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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Signs Of Pink Run ’11 Show Off Coast

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I checked into it anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South 7 Reopening For Spot Shrimp July 6-9

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

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

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

Species affected: Spot shrimp.

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

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

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

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

(NERVOUS WATER)

Upgrade To FishHead App Now Available

(NERVOUS WATER APPS PRESS RELEASE)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(NERVOUS WATER APPS)

FishHead 1.1 Update new features and improvements:

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

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

You can learn more at www.fishheadapp.com

For more information you can contact:

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

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon (6-30-11)

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

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

SOUTHWEST ZONE

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

NORTHWEST ZONE

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

WILLAMETTE ZONE

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

CENTRAL ZONE

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

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

SOUTHEAST ZONE

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

 NORTHEAST ZONE

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

BROWNLEE ZONE

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

COLUMBIA ZONE

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

MARINE ZONE

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

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

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

Coastwide Chinook Mark-Selective Fishery

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

All-Species Fishery

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

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

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

Westport

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

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

Neah Bay

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

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

What’s Fishin’ In Washington (7-11)

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

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

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

To wit:

NORTH PUGET SOUND

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

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

Puget Sound salmon fishing opportunities in July include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EASTERN WASHINGTON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NORTHCENTRAL WASHINGTON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOUTHCENTRAL WASHINGTON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

maps

USFS Lays Out Baker Rules For Anglers

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

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

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

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

There will likely be many more seasons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epic Days On The Nush

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

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

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

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

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

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

My first reaction was, Preposterous!

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

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

Nushagak River – June 19 – 23, 2011

Jake’s Nushagak Camp – Steelhead University

By Terry Wiest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 2: Could it be a repeat?

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

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

Day 3: Captain Fred puts us on a few fish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you kidding me!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LARGE CANID TRACK FOUND IN THE GENERAL TEANAWAY AREA LAST FALL BY A HUNTER. HE SAYS THAT FOR REFERENCE, HIS BOOT SIZE IS 11.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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