All posts by Andy Walgamott

San Juans Chinook Limit Dropping To 1 Early Due To Catches

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Anglers limited to 1 chinook per day in Marine Area 7 beginning Saturday

Action: Lowers the daily limit for hatchery chinook to one fish in Marine Area 7.

WITH HIGHER THAN ANTICIPATED CATCH RATES, STATE MANAGERS ARE REDUCING THE LIMIT ON HATCHERY CHINOOK IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS, WHERE JAKE MANDELLA CAUGHT THIS NICE ONE IN 2015, TO ONE A DAY FROM TWO. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective Date: 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 22, through 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 31, 2017.

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Location: Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands Area).

Reason for action: Preliminary estimates indicate that anglers have caught more chinook than anticipated. The change to the chinook fishery is in compliance with conservation objectives and agreed-to management plans. The fishery is being modified to control impacts on stocks of concern.

The daily limit for chinook was previously scheduled to drop to one fish beginning Aug. 1.

Other information: The daily limit remains unchanged at a 2 salmon limit, plus two additional sockeye. Chum, wild chinook and coho must still be released. The fishery is scheduled to be open through Sept. 30.

Entiat Hatchery Opening Bank Spot To Chinook Fishing, For First Time

Central Washington anglers have a new spot to fish for summer Chinook.

Managers of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery are opening part of their grounds along the river for the first time.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE CALIBER OF SUMMER KING RETURNING TO THE ENTIAT NATIONAL FISH HATCHERY. (USFWS)

The specific area is “right along the riverfront, just on the other side of the hatchery’s abatement pond,” according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Amanda Smith.

The request came from residents of the northern Chelan County valley, according to the agency, and helps fulfill an edict from Washington DC.

“Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke has directed us to provide more fishing and hunting on public land,” said manager Craig Chisam in a press release, “and we’re doing that. We will do everything we can to accommodate it.”

This year will see the second full return of adult summer Chinook since the facility began producing the stock in 2009.

So far around 180 have arrived, and while biologists estimate around 1,200 will eventually show up, Chisam is “hopeful and optimistic that we will be closer to 2,000 because returns have just been on the late side this year.”

AN ANGLER FISHES BELOW THE HATCHERY. (USFWS)

According to WDFW catch card data from 2015, the most recent year figures are available for, anglers kept 114 kings that season, mostly in July, but about 40 percent in August and September combined.

The Entiat is open under selective-gear rules and a night closure, with a two-hatchery-Chinook limit through Sept. 15. Salmon fishing is open from the railroad bridge at the mouth to markers 1,500 feet upstream of the upper Roaring Creek Road bridge, where the hatchery is.

Try spoons or spinners. Catch code is 586.

Right now, the Entiat is flowing about average height for this time of year, 362 cubic feet per second.

Fish that make it past anglers and are surplus to hatchery needs are given to area tribes, according to USFWS.

Another New Washington State Record Sanddab Caught, This One 1.22 Pounds

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

A King County angler–and recently retired regional director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)–has set a new record for the biggest Pacific sanddab caught in state waters, fishery managers confirmed today.

BOB EVERITT HOLDS THE NEW STATE RECORD SANDDAB, CAUGHT JULY 1 OFF JEFF HEAD. (WDFW)

Bob Everitt of Kirkland didn’t waste any time making a name for himself in the fishing world after his retirement. Retired for one day after a 37-year career at WDFW, Everitt caught one of the biggest, little fish around on July 1 at Jefferson head in Puget Sound.

“We were mooching deep, looking for salmon, and two sanddabs hit the two hooks on my line,” said Everitt, who was the director of regional operations in northern Puget Sound.  “These are small fish, and I thought about shaking them off,” he added.

(WDFW)

But, Danny Garrett, Everitt’s fishing partner and a WDFW biologist, took a second look and noted that one of the fish might be a record, which was later confirmed at a certified scale in Bothell.

Everitt’s sanddab weighed in at 1.22 lb. and measured 14 inches.

Juan Valero of Seattle set the previous record of 1 lb. and 12.5 inches on May 25 while fishing near Possession Point in Puget Sound.

“I had a fun day and a fun career, and if I had any advice for anglers, it would be to get out there and fish often,” said Everitt. “You never know what you might catch.”

A Pacific sanddab is a small, left-eyed, flatfish that prefers sand or mud bottoms. Most weigh less than a third of a pound.

WDFW has created a YouTube video on fishing, prepping and cooking flatfish that is available at https://www.youtube.com/thewdfw.

DNR Bemoans Lack Of Funding To Thin Forests Due To Capital Budget Impasse

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Washington’s forests remain in jeopardy after the Legislature adjourned without passing a capital budget yesterday.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been advocating the passage of the budget, which included $15 million to remove trees struck by insect blight, disease or drought. Without that funding the agency cannot address the problem unhealthy forests pose for the people of Washington.

A FOREST OF CONIFERS SHOWS SIGNS OF STRESS AND SICKNESS. (DNR)

“A century of mismanaged forests has clogged our forests with dead, dry and sick trees that make our summer wildfire seasons as destructive as we’ve seen in the past decade,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “We need this funding to undo this mess by thinning these trees from our forests. This problem is only getting worse, and the longer we wait the more we’ll pay both for the restoration and for the increasing costs of suppressing wildfires.”

A DNR survey has identified 2.7 million acres of Washington forests that are in poor health, filled with dead and diseased trees. These dead trees are one of the primary drivers in the worsening wildfire season Washington has seen over the past decade, according to State Forester Gerry Day, leader of the agency’s wildfire fighting division.

“Forests overcrowded with dead trees raise the risk of hotter and more erratic fires,” Day said. “The magnitude of our forest health problem demands a large, focused statewide commitment to restore the health and resiliency of our forests.”

The $15 million dollars that DNR was expecting to receive would have funded a number of forest restoration projects, including the thinning of 15,000 acres of forests in four fire-prone regions; dozens of new Firewise communities; replanting of forests that burned in recent years’ fires, and putting veterans to work on forest restoration projects.

“Recent fires in our state have proven that Firewise communities work,” said Commissioner Franz. “The loss of this funding will be felt by communities and families around the state.”

The Firewise program educates homeowners about how to protect their homes from wildfire and offers grants to help homeowners make changes to their property, like tree and brush removal. More information can be found at www.dnr.wa.gov/firewise.

Blanchard State Forest

Also in the capital budget was $7.7 million that would have allowed DNR to honor an agreement with Skagit County to preserve a central core of Blanchard State Forest in Skagit County. DNR reached agreement with a broad range of Skagit County interests a decade ago that would have kept Skagit Valley forests working, while preserving the popular Blanchard Mountain recreation area.

“In spite of this disappointing loss, we will continue to work with the community in the surrounding area,” said Commissioner Franz. “I look forward to talking about a path forward with our friends in Skagit County in the very near future.”

Puget SoundCorps

Another impact to state resources without a capital budget is the $5 million DNR sought to employ Puget SoundCorps crews in environmental restoration projects. The agency worked to secure the funding to deploy 14 SoundCorps crews in effective, efficient work restoring Puget Sound, building and maintaining trails, removing invasive species and assessing wildlife populations on DNR lands.

RMEF’s Allen Responds To East Coast Professor’s Talk Of Privatizing Public Lands

THE FOLLOWING IS A ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

In light of continuing chatter and rhetoric aimed at privatizing federal public lands, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation continues to advocate its support for keeping public lands in the hands of America’s citizens.

“The 640 million acres of public land across the United States play a highly significant role in our wildlife system,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Without them, our management system, which is the most successful in the world, would crumble and the health of our wildlife populations would deteriorate.”

ELK COUNTRY ON THE BACKSIDE OF MT. RAINIER, IN THE WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS WILDERNESS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Allen publicly challenged Steve Hanke, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, who called on the government to sell public lands to private ownership in a recent issue of Forbes magazine.

“We cannot afford to play games here. What we need is a focused, pro-active land management approach for our public land assets in this country. RMEF will not waiver on supporting public lands but we are seeking better habitat management and the resources to make that happen,” said Allen.

Allen highlighted a recent elk migratory study by Dr. Arthur Middleton that shows how critical public lands are to the survival of elk in the Greater Yellowstone region.

“We have to manage our public lands with more of a focus on wildlife,” added Allen.

RMEF maintains its decades-long position that public lands must remain public and that such land needs to be managed for the benefit of wildlife and public access but especially for the overall health of forests, grassland and waterways.

Since 1984, RMEF and its partners completed nearly 11,000 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $1 billion. These projects conserved or enhanced more than 7.1 million acres of wildlife habitat.

Lane Co. Chief DA Named OSP’s Wildlife Prosecutor Of Year

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE

On July 19, 2017, the Lane County District Attorney’s Office Chief Deputy District Attorney, Erik Hasselman, was presented with the 2016 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year award during the Oregon District Attorney’s Association summer training conference held in Seaside, Oregon. Chief Deputy Hasselman received the award in front of hundreds of his peers and colleagues.

LANE COUNTY CHIEF DEPUTY PROSECUTOR ERIK HASSELMAN. (OSP)

The 2016 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Award was presented on behalf of the Oregon Sportsmen’s Coalition by Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division Captain Jeff Samuels, Lieutenant Dave Gifford, and Sergeant Chris Ashenfelter, along with Director Curt Melcher of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Chief Deputy Hasselman was nominated for the award by the Oregon State Police South Valley Fish and Wildlife Team as he has shown a vested interest in protecting Oregon’s natural resources. He is considered a member of the team and is in constant communication with and calls Troopers about fish and wildlife cases he hears about even before the reports arrive at the DA’s Office. Mr. Hasselman, as a chief deputy district attorney responsible for handling serious person crimes, has much on his plate though he takes on fish and wildlife cases with enthusiasm and holds violators accountable for their unlawful actions. He actively puts out press releases to inform the community on poaching cases and through his vigorous prosecution has people talking about the penalties for poaching which creates an effective deterrent factor. Mr. Hasselman shares the passion and commitment each of the Troopers have for protecting the fish, wildlife and natural resources of the State.

The Oregon Sportsmen’s Coalition, which consists of volunteer outdoor enthusiast organizations opposed to the unlawful and unethical taking of wildlife to include the Oregon Hunters Association, sponsored the award. This is the tenth annual presentation of the Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Award. Chief Deputy Erik Hasselman is commended for his efforts.

Olympia Budget Impasse Kills Critical Hatchery Work

Editor’s note: This blog post has been updated since news that the state legislature is out of business for the year.

Critical new fish hatchery renovations won’t move forward because legislators in Olympia failed to approve a Capital Budget.

New land buys in Central Washington and elsewhere are also on hold for the foreseeable future, a setback for habitat projects and recreation including hunting and fishing in a key part of the state.

THE CAPITAL BUDGET CONTAINS SEVERAL MILLION DOLLARS FOR RENOVATIONS AT WALLACE SALMON HATCHERY, WHICH REARS SUMMER CHINOOK, COHO AND STEELHEAD. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

A deal was unreachable due to an impasse between how Republicans and Democrats want to address the Hirst decision from the state Supreme Court on new wells in rural areas.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife had been anticipating receiving $51 million to $61 million in funding from the Capital Budget, depending on whether the upper or lower chambers’ bill was ultimately passed.

Either way, 75 percent of that would have gone towards fish hatcheries across the state and the other 25 percent to forest health projects at wildlife areas, according to the agency’s Tim Burns.

He said that with many hatcheries more than half a century old, the improvements are really needed.

Among the projects that are now on hold:

$8 million for Eells Spring in Mason County, WDFW’s largest trout-rearing facility in Western Washington;

$6 million for Puyallup in Pierce County, which is being  converted wholly to salmon production with trout moved to Eells Spring;

$8 million for Naselle in Pacific County;

$5 million for intake work at Samish in Skagit County;

$5 million for renovating rearing ponds at Hoodsport in Mason County;

$2 million for intake improvements and pond renovations at Wallace in Snohomish County.

WDFW’s Raquel Crosier termed the work “pretty critical renovations.”

Five million dollars also would have gone towards hazard-fuel reduction at wildlife areas, mostly in Eastern Washington.

And another $9 million to $14 million would have paid for “minor works” at 40 WDFW facilities, mostly hatcheries.

Earlier this summer the legislature did pass a reappropriations bill, so that some $50 million in current capital projects will continue to be worked on.

But Burns says that without the new funding, he will probably have to lay off staff, including engineers and designers as well as tradespersons at the agency’s Yakima and Lacey shops.

Westport Trip Report: ‘The Tuna Are Here And They Are Hungry’

Editor’s notes: The following blog was written and submitted by Dave Anderson

by Captain Dave Anderson

Last Saturday we switched gears from salmon to tuna and ran the Lumacat out of Westport for her first tuna slayfest! We were lucky enough to bring out Ashley Lewis and Kiley Brehm, as well as a few friends from Sportco –- Corey, Tony and Rob.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

The night before we looked at recent offshore satellite charts. Based on that data, we decided to head out about 40 miles off the tip of the south jetty.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

We arrived at the boat first thing in the morning and got her all ready and loaded up with two scoops of bait and a full tote of ice. Ashley had a radio interview with The Outdoor Line, so we waited until she was done before heading out of the port.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

As we rounded past the south jetty we were greeted by a beautiful, almost-flat ocean. These were perfect conditions which allowed us to run 38 knots almost the whole way out.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

When we arrived to the tuna grounds, we threw out four swimbaits and began slow trolling. Within five minutes we were on! First stop we were able to put about a hand on deck before we went back on the troll.

(DAVE ANDERSON)

However, we immediately hooked up again. We started to chum a little more to get the school up. We also threw out Shimano flat fall jigs in 100 and 130 grams in pink/blue and/or flat side in 112 grams and 140 grams in pink/silver and silver/blue. These jigs got hammered!

(DAVE ANDERSON)

We also had the opportunity to put the Shimano Tranx 400 levelwinds to the test — and, yes, I said levelwinds for tuna! These reels definitely stood up to the task of hauling in albacore. They have also been using these reels for awhile now in California hauling in yellowfin and bluefin tuna. We all were a bit skeptical but I can tell you these reels are a force to be reckoned with!

(DAVE ANDERSON)

Each stop we’d throw another 10 to 12 on deck before we decided enough was enough. We filled the fish boxes with more than enough tuna for all of us and then some!

(DAVE ANDERSON)

I’m happy to say the tuna are here and they are hungry! If you or anyone you know has an opportunity to get out there, now is the time to go! Hop on a charter – you won’t regret it!!!!!!!

Tight lines!

After Great Catches, Roosevelt Sturgeon Closing To Conserve Stock For Future Fisheries

To ensure there’s enough sturgeon to keep in coming years, state managers will close retention on Lake Roosevelt, where anglers have enjoyed a bang-up season, the first in more than three decades.

“It was great for the local economy, and our goal is to continue to have fisheries into the future,” says WDFW’s Chris Donley.

WITH SPRING CHINOOK FISHING A BUST THIS YEAR, RICK ITAMI (LEFT) TOOK A GUIDED TRIP FOR LAKE ROOSEVELT STURGEON. HIS MAY HAVE BEEN THE SHORTEST OF THIS TRIO AT 51 INCHES FORK LENGTH, BUT THE OPPORTUNITY PROVIDED A GREAT FISHERY CLOSE TO HIS SPOKANE HOME. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

He says the state share of sturgeon on the Northeast Washington reservoir on the Upper Columbia was 10,000 going into the season slated to run May 27-Sept. 17 with a daily limit of one, two for the year.

But 3,500 will have been caught by the end of this month, leaving roughly 6,500 available for an opportunity the state had hoped would stretch for nine more years.

Before it opened, it wasn’t clear how well the fishery would go, as it had been more than 30 years since sturgeon were retainable here.

But with improved angling techniques and equipment, as well as a no-distance-is-too-far outlook, fishermen took advantage of it.

Indeed, anglers came from near and far — really far away.

“I saw plates from Utah, Wyoming, Arizona — people flying in from Texas to take a trip,” says Donley.

The rule-change notice has not been officially posted, but he’s proposed to close retention as of an hour after sunset July 31.

He says that in the future there may be tweaks to the regs, perhaps a change to the slot limit or season to help the fishery last that much longer.

“It’s been a great fishery. Really happy with the catches,” Donley says.

With sturgeon declining in the Upper Columbia, state, tribal and provincial managers began releasing young fish into the system on either side of the international border in 2004.

Survival rates were higher than expected, allowing state and tribal anglers to share in the bounty. Fishermen from the Colville and Spokane Tribes had yet to catch their quotas and were expected to continue fishing after July 31, according to WDFW.

This year, the Colville Tribes began releasing sturgeon reared at WDFW’s Wells Hatchery into Lake Rufus Woods as part of relicensing of a Douglas County dam.

King Limit Upping To 2/Day Out Of Westport Starting This Saturday, 7-22

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Anglers can keep two chinook salmon off Westport beginning July 22

Action: Anglers fishing off Westport (Marine Area 2) will be allowed to keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

Effective date: July 22, 2017.

Species affected: Chinook.

ANGLER WILL BE ABLE TO KEEP TWO KINGS A DAY OUT OF WESTPORT STARTING JULY 22. DAVE ANDERSON HOISTS CHINOOK FROM 2014’S FISHERY IN MARINE AREA 2. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Locations: Marine Area 2 (Westport), marine waters stretching from the Queets River to Leadbetter Point.

Reason for action: The fishery has sufficient chinook remaining within the guideline to increase the chinook daily limit from one chinook to two without much risk of having to close early.

Through July 16, anglers had caught 7.3 percent (1,553 fish) of the 21,400 chinook guideline for Marine Area 2.

Anglers fishing in Marine Area 2 have a two-salmon daily limit and must release wild coho salmon.

Other information: The changes announced today do not affect ocean salmon fisheries off Ilwaco (Marine Area 1), La Push (Marine Area 3) or Neah Bay (Marine Area 4).

The daily limit in Marine Area 1 remains at two salmon, only one of which can be a chinook, release wild coho.

The daily limits in marine areas 3 and 4 remain at two salmon, release wild coho. Release chum in Marine Area 4 beginning Aug. 1.

Information Contact: Wendy Beeghley, ocean salmon manager for WDFW, (360) 249-1215.