All posts by Andy Walgamott

Lower Crab Limits Among New Rule Proposals

Single-point barbless hooks on the Columbia from mouth to McNary.

Reduce the daily limit of Dungeness crab in all areas of Puget Sound to four from five, but move fishing days to Friday through Monday instead of Wednesday through Saturday.

A complex new “stream strategy” in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to protect waters that act as nurseries for juvenile anadromous fish.

Those are just three of the 103 new sportfishing rule proposals WDFW rolled out today. The agency will hold seven meetings in the next month on all the proposals where the public can discuss the ideas with state staffers.

Other ideas include closing the west end of Sprague Lake to fishing to protect waterfowl, earlier winter closures to numerous Puget Sound steelhead streams, make this year’s Drano Lake bank-fishing-only area permanent, try again to open Spirit Lake at Mt. St. Helens with a lottery drawing, close wild steelhead retention on the Hoko and Pysht, and encouraging the harvest of fin-clipped hatchery summer Chinook over all kings in the upper Columbia.

Meetings will be held:

Sept. 28 – WDFW’s Ephrata Office, 1550 Alder St. N.W., Ephrata

Sept. 29 – WDFW’s Spokane Office, 2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley

Sept. 30 – Carpenter’s Hall, 507 Third St., Yakima

Oct. 6 – WDFW’s Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek

Oct. 7 – Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Room J47, Port Angeles

Oct. 8 – WDFW’s Vancouver Office, 2108 Grand Blvd., Vancouver

Oct. 13 – WDFW Headquarters, Natural Resources Building, Room 172, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia

Every meeting except the one in Port Angeles starts at 6 p.m. The one in PA begins at 6:30 p.m.

The public will also have an opportunity to provide testimony and written comments on the proposed rule changes during the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Nov. 6-7 meeting in Olympia.

The commission will vote on final proposals in February.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

What particular meats could this weekend in the Beaver State yield for you?

Crab, albacore, salmon, salmon, more salmon, steelhead, steelhead, more steelhead, rainbow trout, walleye, crappie, bottomfish and more!

Here are highlights from ODFW’s latest recreation report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Wild coho fisheries opened on the Coos and Coquille rivers on Sept.1.
  • Several area lakes and reservoirs were stocked with lunker trout last week including Ben Irving Reservoir, Cooper Creek Reservoir, Hemlock Lake, Lake of the Woods and Lake Marie. Good fishing should continue.
  • Chinook fishing slowed in the estuary of the Rogue River as most fish holding moved upriver. Look for the numbers of chinook and coho in the estuary to build all week as water temperatures climb in the river.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Trophy rainbow trout are scheduled to be stocked in Coffenbury, Lost, Sunset, Cape Meares, and Town Lakes the week of Sept. 21. This will complete all scheduled stocking on the north coast for 2009. Trout stocking will resume in March.
  • Angling for warmwater fish, particularly bass, should be good. Cape Meares, Lytle, Cullaby, Sunset, Coffenbury and Vernonia lakes offer fair to good populations of warmwater species. Lakes are beginning to cool off. Fishing may begin to slow, although fish often feed heavily prior to entering the winter period.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Coho are returning in such large numbers that ODFW has bumped the bag limit to three fish on the Willamette, Clackamas, Sandy, Molalla, Santiam, Yamhill and Tualatin rivers and Eagle Creek.
  • Trout stocking for Willamette Valley lakes, ponds and streams will continue through most of the year. The schedules are posted at our website. Note the scheduled stocking dates for each pond are set for the Monday of that respective week and may not coincide with the actual stocking date that could occur on any given week day.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • ODFW has temporarily lifted all daily catch limits, possession limits and minimum length requirements for Antelope Flat Reservoir and Walton Lake from Sept. 1 to Oct. 18. Both lakes will close Oct. 18 for chemical treatment to remove illegally introduced bullhead catfish.
  • Along with earlier stocking of legal trout, Kingsley Reservoir has received many excess summer steelhead that have returned to the Hood River.
  • Trout fishing on the Crooked River is picking up. Don’t be afraid to go after them with a dry fly.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Both Miller Lake and Lake of the Woods are open to fishing 24 hours a day, offering anglers a rare opportunity to target cruising brown trout that are most active after dark.
  • The Chewaucan River just above Paisley has been producing good catches of 8 to 12-inch rainbow trout.
  • Watch for fishing to improve on several area lakes and reservoirs as cooler fall temperatures set in.

NORTHEAST ZONE

    • The John Day pool on the Columbia River offers some great late summer and fall fishing for walleye, anglers are targeting the area near the mouth of the Umatilla River. The area also provides world class smallmouth bass angling, the smallmouth go on a fall feeding binge as juvenile shad begin their outmigration which is happening right now.  As water temperatures begin to cool the smallmouth action will continue to heat up.
    • Trout fishing on Magone Lake is picking up with rainbows feeding in the shallows and brook trout staging to spawn near the swimming beach.
    • Steelhead anglers should be checking their gear and practicing their casting because a near record number of steelhead are heading up the Columbia River and will be entering the rivers of eastern Oregon in late September and October.

      COLUMBIA ZONE

      • Action for coho is good at Buoy 10.
      • Fall chinook is still good between Warrior Rock and Bonneville Dam, with an average of 5,700 passing through the Bonneville ladder daily.
      • Coho are showing up at the mouths of tributaries in the Columbia.
      • Walleye fishing is good near Troutdale and in the gorge.

      SNAKE ZONE

      • At Brownlee, drappie fishing has picked up and the fish are heavy.  Red and white jigs are working well. Catfish angling is good with some large fish being taken. Some catfish are dying. ODFW is attempting to do some testing to find the cause. This occurred 3 years ago and was caused by a virus not harmful to humans.  Bass angling has picked up and some nice bass are being caught. Some perch are starting to bite as well.  The water level is 23 feet below full. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.

      MARINE ZONE

      • Tuna fishing continued last week with average landings of 3 albacore per angler coast wide. This is the second best tuna year on record.
      • Between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mt., the ocean is open for salmon through the earlier of Sept. 30 or 7,000 marked coho quota. Preliminary data show that landings averaged about one salmon for every three anglers last week. The daily bag limit is two salmon except closed to retention of Chinook. All retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip and be 16″ or longer.
      • Cabezon retention by sport boat anglers is not allowed effective Sept. 12 through Dec. 31 because the ocean boat harvest cap of 15.8 metric tons has been reached. Cabezon have a high survival rate when released carefully. Shore anglers, including shore-based divers, may continue to keep cabezon.
      • Bottomfish anglers on average continue to land two or three rockfish coast wide. Lingcod landings are averaging one fish per four anglers.
      • Ocean crabbers brought in an average of 5 crab last week.
      • Estuary crabbers in August averaged eight crabs out of Coos Bay and three crabs out of Alsea Bay; elsewhere crabbers averaged between four and six crabs out of Tillamook, Netarts and Yaquina Bays. Crabbing in August was the best so far this year in most sampled bays. The best months for bay crabbing in Oregon are August through November.

      WDFW Buys Yakima Ranch, POCo Wetlands

      At the same meetings that the Fish & Wildlife Commission hired Phil Anderson as the permanent WDFW director, they gave him about 4,050 new acres of land to manage.

      The commission voted to approve the purchase of a 2,340-acre ranch on Cowiche Mountain west of Yakima and 1,729 acres of wetlands and uplands in southern Pend Oreille County.

      The agency will buy the Worrel Ranch from Ron and Leanne Amer for $1,713,800, which was reportedly below the asking price of $2 mil but 10 percent above the appraised value.

      The ranch abuts a segment of WDFW’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area as well as the Cowiche Conservancy‘s Snow Creek Ranch.

      According to WDFW, it will help “protect a large area of high quality shrub-steppe habitat, benefiting elk, mule deer and big hom sheep; and, improve strategies to maintain the wildlife area boundary elk fencing.”

      An elk feeding station is due south of the ranch.

      And following up on 2008’s purchase of a 1,079-acre chunk of ground in the upper West Branch Little Spokane, commissioners voted to spend $5.7 million on phase two of the land buy.

      “This property is strategically located along the West Branch of the Little Spokane River connecting Fan Lake and Horseshoe Lake about 18 miles southwest of Newport,” a WDFW document reads. “The habitats include low-gradient streams intermingled with braided wetland complexes, beaver ponds, lakes, cottonwood galleries, and diverse associated upland habitats composed of aspen, and multiple species of conifer and shrubs. Wildlife utilizing this parcel includes whitetailed deer, elk, moose, black bear, and cougar, blue and ruffed grouse, golden and bald eagles and various hawks and owls. Acquisition of this property will preserve this high-quality habitat and will also help to protect the water quality of Fan and Horseshoe Lakes, which are popular for fishing, hunting, bird watching and environmental education.”

      (WDFW)

      (WDFW)

      The overall West Branch purchase from the Rustler’s Gulch Syndicate will cost $9.1 million, funded by a grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

      The land will be managed as a segment of the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area under Juli Anderson.

      Commissioners also voted to swap 5,100 acres of mostly forestland in Yakima and Kittitas Counties to the Department of Natural Resources for 9,000 acres of shrub-steppe. It’s the first part of a larger effort to consolidate land ownership blocks between the agencies.

      Play Keno Sans Tag, Lose Gun, OSP Warns

      (OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE)

      The Oregon State Police (OSP) and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) will increase their presence in the Klamath County area-Keno Unit this hunting season to help improve the level of compliance among deer hunters.

      OSP estimates that anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of hunters in the Keno Unit are hunting without a valid tag.

      “Western Oregon general season deer tag holders are hunting the Keno Unit when the hunt boundary is the Rogue Unit. We see other hunters attempting to fill tags for their friends or hunting without tags at all,” said OSP Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Randall Hand. “Ultimately, this leads to additional harvest of deer, which reduces the number of tags that can be offered to lawful hunters.”

      Deer hunting east of the Cascades, including the Keno Unit, is managed through a controlled hunt system, meaning hunters need to apply for a tag each year and don’t always draw it. 750 deer tags were offered in the Keno Unit for the 2009 season. Deer hunting west of the Cascades is “general season,” meaning anyone can purchase a tag.

      OSP and ODFW will be using a wide array of tactics to increase compliance in several units. These tactics may include:

      • Wildlife Enforcement Decoys (also known as “Scruffy”)
      • Boundary area signs
      • Information & education campaigns

      Hand emphasized that even with the increased information, education and enforcement efforts, it is ultimately the hunter’s responsibility to know where they are and where the boundaries are for their hunt unit. Descriptions for the unit boundaries are online and listed in the 2009 Oregon Big Game Regulations found at most sporting goods stores and at ODFW offices.

      OSP troopers contacting those hunting deer without valid tags may be cited for a class A Misdemeanor and have their weapon seized.

      Hand pointed out the past success of similar efforts. Thanks to increased enforcement in the Interstate Unit over a four-year period, tag compliance rates increased from 68 percent to 91 percent and the deer buck to doe ratio doubled.

      Anglers Taking Clean-up In Own Hands

      A plastic pop bottle floated by me early Saturday afternoon, and then about 5 minutes later, another bobbed its way down the middle of the Skykomish.

      My eyes narrowed as I glanced upstream to the guys fishing Hanson’s Hole. Damned litterbugs.

      Then again, it was a beautiful late-summer day, in the upper 70s, not a cloud over the Sky whatsoever. How did I know it wasn’t other river users, like rafters?

      Back when I was younger, Dad took me and my sisters down the Skykomish a bunch of times. Maybe someone’s canoe had run aground, tipped and all its contents gone overboard.

      Voyageurs, most of us are not these days.

      And there have been plenty of other summer afternoons when I’ve found myself sharing the river with kids, teens, 20-somethings and parents playing, swimming and partying along its banks.

      Wherever there are people, there are messes. Hence society’s need for maids, custodians, garbage men, cleaning services, etc.

      But these days it seems as if sport anglers are the only ones capable of making messes.

      When I got to work on Monday,I found that Gary Chittim, KING 5’s environmental reporter, had done yet another story.

      Following up on his late-August piece on the stinky mess anglers were leaving on the Skokomish, he was now showing piles of litter along the banks of the Puyallup while SkyKING broadcast images of a long skein of sport anglers midstream.

      My first reactions were, Damn, what the hell is Chittim’s deal? Why is he picking on us? Who the hell over at NWIFC is feeding him all these story ideas that put us in a bad light?

      But was the messenger really at fault?

      The bounty of salmon has brought out an uglier side of sports fishing as our ranks have swollen this summer, and while those TV news stories have noted that not all anglers litter or snag, the damage has been done. Our image had been repainted in nasty colors by the actions of some.

      Bait containers, lure packages, fishing line and poo along the rivers’ banks for all the world to see and smell will do that.

      I’m not going to single out toothless, mouth-breathing, skanky-pink-snagging hillbillies as the culprits. I’m not going to blame Eastern Europeans or Mexicans. I’m not going to defame Gamefishers or NWfishingaddicts either. I’m not going to blame teens. I’m not going to say it’s just new anglers at fault, or old anglers. And I’m not going to blame bait anglers, bobber fishermen or stuck-up purists.

      There is no one single segment of Angler Nation that is somehow most deserving of blame and shame for the crap that has stained our reputation — not to mention our favorite resource, the rivers.

      It is the individual who makes the conscious decision to litter — and the group that lets it go — who is at fault here.

      I have to agree with Smalma (aka Curt Kraemer, the former Snohomish County biologist), who writes about a Tom Nelson post on anglers’ images in the media of late.

      “An on point topic though IMHO it is not the media who is the villian here; rather it is us the recreational fishing community. We have allowed our fishing ethics to slip so far that for many of our anglers it is now a ‘right to instance success and limit catches’ by any means. Our ethic is no longer ‘fish first.'”

      But I must also admit that this topic is something I’ve held off on writing about several weeks, ever since we stunk it up the Skokomish. Why bring further shame upon the sport fishing community? Why rub our noses in the mess? Just work on the October issue instead.

      Indeed, the inertia was towards ignoring it. Or pretend it was just “slob” fishermen. Pretend it only happens in southern Puget Sound. Pretend everything’s fine.

      The banks of the Sky where I fished on Saturday were remarkably clean, after all.

      Then again, maybe the high water over Labor Day had just swept all the junk downstream or out of sight.

      Like the river was carrying away those two bottles that day.

      They were too far out to grab, so I watched them spin their way towards the Sound as I tied on a new crappie rig and made sure to keep my line clippings in my backpack rather than the ground.

      Perhaps, though, the spot had been cleaned up by other anglers in recent days.

      And this is what turned the tide and led me to post this blog.

      You probably won’t find this story on the evening news, but there’s a post today on Gamefishin, “Puyallup – Pay it forward.”

      Shaynemol reports that he packed out a “big garbage bag full of garbage” from that river this morning.

      “I’m writing this because I figure their are a lot of GF’ers out there, just like me, that have packed it in and packed it out, but never picked up someone else’s garbage, but it did dawn on me, “If not me, then who”. I now know that it takes about 5-10 minutes extra and that can pack out a little something each time they go fishing.

      I know a lot of people bash the Puyallup, but I grew up by it and now enjoy it because it is so close to home. I hate to see it desecrated by the odd-year crowds.”

      Answered BADANDY:

      “We had the same problem going on at the Stilly under the I-5 bridge a few years ago. I started doing exactly the same thing as well as others and it DID make a difference. Guys started barkin at folks when they saw them leaving their trash behind. Keep up the work man! We need good press and that it surely a way to get it!! My hats off to ya for doing something about it!!!!”

      Added wannafish:

      I have done that on the Carbon…the garbage weighed more than the fish.

      Codliveroil posted:

      I have picked up a safeway grocery bag full a time or two , I think it is inspiring , While I may not bring a garbag bag I will put a grocery bag in my pocket and do it too.

      Gonefishin said:

      I’ve done the same thing on the Snohomish. I issue a challenge to all Gamefishers to pick up some trash every time we go out. It’s my feeling that if enough of us set a good example. Maybe we can convert some of those litter bugs. If nothing else. Our fishing areas will be cleaner.

      The appropriately named Bag’Em congratulated:

      WTG Shaynemol, on both the fish catching and trash bagging.

      As for my Monday Puyallup report. Scale House – scored 5 bags of trash – 3 large trash bags and 2 grocery bags – plus one broken folding chair. Did not fish – so no catching report. But since no one’s fishing that area, made clean up much easier.

      Bag’em and haul’em out!

      I don’t know if any old time GFers remember … that is how I got my handle.

      I applaud fishermen who clean up their rivers, just as a matter of course. Guys who go out, fish, and then pack out a bag or so of litter. Guys who don’t need organization to get things done — but just think how much we could get done as a group.

      You may never be recognized for your efforts, you certainly won’t be paid for them, but you can rest at night knowing you’ve done more than your part to clean the river and in some small way improve our overall image.

      Thank you.

      You are my heroes today.

      Salmon Groups Disappointed In Revised BiOP

      (SAVE OUR SALMON PRESS RELEASE)

      Today a broad coalition of businesses, clean energy advocates, and fishing and conservation groups voiced grave disappointment the Obama administration’s decision to follow a flawed Bush 2008 biological opinion for the Columbia-Snake Rivers. The plan has been criticized by scientists and the courts, and runs counter to the advice of Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), more than 70 members of Congress, three former Northwest governors, thousands of scientists, and more than 200 businesses from across the nation. The groups are joined in the litigation by the State of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho.

      NOAA Fisheries today filed documents with the U.S. Federal District Court in Portland, Oregon indicating that the federal government would continue to support an old Bush-era federal salmon plan, with only minor, cosmetic changes. The decision includes support for the Bush-era scientific analysis, legal standard, and disregard for the impacts of dam operations and climate change on salmon.

      Salmon advocates have long argued that this plan remains illegal under the Endangered Species Act and largely ignores the impact federal dams have on listed salmon and steelhead in the Columbia-Snake River Basin. In fact, this plan allows the roll-back of current in-river salmon protections. District Court Judge James Redden has agreed with salmon advocates in challenges to two prior plans.

      “This was a test for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke — on both economics and science — and this plan failed on both accounts,” said Zeke Grader, Executive Director of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “This decision will no doubt leave salmon in the perilous decline they have been in for years and communities up and down the coast and inland to Idaho will continue to suffer. For an administration so set on protecting and restoring jobs, this decision is a huge mistake and a clear signal to fishermen that their jobs don’t count.”

      Commercial and sportfishing representatives from up and down the Pacific Coast sent a letter to Secretary Locke last week urging him to meet with them to begin a dialogue on how to address the Pacific coast salmon crisis that has plague coastal communities over the last eight years. More than 25,000 jobs have been lost due to Columbia-Snake River salmon declines alone, and more jobs continue to be lost as major businesses that rely on salmon close their doors. Salmon advocates expect this new Obama plan to continue the practices of the Bush administration, allowing salmon declines to continue and salmon-related jobs and communities to suffer.

      “Although the Bush administration is gone, unfortunately it looks like its policies will live on for Columbia-Snake salmon,” said Bill Arthur Deputy National Field Director for the Sierra Club. “It’s a bit like the Night of the Living Dead, we keep fighting these failed and illegal salmon plans, but they continue to spring back to life. We had hoped that this administration wouldn’t buy this badly flawed plan pushed by the regional bureaucrats who are opposed to change and fear science and would instead work with us to craft a plan that was both legal and scientifically sound. It’s a grave disappointment to see another zombie plan instead. It’s now time for the Judge to bury this plan for good, and provide a fresh opportunity to get it right for the people, communities and magnificent salmon and steelhead of the Northwest.”

      The administration’s decision allows for a multi-year study — at some point in the future — of what is already a viable salmon recovery option — lower Snake River dam removal — and even then only if already depressed salmon numbers plunge even further.

      Todd True, one of the attorneys for the fishing and conservation groups in the litigation, said, “The government has failed completely to use the last four months of review for a serious, substantive, or cooperative effort to build a revised plan that follows the law and the science and leads to salmon recovery. Instead of the actions these fish need, they are offering a plan for more planning and a study for more studying. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their treatment of major changes to the dams and river operations, which are among the most critical issues for salmon survival and recovery. We look forward to explaining to the Court just how little this latest effort accomplishes. We can do much better — but not by trying to avoid the problems facing wild salmon in the Columbia and Snake rivers.”

      President Obama has made several public statements about protecting sound science. In his inaugural address, the President said that his administration would “restore science to its rightful place…” At the 160th Anniversary of the Department of Interior, he said that he would “help restore the scientific process to its rightful place at the heart of the Endangered Species Act, a process undermined by past administrations[,]” and look “for ways to improve the [ESA] — not weaken it.” The President echoed those statements in a speech before the National Academy of Sciences where he said: “Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over… To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy… [We will] ensure that federal policies are based on the best and most unbiased scientific information.”

      “This Bush salmon plan appears to be inconsistent with President Obama’s public statements about relying on sound science,” said Bill Shake, former Regional Director for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. “We scientists believed the President when he said he would protect science and strengthen the ESA, but Secretary Locke has seemingly allowed political pressure to circumvent a decision based on sound science. The federal agency action today is a true reversal of fortune for the Pacific Northwest economy, for an important American resource and endangered species, for communities that depend on salmon for their livelihood, and those who believe that policy should be based on science not politics. We had hoped for more because fishing families and communities deserve more.”

      Opponents of following the science have called the idea of removing dams dangerous in light of climate change concerns. Salmon advocates, however, point to expert analysis from the NW Energy Coalition and a new analysis from the Northwest Conservation and Planning Council to show that protecting salmon and providing for a clean energy future is both imminently doable and affordable.

      “We truly can have both clean, affordable energy and healthy salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest,” said NW Energy Coalition Executive Director Sara Patton. “It’s not an either/or. We have an abundance of untapped clean energy opportunities, so saying dam removal would lead to large increases in climate emissions is nonsense. The Northwest can show the rest of the country how to right our past mistakes while creating jobs and providing for a better future.”

      5-Steelie Limit Coming To Snake?

      Just got off the phone with Glen Mendel. He’s a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife fisheries biologist for the Snake River.

      He was returning my call from late last week. I wanted to know, with that massive return of A-run steelhead heading up the Columbia right now, whether he had any plans to bump limits on the Snake this fall.

      “We’re looking at going to maybe five a day,” Mendel tells me.

      That, however, is contingent upon whether the Snake River comanagers — i.e. the states of Idaho and Oregon, and Nez Perce and Umatilla tribes — buy into it, and NOAA-Fisheries signs off on it, he says.

      A-runs return through Washington’s Snake River to Idaho’s Clearwater, Salmon and Boise rivers and Oregon’s Imnaha as well as Washington and Oregon’s Grande Ronde.

      Mixed in with all those fish are threatened wild steelhead, which is why Federal approval would be required.

      The current limit on the Snake is three hatchery steelhead a day.

      “We don’t want most of those to spawn,” says Mendel.

      Last week, managers updated the A-run forecast to 565,000, twice the preseason estimate.

      Talks on bonus limits have begun with Idaho managers, Mendel says.

      “We should know within two or three weeks,” he adds.

      Columbia, Salmon Bass: He’s A She

      Two out of every three male smallies caught in the Columbia just below Bonneville Dam, and more than four out of every ten bass landed on the lower Salmon River are gender benders.

      A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey also found that intersex fish are more widespread, both in terms of species and basins affected, than previously believed.

      However, researchers for the federal agency don’t know why some male smallies develop immature female egg cells in their testes, or why female bronzebacks grow beards.

      “This research sends the clear message that we need to learn more about the hormonal and environmental factors that cause this condition in fish, as well as the number of fish afflicted with this condition,” said Sue Haseltine, associate director for biology at the U.S. Geological Survey in a press release.

      “This study adds a lot to our knowledge of this phenomena, but we still don’t know why certain species seem more prone to this condition or exactly what is causing it. In fact, the causes for intersex may vary by location, and we suspect it will be unlikely that a single human activity or kind of contaminant will explain intersex in all species or regions,” she also said.

      For example, said Hinck, at least one of their sites with a high prevalence of intersex — the Yampa River at Lay, Colo.— did not have obvious sources of endocrine-active compounds, which have been associated with intersex in fish.  Such compounds are chemical stressors that have the ability to affect the endocrine system and include pesticides, PCBs, heavy metals, household compounds such as laundry detergent and shampoo, and many pharmaceuticals. Yet other study sites with high occurrence of intersex were on rivers with dense human populations or industrial and agricultural activities, which are more generally associated with endocrine-active compounds.

      While the percentage of intersex smallies varied widely across the US, the rivers with the highest prevelance were the Mississippi at Lake City, Minn. (73 percent), Yampa at Lay, Colo. (70 percent), Salmon at Riggins, Idaho (43 percent), and the Columbia at Warrendale, Ore. (67 percent).

      The area just upstream of Warrendale, at Bonneville Dam, is believed to be the site of buried electrical equipment that is leaking PCBs. Health officials warn fishermen to only eat one meal a month of smallmouth caught from there.

      The

      Snake Dam Removal ‘Last Resort’ In Revised BiOP

      A “strengthened” revised plan for protecting salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River watershed was released this morning by the National Marine Fisheries Service, but it says taking out dams on the lower Snake will only be considered “as a last resort.”

      Still, further study will be done on the question as hydropower operators work to recover 13 populations of ESA-listed salmonids in the massive basin.

      The new plan is in part a response to a May 2009 letter by US District Court Judge Redden.

      A press release from NMFS says in part:

      While the strengthened plan, known officially as the Adaptive Management Implementation Plan, includes further study of lower Snake River dam breaching as a possibility, it is viewed as an action of last resort. Dam breaching studies will be initiated if a significant decline in listed Snake River salmon populations is detected and if an analysis shows that dam breaching is necessary to stem those declines.

      The strengthened plan implements NOAA’s biological opinion in a way that more aggressively protects fish populations from decline from a variety of factors including the effects of climate change and other uncertainties that could emerge over the 10-year life of the biological opinion. The plan includes:

      • Immediate acceleration and enhancement of mitigation actions.

      • Expanded research, monitoring and evaluation to quickly detect unexpected changes
      in fish populations.

      • Specific biological “triggers” that, if exceeded, will activate a range of near and longterm responses to address significant fish declines. For instance, very low returns of
      a species could trigger increased hydro actions, stepped-up predator-control and
      hatchery measures, and possible modifications to existing harvest agreements.

      • Starting immediately, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will prepare a study plan to develop scope, budget and schedule of studies needed regarding potential breaching of the lower Snake River dams.

      “This plan is scientifically sound and precautionary. It is flexible enough to adapt to future changes, specific enough to tell us when immediate actions are needed, and forward-looking enough so that it will remain effective over its ten-year lifespan. For the sake of the people and fish of the Northwest, it’s time to set this plan in motion,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA Administrator.

      The filing of the strengthened plan follows a thorough consideration by the Obama Administration of the 2008 biological opinion and the science on which it is based. The administration listened to the views of federal, state, and tribal representatives; federal agency and independent scientists; and the parties suing the government over the biological opinion.

      The plan also responds to the points raised in a May 18 letter from Judge James A. Redden, who is presiding over the lawsuit.

      The implementation plan accelerates and enhances measures in the biological opinion to reduce harm to salmon, significantly improves efforts to monitor and evaluate the ecosystem and status of the stocks, and establishes significant measures to be taken if the status of the stocks declines.

      The biological opinion is required by the Endangered Species Act to protect the Columbia Basin’s listed salmon and steelhead populations. The strengthened implementation plan was jointly prepared by NOAA and the three federal agencies involved in the operation of the dams: the Bonneville Power Administration, Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.

      NOAA said the biological opinion as implemented through the plan is legally and biologically sound. The agency said it is based on the best available science, ensures that operation of the hydropower system will not jeopardize the continued existence of listed species and ensures an adequate potential for their recovery.

      SW WA Fishing Report

      SALMON/STEELHEAD

      Toutle River – Anglers at the mouth of the Green River are catching fall Chinook and hatchery coho.  The first couple hundred coho of the season had returned to the hatchery as of September 9. ffective October 1, all Chinook must be released on the North Fork Toutle River from the Kidd Valley Bridge near Hwy. 504 upstream.

      Green River – No report on angling success.  Adult Chinook must be released beginning October 1; however, hatchery chinook jacks may continue to be retained.

      Cowlitz River – Lots of effort at the mouth of the Toutle where anglers are catching hatchery coho and some fall Chinook.

      Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 1,651 fall Chinook adults, 382 jacks, 451 coho adults, 15 jacks, 157 summer-run steelhead adults, 60 spring Chinook adults, 17 spring Chinook mini-jacks, 25 sea-run cutthroat trout and two pink salmon adults during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

      During the week Tacoma Power employees released 1,367 fall Chinook adults, 360 jacks, and four coho adults into Mayfield Lake at the Ike Kinswa State Park boat launch, and 324 coho adults, nine jacks, and 37 spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam.  Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife transported three cutthroat trout to the Tilton River and three cutthroat to the upper Cowlitz River basin.

      River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,510 cubic feet per second on Monday, September 14. Flows will be increased to about 4,500 cubic feet per second on Tuesday, September 15.

      Kalama River – No fish were sampled during one day of sampling on the lower river last week.  Anglers from the upper salmon hatchery downstream are able to keep hatchery adult and jack fall Chinook  through the end of the year.

      Lewis River – Anglers are catching hatchery coho.

      Effective October 1, all Chinook must be released on the Lewis River (including North Fork) and fishing from any floating device will be prohibited on the North Fork from Johnson Creek (located below the salmon hatchery) to Colvin Creek (located upstream from the salmon hatchery).  Under permanent rules, Colvin Creek upstream to Merwin Dam closes to all fishing beginning October 1 to protect naturally spawning fall Chinook.

      Washougal River – Anglers are catching fall Chinook.  Effective October 1, anglers must release adult Chinook from the Little Washougal River upstream; however, hatchery chinook jacks may continue to be retained.

      Drano Lake- Boat anglers are catching some steelhead.  Anglers should note that 6 p.m. Tuesdays to 6 p.m. Wednesdays during October are scheduled to be closed to all fishing during the tribal commercial fisheries.

      White Salmon River – No report on angling success.  Adult Chinook must be released from posted markers ½ mile upstream of the Hwy. 14 Bridge to the powerhouse beginning October 1; however, hatchery chinook jacks may continue to be retained.

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

      Buoy 10 – Private boat anglers are averaging about a coho per boat on most days.  Effective October 1, anglers will be allowed to keep hatchery coho jacks are part of the salmon and steelhead daily limit.  The daily limit will be 6 fish of which no more than 3 may be adults.  Up to 2 of the adults may be hatchery steelhead.  All salmon other than hatchery coho must be released.

      Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – From September 10-13 we sampled 514 boat anglers (238 boats) with 52 adult and 9 jack fall Chinook, 13 adult coho, and 1 steelhead.  We also sampled 151 bank anglers with 13 adult and 1 jack fall Chinook plus 2 adult coho.

      Anglers are reminded that effective today (September 14) all Chinook must be released downstream from a line projected from the Warrior Rock Lighthouse through red buoy #4 to the orange marker atop the dolphin on the Washington shore (upstream of the Lewis River) and upstream of the Rocky Point/Tongue Point Line.  However, fishing for hatchery steelhead, hatchery coho, and hatchery sea-run cutthroats in this area remains open.  A map of the upper boundary can be found at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/reg_changes/docs/ColRiverClosedSalmonMap.pdf.

      Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers are catching some fall Chinook and coho at the mouths of the Washington tributaries.

      Hanford Reach – Catch was higher in comparison with same week in 2008. Last week 69 Adult and 16 jacks were checked from 313 anglers (120 boats) at the Vernita, Ringold, and Waluke boat ramps. Best catches accrued at and around the Waluke boat ramp.  27 bank anglers at Ringold had 2 chinook jacks.  Effort has slowed at the mouth of the Yakima with effort  moving upriver.

      STURGEON

      Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Light effort and catch continues during the current catch and release fishery.  Beginning October 1, white sturgeon may be retained Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam.  From the Wauna powerlines downstream, all sturgeon must be released through the end of the year.

      WALLEYE

      Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers from Camas/Washougal upstream to Bonneville Dam are catching decent numbers of walleye.

      Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC