All posts by Andy Walgamott

Despite River Conditions, Columbia Chinook Landed Today (Well, One Anyway)

The dam count sucks, early catches have been poor, the big river’s murky and nearly a foot above flood stage, there’s a buttload more water on the way, researchers say the fish forecast may be too high, our chief Columbia River salesman has been looking for jagged glass shards all day and a guy just landed a real nice springer.

That guy would be one Scott Dunbar of Vancouver, who was out with guide Brandon Glass when the hatchery Chinook bit today.

“According to Brandon, the fish went for a plug-cut herring trolled 36 inches behind a double Fish Flash set-up,” reports Yakima Bait’s Buzz Ramsey, who this afternoon forwarded images of Dunbar’s catch.

DESPITE POOR FISHING CONDITIONS, SCOTT DUNBAR STILL CAUGHT THIS NICE SPRING CHINOOK OUT OF THE COLUMBIA TODAY. HE WAS FISHING WITH GUIDE BRANDON GLASS. (BRANDON GLASS VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

It’s one of the few caught so far this season.

According to estimates from Columbia salmon managers, all of 41 springers have been kept in March through the 19th, including 11 last week.

That estimate — which is a combination of X anglers interviewed with Y physically observed kings and an extrapolated catch for the rest of the river’s fishermen — show that Oregon and Washington bankees and boaters are basically in a three-way tie so far, where usually boaters are way out ahead.

That’s likely because of the big water rolling down the Columbia, which is running at 16.75 feet or so at Vancouver (flood level is 16) and projected to stay in the brush until April Fools, according to the Northwest River Forecast Center.

“Due to the high somewhat turbid water they were trolling near shore in slack water,” Ramsey reports about Glass and Dunbar.

River conditions and sea lion predation could be dampening the turnout at Bonneville, but so far only 12 springers have been counted at the dam, second worst for the same point of the run back through at least the late 1990s, a review of records here yesterday showed.

While this year’s forecast calls for 160,400 above-Bonneville-bound springers (plus several tens of thousands more to the Cowlitz, Willamette and Kalama), in recent days federal and university scientists have said that that could be even lower due to poor ocean conditions when this year’s returning adults went to sea during the height of The Blob.

If you do venture onto the Columbia, definitely be aware of the high volumes coursing through the system, woody debris and other hazards, and consider adding a second flasher and fishing in softer water.

ZOOMING IN ON ANOTHER PHOTO FROM GUIDE BRANDON GLASS AND FORWARDED BY BUZZ RAMSEY SHOWS THE COLUMBIA, WHICH IS TIDALLY AFFECTED, WELL INTO THE TREES IN THE AREA DUNBAR PICKED UP HIS SPRING CHINOOK TODAY. (BRANDON GLASS VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

Newest Washington Commissioner Outlines Fish, Wildlife Views

A recent Senate hearing provided a glimpse of Washington’s newest Fish and Wildlife Commissioner, a woman who may be unknown to the state’s anglers and hunters but is no stranger to legislators.

Barbara Baker of Olympia called joining the citizen panel charged with overseeing the protection and perpetuation of the state’s critters “a dream job,” one for which she put down two leading lawmakers from either side of the aisle as her professional references.

IN THIS TVW SCREENGRAB, WASHINGTON FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONER BARBARA BAKER SPEAKS BEFORE THE SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES AND PARKS COMMITTEE PUBLIC HEARING ON HER APPOINTMENT TO THE PANEL, SET TO RUN AT LEAST THROUGH 2022. (TVW)

That’s because Baker worked in the House of Representatives for 20 years, the last five as the chamber’s chief clerk, and on March 6 she told Senator Kirk Pearson’s Natural Resources and Parks Committee that as time passed she needed new challenges and that she was interested in natural resource policies and tribal issues.

She said that it took about a year and a half to convince the Governor’s Office that someone with her background would be a fit for the commission, but she was eventually appointed by Gov. Inslee, on Jan. 17 to fill retiring commissioner Conrad Mahnken’s seat.

Pearson asked Baker to outline her thoughts on fish production, hunting and recreational access, questions he considered to be very important.

“I am a very strong supporter of both hunting and fishing, recreationally in the case of hunting, and then both commercially and recreationally in the fishing avenues,” Baker responded. “There are qualifications to that, but they’re the qualifications that we all share. I want those things to happen within the law. I’m not interested in people poaching. I’m not a big advocate of baiting. But other than that, I come from a family where people fish and people hunt. My daughter met her partner gillnetting in Alaska — they still do it …. I’ve been a ‘small-scale rancher’ myself. I’ve had to shoot a lamb when a coyote ate its back leg off. I know what that feels like … I’m not interested in getting on this board to try to curtail people’s right to hunt or fish.”

Speaking to hatcheries, she said there’s a lot of conflict around them “that doesn’t benefit anybody,” that money isn’t going into upkeep of the facilities and that federal overseers aren’t putting their “imprimatur” on genetic management plans fast enough.

When Baker’s appointment was announced in January, Rep. Brian Blake, chair of a House committee dealing with WDFW issues as well as a hunter and generally considered to be a commercial fisheries advocate, called her “honest and open-minded,” while sportfishing interests said she’d subsequently been briefed on the importance of conservation in fisheries and that she seemed to agree with that path.

Though the Senate committee has not given a recommendation one way or the other to the full Senate on Baker’s appointment, which is not unusual, she seemed to draw support from Sens. John McCoy and Kevin Van De Wege, who both thought her skills and training would serve her well.

Pearson, who has been very critical of WDFW in recent months in terms of his words, public hearings he’s held and bills he has and hasn’t moved through the legislature, asked Baker to be a liaison to lawmakers on numerous management issues.

She said that she loved working with legislators, calling the commission a place where she could put her skills to good use.

 

According to biographies supplied to the Governor’s Office and WDFW, Baker comes from Texas ranching families (in later years raising unique horse and sheep breeds) and graduated from high school in Alaska. Among her early jobs were stints at Mt. McKinley (now Denali), on the Alyeska Pipeline and construction at Boeing before graduating from the University of Puget Sound School of Law and becoming a lawyer representing clients in state and federal courts.

In applying, she listed this skill set as “timely, useful and applicable” to the commission:

– policy analysis on issues involving deeply divided constituencies,
– thorough research skills, using science, on subject areas – even when the answers seem obvious,
– successful mediation in times of conflict (pretty much my entire current job in the House),
– ability to engage in legal analyses, read precedent and interpret statutes,
– budget development and passage experience on all levels, including allotment setting, for agency, local and state governements,
– deep appreciation of Tribal sovereignty and limited proficiency in the law related to Tribal governments

Baker, 61, is described as “an avid outdoorsperson, spending all of her free time hiking, camping, biking and especially kayaking in Alaska, BC and Washington,” and who lives on a houseboat in Deep South Sound.

Her appointment as one of three at-large members of the commission runs through 2022.

 

Washington Fish Commission To Consider Oregon’s Latest Move On Columbia Reforms

Washington fishery overseers will hold a teleconference Friday morning, March 24, to go over Oregon’s updated Columbia River salmon policies.

The call is slated from 8:30 to 9:30 between members of the Fish and Wildlife Commission and WDFW staff.

ANGLERS TROLL THE LOWER COLUMBIA IN 2014 FOR FALL CHINOOK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

It comes a week after the Oregon commission’s 7-0 vote to move its reforms incrementally closer to Washington’s policies, though still not far enough for sportfishers nor reaching benchmarks Oregon anglers been paying towards for several years.

WDFW representatives didn’t want to get ahead of the commission’s discussion.

“Consistent with the commitment in their letter from last week, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will be carefully considering the rules adopted by the Oregon Commission last Friday,” says Jim Scott, a special assistant to WDFW Director Jim Unsworth.

That letter was from Chair Brad Smith to Oregon’s commission chief, Michael Finley, and it noted that the states had a long history of working out fishery, hatchery and management issues on the Columbia, and that Washington would consider “any proposal supported by the OFWC as a whole that is consistent with the vision for Columbia River management reform and within the sideboards of Governor Brown’s letter.

The two states are out of alignment on salmon fisheries on the big river and that could affect concurrent management of the shared Columbia later in the year.

After a four-year phase-in period, 2017 was scheduled to see set allocations on spring, summer and fall Chinook nontribal sport and commercial fisheries, and while some of those are not in question, Oregon fudged on fall kings, leading first to a Washington compromise, a Beaver State back-pedalling, Brown’s letter, then last week’s move by Oregon back towards the Evergreen State.

The question now is, will Washington move to meet Oregon in the middle, stand its ground or what?

5 Poachers Caught With 143 Trout Before Central WA Lake Opener

Five men who got a jump on the March 1 trout opener at a Columbia Basin lake ended up hooking themselves as well.

WDFW reports that on February 26 an officer got suspicious about men loading fishing gear into two vehicles at Upper Caliche Lake, alongside I-90 near George.

“They initially claimed not to have been fishing, but the officer found several large plastic bags full of fish in both cars,” WDFW reported.

Inside those sacks? A whopping 143 rainbow trout, the agency alleges.

A WDFW IMAGE SHOWS MANY OF THE 143 RAINBOW TROUT POACHED OUT OF UPPER CALICHE LAKE BEFORE THE MARCH 1 OPENER. (WDFW)

That equates to 2 percent of all the trout stocked last year for this month’s opener, though there could be carryovers from previous seasons swimming around in Caliche too, depending on catch rates and fry survival.

“Even if the season had been open they would have been 118 trout over their daily limit,” the agency reports.

That’s a potential gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and fine of $5,000, but charges will be up to the Grant County Prosecutor’s Office.

As it stands, WDFW cited the quintet for exceeding the daily limit in the first degree, as well as fishing during a closed season. One was also cited for no license. A sixth men with them was not fishing.

All the trout were seized and donated to a food bank in Moses Lake.

Unfortunately, it’s not the only example of piggish behavior of late, with the Westside representing too.

WDFW reports a case on Oakland Bay, by Shelton, in which two women and a man were contacted while walking off the beach carrying a big bucket allegedly containing “more than 12 times the allowable daily limit of clams.”

Another container in the brush held illegally shucked oyster shells.

“They were cited for first degree exceeding the bag limit and harvesting without licenses,” WDFW reported.

Two illegal gillnets were also pulled from the Columbia near Cascade Locks. Suspects were reportedly identified by Columbia River Inter-tribal Enforcement officers.

SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report (3-21-17

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ORIGINATED WITH ODFW AND WDFW AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, PSMFC

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – 199 boat anglers kept 2 adult spring Chinook and 41 steelhead and released 1 steelhead.  124 bank anglers kept 1 jack spring Chinook and 6 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 153 winter-run steelhead adults, one steelhead jack and 13 spring Chinook adults in five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 14 winter-run steelhead adults and ten spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River near Yellow Jacket Creek and they released 20 winter-run steelhead adults and two spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

Last week, Tacoma employees released 25 winter-run steelhead adults and one steelhead jack into the Tilton River located at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 14,600 cubic feet per second on Monday, March 20.

Wind River – No report. Anglers are reminded Wind River from the Hwy. 14 Bridge upstream is closed to all fishing through March.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – One lucky angler out of the 312 we sampled had a spring Chinook.  146 boats and 167 bank anglers were counted during last Saturday’s effort flight count.

Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam – Light effort and no catch was observed.

Sturgeon

Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam – Bank anglers were catching some legals in Bonneville Pool, boat anglers in The Dalles Pool, and bank and boat anglers in John Day Pool .  Sturgeon retention is closed in Bonneville and The Dalles pools effective March 25.

Walleye and Bass

Bonneville Pool – Little to no effort for either specie.

The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged 4.4 walleye per rod.  Little effort and no catch for bass.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers averaged 1.3 walleye per rod when including fish released.  Boat anglers also caught a couple bass.

Trout

Recent plants of catchable size rainbows.  No reports on angling success.

Lake/Pond
Date
Species
Number
Fish per pound
Hatchery
Notes

* HORSESHOE LK (COWL)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=HORSESHOE%20LK%20(COWL)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Mar 09, 2017
Rainbow
9,400
2.5
MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

* LEWIS CO PRK PD-S (LEWI)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=LEWIS%20CO%20PRK%20PD-S%20(LEWI)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Mar 09, 2017
Rainbow
1,840
2.3
MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

 

……….

Salmon, Steelhead and Shad

On Saturday’s (3/19) flight, 146 salmonid boats and 86 Oregon bank anglers were counted from the Columbia River estuary to Bonneville Dam.  Catch rates remain low despite the increase in effort.

Gorge Bank:
No report.

Gorge Boats:
No report.

Troutdale Boats:
Weekend checking showed no catch for 18 boats (37 anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank:
Weekend checking showed no catch for 38 bank anglers.

Portland to Westport Boats:
Weekend checking showed no catch for 39 boats (85 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Clatsop Spit to Wauna Powerlines):
Weekend checking showed no catch for two bank anglers.

Estuary Boats (Tongue Point to Wauna Powerlines):
Weekend checking showed no catch for 10 boats (17 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler.

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):  Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler.

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam):  Weekly checking showed no catch for five bank anglers.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia River (below Bonneville Dam): Closed for retention. Weekend checking showed no catch for six bank anglers; and no catch for two boats (three anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Weekly checking showed three legal white sturgeon kept, plus 21 sublegal and one oversize sturgeon released for 37 bank anglers; and three sublegal and two oversize sturgeon released for seven boats (14 anglers).

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):  Weekly checking showed no catch for 12 bank anglers; and three legal white sturgeon kept, plus three sublegal and one oversize sturgeon released for three boats (11 anglers).

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam):  Weekly checking showed three legal white sturgeon kept, plus 11 sublegal sturgeon released for 25 bank anglers; and three legal white sturgeon kept, plus eight sublegal and six oversize sturgeon released for 10 boats (23 anglers).

WALLEYE

Troutdale:  No report.

Bonneville Pool:  Weekly checking showed no catch for one boat (one angler).

The Dalles Pool:  Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler; and 222 walleye kept, plus 69 walleye released for 27 boats (66 anglers).

John Day Pool: Weekly checking showed 35 walleye kept, plus 66 walleye released for 41 boats (78 anglers).

3 Meetings Coming Up On 2017 Eastern WA Salmon Seasons

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

Anglers have three opportunities in March to meet with state fishery managers to talk about salmon fisheries in the mid- and upper Columbia River and lower Snake River before this year’s seasons are set.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled three public meetings to discuss pre-season salmon forecasts and upcoming spring, summer and fall fishing seasons – particularly those proposed for salmon upstream from McNary Dam.

WDFW’S LOOKING FOR INPUT ON 2017 SALMON SEASONS IN EASTERN WASHINGTON, INCLUDING UPRIVER BRIGHTS LIKE THE NICE ONE CAUGHT BY WENATCHEE ANGLER SCOTT FLETCHER LAST SEASON. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Those meetings are as scheduled:

Wenatchee: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., March 28, Chelan PUD, 327 N Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee.

Clarkston: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., March 29, Walla Walla Community College, Clarkston Campus Auditorium, 1470 Bridge St., Clarkston.

Kennewick: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., March 30, Kennewick Irrigation District, 2015 S. Ely St., Kennewick.

The Kennewick meeting is being held at a new location – the Kennewick Irrigation District – this year compared to the past few years.

These meetings are part of the salmon season-setting process known as North of Falcon, which involves representatives from federal, state and tribal governments and recreational and commercial fishing industries. Additional public meetings have been scheduled through early April to discuss regional fisheries.

Final salmon fishing seasons are scheduled to be adopted at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting April 7-11 in Sacramento, Calif.

A meeting schedule, salmon forecasts and information about the salmon season-setting process for Puget Sound, the Columbia River and the Washington coast are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/. Comments about salmon fisheries can also be submitted online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/comments.html

NSIA Spring Fishing Classic Set For April 8

quarter century in the making, the 25th Annual Spring Fishing Classic is set for Saturday, April 8.

A fundraiser put on by the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association and held out of Portland, the derby pays $500 for biggest spring Chinook, and gives away thousands of dollars worth of fishing gear.

Staci McAdams caught 2016’s biggest Chinook at the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association’s Spring Fishing Classic, and she and husband Randy McAdams and guide Terry Mulkey came in second in the team competition with 30.35 pounds of fish. (NSIA)

Topping it all off is the raffle for a brand-new 17-foot drifter by Willie Boats.

“The boat comes with Tempress seats, seat boxes, and a brand-new trailer donated by Clackacraft,” NSIA reports.

Weigh-in is open till 5 p.m. and located at the Airport Holiday Inn, not far from the Gleason/34th Street ramp on the Columbia.

Whether the big river is still open for springers will likely depend on the catch through April 6, when the fishery below Bonneville Dam was scheduled to run through.

Even if season isn’t extended, the Multnomah Channel, Willamette River and Cowlitz, among other waters, are still fair game.

Last year’s big fish was caught by Staci McAdams, a 22.90-pounder, while Jason Berg and crew placed first in the team competition with three Chinook weighing over 35 pounds.

The event raised $60,000 for the enhancement and defense of Northwest fisheries.

For more, see nsiafishing.org.

Oregon Wildlife Troopers Seize 3 Blacktail Racks At Winston Home

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

The Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division executed a search warrant early Sunday morning, concluding a year and half long investigation into the unlawful take of several black tail deer. Oregon State Police Troopers from the Albany and Roseburg area served a search warrant at a Winston address, where three sets of trophy black tail buck antlers and a center fire rifle were seized as evidence. David Barton, 28, of Winston, was cited and released on three counts of unlawful take/possession of buck deer. The search warrant was stemming from an investigation that showed Barton had killed several deer without any deer tags and was exceeding bag limits.

(OREGON STATE POLICE)

A violation of any provision of the wildlife laws (such as the unlawful take of deer), or any rule adopted pursuant to the wildlife laws, is a Class A misdemeanor if the offense is committed with a culpable mental state in Oregon. If convicted, a person can be charged with the maximum penalty of $6250, have their hunting privileges suspended and forfeit weapons or other items used in the commission of the crime(s).

Anyone with information regarding wildlife violations is encouraged to report the information to the Oregon State Police Turn in Poacher (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888. Information can remain anonymous.

Trip To Tucannon Lakes Yields Biting Rainbows, Ice Cream Rewards

Editor’s note: The following fishing report was photographed and submitted by Tri-Cities dentist Jerry Han.

By Jerry Han

The kids wanted to go fishing this weekend, and with the Columbia up here having a visibility as low as 2″ with all the flooding going on, we decided to go trout fishing at Tucannon.

On the way up we passed the Snake, Touchet, and Tucannon Rivers.  All of them were extremely muddy, and the Touchet and Tucannon were extremely high, so I don’t expect many people were fishing for steelhead in the Tucannon, even though they want people to catch the excess hatchery steelhead.

A U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY GRAPH ON THE LOWER TUCANNON RIVER SHOWS IT RUNNING FIVE TO EIGHT TIMES AVERAGE FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR AS THE SNOWPACK MELTS. (USGS)

We started off at Blue Lake and nothing was happening, so we went to Spring Lake. I turned Austin and Corbin loose with their rods and was helping Lexi when Austin started hollering that he had one. I could see that it was not the normal stocker trout by the way the rod was bent double and shaking.  Sure enough, Austin got the first fish and it was a nice jumbo!

AS SISTER LEXI AND BROTHER CORBIN LOOK ON, AUSTIN HAN SHOWS OFF A NICE TUCANNON LAKES STOCKER RAINBOW TROUT FROM LAST WEEKEND. (JERRY HAN)

Lexi then went on a tear and limited out before the boys, then Corbin limited with Austin hot on his heels with his limit.

CORBIN PROUDLY SHOWS OFF A SPRING LAKE RAINBOW. (JERRY HAN)

Then I had to have the Daddy conversation with them all about how it’s not who limited first, who came in last, and who caught the biggest. Let’s just say that there’s a little bit of competition between them and I had to remind them that we are all part of Team FisHan.

LEXI WAS FIRST TO LIMIT, BEATING HER BROTHERS TO THE FIVE-FISH MARK. (JERRY HAN)

After limiting, we went for a short hike and then headed to The Last Resort KOA campground to get a well-deserved ice cream treat for a job well done!!

TEAM FISHAN CELEBRATE WITH ICE CREAM FROM THE LAST RESORT KOA. (JERRY HAN)

One thing I see at Tucannon that you may want to pass along to readers is that all the lakes can be very different. If one lake isn’t producing anything, I’d recommend moving and checking out the other lakes. We started at Blue Lake and it was dead for us, then we changed lakes and limited rather quickly.

THE HAN KIDS’ FATHER, JERRY, REPORTS THAT ARTIFICIAL LURES WERE BEST FOR THE TROUT, LIKE THIS ONE LEXI CAUGHT. (JERRY HAN)

Artificial lures were catching bigger fish and bait had the most action, which is what we were using so we could get ice cream sooner!

Columbia Concurrency Still In Question After Oregon Vote

UPDATED WITH QUOTES FROM THE ASSOCIATION OF NORTHWEST STEELHEADERS AND THE NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION

Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commissioners voted to adjust their Columbia salmon allocation reforms closer to Washington’s position but not all the way there, leaving sportfishing interests angered and concurrency of regulations on the big river in question.

The unanimous move came after four hours of public input and about an hour of deliberations by the citizen panel that oversees the state’s fish and wildlife.

On the most contentious issue, Oregon moved to a 70-30 sport-commercial split on Snake River fall Chinook impacts, up from 66-34 but shy of the Washington commission’s 75-25 compromise.

A plan agreed to between the states in 2012-13 had slated those to be 80-20 beginning this season, as well as the full removal of gillnets from the mainstem Columbia.

But tonight’s vote would leave them in below Bonneville during fall without a timeline for ending the practice, though 2 percent of the commercial allocation was moved toward the use of alternative gear, as well as allow the use of tangle, or small-mesh, gillnets during certain fisheries.

Impacts are allowable mortalities on ESA-listed stocks to prosecute sport and commercial seasons and represent slivers of runs.

The vote angered anglers, who feel that a promise is not being fulfilled on the Oregon end.

“I’ve never seen a commission step out to deliberately harm the sportfishing community,” said Bob Rees of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, pointing to moves to make sure unutilized commercial spring and summer impacts would not get used by the sportfishing fleet.

Oregon anglers have been paying $10 to fish the Columbia system the past few years, with the funding supposed to go towards moving the commercial fleet out of the mainstem while hatchery production was also moved into off-channel bays and sloughs.

Washington and Oregon jointly manage shared non-tribal Columbia fisheries but disagreements over the reforms have the potential to throw 100 years of concurrent management into question in 2017 if an agreement isn’t reached.

“This Commission has decided to perpetuate the battles indefinitely, and our allies are disgusted,” Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association executive director Liz Hamilton said in the email late last night.

Friday night’s vote came about after a letter from Oregon Governor Kate Brown asked the commission to reconsider a January decision that backed away from the agreed-to reforms, and to do so by early April.

With the commission only fudging a bit towards meeting Washington, Rees vowed that other lawmakers in Salem will be hearing from he and his allies.

“We’re going to take care of this legislatively,” he said.

Sportfishing interests are also depending on Washington’s commission and Governor Inslee to hold firm and continue supporting the plan, which supports more selective styles of fishing in an era of numerous Endangered Species Act listings, as well as conservation and economic benefits.

The Evergreen State’s Fish and Wildlife Commission is also meeting this weekend, but there is no action item on the agenda concerning Columbia River reforms. Certainly, however, it will be a topic of discussion at Saturday’s meeting.

Meanwhile, Friday afternoon, dozens of anglers, guides, commercial fishermen and seafood processors provided testimony, some of whom were asked follow-up questions by commissioners, a few in an almost cross-examining style by Holly Akenson of Northeast Oregon and Bruce Buckmaster of Astoria that clearly bothered one speaker who spoke of the chilling effect the grilling of members of the general public might have.

“It broke my heart to see so much dysfunction in this process,” noted Hamilton. “Neither agency staff, nor the public deserve to be mistreated by our so-called leaders.”

Recreational anglers spoke to following the plan adopted by both states’ commissions, while gillnetters asked that Oregon hold to its Jan. 20 vote instead of concur with Washington’s position, which itself was an initial compromise. Netters talked of family heritages at risk, but one fishing guide felt disrespected, as if their efforts trying to make a living and bringing business to the Columbia wasn’t being recognized.

LIZ HAMILTON OF THE NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION PROVIDES COMMENT TO THE OREGON FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION ON COLUMBIA RIVER REFORMS IN THIS SCREENGRAB OF TODAY’S PERISCOPE BROADCAST OF THE MEETING. (PERISCOPE)

What follows is the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife press release on today’s actions:

The Commission voted unanimously to further adjust Columbia River salmon fisheries rules today along the following lines:

  • Spring Chinook 80/20 sport/commercial allocation of allowable ESA impacts. Commercial priority to off-channel large-mesh gillnet fisheries not constrained by run-size buffer. Mainstem commercial fisheries only occurring with tangle net gear after the run update if remaining impact balances allow.
  • Summer Chinook 80/20 sport/commercial allocation of harvestable surplus; large-mesh gillnets not allowed for mainstem commercial fisheries.
  • Fall Chinook 70/30 sport/commercial allocation of allowable ESA impacts of the limiting fall Chinook stock (tule or Snake River wild), and <70/>30 for the non-constraining stock. Large-mesh gillnets allowed in mainstem commercial Zones 4-5; assign up to 2 percent of the commercial fishery impacts for use with alternative gears in the lower river; commercial Coho fisheries restricted to tangle nets in Zones 1-3.
  • Youngs Bay sport closure remains in effect.

More details will be available next week, when the new rules are posted online.