All posts by Sam Morstan

All-depth recreational halibut fishing will close off Ilwaco

The following is a wdfw emergency rule change notice

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

May 24, 2017

All-depth recreational halibut fishing will close off Ilwaco, continue in most other marine areas

Action: Recreational halibut fishing in the all-depth area will close in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco), effective at the end of the day Thursday, May 25. Marine Areas 3 (La Push), 4 (Neah Bay), and 5-10 (Puget Sound) will be open to recreational halibut fishing for another day on Thursday, June 1.

Effective date: 11:59 p.m. Thursday, May 25, 2017

 Species affected: Pacific halibut

 Location:  Marine Areas 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

 Reason for action:  There is not sufficient quota remaining to allow another all-depth fishing day in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) after Thursday, May 25. There is, however, enough quota reserved to continue to allow halibut retention with bottomfish on board in the nearshore area of Marine Area 1 Mondays through Wednesdays until further notice.  Any quota not taken in the all-depth fishery will be transferred to the quota available for the nearshore area. 

Sufficient quota remains to open another fishing day in the north coast (Marine Areas 3 and 4) and Puget Sound (Marine Areas 5-10) on Thurs. June 1. Catch data will be evaluated following the opening on June 1 to determine if enough quota remains for additional fishing days in the north coast and Puget Sound. 

These rules conform to action taken by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) and the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). 

Additional information: There is not sufficient quota remaining to open the nearshore fishery in Marine Area 2 (Westport). This area will remain closed to recreational halibut fishing for the remainder of the year.

Information contact: Heather Reed, (360) 902-2487

Elk Habitat Conserved in Washington’s Lewis River Watershed

The below is a press release from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
May 22, 2017
MEDIA NOTE: For a high-resolution photo or more information,
contact Mark Holyoak, RMEF, 406-523-3481 or
This news release is also posted here.

Elk Habitat Conserved in
Washington’s Lewis River Watershed

MISSOULA, Mont.—Nearly 4,500 acres of prime wildlife habitat in southwestern Washington are permanently protected and opened to public access thanks to ongoing collaborative efforts by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and PacifiCorp, an electric utility company.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This forestland is crucial habitat for Roosevelt elk. It’s now forever protected and conserved in a region where designation of the Mount St. Helens National Monument restricts management options.”

“Conserving and managing this habitat on the southwest slopes of Mount St. Helens, where elk are threatened by forage loss from forest succession and habitat loss to development is a just part of PacifiCorp’s ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Todd Olson, the company’s compliance director. “We highly value the partnership with the RMEF and the other parties that makes this possible.”

The just-completed 1,880-acre acquisition is the third phase of a project that previously protected an additional 2,590 acres of habitat in the upper Lewis River basin north of Swift Reservoir.

The combined 4,470-acre property was originally in a checkerboard ownership pattern. It is now blocked up and provides connectivity with state and federal lands to the north and is part of a 15,000-acre landscape managed as wildlife habitat by PacifiCorp. This management is conducted with input from RMEF, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and resource agencies.

“Federal forests near Mount St. Helens are overgrown and contributed to the decline of what was once one of Washington’s most productive elk herds. This project greatly improves forest management which is a huge benefit for elk and other wildlife,” added Henning.

The landscape provides vital elk migratory corridors and is home to blacktail deer, black bear, mountain lions and a wide array of bird and other animal life.

With few exceptions to provide public safety, PacifiCorp wildlife lands are open to non-motorized public access including hunting and other recreation.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 222,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.1 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at or 800-CALL ELK.
Take action: join and/or donate.

About PacifiCorp
PacifiCorp provides electric service to 1.8 million customers in six western states. Operating as Pacific Power in Oregon, Washington and California, and as Rocky Mountain Power in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho, our goal is to provide our customers with value for their energy dollar through safe, reliable electricity.

Dworshak Reservoir Fishing Forecast

The following is a press release from Idaho Department Of Fish and Game

Dworshak Reservoir Fishing Forecast


Tuesday, May 16, 2017 – 3:52 PM MDT

It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a winter like this past one. But spring is here, the weather is warming and anglers are getting out on Dworshak Reservoir to chase bluebacks, smallies, or whatever else may bite.

Dworshak is one of the most popular fisheries in the Clearwater Region, and here’s how the fishery is shaping up.


Last season was a great year for kokanee anglers. There were more kokanee than typical, but of average size. A higher than average number of two year old fish resulted in one of the highest catch rates documented in the last 30 years. There was also a record number of larger, three year old fish.

Catches like the one pictured below were common for several hours of fishing. This year there could be a typical number of kokanee, but of above average size.  We expect there will be approximately 210,000 two year old kokanee, which is very close to the average two year old fish abundance since 2000.

In addition, about three percent of the two year old fish from last year could carry over as three year old fish, which would be a little over 10,000 fish. If this is the case, anglers could expect to catch one larger three year-old fish in each limit of 25.

One unknown this year is how many kokanee were entrained – lost through the dam. High entrainment would mean lower than average survival, and fewer fish than expected. Heavy snowpack resulted in the Corps of Engineers releasing high volumes of water out of the dam this spring.

While we did see evidence of a couple of entrainment events in late April, they appear to have been short in duration. We won’t know for sure until our surveys in late July, but at this point it appears we’ll still have plenty of fish for a decent fishery.

While on Dworshak in early May, we marked very few fish on our sounder and the anglers we spoke to were having a hard time locating fish as well. While this may indicate a lack of fish in the reservoir, we noticed what few fish we marked were holding very shallow. Surface temperatures at the time were ideal for kokanee, meaning that many of the fish could have been holding close to the surface, where they are difficult to impossible to find with down looking sonar.

This happened last April as well, when the fish seemed to disappear for about a month, until water temperatures warmed enough to force the fish back down in the water column. Any fish that haven’t been flushed out of the reservoir this spring will be much easier to locate as the water warms.

Overall, while kokanee numbers may be down from last year, size is on the increase. Most fish are already above the long-term average of 10 inches, and they should be just starting to grow for the year. We have already measured fish over 12 inches, including one that was brought to a check station that was 14 inches. With good growth, we could see fish averaging 12 inches by summer.


If you’re not a kokanee fisherman, there are still plenty of reasons to fish Dworshak. Bass fishing has been good the last two years, and this year is shaping up to be more of the same.

Water temperatures have been cooler this spring, compared to the last two years, and larger fish moved into shallow water on the lower end of the reservoir by late April. As a result, the fishing has been slow, but the fish caught have been larger than average.

The smallmouth we checked in April averaged over 15 inches long, with some over 18 inches. As the water continues to warm, the larger fish will move into deeper water and smaller fish will move up along the banks. As this happens, catch rates will pick up, but average size will go down. Water temperatures have been much cooler on the upper end of the reservoir, so these movements will be happening over the next few weeks.

Even with cooler temperatures and some tougher angling conditions this spring, some dandy smallmouth continue to be caught. Anglers fishing a tournament at the end of April did quite well, with most anglers returning with limits of medium to large fish.

ODFW Commission Hears Columbia Sturgeon Possibilities, Wolf Plan Testimony

The following is a press release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife


Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Michelle Dennehy, 503-931-2748,

Friday, May 19, 2017

Commission hears public testimony on Wolf Plan, schedules work session for June 8

PORTLAND, Ore.—The Commission heard from a panel of stakeholders representing Wolf Program stakeholders and an additional 73 members of the public who signed up to testify at a meeting about the revised Draft Wolf Plan today.

The meeting was live-streamed and a recording can be viewed at ODFW’s Twitter account.

Commissioners have now heard public testimony about the Draft Plan at meetings in La Grande, Klamath Falls and Portland. No decisions were made at today’s meeting, and a date for final adoption of a revised Draft Plan was not set. Chair Finley did schedule a work session for Commissioners on Thursday, June 8 from 1 – 5 p.m. in Salem at ODFW Headquarters, where commissioners will have a chance to ask questions of ODFW staff, discuss the draft Plan and provide direction to staff on next steps. This work session will be open to the public to attend and listen, but no public testimony will be taken at this meeting.

Commissioners also heard an update from ODFW staff on a possible Lower Columbia River sturgeon retention fishery. The Commission had requested staff look into this issue a few months ago. Staff noted that the legal-size sturgeon population had been significantly rebuilt since a January 2014 closure and believed a “small but meaningful” fishery was possible.  Several commissioners expressed support for the idea. Oregon and co-managers Washington intend to hold a hearing about the fishery next week.

The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in Oregon.

Court refuses to hear culvert case appeal


Treaty Indian tribes in western Washington will restrict fisheries again this year because of declining habitat.

9th Circuit refuses to hear
culvert case appeal

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier today refused to hear the state of Washington’s most recent appeal of the culvert case. The decision could bring to a halt more than 15 years of litigation on whether the state of Washington has a duty under federal treaty to protect salmon habitat.

You can read the entire ruling here.

“This is a win for salmon, treaty rights and everyone who lives here,” said Lorraine Loomis, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “Fixing fish-blocking culverts under state roads will open up hundreds of miles of habitat and result in more salmon. That means more fishing, more jobs and healthier economies for all of us.”

The appeal stems from Judge Ricardo Martinez’s 2013 ruling that failed state culverts violate tribal treaty rights because they reduce the number of salmon available for tribal harvest. Judge Martinez ruled that tribal treaty-reserved rights to harvest salmon also include the right to have those salmon protected so they are available for harvest.

He also ruled that the state’s duty to fix its culverts does not arise from a “broad environmental servitude,” but rather a “narrow and specific treaty-based duty that attaches when the state elects to block rather than bridge a salmon-bearing stream.”

Judge Martinez gave the state 15 years to reopen 90 percent of the habitat blocked by its culverts in Western Washington. More than 800 state culverts block salmon access to more than 1,000 miles of good habitat and harm salmon at every stage of their life cycle. The state has been fixing them so slowly it would have needed more than 100 years to finish the job.

The U.S. government filed the case in 2001 on behalf of the tribes. It is a sub-proceeding of the U.S. v. Washington litigation that led to the landmark 1974 ruling by Judge George Boldt. His decision upheld tribal, treaty-reserved rights and established the tribes as co-managers of the resource with the state of Washington.

“Reserving the right to fish so that we can feed our families and preserve our culture was one of the tribes’ few conditions when we agreed to give up nearly all of the land that is today western Washington,” Loomis said. “The treaties our ancestors signed have no expiration date and no escape clauses.”

More information on the current state of culvert repair work can be found at the treaty tribes’ State of Our Watersheds Report.

ODFW seeks input on upcoming Columbia Basin summer steelhead seasons

The following is a press release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Tucker Jones, (971) 673-6067,
John North, (971) 673-6029,
Jessica Sall, (503) 947-6023,

Thursday, May 18, 2017

ODFW seeks input on upcoming Columbia Basin summer steelhead seasons

CLACKAMAS, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will host a public meeting on Wednesday, May 24 to solicit input for recreational summer steelhead fisheries in the mainstem Columbia River and adjacent streams. The meeting will be held at ODFW NW Region Office, 17330 SE Evelyn Street, Clackamas, Ore. from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Forecasted 2017 returns for Columbia and Snake River summer steelhead are at unprecedentedly low levels and restrictions to recreational fisheries will be necessary. The meeting agenda will include an overview of the 2017 summer steelhead forecast and proposed changes to Columbia River summer and fall steelhead regulations.

People who cannot attend the meeting can send input to John North ( or Tucker Jones (

WDFW Fishing Rule Change: WDFW approves another day of halibut fishing in marine areas 3 and 4, portions of Puget Sound


Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

 May 17, 2017

WDFW approves another day of halibut fishing
in marine areas 3 and 4, portions of Puget Sound

Action:  Recreational halibut fishing will open Thursday, May 25, in marine areas 3 (La Push), 4 (Neah Bay), and 5-10 (Puget Sound).

WDFW previously announced halibut fishing will be open May 21 in these same areas as well as Marine Area 2 (Westport).

Effective date: May 25, 2017.

Species affected: Pacific halibut.

Location:  Marine areas 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Reason for action:  After reviewing the most recent recreational Pacific halibut catch data, it is clear that sufficient quota remains to open another fishing day in the north coast (marine areas 3 and 4) and Puget Sound (marine areas 5-10) on Thursday, May 25. Catch data will be evaluated following the opening on May 25 to determine if enough quota remains for additional fishing days in the north coast and Puget Sound. 

However, there will not be sufficient quota remaining in marine area 2 to open another all depth fishing day after Sunday, May 21. We will assess the Area 2 catch and, if there is sufficient quota to open a nearshore fishery, we will announce that the following week.  If not, then the nearshore fishery will remain closed. 

The recreational halibut fishery remains open in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) Thursdays through Sundays at all depths and Mondays through Wednesdays in the nearshore area.

These rules conform to action taken by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) and the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). 

Information contact: Heather Reed, (360) 902-2487.

Snake River spring chinook fisheries to close


Fishing Rule Change

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

May 16, 2017

Snake River spring chinook fisheries to close  

Action: Closes the chinook fishery on the Snake River.

Species affected:  Spring chinook salmon.

Effective date:  Immediately.


  1. A) Below Ice Harbor Dam:  Snake River from the South Bound Highway 12 Bridge near Pasco upstream about 7 miles to the fishing restriction boundary below Ice Harbor Dam;
  2. B) Below Little Goose Dam:  Snake River from Texas Rapids boat launch (south side of the river upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam.  This zone includes the rock and concrete 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);
  3. C) Clarkston:  Snake River from the downstream edge of the large power lines crossing the Snake River (just upstream from West Evans Road on the south shore) upstream about 3.5 miles to the Washington state line (from the east levee of the Greenbelt boat launch in Clarkston northwest across the Snake River to the WA / ID boundary waters marker on the Whitman County shore).

Reason for action:  The spring chinook run size was downgraded from 160,400 to 83,000. This extreme drop in run size requires WDFW to close this fishery immediately.

Information Contact:  Jeremy Trump, District 3 Fish Biologist, (509) 382-1005.

WDFW’s 2017 ‘Citizen Awards’ honor innovation and long-standing commitment

The following is a press release from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

May 16, 2017
Contact: Jason Wettstein (360) 902-2254

WDFW’s 2017 ‘Citizen Awards’ honor
innovation and long-standing commitment


Jarrod Kirkley of River Junky with Dir Jim Unsworth and Joe Stohr behind podium

OLYMPIA – One organization fulfilled the hunting and fishing dreams of youth with severe disabilities, while another matched volunteers with manufacturers to clean rivers around the state. A third demonstrated sustained commitment to conservation and rural livelihoods in central Washington for nearly 75 years.


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recognized the contributions of these and other top volunteers during its 2017 citizen awards ceremony today in Olympia.

Greg Volkhardt (left) Jim Unsworth (Center) Bryan King (right)

Youth Outdoors Unlimited (Y.O.U) ( of Moses Lake took home an Organization of the Year award for its work assisting young people with disabilities. Supported by the efforts and donations of anglers, hunters and other outdoorspeople, the organization arranges for all-expenses-paid adventures for young people and their families, including adaptive equipment, travel, food, and lodging.


“Youth Outdoors Unlimited makes hunting and fishing wishes come true for young people with serious illnesses and disabilities,” said Dolores Noyes, ADA program manager with WDFW. “This organization teaches youth with disabilities how they can access their recreational dreams using specialized equipment to accommodate their specific physical needs.”

YOU Jim Unsworth Joe Carpenter Nathan Jonson (back) then Faith Torgerson, then Mikey Williamson then Zach heckinger and Cindy Carpenter

Kittitas County Conservation District ( also took home an Organization of the Year award for its 15-year-long effort to expand fish habitat in Manastash Creek, as well as its 75-year-long history of working for conservation and rural livelihoods.

Loren and Norma Holthaus with Director Jim Unsworth

“Kittitas County Conservation District has been a bulwark of support for fish, wildlife and landowners,” said Mike Livingston, WDFW regional director for southcentral Washington. “This organization has played an important role in many of the noteworthy accomplishments in conserving natural resources on private lands in that county.”

River Junky (, a nonprofit organization founded in 2016, was named Volunteer of the Year for connecting fishing gear manufacturers with volunteers to clean up trash at popular water access sites and in state rivers such as the Kalama, Skykomish, Puyallup, Blue Creek Cowlitz, and Sandy River.

“River Junky is bringing people together to clean up our rivers — and making it fun,” said Chris Conklin, an assistant program manager with the department. “Offering promotions, gifts and prizes, the organization and its volunteers are providing a new way to maintain the quality of the outdoor experiences we all enjoy.”

Director Jim Unsworth center, with Sherry Swanson on left and Anna Lael on right, of Kittitas County Conservation District

WDFW also recognized Educators of the Year, Loren and Norma Holthaus for teaching hunter education for more than 30 years in Washington. Together, they taught more than half of the hunter education classes in Okanogan County last year, certifying 108 new hunters. “The Holthaus’s efforts have meant better classes, better training for instructors, and a solid foundation for a new generation of hunters in Washington,” said Chuck Ray, a hunter education coordinator for northcentral Washington.


Other citizen awards announced by WDFW include the following:

Cathy Lynch with Director Jim Unsworth



  • Terry Hoffer Memorial Firearm Safety Award: Cathy Lynch received the Terry Hoffer award for her exceptional contributions as a hunter education instructor. Lynch certified 14 new volunteer hunter education instructors and some 500 students—more than 15 percent of the students in the North Puget Sound region in 2016.

    “Cathy is incredibly effective at finding ways to improve the team’s teaching methods,” said Steve Dazey, a hunter education and volunteer coordinator with WDFW. “She always goes above and beyond, is there when we most need her, and she takes the extra time to ensure young students get the most out of the courses.”

    The award honors Wildlife Agent Terry Hoffer, who was fatally wounded by a hunter accidentally discharging his firearm in 1984.


  • Landowner of the Year: The Green River Watershed staff of Tacoma Water ( took home a Landowner of the Year award for their work over the past 30 years with WDFW and the Muckleshoot Tribe to manage, maintain and improve opportunities for deer and elk hunting.

    “Tacoma Water staff such as Bryan King and Greg Volkhardt have helped provide distinctive hunting opportunities for decades,” said Russ Link, wildlife program manager for WDFW’s North Puget Sound region. “These two, among others, deserve recognition for their tireless work to support conservation and hunting in one of Washington’s most populated districts.”

Citizen volunteers around the state logged nearly 60,000 hours on WDFW projects in 2016. WDFW welcomes volunteer help to benefit fish, wildlife and habitat. For more information, visit the agency volunteer page at

Columbia Springer Run Downgraded, Shad Lagging


  • The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has downgraded the Columbia adult spring Chinook run to 75k at Bonneville and 83k at the river mouth.
  • The pre-season forecast was 160,400 fish to the river mouth.
  • Though early, only 21 shad have been counted at Bonneville Dam through May 14.
  •  It’s the 2nd lowest number of shad counted at the dam since 1986.
  • The fewest are the 16 fish counted through May 14, 2012.