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IDFG Reports ‘Signs Of Improvement,’ ‘Robust’ Numbers In Some Elk Herds

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

St. Joe Elk Herd Shows Signs of Improvement

By Wayne Wakkinen, Panhandle Region

Elk hunting in the Panhandle has a long and rich tradition.  For many years the Panhandle was one of the very few places in the United States that had a general either-sex elk hunt that allowed modern centerfire rifles.  In most places, antlerless elk have been managed under limited entry controlled “cow” hunts, or imposed weapon restrictions such as archery-only hunts.

Unfortunately, in 2012, low calf:cow ratios observed during winter elk surveys caused Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) to eliminate the general either-sex elk hunt.  So what caused the low calf:cow ratios and is there any encouraging news from current surveys?

The low ratios were not caused by a single issue, but rather a combination of factors. These include declining habitat quality, predation by black bears and mountain lions and wolves, changes in the ability of people to access areas, and technology that can increase hunting success rates.  Additionally there are things that people cannot control, such as winter severity and summer drought.

Some of these factors create a cascading effect.  For example, declining habitat quality can result in cows in poor body condition.  This in turn can result in lower birth weights of calves, something that’s been shown to be an important factor in calf survival.  The condition of a cow elk can affect the ability to survive severe winters and to escape predators.

What can IDFG do to improve elk hunting in the Panhandle?  Because the current situation is caused by many factors, the solution will also have to be multi-pronged.

The first step that IDFG took was the unpopular decision to eliminate the general season on antlerless elk.  The change resulted is an increase in cow survival, thus preserving the breeding stock that is going to be necessary to rebuild elk herds.

Another step taken was the liberalization of predator seasons.  Black bear and mountain lion seasons have been lengthened and in some units hunters can now use electronic calls and a second tag.  Wolf hunting and trapping seasons have been lengthened region-wide and hunters and trappers can take multiple wolves.

But these steps are only part of the solution.  Without a long term commitment focused on improving the quality of elk habitat, gains in elk survival will be more difficult to come by.

Elk prefer younger forests that provide nutritious browse.  The 1910 fire and large fires in the 1920s and 1930s created expansive shrubfields that were conducive to a growing elk herd.  That, coupled with widespread predator reductions, resulted in a very robust elk population starting in the 1950s.  These shrubfields are now near or over 100 years old.  They don’t provide the nutrition they once did, and further, they can be so thick that elk become more vulnerable to predation.

IDFG is working with major landowners, primarily the U. S. Forest Service, to manage forests to benefit elk and other ungulates.  Prescribed fire in old shrubfields can help, as can well-designed timber harvest.

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Is any of this working?  There are encouraging signs that some of these efforts are having a positive effect.

During winter surveys in the Panhandle, IDFG uses a ratio of 30 calves per 100 cows as a yardstick for a healthy elk herd.  As recently as 2008, ratios were as high as 43:100 in Unit 7 in the St Joe drainage, but ratios declined following the harsh winters of 2007-09.  This isn’t unusual following a hard winter, but typically the ratio bounces back within a couple of years.  Unfortunately, calf:cow ratios remained low in Unit 7, with winter surveys finding 9, 12 and 13 calves per 100 cows in 2012, 2013, and 2014.  Why weren’t we seeing a rebound in elk numbers?

Elk can become trapped in a “predator pit”.  This can happen when elk numbers are reduced for some reason, such as a hard winter, but there is still alternate prey available that support high predator numbers.  In northern Idaho, white-tailed deer are abundant and prolific.  They can recover quickly from population declines and in turn can support high densities of predators.  The high number of predator can take enough elk to keep elk numbers low.

The good news is that surveys conducted this winter showed a substantial increase in elk calf:cow ratios.  Ratios in Unit 7 above Avery averaged 30 calves per 100 cows and Unit 6 around Calder had over 40 calves per 100 cows.  What happened?

Just like the cause of the decline, it is probably a combination of things.  Northern Idaho experienced its third mild winter in a row, something that undoubtedly helped.  Liberal hunting seasons on predators affected their numbers and have likely helped elk escape from the predator pit.  If the current conditions remain the same or improve, we may see a continued improvement in the St Joe elk herds.

IDFG has no intention of eliminating any of the predator species.  IDFG has an obligation to maintain populations of all wildlife in the state and that includes black bears, mountain lions, and wolves.  We will, however, take steps to reduce predator numbers when they negatively impact elk or deer populations.

We also can’t lose sight of habitat issues.  Predation management is expensive and labor intensive and weather events are out of our control.  Long term improvements in the quality of elk habitat are an essential part of the equation for insuring the continued existence of healthy Panhandle elk herds.

 

Wildlife Crews Find “Robust” Elk Populations

Recent survey flights by Idaho Fish and Game wildlife staffers confirmed that elk populations in two local elk “zones” are in great shape. For several days in early January, Fish and Game biologists flew large portions of the Boise River Zone and the adjacent Smoky-Bennett Zone, counting and classifying elk in each area.

In the Boise River Zone, elk numbers totaled 7,769 animals, with cow elk (5,417) and calf elk (1,317) making up the majority of the count. More than 1,000 bulls were part of the total, and classified as follows: 448 spikes, 240 raghorn bulls and 347 mature bulls.

The calf/cow index, used to gauge the health and growth status of an elk herd, was calculated at 24 calves/100 cows. The bull/cow ratio penciled out at 19 bulls/100 cows.

Wildlife biologist Jake Powell, who spent several days in a Bell 47G helicopter counting elk, provided some perspective on the numbers. “In reference to the Department’s elk management plan, these figures exceed the population objectives for this elk herd,” Powell explained. “For example, our total cow elk objective for the Boise River Zone is a range between 3,200 and 4,800 animals. The 5,417 figure is obviously well above that which might translate into increased hunter opportunity this fall.” Powell also noted that the poor snow conditions made surveying elk a bit difficult. “We saw animals as high as 7,000 feet which required additional time and effort to survey,” Powell said.

The Smoky-Bennett Zone is new for 2015, combining the former Smoky Zone with the adjacent Bennett Hills Zone based on elk movements between the two areas. A January survey of this zone produced equally encouraging numbers.

The Smoky-Bennett Zone elk herd totaled 4,871 animals, with cow elk (2,712) and calf elk (1,173) making up the majority of the count. Nearly 1,000 bulls were part of the total, and classified as follows: 337 spikes, 349 raghorn bulls and 300 mature bulls.

The Smoky-Bennett Zone calf/cow index was calculated at 43 calves/100 cows, while the bull/cow ratio was calculated at 36 bulls/100 cows. “Both the calf/cow and bull/cow ratios are encouraging,” Fish and Game wildlife manager Daryl Meints noted. “Both ratios are signs of a very healthy elk herd.”

When the Smoky-Bennett Zone was established in 2014, new population objectives were developed as well. “Objectives for this zone, as laid out in the elk plan call for 2,000 to 3,000 cow elk, 620 to 930 total bulls and 400 to 595 adult bulls,” Meints said. “Our January counts have this herd at the top end of the cow elk objective and over objective in both bull categories. That bodes well for the 2015 elk season.”

In order to better quantify elk numbers across both the Boise River and Smoky-Bennett Zones, the two were flown simultaneously to account for some elk that move between these zones during winter months. Conducting the survey in this fashion resulted in a more representative calculation of elk numbers within and across the two zones.

Because both zones are above population objectives, increased harvest opportunity for elk in both areas has been proposed. Review and comment on 2015 big game hunting season proposals on the Fish and Game website at https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/content/public-involvement.

ACE WADE OF CASTLE ROCK SHOWS OFF A COWLITZ SPRING CHINOOK HE CAUGHT ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21. (ACE WADE, VIA JEFF HOLMES)

Columbia, SW WA Fishing Reports (2-23-15)

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

  • Steelhead angling was fair in the John Day pool last week.

  • Effective Jan. 1 through March 1, 2015 sturgeon retention is open in the Bonneville Pool.  The catch guideline for Bonneville Pool is 1,100 legal white sturgeon.  Anglers are catching a few legals.

  • 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.  Boat anglers caught a few legals last week.

  • White sturgeon retention in the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam is closed but remains an option for catch-and-release fishing.

  • Walleye fishing was excellent in The Dalles and John Day pools last week.

SALMON, STEELHEAD AND SHAD On Saturday’s (2/21) flight, 63 salmonid boats and 167 Oregon bank anglers were counted from the Columbia River Estuary to Bonneville Dam.

Gorge Bank: No report.

Gorge Boats: No report.

Troutdale Boats: No report.

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekly checking showed one adipose fin-clipped spring Chinook and four adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus nine unclipped steelhead released for 161 bank anglers.

Portland to Westport Boats: Weekly checking showed no catch for one boat (one angler).

Estuary Bank (Clatsop Spit to Wauna Powerlines): No report.

Estuary Boats (Tongue Point to Wauna Powerlines): No report.

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 six bank anglers.

John Day Pool (Columbia River above John Day Dam and John Day Arm): Weekly checking showed two adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept for 25 bank anglers; and one unclipped steelhead released for one boat (two anglers).

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

Bonneville Pool (Columbia River between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam):  Weekly checking showed one legal white sturgeon kept, plus 29 sublegal sturgeon released for 54 bank anglers; and one legal white sturgeon kept, plus 142 sublegal sturgeon released for 21 boats (55 anglers).

The Dalles Pool (Columbia River between The Dalles Dam and John Day Dam): Weekly checking showed one legal white sturgeon kept, plus one sublegal sturgeon released for 28 bank anglers; and one legal white sturgeon kept, plus one legal and 12 sublegal sturgeon released for seven boats (16 anglers)

John Day Pool (Columbia River between John Day Dam and McNary Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for 23 bank anglers; and three legal white sturgeon kept, plus 11 sublegal sturgeon released for 23 boats (55 anglers).

WALLEYE

Bonneville Pool: Weekly checking showed no catch for one boat (two anglers).

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed two walleye kept for three bank anglers; and 33 walleye kept for 13 boats (30 anglers)

John Day Pool (Columbia River between John Day Dam and McNary Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler; and 60 walleye kept, plus 35 walleye released for 33 boats (68 anglers).

……………………………………

Salmon/Steelhead

Deep River – Effective March 1 – June 15, on days when the mainstem Columbia River recreational fishery below Bonneville Dam is open to retention of Chinook the salmonid daily bag limit in Deep River will be the same as mainstem Columbia River bag limits. On days when the mainstem Columbia River fishery is closed to Chinook retention, the permanent salmonid bag limit regulations for Deep River apply.

Coal Creek (near Longview) – Feb. 28 is the last day to fish for steelhead and other game fish below the falls.

Cowlitz River – 8 boat anglers kept 4 steelhead.  The fish were sampled from the trout hatchery area.

ACE WADE OF CASTLE ROCK SHOWS OFF A COWLITZ SPRING CHINOOK HE CAUGHT ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21. (ACE WADE, VIA JEFF HOLMES)

ACE WADE OF CASTLE ROCK SHOWS OFF A COWLITZ RIVER SPRING CHINOOK HE CAUGHT ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21, WHILE FISHING WITH FRIEND DENNIS SCHWARTZ OF CAMAS. (ACE WADE, VIA JEFF HOLMES)

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

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released:
Eleven coho to the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,060 cubic feet per second on Monday, February 23.
Kress Lake – This past week 10 adult steelhead went to Kress Lake. Nine were Kalama Integrated stock and one was Early Winter stock.  No report on angling success.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the I-5 Bridge downstream – Effort increased with the nice weather but catches remain light.  We didn’t sample any fish though a few spring Chinook have been reported caught.

On the Saturday Feb. 21 effort flight count, a total of 63 boats and 266 bank anglers were tallied.  Effort was spread throughout the river.

Effective March 1- May 15, the mainstem Columbia River will be open for retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead
and shad ONLY during days and in areas open for retention of adipose fin-clipped spring Chinook.

Mainstem Columbia from Buoy 10 upstream to the I-5 Bridge – Open to fishing for hatchery Chinook and hatchery
steelhead through April 10 (except closed Tuesdays March 24, March 31, and April 7).  Effective March 1, the adult
salmonid limit will be 2 fish of which no more than one may be a hatchery Chinook.

Mainstem Columbia from the I-5 Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam – Effective March 1 through April 10 (except
closed Tuesdays March 24, March 31, and April 7), open to fishing for hatchery Chinook and hatchery steelhead
The adult salmonid limit will be 2 fish of which no more than one may be a hatchery Chinook.

No additional adult Chinook have been observed at Bonneville Dam since Feb. 8 when the one fish was counted.

Bonneville Pool – No effort observed for steelhead.

The Dalles Pool – Light effort and catch for steelhead.

John Day Pool – Bank and boat anglers are catching some steelhead.

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort is light during the current catch-and-release season.  Only a single boat was observed fishing for sturgeon during last Saturday’s effort flight count.

Bonneville and The Dalles pools – Bank and boat anglers are catching a few legals.

In Bonneville Pool, an estimated 135 (12.%) of the 1,100 fish guideline had been taken through February 15.  Sturgeon may be retained in Bonneville Pool through March 1.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers are catching some legals.

Walleye and Bass

Bonneville Pool – A few boat anglers were fishing for walleye and bass.  However, they had no catch.

The Dalles Pool – Bank and boat anglers averaged about a walleye kept per rod.   Effort was light for bass and no catch was observed.

John Day Pool – Including fish released, boat anglers averaged nearly 1.4 walleye per rod.  Effort was light for bass and no catch was observed.

ACQUISITION OF THE 8,000-ACRE LOWER DESCHUTES RIVER RANCH WOULD PROVIDE A LARGER CORRIDOR OF PUBLIC LAND ALONG THE FAMED NORTH-CENTRAL OREGON STREAM. (ODFW)

Meeting Feb. 26 On ODFW’s Plan To Acquire Large Lower Deschutes Ranch For Habitat, Access

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

In collaboration with the Trust for Public Land (TPL), ODFW is considering acquiring about 10,000 acres in the Lower Deschutes River Canyon in north central Oregon (Wasco  County).

Learn more at a public meeting being held this Thursday, Feb. 26, 6 p.m. at The Dalles ODFW Screen Shop, 3561 Klindt Drive.

The property is known as the Lower Deschutes River Ranch. Its purchase by ODFW would add to the existing 8,000-acre Lower Deschutes Wildlife Area and create 25,000 acres of contiguous wildlife habitat and public access on the west side of the Deschutes River.

ACQUISITION OF THE 8,000-ACRE LOWER DESCHUTES RIVER RANCH WOULD PROVIDE A LARGER CORRIDOR OF PUBLIC LAND ALONG THE FAMED NORTH-CENTRAL OREGON STREAM. (ODFW)

ACQUISITION OF THE 10,000-ACRE LOWER DESCHUTES RIVER RANCH WOULD PROVIDE A LARGER CONTIGUOUS CORRIDOR OF PUBLIC LAND ALONG WEST BANK OF THE FAMED NORTH-CENTRAL OREGON STREAM. (ODFW)

The parcel contains several key Oregon Conservation Strategy habitats, including the easternmost remnant stand of oak woodlands left in Oregon. ODFW would work to protect and restore these habitats while also providing hunting, wildlife viewing and fishing opportunities to the public.

ODFW staff are working with TPL establish a purchase and sale agreement for ODFW to purchase the land from TPL. A final agreement will require ODFW completion of state due diligence requirements, Fish and Wildlife Commission approval and legislative budget approval.

Funds for the purchase have been obtained through the TPL and multiple outside grant sources. ODFW would also use internal mitigation funds and Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program funds administered by US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Members of the public may come to the meeting on Feb. 26 to learn more and provide comment. Comments can also be emailed to odfw.comments@state.or.us, faxed to 541-298-4993 or mailed to ODFW, 3701 W 13th Street, The Dalles, OR 97058

For more information please contact Jeremy Thompson at 541-296-4628.

(KEVIN KLEIN)

Turns Out Blackmouth Are Still Biting On BC Side Of The San Juans

Editor’s notes: Over the weekend, while one gang of blackmouth anglers in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca reported catching an immature Chinook that had dined on somewhat exotic butterfish, another from the San Juans crossed into Canadian waters to continue the season’s good fishing. Here’s the report from the latter group:

REPORT COURTESY KEVIN KLEIN, SJI-PSA

With Marine Area 7 closed for the season, we decided to head over to Canada for the weekend to take advantage of the great weather. Well, guess what, the fishing was pretty darn good on clipped hatchery fish from  the U.S. That’s right, our Blackmouth are right across the border.

The Canadian hatcheries, for the most part, don’t clip their smolts, so we know they’re U.S. fish. Figures, go where you can keep unclipped Chinook, and all you catch is clean shaven clippers. Oh, well, you gave us round bacon, we can spare our brothers to the North some fish, I guess.

Pictures:

(KEVIN KLEIN)

(KEVIN KLEIN)

Carol Holman and Vicki Telford made a run for the border that yielded some smooth backed Omega-3 delivery systems, made in the U.S. A.

(KEVIN KLEIN)

(KEVIN KLEIN)

The ladies pretty much just do it all these days. Makes it nice, no pesky reeling or netting, just kick back and relax. Maybe drive the boat.

(KEVIN KLEIN)

(KEVIN KLEIN)

Carol puts one in the bag. Is that Gucci or Louis? No, looks like Frabill to me. The hat matches the electronics, no red carpet faux pas here.

(KEVIN KLEIN)

(KEVIN KLEIN)

The Silver Horde San Juan Islands gang represents in the Two Five Oh. Tailwagger’s and Coho Killer’s were the hot ticket, just like home.

(KEVIN KLEIN)

(KEVIN KLEIN)

Hey, that boat looks familiar! Chuck Payne and Frank Guard made it over for the day from Friday Harbor.

ANGLERS WILL BE ABLE TO KEEP UP TO THREE HATCHERY STEELHEAD ON THE KALAMA, WHERE N.W.S. CONTRIBUTOR TERRY OTTO CAUGHT THIS ONE, AS OF MARCH 1. (TERRY OTTO)

WDFW Rolls Out Kalama, Lewis, Upper Columbia Steelie, King Rule Tweaks

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

Daily catch limit for hatchery steelhead increased to 3 fish on the Kalama River

Action:  Anglers fishing the lower Kalama River may retain up to 3 hatchery steelhead.

Effective date:  March 1, 2015, until further notice.

Species affected:  Hatchery steelhead.

Location:  Kalama River from boundary markers at the mouth to 1,000 feet below fishway at the upper salmon hatchery.

Reason for action:  The hatchery escapement goal for late winter run steelhead is expected to be met and surplus fish are available for harvest.

ANGLERS WILL BE ABLE TO KEEP UP TO THREE HATCHERY STEELHEAD ON THE KALAMA, WHERE N.W.S. CONTRIBUTOR TERRY OTTO CAUGHT THIS ONE, AS OF MARCH 1. (TERRY OTTO)

ANGLERS WILL BE ABLE TO KEEP UP TO THREE HATCHERY STEELHEAD ON THE KALAMA, WHERE N.W.S. CONTRIBUTOR TERRY OTTO CAUGHT THIS ONE, AS OF MARCH 1. (TERRY OTTO)

Other information:  The hatchery spring chinook daily limit and season remains the same as listed in the 2014-2015 Fishing in Washington sport fishing rules pamphlet.

Information contact:  (360) 696-6211. For latest information press *1010.

Chinook salmon must be released on the Lewis River

Action:  Mainstem Lewis and North Fork Lewis River anglers must release all spring chinook.

Species affected:  Chinook salmon

Effective date and locations:  March 1, 2015, until further notice.

Mainstem Lewis River from mouth to mouth of East Fork;

North Fork Lewis River from mouth of East Fork to the overhead powerlines below Merwin Dam.

Reason for action:  The pre-season forecast is for a return of 1,100 adult spring chinook to the Lewis River in 2015. This is less than the number needed to meet the hatchery escapement goal of approximately 1,350 fish.

Steelhead fishing expands on Wenatchee River, closes March 1 on section of the Methow River

Actions:

Open an additional section of the Wenatchee River above Leavenworth on Feb. 21, 2015 to fishing for hatchery steelhead.
Close a section of the Methow River in Winthrop on March 1, 2015 to fishing for steelhead.

Species affected:   Steelhead

Fishing area locations and effective dates:

Areas that will open to fishing for steelhead one hour before sunrise on Feb. 21, 2015 until further notice include:

Wenatchee River:   From the Icicle River Road Bridge to 400 feet below Tumwater Dam.

Reason for changes:   Recent analysis of ongoing steelhead fisheries in the upper Columbia River shows that opening the new fishery in the upper basin will not exceed impact limits on natural-origin steelhead established by NOAA-Fisheries under section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act. Expanding the fishery on the Wenatchee River will increase fishing opportunities for hatchery steelhead, reduce the proportion of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds, and further reduce competition between natural origin and hatchery juvenile production.

Areas that will close to fishing for steelhead one hour after sunset on March 1, 2015 (Sunday) until further notice include:

Methow River:   From the upstream boundary of Heckendorn Park (across from East 20 Pizza) to the Highway 20 Bridge in Winthrop, WA.

Reason for changes: Closed area will be utilized by Winthrop National Fish Hatchery personnel to capture natural origin steelhead broodstock to meet hatchery production and genetic management goals.

Ongoing regulations:

Areas that will continue to be open for steelhead angling until further notice include:

Mainstem Columbia River:   From Rock Island Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam.
Wenatchee River:   From the mouth to the Icicle Road Bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
Entiat River:   From the mouth to approximately ? mile upstream to a point perpendicular with the intersection of the Entiat River Road and Hedding Street.
Methow River:   From the mouth to the upstream boundary of Heckendorn Park in Winthrop and from Highway 20 bridge in Winthrop to the confluence of the Chewuch River. Fishing from a floating device is prohibited from the second powerline crossing (1 mile upstream from the mouth) to the first Hwy 153 Bridge (4 miles upstream from the mouth).
Similkameen River:   From the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.
Okanogan River:   From the mouth to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville.

Areas of the Okanogan River that will close to steelhead angling one hour after sunset Feb. 28, 2015 include:

Okanogan River: From the first power line crossing downstream of the Hwy 155 Bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Credit Union Building) to the mouth of Omak Creek.
Okanogan River:   From the Tonasket Bridge (4th street) downstream to the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch.

General rules for all locations open to steelhead fishing:

Mandatory retention of hatchery steelhead, identified by a missing adipose fin with a healed scar at the location of the clipped fin.
Daily limit two (2) adipose fin clipped hatchery steelhead.
Selective gear rules and night closure are in effect for all steelhead fishery areas, except the use of bait is allowed on the mainstem Columbia River.
Adipose present steelhead must be released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
Release all steelhead with a floy (anchor) tag attached and/or one or more round 1/4 inch in diameter holes punched in the caudal (tail) fin.
Motorized vessels are not allowed on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers (Chelan County ordinance 7.20.190 Motorboat restrictions).

Other information:

Anglers should be aware that fishing rules are subject to change and that rivers can close at any time due to impacts on natural origin steelhead. Adhering to the mandatory retention of adipose clipped steelhead is vital in allowing the fishery to continue and to provide the maximum benefit to natural origin fish.

All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in these fisheries. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.

Other information:  Hatchery returns will be closely monitored in-season.

The mainstem Lewis River and North Fork Lewis River will remain open to fishing for hatchery steelhead. Under permanent rules, the North Fork Lewis River from Johnson Creek upstream will be closed to all fishing during the month of May.

(ODFW)

Melcher Outlines Immediate Priorities As ODFW’s New Director

So, now that Curt Melcher is the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s new director, what are his priorities?

Those are laid out in a Q&A with The Oregonian yesterday.

“We’re going to be working closely with the new governor,”  Melcher, the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Commission’s unanimous pick to be ODFW’s new head, tells reporter Kelly House. “She’s got to transition into the governor’s position in a matter of days, whereas normally a new governor gets several months. Then, I’ve got some key vacancies including both deputy director positions, so we’re going to have to move forward with that in the coming months. And of course, I want to reach out to all the groups that weighed in during the director’s search. I want to contact them all, whether they supported me or an internal or external candidate, to try to bring folks together.”

(ODFW)

(ODFW)

The new governor would be Kate Brown, the former secretary of state who vaulted into Oregon’s top post with the resignation of John Kitzhaber in recent days.

Melcher, who had been ODFW’s interim director since Roy Elicker left last October, was chosen over Ed Bowles, the agency’s Fish Division administrator, and Krystyna Wolniakowski, a former regional office director of the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

Melcher’s response to Lower Columbia gillnetting reform caught the eye of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders’ Facebook page, and he also talks fee increases, wolves and sage grouse, and other topics in The Oregonian’s article, here.

dishonor logo.

Alsea Guide Fined, Loses Hunt-Fish Privileges For 2 Years Over Unlicensed Bear Trip

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE, FISH & WILDLIFE DIVISION

Troopers from the Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division assigned to the Newport Area Command investigated a complaint of unlawful guiding/outfitting in the Alsea Valley area.

In February of 2014, troopers initiated an investigation into allegations that CHRIS COTTER, 30, of Tidewater OR, had been performing unlicensed guide/outfitter services under the business name ‘Alsea Valley Outfitters’. Investigation revealed COTTER provided guide/outfitting services in May of 2014 on a spring bear hunt, without the proper licensure. Shortly thereafter, COTTER was cited and released for Guiding Without a License.

dishonor logo.

On January 20, 2015, COTTER pled guilty to One (1) count of Guiding Without a License. He was sentenced to 40 hours of Community Service, 24 months of bench probation, No hunting/fishing for probation term (24 months),may not act as a guide or outfitter during probation term (24 months), may not possess firearms or dangerous weapons, and was assessed a $250 fine with $700 restitution to Oregon State Police for costs.

Oregon State Police troopers in the Fish & Wildlife division investigate violations of Oregon’s Guide and Outfitter laws with a focus on offenders who engage in the unlawful commercialization of fish and wildlife resources. The Fish & Wildlife Division works with the Oregon Hunters Association Turn-in-Poachers (TIP) program where callers who report wildlife crimes to police may be eligible for a reward if the information leads to the apprehension and conviction of wildlife offenders. Anyone with information about wildlife offenses is asked to call (800) 452-7888; and additional information may be found at http://www.oregon.gov/OSP/FW/Pages/fwtip.aspx

BILL LISTON DIPS SMELT DURING THE COWLITZ RIVER'S FIRST SATURDAY OPENER. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report (2-17-14)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORT IS COURTESY JOE HYMER, P.S.M.F.C.

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – 8 boat anglers kept 4 steelhead.  12 bank anglers had no catch.

Kress Lake- This past week 20 adult Early Winter and 17 Kalama Hatchery Steelhead were planted into Kress Lake for a total of 37 steelhead.  No report on angling success.

Lower Columbia from the I-5 Bridge downstream – No report on angling success.  26 salmonid boats and 54 Oregon and 32 Washington bank anglers were counted during the Sat. Feb. 14 effort flight count.

Effective March 1 – June 15, on days when the mainstem Columbia River recreational fishery below Bonneville Dam is open to retention of Chinook, the salmonid daily bag limit in Deep River will be the same as mainstem Columbia River bag limits.  On days when the mainstem Columbia River fishery is closed to Chinook retention, the permanent salmonid bag limit regulations for Deep River apply.

Effective March 1- May 15, the mainstem Columbia River will be open for retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead and shad ONLY during days and in areas open for retention of adipose fin-clipped spring Chinook.

Mainstem Columbia from Buoy 10 upstream to the I-5 Bridge – Open to fishing for hatchery Chinook and hatchery steelhead through April 10 (except closed Tuesdays March 24, March 31, and April 7).  Effective March 1, the adult salmonid limit will be 2 fish of which no more than one may be a hatchery Chinook.

Mainstem Columbia from the I-5 Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam – Effective March 1 through April 10 (except closed Tuesdays March 24, March 31, and April 7), open to fishing for hatchery Chinook and hatchery steelhead.  No boats (bank only) from Beacon Rock upstream.  The adult salmonid limit will be 2 fish of which no more than one may be a hatchery Chinook.

Bonneville Pool – No effort observed for salmonids.

The Dalles Pool – Bank and boat anglers are catching some steelhead though most of the fish were wild and had to be released.

John Day Pool – Bank anglers are catching some steelhead.

Sturgeon

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers are catching some legals.  Through February 8, an estimated 115 (10.5%) of the 1,100 fish guideline had been taken.  Sturgeon may be retained through March 1.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some legals here too.

John Day Pool – Bank anglers are catching some legals.

Walleye and Bass

Bonneville Pool – Light effort and catch for walleye.  No effort observed for bass.

The Dalles Pool – Bank and boat anglers are catching some walleye.  Including fish released, anglers averaged just over ½ fish per rod.  No effort observed for bass.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers did well for walleye, averaging over 2 fish per rod when including fish released.  No effort was observed for bass.

Smelt

Cowlitz River -Effort was higher but catches were lower during the Feb. 14 fishery.  The Cowlitz is now closed to fishing for smelt.

BILL LISTON DIPS SMELT DURING THE COWLITZ RIVER'S FIRST SATURDAY OPENER. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

BILL LISTON DIPS SMELT DURING THE COWLITZ RIVER’S FIRST SATURDAY OPENER. (WRIGHT & McGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Short recap of this year’s 2-day season:

·         More people than last year
·         About the same harvest in first day as for the two days last year

A MAP FROM A FEDERAL DOCUMENT SHOWS THE SOUTHERN END OF THE NORTH CASCADES ECOSYSTEM AND TOWNS WHERE OPEN HOUSES WILL BE HELD ON THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE PARK SERVICE AND FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE SHOULD TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE IN RESTORING GRIZZLY BEARS. (NPS)

Grizzly Bear Restoration In North Cascades Topic Of 6 Upcoming Open Houses

Residents ringing the North Cascades will have a chance to tell federal officials how they feel about “restoring” grizzly bears to those mountains at a series of open houses next month.

The National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are holding the March meetings as the agencies begin to come up with an environmental impact statement that will, in part, determine whether they take an “active” role in restoration of Ursus horriblis or not.

By active, you could probably read capturing grizzly bears from elsewhere, perhaps the British Columbia side of the ecoregion, and moving them into that wild, rumpled swath of land that stretches across the spine of the Cascades south to Snoqualmie Pass, an area encompassing roughly one-seventh of Washington and mostly comprised of national forests and parks, but also state and private ground at lower elevations.

Alternatively, the bears could also repopulate that area on their own.

A MAP FROM A FEDERAL DOCUMENT SHOWS THE SOUTHERN END OF THE NORTH CASCADES ECOSYSTEM AND TOWNS WHERE OPEN HOUSES WILL BE HELD ON THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE PARK SERVICE AND FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE SHOULD TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE IN RESTORING GRIZZLY BEARS. (NPS)

A MAP FROM A FEDERAL DOCUMENT SHOWS THE SOUTHERN END OF THE NORTH CASCADES ECOSYSTEM AND TOWNS WHERE OPEN HOUSES WILL BE HELD ON THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE PARK SERVICE AND FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE SHOULD TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE IN RESTORING GRIZZLY BEARS. (NPS)

It’s unclear how many grizzlies there are in the region now. It’s been several years since the last sighting. In 2010, what was thought to be a grizzly at Blanca Lake, in the upper North Fork Skykomish, turned out to most likely be a black bear.

“The Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan calls on us to fully consider the restoration of the grizzly bear in the North Cascades, and this process will ensure we solicit the public for their input before putting any plan into action,” said USFWS Pacific Regional Director Robyn Thorson in a press release. “We will continue to work with our partners to make this an open and transparent process.”

While some players in the North Cascades are for restoration, others with a stake are not so eager.

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife is a party to the discussion because it’s required to be in the Revised Codes of Washington, which also state that “Grizzly bears shall not be transplanted or introduced into the state. Only grizzly bears that are native to Washington state may be utilized by the department for management programs.”

That does not bar federal reintroduction efforts on federal lands.

The North Cascades are one of five identified grizzly bear recovery zones in the Lower 48. Others include Yellowstone, Glacier Park, Selkirk-Yaak-Cabinet — which includes a slice of Northeast Washington — and Central Idaho.

If you can’t make one of the six meetings below, written comments are also being taken through March 26 online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/NCEG and via mail at Superintendent’s Office, North Cascades National Park Service Complex, 810 State Route 20, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284.

Winthrop     March 3, 5-7:30 pm
Red Barn Upper Meeting Room
51 N. Hwy 20
Winthrop, WA 98862

Okanogan     March 4, 5-7:30 pm
Okanogan PUD Meeting Room
1331 2nd Ave N
Okanogan, WA 98840

Wenatchee     March 5, 6-8:30 pm
Chelan County PUD Auditorium
327 N. Wenatchee Ave.
Wenatchee, WA 98801

Cle Elum     March 9, 5-7:30 pm
Putnam Centennial Center Meeting Room
719 East 3rd St.
Cle Elum, WA 98922

Seattle     March 10, 5-7:30 pm
Seattle Pacific University Bertona Classroom 1
103 West Bertona
Seattle, WA 98119

Bellingham     March 11, 5-7:30 pm
Bellingham Central Library Lecture Room
210 Central Ave
Bellingham, WA 98227

A WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE IMAGE ACCOMPANYING THE DAILY NEWS' ARTICLE ON THE COWLITZ SMELT SEASON OPENER SHOWS GARBAGE SACKS FULL OF THE EULACHON IN THE BACKS OF A PAIR OF STATE GAME WARDEN RIGS. (WDFW)

Smelt Season Sparks Swinishness In Some

Last Saturday’s smelt-dipping opener on the Cowlitz provided many folks with their limits, but some got greedy, including one man who reportedly dipped 200 pounds worth — 20 times the legal limit.

All together, 200 people were ticketed for overlimits that totaled 3,500 pounds, reports The Daily News of Longview today.

A WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE IMAGE ACCOMPANYING THE DAILY NEWS' ARTICLE ON THE COWLITZ SMELT SEASON OPENER SHOWS GARBAGE SACKS FULL OF THE EULACHON IN THE BACKS OF A PAIR OF STATE GAME WARDEN RIGS. (WDFW)

A WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE IMAGE ACCOMPANYING THE DAILY NEWS’ ARTICLE ON THE COWLITZ SMELT SEASON OPENER SHOWS GARBAGE SACKS FULL OF THE EULACHON IN THE BACKS OF A PAIR OF STATE GAME WARDEN RIGS. (WDFW)

“Fish and Wildlife officers filed more than 98 citations and 122 warnings against smelt dippers,” the paper reported.

A WDFW officer said that, where they could, they donated seized smelt, while others were returned to the Southwest Washington river to benefit other organisms.

While smelt have been listed as a threatened species by the federal government, the state has been allowed to hold two dipping Saturdays (Oregon dippers get two in March on the Sandy) in the name of research.

Per WDFW’s press release announcing the season, “Ten pounds is about a quarter of a five-gallon bucket.”

The paper reports that penalties can range from a $150 citation to a court date for more serious overages.

Here’s the report on the rest of the action last weekend on the banks of the Cowlitz:

Last Saturday morning, limits were the general rule from Castle Rock downstream to the mouth.  Majority of the catch were males.

Cowlitz River flows at Castle Rock are currently 16,900 cfs, down from the 25,000 cfs observed yesterday morning and a bit lower than the flows observed during last Saturday’s fishery.

Last scheduled Washington fishery: Saturday, Feb. 14  from 6:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. (noon). Dip net gear may be used from the bank only.  10-pound daily limit (about ¼ of a five gallon bucket). Possession limit is equal to one daily limit.

The mainstem Columbia and all other Washington Columbia River tributaries remain closed.