All posts by Andy Walgamott

Feds List 3 Sound Rockfish Species

Score another ESA listing for Sam Wright.

Today, NOAA declared three types of rockfish in Puget Sound as either threatened or endangered.

The move comes despite WDFW’s half-decade-long ban on retention of canary and yelloweye in Puget Sound, a new ban on keeping any rockfish in the San Juan Islands and eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca as well, and new fishing-depth restrictions put in place starting May 1.

In the Georgia Basin, which includes Puget Sound and Georgia Strait, NOAA designated those two species as threatened and bocaccio rockfish as endangered. The latter listing means the species is at high risk of extinction; a threatened listing means they’re vulnerable to extinction in the near future and in need of protection.

Sam Wright of Olympia had also asked the Feds to list greenstriped and redstriped rockfish, but scientists found those to be at low risk of winking out.

It follows up on the retired WDFW biologist’s 1999 request to federally protect 18 Sound species, including the above rockfish as well as types of cod, hake, pollack and herring. Listings were not warranted at that time, NOAA said. The same year he also pitched Columbia River smelt unsuccessfully then in 2007, successfully got Puget Sound steelhead onto the threatened list.

According to NOAA, all three rockfish species were “historically harvested at high levels, depleting their numbers. Rockfish are long-lived and mature slowly, with only sporadic episodes of successful reproduction, making them especially vulnerable to overfishing.”

The species have also been incidentally caught by anglers after other species, and are suffering from nearshore habitat degradation, pollution and lost fishing gear, the agency says.

NOAA notes that there’s already a “broad state and federal effort to improve the Sound’s water quality and habitat through the Puget Sound Partnership, which is aimed at conserving all marine life, including rockfish.”

A number of other Sound species, including resident orcas, Chinook and chum salmon, steelhead and bull trout are also protected under ESA; fishing continues for salmon and steelhead, though there will be further restrictions on the latter species when the fishing regs come out soon.

WDFW director Phil Anderson promised to work closely with NOAA, and says the state’s rockfish conservation management plan will be released this summer.

“Today’s decision by NOAA-Fisheries to list three Puget Sound rockfish species for protection under the Endangered Species Act is the latest step in an on-going effort to conserve and rebuild these important, slow-growing and highly vulnerable fish,” Anderson said in a press release. “Since the 1980s, WDFW has attempted to stop the decline by imposing increasingly stringent measures to protect Puget Sound rockfish and welcomes federal support for this effort.”

He notes that WDFW has required anglers to release canary and yelloweyes in the Sound since 2004, and that few bocaccios turn up in sport or commercial harvest.

Anderson points out that “harvest restrictions, alone, will not be enough to recover these fish, which have suffered the effects of pollution, declining environmental conditions and increased predation by marine mammals.”

Puget Sound anglers will see a new 120-foot depth restriction in the regs this season to reduce mortality of rockfish incidentally caught in other fisheries. Those deeper waters are where most adult rockfish are found, according to NOAA.

Meanwhile, Wright has petitioned the Feds to list Puget Sound coho as threatened; they’re currently a species of concern.

For more on rockfish, see the San Juan Journal’s article, WDFW’s 105-page draft rockfish plan, comment on which is open through May 21, and the Seattle Times April 28 article. The Times reports that a soon-to-be-released analysis will detail “conflicts between rockfish survival and summer salmon seasons. That document would lay the groundwork for any changes in fishing.”

NWS Scribe Finds Potholes Walleye

About the same time that tens of thousands of Washington moms and dads were serving up stocker trout breakfasts yesterday, Northwest Sportsman writer Leroy Ledeboer and crew were out cleaning up on walleye.

Ledeboer, of Moses Lake, was “guiding” his old friend Dan Whitmus as well as Paul Ness of Southern Idaho on Potholes Reservoir’s Lind Coulee Arm. They used silver Smile Blade-worm combos for nine walleye.


Ledeboer says the fish ranged from 15 to 19 inches and that Ness, who regulates in Central Idaho for steelhead but hadn’t done much of any walleye angling, did most of the damage.

Ledeboer also kept a sizable hen smallmouth that sucked in a bait too far while they had stopped the boat to fight one of the walleye.

With this weekend’s Rod Meseberg Spring Walleye Classic, the fishing’s turned on at just the right time, Ledeboer notes. Something like 30 boats were in the arm yesterday.

He was back out today and was “plagued” with small walleye though watched another boat do pretty well.

For updates or more information, call Mar Don Resort (800-416-2736), on Potholes’ southwest corner.

A Breezy Opener

The wind whistled through the blooming dogwood as I strapped my brand-new pontoon boat to the top of the fish rig this past Saturday morning. Ugh, I thought, of all the days it has to blow.

It was the trout opener, the biggest annual gathering of Washington fisherkind of the year — as well as the first day of the year to fish several Oregon lakes — so I wasn’t going to bag it either.

Well, I thought shaking my head, it is April, after all. And at least I’ll be able to check off fishing in the wind out of yet another type of boat.

I’d hoped that the breeze would be a wee bit lighter further inland from our house on the slope towards Puget Sound, but it wasn’t the case at 11-acre Echo Lake off Aurora (which is actually a year-round water, but with time constraints, my best option to get afield that day). So, layered up with three fleeces, waders, lifejacket, parka, three pieces of leftover pizza and a mess of lures and flies, I launched the pontoon, kindly supplied by Creek Company, and splashed in.

And was promptly blown back to shore.

By then it was too late to back out — Amy and the boys had roared off to the zoo — so I battled into the wind, just as tens of thousands of others across the Everbreezy State did, and like everyone else, found trout.

Here’s WDFW’s wrap-up report from around the state:

Although the weather was cool, and at times rainy and quite windy, most anglers who ventured out around the state had a successful opening day of lowland lake fishing.

WDFW biologists provided the following information on the opener:

REGION 1 FISH PROGRAM Manager John Whalen noted that windy conditions contributed to an observed decline in anglers venturing out to area lakes for the traditional April trout fishing opening day. Steady winds out of the west southwest at 25 miles per hour, with wind gusts up to 30 mph, hampered fishing activity and created some back-ups at lake boat ramps as people worked to re-unite their boats and trailers. In District 2 angler counts on monitored lakes in the Spokane area were down an estimated 50 percent from the turn out observed for last year’s near perfect opening day conditions. While average fish per angler harvest numbers were down, most anglers interviewed were satisfied with their catches. Rainbow trout in the 14 to 16 inch range were observed in angler catches on several lakes in District 2, with some fish up into the low 20 inch range. District 1 also reported windy fishing conditions, with trees being blown down at Trout Lake (Ferry Co.) and Rocky Lake (Stevens Co.). Some of the best fishing in District 1 was observed at Cedar Lake (Stevens Co.) with a harvest average of 5 fish per angler. Deep Lake (Stevens Co.) also fished well with 3.6 fish per angler, along with Rocky Lake (Stevens Co.) with 4.4 fish per angler.

CHAD JACKSON IN EPHRATA reported that anglers fishing Grant County opening day lakes this year were greeted with chilly and very windy (15-30mph) conditions that persisted until about noon. These conditions definitely impacted angler participation and success, especially boat anglers. Most anglers waited out the weather as evidenced by the noon peak effort counts at every opening day lake except for Warden Lake (8:00AM peak count). However, observed angler participation and success improved right around noon when the wind began to die down and air temperatures rose. During the 8:00AM to 12:00PM creel survey, angler success was best at Park and Warden lakes. Anglers averaged a little better than 3 trout harvested per angler. The remaining lakes averaged less than 2 trout per angler. Trout size at all the opening day lakes was good ranging between 11-13 inches. Park Lake had the largest yearling trout ranging from 13-15 inches followed by Blue Lake at 12-13 inches. With the weather shaping up in the afternoon, the expectation is that most anglers will catch, or come close, their limits of trout.

ART VIOLA IN CHELAN COUNTY reported nice sunny weather, but windy (50 -600 F). Unfortunately, again this year, persistent cold weather, snow, mud covered roads and ice covered lakes precluded fish stocking at Beehive and Spring Hill reservoirs. The DNR closed the road to Lilly Lake precluding angler access; consequently anglers had access to only two opening day lakes: Wapato and Clear lakes.

Early morning effort (boat and shore angler counts) at Wapato Lake was only about 33% of angler effort surveyed in the past 8 years. Catch per angler was improved compared to 2009. All fish were healthy and robust; yearlings (1+) were 13- 14 inches in length, evidentyl the 2009 fry survival and growth was good. Carry over fish (2+) were 14- 18 inches. Catch proportions were 7.1% carryovers to 92.9% yearling rainbows.

Effort at Clear Lake was up compared to past years, likely because of the lack of access to other area lakes. The largest fish seen at Clear Lake were five 16 –19 -inch rainbows. The rest of the trout caught were 12-13 inches. Anglers were excited about the larger fish, but much complaining was heard about the lack of access to other area lakes.

IN OKANOGAN COUNTY, Bob Jateff reported that generally, the fishing was good on the opener. The weather was cool and windy, but sunny. Anglers were pleased to catch a few bigger triploid rainbows in some of the production waters, such as Pearrygin and Alta. In addition, both Conconully Lake and Reservoir produced some nice fishing for rainbow trout. The selective gear waters such as Blue in the Sinlahekin had rainbow in the 11-16 inch range. Blue Lake near Wannacut was good fishing for Lahontan Cutthroat in the 14-18 inch range. Big and Little Twin in the Winthrop area produced rainbow in the 10-16 inch class. Jameson, despite some early season algae problems, was a good producer for rainbow with carryover fish to 15 inches.

FOR PIERCE AND THURSTON COUNTIES, catch today was dominated by jumbo rainbow trout with some triploids and broodstock fish mixed in. In a few lakes the standard catchable size fish made a significant contribution to the catch. In most lakes their contribution was minor; they should show more strongly in the catch over the next few weeks as lakes warm. Lakewood Hatchery specialist Jim Jenkins notes that WDFW rears the “jumbo’ rainbow trout at Eells Springs and Lakewood fish hatcheries in earthen ponds, and releases them at 15-to-18 inches in length. These fat, 1-1/2 to two-pound fish provide some of the better quality fishing in Mason, Pierce and Thurston Counties.

WDFW Area fish biologist Mike Scharpf (Pierce County) and Larry Phillips (Thurston County) reported that, with a couple of exceptions, anglers had very good fishing today. Anglers in the two local Clear Lakes in Pierce and Thurston counties reported catching more than 5 fish each, taking home more than 3. The quantity and quality of this year’s fish were very good, thanks to the hatchery staff at Lakewood and Eells Springs fish hatcheries. Most anglers were very satisfied with the number, size, and appearance of the fish. Creel checkers also noted that bullhead catfish and crappie showed in some lakes. This is a little bit earlier in the year than average. Checkers also noted that osprey and bald eagles enjoyed fishing success on some of the lakes, too.

MOST NORTH SOUND LAKES had fair catch rates despite the cloudy and cold weather. Notable exceptions were Lake Geneva in King County, where all anglers checked had limits, and Steele Lake also in King County, with 3.9 fish retained per angler. Storm Lake in Snohomish County had 4.3 trout kept per angler, although effort was low. In Skagit County, Erie and Heart Lake had 4.0 and 4.7 fish kept per angler, with a good showing of triploids.

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON anglers were met with rain, cold, wind, and the occasional snow flurry, similar to most parts of western Washington. Anglers in Rowland Lake (Klickitat County) and Kidney Lake (Skamania County) did a lot of catch-and-release fishing, although anglers did hang on to a large 2-3 pound brown trout in Kidney Lake and 2 broodstock (one over 12 pounds) in Rowland Lake. Swift Reservoir had a good showing of coho to keep anglers busy.

ON THE COAST, WDFW Area fish biologist Rick Ereth reported that angling at Duck Lake (Grays Harbor County) was slow. Bad weather and turbid water combined to keep both catch and angling effort down. However, good catches of large crappie have been reported from the north end of the lake. Failor Lake had fair angling, with the largest fish a lunker of 6 lb 7oz. Curt Holt called in from Pacific County, where the largest rainbow caught in Black Lake weighed in at 3.25 pounds.

IN HOOD CANAL, Thom Johnson and Mark Downen had many volunteers help check anglers again this season; special thanks to Bremerton Sportsmen’s Club, Freshies and Salties, Port Ludlow Fly-fishers, Kitsap Fly Anglers, PSA East Jefferson, and PSA South Sound. The quantity and quality of this year’s fish were very good thanks to the staff at WDFW’s Eells Springs and Lakewood fish hatcheries. The weather was cold, windy and rainy in Kitsap and Mason counties and a bit nicer further north in east Jefferson County – – this cut fishing short on some lakes as the anglers headed for cover. Overall, fishing was fair to good with a good mix of catchables, jumbos, triploids, and broodstock in the catch. The highest catch rates were recorded in east Jefferson County at Anderson Lake (3.3 fish kept/angler) where most rainbows measured a whopping 15-17”, in Kitsap County at Wye Lake (3.5 fish kept/angler), and in Mason County at Haven Lake (3.6 fish kept/angler). Bay Lake in Pierce County was good fishing with 3.7 fish kept/angler. Anglers are encouraged to fish Anderson Lake soon as it is likely that the lake will close early this season due to recurring toxic algae concentrations which can pose a high risk to anglers. A diversity of lake fishing opportunities abound in Hood Canal District and anglers can readily find a great way to pass the time fishing with family and friends. More catchables, jumbos, and triploids will be stocked in May in several District lakes and anglers can look forward to good fishing thru the spring and early summer.

Department staff and volunteers reported checking 4,801 anglers with 11,100 trout from 116 lakes statewide. Anglers checked statewide averaged 2.2 trout per fisherman.

The top ten lakes for angler success were: Stevens County’s Cedar and Rocky lakes; Hart Lake, McMurray Lake, and Erie Lake in Skagit County, Snohomish County’s Storm Lake; Geneva and Steele Lakes in King County, Swift Reservoir in Skamania County and Bay Lake in Pierce County.

2010 Lakes Opening Day Data CPUE means Catch Per Unit Effort (fish per rod)

County Lake Anglers Checked

Fish Kept Fish/Angler Comments
Chelan Clear Lake 79 237 3.00 A few 18-20″ fish.
Wapato Lake 42 155 3.69 Some large carryover rainbows.
Douglas Jameson Lake 55 137 2.49 Yearling rainbow 10″.  Carryover rainbows 14″.
Ferry Trout Lake 6 15 2.50 Largest fish was a 10” rainbow. Cool and windy, one tree down
Grant Blue Lake 61 112 1.84 Plus 4 released, total CPUE= 1.9. Yearling rainbows averaged 12.5 – 13 inches.  Tiger and brown trout in the catch.
Deep Lake 71 61 0.86 Plus 14 released, total CPUE=1.1. Shoreline anglers near the boat ramp fared well. Boat anglers were severely hampered by high winds.
Park Lake 19 55 2.89 Plus 10 released, total CPUE= 3.4. Yearling rainbows averaged 12.5 – 13 inches.  Tiger and brown trout in the catch.
Perch Lake 46 43 0.93 Plus 14 released, total CPUE= 1.2. Rainbow trout ranged from 11-15 inches.
Vic Meyers 15 18 1.20 Brown and brook trout reported in catch.
Warden Lake 31 105 3.39 Plus 6 released, total CPUE=3.6. Yearling rainbows averaged 12 inches.
Grays Harbor Aberdeen Lake 80 162 2.03 Plus 102 released, total CPUE=3.3. largest fish 19″.
Duck Lake 11 4 0.36 Plus 1 released, total CPUE=.45. Bad weather, water was turbid. N end of the lake has been good for crappie.
Failor Lake 58 105 1.81 Plus 101 released, total CPUE= 3.6. Largest fish 6 lb 7 oz, 24 3/8 inches.
Sylvia Lake 24 87 3.63 Plus 7 released, total CPUE=3.9. Largest fish 16″.
Vance Creek Pond #1 60 63 1.05 Derby winning fish were 4.55 and 5.35 lbs.
Vance Creek Pond #2 35 56 1.60 Largest fish 19″.
Island Deer Lake 12 31 2.58 Plus 3 released, total CPUE= 2.8.  Low turnout, cold.
Jefferson Anderson 74 246 3.32 Hot fishing, mostly 15-17″ rainbows; largest 20″ carryover.
Horseshoe Lake 3 2 0.67
Ludlow Lake 15 29 1.93 Plus 20 released, total CPUE=3.3. Some hi-grading for jumbos; largest 17″.
Sandy Shore Lake 54 146 2.70 Good mix of catchables and jumbos; largest 23″ broodstock.
Silent Lake 16 28 1.75 Plus 47 released, total CPUE=4.7. Some hi-grading for jumbos to 14″.
Tarboo Lake 25 33 1.32 Plus 15 released, total CPUE=1.9. Largest 20″ broodstock.
King Cottage Lake 32 52 1.63 Plus 20 released, total CPUE= 2.25.  Short trips due to weather.
Geneva Lake 15 75 5.00 Plus15 fish released, total CPUE=6.  Everyone caught limits, satisfied with size and condition of fish.
Langlois Lake 39 122 3.13 Plus 88 released, total CPUE=5.4. Cold and rainy, anglers were satisfied with numbers and size of fish.
Margaret Lake 48 141 2.94 Plus 206 released, total CPUE= 7.2. Cold and windy.
North Lake 22 21 0.95 Plus 14 released, total CPUE= 1.6.
Pine Lake 45 105 2.33 Plus 117 released, total CPUE=4.9.
Rattlesnake Lake 51 88 1.73 Plus 331 released, total CPUE=8.2.
Steel Lake 38 148 3.89 Plus 93 released, total CPUE=6.3.
Walker Lake 24 33 1.38 Plus 53 released, total CPUE=3.6. Weather was cold.
Wilderness Lake 43 118 2.74 Plus 32 released, total CPUE= 3.5. Kids got some big fish, largest 23″.  Rainy and cold.
Kitsap Buck Lake 15 34 2.27 Plus 18 released, total CPUE 3.5.
Horseshoe Lake 19 40 2.11 Largest 20″ broodstock.
Mission Lake 28 55 1.96 Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 18″ carryover.
Panther Lake 46 92 2.00 Lots of triploids and jumbos.
Wildcat Lake 41 68 1.66 Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 23″ (6 lb) broodstock.
Wye Lake 31 107 3.45 Plus 73 released, total CPUE=5.8. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 23″ broodstock.
Bainbridge Island Pond Juvenile derby – great event – report pending
Poggie derby Juvenile derby – great event – report pending
Klickitat Horsethief Lake 16 45 2.81 Windy, rainy, cold.
Rowland Lake 45 116 2.58 Plus 197 released, total CPUE=6.9. People were happy to catch and release. Most fish were 15″ and over diploids.  Two broodstock caught, one over 12 lbs.
Spearfish Lake 2 2 1.00 Too cold, rainy, and windy to fish.
Lewis Carlisle Lake 61 45 0.74 Many small coho caught and released.
Fort Borst Park Pond 66 99 1.50 Plus 58 fish released, total CPUE=2.7. Cold and rainy
Mineral Lake 154 258 1.68 Plus 133 released, total CPUE=2.53. Rain/snow.
Mason Aldrich Lake 14 46 3.29 Plus 22 released, total CPUE=4.8. Some high-grading for jumbos to 14″.
Benson Lake 54 130 2.41 Plus 83 released, total CPUE=3.94. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 19″ triploid.
Clara (Don) Lake 15 24 1.60 Plus 23 released, total CPUE=3.13. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 20″ carryover.
Devereaux Lake 24 16 0.67 Low catch rate likely due to early stocking and predation by cormorants; largest 22″ broodstock.
Haven Lake 25 90 3.60 Largest 18″ triploid.
Howell Lake 21 20 0.95 Plus 42 released, total CPUE=2.95. – many catch-and-release anglers.
Panhandle Lake 0 0 NA 4-H Camp closed and limited angler access.
Phillips Lake 36 44 1.22 Plus 30 released, total CPUE=2.05. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 16″.
Robbins Lake 20 20 1.00 Largest 14″ jumbo.
Stump Lake 38 97 2.55 Plus 56 fish released, total CPUE=4.0. Light pressure, anglers were satisfied.
Tiger Lake 66 107 1.62 Plus 45 released, total CPUE=2.3. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 16″ triploid.
Wildberry Lake 10 1 0.10 Lakeside owners happy with fish stocked.
Wood Lake 8 8 1.00 Plus 12 released, total CPUE=2.5. Some high-grading for jumbos to 14″.
Wooten Lake 56 138 2.46 Plus 67 released, total CPUE=3.66. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 17″ cutthroat and 18″ rainbow.
Okanogan Alta Lake 127 332 2.61 Yearling rainbow 9″. Carryover rainbow 13″.
Conconully Lake 121 251 2.07 Yearling rainbow 10-11″. Carryover rainbow 14″. Largest fish 24″.
Conconully Res. 65 130 2.00 Yearling rainbow 11″. Carryover rainbow 14″. Largest fish 20″.
Fish Lake 93 272 2.92 Yearling rainbow 10-11″.
Pearrygin Lake 33 146 4.42 Yearling rainbow 10″. Carryover rainbow 14″. Triploid rainbow 15-17 inches.
Pacific Black Lake 28 11 0.39 Plus 3 released, total CPUE= .5.  Largest fish 3.25 lbs, 19 3/8 inches.
Pend Oreille Big Meadow Lake 8 22 2.75 Largest fish was a 14″ rainbow. Cold and snowing, windy.
Yokum Lake 11 28 2.55 One 12.5″ cutthroat. Cool and windy.
Pierce Bay Lake 107 401 3.75 253 catchables, 100 jumbos, 48 carryovers; largest 16″.
Clear Lake 91 290 3.19 Plus 205 released, total CPUE=5.4. Kokanee up to 13″, many fish greater than 12, a few greater than 16″.
Ohop Lake 11 17 1.55 Plus 16 released, total CPUE=3.0. Lots of anglers, bite a little slow, cold and windy.
Rapjohn Lake 68 219 3.22 Plus 30 released, total CPUE=3.7.Happy anglers, most fish greater than 12″, many greater than 16″.  A few crappie.
Silver Lake 69 166 2.41 Plus 47 released, total CPUE=3.1. Anglers happy to see resort open, brown bullhead catch higher than normal this time of year.
Spanaway Lake 9 13 1.44 Cold, wet and windy.  Not much effort.
Tanwax Lake 60 126 2.10 Plus 57 released, total CPUE=3.1. Lots of anglers, fishing a little slow. Anglers familiar with the lake caught limits – lots of fish still in lake!
Skagit Erie Lake 46 186 4.04 Plus 57 released, total CPUE=5.3. Happy anglers enjoyed triploid trout.
Heart Lake 31 146 4.71 Plus 49 releases, total CPUE=6.3.  Best fishing in a long time, anglers liked triploid trout.
McMurray Lake 74 281 3.80 Plus 35 released, total CPUE=4.3. Anglers liked size, catch rate and condition of fish.
Sixteen Lake 35 71 2.03 Plus 22 released, total CPUE=2.7.  4 holdovers (16″).
Skamania Kidney Lake 36 47 1.31 Plus 99 released, total CPUE=4. Anglers happy to catch and release fish.  One large brown trout 2+ lbs caught.
Northwestern Reservoir 9 28 3.11 Plus 114 released.
Swift Reservoir 46 175 3.80 Plus 23 released, total CPUE=4.3. 109 of the catch were coho, plus 66 rainbow.
Snohomish Armstrong Lake 26 66 2.54 Plus 48 released, total CPUE=4.4. Light rain.
Bosworth Lake 27 68 2.52 Plus 83 released, total CPUE=5.6. Cold.
Echo Lake (Maltby) Not surveyed.
Howard Lake 65 182 2.80 Plus 64 released, total CPUE=3.8.
Ki Lake 51 95 1.86 Plus 59 released, total CPUE=3.0. Cold and breezy.
Martha Lake (AM) 30 70 2.33 Plus 55 released, total CPUE= 4.2. Good mix of adults and kids.
Riley Lake 32 95 2.97 Plus 52 released, total CPUE=4.6. Anglers satisfied with fish size.
Serene Lake 17 25 1.47 Plus 15 released, total CPUE=2.4. Some limits, some 100% released.
Stickney Lake 1 2 2.00 Plus 2 released, total CPUE=4.  Cold and windy.
Storm Lake 10 43 4.30 Plus 14 released, total CPUE=5.7. Lower effort, trout healthy.
Wagner Lake 1 1 1.00 Windy and cold.
Spokane Badger Lake 64 109 1.70 Largest rainbow caught was 23″.
Clear Lake 38 22 0.58
Fish Lake 104 105 1.01 Several 22-27″ tiger trout caught.
Fishtrap Lake 35 77 2.20
West Medical Lake 81 180 2.22
Williams Lake 90 211 2.34
Stevens Cedar Lake 10 50 5.00 Largest fish was a 13′ rainbow.  Cool and windy.
Deep Lake 7 25 3.57 11″ rainbow and 11″ cutthroat checked.  Cool and windy.
Mudgett Lake 8 20 2.50 Largest fish was a 19″ rainbow.  Cool and windy.
Rocky Lake 19 84 4.42 Largest fish was a 14″ rainbow.  Very windy – some trees down.
Starvation Lake 13 43 3.31 Largest fish was a 13″ rainbow.  Cool and windy.
Waitts Lake 27 64 2.37 Largest fish was a 20″ brown trout. Cool and windy.
Thurston Clear Lake 64 237 3.70 Plus 83 released, total CPUE=5.0. Best fishing in last few years.  Catch was mostly 12-14″ diploid fish with a few legal plants at 9-11″.
Deep Lake 64 131 2.05 Plus 29 released, total CPUE= 2.5.  Fishing good for most anglers but effort was lower due to weather.
Hicks Lake 38 32 0.84 Plus 5 released, total CPUE= 1. Fishing relatively poor.  Most fish caught were 12-14″ jumbo diploids, few legal plants observed.
Long Lake 37 111 3.00 Plus 19 released, total CPUE= 3.5. Great fishing relative to recent years. Rainbows up to 18″.
McIntosh Lake 70 124 1.77 Plus 127 released, total CPUE= 3.6.  Good fishing with many rainbows up to 14″.
Pattison Lake 60 106 1.77 Plus 66 released, total CPUE= 2.9.  Many large fish in creel. Several brood stock up to 20″ observed. About 40% of the catch was legal plants.
Summit Lake 65 174 2.68 Plus 48 released, total CPUE= 3.4. Many carryover fish observed in the creel (14-17″) Effort down due to weather.
Whatcom Cain Lake 28 75 2.68 Plus 32 released, total CPUE=3.8. Catch rates a little low, but anglers happy with size and condition of fish.
Padden Lake 46 156 3.39 Plus 15 released, total CPUE=3.7.  46 of the 156 fish kept were triploids. Lots of families despite crowded boat ramp and harsh weather.
Silver Lake 192 316 1.65 Plus 113 released, total CPUE=2.2.
Toad Lake 43 110 2.56 Plus 101 released, total CPUE=4.9. Lots of triploids caught.

SW WA Fishin’ Report



Cowlitz River – Spring chinook and steelhead are being caught, primarily from the trout hatchery to the barrier dam.  The first 14 hatchery summer run steelhead of the season were trapped at Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery last week.

Flows have been steady at 3,540 cfs (except for the weekly flushing flow).  A total of 1,280 spring chinook adults have returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator as of April 23.  The 13 year average cumulative total to date is 6.97% of the run (range 1.1 ~ 12.8).  Using average run timing returns to date would convert to a run size of 18,364 to the separator.  The pre-season forecast was 12,500 adults returning to the Cowlitz in 2010.

Kalama River – Both spring chinook and steelhead are being caught.

Lewis River – Some spring chinook and steelhead are being caught in the North Fork; light effort and catch on the mainstem Lewis.

Flows below Merwin Dam were 4,200 cfs today which is slightly less than the long-term mean of 5,100 for this date.

Wind River – Overall one in every three boat anglers caught a spring chinook.  Some fish are being caught by bank anglers at the mouth and in the gorge.

There have been a total of 81 detections of Carson National Fish Hatchery (CNFH) Integrated Transponder (PIT) tagged adult spring Chinook at Bonneville Dam as of April 21.  Applying the juvenile tag rate from CNFH produces an estimate of 6,282 CNFH chinook over Bonneville Dam through April 21.

The final CNFH run size projections at Bonneville Dam, using early and average timing data from 2000-2009, are 10,593 and 21,547, respectively.  The pre-season forecast was 14,000 adults returning to the Wind in 2010.

There have been 80 spring chinook passed at Shipherd Falls through April 21.

For more information about PIT Tag observations, see

CNFH daily counts will be available beginning May 1 via web site and phone. Web site address is  Main office number is 509 427 5905.

Wind River from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls upstream to boundary markers approximately 800 yards downstream from Carson National Fish Hatchery (except closed 400 feet below to 100 feet above the Coffer Dam) – From May 1 through June 30, the salmon and steelhead daily limits will be a total of 2 chinook or hatchery steelhead or one of each.  Unmarked chinook may be retained in this section of the Wind. Night closure and anti-snag rule will be in effect.  Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.

Drano Lake – About 40% of the bank and boat anglers at Drano Lake had caught a spring chinook when sampled last week.  About 120 boats observed here last Saturday (April 24) around noon.

There have been a total of 108 detections of Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery(LWSNFH)  PIT tagged spring Chinook at Bonneville Dam as of April 25.  Applying the juvenile tag rate from LWSNFH produces an estimate of 6,756 LWSNFH adult chinook over Bonneville through April 25.

The pre-season forecast was 28,900 adults returning to Drano Lake in 2010.

White Salmon River – Spring chinook are no longer released here but there have been sporadic catches of stray fish based on angler reports.

Klickitat River – Some spring chinook are being caught by bank anglers from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream.

The first few spring Chinook of the year have been counted at the Lyle Falls adult trap.  Trap counts will be updated starting this week on the Yakama Indian Nation website at

Flow at Pitt were 2,250 cfs today which is close to the long-term mean of 2,330 for this date.

Bonneville Pool – Bank angles just outside of Drano Lake are catching some spring chinook.

The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, just over one in every 3 bank anglers kept/released a spring chinook while about one in six boat anglers had caught a fish. Overall  78% of the fish caught were kept.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco: For the week of April 19-25, an estimated 549 adult hatchery chinook were harvested and 138 wild chinook were released. The majority of the harvest were retained by bank anglers fishing the Oregon shore. WDFW staff interviewed 336 salmon anglers this past week and sampled 85 hatchery chinook. For the season, an estimated 748 adult hatchery chinook have been harvested and 154 wild chinook were released.


§  Bonneville Dam passage of adult Chinook through April 25 totals 95,512.  This is the highest cumulative count to date since 2003 and the 3th highest count to date since 1977.

§  With the total Bonneville count plus upriver impacts in treaty and non-treaty fishing below Bonneville Dam, 129,679 upriver spring Chinook can be accounted for.

§  The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met today and says it is still too early to update the run size.   TAC will be meeting regularly to review dam counts and harvest data.


Lower Columbia from Bonneville Dam downstream – Effort and catches remain light except in the gorge.  A total of 123 boats and 200 bank anglers were counted during the Saturday April 24 flight.  Just under half the boats and over three-quarters of the bank anglers were found in the gorge.

Lower Columbia from the mouth to the Wauna powerlines – White sturgeon may be retained daily through April and from May 22 through June 26.  Daily limit 1.  Maximum size is 54” fork length. Through April, minimum size is 38” fork length.  Effective May 22, the minimum size will be 41” fork length.  Catch-and-release fishing is allowed during non-retention days.

From Bonneville Dam downstream 9 miles to a line crossing the Columbia from Navigation Marker 82 on the Oregon shore through the upstream exposed end of Skamania Island, continuing in a straight line to a boundary marker on the Washington shore:  CLOSED to fishing for STURGEON May 1-Aug. 31.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged a legal per every 2 rods when including fish released.  Bank angling was slow for legal size fish.

From John Day Dam downstream 5.4 miles to the west end of the grain silo at Rufus, Oregon:  CLOSED to fishing for STURGEON May 1-July 31.

John Day Dam to McNary Dam (including all tributaries) – The retention of sturgeon is prohibited through the rest of the year.   Catch-and-release fishing is permitted.  From McNary Dam downstream 1.5 miles to Hwy. 82 (Hwy. 395) Bridge:  CLOSED to fishing for STURGEON May 1-July 31.


The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged 1.3 walleye per rod while bank anglers averaged 2.6 bass per rod when including fish released.

John Day Pool – Few boat anglers sampled and those that were sampled had no catch.


Klineline Pond – 47 bank anglers kept 58 catchable size and 1 brood stock rainbow and released 19 catchable size rainbows.  Planted with 2,000 rainbows averaging 2/3 pound each and 256 averaging 1.5 pounds each last week.

News From TAC

The “Technical Advisory Committee” for Lower Columbia River fisheries met today and decided there wasn’t enough information to open one fishery (commercial springers), but there was enough to close a second (sport sturgeon).

1) Even with the spring Chinook count at Bonneville Dam up to 95,000-plus, TAC “met today and says it is still too early to update the run size. TAC will be meeting regularly to review dam counts and harvest data.”

2) As for the sturgeon fishing at Rooster Rock, a site that has attracted “hundreds of anglers, particularly in recent weeks” and accounted for something on the order of 1,200 of the 1,300 white sturgeon caught between Wauna and Bonneville Dam this year, TAC is recommending closing that starting this Thursday, April 29.

“Angler catch rates have been high in this area, and total catch from the site is substantial,” TAC’s fact sheet reads.

WDFW Schedules May Lake Wash. Sockeye Workshop

In the California Delta, longfin smelt are in so much trouble that they warrant an “uplisting” from threatened to endangered, federal managers say, though they decided against doing so earlier this month.

Six hundred miles due north in Lake Washington, populations of the thin, 7-inch-long silvery fish have grown large enough that in some years they appear to be reducing the survival of young sockeye which fuel a hugely popular Seattle backyard fishery when the adults return.

But there are other factors at play too in why the salmon’s runs aren’t measuring up to what they were in the 1970s and 1980s.

A recently released independent review of the big lake’s natural and hatchery sockeye populations and their productivity talks about what’s going on, and now WDFW wants to talk about the 65-page document’s findings at a public workshop May 26.

“This information provides a starting point for discussions with tribal co-managers, our constituents and other stakeholders about future sockeye salmon management in Lake Washington,” said Jim Scott, assistant director of WDFW’s fish program, in a press release this afternoon. “We’d like to hear from anglers and others interested in Lake Washington sockeye as we look into the productivity of these fish in the watershed and how we currently manage our sockeye fisheries there.”

Fishing for the tasty salmon had reliably occurred every even year between 2000 and 2006, but since then runs have been too low for any seasons. This year’s forecast is for 123,000 to return, well below the current goal of 350,000 spawners.

Among other things, the “Cedar River and Lake Washington Sockeye Salmon Biological Reference Point Estimates,” authored by Scott McPherson of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and James C. Woodey, Ph.D., a fisheries consultant, finds that:

odd-year sockeye are less productive than even-year fish;

fry tend to hit Lake Washington too soon — “before or early in the spring bloom period, potentially placing the fry at risk due to suboptimal food resources for large populations entering in the south end of the lake”;

and that much more study is called for.

The meeting is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at WDFW’s Issaquah Hatchery, 125 W Sunset Way.

Opening Day 1988 (Or 1989)

Among the many opening days of trout season I recall, few stand out as well as 1988 or 1989’s.

Sorry, I really should remember what year it occurred, but I was borderline hypothermic at the time.

Indeed, it was a cold, miserable morning day on a Cascade Mountains lake. Even from miles and miles away I could tell it was going to be wet. As we cruised up the highway through rain in Greg’s dad’s yellow Buick station wagon towards my dad’s place in North Bend, Wash., I could see that the snow line was right below the level of the lake.

But Greg, Eric and I — all buddies in our sophomore or junior year at Woodinville High School — had warm clothes, and it was the opener after all.

We had to get out, rain or shine. It’s tradition.

At Dad’s we piled out of the Buick and loaded our gear and Greg’s raft into Dad’s van along with his raft, then headed for the hills.

Soon we were off the county road and following muddy Weyerhaueser logging roads up towards clouds spitting rain and snow at us.

I don’t quite remember why, of all lakes, we had to hit Calligan that opener. Dozens more were available at lower and probably warmer and drier altitudes, all stocked for reliable bites.

Perhaps Dad had read something about it in the old Washington Fishing & Hunting News.

Or maybe Greg and I couldn’t get it out of our minds after finding it in the old Lakes of Washington book.

Or maybe it was the decent-sized cutt that had washed out of a feeder creek as Dad, my sisters and I drove through it on a rainy day the previous spring.

Yeah, must have been the fish. Heck, if one’s in the creek, just imagine how many more must be in the lake!

We pumped up the rafts and pushed off, generally trolling fairly close together.

We made slow paddles around the middle of the big lake, getting soaked by the fat flakes — rafts aren’t the best craft for fishing in crappy weather — and then cold.

Nothing bit.

The outlet end of the lake intermittently brightened, raising my hopes things would dry up, but then would go gray again as more snow and rain clouds barreled into the mountain valley.

After awhile we pulled ashore — on the opposite side of the lake from the boat ramp.

We had to get warm. We were all wet — as were the woods. But fortunately, somebody had been putting cedar shingle bolts together, so we poached a couple for kindling.

Can’t say it was a warm fire, but it and lunch gave us enough energy to head back out, and then just bag it all together as the weather worsened.

Rather than going all the way back to the launch, we cut across the thin upper end and beached the rafts. Dad went to bring the van uplake while Eric and I ran up and down the gravel road trying to warm up.

Eric recalls the day as one of the bleakest of his life and, only half jokingly, is still surprised one of us didn’t succumb.

I don’t think I was much use loading the rafts and rods in. All I wanted was to get out of my coat and in front of the heater.

We slammed the doors shut, said goodbye to Calligan and spun our way out of the mountains.

THE FORECAST FOR TOMORROW calls for possibly similar conditions at the lake and elsewhere in Washington’s North Cascades as well as the eastern side of Oregon’s Cascades, according to the National Weather Service.

West of the mountains, there’s a 50 percent chance of rain in Washington, lower in Oregon, but it may be dry in the Columbia Basin.

It’s April, after all, which also means an assload of trout have been stocked this spring and last fall in preparation for tomorrow’s big day — 20.5 million alone in Washington, according to WDFW.

If you haven’t figured out where to go yet, their stocking plan is available online as is the most recent weekly planting report.

In Oregon, the big news is that Diamond Lake is iced up and unlikely to thaw in time for boat angling, though there are some shore spots with open water. Lemolo Reservoir, however, is ice-free and should produce browns, trophy rainbows and fresh stockers.

And I’m guessing tomorrow will indeed be a whole lot more productive than that day up at Calligan, one that still brings shivers to me.

But I’ll be out tomorrow. See you on the water.

May Issue Loaded With Fishing, Family Getaways

I must confess that two summers ago, I camped right beside a trout-filled lake and didn’t fish it once.

Didn’t fling a single fly, toss a spinner or plunk dough from our little beach at Pearrygin Lake, or off the dock down the way.

Nope, I spent the entire trip trying to keep a 1-year-old boy under control. It actually took three of us, two adults and our preteen niece, but even so, there was no time to break away.

It was a sobering entry to fatherhood for this formerly footloose fisherman.

Never before had I gone camping without wetting a line.

My 30-year streak?

Sideswiped by a whirling dervish of a dirt-and-charcoal-covered toddler.


It was also a bit embarrassing for a sporting magazine editor. So much so that for our next family camping trip – last Fourth of July on Orcas Island in the San Juans – we called in reinforcements, four more adult hands.

It worked. I was able to troll and bank fish around the shores of a pair of lakes at the big state park there.


That gave Amy and I some confidence. The next month just we three camped at Wallowa Lake State Park under Oregon’s Alps and I spent half a day on the water with a local kokanee guru.

OF COURSE THIS PAST WINTER we added another boy to the lineup, so my new one-year camp-fishing streak may be in jeopardy.

But a funny thing happened on those two campouts last summer: I enjoyed the fishing as much as I did playing tourist – wandering around towns, licking ice cream cones, snapping pictures of murals and funny signs and going on hikes and scenic drives with the fam.

I wrote about our trip to Wallowa last year, and with all those King Kong-sized kokanee they’re catching up there, expanded upon it with fishing tips, sights to see and family fun to be had in our May issue.

Indeed, this issue’s for all you anglin’ Daddies who’ve found yourselves in a similar predicament: needing a Northwest Getaway that works for the fam and, if the moment should arise, has fishing handy.

For our special section, I asked writers across the Northwest for their ideas.

They sent me great pieces on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula and Oregon’s Newport, Astoria and Florence areas; Ross Lake, Mt. Adams, Bend and the upper Rogue in the Cascades; clamming and oystering in Puget Sound and Hood Canal; and more!


WE ALSO PREVIEW spring pike and walleye fishing in Eastern Washington and the Idaho Panhandle and follow spring Chinook up the Rogue, Willamette and Yakima Rivers as well as into Tillamook Bay.

Speaking of springers, a Southwest Oregon guide got to wondering about the tooth marks on his diver, so he began tinkering with how to turn the device into a bait itself. This issue he reveals two years’ worth of research to Larry Ellis with a Rig of the Month you don’t want to miss.


We also head offshore for halibut with Andy Schneider in search of The Chicken Ranch and Banana Bank, armed with a mess of timely tips from a guide out of Garibaldi.

And there’s also trout fishing to be had at Kitsap Lake right outside Bremerton and Lost Creek Reservoir, outside Medford.

Our columnists again cover a wide range of topics — Terry Otto on the fall of a controversial though popular bank-fishing spot on the Willamette; Buzz Ramsey on tipping, err, tipping lures, not cows and waitresses; Mark Veary on 3 great tactics for kayak angling; and Ellis lines up Chinook seasons on the coasts.

On the hunting front, Dave Workman details the three best cartridges for varmints, Wil Askew chases down late-season turkey and bears while Duane Dungannon reveals Oregon’s new dog-days cat hunt.

New columnist Ralph Bartholdt talks about the dangerous new places wolves are pushing Northern Rockies elk, and there’s good news for Washington mule deer and whitetail hunters.

All that plus sturgeon poachers, the Jackass of the Month, Mt. St. Helens, dam removal, ODFW’s Greenback Hatch, the Waterdog Shack and more in our biggest issue yet — the 160-page May issue, out to newsstands and subscribers in April’s last week.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go chase down two little boys. –Andy Walgamott

ODFW’s Greenback Hatch Peaks In May

SALEM–If your store sells resident Oregon fishing licenses, hire extra clerks for the big rush next month.

Statewide, May sees the highest sales of the year. As many as one out of every five licenses are bought now, even though one-third of the annual permit that anglers renew each January is in effect wasted.


“I can’t say with certainty why May is such a big month for license sales, but I surmise this is when the casual angler starts thinking about fishing,” says David Lane, the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s marketing coordinator in Salem. “The weather is turning for the better. They’re looking at their calendar for summer trips. Kids are going to be out of school soon, so more free time with them. All these factors and more come together in May, so they go and buy.”

SINCE AT LEAST 1999 and likely before, May has reliably posted the biggest numbers of the year.

May 2001 tops all with 58,738 resident fishing licenses sold, ODFW data shows, followed by Mays in 2009 (57,126), 2003 (55,062), 2002 (53,344) and 2007 (52,292).

Among other reasons to get out next month: general trout and halibut openers, ice-off on Cascades lakes, shad and sturgeon in the Columbia, spinyrays beginning to bite more reliably around the Beaver State, the start of the pikeminnow reward fishery, and Memorial Day Weekend.

But April’s sales are no slouch, nor are June’s, and you can still find upwards of 30,000 Oregonians buying their licenses as late as July.

In fact, for one business in 2009, two of the four best months for all license sales actually came even later – August and September – says Dan Grogan, co-owner of Fisherman’s Marine & Outdoor in Portland. That aligned with a good salmon season at Buoy 10 and in the Columbia.

An ODFW bar chart also generally aligns with Grogan’s tackle sales. He says the best months for his two stores, which stock gear for everything from Cabo to crappie, are March into September.

But bait, cure and lure sales are very touchy. If fishing on the Columbia closes for some reason, Fisherman’s can see a 20 to 25 percent dropoff almost overnight, he says.

BACK TO LICENSE sales. Since summer 2008, another factor’s been at play, one that Mike Stahlberg of the Eugene Register-Guard nailed last May when he wrote: “When the economy hung out the GONE FISHIN!’ sign, so did more Oregonians.”

Last year saw A) unemployment as high as 11.6 percent, according to the state Employment Department, and B) the highest license sales of the decade, 303,267. That’s 30,000 more than the next closest year, 2007, when unemployment bottomed out in the low 5s, and 50,000 more than the lowest license sales year, 2005, when 6 percent were laid off.

The Idaho Department of Fish & Game also reported their highest fishing license sales since 1999, nearly 473,600 last year.

This recession has come at the same time that Oregon has seen huge runs of coho and steelhead everywhere from Astoria to Hebo to Sandy to Umatilla to Wallowa.

“No one likes to be unemployed,” Lloyd Graves, a painter on furlough, told a Wall Street Journal reporter snooping around the banks of the Nehalem last January, “but this couldn’t happen at a better time.”

As one ODFW spokesman I talked to noted, there’s a sense that some of the fishing is actually for subsistence. The Journal spoke with Graves’ fishing partner, Adam Rice, an unemployed carpenter who said he’d packed away 85 pounds of salmon and steelhead fillets.

(As an aside, a friend of mine was shocked at the number of anglers out on Kress Lake near Kalama, Wash., on a mid-April Thursday morning after WDFW planted it with 2,000 trout, but could understand it because many, like himself, were laid-off construction workers.)

For the record, Oregon hunting license sales were also up in 2009. Preliminary figures show the agency sold 298,562, the most since 2001 and nearly 20,000 more than 2007 and 2008.

AS STRONG AS sales have been, ODFW and others would like to know more about the mysterious rationale of the license-buying public, which is almost as strange as the ways of the fish we all chase.
While there are large annual variations in license sales each month up into summer, interestingly they smooth out by August.

“There’s just so much that goes into why people fish or why they don’t,” Lane says. “We’re just starting to scratch the surface of that.”

The agency is looking for ways to bump up license volume at nontraditional times of the year.

“How do we start making the sales in those shoulder months either at the end or the beginning?” Lane wonders.

As he noodles that question, here’s another: Will another bumper hatch of greenbacks come off the water this year?

Already Idaho’s sales are above 2009’s, and while Grogan points out he’s not competing with Joe’s anymore, he notes that this February and March’s license sales were around twice as high as the same months last year. –Andy Walgamott

Drano Windy, But Hot Today For NWS Pen

A few numbers for you: eight for 15; 30-40; 7,000, 9,000 and 11,000.

What ties them all together? Drano Lake.

With the count at Bonneville Dam blowing up this past week, Northwest Sportsman contributor Andy Schneider hit the Columbia Gorge water today and reports landing six hatchery springers and releasing two wilds.


Fishing conditions were pretty brutal, though, with 30 to 40mph winds howling over the lake and pushing his boat all over.

“It was so windy we couldn’t land most of the fish,” Schneider reports.

He says that when he turned the boat and headed east, the wind was picking up the water in his hot-water box and spraying he and his two fishing partners.

The kings were biting “Green Envy” Mag Lips (all-chartreuse) and prawn spinners with red-and-white blades about equally, Schneider reports.

“When the bite started to slow on the main lake, we decided to pull in close to the western shoreline and troll near the entrance of the lake with prawns.  If anyone has trolled the entrance of Drano, it’s appropriately known as the Toilet Bowl since all you do is troll round and round, waiting for your turn at the ‘sweet spot’, located right at the entrance deadline.

“First pass through the Bowl, Tom (VanderPlaat) hooks up.  Second pass, I hook up and hand the rod to Brian (Hawkins) just to see Tom’s rod go down and I grab that one; DOUBLE!!

“Third pass, Brian is looking for his last keeper, but no love.  Fourth pass, Brian hooks a native.  Fifth pass, Brian finally tags out — DRANO LIMIT!

Schneider says he saw maybe 30 fish caught for the 30 boats braving the gale.

The lake, which is really the drowned mouth of the Little White Salmon River, is open six days a week (closed Wednesdays for tribal netting) with a limit of two adult hatchery Chinook or two hatchery steelhead, or one of each. Also beware the bank-only area at the mouth.

“Thursday’s always the best day,” Schneider says. “The opening-day effect.”

The forecast calls for around 28,900 springers back to Drano — the largest forecasted run in four decades — and Wind River fish come acourtin’ too.