All posts by Andy Walgamott

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Stats from ODFW show that Oregon fishing license sales peak in May. The agency has sold anywhere from 40,000 to nearly 60,000 that month over the past decade. It’s puzzling, especially considering that some of the year’s best opportunities are right now.

From Brookings to Wallowa, the Columbia River to the Blitzen River, there are plenty of fish to be had across the Beaver State — springers, steelhead, stocker and wild trout, surfperch, lingcod and more.

Here are some of the top opportunities right now, according to ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Lucky kids! Arizona Pond, a youth-only fishery between Gold Beach and Port Orford, will be stocked this week with 1 pound trout and fishing will be really good.
  • Spring chinook fishing on the lower Rogue really picked up over the weekend with both boat and bank anglers doing well.
  • If the ocean swells quiet a bit, surfperch fishing should be good.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel.
  • 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.
  • A youth angling event will take place Saturday, April 17 at Junction City Pond from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. All necessary equipment will be provided at this free event, and staff and volunteers will be available to assist young anglers.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • The Crooked River is back. This winter anglers were catching more trout than whitefish. Recently water levels have been up, but fishing has been good.
  • Start making plans for spring chinook fishing on the Deschutes River, which should peak in early May.
  • The Hood River continues to turn out good numbers of winter steelhead.
  • Pine Hollow Reservoir, Rock Creek Reservoir and Taylor Lake all have been recently stocked and offer some great spring trout fishing.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing on the Blitzen River has been good and should remain so until flows and turbidity increase during spring runoff.
  • Several area lakes and ponds have been stocked with legal-sized trout including upper Cow Lake, Haines Pond and Hwy 203 Pond.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • The Wallowa Wildlife Area and Marr Ponds recently have been stocked with legal-sized trout and surplus hatchery steelhead.
  • Anglers are reminded that steelhead season closes on northeast Oregon Rivers April 15 (except the Snake River which is open through April 30).

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Spring chinook fishing was phenomenal in the lower Columbia River last week.
  • A few legal size sturgeon are being caught by boat and bank anglers in the gorge as well as in the Portland to Longview area.
  • Walleye angling is good in The Dalles Pool.

MARINE ZONE

  • After many days of storm surge, anglers found success when the weather broke. While ling cod catches were down, most anglers limited on large rockfish.
  • A morning minus tide series begins April 14 and continues through April 20 providing opportunity for clam diggers. Razor clam diggers should watch for days when the marine forecast calls for combined swell and wind waves of less than eight feet.
  • The entire Oregon coast is now open to recreational and commercial clam harvesting.
  • Mussel harvesting is open on the entire Oregon coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. The consumption of whole, recreationally-harvested scallops is not recommended. However, coastal scallops are not affected by toxins when only the adductor muscle is eaten.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Cape Meares, Smith, Tahoe, Lytle, Town, and Hebo lakes, and Lorens Pond and Nedonna Pond were stocked with legal size rainbow trout the week of April 5. South Lake was not stocked due to snow. Stocking will be rescheduled when access to the lake is clear. Coffenbury Lake, Lost Lake, and Vernonia Pond are scheduled to be stocked the week of April 12. North coast lakes on the stocking schedule have all been stocked at least once this spring. Fishing should be fair to good.
  • Fishing in most mid coast lakes has been very good so far this spring and should continue to provide anglers with great opportunities well into June. Stocking has occurred several times in most water bodies of which many received trophy sized trout. Check the online stocking report for specific weeks and lakes to be stocked.

The Kids Are Alright

The kids these days!

This past weekend’s youth turkey hunt in Oregon as well as Washington’s the previous weekend was quite the success, if photos received at Northwest Sportsman are any judge.

Among the young bird blasters, Riley Johnson, Gage Nelson, Bryce Askew, the aptly named Hunter Parini and Michael Cook Jr.

Here are their pics and stories:

Riley had two long days of hunting with a number of opportunities, LOTs of walking, listening, setting up and doing everything possible to entice a tom to come in. All of them had their own set of challenges which kept us from being successful. However, on the last day in the last hour, we were able to find some birds (thanks to T.C. Ashley) gobbling up a storm in an area where we could try one last time.

Our guides/friends — Kim Thompson and Tyler Myers, along with Kim Mitchell and Riley’s younger sister Peyton — postioned themselves about 15 yards above Riley and me. Kim T. started his “courtship” letting out a menagerie of hen calls. We could hear various groups of toms gobbling throughout the canyon and one group about a 1,000 yards away across the other side gobbling.

As Kim T. continued with his hen calls, they would gobble a bit closer and closer. You could hear the “gobble” echo through the trees and canyon walls.

This went on for about 30 minutes where we could tell they were right on top of us but still couldn’t see them.A hen had came up within 10 feet away from us on my left hand side in the thick brush (we could not see her, but we could hear her) where she began to chirp with a sound utilized when a turkey is a bit concerned something is not right.

About 30 yards below us two toms walked out slowly. In between Riley and the turkeys were a number of old junipers. We were sitting quietly next to one tucked in with Riley’s 20-gauge Montifeltro Bennelli positioned on her shooting stick pointing in the direction of the two turkeys – being careful NOT to make one wrong movement. The two toms continued to dip their heads and let out loud “gobbles” as they moved across the field downhill from Riley and me. They were essentially answering Kim T’s courtship hen calls to hopefully add to their harem of hens.

Riley was listening to me whispering to her: “Relax and wait a second until we can determine which one to shoot.” Riley’s heartbeat and breathing were beyond “excitement” and exponentially increasing with each passing second. I wanted her to shoot the one on the right but she didn’t have a clear shot. She kept whispering, “I don’t see it.”

I reached over to pull the shooting stick towards me and told her to lean against my right shoulder and look between the two junipers. She said, “OK, I see him.”

I said, “Take him, take him now.”

She said, “Now?”

“Yes!”

(I was trying to continue to keep my voice at a whisper, but when Riley tells the story she says, “He was yelling at me telling me to shoot”).

KA-BOOM! … and down goes Fraser!

It was a perfect shot and an unbelievable ending to an awesome trip.

After taking a bunch of pictures and talking about the entire weekend, I instructed Riley how to carry the trophy tom over her shoulder for the hike out. She said, “Wait a minute” to readjust her long blonde hair to the other shoulder. She had proven herself to be a bonified turkey hunter, but was still a 100% teenage girl.

Thank you again to T.C. Ashley, Kim Thompason and Tyler Myers!  It was AWESOME!  Something neither she nor I will ever forget — and her little sister, Peyton, is all ready for next year.

— Todd W. Johnson

RILEY JOHNSON'S FIRST TURKEY, TAKEN DURING OREGON'S YOUTH HUNT LAST WEEKEND. IT WAS HER SECOND SEASON PURSUING GOBBLERS. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

THE JOHNSON FAMILY TURKEY BRIGADE. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

CARRYING HER BIRD OUT OF THE WOODS. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

My 11 year-old-son Gage went on his first turkey hunt this past Saturday in Eastern Oregon and successfully bagged a turkey within 30 minutes of opening morning. If you know Gage, you realize 30 minutes was an eternity for him.

We spotted the tom over 150 yards away on a hillside opposite the field we were set up in. With a couple yelps and purrs the game was on. A few gobbles later he left his hens and took off on a dead run until 30 yards from us to stop and strut his stuff for a brief moment. Then before my son could even put the bead on him, he put his head down and continued his charge toward the decoys. He then excitedly circled the jake and hen decoys several times while my son tried to get a good shot at 20 yards.

Finally after I gave a loud yelp he presented a target and Gage pulled the trigger and the rest is history.

The Rio Grande tom weighed 20 pounds with 1-inch spurs and 9 1/2-inch beard.

It’s moments like this  that make all the work in child raising well worth it.

–Mike Nelson

GAGE NELSON AND HIS FIRST GOBBLER, TAKEN IN EASTERN OREGON THIS PAST WEEKEND. (MIKE NELSON)

Had a great weekend with the youth turkey hunting opener here in Oregon. Lots of birds gobbling on Saturday and Bryce managed to tag her eighth bird in her short (only 15 years old) hunting career. Tough hunt, great memories and it all worked out perfectly … Well, not for the tom.

— Wil Askew

BRYCE ASKEW'S 8TH TURKEY. (WIL ASKEW)

All Hunter M Parini,  age 11, wanted for his 12th birthday was for his father to guide him on a  a spring turkey hunt. So we headed east to Davenport, Wash., for the special spring youth hunt April 3-4.

On April 4th, Easter, at 7:05, hunter bagged his first longbeard – 22 pounds. Double bearded, 10 inches and 3 inches, with 3/4-inch spurs. What a bird for the first one. It’s going to be tough to top that!!!

— Gene Parini

HUNTER PARINI'S FIRST TURKEY, TAKEN NEAR DAVENPORT, WASH. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Mikey Jr’s first turkey. It was a jake; he got him near Riverside, Wash., on opening day of the youth season.

–Michael Cook

A JAKE FOR JUNIOR -- MICHAEL COOK'S OKANOGAN COUNTY, WASH., SPRING TURKEY. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Congrats, kids, you’re well on your way to becoming very successful Northwest sportsmen and -women!

Mikey jr’s first turkey. It was a Jake he got him near riverside Washington on opening day of the youth season

Spring Bear Hunting Forecast For Oregon

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE)

Spring bear hunting opened April 1 in western Oregon and the western Blue Mountains and remaining hunts open tomorrow, April 15.

A mild winter and light snow pack in the Blue Mountains and Cascades means hunters may be able to get out earlier than usual. ODFW staff expect bears will be out of their den 7 to 10 days earlier than usual in the W. Blue Mtns hunt area, and the SW Cascades should pick up before May.

Hunting will start slower on the mid-coast, where extended winter-like conditions are expected to keep bears very inactive during the early part of the season. “But that doesn’t mean early season hunts can’t be fruitful,” notes Stuart Love, ODFW district wildlife biologist in Charleston. “Often the earliest bears to come out of dens are boars and the larger animals.”

Wildlife biologists offer these tips for spring bear hunters:

* Look for open areas where bears will be moving through or foraging, including clear-cuts, meadows and open slopes that have cleared of snow.
* Earlier in the season, focus on south-facing slopes with rapid spring growth and open canyon slopes, where bears can be seen feeding on grass and digging roots.
* Predator calls are recommended later in the season when elk begin calving. Use calls near open meadows in forested areas.
* Find good vantage points and utilize optics to locate bears; early morning and late afternoon to evening are the best times to glass.
* Know your target—remember it is unlawful to take cubs less than one year old or sows with cubs less than one year old.
* See below for more information on conditions and locations to hunt. Hunters should be always be prepared for snow and limited access, especially early in the season. Visit ODFW’s online Hunting Access Map for more hunting locations.

Almost all spring bear seasons are controlled and require application by February 10 each year. The 4,000 2010 SW Oregon spring bear tags provided on a first-come, first-serve basis sold out on February 20 this year. All hunting seasons close on May 31.

Mandatory check-in of bears, and hunt reporting

For the last two years, successful bear hunters have been required to check-in their bear’s skull at an ODFW office within 10 days of the harvest so biologists can collect a tooth and take certain measurements. (More information) Bear skulls are also required to be unfrozen when presented for check-in. (It is very difficult to extract a tooth from a frozen skull.) ODFW also recommends hunters prop the bear’s mouth open with a stick after it is harvested, again to make tooth extraction and measuring easier.

This data collection is a critical part of the method ODFW uses to track Oregon’s bear population. ODFW also asks any hunter that takes a female bear to collect and turn in its reproductive tract, which helps determine reproduction rate and frequency. See page 34 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations for more information.

Separate from the check-in requirement, all hunters who purchased a spring bear tag are required to report their hunt results online or by phone (1-866-947-6339). Reporting is required even for those that did not go hunting or were unsuccessful. ODFW uses this information when setting hunting seasons.
As of March 11, 44 percent of 2009 spring bear tag holders reported their hunt results, a big improvement from 2008’s 8 percent. While there are currently no penalties for not reporting, penalties may be introduced for future hunting seasons if hunters continue to not report.

Northwest Region

Scappoose-Saddle Mountain units (Hunt 710A, season April 1-May 31)

This is a new hunt. Bears appear to be well-distributed throughout Saddle Mt Unit (based on previous years’ damage information) and most areas are well along in green-up. ODFW had not received any reports of bear sightings in the Scappoose Unit prior to the recent cold and stormy weather, and bear densities are naturally lower here. Hunters should locate green grass openings on south slopes and skunk cabbage patches along the riparian zones for their best chance of success. Bear activity should improve towards the middle of the season.

Locations: In Saddle Mountain, good road access is available to most lands in the Clatsop State Forest with non-motorized access available in many private industrial forest lands in both units (expect Hampton Affiliates land in Clatsop County to be closed to entry, however). Walk-in and mountain bike-in access can be an advantage to the hunter where private foresters are offering that style of access. (Bears are very wary of vehicle noise and tend to move away from well-traveled roads so quietly moving hunters on foot or bike may have the advantage.) Remember public land is limited in the Scappoose Unit; hunters will need to check each private timber landowner’s access policy before entering private lands.

Wilson-Trask units (Hunt 712A, season April 1-May 31)

Last year, 269 hunters took 18 bears, a 6.69% success rate.
Green-up is well ahead of usual this year, especially closer to the coast. With current weather conditions, hunters should concentrate in river and creek bottoms and south-facing grassy slopes with new plant growth. Bear activity is normally slow in the early half of the season so hunters should plan their trips accordingly.

Locations: State and federal lands in the units include the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests and Siuslaw National Forest. Some industrial forest landowners allow spring bear hunting as well. Private forest and agriculture lands dominate the eastern side of the Trask unit; access is by permission only.

N. Cascades (Hunt 716A, season April 1 – May 31)

Last year: 213 hunters took 22 bears, a 10.33% success rate.

Expect better hunting later in the season (late April/early May), but if you want to get out early, start along riparian corridors at lower elevations. Watch weather forecasts to help predict snowmelt; warmer weather will be key for vegetation growth and increased bear activity. Snow in higher elevations will restrict access.

Locations: Santiam Unit: remember the Marion and Linn County portions outside of the Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forests are not included within the hunt boundary and are closed. The McKenzie Unit is open only on the Willamette National Forest. Hunters can find south-facing slopes throughout the Mt. Hood NF. The Clackamas and Collawash River drainages have a higher concentration of open ground and some good areas for glassing. Hunters can also find good concentrations of bears in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness Area.

Alsea-Stott Mt. (Hunt 717A, season April 1 – May 31)

Last year: 155 hunters took 6 bears, a 3.87% success rate.
Bears have been active for a month or so already in the Alsea Unit, though no damage complaints or problems have been reported. Late March and early April weather was more winter-like (high winds, precipitation and low elevation snow) but the snow does not remain around very long. Hunters should look for bears at lower elevations along streams or open areas with a south or southeast aspect.
Location:  Access is fair on mainline forest roads but expect some roads to be impassible in April. Siuslaw National Forest lands on the central coast south of Waldport have well-maintained roads, making them good places to hunt.

Southwest Region
(Season April 1 – May 31)

Tags for this hunt are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis and sold out on Feb. 20, 2010.

Snow pack this year appears to be below normal so access should be good throughout the upcoming season. However, bear activity is normally slow in the early half of the season and the mid-coast experienced extended winter-like conditions. While that means bears may be hard to locate in the early season it doesn’t mean these hunts can’t be fruitful. Often the earliest bears to come out of dens are boars and the larger animals.

Bear numbers in the entire region have been stable for many years. In general, bear density is greatest closer to the coast. Good spots to check are skid roads and side roads that are untraveled with lots of grassy margins and bear sign. Hunters should put their emphasis on watching clearcuts and natural clearings. The Biscuit fire area around the Kalmiopisis Wilderness Area in the Chetco unit continues to offer better visibility than other areas. While visibility is not as good in the Tioga and Siuslaw units, bear numbers are good there as well.

Locations: There is lots of public land in the SW Oregon hunt, including national forestland (Siuslaw, Rogue-Siskiyou, Umpqua, Willamette), BLM land and state land like Elliot State Forest. Do your homework and call private timberland companies as some offer access; local landowners include Weyerhaeuser, Plum Creek, Menasha/Campbell Group, Roseburg Forest Products, and Lone Rock Timber Co. Hunters can access public land and some private timberland through the Jackson Cooperative Travel Management Area (JACTMA). JACTMA restricts use of certain roads through April 30; for a map contact an ODFW office.

High Desert Region

South Central (Hunt 731A, season April 15 – May 31)

Last year, 103 hunters took 2 bears, a 1.94% success rate.

Bear populations are stable to slightly increasing but low compared to other areas of the state. The highest bear densities are in the Cascade Mountains with lower densities in the drier, semi-desert portions of the hunt area. Areas for hunters to check include the Keno Unit, western portion of the Sprague Unit, and the Gearhart Mountain area in the Interstate Unit. Focus on the unburned fringes around 2002 fires (Grizzly Fire in the Interstate Unit and the Toolbox/Winter Fire in the Silver Lake Unit) and in riparian areas. In the northern portion of Fort Rock unit bear populations are low and hunters should expect low success. Bear activity is most common west of Highway 97 in the vicinity of riparian vegetation.

Locations: Public access is good within the Fremont-Winema and Deschutes National Forests and on open private timberland. Access for the opener will be excellent given the mild winter and lack of snow pack. Please respect private property, avoid driving on soft or muddy roads.

White River (Hunt 741, season April 15- May 31)

This is a new hunt this year, so tag holders will be pioneers. Bear densities are good in the White River, especially within forested areas. Like other spring hunts, effort should be focused within clear-cuts and meadows early and late in the day. The edges of the major drainages, such as the White River, Badger and Tygh Creeks, should be good places to find bears on the eastern edge of the unit.

Locations: Access is good, with the majority of bear habitat found on public lands. The western edge of the unit has a good amount of county and private timber lands that should provide good opportunity. Be sure to get permission if hunting on private lands.

Hood Unit (Hunt 742, season April 15-May 31)

Last year, 30 hunters took 6 bears, a 20% success rate.

Winter snowpack has been well below average this year, allowing bears to come out of hibernation early and in good shape. The recent spring snow events may help to get bears into lower elevation clearcuts where they are easier to find. Later in the season, when beehives are out in orchards for pollination, hunt forestland near the beehives or seek permission to hunt on private orchard ground that borders the timber.

Locations: Both public lands (Mt. Hood National Forest and Hood River County land) and some private industrial forestland are open to hunting; check with private landowners for access rules and permission.

South Blue Mtns (Hunt 746A, season April 15-May 31)

Last year, 178 hunters took 4 bears, a 2.25% success rate.
The hunt area experienced a light winter. Snow levels are high and should not have much effect on hunter access. Bear populations are stable or increasing but this hunt is still challenging due to the heavy forested terrain which makes it difficult to spot bears. Observations from an ongoing statewide bear study suggest that the northwest section of the Murderers Creek, Beulah, and Northside units have higher bear densities. Hunters often use this tag as an opportunity to scout new hunting areas for next fall’s deer and elk seasons, turkey hunt, or collect shed antlers. Remember it is legal to take naturally shed antlers, but not skulls with antlers attached. Last year’s success rate was low; 178 hunters took 4 bears.

Northeast Region

W. Blue Mountains (Hunt 749A, season April 1 – May 31)

Last year: 150 hunters took 32 bears, a 21.33% success rate (highest of all spring bear hunts).

This year’s warm weather combined with mild snow pack will have the bears out as much as 7-10 days earlier than usual (so early to mid-April rather than late April). Bear density is highest in the northern portion (north of Interstate 84) and lower as one goes south and west in the hunt area. Early season bear activity is concentrated along the lower elevation fringes of national forest land. Bears follow the green-up elevation band; concentrate on timbered slopes with small openings with lush green moss, sedge, or grassy areas.

Locations: The hunt boundary contains a large amount of public land including the Umatilla National Forest.

Starkey (Hunt 752A, season April 15 – May 31)

Last year: 145 hunters took 6 bears, a 4.14% success rate.

Bear numbers are strong. The area received less snow than last year and access will be easier than in 2009. Hunters that use the Dry Beaver-Ladd Canyon road closure area routinely encounter spring bears. Be sure to check access and road conditions before heading out to hunt.

Wallowa District Hunts (Season April 15- May 31)

Access is much better than it was last year but high elevations are still blocked by snow and hunters will not be able to drive on unplowed roads for the opener. There has been little bear activity so hunters are safe in waiting until later in the season to head out. Bear numbers should be about the same as last year. Bear activity generally improves by the first week of May.

Remember the Noregaard, Whiskey Creek and Shamrock Travel Management Areas will be in effect in the Sled Springs unit through May 31; maps are available at entrance points or at ODFW’s Enterprise office.

756 and 756T (youth hunt), Wenaha Unit: Last year, 138 hunters took 29 bears, a 21.01% success rate. For 756T, 32 youth hunters took no bears.

757A and 757T (youth hunt), Sled Springs and Chesnimnus Units: For 757A, 210 hunters took 26 bears a 12.38% success rate and for youth hunt, 65 hunters took 8 bears, a 12.31% success rate.

Hunt 759A, Snake River Unit: Last year, 258 hunters took 30 bears, an 11.63% success rate.

Hunt 760A and 760T (youth hunt), Minam and Imnaha units: For 760A, 179 hunters took 28 bears, a 15.64% success rate and for 760T, 15 youth hunters took no bears.

Pine Creek-Keating-Catherine Creek (Hunt 762A)

Last year, 321 hunters took 28 bears, an 8.72% success rate.

Baker District has received no damage complaints or sightings yet but boars should start coming out soon. Baker experienced a mild winter with moderate snowfall. An early spring has led to open conditions at low and mid-elevations. Higher elevations near Pine Creek and McGraw Overlook still have deep snow. In the Keating Unit hunters will find snow-free areas in some of the lowest portions of the national forest. Many of the mid and high elevation roads in all units are still impassible; contact USFS or ODFW for conditions before heading out.

Locations: Low to mid elevation areas above Hells Canyon Reservoir or Pine Creek are recommended; later in the season try the upper portion of McGraw Creek.

Lookout Mt. Unit (764)

Last year, 23 hunters took 3 bears, a 13.04% success rate.

Moderate snow at high elevation will limit access in the early season. But low to mid elevation areas of Lookout Mtn. unit are snow free. Try south facing slopes near the treeline above Brownlee Reservoir. Private lands limit access; make sure you obtain landowner

Oregon Spring Turkey Hunting Forecast

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDIFE)

More than 15,000 people are expected to turkey hunt this spring in Oregon during the six-week season that runs from April 15-May 31 and the special youth-only hunt April 10-11.

The area surrounding Roseburg in southwest Oregon still leads all other areas in turkeys harvested. The Melrose Wildlife Management Unit once again took top ranking during 2009’s spring turkey season with 855 turkeys harvested by 1,265 hunters, the most turkeys taken of any unit.

In recent years, more hunters have been heading over to eastern Oregon to hunt because there is more public land and success rates are rising. Last year, 55 percent of all spring turkey hunters hunted the eastside. Units with good hunter success in 2009 included Mt. Emily, Wenaha and Sled Springs. Murderers Creek and Heppner units also yielded good harvests in 2009.

Hunters new to the sport can check ODFW‘s turkey hunting brochure (pdf) for hunting tips and other information. Remember that while turkeys are habitat generalists, they prefer rolling hills and oak woodlands interspersed with meadows or pastures. They tend to avoid dense brush.

Here are how prospects break down around the state:

Northwest Region

Trask and Willamette Units: Turkey hunting in the eastern portion of the Trask and northern portion of the Willamette Unit remains difficult for hunters who do not have access to private lands since turkey flocks are concentrated on local farms and ranches. Hunting should be good for those hunters lucky enough to have obtained permission to hunt. Those willing to knock on doors may find some willing landowners and hidden flocks of turkeys.

Scappoose Unit: Turkey populations are extremely low and not widely distributed. Hunters will need to have scouted early to find turkey flocks and obtained permission to hunt on private property.

Stott Mt. and Alsea Unit: Turkeys are often found on the private agricultural lands with rolling oak woodlands adjacent to the larger private timber holdings. Remember to get permission to hunt on private land.

Santiam and McKenzie Units: Concentrate your efforts in the rolling oak hills and agricultural fringes along valley foothills from Carlton to Sheridan. Turkey flocks in the Santiam Unit are typically concentrated on the eastern side of the forest closer to the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and the White River Wildlife Area. There is also some public land in portions of the Santiam and McKenzie units at the lower elevations of Willamette National Forest. Be prepared for winter-like conditions once you leave plowed roads.

2009 spring turkey hunting statistics

Scappoose – no harvest
Wilson – no harvest
Trask – 29 birds by 93 hunters
Willamette – 194 birds by 453 hunters
Santiam – 151 birds by 510 hunters
Stott Mt. – 7 birds by 58 hunters
Alsea – 129 birds by 374 hunters
McKenzie – 137 birds by 496 hunters

Southwest Region

Jackson, Josephine, Curry Counties

Turkey numbers appear to be above average with most turkeys in low to mid elevations of oak and conifer mixed forests, with their associated meadows and clearings. Turkeys will be feeding on green grasses and insects. Use locator calls before light or after dark to locate roosting trees; then set up in an area of their travel and begin calling as light approaches.

Turkeys can be found in about every BLM property in the area—try Williams Creek, Thompson Creek, Kane Creek, Galls Creek in Applegate Unit; Lake Creek, Butte Falls, Worthington Road for the Rogue Unit; and for Evans Creek Unit try Long Branch, east Evans Creek, Jumpoff Joe Creek and Pleasant Creek. Private lands hold numerous turkeys, be sure to ask for permission before hunting.

Douglas County

Hunters can expect an excellent spring gobbler season this year. Last summer’s chick/poult counts were above the 15-year average with 6.3 poults per hen, and coupled with our mild winter the amount of gobblers available for harvest should be above average. During the first part of the spring season the hens will be off nesting so most gobblers will be receptive to calls from hunters. (Keep in mind that overcalling by hunters in an area can lead to less response from gobblers.)

Most turkeys are found in oak savannah habitat which is mostly on lower elevations in the Umpqua Valley. Hunters should always ask for permission before hunting any private lands. Many private lands are tied up by hunting guides who pay landowners for hunting rights so you may have a difficult time gaining access without paying a fee, even later in the season.

There are many acres of federal land for turkey hunting on Roseburg BLM and Umpqua National Forest. The public areas to try hunting turkeys are N. Bank Habitat area (BLM land) just northeast of Roseburg; northwest and southwest (BLM lands) portions of the Melrose unit; the Tiller area (USFS & BLM lands) which is southeast of Roseburg plus Oak Flats and Toketee Air Strip (USFS land) east of Roseburg.

Coos County

There is limited opportunity to hunt turkeys in Coos County. Pre-hunt scouting is important because populations are spotty in distribution. The densest populations are generally found in eastern Coos County near agricultural lands.

2009 spring turkey hunting statistics

44% of the spring turkeys were harvested in the SW Region
32% of the hunters hunted in the SW Region

SW Region TOTAL – 2035 birds harvested by 4830 hunters (By Wildlife Management Unit)

Siuslaw – 137 birds by 460 hunters
Indigo – 79 birds by 137 hunters
Dixon – 108 birds by 309 hunters
Melrose – 855 birds by 1,265 hunters
Tioga – 72 birds by 165 hunters
Sixes – 22 birds by 108 hunters
Powers – 22 birds by 79 hunters
Chetco – 7 birds by 29 hunters
Applegate – 230 birds by 532 hunters
Evans Creek – 201 birds by 625 hunters
Rogue – 302 birds by 1121 hunters

High Desert Region

The White River Unit (which includes White River Wildlife Area) remains the most popular place to hunt. The unit saw the highest number of hunters last year—1,797 hunters taking 302 birds. With hunting pressure high on the White River Wildlife Area, those that want less company should wait until later in the season to head out.

Hunters should focus on areas within three miles of either side of the eastern boundary of the Mt. Hood National Forest, on the line running from the Warm Springs Reservation to the Columbia River. The majority of turkeys will be in that band. The northern portion of the unit is mainly composed of private lands and hunters must have permission to access these lands.

In Crook County, the better opportunities will be on national forestland in the Ochoco and Grizzly Units. Winter conditions were generally mild and turkey survival appears to have been good. Spring started earlier than normal, and green-up has been early and rapid. Birds have moved from many lower elevation wintering areas to higher elevation public lands. Some north-slope areas still have snow and hunters should contact both the Ochoco National Forest and Prineville BLM offices for road conditions and motorized access restrictions. Motorized restrictions remain in effect year-around in the South Boundary Cooperative Travel Management Area (TMA) along the southern boundary of the Ochoco National Forest. Maps of the TMA are available at entry portal signs and at ODFW and Ochoco National Forest offices in Prineville.

Hunters should have a fair opportunity in Jefferson County in the Metolius Wildlife Management Unit. Birds had good survival this winter and are widely scattered. The best locations are on Green Ridge from Black Butte north to the Warm Springs Reservation. Contact the Sisters Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest for road conditions and motorized access.

In Harney County, turkeys are restricted to the northern portion of the county on or near national forest land. Mild winter conditions should have resulted in good over-winter survival. However, local turkey populations remain at a very low level. Access into the national forest should be better than usual, but roads at higher elevations or on northern aspects may be blocked by snow until mid-May or later.

For Klamath County, turkeys are restricted to the Keno Unit. Hunting access is good in the southern portions of the Keno Unit, which is predominantly either open to hunt private timberland or BLM land. A mild winter season has resulted in open access to traditional turkey hunting areas, and over-winter survival of turkeys was likely high. Several releases of turkeys were made into the Keno Unit this winter to help supplement the population. Areas to check for turkey activity are south of Highway 66 and west of the Klamath River Canyon to Copco Road. Turkeys can also be found north of Highway 66 around Johnson Prairie.

2009 spring turkey hunting statistics

Keno – 7 birds by 151 hunters
Klamath Falls – 0 birds by 7 hunters
Upper Deschutes – 0 birds by 65 hunters
Paulina – 7 birds by 22 hunters
Maury – 7 birds by 22 hunters
Ochoco –50 birds by 424 hunters
Grizzly –0 birds by 165 hunters
Metolius – 36 birds by 352 hunters
Maupin – 0 birds by 7 hunters
White River 252 birds by 1,797 hunters
Hood – 43 birds by 151 hunters
Beulah – 0 birds by 72 hunters
Malheur River – 22 birds by 108 hunters
Owyhee – 29 birds by 43 hunters
Whitehorse – no harvest or effort
Juniper – no harvest or effort
Silvies – 22 birds by 115 hunters
Warner – 0 birds by 7 hunters
Interstate – no harvest or effort

Northeast Region

Baker County

Turkey numbers going into the winter were high in Baker County and over-winter turkey survival should have been high due to the mild winter. The recent warm weather has triggered a spring green-up at lower elevations. Hunters should concentrate their efforts near these areas. There is public land hunting access on BLM and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. ODFW Elkhorn Wildlife Area opens to the public April 10, 2010. Remember to ask for permission before hunting on private properties.

Grant County

Turkeys are widely distributed throughout the district. Get a map and understand property boundaries as many of the turkeys are on private property and permission is needed to hunt. The John Day Valley is primarily private land but hunters can access public land along the north and middle fork of the John Day River in the Malheur and Umatilla National Forests and at the ODFW-managed Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area.

Morrow, Gilliam, Wheeler Counties

Turkey numbers on Forest Service land and surrounding forested areas have been increasing over the past few years. The over-winter survival appears good again this year due to the mild winter conditions. Hunters will want to focus on mid and lower elevation and south-facing slopes that are free of snow. Hunters should target the north slopes of the Blue Mountains as well as the North Fork John Day drainage. As the snow recedes, the turkeys will continue to move upslope following the receding snow line.

Umatilla County

Turkeys inhabit Umatilla County in good numbers all along the front face of the Blue Mountains and they are expanding into new areas. These areas are dominated by private land and access is sometimes difficult. However, turkeys do inhabit some public land areas as follows: central Ukiah Unit on national forest land, southern Ukiah Unit on Pearson Ridge and surrounding drainages, Umatilla National Forest lands in the eastern portion of the Heppner Unit, Umatilla National Forest lands on ridges below Black Mountain in the Mt. Emily Unit. As a result of below-average snowfall this winter and early spring, access to the mid-elevation interface of public (national forest) and private lands could be easier than the last two years in April. Turkeys will inhabit the low and mid elevation areas while the snow is still present in high elevation habitats. Low elevation areas are dominated by private ownership and permission is needed to hunt.

Union County

Turkeys are moving upslope and out of their winter range; many are already on their summer range. Look for birds at the north end of the Grande Ronde Valley, Palmer Valley and the south end of the Catherine Creek unit. The highest concentrations of birds will be in the Sled Springs, Wenaha and Mount Emily units. Turkey numbers should be above average this spring due to high winter survival. Hunters can expect less snow than in previous years and more road access for the opener.

Wallowa District

Turkeys wintered well and production was good this year so numbers are up over last year. While there are still lots of areas blocked by snow, there is not as much snow as last year and areas should open up much earlier. Initially, birds can be found in timbered areas near the valley fringe. Later in the season birds are expected to be widely scattered throughout forested areas so hunters should put in some time hiking, listening, and looking for signs of turkey activity. Hunters are reminded that cooperative travel management areas are in effect in the Wenaha and Sled Springs units including on Forest Capital Partners property.

2009 spring turkey hunting statistics

Biggs – 0 birds by 43 hunters
Columbia Basin – 14 birds by 50 hunters
Fossil – 65 birds by 280 hunters
Northside – 22 birds by 180 hunters
Heppner – 165 birds by 554 hunters
Ukiah – 93 birds by 374 hunters
Desolation – 58 birds by 223 hunters
Sumpter – 79 birds by 230 hunters
Starkey – 22 birds by 302 hunters
Catherine Creek – 36 birds by 230 hunters
Mt. Emily – 180 birds by 395 hunters
Walla Walla – 50 birds by 173 hunters
Wenaha – 122 birds by 302 hunters
Sled Springs – 151 birds by 280 hunters
Chesnimus – 22 birds by 58 hunters
Snake River – 29 birds by 72 hunters
Minam – 65 birds by 122 hunters
Inmana –22 birds by 43 hunters
Pine Creek – 58 birds by 237 hunters
Keating – 36 birds by 194 hunters
Lookout Mtn. – 7 birds by 7 hunters

Junction City Pond Youth Derby This Weekend

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Young people interested in catching a fish will find a great opportunity April 17, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Junction City Pond.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will stock more than 3,000 rainbow trout for the Junction City Moose Lodge’s annual youth fishing derby. The trout are provided for the event as part of the Department’s Youth Angling Enhancement Program. The trout come from ODFW’s Willamette Hatchery in Oakridge.

Rods, reels and bait will be available to those young anglers who do not have their own fishing equipment.

Anglers under the age of 14 can fish for free. A juvenile license is required for anglers 14-17 years of age.

To ensure enough fish will be available for the event, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to ask the general public to refrain from fishing the pond before Saturday’s event.

Junction City Pond is an 8-acre pond located about two miles south of Junction City on Highway 99W on the west side of the highway.

WDFW Announces Snake Springer Rules

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE RULE CHANGE NOTICE)

Action:   Expands the area open for spring/summer chinook fishing on the Snake River and increases the daily limits.

TRI-CITIES SALMON ANGLERS GOT THE NEWS THEY'LL BE ABLE TO CHASE SPRINGERS AGAIN IN JUST A WEEK ON AREA WATERS. THIS CREW, CLIENTS OF GUIDE DAN SULLIVAN OF RIVERS WEST FISHING, DID WELL LAST SEASON ON THE COLUMBIA FISHING EGGS MOJOED IN PAUTZKE'S FIRE CURE. (RIVERS WEST FISHING)

Species affected:   Spring chinook

Locations:

A) Snake River from the South Bound Highway 12 Bridge upstream about 7 miles to the fishing restriction boundary approximately 400 feet below Ice Harbor Dam.

B) From Railroad Bridge, about 0.5 miles downstream of the Tucannon River mouth, up about 9 miles to the Corps of Engineers boat launch (approximately 1 mile upstream of Little Goose Dam along the south shore). This zone includes the area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility (includes the walkway area locally known as “the Wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility).

C) From Casey Creek upstream about 6 miles to the fishery restriction area below Lower Granite Dam.

D) From Blyton Landing Boat Launch along the Snake River Road in Whitman County (about 12 miles upstream of Lower Granite Dam) upstream about 19 miles to the boat dock behind the Quality Inn in Clarkston. (The boundary line is from the white sign for Hells Canyon Tours approximately 100 ft upstream of the boat dock that has the small green roofed shed on the south shore) across to the culvert with tanks and trailers on the north shore.

Dates: April 20, 2010 through June 30, 2010 below Ice Harbor Dam (Area A);
April 24, 2010 through June 30, 2010 for areas B, C and D.

Reason for action: The predicted return of 470,000 upriver spring chinook allows for expanded fishing opportunities in the Snake River within Washington.  Expectations are for nearly 200,000 hatchery chinook to return to the Snake River.

Other Information: Only adipose-clipped spring chinook adults or jacks can be retained in these fisheries.   The minimum size of any retained chinook is 12 inches.  Jacks are less than 24 inches long.  The adipose fin-clipped fish must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin.  Fishing must cease as soon as the adult chinook daily limit is retained.  All chinook with the adipose fin intact, and all steelhead, must be immediately released unharmed.  chinook harvest or retention is limited to 2 adults and 4 jacks per day.

EXCEPTION: The area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility, which includes the walkway area locally known as “the Wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility.  The daily bag limit for this limited area is one jack and one adult, but an angler must cease fishing when the 1 adipose-clipped adult is retained.

In addition: The following rules will be in effect for anglers fishing for all species in these areas of the Snake River during the salmon fishery:  Barbless hooks only, night closure in effect, and it shall be unlawful to use any hook larger than 5/8 inch (point of hook to shank).  Anglers cannot remove any chinook or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit.  Anglers are reminded to refer to the 2009/2010 Fishing in Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet (in effect through April 30, 2010), and the new 2010-2011 sport fishing rules pamphlet (in effect May 1, 2010) for other regulations, including safety closures, etc.  Angler catch rates will be monitored closely and Snake River salmon fisheries may be closed prior to June 30 based upon conservation needs.

Information contact:   John Whalen (509) 892-7861

Weekend Clam Dig A Go!

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today finalized a razor-clam dig for this weekend at three Washington beaches. The openings are all on morning low tides. They are:

* 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

No digging will be allowed after noon at any of the beaches. Under WDFW rules, harvesters may take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 taken, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s limit must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers 15 years or older must have an applicable 2010-11 fishing license to dig razor clams on any beach.  Anglers can buy a combination license or an annual shellfish/seaweed license. Also available are razor-clam only licenses in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov .

Licenses can be purchased on-line or at any of the approximately 600 vendors who sell recreational licenses. A list of vendors is at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors .

Dan Ayres, WDFW’s coastal shellfish manager, reminds diggers that portions of the beach at Long Beach and Twin Harbors are closed to the public to protect nesting western snowy plovers, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The closed portion at each beach includes the area above the mean high tide line. At Long Beach, the closed areas are located north of the Oysterville Road from the state park boundary north to Leadbetter Point. At Twin Harbors, the closed areas are located from just south of Midway Beach Road to the first beach-access trail at Grayland Beach State Park. Clam diggers are reminded that the entire northern section of Long Beach is closed to all driving starting at noon each day during this razor clam opener.

“Signs clearly mark the area and instruct people to stay on the hard-packed sand,” Ayres said.

Prospective clammers who live north of Lacey should be warned that overnight and weekend repairs to Interstate 5 will make it considerably more difficult to get to and from Washington’s coast. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced that repairs to the highway between Lacey and Tacoma will close north and soundbound lanes between now and September, resulting in traffic backups that could stretch for miles.

WDFW also has tentatively scheduled a dig for the following dates and beaches. A final decision on the dig will be based on the results of tests for toxins to determine if the clams are safe to eat.

* Tuesday April 27, 6:21 a.m., -1.0: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Wednesday, April 28, 7:06 a.m., -1.4: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Thursday, April 29, 7:50 a.m., -1.6: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Friday, April 30, 8:32 a.m., -1.5: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks
* Saturday May 1, 9:15 a.m., -1.0 : Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch
* Sunday, May 2, 9:58 a.m., -0.7: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch

The National Park Service scheduled the dig at Kalaloch Beach, which is located within the Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at other coastal beaches.

Buzz’s New Springer Bait

Remember our Rig Of The Month from last August? Big huge contraption, about 10 feet long, loaded with gear, holo tape and doodads including a pink worm, deadly on the coho out at Buoy 10, tied by Buzz Ramsey.

Well, the man’s at it again. He’s got something new for another Columbia River salmon species — springers.

Yep, the worm’s back — as is a herring, a Spin-N-Glo, some tubing, a little epoxy, a pair of … oh, just go check out Bill Monroe’s column, then see Buzz’s Wall Photos on his Facebook for more details on what goes into the rig.

Springer Catch Up To 18.4K

The latest figures from the lower Columbia River show that sport anglers have kept 18,438 spring Chinook so far this season — 11,553 in April alone and nearly 8,900 in the seven days between April 5 and 11.

Another 2,621 Chinook have been released this year, according to figures from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife out this morning.

With upriver-bound springers making up 79 percent of the catch and probably a similar percentage of the release, the sport impact is creeping ever closer to the 17,200 available before managers perform a run update.

That’s a ways off, but we may have some answers about where things go from here soon.

“We’re going to put out a fact sheet tomorrow and be able to tell you what happens then,” says Cindy Le Fleur, a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Columbia River manager. The run is jointly managed with ODFW.

As for the hot bite, the waters from the northern tip of Sauvie Island up to roughly the I-205 bridge have been best this month, with 4,886 bonked in that stretch above the Willamette and 3,879 popped into the fish box below the Oregon river’s mouth.

About half of that water remains open through this Sunday, April 18.  The Columbia above I-5 to Bonneville Dam shut down April 4. The waters above the dam are open through May 31.

ANDYCOHO, ERR, ANDYSPRINGER, ERR ANDY SCHNEIDER WITH A CATERPILLAR ISLAND CHINOOK FROM THIS PAST WEEKEND. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Dam counts have picked up substantially with just under 10,000 through Bonneville as of yesterday thanks to four quadruple-digit days in a row at the ladder, including 3,545 on Saturday.

Fishing’s come a long ways since reporters — mea culpa, yours truly — wondered where the hell the fish were and publicly gnashed our teeth over the managers and their damned “record run” forecast of 470,000 back to tribs above Bonneville. But then things began to pick up with 700 kept through mid-March, 2,462 by the next week, nearly 7,000 by the end of the month and 9,600 kings through April 4.

Overall, anglers have made 124,664 trips for springers, a significant economic boost to Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington.

RMEF Vols Impact 1 Acre Of Wildlife Habitat Every 6 Hours

Volunteers for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are helping to enhance or conserve one acre of wildlife habitat for every six hours worked, according to a press release today from the Missoula-based conservation organization.

The stats were released ahead of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, April 18-24, 2010, first designated in 1974.

“Our organization depends on volunteers who are passionate about conserving elk country, and we do our best to deliver efficient, measurable, on-the-ground results. I’m proud of our numbers over the past year,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.

According to RMEF, the organization has more than 10,000 volunteers nationwide who conservatively average 80 hours of donated labor a year, everything from coordinating banquets and other fundraising events to assisting wildlife and land managers by building wildlife watering devices, conducting elk research, removing unneeded fencing and countless other jobs.

Last year, the 800,000 hours of donated labor conserved or enhanced 132,000 acres of habitat for elk and other wildlife.

“Together we’re impacting more than just habitat for elk and other wildlife. We’re also ensuring a future for the experiences and lifestyles and values that are borne of elk hunting,” Allen said.

Since launching in 1984, RMEF has tallied 5.7 million acres of mostly public-land habitat enhanced or conserved, and 585,000 acres opened or secured for public hunting.