All posts by Andy Walgamott

SW WA Fishing Report

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION; KALAMA RIVER INFORMATION FROM CHRIS WAGEMAN, WDFW)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – No report on angling success is currently available.  Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 702 coho adults, 18 jacks and 157 winter-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. During the week Tacoma Power employees released 55 coho adults, two jacks and eight winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and 462 coho adults, 13 jacks and nine winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa, behind Cowlitz Falls Dam.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 12,000 cubic feet per second on Monday, January 11.

The Kalama River winter runs had been about 50% of the last 8 year average. To date, I have handled about 600 hatchery and 70 wild winter fish. The majority of these hatchery fish have been recycled to the lower river for additional recreational opportunities.

Fishing was good during the early part of December and has been off and on since then, mostly due to high turbid flow.

Best catch rates are currently at the deadline in the canyon, however if the river drops this week expect boat success to rise.

There was a lot of boat traffic this past weekend with minimal success.

The canyon produced a few fish and angler effort was high.

The early hatchery fish are still showing in good numbers, with nearly 300 fish worked last week and only about 60 worked today.

The winter brood hatchery fish are starting to show and I expect a stellar return these next few months.

Kress Lake will start to receive surplus hatchery steelhead from the Kalama starting next week.

Lewis River – No report on angling success.  Flows below Merwin Dam were 6,500 cfs today, about half of last week’s high.

The Dalles Pool – Light effort and catch observed last week.

John Day Pool – Bank anglers are catching some steelhead.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam – 2 boats/4 anglers in the Longview area had released 5 sublegals.  2 boats/4 anglers in the Vancouver area had no catch as did 4 bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam.

Bonneville Pool – No catch was observed.

The Dalles Pool – Bank and boat anglers were catching some legals.

John Day Pool – Light effort and no catch was observed.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles and John Day pools – Light effort and no catch was observed.

TROUT

Recent plants of rainbows include:

Horseshoe Lake in Woodland – 3,027 catchables and 20 brood stock averaging 8 pounds each Jan. 5;

Battleground Lake – 3,001 catchables Jan 6;

Kidney Lake near North Bonneville – 45 brood stock averaging 4 pounds each and 23 averaging 8 pounds each Jan. 4;

Icehouse Lake near Bridge of the Gods – 31 brood stock averaging 4 pounds each and 16 averaging 8 pounds each Jan. 4;

Little Ash Lake in Stevenson – 31 brood stock averaging 4 pounds each and 16 averaging 8 pounds each Jan. 4;

Tunnel Lake (just east of Drano Lake) – 30 brood stock averaging 4 pounds each and 16 averaging 8 pounds each Jan. 4;

Northwestern Reservoir (on the White Salmon River) – 30 brood stock averaging 4 pounds each and 16 averaging 8 pounds each Jan. 4

SMELT

Washington lower Columbia tributaries – A decision is expected to be made this week whether any fisheries will take place this year.

Reward Offered In Killing, Waste Of 4 OR Deer

(OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE)

Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s help to identify the suspect(s) responsible for the illegal kill and waste of four deer about ten miles east of Paulina in central Oregon.  A reward of up to $500 is offered by the Oregon Hunter’s Association (OHA) for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.

(OREGON STATE POLICE)

According to OSP Senior Trooper Amos Madison, on January 9, 2010 a rancher in the Rager area about ten miles east of Paulina contacted OSP to report he found two deer that had been shot.  The reporting rancher said the deer were not there the previous afternoon.  Initial response and investigation led to the discovery of a total of four deer were illegally killed and left to waste.  All were does and at least two were pregnant.

Madison believes the deer were shot from Pruitt Road, most likely in the late afternoon / early evening of January 8th with the use of a spotlight.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Senior Trooper Madison at (541) 419-1654.

The reward is offered by the OHA Prineville and State chapters.

Beefing Up The Sturgeon Sanctuary

Sturgeon managers on the Washington side last weekend pitched increasing the size of the spawning sanctuary below Bonneville Dam anywhere from 3.5 to 12 miles, and possibly adding to the fishing closures for the species, according to an article last weekend by Allen Thomas of The Columbian.

Currently, the 5 1/2 miles from the dam down to mile marker 85 are closed for three months in late spring and early summer, but managers want to add to it to help the struggling population, besieged in recent years by sea lions. Counts reveal a decline in the numbers of legal and sublegal-sized sturgeon.

A 12-mile closure would affect fishing all the way down to Rooster Rock, on the Oregon side, Thomas reports.

He adds that managers also suggested making the warmer-water months of August and perhaps September off limits to fishing for the great-fighting oversize fish, already not allowed in May, June and July.

Thomas writes:

The closure is to eliminate the handle of large sturgeon in the area to spawn. There are concerns about the sturgeon spawning population, particularly in light of ever-increasing predation by sea lions … Extending the sanctuary west covers water where the big fish go to recuperate after the stress of spawning.”

The suggestions were made to the state Fish & Wildlife Commission at a meeting in Olympia. Managers are working on a new set of harvest guidelines for the Columbia.

But a “green sheet” presented to the commission notes other actions might be needed to account for increased sturgeon mortality. Discussions at public meetings and with advisory boards have included:

1. Extend the duration of the current sanctuary into April and/or August

2. Extend the lower boundary of the sanctuary downstream

3. Prohibit the use of shad for bait to reduce the effectiveness of the catch and release
fishery targeting spawning size fish

4. Establish a spawning sanctuary in the Willamette River

Bass Confirmed As Dual World Record

(INTERNATIONAL GAME FISH ASSOCIATION PRESS RELEASE)

After nearly six months of waiting, Japan’s Manabu Kurita is taking his place along side Georgia, USA angler George Perry in the International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) World Record Games Fishes book as dual holders of the All-Tackle record for largemouth bass each weighing 22 lb 4 oz and caught 77 years apart.

MANUBA KURITA AND HIS 22-POUND, 4-OUNCE CERTIFIED WORLD-RECORD-TYING LARGEMOUTH BASS, CAUGHT LAST JULY IN JAPAN. (INTERNATIONAL GAME FISH ASSOCIATION)

Today the IGFA approved Kurita’s application for the fish caught from Japan’s largest lake on July 2, 2009.  The 70-year old non-profit fisheries conservation, education and record-keeping body, received Kurita’s application and documentation on Sept. 19, 2009. The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), was caught from Lake Biwa which is an ancient reservoir northeast of Kyoto.

Kurita, 32, of Aichi, Japan, was fishing Biwa that July day using a Deps Sidewinder rod and a Shimano Antares DC7LV reel loaded with 25 lb Toray line when he pitched his bait, a live bluegill, next to a bridge piling. It was Kurita’s first cast to the piling where he had seen a big bass swimming. He only twitched the bait a couple of times before he got bit. After a short, three minute fight he had the fish in the boat.

Kurita was quoted as saying “I knew it was big, but I didn’t know it was that big.”

But big it was.  Using certified scales, his fish weighed in at 10.12 kg or 22 lb 4 oz.  When measured, the fish had a fork length of 27.2 inches and a girth of 26.7 inches. The IGFA only has line classes up to 20 lb for largemouth bass, so Kurita had no chance at a line class record as well.

IGFA rules for fish caught outside the U.S. allows anglers 90 days to submit their applications from the date of their catch. The documentation was received through the IGFA’s sister association the Japan Game Fish Association (JGFA). IGFA conservation director Jason Schratwieser said Kurita’s application was meticulously documented with the necessary photos and video.

Kurita’s fish ties the current record held for over 77 years by Perry who caught his bass on Georgia’s Montgomery Lake, June 2, 1932, near Jacksonville, Georgia. That 22 lb 4 oz behemoth won Field and Stream Magazine’s big fish contest and 46 years later, when the IGFA took over freshwater records from Field and Stream, it became the All-Tackle record now one of over 1,100 fresh and saltwater species the IGFA monitors.

IGFA All-Tackle records are now free for viewing by the public at igfa.org.  Kurita’s name is now on the IGFA Web site with that of Perry’s and will appear in the 2011 edition of the World Record Games Fishes book…. unless that record is broken this year.

The IGFA announced the decision at its headquarters with a live video feed carried on Bassmaster.com, one of the most popular fishing Web sites in the world and the official site of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS).

In North America the largemouth bass, and especially the All-Tackle record, is considered by millions of anglers as the “holy grail” of freshwater fish because of its popularity and the longevity of Perry’s record.  That fish undoubtedly helped to spawn a billion dollar industry that today makes up a significant part of the sport of recreational fishing.

Schratwieser said, “The moment Kurita weighed his fish, word spread like wildfire. We knew this would be significant so we immediately contacted the JGFA for more information. Established in 1979, and JGFA compiles and translates all record applications of fish caught in Japan before forwarding to the IGFA.

“It works out well because they not only translate applications but can also contact the angler if more documentation is needed.”

It turned into a lengthy process

“Since the IGFA requires three months from the time of capture before a record can be approved, the official word would have to wait until October 2,” said Schratwieser.

“However, almost right away rumors began to circulate that Kurita may have caught his fish in a ‘no-fishing zone’. In response, the IGFA immediately corresponded with the JGFA to speak with the angler about this issue and to gather information regarding the legality of fishing where Kurita caught his bass.  Official word came back that the location of the catch was not a no-fishing zone, but was an area where anchoring or stopping was prohibited.  This spurred more correspondence with the JGFA and the angler, including affidavits asking the angler if he stopped his boat at anytime.  Again, the testimony and affidavits that came back indicated that the Kurita did not violate any laws and that his catch was indeed legitimate.”

It didn’t end there.

A considerable amount of time and correspondence was to continue between the IGFA, JGFA and Kurita, a primary reason it took so long to come to a decision.

During this time, the IGFA was also besieged with letters and emails from the bass fishing community, said Schratwieser.

“Many were incredulous that the All-Tackle record could be tied from a fish in Japan.  Others beseeched the IGFA to approve the record and give Kurita the credit he deserves.  Still others wanted to know why the entire process was taking so long.  It soon became clear to the IGFA staff that this would be a contentious issue no matter if the record were approved or rejected.

“The IGFA was also sensitive to this particular record because in past years there have been several attempts to sue us over largemouth bass record claims.  Although none of these claims have been successful, they have resulted in considerable legal fees for the IGFA,” he said.

In the end, the IGFA staff concluded it would be both in the best interest of the IGFA and that of Kurita if he submitted to a polygraph analysis. The IGFA reserves the right to employ polygraph analyses to any record application, and this is explicitly stated in the affidavit section of the world record application form.

Again, more correspondence was issued to the JGFA to request that Kurita take a polygraph test.

He immediately agreed.

On December 15, Kurita was examined by a professional polygraph analyst in Japan.  The many questions he was given included if he was truthful about the information reported on the application form and if his boat ever came to a complete stop while fighting his fish.

The results from the polygraph concluded that Manabu Kurita answered the questions honestly and that the catch was legitimate.

George Perry’s 77 year old record was officially tied.

Due diligence pays off

“Six months may seem like a lot of time to determine if a fish ties a record,” said Schratwieser. “Hopefully, people now understand the amount of due diligence the IGFA conducted on this record.  Although we treat all records with equal rigor, the All-Tackle largemouth bass record is nothing less than iconic and the bass angling community deserved nothing less.”

Schratwieser added, “The IGFA wishes to applaud Kurita on his outstanding catch and would also like to commend him on his patience and candor during the entire review process.  We would also like to thank the JGFA for their diligence and tireless assistance in corresponding with Kurita and fisheries officials.”

Biology and bass across the globe; where will the next record come from?

Largemouth bass have also been introduced in many countries but in Japan fisheries officials consider it an invasive species. In addition, because bass are not native and are stocked in Japan, many speculated that the big bass was a sterile triploid.  However when biologists in Japan examined the ova of the big female, Schratwieser said they concluded that the fish was not triploid.

For over 77 years the record stood as bass fanatics theorized when and where the record would be broken. Over the years there have been rumors and unsubstantiated reports of bass that could have tied or eclipsed Perry’s record, but nothing ever passed IGFA criteria.  Some anglers did come close, however.

Schratwieser said the closest came in 1991, when Robert Crupi caught a 22 lb bass in Lake Dixon, California USA, that still reigns as the 16 lb line class record and the third heaviest approved bass record in IGFA history.

“Most people thought that the next All-Tackle record would come from California.  Until Kurita’s tie the seven heaviest bass records behind Perry’s came from California lakes.  Although not native to California, it appears transplanted bass have adapted quite well to the deep, clear lakes and reservoirs and the abundant trout forage found in some of them.

“Little did people know that introduced bass grew big in places besides California, and that there are true monsters swimming on the other side of the world in Japan.”

More on the IGFA and the World Record Game Fishes book

The IGFA has been recognized as the official keeper of world saltwater fishing records since its founding in 1939.  Annually it publishes a comprehensive list of current records of fresh and saltwater fish across the globe in its highly acclaimed World Record Game Fishes book which is divided into all-tackle, line classes, fly, and junior record categories.

The current 2010 edition of the book was released early this week and is only available from the IGFA with a $40 annual membership. The membership also includes on-line access to the most current updated world records on the IGFA web site, six issues of the International Angler bi-monthly news magazine, unlimited admission to the IGFA’s interactive Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania Beach, Fla., plus much more.

To join, or to renew your IGFA membership, go on-line to igfa.org or call the IGFA headquarters at 954-927-2628.

The IGFA is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making and record keeping.  IGFA members are located in over 125 countries and territories. The IGFA welcomes visitors daily to its expansive and interactive Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum.

Shooting Two Bulls Costs Kelso Man $10K

A man who shot a pair of trophy bulls in Washington’s Blue Mountains – the first illegally filled the tag of his wife back home on the Westside – is out more than $10,000 and can’t hunt for two years.

Christopher Mayeda, 38, of Kelso pled guilty to “unlawful hunting of big game 2nd degree; unlawful transportation of fish or wildlife 1st degree; unlawful purchase or use of a license 2nd degree; and providing false information regarding fish and wildlife,” according to Columbia County District Court, and on Dec. 16 was fined $1,000, and must pay court costs, including a civil judgment for a big game violation, totaling $6,295.

He also paid $3,000 to get his seized pickup truck back, reports the Daily News of Longview.

Mayeda and wife, Tracey, 40, were lucky enough to draw into two of the four muzzleloader tags given out for the Dayton Unit in 2008, and soon after the hunt started, he bagged a 6×6. He slapped Tracey’s tag on it and called her to come get the bull, then went out hunting the next day and killed a 6×7, which he tagged with his own permit, according to the paper’s accounts.

“There’s just a little bit of greed getting involved there,” WDFW warden Bill Lantiegne told the paper in mid-October.

Photos we’ve obtained from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife show the two big bulls.

(WDFW)

(WDFW)

While charges were dropped against Tracey, two others involved in the incident, Jason M. Ford, 39, of Castle Rock, and Steven A. Hamm, 33, of Kelso also pled guilty and were fined, the Daily News reported.

Cascade Set To Reopen

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICE)

Action: The lower section of the Cascade River that was previously closed will re-open to fishing for game fish.

Effective dates: Jan. 10, 2010.

Species affected: All gamefish.

Location: Cascade River from the mouth upstream to Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge.

Reasons for action: Hatchery winter steelhead broodstock collection has been achieved.

Other information: Please see the Sport Fishing Rules 2009/2010 Pamphlet Edition, FISHING IN WASHINGTON, for a complete listing of fishing seasons and regulations.

‘A Pile Of Steelhead’ Show In NW OR

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The same conditions that led to a banner run of hatchery coho salmon last year appear to have had a similar effect beneficial to winter steelhead.

Several Northwest Region fish hatcheries operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are reporting strong returns of winter steelhead. The good early winter steelhead returns come on the heels of a strong coho run last fall. Biologists believe that good flows for outbound smolts in 2008, followed by favorable ocean conditions contributed to better than average survival rates for both runs of fish.

“We have a pile of steelhead showing up in some of these rivers,” said Robert Bradley, assistant fish biologist for ODFW’s North Coast Watershed District.

SCOTT DICKEY FOUND THIS STEELIE IN THE SALMON RIVER, AROUND MILE POST 9, ON DEC. 28, REPORTS FRIEND JASON HARRIS. "HE WAS THROWING A NO. 3 BLUE FOX IN A TROUT PATTERN AND HAD IT LANDED PRETTY QUICKLY." (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

On the coast, early hatchery winter steelhead have provided good fishing opportunities in several streams. When angling conditions have been favorable, catches of early returning hatchery winter steelhead have generally been good. Large numbers of fish are still available in the river, as evidenced by increasing numbers of fish being collected at hatchery traps. The North Fork Nehalem in particular has seen periods of very good fishing since mid-December. Well over 1,000 returning adult hatchery winter steelhead have been trapped at Nehalem Hatchery so far this season.

The Necanicum River, Big Creek, Gnat Creek, Klaskanine River and Three Rivers (in the Nestucca River basin) are other streams offering good early season hatchery winter steelhead opportunities. Due to their smaller size, these streams tend to be in fishable condition more often, as they clear more quickly than larger streams.

“There will be lots of bright, chrome fish in these streams for the next two or three weeks,” said Bradley. “In another month, most of the early returning hatchery winter steelhead will be gone, so we really encourage people to get out and take advantage of this opportunity while it lasts.”

Farther inland, the Sandy and Clackamas rivers and Eagle Creek are seeing large returns, and ODFW’s fish counting station at Willamette Falls is seeing some of its largest steelhead crossings in recent years, according to Todd Alsbury, district fish biologist for ODFW’s North Willamette Watershed.

KEEVIN COLLIER OF PORTLAND IS AMONG THE ANGLERS GETTING IN ON A GOOD WINTER RUN AROUND NORTHWEST OREGON. HE CAUGHT THIS NICE STEELIE IN THE CLACK. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

The six coastal streams are relatively small, and most of the fishing in their waters is done from bank. All six streams are reasonably accessible by vehicle or by foot, although anglers need to be mindful of private property. Persons who possess disabled angler permits may fish from an ADA accessible fishing platform located immediately below the Nehalem Fish Hatchery. The lower Sandy and Clackamas are popular for both boat and bank fishing. Eagle Creek is a bank fishing-only stream.

The bag limit is two adipose fin-clipped steelhead a day.

Recorded information about current river conditions can be accessed by calling the Nehalem hatchery at 503-368-5670 or the Big Creek hatchery at 503-458-6529. Weekly reports are also available on ODFW’s Web site at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/RR/northwest.

2010 OR Rockfish Limit To Remain 7

Despite a 2009 black rockfish catch that came in 120 metric tons under the state quota, Oregon’s will keep the daily limit of seven bottomfish for 2010, reports Mark Freeman in the Medford Mail Tribune.

The quota of 440 metric tons will also remain the same this year as state managers continue to try and protect slower growing species such as yelloweye and canary rockfish, he writes.

Overcatches of those two could spark season closures on other rockfish.

“We could have gone to 10 or 12 fish (a day) and still stay under the quota,” Bandon charter captain Wayne Butler tells Freeman, “But the yelloweye were the drivers that kept us from doing that.”

The reporter as well as an ODFW press release point out that the daily limit was misprinted as six in the 2010 regulations pamphlet.

Writes ODFW:

The marine fish bag includes rockfish and other species such as greenling and cabezon. The higher bag limit went into effect May 1, 2009 based on a favorable stock assessment for black rockfish, the dominant species in the nearshore groundfish fishery. There are separate daily limits for lingcod (two) and flatfish other than Pacific halibut (25). Yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish may not be retained.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted the seven fish limit into permanent regulations in April 2009. The error in the 2010 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations booklet occurs on page 100 where is states the daily bag limit for marine fish (rockfish, greenling, Pacific cod, cabezon, skates and other species not listed on pages 100-101) is six fish in aggregate; it should be seven fish in aggregate.

WDFW Investigates Swan Shooting

The story of a swan illegally shot early last week is breaking hearts in Spokane today.

Local resident James Nelson of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council fears the trumpeter, which was found wounded on the Colville River Dec. 28 and then euthanized by a state Fish & Wildlife enforcement officer, may be “Solo,” a male trumpeter that until last year was single for nearly two decades, or his mate that he sired a hatch with last summer at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

Whether it is indeed the long-lived swan — estimated to be up to 46 years old — local birdwatchers are offering a reward, an amount that’s climbed to $1,600, according to Rich Landers’ piece in the Spokesman-Review today.

Word of the shooting came out in yesterday’s Weekender. It’s being investigated by enforcement officer Dan Anderson.

Agency spokeswoman Madonna Luers says that it appears to not be hunting related, rather “another random act of senselessness,” Landers reports.

He writes that a grayish vehicle was seen in the area after the sounds of gunshots were heard.

Nelson, single for around 30 years, says that Landers’ articles on Solo have touched his heart.

The reporter wrote up the tale of the bird last June in a story headlined “Elderly swan a dad again after 22 years.”

So tickled were the folks at Turnbull, they fired off a press release, “Solo is a Dad.”

They’ve also put together a fact sheet on him and other trumpeters at the refuge southwest of Spokane.

Not Ready for His Swan Song

Improbable survival tales aren’t unique to humans. A venerable trumpeter swan nicknamed Solo has become a legend at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in Washington, where he is the lone survivor of a once-resident flock. Biologists believe the long-lived bird may be one of the original cygnets introduced to Turnbull Refuge in the 1960s.

The idea then was to protect the species by spreading it through more of its historic range. Conservationists brought in groups of swans from Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana until Turnbull’s spring population peaked at almost 30 birds in 1976. That year, the refuge stopped supplemental feeding and pond aeration in hopes that the swans would find a more hospitable winter habitat and then return in the spring. It didn’t work. The birds scattered; some were shot, some eaten by predators, some flew into power lines, some succumbed to drought.

By 1980, there was only one active breeding pair – including Solo. Then Solo’s mate was killed ? probably by a coyote ? in 1988. In 1992, a new female joined Solo. The pair built a nest platform but laid no eggs. The female disappeared in 1994 and no regular family group has formed since then.

Biologists estimate Solo’s age at between 43 and 46 ? ancient in swan years; few swans live past 30. Solo’s collar fell off four years ago, but refuge staff knows him by his behavior. “He shows up here soon after thaw before any other swans are on the refuge,” says refuge biologist Mike Rule, “and then he’s here throughout the summer, long after all other swans have left. He’s tied to this one wetland, where he had nested with his mate and where she was killed, and he defends it against all comers. He doesn’t really bother with ducks, but boy, he just won’t tolerate Canada geese.”

Solo resides year-round at Turnbull Refuge, leaving briefly only when the water freezes.

His return to the NWR last March was picked up everywhere from Tri-Cities to Lewiston to Medford.

Anyone with information on the shooting is being asked to contact WDFW’s poaching hotline, (877) 933-9847.

Those interested in contributing to the reward fund can contact Spokane birder Warren Current at (509) 675-4145.