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Last ODFW Fam Fishing Event Of 2014 Tomorrow

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

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will host its last family fishing event of the year Saturday, Oct. 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mt. Hood Pond.

The event is open to anglers of all ages. ODFW will loan out rods, reels, tackle and bait, while it lasts, free of charge to participants on a first-come, first-served basis. Anglers are welcome to bring their own equipment and bait if they prefer.

To ensure that everybody has the opportunity to catch fish, ODFW will release more than 1,800 rainbow trout into the pond just prior to the event, including a couple hundred “lunkers” weighing in at more than a pound apiece.

“We’ve got a lot of high-quality fighting fish lined up for this event,” said Jeff Fulop, ODFW family fishing coordinator. “As far as outdoor activities go, it’s hard to beat a day of fall fishing in Oregon.”

Kids 13 years old and younger fish for free while persons 14 and older will need a fishing license that can be purchased at any ODFW license agent, ODFW office or on-line at ODFW’s website (www.odfw.com). Licenses will not be issued at the event so those who are required should obtain one ahead of time.

Mt. Hood Pond is a five-acre pond located on the Mt. Hood Community College campus in Gresham, at 2600 SE Stark Street.

Mt. Hood Pond is one of 350 water bodies in Oregon that ODFW regularly stocks with trout that the department raises at its hatcheries across the state. To explore the many other trout fishing opportunities that are available around Oregon, please visit ODFW’s website at www.odfw.com and click on the “Fishing” tab.

THE HAN FAMILY OF TRI-CITIES GOT IN ON THE GREAT FISHING IN THE HANFORD REACH LAST WEEKEND, NAILING THESE TWO BRIGHT CHINOOK. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Hanford Reach, Yakima River Salmon Fishing Report (10-21-14)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORTS ORIGINATED WITH PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW, AND WERE TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, PSMFC

The number of anglers fishing for salmon in the Hanford Reach continues to slowly decline but the fishing remains excellent with 2.7 chinook landed per boat.  An estimated 1,576 boats fished for salmon in the Hanford Reach this past week.  WDFW staff interviewed anglers from 481boats (1,251 anglers:8,066 pole hours) and 93 bank anglers (333 hours).  An estimated 4,311 salmon (3,767 adult chinook, 534 jacks & 10 coho) were harvested.   Bank anglers didn’t fare as well only averaging one chinook for each 31 anglers but the good news is that the bank anglers are starting to pick up a few steelhead.   There were an estimated 4,297 angler trips for fall Chinook in the Tri-cities this past week.

THE HAN FAMILY OF TRI-CITIES GOT IN ON THE GREAT FISHING IN THE HANFORD REACH LAST WEEKEND, NAILING THESE TWO BRIGHT CHINOOK. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

THE HAN FAMILY OF TRI-CITIES GOT IN ON THE GREAT FISHING IN THE HANFORD REACH, NAILING THESE TWO BRIGHT CHINOOK LAST WEEKEND. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

For the fall salmon season that started August 1, there have been over 42,000 angler trips harvesting 25,596 adult Chinook, 2,290 jacks, and 171 coho.

The lower Hanford Reach (Hwy 395 to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford townsite) will remain open to fishing for salmon through October 31. The last day of fishing in the area upstream of the old Hanford townsite wooden powerline towers is October 22

This past week WDFW staff interviewed 211 anglers fishing for salmon in the lower Yakima River with 49 adult chinook, 1 Chinook jacks, and 4 coho harvested. Anglers averaged a salmon for every 11 hours of fishing.  This is the last few days of fishing with the fishery closes after October 22.

An estimated 275 salmon were caught this past week (247 adult fall Chinook, 5 jacks, and 23 coho) bringing the season total to 1,152 salmon.

SW WA, Lower Columbia Fishing Report (10-20-14)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORTS ARE FROM JOE HYMER, PSMFC, AND TANNA TAKATA, ODFW

Salmon/Steelhead

Lower portions of Abernathy, Cedar (North Fork Lewis tributary), Coal, Germany, Mill (Cowlitz Co.) creeks and the Coweeman River – Re-open to fishing for hatchery steelhead and other game fish November 1.

Elochoman River – No report on angling success. Oct. 31 is the last day of night closure, anti-snagging rule, and stationary gear restrictions.

Cowlitz River – Fishing for coho is still excellent with bank anglers averaging over ½ fish per rod and boat anglers nearly 1.5 per rod when including fish released.  Fish are being caught throughout the system though fishing slowed near the mouth of the river after last week’s rain.  Some fall Chinook and sea run cutthroats are also being caught.

During five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator, last week Tacoma Power recovered:
*   106 summer-run steelhead
*   1,051 fall Chinook adults and 52 jacks
*   14,936 coho adults
*   596 coho jacks
*   68 sea-run cutthroat trout
*   one sockeye

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released:
*   1,842 coho adults and 65 jacks into Lake Scanewa
*   370 coho adults and 11 jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek
*   375 fall Chinook adults, 26 jacks; 1,111 coho adults, 24 jacks and seven cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton
*   490 fall Chinook adults and 17 jacks; 1,793 coho adults and 62 jacks at Franklin Bridge in Packwood
*   One sockeye salmon was released at the Barrier Dam boat launch

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,150 cubic feet per second on Monday, October 20.

October 31 is the last day 3 hatchery steelhead may be retained from the Hwy. 4 Bridge at Kelso upstream to Mayfield Dam. Cowlitz River from posted sign on Peters Road to the mouth of Ohanepecosh and Muddy Forks, Tilton River from mouth to West Fork, and the Green River – Oct. 31 is the last day of the night closure and anti-snagging rule.

Kalama River – Both bank and boat anglers are catching hatchery coho.

Oct. 31 is the last day of the night closures, anti-snagging, and fly fishing only rules on the lower river.

Lewis River – When including fish released, bank and boat anglers averaged over ½ adult coho per rod on the North Fork Lewis.  However, fishing at the mouth was slower.  Some fall Chinook are also being caught.

Colvin Creek to the overhead powerlines below Merwin Dam remains open to fishing through Friday October 31.  It will re-open for salmon and hatchery steelhead Dec. 16.

Washougal River – No report on angling success.  Oct. 31 is the last day of the anti-snagging rule.  In addition, night fishing will be allowed from the Mt. Norway Bridge upstream to the Salmon Falls Bridge.

Wind River – Light effort and catch.  October 31 is the last day to fish for salmon.

Drano Lake – Boat anglers averaged an adult coho kept per rod.   Some Chinook are also being caught.

White Salmon River – No report on angling success. Oct. 31 is the last day to fish from the county road below the powerhouse upstream to Big Brothers Falls at River Mile 16.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers below Fisher Hill Bridge averaged about a coho per rod.  Some fall Chinook are also being caught.

Buoy 10 – At least 35 private boats and 2 charters were counted during last Saturday’s lower Columbia mainstem flight.  Some reports indicate fishing for hatchery coho is still very good.  However, the creel census program has concluded for the year.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 302 salmonid anglers (including 87 boats) with 19 adult and 2 jack fall Chinook, 53 adult and 1 jack coho, and no steelhead.

All the Chinook caught were kept and as were 45 (85%) of the adult coho.

Last week on the lower Columbia, anglers made 2,800 trips and caught 204 adult Chinook (197 kept and seven released) and 424 adult coho (369 kept and 55 released).

Effort is waning with just over 100 boats and 58 bank anglers counted during last Saturday’s (Oct. 17) effort flight count.  Over half the boat effort was observed in the Camas/Washougal area.

Under permanent rules, closed to fishing for salmon from Beacon Rock to Bonneville Dam effective November 1.

Oct. 31 is the last day of the 2014 lower Columbia mainstem creel census program. The program will resume February 2015.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers averaged about ½ coho per rod.  Some fall Chinook are also being caught but are becoming more mature.

Trout

Blue, Horsethief, Packwood, Walupt, and Willame lakes and Lewis River Power Canal – October 31 is the last day to fish for the year.

Salmon, Steelhead and Shad

On the lower Columbia this past weekend there were 112 salmonid boats and 15 Oregon bank anglers counted from Bonneville Dam downstream to Tongue Point on Saturday’s (10/18) flight.  Anglers had the best success in the gorge, where boat anglers averaged 2.0 Chinook and 0.50 coho caught per boat.  In Troutdale, boat anglers averaged 0.02 Chinook and 0.40 coho caught per boat, while anglers fishing the Portland to Westport area averaged 0.08 Chinook and 0.50 coho caught per boat.

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for eight bank anglers.

Gorge Boats: Weekend checking showed four adult Chinook and one adipose fin-clipped adult coho kept for two boats (seven anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed one adult Chinook and 18 adipose fin-clipped coho kept, plus one unclipped adult coho released for 47 boats (86 anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for one bank angler.

Portland to Tongue Point Boats: Weekend checking showed one adult Chinook and six adipose fin-clipped adult coho kept for 12 boats (26 anglers).

John Day Pool (Columbia River above John Day Dam and John Day Arm): Weekly checking showed two jack Chinook and two adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus 11 unclipped steelhead released for 41 boats.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia River: Catch and release only. No report.

Sturgeon creel sampling summaries and catch estimates for Bonneville, The Dalles, and John Day pools: WDFW Mid-Columbia River mainstem sport sampling summary<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/region5/>

WALLEYE

Gorge: No report.

Troutdale: Weekend checking showed no catch for one boat (two anglers).

HATCHERY COHO RELEASES WILL BE REDUCED BY 7 PERCENT NEXT YEAR, MEANING FEWER RETURNING ADULTS LIKE THE ONE JASON RESSER CAUGHT ON THE KALAMA THIS FALL IN THE COMING YEARS. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

With Fewer Federal Dollars, WDFW To Cut Coho, Steelie Production in SW WA

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

Federal budget cuts and higher operating costs have forced the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to reduce salmon and steelhead production at three of its lower Columbia River fish hatchery facilities and plant juvenile coho into a regional lake this fall.

A funding gap of about $500,000 in federal Mitchell Act funds will reduce fish production at WDFW’s North Toutle, Kalama Falls and Skamania hatcheries. Those cuts will result in 600,000 fewer coho released annually into the Kalama River and Deep River net pens and 24,000 fewer steelhead released each year into lower Columbia River tributaries beginning in 2015.

HATCHERY COHO RELEASES WILL BE REDUCED BY 7 PERCENT NEXT YEAR, MEANING FEWER RETURNING ADULTS LIKE THE ONE JASON RESSER CAUGHT ON THE KALAMA THIS FALL IN THE COMING YEARS. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

HATCHERY COHO RELEASES WILL BE REDUCED BY 7 PERCENT NEXT YEAR, MEANING FEWER RETURNING ADULTS LIKE THE ONE JASON RESSER CAUGHT ON THE KALAMA THIS FALL IN THE COMING YEARS. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Earlier this month, WDFW released about 600,000 hatchery coho salmon into Riffe Lake in Lewis County as a first step in bringing hatchery costs into line with reduced funding. Those fish were scheduled to be released next year into the Kalama River and Deep River net pens.

Jim Scott, head of WDFW’s Fish Program, said the changes are necessary because federal funding for the hatchery programs has dropped, while operating costs have increased to produce, feed and rear fish at lower Columbia River facilities.

“Hatchery salmon production on the lower Columbia River has been declining for the last decade because of insufficient federal funding for these programs,” Scott said. “These recent changes are another blow to recreational anglers and commercial fishers that rely on hatchery coho in the ocean and lower river, as well as the communities that depend on the economic boost those industries provide.”

Under this year’s funding reductions, WDFW will release 7 percent fewer coho from its lower Columbia River hatcheries, and nearly 2 percent fewer summer steelhead.

“We are working closely with our federal delegation to help ensure adequate funding is available for these facilities, but without an increase in federal dollars we will likely see a reduction in salmon production once again next year,” Scott said.

Since the 1940s, Congress has appropriated funding for the operation and maintenance of state and tribal hatcheries in the lower Columbia River to compensate Northwest states for losses in fish production resulting from the construction of hydroelectric dams.

Federal Mitchell Act funds cover the costs of operating and producing salmon and steelhead at numerous Columbia River hatcheries, including eight WDFW facilities.

Weeklong WA Coast Razor Clam Dig Begins Weds.

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

State fishery managers have approved a week-long razor clam dig beginning Oct. 22 on evening tides at various beaches.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the seven-day dig after marine toxin test results showed the clams on those beaches are safe to eat. No digging will be allowed before noon on those days.

Dan Ayres, WDFW shellfish manager, reminds diggers they’re required to keep the first 15 clams they dig under state law. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

“Most diggers were able to harvest their 15-clam daily limit fairly easily during the season opener earlier this month, except for one evening when some rough weather blew in,” Ayres said. “Some diggers noticed smaller clams at a few beaches, but those clams are growing quickly.”

Digging days and evening low tides during the upcoming opening are:

Oct. 22, Wednesday; 6:31 p.m., 0.3 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Oct. 23, Thursday; 7:07 p.m., -0.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Oct. 24, Friday; 7:44 p.m., -0.4 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Oct. 25, Saturday; 8:22 p.m., -0.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
Oct. 26, Sunday; 9:03 p.m., -0.6 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Oct. 27, Monday; 9:47 p.m., -0.4 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Oct. 28, Tuesday; 10:36 p.m., -0.2 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors

The best results typically occur one to two hours before low tide, Ayres said.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2014-15 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

Looking ahead to next month, WDFW will announce the final word on a tentative dig to begin Nov. 4 after marine toxin tests have been completed. That dig is tentatively scheduled on the following dates, beaches and low tides:

Nov. 4, Tuesday; 4:26 p.m., -0.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Nov. 5, Wednesday; 5:14 p.m., -0.7 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Nov. 6, Thursday; 5:59 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Nov. 7, Friday; 6:42 p.m., -1.2 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 8, Saturday; 7:24 p.m., -1.1 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
Nov. 9, Sunday; 8:05 p.m., -0.7 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
Nov. 10, Monday; 8:47 p.m., -0.3 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors
Nov. 11, Tuesday; 9:31 p.m., 0.2 feet, Long Beach, Twin Harbors

Comprehensive information about razor clams – from updates on tentative digs to how-to advice on digging and cooking – is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.

(IDFG)

IDFG Looking For Info On 5 Mule Deer Found Only Partially Butchered

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

Fish and Game is asking the public for information regarding five mule deer bucks found wasted near the Homedale Airport.

Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) is offering a reward for information in the case and callers may remain anonymous. Contact CAP at 1-800-632-5999 twenty four hours a day.

The hides, heads and carcasses were discovered October 17 along a rural road near a popular fishing area on the Snake River. About half of the meat required to be salvaged by Idaho law was left to rot. None of the shoulder meat was taken from any of the deer, and much of the other choice meat was also left to rot.

(IDFG)

(IDFG)

Fish and Game conservation officer Craig Mickelson is very interested in visiting with anyone with knowledge of the incident.

“Someone harvested these deer, skinned them, cut the antlers off most of the skulls and did not salvage all the edible meat as required by law,” Mickelson said. “We’d sure like to know who went through all this effort just to waste these deer.”

Hunters are required to remove and care for the edible meat of big game animals, except black bears, mountain lions and gray wolves. This includes the meat from the hind quarters as far down as the hock, meat of the front quarters as far downs as the knee and meat along the backbone which is the loin and tenderloin.

In addition to the CAP hotline, anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Senior Conservation Officer Craig Mickelson at 208-465-8465 or the Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465.

$1.4M In Grants To Go To Puget Sound Shore Work

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

Three proposals designed to protect high-priority Puget Sound marine shoreline habitat will receive funding through the Puget Sound Marine and Nearshore Grant Program at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The grant program, jointly managed by WDFW and the Washington Department of Natural Resources, will distribute $1,431,329 provided by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support shoreline protection strategies outlined in the state’s Action Agenda for Puget Sound.

Priority was given to projects designed to protect land that includes bluffs that supply sediment to Puget Sound beaches in areas facing significant development pressure, or habitat identified in salmon recovery plans or other management plans.

“The purchase and protection of these shorelines will play an important role in advancing salmon recovery and ensuring our natural areas are healthy and productive”, said Patricia Jatczak, WDFW manager for the EPA grant program.

The three sites selected to receive funding are:

Lyre Estuary and Nelson Creek Acquisition ($231,329) – Located 20 miles west of Port Angeles, this project will conserve 2,600 feet of prime shoreline, including a feeder bluff, vital salmon habitat, and the Lyre River Estuary. The Lyre River is one of a few remaining rivers on the Olympic Peninsula with the potential to maintain an intact river corridor from the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Sponsor: North Olympic Land Trust.

Lummi Island Shoreline Acquisition ($600,000) – This project will acquire two parcels that total 105 acres, including 4,000 feet of shoreline. In addition to intact nearshore habitat, portions of this land have been degraded by a gravel mine, and acquisition of this property will allow future projects that will restore the degraded habitat and nearshore processes. Sponsor: Lummi Island Heritage Trust.

Waterman Nearshore Acquisition ($600,000) – Located on the southeast side of Whidbey Island along the Saratoga Passage, this project acquires four parcels that total 33 acres of uplands, 2,000 feet of feeder bluff, 2 streams, and 26 acres of tidelands. Dungeness crab, shrimp, and geoduck are found on the project area’s tidelands, and outmigrating juvenile salmon use the shoreline as a travel corridor. Sponsor: Whidbey Camano Land Trust.

Projects will be managed by the state Recreation and Conservation Office through an agreement with WDFW.

Since 2011, the Puget Sound Marine and Nearshore Grant Program has received more than $18 million in funding from the EPA National Estuary Program to support the state’s plan to restore and protect Puget Sound. The funding has supported over 40 projects, including estuary restoration, removal of shoreline armor, and recovery of derelict fishing nets that degrade marine habitat.

ODFW Looking For Input On Who Its New Director Should Be

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

A national search is underway for a new Director for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.  The first step in the recruitment process is to gather public input on the qualifications the Director should have.  An online survey also asks for thoughts about issues the new Director is likely to face in the next ten years.  The survey results will be used by the Commission and the Department of Administrative Services in recruiting and screening candidates for the position.

“We’re inviting everyone to give us their thoughts about this important decision,” said Commission Chair Bobby Levy.  “The survey will help us select the right person to lead the department.”

The online survey will be open through Oct. 27, 2014.

The public will have the opportunity meet the final candidates for the Director position at a public meeting on Feb. 12, 2015 at the ODFW headquarters in Salem.  The Commission will interview the finalists at their meeting on February 13.

The survey is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ODFWDirector.  A link to the survey and details on the recruitment process and timeline can be found on the ODFW website at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/director_recruitment.asp.

Nisqually Reopening For Hatchery Kings

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

Nisqually River reopens to retention of hatchery chinook salmon

Action: Retention of hatchery chinook salmon is permitted.  Salmon fishing is open at the mouth of Kalama and Clear creeks.

Effective dates: Oct. 15, 2014, through Jan. 31, 2015.

Species affected:  Chinook salmon.

Location: Downstream of Military Tank Crossing Bridge and at the mouth of Kalama and Clear Creeks.

Reasons for action: Egg-take goals have been met at the Nisqually River fall chinook hatcheries.   In order to meet conservation goals, anglers are required to release wild chinook and wild steelhead.

Other information: Regulations on the Nisqually River now allow for the retention of hatchery chinook salmon as described by the sportfishing rules pamphlet.  Effective immediately through Oct. 31: Up to 3 adults may be retained of which only 2 may be any combination of coho and chum.  Nov. 1-Jan. 31: Up to 2 adults may be retained.  Release wild chinook salmon.

ODFW Ups The Coho Limit Above Willamette Falls; Here’s How To Catch ‘Em

Starting tomorrow, Oct. 15, you’ll be able to keep a third coho in the Willamette system above the falls, ODFW announced this afternoon.

That includes the mainstem as well as Molalla, Santiam, Yamhill, South Yamhill and Tualatin Rivers.

So far 10,000 coho have been counted at the falls, with more on the way.

“It’s exciting to see another strong return of coho this year,” said Tom Murtagh, ODFW fish biologist, in a press release.  “We’re always pleased when we are able to offer additional fishing opportunities to anglers.”

COHO FISHING MIGHT BE BETTER IN THE WILLAMETTE’S TRIBS ABOVE THE FALLS ONCE THE RAINS COME, BUT THE SALMON CAN ALSO BE CAUGHT IN THE MAINSTEM. RYAN HUMMEL HOOKED THIS ONE ON A BRAD’S WIGGLER LAST SEASON. (WRIGHT & MCGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

COHO FISHING MIGHT BE BETTER IN THE WILLAMETTE’S TRIBS ABOVE THE FALLS ONCE THE RAINS COME, BUT THE SALMON CAN ALSO BE CAUGHT IN THE MAINSTEM. RYAN HUMMEL HOOKED THIS ONE ON A BRAD’S WIGGLER LAST SEASON. (WRIGHT & MCGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

While coho can be hard to catch in these warmer waters, rains could help anglers out as the fish gather at the mouths of the tribs.

In the October issue of Northwest Sportsman, our Terry Otto talked about the fish and the fishery. Here’s that story:

Huge Coho Run Headed To Upper Willamette

By Terry Otto

Three falls ago 19,000 adult coho spawned in the tributaries above Willamette Falls, and afterwards, when that brood year’s juveniles went down to the ocean, they were greeted by excellent conditions.

That year-class will be returning this month to their natal streams, and according to district fisheries biologist Todd Alsbury, there could be a real mess of them.

“We could possibly see a return of 15,000 to 25,000 coho,” he says.

All those fish got a free pass as they swam the ocean and up the Columbia. Since they are wild-spawned they aren’t fin-clipped, and can’t be kept by anglers.

Until they pass the falls.

STUMPTOWN’S BIGGEST COHO run could dwarf hatchery runs in other local rivers this fall. This stock is very different from those. Generated by the progeny of hatchery plants that were cut long ago, this population has thrived in the Tualatin, Yamhill and other Willamette tributaries. It’s spread into new systems, and continues to grow.

Historically, coho did not spawn above the falls because the water was too low to jump this time of year. That changed when fish ladders were installed. Coho have made good use of that access.

“The average run is about 6,000 to 7,000 fish,” says Alsbury, but this year is not an average year.

And since they are not native or indigenous to the upper Willamette, they can be managed, and harvested, free from the constraints of Endangered Species Act listings that trouble other systems. That has resulted in a terrific silver fishery with liberal harvests in good years.

When plentiful, the limit has been as many as three adult coho a day.

Will that occur again this season?

“The three-fish limit will probably happen this year, certainly,” says Alsbury.

Watch dfw.state.or.us for changes to the regulations.

UNLIKE COHO RETURNING to the Sandy and Clackamas, which sometimes see harvests of up to 25 percent in the ocean and Buoy 10 before they reach local waters, these fish have not been hammered. That means all the best, most aggressive biters are still there when they pass the falls.

And these are fine salmon.

“They seem to not turn color as fast as the coho in the other rivers,” says Alsbury, “and they stay good into November.”

However, don’t expect them to light up until they pass out of the Willamette’s warm water. When they stack up at the mouths of its tributaries they don’t bite well.

“It’s a tough bite,” says Alsbury. “It’s good for about the first half hour of light, and then tough the rest of the day.”

Reportedly, small plugs are effective.

They bite much better once the rains come and they enter their spawning tributaries. While many dig and tend redds in the Tualatin, Yamhill and Molalla Rivers, they enter other, smaller rivers as well.

This includes the Pudding, which feeds the Molalla, and just about any small stream that enters the Willamette above the falls.

Once into the natal rivers, they fall to most coho methods such as bobber and eggs, spinners, and drifted yarn or bait.

Many of the coho will wait for the rains and colder temps before they pass over the Willamette Falls. Watch the dam counts, and when the coho start to pass at more than a hundred fish a day, it’s time to go.

Anglers can find access along the Molalla, which may be high enough to drift once the rains return. Boat access starts at the Cedar Launch upstream of Freyer Park. Going downstream, there is the Meadow Brook Bridge on Highway 211, Wagonwheel County Park on Highway 213, the Canby City Park ramp, Knights Bridge crossing near Canby, and at Molalla State Park, near the mouth.

Bank access can be found at each of the parks and launch sites. However, the best bank access may be above the North Fork, on a patchwork of BLM lands from the Glen Avon Bridge to the Turner Bridge.

Access is tougher on the Tualatin, and most of it is in the lower reaches, which are sluggish and not the best salmon-holding water.

The Yamhill also has limited bank access, and while the schools really stack up at the mouth, the bite is notoriously poor until the fish enter the river itself.

Most of these rivers are open for coho retention until Oct. 31, and anglers can keep clipped or un-clipped fish. Check the regulations before you fish, as some sections of the rivers do not allow bait.