All posts by Andy Walgamott

An Elk Hunting Weekend With The Brooks Boys

About the time my family and I were investigating the Northwest Outdoors/Go Play Outside booth at the Puyallup Fair this past Saturday — big lineup of young’ns to fish at the trout pond — Jason Brooks and his son, Adam, were playing outside some 45 or so air miles southeast of us.

They were hunting for elk, Jason on the bow, Adam on the bugle.

While we were putting on pounds worth of scones, onion burgers, barbecue beef sandwiches, curly fries, ice cream cones and strawberry shortcake at the fair, they were sweating the calories off in search of a big bull.

Here’s their story, from Jason’s hunting journal:

Archery Elk 2010

Adam got home from school right around 3:30 and we were loaded and on the road by 4. It took us a bit to get to the trailhead, as a stop at McDonalds was in order for dinner. Once at the trailhead, we took off up the hill, a short 1 ½ mile pack in to our camp spot, but keep in mind I was packing for two, trying to keep his load light and fun for him. My pack was a mere 45 lbs going in. Not even a ¼ mile up and Adam finds a rock he just “Had to have”…so in my pack it went.

We got to the basin just before last light and the fog moved in. A small campfire to stay warm while I put up the tent and I must say, Adam sure snores loud!

The next morning we took off early and hit the ridge above camp.

ON THE RIDGE, WITH MOUNT RAINIER IN THE BACKGROUND. (JASON BROOKS)

We continue to a saddle where we take a break for lunch.

Adam decides it’s time to bugle a bit more, even though the morning has been quiet.

ADAM ON THE HORN. (JASON BROOKS)

A bull answered to our surprise and we headed to his direction in a basin to the west. We continue calling, but nothing…then a bugle to the basin in the east I we think he has moved out. We continue “working” the bull and after dropping a few hundred feet off of the ridge we see two hunters calling back to us…oh well, public land!

Next we hike out the ridgeline to some benches that the elk like to hide out in during the heat of the day.

We find some good beds with fresh sign.

ELK WERE HERE … AT SOME POINT. (JASON BROOKS)

Then after not jumping any elk, we head back down the slopes to pick up the main trail. It’s so green out you would think it was springtime!

Making it back to camp, we take a little break.

Adam enjoys a cup of hot chocolate with a small warming fire he built himself…a highlight of the trip for him!

THEY SAY FIRE WARMS YOU TWICE — SITTING NEXT TO IT, AND DRINKING THE CHOCOLATE IT HEATED UP FOR YOU. (JASON BROOKS)

I wonder what that kid is thinking… “wish we found those elk…boy this hot cocoa is good…” more like “why did I leave my Nintendo DS at the truck!”

On our way out we come to a group of elk hunters and a mountain goat hunter being packed in. One more lesson for Adam about sharing the trail with horses and mules…they always win, so get out of their way!

MULE TRAIN ON THE TRAIL. (JASON BROOKS)

FINALLY…7 miles and over 2,000 feet of vertical climbing/descending we make it back to the truck.

ADAM CELEBRATES MAKING IT BACK TO THE TRUCK; JASON KNOWS HE’S A LITTLE BIT CLOSER TO HAVING A GREAT HUNTING PARTNER. (JASON BROOKS)

Another great year, even if we didn’t see any elk…but it’s not over yet…I drew the multi-season elk tag…so muzzleloader season is next and then modern and then late archery!…

Next weekend is my High Hunt for deer…fall is finally here!

Jason

WDFW Reports New Wolf Pup

WDFW today reports on the capture and radio-collaring of a wolf pup recently in extreme northern Pend Oreille County, and says it may be proof of a third breeding pack in the state.

The 50-pound pup, along with images captured on a remote camera, indicate the presence of a pack, says the agency’s Harriet Allen.

However, it’s unclear if this new pup was born in Washington or British Columbia. Efforts are under way to locate the pup’s parents and WDFW plans to monitor the area next spring to figure out the pack’s denning location.

“If the den is in Washington, the pack can be considered a Washington pack; if the den is in British Columbia, it is a Canadian pack,” Allen said in a press release. “Our Canadian colleagues are aware of wolf activity in that area, and will assist with monitoring on their side of the border.”

It would be the second in Pend Oreille County where the Diamond Pack has had litters this spring and last year. It moves back and forth between Washington and Idaho.

Her agency continues to say that there could be a pack on Washington’s side of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness, shared with Oregon, WDFW says; a researcher recently collared a young wolf south of the state line.

But the status of the Lookout Pack, the state’s first documented in 70 years, remains uncertain after the alpha female went missing earlier this year. Its radio-collar could have ceased functioning, but speaking with the wildlife biologist for the area a couple weeks ago, he felt it was likely the wolf was dead.

WDFW is also looking into a trail-cam shot of an apparent wolf near Tonasket, taken earlier this summer.

“We know from reports that individual wolves have been roaming in and out of the state in various locations for years,” Allen said in the press release, “but documenting and maintaining packs as successful breeding pairs is necessary achieve conservation objectives and move toward eventual removal of the gray wolf from state and federal endangered-species lists.”

Meanwhile, WDFW continues to sift through some 60,000 comments on its draft wolf management plan before bringing an update to its 17-member Wolf Working Group.

“The volume of input on that plan was so massive, our staff in Olympia is still looking at it and categorizing it,” says Madonna Luehrs, a spokeswoman in Spokane.

WDFW Looks At License Increases

Even as the price of gas doubled and the value of a dollar decreased 22 percent from one end of last decade to the other, for the better part of the 2000s, it’s cost most Washington sportsmen around $22 for an annual freshwater fishing license, $33 for a small game permit and $40 for a deer tag.

True, those prices jumped in the middle of 2009 after the state Legislature added a two-year 10-percent surcharge to license fees to help cover a $30 million shortfall in funding for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

But now, faced with continued budget difficulties into the mid-2010s and an end to that temporary fee next June, the agency is considering asking lawmakers for an increase in base license prices.

While figures that show some large increases for hunters are now out there, it’s unclear how much prices really will rise.

Through various sources at WDFW, I’ve known for awhile the agency has been working on ways to raise more money, but yesterday the Othello Outlook ran a story by Yakima-based outdoor writer Jim Pearson. State big-game manager Dave Ware met with he and other members of Washingtonians for Wildlife Conservation in Ellensburg late last month, and Pearson writes that bear tags could jump 85 percent, special hunting permit applications 111 percent.

I phoned Craig Bartlett at WDFW HQ in Oly. He’s a spokesman for the agency, and after a brief chat he went off in search of hard numbers to share with me.

A half hour or so later he called back. He’d just talked to deputy director Joe Stohr.

“‘He could look at what’s on my screen,'” Bartlett says Stohr said before Stohr added, “‘Wait, a bunch of stuff has changed.'”

This hasn’t changed, however: While WDFW’s drift boat has run some of the rocky rapids of the state budget’s Sol Duc River over the past few years — shedding crewmembers and taking on water and significant dings — there’s still some bad-ass boulders ahead through the mid-2010s for director Phil Anderson et al to navigate.

Yesterday afternoon Barlett emailed me a four-page brochure WDFW has put together, “Facing the Future; WDFW looks for new ways to meet its basic mandate.”

It basically runs down how $35 million in state General Fund money was slashed from the agency’s budget during the 2009-11 biennium to help cover a $9 billion shortfall in statewide revenues.

The cuts cost the jobs of 163 staffers, and most of the 1,349 or so who remain at WDFW (along with almost all other state workers) must take 10 unpaid days off this year and next.

They’re working harder these days, trying to get through to fishery and hunt managers and biologists takes longer, on the phone you can hear a slightly crazed cackle in some employees’ voices that wasn’t there a year ago (or maybe that’s because of reporters calling about really stupid stuff), the Weekender report now only rolls out once every month and even once-weekly internal documents have been cut back to every 30 days or so.

Unfortunately, the financial forecast continues to look grim through 2015, with a projected revenue shortfall to state coffers of $3 billion in 2011-13 and a whopping $8.8 billion for 2013-15.

With the fat gone, Governor Gregoire this summer warned all state agencies to find meat to trim.

As much as Evergreen State hunters and anglers know the value of wildlife and habitat — as well as the economic impact, some $6.7 billion a year, it generates — the fact remains that WDFW is lined up like Little Oliver behind heavyweights such as public schools, health and prisons.

According to the agency, those three alone slurp up 88 percent of the General Fund. WDFW’s share from that trough slipped from 32 percent of its overall funding to 23 percent between the 2007-09 and 2009-11 budgets.

At the same time that General Fund dollars shrank, so too has federal grants and matching dollars.

There was, however, a pretty substantial bump in the state Wildlife Account between the bienniums, from $63.6 million to $86.9 million. Our license fees go directly into that fund, and just as Oregon saw a pretty good jump in resident fishing permit sales — the highest license sales of the decade — so too has Washington.

During the April 1, 2009-March 31, 2010 license year, nearly 940,000 fishing permits of all kinds were sold, a 14 percent jump over the year before, and the most going back to at least 2001-2002, according to figures I got several months ago from Bartlett.

That same day he also told me that WDFW’s new way to sell special hunt permit applications this year yielded around $450,000 or so more over 2009.

But the economy giveth and it taketh.

The hit WDFW took in the 2009-11 budget could be matched in 2011-13. Fish & Wildlife documents show the agency may face another $10 million to $20 million drop in its General Funding as well as see an $11 million drop in the Wildlife Account as the 10 percent surcharge expires and a one-time transfer of $5 million is spent.

That from a PowerPoint file Bartlett emailed today.

It’s the one from Stohr’s computer screen yesterday, the “Wait, a bunch of stuff has changed” document.

Still, the presentation — entitled “WDFW Fiscal Sustainability, Revenue and Efficiency Legislative Proposals, September 10 (Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group) Meeting — shows WDFW’s mindframe moving forward and outlines what’s at stake when cutting those two funds so sharply.

With the General Fund, it’s salmon hatchery production and selective fishery monitoring, fish and wildlife officers and habitat protection and restoration.

For the Wildlife Account, still more law enforcement as well as axing support staff for fisheries and hunts which could lead to reduced opportunities.

There’s more at risk, but those are the sexy hot button programs sure to incite howls to senators and reps from those of us who fish for fin-clipped Chinook, rail about rampant poaching and call for more ranches and farms to be bought and protected from development.

So then, how do you come up with the coin to cover the tab?

Well, fellas, that’s where you and I come in.

I couldn’t get specific numbers out of Bartlett, but that PowerPoint file shows the agency wants to “strategically price” our fishing and hunting license increases to, among other things, “recover lost purchasing power” since the last rise.

At the same time it calls for keeping the price of permits for youth and senior sportsmen low.

They’d keep “basic” licenses — deer tags, small game licenses — “affordable” to Joe Sixshooter and attract nonresident sportsmen, but put a premium on quality deer and elk hunts; second tags; goat, sheep and moose permits; and hunts that require extra staffing, such as snow goose, brant, sea duck and Canadas in Southwest Washington.

Elk tags would be “competitively” priced in line with elsewhere in the West, and bear and cougar licenses would be offered separately and hiked to create the feeling they’re “premium” hunts.

A fishing excise tax, something we would pay on gear, was considered, though according to the PowerPoint document, is not being pursued for the next session “due to an anticipated lack of support for new taxes.”

It’s nice to see, though, that WDFW’s not only looking at asking hunters and anglers for more, but also wants to pass the hat to other users. After all, if wildlife watching is a $1.5 billion a year industry, shouldn’t the binoculars-only brigade pay some of the freight for managing to have critters around? The “hundreds of thousands” who use WDFW lands for bird watching, traipsing, skipping, letting their dogs poop and other nonconsumptive uses may pay much more than we do for vehicle access permits.

Commercials could also see increased fees while the agency would start billing to process permits to work near water as well as bring up to date the cost to build cell towers, train dogs and cut trees on WDFW lands — unchanged since early in the second term of the Reagan Administration.

None of it’s a done deal. Many fee increases will require Legislative approval next winter — we’ll see what sort of stomach Dems and Republicans have for that as the recession drags on.

And before sportsmen sign on, WDFW will surely hear a few fiery questions from us, such as:

Will future hunting and fishing opportunities be worth paying more for?

How can we be sure that increases will go directly to opportunities instead of armchair bios in Olympia or unrelated programs?

And where’s the balance point, as Pearson asked Ware, between increased prices, sportsmen declining to buy into it and the department thus losing customers and dollars?

Meanwhile, WDFW is reaching out to stakeholders, like Pearson’s group and lawmakers, and comments from sportsmen can be sent to future@dfw.wa.gov. Over the next few months, the agency will continue to work on its revenue proposal inhouse and with others. Then, on January 10 of next year, the Legislative session begins.

WA Follows OR, Opens Hells Canyon For Chinook

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Hatchery fall chinook retention allowed in Washington portions of the Snake River

Action: Portions of the Snake River will open for retention of hatchery fall chinook.

Locations:    Snake River, from the Highway 12 Bridge – south bound lane, upstream to the Oregon State border (approximately 8 miles upstream from the mouth of the Grande Ronde River).

Zone A:   Highway 12 Bridge – south bound lane to Lower Granite Dam;

Zone B:   Lower Granite Dam upstream to Oregon state line.

Dates:    Immediately through Oct. 31, 2010.

Species affected:   Chinook salmon.

Reason for action: There are large numbers of upriver bright hatchery fall chinook returning to the Snake River. Significant steelhead fisheries occur in the Snake River and hatchery fall chinook are caught incidentally during steelhead fishing.  Retention of hatchery fall chinook is not expected to increase impacts to Endangered Species Act listed wild fall chinook.  Therefore, a limited retention fishery on adipose clipped hatchery fall chinook is authorized. This regulation is compatible with regulations authorized by Oregon and Idaho management agencies allowing harvest of hatchery fall chinook in the Idaho and Oregon boundary waters of the Snake River.

Other Information: Fishing open seven days per week.

Zone A:   The salmon daily harvest limit is two (2) adipose fin-clipped fall chinook jacks (less than 24 inches in length).

Zone B:   Upstream of Lower Granite Dam, the daily limit is two (2) adipose clipped Chinook, only one (1) of which can be an adult chinook (24 inches or greater). Anglers in Zone B must stop fishing for salmon once an adult hatchery salmon has been retained.

Minimum size for chinook that can be retained in the Snake River is 10 inches.  Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for chinook or steelhead in the Snake River.  Retained adipose fin-clipped fish must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin.  All chinook or steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed.  Anglers cannot remove any chinook or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit.  Anglers should be sure to identify their catch because unmarked returning chinook salmon, coho salmon and unmarked steelhead are in the Snake River during this fishery.  Anglers are reminded to refer to the 2010 / 2011 Fishing in Washington sport fishing rules pamphlet for other regulations, including possession limits, safety closures, etc.  Angler catch rates will be monitored and Snake River fall chinook salmon fisheries may be closed prior to Oct. 31 based upon ongoing run size and harvest evaluations.

Information contact:   John Whalen (509) 892-7861

There’s A Freakin’ Deer In Seattle

In the days when yours truly was wooing his future wife at the dive bars and dance halls of Capitol Hill above downtown Seattle, I saw some pretty furry critters (as well as some excessively clean-shaven ones, if you get my drift), but this one is wholly unexpected: A blacktail deer.

A resident living near St. Marks Cathedral, that church you see above I-5 as you approach the southbound Mercer Street Exit, reports that earlier this week she saw a doe in her backyard before it leaped a fence into a greenbelt; another says she saw it further south near Prospect and Boylston.

I kid you not when I say that this deer is within striking distance of leaving her dooties at Westlake Center or out front of the Gucci store — or swinging by the offices of Northwest Sportsman magazine and heckling the staff.

She’s much closer than Phantom, the urban bear, ever got to the heart of the Emerald City two springs ago, or those crazed coyotes over on Magnolia Bluff last winter or the freakin’ puma that haunted Discovery Park last summer.

A deer on Capitol Hill!

In the words of that old Alaska Airlines commercial, what is this world coming to that wild animals are invading the city?

They must know that somehow it’s safe here from sportsmen like you and I.

Whatever the case, WDFW recommends leaving the deer alone to keep it from becoming agitated and running over any panhandlers on Broadway or disturbing happy hour at The Canterbury this afternoon.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to a serious news story: How WDFW may raise fees to hunt our city-lickin’ blacktail’s brothers back home in the boonies.

Snow!

I’m scrambling around the SNOTEL site this morning, checking for signs of snow across Washington’s northern Cascades.

One of my reporters says the white stuff fell in the mountains above Lake Chelan overnight, and there’s nothing like that to fire up my inner deer hunter.

Fresh snow means deer season approaches, and it’s a reminder to the big bucks that hang out in the wilds of the North-Central Washington’s wildernesses that fall comes and it’s time to move out of the Pasayten, Lake Chelan-Sawtooth, Glacier Peak and Henry M. Jackson.

Well, that’s what I’d like for those high-country muleys to think anyway.

Biologists will tell you that it actually takes a heap-deep snow to push them out of their haunts. That, and their forage drying up and losing all nutritive value.

So far, though, the SNOTEL stations — set up at places such as Harts Pass at the southern flank of the Pasayten Wilderness, Salmon Meadows above Conconully, Rainy Pass and Swamp Creek on the North Cascades Highway, and Lyman Lake and Pope Ridge above Lake Chelan — don’t show any report of accumulation.

A few do post hourly temperatures into the lower 30s.

Ah-ha! Proof of snow — on another site!

A Web cam at the airport between Twisp and Winthrop in the Methow Valley shows a skiff of snow on the jagged peaks of Sawtooth Ridge, also above Lake Chelan.

A SCREEN SHOT LOOKING WESTERLY FROM THE AIRPORT OUTSIDE WINTHROP; THE IMAGE APPEARS AT METHOWNET.COM

The forecast calls for a chance of snow there and elsewhere in the northernmost Cascades through the weekend, but only at some of the highest elevations and with no real accumulation.

The National Weather Service’s seven-day outlook just touches on the 15th, opening day of the High Hunt for select Cascade wildernesses, and by that time it appears as if it will just be warmer and rainier.

But let’s hope this year’s weird weather includes a good dose of late September/early October snow for next month’s start of the general rifle hunt.

It’s what I wish for every year, not that the Weather Gods ever listen, but sooner or later I’m bound to hit the jackpot.

SW WA Fishing Report

(COURTESY JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Grays River – Bank anglers downstream from the weir are catching some stray hatchery Select Area Bright fall Chinook.

Cowlitz River – Boat anglers on the lower Cowlitz are catching some fall Chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 236 fall Chinook adults, 17 jacks, 176 summer-run steelhead, 132 spring Chinook adults, eight jacks, 27 mini-jacks, 13 coho salmon, one jack, one sockeye salmon and nine sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 82 spring Chinook adults and five jacks into the Cispus River, 27 spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park, 39 spring Chinook adults, two jacks, and four coho into Lake Scanewa and 234 fall Chinook adults, 17 jacks, and two coho salmon into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,590 cubic feet per second on Tuesday, September 7, 2010. Water visibility is 12 feet.

Kalama River – Generally light effort and catch.

Lewis River – Bank anglers near the salmon hatchery are catching some coho and steelhead.

Cedar Creek (North Fork Lewis tributary) – Closed to all fishing in September and October.

Washougal River – Pretty good effort but light catches of fall Chinook on the lower river.

Lacamas Creek (Washougal River tributary) from footbridge at lower falls downstream – Closed to all fishing beginning in September.

Drano Lake – Effort and catch has decreased though boat anglers are still catching some fall Chinook and steelhead.   Steelhead appear to be headed  up the Columbia based upon the 7,000-8,000 fish counted daily the past few days at The Dalles Dam.

White Salmon River – Bank anglers are catching some steelhead.

Klickitat River – Bank and boat anglers on the lower river are catching fall Chinook.

Buoy 10 – During the first full week of September private and charter boat anglers averaged a coho kept per every 9 rods at the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – During the first five days of September we sampled 465 salmonid bank anglers from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line with 46 adult and 1 jack fall Chinook and 10 steelhead, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 8.2 rods based on mainly incomplete trips. In addition, we sampled 1,541 salmonid boat anglers (680 boats) with 458 adult and 15 jack fall Chinook, 19 adult coho, and 10 steelhead, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 3.1 rods based on mainly completed trips.

ABIGAIL WEIMER'S 7TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS INCLUDED CATCHING A NEAR-30-POUND CHINOOK FROM THE COLUMBIA NEAR TROUTDALE, ORE., RECENTLY. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

“Only” 1,400 salmonid boats were counted during the Saturday September 4 effort flight count.

Beginning September 12, chinook retention will be prohibited from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point Line upstream to a line projected from Warrior Rock Lighthouse on the Oregon shore to Red Buoy #4 to the orange marker atop the dolphin on the lower end of Bachelor Island.

This area remains open for hatchery coho, hatchery steelhead, and hatchery sea-run cutthroats.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers at the mouth of the tributaries are catching some fall Chinook and steelhead.

Hanford Reach – WDFW staff sampled 48 boats/117 anglers with 20 fall chinook and 5 steelhead during the holiday weekend.
Effective September 4, steelhead may be retained from the 395 Bridge in Pasco upstream to Priest Rapids Dam.  Daily limit 2 hatchery steelhead with a mandatory retention rule in effect.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Light effort; no sturgeon anglers were sampled.    The area from Marker #82 upstream to the sturgeon deadline below Bonneville Dam is now open for catch-and-release.

WALLEYE

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers in the Camas/Washougal area averaged nearly a walleye per rod when counting fish released.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Word today that 2010 will go down in the books as at least the third best year for Oregon albacore fishing, and if things really heat up, it could make a run to the No. 2 spot.

With a few weeks of “season” left to go, Beaver State anglers have landed over 30,000 tuna.

That compares to over 40,000 last year and almost 60,000 in 2007.

But albies ain’t the only action around Oregon — there’s also trout, coho, largemouth and crappie to be had.

And while Chinook fishing is just starting to perk up on coastal bays, you can find plenty of fall brights zipping up the Columbia still.

Here are the latest highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Fall chinook fishing has been very good on the Umpqua, Coos, Coquille and middle Rogue rivers.
  • With the onset of cooler temperatures trout fishing should pick up on many area lakes

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • North Coast lakes: Trophy trout stocking is scheduled for the week of September 20th. Cape Meares, Town, Coffenbury, Lost and Sunset lakes are scheduled to receive trout averaging about 2 pounds each.
  • Alsea River: Fall chinook angling is starting to pick up.  Pockets of fish are being caught from the lower bay through upper tidewater. Trolling herring or lures near bottom seem to be producing fish. Cutthroat trout angling is fair to good with sea-run cutthroat trout can be found throughout most of the mainstem.
  • Siletz River: Anglers are starting to catch fall chinook from the lower bay well up into tidewater.  The wild adult coho fishery is underway with catch rates very low at this time. Steelhead fishing has picked up a little recently with the cooler wet weather. Best opportunities for summer steelhead are in the upper river. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair to good with sea-runs showing up from the bay to mid river.
  • Siuslaw River: Fall chinook are starting to be caught from the lower bay well up into tide water.  Trolling herring or lures close to the bottom can be productive. Cutthroat trout angling is fair to good in most areas. Sea-run cutthroat trout can be found from the bay into the lower river.
  • Tillamook Bay: Angling for chinook is slow, but is expected to improve over the next couple of weeks. A few fish are available, with best fishing opportunity trolling herring on the incoming tide in the lower bay. Hatchery coho are spreading out through the bay, especially after recent rains. Trolling large bladed spinners is most effective in the upper bay. Trolling or casting spinners can be effective in the west channel.
  • Yaquina Bay: Fall chinook fishing is starting to pick up with some fish being caught from the lower bay well up into tide water. Cool temperatures have pushed some fish up river faster than normal. Cutthroat trout angling remains fair to good with sea-run cutthroat trout are being caught in the upper tidewater and low river areas.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Coho are starting to show up in the lower Clackamas River.
  • Catch-and-release sturgeon fishing is now permitted below Willamette Falls.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Summer steelhead fishing on the lower Deschutes River continues to be good.
  • Antelope Flat Reservoir has been serving up some excellent trout fishing.
  • Kokanee fishing on many area lakes should be good with the onset of the fall spawning season.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing for trout on the Blitzen River has been very good.
  • Deadhorse Lake has been yielding some massive rainbow trout.
  • Largemouth bass fishing has been very good on Krumbo Reservoir.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Good numbers of steelhead and coho have been arriving at the mouth of the Umatilla River. Fishing will get even better as water levels increase and water temperatures decrease.
  • Crappie and bass fishing have been good on McKay Reservoir.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Walleye fishing continues to be good in Troutdale and from below McNary Dam to Boardman.
  • The river is full of fall chinook between Tongue Point and Bonneville Dam, with an average of 19,958 passing through the Bonneville ladder daily.
  • Buoy 10 to Tongue Point is closed for fall chinook retention; however, there is still opportunity to catch hatchery coho and steelhead.
  • Sturgeon retention is closed from Buoy 10 upstream to Bonneville Dam through Thursday, Sept. 30.

MARINE ZONE

  • This year ranks as the third best for Oregon tuna anglers. Oregon anglers landed more than 30,000 albacore so far this year leaving only 2009 and 2007 with more sport-caught albacore. Although a few good weeks might push 2010 above 2009’s 40,000, the 2007 record of nearly 60,000 fish is in no danger this year.
  • Rockfish and lingcod continued to be off the bite last week on the central coast.
  • Crabbing is improving, but the number of crabbers is also increasing. Most crabbers had average catches between one and three crab. Crabbing in the ocean this time of year can be very productive, but also dangerous because of wind, sea and bar conditions.

 

 

2010 WA Upland Bird Prospects

Well, there’s always planted birds.

WDFW’s district-by-district forecasts for upland bird hunting in Eastern Washington paints a fairly grim picture for wingshooters chasing wild birds this fall.

A wet spring and early summer made a tough go of it for pheasants, quail, partridge and other upland birds trying to bring off clutches. Early broods appear to have fared poorly.

If there’s a highlight, it’s that Huns did well in the Blue Mountains while quail hunting is expected to be “fair to good” in the Columbia Basin.

And if you’re dedicated, you may be able to boot roosters out of the rough stuff down along Crab Creek and elsewhere in Grant County.

JACK WITH A COLUMBIA BASIN LONGTAIL. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

Last year, the bulk of Washington’s pheasants were shot in Whitman and Grant Counties, quail in Yakima and Grant Counties, chukar in Chelan and Asotin Counties and Huns in Grant County.

Traveling upland bird hunters might head for Idaho’s Snake and Salmon River country, where IDFG reports “chukar counts are higher than they’ve been in years” or Eastern Oregon for California quail up 18 percent from last year to around 5-year average, ODFW says.

But back in Washington, here’s the word, straight from the bios:

FAR EASTERN WASHINGTON

Pheasant: Prospects look poor, relative to last year, with wet spring weather leading to poor chick production. District 2 is almost all private land; hunters will need to takes some time “knocking on doors” to get access to the better sites. The best time of the year to do this is during the winter, or during the early summer before the harvest begins. We will also be releasing game farm produced roosters once again this fall at the traditional release sites, which are mapped on the Go Hunt website — http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt/index.html .

Quail: Prospects look poor, relative to last year, with poor spring weather for broods. Access can be a problem, especially with most of the good quail habitat occurring in and around towns.

Gray Partridge: The prospects this year appear to be the up relative to last year with some good brood numbers seen in Whitman and Lincoln counties.

Chukar: There are very few chukar in District 2, they are predominantly found along the breaks of the Snake River. The population appears to be the same as last year. Terrain is steep and rocky with limited public access.

Forest Grouse: Numbers appear to be down in District 2, but it’s still possible to shoot one opportunistically in the forested portions of the District.

Wild Turkeys: Observations and a few reports indicate that the turkey population is doing very well in GMUs 124-133. It appears that the turkey broods survived the wet spring weather well and thus should be in a good position to take advantage of the forage produced by the wet weather.

BLUE MOUNTAINS

Upland Birds: Weather conditions were extremely wet for the 2010 nesting period. Observations of upland birds to date indicate production for pheasants will be lower than normal. Quail production and brood size appears to be average, however, hun production and brood size appears to be high.

Pheasant: Few pheasant broods have been observed in southeast Washington, which indicates production in 2010 may have been severely impacted by excessive rainfall during the spring nesting season.

Quail: Quail production appears to be average, and brood size is averaging 9.8 young/brood. Hunters should find fair hunting for quail in 2010.

Chukar & Gray Partridge: Few chukar broods have been observed to date, but the few sightings so far indicate chukar production and brood size may be up slightly. Hun production and brood size appears to be up considerably with good nesting success and broods averaging 9.8 young/brood.

Forest Grouse: Forest grouse may have suffered from the extremely wet conditions during the nesting season, as no broods have been observed to date.

CENTRAL COLUMBIA BASIN

Pheasant: Expect similar numbers of wild pheasants as observed during the 2009 season. Most birds likely went into winter in good condition due to early “greenup” of cool season grasses during fall 2009. Winter temperatures were not far from the norm and the area lacked long periods of snow crust that can result in low overwinter survival. Spring conditions however were poor to fair. Cool weather and heavy localized rain events during May and June may have resulted in low brood survival. Most hunters who invest considerable effort and cover a lot of ground will cross paths with a few wild birds and can increase their chances for a productive hunt by selecting non-toxic shot and diversifying the bag with waterfowl. Hunters may also choose to seek out pheasant release sites, see the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program for details.

The largest wild populations of pheasants in this district are likely to be found within the Desert Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Complex between Potholes Reservoir and the town of George. Mixed bags of wild and released birds are likely to be had in lower Crab Creek, Gloyd Seeps, and Dry Falls units. For wild birds, dense thickets of Russian olive and cattail associated with Frenchmen and Winchester wasteways and ponds are likely to hold pheasants.

Quail: Quail hunting is expected to be fair to good this year. Most birds likely went into winter in good condition due to early “green-up” of cool season grasses during fall 2009. Winter temperatures were not far from the norm and the area lacked long periods of snow crust that can result in low overwinter survival. Spring conditions however were poor to fair. Cool weather and heavy localized rain events during May and June may have resulted in low brood survival early on but the mid-season and late broods appear to have fared well. Large coveys are difficult to find by mid-season on public lands and successful hunters will attempt to identify multiple coveys to pursue throughout the season. Riparian areas will offer the best hunting and hunters can increase their chances by securing access to private lands where pressure can be considerably lower. If pressure is high, some coveys can be found settling into shrub cover a considerable distance from heavily hunted areas.

Gray Partridge: Gray partridge occur in low densities in the basin but are rarely targeted by hunters, instead taken incidentally while hunting chukar, quail, or pheasant. Most partridge will occur on private farm fields, particularly in the dryland wheat portions of Adams and, to a lesser degree, Grant Counties. Gray partridge are a resilient bird and thus likely fared well through the winter. Winter temperatures were not far from the norm and lacked long periods of snow crust that can result in low survival. Spring conditions however were poor to fair. Cool weather and heavy localized rain events during May and June may have resulted in low brood survival.

Chukar: Most chukar hunting in the Ephrata District occurs in the Coulee Corridor areas from Lake Lenore up to the southern end of Banks Lake. Chukar is a challenging but rewarding game bird to pursue. Most birds likely went into winter in good condition due to early “green-up” of cool season grasses during fall 2009. Winter temperatures were not far from the norm and lacked long periods of snow crust that can result in low overwinter survival. Spring conditions however were poor to fair. Cool weather and heavy localized rain events during May and June may have resulted in low brood survival.

SOUTHERN COLUMBIA BASIN

Pheasant: A warm late winter, dry early spring, and wet late spring makes predictions tough. The mild winter may have contributed to good survival, but the unusual spring precipitation pattern may have contributed to poor nest and brood success. Second nest attempts were likely more successful than first and recent observations of very young broods supports this. Best pheasant habitat in the District is in north Franklin County on and surrounding WDFW’s Windmill Ranch Wildlife Area and the Bailie Memorial Youth Ranch. Both hunting areas have two parking areas with a maximum of 5 vehicles per lot and have Register to Hunt boxes on site. Other habitat areas include the Hanford Reach National Monument’s Ringold Unit, Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge along the Columbia, and the Corp of Engineers Big Flat and Lost Island Habitat Management Units along the Snake River.

Quail: California quail are capable of nesting later into the summer than pheasants and therefore may have been able to take advantage of the late spring primary production. Lots of quail broods are being observed around WDFW wildlife areas. Best quail habitat in District is similar to those listing above for pheasant. In addition, anywhere along the rivers where riparian and herbaceous vegetation intersect will provide quail habitat. An ideal setting is where Russian olives or willows are adjacent to black greasewood or sagebrush.

YAKIMA, KITTITAS COUNTIES

Pheasant: The Yakama Nation conducts standardized surveys each summer. Early surveys indicate that production was below average. Expect lower numbers of wild birds than 2009. Most years about 3800 birds are released in District 8. Sunnyside Wildlife Area receives the majority of birds and over the longest timeframe.

Quail: A very cold spring and early summer eliminated most early broods. Late nesters appear to have done pretty well. Expect lower numbers than 2009.

Gray Partridge: Poor hunting the last 5+ years. Estimated harvest in 2009 was only about 320 birds. Populations probably didn’t rebound much if any in 2010.

Chukar: Populations have been low in recent years, probably due to an extended drought. Decent rain fell during 2010, but cold weather reduced early insect production. There may have been a late hatch, but bird numbers will still be low.

Forest Grouse: Harvest has been very low in recent years, especially in Yakima County. A cold spring and early summer probably had a negative impact on production. Expect poor hunting again.

KLICKITAT COUNTY

Quail: Mild winter conditions reduced winter mortality in 2009-2010. Spring nesting conditions were not favorable in the spring and early summer. Fall hunting prospects should be moderate. Most hunting is located on private lands in eastern Klickitat County, which is dominated by hunt clubs with limited access. Prospective hunters should seek permission in advance of the season to access upland bird hunting areas.

Gray Partridge: Like quail, mild winter conditions reduced winter mortality in 2009-2010. Most hunting is located on private lands in eastern Klickitat County, which is dominated by hunt clubs with limited access. Prospective hunters should seek permission in advance of the season to access upland bird hunting areas.

Chukar: Like quail and partridge, moderate winter conditions reduced winter mortality in 2009- 2010. Local reports indicate poor nesting success and late chucker broods. Most hunting is located on private lands in eastern Klickitat County, which is dominated by hunt clubs with limited access. Prospective hunters should seek permission in advance of the season to access upland bird hunting areas.

Forest Grouse: Grouse numbers should have improved over the past two years but population increases will be moderated by cold wet conditions during the breeding season. Prospective hunters should focus on brushy riparian zones or overgrown abandoned logging roads for the best chance at success.

CHELAN, DOUGLAS COUNTIES

Pheasant: Overall, this seasons’ pheasant numbers should be similar to 2009. The cold wet conditions this spring may have impacted production; however, preliminary observations of broods lead us to believe that similar numbers are out there. Chelan County has very limited pheasant hunting opportunities due to the mountainous terrain and limited suitable habitat. Douglas County provides opportunities primarily on private lands. Look for areas with a mix of cover types and that will support birds. CRP fields, when associated with riparian and agricultural areas, and will attract more birds than large expanses of native sagebrush. In District 7, game-farm raised roosters will be released only on the Chelan Butte Wildlife Area this fall. Birds will not be released on the Swakane Wildlife Area in 2010 due to the loss of cover associated with the recent wildlife. For more information about our Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program, visit http://www.wdfw.wa.gov/publications/pub.php?id=00884

Quail: Quail numbers have declined over the past few years in both Chelan and Douglas Counties. While observations of late summer brood numbers may be up in some local areas, overall numbers are down compared to the last five years. Focus hunting efforts on areas with brushy cover near a mix of native agriculture and native habitat. Ask landowners for permission to hunt on private lands with good habitat where hunting pressure is regulated.

Gray Partridge: Gray partridge are much less numerous than quail and chukar, especially in Chelan Co. Populations should be comparable to 2009, which means you will have to work to find birds. Look for areas with a mix of grasslands bordering sagebrush or agriculture.

Chukar: Chukar numbers are low compared to what they once were, but good hunting can still be found in localized areas. Reports from late summer indicate that numbers are somewhat higher than 2009, and birds seem to be more concentrated. It will take some time to figure out the areas birds are using, but once located, you should have access to some good hunting. If you hunt the early part of the season you will have fewer hunts to contend with, however, you will have to do more climbing. Snow moves chukars downward in elevation, and that is when hunter pressure picks up.

Forest Grouse: Ruffed grouse, Dusky (Blue) grouse and Spruce grouse are relatively common in Chelan County. Both ruffed and Dusky grouse occur in Douglas County, however, their numbers are relatively low and their distribution localized. Ruffed grouse use mixed and deciduous forests and are often associated with forest edges and openings or riparian areas. Dusky grouse occupy forest habitats at mid elevations in Chelan County; they are the largest of the three species. Spruce grouse are generally found at higher elevations in conifer forests; typically above 4000 feet. Prospects for hunting forest grouse in Chelan County this fall should be similar to 2009.

OKANOGAN COUNTY

Pheasant: Pheasants are at low densities throughout the district with most wild production occurring on private land. Prospective hunters should seek permission in advance of the season to access private land. Prospects may be less than last year due to spring rains affecting chick survival. Game farm produced roosters will once again be released at traditional release sites this fall. These sites are mapped on the Go Hunt website http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt/. Hunters should be reminded that non-toxic shot is required at the Driscoll Island, Hegdahl, and Kline Parcel release sites.

Quail: Informal surveys indicate that quail populations appear to be down this year throughout the district. A mild winter most likely increased adult survival but spring rains appear to have negatively affected early brood productivity. However, later broods appear to be more successful. Quail can be found in brushy habitats at lower elevations throughout the district.

Gray Partridge: Gray Partridge populations appear to be down this year throughout the district. A mild winter most likely increased adult survival but spring rains appear to have negatively affected early brood productivity. However, later broods appear to be more successful. Gray Partridge occur within the shrub steppe habitat throughout the district. However, populations are distributed unevenly.

Chukar: Chukar populations appear to be down this year throughout the district. A mild winter most likely increased adult survival but spring rains appear to have negatively affected early brood productivity. However, later broods appear to be more successful. Chukars are found in the steeper rocky areas throughout the shrub steppe habitats in the district.

Forest Grouse: Blue and Spruce grouse populations continue to remain low within the boundaries of the 175,000 acre Tripod fire which burned in 2006 (GMU 224 and the east side of 218). Outside of the Tripod fire forest grouse prospects should be similar to last year. Spring rains may have negatively affected chick survival in isolated locations.

Salmon Derby Raises $40K To Protect Fishing

(NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION PRESS RELEASE)

The 11th Annual Buoy 10 Salmon Challenge was held August 27th in Astoria Oregon, and was another smashing success, raising nearly $40,000 to protect sport ?shing!

The derby began the evening of the 26th with 91enthusiastic team captains (and most of their crews) checking in for the derby. NSIA staff and volunteers greeted the captains with t-shirts and team bags which included; custom made Buoy 10 Toman Spinners from Yakima Bait, Brad’s Super Cut Plugs, Gamakatsu hooks, Silver Horde Spoons and Pemican Beef Brisket Jerky for the teams to enjoy the following day. The captains were then greeted by weigh master, Don Swartz, to discuss the rules of the derby. The night concluded with a bucket raf?e featuring a G Loomis Rod with a Shimano Tekota reel valued at $430.00 and a cocktail party.

The morning of the 27th the docks were lined with ?sherman launching their boats and wishing each other luck. The waters near tongue point were amazingly calm in the early morning hours, while elsewhere the waters were rough from windchop and ?sherman trying to ? nd the right spot. The bite started outslow for most and as the afternoon approached it was Fish On!

By 3:00pm the teams started to arrive at Camp Rilea to weigh-in. Thirty two teams weighed ?sh by the cut-off of 4:00 PM. Following weigh-in, the ?shermen piled into Warrior Hall and the evening began with a silent auction and dinner. Before the dinner the ceremonies were kicked off, the tournament’s VIP’s, Washington Congressman Norm Dicks and Oregon State Representative Jules Bailey, shared their thoughts with the audience.

Representative Jules Bailey discussed the jobs that the sport?shing industry provides in the Paci?c Northwest. Representative Bailey also touted the importance of supporting laws and regulations that will continue to keep sport?shing around for future of generations to come. Congressman Norm Dicks educated the packed hall on all he is doing at the federal level to reform and fund hatcheries, protect funding for habitat restoration and support selective sport ?sheries. Having a devoted and life long sport ?sherman from Washington State sit as chair of the appropriations committee in the US House of Representatives is an enormous blessing for those of us who share Congressman Dicks’ values to protect and restore our ?shery resources!

The ?rst place team was won by Captain John Posey and his crew Carmen Macdonald and Brandon McGavrin with a combined team weight of 76.4lbs. Taking home Lamiglas XCF 803 rods, Shimano Tekota 500LC reels, Lamiglas t-shirts, Lamiglas Hats and Plano Tackle Bags for each team member.

Taking second place team were Captain Steve Leonard and his crew Mike Gubard and Roy Engel who took home G Loomis GL2 SAR1084C/ 9’ Heavy Moderate Action Rods, Okuma Reels, G Loomis Fleece and hats and Plano Tackle boxes.

Rounding into third place was Captain Scott Weedman and his team of Kevin Sellers, and Reinhold Shook winning Plano tackle boxes ?lled with products from Pautzke, Brads, and Yakima Bait just to name a few.

The evening concluded with team giveaways for each and every team that was present, which included everything from crab traps, to Shimano Rods! Last was the captain’s drawing, where just the captains are entered to thank them for signing up their Team. This year, the lucky captain won a freezer from Hamilton’s Appliance Center in Gladstone, Oregon.

This years Buoy 10 Salmon Challenge was a great success thanks to our record number of sponsors: All Sports, Amato Publcations, ANWS – Tom McCall Chapter, Berkley, BS Fish Tales Inc, Bob Rees Fishing Guide, Clackacraft, D & G Bait, Danielson, Duckworth, Eagle Claw, Fisherman’s Marine & Outdoor, Fred Meyer, G Loomis, Hamilton’s Appliances, Kershaw, Lamiglas, Leisure Sales, Lowrance/NAVICO, Marfood, Maurice Sporting Goods, Maxima, Morton & Associates, Mustad, Normark/Rapala, Northwest Sportsman Magazine, Okuma, Oregon Tackle, Pautzke Bait*, Plano, Pro-Cure Bait Scents, Pro-Troll, Pure Fishing, Salmon Trout Steelheader, Shimano, Silver Horde, Smokehouse, Stevens Marine, The Guide’s Forecast, Three River’s Marine, Tim Bailey & Associates, Tom Posey Co., Weldcraft, Willapa Marine, and Yakima Bait Co.