Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

With Orcas In Mind, WA Salmon Hatchery Reform Policy Under Review

Three principles dictating salmon hatchery operations in Washington have been suspended by the Fish and Wildlife Commission during a policy review, a move in part reflecting a “change in attitude” about production practices.

It comes as the state begins to respond in earnest to the plight of southern resident orcas — one of which was reported missing and presumed dead over the weekend, bringing Puget Sound’s population to its lowest point in 30 years.

KIRAN WALGAMOTT PEERS INTO THE RACEWAYS AT THE WALLACE SALMON HATCHERY NEAR GOLD BAR. THE FACILITY REARS SUMMER CHINOOK, COHO AND STEELHEAD. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

“I’m afraid that a lot of potential sites where there could be Chinook enhancement to increase the prey base for killer whales will be disqualified by our own policy,” said Commissioner Don McIsaac of Hockinson, in Clark County, during Friday’s meeting of the citizen panel.

In mid-March, Governor Jay Inslee issued an executive order directing WDFW to increase hatchery production of king salmon, the primary feedstock for resident orcas and the lack of which could be leading to their low reproduction rates.

Vessel traffic and pollution have also been identified as problems.

Saying that after 10 years it was time for a review, McIsaac made the motion to suspend the first three tenets of the commission’s CR 3619, Hatchery and Fishery Reform Policy, including using guidance from the Hatchery Scientific Review Group, and prioritizing broodstock from local watersheds.

He noted that genetic protections for wild Chinook would still be in place through Endangered Species Act restrictions.

“What I wouldn’t want to have anyone to believe is that this would be going back to what was characterized as the Johnny Appleseed days before of no hatchery constraints on operations,” McIsaac said. “We’re looking for good hatchery operations, and so what this is more about is just some slight differences here over the course of the next six months to allow for a good look at this and not to squelch any killer whale initiatives that are out there.”

IN A SCREEN GRAB FROM C-SPAN 3, DONALD McISAAC SPEAKS BEFORE A CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE IN JANUARY 2014. (C-SPAN)

He termed it “a change in attitude about our salmon hatchery policy” and indeed, his six- to 12-month review will look at results of those reforms, updating scientific knowledge and could include “changing language tone about the positive value of hatchery programs,” as well as consider adding mitigation facilities.

While Commissioner Kim Thorburn of Spokane expressed some concern about suspending portions of the policy, Commissioners Jay Holzmiller of Anatone and Larry Carpenter of Mount Vernon voiced their support of it.

“I don’t want to blame anybody here, but what we’re doing now, and I’m not just speaking to HSRG … across the board simply isn’t working. It’s not working for businesses, it’s not working for individuals, it’s not working for state government. The money’s drying up, the salmon are drying up,” said Carpenter.

In 1989, the state, tribes, feds and others released 71 million Chinook; in 2016, just 33 million were, due in part to WDFW budget cuts over the years.

Yet even with ESA listings,  hatchery reforms and millions upon millions spent on habitat work, wild king numbers are still poor, suggesting something different is at play — perhaps density of harbor seals, according to a just-released paper, not releases of clipped Chinook.

“I simply have a forecast in my view that if we don’t make a change in our programs and methodology, that we don’t have more than 10 years left to have a salmon fishery of any kind — of any kind — in this state,” said Carpenter. “Let’s figure something out and get going on it.”

“Of any kind” surely was a reference to tribal fishing, and in a June 14 letter to Inslee, the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission lent their considerable weight to the issue.

NWIFC Executive Director Justin Parker wrote that his organization wanted to work with the governor’s office to “develop an appropriate and accountable co-manager scientific review process at the same time that the HSRG’s role is phased out of the State budget language and process.”

Certain elements in WDFW’s appropriations are tied to HSRG.

He suggested that it lacks accountability and process, doesn’t undergo enough peer review scrutiny, diminishing its “credibility,” and is scientifically stagnant.

Where the 1970s’ Boldt Decision split the two fleets for decades, more and more, tribal and recreational fishermen are finding common cause. The Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association supported the tribes and feds side against the state of Washington in the culvert case that came before the Supreme Court, and Puget Sound Anglers president Ron Garner recently had the extremely rare honor for a nontribal member — let alone a sport fisherman — of being invited to an NWIFC meeting.

“Over and over I was told, ‘It took some courage for you to come here today.’ It didn’t take courage,” said Garner during public comment last Friday afternoon on HSRG. “It took us running out of fish. We are running out of fish … We are so aligned on our problems it’s nuts. We understand them. It’s going to take us and the tribes to fix them.”

DON PITTWOOD SHOWS OFF A HATCHERY CHINOOK CAUGHT OFF WHIDBEY ISLAND’S POSSESSION POINT DURING THE SUMMER MARK-SELECTIVE FISHERY. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Despite being the newest member of the Fish and Wildlife Commission, it’s the second major salmon-related shift McIsaac’s been involved with this year.

This past winter, with WDFW honchos folding to pressure from the National Marine Fisheries Service on Puget Sound Chinook management and which could have sharply curtailed already-reduced fisheries, he called for a conservation hatchery on a habitat-constrained river system, an example of thinking outside of the box rather than going along for the ride to ruin.

“Much more needs to be done outside of fishery restrictions,” he said at the time.

On Friday afternoon, in a voice vote on McIsaac’s salmon hatchery reform motion, no nays were heard. Afterwards, clapping from the audience could be.

DOE’s Susewind Chosen As New WDFW Director

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission chose Kelly Susewind, of the Department of Ecology, as the new WDFW director.

KELLY SUSEWIND. (WDFW)

In a phone call immediately after the vote late this morning, Susewind told Commission Chair Brad Smith he was “very excited and very nervous.”

Susewind is something of an unknown and wildcard to Washington’s rank and file anglers and hunters, but the commission supported his appointment unanimously.

He has worked for the Department of Ecology for over two and a half decades, most recently as the director of administrative services and environmental policy.

According to a WDFW press release, he originally hails from the Grays Harbor area and went to Washington State University, where he earned a degree in geological engineering.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve the people of Washington at an agency whose effectiveness is critical to our ability to conserve fish and wildlife resources while providing outdoor recreation and commercial opportunities throughout the state,” Susewind said in the release. “The public has high expectations for WDFW, and I’m excited about being in a position to deliver the results they deserve.”

Pat Pattillo, who retired a few years ago from the agency after a long career in salmon management and who continues to keep a close eye on fisheries as well as advocates for sport angling, was very positive about the choice and the relative speed at which the process had moved along.

“I believe Kelly has the abilities to lead the department and communicate effectively with the many partners WDFW needs to be successful. Leadership from the top of the agency has been missing over the last two years and while capable managers for fish, wildlife, enforcement and habitat kept the wheels from falling off, it has been an agency without a head,” Pattillo said.

He said that Susewind will know whom he needs to establish relations with —  “the public, legislature, tribes and other management authorities.”

“It will take energy and, from what I’ve heard, he has that capability,” Pattillo said.

Rep. Brian Blake,  the South Coast Democrat in charge of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee which sees many WDFW-related bills, said Susewind had his “full support.”

“He is a lifelong hunter and I expect that he will be a force for positive change at DFW,” he said.

Fellow hunter Commissioner Jay Kehne of Omak nominated “Candidate P,” Susewind, for the position and was seconded by Vice Chair Larry Carpenter of Mount Vernon.

Susewind will oversee a staff of 1,800, land base of 1,400 square miles and harness a $437 million two-year budget to hold and conserve fisheries and hunting opportunities and provide scientific rationale for what it’s doing.

He also must deal with a potential $30 million budget shortfall in 2019-21 that could force the closure of the Omak and Naches trout hatcheries and other potential cuts unless the gap is filled by the legislature.

“He’s a good manager, great people skills and a real CEO type,” said Tom Nelson, co-host of a Seattle outdoors radio show on 710 ESPN.

Susewind’s soon-to-be old boss, DOE’s Maia Bellon, tweeted out her best wishes, “Congratulations, Kelly! Thank you for all the hard work and years of service at @ecologywa. We wish you all the best at @wdfw, and look forward to collaborating with you in your new role.”

When the Fish and Wildlife Commission put out its help wanted ad around four months ago, it said the next director would lead the agency through a “transformative” period.

“Obviously the Commission wants to take the department in an entirely new direction.  Change is very difficult, and taking over WDFW is nearly as complex as taking over a federal resource agency, with many of the same challenges,” said Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. “We welcome the new director and look forward to working with Mr. Susewind on conservation and recovery of our fisheries, growing participation in fishing and protecting the jobs in the sportfishing industry.”

Chair Smith said that “the appointment marks the beginning of a new era in the department’s history” and spoke highly of WDFW staff and what they could all accomplish together.

Susewind begins work Aug. 1 and will be paid an annual salary of $165,000.

Nineteen people applied for the position in the wake of Jim Unsworth’s resignation this past winter. That pool was cut to seven in April and then three last month.

One of the three, Joe Stohr, who has been acting director since Unsworth left,  sat at the end of the long table as the members of the citizen panel made their choice known. He was consoled by Smith after the vote, and after Smith phoned Susewind, Smith publicly added, “Joe, you have all of our respect.”

There will be some who will be unhappy that, once again, a new director is coming from outside the agency.

Commissioner Jay Holzmiller of Anatone likened the panel’s last selection to “a kid getting cocky on a bike.”

“We got our knees and elbows skinned up,” he said before casting his support for Susewind.

One of the primary reasons for Unsworth’s departure was his handling of Puget Sound salmon fishing issues. Some hoped that the new director would come from this world.

“On the fish side, I don’t believe anyone thinks salmonid biology is (Susewind’s) strong suit but he’s a real quick study,” said Nelson, who added, “I think Susewind is a strong choice and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

But there were many issues that came to a head during Unsworth’s term,  which also suffered from the bad luck of coinciding with sharply declining salmon runs due to the North Pacific’s “Blob,”  the pool of warm water that has crushed several years of returns.

Mark Pidgeon said that the Hunters Heritage Council and Washingtonians for Wildlife Conservation were welcoming Susewind “with open arms.”

“We think that he will make an outstanding Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. We realize that he is taking over a department facing many crises and he will have many difficult tasks facing him.  Both our organizations look forward to working with him to build a better and brighter future for WDFW,” said Pidgeon.

Among Susewind’s immediate challenges will be that looming budget gap, and as a member of WDFW’s Budget Policy and Advisory Group helping the agency navigate those dangerous straits, Pidgeon advised the new top honcho to “open lines of communications, especially to the hunters and fishers.”

“These users have felt shut out. The best way to bring more money in the coffers is sell more licenses, talk with us and see what we want,” he said.

Pidgeon is also on WDFW’s Wolf Advisory Group.

“I want the new director to know he can call on me anytime.”

Wanda Clifford of the venerable Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, one of the state’s oldest sporting organizations, also extended that offer of help.

“We are very pleased with the hire of Kelly Susewind and look forward to working with with him. We would hope that Kelly will have a better understanding of the hunting community and the number of hunters that put time and funds into our statewide budget. We feel that in the past the thoughts, needs and suggestions  from the hunting community have not been respected when in reality a large part of the department’s budget comes from the purchase of license and tags, and as a user group are often put on the bottom.”

With INWC based in Spokane, from where it puts on the annual Big Horn Show, and in the corner of the state where most of Washington’s wolves roam, you can bet that the predators were on Clifford’s mind as well.

“We also would like to see our new director work on the large wolf issue that we face here on the east side of the state,” she said, and wished Susewind good luck.

Editor’s note: My apologies for misspellings, etc., pain in the butt to report breaking news and reaction by phone on a weekend.

USFWS Reviewing Status Of Still-listed Lower 48 Gray Wolves

It’s not just North Cascades grizzly reintroduction that federal wildlife overseers have begun working on again this year. They’re also putting in time on gray wolf delisting for the western Northwest and elsewhere, it appears.

A MEMBER OF CENTRAL WASHINGTON’S TEANAWAY PACK, WHICH ROAMS THE PART OF THE STATE WHERE WOLVES ARE STILL FEDERALLY LISTED, STANDS IN A FOREST. (BEN MALETZKE, WDFW)

Half a decade to the month after first proposing to declare wolves recovered across the rest of the contiguous United States, a process subsequently derailed through lawsuits, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “has begun reviewing the status of the species.”

That’s according to a brief two-paragraph statement emailed to Northwest Sportsman magazine Thursday afternoon by a spokesperson.

“Working closely with our federal, state, tribal and local partners, we will assess the currently listed gray wolf entities in the Lower 48 states using the best available scientific information,” it continues. “If appropriate, the Service will publish a proposal to revise the wolf’s status in the Federal Register by the end of the calendar year. Any proposal will follow a robust, transparent and open public process that will provide opportunity for public comment.”

ODFW’S LATEST WOLF PACK MAP DOESN’T SHOW THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE FEDERALLY DELISTED AND STILL-LISTED AREAS OF OREGON, BUT IT INCLUDES MUCH OF THE EASTERN THIRD OF THE STATE. THE RED LINE  (ODFW)

That could level the playing field, per se, in Washington and Oregon, where wildlife managers and livestock producers operate by different sets of rules depending on which side of a series of highways they’re on.

In spring 2011, Congress delisted wolves in each state’s eastern third — as well as all of Montana and Idaho and a portion of Utah — leaving management there up to WDFW and ODFW.

Meanwhile, federal protections continued in their western two-thirds, where lethal removal is not in the toolbox to deal with chronic depredations.

“Incompatibility between the Washington state management plan and the federal management plan creates a bureaucratic nightmare that leaves communities in Eastern Washington unable to defend themselves against increasing wolf attacks and livestock depredations,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane) wrote to Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in a letter earlier this week calling on his agency to look at delisting wolves.

Regardless of the ranch’s or grazing allotment’s location, both states stress preventative measures to head off cattle and sheep conflicts.

WDFW’S LATEST PACK MAP SHOWS THE DEMARCATION BETWEEN WHERE WOLVES ARE MANAGED BY THE STATE AND UNDER FEDERAL PROTECTIONS, THE BLACK LINE RUNNING NORTH-SOUTH THROUGH EASTERN WASHINGTON. (WDFW)

Later in 2011, USFWS declared the species recovered in the western Great Lakes states.

And then in June 2013, with “gray wolves no longer (facing) the threat of extinction or (requiring) the protections of the Endangered Species Act,” according to then-Director Dan Ashe, the feds proposed delisting them throughout the rest of their range.

But progress stalled, and then came a Humane Society of the United States court case addressing Canis lupus in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“Unfortunately, the delisting of wolves in the Western Great Lakes region was successfully overturned by the courts, which prevented the Service from moving forward with the full delisting proposal at that time,” the second part of the USFWS statement concludes.

Last summer, a federal appeals court decision yielded mixed results, but the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation saw positives, including “(undoing) a number of roadblocks thus providing a path forward.”

Over the years, Washington’s and Oregon’s wolf populations have more than doubled from 2013 levels, largely in the state-managed areas.

And now, USFWS’s big, long delisting pause appears to be over, which will excite some and make others fearful.

Aerial Pics Show Many Anchovy, Baitfish Schools In Parts Of Sound

My first thought was, holy moly, we’ve found the resident coho hot spots!

My second was, what the heck kind of schools of fish are those anyway?

A SCREENSHOT FROM A DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY PDF SHOWS SCHOOLS OF BAITFISH OFF THE PURDY SPIT WEST OF TACOMA. (DOE)

Numerous pods can be seen in aerial images of Puget Sound from last month.

One set of shots was taken in upper Henderson Bay, off Allen Point and the waters just south of the Purdy Spit, the other on either side of Keyport, on the Kitsap Peninsula.

The photos were included in the Department of Ecology’s latest Eyes Over Puget Sound report, a monthly check-in on environmental conditions in the inland sea.

It tracks water quality, freshwater inputs and coastal upwellings, comparing them across the years.

Also monitored are surface conditions, such as those bright-orange “tomato soup” algae blooms that are turning up, as well as marine debris, sediment plumes, jellyfish and the aforementioned schools of fish.

ANOTHER SCREENSHOT FROM EYES OVER PUGET SOUND SHOWS MORE SCHOOLS NEAR KEYPORT. (DOE)

My interest primarily revolved around the old fisherman’s refrain: coho love baitfish, so where you find bait, you find the salmon.

The question was, which prey species would be good to approximate in one’s lure selection?!

Were those herring? I asked James Losee, a WDFW South Sound fisheries biologist. There are several known spawning beaches down his way.

Sandlance? Surf smelt?

I’ve caught Puget Sound coho utterly stuffed with herring; on this year’s June 1 opener I somehow snagged a sandlance with my Buzz Bomb/Yo-Zuri squid set-up; and last year I landed a silver that was digesting a pile perch.

When Losee got back to me, it was with the name of a species I would not have guessed.

“The majority of these groups of fish are anchovies but are also composed of other forage (bait) fish,” he told me via email.

Anchovies? In Puget Sound?

Say what, James?!?

A SCHOOL OF ANCHOVIES. (OAR/NATIONAL UNDERSEA RESEARCH PROGRAM/WIKIMEDIA)

I consider myself a fairly close observer of the Northwest’s natural world and I initially did not recall ever hearing of the thin, filter-feeding plankton eaters in Pugetropolis, except as a pizza topping option when ordering from Pagliacci’s.

I do know that anchovies are an important ocean salmon feedstock up and down the West Coast, moving into the mouth of the Columbia River and other bays to spawn.

It turns out that at one time they were also “a predominant forage species” in what is the Lower 48’s largest estuary by water volume, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In December 2016, their Western Fisheries Research Center spotlighted the Whulge’s forage fish in a report that includes this 1894 quote from an anonymous observer:

“The anchovy come to Puget Sound in enormous quantities, and … every bay and inlet is crowded with them … I have known them to be in such masses at Port Hadlock that they could be dipped up with a common water bucket.”

As you may have guessed, anchovy abundance is believed to be way down from historic levels, as everything good here is.

But in recent years it’s actually been increasing — “dramatically,” says USGS.

Back in 2009, a longtime flyrodder posted he was noticing more.

In May, the Northwest Treaty Tribes blogged that an anchovy population boom in 2015 might have helped more Nisqually steelhead smolts sneak past all the harbor seals.

And last year, “thousands” turned up dead on a Hood Canal beach after a heat wave.

When I pulled up more Eyes Over Puget Sound monthly reports to see if schools showed up in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 late-spring aerials, the answer was:

Jellyfish, yes — and how;
Fish, not really, till this spring.

There’s a lot of grim news out there about Puget Sound these days — drugged-up mussels and Chinook, starving orcas, too much shoreline armoring, etc., etc.  — but WDFW’s Losee says that “exciting things” are also happening here from “a prey resource point of view.”

“The fluctuating patterns of plankton association with pink salmon abundance and the increasing numbers of forage fish and ‘resident’ life histories like blackmouth and resident coho,” he clarified. “Still a lot to try and understand as patterns are complex but seeing schools of anchovies is a good start.”

I know that seeing them from the air is pretty cool too.

Good, Bad News From Search For Invasive Green Crabs In Straits, Sound

Crews searching for invasive European green crab along Washington’s saltwater shores recently were relieved to find only one during a recent survey at a Whidbey Island site, but it’s a different story at the tip of the North Coast.

EUROPEAN GREEN CRAB COLLECTED AT DUNGENESS NWR IN 2017. (ALLEN PLEUS, WDFW)

Nearly 400 have been found at Neah Bay since last fall, the largest concentration discovered so far on the US side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and northern Puget Sound.

The unwanted shellfish have also been reported at Dungeness Spit, with 96 collected last year and 42 so far this year, according to a report in the Sequim Gazette, Westcott Bay on San Juan Island, Padilla Bay and southern Sequim Bay.

Efforts to remove the crabs are being led by state, tribal, university and federal agencies.

The worry is that if green crabs establish a sustaining population, they could damage eelgrass pastures — so important for our salmonids and other fish — and clam beds.

Last year, two were found at Lagoon Point on Whidbey, the first inside the mouth of Admiralty Inlet — the primary entrance to the Central and South Sound and numerous potential sites for colonies to take hold — and during a follow-up search last week, a third turned up.

Kelly Martin at Washington Sea Grant blogged that the 57.5mm-long male appeared to be from the same age-class as the two others, and between that and the lack of others found was “a relief.”

“Green crab still have a presence in the lagoon at Lagoon Point, but their population has not exploded since last fall,” Martin wrote, adding that monitoring will continue.

Genetic work suggests that the crabs at Dungeness did not come from Sooke, across the Straits on the southern shore of Vancouver Island, but their larvae drifted in from a source somewhere else on the West Coast.

A WSG map shows dozens upon dozens of locations in Puget Sound and Hood Canal south of Lagoon Point with a high or moderate suitability for the species.

To learn how to spot green crabs and differentiate them from juvenile Dungies and red rocks, as well as find out more about the efforts of WSG’s Crab Team, go here.

3 WDFW Director Finalists Named

The names of the three final candidates for the director’s position at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have been unofficially revealed.

The Chinook Observer reports them as Joe Stohr, Jennifer Quan, and Kelly Susewind, names that Northwest Sportsman had also heard independently in recent weeks but did not publish.

After WDFW sent out a press release last week announcing the decision was imminent, the Observer had requested the identities of the finalists from the staff of the Fish and Wildlife Commission, but wrote in a story headlined “Next WDFW Director being selected in secrecy” that it had been “refused.” So the paper subsequently went to “other sources” and updated their story yesterday afternoon with the three names.

Since they are now out there, here is more on the trio:

Stohr has been acting director at WDFW since former director Jim Unsworth left in midwinter. He has held various high-ranking positions at the agency since arriving there in 2007.

Quan was a lands manager and governmental affairs advisor with WDFW, and currently is the Central Puget Sound Branch manager for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service.

Susewind is more of an unknown and wildcard, at least to Washington’s fishing and hunting world.

He has worked for the Department of Ecology for over two and a half decades, initially as an engineer and is currently the third person on DOE’s contacts page, where he is listed as the director of administrative services and environmental policy.

The revelations of the names will set off more intense jockeying among WDFW’s myriad interest groups as the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission nears its decision on who the next director will be.

That person is expected to lead the agency through a “transformative” period as budget pressures increase, requiring “clear vision, true leadership, and firm decisions” on their part, according to the job posting.

“The Director will be asked to develop effective new approaches to conserving and recovering fisheries resources, while resolving long-standing and increasing conflicts among competing stakeholders,” read just one part of a 10-point list of challenges the director will face.

Whomever is chosen will oversee a staff of 1,800, land base of 1,400 square miles and harness a $437 million two-year budget to hold and conserve fisheries and hunting opportunities and provide scientific rationale for what it’s doing.

The three candidates will be interviewed again by the nine-member citizen panel on Thursday, with a finalist slated to be chosen late Saturday morning.

Huge Catfish Caught At Seattle’s Green Lake

Pull the July issue’s Rig of the Month, Sonjia, we’re swapping it out for a hair rig and inline feeder set-up!

That’s the outfit that Ahmed Majeed used to catch a very, very, VERY large catfish out of Seattle’s Green Lake this past weekend.

AHMED MAJEED SHOWS OFF HIS MONSTER CHANNEL CATFISH CAUGHT AT GREEN LAKE LAST SATURDAY, A FISH THAT HE SAYS WEIGHED 45 POUNDS ON A HOME SCALE. (AHMED MAJEED)

Washington’s biggest channel cat is a 36.20-pounder caught in 1999, but if Majeed’s scale is any indication, fishery officials would otherwise be rewriting the state record book today if the longtime angler had gotten it onto a certified scale before gutting and filleting it.

“Usually I know the weight by lifting the animal,” Majeed told Northwest Sportsman. “I thought, ‘It’s 40 pounds.’ When I got home I put it on the scale I have. It scaled 45 pounds.”

“I couldn’t lift it with solo handed,” Majeed adds. “I had to use my other hand to provide support.”

Majeed, who works at Microsoft in Redmond, says he doesn’t fish Green Lake all that much, but took it as a challenge after others told him there were only trout there.

Once upon a time tiger muskies were stocked at Green, and along with carp the lake holds largemouth and rock bass.

And over the years, young channel catfish have also been released at Green as 11-plus-inchers, including in 2005, 2011 and 2014. The size of Majeed’s catch suggests his might be going on a decade and a half old – if not older.

WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER COOLER — MAJEED’S WHISKERFISH DIDN’T QUITE FIT ALONGSIDE A CARP HE’D CAUGHT EARLIER IN THE DAY. (AHMED MAJEED)

“When I went (to Green Lake) last Saturday I meant to catch huge fish,” Majeed says. “To avoid small fish from bothering me, I used a hair rig set-up with a Method feeder.”

Essentially, a feeder is a small weighted plate, flat on one side with arches on the other. Around the arches you mold bait, which milks out and attracts fish.

The hair rig is attached to the back of the feeder, not unlike a snelled leader to a swivel. A hank of line extending past the bend of the hook can hold a Corky or other floatant, and additional bait if so desired.

Majeed says he was using fake corn scented with carp mojo, along with a stout size 6 carp hook and 20-pound-test monofilament.

He arrived at Green Lake at 10 a.m. and two hours later caught a pretty nice-sized carp.

“It took another two hours for the cat to bite,” says Majeed. “I was shocked. My first impression was, ‘This is a huge grass carp,’ till I saw its head.”

He says it took him about 20 minutes to land the catfish, and when he got it in, he saw the hook was bent.

For Majeed, who came to the U.S. in 2008 and says he’s been fishing at least once a week since he was an 8-year-old in Iraq, it’s his latest big fish.

“I’ve caught huge ones back in my country,” he says.

“This fish had such a great fight,” Majeed says. “People started gathering from all over the lake to capture pictures and videos.”

It’s the second monster fish caught in Washington waters in just the past two weeks and follows Tom Hellinger’s 250-plus-pound halibut from the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca.

MAJEED REPORTED TO WDFW THAT HIS CATCH TASTED GREAT. (AHMED MAJEED)

For Bruce Bolding, WDFW’s warmwater fisheries manager, channel cats are a cost-effective species to plant in Washington lakes.

“They can live over 20 years. The cost to us when we buy them is pretty cheap. Triploids are $3.25 and last three weeks,” Bolding says.

If you think you’ve caught a possible state record, WDFW says the “most important step” is to get it onto a certified scale – whether a local grocery store’s, post office’s or similar calibrated weighing systems – as soon as possible.

Get the signatures of whoever performs the official weighing and a witness to it. Then head for a WDFW office to have a biologist verify the fish and then fill out the record application form.

Editor’s note: Ahmed Majeed’s last name was mispelled in the image cutlines. My apologies.

More Details On That Giant East Strait of Juan de Fuca Halibut

No, Tom Hellinger won’t be sharing his secret halibut spot anytime soon, though he does offer a hint.

“I can give you the coordinates,” says the 59-year-old Puget Sound angler who hooked a true barndoor late last month. “All the way on the bottom.”

SCREENSHOTS FROM A VIDEO SHOT BY ANGLER TOM HELLINGER’S DAUGHTER ALEISHA HELLINGER FROM THE ROOF OF THE BOAT SHOW THE FINAL STAGES OF TOM’S BATTLE WITH THE 79-INCH HALIBUT AND CELEBRATION IMMEDIATELY AFTER BRINGING IT ABOARD. (ALEISHA HELLINGER)

But the Whidbey Island resident is sharing more details of his remarkable catch, a 6 1/2-plus-foot-long halibut estimated at between 254 and 265 pounds.

“It’s pretty humbling to catch a fish like that,” says Hellinger, who likened it to harvesting a trophy bull elk. “They’re pretty majestic.”

Though unofficial, the fish is within 25 to 35 pounds of the state record, caught out at Swiftsure Bank in the late 1980s.

“I was really blessed to be part of that and have my kids be there,” Hellinger adds.

They were out somewhere on the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca on Sunday, May 27.

With his daughter Aleisha Hellinger, son Caleb Hellinger and fishing partner Luke Reid all angling off the back of the 24-foot Hewescraft, Hellinger went up to the bow.

“I told the kids I was going to catch the big one,” he says.

LUKE REID, ALEISHA HELLINGER, TOM HELLINGER AND CALEB HELLINGER POSE WITH TOM’S BIG CATCH AS WELL AS LUKE AND ALEISHA’S 30- AND 40-POUNDERS FROM THE SAME TRIP. (TOM HELLINGER)

With him he took an Okuma SST halibut rod paired with a Tica reel he’d picked up on sale at a boat show and strung with 80-pound T.U.F. Line.

“The cheapest rod and reel on the boat,” Hellinger jokes in a salty three-minute video Aleisha shot.

With a whole black-label-sized herring and large pink squid on a 10/0 Gamakatsu off a spreader bar and nylon leader on the business end, he used 50 ounces of weight to keep the rig on bottom in 100-plus feet of water.

Hellinger says it was only about five minutes after he began fishing that the bait got the interest of something big.

“He set up hard on it,” Hellinger recalls. “He took 50 to 60 yards of line, just ripped it off. I had to thumb it to stop it, then set the hooks again.”

He says the fish felt solid, “like being hooked into a wall.”

TOM HELLINGER POSES WITH HIS BARNDOOR-SIZED HALIBUT, A FISH HE WAS BOTH “GRATEFUL AND THANKFUL” TO CATCH. (TOM HELLINGER)

Calling Caleb over, he handed the rod to him with some instructions.

“I’ve got a nice fish on, so work him nice and slow,” Hellinger counseled. “We’ll see what comes up.”

He said it took about 40 minutes for Caleb to bring the halibut up to the surface.

“It came up like the mothership — flat, flat as could be. Everybody had that ‘oh, my gosh’ moment. This is a barndoor.”

The initial attempt at getting a harpoon into the fish failed.

“The fish came out of the water immediately. I’ve never seen one do that. It did a 180 and ran down the side of the boat and snapped off the harpoon line,” Hellinger says.

He coached Caleb to let it run, but soon his son said he couldn’t fight it any longer and for his father to take the rod back.

“My pleasure,” Hellinger responded.

THE CREW AND THE HALIBUT. (TOM HELLINGER)

This has been a pretty good halibut season for the longtime employee of Freeland’s Nichols Brothers shipyard, with five between he, Aleisha and Reid — “five times more than usual.”

“I consider it fortunate to get one a season,” Hellinger says.

He says there have been some strings of years with none, and that with Washington’s tightly controlled fishery — with its preplanned and staggered retention days that don’t always align with good weather — he’d even been considering whether it was worthwhile any longer to chase them.

But now, with a big one on, Hellinger found a good spot along the gunnel and fought the seabeast for another 40 minutes, the fish’s movements telegraphing up the line and down the rod into his arms.

“It’s a different feel, like a magic carpet ride. When you hook up, you can feel that undulating swimming motion” that differentiates the flat-sided fish from others like large dogfish, he says.

Where the halibut had come up belly down the first time, now it rose head up as its fight waned.

They took another shot at it with the harpoon, and this time the halibut came at the boat.

“It was something else, like a whitewater event, waves coming over the gunnel,” he says.

As Reid and Caleb stood by with gaffs, Aleisha urged caution and encouragement from the boat’s roof as she took a video of the scene.

Both men then got good purchases with their meathooks, and with a three-count, they slid the halibut over the rails into the stern, where it thrashed blood over the white deck.

The celebrations began immediately with high fives, hugs, whoops of joy — and more than a little disbelief about what this was that they’d just fought out of the depths twice.

Indeed, there still be monsters here, and the Hellinger halibut is just the latest bit of evidence that also includes a series of Straits 200-pounders caught in 2010, the 11-foot Hanford Reach sturgeon, the Tripod Buck, the Scablands Buck, the Fife Buck

As they inspected the fish, Hellinger says they saw that his hook had bent to within 15 degrees of being straightened.

“If we hadn’t got him when we did …,” he says, recalling other hooks over the years that have cracked.

Hellinger admits to taking some flak on a Facebook page that he should have let the fish go. An article last year in the Peninsula Daily News by outdoor reporter Michael Carmen shows that that’s common whenever big halibut are landed here.

But this one also led a good, long life and was able to contribute to the gene pool multiple times over the decades.

Even as we’ll never know exactly how heavy Hellinger’s halibut was because of the impossibility of finding a certified scale during the back half of Memorial Day Weekend — a search detailed in the Whidbey News-Times, which broke the story of the catch — it is safe to say that based on standard length measurements for halibut, his single 78 3/4-inch-long fish accounted for more than 1% of the entire Puget Sound poundage landed over the May 11, 13, 25 and 27 openers, according to WDFW stats. It’s also more than 10 times as heavy as this season’s average flattie here.

Hellinger says its head weighed 42 pounds alone. The fish yielded 140 pounds of fillets, he told Q13, as well as 1 1/2 pounds of coveted halibut cheek meat.

“I was just really thankful and grateful,” Hellinger says. “You don’t really realize how rare that is. Big fish are rare. To be an hour from my home and catch something like that is special.”

High Waters Make For Slow Start To Pikeminnow Reward Fishery

The big spring runoff that’s flooding valleys and alfalfa fields in the upper Inland Northwest has also affected the start of the pikeminnow sport reward fishery downstream on the Lower and Mid-Columbia and Snake Rivers, but catches are expected to improve in the coming weeks.

THE PIKEMINNOW SPORT REWARD FISHERY PAYS ANGLERS TO REMOVE THE NATIVE SPECIES THAT PREYS ON SALMON AND STEELHEAD SMOLTS THAT HAVE BECOME EASIER FOR THE PISCOVORES TO CHASE DOWN IN THE COLUMBIA AND SNAKE HYDROPOWER SYSTEM’S RESERVOIRS. (WDFW)

Through June 3, anglers have caught 34,725, less than half of 2016’s start and the fewest of the past five springs to this point of the season.

“High water really hurts our catch rates, although eventually our experienced pikeminnow anglers kind of figure it out and then catch rates pick up,” notes WDFW’s Eric Winther.

He heads up the program that pays participating fishermen on the Columbia between Cathlamet and Tri-Cities, as well as the Snake below Clarkston for removing the native species that preys on salmon and steelhead smolts migrating through the hydropower system.

“The high water really messes with newer anglers trying to learn how to target pikeminnow,” he notes. “It’s hard enough to learn when conditions are good, but when you have nearly twice the flows, it can be downright discouraging.”

Flows at Bonneville Dam have ranged from 350,000 to nearly 500,000 cubic feet per second since the fishery began May 1. Average over the past 10 years is 250,000 to 325,000 cfs.

At this same point in 2017, anglers had caught 47,250 pikeminnow; in 2016, 70,691; in 2015, 63,787; and 2014, 38,745.

Still, the tally is higher than 2013 (29,970) and 2012 (26,882).

Most notably down is catch turned in at The Dalles, which last year yielded 44,667 overall but so far has only given up 9,337 through its traditionally most productive weeks of season.

“The Dalles catch is definitely off from last year,” confirms Winther. “What happened was that lots of anglers went there at the start of the season, conditions were tough, so they spread out and started looking in other areas.”

Catches at Cathlamet, Willow Grove, Rainier Kalama and Ridgefield were all up this May compared to last spring.

“Just when some people are giving up on The Dalles, the water finally starts dropping and catch rates have jumped up. Should she increasing catches for the next three to four weeks as we move into their peak spawn time and river conditions improve,” he says.

The sport reward program pays anglers from $5 to $8 per pikeminnow, with tagged ones worth $500.

So far this season, the top angler has earned $9,617 from 1,057 fish turned in.

The season runs through Sept. 30.

For more details, including fishing maps and info on three free fishing clinics coming up — including one tomorrow in Longview — check out pikeminnow.org.

‘Free Fishing Season’ Arrives In Northwest With Lots Of Learning, Angling Ops

Oregon kicks off “free fishing season” in the Northwest this Saturday and Sunday, while Washington and Idaho hold their festivities on June’s second weekend.

It’s not only a great way to get lapsed anglers — yo, Uncle Terry, I’ll be by early to head to the lake! — on the water but features a ton of kid- and family-friendly events.

MAEVE, AGE 7, WITH HER FIRST FISH CAUGHT WITH THE HELP OF AN ODFW ANGLING EDUCATION INSTRUCTOR AT TIMBER LINN PARK POND IN ALBANY DURING AN EARLIER FREE FISHING DAY EVENT THIS YEAR. (ODFW)

Here are what ODFW, IDFG and WDFW are planning for their state’s respective free fishing days:

THE FOLLOWING ARE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASES

Fishing is free June 2-3 in Oregon
Learn to fish at events statewide

It’s free to fish, crab or clam in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday, June 2 and 3.

During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon for both residents and non-residents. Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions.

“Free Fishing Weekends are a great opportunity for friends and families to get out and enjoy a day or two of fishing,” said Mike Gauvin, ODFW recreational fisheries manager. “Trout, warmwater fish, ocean fishing, crabbing and clamming are just some of the great opportunities available.”

Look for the best opportunities in ODFW’s Weekly Recreation Report, which is updated every Wednesday.

Oregon State Parks are also free to visit on June 2-3, with day-use parking fees waived both days and free camping on Saturday, June 2 (an $8 reservation is required to guarantee a camping spot).

ODFW and partners are also hosting a number of fishing events around the state. Volunteer angler education instructors will be loaning out fishing gear and giving tips on how to catch and clean fish at most events. For more details and contact information for these events, visit https://myodfw.com/articles/2018-free-fishing-days-and-events

Saturday, June 2

  • Albany, Timber Linn Park Pond, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Alsea, Oregon Hatchery Research Center, 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Ashland, Hyatt Lake-Mountain View Shelter, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Baker City, 203 Pond, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Camp Sherman, Wizard Falls Hatchery, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Chiloquin, Klamath Fish Hatchery, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Clatskanie, Gnat Creek Fish Hatchery, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Detroit, Detroit Lake/Hoover Boat Launch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Diamond Lake, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Eugene, Alton Baker Canoe Canal, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Gaston, Henry Hagg Lake, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Gervais, St Louis Ponds, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Gold Beach, Libby Pond, 8:30 a.m.-noon
  • Hammond, Coffenbury Lake-Fort Stevens State Park, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Hebo, Hebo Lake, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Heppner, Cutsforth Pond, 8-11 a.m.
  • Klamath Falls, Lake of the Woods Resort, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Lakeside, Eel Lake/Tugman Park, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Oakridge, Willamette Fish Hatchery, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Otis, Salmon River Hatchery, 8 a.m.-noon
  • Prairie City, McHaley Pond, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Rockaway, Nedona Pond, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Selma, Lake Selmac, 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Silverton, Silverton Marine Park, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (required to park offsite, see details)
  • Sunriver, Caldera Springs, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Sutherlin, Cooper Creek Reservoir, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Tillamook, Trask River Hatchery, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Toledo, Olalla Reservoir, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Sunday, June 3

  • Gaston, Henry Hagg Lake, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Port Orford, Arizona Pond, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Reedsport, Lake Marie, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Under statute set by the Oregon State Legislature, ODFW can offer eight days of free fishing each year. The other remaining days of free fishing in Oregon coming up this year are listed on page 16 of the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations and are Sept. 1-2 (Sat.-Sun. of Labor Day Weekend) and Nov. 23-24 (the two days after Thanksgiving).

Free Fishing Weekend events in Southern Oregon

ROSEBURG, Ore – Oregonian’s can fish, crab and clam for free during Free Fishing Weekend, June 2-3. Events held around Southern Oregon give families an opportunity to try their hand at landing a trout.

The following events held are Saturday, June 2 unless noted:

Coos County:

  • Eel Lake at Tugman State Park, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. At a series of stations, kids will learn how to identify fish, tie knots, and cast along with fishing courtesy and water safety. Kids 12 and under can have the chance to catch trout out of a net pen. Lunch is provided.

Curry County:

  • Arizona Pond, Sunday, June 3 from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. The annual Elk River Hatchery free fishing event moved to Arizona Pond located 15 miles south of Port Orford on Highway 101 across from Prehistoric Gardens. This event is open for youth age 17 and under and is hosted by Elk River Hatchery and Oregon State Parks. Rods, reels, bait and tackle will be provided for the event, along with ice and bags so kids can take their fish home. Volunteers can help young anglers and Port Orford Rotary is providing lunch and refreshments. A raffle will be held at noon. ODFW is stocking 800 legal-sized and 300 trophy trout. Information: David Chambers, 541-332-7025.
  • Libby Pond, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. This event is for kids 13 and younger. Sign-up for prizes begins at 8 a.m., and the event features lunch, prize drawings, and loaner fishing equipment. Adults are encouraged to help their young ones fish. Help will also be on hand from Curry Anadromous Fishermen, Oregon South Coast Fishermen, ODFW and the U.S. Forest Service who are all sponsoring the event. Libby Pond is about eight miles up North Bank Rd., Gold Beach.

Douglas County:

  • Cooper Creek, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. This popular event has a kiddie pond stocked with trout for kids up to 12 years old, loaner rods and reels, casting lessons, and a fish cleaning station. Once kids go through an education station, they get a ticket for raffle drawings. Free hot dogs and Pepsi. ODFW is stocking 2,000 larger sized trout just before the event.
  • Diamond Lake, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. This fishing derby is for kids 17 and younger. Check-in begins at 6 a.m. at the resort’s Marina. There will be prizes for biggest fish by different age classes so kids should check in their trout for measurement at the Marina by 2 p.m. There will be door prizes and hot dogs in front of the resort after check-out concludes.
  • Lake Marie, Sunday, June 3 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. for kids 14 and under. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Rods and reels will be available, along with help for first-time anglers. Kids can enter a casting contest and get a bounty for picking up litter. Kids can also try out Gyotaku, or fish printing. Hot dogs and soda are free to kids with a nominal charge for adults to help pay for next year’s event. ODFW recently stocked 2,000 larger sized trout for the event.

Jackson County:

  • Fish Lake, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The BLM and USFS will have rods, tackle and bait on a first come, first served basis.

Josephine County:

  • Lake Selmac, 7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Josephine County’s only Free Fishing Weekend event is sponsored by the Middle Rogue Steelheaders and ODFW’s Angler Education program. Rods and reels are available for loan and bait is provided. There’s a fishing contest for the biggest fish caught by youth, donated prizes, a free BBQ 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., and a 50/50 raffle.

All other regulations apply including bag limit and size restrictions. People who already have a combined tag for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut are encouraged to use it as it provides data for fish managers.

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

June 9 is Free Fishing Day

Saturday, June 9th is Free Fishing Day, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game invites veteran and novice anglers of all ages, residents and nonresidents alike, to celebrate the day by fishing anywhere in Idaho without a license. Though fishing license requirements are suspended for this special day, all other rules, such as limits or tackle restrictions, remain in effect.

“Free fishing day provides a great opportunity for novices to give fishing a try and perhaps develop it into a life-long pursuit,” Fish and Game regional fish manager Joe Kozfkay said. “Parents are encouraged to bring their children out for a day of fun fishing excitement.”

Lack of fishing experience is no excuse. At special locations around the southwest region, equipment will be available for use and fishing experts will be on hand to help novice anglers learn the ins and outs of fishing. In addition, all these locations will be stocked with hatchery rainbow trout prior to the special day. Look for the event nearest you and Take a Kid Fishing.

For more information regarding Free Fishing Day, contact the Fish and Game McCall office (634-8137) or the Nampa office (465-8465).

Free Fishing Day Events in the Southwest Region – Saturday, June 9, 2018
Note: pay special attention to event times. Check the Fish and Game website (https://IDFG.idaho.gov) for schedule additions and or changes.

Atwood Pond (Payette) – Registration begins at 8:00am

Hosted by Safari Club International

Council (Ol’ McDonald) Pond – 9:00am – 1:00pm

Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office

Fischer Pond (Cascade) – 10:00am – 2:00pm

Hosted by Lake Cascade State Park and Idaho Fish and Game

Kimberland Meadows Pond (New Meadows) – 9:00am – 1:00pm  

Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office

Kleiner Pond (Meridian) – 9:00am – 2:00pm
Hosted by the Southwest Idaho RC&D Council, Micron Technology and Idaho Fish and Game

Legacy Park Pond (Mt. Home) – 9:00am – 1:00pm

Hosted by the Idaho Fish and Game Reservists

Lowman (10-mile) Ponds – 9:00am – 2:00pm
Hosted by the Boise National Forest (Lowman Ranger District), Sourdough Lodge and Idaho Fish and Game

McDevitt Pond (Boise) – 8:00am – Noon

Hosted by the Boise Police Association and Idaho Fish and Game

Northwest Passage Pond (McCall) – 9:00am – Noon

Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game

Rotary Park Pond (Caldwell ) – 9:30am – Noon

Hosted by Caldwell Rotary and the City of Caldwell

Sawyers Pond (Emmett) – 9:00am – Noon
Hosted by the Gem County Recreation District, Boise National Forest (Emmett Ranger District) and Idaho Fish and Game

Visitor Center Pond (Idaho City) – 9:00am – 1:00pm

Hosted by the Boise National Forest (Idaho City Ranger District) and Idaho Fish and Game

Wilson Springs Ponds (Nampa) – 8:00am – Noon
Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game

THE FOLLOWING IS A WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE

OLYMPIA – Each year, thousands of Washingtonians go fishing – legally – without a license on “Free Fishing Weekend,” scheduled for June 9-10.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state.

Anglers will also not need a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement, otherwise required to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries. Nor will they need a Two Pole Endorsement to fish with two poles in selected waters where two-pole fishing is permitted.

Also, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). A Discover Pass will also not be required on Washington State Parks lands throughout the weekend, but will be required on DNR lands both days.

“If you haven’t fished in Washington, or want to introduce fishing to someone new to the sport, this is the weekend to get out there,” said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW inland fish program manager.

Options available on Free Fishing Weekend include:

  • Trout in lowland lakes, and in the many rivers opening to trout fishingJune 2 throughout the state
  • Lingcod on the coast.
  • Bass, crappie, perch and other warmwater fish biting in lakes throughout Washington.
  • Shad on the Columbia River.
  • Hatchery steelhead on rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.

New anglers should check online for the “Fish Washington” feature at the department’s homepage (http://wdfw.wa.gov). The site provides details on lowland lake fishing, high lake fishing and marine area opportunities. Catchable trout stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the weekly stocking report on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.

For those who want even more fishing advice, the Fish Washington video page (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/videos) provides “how to” fishing videos designed to introduce techniques to both new and seasoned anglers.

Anglers who take part in free fishing weekend can also participate in the department’s 2018 Trout Fishing Derby and redeem green tags from fish caught over the weekend. Interested anglers should check for details online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/derby.

Before heading out, anglers should also check the current fishing regulations valid through June at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations. In addition, the free “Fish Washington” app, available on Google Play, Apple’s App store and WDFW’s website (https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/mobile_app.html), is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state. The exception, for now, is the app does not yet include information on shellfish and seaweed collection rules.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, it’s still important to check the regulations for other rules such as size limits, bag limits, catch record card requirements and area closures that will still be in effect, said Thiesfeld.

Catch record cards, required for some species, are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors on the WDFW website to locate a license dealer.