sub-area quota) and 4,006 Chinook (24% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

La Push
The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between the Queets River and Cape Alava opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 1,700 coho and a sub-area guideline of 1,350 Chinook1.  During the week of July 18, a total of 176 coho, 149 Chinook, and 217 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, July 24, 543 coho (32% of the sub-area quota) and 402 Chinook (30% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

Neah Bay
The all-species recreational salmon fishery in the area between Cape Alava and the US-Canada border opened on June 26 operating under a sub-area quota of 6,990 coho and a sub-area guideline of 3,200 Chinook.  During the week of July 18, a total of 505 coho, 328 Chinook, and 787 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, July 24, 1,649 coho (24% of the sub-area quota) and 1,110 Chinook (35% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

 

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon (7-28-11)

July 28, 2011

To highlight salty and summery doin’s around Oregon, I’m switching things up in this week’s edition of Let’s-rip-off-ODFW’s-weekly-Recreation-Report-and-post-it-on-our-site-in-a-desperate-bid-to-provide-content-and-draw-eyes.

Usually the “Marine” and Columbia Zones are at the end of the line, but this week, I’m putting them first.

Why? Well, albacore and summer-runs, of course.

“Tuna fishing has been ‘stupid’ easy this year,” reported AndyAlbacore, err, Andy Schneider about this time last week.

Of course, tuna locations change by the day — the Pacific is not exactly your back 40 stocker trout lake — but the latest from ODFW is that the catch has picked up off a pair of South Coast ports.

Then there’s the summer steelhead run up the Lower Columbia. Earlier this week we got word that it’s possible this season’s run could tie 2009’s huge — and we mean HUGE — handling record of 16,000 hatchery and wild fish in July.

Yesterday we got a pic of six of ’em that had been waylaid just below the Rainier-Longview bridge.

SITTING ON ANCHOR IN JUST 6 TO 8 FEET OF WATER, CLIENTS OF BILL SWANN LANDED THESE SUMMERS ON COON SHRIMP TAGGED BEHIND SIZE 6-8 SPIN-N-GLOS AND WORDEN'S U-20 FLATFISH. (SWANNY'S GUIDED FISHING)

Here’s more, and other highlights to consider for your weekend fishing plans:

MARINE ZONE

  • Tuna are as close as 15 to 20 miles offshore in some places on the coast – which is about as close as they come most years. Fishing for them was a little tougher this week with most anglers landing around 2 fish per angler on most of the coast. Charleston and Bandon tuna fishers more than doubled that this week with four and 10 fish per anger. Charter operators in several ports are now offering tuna fishing trips. Tuna usually remain off the Oregon coast into October.
  • Last week private and charter boats from Pacific City, Garibaldi, Bandon, Gold Beach and Brookings returned with limits or near limits of rockfish. The rest of the coast the catches ranged between two to three rockfish per angler. Lingcod were harder to come with catches of two or three fish for every 10 anglers.

    Starting July 21, bottomfish anglers must stay within the 20-fathom line (defined by waypoints). The closure of bottom fishing beyond the 20-fathom line is to reduce the likelihood of anglers catching yelloweye rockfish and the catch-and-release mortality of the rockfish, which is considered overfished by the National Marine Fisheries Service

  • Coho fishing improved last week on the central coast with most anglers landing at least one fish. It remains spotty for the rest of the coast with catches of between one and two fish for every 10 anglers. Fishing for fin-clipped coho opened July 2 off the central coast.
  • The next minus tide series starts early in the morning of July 27 and continues through Aug. 3.

    The annual conservation closure north of Tillamook Head to protect newly set razor clams began July 15 and continues through Sept. 30. Since 1967, ODFW has closed the 18 miles of beaches in Clatsop County to razor clam digging on July 15. The closure is to protect newly-set young clams that are establishing themselves on the beach during this time of the year.

  • Most crabbers had average catches between one and three crab. Crabbing in the ocean this time of year can be very productive, but also dangerous because of wind, sea and bar conditions.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Summer steelhead are abundant in the lower Columbia River.
  • Fall chinook season opens Monday August 1 from Buoy 10 upstream to the Oregon/Washington Border above McNary Dam.
  • Sturgeon angling is open from Buoy 10 upstream to Marker 82 near Multnomah Falls through July 31; however, retention above Wauna powerlines is only allowed on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Warm water fishing continues to be good at several area lakes including Agate and Willow lakes,  Applegate Reservoir and Lake Selmac.
  • For the trout enthusiast, they’re still biting at Eel, Empire and Fish lakes, and at Applegate and Lost Creek reservoirs.
  • Anglers on the upper Rogue River can choose to fish spring chinook, summer steelhead or trout, and fishing should be good.
  • Check out ODFW’s new publication 50 places to fish within 60 minutes of Roseburg. Print versions available at ODFW Roseburg’s office and local visitor information centers.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Kilchis River: Fishing for cutthroat trout is fair to good. Tidewater and lower river areas will hold most fish, but some are making their way upstream. Small spinners are a good option for these fish.
  • Salmon River: The main stem river and most streams are open for cutthroat trout. Sea run cutthroat trout are starting to show in tidewater and up into the lower reaches on the main stem river. Fishing is fair to good using traditional methods such as casting small spinners or fly fishing.
  • Yaquina River: Cutthroat trout fishing is fair to good in the Yaquina and Big Elk basins. Fishing the upper tidewater and lower river reaches is starting to produce some sea run cutthroat trout. Using light tackle with small lures or flies can be very effective.

THIS NESTUCCA RIVER SUMMER-RUN "INHALED" A SAND SHRIMP TAIL AND CORKY COMBO LAST WEEKEND, REPORTS ANGLER JASON HARRIS. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Spring chinook fishing is fair on the Clackamas and Sandy rivers.
  • 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

  • Fishing has been good at several popular fly-fishing destinations including the Fall and Metolius rivers and Davis and Hosmer lakes.
  • The season’s first steelhead are arriving at the lower Deschutes River and numbers will continue to increase over the next few months.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Crappie fishing continues to improve on many area reservoirs.
  • Anthony, Grand Ronde and Fish (Halfway) lakes and Eagle Creek are now accessible and have been stocked.
  • Trout fishing continues to be good on many are lakes and reservoirs.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing for stocked rainbow trout continues to be good on several area lakes and ponds including Luger Springs Pond, Magone Lake and Noregaard Pond.
  • Water levels are receding to fishable levels on the Grande Ronde, Imnaha and Wallowa rivers and both trout and bass fishing are improving.

BROWNLEE ZONE

  • Crappie fishing is slow and they have a very light bite (10-20 feet deep).  The crappie have been fairly large this year, with many over 12 inches but are hard to get. Currently, the jig colors that are working are red/chartruese, black/chartruese, and chartruese.  Catfish angling is picking up but has gotten a slow start.  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/

Wenatchee River To Open For Summer Chinook

July 27, 2011

Editor’s note: Just got this advice on the fishery from the well-known local outdoor writer Dave Graybill, the Fishin’ Magician: “Due to the selective fishing reg on the Wenatchee, I would suggest M2 or Mag Lip FlatFish in deep holes. The first riffle should have fish stacked in it. Shore anglers could cast large (spinners).”

When was the last time the Wenatchee was open for summer Chinook?

That’s a damned good question.

Never mind getting ahold of the state biologists listed in WDFW’s e-reg notice for an answer — one’s out of the office till Monday (so why is his name listed as a contact?!?!) and the other is a bizzy boy with a weird telephone.

One source at Hooked on Toys in the town of Wenatchee says he’s never heard of the Chelan County river opening for the salmon.

Another source there wasn’t sure, and the shop’s Mr. Knows Everything About Local Fishing was out, well, fishing and unavailable by cell phone.

But history is a trifling detail anyway, what you want to know, my friend, is how to fish the 17 miles of river from 400 feet downstream of Dryden Dam to the mouth when it opens Monday, Aug. 1.

“I’m going to tell them to fish it the same way as other summer Chinook rivers: with big spinners,” says Peter at Hooked.

Because it’s under selective gear rules, that means fishing “big spinners with single barbless hooks” as well as big plugs sans bait wraps, maybe a Mag Lip.

WDFW is able to open the fishery for hatchery Chinook retention because the agency is predicting the run will come in in “excess of spawning escapement needs,” the stock isn’t listed under ESA, springers and bull trout will mostly be in the upper river, and there won’t be many steelhead in the mainstem.

SUMMER CHINOOK LIKE THE LEFT FISH, CAUGHT YESTERDAY NEAR THE MOUTH OF THE WENATCHEE, WILL BE AVAILABLE WHEN THE LOWER PART OF THE MIDDLE COLUMBIA RIVER TRIB OPENS AUG. 1. LOCAL ANGLER SCOTT FLETCHER WAS TROLLING A CUT-PLUG HERRING BEHIND A CHROME DODGER. (WRIGHT & MCGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

More details on the opening are as follows:

Action:  Anglers will be able to fish for and retain adipose-fin-clipped adult and jack summer chinook salmon in the lower mainstem Wenatchee River beginning Aug. 1.

Rule:  Daily limit of two adipose fin clipped summer chinook (adult or jack).  All other fish must be released. Selective gear rules and night closure in effect.

Effective dates and locations:

(1)  Aug. 1, through Oct. 15, 2011, Wenatchee River from the mouth (confluence with the Columbia River) to 400 feet below Dryden Dam.

(2)  Sept. 1, through Oct. 15, 2011, Wenatchee River from the confluence of Peshastin Creek to a line perpendicular to the river at a marker on the opposite shore (approximately 1,000 feet above Dryden Dam) to the Icicle Creek road bridge on the west end of Leavenworth.

Species affected:  Summer run c hinook salmon

Reason for action: Hatchery summer chinook returns to the Wenatchee River are predicted to be in excess of spawning escapement needs.  The population is not listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The majority of spring chinook and bull trout will have migrated to the upper Wenatchee River, and few steelhead will remain in the mainstem.

Important angler note:  All chinook with a floy (anchor) tag attached and/or caudal punch must be released. These fish are essential to ongoing studies being conducted by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license in addition to a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement Stamp.

No boats with motors (Chelan Co ordinance 7.20.190 Motorboat restrictions) .

Information contact: Bob Jateff, District 6 Fish Biologist, Twisp, (509) 997-0316; Jeff Korth, Region 2 Fish Program Manager, Ephrata, (509) 754-4624

WA FWC To Consider Expanded Boot Hunts For Cougars

July 27, 2011

With hound hunts for cougars off the table this winter — needed enabling legislation did not get passed in Olympia this past session — WDFW is recommending expanded “boot hunting” opportunities across six Eastern Washington counties for the big cats.

Next week, the Fish & Wildlife Commission will be asked to sign off on proposals to:

• Add a month and a half to hunting season, extending the any-weapon hunt from the current October 29-November 30 to October 15-December 31.

• Tack a permit season on to the end of the any-weapon hunt, allowing holders of special tags to hunt from January 1-March 31.

The special regs would be for certain game units in Okanogan, Chelan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille and Kittitas Counties, areas that all were part of a legislatively authorized pilot project that allowed specially permitted hunters the use of dogs for chasing cougars. That opportunity sunsetted March 31. SB 5356 would have extended the program, and though the bill passed the Senate, it failed to get to a vote in the House. That was blamed on politics, but it also brought together some very strange bedfellows. Hound hunting was otherwise banned by voters in 1996’s Initiative 655.

WDFW’s first proposal would basically allow rifle hunters with cougar tags the chance to kill mountain lions during mid-October’s modern firearms deer seasons in those counties, some of the state’s best for muleys and whitetail bucks. Annual guidelines on female cougar harvest would also likely be met by Dec. 31, a WDFW staff memo to the commission states.

As for the second, the memo reads, “The purpose of the permit season is to provide late season opportunity with snow conditions that are conducive for tracking and calling. Because the harvest success is less than 1 percent, the expected harvest is low.”

The proposals drew approval on WDFW’s Facebook page from Naithan Kain, the cougar committee chairman for Washingtonians For Wildlife. Earlier he forwarded a letter on cougar management from his organization to WDFW to Northwest Sportsman. In part, it called for increased boot hunting opportunities.

Final WA Wolf Plan To Be Posted 7-28

July 27, 2011

WDFW will post its recommended wolf management plan/final environmental impact statement on its Web site tomorrow, Thursday, July 28, one week ahead of the hefty bundle of documents going to the Fish & Wildlife Commission for the first time.

The citizen panel will be briefed on the EIS and 298-page plan on Aug. 4 starting at 10 a.m. in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., in Olympia.

Public comment will be taken that day, as well as at three upcoming meetings tentatively scheduled for Aug. 29 in Ellensburg, and Oct. 6 and Nov. 3 in Oly.

(WDFW’s Facebook page is also attracting quite a few comments following a posting about the Smackout Pack near Ione.)

The commission is scheduled to vote on a final-final plan at its early December meeting.

Agency staffers and members of its Wolf Working Group, which includes hunters, ranchers, wolf advocates and others, have been working on the plan since 2007 as wolf sightings have ramped up significantly. There are now five confirmed packs in four of Washington’s 39 counties, mostly near the Idaho and B.C. borders but also one in the middle of the state not far from I-90 and Highway 97.

The best current population estimate is 25 to 30 adult and yearling wolves in the state, a figure which includes known packs and a handful of dispersers, according to Gary Wiles, a WDFW wolf biologist, who has been working on nothing else but Canis lupus for nearly two straight years.

He says there’s no current assessment of how many pups have been born this year.

Under the draft wolf plan, the species would be removed from state protections when 15 breeding pairs occur for three straight years in certain numbers over large parts of Washington. Other elements of the document address conflicts with livestock and game animals.

Meanwhile, Montana and Idaho are solidifying fall hunt plans and Federal Judge Donald Molloy heard arguments yesterday on the constitutionality of this spring’s Congressional delisting from ESA protections earlier this spring.

Stay tuned.

Fight DC Legislation, Salmon Advocates Say

July 26, 2011

UPDATE JULY 27, 2011, 2:40 P.M.: According to separate accounts, it appears that Rep. Norm Dicks’ amendment to strip out the so-called “extinction rider” from this bill has been passed by the full House today and appears that $20 million has been restored to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

As the lead elements of this fall’s run begin to arrive in Northwest waters, salmon advocates are warning that legislation in Congress threatens stocks in the region and are urging sportsmen to support a tweak to the 2012 Department of the Interior appropriation that would strike an “extinctions rider” in the bill that wouldn’t allow more species to be ESA listed or critical habitat for them identified.

The amendment is sponsored by Washington’s Rep. Norm Dicks, whose name has made these blog pages in the past, and a fellow Democrat, Mike Thompson of California.

“Please add your voice to support Congressman Norm Dicks’ efforts to protect the laws that protect salmon, sport fishing and the industries they sustain!” said Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, in an email blast late yesterday.

As the debate over the debt ceiling rages, this is yet another front in partisan D.C. battles. The appropriation, part of HR 2584, specifically goes after the Environmental Protection Agency and contains $27 billion in spending for the next fiscal year, 7 percent less than the 2011 version — itself a big drop from the year before — and 13 percent less than what President Obama wanted, according to a Seattle Times story being circulated by email today.

“It contains the lowest level of spending in the Land and Water Conservation Fund in more than 40 years,” Dicks said, according to Roll Call.

A hugely popular program across political and regional lines and races, the LWCF has channeled $513 million to Washington and $254 million to Oregon, which has been used for fishing and hunting access and to purchase wildlife habitat, among many other uses since the fund’s creation in 1965.

Funds come from royalties on offshore gas and oil drilling, though those themselves have been tapped for other uses.

“Frankly, many of the cuts in this bill are just plain common-sense – particularly when it comes to the Environmental Protection Agency. The reductions and provisions in this bill were made with very good reason – to rein in unparalleled, out-of-control spending and job-killing over-regulation,” said House Appropriations chairman Harold “Hal” Rogers, a Kentucky Republican.

Stay tuned.

Feds Yank OR, WA Sea Lion Killing Permit (Not That There Are Any Now At The Dam)

July 26, 2011

(JANET SEARS, NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE SPOKESWOMAN EMAIL)

We’ve informed Washington and Oregon that we’re withdrawing our letter of authorization to them to lethally remove California sea lions at Bonneville Dam. This issue is in litigation and there is no sea lion activity at Bonneville now; little activity is expected until next spring. We and the states have concluded that it’s in our collective interests to permanently suspend the letter of authorization. Instead we’ll consider a new request on the California sea lion conflict. If the states submit a new application under the MMPA, we’ll consider the request, without prejudging it. The conflict between California sea lions and salmon remains. We hope our decision will help resolve that conflict in a way that is legally and scientifically sound, and biologically effective.

 

SW WA, Lower Columbia Fishing Report

July 25, 2011

Parse through Joe Hymer’s weekly fishing report For the Columbia River and Southwest Washington waters and eventually you’ll come to a bit about bass and walleye.

This week’s rundown for the big river below Bonneville from the fisheries biologist reads: “A few more boat anglers from Camas/Washougal to Kalama with some fish being caught.”

I happen to have a friend who has been prefishing, bank fishing and boat fishing the lower river and Willamette for bass this spring and late spring. Fishing’s been tough, he reports, and that may be reflected in results from last weekend’s Lower Columbia Mt. St. Helens Bass Masters Club Challenge. The third place team hauled in five smallies that went a total of 5.06 pounds, second place brought in five bronzebacks that tallied a tenth of a pound more and first place came back with a toad largemouth of 5 pounds plus another 2-pounder.

Here’s the rest of the report from Hymer, including interesting news on the summer steelhead front:

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – No report on angling success.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 47 spring chinook adults, 23 jacks, 65 mini-jacks, 610 summer-run steelhead and one sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released one spring chinook adult, 22 jacks and one sea-run cutthroat trout into the upper Cowlitz River at the Lake Scanewa Day Use Park and 62 spring chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,660 cubic feet per second on Monday morning, July 25. Water visibility is 13 feet.

Grays (including West Fork) and Elochoman rivers – Beginning August 1, night closure, anti-snagging rule, and stationary gear restrictions will be in effect.

Green, Kalama, Lewis (including North Fork), Toutle (including North Fork), and Washougal rivers – Open to fishing for salmon beginning August 1.  Hatchery fall chinook and hatchery coho may be retained.

Cispus, upper Cowlitz, Deep, and Klickitat rivers plus Lake Scanewa – Effective August 1, any chinook may be retained.  On the lower Klickitat, anti-snagging rule will be in effect August 1.

Lower Wind  – Opens to fishing for salmon August 1.  Anti-snagging rule will be in effect.

Drano Lake – Reverts back to a 2 adult salmon daily limit beginning August 1.  Hatchery chinook and hatchery coho may be retained.  Anti-snagging rule will be in effect.

Buoy 10 – Will be open for chinook and hatchery coho Aug. 1-28. Anglers will have a two-salmonid daily limit, only one of which may be a chinook. From Aug. 29 through Dec. 31, anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery coho or hatchery steelhead or one of each, but must release chinook.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled nearly 2,000 salmonid anglers (including 152 boats) with 18 adult and 13 jack summer chinook, 640 steelhead, and no sockeye.  Most of the jacks were kept as were just over half of the steelhead.  All of the adult chinook were released as required.    Interestingly, bank anglers still reported more wild steelhead released than kept while boat anglers reported just the opposite.

It’s possible we may be seeing a record number of wild and hatchery steelhead handled for the month of July.  To date, Washington alone has sampled almost 1,600 fish.  Assuming a 10% sample rate, then 16,000 fish would have been handled with still a week to go.  45% of the fish we’ve sampled in July have been wild.  The record is 16,000 fish handled in July 2009.   Stay tuned!

The mainstem Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam will be open for chinook (adipose fin clipped or not) and hatchery coho Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. Anglers will be allowed to retain one adult chinook as part of their two adult salmonid daily limit through Sept. 9. Beginning Sept. 10, chinook retention will only be allowed upstream of the Lewis River, but up to two adult chinook may be retained.  Up to 2 adult chinook may be retained downstream of the Lewis beginning October 1.

Bonneville Pool – No report on angling success.  Anti-snagging rule and night closure will be in effect for salmon and steelhead beginning August 1.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some summer chinook and steelhead.  Anti-snagging rule will be in effect for salmon and steelhead beginning Aug. 1.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist, Pasco:   No chinook or steelhead were harvested this past week in the John Day Pool. Effort continues to be light. There were an estimated 49 angler trips for the week.  For the fishery that began June 16, an estimated 27 adult hatchery summer chinook and 33 hatchery jacks have been harvested.

Anti-snagging rule for salmon and steelhead will be in effect beginning August 1.

Bonneville Dam to Priest Rapids Dam – Effective August 1, any chinook, adipose fin clipped or not, may be retained.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the mouth upstream to the Navigation Marker #82 line – We sampled legals kept by bank and boat anglers from Longview to Cathlamet.

Including fish released, private boat anglers at Deep River/Knappton and ports of Chinook and Ilwaco averaged a legal per every 3.7 rods while charter boat anglers averaged just over 0.7 fish per rod.   Boat anglers also released a few green sturgeon.   No legals were observed caught by bank anglers.   Overall, If an angler catches a white sturgeon in estuary there was nearly a 40% chance it would be a keeper.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some legals.  Sturgeon may be retained through July 29.

John Day Pool – (9 boats/18 anglers caught 11 sturgeon (Catch & Release Only).

WALLEYE AND BASS

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – A few more boat anglers from Camas/Washougal to Kalama with some fish being caught.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged nearly 3 walleye kept and over 5 bass kept/released per rod.

John Day Pool – Walleye fishing was excellent this past week.  33 boats/73 anglers caught 171 walleye.  5 boats/9 anglers caught 5 bass.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam continue to catch a few shad.  Effort is very light.

John Day Pool – The numbers of shad passing McNary Dam has dropped off dramatically but anglers are still catching a few at Plymouth Island.  13 boats/27 anglers caught 106 shad.

TROUT

Goose Lake north of Carson – No report on angling success.  Planted with 6,200 browns, 6,000 cutthroats, and 500 rainbows one-half pound and larger since the end of June.

"JESSIE WALTERS AND BLAKE RAMSEY WITH TROUT LIMITS TAKEN FROM GOOSE LAKE NEAR MT. ADAMS LAST THURSDAY. ALL WERE CAUGHT WHILE CASTING BLACK ROOSTER TAIL SPINNERS TIPPED WITH A 3/8-INCH SECTION OF BLACK BERKLEY GULP!" REPORTS BUZZ RAMSEY, A REP FOR BERKLEY AND EMPLOYEE AT Y.B. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

‘Boom, Boom, Boom’ On Pinks In Straits

July 25, 2011

Not that we’re trying to drive you into more of a lure-buying frenzy or anything, but perusing through the freshest fishing reports, two things stand out:

1) Pink salmon catches last week in the Strait of Juan de Fuca were well above the same period for 2009.

2) And a baker’s dozen were even landed down in Hood Canal Sunday.

According to data from WDFW, a total of 1,173 were brought back to docks in Sekiu and Port Angeles last week (July 18-24) while 875 were between July 20-26, 2009 and 617 from July 13-19, 2009.

When I called up Larry Bennett, the state’s catch sampler for the northern Peninsula, I found out two odd things.

“If anything, I think the effort is down,” he says, then adds later, “A lot of people are throwing the pinks back to concentrate on Chinook.”

He feels the pink run has started early, and says some he’s seeing are larger.

“My old boss is going out and getting them boom, boom, boom,” he says.

Add one more boom to that as the daily limit is as many as four pinks in the Straits.

“They hit just about everything,” Bennett says, “they really do.”

He says that Sekiu and PA are typically silly with pinkos throughout August before the run tapers there in September.

It can be really good as early as mid-August in Puget Sound.

Thirteen pinks were counted at Tacoma Power’s Saltwater Park Ramp in Hood Canal, state stats show.

Nine were also tallied at Central Sound ramps, 34 in the Bellingham area and North Sound docks. That’s fewer than in 2009 for the former, more in the latter.

WON'T BE LONG TILL THE PINKS ARE IN THE DUWAMISH SYSTEM, WHERE NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN AD DEPARTMENT MANAGER BRIAN LULL LANDED THIS PAIR DURING 2009'S HELLA MONSTER RUN. (GINA LULL)

Editor’s note: This report previously stated 13 pinks had been landed as far south as Des Moines, where Saltwater State Park is located. However, there’s also a Saltwater ramp in Hood Canal, which WDFW stats actually refer to. Our apologies for the poor reporting.

5th Pack Confirmed In Washington

July 25, 2011

Apologies for skipping out of the office for the weekend while wolf news was brewing, but for the record, WDFW confirmed a fifth group of wolves in Washington late last Friday afternoon, a pack that we reported on July 11.

State officials believe there are three pups with a pair of adults in the Smackout Pass area west of Ione and the Pend Oreille River. They caught, ear-tagged and released one of the pups.

It’s the second time this year that a dot has been added to the agency’s statewide map of pack locations. Earlier this month, WDFW released information on the Teanaway wolves, based on the capture and radio-collaring of a lactating female.

UPDATED WOLF PACK LOCATION MAP FROM WDFW SHOWS ONLY CONFIRMED WOLF LOCATIONS, ERASING AT LEAST TWO OTHER LOCATIONS OF REPORTED WOLF ACTIVITY, BUT NO CONFIRMATIONS -- ONE ON UPPER ROSS LAKE, THE OTHER IN THE WESTERN BLUE MOUNTAINS. (WDFW)

The Teanaway female has since been determined to be related to the Lookout Pack, 135 road miles to the north in western Okanogan County. In 2008, Lookout became the state’s first officially confirmed pack in 70 years, though may have had pups the year before based on two reports of seven to nine wolves in the area as well as allegations in Federal court papers that William “Bill” D. White of Twisp, Wash., was looking for information on how to snare wolves in late 2007 and hunting them in early 2008.

Later next week, a final wolf management plan/environmental impact statement will be delivered to the Fish & Wildlife Commission during a 10-4, Thursday, Aug. 4 meeting in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington Street SE, in Olympia.

There will be a chance for the public to comment on the plan and wolves there and at three more meetings over the coming months, including in Ellensburg, Tuesday, Aug. 9, and Olympia, Thursday, Oct. 6 and Thursday, Nov. 3.

The presence of a fifth pack moves the species closer towards delisting from state protections and, potentially, hunts. At present, the draft plan requires 15 breeding pairs spread in certain numbers over the western two-thirds of the state for three years in a row.

And the fun just never ends with wolves: Tomorrow in a court in Montana, a Federal judge will hear arguments on the constitutionality of this spring’s Congressional delisting of wolves from ESA coverage in eastern thirds of Washington and Oregon as well as Montana and Idaho.

Columbia Steelheading On The Rise

July 22, 2011

The great roving eye that is Northwest Sportsman magazine’s Weekend Hot Bite Finder has been focused this week on finding the very first pink salmon caught in Puget Sound and the opening of a sockeye fishery on Baker Lake in Washington’s North Cascades tomorrow, but a report of “insanely good” summer steelheading has our all-seeing eye zooming in on the lower Columbia River.

That report came from a local tackle shop, but even in the judgement of a slightly more sober fisheries biologist stationed along its shores, catches in the big creek below Rainier, Ore., and Longview, Wash., have been “good” in recent days.

It’s a wee bit tardy, but the summer run is officially on!

So, with that in mind and a great weather forecast for this weekend, we’ve pulled an article by Sandy, Ore., writer Terry Otto which ran in a recent issue of Northwest Sportsman — complete with a map to the best beaches and how to fish ’em — and posted it here in hopes it yields big catches for you.

Good luck!

PRESCOTT BEACH, Ore.—You are just dozing off into a daydream when you hear the little bell go off. Fish on! Grabbing the rod from the holder you tighten up the line and put the rod to the fish.

Bursting from the water right in front of you a big, rosy-sided steelhead somersaults through the air, trying to throw the nasty Spin-N-Glo imbedded in its jaw. While fighting the fish you say the fishermen’s prayer, “Please don’t let him come off!”

Eventually the prize is yours, and a chrome-bright summer steelhead comes to the bank.

Break out the T-shirts, barbecue grills and the coolers, it’s time to get the whole family out of the house and head to the banks of the river to suck up some sunshine, broil a few hot dogs, drink a soda or too and enjoy the fine weather. And don’t forget the fishing gear, because the metalheads of summer are here.

(ODFW)

As if the season wasn’t fun enough already, here comes another great run of steelhead making their way up the Columbia. This year’s projection is for over 390,000 adult fish and follows last year’s run of 410,000.

These are some of the easiest of the many salmon and steelhead runs to catch, and the schools of eager-biting silvery fish make it even easier by running right along the shallow edges of the river.

All you need to catch Lower Columbia steel is a poleholder, a rod and reel, a little bait, a tide book and a bell.

Then, find yourself a beach and join the sun-worshippers. “Plunking,” as the sport is called, is very much an event where people gather to picnic and socialize as much as to catch fish.

And what a fish to catch! Summer steelhead are famous for their acrobatics, jumping high and making serious line-burning runs when hooked. Also, they are some of the best table fare the Columbia offers. Like the larger spring Chinook, these oil-rich fish will stay in the river for many months before spawning, so they come in fresh from packing on the fat of fertile ocean waters.

THREE DIFFERENT STOCKS
The Columbia’s summer steelhead run is actually comprised of three stocks. The first to arrive are the Skamanias, a hatchery run that is headed to the lower river tributaries such as the Cowlitz, Lewis and Willamette.  They run about 7 to 10 pounds on average and show up early, peaking about the Fourth of July.

The next segment is the “A” run, steelhead that average about 4 to 6 pounds and are headed to the Deschutes, mid- and upper Columbia and Snake tribs. They will arrive in force about mid-July as the Skamania run peters out.

Finally the big “B” run fish arrive in August, and they’ve got shoulders, running from 12 to 16 pounds. They are headed to Idaho rivers.

In the lower river the bite is spotty in May, but gets solid in June. It stays good along the beaches through July, but in August the bite switches to the cold-water fisheries such as the mouth of the Cowlitz, and the fish start running deeper.

Summer steelhead may be one of the most overlooked fish that returns to the big river. The pressure for them is nothing like springer madness. While some spots get busy, there is plenty of room for more fishermen on the beaches and there is no shortage of good access to the river.

Just where should you go? Where can you catch fish? That’s easy.

“Anyplace you can get access to the river,” says Cody Clark of Bob’s Sporting Goods (360-425-3870) in Longview. “If you can get to the bank you can catch fish.”

Beaches, riprap banks, rocky shorelines, and bluffs are all good because the fish are swimming right past your feet.

GOOD LOWER COLUMBIA RIVER BEACHES TO FISH FROM FOR SUMMER STEELHEAD. (NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

RIGGING RIGHT
Cody’s shop is plunk central for the Lower Columbia, and novice fishermen can get the straight scoop on what to use if they stop there on their way to the beach.

Gearing up is easy, and inexpensive. Start with a medium length rod (8½ feet is good) that can handle throwing up to 4 ounces of lead. You need a reel spooled with 20-pound or stronger mainline, and some 15-pound mono for leader. A 6- to 18-inch lead line with a 3- to 6-ounce pyramid or sand claw weight is attached to the line above a barrel swivel with a slider or a spreader bar.

From the barrel swivel tie on an 18- to 36-inch leader with a No. 4 Spin-N-Glo and a 1/0 hook tipped with a cured prawn tail. The most popular color prawn is pink, although red and purple can have their days. Favorite Spin-N-Glo colors include watermelon, rainbow, rocket red and fire-tiger red.

PLUNKING RIGS FOR COLUMBIA STEELHEAD. (NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

Some anglers fish with multiple baits, running two or three leaders off one rig. Additional lines are often fished with steelhead plugs, such as an X-5 FlatFish or a U-20 Brad’s Wigglers in fluorescent red are the favorites. However, throwing a multiple hook rig correctly can take some practice.

These rigs are easier to cast if you use spreader bars instead of sliders.

If the area you’re fishing is too snaggy and you keep losing your lead, you can try “Flintstone fishing,” as Clark calls it. Simply tape a rock to your line instead of lead, and just rip the line loose when you get snagged.

PLUNKING TIPS
The first mistake novice anglers make is to fish too deep. Steelhead follow the bank closely – very closely. In fact, when Clark fishes the riprap he often uses a ten-foot rod and simply holds the rod out and drops his line straight down. This puts the bait in the depth he likes, about 6 feet.

“The steelhead are usually running about 6 to 12 feet deep,” says Clark. “When fishing the beaches you need to cast a little further out to reach that depth. About 15 to 20 feet from the bank is about right.”

Watch the other fishermen, note just where they are fishing, and then fish that depth yourself.

Always make sure you have gear and weight that matches what the others are using. One errant angler with too little lead can cause havoc with the fishermen below him when his line doesn’t stick to the bottom and drifts down, fouling everyone else. It’s very important to fish correctly when you are in such close quarters, or you won’t make many friends, and plunking is a social fishery.

Once you get the bait where you want it, put the rod in the holder, and hook the bell on the rod.

Now all you do is sit back, relax and wait for the bell to go off.

Well, almost.

It’s a good idea to check the bait at least once an hour and clear any debris off your line.

In the meanwhile, read your tide book. The Columbia is tidally influenced all the way to Bonneville Dam, but the tides are bigger in the lower river and affect the currents more.

“You need to get a tide book,” says Clark.

The outgoing tide is best because it creates stronger currents that will work your baits better, and force the steelhead close to the bank. On the flood tides the fish often ride the currents upriver away from the shore. Clark reports the fishing is best from the slack tide an hour ahead of the ebb, through the hour of slack at the end of the ebb.

“The steelhead bite well during those tide changes,” he adds.

Unfortunately, tide charts for the Columbia are often not completely reliable because they can’t take into account changes in flows from hydro releases or rains. It’s good idea to arrive early in case the tide turns ahead of the chart.

WASHINGTON BANK SPOTS
* Cathlamet: This small Washington town marks the point where the fishing starts to get good. There are riprap banks all along the Columbia and rocky bluffs that make good spots all the way to County Line Park. There are pull-outs and parking spots along Highway 4 that local angler’s target, but, again, there are miles of riprap banks that never get fished.

* County Line Park: This family-friendly park on, yep, the line between Wahkiakum and Cowlitz Counties offers a great place to take the family and picnic while waiting for the bells to go off. The beach is easy for seniors and youngsters to get around on and the fishing can be excellent. Clark likes to fish here and reports that during the peak of the run – late June and July – the beach can get crowded.

TAYLOR JOHNSON, 11, OF PORTLAND, SHOWS OFF A NICE SUMMER-RUN CAUGHT IN THE COLUMBIA RIVER AT COUNTY LINE PARK, ON THE WASHINGTON SHORE. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

“Once the fish are in good, you need to get there early to get a spot,” he says.

* Lower Columbia tribs: A few miles above the park, steelheaders take quite a few fish near the mouths of Abernathy, Mill and Germany Creeks. These are also favored shad spots.

* Willow Grove: Just below Longview this beach offers fairly easy access off a paved road, and there is a long stretch to fish. There are restrooms nearby.

* Kalama beaches: Good places for beginners, since there is a lot of room to spread out.

* Lewis River mouth: Not a big area, but the point at the end of Dike Access Road on the north side of the Lewis River mouth has enough space for a few anglers to plunk.

* Washougal River: The mouth of this river is a good place to find steelhead, both those running up the smaller stream, and those following the Columbia.

* Oak Tree Hole: This well-known spot on the Washington side of Bonneville Dam below the boat launch is a perennial favorite for plunkers. The shore is riprap, and there are bathrooms nearby.

OREGON BEACHES
Beaver State-side beaches can be the best bet early, but by July the best bite switches to the Washington side.
* Jones Beach: The first good beach on the Oregon side, this spacious stretch between Westport and Clatskanie offers plenty of room to fish, but no other amenities.

* Dibblee Beach: Another beach with room to roam, but no amenities, this beach just below the Lewis & Clark Bridge has good fishing, but the access road is rough, and a four-wheel drive is recommended.

* Prescott Beach: A $2 day fee gets you in to this park and beach. This is a good choice for families with restrooms, a play area for the kids, and restrooms.

* Willow Bar, Walton Beach: A $7 day fee gets you access to these good fishing beaches, but there are no amenities or restrooms.

* Sauvie Island beaches: The north beaches along Reeder Road provide some of the best action and are easy to get to, but there are other good beaches as well.

* Willamette River/Meldrum Bar: This is the most popular bank spot for summers on the Willamette, and for good reason. Right in the heart of Portland, the bar produces a lot of steelhead and through early June spring Chinook are often caught too. Expect some company here, but the locals are pretty tolerant of newcomers.

* Government Island: The state recreation area here is accessible only by boat, but the park offers restrooms, picnic areas and a dock. There are also good beaches on other parts of the island as well.

* Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area: There is good access here along the lower Sandy River. Hit these reaches early; by July the run is over in the lower Sandy.

* Rooster Rock State Park: This a great park for families with full amenities and plenty of shore access.

* Tanner Creek: The mouth of this creek is one of the best spots to catch summers on the Oregon side below the dam.

* Bonneville Dam: Bradford Island on the Oregon side below Bonneville is another good spot to plunk for steelhead and summer Chinook, and a few are taken from Robins Island.

While steelhead run so shallow a boat is not needed, one can be helpful for getting to uncrowded areas.

“A lot of fishermen use their boats to get to island beaches,” says Clark. “Those spots can be pretty good, and you can get off to yourself.”

Some fishermen make a multi-day trip of it and spend a few days camped on the beach with family, enjoying the scenery and solitude while tangling with a few steelhead.

There are dozens of good islands that rarely get fished. Sand Island near the town of St. Helens has some amenities, such as picnic areas and pit toilets.

The daily limit is two adipose-fin-clipped adult steelhead.

WAITING FOR THE DINNER BELL TO RING ON THE LOWER RIVER. (KIRBY CANNON)

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon (7-21-11)

July 21, 2011

Monique in Hillsboro, this Oregon fishing report is for you.

She asked on our Facebook page for some ideas, and we sent her a couple, including some freshly stocked trout lakes in the Clackasystem.

There’s also ODFW’s 50 within 60 — half a hundred spots to fish within an hour of PDX, an online PDF and map available here.

If those are a no-go, Monique, fill up the gas tank ’cause we’ve got a mess more ideas around the Beaver State, from albacore as close in as 15 to 20 miles out of Newport and 17 out of Depoe Bay — “Tuna fishing has been ‘stupid’ easy this year,” reports our man in the know just now — cutthroat on coastal cricks to summer steelhead in the Columbia and Willamette drainages to trout in Eastern Oregon.

Here are highlights ripped straight from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report — good luck, Monique!

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Trout fishing continues to be good in a number of area lakes and reservoirs including Eel and Fish lakes and Howard Prairie Reservoir.
  • The selective ocean coho season opened on July 2.
  • Now that water temperatures have warmed up a bit, fishing for bass, bluegill, crappie and perch has been picking up on many area lakes and ponds including Agate and Willow lakes,  Applegate Reservoir and Lake Selmac.

FOLLOWING UP ON PUBLICATION OF A GUIDE TO CLOSE-IN FISHING AROUND PORTLAND, ODFW RECENTLY PUBLISHED A 6-PAGE PDF ENTITLED " 50 PLACES TO GO FISHING WITHIN 60 MINUTES OF ROSEBURG." (ODFW)

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Alsea River: Cutthroat trout fishing is 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. Using traditional tactics with spinning or fly fishing gear is productive.  The Alsea can also offer excellent catches of crayfish.
  • Siletz River: Steelhead fishing is good with fish being caught throughout the main stem. The best opportunities will be in the mid to upper river from the town of Siletz to the fishing deadline in the gorge. Good numbers of summer steelhead are returning and should continue through July. Cutthroat trout season is open as well and can be very good using lighter tackle.
  • Yaquina River: Cutthroat trout fishing is good in the Yaquina and Big Elk basins. Using light tackle with small lures or flies can be very effective.  Upper tidewater can offer good catch rates by trolling small lures or baits.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Spring chinook fishing is fair on the Clackamas and Sandy rivers.
  • 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.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Water flows on the Crooked River have stabilized and anglers report catching trout up to 20-inches long.
  • Trout fishing continues to be good in many of Central Oregon’s lakes and reservoirs.
  • Trout fishing on the Lower Deschutes River is good with water levels going down and good hatches of caddis and golden stoneflies.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Crappie fishing continues to improve on many area reservoirs.
  • Access is now available for most desert Reservoirs. Fishing for rainbow trout has been good at Duncan, Holbrook, Lofton, Deadhorse, Campbell, Thief Valley and Wolf Creek reservoirs, and at Lake of the Woods.
  • Chinook salmon are scheduled to be stocked for a second time July 14 in the Powder River below Mason Dam.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing for stocked rainbow trout continues to be good on several area lakes and ponds.

BROWNLEE ZONE

  • Crappie fishing is fair-good but have a very light bite and are at 10-20 feet.  The crappie are fairly large this year, with many over 12 inches. Currently, the jig colors that are working are red/chartruese, black/chartruese, and chartruese.  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.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Summer steelhead are abundant in the lower Columbia River.
  • Angling for adipose fin-clipped summer Chinook is open from Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington border above McNary Dam.
  • Sturgeon angling is open from Buoy 10 upstream to Marker 82 near Multnomah Falls through July 31; however, retention above Wauna powerlines is only allowed on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

MARINE ZONE

  • Intrepid sport tuna fishers began catching tuna around the first part of July, but they were fishing as much as 50 miles offshore. Now the tuna are closer – as close as 15 to 20 miles in some places on the coast – which is about as close as they come most years. Anglers out of Depoe Bay and Newport landed around 10 fish per angler while other ports were in the five or six fish per angler. Charter operators in several ports are now offering tuna fishing trips. Tuna usually remain off the Oregon coast into October.
  • Starting July 21, bottomfish anglers must stay within the 20-fathom line (defined by waypoints). The closure of bottom fishing beyond the 20-fathom line is to reduce the likelihood of anglers catching yelloweye rockfish and the catch-and-release mortality of the rockfish, which is considered overfished by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
  • Coho fishing remains spotty up and down the coast with some limits reported out of Depoe Bay and off the Columbia River. At most ports on the rest of the coast, ocean-caught salmon are still few and far between. Fishing for fin-clipped coho opened July 2 off the central coast. Chinook fishing is poor.
  • The next minus tide series starts early in the morning of July 27.
  • Most crabbers had average catches between one and three crab. Crabbing in the ocean this time of year can be very productive, but also dangerous because of wind, sea and bar conditions.