Category Archives: Editor’s Blog


I will not be able to concentrate on getting the November issue of Northwest Sportsman out the door this week. I apologize, Brian, John and Mike, but my eyes are riveted on two things: snow falling at low elevations in North-central Washington, and Oct. 17, the opening day of deer hunting season.

WashDOT road cameras tell the story this morning. White stuff on the ground at Stevens Pass, Winton, Leavenworth, Peshastin and above Winthrop.



It’s not the earliest snow’s ever fallen on the east side of the northern Cascades, but it’s as low down the mountain as I ever recall at this time of year.

Over the past decade of hunting in the Methow Valley, there’s been snow only very rarely. Flooding rains have been more likely since 2003’s gullywasher that drowned a friend’s campsite after an all-night-all-that-day rain.

Right now, it’s coming down pretty good on the roof overhead here in Seattle. Reminds me that, yes, this is the Northwest, and it is fall, and in fall it rains.

Fall at Winthrop can actually be pretty dry. There have been many years when everything in the woods cracks and moving quietly is all but a lost cause. By more than one midday, I’ve found myself hunting in a T-shirt, layers of fleeces tied around my waist, stuffed in my pack or left behind at camp.

In a sense, though, that’s how I’ve developed part of my muley strategy: Find a spot where deer move over saddles, ridgelines or hills and just sit your butt down and wait. Can’t make noise that way. The deer will come.

The other half of my strategy, though, is to go out on those rainy, nasty days.

During that 2003 deluge, I was the only one who left the trailers at deer camp early on. Right after shooting light, a buck moved through below me, but I guessed wrong and he spooked.

A couple years after that, I was high on a cold, windy ridge with some sort of frozen chunks pelting me when the big boy stepped out of the brush.

Then last October, with rain again falling overnight on the trailer, I couldn’t wait to hump it back up the hill to where I’d seen deer moving through the day before. As light came into the woods through the gloom, sure enough, antlers appeared, and then a buck at incredibly close range.

Hunters moan and groan about how early Washington’s rifle hunts are. The timing is off and all we really get a shot at are the local bucks or very early migrators. Never the brute studs from the wilderness.

But snow can be the equalizer, that trigger that pushes them out of the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth and Pasayten for the season. The forage up there is already on its last legs, and according to WDFW sources, the third week of October is when the migration begins. Early snow might be that spur in the butt to get moving.

And this year, with such a “late” start to the hunt and a “late” second weekend — really, just due to the vagaries of the calendar — excitement builds with the snowfall.

Maybe the bucks will be stampeding out of the high country. Maybe they’ll be in the rut early. Maybe This Will Be The Year!

“Hell, yeah,” emails a friend when I send him links to the highway cams.

“We sound like a bunch of giddy school girls talking about Sally’s new hair do!” says one of my writers.

But Dad brings me back around.

“That’s cool. Most likely will melt, though,” he says.




OK, yeah, it probably will. It’s just a skiff of snow, and the report from Chelan is that it’s now raining and the snow level is climbing back up into the mountains.

But at least the woods won’t be so danged dry for this weekend’s opener!

Ramseys Tag Out In OR; Next, In WA

If you had a “What the …?!” moment when you read Buzz’s October column in Northwest Sportsman because, well, it didn’t deal with springers, summer Chinook, URBs, coho, hatchery steelhead, wild steelhead, winter-runs or summer-runs — or plugs, drift bobbers, spinners or herring for that matter — well, join the club.

I was a wee bit surprised to get an article and pics on long-range shooting from the Northwest’s swami of salmonids.

Shooting, as in with rifles, as in poking deer and antelope with holes at far distances.

Last I checked, deer and antelope weren’t anadromous species, didn’t live anywhere near flowing waters and did not respond well to shrimp- or krill-based scents.

Then again, the columns I got for October were all over the place.

Tim Bush found some East Coast surf-fishing sharpie who had tips for Puget Sound salmon AS WELL AS how to fish for alpine lakes trout with bass techniques.

Workman, our usual gun guy, was explaining his “two-inch rule” and, of course, Bryce Molenkamp, he of the Tupperware boat, was continuing to demolish the notion that Northwest salmon and steelhead and bass and trout and crabs and saltwater species, etc., are only catchable from aluminum.

Plus I brought a fly guy on board, and his subject matter from the get-go was crooked, err, Crooked, I should say (redband rainbows in the Central Oregon stream).

Bub, this will be your last issue as editor, I worried.

But it was about this time last year that Buzz started sending me pics of he and Wade, one of his two sons, and their hunting trips.

If you don’t know, Buzz is actually an avid mule deer hunter.

He’s been hunting Oregon’s Fossil Unit since 1977, drawing into it pretty regularly.

And Wade’s been coming along with a gun since 2007. He’s bagged two bucks there, as well as one in Klickitat County with a 355-yard cross-canyon shot last fall.

This last weekend, the Ramsey’s passed on a couple smaller bucks hoping for “Mr. Big,” says Buzz, “but didn’t expect one quite as nice at what Wade found Sunday morning.”

It’s a 4×4 at least 21 inches wide.



“It was nice and tall and heavy,” says Buzz of the rack.

Wade took it with a 100-yard going-away shot. It headed downhill, towards the Ramseymobile.

Buzz also tagged out — with a 200-plus-yard shot — but had a little more work finding his buck as light fell, and then with the haul back to the rig.



He says that he and Wade will be hunting this weekend as well in Washington’s Klickitat County, where deer season opens Oct. 17.

And as far as I’m concerned, I’m looking forward to another Buzz hunting article next fall.

‘A Year To Remember’ At Tillamook

If you’ve ever logged onto Ifish or spent time at Buoy 10 or Tillamook Bay, you’ve probably run into a guy going by the name “AndyCoho.”

As the name implies, Andy loves coho.

He’s made this Andy love coho too.

AndyCoho, also known as Andy Schneider, took yours truly out to the CR Buoy in mid-August for some of the madness.

So it was kinda amusing when I got an email over the weekend from the Portland-area writer with the words to the effect that the coho became something of a pest at times last week.

That’s only because AndyCoho turned AndyChinook for five days, spending it with family and friends on his beloved Tillamook Bay.

“I’ve had a tradition of spending a week in October on the Northern Oregon Coast for as long as I can remember,” he wrote in an email to me and others. “This year the family and I opted for the first week of October and it turned out to be a wonderful week. Weather, fishing, crabbing, family and friends truly made October 2009 a year to remember and compare following years to. ”

“We fished lower Tillamook Bay and the ocean with herring, upper Tillamook Bay with spinners and tidewater with FlatFish all in hopes of finding a Chinook or two. My dad was able to fish with me for all five days and was lucky enough to get two of the biggest fish landed on my boat all week — a 37.6-pounder and a 33-pounder! My friend John Lacarno joined us from Forest Grove and found himself a nice, big Tillamook Bay hen too.”



“When the Chinook bite slowed, the coho would keep us busy…almost becoming a pest at times. What? Wait, did I just say that coho were becoming a pest? On second thought, coho are a good ‘problem’ to have!”

Salmon fishing wasn’t all the Schneider clan did either.

“While fishing we soaked crab pots in the ocean in 40 feet of water north of the bay entrance.  Crabbing was beyond expectations and huge Dungeness crabs were standard and ‘keeper’ crabs were sent back to the ocean floor. After just two days of crabbing we had enough crab to satisfy our family and our friends families.



“Joanna Fenner and my wife Missy teamed up for a day of crabbing and fishing on a extraordinary calm day on the Pacific, Joanna had some previous crabbing experience and it payed off pulling traps and sorting crabs.  The Dungeness didn’t seem to have a preference for bait — albacore scraps, salmon carcasses and tender index fingers (it still hurts!).”

“Tillamook Bay 2009, a year to remember….and the season is just starting!!!”

3 Strange Things

Item #1: You know that post a little below this one, “Brother, can you spare a red plug”? It’s a little story about how my buddy Chris Spencer of Longview, more of a spinyray fishermen in recent years than a salmon guy, has been using his deep-diving plugs to catch coho in a Columbia slough.

It was completely by accident. He actually started out trying to catch walleye when that first silver bit.

So typical for Spencer.

Anyway, yesterday, he reported that a guide boat with six clients aboard pulled up on the school in Carrolls and proceeded to do pretty good casting plugs for silvers.

Well, a little further up the Columbia and a reggie up the Willamette, bass anglers throwing plugs are apparently also catching coho.

That according to a Bill Monroe blurb yesterday in The Oregonian.

Bill Egan, information coordinator for the Oregon Bass and Panfish Club, says his members are finding lots of coho above the falls this fall as the state’s latest exploratory salmon run begins colonizing new tributaries in the Willamette Valley.

Daily limit is three coho above the falls and in various tribs.

Item # 2: Speaking of bizarro bites, Northwest Sportsman’s own bass troller — yes, troller — Brian Lull will be out dragging plugs along Lake Washington’s shores for smallmouth tomorrow.

He reports that with still-warm water but shorter and shorter days, they’ll be hitting aggressively.

He says he and a client landed a 17-incher and several smaller ones last weekend before the Huskies’ game cut their day short.

Lull will be taking his wife, Gina, out; she apparently loves trolling for bass.

Trolling for bass? So untypical.

Item # 3: Completely unrelated, but the last week I’ve been tearing my house apart trying to find my hunting gear. It was all in a green pack, last I recall.

“It” would be knives, .308 cartridges, hunting vest and hat, two-way radios, first-aid kit, etc.

Need to find it for the start of Washington’s rifle season two Saturdays from now. Dad and I plan on heading back to Wolfville, err, Winthrop for the opener, maybe even the second weekend if I can talk my pregnant wife into it.

She didn’t know where my green pack is either, and in desperation I fired off several emails to dad and a friend in recent days: “Hey, did I leave my green backpack at your house/that DNR gate/deer camp? Could you look for it?”

Neither have seen it.

Meanwhile, yesterday Dad sent me an email. Seems there’s a buck in the backyard ripping up one of his willow trees.



Reminds me of the time, a couple years ago, that Dad and I got to deer camp 189 miles from the house and I checked my voice mail. Mom had left a message, something like, “Hey, there are three bucks in the backyard, including a one-, two-, three-, four-pointer.”

So typical.

Course, Mom won’t let us hunt the homestead.

Speaking of home, my hunting stuff? It turned up last night. In my garage.

So typical.

Go, Ro!

I was pretty proud the winter day I filled the back of my pickup with trash I collected along the banks of the Skykomish at Monroe, but Rosendo Guerrero’s got me beat — by a dumpster load.

Rosendo’s the 45-year-old Federal Way angler who organized a clean-up on the Puyallup last Saturday, an effort which brought together 80 volunteers including fishermen, People for Puget Sound, a City of Puyallup work crew, a City of Puyallup council member, WDFW enforcement officers and community members.

A photo on a Facebook page he created for his group Sportsmen for the Preservation of our Rivers and Streams shows the mountain of garbage — a ton’s worth — that everyone helped haul off the river that day.


A fan of the Puyallup, Ro was distressed with the crowds who descended on the river as pinks and kings ascended it this summer.

He emailed Jeffrey Mayor of the Tacoma News Tribune that he and others were “irate over the way what we call the Johnny-come-latelies (are) coming to our river and leaving their trash.”

Mayor got a mess of other emails from other anglers who felt similarly, including Stan Elliott who wished he knew where the trash dumpers lived so he could leave it at their house.

Garbage and poop left behind by anglers were the subject of several late-summer TV reports. The misdeeds of a few cast a bad light on sport fishing as a whole.

But that image is being cleaned up and repaired now, thanks to Rosendo and others like him.

“I’m just an angler who enjoys and respects nature and will not let these idiots destroy the beauty of our natural rivers and streams,” he wrote to me via email last night.

And in addition to angler trash, there was plenty of other junk that was removed from the Puyallup last weekend — tires, furniture, bikes, clothing and other debris that probably wasn’t left behind by slob fishermen.

Others involved in the cleanup included Murrey’s Disposal of Fife which supplied the dumpster, and Walmart, Sportco, Wholesale Sports, Starbucks, Johnny’s Bar & Grill, Mama Stortini’s, McDonalds and People for Puget Sound all made donations to the cause, according to WDFW.

Rosendo’s planning another river day, this one Oct. 24 on the Skykomish in Monroe.

“We’re gonna rock that place!!!!!” he wrote on his Facebook page earlier this week.

If you’re interested in participating, contact Rosendo at (253) 861-8964 or

ODFW Closed Oct. 16

Note to self: Do not call Jessica Sall, Eric Schindler, Michelle Dennehy, Todd Alsbury, Todd Lum, Brad Smith, Vic Coggins, Shannon Hurn, Keith Kohl, Rick Swart, Rick Hargrave, Tim Bailey, Rick Boatner — or any other ODFW biologist, supervisor or flack — next Friday, October 16.

They ain’t gonna be in the office that day.

Nor will they be in Nov. 27.

And forget about reaching them on March 19, April 16, June 18, Aug. 20, Sept.17 and Nov. 26 in 2010.

As well as March 18 and May 20 in 2011.

I’ll have to get last-minute quotes, run forecasts, catch tallies, secret spots, etc., before or after.

Those dates are required furloughs for ODFW and other state employees.

Knock all you want at the door of the field offices in Lakeview and Enterprise, pound as hard as you want at the big house in Salem, they ain’t gonna open.

In the short term, for elk hunters, it means that with Oct. 16 being the deadline to purchase a general season Cascade bull tag, you will need to instead buy your tag online or at a license sales agent that day. If you want to exchange a Cascade bull elk tag, that must be done at an ODFW office by 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15.

For Sauvie Island waterfowlers, it means that Nov. 27 is a no-go day. The Portland wildlife area will be closed for hunting.

Elsewhere, hunters will still be responsible for checking in and out of wildlife areas using the self check-in process, according to ODFW.

For fish lovers, hatcheries will be open to visitors on Oct. 16 and other furlough days, but staff won’t be around to yap about what’s in the big tanks, why the fish are so colorful, whether they get any marlin back to the facility, etc.

The furlough days were ordered by Governor Kulongoski due to the current budget squeeze. It’s anticipated the state will save between $2 million and $2.5 million in payroll per day.


Brother, Can You Spare A Red Plug?

UPDATED 8:55 a.m. FRIDAY: Pity my friend Chris Spencer. He lost his last hot plug, and the coho won’t hardly bite anything else.

Since late September, the Longview, Wash., angler has been doing pretty good in the Columbia’s Carrolls Slough where he’s been dragging a metallic red Hot Lips around. But after his last plug snapped off the line yesterday, fishing’s gone downhill markedly.

Oh, the coho are still there — and how.

“On my depthfinder, there were huge numbers of coho,” Spencer moaned as he drove home from the river this afternoon.

And that’s where the fish will likely stay until Luhr Jensen gets another shipment of the size 18 divers into Bob’s Merchandise or other tackle shops within driving distance of Longview.

“There are none in Cowlitz County,” the angler reports.

After his first report to me Sept. 22, he stocked up on the plugs, but either his knots are suspect or this year’s fish are extra strong, because he burned through his supply in three trips.

“There are three fish out there swimming around with my Hot Lips,” Spencer emailed me last night. “If anyone sends in a report of an extra lure with their fish, let ’em know I want my lures back!”

While he’s gotten a bite or two on similarly colored plugs and seen other anglers catch salmon on big orange inline spinners, he insists it’s that particular lure’s beady yellow-and-black eyes that makes the coho crankiest.

But without any more of ’em, he says he’ll be reporting back to work tomorrow.

POSTSCRIPT: Early today, Wednesday morning, I got a call from Spencer. Didn’t sound like he was at the job site. Instead, he was heading off to scour the tackle shacks in Portland for his favorite lure.

POSTSCRIPT 2: Somewhere in the afternoon, Spencer called again. His hunt for The Plug had taken him clear down to Portland where he scoured a pair of Targets (no luck), back to Vancouver where he ran through a Walmart and then to the parking lot of Wholesale Sports. Along with 30 others, he waited for it to open at 10 (“Don’t they get it that we get up early?”). It paid off with six plugs for slightly under $30, and he was on the water by noon. However, fishing was pretty slow in the afternoon; he reports only one landed, but says he’ll be out again today.

POSTSCRIPT 3: Just got my morning report from Spencer. He and his pops just got out on the top end of Carrolls Slough, and though he reports a gillnet boat leaving the scene, he says he just landed his first coho — yep, on one of those much-searched-for plugs.

It came immediately after he saw an ironworker friend of his land a “big freaking fish” as well as another coho go over the gunwale of third boat.

Spencer says there are about six boats on the slough, with more of the fleet out in the mainstem Columbia anchored up for sturgeon.

Carrolls is just downstream from Kalama, on the Washington side.

We’ll probably have another update this afternoon.

POSTSCRIPT 4: This is so typical Spencer luck: He drove all over the place yesterday to find THE hot plug and guess what? Another color and brand has taken over as THE hot plug today.

Spencer, who’s still on Carrolls as I write this, reports that his buddy the ironworker has caught three today, all on an orange Wiggle Wart.

He says that other trollers have also picked up a fish apiece, and that some guide with a large sled pulled up on the school and then instructed his boatload of clients to start pitching plugs at the coho.

“They boated 12 in an hour,” Spencer says.

What!?! The hell didn’t you and yer pa do the same?

He muttered something about the guide making the rest of the boaters a little cranky.

Actually, the reason Spencer just called was to say that he’d put a second coho in the boat.

“He’s freakin’ huge, twice the size of the others I’ve been catching. Out of the blue, bam, she hit,” he says.

And that piggy did bite one of those brand-new lures he got yesterday.



POSTSCRIPT 5: “Freakin’ huge”? Spencer? Well, I’ll give this one to you since you’re still dialing in actual coho sizes, but in the meanwhile, I’ve worked out a correction factor for your adjectives.

Big = 7 pounds

Huge = 8 pounds

Freakin’ huge = 8 1/2 pounds

Monster = 9 pounds

Gargantuan = 9 1/2 pounds

The biggest coho I’ve ever seen in my whole entire life (three exclamation marks) = 10 pounds

Get the camera, call Walgamott, where’s the weigh station, I think I’ve got a new state record = 11 pounds

Deer Lagoon In Anti-hunters’ Crosshairs

A few years ago, there was a concerted effort to halt hunting on a state wildlife area near Stanwood, Wash.

The argument was that waterfowl and pheasant hunting on Leque Island didn’t go well with the new 4,100-acre Nature Conservancy property right next door, in Port Susan Bay.

All that shotgunning was scaring the birds — “the densest concentration of wintering and migratory birds in the region.”

Only problem with that argument, as I wrote in the March 10, 2005, issue of Washington Fishing & Hunting News, was that Leque had been open for public hunting since at least 1973.

In other words, Port Susan still hosted “the densest concentration of wintering and migratory birds in the region” despite at least 34 years of shotgun booms there every fall and winter.

If that didn’t illustrate the flaw of hunt opponents’ arguments, I also pointed out that they claimed our “bullets” — I couldn’t make that up if I tried — would hit cars crossing over the island on Highway 532 and they worried we’d willy-nilly blast their Fifis and Fidos.

“Come on, get serious,” I wrote.  We’re fathers and sons and sisters too, not Genghis Khan’s wildly firing horde.

At a public meeting called to discuss the issue, there was a huge turnout of hunters. End result: Leque Island is still a public hunting area and, by golly gosh, birds are still flying into Port Susan.

But now, 18 miles to the south-southwest there’s another effort to halt waterfowl hunting, this time at Deer Lagoon, on Whidbey Island’s southern side.

Island County Commissioners will hold a special session October 12 to consider two ordinances that would ban shooting there. Public comment will also be taken. The meeting starts at 6 p.m., at the Freeland Hall, 1515 Shoreview Drive, Freeland.

If you’ve never heard of Deer Lagoon, join the club. Located at the head of Useless Bay, it’s one of those not-so-well known Westside duck and goose areas, a place a half-dozen guys might be a crowd.

Two posters at call it “a great” place to hunt.

But to the south, along East Shore Avenue, is a string of beach houses.

deer lagoon

Some residents there have been itching to ban hunting at Deer by finding ways that we might pose some danger to them, their pets or property. And they say they’re afraid to wander into the marsh during hunting season, according to a Sept. 25 article in the South Whidbey Record

Sympathetic county commissioners have gone from allowing shooting in just a “doughnut hole” of the county’s 370 acres on the lake to now wanting a complete ban, the paper reports.

Never mind that even from the edge of the doughnut hole, it would take a steel pellet with wings to make it the 200-plus yards to the nearest house.

Then there’s just plain wacky claims, as if we were gun-toting terrorists or something.

Writes Frances Wood, a South Whidbey Record columnist:

Here on Whidbey, we enjoy a rich and peaceful homeland and a precious sense of personal security. Yet, beginning next month, we will knowingly allow snipers to fire holes into our homeland.

At Deer Lagoon, a few hunters — an informal count indicates there are four or five regulars — will disturb the quiet lives of those who live nearby and unwittingly disrupt some of the richest bird habitat in our county.

During duck-hunting season, it’s not just the ducks that die.

Most hunters don’t realize the migrating shorebirds are disturbed by gunshots and stop feeding. An ounce or two of fat becomes the difference between making it to the next feeding station or expiring on their trip south.

The kingfishers that depend on the fish in Deer Lagoon are frightened from their feeding grounds.

Scoters are hunted even though their populations are decreasing and no one eats them. Western Grebes, the most elegant of seabirds with long graceful necks that used to gather in large flocks of hundreds of birds, suffers also. Their numbers have dropped 97 percent.

The caller and I, and perhaps you, desire a secure home without the worry of stray bullets and a homeland with quiet, gunshot-free mornings.

How can we spend billions to protect our homeland from attack, and yet allow our landscape here on Whidbey to be destroyed gunshot-by-gunshot, bird-by-bird?

Adds Ellen L. Callahan, “From dawn to dusk, seven days a week, we can hear gunfire and distressed birds as they are shot at or are frightened from their wetland habitat.”

Dawn to dusk shooting, eh? From a half-dozen guys, all week long, from late October through late January?

I am not the most experienced Western Washington waterfowler, but I’ve never had a day here that offered such spectacular hunting. More like 10 minutes at dawn, a bit of shooting through 10 a.m., and then an extremely long lull until 10 minutes at dusk most days of season.

Dawn-to-dusk shooting would imply either Deer Lagoon hunters were poor shots, or that every single one of the 4,000 ducks and 300 geese killed in Island County last year came from here — never mind Penn Cove, Camano Island or Swan Lake.

As for anyone being harmed by shotgun pellets, a poster going by the name “criticalthinking” points out, “There is a much greater danger of one of these homeowners running someone over on their way out to get a Sunday morning latte and paper than there is for a hunting accident.”

Indeed, what about all those beach houses next to the lagoon? Does living there, driving along the road or having dogs which may get loose into the marsh affect bird use?

And here’s another thing. As with Leque and Port Susan, how in god’s name did Deer Lagoon become such a rich birding area if we’ve been hunting there all along?

How about the residents themselves — they feel afraid to go into the lagoon during fall and winter, but wouldn’t that also scare the birds away?

Argh. The typically flawed arguments annoy me. But it’s not just that. It’s this constant hammering away at public hunting land.

The contributions we have made for decades to bring back North American bird populations through taxes on guns and ammo — money which has gone towards buying habitat — are too often overlooked by those who would ban shooting. It’s as if, in their mind, all these shore birds and waterfowl have suddenly just appeared out of the fog of time rather than off the millions of acres that our money has helped preserve.

We both want the same things — birds, lots of many different healthy populations, and lots of room for them — but at least at Deer Lagoon, one group wants it all for themselves.

How fair is that?

Carrolls Coho

A week or so ago, a buddy of mine and his pop had Carrolls Slough more or less to themselves, and they worked it over for four nice silvers.

This morning: “It’s the war of the salmon trollers,” says that friend, Chris Spencer of Longview.

“There’s probably 50 boats in here, trying to hug the banks,” he reports via cell phone.

Carrolls is on the Columbia just upstream from the mouth of the Cowlitz.

Spencer’s got one coho in the box, and says he’s seen six others netted. His bit a red Hot Lips, and two others were on plugs, but the others have been landed on big orange inline spinners.



With tide change a bit ago, he says the action’s picked up.

Which may actually not be good for his own heart.

“I’m still shaking,” he says of trying to drive his boat through the floatilla, fight his fish, net it and untangle it. “I get a fish and they all converged on top of me.”

We’ll check back with him in a couple hours, see how the action’s going.

POSTSCRIPT: As he blazed back to the boat ramp, Spencer called with an update. Two lost plugs and one coho on for him, and six landed by other anglers.

“There’s definitely fish there,” he reports.

A couple other boats, however, appeared to be trolling for something besides coho — walleye, Spencer thinks. He hooked a 16-incher in Carrolls a couple weeks back.

Groups Say ‘No’ To SJI Orca-only Summer Zone

It was a strange crew, but kayakers, whale watchers, sport anglers and commercial fishermen all came together last night in Seattle to speak out against a proposal to make part of the San Juan Islands a no-go zone to protect killer whales.

“You wouldn’t believe it. Everybody said, ‘What are you guys, crazy?'” says Tim Bush of Outdoor Emporium (206-624-6550) who attended a two-hour meeting put on by the National Marine Fisheries Service at the Seattle Aquarium. “Everybody was against it.”

The Feds want to make a 1/2-mile strip along the west side of San Juan Island a no-go zone from May 1 through September, as well as bar most vessels from approaching within more than 200 yards or block the paths of the ESA-listed marine mammals in Puget Sound.

NMFS argues that orcas are affected by boat noises, though sport fishermen dispute that — and then there’s that famous YouTube video that shows killer whales eating a big Chinook right off the end of a fisherman”s line.

Anglers also fear the proposed closure is only the beginning, and that more quality fishing areas in the Juans and Puget Sound will be shut down.

Bush reports a full house last night. Among those in attendance were Bear Holmes of CCA-Pacific Northwest, Nelson Goodsell and Ron Garner of Puget Sound Anglers, Larry Carpenter of Master Marine in Mount Vernon, Gabe Miller from OE and Sportco in Fife, and Rob Endsley and Tom Nelson from Outdoor Line, according to Bush.

In a post entitled “NOAA vessel rules rejected at Aquarium,” Orcasphere blogger Steve Viers reports at least 50 individual comments.

The 1/2-mile closure zone would affect waters from Mitchell Bay southeast to Eagle Point, a beloved fishing area for Puget Sound anglers.

“It’s disheartening to see a large piece of water that’s extremely productive during certain parts of the summer be closed,” Jay Field of Dash One Charters in Anacortes told Joel Shangle, West Coast saltwater columnist for ESPN Outdoors. “I get calls from people who specifically want to fish the west side of San Juan Island, because you can get a 40-pounder there. It’s one of our best Chinook spots, and to lose that part of our fishery is disappointing, and a little alarming. If NOAA shuts this area down, are the rest of the San Juans next? The killer whales travel down Rosario Strait and they go down Bellingham Channel, too. Are those the next to be shut down?”



Adds Tony Floor, fishing affairs director for the Northwest Marine Trade Association, in his monthly newsletter today: “From my viewpoint, closing an area along the shoreline of San Juan Island is not a reasonable solution. A reasonable solution is to participate and encourage the improvement of water quality in Puget Sound. A healthy Puget Sound is good for Orca, salmon, and the people who live in the great Pacific Northwest.”

Commercial anglers, kayakers and whale watching guides are also questioning the proposals.

Officially, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife “is still developing our response,” according to spokesman Darren Friedel in Olympia. “We will be submitting our comments.”

There will also be another public meeting Oct. 5 at the Grange Hall on First Street in Friday Harbor.

Comments on the proposal may also be submitted via email through Oct. 27.

POSTSCRIPT: Plus1 on BloodyDecks rounded up a summary of news articles, and blog posts on this issue, which includes a link to some interesting boiled down comments made by Mark Anderson of Orca Relief as reported by the Islands’ Sounder’s Mark Rasmussen:

Mark Anderson, founder of Orca Relief, said he would “pass” on excluding kayaks and sport fisherman from the no-go zone, noting the little disruption either have on the ability of a killer whale to use its sonar and locate its prey. Instead, according to Anderson, federal officials should be targeting the “flotilla of boats” that follow the orcas all day long, seven days a week, and which, he insists, pose the greatest risk to the survival of the Southern residents in the short-term.

A video news piece done by KCPQ-13 speaks with Anderson,whale-watch charter skipper Shane Aggergaard, and Lynne Barre of NMFS who wrote the protection proposal.