Category Archives: Headlines

OREGON FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONERS JASON ATKINSON, BRUCE BUCKMASTER, BOB WEBBER AND GREG WOLLEY, AND ODFW DIRECTOR CURT MELCHER. (ODFW)

ODFW Honchos To Be On Hand At Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show Feb. 11

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Stop by ODFW’s booth at the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show in Hall B by the kid’s trout pond at the Portland Expo Center next week (Feb. 10-14). You can purchase a license or tag, try out online hunting and fish stocking maps and other ODFW applications, pick up informational materials on how to fish, hunt, clam and crab or just talk with ODFW staff about fish and wildlife issues.

Or, join ODFW at one of these special events. All events free with paid admission to show.

Meet & Greet with ODFW Commissioners, Thursday, Feb. 11, 4:45 to 6 p.m. in the Green Room. Meet Commissioners Bob Webber (District 4), Jason Atkinson (District 2), Greg Wolley (District 3), and Bruce Buckmaster (District 1), plus Director Curt Melcher and other staff. This is a great opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues with leaders of the agency.

OREGON FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONERS JASON ATKINSON, BRUCE BUCKMASTER, BOB WEBBER AND GREG WOLLEY, AND ODFW DIRECTOR CURT MELCHER. (ODFW)

OREGON FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONERS JASON ATKINSON, BRUCE BUCKMASTER, BOB WEBBER AND GREG WOLLEY, AND ODFW DIRECTOR CURT MELCHER. (ODFW)

Crabbing and Clamming seminars, Wednesday Feb. 10, 4 p.m. and Friday, Feb. 12 at 1 p.m. in the Blue Theater. ODFW shellfish biologists will talk about where, when and how to harvest shellfish.

Understanding the Controlled Hunts Process, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2:30 p.m. in the Green Theater. ODFW staff will demystify the process and provide tips on how to take full advantage of Oregon’s big game hunting opportunities. 

Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division will also be on hand with their exhibit about the problem of poaching in Oregon and with display decoys. OSP is available talk to hunters and anglers about a variety of enforcement issues.

“We hope everyone will stop by the ODFW booth while attending the show,” said ODFW Information and Education Administrator Rick Hargrave. “Our fish and wildlife biologists and staff really enjoy meeting hunters and anglers, answering their questions and sharing information about fishing, hunting and shell fishing opportunities.”

Kalama River Falls. (RMEF)

Riparian, Wildlife Habitat At Merrill Lake Conserved

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation successfully collaborated with Merrill Lake Properties LLC and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to permanently protect and open access to 297 acres of riparian habitat in southwest Washington.

The property sits at the foot of Mount St. Helens and includes Merrill Lake’s northern shoreline. RMEF and partners placed the acreage in the public’s hands with WDFW carrying out its management.

Kalama River Falls. (RMEF)

KALAMA RIVER FALLS SITS NEAR THE LANDS. (RMEF)

“We are grateful to a landowner that understands and appreciates the conservation value of this area,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “Merrill Lake Properties LLC could have easily offered up these waterfront properties to the highest bidder on the open market which could have led to development, a lack of access and adverse impacts on the fishery and wildlife.

Merrill Lake formed when prehistoric lava flows from Mount St. Helens blocked nearby streams. The property provides winter range and year-round habitat for elk, black-tailed deer, black bears, cougars, salmon and steelhead. It also features both old growth tree stands, which survived previous volcanic blasts, as well as early seral forest growth.

“This Merrill Lake acquisition is the start of a purchase plan that provides a major benefit for public access and for protecting habitat for several animal species, including winter range for elk. It would not have been possible without our strong partnership with the RMEF. We plan to keep working together to secure the money to purchase the remainder of the property” said Guy Norman, WDFW Region 5 director.

Funding for the first phase of this project came from a nearly $2 million grant from the Washington Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. Work continues to acquire funding to complete the purchase of the remaining 1,150 acres of the property.

FALL CHINOOK REDDS ON IDAHO'S CLEARWATER RIVER. (BILL ARNSBERG, NEZ PERCE TRIBE FISHERIES)

Nez Perce: 2015 Snake Fall King Redd Count A Record

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE COLUMBIA RIVER INTER-TRIBAL FISH COMMISSION

For the third year in a row, fall chinook returning to the Snake River have set a new record. Data released today by the Nez Perce Tribe shows that a new record of 9,345 redds, or gravel nests, were built by returning adults in the Snake River Basin between Lower Granite and Hells Canyon dams. The previous record was set in 2014 when 6,714 redds were counted. This new record coincides with the third highest adult Snake River fall chinook return(59,300) since the four lower Snake River dams were completed in 1975.

The Nez Perce Tribe, in coordination with co-managers from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are implementing the Snake River Fall Chinook Program in an effort to restore fall chinook salmon above Lower Granite Dam.

FALL CHINOOK REDDS ON IDAHO'S CLEARWATER RIVER. (BILL ARNSBERG, NEZ PERCE TRIBE FISHERIES)

FALL CHINOOK REDDS ON IDAHO’S CLEARWATER RIVER. (BILL ARNSBERG, NEZ PERCE TRIBE FISHERIES)

The success of the Snake River fall chinook program is the direct result of efforts to supplement existing Snake River fall chinook with biologically appropriate hatchery-reared fish. The program was started in 1994 as a result of legal actions by the tribes under US v. Oregon. The Nez Perce Tribe annually releases450,000 yearling fall chinook and 2.8 million sub-yearling fall chinook from tribal facilities as part of an overall program that releases 5 million fish back into the system. These releases into the Snake and Clearwater rivers have increased the number of adult fall chinook returning above Lower Granite Dam. Many of these fish spawn naturally and are key to increasing natural-origin returns.

“The continued success of the Snake River fall chinook returns over the past 5 years strengthens the argument for carefully managed hatcheries as a tool in salmon recovery,” said Anthony Johnson, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. “This program highlights the success of salmon restoration programs and demonstrates our potential when we focus on rebuilding abundance.”

Adult fall chinook salmon returns to Lower Granite Dam have increased from fewer than 1,000 adults to Lower Granite Dam annually from 1975-1995 to record counts of 56,565 adults in 2013 and 60,868 in 2014. These returns include record numbers of natural-origin fish returning to the spawning grounds, including 21,142 wild fish in 2013, 14,172 in 2014 and a preliminary estimate 16,212 in 2015. This equals approximately 28 percent of the 2015 return to the area.

The continued increase in returns of Snake River fall chinook allowed co-managers to open a fall chinook fishery in the Snake River in 2009. This was the first fall chinook fishery on the Snake River in 35 years and the fishery has occurred each year since.

“The success of the Snake River fall chinook is something this region can really be proud of,” said Paul Lumley, Executive Director for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “Over the last 20 years, we’ve moved from the courtroom to supporting fisheries while putting a substantial number of retuning adults on the spawning grounds. This type of program should be replicated throughout the Columbia River Basin, not limited.”

MANAGERS' FORECASTS FOR 2016 OCEAN COHO ABUNDANCE. (VIA WDFW)

2016 Columbia, Ore. Coast Coho Forecast Out

Salmon managers are forecasting that 380,600 Columbia coho and 152,700 Oregon Coast silvers will be swimming in the Pacific off the Northwest this season, potentially good news coming out of 2015’s woeful returns.

According to a fact sheet out this morning, only 242,300 Columbia early and late silvers were out there last year, well below the forecast of 777,100, while just 70,400 Oregon coho were, far fewer than the preseason prognostication of 206,600.

MANAGERS' FORECASTS FOR 2016 OCEAN COHO ABUNDANCE. (VIA WDFW)

MANAGERS’ FORECASTS FOR 2016 OCEAN COHO ABUNDANCE. (VIA WDFW)

Overall, fishery overseers said just over a million coho would be available, but just a third actually were.

Last year was marked by The Blob, that giant pool of warmer than average water that may have impacted the health of coho stocks at sea.

Those returning to Puget Sound were smaller than usual, and state and tribal salmon managers ended up closing many streams or reducing limits throughout Western Washington in hopes of just enough enough back to the hatchery and wild spawning grounds to make escapement goals.

But if 2016’s forecasts do come true, more coho would be available this season than were finning off Washington and Oregon last year.

dishonor logo.

Citizen Tip, Facebookers Help Bust Utah Man Who Poached Idaho Deer

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO FISH & GAME

A deer poaching case involving a distinctive vehicle, an alert citizen, and a groundswell of public interest has concluded with fines and license suspensions for a Roosevelt, Utah man. And a Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) call started it all.

dishonor logo.

In early November of 2014, a concerned citizen called the CAP hotline to report what he thought to be an illegally-taken mule deer. While fueling his vehicle at the Boise Stage Stop on Interstate 84 east of Boise, he visited with two men driving a brand new tan Ford Raptor pickup truck. A tarp-covered mule deer buck in the back of the Raptor caught his attention, and motivated him to report his observations.

Just days later, Fish and Game investigators identified one of those men as Mark Richens (34) of Roosevelt, Utah. It was also determined that Richens had just purchased a duplicate deer tag, reporting to the issuing license vendor that his original unit 40 late-season buck tag had been lost.

Shortly afterwards, it was determined that Richens was back in Unit 40, actively hunting trophy mule deer. Officers eventually located both Richens and his hunting partner where they proved to be less than cooperative during an interview, suggesting that officers “contact our attorneys.”

On December 19 2014, some case information and photographs were released to the public via standard media as well as the Fish and Game Southwest Region and CAP Facebook pages, with an appeal for additional information that might bolster the case against Richens.

Public reaction was both rapid and overwhelming, as the post was quickly relayed from one Facebook user to another. “We had an amazing response from the Facebook world,” Fish and Game regional investigator Kurt Stieglitz noted. “I received a message the very first evening from a caller who identified Mark Richens as the driver of the Ford Raptor and provided other case details.” Additional information funneled into Stieglitz’ office in the days that followed, allowing him to seek a criminal complaint against Richens for attempting to take a second trophy mule deer.

Mark Richens was eventually charged with one count of hunting/unlawfully taking a big game animal in Owyhee County, Idaho, and one count of hunting with an invalid tag. In early October 2015, the invalid tag charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement by which Richens was ordered to pay $665 in fines and court costs. Owyhee County Magistrate Judge Dan Grober also handed down a two-year hunting license revocation which included the provision that Richens cannot be in possession of a firearm while in Idaho, nor accompany another hunter in the field in Idaho for the two-year period. A 90-day jail sentence will be imposed should Richens fail to comply with these conditions during his one-year probationary period.

Fish and Game officers did the legwork, but the real heroes in this case were ordinary citizens. “We developed a solid case thanks to citizen involvement,” Stieglitz said. “It’s gratifying to know that so many Idahoans value the state’s wildlife and will move quickly to defend it.”

Persons with any information about suspected poaching activity are encouraged to call the Citizens against Poaching (CAP) hotline at 1-800-632-5999, twenty-four hours a day. Callers can remain anonymous and cash rewards are often paid for information leading to the successful conclusion of a case. In addition to the CAP hotline, persons may also contact their local Fish and Game office with information regarding a suspected poaching case.

AFTER DIPPING THE COWLITZ RIVER LAST FEBRUARY, BRAD HOLE SMOKED UP HIS SMELT FOR SOME DELICIOUS SNACKS. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report (2-1-16)

THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL WAS TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, PSMFC, AND IS COMPRISED OF MATERIAL COLLECTED BY WDFW AND OTHERS

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – Water conditions are improving as is the steelhead catch.  18 bank anglers kept 5 hatchery winter run steelhead.  4 boat anglers kept 1 hatchery winter run steelhead.  Fish were caught throughout the river.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 37 coho adults, three jacks, 54 winter run steelhead and two cutthroat trout during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released 29 coho adults, one jack, 29 winter-run steelhead adults and two cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.  They also released six coho adults, two coho jacks and seven winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa at Cowlitz Falls Dam.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 10,600 cubic feet per second on Monday, February 1. Water visibility is two feet.
Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers are catching some steelhead.

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

Though still early, late hatchery winter run steelhead returns to Washington lower Columbia hatcheries are off to a little slower start in 2016 when compared to the same time last year.

River                     2016                       2015
Cowlitz                 47                           55
Kalama                 119                         189
Lewis                    10                           20

From: Hoffarth, Paul A (DFW)
Sent: Monday, February 01, 2016 10:48 AM
Subject: Lower Hanford Reach Steelhead Fishery (January Catch & Harvest)

WDFW staff estimates that 1,151 anglers fished for steelhead in the Hanford Reach (Hwy 395 to Hanford) in December.  WDFW technicians interviewed 314 anglers with 66 steelhead.

Based on the sampling data, an estimated 131 steelhead were caught in January, 78 hatchery steelhead were harvested. Catch and harvest this January was well below last year’s catch (287) and harvest (187) but only slightly lower than the ten-year average (catch=150, harvest=94). This season, 4,686 anglers have fished for steelhead in the Hanford Reach catching 1,191 steelhead and harvesting 872 hatchery steelhead.

Anglers fishing in the Columbia River near Ringold Springs Hatchery averaged 21.4 hours per steelhead during the month of January. Boat anglers had the best catch per hour at 13 hours of fishing per steelhead.  82% of the steelhead landed have been clipped hatchery origin steelhead.

Fishing was very slow in January but should pick up by late February.

Sturgeon

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers averaged a legal kept per every 7 rods last week.  Slow for legal size fish from the bank.

Through February 7, sturgeon may be retained seven days per week.  The daily limit is 1 fish, min. size 38″ fork length and max. size 54″ fork length. Effective February 8 until further notice, catch-and-release only.  Depending on the remaining allocation of the 325 fish guideline, a 1-2 day retention fishery is possible in mid-June.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching a few legals; slow fishing from the bank.

Staff is closely tracking catch in The Dalles Pool. Assuming the current rate of retention continues, a closure date for retention may be announced by mid-February.

John Day Pool – Slow for legal size fish as none were found in the sample.

Walleye and Bass

Bonneville Pool – No effort was observed for either species.

The Dalles Pool – Fishing for walleye was very good with boat anglers averaging 3.5 fish kept/released per rod.  The couple bank anglers sampled also did well for walleye but no bass were caught.

John Day Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged nearly a walleye per every 2.5 rods.  No effort was observed for bass.

Smelt

Good numbers of smelt were reported caught in the commercial fishery near Longview today.  Prospects look good for the Cowlitz sport fishery this Saturday.

Cowlitz River – Smelt fishing with dip nets from the riverbank will be allowed ONLY from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday February 6.  Each dip-netter may retain 10 pounds of smelt (about ¼ of a five-gallon bucket) per day with no more than one day’s limit in possession.  No dipping is allowed from boats.

AFTER DIPPING THE COWLITZ RIVER LAST FEBRUARY, BRAD HOLE SMOKED UP HIS SMELT FOR SOME DELICIOUS SNACKS. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

AFTER DIPPING THE COWLITZ RIVER LAST FEBRUARY, BRAD HOLE SMOKED UP HIS SMELT FOR SOME DELICIOUS SNACKS. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Flows at Castle Rock are 19,500 cfs today, nearly twice the long-term mean of 10,700 cfs.

All other waters in the state of Washington remain closed to fishing for eulachon (Columbia River smelt).

floor

NMTA’s Floor On ‘Blackmouth Nirvana’ — Sekiu

Editor’s note: The following is Tony Floor’s monthly newsletter and is run with permission.

By Tony Floor, Fishing Affairs Director, Northwest Marine Trade Association

Some people believe my motor is always running. “Hey Tony! You left your motor running!” Yeah, and what’s your point? Isn’t everybody’s motor running?

When I consider the allegation, I confess, it’s probably true. Growing up as a kid, I had to be on the go, constantly thinking about getting my worm in the water to catch and often whack some kind of a fish. As a very young boy, sneaking into a private boathouse or two along the south shore of Hood Canal, baiting my hook with a piece of mussel off the dock, I stared down into the green clear water of Hood Canal and watched Shiner perch, Blue-striped perch or bigger Pile perch circle my bait until one of them grabbed it and the herk and jerk program was on! My lightweight 5-foot trout rod was loaded to the max as every perch felt like a 30-pounder. I became infected with this thing called fishing.

floor

Today, over a half century later, I remain one sick puppy, as thoughts of my annual fishing strategy plan plays through my mind, like a favorite musical album as I cork screw into the floor. Got a visual? Sorry, it’s simply the life of a fish-a-holic.

If you believe I fish 365 days a year, you’re on the wrong frequency. I do, however, fish as much as I can, weather permitting. And, if I’m not fishing, I’m often thinking about it.

My point is that I tend to run hot. And when it comes to fishing, I am constantly working my trap line, getting intel on my fav fishing and catching spots dependent on place and time of the year. Doesn’t everybody do that?

When I think about writing this column every month, if you’re a long time reader, I attempt to provide contemporary thinking about fishing options in the outdoor marine world, which brings me to February.

First and foremost, I consider February and March as prime time for winter blackmouth. From north Puget Sound, Hood Canal, Admiralty Inlet, the San Juans and the Strait of Juan de Fuca including beautiful Freshwater Bay east to Partridge Bank, you’ll likely find blackmouth circling on schools of baitfish. Love it when that happens.

As a student of all these areas, especially for one-day Kamikaze fishing trips, it is my late winter heartbeat that feeds the thumpty-thump of my motor.

One of the regions falling under excellent blackmouth fishing category in February and March is Sekiu. I recall my introduction with February blackmouth fishing back in 1977 when I was invited to migrate to Sekiu for my western Strait of Juan de Fuca baptism. Quickly converted, when I see February on my calendar over the last 38 years, the rpm’s on my motor increase by a few thousand.

Sekiu, located on the northwest region of the Olympic Peninsula is about four hours from my Olympia doorstep. That is a little too far for a one-day strike. Sekiu is more realistically identified as a destination fishery. Therefore, a three or four-day trip to the gateway of the Strait can be a blackmouth Nirvana. It seems I can hear the sounds of traffic rushing north and south on I-5 from Port Angeles, but I can’t duplicate that awful sound from Sekiu. It is more like Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence tune, on the big stage of the natural world at its best.

The Sekiu winter blackmouth fishery opens on Tuesday, February 16. Just a few days before the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby, this fishery is scheduled to run through April 30th. I like the tides on the last weekend of the month, February 27-28, featuring moderate ebb tides from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. (pay attention to more important current changes as they tend to run a few hours later than the tide changes). If you can’t make the trip at the end of the month, the great tides for a repeat are on the weekend of March 12-13th and the 26-27th. Perfect ebb tides from daylight ‘til early afternoon.

For the first time in nearly a decade, Van Riper’s Resort (360-963-2334) is open all winter (boat ramp but no moorage) as the result of an ownership change. To the west, Mason-Olson’s Resort (360-963-2311) opens February 16, however, the docks are not scheduled to be available until May 1st. Boat fuel and the Olson’s ramp remain available. Therefore, launching and retrieving you boat each day is the program.

Fishing strategy for being successful at Sekiu is very elementary. Mooching, trolling bait, spoons or hoochies all work. I like to start my ebb tide troll around “The Caves” immediately west of Sekiu in 120-150 feet of water, looking for schools of baitfish. Once again, like a broken record, find the baitfish and you’ll find the Chinook.

Trolling to the west for a couple of miles, you’ll see a few houses along the beach as you approach the easterly point (Eagle Bay) of the Hoko River. Pick up your gear and repeat.

A second option is to run to the east of Clallam Bay to Slip Point and start your troll or drift at Mussolini Rock, immediately east of Slip Point. Working similar water depths, your troll will take you west as the bottom drops off at the red buoy just west of Slip Point. Pound the bottom 10 feet like a jack hammer. Find the bait and, again, you’ll find fish.

Sekiu is a special place to most Northwest salmon anglers. It is often a weather-beater during any kind of a southerly, located geographically on the west end of Clallam Bay, out of the wind. And, during the next two months there is nobody there! Most saltwater salmon and halibut anglers know all about the summer fishery, but very few know or exercise their schedules to winter fish this region. It’s a blast and I’m going! See you on the water!

(JASON BAUER)

Superlong Razor Clam Dig Starts Feb. 4 At Long Beach

You’ve heard of one-, two-, three-, four-, five-, six- and seven-day razor clam digs, but how about a monthlong one?

That’s what Washington shellfish managers have just approved.

Digging at Long Beach will begin Feb. 4 and run through March 10.

Evergreen State razor clammers haven’t had that many days of back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to — well, you get the idea — opportunity in over 20 years.

“We had a two-month-long opener in 1993 after the first domoic acid outbreak finally ended,” says state clam man Dan Ayres. “I don’t think we’ve done that since then.”

That was the product of a toxic bloom that ran from November 1992 to midfall 1993, and saw beaches reopened in November and December, which according to Ayres was also the last time the beaches were open over Christmas.

Similarly, high toxin levels last fall kept diggers off Washington’s coastal beaches until late December.

(JASON BAUER)

(JASON BAUER)

Here’s the official word from WDFW’s press release:

Razor clam diggers can look forward to more than a month of razor clam digging opportunities at Long Beach on the Washington coast.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the dig, which runs from Feb. 4 through March 10, at Long Beach after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.

All other beaches remain closed to recreational razor clam digging.

The department approved this extended opening due to the abundance of clams available at Long Beach, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.

“We had a late start to the digging season, so we still have plenty of clams to dig at Long Beach,” Ayres said.  “We’re thrilled to be able to announce this lengthy opening.” 

The dig at Long Beach is on evening tides. No digging will be allowed before noon any day. Diggers should check tide charts before heading out, since tides of one foot or above aren’t conducive to digging, Ayres said.

“For the best digging conditions, we advise people to plan their trips to the beach when the evening low tides are less than one foot,” Ayres said.

Ayres noted the best digging usually occurs one to two hours prior to low tide

The first week of the upcoming dig at Long Beach is scheduled on the following dates and low tides:

  • Feb. 4, Thursday, 3:41 p.m.; 0.8 feet, Long Beach,
  • Feb. 5, Friday, 4:28 p.m.; 0.2 feet, Long Beach
  • Feb. 6, Saturday, 5:11 p.m.; -0.3 feet, Long Beach
  • Feb. 7, Sunday, 5:52 p.m.; -0.7 feet, Long Beach
  • Feb. 8, Monday, 6:32 p.m.; -1.0 feet, Long Beach
  • Feb. 9, Tuesday, 7:12 p.m.; -0.9 feet, Long Beach
  • Feb. 10, Wednesday, 7:52 p.m.; -0.7 feet, Long Beach
  • For tidal information at Long Beach beginning Feb. 11, diggers should check the tide charts listed on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s webpage at http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/map/

Additionally, a list of tides will be posted on WDFW’s razor clam webpage http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/ Diggers should also check the website for announcements about openings at other Washington beaches.

Although toxin tests at Copalis beach show clams are safe to eat, shellfish managers are limiting digging there to help ensure the beach will have openings throughout the spring.

“Copalis was the first beach to open this season and we’ve already harvested nearly 40 percent of our annual quota,” Ayres said.

Razor clam digging will remain closed on Washington’s other coastal beaches until domoic acid levels drop below the threshold of 20 parts per million set by state public health officials. The natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.

WDFW is continuing to monitor toxin levels on all Washington beaches and will open other areas as soon as clams are safe to eat. Toxin test results can be found on WDFW’s domoic acid webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/domoic_levels.html

Diggers should monitor WDFW’s main razor clam webpage for any potential changes to the Long Beach opening.

Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2015-16 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

 

DEVIN SCHILDT HARVESTED THIS SPRING BLACK BEAR ON A SPECIAL PERMIT HUNT NEAR MONROE IN 2013. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Time To Apply For Washington Spring Bear Permits

Twice as many hunters will be able to chase black bears in Northeast Washington this spring.

WDFW is offering 390 permits for the Sherman, Kelly Hill, Douglas, Aladdin, 49 Degrees North and Huckleberry Game Management Units, up from 195 in spring 2015.

The application period is open from now through Feb. 29, the agency announced today.

By happenstance, a total of 509 permits are available this year in 509erland.

During the Fish & Wildlife Commission meeting last April when harvest levels were set, state bear manager Donny Martorello said that because of fairly consistent success rates over time — 17 percent — hunters could be expected to take about 100 bruins in Eastern Washington in 2016.

He said that though the recommendation in the northeast wasn’t based on helping out elk calf and deer fawn recruitment, it could provide that ancillary benefit, important for folks in one of the state’s best hunting regions.

In a March meeting before the citizen panel, he said it was to provide more spring opportunity, which locals had requested. Worried about spring bear predation on fawns in the Sherman GMU, BJ Thornily suggested a general hunt with a hotline to call in to prevent overharvest.

This spring there’s also new opportunity on the Westside — 40 permits for the Long Beach-Bear River area to try and reduce chronic conflicts due to some residents feeding the animals.

A total of 345 permits are being offered in Western Washington, but that’s down from 383 last spring because Weyerhaeuser requested that their lands in the Lincoln GMU be removed from the program.

Unlike the fall hunt when most bears are taken (93 to 99 percent of the annual statewide take), the primary job of spring black bear hunters is to help reduce conflict, and on the Westside that’s damage on tree farms. Because there’s not much food in the forest in April and May, some hungry ursines turn to chewing up the bark of young Doug firs.

DEVIN SCHILDT HARVESTED THIS SPRING BLACK BEAR ON A SPECIAL PERMIT HUNT NEAR MONROE IN 2013. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

DEVIN SCHILDT HARVESTED THIS SPRING BLACK BEAR ON A SPECIAL PERMIT HUNT NEAR MONROE IN 2013. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Dates of the spring hunt varies — it opens April 1 in the northeast and April 15 elsewhere, and then runs through May 31 or mid-June.

Before you apply for the Westside hunts, be aware that some are largely on private timberlands and that they may have to purchase access passes. This is most true for the Kapowsin and Copalis permits.

And Westsiders, before you apply for Northeast hunts, you might consider whether you’ll really be able to make the trek and put the permit to use.

For more on applying, WDFW spelled it out in a press release:

To apply for a permit, hunters must purchase a special permit application and a 2016 hunting license that includes bear as a species option. Hunting licenses, bear transport tags and bear permit applications may be purchased:

Special permit applications, which require a correct hunt choice number, may be submitted online at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ or by calling (877) 945-3492.