All posts by Andy Walgamott

Hunting Banned On Deer Lagoon

County commissioners voted unanimously to ban waterfowl hunting at a lagoon on the southern end of Whidbey Island last night.

Commissioner John Dean is reported to have told a crowd of 100 gathered at a local hall where the decision was made, “We’re not the island we were. We’re talking about mixing a neighborhood with firearms,” according to the South Whidbey Record’s account.

Residents have worried about “mortal” dangers from shotgun hunters.

“It is an incredibly idyllic place for us and our kids to explore and enjoy. That we should be exposed to mortal danger in the process is bewildering,” Shore Avenue resident Charlie Nordstrom is reported to have written.

Efforts to limit hunting in Island County have cropped up in recent years; we’ve learned about another proposal to ban it at Swan Lake, west of Oak Harbor.

Funny how it’s the country atmosphere that draws folks to places like this, except when the country smells or is loud.

Razor Clam Season Opens This Weekend in WA

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Clam diggers got the go-ahead to proceed with the first razor-clam dig of the fall season starting Friday, Oct. 16. Additional digging opportunities are planned through Jan. 3

Evening digs are scheduled at Twin Harbors (Oct. 16-19); Long Beach and Copalis (Oct. 16, 17 and 18); and Mocrocks and Kalaloch Beach (Oct. 17 and 18). Digging at all beaches will be restricted to the hours between noon and midnight.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the digs at the five beaches after a series of marine toxin tests confirmed the clams were safe to eat.

For Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park (ONP), this will be the first razor clam opening since spring 2007, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.

“Kalaloch was closed due to low clam abundance, but this year’s annual stock assessment shows approximately 3.5 million clams of harvestable size,” Ayres said. WDFW and ONP jointly manage the recreational razor clam fishery at Kalaloch.

Because the digs are scheduled on variable days, Ayres reminds people to check the dates to make sure the beach they choose is open for digging.

“Having variable beach openers allows for more harvest opportunity, but may be somewhat confusing for folks,” Ayres said. A map showing the locations of razor clam beaches is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/razorclm/graphics/map_beaches.jpg

The best time to start digging is an hour or two before low tide, said Ayres, who also recommends that diggers check weather and surf conditions before heading out.

Olympic National Park superintendent Karen Gustin added a safety note for evening clam diggers, especially at Kalaloch. “Kalaloch is considerably more remote than the other clamming beaches, and visitors should be prepared for primitive conditions. With no streetlights or lighted buildings in the area, flashlights or lanterns are a necessity.”

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.

A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2009 annual shellfish/seaweed license or combination fishing license is still valid. Another option is a razor-clam only license available in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various options are available on the WDFW website at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.

Besides the openings announced through Jan. 3, there should also be enough clams on most beaches to allow for harvesting later in 2010, Ayres said.

Opening dates and evening low tides in October are:

  • Friday, Oct. 16 ( 5:50 p.m. -0.5 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Saturday, Oct. 17 (6:38 p.m. -0.8 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Sunday, Oct. 18 (7:23 p.m. -1.1ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Monday, Oct. 19 (8:06 p.m. -1.1 ft.) Twin Harbors

In addition, WDFW has tentatively scheduled four other digs through Jan. 3.

Digs scheduled in November include:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 4 (7:33 p.m. -1.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Thursday, Nov. 5 (8:18 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Twin Harbors
  • Friday, Nov. 6 (9:07 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Saturday, Nov. 7 (9:59 p.m. -0.5 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Saturday, Nov. 14 (4:34 p.m. -0.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Sunday, Nov. 15 (5:21 p.m. -0.7 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Monday, Nov. 16 (6:05 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Tuesday, Nov. 17 (6:47 p.m. -0.8 ft.) Twin Harbors
  • Digs scheduled December 2 through Jan. 3 include:

    Wednesday, Dec. 2 (6:32 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors

  • Thursday, Dec. 3 (7:18 p.m. -1.4 ft.) Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Friday, Dec. 4 (8:04 p.m. -1.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Saturday, Dec. 5 (8:51 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Thursday, Dec. 31 (6:16 p.m. -1.1 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Friday, Jan. 1 (7:01 p.m. -1.8 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Saturday, Jan. 2 (7:45 p.m. -1.6 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Sunday, Jan. 3 (8:29 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Twin Harbors

Beaches scheduled to open are:

  • Long Beach , which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.
  • Twin Harbors Beach , which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.
  • Copalis Beach , which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.
  • Mocrocks Beach , which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
  • Kalaloch Beach , which extends from the South Beach Campground to Brown’s Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park.

Reach Closing Early For URBs

(RULE CHANGE NOTICE FROM WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE)

Action: The Columbia River is closed to the retention of all salmon between the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco and Priest Rapids Dam.

Effective date: 12:01 a.m. Oct. 15, 2009

Species affected: Salmon

Reason for action: The in-season forecast for fall chinook escapement to the Hanford Reach has fallen below the natural spawning escapement goal of 28,800 adult chinook.  The revised total return estimate (spawning escapement + harvest) is predicted to be 33,381 adults.  Through October 11, the salmon fishery has harvested an estimated 6,340 adult fall chinook based on creel census data, leaving 27,000 adults to potentially spawn.  If the fishery is allowed to continue as scheduled through October 22, less than 26,000 adult chinook will remain to spawn based on the predicted final return and current harvest rate. Closing the salmon retention fishery eight days early will result in approximately 1,000 additional adult fish surviving to spawn.  The 2009 harvest is well above the anticipated level and has already surpassed the 2008 harvest by over 40 percent.

Other Information: All salmon must be immediately released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.  Anglers will be allowed to continue to fish for and retain hatchery steelhead between the old Hanford town site wooden power line towers and Priest Rapids Dam through October 22.  Angling for hatchery steelhead from McNary Dam to the old Hanford town site wooden powerline towers will remain open after October 22 under the regulations listed in the Fishing in Washington Sport Fishing Rules (Page 76).

Wild steelhead (adipose fin intact) must be immediately released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.

Information contact: Paul Hoffarth, District 4 Fish Biologist, (509) 545-2284 (Pasco), or John Easterbrooks, Regional Fish Program Manager, (509) 457-9330 (Yakima).

5-fish Limits To Be Announced In NE OR

We’re getting word that ODFW will announce bonus limits on hatchery steelhead for several Northeast Oregon streams soon.

The agency is expected to green light five-fish bags on parts of the Grande Ronde, Wallowa and Imnaha rivers from Sunday, Oct. 18 through April 15, 2010, to deal with the massive return of A-runs to the Snake River basin.

The Snake from the Oregon-Washington state line up to the angling deadline at Hells Canyon Dam will also be open for five hatchery fish a day. However, no more than three may be 32 inches or longer.

Washington and Idaho also have similar limits on the Snake.

Until the 18th, daily limits on these Oregon streams remain three adipose fin-clipped steelhead a day.

The Ronde will be open for five fish from the state line to the mouth of the Wallowa; the Wallowa from its mouth to Trout Creek; and Imnaha from the Snake to Big Sheep Creek.

THE WALLOWA RIVER WILL OPEN FOR FIVE-FISH LIMITS FOR HATCHERY STEELHEAD IN THIS STRETCH, ABOVE MINAM, AS OF OCT. 18, BUT BEST FISHING WILL BE NEXT FEBRUARY AND MARCH. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

THE WALLOWA RIVER IS EXPECTED TO OPEN FOR FIVE-FISH LIMITS FOR HATCHERY STEELHEAD IN THIS STRETCH, ABOVE MINAM, AS OF OCT. 18, BUT BEST FISHING WILL BE NEXT FEBRUARY AND MARCH. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Big Sheep will probably be opened for the bonus limit starting in January 2010.

UPDATE: ODFW has posted the official release on the rule change.

Stimulus Money Used To Transport Pink Salmon

There’s an interesting article out today on the massive pink run back to the White River, a tributary of Puget Sound’s Puyallup.

The News Tribune reports that some 470,000 of the odd-year salmon have been trucked from below Mud Mountain Dam upstream to spawning grounds.

The run blows the doors off the previous record of 127,000, from 2007, which itself was nearly 10 times as strong as 2003’s return.

Running all those fish around the dam has cost the Corps of Engineers a pretty penny; a spokeswoman told the paper they’d received $460,000 in stimulus money to move them.

So, why are pinks doing so good?

Mike Scharpf, the state biologist, jokes it’s “because we don’t manage it,” but a Corps biologist told the paper that river flows the past decade have improved for fish.

Pinks around Puget Sound have been doing well in the 2000s as well. This fall, a biologist and a hatchery manager have both commented to me about their spectacular numbers which have made it difficult to count other species’ spawning redds.

“They are a good example of the resiliency of salmon if environmental factors can bounce back,” USFWS biologist Steve Fransen told the News Tribune.

3 Men Charged With Taking ESA-listed Chinook, Steelhead

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Three Kennewick men have been charged in Franklin County District Court on several counts involving theft of salmon and steelhead from a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fish hatchery collection site on the Snake River in southeast Washington.

Peter P. Robison, 50, Robert D. Bowen, 31, and William S. Lueck, 40, all of Kennewick, were charged with unlawful fishing, fishing closed waters and closed season, and several other violations in an Oct. 2 incident.

The men are accused of illegally taking 22 fish, including three wild steelhead and two wild Chinook salmon. Federal charges are pending on possession of the wild steelhead and salmon, which are listed as threatened in the Snake River under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). The alleged ESA violations are being referred to the federal NOAA Fisheries Service for review and possible civil prosecution.

Fines for the multiple state charges range up to $5,000 per count and up to year in jail.  An 18-foot boat, trailer, five fishing rods, and miscellaneous fishing and boating equipment were seized for forfeiture proceedings.

Working on an anonymous tip, WDFW Enforcement Officers Brian Fulton of Pasco and Rob McQuary of Walla Walla observed the three men fishing from a boat at night within the 400-foot area around the broodstock collection area on the Snake River adjacent to the Lyons Ferry Fish Hatchery – an area closed to all fishing, as stated in the state fishing rules pamphlet.

Fulton and McQuary reported the boat had no navigation lights. The boat made several passes inside the closed area, and the men caught and landed several fish, which were placed in a large cooler. The officers confronted the men just before 3 a.m. after they removed the boat from the river at the Lyons Ferry Marina and were attempting to leave the parking lot.

WDFW Enforcement Sergeants Mike Jewell of Pasco and Jim Nelson of Walla Walla commended their officers’ diligence in making the case, and noted that the anonymous tip instigated their nighttime watch.

“We appreciate this kind of information from citizens,” Nelson said. “We need everyone’s eyes and ears out there to protect our fish and wildlife resources.”

To report poaching, call toll-free to (800) 477-6224, or contact the Washington State Patrol to reach WDFW officers.

SW WA Fishing Report

Buried way down in today’s Southwest Washington fishing update from Joe Hymer at PSMFC is a bolded item that Hanford Reach anglers may want to pay attention to: A lot of kings have been caught, so be alert for possible regulation change notices.

Here’s what else is shaking around the Evergreen State’s lower left quadrant:

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Bank and boat anglers continue to catch some coho on the lower Cowlitz as well as a few fall Chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 10,260 coho adults, 910 jacks, 1,354 fall Chinook adults, 290 jacks, 26 summer-run steelhead adults, 105 sea-run cutthroat trout and one chum salmon adult during seven days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.   Please note:  With the new collection facility, more fish are able to be processed faster now.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 912 fall Chinook adults, 257 jacks, 89 coho adults and three jacks into Mayfield Lake at the Ike Kinswa State Park boat launch, 269 coho adults and 12 jacks into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, 1,128 coho adults and 92 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, and 786 coho adults and 49 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, Washington during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,430 cubic feet per second on Monday, October 12.

Kalama River – Anglers are catching some coho and steelhead but fishing is slow overall.

Lewis River – On the North Fork, bank anglers are catching coho though the majority are dark hatchery fish or wild fish that must be released.   Also some steelhead and Chinook (which also have to be released) are being caught.

Drano Lake – Generally light effort and catch.

Klickitat River – Boat anglers just inside the mouth are catching good numbers of coho as well as some Chinook and steelhead.

Yakima River – Effort and harvest picked up this past week. Estimated harvest for the week was 175 adult chinook, 37 jacks, and 10 adult coho.  One wild steelhead was caught and released.  For the season  214 adult chinook, 37 jacks, and 10 adult coho have been harvested.

The Yakima River salmon season is scheduled to remain open through October 22.

Buoy 10 – Pretty heavy effort this late in the season.  On Saturday October 10, a total of 42 boats were counted at Buoy 10.  Most were found on the Washington side upstream from the Megler-Astoria Bridge.  Though creel sampling has ended for both Washington and Oregon, there were reports of good coho catches at least earlier in the week.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Chinook catches have tapered off but coho are being caught from the mouth of the Cowlitz to the Camas/Washougal area.  Effort is still fairly strong with close to a hundred boats counted in the Camas/Washougal area and 54 at the mouth of the Cowlitz during the Saturday October 10 flight.

Bonneville Pool – Good catches of coho and some fall Chinook primarily around the mouth of the Klickitat.  About 55 boats were observed off the mouth yesterday (Sunday October 11) morning.

October 15 is the last day scheduled for the anti-snagging rule to be in effect from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam.

Hanford Reach – Last week 737 boat anglers (294) boats kept 428 adult and 102 jack Chinook and released 8 adults and 8 jacks.  The overall average was 1.8 chinook per boat.  5 hatchery steelhead were retained and 11 were released. One sturgeon was reported kept at Vernita.  The Vernita area continues to be the hotspot with catches in the remainder of the Reach picking up

In addition, 143 bank anglers at Ringold kept 10 jack fall Chinook and 29 hatchery origin steelhead and released 2 jack Chinook and 2 hatchery origin and 4 wild steelhead.

An estimated 2,722 fall chinook were harvested this past week in the Hanford Reach (2,198 adults & 524 jacks). So far this season, 6,340 adult fall chinook and 1,913 jacks have been harvested. Harvest is running 46% above last year.  Be alert for possible regulation changes.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam – Some legals were caught by boat anglers near Kalama and Camas/Washougal.  No report from the gorge this past week.

Effort was fairly high this past Saturday with nearly 200 boats and over 300 Washington and 425 Oregon bank anglers counted during the flight.  The majority of the effort was found in the gorge.

WALLEYE

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal area did well keeping over 3 walleye per rod last week.

Ramseys Tag Out In OR; Next, In WA

If you had a “What the …?!” moment when you read Buzz’s October column in Northwest Sportsman because, well, it didn’t deal with springers, summer Chinook, URBs, coho, hatchery steelhead, wild steelhead, winter-runs or summer-runs — or plugs, drift bobbers, spinners or herring for that matter — well, join the club.

I was a wee bit surprised to get an article and pics on long-range shooting from the Northwest’s swami of salmonids.

Shooting, as in with rifles, as in poking deer and antelope with holes at far distances.

Last I checked, deer and antelope weren’t anadromous species, didn’t live anywhere near flowing waters and did not respond well to shrimp- or krill-based scents.

Then again, the columns I got for October were all over the place.

Tim Bush found some East Coast surf-fishing sharpie who had tips for Puget Sound salmon AS WELL AS how to fish for alpine lakes trout with bass techniques.

Workman, our usual gun guy, was explaining his “two-inch rule” and, of course, Bryce Molenkamp, he of the Tupperware boat, was continuing to demolish the notion that Northwest salmon and steelhead and bass and trout and crabs and saltwater species, etc., are only catchable from aluminum.

Plus I brought a fly guy on board, and his subject matter from the get-go was crooked, err, Crooked, I should say (redband rainbows in the Central Oregon stream).

Bub, this will be your last issue as editor, I worried.

But it was about this time last year that Buzz started sending me pics of he and Wade, one of his two sons, and their hunting trips.

If you don’t know, Buzz is actually an avid mule deer hunter.

He’s been hunting Oregon’s Fossil Unit since 1977, drawing into it pretty regularly.

And Wade’s been coming along with a gun since 2007. He’s bagged two bucks there, as well as one in Klickitat County with a 355-yard cross-canyon shot last fall.

This last weekend, the Ramsey’s passed on a couple smaller bucks hoping for “Mr. Big,” says Buzz, “but didn’t expect one quite as nice at what Wade found Sunday morning.”

It’s a 4×4 at least 21 inches wide.

WADE RAMSEY'S 2009 EASTERN OREGON MULE DEER. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

WADE RAMSEY'S 2009 EASTERN OREGON MULE DEER. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

“It was nice and tall and heavy,” says Buzz of the rack.

Wade took it with a 100-yard going-away shot. It headed downhill, towards the Ramseymobile.

Buzz also tagged out — with a 200-plus-yard shot — but had a little more work finding his buck as light fell, and then with the haul back to the rig.

BUZZ RAMSEY'S FOSSIL UNIT BUCK. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

BUZZ RAMSEY'S FOSSIL UNIT BUCK. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

He says that he and Wade will be hunting this weekend as well in Washington’s Klickitat County, where deer season opens Oct. 17.

And as far as I’m concerned, I’m looking forward to another Buzz hunting article next fall.

‘A Year To Remember’ At Tillamook

If you’ve ever logged onto Ifish or spent time at Buoy 10 or Tillamook Bay, you’ve probably run into a guy going by the name “AndyCoho.”

As the name implies, Andy loves coho.

He’s made this Andy love coho too.

AndyCoho, also known as Andy Schneider, took yours truly out to the CR Buoy in mid-August for some of the madness.

So it was kinda amusing when I got an email over the weekend from the Portland-area writer with the words to the effect that the coho became something of a pest at times last week.

That’s only because AndyCoho turned AndyChinook for five days, spending it with family and friends on his beloved Tillamook Bay.

“I’ve had a tradition of spending a week in October on the Northern Oregon Coast for as long as I can remember,” he wrote in an email to me and others. “This year the family and I opted for the first week of October and it turned out to be a wonderful week. Weather, fishing, crabbing, family and friends truly made October 2009 a year to remember and compare following years to. ”

“We fished lower Tillamook Bay and the ocean with herring, upper Tillamook Bay with spinners and tidewater with FlatFish all in hopes of finding a Chinook or two. My dad was able to fish with me for all five days and was lucky enough to get two of the biggest fish landed on my boat all week — a 37.6-pounder and a 33-pounder! My friend John Lacarno joined us from Forest Grove and found himself a nice, big Tillamook Bay hen too.”

OL' MAN SCHNEIDER WITH A TILLAMOOK BAY CHINOOK. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

OL' MAN SCHNEIDER WITH A TILLAMOOK BAY CHINOOK. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

“When the Chinook bite slowed, the coho would keep us busy…almost becoming a pest at times. What? Wait, did I just say that coho were becoming a pest? On second thought, coho are a good ‘problem’ to have!”

Salmon fishing wasn’t all the Schneider clan did either.

“While fishing we soaked crab pots in the ocean in 40 feet of water north of the bay entrance.  Crabbing was beyond expectations and huge Dungeness crabs were standard and ‘keeper’ crabs were sent back to the ocean floor. After just two days of crabbing we had enough crab to satisfy our family and our friends families.

JOANNA FENNER AND MISSY SCHNEIDER WITH OCEAN-FRESH DUNGIES. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

JOANNA FENNER AND MISSY SCHNEIDER WITH OCEAN-FRESH DUNGIES. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

“Joanna Fenner and my wife Missy teamed up for a day of crabbing and fishing on a extraordinary calm day on the Pacific, Joanna had some previous crabbing experience and it payed off pulling traps and sorting crabs.  The Dungeness didn’t seem to have a preference for bait — albacore scraps, salmon carcasses and tender index fingers (it still hurts!).”

“Tillamook Bay 2009, a year to remember….and the season is just starting!!!”

Rogue’s Savage Rapids Dam Now Gone

Mark Freeman of the Mail Tribune in Medford reports on the removal of Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue just above Grants Pass, as well as the first jetboaters to run the rapids there and the emotions of “the man whom wild-salmon advocates credit with shepherding the removal of one of Oregon’s worst fish-killing dams.”

KDRV TV also did an interesting story on the history of fishing in the area, as well as how hunting regulations have changed over the years in Oregon:

“The first regulation that we had on the bag limit applied to 5 deer, either sex,” said Retired ODFW Deputy Director Bob Mace, in an interview from September of 2001.

The limit was further reduced to two bucks a season in 1923. And in 1931, either two blacktail bucks or one muledeer buck. Elk hunting was banned from 1899 to 1933. With the coming of automobiles and more roads, more areas were opened to hunting, and the deer herd further declined. And until the 1960s, deer hunters had their choice of hunting east or west of the Cascades on the same tag.