All posts by Andy Walgamott

Rifle Hunter Numbers, Success Down At Okanogan, NE WA Game Checks

If you hunted Okanogan County or Northeast Washington this past weekend and got a deer, tip of the hat, as success rates for the rifle opener were just in the 12 to 16 percent range.

Game check stations in those parts of the state saw fewer hunters bring fewer animals through than last year, although in the case of the latter region, that may be due to whitetail does being off limits for youth and disabled general season hunters this season.

A MULE DEER BUCK HANGS IN AN OKANOGAN COUNTY HUNTING CAMP. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

“Overall, the check station was slow,” reported Annemarie Prince, WDFW district wildlife biologist in Colville. “Weather was good, but we did see very few vehicles with youth hunters. Not sure if that is related to our regulation change, but I would guess that played a role. Most hunters saw deer, but most were does and fawns.”

She said that 30 hunters came through the Chewelah station with five bucks, including four whitetails and one mule deer, for a 16.66 percent success rate.

Further down Highway 395, 92 hunters stopped at the Deer Park station with 12 bucks, including eight whitetails and four muleys, for a 13 percent success rate.

By comparison, last year’s results, when does were legal for youth and disabled hunters, were:

Chewelah: 49 hunters with 10 deer (eight whitetails, including two bucks and eight antlerless, and two mule deer) for a 20 percent success rate.

Deer Park: 127 hunters with 38 deer (35 whitetails, including 23 bucks and 12 antlerless, and three mule deer) for a 30 percent success rate.

And in 2017, it was 174 hunters at Deer Park with 38 deer (35 whitetails, including 21 buck and 14 antlerless, and three mule deer) for a 21.8 percent success rate. A Chewelah station wasn’t run that year.

The idea behind the full ban on general season antlerless whitetail harvest is to try and rebuild numbers in Washington’s most productive deer woods.

Affected units include Sherman (GMU 101), Kellyhill (105), Douglas (108), Aladdin (111), Selkirk (113), 49 Degrees North (117) and Huckleberry (121).

Seniors haven’t been able to take one there since the 2016 season.

The only other check station in the rest of the state is at the Red Barn in Winthrop, and that’s where WDFW district wildlife biologist and his crew were set up.

“We checked 67 hunters with eight deer, plus two bears and a cougar,” he reported, a 11.9 percent success rate on deer. “These numbers suggest both participation and success are down somewhat from last year, 82 hunters with 13 deer,” a 15.9 percent success rate.

In 2017 the score was 83 with seven, an 8.4 percent success rate.

The caveat is that not all hunters stop by the check stations, which are voluntary and only operated on the weekends. The successful rifleman in our camp of five wasn’t leaving until Monday.

He got his buck first thing Saturday morning. That day was mostly overcast and while Sunday morning did see rain and snow, things are looking decidedly stormier in the coming days.

“The forecast is for colder and wetter weather with significant high country snow for the second half of the season, so prospects may improve if conditions get deer moving toward winter range,” Fitkin says.

That’s a mighty big if, of course, but keep in mind that mule deer season here (and everywhere else in Washington) does run through Tuesday, October 22.

“My guess is the last two days of the season next week will be the best opportunity given the weather forecast and the fact that there is usually significantly less pressure on those two days,” Fitkin stated.

Back in Northeast Washington, whitetail season goes a bit longer, through Friday, Oct. 25, then picks up again in November for the rut hunt.

On the Westside, blacktails are open through Halloween, with numerous units also open for a late hunt in mid-November.

Got a pic or story to share about the opener? Email me at awalgamott@media-inc.com!

Rough Days At Sea Series III: First Trips Offshore

The author’s an old salt now, but his initial trips onto Oregon’s briny blue were memorable in their own ways.

By Jim Pex

When I was of elementary-school age, my father brought me from our hometown in Central Oregon to Winchester Bay to go fishing. Winchester Bay used to be called the salmon capital of the West Coast. In those days there were lots of fish and charters often came in with limits of coho.

Dad got us both seats on a charter boat and I was so excited. Getting to go out on a boat in the ocean was an experience by itself, a thrill beyond all thrills. My father and I were the first to get on board and he quickly selected the seats closest to the transom. No one challenged us for them, as the other fishermen jockeyed for the seats up near the middle of the boat. We just knew these were the best seats.

THE OCEAN WAS AND WASN’T LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT FOR AUTHOR JIM PEX, WHOSE FIRST TRIP WAS MARRED BY VOLUMINOUS SEASICKNESS AND HIS SECOND WITH WHITE-KNUCKLE SKIPPERING, BUT HE HASN’T LOOKED BACK EITHER. (JIM PEX)

The deckhand gave us fishing rods and we placed them in the pole holders next to us. Every fisherman had his own pole, including me. Once everyone was seated, the captain gave us some safety instructions and we were underway.

I STILL REMEMBER THE WAVES AS WE headed out. The boat would climb up the tall waves and come crashing down the other side, sending water spraying over the cabin and onto those of us seated in the back of the boat. Each time the water came aboard, my father and I got the worst of it, and it was cold. Now I knew why no one had been seeking the transom seats.

The up and down motion of the boat was constant, and my father was not talking, just trying to keep it together. I doubt we were underway more than 15 minutes before he tossed up breakfast. I saw it coming and quickly looked the other way and covered my ears. I was doing OK, but his unmistakable sounds were soon joined by others on the boat. Dad was able to tip his head over the gunnel and cast his stomach contents into the deep without me seeing all the action.

But a woman sitting behind me had totally lost control. I turned and looked at her at times and she appeared unconscious while her partner held her in her seat. To this day I can still see her. She would awaken, roll around in her seat as the boat moved in the waves, then cast more stomach contents in my direction and lose consciousness again. As if it were a signal, Dad would spew more fluids beside me every time he heard the woman belch forth.

RICHARD PEX, JIM’S DAD, “LOVED TO FISH” – HERE HE IS WITH A SALMON CAUGHT IN THE 1980S – BUT HE ONLY MADE ONLY ONE TRIP ONTO THE OCEAN WITH HIS SON, A MEMORABLE BONDING EXPERIENCE. (JIM PEX)

By the time we reached the first can, some others were joining in on the action. Even at my young age, I could not believe people paid good money for this experience. I would cover my ears, close my eyes and turn away from anyone making the guttural sounds and calling out to someone named “Huey!”

Despite the cacophony on deck, I did see a few people catch fish. Even my father’s rod went down, but the deckhand had to bring it in as he was having another conversation with the cold, green waters of the Pacific Ocean.

In spite of it all, I had held up and kept breakfast down for quite some time. Then it happened, my father vomited before I could close my eyes and turn my head. I saw it, and that was all that it took. I heaved up everything.

By now, Dad and I were huddled together trying to cope with the conditions, but sharing the moment each time one of us let go. First, there were the initial tones from the woman behind us, then father and son would join in on the chorus. I was on the inside seat, so I just puked on the floor. The sight of it added to the aroma and I continued to lose control of everything. By this time, neither of us wanted to be on that boat. We were miserable and the seas were not letting up.

My parents were divorced, and I think we made this trip so dad and I could do some bonding. We did.

It seemed like an eternity, but we finally got back to the dock. There the deckhand smiled and handed us our fish. We took them to the cleaning table, but the sight of guts gave both of us the dry heaves. We were weak and exhausted, and there was nothing left to come up. I don’t recall what we did with the fish, but I know that was the last time my father set foot on a boat going onto the ocean.

In later years my father would tell us about the end of World War II and his return to the United States. His company made the trip back to America on the Queen Mary, one of the largest vessels afloat at that time. He related that he puked every day of the crossing, and all he could do was lie on his back in a bunk. If he got up, he puked. I have no idea why he thought he could do a charter fishing trip, but for purposes of bonding, it was memorable.

AS AN ADULT, I OBTAINED EMPLOYMENT IN Eugene and that put me within a couple hours of the ocean. I did not know anyone who had an ocean boat but I just could not get past the call of the sea either. I would take the family to Newport or Winchester Bay and wander the beaches, watching the waves and the sea life that passed by. Then we would always stop by the fish-cleaning station to see what people were catching. It was clear in my mind that I needed a boat.

For weeks I studied the want ads, Craigslist and the Boat Trader looking for something trailerable and affordable. I did not have much of a budget, considering I had a house, four children and a wife. I finally came upon a fiberglass boat that had not been used in a long time. Stored in a barn, it was for sale at a good price and needed some work, which I was willing to do.

THE CALL OF THE SEA WAS STRONG WITH PEX, WHO RECALLS WANDERING THE BEACHES ON THE OREGON COAST AND NEEDING A BOAT. EVENTUALLY HE ACQUIRED A 20-FOOT FIBERGLASS APOLLO, BACKGROUND, WHICH NEEDED A WEE BIT OF WORK TO MAKE SEAWORTHY. (JIM PEX)

I purchased the 20-foot fiberglass Apollo boat and took it home. It was equipped with a V8 engine and an outdrive. There was a slight problem in that we lived in town and did not have much room to store a boat. So I parked it in the driveway and was very proud of my new purchase, a potential dream come true. I don’t think my neighbors were as excited about this apparent eyesore, as they did mention it a few times.

But I shined up the hull, and worked on the engine and got it running. Just one problem: The wooden stringers under the motor mounts were rotten and the boat could not be used until I fixed this problem. The motor needed to be attached to something solid, so I spent hours upside down in the hold with a chisel and hammer cleaning out the old wood and opening up the fiberglass. I was finally able to insert some pressure treated wood and fiber-glassed it in to support the engine. Later I found a cheap depth finder and Loran and installed them as well. I was ready to fish. I just needed a place to go and some brave fishermen to go along.

There was another slight problem: I had never taken a sport boat on the ocean. In fact, I had not been on the ocean since my childhood experience with my father. Checking around with my friends I found two, Hugh and Jim, who said they had ocean experience and would go with me. So on a Friday afternoon, we loaded all our fishing poles and other gear into the boat and left Eugene for Winchester Bay, where we’d heard the bite was on for coho.

A couple hours later we pulled into the parking lot at Winchester and could hardly contain our excitement for the next day’s fishing adventure. The afternoon wind was up but we figured we would be out early and back before it picked up the next day.

None of us had much money, so we slept on the boat that night. The three of us told stories while in our sleeping bags. There wasn’t much room, but it was doable. I found it difficult to sleep because the wind was blowing so hard that it was rocking the boat while it was still on the trailer. We ended up talking most of the night and finally dozed off in the early hours of the morning.

BEFORE DAYLIGHT WE WERE UP AND READY TO GO. One look outside found the fog as thick as pea soup, so we launched and just tied up in the boat basin in anticipation of the fog clearing. Not long after daylight, the wind picked up and blew off the fog.

We three musketeers motored out into the bay and headed for the bar. I saw a few boats go out, so I thought it must be OK. I had no idea what to look for, so I followed the south jetty out. A Coast Guard vessel was sitting on the bar and with an incoming tide, the passage to the ocean did not look too bad. They honked their horn at us, and we honked back, not sure at the time what that meant; heck, maybe they were just being friendly. Hugh and Jim did not say anything, so I just continued out.

As I reflect back on that moment, I’m not sure their silence was from confidence or fear. When we got to the bar, the waves seemed pretty high but they were just rollers, not breaking. Once past the bar, we got our gear in the water and fished for a couple hours without so much as a bite. By this time the tide had changed to outgoing, the wind picked up and the fog rolled back in. I got disoriented in the fog and it took all three of us following a deck compass and moving north to find a jetty.

There was another small problem: Which jetty were we looking at? There is a north jetty and a south jetty. It’s hard to tell which one you are facing when you can’t see the other one in the fog. The Loran worked, but we did not know how to interpret the data.

About this time, the Coast Guard got on the radio to tell boaters they were going to close the bar. If you were out on the ocean, you had best get back in. I looked at my two experts and realized they did not know any more about what to do than I did. It was time for panic with this sudden revelation and my heart rate was doing mach ten. Going in on the wrong side of the jetty could put me on the beach.

The swell was getting tall with the outgoing tide and we were running out of time as we waited outside the jetties. I did not know what to do. Suddenly a charter boat appeared out of the fog, turned around and went back in. I am sure it was divine intervention; the good Lord was pointing the way back home. I quickly lost sight of the charter in the fog, but I now knew which side of the jetty to follow upriver. I hit the throttle just as the Coast Guard was closing the bar to all recreational boats.

The wind was whistling by now and I was trying to get on the back of a swell to ride it in; at least that is what I thought I was supposed to do. Problem was, these were standing waves and the current was running out. I managed to get up enough speed to top a swell, fly down the inside and then jump onto another standing wave.

After what seemed like hours, we reached the inner bay where it made a turn to port. We all breathed a big sigh; we were going to make it. The fog had thinned as we’d run inland and we could see the Coast Guard station now and they were flying two flags. I knew enough to know that meant gale force winds. The three of us were glad to be inside and slowly made our way to the boat landing a few more hundred yards up the river. We had no fish, but were happy to be there.

WITH TWO FRIENDS CLAIMING EXPERIENCE ON THE OCEAN, PEX AND PALS HEADED FOR WINCHESTER BAY FOR WHAT WOULD BE ANOTHER MEMORABLE TRIP ON THE OCEAN – TWO FOR TWO! (JIM PEX)

THERE WERE SEVERAL PEOPLE AROUND THE LANDING, but nobody was volunteering to catch our boat at the dock. I told Hugh and Jim I would motor up easy to the dock into the wind. They could then jump out and hold the boat while I went and got the pickup and trailer.

All went as planned as I inched my way to the dock, where they jumped out and grabbed the railing. I was about to shut off the engine when they shouted that they could not hold the boat in the wind. I went back to the helm and immediately put the boat in reverse. I would simply back up, go around the dock and let the wind push the boat up to the dock. The solution to the wind was that simple.

I put the boat in reverse and started backing up. But there was a problem: As I was looking back toward the transom, I could not get the boat to respond to the wheel. We were not turning as I expected.

Then I heard a loud voice up front and turned around to see Jim hanging from the bow railing at the front of the boat. Both of his hands gripped the rail and his feet were in the water. His head was just high enough over the bow that I could see the fear in his wide eyes. Apparently he had failed to let go of the boat in time and lost his balance. Grabbing the rail on the boat was all that prevented him from doing a swan dive into the water.

“Hang on, Jim,” I yelled, “and I will get you back to the dock.”

For the dock to hold its position, there are steel pilings every 10 feet. When I hit the throttle, the boat jumped forward. In the attempt to get Jim to the dock, I scraped him off on one of the pilings and in a splash, he was in the water. I backed up this time to sounds of more yelling. It was probably better that I could not hear the words in the wind.

Hugh reached out and grabbed Jim by the back of the life jacket and pulled him out of the water and onto the dock. I was doing my best not to laugh, but you can only bite your lip for so long. Somewhere there must be a word for a hilarious disaster. It would be appropriate here – maybe calamity?

The folks around the dock had stopped to watch the show but made no attempt to assist. From shoreside, it had to be funny.

The boat responded now when I shifted in reverse and I went around the dock and let the wind push me in. As I tied off, Jim sloshed up to me and said he was physically OK, but in front of several laughing people, his feelings were a little hurt. I apologized profusely but could not help but laugh too as I watched the water drain from his clothing as he sloshed back up the dock making that “swish, swish” sound on his way to dry land.

We got the boat out of the water, Jim put on some dry clothes and we finally had a good laugh together on the way home.

We had no fish to our credit, but we had had a lifetime of memories from a weekend with more thrills than three guys could have imagined. It all could have ended differently, but it didn’t. NS

Editor’s note: Author Jim Pex is an avid angler based out of Coos Bay and who enjoys fishing for albacore, salmon and rockfish. He is retired and was previously CEO of International Forensic Experts LLC and a lieutenant with the Oregon State Police at its crime laboratory. Pex is the author of CSI: Moments from a Career in Forensic Science, available through Amazon.

New Strategy To Boost Crashing Lake Sammamish Kokanee

THE FOLLOWING IS A KING COUNTY PRESS RELEASE

A partnership coordinated by King County released juvenile kokanee into Lake Sammamish after holding the rare native salmon in a controlled hatchery longer than usual to increase their chances for survival. Snoqualmie Tribe representatives released the first few 6-inch-long kokanee from a canoe Wednesday evening after a performing a traditional song.

SIX-INCH-LONG KOKANEE AWAIT RELEASE INTO LAKE SAMMAMISH. (KING COUNTY)

It is one of several emergency actions that partners are taking to ensure the survival of the native salmon after a sudden, alarming decline in the number of spawners returning to Lake Sammamish streams in recent years.

“We are deploying every available resource and trying new techniques in a united effort to save this little native salmon that has plied our lakes and streams since time immemorial,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “It reflects the urgent work we are doing throughout the entire watershed – from the Cascades to Puget Sound – to protect and restore our natural environment.”

The 3,000 fish are the offspring of adult Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon captured during the 2018-19 spawning run, from October through January. Those adult fish were spawned at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, where a portion of the young were raised until their release.

Another portion of the offspring from last season’s spawning run were transferred into a private pond along the eastern shore of Lake Sammamish. Fish in both locations were fed and protected from predators with netting.

The wild-hatched siblings of these fish moved from the small streams where they began life buried in a gravel nest along the stream’s bottom down into Lake Sammamish soon after hatching. Once in the lake, the inch-long kokanee faced becoming a meal to larger fish, including non-native predators that have been introduced to the lake, or birds.

Two more-serious threats that young kokanee have to overcome in Lake Sammamish every summer are warm water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels. These conditions tend to force the fish into narrow bands of cooler, oxygen-rich water, making them more susceptible to the lethal effects of predators and disease.

Scientists believe these inhospitable conditions could be largely responsible for the sharp decline in native Lake Sammamish kokanee – from more than 18,000 adult fish on the spawning grounds in 2017 to just under 120 this past season.

Executive Constantine announced in 2018 that King County would work with partners to implement recommendations by the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group, a broad coalition that includes residents who live in the watershed, the Snoqualmie Tribe, the cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Sammamish, and Redmond, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Parks, Trout Unlimited, Mid-Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Save Lake Sammamish, Friends of Pine Lake, Friends of Sammamish State Park, and others.

Partners released kokanee after sunset far from the lakeshore so the juvenile salmon are safer from voracious non-native predator fish, such as yellow perch.

In addition to being culturally significant, the native kokanee are important to the bio-diversity of the region. Several scientific studies show that they have a unique genetic signature, having adapted over centuries to the unique Lake Sammamish ecosystem, making them impossible to replace. Genetic diversity makes the natural environment healthier and more resilient, which is particularly important in the face of climate change.

The kokanee run that occurs in November and December – known as “the late run” – is the only remaining native run. Biologists believe the other two runs that historically occurred between late August and early November have been extinct since the 2000s.

Money Minnow Season Wraps Up With Cathlamet, New Angler On Top

The 2019 pikeminnow sport reward season wrapped up early last week and it featured a pair of surprises.

Not only did Cathlamet retain its title of top station, but for the first time in a decade there’s a new top-earning angler, according to program manager Eric Winther.

AN ANGLER BELOW BONNEVILLE DAM UNHOOKS A NORTHERN PIKEMINNOW. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

He called it perhaps a “‘changing of the guard’ in the pikeminnow world,’ in which anglers are paid to remove these native fish that prey on young salmon and smolt in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Until last year, Cathlamet had never had highest haul since the program’s inception in 1991, according to Winther, but it followed up 2018’s 25,135 with an even larger tally, 27,317 qualifying pikeminnow.

That equates to just over 18.5 percent of all the fish brought in during the May 1-Sept. 30 season for rewards from $5 to $8, with specially tagged ones worth $500.

“The Dalles station didn’t really happen for the second straight year and the Mid-Columbia stations around the Tri-Cities had down years as well,” noted Winther.

Second best location was Boyer Park on the Snake with 20,989, followed by Washougal with 11,785.

Catch per angler was strongest at Ridgefield, Kalama and Beacon Rock, with an average of 10.3, 10.2 and 10.0 pikeminnow apiece through the season for participating fishermen.

“We have a new top angler for the first time since 2009,” Winther added.

That fisherman earned $50,647 for bringing in 6,187 pikeminnow, including three with tags.

The second-place angler took in $38,365 for their 4,490 and five tags.

Names of participants aren’t divulged.

This year’s catch of 146,082 was the lowest back to 2009, and well below the longterm average of roughly 172,000.

“On a positive side, we did once again hit our exploitation target, 10 to 20 percent, for the 22nd consecutive year, which is the truest gauge of program success,” Winther noted.

Meeting that goal is believed to reduce predation on young Chinook, coho, steelhead and other salmonids by up to 40 percent.

Funding comes from the Bonneville Power Administration, which operates a number of dams on the Columbia system, and which  made pikeminnow much more effective at snacking on outmigrating smolts.

Walleye, Caspian terns and other piscovores also prey on the little fish, while California and Steller sea lions chow down on returning adults.

Federal overseers are now taking public comment on a proposal by state and tribal managers to expand the area where pinnipeds can be removed and could lead to as many as 416 being taken out a year to help ESA-listed fish populations. It would allow lethal removals from around Washougal upstream to McNary Dam as well as salmon-bearing tribs below there.

Anglers participating in the pikeminnow program are reminded they have to submit their vouchers by Nov. 15 to receive payment.

Hanford Reach Fishing Report (10-8-19)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS FORWARDED BY PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW

Hanford Reach Fall Chinook Fishery Update (Sept 30 – Oct 6)

Over 6,200 anglers fished for fall chinook in the Hanford Reach this past week. Fishing was excellent with boats averaging 1.5 fish per boat, 10 hours per fish.

SPOKANE ANGLER RICK ITAMI AND HIS FRIEND BUTCH CAME AWAY WITH THEIR LIMITS OF HANFORD REACH FALL CHINOOK ON CONSECUTIVE DAYS DURING GUIDED TRIPS LATE LAST MONTH. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

From September 30 through October 6, WDFW staff interviewed anglers from 931 boats (2,467 anglers) and 83 bank anglers with 1,213 adult chinook, 146 jacks and 4 coho. An estimated 2,963 adult chinook, 376 chinook jacks and 10 coho were harvested for the week (expanded).

For the season there have been 21,878 angler trips with 7,533 adult chinook, 871 chinook jacks, and 29 coho harvested. Harvest is tracking ~9% higher than last year at this time. (2018 =6,901 adult chinook).

Adult counts of fall chinook over Bonneville are running 45% above last year’s numbers and McNary counts  are running 24% above last year at this time.

In addition to the US v Oregon Agreement, the Hanford Reach URB population is managed under the Hanford Reach Fall Chinook Fishery Management Plan. The population is managed to meet the Hanford Reach URB escapement goal of 31,100 – 42,000 adults (naturally spawning population). Harvest allocated to the fishery is based on in-season return estimates. An in-season estimate is generated weekly from September 15 through October 15 for the Hanford Reach wild component of the return. The estimate is generated based on current passage through the fish ladders at McNary, Ice Harbor, and Priest Rapids Dams and incorporates average migration timing for this population. Based on fish counts through October 7, an estimated 53,497 adult, wild (natural origin) fall chinook are expected to return to the Hanford Reach. At returns in excess of 52,000 adults, an increased proportion of the return is dedicated to the terminal fishery. With an expected natural origin fall chinook return at 53,497, 15,329 adult chinook are allocated to the Hanford Reach sport fishery. This allocation plus the current one adult daily limit should be sufficient to continue the fishery through the end of the scheduled season. The next in-season update will be posted October 14.

TRI-CITIES ANGLER JERRY HAN (BACKGROUND) REPORTS THAT SOME DAYS ON THE HANFORD REACH HAVE “BEEN A GRIND AND A STRUGGLE,” BUT WHEN WATER FLOWS OUT OF PRIEST RAPIDS DAM ARE STABLE, IT’S BEEN DECENT. SUCH WAS THE CASE LAST SUNDAY WHEN OLIVIA SUYAMA, 11, PICKED UP HER FIRST-EVER SALMON. “SHE FOUGHT IT LIKE A CHAMP AND WE WERE SOON HIGH-FIVING IT,” REPORTS HAN, WHO SAYS IT AND TWO OTHER FALL KINGS WERE LANDED ON SUPER BAITS IN ROTTEN BANANA AND STUFFED WITH STARKIST TUNA IN OIL, AND RUN BEHIND PRO-TROLL FLASHERS AND 8 TO 12 OUNCES OF LEAD. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST

Worrying Infestation Of Euro Green Crabs Found In Drayton Harbor

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

As part of an early-detection partnership, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Washington Sea Grant (WSG) Crab Team found evidence of European green crabs (Carcinus maenas) in Drayton Harbor during regular monitoring, and then trapped 17 green crabs during a two-day rapid response in late September. This is the highest number of green crabs trapped in such a short period of time from any one area along Washington’s inland shoreline.

EUROPEAN GREEN CRAB COLLECTED AT DUNGENESS NWR EARLIER THIS YEAR. (ALLEN PLEUS, WDFW)

“Finding this many invasive green crabs so quickly in one area raises a serious concern that there may be an established and reproducing population in Drayton Harbor,” said Allen Pleus, WDFW’s aquatic invasive species manager. “We are working with our partners at Washington Sea Grant to do additional trapping in the area and will work with local governments, tribes, and other partners to plan an appropriate response.”

European green crabs are a globally damaging invasive species that pose a threat to Washington’s economic, environmental, and cultural resources. Potential impacts include destruction of eelgrass beds and estuarine marsh habitats, threats to the harvest of wild shellfish and the shellfish aquaculture industry, the Dungeness crab fishery, salmon recovery, and a complex array of ecological impacts to food webs, which could negatively impact human uses and cultural resources of the Salish Sea.

“Managing aquatic invasive species like the European green crab is similar to preventing wildfires,” said Emily Grason, marine ecologist and Crab Team program manager at Washington Sea Grant. “We keep a sharp lookout and respond quickly to small populations before they get too big to control. When even a single green crab is found, the first step is to quickly do more trapping to figure out the size and geographic extent of a potential population. Then we have more information to determine the best way to manage them.”

The European green crab first became established in the United States in the mid-1800s, arriving by sail or steamships via transatlantic trade routes to the Cape Cod region on the east coast. In the early 1900s, green crabs spread northwards, where they are believed to have contributed to the dramatic declines in the soft-shell clam industry. In 1989, they were discovered on the West Coast, in San Francisco Bay. WDFW first confirmed green crabs in Washington waters in 1998 in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

Following the 2012 discovery of a large population of green crab in Sooke Basin on Vancouver Island, WDFW established a partnership with WSG to develop a comprehensive early detection monitoring program. WSG’s Crab Team launched in 2015, engaging hundreds of community science volunteers; local, state, and federal agencies; nonprofit organizations, and 10 Salish Sea Tribes.

Since 2016, European green crabs have been found at 12 locations along Washington’s inland shoreline. Trapping 17 green crabs at Drayton Harbor over just two days is significant because it is the highest number of crabs trapped in such a short window from one area of Washington’s inland shorelines. It has taken three years to capture 222 green crabs at Dungeness Spit, and the combined number of green crabs trapped at the other 10 locations over the same three-year period totaled just 27 crabs.

As the prevention of green crab infestations requires widespread help, WDFW worked with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Puget Sound Partnership, and Washington Sea Grant to develop the Salish Sea Transboundary Action Plan, which is available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02045.

Report your green crab sightings

WDFW encourages the public to keep a lookout for European green crabs when visiting the beach. People can familiarize themselves with how to identify the species and distinguish it from similar native species on Washington Sea Grant’s crab identification webpage at https://wsg.washington.edu/crabteam/greencrab/id/.

If you find a live green crab or its shell in Washington, report it online as soon as possible at https://wsg.washington.edu/crabteam/greencrab/report/. Take several pictures from different angles and distances to help confirm the identification. It’s also helpful to include a coin or other object to help show its size.

It is illegal to possess a live green crab in Washington, so make sure to leave the crab where you found it. This may sound counter intuitive, but this law is designed to protect native crabs from cases of mistaken identity, which is very common. If you find a dead crab or an empty shell, however, you can collect and keep it to help in identification.

More information on aquatic invasive species in Washington is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/invasive.

Washington’s Biggest Hunts–Rifle Deer, Elk, Plus Waterfowl–Open Soon

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

Some of Washington’s most popular hunting seasons will get underway Oct. 12, when modern firearm deer hunters and waterfowl hunters take to the field.

CALEB WHITE BAGGED HIS FIRST BUCK ON 2018’S OPENING DAY IN OKANOGAN COUNTY. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

“Overall, hunters should expect good opportunities for mule deer along the east slopes of the Cascades in Chelan and Okanogan counties, good opportunities for white-tailed deer in northeast Washington, and good to excellent opportunities for black-tailed deer throughout western Washington,” said Brock Hoenes, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) deer and elk section manager.

While hunting prospects in many areas are good, some deer and elk populations are rebuilding, added Hoenes.

“Opportunities will be limited for elk hunters in eastern Washington this year, but elk hunters west of the Cascades can expect seasons similar to last year, with the best opportunities being associated with the Willapa Hills and Mount St. Helens elk herds,” said Hoenes.

WDFW IS FORECASTING THAT ELK HUNTING IN SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON’S WILLAPA AND ST. HELENS HERD RANGES COULD BE GOOD. THAT’S THE REGION RAY COOPER BAGGED THIS BIG BOY LAST SEASON. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

“All indications are the black-tailed deer and most elk populations west of the Cascades have remained stable,” said Hoenes. “Severe weather and wildfire events in recent years have contributed to declines in some of Washington’s deer and elk herds in eastern Washington and populations remain below historical levels. The department has restricted doe and cow harvest in those areas to rebuild those herds.”

WDFW also employs management practices like prescribed burning and forest thinning on its wildlife areas to reduce risks of wildfire and improve big game habitat.

Waterfowl season takes flight in mid-October as well. Duck, goose, coot, and snipe seasons open on Oct. 12.

“Hunters have been among the nation’s largest contributors to conservation, donating time and paying for programs that benefit America’s wildlife — and all who enjoy the outdoors,” said Eric Gardner, WDFW wildlife program director and waterfowl hunter. “Now is a great time to celebrate our hunting tradition. I’m anticipating a great year and I look forward to getting out and hunting with my new dog.”

“Favorable habitat conditions and breeding pair counts from Washington, Alaska, and portions of Canada indicate a strong fall flight,” said Kyle Spragens, WDFW waterfowl manager.

KYLE VANDERWAAL ENJOYED A GOOD DAY OF DUCK HUNTING IN THE COLUMBIA BASIN LAST FALL, AND IN THE PROCESS OF TRYING TO SNAG ONE OF HIS MALLARDS THAT HAD FALLEN A BIT TOO DEEP, HE MANAGED TO HOOK A LARGEMOUTH BASS . (VIA GARY LUNDQUIST)

“Weather is a key ingredient to successful waterfowl hunting, but is the most difficult to anticipate, added Spragens. “Waterfowl hunters have a first chance on local birds until the northern birds are ushered into the state from Alaska and Canada by low pressure weather systems. Things seem to be shaping up nicely with early season rains and colder temperatures settling into the north.”

Spragens reminds hunters to know the rules and how to identify species. The exceptions to October waterfowl hunting openings include dusky Canada goose hunting, which is closed to harvest. Brant season in Skagit County, determined by the midwinter waterfowl survey, is also currently closed, but may open on selected dates in January. Scaup season is also currently closed, but opens on Nov. 2.

WDFW wetland management on the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area and practice of planting grains for waterfowl on lands such as the Samish Wildlife Area Unit in Skagit County, among other management actions across the state, support healthy waterfowl populations.

Reviewing WDFW’s 2019 Hunting Prospects reports (https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/locations/prospects) can help hunters find their spot. The Hunting Prospects include local information on what upcoming seasons may hold.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS ONE OF THE APPROXIMATELY 115 PROPERTIES ENROLLED IN THE FEEL FREE TO HUNT PROGRAM, ONE OF FOUR THAT PROVIDE ACCESS TO PRIVATE GROUND. (WDFW)

Information on access to more than 1 million acres of private land can be found at the Private Lands Hunting Access page (https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/locations/private-lands). Hunters can also find information on public or private lands open to hunting by visiting WDFW’s hunt planner webmap (https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/.)

Hunters can purchase their licenses at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov, at any WDFW’s 600 license dealers (https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/), or by calling WDFW’s licensing customer service number at (360) 902-2464.

No General Antlerless Whitetail Ops In 7 NE Washington Units

When I bought my Washington rifle deer tag at the Shoreline Fred Meyer yesterday afternoon, the customer service clerk asked if I also wanted a copy of the hunting pamphlet.

Nah, was my first thought, nothing ever changes except for the starting and ending dates of my season.

YOUTH, DISABLED AND SENIOR HUNTERS WILL NEED TO FOCUS ON BUCKS IN KEY NORTHEAST WASHINGTON UNITS THIS SEASON AFTER STATE MANAGERS SCRUBBED ANTLERLESS OPPORTUNITIES THERE. SHAWN CHILD, THEN 13, BAGGED THIS BUCK DURING 2015’S HUNT. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

But then I decided otherwise and accepted the regs, along with my tag and receipt.

Indeed, things do change — and there’s a notable one in Northeast Washington this season.

With 4 days, 16 hours, 53 minutes and 21 seconds (as of this sentence being written) until shooting light this coming Saturday morning, state wildlife managers are sending out a heads up to youth and disabled hunters, as well as senior sportsmen, that antlerless whitetails are off limits in a number of units north of Spokane.

It’s a big change from past years, and the affected units include Sherman (GMU 101), Kellyhill (105), Douglas (108), Aladdin (111), Selkirk (113), 49 Degrees North (117) and Huckleberry (121).

The idea is to try and rebuild whitetail numbers in Washington’s most productive deer woods.

The 2015 season not only saw a high harvest, but an “extraordinary” bluetongue outbreak caused by drought and high temperatures and which killed many more. This country also has more than its fair share of wolves and cougars.

So this season, unlike past ones, all general season hunters can only shoot bucks.

“We need does to increase the population with fawns,” says WDFW spokeswoman Staci Lehman in Spokane.

A relatively mild summer and easy winter will help the cause towards that end.

The change actually began in 2017, when local hunters 65 and over lobbied to forego the opportunity to take does.

“’Hey, we’ll take the hit, we want to promote youth hunters,’” is how former district biologist Dana Base described their decision for an article that fall.

Now it’s being extended to youth as well as disabled hunters.

“We just want to remind people about the change before they head out,” says Lehman.

Annemarie Prince, the current district bio, reports that unfortunately a few seniors have killed antlerless whitetails since 2017’s switch.

It has yet to be determined when does might again be fair game during the general season in Northeast Washington, Lehman says.

In the meanwhile, Mt. Spokane (GMU 124) and numerous units on the Palouse and foothills of the Blues do offer general season antlerless opportunities for youth, seniors and disabled sportsmen.

See the regulations for details.

Editor’s note: In the sixth paragraph the game management unit for Huckleberry was incorrect. It is 121, not 124.

Lynnwood Angler Awarded NW Salmon Derby Series Grand Prize Boat

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE NORTHWEST MARINE TRADE ASSOCIATION

Trevor Everitt of Lynnwood was at home when his brother Keaton Everitt called him in the late evening hours of Sept. 22 after viewing the feed of the grand prize boat name drawing on Facebook from the Everett Coho Derby.

“My brother told me that I had won the derby boat and I was in disbelief,” Everitt said. “I told him I’m not getting excited until I hear from the derby folks that I had actually won.”

TREVOR EVERITT (CENTER) TAKES THE KEYS TO THE 2019 NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES GRAND PRIZE BOAT FROM KARSTEN McINTOSH AND MARK YUASA OF THE NORTHWEST MARINE TRADE ASSOCIATION. (NMTA)

Little did the Kirkland native realize, but his name had been randomly drawn from almost 7,000 anglers following the conclusion of the 2019 Northwest Salmon Derby Series.

Mark Yuasa the director of the Northwest Salmon Derby Series tried calling him soon after Everitt’s name was drawn that he’d won a grand prize, fully equipped aluminum boat valued at around $75,000, but it went directly into voicemail.

The next morning Yuasa finally got in touch with Everitt to notify him and turned his disbelief into reality.

“(Yuasa) told me I won the boat and then I knew it was indeed for real,” said Everitt who entered the derby series drawing after fishing in Edmonds Coho Derby on Sept. 7.

“This was the first time I bought a ticket to the derby and that came after my brother had convinced us to enter,” he said. “We grew up doing all kinds of salmon fishing with our grandpa up in Bellingham, but then high school and college got in the way and we hadn’t been fishing for about 15 years.”

Everitt said his grandpa had passed away and left his family a small inheritance. At the end of the 2018 fishing season they decided to use that money to purchase a 19-foot Bayliner Trophy Boat.

“We fixed it up and this season was the first time we got it on the water,” Everitt said. “It was a great way to hang out with my dad (Bob Everitt) and brother and it brought our families closer together. My brother is a total gear head fisherman and he saw a poster for the Edmonds Coho Derby at the Edmonds Marina and talked my dad and I into entering. My brother caught a fish but that was the only one we hooked during the derby. My brother and I have young kids and are starting to get them out fishing. Now that we’ve got this new boat hopefully we can also get our wives to go out as well.”

(NMTA)

The boat is the 16th grand prize boat, motor, and trailer package that has been given away since the Series was created in 2004. This year’s Weldcraft 202 Hardtop boat is powered by a 200-horsepower Yamaha and a 9.9-horsepower trolling motor, on an EZ Loader tandem axle trailer. The boat came fully equipped with Raymarine electronics, Scotty Downriggers, a WhoDat Tower, Burnewiin accessories and a Dual Electronics stereo.

“It was a joy to hear how excited he was and his plans to get their family out on the water,” said Yuasa. “This boat and motor package are top-of-the-line and will provide Trevor quality time on the water. He plans to get the boat out as soon as possible before the coho fishing winds down and looks forward to winter crabbing.”

The Northwest Salmon Derby Series is a fishing promotion program directed by the NMTA that encourages boating and fishing in the Northwest. In 2019, the series included 14 derbies in Washington, Idaho and British Columbia, Canada. For each derby an angler competes in, they get one entry into the drawing for the grand prize boat held at the final derby in the Series.

For more information, visit www.NorthwestSalmonDerbySeries.com.

Hunter Candidates Needed For WDFW Wolf Advisory Group

Hunters are being called on to put in their application to serve on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wolf Advisory Group.

It’s a key time to join the panel and comes as many Evergreen State sportsmen are also preparing for the opening of rifle deer season this weekend and Eastside elk later in the month.

A LATE-SEASON BLACKTAIL HUNTER LOOKS OVER WESTERN WASHINGTON REPROD. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The three-year term will overlap WDFW’s development of post state delisting wolf management planning, and follows on the WAG’s steady focus on livestock conflicts since it was formed in 2013.

“This group has been extremely helpful in advising the department on the challenging issue of recovering and managing gray wolves in our state,” Director Kelly Susewind said in a press release. “We are looking for candidates who value working cooperatively with others to develop management recommendations to advise the agency.”

WDFW is also looking for representatives from the ranching, environmental and at-large communities to fill out four vacancies.

Around this time last year, when the agency made a similar call as other seats came open, a hunter urged their fellow sportsmen to put in for the WAG.

Applications are being taken through 5 p.m., Nov. 8. To apply or nominate someone, WDFW is asking for:

* The applicant or nominee’s name, address, telephone number, and email address;
* People or groups making nominations must also submit their own names and contact information;
* The candidate’s relevant experience, organizational affiliations, and reasons why they would be an effective advisory group member;
* Familiarity with Washington’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and current wolf recovery status and management issues; and
* Experience in collaborating with people with different values.

Materials should either be emailed to wildthing@dfw.wa.gov or mailed to WDFW, P. O. Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98504-3200.