Category Archives: Headlines

RICHARD HEAP RECEIVES THE DAVE LISCIA VOLUNTEER AWARD FROM ODFW DIRECTOR CURT MELCHER. (BOB SWINGLE, ODFW)

Brookings Man Named ODFW Volunteer Of The Year

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

Fisheries advocate and volunteer Richard Heap recently received the Dave Liscia Volunteer Award from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Heap is a resident of Brookings.

The award is presented annually to outstanding volunteers in honor of Dave Liscia, a former ODFW employee who coordinated many volunteer efforts and was killed in a car accident while on the job.

For the past 11 years, Heap has been very involved in Oregon fisheries from a community level as a STEP volunteer in the Brookings area to statewide efforts as the current Vice Chair of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) Salmon Advisory Subpanel; as a former Oregon STAC member; and as a volunteer on the R&E Board.

RICHARD HEAP RECEIVES THE DAVE LISCIA VOLUNTEER AWARD FROM ODFW DIRECTOR CURT MELCHER. (BOB SWINGLE, ODFW)

RICHARD HEAP RECEIVES THE DAVE LISCIA VOLUNTEER AWARD FROM ODFW DIRECTOR CURT MELCHER. (BOB SWINGLE, ODFW)

As part of the PFMC’s subpanel, Heap recommends salmon seasons for the Council’s approval. He gets input from commercial and sport anglers and STEP volunteers to represent coastal communities.

“His recommendations have a direct and positive impact on our resources and local economy,” says John Weber, ODFW STEP biologist and one of several people who nominated Heap for the Liscia Award. “He’s dedicated to keeping the local community informed and reports back on the status of salmon stocks and fishery zone information.”

As a member of the Public Advisory Committee for the Rogue/South Coast Fall Chinook Conservation Plan, Heap had an influential role in moving this successful fish management plan to completion and adoption by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. His experience working on collaborative projects with government officials and his knowledge of ODFW policy served the advisory panel well.

Locally, Heap also served as the Salmon Trout Advisory Committee representative for eight years, working with ODFW staff and volunteers as an advocate for STEP (Salmon Trout Enhancement Program). He advocated for improvements to outreach, habitat, fish population monitoring and hatchery management.

“Richard contributes hundreds of hours every year providing hands-on labor in fish population monitoring, propagation, youth angling events and many activities that provide outreach for our local STEP group. His broad knowledge of fisheries and roles on PFMC and R&E extend his volunteer hours to the rest of the state. Richard is very deserving of this award,” Weber said.

UNSWORTH

Chance To Give WDFW Your Thoughts On Its Priorities At 6 Meetings

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

State fish and wildlife leaders are asking people to share their views on the values and priorities that should drive the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) over the next several years.

The opportunity is part of WDFW’s new multi-year initiative, “Washington’s Wild Future: A Partnership for Fish and Wildlife,” which is an effort to strengthen the department’s relationships with communities, increase support for conservation and outdoor recreation, and help ensure WDFW programs and services meet the public’s needs.

People can talk with WDFW managers at six regional forums in September and October. Comments will also be accepted through Oct. 31 on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildfuture/ and by email to WildFuture@dfw.wa.gov. People may also participate in the conversation through the WDFW Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WashingtonFishWildlife.

Public comments and proposals will help determine priorities for conserving and managing Washington’s fish and wildlife in the coming years, said WDFW Director Jim Unsworth, who was hired to lead the agency in January.

“Since I joined WDFW, I have been asking people, ‘If you could tell the director of Fish and Wildlife one thing, what would you say?’” Unsworth said. “This is a great opportunity for people across the state to do just that. I want to hear about what we are doing right, where we need to improve, and where we should focus our efforts and our funding over the next five to 10 to 20 years.”

UNSWORTH

NEW WDFW DIRECTOR JIM UNSWORTH SPEAKS BEFORE THE WASHINGTON STATE SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES & PARKS COMMITTEE. (TVW)

Unsworth, senior WDFW managers, and regional staff are scheduled to attend the meetings, where people can discuss fishing and hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities, as well as habitat protection and restoration, licensing, enforcement, and other fish and wildlife management issues.

The meetings are scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. at the following dates and locations:

  • Sept. 10 – Selah Civic Center, 216 1st St., Selah.
  • Sept. 30 – Center Place, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley.
  • Oct. 6 – WDFW Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd, Mill Creek.
  • Oct. 8 – Saint Martin’s University, Norman Worthington Conference Center, 5300 Pacific Ave. SE, Lacey.
  • Oct. 14 – Water Resources Education Center, 4600 SE Columbia Way, Vancouver.
  • Oct. 20 – Port of Chelan County Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Center Way, Wenatchee.

Each meeting will include a brief presentation from a WDFW regional director about the importance of fish and wildlife management to Washington’s quality of life and the economies of local communities throughout the state. Participants will then be invited to talk in small groups with representatives of the department’s Fish, Wildlife, Enforcement, Licensing, and Habitat programs, as well as Unsworth and his staff.

Later this year, WDFW will summarize the comments and suggestions from the public, as well as input from outdoor organizations, advisory groups, tribes, and state and local elected officials. The information will be used to help identify potential changes in WDFW’s operations and services, and to develop future policy, budget and fee proposals.

“We face major management challenges over the next several years, and for us to be successful we need the public’s support and assistance,” Unsworth said. “That can only happen if the department has strong relationships with anglers, hunters, outdoor recreation groups, and others interested in fish and wildlife in Washington.”

More information about WDFW is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov.

Chinook Retention Closing At Buoy 10, Astoria Tribs, Opening For 2 A Day Off Ilwaco

ODFW WDFW PR

Buoy 10 closes to Chinook retention Saturday – coho remains open

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon and Washington fishery managers announced today that the Buoy 10 fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River will close to all Chinook retention after Friday, Aug. 28. The area will remain open for hatchery (fin-clipped) coho.

The closure was necessary because of higher than predicted catches of and impacts on ESA-listed tule Chinook salmon – the major constraint on lower Columbia River fall fisheries. Earlier this week the fishery closed to the retention of wild (non fin-clipped) Chinook. However, according to Chris Kern, ODFW Fish Division deputy administrator, even with that change the ongoing monitoring showed catch rates continued to be high enough to exhaust the remaining tule impacts.

Despite the early closure for Chinook retention, the 2015 Buoy 10 season has been record setting. Angler effort has been among the highest observed and angler catch rates have been 30 percent higher than the previous record set in 2013.  With four fishing days yet to be counted, harvest this year has already exceeded the 2014 catch by 6,000 fish.  The preseason expectation was for a catch of 34,900 Chinook, which is likely to be exceeded by Friday.

“If we don’t take this action now, we put the remaining upstream sport fishery at risk,” Kern said. Each section of the river is assigned its own allocation of tule impacts. If the Buoy 10 fishery exceeds its allowable impacts, they must be taken from the upriver sport fishery, which could reduce already limited opportunities in that section of the river.

Chinook harvest at Buoy 10 is schEDuled to re-open on Oct. 1 following the expected September migration of wild tules into lower river tributaries. Beginning Aug. 29, anglers may transport Chinook salmon caught in adjacent fisheries (such as the ocean or the Columbia River above Tongue Point) through the Buoy 10 area, but cannot fish for salmon in the Buoy 10 area if they have Chinook onboard.

…….

Anglers allowed two chinook salmon off Ilwaco beginning Saturday

OLYMPIA – Starting Saturday, Aug. 29, anglers fishing ocean waters off Ilwaco can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two salmon daily limit.

With that change, anglers will be allowed to keep two chinook per day off Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) and Westport (Marine Area 2). Anglers fishing off La Push (Marine Area 3) and west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line off Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) can keep one chinook per day as part of the two salmon limit as well as two additional pink salmon.

Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the department previously limited anglers off Ilwaco to one chinook per day to ensure that the fishery would remain open for the entire season.

“We have enough chinook remaining under the guideline to allow anglers two chinook per day off Ilwaco without much risk of having to close early,” Milward said.

Through Aug. 23, anglers fishing in Marine Area 1 had caught 45 percent (7,118 fish) of the 15,750 chinook guideline for the area.

Ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 30 in all four marine areas.

Fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season, and announce any other changes on WDFW’s website athttp://wdfw.wa.gov/

Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum size limits and area catch guidelines, is available in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/

……………….

Youngs River Basin closes to Chinook harvest to protect returning broodstock

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – The Youngs River and its tributaries will close to retention of non-adipose fin-clipped fall Chinook effective Tuesday, Sept. 1. Biologists at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the closure in order to protect broodstock fish destined for the basin’s hatcheries.

The areas covered by the closure include:

·        Youngs Bay/River from the commercial fishing deadline at Battle Creek Slough upstream to Young River Falls, and

·        Klaskanine River from its confluence with Youngs River upstream to the Youngs River Loop Bridge (Tidewater Bridge).

According to Chris Kern, ODFW fish division deputy administrator, very few Select Area Bright fall Chinook have returned to Youngs Bay and the Youngs River Basin so far this year. Biologists speculate the fish could be holding in the mainstem and not moving into Youngs Bay because of low river levels caused by a lack of rain.

“Based on the poor returns so far this year, we are concerned about reaching hatchery broodstock needs,” he said.

The agency also has curtailed commercial fishing in the Youngs Bay area in order to limit harvest of the select area bright fall Chinook.

The retention closures of the recreational fall Chinook fisheries on the Youngs and Klaskanine rivers are in effect through Oct. 15.

GUIDES JIM AND JENN STAHL FILLED THEIR CLIENTS PUNCHCARDS ON A BUOY 10 TRIP LAST WEEK. (NWFISHINGGUIDES.NET)

Lower Columbia, SW WA, Ocean Fishing Update (8-26-15)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORTS ARE FROM WENDY BEEGHLEY, WDFW, TANNA TAKATA, ODFW, AND JOE HYMER, PSMFC, AND WERE TRANSMITTED BY HYMER

OCEAN RECREATIONAL SALMON FISHERY: WEEK 34 (August 17-23)

Last week at Marine Area 1, anglers averaged just over a salmon per rod.  Approximately 2/3 of the catch were coho.

From the North Jetty, an estimated 1,237 bank anglers caught 171 Chinook and 1,318 coho, an average of 1.2 salmon per rod!

To fish the North Jetty, anglers need a saltwater or combination license.  Any Chinook, adipose fin clipped or not, may be retained.

Repairs to the North Jetty are expected to continue into October; therefore, the angling area is reduced.  A Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to enter Cape Disappointment (formerly Fort Canby)  State Park.

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

A total of 3,959 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery the week of August 17, landing 1,519 Chinook, 2,643 coho, and no pink.  Through Sunday, August 23, a total of 7,118 Chinook (45% of the area guideline) and 35,181 coho (44% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Westport

A total of 2,202 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery the week of August 17, landing 390 Chinook, 2,000 coho, and no pink.  Through Sunday, August 23, a total of 15,443 Chinook (53% of the area guideline) and 20,228 coho (38% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

La Push

A total of 231 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery the week of August 17, landing 71 Chinook, 68 coho, and no pink.  Through Sunday, August 23, a total of 1,994 Chinook (73% of the area guideline) and 350 coho (10% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Neah Bay

A total of 589 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery the week of August 17, landing 75 Chinook, 294 coho, and 41 pink.  Through Sunday, August 23, a total of 8,010 Chinook (91% of the area guideline) and 3,409 coho (23% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

………………..

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Anglers are catching summer run steelhead between the hatcheries.

During five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator, last week Tacoma Power recovered:

124 spring Chinook adults, 23 jacks, 50 mini-jacks, 22 fall Chinook adults, eight jacks, 828 summer-run steelhead, and one cutthroat trout.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released:

111 spring Chinook adults and 20 jacks into the Cispus River near the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek; 22 fall Chinook adults, eight jacks, and one cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 2,580 cubic feet per second on Monday, Aug. 24.

Kalama River – Anglers are catching some summer run steelhead.

East Fork Lewis and Washougal rivers – No effort in the “hoot owl” areas.  Lower sections of the rivers remain closed to all fishing.

Wind River – Boat anglers are catching some steelhead.

Drano Lake – Bank and boat anglers are catching good numbers of summer run steelhead.  The problem continues to be only about 35% of the fish caught were hatchery fish.  Fall Chinook catch is increasing for boat anglers.  Any Chinook may be retained.

Buoy 10 – Chinook and coho catches have been excellent.  Catch estimates through August 20 include 18,600 Chinook and 15,000 coho kept from 46,600 angler trips.  The Chinook catch is already the 6th highest since at least 1982 and still going strong though from now through Sept. 7 only adipose fin clipped Chinook may be retained.  All Chinook must be released Sept.8-30.

GUIDES JIM AND JENN STAHL FILLED THEIR CLIENTS PUNCHCARDS ON A BUOY 10 TRIP LAST WEEK. (NWFISHINGGUIDES.NET)

GUIDES JIM AND JENN STAHL FILLED THEIR CLIENTS PUNCHCARDS — NOT TO MENTION THEIR SLED’S STEP DECK — ON A BUOY 10 TRIP LAST WEEK. (NWFISHINGGUIDES.NET)

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 1,200 salmonid anglers (including  197 boats) with 88 adult and 1 jack fall Chinook and 74 steelhead.  All but 4 the adult Chinook were kept.  42 (57%) of the steelhead were kept.

Effort remains relatively light with <400 boats and <300 bank anglers observed during the weekday and weekend flight counts, respectively.  Most of the boat effort was at the mouth of the Cowlitz though 73 were counted just upstream from Tongue Point last Saturday.  In comparison, on Sat. Aug. 23, 2014 nearly 900 boats were counted.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers are catching summer run steelhead and some fall Chinook.

Hanford Reach (report from Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District Fish Biologist in Pasco) – The fall chinook fishery in the Hanford Reach is off to a slow start as is typical for this fishery.  From August 17 through August 23, WDFW staff interviewed 49 boats (103 anglers) fishing for fall chinook in the Hanford Reach.  Anglers reported harvesting 7 adult fall chinook and releasing 1 sockeye.  Staff sampled 25% of the boats fishing for salmon this past week.  Estimated harvest for the week was 28 adult chinook and 8 jacks.

Fall chinook counts at John Day Dam picked up over the weekend to over 2,000 fish per day. Counts at McNary are averaging ~500 adult fall chinook per day.  Based on the long term trend, fall chinook should start passing Bonneville Dam in good numbers this week.

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Marker 82 line downstream – Most of the attention remains for salmon during the current catch-and-release sturgeon fishery.  However, some legals are being caught in the Kalama area.

Walleye, Bass, and Northern Pikeminnow

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Boaters are catching some walleye in the Camas/Washougal area.

Hanford Reach – WDFW staff also interviewed boats fishing for bass, northern pikeminnow, and walleye.

Bass: 16 boats, 35 anglers, 125 bass, 1 pikeminnow -  1.1 hours/bass
Pikeminnow: 5 boats, 8 anglers, 18 pikeminnow, 3 bass, 1 walleye -  1.9 hours/NPM
Walleye: 3 boats, 6 anglers, 16 walleye – 2.2 hours/walleye

……………………………………………

Salmon, Steelhead and Shad

The lower Columbia basin was filled with heavy smoke over the weekend due to fires burning on the eastern side of the state.  On the lower Columbia this past weekend there were 368 salmonid boats and eight Oregon bank anglers counted from Corbett downstream to Tongue Point on Saturday’s (8/22) flight; and 1,217 Oregon boats counted at Buoy 10.  Anglers fishing Buoy 10 averaged 1.90 fall Chinook and 0.36 coho caught per boat.  In Troutdale, boat anglers averaged 0.21 fall Chinook and 0.02 steelhead caught per boat, while anglers fishing the Portland to Tongue Point area averaged 0.56 fall Chinook and 0.05 steelhead caught per boat.  Bank anglers fishing in the gorge averaged 0.04 fall Chinook caught per angler.

ADMIT IT, YOU SANG THE SONG ... THE FLEET FISHES AT BUOY 10 UNDER SMOKEY CONDITIONS FROM EASTSIDE FIRES. (NWFISHINGGUIDES.NET)

COME ON, ADMIT IT, YOU WERE SINGING THE SONG … THE FLEET FISHES AT BUOY 10 UNDER SMOKEY CONDITIONS FROM EASTSIDE FIRES. (NWFISHINGGUIDES.NET)

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed one adult fall Chinook and one jack fall Chinook kept for 25 bank anglers.

Gorge Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for two boats (five anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed nine adult fall Chinook and one jack fall Chinook kept; plus one steelhead released for 43 boats (97 anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for 17 bank anglers.

Portland to Tongue Point Boats: Weekend checking showed 34 adult fall Chinook, two jack fall Chinook and two steelhead kept; plus one adult fall Chinook, three jack fall Chinook and one steelhead released for 63 boats (150 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Tongue Point to Clatsop Spit): No report.

Estuary Boats (Tongue Point to Buoy 10): Weekend checking showed 865 fall Chinook, 112 coho and one steelhead kept; plus 135 fall Chinook and 75 coho released for 526 boats (1,779 anglers).

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

STURGEON

Lower Columbia (below Bonneville Dam): Closed to retention, catch-and-release only.

Gorge Boats (below Marker 82): Closed for retention. No report.

Troutdale Boats: Closed for retention. Weekly checking showed one legal and one overlegal sturgeon released for one boat (one angler).

Portland to Westport Bank: Closed for retention. No report.

Portland to Westport Boats: Closed for retention. No report

Estuary Boats: Closed for retention.

Bonneville Dam upstream to the Oregon/Washington Border: All sturgeon angling, including catch and release is prohibited until further notice.

WALLEYE

Gorge: Weekly checking showed nine walleye kept, plus one walleye released for one boat (five anglers).

Troutdale: Weekly checking showed 16 walleye kept, plus one walleye released for five boats (15 anglers).

THE COUSINS TACKLE TEAM POSE WITH THEIR BUOY 10 CHALLENGE-WINNING FISH. (NSIA)

22.25-pdr. Tops At Buoy 10 Salmon Challenge; Cousins Tackle Is Winning Team

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

The Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association is celebrating one of the most exciting Buoy 10 Salmon Challenge tournaments in their history. The return so far this year has been strong enough to come close to historic levels, and that means there was an abundance of eager salmon for tournament anglers to catch. The event was a success not only for the good catch rates but also for the significant amount of money raised that will be instrumental in promoting the sportfishing industry and protecting healthy fisheries that will continue to provide angler opportunity for years to come.

NSIA Executive Director, Liz Hamilton says of the tournament, “The Buoy 10 Salmon Challenge is not only our most exciting event of the year, but it is also our most important fundraiser. With the funds raised today we will be able to keep hatcheries open and continue to work for policies that will create quality angler opportunities throughout the Northwest.”

The event began at sunup Friday Aug 21st when the more than 250 participants took to the Columbia in search of kings and silvers. Weigh in started at 1pm and lasted until 4pm. When the last fish was weighed, anglers had brought 140 Chinook and 28 Coho to the scales by the deadline.

The first place winning team was captained by Josh Cooper of the Cousins Tackle team who weighed in at 18.51lbs per angler. Second place went to Cameron Black of Gone Catchin Guide Service who guided his crew to 18.49lbs per person. And rounding out the top three was Leon Eichler’s team who averaged 18.32lbs per angler.

THE COUSINS TACKLE TEAM POSE WITH THEIR BUOY 10 CHALLENGE-WINNING FISH. (NSIA)

THE COUSINS TACKLE TEAM POSE WITH THEIR BUOY 10 SALMON CHALLENGE-WINNING FISH. (NSIA)

Kyle Miller brought in the biggest fish of the tournament with a Chinook weighing in at 22.25lbs which brought with it a check for $1000, and Tyler Beck took home the $500 prize for catching the largest Coho with a silver weighing 9.70lbs.

Even though anglers enjoyed such a great day on the water, the excitement was far from over as tournament anglers then got a shot at the more than $15,000 worth of cash and prizes given away by NSIA. After the door prizes, silent auction, and big fish and team prizes nearly every tournament participant went home with a new piece of gear.

 

NSIA would like to thank their sponsors:

Their continued support allows NSIA to have a strong voice in local, state, and federal governments, advocating for policies that keep the sportfishing industry thriving in the Northwest.

Atlas Mike’s
Berkley
Brad’s Lures
Cabela’s
Clackacraft
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Duckworth
Folbe
Fred Meyer
Freshwater News
G. Loomis
Lamiglas
Lowrance
Luhr Jensen
Maxima
Northwest Sportsman Magazine
Okuma
Pro-Cure
Shimano
Steven’s Marine
STS Magazine
3 Rivers Marine
TICA
Weldcraft

Silver Lining To Mid-Aug. T-storms: Rains Helped Some N. Sound Salmon Reach Hatcheries

Mid-August’s thunderstorms have been ruinous for North-central Washington residents, firefighters and forests, but if there’s a glimmer of good, it’s that the rain that did fall appears to have helped hundreds of spring Chinook return to two North Sound hatcheries.

The Skagit Valley Herald today reports that over 550 of the salmon rushed out of the Skagit and Cascade Rivers into Marblemount Hatchery.

“We got swamped,” manager Steve Stout told reporter Kimberly Cauval. “They were obviously stacked up in the river waiting to come in.”

The Skagit at Marblemount rose from around 2,200 cubic feet per second on the 14th to 2,800 cfs the next day.

A total of 1,593 spring kings have returned to the facility this year, the highest tally over the past five years.

On the North Fork Nooksack, WDFW records show that the tally at Kendall Creek Hatchery doubled from 930 the week before to 1,870 as of Aug. 20, an above-average figure over the past half decade.

The river rose from 500 to 1,000 cfs.

However, summer kings counts at Wallace Salmon Hatchery on the Skykomish River system barely budged, rising from just 633 to 688, just one-quarter of the worst return since 2011.

Though there’s no gauge on the Wallace, the Skykomish nearby only went from 350 cfs to 500 cfs.

Between Wallace and a tribal facility off Tulalip Bay, a total of 3,500 summer Chinook are needed to meet eggtake goals.

The Herald also reports that 400,000 young coho were moved from the warmer waters of Wallace to the cooler pools at Marblemount.

Forecasts are suggesting anything from a chance of rain to an inch or more over the North Cascades and this weekend.

That could help with efforts to control the Upper Skagit Complex of wildfires burning above Marblemount at Newhalem, but also may bring more thunderstorms to Eastern Washington.

Fire officials report that the Okanogan Complex, which includes the Twisp River Fire which killed three firefighters last week, has now burned over 258,000 acres, making it the largest fire complex in state history, and this the second year in a row that has seen a set of blazes reach record sizes.

The North Star Fire, burning just to the east on the Colville Reservation, is at 150,000 acres, and the Wolverine Fire is at 53,000 acres and has led to Entiat and Chiwawa Valley closures that High Buck hunters will want to track very closely.

For drought and wildfire updates as they apply to fish and wildlife, see weekly and biweekly ones from WDFW here.

In other Washington fish news, The Daily News of Longview reports that between 60,000 and 100,000 fish died in Olequa Creek, a Cowlitz tributary, after a fire at a warehouse in Winlock released oil into the stream last week.

“The fish include juvenile salmonids, steelhead rainbow trout, coastal cutthroat trout, brook lamprey, sculpin, crayfish and red shiners. An estimated 94 percent of the dead fish were sculpin, a bottom-dwelling fish,” Loren Kronebusch reports.

COHO ARE MAKING UP AN INCREASING PART OF THE CATCH OFF WESTPORT IN RECENT DAYS, JOHN KEIZER OF SALTPATROL.COM REPORTS. (SALTPATROL.COM)

Sound, Westport, Buoy 10, Columbia Fishing Reports (8-24-15)

Anglers did very well at Buoy 10 over the weekend, and while wild kings must now be released, there’s still a whole pile of fish to be caught there and elsewhere in Washington.

The latest catch stats from Puget Sound show pink salmon fishing staying strong out of Everett — 3,028 for both days this past weekend vs. 2,845 the one before — and that’s roughly where angler Devin Schildt, his son Mark and Mark’s friend Andrew  enjoyed some pretty fast action over the weekend.

ANDREW SOPER AND MARK SCHILDT SHOW OFF PUGET SOUND PINKS CAUGHT LAST WEEKEND. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

ANDREW SOPER AND MARK SCHILDT SHOW OFF PUGET SOUND PINKS CAUGHT LAST WEEKEND. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

“Three minutes after we put the lines out we double up … then double up again. In ten minutes of fishing the boys had three on the deck and one long line release. Only fished for two hours, landed four, lost two, then gave it up to pull pots and eat pizza. Twas a good day,” reported Devin, who this morning added that he still felt like he was swaying from so much time on the water the past few days.

Here are more reports from around the Westside:

BY JOHN KEIZER, SALTPATROL.COM

Starting to see the change at Westport now, fewer kings and a lot more coho starting to show. Saturday we ran up on the north beach in 100ft of water and found birds diving on bait and limited out on coho in no time at all.  Some kings were caught down off the wind mills on the south beach in 30-40ft of water. Sunday found the weather changing bringing  lots of wind and rough water and fishing was tough for the kicker boat fleet.

COHO ARE MAKING UP AN INCREASING PART OF THE CATCH OFF WESTPORT IN RECENT DAYS, JOHN KEIZER OF SALTPATROL.COM REPORTS. (SALTPATROL.COM)

COHO ARE MAKING UP AN INCREASING PART OF THE CATCH OFF WESTPORT IN RECENT DAYS, JOHN KEIZER OF SALTPATROL.COM REPORTS. (SALTPATROL.COM)

We found trolling Shasta Tackle UV 8″ Sling Blades with green Wiggle Hootchies to quickly produce coho for us. Ran them off the Scotty downrigger at 45ft and off a diver and they all got hit.  We loaded the Hootchies up with Bloody Tuna Jell Scent.

Tuna action remains great between 40-50 miles SW of the harbor.

BY KEVIN KLEIN, PUGET SOUND ANGLERS-SAN JUAN ISLANDS CHAPTER

As ya’ll prolly heard, thar’s some catchin’ be in done down at Buoy 10, or parts there bouts on the Columbia River. The fishing is pretty epic. That warm water is keeping the fish in the lower river. Descriptions like “on fire”, and “smoking”, are probably not the best phrases to use with our state in a wildfire crisis. Thanks to all the firefighters, professional  and volunteer alike. Sympathies go out to those families who lost loved ones and those who lost their homes. Hopefully we’ll get some rain, for the fish, and for the fires. I grew up in Central Washington, and it hurts to see that area devastated.

Pictures:

(KEVIN KLEIN)

(KEVIN KLEIN)

Three generations of the Holman clan, grandpa Dave, dad Andy, and son Floyd with a beautiful URB. That’s what it’s all about right there.

floyd scale

Floyd weighs the fish he caught…is it as big as dad’s?

Outdoor Emporium, Groups Sue Seattle Over New Gun Tax

A Seattle sporting goods store is among those suing the City of Seattle over recently passed retail taxes on guns and ammunition.

Outdoor Emporium, a Northwest Sportsman advertiser, was joined by three gun rights organizations, including Bellevue’s Second Amendment Foundation, in saying that the $25 tax on guns and 2- to 5-cent per-bullet tax amounted to “a clear violation of Washington State’s 33-year-old state preemption law that does not allow cities, counties or political subdivisions to enact laws relating to firearms not authorized by state law.”

The lawsuit was filed in King County Superior Court today and comes two weeks after city council members unanimously approved the tax to “fund gun violence prevention efforts.”

According to The Seattle Times, the tax would go into effect Jan. 1, 2016, but the lawsuit could either delay or negate that.

Outdoor Emporium sells rifles, shotguns and handguns, as well as ammunition for all.

Others involved in the suit include the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Precise Shooter LLC and two citizens.

UNTERS HAD THE THIRD-HIGHEST HARVEST OF WHITE-TAILED DEER IN 2014, AND WITH BETTER HUNTING IN THE FORECAST, THE ALL-TIME RECORD COULD BE BROKEN THIS YEAR. (DAVE ALBISTON, VIA IDFG)

IDFG Forecasting Potential Big Game ‘Season To Brag About’

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

Idaho big game hunters could have a hunting season to brag about this fall, and deer hunters could see the best hunting in more than 20 years and potentially a record harvest for white-tailed deer.

Idaho Fish and Game biologists have lots of reasons to be optimistic. Four consecutive mild winters have helped deer and elk herds grow, and resident and nonresident hunters are showing renewed interest by buying more licenses and tags.

“Things are going really well in a lot of the state right now,” Fish and Game’s state game manager Jon Rachael said.

Hunters last year had the largest deer harvest since 1992, and the largest elk harvest since 2005. This fall’s harvests could match or top last year’s, depending on how many hunters go into the field and what kind of weather and hunting conditions they get in the fall.

Deer

Hunters harvested 61,200 deer in 2014, which is 12,100 more than in 2013, and the most since 1992. Harvests of whitetails and mule deer were both up in 2014, and Idaho recorded its third-highest whitetail harvest of all time.

Fish and Game sold 157,400 deer tags last year, which was the most since 1993, and statewide success rate was about 40 percent for those who went deer hunting.

Fish and Game’s annual winter monitoring also showed the highest winter mule deer survival since its intensive monitoring program began 15 years ago. Each winter, Fish and Game staff traps and radio collars adult mule deer and fawns in 14 locations across the state and monitors their survival through winter. Fawn survival over winter was nearly 80 percent, topping the previous high in the 2004-05 winter.

By comparison, during the worst winter in the program’s 15-year history, about 25 percent of fawns survived.

“We’ve been lucky,” Rachael said. “We’ve had very mild winters.”

Winter is the major regulator of deer populations, and while more deer survive mild winters, mild is not always good. Drought can mean less forage available for animals, which means they can be less fit to survive the upcoming winter. However, even in years with low snowpack, well-timed rains in the spring and summer can improve forage for big game.

Biologists also said more than 95 percent of mule deer does that were radio collared in the last two years survived each winter, and healthy does typically produce twin fawns that quickly grow herds when conditions are favorable.

Fawn survival is a key indicator of the health of deer herds, and also of future hunting success. Last year’s male fawns become this year’s young bucks that make up a large portion of the annual harvest.

“I think we’re going to have a better year than last year because we are going to have more yearlings available,” Rachael said. “There should be more mule deer than we’ve seen out there in a long time.”

Also, mild winters mean a good carry over of mature bucks. Each year, Fish and Game measures some trophy-sized bucks during the season, and this year will likely produce more than usual thanks to mild winters.

While mule deer populations are up statewide, Rachael cautioned that doesn’t mean they will be evenly distributed. During dry years, deer tend to congregate around water and at higher elevations. During wet years, deer can be dispersed through a lot of country.

Fall weather is also a big factor for hunter success. Rainstorms and/or early snow typically mean higher success rates than warm, dry weather, especially during October general seasons.

White-tailed deer, which dominate Northern and Central Idaho, are doing excellent. Hunters took 28,200 whitetails in 2014, which is 5,100 more than in 2013. Whitetail harvests have grown five out the last six years and are currently above long-term averages. If trends continue this year, hunters could top the all-time whitetail harvest of 29,800 set in 1996.

Fish and Game does not monitor whitetails in the same ways it does mule deer. One way Fish and Game monitors whitetail populations is through hunting statistics, such as success rates, percentage of mature bucks, and numbers of days hunters spend pursuing whitetails.

“There’s reason to think that whitetails will be doing very, very well this year,” Rachael said.

But the dry summer, especially up north, has him concerned about the condition of deer heading into winter, and a harsh winter could mean trouble for whitetails.

There have been scattered reports of dead whitetails in Clearwater Basin, which could be caused by epizootic hemorrhagic disease, commonly known as EHD. The disease is spread by biting gnats and poses no threats to humans. There are no confirmed cases yet, but the disease has hit whitetails in the past during late summer.

Overall, Fish and Game has seen growing interest in deer hunting. Tag sales have increased every year since 2011, and if that continues, and success rate for hunters remains the same or similar to last year, Idaho hunters could see the best deer hunting in decades.

2014 top deer hunting units by harvest, general season hunts (all weapon types)

Ranking

Unit

Harvest

Antlered

Anterless

Hunters

1.

1

3,832

2,600

1,232

8,418

2.

10A

3,131

2,117

1,006

6,831

3.

39

2,284

1,759

525

12,565

4.

8A

2,250

1,636

614

5,857

5.

2

2,037

1,368

661

5,124

6.

5

1,921

1,309

612

3,380

7.

3

1,816

1,096

720

5,592

8.

8

1,760

1,305

454

3,733

9.

43

1,540

1,285

255

3,850

10.

76

1,501

1,246

255

3,933

2014 top deer hunting units by success rates, general season hunts (all weapon types)

Ranking

Unit

Success Rate

Harvest

Hunters

1.

16

55.3%

634

1,147

2.

5

49.5%

1,921

3,880

3.

11A

49%

1,494

3,047

4.

8

47.1%

1,760

3,733

5.

10A

45.8%

3,131

6,831

6.

11

45.7%

1,058

2,315

7.

1

45.5%

3,832

8,418

8.

15

44.8%

1,097

2,449

9.

30

44.5%

401

901

10.

30A

43.1%

23

53*

* (youth hunt only)

Elk
Idaho’s elk population and hunting success is more complex than deer hunting, but elk hunters also did well last year with the largest harvest since 2005 and an overall success rate of about 24 percent.

Hunters bagged 20,700 elk in 2014, which was 4,200 elk and 20 percent more than in 2013, and the largest harvest since 2005. Elk tag sales and harvests have increased for three straight years.

“We’ve had a few good years and some positive feedback from hunters,” Rachael said.

If the short-term trend continues, there’s a fair-to-good chance more hunters will go into the field in the fall and kill more elk. This year’s harvest could again top 20,000 elk, which has happened only five times in the last 20 years.

Word has gotten out that elk hunting is rebounding in the state, and that coupled with an improved economy means more hunters are traveling to take advantage of better elk hunting.

Fish and Game sold 93,100 elk tags last year, which is 4,400 more than in 2013 and the most since 2008.

The correlation between elk tag sales, harvest and success rate has been interesting in recent years.

Fish and Game sold more than 90,000 elk tags annually between 1995 and 2008, then participation in elk hunting gradually declined. In 2009, tag sales dropped below 90,000 for the first time in 13 years and bottomed out at 82,950 in 2012.

Between 2005 and 2011, there was a similar declining harvest trend, except for a one-year bump in 2010.

But in recent years, success rates and harvests gradually increased as hunters started seeing more elk. It’s likely a combination of mild winters, intensive predator management and improved economy that has led to the resurgence of elk hunting in Idaho.

Even with some difficult years, the average elk harvest over the last decade was 18,000, which is about 2,000 elk more than the 50-year average.

Elk populations are different than deer populations, which tend to be more boom and bust. Elk are fewer in numbers, and populations trends tend to be more gradual compared with deer.

Prior to the federal reintroduction of wolves in 1995-96, Fish and Game focused on bear and mountain lions when it need to manage predators to boost elk herds. As wolf populations grew, but still remained federally protected, Fish and Game’s primary response to declining elk herds in wolf country was to limit elk hunting opportunity.

Federal protection was removed in 2009, allowing Fish and Game to manage wolves more like bears and mountain lions. Idaho had its first wolf hunting season that year, and Fish and Game has continued wolf hunts every year since, except 2010, when wolves were temporarily placed back under federal protection by court order.

Hunters and trappers have harvested about 1,300 wolves since 2009, resulting in a lower population, but still well above the minimum wolf population required by the federal government. Hunting and trapping wolves have benefitted elk herds with higher elk survival rates in several areas of the state.

“Things have definitely changed since 2008-09 when we had the highest density of predators,” Rachael said.

The Sawtooth elk zone in Central Idaho is a good example of the situation. In 2009, Fish and Game restricted the number of elk tags available to limit to the harvest. Even with limits on the number of tags, some went unsold because hunters weren’t seeing the numbers of elk they were accustom to seeing, but they were seeing lots of wolf sign.

Fish and Game liberalized wolf hunting in the area, and hunters responded by taking more wolves.

Since then, elk herds in the Sawtooth Zone have started to bounce back, hunter interest has returned, and both resident and nonresident tags sold out very quickly this year.

While statewide elk hunting is improving, it’s not happening in all areas that elk inhabit.

Idaho is divided into 29 elk management zones, and the department has population goals for 22 of those zones. Elk herds currently meet or exceed management objectives in 16 of 22 zones for cow populations, and in 14 of 22 zones for bull populations.

Managing elk herds in agriculture areas is another balancing act to provide hunting opportunity while minimizing damage to private property caused by elk. Fish and Game responds to property owners’ complaints about elk damage and helps reduce them by allowing more elk hunting on lands adjacent to agriculture.

Elk harvest data

2014 top elk hunting units by harvest, general season hunts (all weapon types)

Ranking

Unit

Harvest

Hunters

1.

39

635

3,909

2.

10A

623

3,445

3.

4

536

5,685

4.

22

490

2,379

5.

23

451

2,373

6.

32A

422

2,322

7.

1

420

3,361

8.

6

414

2,432

9.

8A

398

2,633

10.

5

364

1,716

2014  top elk hunting units by success rate, general season hunts (all weapon types)

Ranking

Unit

Success Rate

Harvest

Hunters

1.

45*

38%

52

136*

2.

21A

33%

235

709

3.

37

31%

152

491

4.

30

29%

107

375

5.

35

28%

100

353

6.

20

28%

51

181

7.

68**

27%

16

161

8.

32

26%

346

1,346

9.

31

26%

127

490

10.

21

26%

113

443

 

*(Muzzleloader hunt only)

**(Archery hunt only)

Hatchery Kings Only Allowed Now At Buoy 10

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

In an effort to keep the Columbia River Buoy 10 Chinook fishery open through the Labor Day weekend, fishery managers decided today to limit Chinook harvest to hatchery adipose fin-clipped fish only beginning Monday, Aug. 24.

Thanks to excellent fishing early in the season, anglers are quickly approaching the number of allowable impacts on ESA-listed wild tule Chinook, the limiting factor for the Chinook fishery. Managers hope today’s action will extend the Chinook fishery through Sept. 7 as originally scheduled.

“This year’s Buoy 10 fishery started out strong, with very high catch rates and a near-record level of angler participation,” said Chris Kern, ODFW fish division deputy administrator. “Limiting harvest to hatchery fish should allow Chinook anglers to keep fishing through the holiday weekend.”

THERE ARE STILL NICE CHINOOK TO BE CAUGHT AT BUOY 10, IF THIS HATCHERY FISH MICHELLE MCKINLAY SMITH CAUGHT LAST WEEK IS ANY INDICATION. THOUGH WILD KINGS MUST BE RELEASED, MICHELLE SAYS FISHING WAS SO GOOD THE FAMILY PLANNED TO RETURN THIS WEEK. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

THERE ARE STILL NICE CHINOOK TO BE CAUGHT AT BUOY 10, IF THIS HATCHERY FISH MICHELLE MCKINLAY SMITH CAUGHT LAST WEEK IS ANY INDICATION. THOUGH WILD KINGS MUST BE RELEASED, MICHELLE SAYS FISHING WAS SO GOOD THE FAMILY PLANNED TO RETURN THIS WEEK. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Catch in the Buoy 10 fishery through Aug. 20 includes 18,600 Chinook kept during 46,600 angler trips, and mangers expect the good fishing to continue.

Under the rules adopted today:

  • Effective Monday, Aug. 24 through Monday, Sept. 7 only adipose fin-clipped Chinook may be retained.
  • The overall daily bag limit will continue to be two adult hatchery salmon or steelhead, in combination, only one of which may be a Chinook. All wild steelhead, coho, and Chinook salmon must be released. As in all years, all jack salmon caught between Tongue Point and Buoy 10 must be released through Sept. 30.
  • Anglers may transport un-clipped Chinook salmon caught in adjacent fisheries (such as the ocean or the Columbia River above Tongue Point) through the Buoy 10 area, but cannot fish in Buoy 10 with an un-clipped salmon on board.

All Chinook retention in the Buoy 10 area is scheduled to close Sept. 8-30. However, managers will be monitoring the fishery and an earlier closure is possible if effort and harvest rates continue to be high. See the ODFW web page for in-season updates.

In the meantime, managers are predicting over half a million coho will be returning to the mouth of the Columbia and anglers can look forward to some good coho fishing at Buoy 10, Kern said.