All posts by Andy Walgamott

More Chinook Dying Before Spawning Leads To Wider North Coast Salmon Closure

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Following a recent die-off of fall Chinook salmon in the Wilson River, excessive pre-spawn mortality of fall Chinook in other nearby rivers has prompted fishery managers to close the entire North Coast to all salmon angling, effective Dec. 13 – 31. The closure includes all North Coast basins from the Nestucca River to the Necanicum River.  Angling for steelhead is unaffected by this change and remains open under permanent regulations.

(PAUL ISHII)

Monitoring of North Coast basins, in response to the recent die-off observed in the Wilson River and by reports from the public of similar mortality events in other rivers, revealed substantial deaths of fall Chinook salmon (more than half of the carcasses sampled in the Nestucca, Trask and Kilchis rivers this week) prior to spawning. Additional pre-spawn mortalities have been observed in the Wilson River since last week’s closure as well. The mortality is attributed to the spread of cryptobia, a naturally occurring parasite which only affects certain fish species, and poses no risk to humans.

The closure is necessary to protect remaining fall Chinook adults to allow them to reach spawning grounds, according to Robert Bradley, district fish biologist for ODFW’s North Coast Watershed District. “The observed pre-spawn mortality is on top of a reduced run of fall Chinook this year,” said Bradley. “We need to protect the remaining spawners to help provide for future runs of fall Chinook on the North Coast.”

NORTH COAST RIVERS WERE SEEING DECEMBER 10 FLOWS IN JUST THE 2 TO 6 PERCENTILE FOR THE DATE. (USGS)

Angling for all salmon is closed for the remainder of 2019 in the following areas: Necanicum River basin, Nehalem Bay and River (including the NF Nehalem), Tillamook Bay and rivers (Tillamook River, Trask River, Wilson River, Kilchis River and Miami River), and Nestucca Bay and River (including Three Rivers and the Little Nestucca River).

The pre-spawn mortality event appears to be limited to the North Coast. Assessments of other basins further south have not revealed any incidents of this kind. Due to this, no angling regulation changes are being made in other locations.

For more information about North Coast fisheries, including regulation updates, visit ODFW’s online fishing reports at www.myodfw.com.

Southwest Washington Spring Chinook Forecasts Out

Spring Chinook forecasts for Washington’s Lower Columbia and Gorge tribs are out and they don’t look too hot.

WDFW is forecasting just 3,700 of the year’s first salmon back to the Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis, and 8,400 to the Wind, Drano and Klickitat.

DRANO LAKE WILL SEE THE HIGHEST SPRING CHINOOK RETURN OF THE SIX SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON COLUMBIA TRIBUTARIES, BUT STILL LESS THAN HALF THE 10-YEAR AVERAGE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Individually the runs are all below to well below the 10-year average, with the Cowlitz expecting the fewest returning all the way back to 1980.

Managers blame the Pacific, where the fish feed for a couple years before returning to their home rivers.

“Ocean conditions between 2015 and 2018 were among the worst observed during the last 20 years and have likely had a strong influence on the spring Chinook cohorts that will return to these tributaries in 2020,” WDFW states.

It represents a grim beginning to the slow annual unveiling of the next year’s salmon forecasts.

After Columbia springer numbers are released comes a preliminary outlook for the big river’s fall king and coho runs, followed by harder numbers for bright and tule Chinook stock segments, and then Oregon Coast coho and Washington king, silver, sockeye and chum forecasts later in winter.

Springer fishing was closed on the Cowlitz and Lewis this past season, as was the Columbia below Warrior Rock, with the Kalama’s limit also dropped to one due to low forecasts.

Drano and Wind had to be closed late in the fishery to help hatchery systems elsewhere in the Columbia Basin meet broodstock goals.

 

Crabbing In Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2 To Stay Open Thru Jan. 31

THE FOLLOWING IS WDFW PR

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today that two marine areas of Puget Sound will remain open for recreational crab fishing through Jan. 31, 2020.

Waters that will remain open to recreational crabbing include Marine Area 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay) and Marine Area 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner).

After evaluation of crab harvest data from the 2019 winter season, state and tribal co-managers agree that the crab abundance in Marine Areas 8-1 and 8-2 can support an additional in-season increase to the harvest shares, allowing the state recreational fishery to remain open through the end of January. Managers made the decision to extend the recreational season to offset the closure that occurred between Oct. 23 through Nov. 28 while crab abundance in these marine areas was assessed.

By co-manager agreement, recreational crabbers will not be required to have a Puget Sound Dungeness crab license endorsement or record Dungeness crab retained on a Catch Record Card when crabbing in January 2020 in Marine Areas 8-1 and 8-2.

Dungeness crab caught in the fishery from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2019 must still be recorded immediately on winter catch record cards, which are valid through Dec. 31. A valid shellfish or combination license is still required to harvest throughout the remainder of the season.

After conclusion of the regular winter harvest season on Dec. 31, 2019, winter catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb. 4, 2020. For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/fishing/catch-record-card/dungeness.

In each of the two affected areas, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Jan. 31. Sport crabbers are reminded that setting or pulling traps from a vessel is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset.

The daily limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 1/4 inches. Crabbers may also catch six red rock crab of either sex per day with a minimum carapace width of 5 inches, and six Tanner crab of either sex with a minimum carapace of 4 1/2 inches. Additional information is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/crab.

Mule Deer Buck Rider Seen In Viral Video Charged With Harassment, Abuse Of Wildlife

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE DIVISION

On December 6, 2019 Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Troopers received information from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife regarding a disturbing video shared via social media. The video displayed what appeared to be a young adult male climbing onto, and eventually riding on the back of a live and exhausted mule deer buck while it was contained within a fenced enclosure. Throughout the video, the mule deer buck can be heard grunting and/or bleating and after escaping the rider, the buck jumped into a linked fence, multiple times, attempting to escape the enclosure.

(OSP)

After reviewing the video, OSP Fish & Wildlife Troopers conducted further investigation and identified two suspects from Riley, OR. The primary suspect, identified as Jacob Belcher (18) from Riley, OR., was located on a rural ranch in Harney County where he was interviewed by Troopers. The investigation and interviews revealed that the buck mule deer had entrapped itself within a fenced feeding enclosure, before being ridden by Belcher. The buck was eventually freed and its status at this time is unknown.

Following interviews, Belcher was arrested and lodged at the Harney County Jail on charges of Wildlife Harassment and Animal Abuse II. Another suspect, who was responsible for filming the incident, was identified and interviewed as well. Charges of Aiding in a Wildlife Offense will be referred to the Harney County District Attorney’s Office.

Baker Sockeye Issues Back On WDFW Commission Agenda

It turns out that my best idea for solving aggravating Baker sockeye harvest inequities would cost on the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars — money WDFW doesn’t exactly have at the moment — and require round-the-clock monitoring so thieves don’t steal valuable parts.

In-river sonar that counts salmon, like what’s used on the Fraser and in Alaska, before they reach North Sound tribal nets in the Skagit and sport hooks there and up at Baker Lake could yield better data on relative run strength than the preseason prediction now used to set fisheries and hope the fish come in.

IT’S BEEN AWHILE SINCE ALEC SCHANTZ CAUGHT HIS SOCKEYE LIMIT AT BAKER LAKE, WHERE HE DID SO IN 2013 BUT NOT THIS PAST SEASON WHEN HE TROLLED AROUND FOR TWO DAYS WITH NARY A NIBBLE. HIS GRANDFATHER FRANK URABECK IS TRYING TO ENSURE THAT MORE OF THE SALMON ARE PLACED INTO THE RESERVOIR. (FRANK URABECK)

Forecasts the past few years have been as much as 33 percent too high, leading to a 19,000-plus-fish disparity between the fleets, and that’s been rubbing recreational anglers the wrong way since 2017.

This coming Saturday morning the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will again hear about the issue, and fishermen are being called on to attend the meeting in Bellingham.

“Whenever the actual run is less than the preseason forecast the tribes wind up with more sockeye,” said angler advocate Frank Urabeck, who was rallying anglers on The Outdoor Line radio show on Seattle’s 710 ESPN last weekend.

Currently, the best way to tell how well the run is tracking versus the prediction made the previous winter is how many are showing up at the Baker River trap, minus tribal and plunkers’ catches. The time it takes the fish to swim to the trap limits the effectiveness of inseason actions. And when fewer show up than expected, it means less are put into Baker Lake, where the primary sport fishery is.

So one of the ideas Uraback is pitching is to use a run forecast buffer, like what is done with spring Chinook on the Columbia River. Thirty percent is chopped off the best guess of biologists to set fisheries before the halfway point of the run is reached as a check against overharvesting a weaker than expected return.

He also suggests “following year payback” — adjusting harvests the next season to even out overages the previous one.

That’s similar to how Puget Sound crabbing is managed and why this past summer saw an early closure in Area 10. There, last year’s Dungeness quota was 40,000 pounds, but sport crabbers harvested more than 46,000 pounds, and so through “buyback provisions” in negotiated state-tribal agreements, that dropped this year’s allowable take to 33,212 pounds.

Urabeck, a retired Army Corps engineer, also suggests managers use their “professional judgment” inseason to adjust the forecast.

“We again are asking that the Commission direct (WDFW) to give Baker sockeye harvest equity a high priority for the 2020 season, engaging the three Skagit Basin tribes on behalf of sport fishing license holders in a transparent manner that allows the public to track the discussions,” he said.

The sockeye fishery, particularly in the lake, has become more important in recent years with low returns to the Brewster Pool on the other side of the North Cascades and the decline of Lake Washington.

Sportfishing occurs off the banks of the lower Skagit between Mount Vernon and Gilligan Creek, and in Baker Lake, while three tribes net from the forks of the Skagit up to Mount Vernon, and from Gilligan Creek up to the Baker River, and the Swinomish in the salt to their preseason share.

Most of the nontribal catch occurs in the lake — 10,080 in 2015, according to one set of WDFW catch stats, versus 800 in the river.

With Urabeck and others pushing, Washington’s fish commission has been tracking the issue since at least October 2017, and last fall there was a workshop at WDFW’s Mill Creek office. On Saturday commissioners will be updated on the 2019 season and how harvest inequity issues are being addressed by state staff.

“The department absolutely thinks this is a worthwhile endeavor to find a solution that the state and tribes can live with,” say Aaron Dufault, a WDFW anadromous resources policy analyst in Olympia.

Even as it was off by a third this year, a new forecasting tool he and the biologists came up with and which uses environmental factors in the North Pacific is tracking better than the old model, which called for a return of nearly 60,000 sockeye in 2019.

Only 22,440 actually hit the mouth of the Skagit.

Yet Dufault acknowledges that the new model’s overprediction means there is “a little bit more room for improvement.”

He cautions that while ideas like Urabeck’s would impact tribal harvests and represent hurdles that would need to be overcome, WDFW is working with the Swinomish, Sauk-Suiattles and Upper Skagits to get an agreed-to harvest sharing dataset in place for 2020, as well as improve communications between the parties.

Because sockeye are seldom pursued much less caught in saltwater like Chinook, coho and pinks, it’s one of few fisheries where recreational anglers fish behind the tribal guys.

Since 2010, the tribes have harvested 134,035 Baker sockeye, sport anglers 113,074, according to Dufault’s commission presentation.

We caught more in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015, years when more fish came back than were forecast; they caught more in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, years the prediction was too high, the presentation shows.

The disparity since 2017 is 37,864 to 18,782, according to the presentation.

An uptick in marine survival could turn things around quickly, Dufault notes.

He says there are payback provisions in an overarching Puget Sound salmon management document, but that they’re not a silver bullet either as they haven’t been used in “a couple decades.”

Still, it’s an option and one that could have an impact but would have to be agreed to too via the North of Falcon salmon-season-setting process.

But what if everybody had a better, more accurate gauge of run strength, aka in-river sonar?

Dufault calls it “a really cool tool,” and says it could solve a lot of the issues around the inequity.

He adds that the units also cost on the order of a couple hundred thousand dollars — tens of thousands of dollars if rented — and they require pretty specialized operators to perform real-time analysis, another cost.

He says that on the larger Fraser in Southwest British Columbia, five or six people are needed for daily number crunching, and someone has to be onsite 24-7 to guard the valuable equipment used to scan the river.

Needless to say, with WDFW’s current budget issues, the agency has other stated priorities in its whopping $26 million supplemental request to lawmakers. And sonar would need to have tribal buy-in.

Meanwhile, Urabeck is pessimistic about next year’s sockeye run and Puget Sound salmon fisheries, adding importance to Baker Lake, which he speculates “may be one of the few places salmon anglers can troll in 2020.”

“Many sport fishing license holders are giving serious thought to leaving this sport. We must have a reason to continue which only fishing opportunity can provide,” he says.

As it stands, WDFW does report that hatchery fry production in the Baker is increasing, with north of 9 million released in 2019, up from 6 million just four years ago and 2.5 million in 2009.

With sockeye clearly going to be around in the Skagit system for the foreseeable future and representing an important fishery for the state and three North Sound tribes, it behooves the parties to come to an equitable solution.

Saturday’s Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting comes to order at 8 a.m., with sockeye on the docket at 9 a.m. Public comment will be taken after Dufault’s presentation.

The meeting is in the Chuckanut Room at the Holiday Inn, 4260 Mitchell Way, across from the airport.

A Few More Of Northwest Fishing’s ‘Influential Communicators’ Who Need To Be Recognized

A local fishing magazine’s list of the “15 most influential communicators” in the Northwest’s angling world caught my eye recently.

While I absolutely can not argue the merits of any of those who made the roundup* — they are or have been crucial to getting some aspect or another of The Word on Fishing in these here parts out to the public — from my vantage point I feel there are a few more folks who probably should be recognized too.

(Dozens more like Buzz Ramsey, who also writes, were part of the main portion of the article which focused on influential anglers, so aren’t listed here.)

So here is some recognition for:

SCOTT HAUGEN

I can think of very few Northwest hook-and-bullet writers who have had as many consistent monthly bylines for almost the past two decades as full-timer Scott Haugen, who has shared expert advice on all things fishing as well as hunting in the Northwest and beyond dating back to 1997. Plus he’s a book author, TV host and seminar speaker. Wife Tiffany Haugen also deserves strong recognition for her wild game and fish recipes and cookbooks, helping sportsmen come up with new ways to serve up their harvest.

SCOTT HAUGEN WITH AN UMPQUA RIVER WINTER STEELHEAD CAUGHT ON A MAG LIP. (SCOTT HAUGEN VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

MARK YUASA

A devotee of mooching for salmon on Puget Sound, the longtime Seattle Times outdoor reporter who I chased scoops against for years now works for the Northwest Marine Trade Association as its Grow Boating director. Even as we still race to post the latest clam openers, etc., Yuasa’s duties nowadays include filing a monthly regional fishing prospectus — Get Hooked on Reel Times With Mark — and outside of that he provides fishing updates for The Outdoor Line radio show and blog and is very active on social media.

MARK YUASA WITH A PUGET SOUND COHO. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

DAVE GRAYBILL

The self-proclaimed Fishin’ Magician has been detailing North-central Washington angling opportunities since I first learned my ACBs, and to this day his reports are regularly carried by local media and posted to his website. Oh, and he’s also a member of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, where he’s a strong angler advocate. Talk about influence!

WDFW FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONER AND “FISHIN’ MAGICIAN” DAVE GRAYBILL. (WDFW)

TREY CARSKADON

Besides authoring occasional articles, he’s the public relations director at O’Loughlin Trade Shows, which puts on annual sportsmen’s shows in Portland, Puyallup, and Redmond, Oregon, and is a strong positive force in a time of overwhelming negativity in terms of fish runs and angler attitudes.

MIKE CAREY

Flipping through broadcast channels on a recent Sunday afternoon in search of football, who should pop up onto my screen — and with a turkey no less — than Mike Carey. He took what began as Washington Lakes waaaaay back in the Interwebian dark ages of 1997 into the cross-platform behemoth that is Northwest Fishing Reports, featuring fresh reader content, searchable reports, how-to videos, articles and a TV show.

INFLUENCING THEIR REGION

While the weekly outdoors newspaper columnist is a critically endangered species in most of our region’s population hubs — preposterous when you consider that one of every five Washington salmon and steelhead anglers in 2015 lived in the SeaTimes’ hometown and backyard, King County — there are a few more out where we haven’t yet completely paved Mother Nature over and there are a fish or two to be caught still.

Jordan Nailon has Southwest Washington fishin’, clammin’, huntin’, viewin’ and other outdoorin’ activities nailed down in his weekly column for the Centralia Chronicle, and last year won the 2018 Dolly Connelly Award For Excellence In Environmental Journalism with his coverage of the region’s massive poaching ring.

Eric Barker anchors fishing and outdoor coverage in the hugely important Lewis and Clark Valley at the mouth of Hells Canyon for the Lewiston Tribune, just as Mark Freeman‘s has held down the fort in Southern Oregon for 30 years at the Medford Mail-Tribune.

Even as he’s authored the Northwest Sportsman fishing and hunting column in the Yakima Herald-Republic for 25-plus years, it’s a bit of a mismatch to slot Rob Phillips in with the rest of the regional writers as he’s also the owner of an ad agency with Yakima Bait as one of its biggest clients, giving him influence beyond the valley.

ROB PHILLIPS PILOTING HIS BOAT IN TRAFFIC AT WIND RIVER DURING A PAST SPRING CHINOOK FISHERY THERE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

UP-AND-COMERS

You can’t deny the passion, energy and much-needed positivity that Sara Ichtertz has brought to Southern and Coastal Oregon fishing since breaking onto the writing scene in late 2016. Her name recently shared a line with Buzz on the cover of a local sporting magazine.

Eli Francovich certainly has some very big boots to fill at the Spokane Spokesman-Review as the replacement for now-retired outdoor reporter Rich Landers, but his coverage of Inland Northwest issues over the past two years has been impressive.

You certainly can’t call Duane Inglin an up-and-comer following his years behind the mic on two different Seattle-based radio shows, but since March he’s been at the desk of his new two-hour Thursday evening Fish Hunt Northwest, streaming on YouTube, as well as posting news nugs, pics and more to FHN’s Facebook feed.

Online, angler-influencers like Ashley Nichole Lewis, Bryanna Zimmerman and Sebastian “Seabass” Chik are ones to pay attention to too.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Joel Shangle moved on to the national bass fishing world a year and a half ago and is now the editor-in-chief of Major League Fishing, but not before beginning his outdoor career here in our radio and magazine ecosystems as the host of Northwest Wild Country, editor of Fishing & Hunting News’ flagship Washington edition and freelancer for other titles.

Full disclosure, he’s personally taught my sons and I how to crab, but author Wayne Heinz has also authored good books on catching a variety of saltwater species and how to read depthfinders — and his data on Tri-Cities bass is ridiculously deep. Speaking of deep, there is all-things-halibut guru John Beath. Speaking of John, there is John Kruse, host of not one but two shows heard on stations big and small through his Northwestern Outdoors Radio and America’s Outdoor Radio broadcasts. And while also retired Jeff Barnard, the longtime Associated Press reporter in Medford, did well to keep that region’s fish, wildlife and environmental issues in the news before going on to detail his late-blooming interest in hunting for ODFW.

Lord knows that I am absolutely forgetting some folks, and my sincere apologies for that.

Influential all, and I am thankful they provide their time and energy to the betterment of Northwest fish, fishing and issues therein.

* Editor’s note: The 15 influential communicators were listed in the December 2019-January 2020 issue of Salmon & Steelhead Journal. They are Terry Sheely and Jim Goerg of The Reel News; Bill Herzog, the angler-author; John Keizer of Salt Patrol and seminar speaking; Tom Nelson and Rob Endsley of The Outdoor Line; Ifish originator Jenny Logsden; freelancer Jason Brooks; Bill Monroe of The Oregonian, Terry Otto of The Columbian and Rich Landers, now retired, of the Spokane Spokesman-Review; Owen Hayes of Outdoor GPS; Patrick McGann (who hired yours truly at F&H News) of SSJ; California-based writer JD Richey; and Addicted Fishing’s Marlin LeFever and Cameron Black.

The full list of influential and innovative anglers includes Jason Atkinson, Southern Oregon fly guy and former Fish and Wildlife Commission member; Gary Loomis, rodmaker and CCA member; guide and CCA member Jack Smith; pro-fish and fishing former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber; Walt McGovern, longtime president of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders; Buzz Ramsey of record steelhead catches, Luhr Jensen and now Yakima Bait; Liz Hamilton, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association director and member and advisor to many committees and agencies; Frank Amato, publisher fishing magazines and books; Bruce Polley of CCA; Rod Brobeck of the Oregon Wildife Heritage Foundation; Frank Haw of the old Washington Department of Fisheries and salmon management innovator; Dick Pool of Pro-Troll; Tony Floor, a retired WDFW and NMTA spokesman; Brian Kraft, Alaska fishing loddge owner fighting the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay; Dave Schamp of the Steelheaders, CCA and now Hatchery and Wild Coexist; Ron Garner, president of Puget Sound Anglers and member of the Billy Frank Jr. Salmon Coalition; former U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, key to beginning mass marking of salmon; rod designer and fly fisherman Steve Rajeff; former Washington Department of Fisheries director Curt Smitch; CCA’s Andy Marks; retired WDFW salmon policy analyst and current fishing lobbyist Pat Patillo; Mitch Sanchotena, founder of Idaho Steelhead and Salmon Unlimited; and lobbyist Carl Burke.

WDFW’s Susewind To Hold Monday Evening Webinar On Agency Policies, Budget Issues, Etc.

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Kelly Susewind, director of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will host an online, virtual open house on Monday, Dec. 16 to give the public a chance to ask questions and gain information about department policies and direction.

WDFW DIRECTOR KELLY SUSEWIND. (WDFW)

“This is a chance to hear from those who aren’t always able to attend our in-person events and meetings,” said Susewind. “Getting this feedback is incredibly helpful. We learn about what’s on people’s minds and how we can enhance their lives through our work while participants get answers to the things that matter most to them.”

Director Susewind will be joined by wildlife, fish, law enforcement, and habitat leadership. He and his staff will kick off the online event with a brief update on the upcoming legislative season and department budget challenges, current conservation efforts, partner collaborations, efforts to enhance public service, and the department’s work to develop a strategic plan.

The online webinar starts at 6:30 p.m. The public can go to https://player.invintus.com/?clientID=2836755451&eventID=2019121004 during the event to watch and submit questions. After the event, the digital open house video will remain available for viewing from the agency’s website, wdfw.wa.gov.

SW OR Wild Steelhead Retention Back In Front Of ODFW Commission; Decision In Jan.

THE FOLLOWING IS APRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Commission will consider a petition to prohibit the retention of wild winter steelhead on all rivers in the SW Zone next month at its Jan. 17 meeting in Salem.

WHETHER OR NOT TO CONTINUE THE LIMITED HARVEST OF WILD WINTER STEELHEAD ON EIGHT SOUTHERN OREGON RIVERS AND TWO CREEKS IS UP FOR A DECISION BY THE FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION. CARSON AND MATT BREESE CAUGHT THIS HOOK-BENDING 39.5-INCHER EARLY IN THE 2016 SEASON. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Today during the open forum portion of their meeting, they heard from more than 30 members of the public testifying for and against a proposal to adopt a temporary rule to immediately prohibit the retention of wild winter steelhead for the 2020 season. The Commission expressed appreciation for information provided by those who testified, and re-affirmed that they will formally consider the petition as an agenda item next month.

The Commission adopted Oregon’s Conservation Plan for Lampreys today. Interest in lamprey conservation has increased dramatically over the last two decades as concern has grown over their status. The Plan covers four of the state’s native species of lampreys: Pacific Lamprey, Western River Lamprey, Western Brook Lamprey, and Pacific Brook Lamprey and identifies limiting factors, management strategies and research needed to conserve these species.

The Commission also adopted 2020 fishing regulations for groundfish (e.g. rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, greenling). State harvest guidelines are very similar to last year. There will be a 5-fish daily bag limit and a new sub-bag daily limit of 1 copper, quillback or China rockfish (in response to the harvest guideline for these species being met early in 2019 and ending retention in late August). Fishing will be limited to shoreward of the 40-fathom line from June through August, and allowed at all depths from September through May. Commercial nearshore fishery landing limits will also be similar to 2019. In the commercial Black Rockfish Management Areas, daily limits will increase from 300 to 500 pounds in January-February and November-December.

The Commission also:

  • Amended roadkill salvage rules to allow deer and elk dispatched by wildlife law enforcement personnel after being roadstruck to be salvaged by people besides just the driver.
  • Made corrections to minor errors in the big game controlled hunt tables and boundary descriptions from the October Commission meeting to accurately reflect the newly published 2020 Regulations.
  • Formally approved the amended trapping regulations to prohibit the use of snares suspended in trees in the Siskiyou and Siuslaw National Forests and prohibit trapping in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Areas, per previous Commission decision.
  • Approved funding for several Restoration and Enhancement projects to increase fishing opportunities or improve public access and approve some housekeeping updates for rules managing the program.

In response to a judgement related to the Commission’s June 2018 decision to not uplist the marbled murrelet from threatened to endangered, Commissioners voted (4 to 1) to direct ODFW staff to initiate rulemaking to reconsider the uplisting and the status of this seabird. More information about this rulemaking process, including meeting dates, will be announced next year.

The Commission’s next meeting is Jan. 17 in Salem.

7-day Razor Clam Dig Coming Up; Tentative Jan., Feb. Openers Set

THE FOLLOWING IS APRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Razor clam diggers can return to ocean beaches for a seven-day opening beginning Dec. 10.

COPALIS, WHERE THESE RAZOR CLAMMERS ENJOYED A NIGHT DIG, IS ONE OF TWO WASHINGTON COAST BEACHES THAT WILL OPEN IN THE COMING DAYS. (DAN AYRES, WDFW)

State shellfish managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the dig on evening low tides after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.

The approved dig is for the following beaches, dates and low tides:

  • December 10, Tuesday, 5:28 pm, -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • December 11, Wednesday, 6:06 pm, -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • December 12, Thursday, 6:45 pm, -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • December 13, Friday, 7:26 pm, -1.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • December 14, Saturday, 8:08 pm, -1.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • December 15, Sunday, 8:53 pm, -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • December 16, Monday, 9:41 pm, -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

No digging is allowed before noon for allowed digs, when low tide occurs in the evening.

“We also were able to pencil out tentative dates, and upcoming digs bring a ton of opportunity to harvest clams well into the new year,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.

In order to ensure conservation of clams for future generations, WDFW sets tentative razor clam seasons that are based on the results from an annual coast-wide razor clam stock assessment and by considering harvest to date. WDFW authorizes each dig independently after getting the results of marine toxin testing.

Proposed razor clam digs for Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks include:

  • December 23, Monday, 4:35 pm, -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • December 26, Thursday, 6:47 pm, -1.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • December 27, Friday, 7:26 pm, -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • December 28, Saturday, 8:05 pm, -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • December 29, Sunday, 8:43 pm, -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

 

  • January 8, Wednesday, 5:05 pm -0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • January 9, Thursday, 5:47 pm -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • January 10, Friday, 6:29 pm -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • January 11, Saturday, 7:11 pm -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • January 12, Sunday, 7:53 pm -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • January 13, Monday, 8:36 pm -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • January 14, Tuesday, 9:20 pm -0.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

 

  • January 21, Tuesday, 4:23 pm -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • January 22, Wednesday, 5:10 pm -0.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • January 23, Thursday, 5:53 pm -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • January 24, Friday, 6:32 pm -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • January 25, Saturday, 7:08 pm -0.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • January 26, Sunday, 7:42 pm -0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis

 

  • February 6, Thursday, 4:40 pm -0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • February 7, Friday, 5:26 pm -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • February 8, Saturday, 6:09 pm -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • February 9, Sunday, 6:51 pm -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • February 10, Monday, 7:32 pm -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • February 11, Tuesday, 8:13 pm -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • February 12, Wednesday, 8:55 pm -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

 

  • February 20, Thursday, 4:54 pm 0.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • February 21, Friday, 5:35 pm -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • February 22, Saturday, 6:11 pm -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • February 23, Sunday, 6:44 pm -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Final approval of the tentatively scheduled openings will depend on whether results of marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat.

Ayres notes that low tides around New Years are not low enough for successful razor clam harvest, so digging will not open then.

WDFW is also asking razor clam fans around the state to weigh in on the perennial question: Which is better, clam gun or shovel? To register support for a favored digging method, clam diggers can post a photo or video, complete with hashtag #TeamClamShovel or #TeamClamGun on any social media before the end of the spring season.

Additional safety considerations are important this time of year. “Diggers want to be sure to come prepared with good lighting devices and always keep an eye on the surf, particularly at this time of year when low tides come at dusk and after dark,” said Ayres.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2019-20 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

Bull, Cow Elk Poached, Wasted In Eastern Tillamook Co.

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE DIVISION

The Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s help in locating the person(s) responsible for the unlawful killing and waste of a 4X5 bull elk and a cow elk in Tillamook County.

(OSP)

On Wednesday, December 4, 2019, Tillamook OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers were dispatched to a report of a deceased bull elk. The deceased bull elk was located approximately 3 miles up Kansas Creek Road in an area known as Hembre Ridge.

The bull elk was killed using a rifle and left to waste with no meat removed.  Further investigation led to the discovery of a deceased cow elk nearby.  Neither elk was salvageable and it appeared both elk had been shot within the past few days.

OSP is asking anyone who was in the area or anyone who may have information on the person(s) responsible to call the TIP line at 1-800-452-7888, or *OSP (677) and refer information to Trooper Charles Reeder.  Information can also be sent by email to TIP@state.or.us.