Category Archives: Headlines

ODFW Lifts Angling Hour Restrictions On Lower Deschutes

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

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has lifted fishing restrictions the lower Deschutes River.  Anglers can now fish after 2 p.m. from Macks Canyon to the mouth of the river. The change is effective immediately.

Water temperatures in the lower Deschutes are back to near normal for August, prompting fishery managers to re-open the river to regular fishing hours. The entire lower Deschutes River from the Pelton Dam to the mouth is now open for fishing from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.

“We typically see water temperatures in the lower Deschutes begin to cool in August,” said Rod French, ODFW fish biologist. “Despite some very warm temperatures in late June and early July, the river is starting to look more normal as we head into August.”

A USGS GAUGE NEAR THE MOUTH OF THE DESCHUTES SHOW THE NORTH-CENTRAL OREGON'S WATER TEMPERATURES SINCE JUNE 1. (USGS)

A USGS GAUGE NEAR THE MOUTH OF THE DESCHUTES SHOW THE NORTH-CENTRAL OREGON’S WATER TEMPERATURES SINCE JUNE 1. (USGS)

A number of factors contribute to the August cool down, French said, including:

·        the increasing influence of cold water springs as river levels drop, and

·        longer nights and cooler nighttime temperatures and the changing angle of the sun increasing shade cast by the steep canyon walls.

Fishery managers will continue to monitor water temperatures in the lower Deschutes and will be prepared to announce subsequent closures, if necessary.

In the meantime, anglers are encouraged to follow the usual precautions when catch-and-release fishing in warm weather:

·        Fish early in the day when water temperatures are cooler.

·        Check water temperatures frequently and stop fishing when they reach 70 degrees.

·        Use barbless hooks so you can release fish quickly.

·        Keep the fish in the water as you unhook them, and cradle the fish upright until it revives enough to swim away.

The lower Deschutes was included in the July 16 closure of most rivers and streams in the state to fishing for trout, salmon and steelhead after 2 p.m.  The closure is to help protect native fish already stressed by low water levels and high water temperatures associated with this year’s drought.

ODFW has also re-opened the upper reaches of two northeast Oregon streams to regular fishing hours: the Imnaha River above Freezeout Creek and the Wenaha River above Crooked Creek.

Both are cold water systems somewhat immune to excessive water temperatures, and were inadvertently included in the statewide restrictions.

These three changes from the early closure are consistent with ODFW’s exemption process, where cool, high elevation streams, spring-fed systems, tail-race fisheries and estuaries are generally exempt from early closures.  The Department will continue to monitor conditions across the state and evaluate proposed changes on a case-by-case basis, but anglers can anticipate that the most closures are likely to remain in effect until temperatures cool significantly, generally associated with shorter days, cooler nights and fall rains.

posse

Holy Humpies! Everett Catch Weeks Ahead Of 2013

Nearly 1,000 pink salmon were brought back to Everett this past Saturday and Sunday, five times as many as the same point in 2013 and several weeks earlier than comparable catches that year.

According to WDFW creel samplers, 527 were tallied on Sunday, 444 on Saturday, good for 1.27 and 1.18 pinks per angler.

It wasn’t until Sunday, Aug. 18 in 2013 that samplers saw a 500-fish day at the 10th Street ramp.

The rest of that week went 451, 524, 344, 706, 324 and 189.

The 706 marked the high point of that year’s harvest.

So, is 2015′s run early, or big, or both?

Dunno, but we’ve got a call in to WDFW’s salmon snorkler/regs cover photog Aaron Dufault for whether to come unhinged or not.

In the meanwhile, we’re going to hedge our bets on the former and offer up our July issue’s Rigs of the Month, The Humpy Killin’ Posse:

posse

NOTES
Of the myriad ways to catch pink salmon, there may be no more effective way in the salt than putting any of these simple set-ups 35 to 50 feet behind the boat and up to 60 feet down on the ’rigger. Expert Terry Wiest of Steelhead University believes the white dodgers catch their eye and pink triggers their feeding instinct. While the middle rig is the traditional Humpy Killer, if you substitute a flasher for a dodger, add 2 to 3 inches to your leader to keep the action the shorter leaders provide. Wiest says to troll super-slow in a zigzag, and when you hook one pink, leave the other rods down, if possible, as the fish travel in large schools. –NWS

 

JEFFREY BARRETT AND HIS NEPHEWS AUSTIN AND GUNNER SHOW OFF A HANDFUL OF COHO CAUGHT AT BUOY 10 OVER THE OPENER. THE BOYS WERE ON THEIR FIRST SALMON TRIP EVER, SAYS BARRETT, AND THEY WERE GUIDED BY MIKE SALAZAR OF SALT 2 SUMMIT GUIDE SERVICE. (JEFFREY BARRETT)

Buoy 10 Starts Off With Strong Catches

UPDATED 12:45 P.M., AUG. 3, 2015, WITH ODFW CATCH STATS

Ingredients for a standout Buoy 10 opener: Take two parts weekend, dump in lots of salmon, big tides, and whip up a nice froth for the ocean.

This past Saturday marked the start of fall fishing at the mouth of the Columbia, and it saw the highest turnout of boats and anglers, as well as catches of kings and coho over the past eight Aug. 1s.

WDFW reports it sampled 168 coho and 23 kings for 249 fishermen on 87 boats coming back to three Washington-side ramps.

ODFW had 495 coho and 113 Chinook for 900 anglers in 287 boats.

“The coho kept catch rate of .55 fish per rod is equivalent to catch rates during week 4 of the 2014 Buoy 10 season,” noted an Oregon creel report forwarded to Northwest Sportsman.

JEFFREY BARRETT AND HIS NEPHEWS AUSTIN AND GUNNER SHOW OFF A HANDFUL OF COHO CAUGHT AT BUOY 10 OVER THE OPENER. THE BOYS WERE ON THEIR FIRST SALMON TRIP EVER, SAYS BARRETT, AND THEY WERE GUIDED BY MIKE SALAZAR OF SALT 2 SUMMIT GUIDE SERVICE. (JEFFREY BARRETT)

JEFFREY BARRETT AND HIS NEPHEWS AUSTIN AND GUNNER SHOW OFF A HANDFUL OF COHO CAUGHT AT THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA. THE BOYS WERE UP FROM ARIZONA AND OUT ON THEIR FIRST SALMON TRIP EVER, SAYS BARRETT, AND THEY WERE GUIDED BY MIKE SALAZAR OF SALT 2 SUMMIT GUIDE SERVICE. (JEFFREY BARRETT)

Indeed, the silver tally really stands out as unusual — no previous opener comes remotely close, but another 134 were also counted on Sunday.

Joe Hymer at Fishery Control-Vancouver credited it to a good showing of early salmon, big tides as well as a lumpy ocean that would have kept anglers launching from Ilwaco and Warrenton inside Buoy 10 instead.

“Sounds like it was a pretty good weekend down there, even with the big outgoing tide first thing and the wind,” added our contributor Andy Schneider.

The only year that approaches this opener was last year’s, when 43 boats with 107 anglers came back with 13 kings and 15 coho.

Most other years since 2007 have seen zero or just one salmon sampled for anywhere from 22 to 105 anglers in 11 to 37 boats.

In fact, you have to take the time machine all the way back to the early years of this millennium to find comparable catches.

“It was the best Buoy 10 opener since 2001 when anglers averaged nearly 2/3 of a coho per rod,” Hymer reported later in the day. “It should be noted 1.1 million coho returned that year.  This year’s preseason forecast is 539,600 fish.”

Coho appear to be in early; WDFW had to tweak its regulations for salmon fishing above the Astoria-Megler Bridge after some showed up in the catch in July.

With an estimated 1.65 million salmon set to cross the buoy, for more on the fishery, see our August 2015 issue!

And to track daily catches, as well as get tides, currents, water temps, bar conditions, the locations of Goonies‘ scenes and webcams, go to WDFW’s handy-dandy B10 page.

aug 2015 nws cover

IAN FERGUSON HEFTS A CHINOOK CAUGHT AT BUOY 10 THIS PAST SEASON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Floor: Now’s The Year’s ‘Pinnacle’ Of Northwest Salmon Fishing

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

Big king salmon drive me nuts: cool, chrome, and, compared to a normal July-August king salmon, a 6-point bull elk!

In Puget Sound, mature Chinook salmon are typically three to four years old, averaging 10 to 20 pounds. Kings over 20 pounds are traditionally the exception, not the norm.

Coastal rivers, such as the north coast, Grays Harbor, and Willapa Bay rivers sometimes entertain five-year-old Chinook up to 30 pounds.

So, now that I’ve put this framework of summer king salmon size into perspective, I received a text a few weeks ago with an attached photo of a 50-pound Chinook caught in Sitka by Derek Floyd, Reel Class Charters. I immediately shared it with a bunch of my fishing peeps and heard several words often used by George Carlin that will never make a G-rating. It was a massive king salmon, chrome as the bumper on a ‘57 Chev and in the prime of its life. It took me to my knees.

Twenty-four hours later, Derek sends me another photo of another monster king, tipping the scales at 52 pounds. Get out of here! How does this dude do it?

As reported in this space in recent years, Derek guides for winter Chinook salmon out of Anacortes, fishing the San Juan Islands from December through April when the seasons accommodate. I have also witnessed his fishing prowess competing in the annual Roche Harbor Salmon Classic in early February. In the 12-year history of the tournament, Derek continues to hold the record for the largest winter Chinook caught during the event, a gorgeous Chinook tipping the scales at 28 pounds. The dude knows how to sniff out big salmon!

When I think about big king salmon that I’ve had the experience to encounter, my top four are 52, 50, 47 and 45. I remember each one of those fish and I named them by size. Let’s see, beginning with the 52, he was Brutus; followed by Walter; then came Moose; followed by Dennis, for Dennis Rodman (can’t explain that one as I may have stayed up too late the night before.) The bottom line, homies, is that big fish are extremely cool and when you catch yours, you can’t take enough pictures. Do it right! No blood, remove clutter out of the photo, level the horizon, manage the shot to get reflecting light off the side of the fish, wear bright clothes, and smile!

On to the Columbia River

As long as I’ve been writing this column, which has to be nearing 10 years, I cannot recall writing in August when I have not gone into spin cycle talking about the mouth of the Columbia River. This writing will be no exception.

Fundamentally, we are at the pinnacle of the annual salmon fishing graph where Chinook and coho salmon runs collide. There are so many fishing options to consider, from Ilwaco to Neah Bay, the Strait, and the San Juans – it makes my head spin. Unfortunately, every day counts and we can only be in one place at one time.

My lower Columbia River fishing experience began back in ’86 during the largest coho salmon return of the century, according to WDFW numbers. The following year hosted the largest king salmon run dating back to 1937. I became a mouth of the Columbia River convert.

To this day, I set aside a week of full blast salmon fishing during the third week of August, fishing between the Megler-Astoria Bridge downstream to the mouth of the river. And, in more recent years, I’ve invested significant time fishing for shallow water kings along the Long Beach Peninsula. Oh baby! Lights me up like a pinball machine spitting silver dollars. Bada bing!

From my perspective, significant skill is not a major criteria to be successful in this fishery. Place and time, relative to tide and current, is very important; along with performance of your terminal tackle or bait. While a variety of spoons has been the new wave to this fishery, especially around the Megler-Astoria Bridge fishery, I continue to invest in my plugged or whole herring.

IAN FERGUSON HEFTS A LEFT-VENT-CLIPPED CHINOOK AROUND 20ISH. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

IAN FERGUSON HEFTS A CHINOOK CAUGHT LAST AUGUST NEAR THE ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

I became involved in a major discussion recently with Pam Botnen from Jerry’s Bait in Chimacum about the merits of fresh herring versus frozen. I learned quite a bit from the discussion. Yep, here to tell you that this old dog can still do new tricks! Pam’s theory is that fresh bait produces a strong oil scent, making it very successful for anglers to hook salmon. However, at Jerry’s Bait in Mats Mats Bay, following starving the bait in net pens for up to a couple of weeks, the bait is on trays, flash frozen within 20 minutes after the electrocution process. To her knowledge, there is no other frozen herring packager that can freeze their bait that quickly. This advantage, she says, gives her frozen bait a competitive edge compared to other processors. And, it will and can compete with fresh bait, as the oils in the herring are captured quickly during the flash freezing process. Works for me.

Often, when a salmon picks up your bait, did it attack your bait based on sight, performance of your spin, or was it the smell that triggered the attack? From my corner, I approach the game believing in both factors: sight and smell. My whole or plug cut herrings spin very quickly, with a tight rotation, at a slow to moderate speed. I do not need speed to produce a fast spin. Fast spinning baits at a slow speed has been a wonderful combination for me, especially for slower moving king salmon. Fishing with quality herring and leaving a scent trail also contributes to overall success. That’s my thinking and I’m sticking to it!

 So, here we go, into the grand finale of the summer chinook season, with the coho season blending into full swing later this month. We are on the edge of the completion of the summer salmon season when the days are getting shorter and September is on the horizon. I’m headed to the mighty Columbia in a few weeks for my annual king salmon fest, to share some of the best salmon fishing Washington can offer. Put me in coach, it’s time to play! See you on the water.

P.S. – Click here for an article I did for the Reel News on the ongoing Northwest Salmon Derby Series.

TRASK APPLEGATE AND OTHER HUNTERS WHO HIT IDAHO'S WOODS AND MOUNTAINS FOR DEER AND ELK HAVE A CHANCE TO SCORE SECOND TAGS AT A PRETTY GOOD DISCOUNT DURING THE MONTH OF AUGUST. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Idaho Again Discounting Second Tags For Elk, Deer — But Only In August

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

Idaho Fish and Game is offering a discount for big game hunters who want more hunting opportunity. Through August only, resident and nonresident hunters can buy remaining nonresident tags as second tags for discounted prices of $199 for deer and $350 for elk.

After August, sale of nonresident tags used as second tags will increase to $300 and $415, excluding vendor fees.

TRASK APPLEGATE AND OTHER HUNTERS WHO HIT IDAHO'S WOODS AND MOUNTAINS FOR DEER AND ELK HAVE A CHANCE TO SCORE SECOND TAGS AT A PRETTY GOOD DISCOUNT DURING THE MONTH OF AUGUST. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

TRASK APPLEGATE AND OTHER HUNTERS WHO HIT IDAHO’S WOODS AND MOUNTAINS FOR DEER AND ELK HAVE A CHANCE TO SCORE SECOND TAGS AT A PRETTY GOOD DISCOUNT DURING THE MONTH OF AUGUST. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Any hunter who has purchased a hunting license and a 2015 deer or elk tag at the regular resident or nonresident prices can buy a discounted second tag for the same species. Tags are sold on a first come, first served basis and supplies are limited to the available nonresident tag quota.

Tags are available at Fish and Game offices and license and tag vendors, online at  fishandgame.idaho.gov, or by calling 1-800-554-8685.

Fish and Game sold discounted deer and elk tags last year as an incentive for hunters to buy the remaining quota of nonresident tags, but commissioners decided this year to limit the discount sale to August. The nonresident quota is 12,815 elk tags and 15,500 deer tags, and since 2008, a portion of the nonresident quota has gone unsold.

But Fish and Game has seen increased tag sales due in part to improved deer and elk hunting in Idaho and a better economy. Through July, sale of nonresident elk tags is up 25 percent over the same period last year, and up 14 percent for deer tags.

Fish and Game is forecasting better deer and elk hunting this year because of mild winters and excellent survival of deer and elk.

For the first time last year, Fish and Game commissioners allowed residents and nonresidents to buy at a discount the remaining nonresident tags as second tags, and it was popular.

Nonresident tag quotas are factored into projected harvest rates, so Fish and Game officials don’t expect increased sales, either as nonresident tags or second tags, will lead to overharvesting of deer or elk.

Last year, hunters using second tags accounted for 2.5 percent of the statewide elk harvest and 3 percent of the statewide deer harvest.

While this is the second year of discounted nonresident tags sold as second tags, the program is not new. Nonresident deer and elk tags have been sold as second tags since 2000.

For more information about the second tags, go to fishandgame.idaho.gov/2tags.

Link: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/2tags

MEMBERS OF THE TERRITORIAL RIDERS CHAPTER OF BACKCOUNTRY HORSEMEN OF OREGON HEAD UP THE TRAIL ON MT. HOOD WITH A LOAD OF TROUT THAT WILL BE RELEASE IN SHELLROCK LAKE. (ODFW)

ODFW Goes Low Tech To Stock 2 Mt. Hood-area Lakes

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

Every two years the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife goes to the air to release more than 350,000 fingerling trout into more than 500 lakes throughout the Oregon Cascades mountain range.

This summer, ODFW added a low-tech twist to its high lakes trout stocking program: horses and mules.

MEMBERS OF THE TERRITORIAL RIDERS CHAPTER OF BACKCOUNTRY HORSEMEN OF OREGON HEAD UP THE TRAIL ON MT. HOOD WITH A LOAD OF TROUT THAT WILL BE RELEASE IN SHELLROCK LAKE. (ODFW)

MEMBERS OF THE TERRITORIAL RIDERS CHAPTER OF BACKCOUNTRY HORSEMEN OF OREGON HEAD UP THE TRAIL ON MT. HOOD WITH A LOAD OF TROUT THAT WILL BE RELEASE IN SHELLROCK LAKE. (ODFW)

Every two years, ODFW stocks the high lakes with fish, mostly from helicopters because they are fast, cover a lot of ground and can carry a big payload.

This year, in addition to helicopter stocking, two Northwest Oregon high lakes were stocked with fish carried in on horses and mules provided by the Territorial Riders Chapter of Backcountry Horsemen of Oregon.

On July 11, the volunteer riders delivered 200 “legal-sized” 8-inch trout to in Shellrock Lake, located in the High Rock Lakes area 38 mile southeast of Portland. A month earlier, the horsemen helped Walczak deliver 1,200 trout fingerlings to Cast Lake near Government Camp on Mt. Hood.

“Having dedicated volunteers who generously donate their time and resources made this project a success,” said Ben Walczak, ODFW fish biologist.

JOHNATHEN LINK (LEFT) AND CLAYTON MORGAN (RIGHT), ODFW INTERNS FROM MT. HOOD COMMUNITY COLLEGE, TRANSFER FISH FROM A TANK TRUCK TO SMALL PLASTIC BAGS FULL OF FISH THAT ARE ABOUT TO BE LOADED ONTO MULES FOR TRANSPORT TO SHELLROCK LAKE. (ODFW PHOTO)

JOHNATHEN LINK (LEFT) AND CLAYTON MORGAN (RIGHT), ODFW INTERNS FROM MT. HOOD COMMUNITY COLLEGE, TRANSFER FISH FROM A TANK TRUCK TO SMALL PLASTIC BAGS FULL OF FISH THAT ARE ABOUT TO BE LOADED ONTO MULES FOR TRANSPORT TO SHELLROCK LAKE. (ODFW )

ODFW has used horses to stock high lakes for decades but gradually turned away from that practice in favor of helicopters because of their ability to cover so much more ground.

Still, horses have advantages over helicopters including on the ground reports of lake conditions, high survival rates of fish stocked, and the ability to stock larger fish, according to Walczak.

“We can’t stock legals from a helicopter,” he said.

Helicopter time is also extremely expensive, which is why ODFW uses them to stock high lakes only during odd numbered years.

The horsemen helped ODFW staff load 40 trout into plastic bags filled with oxygen-enriched water and ice into paniers onto five mules for the 30-minute walk from the loading area into Shellrock Lake. Walczak said fish loaded this way in cool, oxygenated water will probably survive for up to two hours. Only three fish died on the ride into Shellrock Lake.

Walczak said that based on this year’s successful release, he is looking to expand the horse-stocking operation to as many as six or eight release sites next year. Not every location is a good candidate. Horse-stocking release sites need to be within two hours ride over a horse-compatible trail.

“This gives us some more options as far as releasing trout and creating additional fishing opportunity in the high lakes during those years when we can’t afford to use helicopters,” Walczak said, noting that ultimately the success of the project depends on the participation of volunteer horsemen.

There is a lot of interest in fishing Oregon’s high mountain lakes, especially this year when many other locations have been impacted by drought conditions. Oregon’s high lakes consistently get top ratings in ODFW angler surveys. ODFW encourages anglers to consider the high lakes in their summer fishing plans.

“Fishing Oregon’s high lakes can be a really good experience,” said Mike Gauvin, manager of ODFW’s Recreational Fisheries Management Program. “The crowds are usually smaller, you don’t have competing activities, and it’s generally more relaxing, not to mention some exceptional scenery.”

For more information about high lakes stocking, please visit the Trout Stocking Schedules page on ODFW’s Website.

Quota, Drought Lead To West End Fishing Rule Changes

THE FOLLOWING ARE A PRESS RELEASE AND a corrected EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Chinook retention to end off Neah Bay

OLYMPIA – Anglers must release any chinook salmon they catch in ocean waters off Neah Bay beginning Sunday, Aug. 2, state fishery managers announced today.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) estimates that anglers will meet the chinook harvest guideline by the end of the day Aug. 1 in  the section of Neah Bay that is west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line. The section east of the line is already scheduled to close to chinook retention at the end of the day July 31.

Last week, the department had dropped the daily chinook limit in Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) to one, down from two, in an effort to keep the chinook fishery open longer, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for WDFW.

“Chinook catch rates have remained high and now we’re bumping up against the chinook guideline,” Milward said.

As of July 26, the catch total for the chinook fishery had reached 82 percent of the guideline for Neah Bay.

This change does not affect fishing for other salmon species in Marine Area 4. Anglers fishing in the area will continue to have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon.

Chinook retention remains open in marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 2 (Westport) and 3 (La Push).

Additional information on the ocean fishery, including catch guidelines and size limits, can be found in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

…………………………………….

This rule change (originally sent July 29) has been corrected to include the closure of river tributaries to fishing.

Fishing Rule Change

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

July 30, 2015

Quillayute River system tributaries to close

Action:  Closes the Sol Duc, Bogachiel, Calawah, and Dickey rivers and all their tributaries, and upper 475 yards of the Quillayute River to all fishing.

Effective date:   Aug. 1, 2015, until further notice.

Species affected:  All species.

Location:  The Dickey River, Sol Duc River, Calawah River, Bogachiel River and all tributaries. The Quillayute River from the confluence of the Sol Duc and Bogachiel Rivers downstream 475 yards to fluorescent orange paint on rocks.

Reason for action:  Low water and higher than normal water temperatures are causing a delay in migration and increased stress on wild salmon returning to the Quillayute system, making them more vulnerable to fishing pressure.  This is likely to remain a problem until stream flows increase. The Quileute Tribe has also closed its fishery for two weeks, and will re-assess the situation at that time.  These closures are needed to protect wild chinook and coho salmon.

Information contact:  Mike Gross, District 16 Fish Biologist, (360) 249-1210 or David Low, Fish Biologist (360) 249-4628 ext. 1216

ANGLER ERIC STEIN DISPLAYS A PAIR OF HATCHERY SPRING CHINOOK CAUGHT OUT OF THE YAKIMA IN A RECENT SEASON. SUPPLEMENTATION WORK BY THE YAKAMA NATION HELPS PROVIDE SALMON OPPORTUNITY ON THE RIVER. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

CRITFIC: Hatcheries Help Rebuild Yakima Springer Productivity W/O Hurting Wild Fish

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

Hatcheries are an effective tool for rebuilding spring chinook abundance and productivity in the Yakima Basin without impacting wild fish. That’s according to the latest research published in the scientific journal, North American Journal of Aquaculture[1]. The study, based on 33 years of planning and research, found that the Cle Elum Supplementation and Research Facility increased fish spawning in the Yakima Basin while unsupplemented populations continued to struggle.

The Cle Elum study results refute commonly held beliefs that hatcheries hinder naturally returning populations and that natural-origin populations will rebuild in highly altered river systems in the absence of hatchery programs.

The research found that salmon redds increased in the Upper Yakima River by 120% with supplementation, while the number of redds increased 47% in the unsupplemented Naches River. During the same time frame, natural-origin returns in the Upper Yakima River increased 14% with supplementation while natural-origin returns in the unsupplemented Naches River decreased by 12%. No pathogens or disease interactions between natural-origin and hatchery origin populations were detected and ecological interactions were largely neutral.

ANGLER ERIC STEIN DISPLAYS A PAIR OF HATCHERY SPRING CHINOOK CAUGHT OUT OF THE YAKIMA IN A RECENT SEASON. SUPPLEMENTATION WORK BY THE YAKAMA NATION HELPS PROVIDE SALMON OPPORTUNITY ON THE RIVER. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

ANGLER ERIC STEIN DISPLAYS A PAIR OF HATCHERY SPRING CHINOOK CAUGHT OUT OF THE YAKIMA IN A RECENT SEASON. SUPPLEMENTATION WORK BY THE YAKAMA NATION HELPS PROVIDE SPORT AND TRIBAL HARVEST OPPORTUNITY ON THE RIVER. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

“Our results demonstrate that natural spring Chinook populations were maintained or increased in the supplemented Upper Yakima River, while the adjacent unsupplemented population in the Naches River continues a slow but steady decline”, said Dr. Dave Fast, Senior Research Scientist for the Yakama Nation Fisheries program and lead author of the publication. “Habitat restoration is occurring in both subbasins and these results indicate that we cannot rely on habitat restoration alone to achieve recovery.  We need both continued supplementation and expansion of habitat restoration actions to keep pace with the ever-increasing threats these fish face for their survival.”

The Cle Elum Spring Chinook Supplementation and Research Facility was conceived in the 1980s as a harvest mitigation program.  By the 1990s, that goal was broadened to a hatchery supplementation program that would increase harvest opportunities, increase natural spawning on the spawning grounds, and provide research that could address critical issues in hatcheries. The resurgence of spring chinook in the Yakima Basin has substantially increased fishing opportunities after a 40-year absence, significantly improved relationships, and increased opportunities for partnerships.

“This innovative project began as a dream of our elders to return fish runs that were damaged. While many criticize tribal supplementation efforts, failure to increase fish populations is not an option.  Our current situation requires us to act for the survival of our fish as well as the survival and well-being of our tribal communities, tribal culture, and our traditional foods,” Sam Jim Sr., chair of the Yakama Tribal Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee, has said of the program.

Salmon populations in the Columbia Basin continue to face problems of loss and degradation of freshwater habitat, and significant juvenile out-migration mortality associated with the hydrosystem. The tribes have argued that supplementation programs that incorporate wild fish as broodstock into their hatchery programs and place fish back in to their natural spawning areas are important to recovery.

The American Fisheries Society is offering free access to the paper through August 31, 2015.  The paper can be downloaded via:

http://fisheries.org/special-section-hatcheries-and-management-of-aquatic-resources-hamar

LATCH INTO A 25-POUND SOUTH SOUND CHINOOK, LIKE MIKE CALITO DID, AND YOU STAND A GOOD CHANCE OF PLACING IN THE MONEY AT THIS WEEKEND'S SALMON DERBY. (SALMONUNIVERSITY.COM)

Westside, Eastside Salmon Derbies On Tap This Weekend

It’s a big weekend for Washington salmon derbies, with top prizes of $3,500 up for grabs on both the South Sound and Upper Columbia.

The 14th Annual South King County Chapter-Puget Sound Anglers Salmon Derby is Aug. 1 with Areas 11 and 13 the waters to work for that winning king.

And despite the closure of the upriver sockeye fishery, the 10th Annual Brewster Salmon Derby is still a go July 31-Aug. 2 for Chinook.

By happenstance, last year’s winning adult-division fish at both derbies weighed within a pound of each other, 20.85 and 21.85.

But with young Wiley Flohr catching a near-25-pounder to take first in the kids division at Brewster, new this year there is an all-ages top prize of $2,000 and $1,500 for the biggest weighed by an adult.

There’s also $750 for largest brought in by a youth, and $100 for the top fish for anglers 8 and under.

WILEY FLOHR AND HIS 24.97-POUND YOUTH DIVISION-WINNING CHINOOK FROM LAST YEAR'S BREWSTER SALMON DERBY. (BRIAN LULL)

WILEY FLOHR AND HIS 24.97-POUND YOUTH DIVISION-WINNING CHINOOK FROM LAST YEAR’S BREWSTER SALMON DERBY. (BRIAN LULL)

As for this year’s South Sound derby, it features a new category, active military or veteran, with a payout of $500 for big fish.

Organizers add that top prizes for kids have also been upped to $300, $150 and $100, and all youngsters at the awards ceremony at Point Defiance Boathouse with a derby ticket will receive goodies.

While the limited number of tickets available for Brewster have been snapped up, entries for the PSA derby are $35 (under 13 free), and are available at Sportco, Outdoor Emporium, Auburn Sports and Marine, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Narrows Marina,  the boathouse and pugetsoundanglers.net.

LATCH INTO A 25-POUND SOUTH SOUND CHINOOK, LIKE MIKE CALITO DID, AND YOU STAND A GOOD CHANCE OF PLACING IN THE MONEY AT THIS WEEKEND'S SALMON DERBY. (SALMONUNIVERSITY.COM)

LATCH INTO A 25-POUND SOUTH SOUND CHINOOK, LIKE MIKE CALITO DID, AND YOU STAND A GOOD CHANCE OF PLACING IN THE MONEY AT THIS WEEKEND’S SALMON DERBY. (SALMONUNIVERSITY.COM)

A DEAD STURGEON OBSERVED IN MID-JULY IN THE JOHN DAY POOL, BELOW WHERE THIS WEEK'S SURVEY OCCURRED. (DENNIS WERLAU, WDFW)

WDFW Resurveys McNary Pool For Dead Sturgeon, Finds Just One Recent Mortality

Large fish die-offs from our drought are making headlines around the country, but a survey of the Middle Columbia earlier this week turned up a glimmer of hope.

On Monday, just a single recently deceased sturgeon was found in a 44-mile stretch of the McNary Pool between Finley and Savage Island.

“Hopefully we are past the worst of it as we only observed one recent mortality,” said state fisheries biologist Paul Hoffarth in Tri-Cities. “WDFW will continue to monitor the Columbia River as these warm water temperatures persist.”

He says that district staff observed 26 sturgeon — 11 “recaptures” from a mid-July survey, 10 classified as new to them, and five too far gone to determine if they’d been previously marked by surveyors.

A DEAD STURGEON OBSERVED IN MID-JULY IN THE JOHN DAY POOL, BELOW WHERE THIS WEEK'S SURVEY OCCURRED. (DENNIS WERLAU, WDFW)

A DEAD STURGEON OBSERVED IN MID-JULY IN THE JOHN DAY POOL, BELOW WHERE THIS WEEK’S SURVEY OCCURRED.  DOZENS ARE BELIEVED TO HAVE DIED IN THAT RESERVOIR AS WELL. (DENNIS WERLAU, WDFW)

Of those, just one appeared to have been dead for four or so days, Hoffarth said.

A Northwest Sportsman source in Tri-Cities reported seeing nine 6- to 10-foot-long dead sturgeon in just an eighth of a mile of the Columbia off Chiawana Park the evening of July 22.

WDFW’s survey raised the tally of dead sturgeon in the McNary Pool alone to at least 61 for the year, and unfortunately the heat’s coming back this week.

To reduce stress on the broodstock from the hot water temperatures that led to the die-off earlier this month, WDFW and ODFW banned all sturgeon angling, even catch-and-release, above Bonneville Dam.

It was also reported that river managers are adjusting flows to try and prevent incoming fall Chinook and summer steelhead from suffering widespread fishkills.

The Columbia at McNary Dam has cooled slightly from the low 70s to 69 in recent days.

In other die-off news, it’s feared that between 50 and 80 percent of Columbia sockeye won’t make it to Canadian spawning grounds because of hot water temperatures, and yesterday Washington state hatchery managers said they’ve lost on the order of 1.5 million young salmon and steelhead.