Category Archives: Headlines

WDFW BIOLOGIST MARK PETERSON SHOWS OFF SOME GOOD JIGGING LURES FOR LAKE WHITEFISH. (WDFW)

How To Catch Columbia Basin Lake Whitefish (Without A Gillnet)

A new video shows anglers how to chase “one of the most underutilized resources in Eastern Washington,” lake whitefish.

“Two- to 3-pound fish all day long — so amazing,” enthuses Mark Peterson, a WDFW fisheries biologist.

WDFW BIOLOGIST MARK PETERSON SHOWS OFF SOME GOOD JIGGING LURES FOR LAKE WHITEFISH. (WDFW)

WDFW BIOLOGIST MARK PETERSON SHOWS OFF SOME GOOD JIGGING LURES FOR LAKE WHITEFISH. (WDFW)

He and fellow bio Danny Garrett host a 10-minute tutorial on the species, which are related to salmon and steelhead, but only get a hundredth of the attention, if that.

Well, outside of some of our comrades who like to net at night.

This time of year sees the whitefish gathering in shallower areas of Columbia Basin lakes, and Peterson and Garrett target them with downsized blade baits, Swedish Pimples and other jigs.

On ultralight rods, the fish put up a terrific fight.

According to Garrett, lake whitefish can live as long as 20 years.

“They have a very small head and a small mouth, so even as large adults they eat fairly small prey items like snails, clams, small fish and fish eggs,” he instructs, adding that their biomass is high relative to other species.

The state record is 6.81 pounds, but he says that during a survey on Potholes Reservoir, a 7-plus-pounder was found.

The daily limit on whitefish is 15, and there’s no minimum size.

The video is the latest of over a dozen showing anglers how to pursue the state’s various species.

There’s even one of burbot.

Inslee Budget Proposal Falls Short Of Wildlife-Recreation Coalition’s Hopes

Editor’s note: Governor Inslee’s budget for the coming biennium, announced yesterday, does provide funding fish and wildlife work being done in the Central Cascades, renovating the Edmonds Fishing Pier, as well as provide access to the Sultan River, which sees large numbers of pink salmon, but it leaves out ADA-accessible docks at Battleground Lake and access improvements on the Samish River, where they’re badly needed.

Here’s more from a press release put out by the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC), which brings together 280 businesses and nonprofits, urges the legislature to fund the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program (WWRP) at $97 million.  Governor Inslee today announced funding for WWRP at  $70 million. While his proposal moves in the right direction from final funding of $65 million in last biennium, the need is much greater.  WWRP is the state’s premier grant program for outdoor recreation and conservation projects. Since its creation in 1990, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program has secured over $1.1 billion in public and private support for projects in every corner of the state.

“The WWRP is a valuable tool for communities across the state that rely on the outdoors for their quality of life and economic vitality,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the WWRC. “It’s absolutely imperative that legislators in both houses and from both parties work together to maximize funding to safeguard our natural heritage and the 227,000 Washington jobs that depend on outdoor recreation.  There is never a more cost effective time than now to protect our outdoors.”

According to research from the Outdoor Industry Association, Washington’s outdoor recreation supports 227,000 jobs and generates $22.5 billion in economic activity annually, as well as acting as a significant quality of life attractor for top employers.

At $70 million, 80 projects would be funded across the state. The WWRP, funded by the capital construction budget, is separate from the operating budget, which funds things like law enforcement and teachers’ salaries.

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition led an effort supported by over 500 individuals and organizations across the state calling for $97 million. 122 projects will not be funded at the reduced level. The legislative session will begin in January and a budget is expected to be passed by early summer.

Projects that would receive funding under the Governor’s budget include:

  • Preservation of 7 family farms,
  • 16 neighborhood parks, including Prairie View Park in Spokane, a skate park in Darrington, a playground in Bellevue with amenities for children of all abilities and others,
  • The Twisp Community Trail in the Methow Valley,
  • and increased protection for Dabob Bay, among other projects.

 

ODFW Watching For Sick Waterfowl After Avian Flu Found In Roseburg-area Chickens

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

ODFW is on the lookout for avian influenza in wild birds in Oregon after the virus was detected in a small backyard poultry flock near Winston, Ore. (Douglas County).

ODFW is part of the State of Oregon’s multi-agency response to highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza, along with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Oregon Health Authority and the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS).

ODFW is asking the public to report dead wild birds to its Wildlife Health hotline, especially waterbirds (geese, ducks, shorebirds), at 866-968-2600.

The virus strain, known as H5N8, poses no immediate threat to human health. It has been circulating in Europe and East Asia and has not made people sick. However, the virus is contagious among birds and can be deadly to domestic birds and rarely, wild birds.

The H5N8 strain detected was found in a captive falcon earlier this week in Whatcom County, Washington state. Another avian influenza strain, H5N2, was also detected in a wild bird (northern pintail duck) in Washington state.

Wild birds have evolved with avian influenza and usually exhibit no signs of sickness or deaths. There have been no recent wild bird die-offs related to avian influenza in Oregon.

This time of year, migratory waterbirds (ducks, geese, shorebirds) undergo a major north-south migration along the Pacific Flyway, which extends from Alaska to South America. Wild birds coming in contact with susceptible domestic birds (chickens, turkeys, Guinea fowl) could spread the virus.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) strongly encourages backyard poultry producers to prevent contact between their birds and wild birds. Any sick domestic birds should be reported to the State Veterinarian’s office at 1-800-347-7028 or USDA at 1-866-536-7593.

Hunters: practice safe bird handling

The strain of avian influenza identified in Oregon and Washington states is no immediate threat to human health. But hunters should always practice safe bird handling and cooking techniques.

  • ·        Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling and cleaning game birds.
  • ·        Do not eat, drink, smoke or touch your face when handling birds.
  • ·        Keep the game bird and its juices away from other foods.
  • ·        Thoroughly clean knives and any other equipment or surfaces that touch birds. Use a solution of one third cup of chlorine bleach per one gallon of water.
  • ·        Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after handling birds (or with alcohol-based hand products if your hands are not visibly soiled).
  • ·        Cook all game meat thoroughly (up to at least 165° F) to kill disease organisms and parasites. Use a food thermometer to ensure the inside of the bird has reached at least 165° F.

Upland bird and waterfowl (duck, goose) hunting seasons are open in Oregon through the end of January. Goose hunting is also open in parts of the state during February and March.

For more information on avian influenza in wild birds, visit USGS National Wildlife Health Center:

http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/avian_influenza/

(ODFW)

Oregon Pheasant Hunting Workshop Set For Jan. 17

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

Join ODFW and Sage Canyon Outfitters for a pheasant hunting workshop in Maupin, Ore. on Jan. 17 from 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

The workshop will be held at Sage Canyon Outfitters upland bird hunting preserve in Maupin.

(ODFW)

(ODFW)

The morning session will be a shotgun skills training session that includes a classroom session on firearm safety and time spent shooting clays with a coach to help improve shooting skills. In the afternoon, participants will head out for a real pheasant hunt with a trained dog and handler/guide provided by workshop organizers.

The workshop is open to all adults (age 18 and over) and perfect for new hunters or people that need to brush up on their upland bird hunting skills. ODFW provides all equipment including 20-gauge shotguns and shells, hunter orange clothing and eye protection.

“These workshops or perfect for beginners,” said Mark Newell, ODFW outdoor skills coordinator. “We provide all the equipment and a safe, fun environment.”

The cost is $52 and includes lunch. Participants also need a valid 2015 Oregon Hunting License, Upland Game Bird Validation and the free upland game bird HIP validation OR a hunting preserve permit. ODFW licenses and tags won’t be available for purchase at the event so buy in advance online or at a license sales agent or ODFW office that sells licenses.

For more information, contact Janice Copple or Mark Newell, tel. 503-947-6018 or 503-947-6019.

ODFW hosts a variety of events where people can learn to fish or hunt. See www.odfwcalendar.com for more events.

BONNEVILLE POOL ANGLERS LIKE JACOB CULVER, HERE WITH A KEEPER FROM THE WIND RIVER AREA, HAVE A CHANCE TO COMMENT ON 2014'S RETENTION FISHERY. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

7-day-a-week Sturgeon Fishery Begins Jan. 1 In Bonneville Pool

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

The Bonneville Pool and adjacent tributaries of the Columbia River will be open to the retention of white sturgeon 7-days-a-week from Jan. 1 through March 1, 2015, unless the harvest guideline is reached sooner.  The Bonneville Pool extends from the Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam.

BONNEVILLE POOL ANGLERS LIKE JACOB CULVER, HERE WITH A KEEPER FROM THE WIND RIVER AREA, HAVE A CHANCE TO COMMENT ON 2014'S RETENTION FISHERY. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

BONNEVILLE POOL WILL OPEN FOR STURGEON RETENTION JAN. 1 FOR ANGLERS LIKE JACOB CULVER, HERE WITH A KEEPER FROM THE WIND RIVER AREA OF THE RESERVOIR, (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Under the split season management structure adopted today, Oregon and Washington fishery managers also anticipate the pool will re-open to a summer retention season starting in June 2015, assuming fish remain available on the harvest guideline.

Managers estimate 40 percent of the 1,100 fish harvest guideline for the pool will be caught during the winter retention period, leaving opportunity for a June re-opening.  However, winter catch rates can be highly variable and anglers should be alert to the possibility of early closure.

The daily bag limit is one sturgeon between 38 and 54-inches fork length, and the annual limit is two.

Retention sturgeon fisheries also will open as planned in The Dalles and John Day pools on Jan. 1, 2015.  Those fisheries will continue 7-days-a-week until harvest guidelines are achieved (see ODFW website).  The daily bag limit in these areas is one sturgeon between 43 and 54-inches fork length, and the annual limit is two.

Anglers fishing the Bonneville Pool in January may see tribal fishers deploying gill nets in designated areas to collect and tag white sturgeon as part on an on-going sturgeon research program.  Among other scientific uses, this work is used to calculate the size and status of the sturgeon population in these reservoir

PARTICIPANT’S IN THE 2013 ICE FISHING WORKSHOP GET SOME POINTERS ON DIFFERENT LURES AND HOW TO RIG THEM UP. (ODFW)

Ice Fishing 101 Coming Up In January At Oregon Lake

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

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will show anglers how to make the best of snowy, icy conditions at a Jan. 24, 2015 Family Ice Fishing Workshop on Lake of the Woods near Klamath Falls.

According to Mark Newell, ODFW outdoor skills coordinator, this will be a family friendly workshop open to adults, couples and families with children at least nine-years-old.

PARTICIPANT’S IN THE 2013 ICE FISHING WORKSHOP GET SOME POINTERS ON DIFFERENT LURES AND HOW TO RIG THEM UP. (ODFW)

PARTICIPANT’S IN THE 2013 ICE FISHING WORKSHOP GET SOME POINTERS ON DIFFERENT LURES AND HOW TO RIG THEM UP. (ODFW)

“It’s easy for the whole family to go ice fishing,” Newell said. “Add in a chance to play in the snow and you’ve got a great family outing.”

The workshop will go from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and participants will learn all the ice fishing basics – safety on the ice, appropriate gear and how to use it, and how to care for and clean their catch. The cost of the workshop is $52 per adult and $12 per child under age 18. This includes the use of equipment, instruction and lunch. The registration deadline is Jan. 16, 2015.

Children under 13 years old do not need a fishing license to participate, but adults must have a valid Oregon fishing license and youth ages 14-17 will need an Oregon juvenile angling license. Youth must be accompanied by a paying adult.

For more information about the workshop, and to register, go to the ODFW website.

OHA Calling On Oregon Hunters To Comment On Umpqua NF Travel Plan

It’s the latest in a series of new travel management plans for Northwest national forests out for public comment, and in an email blast early this afternoon, the Oregon Hunters Association is calling on sportsmen to weigh in on it.

The organization is asking for folks to support Alternative 5 for the Umpqua National Forest, “essentially protecting” 314 miles of roads east of Roseburg from potential future closures as well as providing for “camping corridors” up to 300 feet from the roads. Hunters and others often camp in flat spots in the woods rather than established campgrounds.

“Even if you don’t use the Umpqua National Forest on a regular basis please help your fellow hunters who do,” OHA urges, and says, “There is a faction of people out there right now commenting on the this travel management plan asking the Forest Service to close as many roads as possible.”

Comments may be sent to comments-pacificnorthwest-umpqua@fs.fed.us with the words “Travel Management Plan” in the subject line.

There’s also a public meeting this afternoon in Roseburg at the forest supervisor’s office, from 4 to 7 p.m.

IMPORTANT WINTER RANGE FOR THE OKANOGAN MULE DEER HERD WAS BURNED BARE TO GROUND LEVEL. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

In Wake Of Carlton Fire, Widespread Deer Feeding Not Needed So Far

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

State wildlife officials are temporarily feeding deer to protect orchards in the Pateros area but say widespread feeding of Okanogan County mule deer is not needed at this time.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) northcentral regional director Jim Brown said most deer are faring well thanks to mild weather and below-average snow cover in the wake of the largest wildfire in state history in July.

IMPORTANT WINTER RANGE FOR THE OKANOGAN MULE DEER HERD WAS BURNED BARE TO GROUND LEVEL. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

IMPORTANT WINTER RANGE FOR THE OKANOGAN MULE DEER HERD WAS BURNED BARE TO GROUND LEVEL IN SUMMER 2014′S QUARTER-MILLION-ACRE CARLTON COMPLEX FIRE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The Carlton Complex fire scorched tens of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, including some traditional mule deer winter range. But a mild, rainy fall has produced some of the best forage for deer in recent years, both inside and outside of the burn area, Brown said.

“Deer often concentrate during the winter near Pateros’ fruit tree orchards – independent of the effects of fire – and cause damage,” Brown said. “Until more deer fence is repaired, we are using feed to draw deer away from the orchards.”

Brown said the current feeding effort is designed to limit orchard damage without disrupting the deer’s normal diet and potentially causing health problems. WDFW uses specially-formulated feed to fulfill – on a short-term basis – the deer’s nutritional needs.

In general, WDFW and other wildlife managers discourage the public from winter feeding of deer and other wildlife because it can harm the animals, said Kristin Mansfield, WDFW wildlife veterinarian. Deer, for instance, need to feed on many different kinds of plants to maintain a nutritionally balanced diet. Mansfield noted that some well-intentioned people have been feeding deer fruits and grains.

“Fruit and grains are not a normal part of a deer’s diet at this time of year and can be extremely difficult for deer to digest,” Mansfield said, adding that a steady diet of such high-carbohydrate fare can elevate the animals’ stomach acid levels and cause serious illness and even death.

Mansfield said she appreciates people wanting to help animals in what seems like harsh conditions.

“But most feeding just makes us feel good and can end up being bad for the animals,” she said. “Fruit is too high in carbohydrates and lacks the nutrients deer need to stay healthy. It’s a bit like letting your kids eat nothing but candy bars.”

Supplemental feeding also disrupts the natural foraging patterns of deer and concentrates the animals into one location, said Scott Fitkin, WDFW district wildlife biologist. Having too many deer in one area makes them vulnerable to disease, predation, poaching, and motor vehicle collisions if feeding stations are near roads.

Fitkin added that attempting to maintain a deer population out of proportion to its available habitat through supplemental feeding can be counterproductive to the animals’ long-term health.

“All those deer will mow down any shrubs trying to re-sprout, setting back both the quantity and quality of healthy winter range for years to come,” he said.

Nearly $10,000 raised last month by the Mule Deer Foundation through its Methow Valley chapter will all be used locally for range restoration activities such as shrub plantings and re-seeding the area burned by the Carlton Complex Fire.

About half of the deer fawns born annually don’t survive the winter in Okanogan County, Fitkin said. However, deer that are in good shape at the beginning of winter can generally survive on fat reserves for two to three months with minimal forage.

“The long range forecast for this winter bodes well for these deer — above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation,” Fitkin said. “We are prepared to provide supplemental feeding, on an emergency basis, if extreme weather conditions develop.”

For more information on winter wildlife feeding, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/winter_feeding/wildlife.html.

PHIL ANDERSON. (WDFW)

Anderson To Stay On At WDFW Into January

In August he announced his retirement as of the end of this year, but Phil Anderson has agreed to stay on as WDFW’s chief head honcho into January.

Last week, the Fish & Wildlife Commission held a first round of interviews for the director’s post, but isn’t scheduled to make a final choice until their Jan. 9-10 meeting.

PHIL ANDERSON. (WDFW)

PHIL ANDERSON. (WDFW)

According to a WDFW press release, at the citizen panel’s request, Anderson agreed to stay in the hot seat until a new head of the agency is in place.

The commission’s decision will come a few days after the extended deadline for candidates to submit their applications to head up ODFW, which is also searching for a new director. After Roy Elicker left in October, Curt Melcher has been the interim director, and it won’t be until mid-February that an offer will be made to a finalist in Oregon’s job search.

Back in Washington, after Anderson’s replacement is found, Rollie Schmitten will step down from the Fish & Wildlife Commission. Serving since 2009, his term wraps up at the end of this year, but the Lake Wenatchee resident, angler and former National Marine Fisheries Service director won’t seek reappointment, according to WDFW.

In other commission news, here’s the news from last weekend’s meeting, per agency press release:

News Release: Commission approves Game Management Plan, discusses Willapa Bay salmon fisheries

TUMWATER – A new six-year plan that will be used by the state to develop hunting seasons and guide management of game species was approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission during its meeting Dec. 12-13 in Tumwater.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), approved the 2015-2021 Game Management Plan after an extensive public process.

The management plan outlines strategies to address a variety of issues, including:

Hunter recruitment and retention – Establish a new citizen advisory group to help identify and implement methods to encourage greater participation in hunting.
Predator/prey interactions – Follow new guidelines to help depressed deer and elk herds that are below population objectives due to predation by black bears, cougars, bobcats or coyotes.
Access to private timberlands – Work with private timberland owners to develop programs that maintain recreational access to their properties while minimizing direct costs to hunters.
Wolf recovery – Continue to follow the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, and work with the wolf advisory group to develop a new plan to manage wolves after they are no longer listed for protection.
Non-toxic ammunition – Consult with hunters to develop voluntary programs that reduce the use of lead ammunition, which can poison raptors and other birds that may ingest spent ammunition when feeding on the carcasses of animals that were shot.

The final plan will be posted in the next week on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01657/ .

In other business, the commission conducted a public hearing on draft options for a new policy to address conservation and fishery objectives for Willapa Bay salmon fisheries. State fishery managers plan to develop additional draft options in the next few weeks.

Key principles of the draft policy include:

Promoting the conservation and restoration of salmon and steelhead by working with partners, such as the Regional Fishery Enhancement Groups, to protect and restore habitat productivity, implement hatchery reform, and manage fisheries consistent with conservation objectives.
Developing fishing opportunities that are fairly distributed across fishing areas and reflect the diverse interests of fishers.
Structuring recreational and WDFW-managed commercial fisheries to minimize conflicts between the two gear types.
Seeking to enhance the overall economic well-being and stability of Willapa Bay fisheries.
Ensuring salmon management is timely, well documented, transparent, well communicated, and accountable.

To review the current draft policy options, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/willapa_bay_salmon/ .

The commission is scheduled to hold another public hearing on draft policy options during its January meeting, and is tentatively scheduled to make a final decision in February.

Also during the December meeting, the commission held a public hearing on proposed sportfishing rule changes. The rules are specific to the mainstem Columbia River, its tributaries and lakes within the basin.

The proposals – which cover fishing seasons, daily limits and other rules – are available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/ . The commission is scheduled to take action on the proposals during its January meeting.

A BRIGHT HUMPTULIPS COHO. (JASON BROOKS)

Coho Still Available In Humptulips

THE FOLLOWING IS A BLOG SUBMITTED BY CONTRIBUTOR JASON BROOKS

By Jason Brooks

This has been one crazy month so far. From extreme cold during the first few days to a history-making “Pineapple Express” raising the temperatures to near 70 degrees and rain measured with a yardstick instead of a ruler. Our rivers have been hard to calculate when would be a good time to go fishing.

Just before the big storms of last week a few us decided to float the Humptulips for late coho. Grant Blinn and two guys he knows from work floated on Saturday with about another dozen boats.

On their way to the hotel room in Ocean Shores he called to give me a report and said they hooked three fish and landed two of them, but both were unclipped and released. The water was on the drop but off color still, and all of the other boats he talked too caught fish but not as many as usual.

The following day, Dec. 7, six of us floated the river, tandem in two boats. Grant again hooked up and landed two fish by twitching jigs, one of which was a bright clipped hen. In our boat we floated eggs, twitched jigs, and threw spinners.

A BRIGHT HUMPTULIPS COHO. (JASON BROOKS)

A BRIGHT HUMPTULIPS COHO. OVER 9,000 EARLY-RUN SILVERS HAVE RETURNED TO THE HATCHERY THIS YEAR. WHILE ONLY 350 LATES HAVE ARRIVED THROUGH DEC. 11, THAT’S STILL 300 MORE AS AT THIS SAME POINT LAST YEAR. (JASON BROOKS)

About midday I pointed out to my buddies that the water was still high and off color, but most importantly the fish were on the move. Once in a while a school of coho would come through the holes and roll, but for the most part it seems the river was dead. In reality the fish were using the dropping water to head up river as fast as they could.

BOAT AND BANK ANGLERS WORK THE WALL HOLE ON THE HUMPTULIPS. (JASON BROOKS)

BOAT AND BANK ANGLERS WORK THE WALL HOLE ON THE HUMPTULIPS. (JASON BROOKS)

My suspicions were confirmed when we came around a corner and saw a boat anchored up with the plug rods out. They were intercepting fish as the fish made their way upriver.

If you get a copy of this month’s Northwest Sportsman Magazine you will find my article detailing this late coho fishery.

hump

There are still a few weeks left in the run, and I discuss twitching jigs and throwing spinners. I guess I should have added that you need to make sure you take the plug rods as well. If I had done that last weekend then I am sure we would have caught fish, but instead I guess we will have to have ham for Christmas!