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With License System Down, WDFW Says Fishing’s Free Thru Aug. 30

cropped headerWDFW PRESS RELEASE

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is offering “free fishing” days through Tuesday while the agency’s license sales system is down.

Earlier this week, WDFW temporarily suspended the sale of fishing and hunting licenses. The agency is working with the state Office of Cyber Security (OCS) to investigate a vulnerability in an outside vendor’s license sales system and is working to restore sales as soon as possible.

In the meantime, WDFW will not require anglers to have a fishing license to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state, beginning today through Tuesday, Aug. 30, said Jim Unsworth, WDFW director. Likewise, the department will not require anglers to have a vehicle access pass to park at WDFW water access sites. Other rules, such as seasons, size limits, bag limits, and closures, will remain in effect.

 

Before heading out, anglers should also check the current fishing regulations athttp://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/

Requirements for all anglers to have fishing licenses, catch record cards, and endorsements will be back in effect on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

“We are as frustrated as our customers over the licensing system being shut down, but we want to make sure anglers can still hit the waters over the next several days,” Unsworth said.

Hunters will have to wait to buy licenses until the sales system can be restored, Unsworth noted. The agency anticipates having a sales channel available before major hunting seasons – such as archery deer, elk and cougar – begin in September, he said.

“I appreciate our customers’ patience while we work through this security vulnerability with our license sales vendor,” Unsworth said. “The department is taking the steps necessary to ensure the sales site is secure and our customers’ information is protected.”

WDFW will provide updates about license sales on its webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/, and through its Facebook site at www.facebook.com/WashingtonFishWildlife

Department officials said a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement will not be needed to fish for salmon and steelhead in open areas of the Columbia River. Anglers will not need a two-pole endorsement to fish with two-poles in select waters where two pole fishing is permitted. Crabbers also will not need a Puget Sound crab endorsement through Aug. 30.

Anglers will not be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or crab they catch from Aug. 25 through Aug. 30.

Through Aug. 30, anglers will not need a Discover Pass to park at any of the nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by WDFW. The Discover Pass will still be required to access lands managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources and Washington State Parks. The parks department had previously announced that it is not requiring a Discover Pass on Aug. 25 to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

Discover Pass sales will continue at local dealerships and at state parks locations. More information on Discover Pass sales locations is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/discoverpass/

WDFW Suspends Fishing, Hunting License Sales As Hack Investigated

WDFW PRESS RELEASE

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has temporarily suspended the sale of fishing and hunting licenses while it works with the state Office of Cyber Security (OCS) to investigate a vulnerability in an outside vendor’s license sale system that was recently exploited in several states, including Washington.

The vendor’s vulnerability allowed access to some personal information provided by customers who purchased fishing and hunting licenses. WDFW and OCS are working with the vendor and collaborating with law enforcement, federal agencies, and officials in other states to determine how much information was accessed.

WDFW is working to resume license sales as soon as it can ensure the security of the system. More information will be released as it becomes available.

 

ODFW WEST REGION MANAGER STEVE MARX AND OSP CAPTAIN JEFF SAMUELS AND LIEUTENANT CASEY THOMAS POSE WITH LINN COUNTY DEPUTY ATTORNEY AND WILDLIFE PROSECUTOR OF THE YEAR, KEITH STEIN. (OSP)

Linn Co. Deputy DA Named OSP’s Wildlife Prosecutor Of The Year

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE’S FISH AND WILDLIFE DIVISION

On August 18, 2016, Linn County Deputy District Attorney Keith Stein was presented the 2015 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Award at the Oregon District Attorney’s Association summer conference. DDA Stein received the award in front of hundreds of his peers and colleagues.

The 2015 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Award was presented by Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division Captain Jeff Samuels and Lieutenant Casey Thomas, along with Steve Marx, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) West Region Manager, on behalf of the Oregon Sportsmen’s Coalition.

ODFW WEST REGION MANAGER STEVE MARX AND OSP CAPTAIN JEFF SAMUELS AND LIEUTENANT CASEY THOMAS POSE WITH LINN COUNTY DEPUTY ATTORNEY AND WILDLIFE PROSECUTOR OF THE YEAR, KEITH STEIN. (OSP)

ODFW WEST REGION MANAGER STEVE MARX AND OSP CAPTAIN JEFF SAMUELS AND LIEUTENANT CASEY THOMAS POSE WITH LINN COUNTY DEPUTY ATTORNEY AND WILDLIFE PROSECUTOR OF THE YEAR, KEITH STEIN. (OSP)

One example of a successful prosecution by DDA Stein:

A Sweet Home resident was recently sentenced in Linn County Circuit Court. The sentencing was stemming from a 2014 investigation involving Fish and Wildlife Troopers and an OSP aircraft. Late at night in October of 2014, the Aircraft Sergeant located a vehicle south of Sweet Home actively casting a spotlight from a motor vehicle and notified responding ground Troopers of its location and direction of travel. A trooper responded to the location to discover the suspect had fled the vehicle and was hiding in the thick forest. The suspect ultimately obeyed commands and revealed himself and his juvenile son. The suspect had concealed a rifle and spotlight in the nearby brush which troopers later located. The suspect was charged with Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Hunt with Aid of Artificial Light, and was ultimately convicted on both counts. Below is the sentence the suspect received:

* 1 month and 2 days in the county jail
* 13 months in prison
* Hunting privileges permanently revoked
* Fined $400.00
* When released, will have 24 months of Post-Prison Supervision
* Rifle and spotlight seized as evidence was forfeited

In a nomination letter, an OSP Fish and Wildlife Trooper wrote: “DDA Stein is clearly an outstanding professional, mentor, and colleague, but I believe he should be viewed first as an outstanding prosecutor with respect to fish and wildlife laws. In many ways exceeding the challenging requirements and expectations for the award, DDA Stein’s ambitions, intelligence and accomplishments complement precisely the stellar community of past recipients and make him highly deserving of the honor bestowed of this award… DDA Stein welcomes the diverse issues fish and wildlife offenses create with charging, forensics, … he appreciates the challenges fish and wildlife cases present, and understands the importance and value of each case. DDA Stein has been the leader of the Linn County District Attorney’s Office for prosecuting high-profile wildlife cases for approximately a decade.”

ODFW West Region Manager Steve Marx said, “ODFW commends DDA Stein for his commitment to prosecuting fish and wildlife cases. Effective enforcement of wildlife laws is a critical component to protecting population health and species conservation needs, and supporting wildlife associated recreation and quality outdoor experiences.”

The Oregon Sportsmen’s Coalition, which consists of volunteer outdoor enthusiast organizations opposed to the unlawful and unethical taking of wildlife to include the Oregon Hunters Association, sponsored the award. This is the ninth annual presentation of the Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Award.

JERRY HENDERSON SHOWS OFF ANOTHER NICE WESTPORT KING. (SALTPATROL.COM)

Washington Coast Salmon Fishing Report (8-18-16)

THE FOLLOWING REPORTS ARE FROM WENDY BEEGHLEY OF WDFW AND JOHN KEIZER OF SALTPATROL.COM

by Wendy Beeghley, WDFW

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

A total of 5,105 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 8-14, landing 1,125 Chinook and 2,721 coho.  Through Sunday, August 14, a total of 4,315 Chinook (42% of the area guideline) have been landed in the area, and 9,739 coho have been landed coastwide (52% of the coho quota).

Westport

A total of 3,217 anglers participated in the salmon fishery August 8-14, landing 1,546 Chinook.   Anglers fishing in the Columbia Ocean area also landed 3 coho into Westport.  Through Sunday, August 14, a total of 8,223 Chinook (50% of the area guideline) have been landed.

La Push

A total of 139 anglers participated in the salmon fishery August 8-14, landing 14 Chinook.  Through Sunday, August 14, a total of 255 Chinook (13% of the area guideline) have been landed.

Neah Bay

A total of 200 anglers participated in the salmon fishery August 8-14, landing 56 Chinook.  Through Sunday, August 14, a total of 3,200 Chinook (52% of the area guideline) have been landed.

…………………………………….

By John Keizer

Lots of action the past few days at Westport. Fished Friday with Steve Lynch (Pro-Cure) and Justin Wolff (Angler West TV) and Jerry Henderson. Caught several kings in the 180 feet of water just north of harbor. Did really well on Silver Horde Kingfisher spoons behind Pro-Troll Flasher at 100 feet on the downrigger.  Check out the show; it will air in the next couple of weeks.

JERRY HENDERSON SHOWS OFF ANOTHER NICE WESTPORT KING. (SALTPATROL.COM)

JERRY HENDERSON SHOWS OFF ANOTHER NICE WESTPORT KING. (SALTPATROL.COM)

Saturday Team Evinrude, made up of Tom Nelson (710 The Outdoor Line) former Seattle Seahawk Robbie Tobeck, Donald Auman and myself, fished the Washington Tuna Classic on the ESPN Great White boat. Even with slow tuna fishing and bad weather we scored 5 tuna and placed 10th over all out of 65 teams. Great time with all the tuna caught going to the food bank and money raised to Wounded Warrior program.

Sunday it was back out on the South Beach in 40 feet of water and we landed five kings to 17 pounds. Trolling a Yakima Bait Fish Flash behind a diver with bait got the job done.

WITH NO COHO SEASON AND THE LIMIT ON CHINOOK ENCOUNTERS REACHED, MARINE AREA 11 ANGLERS LIKE CHAD EVANS, HERE WITH A NICE ONE FROM THE 2011 SEASON, WILL SEE THEIR SALTWATERS CLOSED TO SALMON FISHING STARTING AUG. 20. EVANS WAS USING A SUPER BAIT OFF BROWNS POINT. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Area 11 Salmon Season Closing This Saturday, Aug. 20

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Salmon season closes Aug. 20 in Marine Area 11

Action: Closes salmon fishing in Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island), excluding the fishing piers.

Effective Date:  Effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016.

WITH NO COHO SEASON AND THE LIMIT ON CHINOOK ENCOUNTERS REACHED, MARINE AREA 11 ANGLERS LIKE CHAD EVANS, HERE WITH A NICE ONE FROM THE 2011 SEASON, WILL SEE THEIR SALTWATERS CLOSED TO SALMON FISHING STARTING AUG. 20. EVANS WAS USING A SUPER BAIT OFF BROWNS POINT. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

WITH NO COHO SEASON AND THE LIMIT ON CHINOOK ENCOUNTERS REACHED, MARINE AREA 11 ANGLERS LIKE CHAD EVANS, HERE WITH A NICE ONE FROM THE 2011 SEASON, WILL SEE THEIR SALTWATERS CLOSED TO SALMON FISHING STARTING AUG. 20. EVANS WAS USING A SUPER BAIT OFF BROWNS POINT. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Species affected: Salmon.

Location: Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island).

Reason for action: Preliminary estimates indicate that anglers will exceed the preseason guideline for encounters – retaining or releasing fish – with legal-sized chinook in Marine Area 11. The chinook fishery is being closed to control impacts on stocks of concern and ensure compliance with conservation objectives.

Other information:  Anglers can fish for chinook in other Puget Sound marine areas, including area 7 (San Juan Islands), south of Ayock Point in area 12 (Hood Canal), area 13 (South Puget Sound), Sinclair Inlet, and Tulalip Terminal Area.

Area 11 fishing piers that remain open through Aug. 31 include Dash Point Dock, Les Davis Pier, Des Moines Pier, Redondo Pier, and Point Defiance Boathouse Dock.  Marine Area 11 is scheduled to reopen in February for chinook.

For specific regulations, anglers should consult the 2016-17 Washington Sports Fishing Rules pamphlet available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

SPENCER RHODES PICKED UP THIS BEAUTIFUL CHINOOK AT ASTORIA COUPLE DAYS AGO WHILE FISHING WITH FRIEND AND GUIDE IAN PREMO. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Managers Downgrade Columbia Steelhead Forecast, But Fall Kings Tracking Well

Columbia fishery managers today sharply downgraded this year’s A-run of steelhead and now expect the worst overall return past Bonneville in over three and a half decades.

On the flip side, the fall Chinook run at the dam so far “is slightly ahead of expected passage” and fishing downriver from there should continue to pick up. Over 960,000 kings are predicted, which would be among the best returns ever.

But first, those steelhead: The forecast now calls for a total of 149,200 A- and B-run summers, down from the preseason forecast of 256,200.

“The A-runs, the one-salts, are not showing well,” says WDFW Columbia River fisheries manager Ron Roler in Vancouver.

Unless there’s an unexpected burst of fish, it means the 2016 run will be the lowest since 129,000 came back in 1980.

THE COLUMBIA PROVIDED GREAT RETURNS AND FISHING FOR SUMMER STEELHEAD EARLIER THIS MILLENNIUM, WHEN TAYLOR JOHNSON CAUGHT THIS ONE, BUT THE RUN IS STRUGGLING IN RECENT YEARS. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

THE COLUMBIA PROVIDED GREAT RETURNS AND FISHING FOR SUMMER STEELHEAD EARLIER THIS MILLENNIUM, WHEN TAYLOR JOHNSON CAUGHT THIS ONE, BUT THE RUN IS STRUGGLING IN RECENT YEARS. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Summer steelhead provide good boat and bank angling in the Lower Columbia, at Drano Lake and other cold-water refuges in the Gorge, and from Tri-Cities upstream to North-Central Washington and Hells Canyon tribs of the Snake River.

Recent years have seen record catches in the Lower Columbia. However, this year’s limit is one hatchery steelhead a day to reduce impacts on the low forecasted return of wild steelhead.

“The Blob theoretically shouldn’t have affected steelhead — they’re way out, not like salmon, which follow the shores,” Roler says.

Coho took a major hit in 2014 and 2015 from the unusually warm ocean waters in the North Pacific (which are a major feature in the latest National Geographic), and so far the coho count at Bonneville stands at 82, just one-third of the 10-year average.

If there’s good news, it’s that Roler says the B-run steelhead forecast of 25,800, though not all that great, remains the same as preseason. They tend to return a bit later than the A’s.

Though salmon fishing at Buoy 10 hasn’t been up to 2015’s outlandish standards, the estuary has been providing anglers with salmon.

Earlier today, ODFW estimated that through Aug. 15, there had been 3,388 Chinook and 178 coho kept and 1,415 Chinook and 77 released over 19,891 angler trips.

SPENCER RHODES PICKED UP THIS BEAUTIFUL CHINOOK AT ASTORIA COUPLE DAYS AGO WHILE FISHING WITH FRIEND AND GUIDE IAN PREMO. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

SPENCER RHODES PICKED UP THIS BEAUTIFUL CHINOOK AT ASTORIA COUPLE DAYS AGO WHILE FISHING WITH FRIEND AND GUIDE IAN PREMO. THEY WERE RUNNING ANCHOVIES BEHIND SHORTBUS FLASHERS. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Overnight, Buzz Ramsey reported he and his crew had hooked six or seven, landed five and kept two hatchery salmon, a coho and a Chinook, on Monday, when only fin-clipped fish can be kept.

“Both fish fell for bait, herring or anchovy, trolled in combination with a Fish Flash,” Ramsey emailed. “Dave Calhoun’s came on the High Tower finish and Owin Hayes’s on a green flasher with silver tape on both sides, something we thought might work given the sunny conditions and which we custom made on the boat. I did land one Chinook on a Mulkey Guide Tech Squid Spinner but it had too many fins. Although we caught one Chinook just below the bridge in the north channel all others came above the bridge on both sides of the river, which is where most of the action seemed to be taking place.”

ODFW’s Jimmy Watts reported that of 389 Chinook counted caught last week, roughly half had come from Tongue Point, which is above the Buoy 10 fishery proper. Though there were good tides, Watts termed fishing “slow.”

WDFW’s Roler says this has been “a more typical start” to Buoy 10, slow early with building catches. He plans to bring his boat and begin fishing this weekend.

To track catches, see WDFW’s daily creel sampling stats and Day One Outdoors guide Cody Herman’s posts on Facebook.

A CLOSE-UP OF AN IMAGE TAKEN BY A WDFW BIOLOGIST SHOWS A LARGE GROUP OF MOUNTAIN GOATS NEAR MT. BAKER EARLIER THIS SUMMER. (FENNER YARBOROUGH, WDFW)

Very Large Herd Of Mountain Goats Gathers Near Mt. Baker

It’s not just furry sea critters gathering in huge numbers in Washington this summer.

Nearly 100 mountain goats were spotted near Mt. Baker last month, the largest bunch that three wildlife biologists have ever observed in the state.

A CLOSE-UP OF AN IMAGE TAKEN BY A WDFW BIOLOGIST SHOWS A LARGE GROUP OF MOUNTAIN GOATS NEAR MT. BAKER EARLIER THIS SUMMER. (FENNER YARBOROUGH, WDFW)

A CLOSE-UP OF AN IMAGE TAKEN BY A WDFW BIOLOGIST SHOWS A LARGE GROUP OF MOUNTAIN GOATS NEAR MT. BAKER EARLIER THIS SUMMER. (FENNER YARBOROUGH, WDFW)

Aerial photos taken during a late July survey show 66 adults and 24 kids on a snowbank and rocky mountain slope.

WDFW’s special species manager Rich Harris said it was the most he’s seen in one group, while district wildlife biologist Fenner Yarborough said a quick review of the records for the area didn’t turn up any others that large.

“That is definitely a large group of mountain goats – in fact, the largest I’m aware of from Washington,” added the agency’s goat guru, Cliff Rice.

ANOTHER AERIAL SHOT OF THE HUGE HERD. (FENNER YARBOROUGH, WDFW)

ANOTHER AERIAL SHOT OF THE HUGE HERD. (FENNER YARBOROUGH, WDFW)

This end of the Cascades does happen to be the species’ stronghold. A 2012 WDFW report put goat numbers in the Mt. Baker Zone at 442.

That means last month’s gathering, which was first reported in the Wildlife Program’s weekly report for July 25, could represent a fifth of all the goats around Washington’s northernmost Cascades volcano.

There are 21 WDFW goat zones in the Cascades and Olympics.

It seems likely that these have probably wandered off from each other since Yarborough snapped pics of them.

Rice, who has seen as many as 70 together in the well-named Goat Rocks at the other end of Washington’s Cascades, notes that their gatherings are pretty dynamic.

“While there are very likely individuals who are nearly always together, large groups like this are temporary amalgamations of smaller groups,” he says. “I don’t know that there is a specific ‘why’ – just that group-living animals are in groups for the advantages, that for mountain goats (are) probably mostly for predator detection.  However, one has to then share forage resources – or compete for them – with the rest of the group. So, there’s probably a constant dynamic interplay of these two competing goals which have multiple influences, like the number of animals in the vicinity and the habitat to support them, openness of the terrain, and abundance of forage.”

A WDFW webpage suggests that large herds can form where there’s good forage and/or mineral licks to be had in early summer in the heights. Rice came up with the classifications “commuters,” “sojourners” and “residents” to describe how often radio-collared goats visited licks in a 2011 study.

YET ANOTHER VIEW OF GOATPALOOZA 2016. (FENNER YARBOROUGH, WDFW)

YET ANOTHER VIEW OF GOATPALOOZA 2016. (FENNER YARBOROUGH, WDFW)

Washington’s overall population of mountain goats was estimated at between 2,401 and 3,184 in 2012. It’s believed to have declined from 10,000 in the early 1960s. WDFW says the Mt. Baker Zone herd is “stable.”

Hunting is pretty tightly controlled, with only a limited number of once-in-a-lifetime permits (a total of 27 this year) given out annually by WDFW and for just the strongest concentrations of animals. Both the state and tribes survey the hunted herds. A new travel management plan for the Nooksack Ranger District could impact state access to large portions of two hunting units near Mt. Baker.

HUGH PETERS CAUGHT THIS BUOY 10 FALL KING ON A HERRING BEHIND A FISH FLASH IN KNOCK OUT. HE WAS OUT WITH RANDY WOOLSEY LAST FRIDAY. (VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

SW WA, Lower Columbia Fishing Report (8-15-16)

THE FOLLOWING INCLUDES MATERIAL FROM PAUL HOFFARTH AND OTHER WDFW SOURCES, AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, PSMFC

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – 69 boat anglers kept 2 adult and 1 jack Chinook and 48 steelhead plus released 2 adult Chinook.  70 bank anglers kept 2 adult Chinook and 5 steelhead plus released 2 adult and 2 jack Chinook and 1 steelhead.   Most of the fish were caught from Mission Bar upstream though some fish were also caught by boat anglers near the mouth.

Last week Tacoma Power employees recovered 95 spring Chinook adults, 32 jacks, 20 mini-jacks, seven fall Chinook adults, one jack, 584 summer-run steelhead, and six cutthroat trout during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released five spring Chinook adults and four jacks into the Cispus River upstream of the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek near Randle, 86 spring Chinook adults and 24 jacks, two fall Chinook adults and one jack at Franklin Bridge in Packwood, and five fall Chinook adults, three jacks, and three cutthroat trout into the Tilton River located at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

Since June 15, Tacoma Power employees have floy-tagged and recycled 3,292 summer-run steelhead to the I-5 bridge boat launch. A total of 994 (30%) of the recycled steelhead have either been reported as harvested or returned back to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,440 cubic feet per second on Monday, August 15. Visibility is at 12 feet.

North Fork Lewis River – 9 bank anglers kept 4 steelhead

Drano Lake  – 186 boat anglers kept 22 adult and 4 jack fall Chinook and 71 steelhead plus released 1 adult fall Chinook and 52 steelhead.  9 bank anglers released 2 steelhead.

Buoy 10 – Boat anglers averaged a Chinook kept per every 7.4 rods last week.  A few coho were also caught.

HUGH PETERS CAUGHT THIS BUOY 10 FALL KING ON A HERRING BEHIND A FISH FLASH IN KNOCK OUT. HE WAS OUT WITH RANDY WOOLSEY LAST FRIDAY. (VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

HUGH PETERS CAUGHT THIS BUOY 10 FALL KING ON A HERRING BEHIND A FISH FLASH IN KNOCK OUT. HE WAS OUT WITH RANDY WOOLSEY LAST FRIDAY. (VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

By comparison, during the same week last year boat anglers averaged a Chinook kept per every 3.5 rods, or twice as good as this year.  They had also averaged 0.4 coho per rod.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – No real change from last week – slow for Chinook and fair for steelhead with light angling effort.

Last week we sampled 1,116 salmonid anglers (including 195 boats) with 47 adult and 3 jack fall Chinook, 62 steelhead but no coho.  All of the adult Chinook and 41 (66%) of the steelhead were kept.

Bonneville Pool – 18 boat anglers kept 2 adult fall Chinook and 7 steelhead plus released 5 steelhead.

McNary Reservoir – The Columbia River from McNary Dam upstream to Hwy 395 opened for the harvest of hatchery steelhead on June 16.  WDFW staff began monitoring this fishery on August 1.  The fishery has been very slow for effort and harvest over the past two weeks. WDFW staff has interviewed 2 boats (4 anglers) along with 4 bank anglers. No steelhead or salmon were harvested. There have been an estimated 95 angler trips for steelhead the first half of August.   Currently steelhead are returning in very low numbers, well below the 10-year average.

On August 1, the fall salmon regulations went into effect from McNary Dam upstream to Hwy 395. This year’s regulations allow anglers to retain two adult salmon or hatchery steelhead until November 1.  See the Washington Sport Fishing Rules for more details.

Paul A. Hoffarth
District 4 Fish Biologist
WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
2620 N. Commercial Ave.
Pasco, WA 99301

Hanford Reach – From Paul A. Hoffarth – The summer chinook fishery from Hwy 395 to Priest Rapids Dam runs through August 15.  WDFW staff began monitoring this fishery on August 1.  The fishery has been very slow for effort and harvest over the past two weeks. WDFW staff has interviewed 4 boats (6 anglers) with 5 adult chinook harvested, 1 chinook released, and 1 sockeye released.

There have been an estimated 43 angler trips for salmon the first half of August. Total catch and harvest is estimated at 36 adult chinook harvested, 7 chinook released, and 7 sockeye released.

Fall chinook counts over Bonneville are on the rise and a large return (in excess of 200,000) is expected to return to the Hanford Reach this fall. On August 16, the fall salmon regulations go into effect from Hwy 395 to Priest Rapids Dam. This year’s regulations allow anglers to retain three adult salmon and both hatchery and wild chinook and coho can be harvested.  The steelhead sport fishery in this area will not open until October 1.  See the Washington Sport Fishing Rules for more details.

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Marker 82 line downstream – We sampled 6 sturgeon anglers (3 boats) from Kalama to Longview with 7 legals released.

The section from the Navigation Marker 82 line upstream to the permanent boundaries below Bonneville Dam opens for catch and release angling beginning September 1.

Walleye

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – 7 walleye anglers (5 boats) with 2 fish kept and 3 released.  All the catch came from the Camas/Washougal area.

Trout

Tacoma Power released 4,000 rainbow trout into Mayfield Lake last week. This week they will release 4,000 more rainbow trout into the lake.  Effective Sept. 1, up to 10 hatchery rainbows may be retained.

(BRIAN LULL)

Hells Canyon Country Steelhead Exhibit Many Life Histories

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME AND WAS WRITTEN BY BRETT BOWERSOX, FISHERIES STAFF BIOLOGIST

Steelhead fisheries in Idaho are world class, and the fact that anglers can fish for steelhead from July through April means there is lots of time to enjoy this resource. The fact that we can enjoy these long fishing seasons is due in part to Idaho’s hatchery program that produces lots of fish for anglers to catch and keep.

But the state also holds some of the best wild steelhead habitat in the Pacific Northwest, and wild steelhead provide an interesting glimpse into how their life histories evolved to suit their habitat and ensure they are able to make the arduous journey to the ocean and back to Idaho’s spawning streams.

(BRIAN LULL)

(BRIAN LULL)

Wild steelhead spawn and rear in a diversity of habitats across the state ranging from wilderness rivers, such as the Selway and Middle Fork Salmon, to small streams running through backyards and behind the gas station in rural areas. It’s been said that if there’s water running in a stream during spring in steelhead country, a steelhead will find a way to spawn there.

It’s only been in the past 10 years that Fish and Game biologists have started to understand what these wild populations look like in different parts of the state. This picture became even clearer in the last five years as biologists collected data from steelhead passing through Lower Granite Dam while going to and coming from the ocean and into rivers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Each year, crews working at Lower Granite Dam trap adult steelhead as they swim up the fish ladder. Crews take a genetic and scale sample to learn their age and where they are likely to spawn. These fish are also implanted with tiny PIT-tags, which allow fisheries managers to track movements of individual fish as they swim over PIT-tag detectors located in many rivers and streams.

Fish and Game biologists use this date to better understand the diversity of Idaho’s wild steelhead and those in neighboring states.

Depending on the stream, juvenile steelhead spend different amounts of time in fresh water before migrating to the ocean. All of Idaho’s hatchery steelhead are reared for one year and released to migrate to the ocean, but wild steelhead are very different.

Idaho steelhead can rear in the freshwater for one to five years before going to the ocean. In general, most populations are dominated by a two-year old smolts. Some high-elevations streams, such as Fish Creek, (a tributary of the Lochsa River), South Fork of the Salmon River, and Big Creek (a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River) are dominated by older smolts, mostly three-year olds. But each drainage has, at least three different age classes of smolts leaving each year.

(IDFG)

(IDFG)

Each color in this table represents a different life history of steelhead in the listed watersheds. Blue lines indicated what percent of fish stayed in freshwater for one year prior to going to the ocean; red lines indicate what percent stayed for two years and so on.

How long do these fish spend in the ocean? Is there consistency? If they swim to the same ocean, they should look pretty similar when they return to fresh water, right?

Not quite. There’s diversity among fish in different rivers, too, and even fish that return to the same rivers.

(IDFG)

(IDFG)

With adult fish, ocean time ranges from one to three years, and drainages are either dominated by fish that spend one or two years in the ocean. These are commonly known as “A” run and “B” run fish, but it’s not that simple because not all the fish labeled as either A or B behave the same.

Drainages in the lower Clearwater, lower Snake, and upper Salmon rivers are dominated by adults that spend one year in the ocean.

Drainages in the upper Clearwater and mid-Salmon river drainages are dominated by two-ocean adults. Also, more than half of the drainages listed above also have three-ocean fish. So again, similar to the juvenile ages, there are some general trends, but steelhead are diverse.

These rivers and the steelhead that occupy them are all a bit different and steelhead populations use this diverse life history to make sure that if one group doesn’t survive well, another group will. It’s how nature ensures the continuation of steelhead runs by spreading the risk so if part of the population is less successful, another can fill the void.

Wild steelhead have lots of strategies to help them be successful and make future generations. By understanding what they do in the wild, Fish and Game can better manage, protect, and restore these fish and the many habitats they occupy.

 

THE ELWHA RIVER, WHICH LARGELY FLOWS THROUGH OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, HAS BEEN DESIGNATED A WILD STEELHEAD GENE BANK BY WDFW, MEANING NO HATCHERY STEELHEAD CAN BE RELEASED IN IT BY THE STATE. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

Elwha, Nisqually Designated Wild Steelhead Gene Banks; North Sound Bank(s) Still Being Reviewed

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

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today designated the Nisqually and Elwha rivers as wild steelhead gene banks to help conserve wild steelhead populations.

Under that designation, both rivers will be off-limits to releases of steelhead raised in state hatcheries, which can pose risks to native fish through interbreeding and competition for spawning areas.

Fishing will be allowed if wild steelhead runs to those rivers are strong enough to allow it.

THE ELWHA RIVER, WHICH LARGELY FLOWS THROUGH OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, HAS BEEN DESIGNATED A WILD STEELHEAD GENE BANK BY WDFW, MEANING NO HATCHERY STEELHEAD CAN BE RELEASED IN IT BY THE STATE. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

THE ELWHA RIVER, WHICH LARGELY FLOWS THROUGH OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, HAS BEEN DESIGNATED A WILD STEELHEAD GENE BANK BY WDFW, MEANING NO HATCHERY STEELHEAD CAN BE RELEASED IN IT BY THE STATE. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

Both rivers meet the criteria for gene banks established in the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan to help reverse the long-term decline of wild steelhead returning to rivers in Washington state, said Jim Scott, a special assistant to the WDFW director.

“The Nisqually and Elwha rivers can play a major role in the recovery of wild steelhead populations in the Puget Sound area,” Scott said. “This new designation, along with other conservation efforts already underway, will help us reach that goal.”

WDFW presented both rivers as possible options for wild steelhead gene banks during a series of public meetings and an online comment period during the summer of 2015.

Other options included the Skagit and Sauk rivers, but WDFW delayed designating a wild steelhead gene bank in northern Puget Sound pending further review.

The department expects to make that decision after consultation with a new advisory group and area treaty tribes, Scott said.

Under a 2014 court settlement, WDFW agreed to stop releasing early winter hatchery steelhead in the Skagit River through 2025.

Scott noted, however, that WDFW is considering a proposal to release steelhead raised from local stock at the department’s Marblemount Hatchery.

“Most public comments received by the department support the designation of the entire Skagit River as a gene bank, but some are concerned about the potential impact on fisheries and the local economy,” Scott said. “We are committed to establishing at least one wild steelhead gene bank in North Cascades region, but plan to convene an advisory group to discuss the options in greater detail before proceeding.”

None of the sites WDFW proposed as wild steelhead gene banks in the Puget Sound area drew more public support than the Elwha River on the north side of the Olympic Peninsula.

While still recovering from the removal of two large hydroelectric dams in 2012, the river now has more than 40 miles of additional spawning and rearing habitat, much of it inside Olympic National Park.

In addition, studies have found that the river’s native winter steelhead population remains genetically distinct, despite releases of early winter hatchery fish conducted until 2011.

An interim hatchery program currently operated by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to restore the river’s steelhead population is scheduled to end once river conditions improve and restoration objectives for wild steelhead are achieved.

The Nisqually River, which flows into southern Puget Sound, was also a strong candidate for a wild steelhead gene bank – in part because of the ongoing efforts by the Nisqually River Council to protect and restore fish habitat on the river, Scott said.

No hatchery-origin winter steelhead have been released into the watershed since 1982, and the number of wild steelhead spawning in the river increased to more than 1,000 fish in 2015 and more than 2,000 in 2016.

With the addition of the Nisqually and Elwha rivers, WDFW has now designated 14 wild steelhead gene banks in watersheds around the state.