Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Roaming From Chrome: More Columbia Anglers Turn To Walleye

It’s not just AndyCoho roaming from chrome these days!

The most famous Northwest salmon and steelhead angler’s been dabbling with walleye of late, and an outdoor writer along the world’s Chinookiest crick has developed an interest in the tasty white-meated fish as well.

WHEN THE SALMON AND STEELHEAD DON’T WANT TO PLAY — OR AT LEAST RETURN IN GOOD NUMBERS — ANGLERS TURN TO WALLEYE, AND THIS YEAR HAS PROVED TO BE A GOOD ONE IN THE COLUMBIA’S EAST GORGE RESERVOIRS, WHERE THIS PAIR WAS CAUGHT RECENTLY. (YAKIMA BAIT)

Al Thomas of The Columbian details why he’s strayed in a great article out today.

“This spring chinook season in Southwest Washington was so flaky — with the high streamflows by mid-March and low Bonneville Dam counts — that I only made one trip for the premier fish of the Columbia River.”

“I opted instead to chase walleyes in the Columbia Gorge and that turned out to be a fantastic choice.”

THEY’RE NOT THE TROPHY WALLEYE THAT FISHERMEN FOCUS ON FROM FEBRUARY THROUGH APRIL IN HOPES OF SETTING A NEW STATE OR WORLD RECORD, BUT PLENTIFUL SMALLER AND TASTIER WALLEYE ARE ATTRACTING, SHALL WE SAY, EYES. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

There seems to be plenty to catch this year, possibly due to 2015’s warm waters as well as its low flows providing.

Creel samplers have been tallying high numbers on The Dalles and John Day Pools, and the upper end of the former reservoir is where Buzz Ramsey found himself a couple weeks ago during a Facebook Live broadcast with guide Cody Herman, fellow Yakima Bait staffer Jarod Higginbotham and ODFW.

GUIDE CODY HERMAN OF DAY ONE OUTDOORS SHOWS OFF ONE OF 28 WALLEYE HE AND THE BIG FELLAS FROM YAKIMA BAIT CAUGHT A COUPLE WEEKS AGO. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

“Yeah, walleye are mostly smaller and don’t fight like silver fish but who cares; they offer a great tasting alternative and pull your string a lot more often than most days spent chasing salmon and/or steelhead,” Ramsey told us afterwards.

They caught 28 in a couple hours of “trolling a Hammer Time spinner in combination with a Spin-N-Glo bottom walker,” he reported.

On the end was a slightly different big-river bait than Ramsey usually runs on the Columbia.

“Yeah, the worms are more of a hassle than lures or even herring, but you can take the fight out of the squirmy little fellows with a hard throw to the floor, which makes hanging them straight on your worm harness a lot easier,” he tipped.

A COPPER-BLADED HAMMER TIME SPINNER BAITED WITH A NIGHTCRAWLER WAS THE SET-UP OF THE DAY. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Ramsey tells Thomas that when salmon runs are smaller, state Departments of Fish and Wildlife do notice more anglers going out for walleye in the eastern Columbia Gorge reservoirs, suggesting we’re not as locked into chrome only as you might think.

Thomas has been doing so well, he writes that he and his partner have set a boat limit of 20 between them. (There’s otherwise no limit, as both states eliminated those a couple years ago.)

And you might even see Buzz and his trademark hat out there again, trolling for these Midwest imports.

“I cooked a few fillets shortly thereafter, along with two eggs, and again experienced the taste of a great-tasting fish that I’ve gone too long without,” he told us.

OUR MAY 2017 COVER STORY BY ANDYCOHO — ANDY SCHNEIDER — NAILED WHY AND HOW TO ROAM FROM CHROME THIS YEAR.

Fee Hike Dead, WDFW Hopes For General Fund Infusion Instead

It’s now very unlikely Washington hunters and anglers will have to pay more for their licenses any time soon, as it appears WDFW’s fee increase bill is dead for the year.

That word this morning from the agency’s legislative liaison, Raquel Crosier.

“I think we’ll get between $5 million and $10 million in General Fund to deal with budget shortfalls. It’s not as much as we’d hoped for, but it plugs holes,” she said.

Crosier said that $10 million would still require deep cuts, “but not public-facing” ones, meaning they could be dealt with through efficiencies away from the eye of sportsmen and state residents.

As it stands, lawmakers are wrapping up their second special session today, with the third starting tomorrow. Crosier is optimistic a 2017-19 budget with funding for WDFW will be worked out before the June 30 deadline. Though McCleary may not be resolved, that would at least prevent closing fisheries and shuttering hatcheries till a deal is struck.

WDFW’s fee increase proposal — seen by some sportsmen as a done deal but actually requiring the legislature to approve and governor to sign into law — was the subject of a long campaign stretching all the way back to August 2015, when the agency took its Washington’s Wild Future initiative on the road around the state.

June 2016 saw the revealing of proposals, which would have raised around $26 million to help maintain and increase fishing opportunities and enhance hunting ops.

It included $17 catch cards for salmon, steelhead, halibut and sturgeon, later whittled down to $10 apiece in the face of opposition.

This February, the proposal received a public hearing in front of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, which helped identify stakeholder concerns and that more work was needed outside Olympia with fishing and hunting groups on HB 1647.

Crosier said that as recently as a month ago, recreational organizations were supportive of 20 percent increases on the fishing side and 7 percent on the hunting side.

But while the Democratic-controlled House preferred the fee-based approach, Republicans who control the upper chamber did not, and it really showed in the language and approaches senators took with WDFW throughout this year’s legislative sessions.

When agency honchos talked about support from constituents, senators pointed to stacks of emails and letters expressing opposition.

If it had been approved, it would have been the first major hike since mid-2011, but to a degree, WDFW’s big ask also faced bad timing.

True, it may really need more funding, but on the backside of some stellar years of fishing, these past two have seen generally poor salmon runs and unprecedented fishery restrictions due to The Blob, the loss of access to Skokomish River kings and coho and the subsequent backing away of support for fee increases by three important angling organizations, as well as self-inflicted wounds such as the unexplained loss of a couple hundred thousand steelhead smolts from the state’s last best summer-run river, all of which left sportsmen wondering why they should pay more for less.

Despite the apparent death of license fee hikes this go-around, WDFW is hopeful two other revenue bills will pass.

This morning, the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee gave a do-pass recommendation to extending the Columbia River endorsement another two years, key for holding salmon and steelhead seasons in the basin.

Crosier said it’s likely the legislature will pass Sen. Kirk Pearson’s SB 5947, with fees going towards monitoring fisheries that occur on or amongst ESA-listed stocks.

And she is also hopeful that legislation addressing the rising threat to Washington waters from aquatic invasive species passes. Sen. Jim Honeyford’s bill has twice been approved unanimously by senators, but keeps getting shuttled back to the House as special sessions end and begin again.

Dipping into the General Fund for however much would begin to fill the $40 million cut out of WDFW’s budget from that source in 2009.

Looking further down the road past the hoped-for infusion, Crosier also mentioned creation of a conservation task force to look into how to better fund nongame management.

 

Apparent Wolf Captured, Collared In Eastern Skagit County

What could be the first wolf captured in Western Washington is now being monitored by wildlife managers.

The 100-pound animal was collared Thursday, June 8, in eastern Skagit County near Marblemount and released.

USFWS CONFIRMS A POSSIBLE WOLF WAS CAPTURED AND COLLARED NOT FAR UP THE SKAGIT VALLEY FROM HERE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The news was broken by the Skagit Valley Herald.

“We did capture what appears to be a 2- to 3-year-old male gray wolf,” confirms U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ann Froschauer late this afternoon.

She says blood and saliva were taken from the animal and sent to the agency’s forensic lab for testing, confirmation that it’s a full-blooded wolf and to determine where it might have come from.

WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS WORK ON THE SEDATED CANID CAPTURED JUNE 8. (USFWS)

While at least four collared wolves have briefly wandered into Western Washington in recent years (one of which didn’t make it back out after being hit on I-90), this would be the first to have been captured, outfitted with telemetry and released west of the Cascades.

Froschauer says its movements are being monitored via GPS collar to “see if it sticks around or wanders off.”

USFWS and WDFW were drawn to the location in mid-May after a resident reported three chickens killed by a wolf and had solid photos to back it up.

Initially there were suggestions that a pack might be in the area, based on howling, but that’s less certain now.

“We did hang some cameras out. We did not see any other animals. As of right now there’s at least one that appears to be a wolf,” Froschauer says.

Grand scheme, a single wolf doesn’t do much for state recovery goals, but it has the potential to bring issues from the 509 much closer to Western Washington.

USFWS has management authority over wolves in the western two-thirds of the state, where the species remains federally listed.

WDFW had no comment.

WDFW also has had no comment about two dead calves found in the Kettle Range two days ago and which were investigated yesterday.

And WDFW probably doesn’t want to comment on the latest from Washington State University, where a professor plans to sue over alleged free speech violations involving wolves.

Steelhead Limit Reduced Then Retention Barred On Columbia, Parts Of Coolwater Tribs

Columbia steelheaders are going to have a tough go of it in 2017, no thanks to 2015’s Blob.

Managers are reducing bag limits on the big river and Southwest Washington tribs first, then closing retention for the species to deal with low forecasted returns of summer-runs and protect critically weak ESA-listed B-runs bound for Idaho and stocks headed to North-central Washington.

“Until last year, we had some pretty good fishing seasons for summer steelhead in the Columbia River Basin,” WDFW’s Ron Roler said in a press release out this afternoon. “Now that ocean conditions have shifted – as they do on a recurrent basis – we all have to structure our fisheries accordingly.”

LOWER COLUMBIA STEELHEADERS LIKE BOB SPAUR WILL SOON SEE THEIR LIMIT CUT IN HALF TO PROTECT LOW FORECASTED RETURNS OF SUMMER-RUNS BACK TO TRIBUTARIES ABOVE BONNEVILLE DAM. SPAUR CAUGHT THIS PAIR IN 2011. (BOB SPAUR)

The restrictions are in an emergency rule-change notice posted this afternoon and in the press release.

Starting June 16 and continuing through July 31, anglers will only be able to keep one hatchery steelhead in the Columbia from the Astoria-Megler Bridge up to The Dalles Dam, as well as in parts of six coolwater tribs.

Those include the Cowlitz below the Lexington (Sparks) Road Bridge; Lewis below the East Fork; Wind below Shipherd Falls; Drano Lake; and White Salmon below the bridge by the former powerhouse site.

Nightfishing will also be banned on the mainstem Columbia up to The Dalles Dam except for anglers enrolled in the northern pikeminnow program, as well as on the above trib sections.

Then, from Aug. 1-31, steelhead retention will close on those same waters as well as at Buoy 10.

Drano will also be closed to steelhead in September.

Restrictions are likely in Oregon’s lower Deschutes and John Day Rivers during that period too, according to a recent article, which also states that the protections will continue upstream into the Snake, where a 30-inch maximum size limit and nightly closures are being considered.

According to WDFW, the Columbia from The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam will close to steelheading in September, John Day to McNary in September and October, and McNary Dam up to Highway 395 in Pasco in October and November.

The rule tweaks come as managers expect only 130,700 summer-runs back to Eastern Washington, Northeast Oregon and Central Idaho rivers, the fewest since 1980 and just 38 percent of the recent 10-year average.

But what’s really driving things is that the prediction of 7,300 B-run steelhead includes only 1,100 wild fish.

Because of how that stock is managed under the Endangered Species Act and harvest sharing with the tribes, just 22 B-run mortalities are available for sport and nontribal commercial fisheries in the Columbia and those tribs.

That’s very few fish to go around for a lot of anglers, though B-runs tend to be most vulnerable in Gorge tribs.

Fed by glaciers and snowfields, these provide coolwater refuges for steelhead as they move up the much warmer Columbia. Passage at Bonneville Dam peaks in mid-August, early September at The Dalles.

As the mostly hatchery stocks wait for the Columbia to cool, anglers can do very well at Drano and elsewhere by fishing prawns under a bobber or trolling plugs.

Commercial and tribal fisheries will also be constrained, according to WDFW.

According to a federal fisheries biologist recently interviewed by Eric Barker at the Lewiston Morning Tribune, this year’s low forecasts harken back to The Blob, which on land produced very low snowpacks over winter 2014-15, warmer than usual air and water temps that spring and summer and largescale fish dieoffs, and at sea moved forage around, essentially starving steelhead and salmon.

Last year the effects manifested with a blown A-run forecast, and this year it’s As as well as Bs that will take the hit.

“This is the lowest return we have forecasted I think on record,” NOAA’s Jeremy Jording told Barker. “Even if you go back into the 1990s, this year would be even lower than anything we observed during that poor period of survival.”

‘Free Fishing Season’ Returns To Northwest Starting This Weekend

Early June is “free fishing season” here in the Northwest, a chance to get friends and family without a license out and with all kinds of events and opportunities to take advantage of this weekend and next.

SPRINGERS ARE AMONG THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FREE FISHING DAYS ACROSS THE NORTHWEST. KRIS RONDEAU NABBED THIS BIG ONE ON OREGON’S UMPQUA WHILE ANCHOR FISHING THE LOWER END WITH A GREEN LABEL HERRING BEHIND A SPINNER. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

First up is Free Fishing Weekend in Oregon, June 3-4, which ODFW calls “the perfect weekend to take a friend or family member out fishing, crabbing or clamming.”

The agency has lined up a mess of events all over the state Saturday, and for even more ideas, check out the weekly Recreation Report!

Idaho’s Free Fishing Day is June 10, and Fish and Game will be hosting activities across the Gem State, including its Southwest Region.

Then, on June 10-11, it’s Washington’s turn to host the free fishing.

What to fish for in the Evergreen State? WDFW suggests coastal lings, spinyrays throughout the state and Columbia River shad, among other opportunities, and for even more, check out the June Weekender.

Just remember, even though the fishin’s free, all the usual bag limits and regulations apply.

 

USFWS, WDFW Looking For Signs Of Possible Wolf Pack In Skagit Co.

Federal and state biologists are looking into the possibility that there may be wolves in eastern Skagit County.

Spokeswoman Ann Froschauer says it’s too early for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to confirm that reported tracks, howls and photos mean wolves have indeed arrived on the west side of the North Cascades or how many there might be, but in recent weeks her agency and WDFW biologists have been following up on good leads.

FEDERAL AND STATE BIOLOGISTS HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING UP ON EASTERN SKAGIT COUNTY RESIDENTS’ REPORTS OF POSSIBLE WOLVES. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Froschauer says that in mid-May, a resident reported a suspected depredation of their chickens by a wolf and had pictures to back it up.

The resident told investigators that they had heard howling and seen tracks for a couple months beforehand too, according to Froschauer.

“Follow-up conversations with other area residents included reports of additional sightings, tracks, and howling in the area,” she adds.

Froschauer says the howling is “suggestive of multiple wolves.”

“Biologists attempted to capture one or more animals over the next week and a half without success. We have deployed trail cameras, and will continue to investigate reports of wolf activity in the area,” Froschauer says.

Capturing one would help determine if the animal was a purebred wolf, hybrid or something else.

And if proven to be a wolf, it could mean the first pack in Western Washington outside of the British Columbia-denning pack that haunted the Hozomeen area of Washington’s upper Ross Lake in recent years.

Froschauer says USFWS and WDFW get multiple unconfirmed reports of Westside wolves annually, and says at least four individuals are known to have traveled from their packs west across the Cascade Crest at one point or another.

“Wolves have continued to naturally recolonize the state via dispersal from resident Washington packs and neighboring states and provinces,” she says.

Wolves west of Highways 97, 17 and 395 are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act and managed by USFWS. Those east of that line are managed by WDFW and state listed.

On The Trail Of Fishing And Hunting In Germany

Der Angler was right where you’d have expected one to be, casting into the tailrace of a low head dam.

We’d just waltzed the Philosophenweg on the hillside across from Heidelberg and were crossing the Neckar back to the Altstadt for lunch and ice cream when I looked over and saw the man fishing off a ramp sloping into the river.

AN ANGLER FISHES GERMANY’S NECKAR RIVER AS IT FLOWS THROUGH HEIDELBERG. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

It was late morning and the sun was shining brightly over Southwest Germany that day earlier this month, but with how stained the water was below the spillway of a set of locks, I figured the fisherman must have felt he had a chance of hooking something.

And I knew there was something very big swimming nearby.

When Amy, River, Kiran and I had started our walk a couple hours before, I’d seen a dark back briefly surface about a half a kilometer downstream, leaving a large set of ripples on the otherwise calm river.

Holy Fahrvergnügen, what the $%@$ was that?!? was my first thought.

If it had been the Columbia, I would have immediately said sea lion, but neither the Neckar nor the Rhine it feeds are known for their pinnipeds, let alone manatees or freshwater dolphins.

As my family walked on ahead, I stood and watched the river, ruling out a swimmer, diver and the odd duck.

Had I just seen one of those wels catfish?

These sturgeon-sized bottomfeeders are native to the Danube and other Central and Eastern European basins, but have done well since being stocked in Western European watersheds, which run on the warmer side.

Pictures abound of fishermen in up to their gills in rivers and lakes while holding huge whiskerfish they’ve hooked and landed (they’re said not to taste good, so are mainly released).

I’m not sure if a wels was what this particular one was after, but I took a couple photos and, as one angler to another, wished him good luck.

It would not be the last time I crossed paths with fishing or hunting during our two-week trip throughout the middle and upper Rhine River valley and its tributaries.

BEING A NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN as well as a hook-and-bullet magazine editor, I naturally keep my eye open for fish and game wherever I go.

If there’s a stream, I’m peeking into it, wondering about its angling possibilities. If there’s a patch of forest, I’m curious about what its leaves and needles might be hiding.

A RESIDENT’S DISPLAY OF ROE BUCK ANTLERS IN ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER, IN NORTHERN BAVARIA. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Germany’s woods and waters hold red deer (Hirsch), wild boars (Wildschwein), ducks, rabbits and pigeon, as well as walleye (Zander), pike (Hecht), brown trout (Forelle), introduced grayling, and carp and its relative the asp, among other species.

Of course, fishing and hunting are tightly regulated there, far more so than here, where there are minimal barriers to entry by comparison.

A 2003 article in Montana Outdoors magazine outlines the rigorous steps needed just to get a hunting license — a year of study followed by a test that half are said to fail — as well as the social responsibilities that come with the activity.

Writes James Hagengruber:

The 450,000-some hunters in Germany play the combined role of game warden, wildlife biologist, and agricultural pest controller. They also must ensure that wild game animals have sufficient food and habitat. “The hunting right and the conservation duty are inseparable,” said [Thomas] Baumeister, [a German native who worked for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks].

And a post by a Neckar River valley-based catfisherman who has caught a 150-pound wels details some of what he’s faced with:

We have bans on using livebaits, night fishing, boat fishing, wild camping etc. and you have to abide by them. With special rigs and techniques, you can still present bunches of worms and deadbaits attractively. If you want to be successful, you have to use your imagination.

BUT DURING OUR RECENT TRAVELS through the country my wife was born and grew up in, we crossed contemporary as well as historical references to fishing and hunting, showing their cultural importance.

Right beside the Neckar in Heidelberg was the Goldener Hecht — golden pike — restaurant and hotel.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

On the mountain above this university town were a number of hunting stands …

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

… and near one were fresh tracks of a Reh, a blacktail fawn-sized roe deer.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Outside Meersburg, we spotted a herd of the diminutive deer, though by the time I’d wheeled the rental SUV around to get a picture, all but one had retreated into a patch of trees.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Above the Rhine, Burg Rheinstein offered an impressive antlers-and-armor man cave.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

One hotel we stayed at sported a large bear hide hung inside the front door, while on the floor of a never-conquered castle we toured was this wild boar rug …

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

… and at BaseCamp Bonn, a youth hostel where we stayed one night in a cramped train sleeper car, was this trailer sporting the somewhat miss-set antlers of a stag.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Unlike here, hunters can sell their game meat at farmers markets and to restaurants. At one countryside Gasthaus, I had Hirschragout und spaetzle, venison in sauce with noodles  — sehr lecker!

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Elsewhere, several establishments offered Zander, including the restaurant-hotel across from ours on the Bodensee.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Speaking of Lake Constance, an open-air museum there that told the story of the people who lived in stilted villages on the water a couple thousand years ago had a display of their ancient fishing hooks …

… , though I’m not sure I would have trusted them to hold onto the carp swimming through the Pfahlbaumuseum’s sheltered cove.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

For that, I might have consulted the Jenzi fishing catalog, a sticker for which was affixed to a bench above the Bodensee at Meersburg.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Thus properly outfitted, I wouldn’t have minded tempting the schools of silver fish swimming in the Tauber below the famed walled city of Rothenburg.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

And while we did get up to just under 100 miles an hour on the Autobahn, on smaller country highways speed limits were lower and there were numerous wildlife overpasses helping to prevent collisions with critters — this pair was in southern Baden-Wurtemburg state.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

No, don’t worry, I won’t be moving to Germany anytime soon for its fishing and hunting opportunities. I think those in the Northwest are much more varied and less restrictive to take advantage of.

But I do appreciate that there, those with the will, time, money and patience are able to experience a little of what we take for granted here, making me cherish our opportunities all the more.

The True Lay Of Our Land

Lidar helps geologists and others spot potential hazards such as areas at risk of landslides, but also provides unseen details of our fishing and hunting grounds.

By Andy Walgamott

Trib 87 was troublesome.

The tiny stream that feeds the Sammamish Slough vexed the city of Woodinville during the years I covered my hometown for the local weekly newspaper.

If memory serves, the city council and business folks had visions of developing the area where the creek spilled off tony Hollywood Hill and met the valley near Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Redhook Brewery, but where the flood-prone tributary should be tucked away out of sight and out of mind was problematic.

When it was put into a concrete raceway along 148th just north of the old schoolhouse, someone promptly stuck their car in it. When it was dewatered, a handful of dead fingerlings unexpectedly turned up in a low spot.

THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES EARLIER THIS YEAR MADE PUBLIC ITS LIDAR MAPPING. LIDAR STANDS FOR LIGHT DETECTION AND RANGING; USING AIRPLANES, LASERS AND COMPUTERS IT STRIPS AWAY VEGETATION TO REVEAL THE TRUE LAY OF THE LAND, INCLUDING EXQUISITE BRAIDED RIVERS, PERCHED BENCHES AND MOUNTAINSIDES AROUND DARRINGTON. (DNR)

Even though I’ve forgotten much from those cub reporting days, I distinctly remember an exasperated council member turning to me and asking where I thought Trib 87’s historic channel was located.

I could see it plain as day: everywhere within a quarter mile of where it poured off the hillside onto the valley floor.

That’s where Trib 87 (now known as Derby Creek) acted as an alluvial fan. The rise of the land towards that point told me that since the Great Berg melted back to Canada, rain, snow and gravity had been doing their best to flush the hillside across what would eventually become the city’s tourist district.

A  TRAINED GEOMORPHOLOGIST I’m not, I will admit, but I do have more than a passing interest in Northwest landscapes.

I’ve spent several decades exploring them, fishing them, hunting them, photographing them, reading about them, wondering about them, poring over maps of them.

Speaking of maps, give me one and I am taken away. Doesn’t matter where it is, what it shows, what language it’s in, they suck me in. One of my wife Amy’s recipes is written on the back of a map of somewhere in the country she was born in, Germany. The 4-inch by 4-inch snippet shows some dorf and surrounding landschaft in exquisite detail – I could stare at it until the oven timer beeps and not get bored.

So as you can imagine I was enthralled this winter when the Washington Department of Natural Resources posted Lidar imagery for large swathes of Washington.

Lidar stands for light detection and ranging, and without going into all the techy stuff about how it all works, it’s basically X-ray vision. People flying around in airplanes use lasers and computers to see through the Earth’s clothes, which is to say the trees, shrubs and whatnot it’s swaddled in, producing a map that shows the true land of the land.

It really shines in well-watered Western Washington. Where on the Eastside, topographic features such as the Missoula Floods’ giant ripple marks on the Wenatchee area’s Crescent Bar stand out because the sagebrush only grows so high, vegetation hides all on the Westside.

Well, did.

THOUGH LIDAR IS MEANT TO HELP GEOLOGISTS AND OTHERS SPOT POTENTIAL EARTH HAZARDS, FOR GEOGRAPHY GEEKS IT’S BINGE-WORTHY AND REVEALS MORE ABOUT OUR FISHING AND HUNTING GROUNDS.  (DNR)

FOR A WEEK right after DNR’s early January launch of the site (lidarportal.dnr.wa.gov), after our boys were in bed I spent my evening free time zooming around my favorite spots covered by the data, moaning in exaggerated delight (to Amy’s increasing disgust) at what the subtle silver shading showed me.

Ancient river terraces, entrenched meanders, gigantic Ice Age channels, abandoned runoff deltas facing into the Cascades, fluted drumlin fields, mysterious mounds, wavecut beaches high above Puget Sound, the zigzag of logging roads up steep mountainsides, fault lines, scarps and landslides, and more hidden features were all suddenly visible.

One of the most interesting things I found was a series of pinpricks near Mount Rainier, revealed as if the Earth could no longer keep a little heroin habit secret. Eventually I realized they were likely artifacts of old coal mines near Carbonado.

THE OLD COAL-MINING TOWN OF CARBONADO, JUST NORTH OF MT. RAINIER, SITS ABOUT CENTER OF THIS IMAGE SHOWING INTRIGUING SERIES OF INDENTIONS ON THE EARTH, POSSIBLY COLLAPSED MINING TUNNELS. (DNR)

Well to the north, in the forests of Larrabee State Park were anticlines and synclines worthy of the Appalachians, and cupping narrow lakes that Doug Huddle wrote about fishing in his North Sound column last May.

NO, NOT KENTUCKY HOLLOWS, BUT TIGHTLY WRAPPED ROCK JUST SOUTH OF BELLINGHAM (THAT’S I-5 CUTTING ACROSS THE TOP OF THIS SCREEN SHOT). (DNR)

In central Snohomish County, bass- and trout-rich Flowing, Panther and Storm Lakes sit among a field of long, low, cone-shaped hills that mark where the glacier bent towards the southeast to fill up the Skykomish Valley clear back to just east of Reiter Ponds.

PANTHER, FLOWING AND STORM LAKES SIT IN LOW SPOTS BETWEEN THESE LOW, LONGITUDINAL HILLS THAT MARK WHERE THE GREAT GLACIER THAT CAME DOWN FROM CANADA DURING THE LAST ICE AGE BENT TO THE SOUTHEAST. (DNR)

Speaking of the Sky, down at its lower end a series of oxbows amongst the cow pastures of the Tualco Valley make me wonder if that river and not the much closer Snoqualmie was responsible for digging out what is today Crescent Lake.

The vast flats between Tacoma, the town of Rainier and Olympia are revealed to be a complex mix of supersized channels that sent Pugetropolis runoff through Grays Harbor, and rumpily-frumpily ground where great bergs were surrounded by runoff and filled to become Lake St. Clair and other kettles we fish today.

NOT FAR TO THE EAST OF DNR’S HOME OFFICE IS THIS INTERESTING COMPLEX ABOVE THE LOWER NISQUALLY RIVER (THAT’S THE I-5 CROSSING AT TOP). IN THE HUMMOCKS AT CENTER BOTTOM SITS LAKE ST. CLAIRE, A KETTLE FORMED WHEN ICE FROM THE GLACIER THAT COVERED PUGET SOUND WAS SURROUNDED BY ITS RUNOFF. (DNR)

Ahh, I literally could go on forever, but let me wrap up in Darrington, deep in the Cascades. I was out there on the last weekend in January that the Sauk was open for fishing and had hooked a couple bull trout and was trying for something shinier. But I couldn’t help casting back in my mind to the Lidar maps I’d seen of where the river once turned left down the valley of the North Fork Stilly but now plows north in a great side to side milling of boulders, gravel, sand and glacial grit, speaking to deep time and earth processes that are mostly obscured from view, save for the subtle bar I walked up to a hole I hoped hid a steelhead.

LIDAR REVEALS THE THE CONFLUENCE OF THE SAUK RIVER (BOTTOM LEFT) AND SUIATTLE RIVER (RIGHT) NORTH OF DARRINGTON.

While Lidar is meant for scientists, engineers, planners and others (for more see dnr.wa.gov/lidar), it also lets us see the true land of this land we fish and hunt, revealing its secrets and ever deeper mysteries.

What’s up with those thin lines across the western shoulder of Mt. Haystack above the Sky?

The General Speaks, Part II Of II: Herzog Looks Back, Ahead

Editor’s note: The following article by columnist Terry Wiest appears in the June 2017 issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine. Part I in the series ran in the May issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine.

By Terry Wiest

Ah, yes, The General. He is a rare bird, for sure. On the surface he’s a madman. Start a conversation with Zog and he’ll have you in stitches within minutes. On the rivers, he is the emporer of the genus Oncorynchus, backed by sheer numbers of fish and trophies that are legendary in Northwest anglerdom.

Beyond the surface, however, is a different person, one with a deep love for the fish he has mastered. Indeed, the self-proclaimed leader of the Judas Priest fan club – who will soon sport a lightning bolt tattoo on his freshly shaved head – has a sensitive side.

With a head freshly shaved in anticipation of getting a Judas Priest lightning bolt tattoo on his noggin, Bill Herzog speaks during a recent outdoor radio show broadcast. (BILL HERZOG)

Following last issue’s extended interview, I sat down again with my quick-witted friend Bill Herzog and dug into the mind of this steelheading genius for more on what he’s doing to marshal support for his favorite species, who’s to blame for the diminished runs and what he’d like to see done more of on the rivers.

But first, a little about strikes of a different kind …

Terry Wiest: So I heard there’s another name you’re stuck with that we haven’t brought up yet – “The Landlord?”
Bill Herzog: Oh, you know it. I’ve had some decent success in bowling leagues and tournaments. A bowling alley is known as a “house.” So, someone referred to me as “The Landlord” – it stuck. And you know, I am a bowler first and a fisherman second!

TW: What’s your average?
BH: As of late it’s a 219. I have 19 sanctioned 300 games during league and tournament play, and I also held the four-game scratch record at Kitsap Bowl with a 1,091. For those of you wondering, that’s a 272 average for four games.

TW: So rumor has it you’re actually on quite a few committees and groups advocating for wild steelhead?
BH: Yes, true – but not only wild steelhead. I want to make that clear. If a system can sustain hatchery steelhead, I’m totally for it. We need fish to be able to harvest. Heck, we just need fish to be able to fish. If we can’t fish for wild steelhead to let them recover, I’m all for fishing for hatchery steelhead. Go out, bonk your two and have a nice meal.

I’m keeping very busy doing my part to bring back steelheading to Puget Sound. Puget Sound is the birthplace of steelhead. Not Canada. Not the coast. Puget Sound. I’m determined to do everything in my power to make sure that I catch my last steelhead where I caught my first [the Puyallup].

TW: Those groups are?
BH: First off, Wild Steelheaders United. Again, we’re all for wild steelhead, but when viable, hatchery steelhead too. And don’t misquote me on this [laughs].

I’m also involved with Trout Unlimited and have been appointed, along with 16 others, by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to the Puget Sound Steelhead Advisory Group.

TW: A few years ago you were quoted talking about a steelhead permit lottery. Now it’s the “Four is enough” campaign. What’s the latter all about?
BH: Brian O’Keefe actually is the brains behind the Four is enough movement. Basically, what this involves is paying forward to those anglers behind us on the river. It’s self-governing, so no regulations need to be changed. It’s a matter of getting the word out, believing in it and practicing it.

We as anglers have become too freakin’ good. Between experience, better science and better gear, the fish don’t have a chance. Generally speaking, the first couple boats down a river can now destroy the fish – double-digit days and hookups in every hole. Fantastic, right?! But the more anglers down the river, the worse it gets for them. By the end of the day, or at least a weekend, you have all the fish in that river being hooked at least once.

This is something we can control. So, after we hook four fish and bring them to hand, we have a boat ride the rest of the day. We don’t need dead fish, and Lord knows we all have our share of grip-and-grin shots. This is more than that: It’s about having success and then allowing others behind us to have success as well. Have you seen our rivers and scenery? It’s breathtaking. Get your camera out and share some pictures of what you’re experiencing, not just dead fish.

Catch and release used to be the big thing. In my opinion, it’s abused. Catch and release is a problem, especially for hatchery fish. Bonk those damn things – nothing but living pollution, anyway.

We did some studies with biologists on a popular river. It was determined that 129 percent of the fish in the river at the time were caught. That means every fish was caught at least once, some twice. Do we really think those fish are going to spawn now?

This is a huge grassroots movement. We need to get the word out. Four is enough!

TW: Besides this movement, anything else that may help?
BH: Absolutely. If I had my way, boats would be used for transportation only on select waters. We have to leave some sanctuary on rivers to give steelhead a break. I know a lot of guides and sporties will be pissed at me for saying this, but I do think it will work until we can get our stocks back up. The Green River in King County was this way for years. Nobody complained because at least we got to fish.

TW: What about a no-bait rule, as many try to get passed each year?
BH: Who needs bait? For salmon absolutely, but steelhead, I haven’t used bait since 1944. If you need bait to catch a steelhead, you suck.

I stopped using bait the minute I discovered the pink nail polish Okie Drifters. Best lure ever! I used to have hundreds if not thousands of them. I’m now down to 38 and only use them on special occasions. Imitations just don’t work like the original.

Herzog, here with one of his biggest steelhead, a British Columbia fish, is calling on anglers to change their mindset about the species to help bring the stocks and fisheries back around. He’s advocating against bait and boat angling, and supports Brian O’Keefe’s “Four is enough” campaign. (BILL HERZOG)

TW: So in your opinion, who is to blame?
BH: We all are. I don’t think there’s one group or problem that we can pinpoint and say, “Hey, you f’d up the steelhead fishing.” You know the tribes catch a sh*tload of fish, but then again so have I. There was a time when me and three buddies destroyed the fish on the Nisqually, hooking 66 fish in one day out of one hole! That’s when we actually had fish. But look what good it did now by pumping our egos up.

And what about the guy who says “I only took my two,” as he’s holding two hens loaded with 10,000 eggs that will never get a chance to spawn?

The commercials? You know they take their fish too.

Let’s just say it’s human nature; if it’s legal, we will fish for them. For some, even if it’s illegal.

It’s not going to take regulations to turn things around; it’s going to take a different mindset.

In my early years I never batted an eye. Now what’s always on my mind is, How we can save our steelhead? If it takes everyone to stop fishing for five years to bring them back, I’m in. Whatever it takes, I’m in, and you can quote me on that.

TW: So there was a video recently posted  in which I swear you looked like you were purposefully hiding your face to shield the camera from tears as you looked into a hole on one of your South Sound rivers – perhaps where you caught your very first steelhead?
BH: Ah sh*t – guilty. Yep, that was the Puyallup, and I was standing in the exact spot I hooked my first steelhead. It took nearly 10 minutes to compose myself. I’m an emotional cat, you know.

TW: What about radio? What really caused you to walk away?
BH: Bowling, man – that’s it. I love radio. Love entertaining, but I wanted to give bowling a real shot to see if I could make a few bucks. I still get on the air occasionally. Who knows, maybe I’ll pick up a gig and become regular again. It’s cool sh*t having the power to crank up Judas, Black Sabbath or AC/DC.

TW: Speaking of, you rock out when you go fishing.
BH: You know it! I have the tunes cranked so loud the windows are shaking, game birds are flushed and others are dropping from the sky. I love rock, the louder the better, so if you fish with me, it’s join in or wear ear plugs.

TW: So how do you see the future of steelhead fishing.
BH: Thin. We all gotta play our part. I think we’ll know in three or four years where we’re headed. It’s not looking great. We need the big players to get on board with Four is enough. Rules aren’t going to change crap. We need to take control ourselves as stewards of our sport.

TW: Anything to close out?
BH: Steelheading is like a Judas Priest song – “Victim of Changes.” Let’s not let our steelhead fall victim to those things we are able to change. Four is enough – and rock on! NS

Editor’s note: Terry J. Wiest is the author of Steelhead University: Your Guide to Salmon & Steelhead Success and Float-Fishing for Salmon & Steelhead, and is the owner of Steelhead University, SteelheadU.com.

The Hazards Of Using Gun Mag Galley Proofs As Kids Scratchpaper

The note that came home from school with our oldest son gave me more of a belly laugh than feelings of butthurt.

It was yet another reminder of how things have changed from my Sultan, Wash., elementary days, when a friend and I “shot” critters in Outdoor Life with pencils that we jabbed through the backs of pages into the rug of Mrs. Gudmunson’s second-grade classroom.

Ah, times of yore.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and River’s teacher said she had had a talk with him about his choice of scratch paper to do some math homework on.

Of all the used pages I have brought home from work for he and his brother to do whatever with, he’d apparently picked one from another of our newsstand magazines that featured a couple paragraphs from a gun review and a pic of a box of .22 LRs on the other side.

THE OFFENDING PIECE OF SCRAP PAPER MY OLDEST DID HIS HOMEWORK ON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

THE OFFENDING PIECE OF SCRAP PAPER MY OLDEST DID HIS HOMEWORK ON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Next time, he should choose paper without either, the teacher wrote.

Bad Daddy.

As many of you may know, my real day job is magazine editor. In addition to putting together each month’s issue of Northwest Sportsman, I’m also the executive editor of our other three titles: Alaska Sporting Journal, California Sportsman and American Shooting Journal.

Really, executive editor is a fancy way to say proofreader, as I do a lot of proofreading around here.

A whole lot.

We try to give every article in all four mags at least three reads to make sure most of the words are spelt real good before sending them off to our press, so as you can imagine we generate a bit of wastepaper.

Several years ago now, I looked at that pile and realized that it was all still half good.

What’s more, River and his younger brother Kiran could use the unmarked side for their own devices.

So I began taking stacks and stacks worth home for them to draw on, practice their writing skills, make paper airplanes, cut up for snowflake decorations, scrunch up pages to throw at their brother and/or shoot baskets with, etc., etc., etc.

Out of respect for my wife Amy’s views, I am pretty careful with what comes home on the American Shooting Journal proofs; I grade away from firearms, but never considered that a pic of plinking bullets might raise a fuss.

Undoubtedly, the teacher was following something in the school district’s rules and regulations, but yi yi yi.

I recognize I’m not going to save the world by myself, but every two weeks our large-sized blue recycling can is full, from spring through fall our green yard waste bin is sometimes so heavy I worry it’ll get away from me as I wheel it to the curb, and at some level bringing home all those marked-up proofs for scratch paper must help save a tree — or at least a really thick branch or two.

Saving trees is pretty important to my wife and sons — and me, as they’re key for Northwest fish, wildlife and wildlands.

So I was pretty amused by the irony in River’s teacher’s note.

Try and do the right thing and you still get in trouble.

Be all PC and get trumped by the PC Patrol.

I don’t do towering moral outrage so well, but I am sure there are those who might be fuming by this little episode as the latest example of political correctness run amuck.

Can’t say I would blame you.

“I doubt you would have even heard about this if you were in Eastern Washington,” a friend texted me.

Hell, I joked back, “I would have had a new subscriber!”

Our former American Shooting Journal editor tacked away from emphasizing the enviro angle to my son’s instructor in favor of trying another positive approach with her:

“We could explain that there are people who use these tools to hunt for their food, hence negating the need for animals to suffer in feed lots their entire lives until they are slaughtered and promptly neatly packaged, so the sensitive folks can choose their protein without any idea where it comes from,” she wrote from a well-defended sailboat (pirates, beware!) adrift in the Sargasso Sea.

Actually, she had an even better idea:

“I would be interested to know what the repercussions would be if this event happened again. I am definitely the type of person to push back on something like this, not overtly, but in a ‘you can’t tell me what to do’ way, and just keep letting it happen. Maybe that is why my mother always shook her head and said ‘Life will be challenging for you.'”

Yeah, fine, we’ll make sure River doesn’t do any more homework on the back of gun reviews — but teacher never said anything about pages with pics of dead critters!

Indeed, instead of being all butthurt, this could end up producing a lot of laughs.

And besides, it could’ve been worse, as our current American Shooting Journal editor pointed out:

“Good thing you don’t work for Playboy…”