Category Archives: Headlines

CLAM MASTER WALLY SANDE AND HIS GRANDKIDS CORBIN, LEXI AND AUSTIN, WIFE CAROL AND THEIR DAUGHTER BRITT HAN. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

WDFW Proposes Two Dozen Days Of Diggin’ Razor Clams In April, May

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

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has proposed a series of razor clam digs in April and May to cap a season packed with more “beach days” than any time in the past 25 years.

After a nine-day opening that runs through March 24, state shellfish managers plan to end the season with another 24 days of digging on morning low tides at various beaches from April 4 through May 17.

CLAM MASTER WALLY SANDE AND HIS GRANDKIDS CORBIN, LEXI AND AUSTIN, WIFE CAROL AND THEIR DAUGHTER BRITT HAN. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

CLAM MASTER WALLY SANDE AND HIS GRANDKIDS CORBIN, LEXI AND AUSTIN, WIFE CAROL AND THEIR DAUGHTER BRITT HAN. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Final approval of those digs depends on the results of marine toxin tests, which have consistently shown this season that the clams are safe to eat.

“We’ve had a great season so far and we expect it to continue that way in the months ahead,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. “We have an abundance of clams on most beaches, which makes for some terrific digging opportunities.”

Proposed digging days in April and May, along with the remaining digs in March, are posted on WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.

Under state law, diggers are required to keep the first 15 clams they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container. No digging is allowed on any beach after noon.

Counting the new dates in April and May, Ayres said WDFW plans to provide a total of 286 “beach days” of digging on Washington beaches this season – the highest number since 1989. He defined a “beach day” as one beach open for a single day, so four beaches open for one day counts as four beach days.

Annual razor clam seasons typically end in mid-to-late May, when the clams begin to spawn and are less desirable for eating, Ayres said.

He reminds diggers they will need a valid 2015-16 fishing license to participate in razor clam digs effective April 1, the beginning of the new license year. Various types of fishing licenses are available online (fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/), by phone (866-246-9453), and from authorized license dealers throughout the state.

Meanwhile, state wildlife managers are urging clam diggers to avoid disturbing snowy plovers and streaked horned larks. Both species nest in the soft, dry sand at Leadbetter Point on the Long Beach Peninsula and on a section of Twin Harbors beach.

The snowy plover is a small bird with gray wings and a white breast. The lark is a small bird with a pale yellow breast and brown back. Male larks have a black mask, breast band and “horns.” Both species are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“Nesting season for snowy plovers and streaked horned larks begins in early April, coinciding with the scheduled clam digs,” said Anthony Novack, district biologist for WDFW. “Snowy plover nests are difficult to see, so it’s easy to disturb or destroy them without even being aware of it. If an adult is scared off its nest, it leaves the eggs exposed to predators like crows and ravens.”

To protect these birds, the department asks that clam diggers avoid the dunes and areas of the beach with soft, dry sand. When driving to a clam-digging area, diggers should enter the beach only at designated access points and stay on the hard-packed sand near or below the high tide line, Novack said.

Dig dates in May for Copalis and Mocrocks will be announced after harvest from the April digs has been analyzed. Upcoming digs in April and May are scheduled on the following dates, pending favorable marine toxin results:

April 4, Saturday, 7:23 a.m.; 0.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
April 5, Sunday, 7:57 a.m.; 0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
April 6, Monday, 8:32 a.m.; 0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
April 7, Tuesday, 9:09 a.m.; 0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
April 8, Wednesday, 9:48 a.m.; 0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
April 9, Thursday, 10:32 a.m.; 0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
April 10, Friday, 11:23 a.m.; 0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors

April 17, Friday, 6:03 a.m.; -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
April 18, Saturday, 6:52 a.m.; -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
April 19, Sunday, 7:39 a.m.; -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Copalis
April 20, Monday, 8:25 a.m.; -1.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
April 21, Tuesday, 9:11 a.m.; -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
April 22, Wednesday, 9:57 a.m.; -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
April 23, Thursday, 10:46 a.m.; -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
April 24, Friday, 11:38 a.m.; 0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors

May 2, Saturday, 6:23 a.m., 0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
May 3, Sunday, 6:59 a.m., -0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors

May 7, Thursday, 9:30 a.m., -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
May 8, Friday, 10:14 a.m., -0.7 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
May 9, Saturday, 11:03 a.m., -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
May 10, Sunday, 11:58 a.m., -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors

May 15, Friday, 4:58 a.m., -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
May 16, Saturday, 5:50 a.m., -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors
May 17, Sunday, 6:38 a.m., -1.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors

CENTRAL WASHINGTON CHINOOK HOUND GARRETT GRUBBS TRAVELED TO IDAHO'S CLEARWATER RIVER TO FISH FOR SPRING CHINOOK IN 2010. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

IDFG Setting Salmon Seasons, May Expand Big Game Ops In Many Units

THE FOLLOWING ARE PRESS RELEASES FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH & GAME

Salmon Migration Begins – Commission to set Spring Seasons

As the first spring Chinook salmon move into the Columbia Basin, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission is preparing to set seasons and limits for Idaho anglers.

Fisheries managers are expecting spring Chinook returns to be average or slightly above average, depending on the river.  Meanwhile, early season projections suggest the return of summer Chinook to the South Fork Salmon River will be the second best in ten years and the return of wild spring Chinook could be above average.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON CHINOOK HOUND GARRETT GRUBBS TRAVELED TO IDAHO'S CLEARWATER RIVER TO FISH FOR SPRING CHINOOK IN 2010. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

CENTRAL WASHINGTON CHINOOK HOUND GARRETT GRUBBS TRAVELED TO IDAHO’S CLEARWATER RIVER TO FISH FOR SPRING CHINOOK IN 2010. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Biologists estimate more than 30,000 hatchery origin spring Chinook will return to the lower Salmon River, Little Salmon River, Clearwater River and Snake River at Hells Canyon. Managers will propose seasons and limits based on a projected sport harvest of approximately 11,700 adipose clipped spring Chinook salmon. These numbers are very similar to those experienced during the spring 2014 Chinook salmon run.

The Commission will hear public comments on these and other issues on Monday March 23 in the main auditorium at the Washington Group Plaza at 720 East Park Boulevard in Boise. The public hearing begins at 7 p.m. Anyone wishing to address the Commission on these proposals and any other Fish and Game related issues is urged to attend.

The Commission is expected to take action on these proposals during a meeting on Tuesday March 24 in the Trophy Room at Fish and Game Headquarters at 600 South Walnut in Boise. That meeting begins at 8:00 a.m.

To view the agenda and the 2015 Commission meeting schedule, go to:   http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/commission/?getPage=184.

Commission to Consider Expanded Big Game Hunting Opportunity

In a scheduled meeting in Boise on Tuesday March 24, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission will consider proposals for the 2015 big game hunting season. The proposals will include expanded opportunity for big game hunting in many units throughout the state. Much of the additional opportunity will be available to deer hunters, as another mild winter has kept populations high.

The Commission will also consider a series of proposals regarding elk hunts, many of which address depredation concerns. The proposals also include some very specific changes in relatively isolated areas to enhance certain hunts for other big game species, and to achieve population objectives for various species.

The Commission will hear public comments on these and other issues on Monday March 23 in the main auditorium at the Washington Group Plaza at 720 East Park Boulevard in Boise. The public hearing begins at 7 p.m. Anyone wishing to address the Commission on these proposals and any other Fish and Game related issues is urged to attend.

The Commission is expected to take action on these proposals during a meeting on Tuesday March 24 in the Trophy Room at Fish and Game Headquarters at 600 South Walnut in Boise. That meeting begins at 8:00 a.m.

To view the agenda and the 2015 Commission meeting schedule, go to:   http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/about/commission/?getPage=184.

ODFW Hosting Fam Fishing Event In Lincoln City March 28

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

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is hosting a Family Fishing Event Saturday, March 28 at Devils Lake in Lincoln City.

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Regatta Park. ODFW will stock the lake with 6,500 rainbow trout, including 2,000 fish that will be released in a large net pen reserved for youths.

ODFW staff and volunteers will be present to hand out equipment, and be available to teach youngsters how to bait, cast, and “reel in” their catch.

Adults can get tips on basic rigging, fish identification and casting.

This is the first of dozens of family fishing events that will be held throughout the state this year. These events are intended to help families to learn how to fish together and discover just how much fun it can be .

“This will be our second annual event at Devil’s Lake,” said Christine Clapp, fish biologist in Newport. “It’s still a relatively small event compared to some others, so it’s a great opportunity to get your kids out fishing without the lines that form at some of our other events.”

Licenses are required for anyone over the age of 13, and are not available at the events. If you need a fishing license you may purchase one online or at one of ODFW’s license outlets. Juvenile licenses cost $9 each. To purchase a license on-line, visit ODFW’s website at:  http://www.dfw.state.or.us/online_license_sales/index.asp .

For a list of other family fishing events, visit ODFW’s Outdoor Skills page at: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/education/angling/family_fishing.asp

(RMEF)

RMEF Awards $280,000 For Wildlife Projects In 20 OR Counties

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

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded grants to fund 20 conservation projects that will improve more than 23,000 acres of wildlife habitat in the state of Oregon.

The grants total $279,733 and directly benefit Crook, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Jackson, Klamath, Lake, Lincoln, Linn, Tillamook, Union, Wallowa and Yamhill Counties.

(RMEF)

(RMEF)

“Oregon is home to some great elk country,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “This grant funding will pay for prescribed burning, aspen and meadow restoration, noxious weed treatments and other projects that will enhance habitat for elk and other wildlife.”

Allen thanked Oregon’s volunteers for carrying out banquets, membership drives and other events that raised the money for the on-the-ground projects in their own backyard.

“We see it again and again in Oregon and all around the nation. Our volunteers and members care so much and work so hard for the benefit of elk country. To them we say ‘Thank you,’” added Allen.

Here is a sampling of Oregon’s 2015 projects, listed by county:

Grant County—Treat 450 acres of weed infestations across a 13,000 acre landscape that includes crucial winter range to complement an ongoing program of spring development, forage openings, fuels reduction and wet meadow protection on private land that allows public hunting adjacent to the Bridge Creek Wildlife Management Area.

Harney County—Rehabilitate and protect a rare, large, wet meadow along Alder Creek in the Stinkingwater Mountains by constructing a series of engineered check dams and fill to stabilize and rehab the stream channel. In addition, a 110-acre exclosure will be built to keep livestock out of the meadow (also affects Grant County).

Jackson County—Apply prescribed underburning to 425 acres on the western slope of the southern Cascade Mountains in a recently commercially thinned area to jumpstart early seral recruitment in order to increase forage quality and quantity for elk on yearlong habitat and reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire on the Rogue River National Forest.

Lake County—Thin 800 acres within aspen stands in a larger project area to reduce conifers and improve habitat on elk summer range and birthing areas on the Fremont-Winema National Forest .

For a complete list of Oregon’s projects, go here.

Partners for the Oregon projects include the Fremont-Winema, Ochoco, Rogue River-Siskiyou, Siuslaw, Umatilla, Umpqua, Wallowa-Whitman and Willamette National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, private landowners and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic, tribal and government organizations.

Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 791 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Oregon with a combined value of more than $53.6 million. These projects have protected or enhanced 768,210 acres of habitat and have opened or secured public access to 28,463 acres.

RAY PORTWOOD, USFWS)

Buck Beheader(s) Strikes Near Boise; IDFG Seeks Info

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

Fish and Game Officers in the Southwest Region are seeking information regarding the poaching of a mature buck mule deer near the Deer Flat National Refuge in Caldwell, Idaho. All of the meat was left to waste after the poachers took only the head and antlers.

Investigating officers from Idaho Fish and Game and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service say the deer was shot on March 9 or 10 across from a busy Caldwell park adjacent to the refuge.

This area is closed to hunting, and there are no current seasons for mule deer open in any part of Idaho. Investigators with both agencies conducted a lengthy and thorough necropsy, collecting evidence and taking photographs.

RAY PORTWOOD, USFWS)

RAY PORTWOOD, USFWS)

Residents in the area reported seeing several large bucks prior to the poaching incident.

“Someone out there has information on who shot this deer and where the deer head is located,” said Fish and Game Conservation Officer Craig Mickelson. “I would like to talk with anyone that has information on this illegally shot deer.”

Anyone with information on this case can call the Citizen’s Against Poaching (CAP) hotline at 1-800-632-5999 or the IDFG Nampa Office at 208-465-8465 or the Deer Flat Refuge at 208-467-9278.  Citizens Against Poaching is offering a reward for information leading to a conviction in this case.  Callers may collect a reward while remaining anonymous.

SPORTFISHING BOATS WORK THE COLUMBIA JUST ABOVE THE ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE AT THE START OF LAST YEAR'S BUOY 10 FALL SALMON FISHERY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Appeals Court Rules On Columbia Gillnetting Lawsuit

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION

In June, 2013, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted rules establishing the commission’s policy for management of “non-tribal Columbia River Recreational and Commercial Fisheries ” consistent with its obligations under the ESA. These rules included a plan to shift commercial gillnet fishing for ESA-listed fish to off-channel fisheries populated by hatchery-reared fish, requiring selective fishing (for hatchery-reared fish) in the mainstem river.

Among other things, Petitioners Steve Fick, James Wells, and Fishhawk Fisheries challenged that these rules were adopted without following appropriate rulemaking procedures.

SPORTFISHING BOATS WORK THE COLUMBIA JUST ABOVE THE ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE AT THE START OF LAST YEAR'S BUOY 10 FALL SALMON FISHERY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

SPORTFISHING BOATS WORK THE COLUMBIA JUST ABOVE THE ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE AT THE START OF LAST YEAR’S BUOY 10 FALL SALMON FISHERY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Today the Appeals Court dismissed all but one of the petitioners’ arguments without discussion, and dismissed the one remaining contention with an explanation stating that “ALL businesses impacted by the rules are small, there is no requirement for the commission to reduce the impact on certain small businesses (e.g. gillnetters) versus impact on other small businesses (e.g. guides).”

Furthermore, the court indirectly found that the agency adequately mitigated the negative effect of the rules on commercial gillnetters by a variety of measures, including increasing production and release of hatchery fish in off-channel areas, expansion of seasons and boundaries, establishing new off-channel areas, development of selective fishing gear and techniques, and incentives to expand development and implementation of necessary gear and techniques.

Previously, the court noted the unfairness of historical main stem allocations favoring commercial fishers by saying “the prior 50-50% or 60-40% allocation of ESA-impacts or harvest surpluses disproportionately favored commercial fishers and commensurately disadvantaged recreational fishers.”

Finally, the court affirmed that ORS 183.540 only obligates the agency to take into account economic harm to small businesses when doing so does not adversely affect public health and safety.

“In this case,” says Liz Hamilton, Executive Director of NSIA, “the court found that any negative impact to small businesses caused by the rules is trumped by ODFW’s obligation to promote the recovery of ESA-listed species and the conservation of wild stocks on the Columbia River.” This ruling favors the overall economic well-being and stability of all Columbia River fisheries in Oregon in a way that conserves this vital resource.

AN AERIAL IMAGE FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR SHOWS CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS FEEDING IN THE LOWER COLUMBIA. (STEVE JEFFRIES, WDFW, VIA NWFSC)

Why Lots Of Sea Lions At Astoria, Starving Pups In CA?

Federal researchers are shedding some light on the dichotomy between large numbers of starving sea lion pups in California and high numbers of adults at the mouth of the Columbia.

It has to do with the division of labor between the sexes in raising the young marine mammals (or more precisely, the lack thereof), and where the food is.

AN AERIAL IMAGE FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR SHOWS CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS FEEDING IN THE LOWER COLUMBIA. (STEVE JEFFRIES, WDFW, VIA NWFSC)

AN AERIAL IMAGE FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR SHOWS CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS FEEDING IN THE LOWER COLUMBIA. (STEVE JEFFRIES, WDFW, VIA NWFSC)

Basically, due to shifting productivity in the eastern Pacific, there ain’t much grub off the Golden State rookeries for mama sea lions to chase down.

Explains the Northwest Fisheries Science Center:

… The unusually warm water has apparently shifted the distribution of their prey, making it harder for females to find enough food to support the nutritional needs of their pups. The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site Their hungry pups, it now appears, are struggling to gain weight and have begun striking out from the rookeries on their own. Many do not make it and instead wash up on shore dead or emaciated.

Since the early 1970s the California sea lion population underwent unprecedented growth. The species is protected by the 1972 The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site Marine Mammal Protection Act and is estimated to number about 300,000 along the U.S. West Coast. But the growth has slowed in recent years as ocean conditions have turned especially unfavorable for juvenile survival. That could lead to population declines in coming years, biologists say.

“We are working on data to look at whether the population might be approaching its resource limits,” [NOAA sea lion researcher Sharon] Melin told reporters in The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site a recent conference call.

Meanwhile, all those that showed up at Astoria are baching it, males living high on the hog on the increasing numbers of energy-rich smelt and now spring Chinook entering the big river.

And you can bet that these guys are Snapchatting with their buddies elsewhere in the eastern Pacific, bragging about all the fish they’re snarfing.

“More sea lions learned last year and even more will learn this year that this is a good place to find food,” [NMFS California Current researcher Robert] DeLong said of the Columbia River. “They’ve learned these fish are there now and they won’t forget that.”

Federal researchers point to The Blob, a patch of warm water off the West Coast since last year, “affecting everything from plankton at the bottom of the food chain to sea lions near the top.”

Seasonally shifting winds could ease that problem, they say, adding the males will likely move off in May.

Still, all those mouths to feed are a cause of concern because of the number of ESA-listed fish stocks that run up the Columbia.

Earlier this year, a pair of Lower Columbia Congressmen, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Southwest Washington Republican, and Rep. Kurt Schrader, a Northwest Oregon Democrat, teamed up to introduce the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act, which aims to “improve the survival of endangered salmon, steelhead and other native fish species in the Columbia River system.”

According to a press release from Herrera Beutler, it would authorize tribal members — under the training of U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff — to use lethal force to remove sea lions after multiple attempts at relocation have been unsuccessful.

STORMY-DAY CHINOOK FOR MIKE FUNG, WHO WAS FISHING WITH NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN CONTRIBUTOR ANDY SCHNEIDER LAST WEEKEND. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Columbia Springer Catch Now Over 500 Total

THE FOLLOWING UPDATE ORIGINATED FROM TANNA TAKATA, O.D.F.W., AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, P.S.M.F.C.

Last week’s catch estimate is 423 adult spring Chinook (330 kept and 93 released) and 65 winter steelhead (43 kept and 22 released) from 5,243 angler trips.

From Feb. 1-March 15, there have been an estimated 15,911 angler trips with 391 adult spring Chinook kept and 132 released.  236 (60%) of the Chinook kept were upriver origin based upon Visual Stock Identification.

 

STORMY-DAY CHINOOK FOR MIKE FUNG, WHO WAS FISHING WITH NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN CONTRIBUTOR ANDY SCHNEIDER LAST WEEKEND. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

STORMY-DAY CHINOOK FOR MIKE FUNG, WHO WAS FISHING WITH NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN CONTRIBUTOR ANDY SCHNEIDER LAST WEEKEND. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Prior to the run update, allocation of upriver fish (including release mortalities) for non-Indian fisheries will be:

10,318 fish for the recreaional fishery below Bonneville Dam

WASHINGTON BIG GAME MANAGERS ARE PROPOSING AN 11-DAY MULE DEER HUNTING SEASON THIS AND THE NEXT TWO FALLS, GIVING HUNTERS LIKE CHAD ZOLLER, WHO PHOTOGRAPHED THIS HERD IN THE PRESCOTT GMU, A LITTLE LONGER TO BAG THAT BIG BUCK. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Chance To Comment On WDFW’s Proposed 11-day WA Muley Season, Switch Back To Any WT Buck In GMUs 117, 121

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

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will take public comments on proposed changes to state hunting rules for deer, elk, upland birds, and other game species during a public meeting March 20-21 in Moses Lake.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the Governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene at the Moses Lake Civic Center, 401 S. Balsam St., in Moses Lake. The meeting is scheduled to begin at  8 a.m. both Friday and Saturday.

A complete agenda for the meeting, including scheduled public comment periods, is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.

WASHINGTON BIG GAME MANAGERS ARE PROPOSING AN 11-DAY MULE DEER HUNTING SEASON THIS AND THE NEXT TWO FALLS, GIVING HUNTERS LIKE CHAD ZOLLER, WHO PHOTOGRAPHED THIS HERD IN THE PRESCOTT GMU, A LITTLE LONGER TO BAG THAT BIG BUCK. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

WASHINGTON BIG GAME MANAGERS ARE PROPOSING AN 11-DAY MULE DEER HUNTING SEASON FOR THIS AND THE NEXT TWO FALLS, GIVING HUNTERS LIKE CHAD ZOLLER, WHO PHOTOGRAPHED THIS HERD IN THE PRESCOTT GMU LAST OCTOBER, A LITTLE LONGER TO BAG THAT BIG BUCK. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Proposed changes to state hunting rules for 2015 are available for public review at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/regulations/development.html. Proposals include:

·         Maintaining the current 4-point antler restriction for white-tailed deer in GMUs 117 and 121, or allowing hunters to take “any buck.”
·         Doubling the amount of spring bear permits available in northeast Washington.
·         Extending the hunting season for pheasants in eastern Washington through Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
·         Adding two days to the modern firearm season for mule deer.
·         Limiting or banning the use of bait to hunt deer and elk.

In other business, shellfish managers will provide a briefing on proposed season changes for clams and oysters on 20 Puget Sound public beaches. The commission will also take public comments on those proposals.

State wildlife managers also will update the commission on the status of wolves in Washington and actions the department took in 2014 to implement the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

The commission is scheduled to make final decisions on statewide hunting seasons and Puget Sound clam and oyster seasons in April.

STORMY-DAY CHINOOK FOR MIKE FUNG, WHO WAS FISHING WITH NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN CONTRIBUTOR ANDY SCHNEIDER LAST WEEKEND. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Lower Columbia, SW WA Fishing Report (St. Paddies Day 2015 Edition)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORTS ARE COURTESY OF JOE HYMER, P.S.M.F.C., AND TANNA TAKATA, O.D.F.W.

Today’s Bonus Factoids:

*         The 247 adult spring Chinook counted at Bonneville Dam through March 15 is the highest total through that date since 2003 (4,335).
*         Last year, just 6 adult spring Chinook had been counted at Bonneville Dam through March 15.  The recent 10-year average is 30 fish.
*         An adult coho was caught at the Deep River Select Area Fishery on March 12-13.  The fish also had a coded-wire tag (to be read later).
*         To date, 27 spring Chinook have been caught at the Deep River Select Area Fishery.  Just 7 fish had been caught through this time last year.
*         Last year we had not sampled a spring Chinook kept by this time.
*         Last week we sampled a summer run steelhead caught in the lower Columbia mainstem sport fishery below Bonneville Dam
*         With this low snowpack, Enforcement has already observed campers at Walput Lake (Lewis Co.), located at 3,930 feet elevation.

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – No report on angling success is currently available.

During five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator, last week Tacoma Power recovered:
135 winter-run steelhead

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released:
15 winter-run steelhead to the Tilton River at Gust Backstory Park in Morton.
Ten steelhead adults into the Cistus River above Yellow Jacket Creek.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,770 cubic feet per second on Monday, March 16.

Kalama River – 23 bank anglers kept 2 spring Chinook and 2 steelhead.  13 boat anglers released 1 steelhead.

East Fork Lewis River – The entire river is currently closed to all fishing. From the top boat ramp at Lewisville Park downstream is scheduled to re-open April 16 under selective gear rules (no bait ) for hatchery steelhead.

Washougal River – The entire river is currently closed to all fishing. Mt. Norway Bridge downstream re-opens April 16 under selective gear rules (no bait) for hatchery steelhead.

Rock Creek (Skamania Co.) – Closed to all fishing until the first Saturday in June (June 6 this year).

Wind River – Daily limit is 2 Chinook or 2 hatchery steelhead or one of each. Release wild Chinook downstream of Shipherd Falls.  Night closure is in effect through June.

From the mouth to the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge, the Two Pole Endorsement for salmon and steelhead and boat limits will be in effect in May and June.  From the Burlington Northern Bridge upstream, the anti-snagging rule will be in effect in May and June.  When the anti-snagging rule is in effect, only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.

Above Shipherd Falls opens for Chinook and hatchery steelhead beginning May 1.

Wind River forecast is for 4,800 adult spring Chinook in 2015.  Last year’s actual return was 4,000.

Drano Lake – Daily limit is 2 hatchery Chinook or 2 hatchery steelhead or one of each.  Release wild Chinook.

Night closure is in effect through June.  Closed Wednesdays from second Wednesdays in April through June.   The Two Pole Endorsement for salmon and steelhead and boat limits will be in effect in May and June.  From April 16 through June 30,  the area west of a line projected from the easternmost pillar of the Highway 14 Bridge to a posted marker on the north shore will be open to bank fishing only.

Drano Lake forecast is for 7,800 adult spring Chinook in 2015.  Last year’s actual return was 8,700.

2015 North of Falcon Sport Proposals – One of the Washington Columbia River tributary sport proposals is to allow barbed hooks at Wind River and Drano Lake during the spring Chinook fisheries.  To comment on that proposal another others, see  http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 907 salmonid anglers (including 302 boats) with 62 adult and 1 jack spring Chinook and 13 steelhead.  51 (82%) of the adult Chinook were kept.  35 (69%) of the 51 adult Chinook were upriver origin based on Visual Stock identification (VSI).

STORMY-DAY CHINOOK FOR MIKE FUNG, WHO WAS FISHING WITH NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN CONTRIBUTOR ANDY SCHNEIDER LAST WEEKEND. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

STORMY-DAY CHINOOK FOR MIKE FUNG, WHO WAS FISHING WITH NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN CONTRIBUTOR ANDY SCHNEIDER LAST WEEKEND. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

8 (62%) of the steelhead caught were kept.

Reminder – The mainstem Columbia below Bonneville Dam will be closed to fishing for salmon, steelhead, and shad
March 24, March 31, and April 7, 2015.

The Dalles and John Day pools – Light effort and steelhead catch.

Bonneville Dam to Washington/Oregon Border – Through May 6, open to fishing for hatchery Chinook and hatchery steelhead.  Bank fishing only from Bonneville Dam to Tower Island power lines located about 6 miles below The Dalles Dam.  The salmonid limit is 6 fish of which no more than 2 may be adults and only 1 may be an adult Chinook. Release wild Chinook and wild steelhead.

Sturgeon

The Dalles and John Day pools – Boat anglers are catching some legals.

Walleye and Bass

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged nearly 3 walleye per rod when including fish released.  Bank anglers also caught some walleye.  Light effort and no catch was observed for bass.

John Day Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged nearly a walleye per rod.  Bank anglers also caught some walleye.  Boat anglers caught some bass though effort was light.

Trout

No trout plants reported in the Region last week.

……………..

COLUMBIA FISHING

Weekend Fishing Opportunities:
*         Spring Chinook angling is open from Buoy 10 to Beacon Rock, plus the banks only from Beacon Rock to Bonneville Dam.
*         Spring Chinook angling is open from Tower Island powerlines upstream to the Oregon/Washington border above McNary Dam, plus the banks between Bonneville and Tower Island powerlines.
*         Effective Jan. 1, 2015 sturgeon retention is open in The Dalles Pool until the respective guideline of 100 legal white sturgeon is met.  Angling was slow last week.
*   Effective Jan. 1, 2015 sturgeon retention is open in the John Day Pool until the respective guideline of 500 legal white sturgeon is met.  Sturgeon angling was slow last week.
*         White sturgeon retention is closed from Buoy 10 upstream to The Dalles Dam, but remains an option for catch and release fishing.
*         Walleye fishing was excellent in The Dalles Pool and good in the John Day Pool last week.

Current Columbia River regulations for salmon, steelhead, shad and sturgeon can be found at the Sport Fishing Regulation Update<http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/reg_changes/index.asp> page.

Salmon, Steelhead and Shad

Salmonid catch rates were low this past weekend and the weatheR conditions were poor.

Gorge Bank: No report.

Gorge Boats: No report.

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for seven boats (15 anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for 100 bank anglers.

Portland to Westport Boats: Weekend checking showed eight adipose fin-clipped spring Chinook kept, pus five unclipped spring Chinook released for 73 boats (166 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Clatsop Spit to Wauna Powerlines): Weekend checking showed no catch for two bank anglers.

Estuary Boats (Tongue Point to Wauna Powerlines): Weekend checking showed one adipose fin-clipped spring Chinook kept for thirteen boats (29 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Columbia River between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam): No report.

The Dalles Pool (Columbia River between The Dalles Dam and John Day Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for three bank anglers.

John Day Pool (Columbia River above John Day Dam and John Day Arm): Weekly checking showed one unclipped steelhead released for four bank anglers; and no catch for one boat (two anglers).

STURGEON

Lower Columbia (below Bonneville Dam): Closed to retention, catch-and-release only. No report.

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for one bank angler.

Bonneville Pool (Columbia River between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam): Closed to retention, catch-and-release only.  No report.

The Dalles Pool (Columbia River between The Dalles Dam and John Day Dam): Weekly checking showed two sublegal sturgeon released for 33 bank anglers; and one legal white sturgeon kept, plus 31 sublegal sturgeon released for 11 boats (23 anglers).

John Day Pool (Columbia River between John Day Dam and McNary Dam): Weekly checking showed one legal white sturgeon kept, plus four sublegal sturgeon released for 19 bank anglers; and one legal white sturgeon kept, plus one oversize and two sublegal sturgeon released for 13 boats (35 anglers).

WALLEYE

Bonneville Pool: No report.

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed three walleye kept for six bank anglers; and 148 walleye kept, plus 16 walleye released for 23 boats (59 anglers).

John Day Pool (Columbia River between John Day Dam and McNary Dam): Weekly checking showed three walleye kept for nine bank anglers; and 36 walleye kept, plus 15 walleye released for 30 boats (58 anglers).