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SW WA Fishing Report

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Anglers are catching a mix of spring chinook and steelhead.

A CLIENT OF GUIDE ANDY SHANKS SHOWS OFF A MIDSPRING CHINOOK FROM THE COWLITZ. (ISLAND GUIDE SERVICE)

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 545 winter-run steelhead, 35 summer-run steelhead, 288 spring Chinook adults and 24 jacks during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 81 spring Chinook adults, twelve jacks, and five winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa at the Day Use Park above Cowlitz Falls Dam and 110 spring Chinook adults, 14 jacks, and two winter-run steelhead into the upper Cowlitz River at Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, Washington.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,540 cubic feet per second on Monday, May 10. Water visibility is ten feet.

Kalama River – Anglers are catching a mix of spring chinook and steelhead.

Lewis River – Generally light effort and catch.  Most of the catch has been summer run steelhead.

Wind River – Just over 40% of the boat anglers had caught a spring chinook last week.  Bank angling, including in the gorge, was slow.

Drano Lake – Just over half the boat anglers caught a spring chinook last week.  Bank anglers averaged a fish per every 3.5 rods.  Effort has been heavy, especially on Thursdays.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers from Fisher Hill Bridge downstream are catching a mix of spring chinook and summer run steelhead.

Yakima River – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WA: An estimated 20 hatchery spring chinook were harvested in the lower Yakima River this week. In addition, 8 wild chinook were caught and released. Anglers averaged 39 hours per chinook.

RingoldFrom Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WA: An estimated 225 adult hatchery spring chinook were harvested at Ringold for the week of May 3-9.  An estimated 44 wild chinook were caught and released.  WDFW staff interviewed 166 anglers, 18% of the effort during the week. Anglers averaged one chinook for 17 hours of fishing. For the season, 301 hatchery steelhead have been harvested.

Upriver run size update:

  • Bonneville Dam passage of Chinook through May 9 totals 194,901 adults.  This is the highest cumulative count to date since 2002 and the 3rd highest count to date (1977-current).
  • The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met today and determined the upriver run will likely be about 350,000 adults (range 330,000-370,000).
  • TAC will continue to meet at least weekly to review passage at Bonneville Dam.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to the Marker 82 line – Catch of legal size fish is increasing though effort remains similar to past weeks.  Just over 100 boats and 62 bank anglers were counted during the Saturday May 8 flight.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some of both species.

TROUT

Plants of rainbows into SW Washington waters last week:

Fort Borst Park Pond near Centralia – 2,019 catchable size rainbows

Lewis Co. Park Pond near Toledo – 580 Triploid Trophy Trout averaging 1.5 pounds each

Lake Sacajawea in Longview – 2,222 catchable size rainbows

Springer Run ’10: around 350K

Oregon and Washington salmon managers today said that the spring Chinook run back to tribs above Bonneville Dam will end up somewhere around 350,000, with a range of 330,000 to 370,000.

That’s well below the preseason forecast, but is at the lower end of the seven predictions that were averaged to come up with that figure of 470,000.

Through yesterday, 194,401 springers had topped Bonneville, “the highest cumulative count to date since 2002 and the 3rd highest count to date (1977-current),” according to a fact sheet from ODFW and WDFW.

Another 32,336 springers had been caught in sport and commercial fisheries below the dam, while sport anglers had landed 4,297 in the middle Columbia and Snake so far.

“The run has to get to something near 400,000 to consider any more lower river fisheries,” said Cindy Le Fleur of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife this afternoon.

She says managers will meet each Monday to review the latest data.

“We’re still in the peak of the run — that halfway point,” Le Fleur says.

With room in their quotas, tribal fishermen were greenlighted for a 3.5-day mainstem gillnet fishery above Bonneville as well as a below-dam season for the pricey salmon (going for $19.99 a pound filleted at my grocery store yesterday).

Mid-Columbia To Close For Springers

UPDATED 12:40 P.M.: Oregon and Washington salmon managers announced this afternoon that the mid-Columbia River will close Monday, May 10, for spring Chinook.

The decision affects the river from the Tower Island power lines (roughly 6 miles below The Dalles Dam) upstream to McNary Dam as well as the Oregon and Washington banks from Bonneville Dam to the Tower Island power lines.

They estimate that through May 9, 3,400 springers will have been caught in that stretch by sport anglers.

With the current return estimate of 310,000 to 370,000 upper Columbia system springers, a “closure is necessary to ensure other fisheries have similar opportunity at the reduced run size level,” a fact sheet out this morning says.

However, the managers reopened hatchery salmon and steelhead fishing in the four SAFE areas near the mouth of the Columbia starting tomorrow, May 8. They had closed Youngs Bay, Knappa Slough and elsewhere after a large number of upriver-bound springers unexpectedly moved into them.

“Based on the results of the test fishing and limited commercial fishing in the Select Areas, the number of upriver fish in these areas has decreased and is expected to remain at low levels,” the fact sheet says.

Overall, 174,000 springers have passed Bonneville Dam as of May 6, “the highest cumulative count to date since 2002 and the 3rd highest count to date (1977-current),” the fact sheet states.

It also indicates that the overall recreational and commercial upriver springer catch from the mouth up into the Snake and upper Columbia through May 9 will stand at 36,623.

ANGLERS LIKE JEFF MAIN OF SPOKANE HAVE BEEN CATCHING SPRING CHINOOK IN RECENT DAYS ON THE SNAKE RIVER. THIS ONE BIT AT "THE WALL" AT LITTLE GOOSE DAM. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Last Clam Dates Tentatively Set; Diggers Spent $27m

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced a tentative razor-clam dig scheduled for later this month on several coastal beaches.

A final decision will be made next week after marine toxin tests are run to determine if the clams are safe to eat. If the tests come back as expected, four ocean beaches will open on Saturday, May 15 and two beaches will open the following day. The openings are all on morning low tides. They are:

* Saturday, May 15, 8:15 a.m., -1.6 ft.: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks.
* Sunday, May 16, 8:58 a.m., -1.6 ft.: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only.

Kalaloch beach will remain closed.

Dan Ayres, WDFW’s coastal shellfish manager, reminds diggers that portions of the beach at Long Beach and Twin Harbors are closed to the public to protect nesting western snowy plovers, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“The birds are particularly vulnerable this time of year,” said Ayres. “Signs clearly mark the area and instruct people to stay on the hard-packed sand.”

The closed portion at each beach includes the area above the mean high tide line. At Long Beach, the closed areas are located north of the Oysterville Road from the state park boundary north to Leadbetter Point. At Twin Harbors, the closed areas are located from just south of Midway Beach Road to the first beach-access trail at Grayland Beach State Park. Clam diggers are reminded that the entire northern section of Long Beach is closed to all driving starting at noon each day during this razor clam opener.

No digging will be allowed after noon at any of the beaches. Under WDFW rules, harvesters may take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 taken, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s limit must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers 15 years or older must have an applicable 2010-11 fishing license. Options include buying a combination license or an annual shellfish/seaweed license. Also available are razor-clam only licenses in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the licensing options are on the WDFW website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov .

Licenses can be purchased online or at any of the approximately 600 vendors who sell recreational licenses. A list of vendors is at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/

The next razor-clam season will likely open in October. Ayres says the precise date will depend on tides, the results of marine toxin tests, negotiations with tribes that share the fishery and WDFW’s razor-clam assessment, which will be conducted this summer.

Prospective clammers for this month’s dig should be warned that overnight and weekend repairs to Interstate 5 between Tacoma and Lacey will make it considerably more difficult to get to and from Washington’s coast. A schedule of closures can be found at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/pavementrehab/i5martinwayto48thst

Ayres estimates that approximately 300,000 trips will have been made to Washington beaches to dig clams by the time this season closes. Since the season opened last October, an estimated four million razor-clams were harvested from beaches that stretch from the mouth of the Columbia River north to Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park. That number is considerably higher than the 2.9 million average for the past 10 years. Ayres says the larger harvest reflects an increase in the total number of clams available “compliments of Mother Nature.”

WDFW also estimates that razor-clam diggers spent approximately $27 million during their visits to coastal communities during this season. The estimate is based on data collected during a survey of Washington razor clam diggers, sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and conducted by the University of Washington.

T

ODFW To Talk Groundfish

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Meetings in five Oregon ports will discuss sport and commercial groundfish issues for 2011 and 2012.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) is currently setting harvest levels and management measures for the next two years of recreational and commercial groundfish fishing. Eight West Coast groundfish species are declared overfished with six of those species affecting fisheries off Oregon.

In April the PFMC adopted preferred harvest levels for both depleted and healthy stocks, as well as a range of management measures for all groundfish fisheries. At the next PFMC meeting on June 12-17 in Foster City, Calif., the council will take final action and adopt management measures that will be recommended to the National Marine Fisheries Service for implementation.

“It is important that fishers attend the ODFW meetings so they can tell Oregon’s representatives to the PFMC what messages to give the council,” said Gway Kirchner, Assistant Program Manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Resources Program.

The meetings will be:

  • Astoria, 7 to 9 p.m. May 17 at the Holiday Inn Express, 204 W. Marine Drive;
  • Newport, 7 to 9 p.m. May 18 at the Holiday Inn Express, 135 SE 32nd St.;
  • North Bend, 6 to 8 p.m. May 19 at the North Bend Library, 1800 Sherman Ave.;
  • Brookings, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. May 20 at the Best Western Beachfront Inn, 16008 Boat Basin Road, Harbor;
  • Port Orford, 6 to 8 p.m. May 20 at the Port Orford Library, 1421 Oregon St.

The meetings will start with a general session to discuss harvest levels, then commercial and sport fishing breakout sessions to discuss specific management measures. If individuals are unable to attend the meetings, input can be submitted by e-mail at gway.r.kirchner@state.or.us or by calling Gway Kirchner at 541-867-0300 ext. 267. Input may be received up until June 10.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Limits of rockfish out of Garibaldi and lings biting elsewhere; trout in a plethora of ponds; springers surging upstream into the Rogue and lower Columbia tribs;  youth angling events — sheesh, there’s a ton of fisheries around Oregon to check out this weekend!

Here are highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Trout stocking is well underway on area lakes and ponds. Check out the stocking schedule to help plan your next trip.
  • Chinook fishing on the middle and upper Rogue River is starting to pick up and should continue to improve as more fish enter the upper river.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • South, Town and Cape Meares lakes are scheduled to be stocked with legal size rainbow trout the week of May 10. Trout scheduled to be stocked in Hebo Lake will instead be split between South and Town lakes, increasing the number fish released into those lakes. Fishing should be fair to good in many of the lakes and ponds that have been stocked this spring.  Warmwater species will begin to be more active as lakes warm up, although cool spring weather is slowing that process.
  • Spring Chinook are available in Big Creek, Gnat Creek, and the NF Klaskanine. Good opportunities are available in these streams for adipose fin-clipped Chinook that have passed through the select area fisheries. The select area fisheries remain closed at this time, allowing fish to continue to move into these tributaries.
  • Nestucca River: Steelhead angling has been fair. The catch is a mix of bright summer steelhead and winter steelhead in various conditions. Many of the winter steelhead are dark and should be released. Bobber and jigs are working well as the water drops, but drifting small lures or baits near the bottom is producing fish also. Spring chinook will begin to sow in small numbers any time now. Fishing will improve in May. Concentrate on tidewater or lower river areas early in the season. Bobber and eggs is a good technique. Casting spinners in tidewater areas will produce some fish also.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • ODFW will host a free youth fishing event Saturday, May 8 at Commonwealth Lake. The lake will be stocked this week with more than 200 legal-sized and larger rainbow trout. ODFW staff and volunteers will be at the site from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help youngsters with fishing gear and technique.
  • Several huge brood trout will be released at various sites throughout the month of May. These are fish that have been used to produce eggs at ODFW’s Roaring River hatchery and need to be removed to make way for younger brood stock. The first one to be released was a 29-pound trout that was released in Timber Linn Pond near Albany. The other sites and release dates are as follows: Canby Pond (May 7), Walter Wirth Pond in Salem (May 13), Waverly Lake, Albany (May 14), Sunnyside Park Pond, Sweethome (May 21), and Thistle Pond, west of Alsea, (June 12).
  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel.
  • More than 14,000 spring chinook have crossed Willamette Falls and are moving into the upper Willamette and its tributaries.
  • Steelhead fishing is good on the Clackamas River, with both summers and winters being caught. Spring chinook should be moving into the system as well.
  • Detroit Reservoir will receive its fourth stocking of 10,000 trout this week.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Warmer days are bringing some good insect hatches on the Deschutes and Crooked rivers.
  • Crane Prairie Reservoir is ice-free and trout fishing has been great.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • The Umatilla spring chinook season is under way with the area downstream of Threemile Dam producing good catches of spring chinook.
  • There will be a fishing event May 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Peach Pond. The pond is located on Ladd Marsh near La Grande.  Loaner rods and reels, and bait will be available for new anglers who don’t have their own.

MARINE ZONE

  • Ocean conditions did allow some fishers to get out for bottom fish last week. Only Garibaldi reported fishers getting limits of rockfish. Most other ports reported three or four rockfish per angler caught. About one in four anglers caught lingcod along the coast. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.

SW WA Fishing Report

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Some spring chinook and steelhead are being caught.  Most of the chinook are being caught at the barrier dam while steelhead are being caught throughout the river.  Anglers should note the south side of the river from Mill Creek to the Barrier Dam is closed to all fishing through mid June per permanent regulations.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 1,105 winter-run steelhead, 26 summer-run steelhead, 614 spring Chinook adults and ten jacks during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.  Tacoma Power employees released 271 spring Chinook adults, four jacks and 22 winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa at the Day Use Park above Cowlitz Falls Dam, 237 spring Chinook adults, three jacks and 14 winter-run steelhead into the upper Cowlitz River at Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, Washington, and one winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,540 cubic feet per second on Monday, May 3. Water visibility is nine feet.

Kalama River – Some spring chinook and steelhead are being caught though the river has been turbid at times.  The first 7 spring chinook of the year returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery last week.

THE KALAMA YIELDED THIS SPRINGER LAST WEDNESDAY. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

Lewis River – Generally light effort and catch the couple days we sampled.  A couple hundred spring chinook were in the Merwin Dam trap today.

Wind River – Slightly less than one in every 3 boat anglers had caught a spring chinook when sampled last week.  Bank anglers at the mouth were also catching some fish.

No report from Shipherd Falls upstream that opened May 1.  However some fish should be present as total passage of hatchery chinook at the Shipherd Falls trap through April 25 was approximately 300 fish.  The trap was pulled on Sunday, April 25.  There will be no further counting of chinook through the trap until early June, 2010.

Drano Lake – Just over 40% of the boat and bank anglers had caught a spring chinook when sampled last week.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream are catching some spring chinook and summer run steelhead.

Bonneville Pool – Some spring chinook are being caught by bank anglers just outside the mouth of Drano Lake.

The Dalles Pool – About one in five bank anglers while one in six boat anglers had kept/released a spring chinook when sampled last week.  Overall 82% of the fish caught were kept.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth Washington Dept of Fish & Wildlife District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco WAFor the week of April 26 – May 2, an estimated 558 adult hatchery chinook were harvested and 138 wild chinook were released. The majority of the harvest were retained by bank anglers fishing the Oregon shore. WDFW staff interviewed 282 salmon anglers this past week and sampled 90 hatchery chinook. For the season, an estimated 1,453 adult hatchery chinook have been harvested and 298 wild chinook were released.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam – Sturgeon catch has improved from Kalama upstream with one in five boat anglers keeping/releasing a legal size fish last week.  Effort remains light with just over a hundred boats and 40 bank anglers counted during the Saturday May 1 flight.

The Dalles Pool – Slow for legal size fish.  Wednesday May 5 is the last day of the year that sturgeon may be kept from The Dalles Pool.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – The few boat anglers sampled did well on walleye.  Some bass were caught by bank anglers.

John Day Pool – The few boat anglers sampled did well on bass and walleye.

TROUT

Last week’s trout plants:

Kress Lake near Kalama – 19 surplus hatchery winter run steelhead averaging 10 pounds each;

Battleground Lake – 4,000 catchable size cutthroats and 1,500 rainbows averaging ¾ pound each;

Klineline Pond – 4,000 catchable size cutthroats;

Lacamas Lake near Camas – 10,000 catchable size browns

That’s A Lotta Perch!

A whopping 300,000 yellow perch were netted out of Phillips Reservoir last month — six to seven times as many as last year’s effort.

ODFW put nets into the Eastern Oregon lake, once a popular and lucrative trout fishery, for two and a half weeks right after ice-off when the fish come shallow, reports the Baker City Herald.

The perch were illegally stocked at some point during the 1980s or 1990s are so crazily productive that they’ve overpopulated the lake and stunted themselves.

We wrote about the perch problem last fall. Here are some images from last spring’s haul, which netted an estimated 46,500 perch:

HAULING IN A NET SET FOR PERCH, PHILLIPS RESERVOIR 2009. (ODFW)

NET FULL OF PERCH, PHILLIPS RESERVOIR 2009. (ODFW)

PERCH NETTING AT PHILLIPS RESERVOIR 2009. (ODFW)

ODFW also netted two years in a row in the mid-2000s, gathering a total of 300,000.

This year, the dead ones were hauled off to a farmer’s field, the paper notes. The agency will also net next spring, the Herald writes.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

This season’s good springer fishing has spread to the Umatilla River while lakes across Oregon are getting fresh batches of stocker trout. Meanwhile, you can also catch steelies, walleye and even bull trout in parts of the Beaver State.

Here are highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Trout fishing has been good in several Coos County lakes including Powers Pond, Empire Lakes and Tenmile Lakes.
  • Steelhead fishing on the Rogue River has been good in the Grants Pass area, with all the standard techniques producing fish.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Battle Lake was stocked last week. South Lake was also stocked, making up for a missed stocking earlier when snow blocked access. Sunset, Lost, and Coffenbury lakes, and Vernonia Pond are scheduled to be stocked the week of April 26. Fishing should be fair to good in many of the lakes and ponds that have been stocked this spring.
  • A youth angling event is scheduled for Saturday, May 1 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Vernonia Pond. ODFW and volunteers will be available to assist young anglers wanting to learn about fishing. Adult anglers are encouraged to refrain from fishing the lake immediately before the event to ensure there are sufficient numbers of trout to provide good catch rates for the youngsters.
  • Fishing in most mid coast lakes has been very good so far this spring and should continue to provide anglers with great opportunities well into June. Most water bodies have been stocked several times this spring and at least once with trophy sized trout. Check the online stocking report for specific weeks and lakes to be stocked.
  • Hatchery winter steelhead have been released into Olalla Reservoir several times this spring. Hatchery steelhead are considered “trophy trout” and a hatchery harvest card is not necessary.

ODFW HAS BEEN LOADING TOWN LAKE, NEAR CAPE KIWANDA, WITH STOCKERS, BUT McKENZIE MOOREHEAD FOUND A WEE BIT BIGGER ONE THERE RECENTLY. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel.
  • More than 9,000 spring chinook have crossed Willamette Falls and are moving into the upper Willamette and its tributaries.
  • Steelhead fishing is good on the Clackamas River, with both summers and winters being caught. Spring chinook should be moving into the system as well.
  • Detroit Reservoir will be stocked with 10,000 trout this week and Henry Hagg Lake will be stocked with 7,000 trout as the trout season gets into full swing across the region.

NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN READER DUSTIN SHARPE AND PAL JODO SMITH GAVE UP ON SPRINGERS AND WENT AFTER SMALLIES ON THE WILLAMETTE INSTEAD LAST WEEKEND, LANDING THIS 2.5-POUNDER. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Warmer days are bringing some good insect hatches on the Deschutes River.
  • Good returns of winter steelhead to the Hood River have produced good fishing and it should continue into early May.
  • Trout fishing is picking up on Lake Billy Chinook with reports of some legal-sized bull trout being caught.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • The Umatilla spring chinook season is under way with the area downstream of Threemile Dam producing good catches of spring chinook.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Spring chinook are beginning to move upstream and should be available in the Bonneville, The Dalles, and John Day Pools.
  • Walleye angling is good in The Dalles Pool.