All posts by Andy Walgamott

ODFW Commission Sets 2019 Groundfish Regs, Adopts Urban Deer Program

THE FOLLOWING IS AN O.D.F.W. PRESS RELEASE

At their meeting in Salem today, the Fish and Wildlife Commission approved rules for a new urban deer control program for cities experiencing problems from high urban deer populations.

SOME URBAN DEER ARE BELOVED — THE NOW DECEASED NORRIS THE BUCK, AND SOME NOT SO MUCH. (ODFW)

The rules are based on SB 373 passed by the 2017 Oregon Legislature, which called for the development of a pilot program to allow cities to reduce deer populations in areas where high densities of deer are causing damage, health and safety concerns. To participate in the program, cities will be required to pass an ordinance or resolution declaring that city deer populations have risen to a level that is a public nuisance as well as an ordinance prohibiting the feeding of deer. Any cities participating will also be required to salvage deer meat and donate it to charity to the extent possible.

The Commission adopted recreational and commercial nearshore groundfish fisheries regulations for 2019 as proposed by staff. Next year’s regulations are very similar to 2018 regulations. The general marine bag limit will again be 5 fish. The lingcod, cabezon, and longleader fishery bag limits will also be the same as 2018, and retention of blue/deacon rockfish will be allowed in the longleader fishery. New for 2019, yelloweye rockfish allowances have increased, so recreational fishing will be allowed out to the 40 fathom line (instead of 30 fathom line) during the seasonal depth restriction, and the restriction is proposed to start one month later, on May 1.

YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH ANGLING WILL BE ALLOWED 60 FEET DEEPER IN 2019 THAN 2018, OUT TO THE 40-FATHOM LINE. (ODFW)

In other business, the Commission voted to:

  • Provide ceremonial hunting tags to the Burns-Paiute Tribe.
  • Fund several Access and Habitat projects and Restoration and Enhancement Projects, plus appoint Richard Heap of Brooking as Sportfishing Representative and Cary Johnson of Astoria as Gillnet Representative to the Restoration and Enhancement Board.
  • Adopt rules as proposed by staff for providing big game hunting tags to nonprofits for use by disabled veterans.
  • Update the Wild Turkey Management Plan, the first update since the Plan was adopted in 2004. The Plan adopted today updates trap and transplant guidelines, expands methods to address nuisance and damage, and outlines ways to improve hunter access to wild turkeys and strategies to create new turkey hunters

The Fish and Wildlife Commission’s next meeting is Jan. 18 in Salem.

Idaho Steelheading Will Remain Open, Outside Of Salmon, SF Clearwater Stretches

THE FOLLOWING IS AN IDFG PRESS RELEASE

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Friday, Dec. 7 approved an agreement to keep most steelhead seasons open, but steelhead fishing in two areas will close effective 11:59 p.m. Dec. 7, 2018.

THE NORTH FORK CLEARWATER IS AMONG THE AREAS THAT WILL REMAIN OPEN FOR STEELHEAD FISHING IN IDAHO AFTER PARTIES REACHED A SETTLEMENT TO STAVE OFF A FEDERAL LAWSUIT. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Closures include:

  • The Main Salmon River between Warren Creek and the Copper Mine Boat Ramp.
  • South Fork of Clearwater River upstream of the Mount Idaho Grade Bridge. (See maps below)

The commission also acted to continue the one steelhead daily bag limit through the end of 2018 and into the 2019 spring season.

“I’m glad our anglers and outfitters can continue steelhead fishing,” Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said. “It’s unfortunate that a delay in receiving federal authorization for our recreational steelhead fisheries created contention and hardship for river communities and anglers. This resolution achieves the commission’s objective to limit impacts to steelhead fishing as much as possible while we remain focused on finally receiving federal approval of our steelhead fishery plan for the long term.”

The continuance of steelhead fishing results from an agreement between Fish and Game, the Idaho River Community Alliance, Inc. and five groups that threatened to sue Idaho officials over the lack of federal authorization for steelhead fishing in the Snake, Salmon and Clearwater River systems.

Moore said he appreciates various parties working together, and commended Idaho Rivers United for dropping its involvement in a potential lawsuit and helping forge the agreement among the various groups.

The agreement is in effect until the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) approves Idaho’s steelhead fisheries plan under the Endangered Species Act, or March 15, 2019, whichever date is earlier.

As part of the agreement, members of the Idaho River Community Alliance, Inc. will voluntarily take a few additional measures when steelhead fishing. These measures are separate from the commission’s decision, and they are not Fish and Game rules.

Idaho sought renewal in 2010 for an expiring NMFS authorization for wild steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act that could potentially be harmed during Idaho fisheries for hatchery steelhead. NMFS’ permitting backlog delayed approval for years, but Idaho steelhead fishing seasons continued with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s (which NMFS is within) knowledge and consistent with Fish and Game’s submitted plan.

Earlier this year, NOAA began reviewing the plan, and an updated plan is available for a  public comment through Dec. 13, 2018. Fish and Game expects NMFS approval of its plan later this winter.

In October, a group of six organizations threatened a lawsuit over Fish and Game’s lack of formal federal authorization from NMFS. To avoid the potential for court-ordered changes and payment of these organizations’ legal costs, Fish and Game commissioners voted on November 14 to suspend the most steelhead fishing effective at the end of Dec. 7. That is the earliest day the organizations could file a lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act, but that suspension is now voided except in the new closure areas.

Salmon River closure

_salmonriver_closure

Creative Commons Licence
IDFG

South Fork Clearwater River closure

steelhead_clearwater_closure

Creative Commons Licence
IDFG

 

Congress Moving Different Directions On Sea Lions, Wolves

Attempts in Congress to give state managers more latitude to deal with two of the most polarizing predators in the Northwest these days are going in opposite directions.

Yesterday saw the US Senate pass a bill that would expand where sea lions could be removed on the Columbia River system, and while the House of Representatives must still concur, a bill delisting gray wolves passed last month by the lower chamber will not go anywhere in the upper house in December, it now appears.

SEA LIONS GATHER INSIDE THE MOUTH OF THE COWEEMAN RIVER AT KELSO, MOST LIKELY FOLLOWING THE 2016 RUN OF ESA-LISTED EULACHON, OR SMELT, UP THE COLUMBIA RIVER. THE ENDANGERED SALMON AND FISHERIES PREDATION ACT PASSED BY THE SENATE AND WHICH GOES NOW TO THE HOUSE WOULD GIVE STATE MANAGERS MORE LATITUDE TO LETHALLY REMOVE THE SPECIES IN TRIBUTARIES OF THE COLUMBIA. (SKYLAR MASTERS)

The Manage Our Wolves Act, cosponsored by two Eastern Washington Republican representatives will likely die in the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works as federal lawmakers’ workload piles up at the end of the two-year session.

Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) indicated federal budgetary issues would take precedence, according to a report from the DC Bureau of the McClatchy news service.

And even if the Republican-controlled Senate were to still pass the bill in 2019, with November’s election changing the balance of power in the House, a spokeswoman for the new chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), told wire reporter Kellen Browning flatly that the panel won’t be moving any delisting legislation while he is in charge over the next two years.

It’s probably best to let the biologists determine when a species is recovered rather than run things through Congress like this, but that also takes time and meanwhile frustrations mount over very real concerns and unintended consequences of 1970s’ environmental protections, and the drag-it-out-in-the-courts approach the laws have inspired in some in the environmental community.

In the case of the wolves of the river, Marine Mammal Protection Act-listed sea lions are taking unacceptably large bites out of Endangered Species Act-listed Columbia salmon and steelhead, putting their recovery — not to mention the tens, hundreds of millions of dollars spent on it — in the watershed at increasing risk.

With pushing from fishermen, state wildlife agencies, tribal managers, even conservation organizations, a bipartisan coalition of Northwest senators and representatives has now been able get sea lion bills passed in both houses of Congress this year.

But even as we live in an era when the back door to delistings and amended protections is being opened wider and wider, it appears that for the time being we’ll need to go through the front one, the traditional way, to clear the wolves of the woods off the ESA list.

Once again.

Back in June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service quietly announced that it had begun to review the status of the species in the Lower 48 for, what, the third? fourth? time since the early 2000s due to court actions.

That could lead to the delisting of gray wolves in the western two-thirds of Washington, Oregon and elsewhere in their range, handing over management from USFWS to WDFW, ODFW and other agencies.

A PAIR OF WOLVES CAPTURED ON A TRAIL CAMERA NEAR MT. HOOD. (ODFW)

This morning I asked the feds for an update on how that was proceeding and they sent me a statement that was very similar to one they emailed out around the summer solstice.

Here’s what today’s said:

“The USFWS is currently reviewing the status of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Working closely with our federal, state, tribal and local partners, we will assess the currently listed gray wolf entities in the lower 48 states using the best available scientific information. On completion of the review, the Service will, if appropriate, publish a proposal to revise the wolf’s status in the Federal Register. Any proposal will follow a robust, transparent and open public process that will provide opportunity for public comment.”

With six long months ahead of it, June’s version had this as the third sentence: “If appropriate, the Service will publish a proposal to revise the wolf’s status in the Federal Register by the end of the calendar year.”

Now it’s more open-ended.

And comparing a second paragraph USFWS sent along as background, the update has removed the words “under the previous administration,” a reference to the 2013 proposal by the Obama Administration’s USFWS Director Dan Ashe.

The rest of that para touches on the “sound science” that went into that determination and the court action that subsequently derailed it.

It sounds like the science is strong with the sea lion removal authorization, so let’s hope that once the House agrees and president signs it, it isn’t challenged in court, and if it is, that it clears the hurdles that are thrown up — and which lead to bypassing the judicial system all together.

DFO Proposes New Orca Critical Habitat Areas

Editor’s note: This blog has been updated from an earlier version that was in places unintentionally overbroad, causing concerns outside of the new proposed southern resident killer whale critical habitat areas, and has been sharpened to reflect that. 

Canadian fishery overseers want to designate large areas around southern Vancouver Island as critical habitat for orcas, and that’s leaving some in salmon ports on the island’s south side worried.

This week’s proposal for SRKWs includes the fishy Swiftsure and La Pérouse Banks off the island’s west side and Washington’s Neah Bay, as well as most of the BC side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands.

(DFO)

Earlier this year, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans closed salmon fishing seasonally on the central Strait of Juan de Fuca, Gulf Islands and at the mouth of Fraser, three key SRKW foraging areas, to “help increase the availability of this critical food source,” Chinook.

That hurt the summer fishing season. In Sooke, a famed salmon port on the south side of Vancouver Island, a local lodge owner and president of a tourism bureau said that business was off 80 percent.

Now the worry is that the new critical habitat areas will lead to much larger angling closures.

According to DFO spokesman Dan Bate it is not as cut and dried.

“Under the Species at Risk Act, activities themselves within critical habitat are not prohibited — it is the destruction of critical habitat that is prohibited,” he said via email.

Disturbance from boat traffic, the build up of pollutants and low numbers of Chinook salmon have been identified as major reasons why SRKWs are struggling in recent years.

After the new habitat designations were proposed, a consortium of 17 southern Vancouver Island chambers of commerce issued a statement, cautioning DFO “to carefully weigh potential management measures that could harm their coastal communities, destroy thousands of business and jobs, and impact tourism revenue across Vancouver Island.”

Bate said his agency works with sportfishing and other industries to meet SARA goals while minimizing its impact on stakeholders.

“All efforts will be made to minimize the economic impact of any reductions on coastal communities, and to work with implicated sectors to ensure their activities do not result in critical habitat destruction,” he said.

What it all might mean for next year’s Chinook seasons will be part of upcoming discussions with Indigenous groups and fishermen, Bate said.

Stay tuned.

Idaho Fish Commission To Meet On Steelhead Season This Evening

Idaho steelhead season is on the agenda of an unexpected Fish and Game Commission teleconference set for tonight, just hours before a fishing closure is otherwise set to go into effect.

What does that mean?

IDAHO STEELHEADERS WILL BE PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION TONIGHT TO FIND OUT IF THEY CAN DROP THEIR LINES INTO ANY RIVERS TOMORROW, OR IF THE PENDING CLOSURE REMAINS IN PLACE. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

“Whatever you want to read into it” is the official word from IDFG spokesman Roger Phillips in Boise.

However, outdoor reporter Eric Barker at the Lewiston Tribune who has been doing an excellent job covering the situation reports that state officials, environmental groups that threatened the state with a federal lawsuit if it didn’t close the season, and the newly formed Idaho River Community Alliance of anglers and others were discussing the situation yesterday “in an effort to reach a settlement.”

The agenda for the 7:30 p.m. Mountain Time, 6:30 p.m. Pacific time meeting is stamped with the words “Action Item” in red which suggests that the seven-member commission will be voting on something.

In mid-November, the commission was forced to suspend the fishery starting Dec. 8 because of the state’s lack of a NMFS permit to hold steelhead season. IDFG long ago applied for a new one, but as the feds worked on other priorities it left Idaho vulnerable to a lawsuit, which Wild Fish Conservancy and five other groups took advantage of.

One, Idaho Rivers United, has subsequently backed out of the group, saying its goal of getting NMFS to start working on the fisheries permit had been accomplished. The comment period on that has now been extended from yesterday to Dec. 13.

Whatever decision the commission makes this evening, Phillips says he plans to send out a press release right after that occurs.

Meanwhile, IRCA this morning reported on its Facebook page that anglers and boats have already begun showing in Riggins for a planned Saturday protest.

Columbia Sea Lion Bill Passed By US Senate

The U.S. Senate has passed a key bill that would make it easier for state and tribal managers to protect ESA-listed salmon and steelhead in the Lower Columbia from California sea lions.

AN AERIAL IMAGE FROM SHOWS CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS FEEDING IN THE LOWER COLUMBIA. (STEVE JEFFRIES, WDFW, VIA NWFSC)

“What a day!” said an almost-speechless Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association this afternoon. “Maybe we’ll be able to stave off some extinctions.”

S.3119, known as the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Act, does need to be reconciled with a nearly identical version that was passed by the US House and be signed into law before the end of the year by President Trump, but it’s good news for fish and fishermen who’ve watched helplessly as sea lions have chowed down on Chinook, coho, steelhead and other stocks.

It amends the Marine Mammal Protection Act for five years to allow for the lethal removal of California sea lions in the Columbia downstream of Bonneville Dam and upstream to McNary Dam,  as well as in the river’s tributaries with ESA-listed salmonids.

“It’s such an important piece of legislation,” said Hamilton. “So little gets done, especially for fish.”

A Northwest Power and Conservation Council report from late last month said that NOAA researchers found sea lions ate from 11 to 43 percent of spring Chinook that entered the Columbia annually since 2010, with 2014’s run hit particularly hard — an estimated  104,333 ESA-listed Upper Columbia springers “were lost between Astoria and the dam to the unexplained mortality, which the chief researcher, Dr. Michelle Wargo-Rub, said can be attributed to sea lions.”

The states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho have had federal permission to remove specific animals gathered at Bonneville Dam since March 2008. This bill extends that authority to the Yakama, Nez Perce, Umatilla and Warm Springs Tribes and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

Today’s move also follows on federal fishery overseers’ recent move to allow ODFW to remove sea lions at Willamette Falls, where if nothing had been done, the state estimated that at least one run of wild winter steelhead had a 90 percent chance of going extinct.

Earlier this year, NMFS found that California sea lions had reached their habitat’s carrying capacity. Almost all if not all that visit the Northwest to snack on salmonids are males.

Hamilton credited a “a coalition like no other” for the heavy lift.

In Congress, that came from a bipartisan group of Northwest lawmakers — Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Jim Risch (R-ID) to get the bill through the upper chamber after Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-3) and Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-5) sponsored one in the House.

“We greatly appreciate the bipartisan efforts of Senators Cantwell and Risch to secure Senate passage of this critical legislation,” said Gary Loomis, founder of G-Loomis, Edge Rods, and Coastal Conservation Association in the Pacific Northwest, in a press release. “Current law is failing wild and endangered Columbia River basin salmon and steelhead populations, some of which face an imminent risk of extinction if nothing is done to address the unnatural levels of sea lion predation and restore balance to this unique Ecosystem. Every member of the U.S. House of Representatives – Republican and Democrat – from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho voted for similar legislation this summer and the six U.S. Senators from these states came together to pass this critical legislation to protect our salmon.”

According to CCA’s Tyler Comeau, the bill was passed by “unanimous consent,” expediting its passage through the Senate for lack of objections. He said his organization believes it will become law.

Even as Hamilton shed “tears of joy,” she was quick to point out the efforts of staffers at state fish and wildlife agencies — Meagan West at WDFW and Dr. Shaun Clements at ODFW.

“It was the scientists, Dr. Shaun Clements, that kept the conservation front and center,” said Hamilton.

We have reached out to WDFW and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission for comment and will fold those in when they arrive, but for his part, Clements said ODFW was “very relieved to have achieved this major milestone thanks to the support of the Northwest Senate delegation.”

“Passing this legislation to amend the MMPA is critical to ensuring we don’t have another repeat of Ballard Locks, which saw the extirpation of a wild steelhead run as a result of predation by a  handful of sea lions,” Clements said, in reference to Herschel et al’s 1980s’ feeding frenzy on Lake Washington watershed-bound winter-runs.

“Removing sea lions is not something we take lightly,” he added, “but it is unfortunately necessary as we are seeing some salmon, steelhead, and potentially sturgeon populations in the Columbia being pushed to the point of no return. We very much appreciate the efforts of the entire delegation, and particularly Senators Risch and Cantwell for recognizing the urgency and passing a bill that will allow both fish and sea lions to thrive.”

Hamilton also noted the importance of the diversity of the conservation community that came together, members such as the Wild Salmon Center.

“I’m convinced it made a lot of difference,” she said.

Sea lions aren’t nearly the only problem impacting returns of ESA-listed salmon and steelhead, Hamilton acknowledged, but this is good news for the fish that live in or return to the region’s most important river.

But there’s also work to be done elsewhere in the region. WDFW staffers are expected to brief the Fish and Wildlife Commission late next week on the impact sea lions as well as harbor seals are having in other Washington waters. Frustrations are boiling over and Puget Sound where more than 10 sea lions have been illegally shot and killed this fall.

Tips Needed In ‘Major’ Whatcom Co. Waterfowl Wastage Case

Washington game wardens are looking for whomever strew more than 60 dead ducks and geese across a rural part of Whatcom County recently, a “major wastage.”

(WDFW)

The mallards, Canadas and other waterfowl were found on and along stretches of Weidkamp and West Badger Roads, which are just west of Lynden and a couple miles south of the US-Canada border.

It’s believed the birds had been shot several days before but were not processed at all.

“None of them were breasted and they appeared to have been dead for several days. The birds were spread out singly. It appears they were thrown from a vehicle traveling up the road,” WDFW Police reported on Facebook this afternoon.

The Northwest Washington Waterfowl Association reported that on  Friday, Nov. 30, one of its members came across a warden collecting the birds.

They were initially spotted by a school bus driver earlier in the day, according to a Bellingham Herald article out this morning.

Anyone with information is being asked to call WDFW’s poaching tip line at (877) 933-9847.

Anonymous texts can also be sent to 847411, entering WDFWTIP and then providing details.

Good Luck Getting Fish Extremists To Reconsider, Idaho — Been There, Done That

An editorial in today’s Lewiston Tribune asking organizations that are forcing Idaho to close steelheading as of this Saturday to have their lawyers “stand down” for the good of the fish and fish advocacy never stood a chance.

Two of the groups are now threatening federal overseers with a lawsuit over a permit they are working on to allow the state to reopen fishing by sometime later this winter.

IDAHO ANGLERS ARE PLANNING A PARADE OF BOATS FROM THE PORT OF LEWISTON, NEAR WHERE THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN ON THE LOWER CLEARWATER, TO THE SOUTHWAY BOAT RAMP THIS WEEKEND TO PROTEST THE CLOSURE OF THIS WINTER’S STEELHEAD SEASON DUE TO A THREATENED LAWSUIT OVER A MISSING FEDERAL PERMIT. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

They are the Wild Fish Conservancy and The Conservation Angler, outfits that have run this exact same scorched-earth jihad elsewhere in the Northwest in the recent past.

Once again they’ve plucked low-hanging fruit — a missing authorization from the feds who have had since 2010 to approve it but are also busy on other items what with all these ESA listings, biops, pinnipeds, hatcheries, etc., etc. etc. — and are using it to derail a fishery.

It’s the same basic play they used in Washington over WDFW’s Puget Sound hatchery winter steelhead permit.

Before they filed that 2014 lawsuit in federal court, I wrote a blog that was not unlike the one offered up by the Tribune‘s editor,

I’ll quote Marty’s thoughtful piece at some length here:

In a binary world, it doesn’t matter that Idaho was a victim of federal inaction. The state had no permit. So when [Idaho Rivers United] and some of its fellow conservation groups threatened to sue, Idaho Fish and Game folded; declaring the season closed as of Dec. 8.

All of which has the result of forcing Riggins and other fishing communities to accept 100 percent of the sacrifice for what will be at best a negligible gain in fish survival.

Longterm, however, nobody wins — certainly not the fish.

Fishing communities such as Riggins, Salmon or Orofino bring a genuine Idaho message to the fish debate.

Many Idahoans live in one-horse economies. Moscow wouldn’t be much without the University of Idaho. Lewiston would be decimated by loss of its sawmill and paper plant. You wouldn’t recognize Idaho Falls without the Idaho National Laboratory.

They see themselves in the plight of Riggins outfitters and guides, hotel operators and restaurant owners whose businesses disappear without a fishing season.

Fishing communities also can deliver an economic counter-argument to those who say preserving the lower Snake River dams is more important.

If someone is not a fish advocate before he goes fishing in Riggins, he will undergo a conversion to the cause before leaving.

It was a hail Mary for reason, but teaming up with anglers and communities is not these groups’ style whatsoever.

While one of the original six organizations that threatened Idaho with a lawsuit if it didn’t stop the steelhead season by Dec. 8 did pull out, saying its goal of spurring NMFS to action on the permit had been accomplished, for WFC and TCA this isn’t about a critically low run or protecting wild steelhead.

This is about trying to impose their world vision on all of us.

Perhaps they even think it’s funny, their threat, like shooting fish in a barrel and a barrel full of laughs all at once.

They can be assured we will point fingers the whole way around, and for added laughs they trolled everybody with a proposed deal that appeared to favor one group of anglers – in this case, boat and bait bans and gear restrictions they asked IDFG to accept to not sue.

Any fly guys who got their tires slashed on the Clearwater since mid-November should send the bill to WFC et al.

In pissing off real fish advocates, they aren’t doing anybody any favors, or the fish, or the process.

Some news reports paint them as conservation organizations, but their repeated lawsuits show them for what they truly are: overly litigious asshats who enjoy burning bridges.

That’s not how real conservation works.

These days the fish, the wildlife, the habitat – it all needs bridges, connection, physically and metaphorically.

There is no more dangerous threat to the conservation of our salmon and steelhead than them and their extremist tactics that are ultimately about themselves, not the fish or the greater community.

If there’s some good in this, it’s that Idaho steelheaders and communities that depend on the fishery are now banding together to fight.

The Tribune‘s Eric Barker reports they’ve formed the Idaho River Community Alliance and two protests are going to be held this weekend.

The first will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Riggins City Park.

The second will include a parade of trailered boats from the Port of Lewiston at 11 a.m. Sunday morning to the Southway Boat Ramp, where the protest will be.

I’m 400 miles away, but will be there in spirit.

SW WA Fishing Report (12-5-18)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

December 4, 2018

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 9 bank anglers released 2 steelhead.

Skamokawa Creek – No anglers sampled.

Elochoman River – 38 bank anglers kept 6 steelhead and released 4 steelhead, 2 coho and 11 coho jacks.  1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Abernathy Creek – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

Mill Creek – No anglers sampled.

Germany Creek – 6 bank anglers had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 14 bank rods kept 1 coho jack and released 1 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br:  6 bank rods had no catch.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 691 coho adults, 273 coho jacks, 26 cutthroat trout, three fall Chinook adults and four summer-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 106 coho adults and 45 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle and they released 179 coho adults, 61 coho jacks and one cutthroat trout into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

Tacoma Power released 34 coho adults and 44 coho jacks at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood and they released 189 coho adults, 119 coho jacks, one fall Chinook adult and five cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,740 cubic feet per second on Monday, Dec. 3. Water visibility is 11 feet and the water temperature is 49.8 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – No anglers sampled.

Lewis River – 2 bank anglers had no catch. 2 boats/4 rods had no catch.

East Fork Lewis River – 7 bank anglers kept 1 coho.  1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Salmon Creek – 41 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat River –No anglers sampled.

Ollie Damon’s Closing Its Doors Dec. 29, Ending Decades-long Run

Owners who are “way past retirement age” and a decline in fisheries are combining to close the doors at a Portland repair shop that’s specialized in fixing reels and more outdoor gear for decades.

Susan and Rich Basch say Saturday, Dec. 29, will be the last day Ollie Damon’s is open for business, ending a run that began in 1945 with the Damon family and the last 25 years under their ownership.

PORTLAND’S OLLIE DAMON’S WILL CLOSE ITS DOORS AT THE CLOSE OF THE BUSINESS DAY, SATURDAY, DEC. 29, MARKING THE END OF AN ERA FOR AN ENTERPRISE THAT BEGAN IN 1945 AND HAS SEEN TWO CHANGES IN OWNERSHIP. THE CURRENT PROPREITORS, RICH AND SUSAN BASCH, SAY THEY WANT TO RETIRE AND THAT THE DECLINE IN FISHERIES IS LEADING TO SLOW BUSINESS. (OLLIE DAMON’S)

“No plans for a party at this point,” the Baschs said in an email to Northwest Sportsman, “just hoping some of our customers will come by the store during the month to say goodbye.”

They won’t be completely walking away from fishing reels as Rich and Susan, 70 and 71 now, say part of the reason for closing is that they would “like to enjoy some time traveling and spending time with our kids and grandkids, not working six days a week,” and that will include getting out on the water with family.

At the same time they point to poor fishing up and down the West Coast recently as among the factors that are forcing them to make the hard decision to walk away from Ollie Damon’s.

OLLIE DAMON’S MIGHT BE BEST KNOWN AS WHERE TO GO TO GET FISHING REELS REPAIRED, BUT IT ALSO SERVICED COLEMAN, CROSMAN, SCOTTY, CANNON, MINNKOTA AND OTHER OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT. THIS IMAGE AND OTHERS WITH THIS STORY WERE TAKEN IN SPRING 2016 WHEN THE OWNERS MOVED IT FROM GRAND TO HALSEY. (OLLIE DAMON’S)

There have been dropoffs with Alaskan, Columbia River and other fisheries — “the decline in sturgeon mostly from sea lions depleting the population and reduced opportunities for even catch and release” — along with bad ocean conditions, they say.

And they point to the number of “disposable reels” now on the market, products that are cheaper to replace with a new one than get repaired.

The Baschs have been trying to sell for several years now, and last fall they posted an ad on Craigslist offering the shop for $200,000, but there apparently were no takers, despite a great interview and story on KXL Radio in Portland.

The store was opened by father and son Ollie Damon XII and Ollie Damon XIII in 1945 and originally specialized in toys and hobby items. Fishing tackle was added the next year and then airguns, according to a company history.

FISHING TACKLE INCLUDING LURES AND RODS WAS ALSO ON OFFER. (OLLIE DAMON’S)

“Ollie himself never threw anything away, so this inventory is literally 70-plus years old and we always have something to fix what is wrong,” Rich said during the radio interview.

In the 1950s it became the country’s first Crosman repair center, then Coleman was added. It’s also the “second oldest Shimano warranty center” in the U.S., the Baschs note.

After Ollie Damon XIII suffered a heart attack, ownership changed hands in 1984 and several years later Susan and Rich came along.

“Just since 1992 when we bought the business, the average was 5,000 to 6,000 reels per year, hundreds of Minnkota trolling motors, Cannon and Scotty downriggers, and airguns,” they say of how many pieces they and their team of experts repaired annually.

“That count has diminished because of the fish runs; we’re not even getting the hundreds of reels down from Alaska in the past two years,” they add.

When times were good, Susan found herself mailing parts or repaired equipment across the country — even around the world.

“I’ve shipped parts to Iraq, to a soldier who was stationed in Saddam Hussein’s old compound where he had a manmade lake, and that’s where he fished. He couldn’t go outside the compound to fish because he’d get shot, but he would fish inside the compound but he needed his parts,” she recalled in that radio interview.

In 2016 the Baschs made the decision to move Ollie Damon’s from Grand, just a few long blocks from the Burnside and Morrison Bridges over the Willamette, east 6 miles to Halsey just off where I-84 meets I-205.

They reported that it initially produced more foot traffic, new customers and support from longtime patrons.

GOVERNORS, SPORTS STARS, MEMBERS OF THE HOOK AND BULLET PRESS, LOCAL BUSINESSMEN AND OTHER PERSONALITIES ARE AMONG THOSE WHO HAVE PERUSED THE GOODS AT OLLIE DAMON’S OR SENT THEIR GEAR IN FOR REPAIR THERE. (OLLIE DAMON’S)

Besides regular fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts, some notable names have come through Ollie Damon’s doors through the decades.

“Oregon Governors John Kitzhaber and Ted Kulongoski; former mayor of Portland Bud Clark; Mort Bishop, owner of Pendleton Woolen Mills; Dave Salesky, Portland TV meteorologist; Bill Long, chairman of Winco Foods; sportscaster Doug Lamier; Jim Conway, fishing show host; Hobart Manns, outdoor writer; and several Portland Trailblazer basketball players,” the Baschs tell Northwest Sportsman.

Others would come in with Zip-Lock baggies and shoe boxes filled with parts, they related in the radio interview.

“We will miss our customers immensely,” the Baschs say. “That’s what has kept us at this for so long; that and the great fish stories. Our concern has been where will fishermen get their repairs done. We didn’t want to leave them with nowhere to go since we’re the only reel repair center in Oregon and Washington.”

Unless you have one of the 100 reels at the shop now, though, anglers in need of a repair will have to send their levelwinds, spincasters and fly reels back to the factories or authorized shops near them, the Baschs say.

They’re selling off all of their parts and remaining inventory, along with the fishing rod and product racks.

“It’s sad for us but we can’t work forever,” they say.

As a writer I’d like to wrap this up with some sort of sappy reel-related term twist, but all I can think of is the seized gears on my beloved Curado 201s and wonder why in hell I never sent them to Ollie Damon’s to get fixed.

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re losing until it’s gone.