Category Archives: Headlines

More Details On Controversial Skagit Coho Limit Increase

A state fisheries biologist is defending his coho limit increase on the Skagit earlier this week, a decision that was strongly panned by some in the angling community.

When an inseason update showed 90,000 of the fall salmon would return to the big North Sound river, up from 73,000 predicted last winter, Brett Barkdull was able to double the bag from two to four.

BRAD JOHNSON CAUGHT THIS SKAGIT RIVER COHO A COUPLE SEASONS BACK ON A LOCALLY MADE SPINNER. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

That’s the “normal” limit on these waters when runs are up, a good sign for fish and fisheries.

The change effectively means that fishermen can now keep as many as four hatchery coho, though the limit on wild fish still remains two.

But coming so relatively late in the run, anglers believe that most of the clipped coho are already well upstream on the way to Marblemount Hatchery, so to some it felt like too little, too late — a token offering that will push everyone into the few holes above Rockport for riper fish

Barkdull maintains that the coho are still in “great shape” in the Skagit, though a little darker in the Cascade.

Looking at last year’s escapement report, just 218 had entered the facility as of this week, with the count jumping to 2,200 by the end of October and 5,561 by Thanksgiving. Hatchery managers ended up surplussing 4,869 of those.

Run timing does vary year to year, but so far this fall 1,260 coho have made it to Marblemount, and Barkdull expects a lot more.

“We do not need 15,000 at the hatchery. Huge waste. People should go catch them,” he says.

Fifteen thousand is his own back-of-the-donut-napkin estimate based on downstream test catches.

For Barkdull, who was surprised by outcry, it is a damned-whatever-you-do proposition. He says he is pushed to increase hatchery limits, but when he can do so through inseason testing and management agreements, he gets second guessed.

“Can’t win.”

Yet for others it all felt like just a way for the tribes to get more netting days in, on wild fish.

Barkdull says it wasn’t a trade with the Swinomish and Sauk-Suiattles.

“We are simply following the comprehensive coho management agreement we signed with the tribes. The four, no more than two wilds, is our ‘normal’ limit on the Skagit, so that’s what we went to when coho numbers were updated to the normal range,” he says.

That “normal” limit was in effect during the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons, per the printed regs.

While coho fishing that third year had to be closed when it became clear the fish weren’t coming back, in 2016, when a season wasn’t even in the pamphlet, WDFW was able to open the Skagit via e-reg when joint tribal-state testing found they were abundant enough to allow harvest at the normal level.

That was the year that inseason management was under a white-hot spotlight, with anglers rallying to get WDFW to open rivers via the tool.

On the one hand, it is great that people like us are watching out for salmon runs, as The Blob and its hangover have dealt serious harm to multiple year-classes of fish.

We learned a lesson: If ever there was a time for caution, recent years have shown the importance of banking spawners, and I don’t mean hauling them ashore.

But on the other, the banks that are our rivers are different than financial institutions, as the fishy kind are limited by how much spawning gravel there is to deposit on.

On the Skagit system, there is room for 40,000 adult coho, given habitat capacity and typical egg and fry survival rates, Barkdull says.

His best guess is that 55,000 will try to spawn this fall.

“Plenty,” he says.

Even as anglers like you and I want as many fish back as possible and will limit our trips and take-home to that end, “Realistically, we don’t need 70,000 on the spawning grounds,” Barkdull says.

He says the maximum sustained yield set for the Skagit is 25,000.

ODFW Announces Steelhead, Salmon Rule Changes On Umatilla, Walla Walla

THE FOLLOWING IS AN ODFW PRESS RELEASE

Steelhead fishing on the Umatilla River will be closed from Oct. 15-April 30, 2019 to protect native steelhead.

Also, the bag limit for salmon on the Umatilla River (from the Hwy 730 bridge to the CTUIR reservation boundary approximately 0.7 miles above Hwy 11 bridge) will be lowered from 3 to 1 adult fall Chinook or coho salmon per day and 5 jack salmon per day from Oct. 15-Nov. 30. In addition, 5 mini jack (8-15 inches) coho or fall Chinook salmon can be taken per day in that stretch of the Umatilla River.

Steelhead fishing will also be closed on the Walla Walla River from Dec. 1, 2018-April 30, 2019, again to protect native steelhead.

Estimated returns for both the Umatilla and Walla Walla rivers are expected to be near historic lows, based on returns over Bonneville Dam. The steelhead closure and reduction in the fall Chinook and coho bag limits are needed to ensure enough fish are available for hatchery broodstock escapement to Threemile Dam.

For more information on regulations and fishing opportunities in the Northeast Zone, visit https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/northeast-zone

Registration Open For Steelhead 101 Workshop In Troutdale

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

Register by Oct. 25 for a Steelhead 101 fishing workshop Nov. 3 and 10 at Glen Otto Community Park (1106 E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Troutdale).

A JOINT ODFW-STEELHEADERS WORKSHOP INCLUDES CLASSROOM AND ON-THE-WATER INSTRUCTION FOR HOW TO CATCH WINTER-RUNS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The event is co-hosted by ODFW and the Sandy River Chapter, Association of NW Steelheaders. Register online at https://or.outdoorcentral.us/or/license (call Jason at 503-947-6025 if you need help registering). 

The workshop is for beginning anglers to learn the essential elements of steelhead fishing. On Nov. 3, the workshop runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and covers selecting the right gear, essential knots, fishing ethics and tips and techniques. Nov. 10’s workshop will be an on-the-water session from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

The cost is $52 for adults, $22 for youth (minimum age 10). Lunch, equipment and a year-long membership to the Association of NW Steelheaders is included in the price.

ODFW and partners host a variety of workshops teaching people how to hunt, fish, crab and clam. See the Workshops and Events page for more, https://myodfw.com/workshops-and-events

5 Coos Bay-area Lakes To Be Stocked With Nice-sized ‘Bows

THE FOLLOWING IS AN OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE

Anglers looking for large rainbow trout should head to Coos Bay area lakes soon. Next week, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is stocking five lakes with 14 to 16-inch rainbow trout for great fall fishing.

FALL FINDS NORTHWESTERNERS FOLLOWING SALMON RUNS AND HEADING TO HUNTING CAMP, BUT ONE WESTERN OREGON FAMILY MAKES ITS WAY TO COOS COUNTY FOR TROUT FISHING. (ODFW)

Upper Empire Lake is getting 3,200 trout. Lower Empire will not be stocked due to low water, warm temperatures and weeds. Instead, Butterfield Lake, accessed through Riley Ranch County Park will now receive 1,400 rainbows. Butterfield anglers might also hook into a warmouth, an unusual fish that looks like a crappie with a bass head.

Saunders Lake will receive 1,300 trout. This lake is about five miles north of North Bend and is an easily accessed, pleasant place to take the family fishing. Three miles south of Bandon, Bradley Lake is getting 1,600 trout and Powers Pond will receive 1,300.

This is ODFW’s final trout stocking of the year for Coos County and gives anglers a “last chance” opportunity before winter hits and the weather is not conducive to trout fishing. The rainbow trout harvest limit in most lakes is five fish per day, two daily limits in possession.

Check myodfw.com for fishing tips and the latest Recreation Report.

Hanford Reach Fall King Fishery Closing Early Next Week

Fall Chinook fishing on the Hanford Reach will stay open through Monday, giving anglers one last weekend to catch upriver brights on the free-flowing Columbia.

SPOKANE’S RICK ITAMI WAS A BIT PESSIMISTIC ABOUT FISHING FOR HANFORD REACH FALL CHINOOK, GIVEN THE LOWER RUN, BUT ONCE THERE HE FOUND WILLING BITERS, INCLUDING A 12-POUND HEN THAT WILL PROVIDE EGGS FOR HIS STEELHEADING ADVENTURES THIS WINTER AND A 10-POUND BUCK. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

While this year’s run is down and the limit has been dropped to one a day, fishermen have still been finding biting salmon.

Some have been reporting success running tuna-stuffed Brad’s Super Baits behind Pro-Trolls. They’ll probably have less competition this weekend, which is also the deer and duck opener across the state.

The Reach above the wooden powerlines at the old Hanford townsite to Priest Rapids Dam was set to close after Oct. 15, but it wasn’t clear when the waters from there down to Tri-Cities would shut down as the run continued to trickle past downstream dams.

An early October update from state fisheries biologist Paul Hoffarth warned the quota might be met by Oct. 7, then another earlier this week said fishing would stay open through this Friday, Oct. 12.

“Based on the updated return estimate for natural-origin Hanford Reach fall Chinook, all adult Chinook in excess of escapement will be harvested by Oct. 15,” WDFW said in an emergency rule-change notice sent out this afternoon.

If you still want to fish the free-flowing Columbia for upriver brights — and for a good cause — sign up for late October’s 6th Annual King of the Reach derby, a three-day event that collects wild fall Chinook for the Grant County Public Utility District’s Priest Rapids Hatchery, improving the stock’s fitness and ensuring that hatchery fish remain genetically similar to the natives here.

2018-19 Winter Steelhead Season Smolt Release Figures Out

The latest smolt release data for Western Washington rivers shows three you might want to put on your radar this coming winter season.

IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START THINKING ABOUT WINTER STEELHEAD SEASON, AND THE LATEST SMOLT RELEASE DATA FROM WDFW BEGINS TO PAINT A PICTURE ABOUT WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE COMING MONTHS. ONE THING YOU CAN COUNT ON IS THAT HUNTER SHELTON WILL BEAT A PATH TO THE OLYMPIC PENINSULA FOR A SHOT AT CHROME-BRIGHT BEAUTS LIKE THIS PAIR FROM LAST NOVEMBER. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

They doubled on the Elochoman and Naselle in 2017 for return this season, and were up sharply on the Quinault system as well, according to state figures.

Now, whether the fishing’s twice as good as last year on them is anyone’s guess, as ocean conditions play a strong role in returns, but they will be ones to watch for reports in the coming months.

On the Lower Columbia trib, releases jumped from 66,000 in 2016 – a year-class that produced a “phenomenal” return that allowed managers to recycle and even surplus fish – to 139,000 last year.

According to a WDFW hatchery tech’s report, last season’s fish were the first smolts at the Elochoman’s Beaver Creek facility protected from predation by netting and fencing since 2009.

A bit further west on Highway 4, the Naselle jumped from 37,000 to 73,000, bringing it back up to where it’s been in recent years, outside of 2015 when Puget Sound smolts were let loose here due to a court settlement.

And releases into Lake Quinault and Cook Creek climbed by 73,000 over 2016 and previous years, to 488,000. You’ll need a tribal guide to fish the system.

The one major blip is that Cowlitz stocking dropped by 161,000, but the number of late-returning smolts that went out is still nothing to shake your fish stick at – 437,000 from Blue Creek, 13 percent of all the winter-runs released in the state.

Elsewhere on the Westside, the number of young steelhead turned loose in most waters didn’t vary all that much from the prior year.

But for the record, they were up slightly on the Nooksack (+13,000), Salmon (+10,000), Wynoochee (+7,000) and Willapa (+7,000) and down somewhat on the North Fork Stillaguamish (-20,000), Bogachiel (-20,000), Satsop (-17,000) and Skookumchuck (-13,000).

With Increased Forecast, Skagit Coho Limit Bumped Up

Editor’s note: Twenty-four hours after sending out the original e-reg for Skagit coho, WDFW issued another correcting two elements: the upper boundary of the affected area (the Cascade River Bridge instead of Rockport) and revised run estimate (73,000 instead of 63,000).

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

Skagit River coho salmon limit to increase

Action:  Increase the daily salmon limit to 4 fish, including up to 2 wild coho. Release chinook and chum.

BRAD JOHNSON CAUGHT THIS SKAGIT RIVER COHO A COUPLE SEASONS BACK ON A LOCALLY MADE SPINNER IN PEARL BUBBLE GUM. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective date: Oct. 10, 2018.

Species affected: Coho salmon.

Location: Skagit River (Skagit County) from the mouth to the Cascade River Road (Marblemount Bridge).

Reason for action: On Oct. 9, WDFW and co-managers revised the projection for returning Skagit River coho to 90,000 fish, up from 73,000. The increased run size allows Skagit River coho daily limits to be raised.

Additional information: The Skagit River from the mouth to 200 feet upstream of the Baker River remains closed to all fishing on Oct. 10 and 11. More information on that closure can be found online at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=2226.

All other rules remain unchanged. Please refer to https://wdfw.wa.gov for further information on seasons.

‘That Ticket Was Totally Worth It’: Salmon Derby Series Raffle Boat Winner

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE NORTHWEST MARINE TRADE ASSOCIATION

Joshua Stokes of Post Falls, Idaho, was at home watching TV with his father Roy Stokes on Sept. 23 when his cell phone rang.

JOSHUA STOKES POSES WITH HIS BRAND NEW BOAT, THE GRAND RAFFLE PRIZE IN 2018’S NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES. (NMTA)

“I saw the 206 Seattle area code number, and hit ignore since I had no idea why someone from there would be calling me,” Joshua said with a chuckle. “Then I listened to the voicemail message. I told my dad wouldn’t it be “rad” if I won the boat. He was like yeah right and jokingly said I probably won a hat or t-shirt and they want your address.”

Little did the Post Falls native realize, but the call was coming from Mark Yuasa the director of the Northwest Salmon Derby Series. Mark had some great news: Joshua’s name had been randomly drawn at the Everett Coho Derby from almost 7,000 anglers following the conclusion of the 2018 Northwest Salmon Derby Series.

Yuasa left a voicemail although he didn’t tell the younger Stokes that he’d won a grand prize, fully-equipped aluminum boat valued at around $65,000.

Yuasa went back to cleaning up at Everett Coho Derby that drew more than 1,700 anglers when his cell phone rang about five minutes later.

“(Yuasa) told me I won the boat and I was super spaced out and fully didn’t realize what happened to me,” Joshua said. “It still doesn’t feel real and I’ll know for sure once I get the keys to boat.”

Joshua’s name was entered into the derby series drawing after fishing in The Big One Salmon Derby on Lake Coeur d’Alene in northern Idaho on July 25-29.

“This was the first year I bought a ticket to the Big One Derby since I was 15 years old, and that ticket was totally worth it now,” he said. “I’d been fishing with my dad since I was three years old, and caught my first fish a 28 pound chinook at Lake Coeur d’Alene soon after. I got so scared and wouldn’t go near the huge fish. In 1996, I caught a 22 pounder in the derby and took 17th place.”

Both have been longtime members of the Lake Coeur d’Alene Anglers Association and Joshua’s dad was the past president of the club.

The boat is the 15th grand prize boat, motor, and trailer package that has been given away since the Series was created in 2004. This year’s Kingfisher 2025 Series boat is powered by a 150-horsepower Honda and a 9.9-horsepower Honda trolling motor, on an EZ Loader tandem axle trailer. The boat came fully-equipped with Raymarine electronics, Scotty Downriggers, a WhoDat Tower, and a Dual Electronics stereo.

“How thrilling this was for me to hear the excitement in his voice and all the plans he has in store to take the boat out fishing,” said Yuasa. “This boat and motor package is top-of-the-line and will provide Joshua and his dad with more fishing memories to come. He said he can’t wait to take the boat out soon.”

The Northwest Salmon Derby Series is a fishing promotion program directed by the NMTA that encourages boating and fishing in the Northwest. In 2018, the Series included 14 derbies in Washington, Idaho and British Columbia, Canada. For each derby an angler competes in, they get one entry into the drawing for the grand prize boat held at the final derby in the Series.

For more information, visit NorthwestSalmonDerbySeries.com.

ICYMI: Angler Input Sought On 2019 Baker Sockeye Fishery At Oct. 20 Meeting

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

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will host a public workshop on Oct. 20 in Mill Creek to discuss Baker Lake sockeye salmon management.

WASHINGTON SOCKEYE SLAYERS SHOULD PLAN ON ATTENDING AN UPCOMING WORKSHOP ON THE 2019 SEASON BAKER LAKE, WHERE BRANDY MCPHEE CAUGHT THIS ONE A FEW YEARS AGO. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

The public meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at WDFW’s Mill Creek office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd.

At the meeting, fishery managers from WDFW will briefly summarize this summer’s Baker Lake sockeye fishery and will be there to discuss and share ideas on how to improve the fishery moving into the future.

“We’re refining ideas in preparation for next year’s salmon season-setting process and want the public’s input on what we’ve developed so far,” said Edward Eleazer, regional fish program manager for WDFW.

State, tribal and federal fishery managers plan the Northwest’s recreational and commercial salmon fisheries each year during a series of meetings in March and April. The process, which includes input from representatives of the recreational and commercial fishing industries, is known as the North of Falcon process.

The Baker Lake sockeye fishery first opened in 2010 after a juvenile fish-collection facility was installed at upper Baker Dam and a hatchery was opened at the lake.

This year, 17,241 sockeye were trapped below the lower Baker Dam and 8,441 fish were transported to the lake. The remaining sockeye were used for spawning at the hatchery.

WDFW has more information about Baker Lake sockeye on its website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/salmon/sockeye/baker_river.html.

Southwest Washington, Hanford Reach Fishing Report (10-8-18)

THE FOLLOWING ARE WDFW FISHING REPORTS FROM BRYANT SPELLMAN AND PAUL HOFFARTH

The Hanford Reach fall salmon fishery opened August 16. Angler effort and harvest continues to be strong and steady.  There were 4,874 angler trips taken for salmon in the Hanford Reach this past week. WDFW staff interviewed 2,202 anglers. Based on the data collected, 2,292 adult chinook and 364 jacks were harvested bringing the season total to 6,703 adult chinook, 762 jacks, and 10 coho. Anglers averaged 10 hours per per fish (1.5 fish per boat).

DHEYAA HAMMADI SHOWS OFF A NICE HANFORD REACH FALL CHINOOK CAUGHT OVER THE WEEKEND. HE WAS RUNNING SEAHAWKS PATTERN BRAD’S SUPER BAIT CUT PLUGS LOADED UP WITH TUNA AND WAS FISHING WITH TROY BRODERS. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

The fish counts at McNary have not officially posted through October 7 but based on the available data the fishery will remain open through Friday, October 12. There will be an update as soon as the counts post.

…………………………………..

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Mainstem from the mouth upstream to McNary Dam

  • From the Buoy 10 line upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco:
    • Closed to angling for and retention of salmon and steelhead.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River – No anglers sampled.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 29 bank rods kept 10 coho jacks and released 1 coho jack.  23 boats/47 rods kept 3 coho, 1 coho jack, and released 2 chinook, 1 chinook jack, 2 coho, and 4 coho jacks.

Above the I-5 Br:  34 bank rods kept 1 steelhead and released 6 chinook, 3 coho jacks. 1 boat/1 rod no catch.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 1,100 coho adults, 2,586 coho jacks, 368 fall Chinook adults, 42 fall Chinook jacks, 96 cutthroat trout, and 49 summer-run steelhead adults during six days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 152 coho adults and 336 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle and they released 221 coho adults and 401 coho jacks at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood.

Tacoma Power released 385 coho adults, 1,336 coho jacks, seven fall Chinook jacks and seven cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, and they released 149 coho adults, 431 coho jacks and one cutthroat trout into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,540 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, Oct. 8. Water visibility is 14 feet and the water temperature is 53.6 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – 13 bank anglers released 2 chinook.  1 boat/3 rods, no catch.

Lewis River – 47 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead, 1 coho, 2 coho jacks and released 2 chinook, 1 coho and 1 coho jack.  5 boats/5 rods kept 1 coho jack and released 1 coho.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Drano Lake – 8 bank anglers kept 1 chinook, 2 coho and 1 coho jack.   42 boats/ 116 rods kept 31 chinook, 21 chinook jacks, 6 coho, 2 coho jacks and released 8 chinook, 1 chinook jack and 1 steelhead.

Klickitat River –46 bank anglers kept 16 chinook, 6 chinook jacks and released 1 steelhead.

  • Grays River:  Effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream to the mouth of the South Fork: release all Coho.
  • West Fork Grays River:  Effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream: release all Coho.
  • Deep River:  Effective September 24, 2018 Deep River reopens to salmon and steelhead angling under permanent rules.
  • Youngs Bay, Blind Slough and Knappa Slough: Effective September 24, 2018 Youngs Bay, Blind Slough and Knappa Slough reopens to salmon and steelhead angling under permanent Oregon regulations.
  • Cowlitz River:  Effective September 22, 2018 closed for Chinook retention from the mouth to the Barrier Dam including all lower Cowlitz tributaries.  Until further notice, the closed waters section below the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery Barrier Dam is 400’, at the posted markers.
  • Toutle River:  Effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream to the forks: release all Chinook.
  • North Fork Toutle River:  Effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream to the posted markers below the fish collection facility: release all Chinook.
  • Washougal River, including Camas Slough:  Effective September 22, 2018 closed for Chinook retention from the mouth to the bridge at Salmon Falls.
  • Wind River:  from the mouth to 400’ below Shepherd Falls, closed for steelhead retention and closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead.
  • Drano Lake: Effective Sept. 29, 2018 until further notice.  The daily salmon limit remains 6 fish total, of which only one may be an adult.  Drano Lake remains closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead and closed to retention of steelhead.
  • White Salmon River:  from the mouth to the county road bridge below the former location of the powerhouse, closed for steelhead retention and closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead.

STURGEON

From the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to McNary Dam including adjacent tributaries – Until further notice, white sturgeon open for catch and release fishing only. Fishing for sturgeon at night is closed.