All posts by Andy Walgamott

Wolf Plan Comments Out

The comments range from the short and terse — “Well written”; “CRAP !!!!” — to pages-long analysis by skeptical tribal biologists and wolf advocates, to a Defenders of Wildlife petition that reads, in part, “It is heartbreaking that the Emerald State has been deprived of wolves …”

The Emerald State?

Ahem, it’s the Evergreen State, thank you.

That’s just a sampling of what you’ll find in the 60,000-plus comments on the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s draft wolf management plan posted online yesterday afternoon.

A final plan for the Fish & Wildlife Commission is still a year away, a revised timeline shows, but that may be affected by a bill lawmakers from rural districts of the state are putting together for the next legislative session. See the November issue of Northwest Sportsman for more on that front.

Meanwhile, since the anniversary of Elvis’s birthday last January, WDFW staffers have been wading through all the letters, postcards, petitions and audio testimony they recieved following a three-month-long comment period. They’ve sorted it all out into six broad categories:

Letters — 524 from government, conservation organizations, livestock interests, hunting groups, legislators, others and individuals.

Online comments, 3,383 on everything from the plan’s executive summary to the chances of a wolf-based tourism industry growing in Washington

Public testimony, 254 taken during last fall’s twelve meetings held around the state

Six petitions

Six different form letters

And five different form postcards.

Added together, it’s proof of how charged an issue wolf recovery is, and how passionate are advocates and opponents alike.

“It reaffirms, with no real surprise, the feelings on the issue,” confirms Rocky Beach, WDFW’s wildlife diversity manager in Olympia.

The Defenders of Wildlife petition had the most signers, some 57,764, most of which were from outside Washington state — and indeed, over 11 percent of the names on the list appear to have come from as far across the world as Alice Springs, Bangkok, Cape Town, Denmark and elsewhere outside the U.S.

Those who contributed their mark agreed:

I strongly support efforts to fully restore wolves to Washington State.

It is heartbreaking that the Emerald State has been deprived of wolves since the extensive wolf extermination campaigns of the late 1800s eliminated these magnificent animals from Washington, and I was very happy to learn that two packs have made their way back to eastern Washington.

Historically, wolves have not only played an important role in balancing ecosystems in Washington. They also figure prominently in Washington’s rich cultural heritage, particularly in the creation stories of the Quileute Native American tribe of coastal Washington …

Fast forward a few millenia and a letter WDFW received from a neighboring coastal tribe shows that the Makah Tribal Council has serious problems with the plan, especially translocating wolves to the Olympic Peninsula where local deer herds are struggling with hair-louse issues and elk reproduction is well below other regions.

Deer and elk populations are vitally important to the Makah Tribe for subsistence and ceremonial uses. Although the Tribe recognizes that the wolf holds cultural importance to Makahs, at this time … the ungulate populations Makah hunters rely on for subsistence are of significantly higher priority. Introduction of another predator into an already diverse predator community would be detrimental to these ungulate populations.

Adds the chair of the Muckleshoot Tribe’s Wildlife Committee:

“If wolves are added to the mix without flexible management options the results could have substantial negative impacts to all tribal members.”

The Muckleshoot refuse to reduce their harvest, and call on state hunters to instead lower theirs.

The draft plan’s current preferred option calls for a minimum of 15 breeding pairs in three regions of the state for three years in a row as the recovery goal before lifting state protections.

Translocation — moving wolves around inside the state — is under consideration.

One apparently hand-drawn petition signed by 39 people states, “We the people wish and intensely desire that wolves be translocated to the Olympic National Park. Also we would love to see the number of breeding pairs increased from fifteen to fify (sic).”

The superintendent of that park is among government officials who sent letters. Karen Gustin as well as the chiefs at North Cascades and Mt. Rainier National Parks say that adding a fourth recovery area on the Olympic Peninsula “will allow the state to reach its recovery objectives and meet NPS objectives of restoring extirpated species and restoring ecosystem function in NPS units.”

The Kittitas County Field & Stream club and head of the Washington State Trappers Association don’t like any of WDFW’s options on the table.

Letters from hunters show we worry about the affect wolves will have on big-game herds:

There is no reason why we should intoduce more wolves or increase their population. As a hunter there isn’t enough game right now for me to fill my tags. You will be absoulty nuts if you increase the wolf population. Take a look at Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. I use to hunt there and now I don’t because of wolves. There is no game …

Stan Bauer,  Graham

I ask that you allow hunting wolves to be part of any final draft plan. To not do so will severly effect WDFW revenue as hunters will not purchese tags or hunt in areas that are depleted of game with no way to address the problem. I am willing to accept wolf reintroduction but I ask that it be done with the intelligence that hunting wolves will be needed to balance the ecosystem.

Jayson Hills,  East Wenatchee WA

I am a hunter. My favorite hunts are the ones deep into the wilderness areas of our state. The return of the wolf to these remote areas is not only unavoidable but critical to true, healthy wilderness. How can you have a wilderness void of the last great predator? Of course I’m concerned about how my elk and deer will fare and I’m sure there will be areas where we will see a decline in their numbers as the wolves increase but with proper game management we can compensate for this. Eventually the proper balance will be reached. I feel that the wolf should be allowed to return and grow to healthy numbers then managed like we manage all our game animals. While I would never kill a wolf if we can grow their numbers properly we can then manage them. I can only hope that some day on a hunt deep into the Pasaytan wilderness I hear the song of a fellow predator. Only then will the wild return to wilderness. Good luck.

Gregg Bafundo,  Normandy Park WA

Some commenters mistakenly believe WDFW is actively planning on or currently reintroducing wolves into the state.

Others callously throw sportsmen under the wolf bus — never mind our contribution to the recovery of all kinds of critters the past 100 years.

A missive from Diane Weinstein says “Hunting of ungulates should also be restricted in wolf recovery areas to prevent the ‘Shoot, shovel, and shut up’ group from killing wolves.”

Yeah, thaaaaaaaaaaaat seems like it will lead to warm, fuzzy feelings between sportsmen, wolves and wolf advocates.

Scott Fisher, a Department of Natural Resources biologist once quoted in our magazine on wolves, has a better idea. His letter states:

“It is paramount to maintain as many management options as possible to ensure that people most likely to be impacted by wolves, especially those in rural landscapes who tend to be more anti-wolf in their opinions, feel like they have some control over their particular situation and are not at the mercy of forces or conditions elsewhere in the state.”

He suggests that rather than a statewide recovery goal, have one for the part of Washington where wolves are included in the Northern Rockies population and are recolonizing on their own.

Fisher adds that because Eastern Washington will likely meet recovery goals first, wolves from the region would be translocated west. However, he suggests that we don’t know for sure what sort of wolves actually occurred in the Cascades and Western Washington before they were wiped out. He calls on WDFW to perform an exhaustive review of museum specimens.

“It is important to maintain genetic diveresity and unique populations and translocating Rocky Mountain wolves into the Cascades may be as biologically inappropriate as it would be to translocate Mexican wolves into the Cascades.”

Form-letter and postcard campaigns generally call for upping the number of wolves required for recovery.

Others who submitted their comments include Northeast Washington county commissioners, state and regional conservation organizations as well as The Mountaineers and the Mount Olive Grange.

WDFW’s Rocky Beach says that in general, the written comments echo those that the agency has heard during 20 public meetings on wolves.

“Nothing really caught us by surprise,” adds Gary Wiles, another WDFW staffer who went through many of the documents.

Beach says that the next step is categorizing the comments by theme. Eight hundred separate ideas have been identified, he says, and those will be put into a spreadsheet and given answers.

By posting all the raw comments, Beach says the agency is trying to keep people in the loop.

“We’ve tried to show as much transparency as possible because of the interest in the issue,” he says.

Next month, the agency will also meet with its 17-member Wolf Working Group with an update on the plan and comments received. Then next spring, WDFW will come back to the group with more comments and possible tweaks to the plan, then bring a managment plan to the Fish & Wildlife Commission next August.

November Hunting Forecast For Washington

With October — the best month ever invented — fading quickly, it’s time to look towards November’s hunting opportunities around Washington.

Next month offers everything from bucks and bulls to gobblers and ringnecks to quackers and honkers.

But some hunts will be better than others.

WDFW’s Weekender breaks it down for us:

NORTH PUGET SOUND

November is prime time for waterfowl hunting in the region, where more and more birds are expected to arrive as the month progresses. After a couple weeks of good hunting, there’s typically a lull in the action in late October, said Don Kraege, WDFW waterfowl manager.

“But hunting usually improves in mid-November, when the number of migrants arriving to the area picks up along with the wet and windy weather,” he said.

Goose hunts are open through Oct. 28 in the region, and then start again Nov. 6. However, snow, Ross and blue geese seasons in Goose Management Area 1 (Skagit and Snohomish counties) will run from Oct. 16 through Jan. 30 without a break. The duck hunting season also is open through Jan. 30.

Hunters who would like to participate in the Snow Goose Quality Hunt program on Fir Island and in the northern Port Susan Bay area should visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/snow_goose/ for information on the rules and requirements.

Upland bird hunters have through Nov. 30 to hunt pheasants, California quail and bobwhite , while the forest grouse season runs through Dec. 31.

Bear and cougar hunts are also open in the region. However, the bear hunting season closes Nov. 15.

PENINSULA & SOUTH SOUND

November is prime time for hunting in the region, offering a variety of hunting opportunities from waterfowl to big game. Warm, dry conditions made for some tough hunting conditions in October, but that is expected to change in a month known for falling temperatures and rising precipitation.

“November is a busy month for hunters,” said Jerry Nelson, WDFW deer and elk specialist. “Popular hunting seasons are open for one species or another throughout the month, and we can usually count on weather conditions that support hunters’ success in the field.”

The modern firearm season for deer runs through Oct. 31. Then comes the modern firearm season for elk , which is open Nov. 6-16, and the late modern firearm season for deer that runs Nov. 18-21.

CALLIE WILLIAMSON'S 2009 BULL. (DAVID WILLIAMSON)

Archers and muzzleloaders also have late-season opportunities in select game management units. Archery hunts for deer and elk get started Nov. 24, when muzzleloader hunts for elk also get under way. Muzzleloader hunts for deer open the following day, Nov. 25.

SOUTHWEST

Elk hunters using modern firearms will take the field in western Washington from Nov. 6-16 for one of the most popular hunting seasons of the year. Archers and muzzleloaders will also get another opportunity to hunt elk during the late season that gets under way Nov. 24 in selected game management units (GMUs).

Sandra Jonker, WDFW regional wildlife manager, said southwest Washington consistently offers some of the best elk hunting in the state, and this year shouldn’t be any different.

“The mild winter appears to have improved hunting prospects for this year,” she said.

Jonker reminds hunters of new rules now in effect that prohibit taking antlerless elk during any general modern firearms seasons or muzzleloader seasons in GMUs 568 (Washougal), 574 (Wind River), or 578 (West Klickitat). A three-point antler restriction will also be in effect during general hunting seasons in these areas.

Antlerless elk hunting in all three GMUs is now offered through the special-permit process for both modern firearm and muzzleloader hunts. Tag numbers have been allocated at levels designed to maintain harvest and hunting opportunity at a level similar to that of the past five years in these GMUs, Jonker said.

For more information on elk hunting and other big-game seasons, see the Big Game Hunting pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ .

Another popular hunt, the “late buck” season for black-tailed deer , runs Nov. 18-21 in select game management units (GMU) throughout western Washington. Although the late-buck season is only four days long, it usually accounts for about a third of all the deer taken each year by hunters in the region.

“One reason why hunters are so successful during the late season is that the bucks are more active,” Jonker said. “By then, the temperatures have dropped and the rut is coming to an end.”

As with elk, a late season for deer will open to archers starting Nov. 24 and to muzzleloaders starting Nov. 25, in some GMUs.

This is the fourth year of the St. Helens Land Access Program, a cooperative effort between Weyerhaeuser, WDFW, and many volunteer organizations to facilitate providing additional weekday motorized access for hunters during special elk permit seasons on the Weyerhaeuser St. Helen Tree Farm. Those interested in helping to provide this access, can sign up at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/sainthelens/ .

The hunting season for black bear ends Nov. 15, and the general hunting season for cougar ends Nov. 30 in Klickitat County.

Meanwhile, hunting seasons for geese will remain open in Management Areas 3 and 5 (including Lewis, Skamania and Klickitat counties) through Jan. 30, 2011. Wildlife managers expect hunting to improve in both areas as cold temperatures drive more birds into the region from the north.

Starting Nov. 13, Management Area 2A (Wahkiakum, Cowlitz and part of Clark County) will open to hunters who have successfully completed a goose-identification test administered by WDFW. Hunting in most sections of Area 2A is limited to Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only. An exception is the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, where goose hunting is restricted to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Hunting for pheasants ? While there is some wild production of pheasants, pen-raised birds at formal release sites in Klickitat County and Clark County provide the best hunting prospects. For information about those sites, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/pheasant/western/ on the WDFW website.

FAR EASTERN WASHINGTON

The modern firearm general elk hunting season and some special permit elk hunts run Oct. 30 through Nov. 7 in select game management units. The southeast’s Blue Mountains herds are providing the best opportunities again this season. Late archery and muzzleloader elk hunting in select game management units gets under way in late November. Check the regulations pamphlet for legal elk definitions and all other rules.

Pheasant hunting has been under way since Oct. 23. WDFW Enforcement Sergeant Dan Rahn reports success has been marginal, with heavy rain in at least the central district of the region over opening weekend.

“Hunters have been braving the storms and report seeing average number of birds,” Rahn said.

Most regional biologists reported few pheasant broods this year. Joey McCanna, a WDFW upland game specialist, initiated survey routes to count birds this year, but the numbers so far are not relative to anything comparable from past years. Pheasants per square mile ranged from less than one in the Colton and Pomeroy areas to over two in the Walla Walla area. Brood sizes ranged from near five in the Lancaster and Union Flat Creek areas to near seven in the Colfax and Hay areas. McCanna thinks this year’s season could be similar to 2009, when hunter participation was down three percent but harvest was up three percent. Last year in Whitman County alone, for example, some 3,073 hunters spent 18,827 days to harvest 11,795 pheasants.

Game-farm-raised pheasants will be released throughout the three-month-long season at several release sites to boost opportunities, although the total number of birds will be down from past years. See the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/pheasant/eastern/ ) for detailed information about those sites.

Sergeant Rahn reminds pheasant hunters to wear the required hunter orange and be aware of others hunting in the same area. He also reminds all hunters who witness poaching or other illegal conduct afield to call the Washington State Patrol at 227-6560 or call 911 to relay messages most quickly to WDFW officers.

Late modern firearm general white-tailed deer hunting runs Nov. 6-19 in game management units 105-124, where any buck is legal. Late archery and muzzleloader deer general hunting and modern firearm special permit deer hunting in select units throughout the region is in late November.

Earlier deer hunting participation and results can provide a glimpse of the prospects for these seasons, although rut behavior and weather conditions can change opportunities dramatically. In southeast units checked, WDFW district wildlife biologist Pat Fowler reported deer hunting pressure was spotty, with low pressure in the mountains and wilderness area, moderate pressure in the foothills, and low to moderate pressure in the lowland farming area.

Success in the mountains appears to be low, moderate in the foothills, and low in the farmland area. WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area was full of deer hunting camps and the adjacent Last Resort was busy checking deer into the cooler. In northeast units surveyed through traditional roadside check stations, WDFW district wildlife biologist Dana Base reported a relatively average rate of participation and success – about 380 hunters contacted with about 12 percent of them successfully harvesting deer.

The northeast district’s wild turkey late fall general season is just in time for bagging a bird for the Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday dinner table. From Nov. 20 through Dec. 15, turkey hunters can take either sex birds in northeast game management units 105-124, where the big birds are relatively plentiful. Hunters who already bagged a bird or two (depending on the sex), can still take one more turkey in this late season. See all the regulation details on page 67 of the Big Game pamphlet.

Holiday tablefare opportunities are also available for goose hunters in this region. There are three extra days this month for goose hunting in Spokane, Lincoln and Walla Walla counties where the season is restricted to weekends and Wednesdays. Thursday, Nov. 11, and Thursday and Friday, Nov. 25-26, are open for goose hunting.

Waterfowl hunting in general should improve as more wintery weather develops throughout the region. WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area manager Juli Anderson reports recent rain has been a good start toward filling the area’s many small potholes that have been dry this year. If rain continues and deep freezing holds off, ducks and geese should be drawn in and could provide limited hunting opportunities.

Fall black bear hunting season in select game management units throughout the region closes Nov. 15. Special permit moose hunting in select game management units in the northeast district closes Nov. 30.

NORTH-CENTRAL

WDFW Waterfowl Specialist Mikal Moore of Moses Lake reports the waterfowl hunting season in the north Columbia Basin opened with better than expected participation and success. Depending on weather, prospects for the rest of the season look good, he said.

“The most successful hunters were those hunting isolated potholes in the North Potholes area and the Frenchman Wasteway between Dodson Road and Road C Southeast,” Moore said. “Both areas averaged four birds per hunter, though mallards dominated the bag on the Frenchman, and American green-winged teal were most common on North Potholes.”

Moore said water delivery to the Winchester Regulated Access Area (RAA) has been slowed by an enormous beaver lodge, which prevented the area from flooding in time for the opener.

“It’s receiving water now and should be a good hunting spot until freeze-up, thanks to all the mallards using the Frenchman Reserve,” she said.

Moore also noted small Canada geese are arriving in the Stratford area in large numbers. They will spend a few weeks feeding on harvested wheat fields in the area before distributing through the Basin. Contracts for access to harvested corn stubble fields in the Columbia Basin are in the works, but they won’t be finalized until after the field corn harvest, approximately in mid-November. Moore said a map of walk-in hunting fields enrolled in the Corn Stubble Retention Program will be posted on WDFW’s Northcentral Region webpage, once the contracts are complete.

Hunting for the Thanksgiving holiday? Goose hunters will have three extra days in November in areas where the season is usually restricted to weekends and Wednesdays. Those extra days are Thursday, Nov. 11; Thursday, Nov. 25; and Friday, Nov. 26.

A special-permit wild turkey hunt also arrives just in time to bag a bird for the Thanksgiving – or Christmas – holiday dinner table. For the 50 permitees drawn earlier this year, the season runs Nov. 15 through Dec. 15 in game management units 218-231 and 242.

Meanwhile, special-permit and late archery deer hunting gets under way in select game management units later in November. Depending on the weather, prospects look good, considering the condition of deer already checked during earlier seasons, said Scott Fitkin, a WDFW Okanogan district wildlife biologist.

Fitkin said the deer check station in the Methow conducted on the final weekend of the general modern firearm season, showed excellent body condition of harvested animals and several older age class bucks.

“The percentage of 2 ½ year-old deer in the sample increased over last year as predicted, given the improved fawn recruitment two winters ago,” Fitkin said. “Greater availability of young bucks, combined with good buck carryover from 2009, may boost success rates this year. However, hunter numbers and success as tallied at the check station could not be accurately compared to last year, due to the change in check station location.”

Fitkin also noted snow has come to the high country, with more unsettled weather in the forecast. Those conditions should also improve prospects for permit and archery hunters in November.

SOUTH-CENTRAL

November is prime time for hunting in central Washington, offering a variety of hunting opportunities from waterfowl to big game. Warm, dry conditions made for some tough hunting conditions in October, but that is expected to change as temperatures continue to drop and the rain and snow begins to fall in earnest.

A prime example is the modern firearm hunting season for elk , which opens Oct. 30. Southcentral Washington consistently offers some of the best elk hunting in the state, and this year shouldn’t be any different, said Ted Clausing, WDFW regional wildlife manager.

“We’re seeing a lot of elk, and the numbers look good,” Clausing said. “The Yakima and Colockum herds both appear to have benefited from the mild winter.”

Hunting areas for elk abound in Yakima and Kittitas counties (District 8), where most public lands and private timber lands are open to hunters. That is not the case in Franklin and Benton counties (District 4), where hunting opportunities are largely limited to private property surrounding the western and southern boundaries of the Hanford Reach National Monument (Game Management Unit 372).

For archers, a number of game management units (GMUs) open for deer and elk hunting Nov. 24 and run through Dec. 8. For more information, see WDFW’s Big Game Hunting pamphlet available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/ and at license vendors around the state.

As noted in the pamphlet, the hunting season for black bear ends Nov. 15. The general season for cougar using any weapon runs through Dec. 31 in the Kittitas-Yakima Zone and through March 2011 in the Columbia Basin Zone.

Meanwhile, hunting seasons continue throughout the region for geese, ducks, coots, snipe, California quail, chukar, forest grouse, pheasant, partridge, cottontail and horseshoe rabbit .

Local waterfowl production is down this year, but hunting should pick up once cold temperatures up north drive more birds into the area. In Franklin County, small ponds and lakes on WDFW’s Windmill Ranch Wildlife Area and the Bailie Memorial Youth Ranch are good places to hunt ducks and geese. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also provide hunting areas along the Snake and Columbia Rivers for bank and boat hunters.

What’s Fishin’ In Washington

While I bombed back and forth to deer camp — blowing up and down the Methow River in a mad race to get a muley and get back to work to approve magazine pages for press — John Brace was doing something eminently smarter.

He was stopping along the North-central Washington river and fishing it — catching steelies too.

JOHN BRACE WITH A METHOW STEELIE FROM LAST WEEK. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Indeed, as craptacular of a steelheader as I am, with this year’s big run (18,000-plus), I think my best bet for a Methow buck was actually on the river, not in the hills.

And while deer hunting is more or less wrapped up along the river, the Met remains open through November and beyond for hatchery steelhead retention. While the majority of guys I saw appeared to be fly fishermen, others, like Brace, use a mix of jigs, spoons and spinners to catch the sea-run rainbows on the selective-gear river.

But if that part of Washington is a weeeeeee bit far to travel — especially with the North Cascades Pass becoming dicier as winter sets in in the heights — there are plenty of other opportunities to be had around the Evergreen State.

Here’s what WDFW’s freshly minted Weekender suggests:

NORTH PUGET SOUND

Anglers will continue to find some coho in the region’s rivers and streams, but by mid-November chum salmon will take center stage. On Puget Sound, more areas are scheduled to open for chinook fishing, as well as late-season crab opportunities.

At 8 a.m. on Nov. 15, marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and 12 (Hood Canal) will reopen for sport crabbing seven days a week through Jan. 2, 2011.

Crab fishing will also remain open seven days a week through Jan. 2 in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), and 13 (south Puget Sound), where the fishery has continued uninterrupted since June 18.

Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island), where the summer catch reached the annual quota, said Rich Childers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) shellfish policy coordinator.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ .

While on the Sound, why not fish for blackmouth ? Beginning Nov. 1, opportunities for blackmouth will increase, as marine areas 8-1, 8-2 and 9 open for chinook. Anglers fishing those marine areas, as well as Marine Area 10, have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook salmon. Anglers are reminded that Marine Area 7 closes to salmon retention Nov. 1.

Saltwater anglers fishing for chum salmon may want to try waters around Point No Point (north end of the Kitsap Peninsula) and Possession Bar (southern portion of Whidbey Island). Those two areas of Marine Area 9 are often hotspots for chum salmon in early November.

Meanwhile, several rivers are open for salmon fishing, including the Snohomish, Skykomish, Stillaguamish, Snoqualmie and Wallace. Anglers fishing those rivers have a daily limit of two coho. The Skagit, Cascade, Green (Duwamish) and Nooksack also are open for salmon but regulations vary for each river. For details, check WDFW’s sportfishing regulations pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

For trout anglers, Beaver Lake near Issaquah could be the best place to cast for rainbows in November. About 2,300 hatchery rainbows – averaging 2 to 3 pounds each – are scheduled to be released into the lake Nov. 8. Beaver Lake, which is one of several westside lowland lakes open to fishing year-round, is best fished by small boat, although anglers also can be successful fishing from shore.

SOUTH SOUND AND PENINSULA

Anglers fishing for salmon often turn their attention to chum in November, when the run usually peaks around the middle of the month. But shellfish really take center stage as more areas of Puget Sound re-open for sport crabbing in November and two razor clam digs are tentatively scheduled on coastal beaches.

If tests are favorable, WDFW will proceed with an evening razor clam dig early in the month at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch. Tentative opening dates and evening low tides are:

* Nov. 5, Fri. – 6:41 p.m., (-1.4 ft.), Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
* Nov. 6, Sat. – 7:26 p.m., (-1.6 ft.), Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
* Nov. 7, Sun. – 7:11 p.m., (-1.5 ft.), Twin Harbors
* Nov. 8, Mon. – 7:55 p.m., (-1.2 ft.), Twin Harbors

Later in the November, razor clammers will have another opportunity at Long Beach and Twin Harbors. Tentative opening dates and evening low tides for that dig are:

* Nov. 20, Sat. – 5:39 p.m., (-0.4 ft.), Long Beach, Twin Harbors
* Nov. 21, Sun. – 6:17 p.m., (-0.7 ft.), Long Beach, Twin Harbors

Clam diggers are reminded that they should take lights or lanterns for the nighttime digs and to check weather and surf forecasts before heading out. No digging will be allowed before noon on any of the five razor-clam beaches. Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2010-11 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov  and from license vendors around the state. More razor clam digs are tentatively scheduled Dec. 3-6 and Dec. 31-Jan. 2.

Rather catch crab ? At 8 a.m. on Nov. 15, marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and 12 (Hood Canal) will reopen for sport crabbing seven days a week through Jan. 2, 2011.

Crab fishing will also remain open seven days a week through Jan. 2 in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), and 13 (south Puget Sound), where the fishery has continued uninterrupted since June 18.

Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island), where the summer catch reached the annual quota, said Rich Childers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) shellfish policy coordinator.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ .

Recreationists on the Sound can also pursue blackmouth – resident chinook. Beginning Nov. 1, anglers fishing marine areas 5 (Sekiu), 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) and 13 (South Puget Sound) can keep one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. However, salmon fishing in Marine Area 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) is only open through Oct. 31.

Elsewhere, anglers fishing Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) have a daily limit of four salmon, but only one of those fish can be a chinook.

November is when the action heats up in the region for chum salmon . Popular fishing spots include the Hoodsport Hatchery area of Hood Canal and the mouth of Kennedy Creek in Totten Inlet. Other areas where anglers can find chum salmon include the Dosewallips and Duckabush rivers in Jefferson County and Minter Creek in Pierce/Kitsap Counties. Those three rivers open for salmon fishing Nov. 1.

Meanwhile, salmon fisheries remain open through Nov. 30 on the Bogachiel, Sol Duc, Calawah, Dickey, Clearwater and Hoh rivers. Also open for salmon fishing through November, are the Elk, Hoquiam and Johns rivers and Joe Creek in Grays Harbor County; and the Bear and Niawiakum rivers in Pacific County. In Mason County, the Skokomish River is open for salmon fishing through Dec. 15.

Winter steelhead fisheries get under way in November on several rivers, including the Bogachiel, Calawah, Sol Duc, Quillayute and Hoh. Beginning Nov. 1, anglers fishing those rivers have a daily limit of three hatchery steelhead. “Traditionally, the winter steelhead fishery doesn’t really get going until later in November,” said Bob Leland, WDFW’s steelhead program manager. “Anglers can certainly find some steelhead early in the month, but around Thanksgiving is when fishing usually starts to improve.”

Grays Harbor-area rivers, such as the Satsop, Wynoochee and Humptulips, also are good bets for anglers once steelhead start to arrive, said Leland.

Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all fisheries on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

SOUTHWEST

Thanksgiving Day traditionally marks the start of the popular winter steelhead fishery, although some anglers started working their favorite rivers well ahead of time. A number of area rivers have been open to fishing for hatchery steelhead for months, and catch totals have been rising since mid-October.

That tally will likely increase even faster now that the first big storm of the season has soaked the region with heavy rains, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Steelhead move upriver on pulses of water, and the storm really helped to prime the pump,” Hymer said. “Now that the ground is good and wet, we can expect to see more and more fish move upstream every time the sky opens up and the rivers start to swell.”

Major destinations for hatchery-reared steelhead moving up the Columbia River are the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis (east and north forks), Washougal, Elochoman and Grays rivers, along with Salmon Creek in Clark County, he said. Other waters opening for steelhead fishing Nov. 1 are Abernathy, Coal and Germany creeks, the Coweeman River and Cedar Creek in Clark County and Mill Creek in Cowlitz County.

Only hatchery-reared steelhead, which have a clipped adipose fin, may be retained in regional waters.  All wild, unmarked fish must be released unharmed.

But until Thanksgiving – or whenever steelhead begin to arrive en masse – late-run coho salmon may be the best target for anglers who want to catch fish. While the coho run has peaked, those fish should generate some action on the mainstem Columbia and many of its tributaries right through November, Hymer said.

“These are fairly large fish, some weighing up to 20 pounds apiece,” he said. “The trick is getting them to bite. The best time is when they are moving upriver, drawn by high water. Otherwise, it can be hard to get their attention.”

State regulations allow anglers to catch and keep up to six adult coho salmon per day on the Elochoman, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Kalama, Lewis and Washougal rivers, as well as the lower portion of the Grays River.  Several rivers also remain open for chinook salmon , although some close Oct. 31.

Effective that day, the No. 5 fishway on the Klickitat River closes upstream to chinook fishing, the Wind River closes to all salmon fishing, and the stretch of the Columbia River from Beacon Rock to Bonneville Dam closes to all fishing for both salmon and steelhead. For additional information on fishing seasons, see the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/  ).

Other fishing options in the days before – and possibly after – Thanksgiving include:

* Sturgeon:   Anglers reeled in nearly 1,500 legal-size sturgeon from the lower Columbia River above the Wauna powerlines during the first three weeks of October.  As of Oct. 17, there were 841 fish available for harvest for the remainder of the year. The fishery is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until the quota is met. Before heading out, anglers are advised to check the WDFW website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ ) to make sure the fishery is still open for retention of white sturgeon.
* Cowlitz cutthroats:   October is prime time to catch sea-run cutthroat trout on the Cowlitz River, but the fish usually keep biting through November, Hymer said. The best fishing is from Blue Creek near the trout hatchery on downriver, he said. “Sea-run cutthroat are aggressive, hard-fighting fish,” he said. “They’ll take flies, bait, lures – practically anything you throw at them.” Anglers may retain up to five hatchery-reared cutthroats per day as part of the daily trout limit on the lower Cowlitz River, where the fish generally range from 12 to 20 inches.
* Swift Reservoir:    Anglers fishing the reservoir have continued to reel in some nice rainbows averaging 12-13 inches. The fishery is open through Nov. 30.

In addition, WDFW has announced a razor-clam dig tentatively set to begin Nov. 5 at Long Beach and four other coastal beaches. The results of marine-toxin tests, which will determine whether the dig will proceed, are expected by Nov. 1.

See the South Sound/Olympic Peninsula regional report above for tentative beach openings. Check the WDFW website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/  ) or the toll-free Shellfish Hotline (866-880-5431) for final word on the scheduled dig.

FAR EASTERN

Snake River steelheading was slow in October, but could pick up in the weeks ahead, said Joe Bumgarner, a WDFW fish biologist. Anglers have been averaging 30 to 50 hours per steelhead – a far cry from last year when steelheaders were catching fish in a fraction of that time.

Even the mouth of the Grand Ronde River, which traditionally provides some of the best fishing, has been slow. Catch rates for the fall chinook fishery, which tends to be incidental to steelhead fishing, have also been slow on the Snake River system.

Warmer temperatures through late October may be part of the problem, Bumgarner said.

“The good news is that there are lots of steelhead here and the weather is changing,” he said. “At last count there were more than 190,000 steelhead over Lower Granite Dam, with 800 to 1,200 a day still coming up. With the rain and colder temperatures we’re just starting to get now, November could be the month of steelheading here.”

Although many of the region’s top trout-fishing lakes are closed by November, there are a couple of exceptions and several year-round-open waters worth trying. Southwest Spokane County’s Amber Lake remains open through the end of November for catch-and-release, selective gear fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout . Waitts Lake in Stevens County is open through February and provides rainbow and brown trout, largemouth bass , and yellow perch .

Big net-pen-reared rainbow trout and some kokanee are available in Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam, which is open year-round. Large rainbows continue to provide action at Sprague Lake, the big year-round waterway that sprawls across the Lincoln-Adams county line just south of Interstate 90.

Fly fishers have reported that rainbow trout are biting at year-round-open Z-Lake off Telford Road on the WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Lincoln County.

Rock Lake in Whitman County, open year-round, is still producing catches of rainbow and brown trout , along with some largemouth bass .

Trout, bass, crappie, perch , and other species are available at Spokane County’s year-round-open Eloika, Newman and Silver lakes.

NORTH-CENTRAL

The steelhead fishery on the upper Columbia River and its tributaries slowed a bit in late October, but anglers will have another river to try in the weeks ahead.  Starting Nov. 1, the Similkameen River will open to fishing for hatchery-reared steelhead from the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam. Selective gear and night closure rules are in effect for the Similkameen River.

Above Wells Dam, anglers have been averaging one steelhead for every ten hours of fishing on the mainstem Columbia River and its tributaries, reports WDFW district fish biologist Bob Jateff of Twisp. “Remember there’s mandatory retention of adipose-fin-clipped hatchery steelhead and a four-fish daily limit,” he said. “All fish with adipose fins intact must be released and cannot be completely removed from the water prior to release.”

Jateff also reported that a few lowland lakes are still open for catch-and-release trout fishing through the month of November – Big and Little Green lakes near Omak, and Rat Lake near Brewster. Selective gear rules are in effect for all three lakes.

Anglers interested in catching yellow perch could try Patterson Lake near Winthrop, said Jateff, noting that the fish average seven to eight inches. “There’s no daily limit and no minimum size,” he said. “We encouraged anglers to retain all perch caught regardless of size.”

Several year-round waters in the region can provide decent fishing opportunity during the month of November. Banks Lake has a little bit of everything – smallmouth and largemouth bass, crappie, yellow perch, walleye, kokanee , even lake whitefish . Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir have most of the same, plus net-pen-reared rainbow trout .

SOUTH-CENTRAL

Fresh from a record catch of fall chinook , anglers fishing the Hanford Reach in late October were having a tough time hooking up with hatchery steelhead . That doesn’t bode well for fishing opportunities in November, when steelhead are the main attraction for anglers in that section of the Columbia River, said Paul Hoffarth, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Steelhead fishing has been unusually slow at a time when it should be ramping up,” Hoffarth said.  “We’ve been seeing 20 anglers come in with one fish among them.”

While the forecast is below the 10-year average, it does not fully account for low number of hatchery steelhead in angler’s creels in the Reach, Hoffarth said. Both creel surveys and counts at the Ringold Fish Hatchery indicate a dearth of one-salt fish returning from the ocean for the first time.

Although counts of two-salt fish are generally on track, one-salt fish generally make up about three-quarters of the catch, Hoffarth said. “I hope I’m wrong, but it looks like we could be in for another tough month of steelhead fishing in this area.”

Starting Nov. 1, the daily catch limit is two hatchery steelhead, which can be identified by their clipped adipose fins. All unmarked steelhead must be released unharmed.

The slow start for steelhead in the Hanford Reach stands in stark contrast to the record catch of fall chinook from McNary Dam to Priest Rapids Dam this year. Through Oct. 22, when that fishery closed, anglers caught an estimated 10,000 adult chinook, along with 1,360 jacks and four coho, Hoffarth said. He estimates that approximately 90,000 fall chinook returned to the Reach this year.

Anglers fishing the Yakima River also caught an estimated 230 adult chinook, 25 jacks and 23 coho before that fishery closed Oct. 22.

Fisheries remain open for both salmon and hatchery steelhead in most areas of the Columbia River downstream from McNary Dam. For daily limits and other regulations, see WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ ).

Hoffarth said walleye fishing should also be productive through the end of November, before the cold sets in. He recommends trolling upstream at night.

Klick Mouth Clicks For AndyCoho And Crew

Readers of Northwest Sportsman’s October issue saw Andy Schneider’s big map feature on coho fishing at the mouth of the Klickitat River, and that’s where the Portland-area salmon/steelhead angler found himself this past weekend.

Here’s his tale of brawlin’ B-runs and sassy silvers:

The Columbia River Gorge definitely felt and looked like fall this last Sunday — bright yellow, orange and red leaves dancing on the gusts of wind that sprouted out of the West and rain showers so heavy that the mid-day sun would darken like night was falling.

If the hills and weather didn’t clue us in that THIS IS FALL, the fish sure did. The late returning “B-run” Klickitat coho would seem to coordinate an attack on fisherman’s gear and it looked like everyone was hooking fish at once.

But just as soon as the attack would begin, it would slow, then stop and we would all troll with the anticipation of the next attack.

These slow periods were good though. It gave us a chance to snap some photos, eat some good snacks and just catch up with each other.

Sunday I had friends Nancy, Dory and Brenda on board with my wife and son Missy and Ayden.  Who would have thought that they would all be crazy enough to go fishing with me, even with a forecast calling for “extreme weather”?  Ahh, the joys of having brave friends and hardy family!

On the first pass of the morning, Nancy’s rod went down as she trolled a prawn spinner just past the entrance of the Klickitat and a nice 12-pound coho was brought to net.

The next pass one of the plug rods surged towards the water and didn’t let up and Brenda jumped to the rod and starting battling the chrome-bright coho without hesitation (unclipped coho can be retained above the Hood River Bridge).

 

BRENDA'S SILVER. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

And to keep things interestin, this B-run steelhead grabbed a FatFish and gave Dory a fight that took us through the swarm of boats and almost to the middle of the Columbia.  The deep water of the Columbia seemed to give the steelhead more energy and it made run after run, before finally being identified as a hatchery fish and being swung into the boat with a whoop of applause from our boat and other fisherman.  This battle-scared steelhead buck weighed in at 18.2 pounds!

THE BIG BRAWLIN’ B-RUN DORY CAUGHT. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Missy and Ayden both had a chance to battle some coho that fell victim for FatFish and Wiggle Warts.

 

MISSY SCHNEIDER'S COHO. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

AYDEN SCHNEIDER'S COHO. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Though Ripley was wet, she insisted on braving the elements, surveying other anglers and seeing if any other boats had dogs aboard to warrant a bark.

 

SALMON/STEELHEAD HOUND RIPLEY SCHNEIDER SURVEYS THE SCENE OFF THE KLICK. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

While everyone’s focus will be on the Tillamook tributaries after the latest freshet, I think I may still be driving east for a couple more weeks and enjoy some easy fishing, good scenery, hard fighting fish and great company.

The Columbia River Gorge definitely felt and looked like fall this last Sunday; with bright yellow, orange and red leaves dancing on the gusts of wind that sprouted out of the West and rain showers so heavy that the mid-day sun would darken like night was falling.   If the hills and weather didn’t clue us in that THIS IS FALL; the fish sure did.  The late returning ‘B’ Run Klickitat Coho would seem to coordinate an attack on fisherman’s gear and it looked like everyone was hooking fish at once, but just as soon as the attack would begin, it would slow, then stop and we would all troll with the anticipation of the next attack.  These slow periods were good though, it gave us a chance to snap some photo’s, eat some good snacks and just catch up with each other.
Sunday I had friends; Nancy, Dory and Brenda on board with my Wife and Son (Missy and Ayden).  Who would thought that they would all be crazy enough to go fishing with me, even with a forecast calling for; ‘extreme weather’?.  Ahh, the joys of having brave friends and hardy family!
On the 1st pass of the morning, Nancy’s rod went down as she trolled a Prawn Spinner just past the entrance of the Klickitat and a nice 12-pound Coho was brought to net.
The next pass one of the plug rods surged towards the water and didn’t let up and Brenda jumped to the rod and starting battling the chrome bright Coho without hesitation (unclipped Coho can be retained above the Hood River Bridge).

Chetco To Open For Kings 6 Days Early

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

With higher water flows in the Chetco River, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reopens chinook and steelhead fishing beginning Saturday, Oct. 30.

Coastal chinook regulations adopted in June by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission included a low flow closure on the Chetco River effective through Nov. 5.  However, the closure will be lifted Oct. 30 thanks to late October rains and increased river flows.

River flows exceeded 7,000 cfs on Oct. 24 and are expected to remain above 2,500 cfs through Oct. 29. More rain is forecasted, and fall chinook have moved upstream from tidewater.

“The concern with over-harvesting chinook that were holding in the upper tidewater area is gone now that the fish can spread out into spawning areas throughout the mainstem and tributaries,” said Todd Confer, Gold Beach District Fish Biologist.

Following is angling information:

  • Mainstem Chetco River re-opens for chinook and steelhead beginning Oct. 30, with a bag limit of two salmon or steelhead daily and 20 /season.
  • The Chetco Estuary downstream of river mile 2.2 also remains open for chinook and steelhead.
  • As a reminder, the Winchuck remains closed to angling through Nov. 5.

Detailed coastal fall chinook fishery information is on the ODFW web site.

Withdrawal

It took the editor about a day before deer hunting withdrawal set in.

“I want to hunt blacktails,” I moaned to Amy as we lay in bed last night.

Well, I’m not really sure if I do.

Did I tell you the one about me wandering through reprod near Granite Falls, seeing all sorts of deer sign, and getting back to my buddy who’d been watching the clearcut ahead of me and him only seeing me a time or two?

If he couldn’t see me in all that low jungle of maples, Doug firs and ferns, how again were we supposed to see any deer?!?!?

But still, it’s deer hunting, which otherwise is 352 long — very, very looooooooooooooooong — days, 14 hours and 40 minutes away until mid-October’s general rifle opener.

My wife isn’t offering much comfort, but a minute later I whined, “I want to hunt whitetails.”

They’re much further away from home, and real bastards to hunt in the thick Northeast Washington lowlands, but an interesting challenge.

A 5×5 I got near Newport in 2006 made me feel like some sort of antler-rattlin’ all-star when a quick click-clack turned him my way for a short-range shot.

“I want to hunt muleys,” I then lamented to Amy.

They’re my favorites, and visions of my buddy’s dad’s über-wide-racked buck danced in my head — still alive and waiting for me at Andy’s Saddle.

(ERIC BELL)

But mule deer season’s done pretty much everywhere save for Klickitat County, and there’s no way I’m getting there before the last day, Friday.

So that means whitetails or, yes, blacktails. The rut hunt for the former opens Nov. 6-19, and latter are open through All Hallows Even, then again in mid-November in select units.

“What if I go for only a half day for blacktail this Saturday?” I broached to Amy. “I could be back by 2.”

“Christine needs your help moving that day,” she said of one of her friends in Seattle.

“What?! She doesn’t need help — she’s only moving a block away from her old house!” I said.

“No.”

Amy has had her fill of handling two little boys for 16 days, 16 hours and 3 minutes straight without a weekend break.

Can’t say I blame her. I need a break from those little dervishes after 15 minutes!

Not that I’m giving up trying to go hunting.

When she told me this afternoon that her mom was coming tomorrow for a weekend stay with us, I blurted out, “That means ..!”

“No, it doesn’t,” she quickly cut me off.

Harumph.

Maybe tonight I’ll put on my orange and go play with my buck grunt and rattle some antlers in the shed.

4 Areas In Sound To Reopen For Crabbing

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Four marine areas of Puget Sound will reopen to recreational crab fishing Nov. 15, based on summer catch assessments by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) that show more crab are available for harvest.

SCREW TURKEY, EAT CRAB FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER. (TIM BUSH)

At 8 a.m. on Nov. 15, marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and 12 (Hood Canal) will reopen for sport crabbing seven days a week through Jan. 2, 2011.

Crab fishing will also remain open seven days a week through Jan. 2 in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), and 13 (south Puget Sound), where the fishery has continued uninterrupted since June 18.

Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island), where the summer catch reached the annual quota, said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish policy coordinator.

All crab caught in the Puget Sound recreational fishery after Sept. 1 should be recorded on winter catch cards, which are valid until Jan. 2. Those catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb. 1, 2011. For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/crc.html .

“It’s important that people submit their reports, even if they didn’t catch any crab,” Childers said. “A report showing no crab caught is just as important in calculating the catch as one that shows lots of crab caught.”

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6ž inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ .

Lunkers Heading To Beaver Soon

Wanna catch big trout next month? Beaver Lake on the Sammamish Plateau won’t be the only place to do so. WDFW also plans on stocking Paschall Pond in Chelan County and Black Lake in Thurston County in November, the agency’s trout stocking plan shows.

But the 2,300 2- to 3-pound rainbows going into Beaver will definitely make it a top draw for Central Pugetropolis anglers.

WDFW’s plan is to dump them in Nov. 8, but close its access site from sunset Nov. 7 to sunrise Nov. 9.

Beaver will remain open to fishing during that time, however, and can be fished from boat or bank (there’s a city park on the lake’s west end).

It’s the sixth year in a row that WDFW has stocked the lake in November. The trout come from an educational display at the nearby Issaquah Hatchery.

Internal combustion boat engines are prohibited on Beaver. And while the daily bag limit is five fish, only two of those can exceed 15 inches in length. Bait anglers must keep the first five trout they catch.

WDFW also plans on stocking Battle Ground and Klineline Ponds in Clark County in December.

King County’s Beaver Lake to receive
2,300 large hatchery rainbow trout

OLYMPIA – Anglers will soon have an opportunity to catch lunker trout in Beaver Lake near Issaquah, thanks to the release of about 2,300 hatchery rainbows averaging about 2 to 3 pounds each.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is scheduled to release the fish Nov. 8. To facilitate fish planting, WDFW will close the Beaver Lake access site at sunset on Nov. 7 and reopen the site at sunrise on Nov. 9. Beaver Lake, however, will remain open to fishing while the access site is closed.

The trout were part of an educational display at WDFW’s Issaquah Hatchery.

Beaver Lake is best fished by small boat, although anglers also can be successful fishing from shore, said Aaron Bosworth, fishery biologist for WDFW.

The lake’s access site is most easily reached by way of East Beaver Lake Drive Southeast, off Southeast 24th Street in the city of Sammamish. Parking for vehicles and boat trailers is limited, and a valid WDFW vehicle use permit must be easily visible in or on vehicles parked at the access site. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vup/ for more information about vehicle use permits.

Beaver Lake is one of several westside lowland lakes open to fishing year-round. Internal combustion boat engines are prohibited on the lake. All anglers 15 years of age and older are required to have a valid fishing license. The daily bag limit is five fish, only two of which can exceed 15 inches in length. Bait anglers must keep the first five trout they catch.

Anglers are advised to check the sport fishing rules pamphlet, which is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/

ODFW Biologist Dies In Wreck

UPDATE 10:01 A.M., DEC. 29, 2011: Henry Miller of the Salem Statesman-Journal has a big article on Tami Wagner and the Tami Wagner Wildlife Area.

UPDATE, 12:28 P.M., JUNE 1, 2011: The Oregon Fish & Wildlife Commission may name state land in the Yachats River valley the Tami Wagner Wildlife Area.

UPDATE 12:36 P.M., OCT. 28, 2010: The Oregonian has a piece on Wagner’s life.

UPDATE 4:15 P.M., NOV. 1, 2010: The Newport News Times has an obit.

UPDATE 10:07 A.M., NOV. 15, 2010: Wagner’s hometown newspaper in Norwalk, Ct., has some information about her youth.

Oregon state wildlife biologist Tamara “Tami” Wagner of Lincoln City was identified this morning as the deceased victim of a three-vehicle accident yesterday afternoon outside Toledo.

She was 52.

TAMI WAGNER, PHOTOGRAPHED DURING A BLACK OYSTERCATCHER SURVEY IN MAY 2009. (ODFW)

“She was really a great woman and a valued employee. She’ll be missed,” says colleague Brandon Ford at ODFW’s Newport office where she worked.

Wagner had been with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for 21 years. She was the assistant district wildlife biologist for part of the central Oregon Coast and mountains. She worked on urban elk issues, opening private lands for hunting, shorebird counts as well as testified at last year’s trial of a woman ultimately convicted of harassing wildlife by feeding bears.

ODFW spokesman Rick Hargrave said Wagner was “critical” in educating coastal communities about the dangers of feeding bears as well as getting some real “teeth” behind city ordinances prohibiting it.

“She gave so much of herself to the work and always tried to find a positive solution to any problem. Really, the loss is immeasurable,” said Rick Klumph, ODFW Watershed Manager.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Highways 20 and 229. According to the Oregon State Police, at around 3:37 p.m. Monday a 2004 Chevrolet passenger car driven by an 82-year-old California woman was stopped facing north on 229 at the intersection with 20. The Chevrolet began to cross Highway 20 directly in the path of an eastbound 2006 Freightliner truck pulling an empty pole trailer.

The car hit the passenger side of the semi-truck and its trailer flipped onto its side, colliding with an ODFW pickup and trailer driven by Wagner.

The Freightliner trailer and Wagner’s vehicle came to a stop blocking the westbound lane of Highway 20 while the California woman and her vehicle and the Freightliner truck both ended up on the south shoulder of the highway.

Wagner was pronounced dead at the scene.

The California woman was transported to a Newport hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the Freightliner was not injured.

“It seems like we have our share of tragedies here — we’ve got a fairly large group in the Newport area — and they’re on the road a lot. You think the dangerous part of the job is working with wildlife, but in fact it’s probably getting to and from the places you work with wildlife,” says Ford.

In early September, a pair of Idaho state biologists — Larry Barrett and Dana Schiff — as well as their pilot died when their helicopter crashed. WDFW biologist Rocky Spencer also died on the job in a helicopter accident in 2007. And in 2009, an on-duty Washington game warden was involved in a late-night accident that killed a Bellingham girl when the car she was riding in failed to stop at a stop sign.

Ford describes Wagner as smaller in stature, but up for big jobs.

“She was not shy about handling elk 10 times her size,” he says, and recalls joining her and several others capturing Roosevelts near Lincoln City and releasing them near Yachats.

TAMI WAGNER AND OREGON STATE WILDLIFE VET COLIN GILLIN DURING A JANUARY 2007 ELK RELOCATION PROJECT NEAR LINCOLN CITY. (ODFW)

Born June 3, 1958, Wagner graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Bachelor of Science in wildlife biology. She had been at ODFW’s Newport office since 1996, and in her position since 2002.

“Tami was a valued friend and an outstanding professional who will be deeply missed by all of us,” says an email from ODFW director Roy Elicker and deputy directors Curt Melcher and Debbie Colbert to department staffers.

Wagner leaves behind a husband, daughter and son.

Cougar Stalking Elk Hunter Pic Debunked

Remember that picture of the glowing-eyeballed cougar behind the elk hunter posing with his trophy bull?

The sportsman supposedly took the photo on a self-timer, didn’t know till later the big cat was right behind him …

Popped up earlier this month …

Posted all over the place …

We linked our Facebook page to it on Comedy Central …

OK, this shot, if you haven’t seen it.

LOOK OUT!!! FAKE PHOTOGRAPH!!!

I don’t know how to break this to you, but the image was photoshopped — the cougar was added behind the posing hunter.

Scott Sandsberry of the Yakima Herald-Republic has the details in an article yesterday.

However, we can report with a completely straight face that the following photo was not photoshopped whatsoever …

COUGAR SNEAKING UP ON FAMED RYDER CUP GOLF FAN.