All posts by Andy Walgamott

WA Trout Stock Plan Available

It’s out about a week later than last year’s document, but you can now find WDFW’s plan for how many trout are going into lakes and creeks across the state.

The agency today posted its 2010 Hatchery Trout Stocking Plan.

IN ADDITION TO MILLIONS OF CATCHABLES, WDFW WILL ALSO STOCK BROODSTOCK RAINBOWS LIKE THIS TOAD BRITTNEE GOODMAN CAUGHT AT CARLISLE LAKE NEAR ONALASKA EARLIER THIS YEAR. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

By the numbers, here are some highlights for spring fishing as well as the April 24 lowland lakes opener:

7,451,000 trout fry (2-3 inch) stocked into 367 lowland lakes, and 163 high lakes, statewide last spring and fall are now catchable size (8-12 inch).

10 million kokanee fry stocked into 28 lakes are expected to show in creels this year.

3.4 million catchable size (8-12 inch) trout are being stocked this spring into 334 waters.

203,000 2-year-old “jumbos” and surplus hatchery broodstock trout (1-1/2 to 5 pounds each) are being stocked into 178 lakes.

900,000 walleye, tiger muskie, bass and other species were stocked into 12 waters, and are now ready to be caught.

You can also find out where and when the 58,000-plus 1 1/2-pound triploids will be released into 105 lakes around Washington on that site too … but we also pasted that information below:

Benton Columbia Park Pond 147 Apr.
Chelan Beehive Reservoir 180 May
Paschall Pond 502 Apr.
Clark Battle Ground Lake 256 Apr.
Klineline Pond 256 Apr.
Cowlitz Horseshoe Lake 608 Apr.
Kress Lake 352 Apr.
Merrill Lake 224 Apr.
Franklin Dalton Lake 423 Apr.
Powerline Lake 344 Apr.
Grant Blue Lake 1,080 Apr.
Deep Lake 221 Apr.
Lenice Lake 435 Apr.
Nunnally Lake 600 Apr.
Park Lake 720 Apr.
Grays Harbor Aberdeen Lake 122 Apr., May
Failor Lake 159 Apr., May
Sylvia Lake 119 Apr., May
Vance Creek (Elma) Juv. Pond #2 66 Apr.
Island Lone Lake 393 May
King Angle Lake 589 April, May
Beaver Lake (Fall City) 245 April
Green Lake 638 April, May
Lake Sawyer 687 April, May
Meridian Lake 638 April, May
Rattlesnake Lake 491 April
Kitsap Kitsap Lake 400 May
Mission Lake 300 Apr, May
Panther Lake 275 Apr, May
Kittitas Fio Rito Lake, North 740 Apr.
Lost Lake 521 Apr.
Lost Lake 1,014 Jun.
Klickitat Spearfish Lake 928 Apr.
Lewis Carlisle Lake 315 Apr.
Fort Borst Park Pond 372 Apr.
Mineral Lake 687 Apr.
South Lewis Co. Park Pond 589 Apr.
Lincoln Fishtrap Lake 1,650 Mar., Apr.
Mason Benson Lake 215 Apr
Haven Lake 175 Apr
Island Lake 288 May
Phillips Lake 295 Apr, May
Trails End Lake 200 May
Wooten Lake 175 Apr
Okanogan Alta Lake 525 Apr/May
Patterson Lake 525 Apr/May
Pearrygin Lake 525 Apr/May
Spectacle Lake 725 Apr/May
Pend Orielle Carl’s Lake 900 Mar., Apr.
Cooks Lake 1,100 Mar., Apr.
Davis Lake 6,000 Mar., Apr.
Diamond Lake 950 Apr.
Pierce Bradley Lake 100 May
Clear Lake 200 Apr.- May
Kapowsin Lake 90 Apr.
Ohop Lake 315 Apr.
Rapjohn Lake 100 May
Silver Lake 100 May
Spanaway Lake 190 Apr.
Steilacoom Lake 100 Apr.
Tanwax Lake 400 Apr., May
San Juan Egg Lake 276 April
Hummel Lake 240 April
Mountain Lake 447 May
Skagit Clear Lake 702 April
Erie Lake 2,300 April
Heart Lake 2,420 April
Lake Campbell 805 April, May
Pass Lake 162 May
Vogler Lake 59 May
Skamania Northwestern Reservoir 256 Apr.
Swift Power Canal 1,000 Apr.
Tunnel Lake 224 Apr.
Snohomish Cassidy Lake 442 April
Flowing Lake 382 April
Gissburg 393 May
Howard Lake (near Lk Goodwin) 720 April
Martha (WB) 275 April
Roesiger Lake 501 April
Silver Lake (Everett) 393 April
Tye Lake 196 April
Spokane Badger Lake 900 Apr.
Clear Lake 950 Apr.
West Medical Lake 1,650 Apr.
Williams Lake 1,400 Apr.
Stevens Deer Lake 2,800 Apr.
Loon Lake 1,400 Apr.
Thurston Clear Lake 344 May
Lake Lawrence 344 Apr., May
Long’s Pond Juvenile 295 Apr., May
McIntosh Lake 196 Apr.
Offutt Lake 295 May
Ward Lake 275 May
Wahkiakum Wahkiakum Co. Ponds 96 Apr.
Walla Walla Bennington Lake 664 Apr.
Whatcom Lake Padden 3,980 April
Squalicum Lake 162 May
Terrell Lake 820 April, May
Toad Lake 1,320 April
Yakima Clear Lake 1,377 Apr.
Dog Lake 427 Jun.
Leech Lake 725 May
Mud Lake 74 Apr.
Myron Lake 206 Apr.
Tim’s Pond 40 Apr.
stocked with these fish.
County
Lake Name
Number 14″ or larger
Approximate time to be stocked
Benton
Columbia Park Pond
147
Apr.
Chelan
Beehive Reservoir
180
May
Paschall Pond
502
Apr.
Clark
Battle Ground Lake
256
Apr.
Klineline Pond
256
Apr.
Cowlitz
Horseshoe Lake
608
Apr.
Kress Lake
352
Apr.
Merrill Lake
224
Apr.
Franklin
Dalton Lake
423
Apr.
Powerline Lake
344
Apr.
Grant
Blue Lake
1,080
Apr.
Deep Lake
221
Apr.
Lenice Lake
435
Apr.
Nunnally Lake
600
Apr.
Park Lake
720
Apr.
Grays Harbor
Aberdeen Lake
122
Apr., May
Failor Lake
159
Apr., May
Spring 2010 Hatchery Trout Stock Plan for Washington Lakes and Streams March 2010
37
County
Lake Name
Number 14″ or larger
Approximate time to be stocked
Sylvia Lake
119
Apr., May
Vance Creek (Elma) Juv. Pond#2
66
Apr.
Island
Lone Lake
393
May King Angle Lake 589 April, May
Beaver Lake (Fall City)
245
April Green Lake 638 April, May
Lake Sawyer
687
April, May
Meridian Lake
638
April, May
Rattlesnake Lake
491
April
Kitsap
Kitsap Lake
400
May
Mission Lake
300
Apr, May
Panther Lake
275
Apr, May
Kittitas
Fio Rito Lake, North
740
Apr.
Lost Lake
521
Apr.
Lost Lake
1,014
Jun.
Klickitat
Spearfish Lake
928
Apr.
Lewis
Carlisle Lake
315
Apr.
Fort Borst Park Pond
372
Apr.
Mineral Lake
687
Apr.
South Lewis Co. Park Pond
589
Apr.
Lincoln
Fishtrap Lake
1,650
Mar., Apr.
Mason
Benson Lake
215
Apr
Haven Lake
175
Apr
Island Lake
288
May
Phillips Lake
295
Apr, May
Trails End Lake
200
May
Wooten Lake
175
Apr
Okanogan
Alta Lake
525
Apr/May
Patterson Lake
525
Apr/May
Pearrygin Lake
525
Apr/May
Spectacle Lake
725
Apr/May
Pend Orielle
Carl’s Lake
900
Mar., Apr.
Cooks Lake
1,100
Mar., Apr.
Davis Lake
6,000
Mar., Apr.
Diamond Lake
950
Apr.
Pierce
Bradley Lake
100
May
Clear Lake
200
Apr.- May
Kapowsin Lake
90
Apr.
Ohop Lake
315
Apr.
Spring 2010 Hatchery Trout Stock Plan for Washington Lakes and Streams March 2010
38
County
Lake Name
Number 14″ or larger
Approximate time to be stocked
Rapjohn Lake
100
May
Silver Lake
100
May
Spanaway Lake
190
Apr.
Steilacoom Lake
100
Apr.
Tanwax Lake
400
Apr., May
San Juan
Egg Lake
276
April
Hummel Lake
240
April
Mountain Lake
447
May
Skagit
Clear Lake
702
April
Erie Lake
2,300
April
Heart Lake
2,420
April
Lake Campbell
805
April, May
Pass Lake
162
May
Vogler Lake
59
May
Skamania
Northwestern Reservoir
256
Apr.
Swift Power Canal
1,000
Apr.
Tunnel Lake
224
Apr.
Snohomish
Cassidy Lake
442
April
Flowing Lake
382
April
Gissburg
393
May
Howard Lake (near Lk Goodwin)
720
April
Martha (WB)
275
April
Roesiger Lake
501
April
Silver Lake (Everett)
393
April
Tye Lake
196
April
Spokane
Badger Lake
900
Apr.
Clear Lake
950
Apr.
West Medical Lake
1,650
Apr.
Williams Lake
1,400
Apr.
Stevens
Deer Lake
2,800
Apr.
Loon Lake
1,400
Apr.
Thurston
Clear Lake
344
May
Lake Lawrence
344
Apr., May
Long’s Pond Juvenile
295
Apr., May
McIntosh Lake
196
Apr.
Offutt Lake
295
May
Ward Lake
275
May
Wahkiakum
Wahkiakum Co. Ponds
96
Apr.
Walla Walla
Bennington Lake
664
Apr.
Spring 2010 Hatchery Trout Stock Plan for Washington Lakes and Streams March 2010
39
County
Lake Name
Number 14″ or larger
Approximate time to be stocked
Whatcom
Lake Padden
3,980
April
Squalicum Lake
162
May
Terrell Lake
820
April, May
Toad Lake
1,320
April
Yakima
Clear Lake
1,377
Apr.
Dog Lake
427
Jun.
Leech Lake
725
May
Mud Lake
74
Apr.
Myron Lake
206
Apr.
Tim’s Pond
40
Apr.

Youth Fishing Event Next Saturday, Cottage Grove

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Young people interested in angling can find a great fishing opportunity Saturday, April 10, at Cottage Grove Pond in Cottage Grove.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will release 1,550 rainbow trout into Cottage Grove Pond, including 50 “one pounders” as part of the Youth Angling Enhancement Program event. These fish are in addition to scheduled release of 2,000 fish. ODFW staff and volunteers will be available from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to provide access to fishing equipment and angling instruction. Contact the Springfield ODFW office at 541-726-3515 for more information.

Under Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, anglers under the age of 13 can fish for free. A juvenile license is required for anglers 14-17 years of age. Juvenile angling licenses can be purchased for $9 from ODFW field offices and license outlets. All other anglers must have an Oregon adult fishing license. All fishing regulations continue to apply.

“This event is for kids, so while the standard fishing regulations will apply, we would like to ask adults to leave the fishing to the young ones for a few days,” said Erik Moberly, ODFW biologist.

Cottage Grove Pond is located off Row River Road east of Cottage Grove. From I-5, take the Cottage Grove exit (Exit 174). Head east on Row River Road about 1.5 miles. Turn north into the Cottage Grove Ponds parking area near the weigh station

Fall Of The Wall

The Wall was not the prettiest place to fish in the world, nor the easiest on the fish, and right before it closed for sturgeon, a Springfield angler tumbled off a ledge there into the Willamette and is presumed drowned.

Alcohol may have played a roll in why Ricky Lee Bond, 47, of Springfield lost his balance while fishing there one last time, reports The Oregonian. An image on the paper’s Web site shows where his gear rests. Friend Randyll Scaife desperately tried to catch Bond, then flagged down passing vehicles to call 9-1-1. The body has not yet been recovered from the swift, dark waters.

This past winter, ODFW decided to close that part of the river effective yesterday to protect a newly discovered sturgeon spawning area. They also created a sturgeon sanctuary from Willamette Falls down to the I-205 bridge from May through July.

Sturgeon managers in Oregon as well as Washington are concerned about declining numbers of the big fish. They also increased the size of the Columbia’s sanctuary while reducing the quota in that river by 40 percent this year.

What was unique about The Wall was that it had long collected a melting pot of fishermen from all over Northwest Oregon, anglers who didn’t always speak each other’s tongue and had to sometimes resort to “hand signals and lip-pursing whistles” to communicate with each other in the tightly packed area, reports The Oregonian.

The story notes that one family had been coming there for six decades.

While boaters can chase sturgeon elsewhere, the closure hits anglers limited to bank fishing the hardest.

“Most of these guys can’t afford boats,” Mark Loveland of Oregon City told reporter Dana Tims. “It shuts a lot of people out. I have no idea what they are going to do now.”

Loveland sent me a pic of a 53 3/4-incher he caught at Oregon City earlier this year.

MARK LOVELAND WITH ONE OF THE LAST STURGEON CAUGHT AT THE INFAMOUS WALL ON THE WILLAMETTE. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

ODFW’s Columbia River fisheries manager John North acknowledged to the paper the hardship, saying, “We hate closing down opportunities, especially with limited bank areas … But in the end, we really had no other choice.”

Angler Larry Welty sent me some of his memories from there.

“I am not a specialist in any field and not an expert on any of it. I am, however, someone who has fished on The Wall for years. I don’t know if it is a good way to fish; I do know it is a good place to fish.

“I have fished there with both my children and my wife and have made a number of good friends. You don’t always have the option to fish where you want to fish but you have to fish when and where the fish are.

“There is controversy good and bad on almost all there is with hunting and fishing — just watch the nightly news on the sea lion trapping. Are sea lions really suppose to be slaughtering salmon in Oregon City? But that’s a whole different can of worms!

“I am gonna miss fishing The Wall and my children are gonna miss it. I figure the Save Everything  people will not be satisfied till they have shut down everyplace and that hurts my heart.  It is just a hard fight, and while we are hunting, fishing and spending quality time with our families, these people are thinking new ways to put a stop to all of it. In our current economy (and with) some of these people, this may well be some of their only outlet. Thanks for giving me a moment of your time to air my thoughts.”

True, it does seem that everywhere we turn, people are trying to take away our fishing and hunting privileges.

Seem, anyway.

Before The Wall closed, Rick Swart, an ODFW spokesman in Clackamas, ran over and snapped several images.

(RICK SWART, ODFW)

(RICK SWART, ODFW)

(RICK SWART, ODFW)

(RICK SWART, ODFW)

(RICK SWART, ODFW)

Sometimes the fall of walls are good things. Sometimes they’re not.

As ODFW researchers watch this spring to see how many sturgeon crowd into the spawning area off The Wall, vets of the fishery will be forced into closer quarters with bankees elsewhere.

What’s Fishin’ In Washington

Trout in Spokane and Basin lakes, Chinook in the Southwest corner, crappie and walleye in Banks, lings and steelies on the Coast and trips at Rufus.

Just a sampling of some of the fish biting now around Washington.

Here’s more from WDFW’s Weekender:

NORTH SOUND

Thousands of anglers are gearing up for the lowland lakes trout opener in late April but many remain focused on the marine areas of Puget Sound, where blackmouth salmon fisheries are still under way.

“Overall, fishing for blackmouth continues to be very slow in northern Puget Sound,” said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. “But a number of anglers that made it out on the water for the recent Anacortes Salmon Derby had a bit of success and landed some large fish.”

A total of 132 fish were weighed during the Anacortes Salmon Derby , which took place March 27-28. Ralph Thomas of Tacoma took home the $15,000 grand prize with his 27.48-pound fish. John Belarde of Woodinville hooked a 25.72-pound salmon that was good enough for second place and $5,000, and Seth Baumgarten of Kirkland was awarded $2,500 for his third-place fish, which weighed in at 24.38 pounds.

“Those are some outstanding blackmouth,” Thiesfeld said. “Anglers definitely have to put in some time on the water, but it can be worth it for an opportunity to haul in a 20-plus pound blackmouth.”

Anglers fishing in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands) – as well 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) – have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Those three marine areas are open through April 30.

Thiesfeld reminds anglers that Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) is open only through April 15. Anglers fishing Marine Area 9 also have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook.

Halibut anglers should be aware that the fishing opener for the big flatfish in most marine areas of Puget Sound has been delayed this year. The later starting date is necessary because of the combination of a reduced quota and excessive catch last year in the Sound.

To ensure that the halibut fishery in Puget Sound stays within the quota, the fishing season in marine areas 6-10 will run from May 1 through May 30. Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will retain its traditional opening date just before the Memorial Day weekend but will close earlier than it has in the past. Marine Area 5 will be open from May 28 through July 19.

The Puget Sound halibut fisheries will be open three days a week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – and closed Sunday through Wednesday except for Memorial Day weekend when they will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Marine areas 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) and 13 (South Puget Sound) will be closed this year to protect rockfish, which may be caught incidentally by anglers fishing for halibut. As in previous years, Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) will remain closed due to low dissolved-oxygen conditions.  For more information on 2010 halibut fisheries, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/halibut .

Freshwater anglers looking to cast for trout will soon have numerous lakes to choose from. The lowland lakes trout season gets under way April 24, when many lakes – stocked with thousands of legal-sized trout – will open for fishing. Information on stocking schedules for rainbow, cutthroat and triploid trout is available on WDFW’s website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants ).

Current regulations for all freshwater and saltwater fisheries are avaiable in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA

April will see the traditional opening of the statewide lowland lakes trout fishing season, the expansion of lingcod fishing on the north coast and at least one proposed razor-clam dig on ocean beaches, pending the outcome of tests for toxins. The tentative dates for clamming are April 16, 17 and 18.

Anglers also continued to catch steelhead in relatively large numbers. Last weekend, 37 anglers fishing the Bogachiel/Quillayute River caught 54 steelhead; all but two were wild. Fishing was also good on the Lower Hoh River, where 65 anglers caught 39 steelhead fish over the last weekend in March. The good fortune didn’t extend to the Upper Hoh, where 38 anglers fished for more than 220 hours, reeling in only six wild steelhead, all of which were released. The retention fishery closes at the end of the day April 15 on the Hoh River, but will remain open through April 30 on the Quillayute River system.

As was the case last year, the weather on Washington’s coast so far hasn’t been very conducive to ocean fishing for lingcod. Anglers have brought in a few 20 to 22 pounders in marine areas 1-3, but the weather has afforded few opportunities to fish, said Erica Crust, WDFW’s ocean port sampler in Westport.

Crust said that a few privately owned boats that did venture out caught their limits of lingcod and rockfish right off the jetty. Charters have had more success. According to Crust, the majority have come in with their limit of rockfish and an average of one lingcod per person.

Typically, many anglers wait until Marine Area 4 opens on April 16 to head out. “Neah Bay is historically a good fishery for lings,” said Crust. “If the weather cooperates, we should see some excellent fishing there again this year.”

Crust reminds anglers that recreational fishing for bottomfish or lingcod is not allowed in waters deeper than 30 fathoms in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) from March 14 through June 15.  However, anglers may retain sablefish and Pacific cod in these waters from May 1 through June 15. Retention of canary and yelloweye rockfish is prohibited in all areas.

The minimum size for lingcod in marine areas 1-3 is 22 inches, while the minimum size in Marine Area 4 is 24 inches. All areas are open seven days a week. Additional information about the lingcod fishery and other bottomfish is available on the WDFW Fishing Hotline (360) 902-2500 or online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

Anglers still looking for blackmouth are running out of time. Marine Areas 5 and 6 will close April 10, although Marine Areas 11, 12 and 13 will remain open through April 30. On the Peninsula, blackmouth anglers are catching a few chinook, but the action has fallen off in recent weeks. At the Pt. Defiance dock in Tacoma only five chinook were checked in the week ending March 28.

Rather dig razor clams ? WDFW is tentatively planning at least one opening in April, provided marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat. All are scheduled on morning tides and digging ends at noon. Tentative dates and tides:

* Friday, April 16 (8:32 a.m., -0.7 ft.) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Saturday, April 17 (9:12 a.m., -0.7 ft) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only
* Sunday, April 18 (9:56 a.m., -0.6 ft) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only

Meanwhile, hatchery crews are stocking lakes throughout the region with tens of thousands of rainbow trout to prepare for the April 24 lake-fishing opener. More information and schedules are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants .

Halibut anglers should be aware that the fishing opener for the big flatfish in most marine areas of Puget Sound has been delayed this year. The later starting date is necessary because of the combination of a reduced quota and excessive catch last year in the Sound.

To ensure that the halibut fishery in Puget Sound stays within the quota, the fishing season in marine areas 6-10 will run from May 1 through May 30. Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will retain its traditional opening date just before the Memorial Day weekend but will close earlier than it has in the past. Marine Area 5 will be open from May 28 through July 19.  For more information on 2010 halibut fisheries, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/halibut .

SOUTHWEST

The spring chinook fishery on the lower Columbia River has sprung into action.  After a slow start, the recreational catch for March shot up to 7,693 fish caught or released – the third highest count for that month since the creel-check program was started in 1968.  More than 2,000 boats and 750 bank anglers were counted during an aerial survey on a recent Saturday, a clear sign that this year’s spring chinook fishery had finally shifted into high gear.

“The run is really starting to ramp up now,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.  “Anglers have been catching some nice fish throughout the lower river.  If you’ve been planning to go, now is a good time to do it.”

According to the pre-season forecast, 559,900 spring chinook salmon – 470,000 of which are upriver bound – will return to the Columbia River and its tributaries this year, the largest run since at least 1938.

Hymer noted, however, that anglers planning to join the spring chinook fishery in the days ahead should be aware of changes in fishing rules and in river conditions.

* Fishing seasons:   April 3 is the last day to catch spring chinook from the I-5 Bridge upriver to Bonneville Dam – at least until fishery managers complete an in-season assessment of the run in early May. However, the spring chinook fishery will remain open from Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge seven days a week through April 18.

* River conditions:   Heavy rain during the last week in March has increased turbidity in some tributaries to the Columbia River. “That makes fishing conditions – especially at the mouths of the tributaries – a little tougher,” Hymer said.  “In general, I’d suggest fishing in shallower water away from river mouths, and trolling with a flasher/dodger to increase visibility.”

Anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam may retain one adult spring chinook salmon a day, while those fishing above the dam can keep two per day. As in previous years, only hatchery-reared fish marked with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained.  All wild spring chinook, identifiable by an intact adipose fin, must be released unharmed.

In a creel survey conducted during the last full week of March, 3,272 boat anglers in 1,396 boats reported catching 658 adult hatchery chinook and six hatchery steelhead.  The 395 bank anglers surveyed that week had 35 adult chinook and two steelhead.  Approximately 71 percent of the fish sampled were identified as upriver stocks.

Anglers fishing tributaries to the lower Columbia are also catching increasing numbers of spring chinook, along with some late winter-run and early-arriving summer steelhead .  The Cowlitz and Kalama rivers are providing some action for both species, although fishing on the Lewis River remains slow, Hymer said.

Few spring chinook were caught above Bonneville Dam through March, but that will certainly change as more fish start moving past the dam, Hymer said.  The fishery is open seven days per week from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam, with a daily limit of two hatchery chinook, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each.  Bank fishing only is permitted from Bonneville Dam to Tower Island powerlines, located about six miles below The Dalles Dam.

Starting April 3, the Klickitat River opens for spring chinook fishing four days per week – Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays – from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream.  The daily limit there, and on the lower Wind River and Drano Lake, is two hatchery chinook, hatchery steelhead, or one of each.

Anglers can check fish counts at the dam on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website at https://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/op/fishdata/home.asp .

Fishing for sturgeon has been slow in the lower Columbia River and in The Dalles Pool, the only area between Bonneville and McNary dams open to sturgeon retention.  Boat anglers have, however, been catching some walleye in The Dalles Pool.

Shell-aficionados should be aware that WDFW is tentatively planning a morning razor-clam dig at Long Beach and other ocean beaches in mid-April.  If marine toxin tests show the clams area safe to eat, the dig will take place on the following days and beaches:

* Friday, April 16, (8:32 a.m., -0.7) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Saturday, April 17, (9:12 a.m., -0.7) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only
* Sunday, April 18, (9:56 a.m., -0.6) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only

EASTERN

Early spring fishing continues to be good at lakes that are open in the region. The seven Tucannon River impoundments in southeast’s Columbia County – Beaver, Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring, and Watson lakes – are well-stocked with rainbow trout from WDFW’s Tucannon and Lyons Ferry fish hatcheries.

Amber, Downs, Liberty and Medical lakes in Spokane County are all producing rainbow catches. The access dock was just restored at Liberty Lake, near the town of the same name in the far eastern part of the county. Docks were also just re-installed at year-round Newman Lake, also on the east end of the county, and Eloika Lake, north of Chattaroy in the north end of the county.

Fishing has been good for both rainbow and brown trout at Rock Lake in Whitman County. Anglers are reeling in some nice-size rainbows at Sprague Lake on the Lincoln-Adams county line. And rainbows and kokanee are the catch of the day at Lake Roosevelt.

April 15 is the deadline to register kids five to 14 years of age for the May 1 Kids’ Fish-In event at Clear Lake in southwest Spokane County. The cost is $5 each, which includes a T-shirt, rod and reel, and help to catch up to three rainbow trout. The 45-minute fishing sessions take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairchild Air Force Base access site on Clear Lake. The event is sponsored by WDFW, Go Play Outside Alliance of Washington (GoPAW), Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Spokane Fly Fishers, Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club, Spokane Walleye Club, Fairchild AFB Outdoor Recreation program, White Elephant, Zebco and Eagle Claw.  Registration forms are available at WDFW’s Spokane Valley office at 2315 N. Discovery Place, 509-892-1001; or online at http://www.gopaw.org/kids_fish-in_program .

Steelhead retention on the Snake River and most tributaries ends March 31. Grande Ronde River steelheading continues through April 15.

The single, biggest lake fishing opener is coming up April 24, mostly on waters that were stocked last year with hatchery trout fry that have been growing to catchable-size over the winter. But WDFW fish hatchery crews are also busy stocking lakes with catchables and surplus broodstock in some lakes to boost fishing opportunities on the opener. Watch for this year’s stocking plan to be posted soon on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/reports_plants.html .

NORTH-CENTRAL

The “April Fools” opener on more than 30 waters in the Columbia Basin should provides some fair to good fishing on rainbow trout and other species.

WDFW district fish biologist Chad Jackson says most of the waters opening April 1 are either within or adjacent to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge south of Potholes Reservoir, and over half are planted with spring and/or fall rainbow trout fry.

“Although many of these lakes are in need of rehabilitation to rid them of competing fish species, nice sized trout can be found,” Jackson said.

The Upper and Lower Hampton lakes historically produce quality fishing on the opener for 12-14-inch yearling trout.  Jackson says that while trout size is still fairly good at the Hamptons, total trout abundance is not nearly as good. Last spring Upper was planted with 26,500 trout fry and Lower with 5,000 trout fry.  Lower Hampton Lake also received a trout fry plant of 4,500 in the fall.

“Both of the Hampton lakes were rehabilitated roughly six years ago,” Jackson said, “but sunfish and other warmwater species appear to have established themselves once again.  These species impact trout fry survival by competing for the same food resources.  To confound things, cormorants (fish-eating birds) have been known to prey upon trout in some years.”

Jackson said anglers looking to maximize catch rates should fish Lower Hampton Lake, where they’ll find two different size classes of trout available for harvest — 8-10 inches and 11-13 inches.  Anglers looking to harvest larger fish should hike into Upper Hampton Lake and, if possible, fish it from a small boat or float tube.  Yearling trout in Upper Hampton Lake range in size from 12 to 14 inches.

“Hampton anglers may also want to try Hen Lake,” Jackson said, referring to the small lake connected to Lower Hampton Lake.  Hen Lake receives 750 rainbow trout fry in the spring, and if fry survival is good, they should be around 12 inches in length.”

Jackson said those who traditionally fish North and South Teal Lakes on the April 1 opener should not expect the excellent fishing found there in the past. Both lakes are in need of rehabilitation, but both lakes were also stocked with approximately 5,000 trout fry in the spring. Anglers should expect to catch a few nice12-14-inch yearlings and 16-inch and greater carryovers.

The Pillar-Widgeon lake chain, also opening April 1, includes (running north to south) Pillar, Gadwall, Snipe, Shoveler, Cattail, Poacher, Lemna, Hourglass, Sago, and Widgeon lakes.  Jackson said all are stocked with rainbow trout fry during the spring.  Total trout fry stocked in each lake is as follows:  Pillar – 2,500, Gadwall – 750, Snipe -600, Shoveler – 750, Cattail – 1,500, Poacher -150, Lemna – 450, Hourglass – 300, Sago – 300, and Widgeon – 1,650.  Access to this chain of small lakes is located just southeast of Soda Lake.

“Anglers looking to fish the Pillar-Widgeon lakes should visit either the entire chain or at least three or four of the lakes during their outing,” Jackson said. “If you’re persistent, expect to catch some very nice sized yearling and carryover trout. Shore fishing is available at most of these lakes, but I advise packing a float tube because it will increase your chances for success. Usually the best lakes in the chain tend to be Widgeon, Sago, and Pillar, but don’t ignore the other lakes.”

Jackson says some of the Columbia Refuge area lakes also offer excellent fishing for warmwater species, particularly Hutchinson and Shiner lakes. Since their rehabilitations in 1997, these two lakes have developed into quality fisheries for largemouth bass and bluegill .  Anglers should note that only non-motorized boats are allowed on these two lakes.

Other warmwater fishing options are the Coyote, Bobcat, and Hayes creek ponds located just south of Morgan and Halfmoon lakes.  Jackson says these ponds are relatively small and shallow, so they warm up quickly, and offer good fishing for largemouth bass.  Another option might be Deadman Lake located just off McManamon Road next to Halfmoon Lake.

Anglers who plan on fishing the refuge area lakes, especially the hike-in ones, should remember that with the unseasonably warm weather has rattlesnakes out earlier and in greater numbers than normal.

Also opening on April 1 is Dry Falls Lake, located just northeast of Park Lake within the Sun Lakes State Park southwest of Coulee City. The 99-acre lake is under selective gear rules and a one-trout daily bag limit.

“Opening day success at Dry Falls in previous years was a little slow because of cold weather,” Jackson said. “But this year abnormally warmer air temperatures are heating up the lake much quicker and it may fish better on this year’s opener. I expect anglers to take 13-14-inch yearling rainbows and carryovers up to 24 inches, just like the last two years.”

Brown and tiger trout are also planted into Dry Falls Lake. Jackson reported that a total of 9,900 rainbow, 1,000 tiger, and 1,000 brown trout fry were stocked into Dry Falls Lake in 2009.

WDFW district fish biologist Bob Jateff of Twisp said Spectacle Lake opens for fishing April 1, and anglers can expect rainbow trout in the 10-13-inch range, with carryover fish to 15 inches.  There is a five fish daily catch limit and bait is allowed at Spectacle.  Jateff reminds anglers that when fishing with bait, the first five fish count as part of the daily limit, whether kept or released.

Jateff also reminds anglers that some Okanogan County lakes switch to catch-and-release trout fishing on April 1 — Rat near Brewster, Big and Little Green near Omak, and Davis and Campbell near Winthrop.  Selective gear rules are in effect for all of these lakes and the use of boats with internal combustion engines is prohibited.  Anglers must also use a knotless net to land fish.

WDFW fish biologist Matt Polacek reports the latest creel survey at Banks Lake shows decent catch rates on yellow perch and fair size on walleye . Anglers last surveyed at this Columbia River reservoir southwest of Grand Coulee averaged 3.28 perch that averaged 7.75 inches per hour of fishing. Walleye anglers caught fish that averaged almost 18 inches at a rate of about one walleye for every three hours of fishing. Anglers surveyed also averaged 1.2 black crappie of about 11 inches each per hour of fishing, and about one rainbow trout of about 16 inches for every two hours of fishing.

WDFW fish hatchery specialist Mike Erickson reports recently fishing Rufus Woods Reservoir and doing “very well” near the rainbow trout net pens and other areas in the waterway on the Douglas-Okanogan county line. “This is an outstanding fishery,” Erickson said. “With a group of six people in two boats, we had to work for the fish but came out with limits two days in a row.”

SOUTH-CENTRAL

WDFW district fish biologist Paul Hoffarth of Pasco reminds anglers that steelhead fishing closes March 31 in many areas of eastern Washington. However, a one-mile section of shoreline in the Columbia River adjacent to WDFW’s Ringold Hatchery will remain open through April 15.

“This fishery is open to bank angling only,” said Hoffarth, noting that the daily catch limit is two hatchery-marked  steelhead.

Rainbow trout were recently planted in Dalton Lake, Quarry Pond, Columbia Park Pond (a juvenile-only water), and Marmes Pond in the Tri-Cities area. In addition, Dalton Lake and Powerline Lake will be planted with triploid trout by mid-April.

Hoffarth said fishing for walleye, smallmouth bass, and channel catfish has been slow in recent days, but should pick up in the Columbia River, Walla Walla River, and Yakima River in the next couple of weeks.

April 19 is the deadline to register for the Tri-Cities Kids Fishing Event scheduled for May 1. For more information and registration forms, contact Kennewick Recreation at 509-585-4293 or online at http://www.ci.kennewick.wa.us/Recreational_Services/home.asp .

WDFW district fish biologist Eric Anderson of Yakima reports that all Yakima and Kittitas county year-round ponds are seeing heavy fishing action from earlier hatchery trout stocking.  The I-82 ponds #1, 2, and 3 each recently received nearly 2,500 rainbows weighing nearly a half-pound apiece. See all of the continuing hatchery stocking of local fisheries at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/weekly/ .

As warmer spring conditions advance and more and different fish are biting, it’s a good time to take advantage of the new two-pole fishing opportunity.  Most fisheries in the southcentral region are open to the use of a second pole with the purchase of the two-pole endorsement – $24.50 with all surcharges and license dealer fees, $6.50 for seniors. For a list of excluded fisheries and all the details, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/twopole .

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Giant-ass kokanee are the only fish biting in Oregon these days. There are springers, steelhead, trout, bottomfish and more to be caught.

Here are highlights from around the state, courtesy of the weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Winter steelhead fishing has been good on the North Umpqua. Through mid-February, over 4,346 winter steelhead had crossed Winchester Dam – one of the highest counts in the last 10 year. Remember only fin-clipped steelhead can be harvested.
  • Trout fishing has been good on Applegate Reservoir and Garrison Lake.
  • Spring chinook fishing continues to be pretty good on the lower Rogue River even with the low water conditions. Anchovies have been the hot bait.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • The winter steelhead fishery is nearly over for the season. Many coastal rivers are closed to steelhead angling effective April 1st. Anglers are encouraged to check the regulations for specific river openings.
  • Spring chinook angling opens April 1 in Tillamook Bay, Wilson River, Trask River and Nestucca River. Fishing does not generally pick up until May. The ocean remains closed to salmon angling.
  • Cape Meares, Smith, Tahoe, Lytle, South, Town, and Hebo lakes, and Lorens Pond and Nedonna Pond are scheduled to be stocked with legal size rainbow trout the week of April 5th. North coast lakes on the stocking schedule have all been stocked at least once this spring. Fishing should be fair to good.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel. Catch success has been variable but will improve soon.
  • Winter steelhead fishing is good in the Clackamas and Sandy rivers and Eagle Creek. Steelhead are spread throughout both systems and some good catches have been reported.
  • Sturgeon fishing is fair on the lower Willamette River.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Haystack Reservoir offers some good spring fishing for 12 to 18-inch rainbow and brown trout.
  • Flows and water temperatures have been good on the Hood River and, as a result, winter steelhead fishing has been good.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • McKay Reservoir opened to fishing on March 1 and should provide some good spring fishing for rainbow trout, yellow perch and brown bullhead.
  • McNary, Hatrock and Tatone ponds have been stocked and are good destinations for young anglers who are out of school for Spring Break.
  • Anglers have been catching both stocked trout and kokanee on Wallowa Lake.
  • The great steelhead fishing continues in the Grande Ronde and Imnaha basins.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Spring chinook are available in increasing numbers on the lower Columbia for boat and bank anglers.
  • A few legal size sturgeon are being caught by boat and bank anglers in the gorge.

MARINE ZONE

  • Bottom fishing is good when ocean conditions permit. Calmer oceans usually mean better fishing success. Lingcod are in shallower waters to spawn. Divers may find success spearing along rocky jetties for ling cod and black rockfish.
  • Herring are spawning in many coastal bays now. Fishing for herring can be great fun with kids using light tackle. Watch for birds diving into the herring schools and try to get in on the action. The aggregate daily catch limit for herring, sardines, anchovies and smelt is 25 pounds.

Another Record Koke At Wallowa

Two days before Wan Teece of Enterprise, Ore., caught what might be a U.S. record kokanee — a whopping 8.23-pounder, and it’s only March! — I was on the phone with Bill Knox, the state fisheries biologist for Wallowa Lake, talking about the previous state record.

Gene Thiel’s 7-pound 8-ounce, 25-incher, landed Feb. 10 while jigging from a canoe in what are described as “icy conditions,” trumped Jerry Logosz’s July 2009 7-pound, 1-ouncer.

WAN TEECE AND HER NEW OREGON STATE-RECORD KOKANEE. (JACK TEECE, ALPINE EXPOSURES)

“There could be some more large ones caught this year,” Knox allowed. “I just don’t expect a lot of them.”

He pointed out that with salmon — which kokanee, or landlocked sockeye, are, of course — some spawn and die when they’re 4 years old, some when they’re 5 years old and a few when they’re 6 years old.

The longer they’re at sea, err, in Wallowa Lake, the bigger they get.

The fish in the big, deep Northeast Oregon water have benefited from the introduction of mysis shrimp, Knox adds, but that was back in the 1960s.

A more current factor may have been a weak year-class a few seasons back. Knox says that led to lower catch rates last year.

“But it translated to pounds per hour that wouldn’t have been all that different,” he says.

One guy who can tell you all about that is guide Mark Moncrief of Tri-state Outfitters. When I fished with him late last summer, he’d caught 152 20-plus-inch kokanee — twice as many as his previous record.

He’s still at it too. I emailed him after getting word of Thiel’s catch.

“Yes, there was one caught by a guy up here a few days ago that was 7.52 pounds and only 23 inches long,” Moncrief wrote. “Looked like a football. We have caught 34 kokes 20 inches or better already, but it is real spotty on the fishing so far. My son and  I did have one rare day where we boated 32 kokes in four hours of fishing and kept our 10-fish limit. The smallest one was 21 inches, the biggest one was 26 inches and 6 1/2 pounds.”

MID-FEBRUARY KOKANEE FROM WALLOWA LAKE. MID-FEBRUARY! (MARK MONCRIEF, TRI-STATE OUTFITTERS)

One thing that Moncrief told me is that he’s found minnows in the tummies of kokes he’s caught.

Who knows how many more of these monster kokes are in the lake, but with Teece’s fish, the state record has been broken six times at Wallowa since 1999.

She was out March 24 with her husband, Jack, trolling near the middle of the lake with a Jack Lloyd blade set-up dragging a Double-Whammy lure with 2 ounces of lead to keep it down deep.

WAN TEECE. (JACK TEECE, ALPINE EXPOSURES)

The fish was 26.25 inches long with a girth of 16 inches. Knox believes it may be a U.S. record for landlocked sockeye; the world record is a 9-pound, 6-ounce koke caught in B.C.’s Lake Okanagan.

With the catch, Knox expects even more interest in this popular fishery in coming months. Anglers annually spend 20,000-30,000 hours fishing for kokanee here, his agency reports.

In the meantime, last summer’s sonar surveys showed a good year-class coming on line for future seasons.

“There were a lot more fish than the summer before. We saw a big increase in young-of-the-year fish, but it will be a few years before they enter the fishery,” Knox says.

We’ll have more on Wallowa, its kokanee fishery and its mysteries in our May issue.

SW WA Fishing Report

The Columbia’s not the only Southwest Washington river giving up springers these days. So too are the Cowlitz and Kalama.

Steelhead are also biting in the area, as are a few sturgeon and walleye.

Here’s the report from Joe Hymer, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission:

SALMON AND STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Anglers are continuing to catch steelhead and some spring chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 613 winter-run steelhead and 23 spring Chinook adults during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.  During the week Tacoma Power employees released 16 winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and 82 winter-run steelhead and 21 spring Chinook adult into Lake Scanewa behind Cowlitz Falls Dam. 

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,670 cubic feet per second on Tuesday March 30. Flows are nearly identical to the long-term mean for this date.

Kalama River – Anglers are catching a mixture of steelhead and spring chinook.

Lewis River – Light effort and no catch observed.  Flows below Merwin are currently 10,800 cfs, double the long-term mean for this date.

Wind River and Drano Lake – Light effort with only a couple boats at the Wind last Sunday morning; none at Drano.

Klickitat River from mouth to the Fisher Hill Bridge (located about 3 miles upstream from the mouth)- From April 3 through May 31, open Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays only for hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead. Anglers will be able to retain two hatchery chinook, hatchery steelhead, or one of each as part of their daily limit

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week, anglers made 25,438 trips on the lower Columbia and caught 4,874 adult spring Chinook (4,220 kept and 654 released), which brings the total effort to 68,290 angler trips and Chinook catch of 6,682 fish kept and 1,011 released.  The effort and catch totals for March are the among the highest in the history of the creel program (began in 1968).  Only non-selective catch in 1990 (9,000) and the 8,800 fish handled in the selective fishery in 2003 were higher.

Based on Visual Stock Identification sampling, upriver spring Chinook comprised about 70% of the kept catch last week.  Things should slow down some this week with the turbid water, especially in the lower river.

Effort was up from the previous weekend with 2,062 boats and counted during last Saturday’s March 27 flight.  In addition there were 754 bank anglers.

From the I-5 Bridge to Bonneville Dam, April 3 is the last scheduled day to fish for hatchery spring chinook, hatchery steelhead, and shad.  Shad is expected to re-open May 16; salmonids on June 16.  Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge is scheduled to be open for hatchery spring chinook, hatchery steelhead, and shad 7 days/week through April 18.

The Dalles Pool – The few bank anglers sampled had no catch.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Remains slow for legal size fish.  Effort remains fairly light with 47 boats and 70 bank anglers counted during Saturday’s flight.

The Dalles Pool – Slow for legal size fish.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – The few boat anglers sampled did well on walleye.

Nearly 4,800 Springers Caught In Last Week

New figures from Oregon and Washington fishery managers show that sport anglers landed 4,874 spring Chinook on the Columbia over the past week, keeping 4,220 of them.

“This last week was pretty good,” confirms guide Jim Stahl of J&J Guide Service (425-344-8716).

He’s been fishing the Kalama area and says that fellow guide Mark Coleman of All Rivers Guide Service (425-736-8920), fishing upstream of him, has also been doing well.

The new catch figures are a significant jump over the previous week when managers said around 2,000 had been kept or released. Only fin-clipped hatchery Chinook may be retained on the mainstem below Bonneville Dam, daily limit one adult.

A NICE PAIR OF SPRING KINGS CAUGHT ON THE BIG RIVER LAST WEDNESDAY ON HERRING. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

The overall springer catch since Feb. 1 now stands at 6,682 with 1,011 released.

The river is closed today below I-205 as commercial netters dip their gear for their first fishery of the year. Modeling yesterday suggested a catch of between 6,000 and 10,000 springers.

For boat anglers, the best stretch has been The Interstate area, where the catch really jumped last week. Overall, 1,928 have been kept there since season began, and nearly 1,500 last week alone.

Second best area is the Estuary below Cathlamet where 1,085 have been kept so far, including 625 last week.

TOM SNAZA OF SPOKANE LANDED THIS SPRINGER OUT OF CATHLAMET YESTERDAY, MARCH 29. HE WAS FISHING A CUTPLUG AND FISH FLASH WITH HIS DAD, JOHN, OF NAPAVINE. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Third best is below the Interstate, between the mouths of the Willamette and Lewis; 944 have met their maker there, 331 last week.

Herring seems to be this year’s bait du jour.

“All I’ve been doing is trolling downhill,” says Stahl. “I can’t stand sitting. I’ve only sat for two hours in two weeks.”

From the bank, only 450 springers have been retained so far this season. Oregon side beaches continue to lead with 267 fish, of which 136 were landed between Warrior Rock and Sandy Island.

Just over 216 have been landed in the bank-only area between I-205 and Bonneville Dam this year, three-quarters of which were retained.

Saturday’s the last day to fish the water from I-5 up to Bonneville until an inseason run estimate is performed; one isn’t expected until early May.

The river below I-5 and above the dam, however, will remain open.

The percentage of Chinook bound for tribs above the dam rose from 45 percent the previous week to 70 percent last week.

All totaled, anglers have made 68,920 trips for springers this year, including over 60,000 in March alone. Effort and catch for the month are among the highest on record.

The count at the dam reached 300 as of Sunday, still lagging well behind the 10-year average, but in line with how springers have come back since 2005 when they began to run later for unknown reasons.

Unfortunately, fishing is expected to slow this week in the lower Columbia because of high, turbid water from recent rainstorms.

Don’t Get Caught Without New Columbia License!

See you in line to buy a new Washington fishing license. April 1 — no foolin’ — is the start of the Evergreen State’s license year.

And if you plan on fishing the Columbia River and its many salmon and steelhead tributaries this season, you’ll want to bring along an extra $8.75 to buy a new endorsement meant to “maintain and improve fishing opportunities throughout the basin.”

It affects waters everywhere from Rosburg to Oroville to Boggan’s Oasis, including popular rivers such as the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis, Klickitat, Yakima, Methow, Okanogan, Snake and Grande Ronde.

However, not all stretches of the rivers fall under the new requirement — just those areas where you can legally fish for salmon and steelhead.

A map produced by WDFW shows the affected waters.

SALMON AND STEELHEAD STREAMS REQUIRING THE NEW COLUMBIA RIVER ENDORSEMENT APPEAR IN DARK BLUE. (WDFW)

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON RIVERS WHERE THE NEW COLUMBIA RIVER ENDORSEMENT IS REQUIRED TO FISH FOR SALMON AND STEELHEAD. (WDFW)

The fee, known as the Columbia River Recreational Salmon and Steelhead Pilot Program, came out of the state legislature last year to help offset WDFW’s $30 million budget shortfall.

A fiscal note on the bill that authorized the fee estimates that 109,140 endorsements would be purchased in 2010, yielding at least $900,405 for the agency. However, that assumed the program would begin Jan. 1.

Revenues and endorsements are projected to rise in following years to just over $1 million by 2015.

According to a press release from the agency, funds will be used to evaluate selective fisheries in the basin and “management activities, including fisheries enforcement, data collection and monitoring.”

The endorsement is required for all anglers 15 years and older. The fee expires June 30, 2016.

Oregon’s license year began on New Year’s Day.

Elsewhere in Washington, you will, of course, need either freshwater ($24 for anglers 16-69), saltwater ($22.20) or combo ($46.20) licenses to fish starting Thursday morning. That last option also includes a shellfishing permit.

Those figures are higher than what was printed in the regulations pamphlet because the state legislature also authorized a temporary 10 percent surcharge on licenses through June 20, 2011.

A chart on WDFW’s Web site outlines all the license options.

UPDATE MAY 31, 2010: RIFFE LAKE HAS BEEN DROPPED FROM THE LIST OF WATERS WHERE THE NEW COLUMBIA RIVER ENDORSEMENT IS REQUIRED, WDFW ANNOUNCED THIS AFTERNOON. WE WILL POST A LINK TO THE RULE CHANGE AS SOON AS THE AGENCY PUTS IT UP.

Idaho Releases Wolf Hunt Stats

Idaho’s first modern wolf hunt ends tomorrow, but state officials released figures from the seven-month season that showed the hunt appears to have been well-managed and, like Montana’s, came in under the quota.

As of yesterday, 185 wolf tags had been notched, 84 percent of the overall statewide limit. Harvest quotas were met in seven of the Gem State’s 12 wolf zones.

Montana’s season closed after two months when 72 of 75 tags were filled.

Both states’ hunts followed last spring’s Federal delisting of the species after 15 straight years of increasing wolf numbers and seven straight years where minimum recovery goals had been met. Lawsuits and Wyoming’s inadequate management plan held up moving wolves out of threatened status.

In Idaho, harvested wolves ranged in size from 54 to 127 pounds, with males averaging 100 pounds, and females averaging 79 pounds. Fifty-eight percent were male; 15 percent were less than a year old.

(Montana’s largest wolf was 117 pounds; the average adult weighed 97 pounds. Fifty-seven percent were males.)

Of the nearly 26,500 tags sold in Idaho, nearly 25,750 were bought by residents while over 675 went to nonresidents. State citizens shot 86 percent of all wolves taken.

IDFG reports that October, which corresponds to general big-game rifle hunts, saw the most shot while January saw the fewest.

“The season has succeeded in halting the growth of Idaho’s wolf population,” Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said in a press release. “It showed that Fish and Game is capable of monitoring and managing a well-regulated wolf hunt.”

IDFG also said that the hunt “showed that fears of wholesale slaughter of wolves were unfounded,” and say that “hunters exhibited good compliance with the rules and with check-in and call-in requirements.”

In recent weeks, Groen has called for “more aggressive wolf management” in the Lolo Zone where elk numbers have declined dramatically in recent years. He cites wolves as a current factor, but notes that habitat, winterkill and bear and cougar predation has played a large roll in the decline from 16,000 animals in the 1980s to 2,178 at last count. Only 13 of 27 wolf tags were filled for the relatively brushy region.

Another 138 wolves were killed in livestock depredation control actions and from other causes.

At year-end, Idaho’s wolf population stood at a minimum of 843 wolves in 94 packs, and 49 packs are considered breeding pairs. The average pack size was 7.8 wolves. A total of 142 wolves are radio-collared.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reports an overall population of “1,706 wolves in 242 packs and 115 breeding pairs” in all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and parts of Eastern Washington and Oregon at the end of last year.