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!

102-plus Pounds Of Record Fish In Idaho

August 2, 2011

A nearly 35-pound trout caught in Southeast Idaho early last week was not a triploid rainbow trout. Rather, genetic testing revealed it was a cuttbow.

“We did verify that it was a hybrid,” said David Teuscher, Idaho Department of Fish & Game regional fisheries manager in Pocatello. “It had a cutthroat trout mother and a rainbow trout father.”

MARK ADAMS AND HIS RECORD IDAHO RAINBOW-CUTTHROAT TROUT. (DAVID TEUSCHER, IDFG)

At a whopping 34.75 pounds, 41 1/8 inches long and 27 1/8 inches around, the trout, caught by angler Mark Adams of Pocatello at American Falls Reservoir on July 26, is the new state record for that category in IDFG’s books.

According to Rich Landers at the Spokane Spokesman-Review, the fish was caught on a jig and 10-pound-test line.

It is also 10 pounds heavier than the previous high mark for cuttbows, a 24-pound, 35 1/2-inch-long, 24 1/2-inch-around specimen caught at Lake Pend Oreille in 1991.

Where Adams’ fish came from is not entirely clear, though there are at least two distinct possibilities: It was born in a hatchery (several state facilities produce hybrid cuttbows) and released into the reservoir; it was produced in the wild upstream of American Falls and settled in the lake.

Either way, it’s a “first generation” hybrid, meaning its mama was 100 percent cuttie and daddy was 100 percent ‘bow.

Looking at the fish’s gonads, Teuscher termed them “underdeveloped” and said there’s a high probability it was sterile, which would point to a hatchery origin. Many cuttbows produced in the wild are “viable,” he says.

“The origin is unknown,” Teuscher says. “It could be from a number of origins, including a hatchery.”

Scientists were able to determine from the fish’s otolith that it was just 6 years old, meaning it clearly benefited from life in the massive lake.

“It’s one of the most productive reservoirs in the state,” says Teuscher, pointing to prolific insect life.

Meanwhile, 200 miles downstream from American Falls and two days after Adams hooked his whopper, Scott Frazier II of Kuna, Idaho, took a 67-pound common carp during a bowfishing tournament at CJ Strike Reservoir.

It measures 47 inches long and 34 1/2 inches around, tops the previous state record by 20 pounds and according to IDFG, is only a few pounds under the all-tackle world record for the species.

According to a press release from the agency, Frazier and his partner in the tourney Brian Pokorney initially estimated the fish they spied 5 feet below the surface at around 30 pounds.

SCOTT FRAZIER (RIGHT) AND FISH AND GAME STAFFER JOE KOZFKAY POSE WITH THE NEW STATE RECORD COMMON CARP. THE FISH WEIGHED IN AT 67.65 POUNDS, SURPASSING THE FORMER STATE RECORD BY NEARLY 20 POUNDS. (EVIN ONEALE, IDFG)

He plans to have the fish mounted and hung on his wall.

“This is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced,” he said, according to the press release.

SCOTT FRAZIER (LEFT) AND BRIAN POKORNEY TAKE CENTER STAGE WITH THE NEW STATE RECORD COMMON CARP TAKEN BY FRAZIER DURING THE IDAHO BOW FISHING ASSOCIATION’S STATE CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT AT C. J. STRIKE RESERVOIR. AT 67.65 POUNDS, THE CARP SURPASSED THE FORMER STATE RECORD BY NEARLY 20 POUNDS. (TIFFANY PAYNE)

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.

Whoa — Big Pink Catch At Sekiu

August 1, 2011

WDFW has just posted their weekly creel sampling for Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and one particular number stands out.

Make that three, actually.

Five-six-six.

As in, 566.

That’s how many pinks were tallied at just one of the docks in Sekiu yesterday.

While that is small potatoes for how many are hauled into Everett’s 10th St. ramp When The Run Is On — 2,256 alone on Aug. 29, 2009 — some very rudimentary quick-and-dirty data mining shows only one day comes anywhere close to that all the way back to the year of our pinkness 2001. On Aug. 11, 2007, 513 came into Olson’s.

All totaled on Sunday 772 of the odd-year salmon got a lift back to one of Olson’s two ramps as well as Van Riper’s, both in Sekiu.

“That was the number — I double checked them,” says Larry Bennett, WDFW’s creel checker based in Port Angeles.

He notes that Chinook catches there have been “pretty decent” as well.

Adds Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound recreational salmon manager, “Half a (Chinook) per boat — not bad. Beats one out of ten in Puget Sound.”

So why the high pink catch?

“It could have been anything,” says Thiesfeld, speculating, “Maybe the weather was nice and (anglers) stayed out longer.”

He says that in past years, sport and commercial data “clearly” shows pods of fish moving through the area on certain days, but if anything, the weekend should have been down based on test fishing by the Pacific Salmon Commission on the Vancouver Island side of the Straits across from CQ.

Right now, anglers on the U.S. side can keep two hatchery Chinook and two pinks (or four pinks total) and that may be keeping the pink catch down. However, king retention ends Aug. 15, and with that, Bennett forecasts higher humpy sackage.

I’m not quite ready to declare WDFW’s projection of a 6-million-humpy return null and void, but, ummm … better get yourself a copy of the August issue of Northwest Sportsman to get your fair share. It’s on newsstands now!

Dash To The Point!

August 1, 2011

Pinks in deep South Sound!

At least a few pods.

Northwest Sportsman contributor Jason Brooks hit the Dash Point Pier in Federal Way on Saturday with his young son Ryan and filed the following report and pics:

I took Ryan to Dash Pt on Sat from 11 a.m.  to 1 p.m. and we saw about 10 pinks landed with about as many lost while trying to be hoisted up to the pier.

We primarily went to put in Ryan’s new crab pot, which he got after last weekend’s crabbing up at Grant’s beach house. Last weekend we only got two rock crab and Ryan ate them both, so I got him one of those folding crab pots and he just wanted to put it out so bad and catch some crab. We got one barely legal rock crab, which he promptly ate for lunch.

Anyway, the crabbing sucks off the pier, but while there (at low to incoming tide) four schools of pinks went by — what a frenzy! Three to four fish on at a time! See attached photos.

GOT A RED ROCK! (JASON BROOKS)

LET THE BOMBING BEGIN! (JASON BROOKS)

ANGLERS ARE OUT IN FORCE ON A SUNNY SATURDAY AT DASH POINT TO BRING HUMPY BACK UP ONTO (AND OVER) THE WALL. (JASON BROOKS)

PINKER ON! (JASON BROOKS)

AIRLIFT! (JASON BROOKS)

CLEANING THE CATCH. (JASON BROOKS)

Watch WDFW’s Puget Sound creel stats for updating on recent days catches.

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.

Nearly 35-pd. Rainbow Landed In SE ID Lake

July 27, 2011

UPDATE AUG. 2, 2011: Genetic testing found this fish to be a rainbow-cutthroat hybrid. IDFG also aged it at 6 years old. For more, see this story.

A rainbow over 14 pounds heavier than the standing state record — and bigger than any other U.S. record, it appears — was landed in Southeast Idaho this week by a Pocatello angler.

Mark Adams, a 41-year-old Union Pacific locomotive engineer, caught the 34.74-pound trout out of American Falls Reservoir on the Snake River Monday morning.

MARK ADAMS AND HIS NEARLY 35-POUND RAINBOW TROUT. (DAVID TEUTSCHER, IDFG)

The initial investigation by David Teuscher, the regional Idaho Department of Fish & Game fisheries manager in Pocatello, is that it has triploid-like sex organs.

Triploids are fish that have been sterilized during incubation. Instead of producing eggs or milt, the fish puts its energy into eating and getting big. Idaho has largely switched to planting triploids since the early 2000s to prevent hybridization with native cutthroat trout.

“I looked at its gonads and they were underdeveloped and characteristic of a triploid female. But we’re going to verify that,” Teuscher says.

He overnighted DNA material to IDFG’s genetics lab to make a final determination.

ADAMS' TROUT ON THE TAILGATE. (DAVID TEUTSCHER, IDFG)

However, whether it’s a rainbow or sterile rainbow won’t matter for the record book, Teuscher says, pointing out that the standing record, a 20-pound, .02-ouncer caught in 2009 is also probably a triploid.

Washington also bundles its rainbow and triploid rainbow records together. The high mark is a 29.6-pounder caught in 2002 from Rufus Woods Lake, where the trout are grown commercially but released intentionally and unintentionally.

The largest U.S. rainbow trout on record is a 33-pound, 1.6-ounce specimen caught in the big-fish water below Lake Koocanusa in Montana’s Kootenai River in 1997, according to a compilation at Landbigfish.com. A Saskatchewan lake has yielded at least two triploids in 40-pound range, including a 48-pounder in September 2009.

Initially Adams thought he was into a carp, according to a news report. It took him a quarter hour to land it. A friend urged him to get it weighed.

“They just realized what they had, put it in a cooler and raced to the nearest certified scale,” Teuscher says. “We verified the weight.”

At 41 1/8 inches long, the fish is proportionally more like a regular rainbow than the football-like profile of triploids.

“It’s a beautiful fish on top of being that huge,” says Teuscher. “It’ll be interesting to see what the genetics work tells us.”

And it will be interesting to see if American Falls puts out any more whoppers.

A headline that ran last year with a pic of the standing record, Michelle Larson-Williams’ fish, says it all: “More monster rainbows likely remain in the American Falls Reservoir and Snake River.”

Teuscher says IDFG has been tracking catches there since the early 2000s. They began to see a number of 4- to 7-pounders one year which translated into 7- to 10-pounders the next, then 13s and in 2009, three over 19 pounds.

“I don’t know how much bigger they’ll get,” says Teuscher. “This might be it.”

But he allows that water conditions at the 56,000-surface-acre — “It’s so huge that a fish can swim around in it for 10 years without being touched by an angler,” he told the Associated Press — relatively shallow irrigation reservoir look good going into winter.

“We’re set up for more things to come,” he says.

The fish’s otolith, also submitted for testing, will reveal how old it is.

A press release will likely be issued later this week or early next after genetics testing comes back, Teuscher says.

ANOTHER VIEW OF ADAMS' FISH. (DAVID TEUTSCHER, IDFG)

The largest trout ever caught in Idaho was a 37-pound Kamloops-strain rainbow from Lake Pend Oreille in 1947. The largest hybrid rainbow-cutthroat was a 24-pounder, also at LPO. The largest char was a 57 1/2-pound Mackinaw caught in 1951 at Priest Lake.

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.

 

Game Warden Saves Trapped Man

July 26, 2011

One day he’s taking out a massive poaching ring that’s depressed deer populations east of Springfield, the next he’s saving a man whose head is trapped against a truck tire like a wheel chock.

Whether it’s a case of divine intervention or just a knack for “being in the right place at the right time” — which did lead to his being named Oregon’s 2008 fish and wildlife officer of the year — it’s amazing how OSP trooper Marc Boyd and Myrtle Creek, Ore., resident Mike Martin crossed paths against all odds last Friday night.

OREGON STATE POLICE OFFICER MARC BOYD ACCEPTING THE AWARD FOR 2008 FISH AND WILDLIFE TROOPER OF THE YEAR. (OSP)

To quote at length from today’s Eugene Register-Guard:

For at least 20 minutes on Friday night, Mike Martin of Myrtle Creek tried desperately to catch the attention of passing motorists on Row River Road, south of Dorena Lake.

It’s quite difficult, he found, to get anybody to notice you waving an arm when it’s dark outside, you’re in an unlit driveway and your head is wedged underneath the front tire of a Chevy pickup.

“I had one side of my face completely shoved into the gravel the whole time,” Martin recalled. “I thought I was going to lay there and die in the dark.”

But Martin survived after his attempt to inspect a mechanical problem went horribly wrong, thanks to what he can describe only as “a miracle” that arrived in the form of Oregon State Police Trooper Marc Boyd.

The trooper offered a similarly supernatural explanation for how he ended up in a position to help save Martin’s life.

“I’m not a religious man, but it was like divine intervention, because I shouldn’t even have been down there in the first place,” Boyd said.

State police don’t normally patrol the Dorena Lake area southeast of Cottage Grove. But the agency obtained federal grant money to keep an eye on recreation sites around the reservoir, and that’s why Boyd was there on Friday night.

Boyd said that just before 9 p.m. he spotted a car swerving in a lane. Rather than continue around the lake, Boyd decided to follow it onto Row River Road.

Moments later, he saw — or sensed — something unusual in a driveway about 12 feet off the road.

“I must have caught a glimpse of something,” Boyd said. “I thought to myself, ‘What did I just see?’ So I backed up and there (Martin) is with his head stuck underneath his (pickup).”

For the rest of this story, go here.

Here’s OSP’s press release on the incident:

A Dorena-area man is crediting the help he received from an Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division trooper and some citizens for saving his life Friday night.  MIKE D. MARTIN, age 58, was seriously injured and treated at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend after his head became trapped underneath the wheel of a pickup in his driveway until the trooper found him and worked with others to free him.

On July 22, 2011 at approximately 9:00 p.m. OSP Trooper Marc Boyd was working overtime patrolling in the Dorena area checking US Army Corps of Engineers parks and recreation sites.  Boyd was driving an OSP pickup eastbound in the 37000 block of Row River Road following a vehicle he was preparing to stop when he thought he saw something unusual out of the corner of his eye.  Boyd stopped and backed up, and in the darkness he saw a pickup about 12 feet from the road in a driveway with a man’s body lying on the ground next to the front driver side wheel.

After Boyd got out and approached the pickup, MARTIN said he needed help because his head was trapped under the wheel after it rolled backward while he was looking underneath it.  MARTIN was conscious, in obvious pain and in need of rescue as soon as possible.  He was home alone and said he tried unsuccessfully in the dark for about 20 minutes to get the attention of other passing motorists before Boyd stopped.

Blocking the highway with the OSP pickup, Boyd got help from at least two other people, identified as George Swain from Dorena and Stan Severe from Junction City, who stopped because the road was blocked.

Boyd attached a tow strap to the OSP pickup and gently moved MARTIN’s pickup about a foot away from his head.  Swain and Severe helped steady the tow strap while monitoring MARTIN’s position on the ground.  After pulling the pickup away, Swain got in and kept his foot on the brake for about 30 minutes to keep it from rolling again.

Boyd notified OSP dispatch of the situation, requested medical and LifeFlight response and started initial emergency medical care.  South Lane County Fire & Rescue and LifeFlight both responded to the scene and took over before LifeFlight transported MARTIN to Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.  He he had surgery for several hours Friday night and was reportedly discharged from the hospital on Sunday.

Boyd was also 2008 Shikar-Safari Club International game warden of the year for Oregon and was part of 2010’s OSP’s team of the year.

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.

Pike Caught In Lake Roosevelt

July 22, 2011

UPDATED 3:09 p.m., July 25, 2011: On Friday, July 22, a fisherman on upper Lake Roosevelt caught a northern pike, a species fishery managers worry will spread further down the Columbia River system.

The fish was landed by walleye angler Davey McKern of Kettle Falls.

DAVEY McKERN HOLDS A PIKE CAUGHT IN LAKE ROOSEVELT, A SPECIES STATE FISHERIES MANAGERS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT. (DAVEY MCKERN)

Jason Bauer of Northwestwalleye.com forwarded the photo to Northwest Sportsman. He reports that he’s heard rumors of the nonnative species being caught of late in the Northport area, just above where the Columbia becomes Lake Roosevelt.

That’s also not far below the mouth of the Pend Oreille River, which has a growing Esox population. Illegally introduced in that river’s Montana namesake, the Clark Fork, years ago, pike have made their way down through Idaho and there are now enough in the Newport to Ione stretch that anglers actively target them — and state and tribal biologists are fretting.

“Our immediate concern is predation on native westslope cutthroat and bull trout,” Bill Baker, a WDFW district fish biologist in Colville, told us earlier this year as he prepared for meetings with local anglers, “but native salmon, steelhead and other species also could be at risk if pike migrate downstream and establish populations in the Columbia River. We’re also concerned about northern pike populations establishing in other Washington waters.”

While bucket biologists are suspected of bringing northerns to a pair of unnamed Spokane County lakes, 2011 has seen spectacularly high snowpack runoff from the Rockies that probably pushed the pike out of the Pend Oreille, into the Columbia and then into Roosevelt.

“That is probably a three-year-old fish that was washed downstream from the Pend Orielle River during the high flows they have been experiencing,” said WDFW warmwater fisheries manager Bruce Bolding. “It is somewhat alarming but not unexpected. The three-year-olds are one of the big year-classes in the Pend Oreille River now.”

He said it appeared like the pike was “well fed.”

It’s not the first caught in the Columbia Basin. Several years ago, one was landed near Moses Lake by a Puyallup angler. It was unclear whether it was transported to the lake in a livewell or came through the basin’s irrigation system by itself.

In a large article in our May issue, Leroy Ledoboer wrote about the potential spread of pike down the Columbia, home to the Lower 48s best salmon and steelhead runs, and why that isn’t exactly a slam-bam deal either:

Already pike have entered Boundary Dam Reservoir, their next stop below (Box Canyon) dam, and Canadian anglers have even caught pike in their free-flowing stretch of the Pend Oreille. From there it’s a straight shot into the Columbia River and Lake Roosevelt.

“At a 2010 Boundary Reservoir bass tournament, they said every boat caught at least a couple pike,” Connor says, “so yes, they’re in there, but I don’t believe we’ll get a fraction of the pike we have in Box Canyon. It’s just a totally different reservoir, with sheer rock walls, over 200 feet deep in places, with only a few potential spawning areas.”

When more pike filter into Lake Roosevelt – as no doubt they will – Connor doesn’t think they’ll turn into a real threat there either. That lake’s tremendous water fluctuations should make spawning nearly impossible.

“Adult pike can live in almost any water, as long as they have forage fish,” he explains, “but they need certain conditions to propagate. That’s why Long Lake pike haven’t exploded. A few always filter in from Lake Coeur d’Alene, find fantastic forage and get huge fast, but they don’t spawn.

“The problems will come when pike get beyond Lake Roosevelt into other Columbia River reservoirs. We’ve identified what looks like excellent pike spawning grounds in a number of these reservoirs, almost all the way to the mouth. If this happens and they gobble up thousands of salmon and steelhead smolt, we’re talking about impacting a several-billion-dollar fishery.”

A blog last summer, Pend Oreille Pike Explosion, is one of the most read pieces on our Web site

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)

Baker Lake Sockeye Tips

July 22, 2011

So, you wanna put some socks in the box at Baker — may we be of assistance?

With nearly 6,200 trucked up to the North Cascades lake (catch code: 825) so far this summer — most just this week — here’s a roundup of articles and fishing info for the season that opens tomorrow, July 23, for three-adult-sockeye limits and fishing with second rods — provided you have the two-pole permit in hand.

Mr. Wayne von Krusenheimer of The (Everett) Herald:

Baker Lake looks like a bent finger, pointing toward the east, and the best fishing last year was on the upper “joint,” between the bend and Noisy Creek, over the old river channel. Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington said a rule of thumb is to start at a depth of 15 or 20 feet and to drop deeper at 10 feet per hour. He said that for the first couple of weeks, most of the fish will be caught between 20 and 60 feet, on a very slow troll.

Rig with a size “0” big-ring dodger in chrome, 50-50, or UV glow or pearl, 12 to 18 inches of 30-pound leader, and tandem 2/0 hooks in red or any combination of red, orange, pink, or glow. Dress the hooks with krill or shrimp scent, and perhaps a piece of prawn on the top hook. Mini-hoochies in pink or UV pink also will catch fish, John said.

Mr. Doug Huddlesteinhausenstadt of the Bellingham Herald:

Trolling is the most effective method for these newly arrived fish. For terminal tackle try the bare red Gamakatsu hook, a pink mylar hoochie (squid) or a large bright streamer (bucktail) pattern all towed behind a medium to large flasher, depending on visibility at depth.

Adjust speed and depth until you start getting strikes. Also these fish are likely to congregate in schools and therefore will readily show up as sonar sets as aggregations of larger blips. They may also gravitate to a thermal layer or single depth though with as much snowmelt water as is coming into the lake it may not be stratifying according to temperature.

Look to the old natural lake section above Boulder Creek where the water chemistry may be more conducive to the sockeye.

Mr. Mark Yuasagerode of the Seattle Times:

As for tactics to catch sockeye, (WDFW biologist/angler) Barkdull says to go with what was best last summer.

“I would start with where you left off last year as for the gear type used,” Barkdull said.

The pink mini hootchie squid seems to be one of the go-to things to use, and some were also catching them on kokanee gear or Smile Blades with a couple of red beads down on a leader then baited the hooked with a piece of pink dyed shrimp.

The traditional two bare 2/0, 3/0 or 4/0 red, blue, pink or black hooks on a short 9- to 12-inch leader trailed behind a 0-size chrome dodger also worked and caught its fair share of fish.

The best area last summer was in the middle of the lake or right off Noisy Creek.

The preferred depth will be 30 to 45 feet, and to your boat troll very SLOWLY.

Last year the thing that might have made it tough to fish (especially with colored bare hooks) is the lake had a bit of glacial color. It was a whitish/bluish tint of color.

Both Northwest Wild Country and The Outdoor Line radio shows promise live reports from experts on the water tomorrow.

And lastly — and for more reasons than one — a certain Mr. A. von Walgamottingentalberburgberg in two previous posts and in the July issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine:

CONCRETE, Wash.—Read through the fishing rules and you’ll come across this line for Baker Lake: “SOCKEYE To be determined pending inseason update.”

Despite the regs’ ambiguousness, it’s “pretty likely” there will be a season, only the second ever on the pretty lake in Washington’s North Cascades. Several thousand were caught last summer by anglers using gear and tactics similar to those used on the state’s other two some-summers sock hops, Lakes Washington and Wenatchee, and it may go annual.

“We’ve had a lot more smolts going out and that really helps the odds right there – having the juveniles in the first place,” says Brett Barkdull, the district fisheries biologist for the state Department of Fish & Wildlife.

That’s a function of all the salmon enhancement work that Puget Sound Energy has done on the Skagit River tributary as part of their relicensing agreement to operate Baker and Shannon Dams.

In the 1990s, the hydropower utility built a spawning beach on Baker Lake and improved it recently. Two years ago it dunked a floating fry-collection system into the lake at the dam and immediately set a new record for downstream migration (343,000, the bulk of this year’s returning adults), a mark that was overtopped last year by 150 percent. And a new fish trap on the Baker River and hatchery facility on the lake came online last summer.

The hatchery and gravel beach could produce as many as 11 million fry a year, 400 percent above the previous capacity, PSE says.

And while this year’s probable fishery is based off a forecasted return of 23,954 sockeye, the utility boldly predicts that – with another collector placed on the reservoir below Baker in 2013 – runs of “50,000 to 75,000 are not unrealistic to expect in coming years.”

If there’s a caveat anywhere, it’s that managers are not quite sure how many fish the lake can produce and how many are needed back to ensure escapement goals are met.

In the meanwhile, Barkdull places the odds of a run of 5,000 or fewer back this year at 15 percent, a return of 5,000 to 10,000 at 30 percent and a repeat of last year at 40 percent.

“If they return to the lake at the survival rates we’ve seen over the past 20 years, we could have anywhere between from roughly 5,500 to 95,000,” he laughs. “Now, I doubt both those numbers – they’re both unlikely. Anywhere in the 10,000 to 30,000 range is more likely.”

Nearly four-fifths will return as two-salts while one-fifth will be threes, with the remainders one-salts, fours, fives and sixes, he says.

If the run is as good as 2010, Barkdull says he’ll try and get a three-fish limit for anglers.

LAST SEASON on the 3,100-acre impoundment below iconic Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan, there was an extreme catch inequality: You were either among the few haves or the many have-nots. Call it socke-alism, but we aim to redistribute the wealth here.

“It’s a technique fishery. If you get it figured out, they bite pretty good. You gotta have the right presentation and the right speed and the right depth,” says Barkdull, who admits to being “just barely in the haves.”

One private boat in particular seemed to have it dialed in perfectly.

“They were a machine out there,” he says.

Afterwards, he chatted up one of the crew and was told that not only did the bite change by the day, but by the hour.

RYAN BENNETT was also amongst the havemores, perhaps because of how he focused on boat speed, bait size and how water flowing through the upper lake affected his setup.

CLIENTS OF GUIDE RYAN BENNETT WITH A LIMIT FROM LAST SEASON. (REAL DEAL GUIDE SERVICE)

“I was throwing the wind socks out to keep my speed down,” says the owner of Reel Deal Guide Service (360-840-1155). “There’s the current in the lake. I think that threw people – dodgers spinning instead of turning.”

Fishing exclusively with downriggers, he targeted water as little as 11 feet down early in the morning to as deep as 67 feet. He used an 8-inch Sling Blade from Shasta Tackle, but pulled a Gary Miralles, modifying the dodger.

“I peeled the stickers off and fished it in all chrome,” he says.

Bennett tried all the usual baits, but the ol’ red-hook trick that sockeye anglers learned from a commercial fisherman working the San Juans decades ago – and helped along to widespread fame by our Dave Workman, then on the desk of Washington Fishing & Hunting News – didn’t work as well.
“I caught them on all the standards, but the fish came on larger presentations,” Bennett tips.

So, what, a U20 FlatFish?

“A little bit, a little bit, but not a whole lot.”

Bennett is loath to give all his tricks away, but says he stuffed pink Silver Horde Gold Star Mini Sardine FG 193s with dough bait.

“I was just literally rolling up PowerBait into a ball, just like trout fishing, and shoving it in the squid,” he says.

John used bait at times as well, a sand shrimp or cocktail shrimp on a double-barehook setup.

As with other sockeye anglers, he too stresses the slow approach, from .7 to 1.2 mph speed over ground.

“An electric motor is almost a must,” John says.

By the end of the season he says he was adding a Mack’s Lures Smile Blade, which turns at very slow speeds, in front of his hooks.

That said, sockeye are flukey fish. Kicking up his speed a half a knot one day, Barkdull suddenly found himself in fresh socks.

“We sat there and limited in front of 80 other boats not catching anything. Just that little change, four in a half an hour,” he says.

John adds that you can go with or without scent, but if you do use it, try shrimp or krill.

IF 2011 FOLLOWS 2010, the best spot will be about halfway down the shank of Baker Lake’s dogleg right.

“About 99 percent of the fish were in front of Noisy Creek,” says John.

That could be a function of depth, water temps, where the fish were staging for the final leg of their spawning run or just where somebody saw or heard someone else catch a fish and pretty soon the whole fleet converged on the upper end of the lake.

He started closer to shore and gradually moved out, following the fish, even dropping his gear as far down as 110 feet to nab one.

But Noisy’s not the only spot.

“I spent a few evenings on the water, and you could catch fish in other places,” hints Bennett.

Though the lake is 9 miles long, its boat ramps are well spaced, with two near the dam, two at midlake and one near its upper end. The best launch with the most parking – PSE’s Kulshan – is the furthest away from the hot spot.

“It’s a 6- or 7-mile run, but it’s nothing in the morning,” says Barkdull.

John says it’s best to make your initial run in daylight as there are islands and snags “in areas you typically wouldn’t expect them – like right in the middle of the lake.”

The closest ramp to the action, Shannon Campground, only has a handful of parking spots, and – unlike last year – only those spending the night there will be able to use it.

“We’re limiting it to those folks who are camping there, figuring they’re fishing anyway,” says Jon Vanderheyden, the U.S. Forest Service’s district ranger.

The fishery’s popularity last year caught him by surprise, and he’s now scrambling to satisfy families out for a quiet campout in the mountains and the large numbers of anglers who want to get on the water for the first-light bite.

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

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

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

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

USFS PAMPHLET SHOWING RULES FOR BAKER LAKE, LARGELY OWNED BY THE FEDS. (USFS)

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

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

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

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.

Ocean Salmon Update (July 11-17, 2011)

July 21, 2011

(COURTESY WDFW’S WENDY BEEGHLEY VIA BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

OCEAN RECREATIONAL SALMON FISHERY: WEEK 29 (July 11-17)

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 11, a total of 1,324 coho and 176 Chinook were landed. Through Sunday, July 17, 3,778 coho (11% of the sub-area quota) and 807 Chinook (11% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.   No 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 11, a total of 1,370 coho, 1,409 Chinook, and 61 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, July 17, 2,800 coho (11% of the sub-area quota) and 2,779 Chinook (16% 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 11, a total of 56 coho, 78 Chinook, and 98 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, July 17, 367 coho (22% of the sub-area quota) and 254 Chinook (19% 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 11, a total of 439 coho, 382 Chinook, and 582 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, July 17, 1,144 coho (16% of the sub-area quota) and 783 Chinook (25% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

Fishing Tonight

July 20, 2011

For the past couple months I’ve been dreaming about last weekend.

The Missus and boyz would be down in Sacto visiting family and I’d be free to do anything.

Steelies, salmon, rainbows, watch out!, right?

Ahem.

Someone else noted the absence of those little tool-stealers, my father-in-law.

Jürgen figured it would be a fantastic time to come up from Newport and work on some projects we’ve got going around the house.

There’s the wrap-around wooden bench, the drain pipe installation, the concrete resurfacing, the rock-wall repair operation, and the hawthorne hacking.

So he arrived last Wednesday and that, of course, kiboshed my fishing plans.

Well, that, the deadline for the August issue and a bit too much beer and soccer consumption.

But anyway, as much as I feel that my carpentry skills — err, “complete lack of carpentry skills” is a more apt descriptor — actually would slow his pace, I felt a wee bit guilty about abandoning him for the waters.

Amy had also impressed it upon me to stick around and help.

It’s our house, after all, and stuff’s gotta get done before the fall rains come. Jürg’s also almost 70 and some of the work better matched my skill set — breaking rocks, digging dirt, mixing concrete, cutting branches.

Plus it would be cool to just get to know the guy better.

Our relationship got off to an odd start back in the mid-2000s. When I was wooing his daughter, we all met up at this hep Portland restaurant for lunch and, without saying a word to me, he spent the entire meal drawing (he’s an artist — go here, buy some stuff, help out our inheritance).

Since then Jürgen’s become more talkative, and this past weekend, he regaled me with stories from his younger days about surviving for a month in Morocco on octopus and shellfish he caught with his own hands, decoding Warsaw Pact signals for the West German army, sleeping in ditches and fields in Italy and Greece, and the winching skills of his friend, Roberto, who lives on the Alsea River and whose help we could have used with that $%@$@%#$@^@@#$%@$% hawthorne.

We ate well — salted meat products — and drank well — nothing but Deutsche Bier, danke — and enjoyed a night out at The Ould Triangle on Greenwood with its Irish owner, Michael, whom Jürgen had met on a previous trip up here (thanks, Michael, for the free glass of Radeberger!).

After the day’s work it was cool to sit out on the half- then nearly finished wooden bench at dusk and yap with Jürgen while watching the sky for bats for Amy’s future bathouse — a project that literally didn’t get off the ground.

We did get a lot done — I even got to operate some power tools! — then he left yesterday. So now, with Amy, River and Kiran due back tomorrow, I’ve got an evening’s worth of fishing ahead of me.

My original plan was to jet out to Reiter for summer-runs, but that’s an hour’s drive in the absolute best of conditions, longer with other cars on the road, even longer with the evening commute.

Much closer is the Edmonds Pier where I could bomb for summer kings moving through, though the tides are kinda messed up for that tonight (or, more likely, my understanding of the tides and Chinook fishing is what’s messed up — I’m sure it will be epic there).

If it were mid- to late August instead of mid-July, I’d hit Spokane Street, Golden Gardens or any of the parks along the Central Sound for pinks (they have yet to move into Pugetropolis in any real numbers — just checked for myself and reader John S. at the Big B).

I’m thinking something else, though.

This morning, as I drove to work down Aurora, I glanced over at Green Lake and saw a bathtub with an electric motor trolling down the west shoreline.

So that’s what I’m gonna do later this afternoon: Go home, put the Chinook steak in the fridge on the counter to defrost for dinner later, load up my boat, gather my gear — thought I’d lost it, but by a miracle of foresight, I had put the tackle where it should actually go — and head out for trout.

Might not be the world’s sexiest destination, but it’ll satisfy that fishing jones.

See you on the water.

It’s Official: Baker To Open 7-23

July 19, 2011

Baker Lake fishery managers have just officially announced that sockeye season starts this Saturday, July 23.

Daily limit at the North Puget Sound reservoir is 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, according to a press release from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

The two-pole endorsement will be allowed here, according to a WDFW e-reg notice.

All other salmon and bull trout must be released.

State fisheries biologist Brett Barkdull says this year’s return is expected to meet spawning production goals. As of today, July 19, 8,285 sockeye had returned to hatchery facilities at the lake.

CHUCK SPANI AND THE BOYZ BLEW UP BAKER LAST SUMMER. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

“About 3,600 of those sockeye salmon have been released into Baker Lake,” said Barkdull in a press release. “We expect that number to continue to increase as we approach Saturday’s opener.”

He reminds anglers that the Baker and Skagit rivers remain closed to salmon fishing.

For more on Baker Lake sockeye, see WDFW’s Web page on it.

For more on how to fish it, see our July issue, on newsstands now, and yesterday’s blog.

As for that other Cascades sockeye pond, Lake Wenatchee, no salmon have crossed Tumwater Dam on the Wenatchee River so far this season. Fisheries biologist Chad Jackson says that the run appears to be two to three weeks late. The 10-year average is for 6,648 to be across the dam by now.

The escapement goal there is 23,000 and Jackson says a run of 26,500-plus is needed for a meaningful fishery.

And, just for poops and grins, what’s the latest on that other-other summer sock hop, Lake Washington? This year’s run has nearly met the preseason forecast — 33,404 have gone through the Ballard Locks as of July 13 — but more than 10 times that number are needed for a fishery.

Next year, baby, next year.

Columbia River Fishing Update (7-19-11)

July 19, 2011

Editor’s note: Updated 9:50 a.m. July 20, 2011 with estuary salmonid and sturgeon catch info.

(REPORT COURTESY ODFW, VIA FISHERIES BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER IN VANCOUVER)

SALMON STEELHEAD

Fishing for summer chinook slowed down just before the closure on the lower Columbia last weekend as most of the run had passed Bonneville Dam.  Summer steelhead numbers are increasing as the sockeye and shad runs are winding down. This past weekend, boat and bank anglers had the best success for summer steelhead in the gorge, where boat anglers averaged 0.41 summer steelhead caught per boat and bank anglers averaged 0.16 summer steelhead per angler.  Boat anglers in the Portland to Longview areas averaged 0.07 summer steelhead per boat.  Bank anglers fishing in the Portland to Longview averaged 0.05 summer steelhead caught per angler.  On the lower Columbia this past weekend there were 245 salmonid boats, and 259 Oregon bank anglers counted on Saturday’s (July 16) flight.

Gorge Bank:

Weekend checking showed two adipose fin-clipped adult summer Chinook and two adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead kept, plus three unclipped summer steelhead released for 32 salmonid anglers. One shad angler kept four shad.

Gorge Boats:

Weekend checking showed one adipose fin-clipped adult summer chinook kept, plus one unclipped summer chinook jack and 5 unclipped summer steelhead released for 12 salmon boats (44 anglers).

Troutdale Boats:

Weekend checking showed no catch for 17 salmonid boats (34 anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank:

Weekend checking showed three adipose fin-clipped adult summer chinook, three adipose fin-clipped steelhead and one sockeye kept, plus three unclipped summer chinook and 5 unclipped summer steelhead released for 147 salmon anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats:

Weekend checking showed two unclipped summer chinook adults released and two adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead kept for 29 salmonid boats (47 anglers).

JACEY JOHNSON, 11, OF PORTLAND NABBED THIS SUMMER-RUN IN THE LOWER COLUMBIA ALONG THE WASHINGTON SIDE AT COUNTY LINE PARK LAST MONTH. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Estuary Bank (Jones Beach to the Astoria-Megler Bridge):

Weekend checking showed 13 adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead kept and two unclipped steelhead released for 31 anglers.

Estuary Boats (Puget Island to the Astoria-Megler Bridge):

Weekend checking showed five adipose fin-clipped adult summer chinook and 15 adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead kept, plus one unclipped adult summer chinook and seven unclipped summer steelhead released for 35 boats (97 anglers).

Bonneville Pool:

Weekend checking showed no catch for three bank anglers.

The Dalles Pool:

Weekly checking showed no catch for four boats (10 anglers); and three adipose fin-clipped summer Chinook kept, plus three unclipped summer chinook and two unclipped summer steelhead released for 67 bank anglers.

STURGEON:

On the lower Columbia this past weekend there were 238 boats counted from the gorge (below Marker 82) downstream to the mouth on Saturday’s (July 16) flight, 151 of which were in the estuary.

Gorge Bank (below Marker 82):

No report.

Gorge Boats (below Marker 82):

Weekend checking showed two oversize and one sublegal sturgeon released for three boats (8 anglers).

Troutdale Boats:

Weekend checking showed 19 sublegal sturgeon released for 5 boats (10 anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank:

Weekend checking showed one sublegal sturgeon released for 13 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats:

Weekend checking showed one legal white sturgeon kept and 39 sublegal sturgeon released for 15 boats (36 anglers).

Estuary Bank:

Weekend checking showed no catch for seven anglers.

Estuary Boats (Puget Island to Buoy 10):

Weekend checking showed showed 86 legal white sturgeon kept, plus 270 sublegal, 21 oversize and two green sturgeon released for 93 boats (281 anglers).  Six charter boat anglers had one legal white sturgeon kept and three sublegal sturgeon released.

Bonneville Pool:

Closed for retention.  No report.

The Dalles Pool:

Weekly checking showed one legal white sturgeon kept, plus 66 sublegal sturgeon released for 66 bank anglers; and four white sturgeon kept, plus five oversize and 143 sublegal sturgeon released for nine boats (27 anglers).

John Day Pool:

Closed for retention. No report.

WALLEYE AND BASS:

The Dalles Pool Boat:

Weekly check showed 70 walleye kept and 13 walleye released for 17 boats (44 anglers).

The Dalles Pool Bank:

Weekly check showed two walleye kept for 4 rods.

2010 WA Deer Kill, Hunter Numbers Down, But Success Up

July 18, 2011

Prepping for this fall’s seasons, your alert blogger has JUST stumbled onto the 2010 game harvest reports for Washington.

Ahem, they’ve been online since April.

Anyway, I immediately started looking at the numbers for deer and was surprised by two things over the past three seasons: the relatively large drop in hunter numbers and the upswing in our success.

With the recession dragging on, last fall, 126,107 general-season sportsmen bagged 30,707 bucks and antlerless deer across the state for a 24.3 percent success rate.

That’s nearly 5,850 fewer hunters than the 2009 season and 12,020 less than the one before that, and 236 fewer deer than last year and 874 less than 2009 — hunts that also left only 23.4 and 22.9 percent of the state’s deer chasers with venison in the freezer.

Still, the number of hunters and deer killed are the lowest of the 2000s, though the success rate was the highest since 2005 and is just below the average of 24.8 for the millennium so far.

General season elk hunter numbers are similarly depressed from recent years (66,757 in 2010, roughly 3,000 fewer than the previous two lows in 2006 and ’05) and last year’s kill was down from the season before (5,242 vs. 5,918), but still above 2008’s poor hunt, which saw only 4,939 killed.

If there’s a positive, it’s that the buck harvest was actually up last year by 707 from 2009 and also topped 2008 and 2006 figures, though is 2,000 to 7,200 antlered blacktails, whitetails and muleys fewer than the early and mid-2000s figures. The great fall of 2004 leads all comers with 33,656 bucks and 39,359 deer for 146,411 general season hunters, a 26.9 success rate.

It remains to be seen what we’ll find this fall — here’s a peak at winter survival for the Okanogan — but be aware that the rules have become more restrictive in two of Washington’s major buck factories, the Huckleberry and 49 Degrees North Units.

New this year is a 4-point minimum for whitetails.

If the rule were in place during the 2010 season, hunters would have had to have passed on 660 of the 1,192 bucks shot in the former and 441 of the 893 taken in the latter.

The tweak was pitched by some local sportsmen and passed by the Fish & Wildlife Commission.

In the short term, the harvest will be off, but longer term should pick up again as spikes and 21/2-year-olds mature into harvestable animals.

Baker Lake Sockeye To Open

July 18, 2011

What’s the third most popular search phrase that’s led folks to our Web site over the past month?

“baker lake sockeye 2011”

It’s about to jump to number 1, topping pike and deer.

Word early this afternoon is that there’s enough sockeye headed back to the North Puget Sound reservoir that state managers will be able to open it Saturday for the scrumptious salmon.

You will, of course, want to watch for the official e-reg notice from WDFW HQ, but our understanding is that the daily limit may be three adult (18-inch-or-better) sockeye and the two-pole endorsement would be allowed on the fishery, according to district fisheries biologist Brett Barkdull in La Conner. All other salmon must be released

The catch code for the lake is 825.

CAROLINE SANDERS NABBED THIS SOCKEYE AT BAKER LAKE LAST SUMMER. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

WDFW’s new Baker Lake Web site shows that through last Friday, July 15, a total of 804 sockeye had been trucked up to the lake from the trap on the Baker River, where 4,460 had checked in, but according to Mark Yuasa’s article earlier today, the latest tally of salmon in the lake was 1,300 with 300 more needed to meet escapement targets.

As of Mark’s writing, Monday’s count had yet to be tallied, but since then Northwest Sportsman has learned that 1,000 came in.

The preseason forecast is for just shy of 24,000.

Last year, 14,239 returned to the trap, prompting the first-ever season at the lake.

This summer there are new boat ramp policies from the U.S. Forest Service to be aware of, and which we’ve blogged about previously. WDFW has also linked to USFS info on their site.

Officials are asking anglers to be aware that there are campers near all of the boat ramps and to launch as quietly as possible. The USFS heard complaints from “ticked off campers” following last season.

According to Barkdull, the fishery will be open until further notice.

We’ve got a huge ol’ write-up map feature in our July issue, out on the newsstands now. To quoth ourselves:

LAST SEASON on the 3,100-acre impoundment below iconic Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan, there was an extreme catch inequality: You were either among the few haves or the many have-nots. Call it socke-alism, but we aim to redistribute the wealth here.

“It’s a technique fishery. If you get it figured out, they bite pretty good. You gotta have the right presentation and the right speed and the right depth,” says Barkdull, who admits to being “just barely in the haves.”

One private boat in particular seemed to have it dialed in perfectly.

“They were a machine out there,” he says.

Afterwards, he chatted up one of the crew and was told that not only did the bite change by the day, but by the hour.

RYAN BENNETT was also amongst the havemores, perhaps because of how he focused on boat speed, bait size and how water flowing through the upper lake affected his setup.

“I was throwing the wind socks out to keep my speed down,” says the owner of Reel Deal Guide Service (360-840-1155). “There’s the current in the lake. I think that threw people – dodgers spinning instead of turning.”

Fishing exclusively with downriggers, he targeted water as little as 11 feet down early in the morning to as deep as 67 feet. He used an 8-inch Sling Blade from Shasta Tackle, but pulled a Gary Miralles, modifying the dodger.

“I peeled the stickers off and fished it in all chrome,” he says.

Bennett tried all the usual baits, but the ol’ red-hook trick that sockeye anglers learned from a commercial fisherman working the San Juans decades ago – and helped along to widespread fame by our Dave Workman, then on the desk of Washington Fishing & Hunting News – didn’t work as well.
“I caught them on all the standards, but the fish came on larger presentations,” Bennett tips.

So, what, a U20 FlatFish?

“A little bit, a little bit, but not a whole lot.”

Bennett is loath to give all his tricks away, but says he stuffed pink Silver Horde Gold Star Mini Sardine FG 193s with dough bait.

“I was just literally rolling up PowerBait into a ball, just like trout fishing, and shoving it in the squid,” he says.

John used bait at times as well, a sand shrimp or cocktail shrimp on a double-barehook setup.

As with other sockeye anglers, he too stresses the slow approach, from .7 to 1.2 mph speed over ground.

“An electric motor is almost a must,” John says.

By the end of the season he says he was adding a Mack’s Lures Smile Blade, which turns at very slow speeds, in front of his hooks.

That said, sockeye are flukey fish. Kicking up his speed a half a knot one day, Barkdull suddenly found himself in fresh socks.

“We sat there and limited in front of 80 other boats not catching anything. Just that little change, four in a half an hour,” he says.

John adds that you can go with or without scent, but if you do use it, try shrimp or krill.

IF 2011 FOLLOWS 2010, the best spot will be about halfway down the shank of Baker Lake’s dogleg right.

“About 99 percent of the fish were in front of Noisy Creek,” says John.

For more, please pick up our July issue!

Kings Beat The Crap Out Of This Plug

July 18, 2011

Deep inside almost every angler’s tackle box is a plug or other lure that looks like it’s seen better days.

It’s an old battler, looks like it got in a scrape with a grizzly bear — or two — maybe it’s missing an eye, there’s more bare skin than paint, should probably be on painkillers at any rate.

But it’s there still — and actually, most likely stationed at the front of the box — because it’s just got that wiggle that salmon and steelhead can not resist.

So it goes with this image of a toothworn banana plug sent to us today by Buzz Ramsey.

(BOB TOMAN)

“Bob wants a new one,” writes Buzz about the Mag Lip, made by his company, Yakima Baits.

According to the email he forwarded from Bob Toman, the well-known Portland-area guide, it accounted for a whopping 43 Nushagak salmon in just two days late last month.

That timeframe corresponds to a spike in fish counts on the sonar and with reports out of another camp on the Alaska river, Jake’s.

(BOB TOMAN)

Got a similar veteran plug in your tackle box? Send it to me at andy@nwsportsmanmag.com and I’ll post it here with Kirby Cannon’s deadly lure.

Writes the Portland salmon junkie:

Andy, this Kwikfish has counted for many, many Chinook jacks and 17 adult Chinook and four steelhead and six sockeye — had to pull the tags out to check. Well, it might have something to do with the sardines that I cure.

KIRBY CANNON'S KILLER KWIK. (KIRBY CANNON)

SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report (7-18-11)

July 18, 2011

(COURTESY FISHERIES BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

SALMON & STEELHEAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 2,560 salmonid anglers (including 234 boats) with 93 adult and 26 jack summer chinook, 566 steelhead, and 17 sockeye.  57 (61%) of the adult and 17 (65%) of the jacks were kept as were 305 (54%) of the steelhead and all but three (82%) of the sockeye.    Interestingly, bank anglers reported more wild steelhead released than kept while boat anglers reported just the opposite.

Now closed for adult Chinook and sockeye through July 31.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some adult summer Chinook and hatchery steelhead.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist, Pasco:   An estimated 7 hatchery chinook were harvested this past week in the John Day Pool. No steelhead or wild Chinook were caught and released.  Effort has been light. There were an estimated 76 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.

Bonneville Dam to Hwy. 395 Bridge in Pasco – Now closed for sockeye.  Remains open for hatchery chinook, adults and jacks.

Hatchery summer run steelhead returns to Washington lower Columbia facilities are lagging behind last year.  Through mid July:

Hatchery             2010                       2011

Cowlitz                 3,026                     1,756

Kalama                 1,130                     239

Lewis                    3,606                     727

Skamania            1,354                     1,223

(Washougal)

STURGEON

Lower Columbia upstream to the Navigation Marker #82 line – We sampled legals kept by boat anglers near Cathlamet and a bank angler at Woodland.   Note:  The Deep River/Knappton ramps + Chinook to Knappton bank sampling summaries will follow shortly in another e-mail.

The Dalles Pool – Bank and boat anglers are catching some legals.

John Day Pool – 11 boats/24 anglers caught 19 sturgeon (Catch & Release Only).

WALLEYE AND BASS

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

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged nearly 2 walleye and over 10 bass per rod.  Bank anglers are also catching some walleye and bass.

John Day Pool – Walleye fishing has been very good.  33 boats/75 anglers caught 105 walleye.

TROUT

Merrill Lake in Cowlitz County – Planted with 2,145 catchable size browns July 5.  Fly fishing and catch-and-release only.  No report on angling success.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort and catch and dam counts are waning below Bonneville.   Based on mainly incomplete trips, bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam averaged just over 1.6  shad per rod.

Fishing is much better further upstream.

John Day Pool – Shad fishing was excellent this past week.  30 boats/76 anglers caught 329 shad.

The Deadline Cometh (That Bastard)

July 15, 2011

How close are we at Mission Control to giving birth to the August issue of Northwest Sportsman? By six industry-standard measures, it is imminent.

1) There are now six different coffee mugs on my desk  — light blue, yellow, rainbow, dark blue, another yellow one and a white one …

1a) … And they’re in the early stages of forming a second story.

2) My bladder is beyond full.

3) Visible surface area of my actual desktop is down to approximately 10 percent — it’s almost completely buried under the abovementioned coffee cups; lures and dodgers and odd swimbaits; notebooks full of chicken scratchings that will be all but undecipherable next week; random sheets of paper, stray sheets of paper, enough recyclable paper to put production at a pulp mill on hold for at least a couple hours; so many magazines that I worry about weight limits and the screws holding this whole thing up; maps; tupperware containers; binders full of true-life death-defying tales from Hells Canyon; and criminy, I could go on and on, but it’s deadline!

4) There are two different computers going, one with the live layouts, one with my email and all sorts of other distractions (somebody block stinkin’ YouTube, please!).

5) The ratio of curse words to other words is roughly 1:1, if not 2:1 at certain moments.

6) And ad sales reps now have time to natter about hot sockeye bites on the Peninsula that cause me to have to make time-consuming phone calls that basically reveal the aforementioned ad sales rep should’ve been there yesterday, or two weeks ago on the front end of the run.

Oh, go anyway, you got me into this mess, you buggers — no, wait, come back, I need some help with a Deschutes steelhead headline!!!!!!!

Summer King, Sockeye Closures On Parts Of Columbia

July 15, 2011

Starting Monday, July 18, and running through July 31, the Columbia from Bonneville down to the Astoria-Megler Bridge will be closed for Chinook and sockeye retention as will the water from that dam upstream to the Highway 395 bridge in the Tri-Cities for sockeye.

Columbia River salmon managers made the decision this afternoon.

Beforehand, a memo from ODFW and WDFW staffers pointed out that a total of 5,668 summer kings have been caught in the sport fishery below Bonneville since June 16, “much better than recent years, and the fishery has continued strong into July.”

“Based on the current run forecast (80,000) and agreements with the Colville Tribe, the sport fishery downstream from Bonneville Dam has an allocation of about 3,800 summer Chinook,” it says.

COLUMBIA RIVER JOINT STATE NOTICE

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife July 15, 2011

At a Joint State hearing today, the states took the following action:

2011 Recreational Salmon Fishery – Below Bonneville Dam
Closed for sockeye and adult Chinook retention effective Monday July 18 through July 31, 2011 in the area from the Astoria Megler Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam.  All other permanent regulations remain in place.

2011 Recreational Sockeye Fishery – Above Bonneville Dam
Closed for sockeye retention effective Monday July 18 through July 31, 2011 in the area from the Bonneville Dam upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge near Pasco, Washington.  All other permanent regulations remain in place.

FUTURE MEETINGS

A Compact hearing is scheduled for 10 AM Thursday July 28 at the Holiday Inn (204 West Marine Dr.) in Astoria, Oregon.

Officials also explained:

  • Closing the fishery downstream from Bonneville Dam for Chinook retention will provide assurance that upriver recreational and tribal fisheries will not be constrained.
  • Combined non-Indian fisheries (including Colville and Wanapum tribal fisheries) are not expected to exceed the total non-Indian allocation of 19,711 summer Chinook.
  • The escapement goal of 20,000 summer Chinook over Priest Rapids Dam is expected to be exceeded.
  • Closing fisheries downstream from the mouth of the Snake River to the retention of sockeye is necessary because the non-Indian limit for sockeye has been reached.
  • Fall Chinook fisheries will open as scheduled on August 1.

How To Fish For Upper Columbia Sockeye

July 15, 2011

Editor’s note: With this week’s opener, I’m digging this story on sockeye fishing in the Upper Columbia River from last year out of our blog archives; for more, see the July 2011 issue of Northwest Sportsman.

Here’s Leroy Ledeboer’s story from the July 2010 issue of Northwest Sportsman, on what’s brought about this year’s whopper run — now forecast at nearly 400,000 back to the Columbia-Snake — and how to fish ’em:

BREWSTER, Wash.—Sixty thousand sockeye over Wells Dam on the upper Columbia River has long been that bottom line number to consider opening a season on the Brewster pool, a number that has been unattainable except on occasion.

SOCKEYE HAVE STACKED UP IN THE UPPER COLUMBIA, INCLUDING THIS ONE CAUGHT BY GUIDE ANDY BRYD BELOW WELLS DAM. “THE OLD BARE HOOK DEAL, MACK’S SQUID RIG OR TROLLING SHRIMP WILL WORK,” REPORTS ANTON JONES OF DARRELL AND DAD’S GUIDE SERVICE IN CHELAN. “PLACE ALL OF THEM BEHIND A BIG DODGER WITH A VERY SHORT LEADER FOR BEST SUCCESS. GEAR DOWN FOR A REAL BATTLE WITH THESE 2- TO 5-POUND SCRAPPERS.” (DARRELL AND DAD’S GUIDE SERVICE)

Then came our amazing 2008 run, over 213,000 strong, three-quarters of which climbed the Wells Dam ladders, then stacked up at the mouth of the Okanogan for a few weeks before that final dash into their Canadian spawning grounds. Last year had a nearly as strong run, and now early predictions are that 2010 could see 110,000 BC-bound sockeye back to the Columbia.

SO WHAT’S BROUGHT about this remarkable story? John Arterburn, fisheries biologist for the Colville Confederated Tribes, stationed in Omak, says we can’t focus on a single entity.

“Actually, five factors have come together,” he says. “First, up in Canada they’ve been doing several things right. They have a new fish management tool in place, which essentially gets water managers to talk over critical decisions with fisheries managers, and make decisions that don’t harm our resource. Instead, they work together to make sure both sides come out OK.

“Then the Okanogan Tribal Nations Alliance has been running a big hatchery program at Skaha Lake, raising and releasing hundreds of thousands of juvenile sockeye every year.

“Skaha is above the current fish barriers. Juveniles can get out, but adults can’t re-enter. Eventually, they may change that, simply by removing the barriers, which would create lots of new spawning and rearing habitat, but now it’s all out of Osoyoos, the next lake downriver.

“But that’s been the third real positive. We’ve had very good natural production out of Osoyoos in recent years, primarily because so many adults have returned. So between Skaha’s artificial production and Osoyoos natural production, tons of juveniles have been heading out to sea each spring.

“Then, the fourth factor, when they get out into the ocean, conditions have been favorable, so here again survival rates have been high, leading to these good returns.

“And finally, our sockeye have a weak commercial harvest. They can’t really be targeted in the Lower Columbia because Snake River sockeye are on the endangered species list, and once our fish get past that confluence, there’s very little netting.”

Plus sockeye tend to come in a big pulse, arriving by the thousands, swamping the gillnetters, but then they keep moving, Arterburn adds.

“Yeah, netters might load up for a few days, taking hundreds, but then the sockeye are gone, and it’s a real small percentage of the total.”

ANGLERS TOO HAVE a hard time targeting these delicious little salmon – that is until they stack up in the Brewster Pool, primarily at that broad mouth of the Okanogan. In recent years, 2008 gave us a partial season while last summer’s run brought with it a relatively generous four-adult-fish limit.

Anyone who has repeatedly targeted those huge Chinook in this pool knows that a 2-pound sockeye will whack a mighty big target, a hefty cut-plug herring, a tuna stuffed Super Bait or even an oversized FlatFish with a sardine wrap.

But now, even after only a couple of seasons, sockeye techniques are emerging that work particularly well in the pool.

“Last year was the first time we actually targeted sockeye,” says Bob Fately at Triangle Shell and Bait Shop (509-689-3473) in Brewster.

“Essentially, what we found was that smaller is better. A 2 or 4 ought silver dodger and anything red worked real well. We used a small 2-inch red hoochie skirt, no more than 20 inches back from the flasher, then trolled at 1.1 to 1.3 mph. You could still catch sockeye at faster speeds, but that seemed to be optimal.

“And other small lures worked behind those flashers too, particularly small silver spoons like the Dick Nite,” he says.

“It’s real critical, though, to be at the right depth because most sockeye are in a definite water column. Last year it was 20 to 24 feet, but that will vary year to year, depending on water temperatures. Four friends came over for a long weekend and limited three days in a row. That gave them lots of great fillets to take home.”

Arterburn, who fishes the pool regularly for kings and steelhead, says he also had sockeye success last season by downscaling.

“They make a smaller, narrow Bait Buster, about ½ inch wide, that worked pretty well,” he explains, “and you can do the same thing with plugs, go to smaller versions of FlatFish or Kwikfish than you’d use on kings.

“But this is such a new fishery, I’d encourage anglers to innovate, try new methods, maybe variations of what works on sockeye in other places. We’re still in the learning stage here.”

SO NOW, if the run really comes in and 100,000-plus sockeye top Wells Dam, it should definitely be “Fish On!” again. How long will it last?

“That’s always a good question,” Arterburn says. “Sockeye stack up at the mouth of the Okanogan because the water in that river is still too warm for them to make their final run up to Canada.

“But if we had some early cold rains or just any kind of early cold snap, they could be gone overnight, cutting our season short. Last year a friend and I went one day, limited, came back the next and zero. The fish were just gone.”

Hopefully that won’t happen, and anglers can enjoy at least a few weeks of excellent angling before that mass migration above the Highway 173 bridge, where all salmon fishing ends.

AND WHAT DOES the future beyond a summer season hold? Part of Arterburn’s job is monitoring the salmon smolt runs that taxi down the Okanogan, heading for two and in some cases three years of life in the Pacific Ocean.

“Right now there’s just tons of juvenile sockeye streaming past my office,” he told me in late May, “so that production will again be very strong. But none of us can really look into the future and predict what two years in the ocean might bring.

“If conditions out there remain good, we should have another excellent run in 2012. If not, particularly if ocean conditions get real bad, we could be back to square one.”

That part is of course uncontrollable. In the meantime, we can be thankful that a combination of good fisheries management and a big helping hand from the elements have created another fine fishing opportunity.

NWS Writer Added To Mack’s Lure Co. Pro Staff

July 14, 2011

(MACK’S LURE COMPANY PRESS RELEASE)

Wenatchee, WA. –Mack’s Lure Company, well known for its fishing products such as the Wedding Ring, announced the addition of “Uncle Wes” Malmberg to their Pro-Staff Team.

Wes is a well-known, and very popular, trout angling columnist with Northwest Sportsman Magazine, Outdoors Northwest, and WashingtonLakes.Com. He has specialized in trout angling at Western Washington lakes for the past decade.

WES MALMBERG AND HIS TROUT HOUND HERCULES. (BRETT MALMBERG)

His unique style, “Blue Collar Fly Fishing” as he likes to call it, is trolling a fly on full sink fly line and his success with that tactic has earned him the nickname “The Troutist.” He is currently field testing with dramatic success, and informing Northwest trout anglers about Mack’s new product, the Smile Blade® Fly.

“Wes and his enthusiasm for helping fellow anglers make for a great addition to our team,” says Mack’s Lure’s General Manager, Bob Schmidt.

“I am very honored and proud to be a part of the Mack’s family. I look forward to helping other trout anglers in the Northwest and abroad to enjoy the same success I do,” said Wes.

Wes is a member of the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association and soon to be a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. His new book, “Blue Collar Fly Fishing,” will be released by Wilderness Adventure Press in March 2012. He is currently working on a series of Washington trout angling DVD’s due to hit the shelves in late 2011 or early 2012.

Pautzke Adds ‘Fuel’ To Region’s Crabbing, Shrimping Fire

July 14, 2011

(PAUTZKE BAIT COMPANY PRESS RELEASE)

The worldwide leader in baits for over 75 years thanks to our world-famous “Balls O’ Fire” salmon eggs, Pacific Northwest favorite Pautzke Bait Co. now continues the family tradition of providing the finest baits and attractants to anglers around the world with the most effective additive ever developed for crab and shimp bait: Crab and Shrimp Fuel.

CRAB AND SHRIMP FUEL HAS AN MSR OF $10,99 RETAIL. (PAUTZKE BAIT CO.)

It’s a well-known fact that the oils and amino acids from salmon eggs are among the best shrimp and crab baits in the world, and Crab and Shrimp Fuel starts out with a foundation that only Pautzke can create: the essence of our Balls O’ Fire eggs.

This foundation is boosted with Dad Pautzke’s proprietary mix of scents and feeding stimulators that attract crab and shrimp from a wider geographic area than regular baits.

Crab and Shrimp Fuel is simple to use and deadly effective for all species of crab and shrimp!

Killin’ Me With Kings

July 13, 2011

Devin Schildt, Todd Girtz, Derek Knowles, Kevin Klein, Jim Klark — have you no common decency? Can’t you see I’m trying to work here, trying to get out the August issue of Northwest Sportsman?!?!

Apparently not, because you’ve been killing me with these pics of kings.

TODD GIRTZ WITH A HEFTY CHINOOK CAUGHT EARLIER THIS WEEK OUT OF LA PUSH. (TODD GIRTZ)

CORY BRAY WITH ANOTHER LA PUSH KINGER FROM EARLIER THIS WEEK. (TODD GIRTZ)

A BRUTE AND A RESPECTABLE CHINOOK CAUGHT DURING LAST WEEKEND'S DERBY IN THE SAN JUANS. (KEVIN KLEIN)

ANOTHER BEAST OF THE NORTH, CAUGHT DURING THE PSA DERBY. (KEVIN KLEIN)

A WHALE OF A TYEE CAUGHT OUT OF WHALE CHANNEL RECENTLY BY JEFF KNOWLES OF MAPLE VALLEY. (JEFF KNOWLES)

RAPHAELA PULERA AND HER FIRST SALMON, THIS NOOK CAUGHT ON FLAT SEAS OUT OF WESTPORT LAST SUNDAY. (JIM KLARK)

... AND THE DEATH BLOW, THIS SAN JUANS BEAUT -- SARAH BAKKEN AND HER CHINOOK FROM LAST WEEKEND. (WRIGHT & MCGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

If you’re looking for more than eye candy in this blog, here’s the very latest ocean catch report from WDFW’s Wendy Beeghley:

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 4, a total of 1,358 coho and 341 Chinook were landed. Through Sunday, July 10, 2,454 coho (7% of the sub-area quota) and 631 Chinook (9% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.   No 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 4, a total of 721 coho, 654 Chinook, and 135 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, July 10, 1,430 coho (6% of the sub-area quota) and 1,370 Chinook (8% 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 4, a total of 161coho, 138 Chinook, and 63 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, July 10, 311 coho (18% of the sub-area quota) and 176 Chinook (13% 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 4, a total of 279 coho, 215 Chinook, and 569 pink were landed.  Through Sunday, July 10, 705 coho (10% of the sub-area quota) and 400 Chinook (13% of the sub-area guideline) have been landed.

Another Great Trip Out Of Westport

July 13, 2011

Editor’s note 1: Following up on his trip there in late June, our ad salesmen Jim Klark returned to Westport last weekend for salmon fishing and filed the following blog.

By Jim Klark

You will learn three things by reading this blog.

1.) Pick the right day and fishing out of Westport can be more like Mexico than you think.

2.) White king salmon do exist in the waters around Washington.

3.) Pinks are showing up all over Northwest waters.

As summer heats up, so does the ocean fishery in and around Washington and Oregon. This last Sunday I fished out of Westport and found that the salmon and tuna fisheries this year shows a lot of promise.

As of this writing, albacore, although spotty, can be found within 40 miles of the coast and in the next few weeks the marauding fish will start biting in earnest for anglers. While tuna are open every day out of this port, salmon is a Sunday-Thursday fishery with a daily limit of two (only one Chinook, release wild coho).

SUNRISE OVER THE WESTPORT BOAT BASIN. (JIM KLARK)

As day broke with an amazing sunrise and mild temps, things got even brighter as the 18 of us anglers enjoyed a flat, calm day on the waters off Westport. Yes, that’s right — flat and calm. In fact, many boats saw T-shirt weather and mill-pond-flat water. Mike Harris, captain of the Fury, allowed that it even reminded him of Mexico.

That thought went through the minds of many as at 6:30 a.m. the first salmon of many that day was netted, reminding us that we need not check our passports.

RAPHAELA PULERA SHOWS OFF A NICE CHINOOK -- HER FIRST EVER SALMON -- CAUGHT ABOARD THE FURY LAST SUNDAY. (JIM KLARK)

Mixed into the catch were several pinks, which are also being landed in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and are retainable starting this weekend in the Nooksack River.

Several wild silvers were caught and released by this group and as the fish count piled, up we proceeded to another “hot spot” that Harris knew of away from the rest of the many boats that dotted the water this amazing day. As soon as we dropped our lines into the water four fish were hooked — all big kings. A gentleman on the starboard side of the boat netted a fish close to 28 pounds.

“Do you have your derby ticket?” the captain asked.

Westport offers a jackpot for the biggest king salmon caught each weekend. For a $5 investment in a ticket, and a little luck, you can walk away with a $500 jackpot.

As I pondered this, line suddenly screamed off my reel and after a 15-minute dance around the rail of the boat, I was rewarded with a 24-pound wild king.

THE AUTHOR AND HIS RARE WHITE KING. (JIM KLARK)

We later found that this was indeed a “white king.” The flesh of these fish is white in hue rather than the orange we usually see in salmon. About 1 percent of the salmon population shows this color variation. No one knows for sure why, but I’ve seen them in Southeast Alaska, and in speaking with several people in the industry, there is belief that many come from the Fraser River in B.C.

As we returned to the docks, somewhat sunburned, we found that the day out of Westport had been one of the most rewarding of the year for many others as well.

Oh, and how’d that 28-pounder place in the jackpot? Well, unfortunately for the angler, the winning fish that day was almost 30 pounds.

Anglers, don’t forget the Washington Tuna Classic is Aug. 27. This IGFA offshore qualifying event helps several charity groups including the Wounded Warrior Project and the Northwest Harvest Foodbank. You can register online at washingtontunaclassic.com.

There are plenty of great places to stay and eat in Westport – motels, hotels, RV parks and even roomy condos like the Ocean Shores Condos.

You can get more information by visiting beachcombersnw.com.

Editor’s note 2: Wendy Beeghley, WDFW’s fish checker for the coast, generally echoes Jim Klark’s hot report.

“Relative to the previous weekend, it was awesome,” she reports late this morning. ” People in private boats did especially well. It was over a fish a rod, not quite a limit. A lot of Chinook, nice Chinook.”

She says that on Saturday, anglers were doing well out of Ilwaco, but except for those who headed north on Sunday, it faded, but picked back up on Monday.

Overall, effort has been down, but as the reports hit the street and we come into the better fishing period, that’s picking up, she says.

Still, if you’re in Pugetropolis and don’t have the gas money to head for the coast but want to get out for salmon, this Saturday, July 16, marks the Central Puget Sound mark-selective Chinook fishery in parts of Areas 9 and 10. The past couple openers, the best bite has been at Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend.

But also consider the San Juans, which have been stupid-good for big Chinook. A 35-pound hatchery king won last weekend’s Bellingham Puget Sound Anglers derby.

Sockeye To Open In Areas Above PRD This Week

July 13, 2011

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

Editor’s note: For more on how to fish for sockeye in the Upper Columbia, see this previous article.)

Sockeye retention allowed above Priest Rapids
on Columbia River, two tributaries, Lake Osoyoos

Action:   Anglers will be able to retain adult sockeye salmon in the mainstem Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam, including the Okanogan and Similkameen Rivers, and Lake Osoyoos.

Species affected: Sockeye salmon

Rule:   Daily limit four sockeye.  Minimum size 12 inches.  All coho and steelhead must be released.

AMONG THE ANGLERS WHO CHASE UPPER COLUMBIA SYSTEM SOCKEYE, SCOTT FLETCHER, WHO SHOWS OFF ONE FROM THE BREWSTER POOL. FOR MORE ON CATCHING THESE TASTY SALMON, SEE THE JULY ISSUE OF NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective dates and locations:

July 14, through Oct 15, 2011, Columbia River from Hwy 395 Bridge at Pasco to Wells Dam.  Anti-snagging and night closure in effect for Rocky Reach Dam to Turtle Rock.
July 16, through Aug 31, 2011, Columbia River from Wells Dam to Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster.
July 14, through Oct 15, 2011, Columbia River from Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster to Hwy 17 Bridge in Bridgeport.
July 14, through Oct 15, 2011, Okanogan River from the mouth to Hwy 97 Bridge immediately upstream of mouth.  Anti-snagging and night closure in effect.
July 14, through Sept 15, 2011, Okanogan River from Hwy 97 Bridge immediately upstream of mouth to Hwy 97 Bridge crossing at Oroville.  Anti-snagging and night closure in effect.
July 14, through Sept 15, 2011, Similkameen River from the mouth to 400 feet downstream of Enloe Dam.  Anti-snagging and night closure in effect.
July 14, through Sept 15, 2011, Lake Osoyoos from Zosel Dam upstream to 300 yards south of the 49th parallel (US-Canadian border, which is marked with large fluorescent orange signs).

Reason for action: Sockeye salmon returns above Priest Rapids Dam are predicted to be well in excess of needs for wild fish escapement to the spawning grounds.  The population is not listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Important angler note:   All sockeye and chinook with a floy (anchor) tag attached must be released.   These fish are essential to ongoing studies being conducted by the Yakama Indian Tribe (sockeye) and by WDFW (chinook).  Signs will be posted at individual boat launches informing anglers on the study and type of tag that can be expected.

Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement required for ALL sockeye fisheries.

Looprope, Revolutionary Fastening System, Makes Tie Downs For Hunters Easy As 1, 2, 3

July 13, 2011

(LOOP ROPE PRESS RELEASE)

MEDFORD, Ore.–After considerable use of pickups, I have come to the conclusion that they are designed specifically for hunters. Next time you see one take a closer look for yourself. Sure, they are good for carrying golf clubs, baseball gear, pet carriers, potted plants and (yuck!) lawn mowers, but no other piece of equipment designed by man is better suited for toting ice chests, foot lockers, barbeque grills, propane bottles, game feeders, chainsaws, gun cases, deer blinds, tents, inflatable boats  and the list goes on and on.

THE LOOPROPE COMES IN EIGHT DIFFERENT COLORS, INCLUDING GREEN-YELLOW (SHOWN HERE), CAMO AND COYOTE TAN. (LOOPROPE)

Like a lot of things, however, not all pickups have tie downs. But now there is a knot-free tie down system that never tangles, is safer than bungee cords and linkable so you can build custom cargo nets when you need them, where you need them and whatever size you need them. It’s called LoopRope.  Constructed of doubled up ¼” heavy duty shock cord, it’s safe and easy to use.

How does it work? First loop the end around a fixed tie point and pull the whole rope through the first loop. Next choose any loop to hold corners, edges or handles for the perfect tension. Then clip to fixed tie point or loop through tie point and tighten by clipping to any other loop. Whala! Loop, clip and go.

The LoopRope comes in 3-, 4-, and 5-foot lengths with 2 stainless steel clips in each package. One 5 foot LoopRope gives you 10 custom tie down lengths and over 18 attachment points.  Use it everywhere; it’s secure, fast and easy.  Users are discovering many different ways to secure items, check out the video examples on their websit, Looprope.com

Deserving Sentence For OR Deer Poachers

July 13, 2011

UPDATE: The Eugene Register-Guard reports July 16, 2011, that five more members of this poaching ring have pled guilty after reaching an agreement on lesser charges and sentenced. One person still has to face to justice.

A big tip of the cap to the Lane County court system — as well as the hard work of the Oregon State Police who made the massive case.

In an “unusual” — but well deserved — sentence handed down yesterday, a pair of Springfield deer poachers will be spending the next four deer seasons in jail.

When you’re heading into the Oregon hills come October, Shane Donoho, 37, and his father, Rory Donoho, 60, will be sitting in the county klink for 90 days after pleading guilty to a criminal conspiracy that, state police allege, killed over 300 deer the past half decade — 30 times the bag limit for the area they poached in had they been hunting lawfully.

ANTLERS SEIZED AT THE HOMES OF SHANE DONOHO AND RORY DONOHO, BOTH OF SPRINGFIELD, ORE., THIS PAST JANUARY. (OSP)

There are indications that the family has been poaching for generations.

According to an article in today’s Eugene Register-Guard, which broke the news of the case back in February:

“Shane Donoho said the poaching goes back as far as he can remember, that he was taught by his father, Rory, who was taught by (Shane’s) grandfather,” [Lane County Prosecutor Jay] Hall said in court. The day he and police served a search warrant at Rory Donoho’s home, the prosecutor noted, a 6- or 7-year-old grandchild in footed pajamas offered to show the officers how to hunt a deer.

“He said, ‘You’ve got to hold your spotlight in your left hand and kind of rest your rifle on top of it,’” Hall recounted. The prosecutor said he asked the boy why he needed a spotlight to hunt deer, and the child replied: “Because it’s dark outside and they’ll stop and look at you.”

As part of a plea deal that avoided longer jail terms for a range of felony racketeering and other charges, Shane, convicted on 82 counts, must pay $42,000 in restitution to Oregon, do 400 hours of community service “including speaking to hunting groups,” where I’m sure he’ll face a very warm welcome and was “ordered … to undergo counseling for a hunting ‘addiction’ as directed by his probation officer,” according to the paper.

The elder Donoho was convicted on 57 counts and must pay $20,000 in restitution, the paper said.

Both have been banned from hunting for life.

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

The paper’s story today discusses how Kennedy “helped them ‘bring the scheme to a new level by stealing his ex-girlfriend’s identity in order to create a completely fake hunter profile.'”

For a large article in our June issue, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist told Northwest Sportsman that deer numbers in the Gate Creek and Hagen Mountain area, where the Donohos poached, were off.

“The habitat is better than the deer numbers indicate,” Brian Wolfer said. “There aren’t the same number of deer there as you see in other parts of the unit” with similar habitat.”

That was echoed by OSP’s investigating trooper Marc Boyd who said, “… In the areas that the Donohos frequented during this long criminal conspiracy, you would have a hard time finding any deer,” according to the Eugene daily.

The paper also reports that the Donohos “forfeited to the government 19 rifles, 1,600 pounds of processed and frozen game meat, and 106 pairs of trophy antlers valued at between $180,000 and $400,000.”

Six others, who’ve all plead not guilty to misdemeanor charges, still await trial. They are:

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

This morning, OSP issued a press release on the case:

Two additional suspects sentenced in one of Oregon’s most notable poaching operations,  Shane and Rory Donoho of Springfield, Oregon, pled guilty Tuesday to multiple felony and misdemeanor crimes in Lane County Circuit Court.

The case was investigated by the Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division troopers from the Springfield Area Command with assistance from, Albany, Bend, Oakridge, Florence and Roseburg offices. The 15-month investigation into the poaching operation also led investigators to multiple other crimes including Identity Theft, Computer Crime and Racketeering.

In April 2011, Shane and Rory Donoho, along with seven other people, were indicted by a Lane County Grand Jury on numerous criminal charges including wildlife crimes, Identity Theft, computer crimes and racketeering.  The men were arraigned April 28 in Lane County Circuit Court.

The investigation led by Trooper Marc Boyd of the OSP Springfield Area Command office alleges a long criminal conspiracy involving the illegal harvest of approximately 300 deer in the McKenzie wildlife management unit over the last five years.  Search warrants served at three separate locations during January 2011 in both Springfield and Eugene led to the seizure of 18 hunting rifles, 108 sets of antlers, timber company keys, numerous hunting licenses and tags, approximately 1600 pounds of processed wild game meat, and two whole unlawfully taken cow elk.

The two ring leaders identified below pled guilty July 12, 2011 in Lane County Circuit Court and were sentenced on the following charges:

* SHANE E. DONOHO, age 37, from Springfield
– Identity Theft (5 counts)
– Unlawful Take of Big Game (5 counts)
– Unlawful Possession of Game Mammal
– Unlawful Hunting of Antlerless Elk
– Unlawful Possession of Big Game Parts (50 counts)
– Forgery in the Second Degree
– Computer Crime (10 counts)
– Racketeering

SHANE DONOHO was sentenced to:
– 360 days in jail in four 90-day segments beginning on October 1, 2011 through 2014 – – – 5 years probation with strict guidelines
– 400 hours community service
– Forfeit 14 seized firearms, meat and antlers
– Pay $42,000 restitution to ODFW
– Pay $3,200 restitution to OSP
– Lifetime hunting license suspension

* RORY E. DONOHO, age 60, from Springfield
– Unlawful Loaning of Big Game Tag
– Unlawful Borrowing of Hunting Tag (3 counts)
– Identity Theft
– Unlawful Take Antlerless Deer
– Unlawful Possession of Big Game Parts (50 counts)
– Racketeering

RORY DONOHO was sentenced to:
– 360 days in jail in four 90 day segments beginning October 1, 2011 through 2014
– 5 years probation
– Forfeit all seized firearms
– Pay $20,000 in restitution to ODFW
– Lifetime hunting license suspension

The offenses occurred during 2009 and 2010 in Lane County on both Bureau of Land Management and private timber lands.  The wildlife unlawfully taken and/or possessed included Black tail Deer, and Elk.

The investigation revealed a long time criminal enterprise primarily involving the unlawful take of Black Tail Deer. Many of the deer were taken to fill tags for people who either do not hunt or who had their identification stolen for the purpose of illegally obtaining hunting licenses and tags in their name.  A break in the case came when one of the victims of identification theft received an ODFW big game tooth envelope in the U.S. mail and contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to advise them of their mistake.  The initial investigation indicated hunting licenses and tags were bought in the reporting person’s name without their consent or knowledge.

OSP Fish & Wildlife Division troopers served search warrants with the assistance of BLM law enforcement, Lane County parole and probation, the Lane County District Attorney’s Office and OSP patrol troopers. The Lane County Sheriff’s Office forest deputies also assisted in the recovery of the two cow elk unlawfully taken the same day a search warrant was served.

Due to meat inspection protocols the meat seized can not be utilized for human consumption and will be donated to various wildlife rehabilitation facilities. The firearms will go to the Division of State Lands to be sold at auction with the proceeds going to the common school fund.

Cases involving illegal conduct such as this should be reported to the Turn-In-Poachers (TIP) line (800-452-7888) for the protection and future enjoyment of our natural resources.

As Salmon Catches Fade On Lower Columbia, Expect Steelheading To Pick Up

July 12, 2011

Fed by huge runs headed for Idaho, Northeast Oregon and Eastern Washington, the past two Julys have been super smokin’ hot for steelheading on the Lower Columbia.

Two years ago, anglers kept 8,221 hatchery fish, high mark since at least the 1970s, while last July came within eight of equaling that figure.

WADE RAMSEY SHOWS OFF A NICE SUMMER-RUN STEELHEAD FROM THE COLUMBIA SYSTEM. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

This year’s return of summer-runs bound for the upper Columbia and Snake system is coming along a little slower, perhaps because of higher, colder river flows, but it is now beginning to build. And with a forecast of just under 400,000 to return — as well as the lower Columbia’s summer Chinook, sockeye and shad fisheries beginning to fade — now’s the perfect time for a brush-up on how to get after ’em from boat and bank.

For that, we turn to Buzz Ramsey, one of the deans of steelhead and salmon fishing in the Northwest. Here was his advice from the June 2011 issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine:

June and July are the months that massive numbers of summer steelhead flood into the Columbia River. And though some are bound for lower river tributaries like the Clackamas, Sandy, Santiam, Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis, what makes fishing sensational in the mainstem is the upriver-bound run, which this year could exceed 400,000 fat steelhead.

While these fish will eventually pass the counting windows at Bonneville Dam, the majority are now staging in the lower Columbia – just waiting to be caught by you and me. Here, in many areas – at least where there is sufficient current – you can find them in water just 10 feet deep or less. And while they can be found in deeper water – say up to 20 feet – many anglers concentrate their efforts in shallow water.

For example, according to James Harper of Harper’s Tackle (360-841-8292) in Woodland, Wash., the majority of fish taken from shore are caught in water depths ranging from 5 to 10 feet.

You may notice that fish will be most numerous in shallow water during lowlight conditions and move progressively deeper as the sun rises. This is due to the fact that steelhead, like all fish, have no eyelids and can only control the amount of light entering their eyes by where they position themselves. When/where boats congregate into hoglines, all anchoring in a row, it’s typical for the inside boats to do best early in the day and for boaters anchored in deeper water to enjoy success later in the morning.

THE FACT THAT steelhead spend much of their time prowling shallow water makes them an ideal target for anglers fishing from shore. For bank-bound anglers, catching summer steelhead can be as simple as chucking a Spin-N-Glo out into the current, holding your fishing rod upright with a sand spike rod holder, placing a bell on your rod and waiting for a big, hefty steelhead to ring it.

Rigging for bank plunking is easy – usually starting with a swivel attached to the end of your main line, where you will need to attach a weight (usually a 4- to 6-ouncer, often pyramid-style sinker) on a dropperline, a 24- to 30-inch leader to a size 4 Spin-N-Glo and a hook, with a plastic bead between your buoyant spinner and hook.

According to Harper, the most popular and productive color of winged bobber in his area of the Columbia is the flame/black “tiger & wing” (catalog color code FTBW).

His second most productive color is silver/glo “double trouble” in UV (DTUL).

PLUNKING RIGS FOR COLUMBIA STEELHEAD. (NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

HAVING A BOAT will allow you to reach areas inaccessible by those fishing from shore. And while fishing can be productive in many locations, Bachelor Island on the lower Columbia, for example, is a prime steelhead destination not accessible by bank anglers. From a boat, you can anchor and plunk just like from the beach.

Medium-sized plugs, like FlatFish and/or Kwikfish, are favored by boat anglers due to the fact that they produce high action in slow current. Guide Dave Johnson (503-201-4292) rigs his plugs on a 60-inch leader and 30-inch weight dropper line. Once anchored, he back-bounces his outfit out below the boat until his lines are at a 45-degree angle in the water.

When it comes to plugs, Johnson’s favorites include the U-20, X4 and X5 FlatFish.

According to him, any color will work as long as it’s red.

Truthfully, he does use other similar colors like pink fluorescent, orange/black “spot,” glitter pink and egg fluorescent.

From shore or boat, ocean tides play a prominent role in when, where, what you might use and how you fish. After all, you will need current to work your lures and, providing you’re fishing from a boat, consider switching to a regular spinner, like a size 41⁄2 Toman Cascade, when currents are running strong. When currents fail, you can find success in many lower river areas forwardtrolling plugs or spinners near bottom.

THE MOUTH OF THE COWLITZ is a favorite destination for boaters seeking summer steelhead. From I-5 in Washington, take exit 36, the Longview/Industrial exit, cross the Cowlitz, take Dike Road (first left), go 1⁄8 mile to Gerhardt Park, which is just above the Longview bridge. Here, you would launch in the Cowlitz and motor into the Columbia. From the Oregon side of the river, you can reach this area from the Rainier boat launch, accessible from Highway 30.

Boaters also find success anchoring on the big flat above the mouth of the Sandy and Washougal Rivers and off the ends of several piling rows located near the Chinook Landing boat launch (Oregon side).

According to guide Eric Linde (360-607-6421), there are two basic lures used in this area. When anchoring off the piling rows, spinners are the most effective. Boaters rig a 30-inch weight dropper line and 24-inch leader to a spinner.

When anchoring above the Sandy and Washougal, use a standard 60-inch leader with plugs, shorter with spinners. If the current is strong, spinners work best. But when it slows because of flooding tide, FlatFish are the top-producing lure.

The Columbia just west of Bonneville Dam produces summer steelhead for bank and boat anglers alike. Just like areas located further west, shallow water is where most steelhead can be found. If you have a boat, try anchoring off Pierce or Ives Islands.

Bank anglers can access the river from Tanner Creek on the Oregon side and from Dam Access Road, located 1 mile west of Bonneville Dam from Highway 14.

The daily limit is two adipose-fin-clipped steelhead, or one hatchery steelhead and one hatchery Chinook. NS

Editor’s note: Buzz works at Yakima Bait, which produces several of the lures named in this.

Lower Columbia Fishing Report (7-11-11)

July 11, 2011

UPDATED 4:46 P.M. JULY 12, 2011, WITH ODFW CATCH INFORMATION FOR LAST WEEKEND

(REPORT COURTESY FISHERY BIOLOGIST JOE HYMER)

SALMON/STEELHHEAD

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 1,873 salmonid anglers (including 234 boats) with 105 adult and 19 jack summer chinook, 294 steelhead, and 28 sockeye.  65 (62%) of the adult and 14 (74%) of the jacks were kept as were 181(62%) of the steelhead and all but two (93%) of the sockeye.

Just over 800 salmonid bank anglers and exactly 300 boats were observed on the lower Columbia mainstem last Saturday July 9.

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

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist, Pasco:   No chinook, sockeye, or steelhead were harvested this past week in the John Day Pool. Seven wild jack chinook were caught and released.  Effort has been light. No boats were interviewed fishing for salmon this past week.  A few bank anglers are still coming out routinely to fish for salmon or steelhead.  There were an estimated 70 angler trips for the week.  For the fishery that began June 16, an estimated 20 adult hatchery summer chinook and 33 hatchery jacks have been harvested.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines downstream – The Deep River/Knappton/Chinook/Ilwaco ramps + Chinook to Knappton bank sampling summaries will follow in another e-mail.

During last Saturday’s (July 9) effort flight count, there were 251 private boats and 2 charters.  Slightly less than two-thirds of the fleet were observed in the estuary.

Preliminary WDFW sturgeon sport sampling summaries for below Wauna July 5-10: Private boat anglers averaged a legal kept/released per every 6.2 rods while charter boat anglers averaged one kept per every 3.3 rods.   One bank angler had kept a legal.  Overall, If an angler catches a white sturgeon, there was better than a one in four chance it would be a keeper.

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Marker 82 – We sampled legals kept by boat anglers from Woodland downstream and bank anglers at Woodland and Longview.

Bonneville Pool and its tributaries – Catch and release only through the end of the year.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers are catching some legals.  Through June, an estimated 141 (47%) of the 300 fish guideline had been taken.

John Day Pool – 2 boats/6 anglers released 9 fish (Catch & Release Only).

WALLEYE AND BASS

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – A few anglers trying without any success.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers are catching some bass.

The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged over 3 walleye and nearly 8 bass per rod.  Bank anglers are catching some bass.

John Day Pool – 3 boats/5 anglers caught 12 walleye.

SHAD

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Based on mainly incomplete trips, bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam averaged just over 2 shad per rod.  Bank anglers off Steamboat Landing Dock in Washougal caught some fish as did boat anglers in the gorge and in Camas/Washougal.

John Day Pool – 11 boats/31 anglers caught 141 shad.

(REPORT COURTESY TANNA TAKATA, OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDIFE)

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

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

Fishing for summer Chinook was spotty on the lower Columbia last weekend as most of the run has passed Bonneville Dam; however, anglers were still making some good catches.  Summer steelhead numbers are increasing as the sockeye and shad runs are winding down. Boat anglers had the best success in the gorge, where anglers averaged averaged 0.82 summer chinook caught per boat.  Boat anglers in the Portland to Longview areas averaged 0.41 summer Chinook per boat, while boat anglers in Troutdale averaged 0.10 summer chinook caught per boat.  Bank anglers fishing in the the gorge, Portland to Longview areas, and estuary averaged 0.08, 0.09, and 0.09 summer chinook caught per angler, respectively.  On the lower Columbia this past weekend there were 300 boats, and 309 Oregon bank anglers counted on Saturday’s (July 9) flight.

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed one adipose fin-clipped summer chinook and one adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jack kept, plus one unclipped summer chinook released for 24 salmon anglers; and 60 shad kept for 21 shad anglers.

Gorge Boats: Weekend checking showed seven adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, one adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jack, and one sockeye kept, plus seven adult summer chinook and three steelhead released for 24 salmon boats (48 anglers); and five shad kept for two shad boats (five anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed two adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults kept, plus one unclipped steelhead released for 20 salmon boats (41 anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank: Weekly checking showed 13 adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, five adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jacks, five adipose fin-clipped steelhead, and three sockeye kept, plus seven unclipped summer chinook adults, two unclipped summer chinook jacks, four unclipped steelhead, and one sockeye released for 215 salmon anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats: Weekend checking showed six adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, two adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jacks, and one adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead kept, plus five unclipped summer chinook adults and four unclipped steelhead released for 27 salmon boats (58 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Jones Beach to the Astoria-Megler Bridge): Weekly checking showed two adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, two adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jacks, and eight adipose fin-clipped steelhead, plus one unclipped summer chinook adult, and two unclipped steelhead released for 33 bank anglers.

Estuary Boats (Puget Island to the Astoria-Megler Bridge): Weekend checking showed two adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adults, and five adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus one unclipped summer chinook, and two unclipped steelhead released for three boats (14 anglers).

Bonneville Pool: Weekend checking showed one adipose fin-clipped summer chinook adult, one adipose fin-clipped summer chinook jack, and five sockeye kept for 23 salmon anglers; and five shad kept for five shad anglers.

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed three adipose fin-clipped summer chinook kept, plus one unclipped summer chinook released for 38 bank anglers.

 

Wolf Pup Captured West Of Ione

July 11, 2011

WDFW captured and released a wolf pup in Northeast Washington July 2 and is now looking to radio-collar its parents.

It marks the emergence of a second new pack in the state in just the past week.

Last Tuesday, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildife announced that a female wolf most likely with a litter is roaming the Teanaway area of the Cascades between Cle Elum and Blewett Pass. Northwest Sportsman learned of an animal’s capture there in late June, but WDFW held news until DNA testing determined it to be a wild gray wolf.

The newest canid apparently was caught in the Smackout Pass area of northern Pend Oreille and Stevens Counties just west of the town of Ione and the Pend Oreille River.

It was given an ear tag, according to spokeswoman Madonna Luers.

“You don’t want a radio collar on a pup of that size for a variety of reasons — the least of which is, it’s still growing,” she said.

While locals appear to have known about the capture, WDFW has been quiet about it as the agency’s wolf specialists attempt to capture adult wolves in the area and put telemetry devices on them to monitor their range.

“The more you talk about it, the worse the job becomes,” Luers says.

The news means that more and more are settling into Northeast Washington. At the end of 2010 there were four wolves in the Salmo Pack of extreme northern Pend Oreille County and 12 in the Diamond Pack east of Ione. How many of those made it through the winter is unknown, but in recent weeks wolf-like howls have been heard above Bead Lake north of Newport to the south of that pack’s known range. An Idaho pack, Cutoff Peak, has a sliver of territory in Washington between Lookout and Salmo too.

Elsewhere in the state’s upper right quadrant, a tribal biologist on the Colville Reservation today said that canid poop discovered with tracks in the middle Sanpoil Valley last winter was “confirmed” as from a wolf by DNA testing.

However, Randy Friedlander and Colville Natural Resources Department manager Joe Peone do not think that there are any breeding pairs or packs on the sprawling reservation on the north and west sides of Lakes Roosevelt and Rufus Woods.

“I halfway believe they were transient wolves,” says Friedlander of the tracks.

Ongoing howling surveys and trail cams have yet to turn up any, he says.

For now, that’s good news for tribal hunters on a reservation suffering from high unemployment but with liberal hunting seasons.

“Our priority for the Colville Tribes is to provide sustenance for our members,” says Peone.

Elsewhere in Washington, a map on WDFW’s Web site shows additional possible pack locations in the Blue Mountains on the Oregon state line and on the international border in the upper Skagit River valley, though none were found in the latter during searches earlier this year, says Luers.

It’s unclear how many wolves are in the Teanaway group, but before confirming it, the agency was estimating a statewide population of 25. Online estimates run far higher.

Luers says that the state is still waiting on genetics work to determine whether the Teanaway wolf is related to the Lookout pack further north in the Cascades. Meanwhile, the smarty-pants who tweets as one of that latter pack’s members, declared yesterday, “Just got back from visiting Teanaway, cuz I know that chick. I mean really know. Had to see for myself. Pups look just like me. Knew it.”

35-pdr Takes 1st At B’Ham Salmon Derby In Juans

July 11, 2011

(REPORT COURTESY KEVIN KLEIN, PUGET SOUND ANGLERS SAN JUAN ISLANDS, COASTAL CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION NORTHSOUND

“Best fishing in the San Juans in 30 years!”

That is the take from many long time anglers around the Islands. Favorable ocean conditions have contributed to an absolute flood of mammoth kings in our waters. And get this….many of the biggest fish are of hatchery origin.

Last weekend’s Bellingham Salmon Derby, July 8-10, put on by Bellingham Puget Sound Anglers, surpassed all expectations with a turn out of around 350 participants. A total of 265 fish were weighed in. That is amazing, but also consider many smaller fish were released by those looking for a derby winner. And the top 5 salmon were all over 30 lb.s.

The winning chinook of almost 35 lbs was caught by Cory Warnock of Bellingham. He split $5000 with teamates Jeff Marrs of Anacortes and Andy Holman of Friday Harbor.

CORY WARNOCK WITH THE WINNER, A CLIPPED 35-POUNDER. (KEVIN KLEIN)

These guys have been lurking around the top placings on the Northwest Derby Series for awhile, but this is their first win. That’s one more thing that makes the Series so cool — watching long time participants finally put the big one in the bag. I was fishing the same hole on Saturday when they landed the winner. I had one on about the same time that took me on four big deep runs, only to sit just out of sight under the boat for a good 5 minutes. My forearm was burning as I had what I knew was a derby placer in a stalemate.

The big king sulked deep, and I couldn’t budge him. A few seals lurked around watching, but must have figured this fish was too big to mess with. I finally got the popped Q-cove flasher to where I could see it, but the black back of the fish was still only a shadow. Just as I was thinking about how I was going to play the rest of the battle, the barbless Kingfisher Hoochie hooker pulled out of it’s mouth and all the tension went out of me and the rod.

I don’t think you ever forget losing a big fish in a derby, but it makes you want to enter the next one even more.

JEFF AND CORY HOLD A PAIR O' PIGS. (KEVIN KLEIN)

Congratulations to all for a great event. This derby also has a lot of great prizes they give away, and a large kid’s division. Proceeds go to local salmon enhancement projects. the top three placings were:

Cory Warnock, 34.85, $5000
Shawn Ensley, 31.95  $2500
Kip Smith, 31.50  $1000

Moonlighting on the Nushagak

July 11, 2011

Every summer Northwest Sportsman/California Sportsman/Alaska Sporting Journal sales manager Brian Lull breaks out of the asylum and spends a few weeks guiding on Alaska’s Nushagak River for Jake’s Nushagak Salmon Camp.

In the wake of last season’s emergency closure, the river was off to a very slow start this year, spawning numerous “the Nush is dead” posts across the Internet. We’re happy to report rumors of her demise were greatly exaggerated.

Here are some snap shots our escapee sent back:

BYE BYE "CIVILIZATION"! DILLINGHAM'S AIRPORT FADES INTO THE DISTANCE AS THE PLANE HEADS FOR JAKE'S NUSHAGAK SALMON CAMP! (BRIAN LULL)

THE PLACE WHERE THEY GROW ALL THE MOSQUITOES IN ALASKA. (BRIAN LULL)

PAUTZKE PRO-STAFFER "PROFESSOR" FRED THOMASON OF PLYMOUTH, CALIF., GUIDING ON THE NUSH. (BRIAN LULL)

HEAD GUIDE AND PAUTZKE PRO-STAFFER BILL “SWANNY” SWANN IN ACTION. (BRIAN LULL)

JASON HELMS GETS THE PRETTIEST FISH OF THE YEAR AWARD FOR MY BOAT. (BRIAN LULL)

STEELHEADUNIVERSITY.COM'S TERRY WEIST AND I HAD TO POSE WITH THE FISH THEY CAUGHT WITH PROFESSOR FRED, SINCE I COULDN'T CATCH THEM ANY THAT DAY! (BRIAN LULL)

SUNSET AT MIDNIGHT. (BRIAN LULL)

MOOSE'S KING. (BRIAN LULL)

STAMPER'S KING. (BRIAN LULL)

THESE FLORIDA BOYS AREN'T USED TO FISH LIKE THIS. (BRIAN LULL)

DOUBLED UP, AGAIN -- MY BOAT HAD 26 DOUBLES ONE DAY, MY PERSONAL RECORD. (BRIAN LULL)

BLOOD BEACH -- ALL JAKE'S BOATS DOUBLED UP ON THE DOWNHILL TROLL. THANKS TO THE ECONOMY WE WERE THE ONLY ONES HERE, A HOLE THAT I COUNTED 34 BOATS FISHING DURING ONE HOT BITE IN 2007. (BRIAN LULL)

A FISH GIVING US THE 'MIDDLE FIN" SPLASH SALUTE. (BRIAN LULL)

IT’S TEN P.M. AND WE ARE OFFICIALLY OFF THE CLOCK. (BRIAN LULL)

JAKE'S NUSHAGAK SALMON NIGHT LIFE COMES COMPLETE WITH LIVE MUSIC. (BRIAN LULL)

IT'S ALREADY MIDNIGHT AGAIN?? (BRIAN LULL)

BRISTOL BAY SOCKEYE ON THE BBQ, DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS -- EXCEPT I HAD TO GO TO COSTCO TO GET THIS ONE. THE STATE OF ALASKA DOESN'T ALLOW GUIDES TO RETAIN FISH WHILST CLIENTS ARE ABOARD. (BRIAN LULL)

GOT YOUR RESERVATIONS FOR LATE JUNE 2012? WHENEVER THERE'S OVER 1,500 CHINOOK A DAY ON THE SONAR READER 37 MILES UP FROM THE MOUTH, IT'S SOLID FISHING. WHEN IT'S OVER 5,000, AMAZING FISHING. (ADFG)