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Dishonor Roll: Two Cited In NW Poaching Cases

Word out today naming Travis J. Bush, 25, of Tillamook, and Jake B. Fouts, 20, of Nampa, Idaho, as suspects in a pair of unrelated poaching incidents.

Bush is suspected in the illegal shooting and waste of a trophy bull elk near Tillamook last October, according to an Oregon State Police press release today.

It reads:

The investigation started October 31, 2009 when OSP Trooper Casey Thomas responded to a report of the illegal killing and waste of the trophy elk off the Aldercrest Road System just north of the Wilson River near Tillamook.  A news release was sent out asking for the public’s help to identify a suspect.

According to OSP Trooper Ryan Howell, a tip led the investigation to identify TRAVIS J. BUSH, age 25, from Tillamook, as a suspect in the case.  BUSH was subsequently cited to appear in Tillamook County Circuit Court for:

* Taking a Bull Elk Closed Season
* Waste of a Game Mammal – Bull Elk

Meanwhile, over in Idaho Fouts was charged with shooting and killing a bighorn sheep ewe last Sunday afternoon in Owyhee County.

The alleged incident took place just off the upper Reynolds Creek Road above Hemmingway Butte.

According to an IDFG press release:

A witness to the incident was watching the same band of sheep when the ewe pitched over dead. The witness secured vehicle descriptions and license plate numbers from the suspect vehicles, then called the Owyhee County Sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office quickly passed the word to Idaho Fish and Game.

From opposite sides of the Reynolds Creek area, Fish and Game Officers Kurt Stieglitz and Craig Mickelson converged. Stieglitz stopped Fouts on Highway 45 just north of Walter’s Ferry. After seizing several firearms, Stieglitz arrested Fouts, who was then booked into the Owyhee County jail. Mickelson and Owyhee County Sheriff Daryl Crandall recovered the dead bighorn ewe at the location described by the witness.

The felony charge against Fouts carries a maximum fine of $50,000, a prison sentence of up to five years and a civil penalty of $1,500. A judge could also revoke Fouts’ hunting privileges for one year to life.

SW WA Fishing Report

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Steelhead fishing improved last week.   Lots of rumors that anglers have heard from other anglers that people have caught a springer or two though none have been found in the creel sample yet.  The first spring Chinook of the year returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator today!

Last week 50 bank anglers kept 5 steelhead and released 1 while 27 boat anglers kept 6 and released 1.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the I-5 bridge downstream – We sampled our first spring Chinook of the season last week.  The fish was caught in the Longview area.

Spring-like weather and reports of some fish being caught resulted in higher effort this past weekend with almost 200 boats and 175 bank anglers counted during the Saturday Feb. 20 flight.

Bonneville Pool – No effort for steelhead was observed.

The Dalles Pool – Low effort though anglers are catching steelhead though most were wild fish that had to be released.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers are catching some wild steelhead that had to be released.  No catch was observed from the bank.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers around Kalama were catching some legals; slow on other areas of the river.

Bonneville Pool – Now catch and release through the end of the year.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some legals.  Slow from the bank.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers averaged a legal kept/released per every 9 rods.  Slow from the bank.   Effective March 1, 2010 through the end of the year, the retention of sturgeon will be prohibited. Catch-and-release fishing will be allowed.

WALLEYE AND BASS

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers are catching some walleye; no effort observed for bass.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged over a walleye kept/released per every 2 rods.  Bank anglers were also catching some fish.  No effort observed for bass.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers are catching some walleye.  No effort observed for bass.

TROUT

Horseshoe Lake in Woodland – No report on angling success.  Planted with 30 four-pound and 297 half-pound rainbows Feb. 16.

Rowland Lake near Lyle – No report on angling success.  Planted with 31 four-pound and 292 half-pound rainbows Feb. 17.  However, Feb. 28 is the last day to fish.

Carlisle Lake (near Onalaska), Davis Lake (Lewis County), Fort Borst Park Pond and Plummer Lake (near Centralia), Kidney Lake (near North Bonneville), Scanewa Lake (Cowlitz Falls Reservoir), Northwestern Reservoir (on the White Salmon River), and Spearfish Lake (near Dallesport) – Feb. 28 is the last day to fish.

SMELT

Cowlitz River – No smelt were observed or reported caught Saturday Feb. 20.  Next Saturday Feb. 27 is the last day to fish for smelt in the Cowlitz.

2010 Columbia Fall King Forecast Out

 
 
Stock Group
2010 February Forecasts 2009 Actual Returns 2009 February Forecasts
Lower River Hatchery – LRH 90,600 76,700 88,800
Lower River Wild – LRW 9,700 7,500 8,500
Bonneville Pool Hatchery – BPH 169,000 49,000 59,300
Upriver Bright – URB 310,800 212,000 259,900
Bonneville Upriver Bright – BUB 30,300 39,000 50,000
Pool Upriver Bright – PUB 42,300 34,100 44,400
Columbia River Total 652,700 418,300 510,900

3 Elk Shot, Wasted Near Tillamook

(OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE)

Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish and Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s help to identify the suspect(s) responsible for the illegal kill and waste of three elk in the Trask Unit near Tillamook. A reward of up to $ 1000.00 is being offered by the Oregon Hunter’s Association for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.

ONE OF THREE ELK SHOT AND LEFT OUTSIDE TILLAMOOK. (OSP)

On the weekend of February 13, 2010 a hunter came upon fresh elk remains in the roadway on Clear Creek Ridge Road, and a dead spike and cow elk about 40 yards off the roadway.  The information was provided to the OSP Tillamook office several days later.  On February 17th OSP Senior Trooper Lalo Guerra responded to the complaint and found three dead elk (one spike and two cows) in the area which is open to an emergency hunt.

Anyone with information is asked to call Senior Trooper Guerra at (503) 815-3315 or the Turn in Poacher (TIP)

Springer Seasons Being Set

Will it be what’s behind Door No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 — or some combination thereof?

We’ll have to wait and see as Washington and Oregon fishery managers decide today on Lower Columbia sport fisheries for prized spring Chinook.

Here are the options on the table, according to a PDF from ODFW:

OPTION 1

Below I-5 Bridge March 1 – April 24, 2010  (7 d per week except closed to salmon & steelhead angling on Tuesdays, March 9, 16, 23, and 30)

Bank angling only from Rooster Rock upstream to Bonneville Dam, March 1 – March 14 (7 d per week)  and March 18 – April 2 (3 d per week, Thursday – Saturday)

Total angler trips = 143,400 (51 retention days)

OPTION 2

Below I-5 Bridge, March 1 – April 20, 2010  (7 d per week except closed to salmon & steelhead angling on Tuesdays, March 9, 16, 23, and 30)

I-5 Bridge to I-205 Bridge, plus bank angling only from I-205 upstream to Bonneville Dam, March 18 – April 3 (3 d per week, Thursday – Saturday)

Total angler trips = 139,600 (47 retention days)

OPTION 3

Below I-5 Bridge, March 1 – April 16, 2010  (7 d per week except closed to salmon & steelhead angling on Tuesdays, March 9, 16, 23, and 30)

I-5 Bridge to Rooster Rock, plus bank angling only from Rooster Rock upstream to Bonneville Dam, March 1 – March 14 (7 d per week ) and March 18 – April 2 (3 d per week, Thursday – Saturday)

Total angler trips = 134,600 (43 retention days)

Daily limit would be two hatchery salmonids, but only one hatchery adipose-fin-clipped spring Chinook.

While a record run of 470,000 upriver springers are forecast, managers will set preliminary seasons as if the run actually is 30 percent lower than that to provide upriver states and tribes with more of the catch. The past two years have seen runs only 54 and 66 percent of forecast and those fishermen have missed out.

Agency directors met prior to this meeting and agreed to, as an ODFW PDF reads, the following management options:

• Manage non-treaty fisheries for a 40% run size buffer prior to the run update

• Prior to the run update the allocation of upriver fish including release mortalities would be:

• 17,200 fish for the sport fishery below Bonneville Dam

• 4,500 fish to be used as follows (based on in-season assessment):

• To provide a higher degree of certainty of meeting the sport season objectives above Bonneville Dam

• To provide flexibility to meet pre-update sport season objectives below Bonneville Dam

• 8,300 fish for the mainstem commercial fishery

• 400 for the SAFE commercial season

• At the forecasted run size, it is expected that no more than one half of the non-treaty harvest would occur prior to the run size update.

Writer Bill Monroe, a freelancer for The Oregonian, is doing a live blog from the meeting. As it kicks off, he reports “40-50 public here.”

“You upriver folks will be happy to learn all options include a March 16-May 31 fishing season from Bonneville to McNary,” he adds.

While we’ve got a mess of other things we’re working on here at the office, Bill’s rundown isn’t just distracting for us.

“Your making for an unproductive day but thanks for the updates, I’ve got everyone on the crew asking me every 5 minutes for the update. thanks thanks thanks bill,” writes jordanb38.

The meeting will also set Lower Columbia and SAFE commercial  springer, and recreational sturgeon fisheries.

Chetco ‘Fishing Fair To Good’

Before he headed for the Roseburg Sportsmen’s and Outdoor Recreation Show this weekend, Brookings guide and Capt. Andy Martin filed this South Coast steelheading report and pic:

The Chetco is fishing fair to good. The Elk was good early in the week, but is now low and clear. The Sixes should be good for the weekend. We’ve been getting one to three fish a day. All of the fish are nice, mostly chromers.

Pink Puff Balls, roe cured in Pautke’s BorxOFire and size 2 Eagle Claw hooks have been the go-to bait all week.

The Chetco dropped to 4,000 cfs Wednesday morning and should be in the 2,000 to 3,000 cfs range this weekend. If we get showers this weekend, even if the river doesn’t rise, it should be prime.

CLIENTS OF GUIDE ANDY MARTIN (RIGHT) WITH A CHETCO STEELHEAD FROM TUESDAY. (WILDRIVERSFISHING.COM)

What’s Fishin’ In Washington

“Excellent” steelheading in the Ronde, good blackmouth fishing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, springers and sturgeon in the Columbia, trout in Yakima lakes — some of the fishing highlights from today’s Weekender.

Here’s the rundown:

NORTH PUGET SOUND

Fishing for blackmouth continues to be slow throughout the marine waters of northern Puget Sound, but some anglers have been reeling in some nice fish recently in the San Juan Islands. Meanwhile, five major river systems in the Puget Sound area will close Feb. 18 to protect wild steelhead.

The early closure for steelhead will affect the Puyallup, Nooksack, Stillaguamish, Samish and Snohomish rivers and their tributaries. Pre-season estimates developed by the department indicate that returns of wild steelhead will fall far short of target levels in all five river systems, said Bob Leland, WDFW steelhead manager.

“This is the fourth straight year that we’ve seen a downward trend in wild steelhead returns,” Leland said. “These closures are necessary to meet the conservation objectives of our statewide steelhead management plan and comply with provisions of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).”

Wild steelhead in the Puget Sound region have been listed as “threatened” under the ESA since 2007. Although anglers are required to release any wild fish they catch in those rivers, some of those fish inevitably die from the experience, Leland said.

For more information on the fishing closures, see the recent news release at http://wdfw.wa.gov/do/newreal/release.php?id=feb1210a or visit WDFW’s emergency rule update website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

On Puget Sound, most marine areas are open for salmon, but blackmouth fishing continues to be slow. The Strait of Juan de Fuca, including the western portion of the San Juan Islands, is likely the best bet for anglers, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist.

Anglers fishing Marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet) have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook.

Thiesfeld reminds anglers that Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) is closed to salmon fishing.

Before heading out, anglers should check the regulations for all saltwater and freshwater fisheries in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA

The blackmouth season is off to a good start near Port Angeles and final word is expected late today (Feb. 17) on a razor-clam dig on five ocean beaches.  Prospects are also improving for steelhead fishing on the Olympic Peninsula, although a number of rivers on the east side of Puget Sound – including the Puyallup, Carbon and White rivers – will close to steelheading Feb. 18.

Anglers having trouble finding blackmouth elsewhere in Puget Sound might want to give the Strait of Juan de Fuca a try.  Creel checks conducted at Ediz Hook during opening day of the blackmouth season in marine areas 5 and 6 tallied 72 anglers with 30 fish.  At Olson’s Resort in Sekiu, 26 anglers brought in 14 resident chinook.

“That’s pretty good fishing,” said John Long, WDFW statewide salmon manager.  “I don’t think we’ve seen a stronger opening for blackmouth anywhere else this year.”  The daily limit for blackmouth in marine areas 5 and 6 is one fish, measuring at least 22 inches.

Anglers have also been docking blackmouth, albeit in lesser numbers, at boat ramps from Point Defiance in Tacoma to Misery Point in Seabeck.  In the South Sound area, the fishery is open in marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 11 (Tacoma-Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal), and opens March 1 in Marine Area 13 (south of the Narrows Bridge).

For regulations specific to those waters, check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).

Then again, conditions are shaping up for some good steelhead fishing on northern Olympic Peninsula rivers.  High water rendered the Calawah and Hoh rivers unfishable during the second weekend of the month, but 63 bank anglers checked on the Bogachiel kept 19 wild fish and released 10 others.

“High water has brought a lot of wild steelhead into area rivers, and the forecast is calling for a period of dry weather,” said Randy Cooper, a WDFW fish biologist.  “Once those rivers drop into shape, the fishery should really pick up.”

Anglers may retain one wild steelhead per license year on the Bogachiel, Calawah, Clearwater, Dickey, Hoh, Hoko, Pysht, Quillayute, Quinault and Sol Duc rivers.  On all other rivers, anglers may retain only hatchery-reared steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin and healed scar. Specific rules for each river are described in the 2009-10 Fishing in Washington pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

Meanwhile, the Puyallup, Carbon and White rivers will close to steelhead fishing Feb. 18, along with more than a dozen other rivers on the east side of Puget Sound.

Pre-season estimates indicate that returns of wild steelhead will fall far short of target levels in all five river systems, said Bob Leland, WDFW steelhead manager.  “This is the fourth straight year that we’ve seen a downward trend in wild steelhead returns,” Leland said.  “These closures are necessary to meet the conservation objectives of our statewide steelhead management plan and comply with provisions of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).”

Razor-clam digging may be an option.  WDFW has tentatively scheduled a dig from Feb. 26 through March 1 at various ocean beaches and expects to receive the results of toxin tests later today (Feb. 17).

If the tests show the clams are safe to eat, five ocean beaches will open for digging on the following schedule.  Evening low tides are shown in parentheses.

* Friday, Feb. 26, (4:49 p.m., -0.7) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
* Saturday, Feb. 27, (5:34 p.m., -0.9) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
* Sunday, Feb. 28, (6:16 p.m., -0.8) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
* Monday, Mar. 1, (6:57 p.m., -0.1) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only

Digging will be restricted to the hours between noon and midnight each day at all beaches. The best time to start is an hour or two before low tide.  A lantern is strongly recommended for evening digs.

Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container. Clam diggers are no longer required to display their licenses on outer clothing.

A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2009-10 annual shellfish/seaweed license or combination license is still valid. Another option is a razor-clam only license available in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov .

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON

The Bonneville Pool has been the “hotspot” for sturgeon fishing in recent days, but time is running short.  Sturgeon retention from Bonneville Dam to The Dalles Dam and its tributaries ends for the year one hour after official sunset on Feb. 20.  Meanwhile, anglers have been working hard to find late-run winter steelhead in lower Columbia River tributaries, and spring chinook are just beginning to show up in the catch on a daily basis.

But new fishing opportunities are coming up soon.  At a meeting scheduled Thursday, Feb. 18, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon are scheduled to set 2010 fishing seasons for spring chinook salmon and white sturgeon.  News releases outlining those seasons will be posted on WDFW’s website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/ ) the following day.

“This will give anglers a chance to make their plans for the months ahead,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.  “Fishing in the Columbia River Basin always slows down a bit in February, but things really start heating up in March, when the spring chinook begin to return in large numbers.”

Harvest levels for white sturgeon are expected to be down this year due to declining stock estimates, but the spring chinook run is forecast to be the highest since at least 1938.

Clam diggers are also awaiting news on the next razor-clam dig , tentatively set to begin Friday, Feb. 26, and run through Monday, March 1, at various beaches – including Long Beach.  That announcement, based on the results of marine toxin tests, will also be posted on WDFW’s website by Friday, Feb. 19.

Here’s a rundown on fisheries now open on the lower Columbia River and its tributaries:

* Steelhead:   Anglers are catching late-run winter steelhead returning to hatcheries on the Cowlitz and Kalama rivers where they were raised.  Most are working hard to find fish, but fishing could improve as the run nears its peak in late February or early March.  Fishing for leftover summer-run steelhead remains good in The Dalles and John Day pools, although anglers are encountering significant number of wild and dark fish.
* White sturgeon:   A creel check found that 60 boat anglers caught or released 41 legal-size fish in the Bonneville Pool during the second week in February.  Bank anglers also caught or released five legal-size fish.  Clearly the hotspot for sturgeon, the Bonneville Pool will be closed to retention fishing beginning Feb. 21. Below Bonneville Dam, where fishing has been slow, anglers can retain legal-size white sturgeon seven day a week from Buoy 10 upriver to the Wauna powerlines, and Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from the powerlines upstream to the dam.
* Smelt: The Cowlitz River will be open for smelt dipping two more Saturdays – Feb. 20 and 27 – between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. this year.  A few dippers took 10-pound limits during the Feb. 13 opener, but the run still appears to be weak as predicted.  Sport fishing for smelt on the mainstem Columbia River remains open seven days per week, although anglers catch very few fish there.
* Trout:   WDFW plants trout and some excess hatchery steelhead in a number of area lakes throughout the winter months.  On Feb. 8, Klineline Lake and Battle Ground Lake in Clark County were each stocked with 1,500 catchable-size rainbows, while Kress Lake in Cowlitz County received 20 excess steelhead from the Kalama Falls Hatchery.
* Walleye and bass:   Boat anglers averaged nearly two walleye kept per rod from The Dalles Pool and 0.4 per rod from John Day Pool during the week of Feb. 8-14.  Bass are also beginning to stir in the John Day Pool.

For fishing regulations on waters throughout the state, see the 2009-10 Fishing in Washington pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

EASTERN WASHINGTON

For the first time in several years, the March 1 fishing opener in the region is likely to promise all open-water fishing opportunities, thanks to a mild winter.

In the south end of the region, most of the seven impoundments off the Tucannon River on WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County that open to fishing March 1 are being stocked now with hatchery rainbow trout . Beaver, Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring and Watson lakes are receiving “catchable-size” (about one-third pound) and “jumbo” (about one-and-a-half pound) trout from the Tucannon and Lyons Ferry fish hatcheries.

Here’s what’s going in this month: Beaver, 500 catchables; Big Four, 2,000 catchables and 300 jumbos; Blue, 4,500 catchables and 150 jumbos; Deer, 700 catchables; Rainbow, 3,000 catchables and 100 jumbos; Spring, 2,000 catchables and 100 jumbos; Watson, 3,000 catchables and 100 jumbos.

Also opening March 1 to fishing for stocked rainbows are Fishhook Pond in Walla Walla County, which is receiving 3,000 catchables this month, and Pampa Pond in Whitman County, which is receiving 2,000 catchables and 25 jumbos.

Two year-round-open small impoundments off the Snake River near the bottom of Alpowa Grade west of Clarkston in Asotin County are also being stocked at this time.  Golf Course Pond gets 3,500 catchables and 100 jumbos, and West Evans Ponds gets 4,500 catchables and 100 jumbos.

Orchard Pond, a year-round impoundment off the Snake River in Columbia County, gets 1,000 catchables and 25 jumbos.

In Walla Walla County, two year-round fisheries are scheduled to receive trout this month – Quarry Pond, 8,000 catchables and 100 jumbos, and Bennington Lake, 2,500 catchables and 50 jumbos.

When WDFW hatchery crews complete trout stocking, the results are posted at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/weekly/ .

Other waters opening March 1 in the region should provide some open-water action on a variety of fish.   Downs Lake in southwest Spokane County might be best early in the season for yellow perch , but it also has bass, crappie , and rainbow trout .  Liberty Lake east of Spokane has rainbow and brown trout, bass , and perch .  Medical Lake near the town of the same name in southwest Spokane County has brown and rainbow trout.

Amber Lake in southwest Spokane County opens for catch-and-release of rainbow and cutthroat trout on March 1.  Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County opens on March 1, under selective gear rules, for rainbows, perch and crappie. Both of these special rule fisheries should provide excellent fly-fishing opportunities.

Deer Lake in southern Stevens County also opens March 1 and offers bass, crappie, perch, rainbow and lake trout , and kokanee .

Three year-round fisheries in the region that continue to provide good fishing, are Lake Roosevelt for rainbows and kokanee, Sprague Lake for rainbows, and Rock Lake for rainbow and brown trout.

Steelhead fishing on the Grande Ronde River in the southeast has been excellent, said WDFW Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex Manager Bob Dice.  Steelheaders in the Boggan’s Oasis area, near the mouth at the Snake River, have been doing quite well, and fishing has also been good from WDFW lands in the Shumaker area, he said.

Anglers can gear up and learn about fishing opportunities at the third annual Great Western Sportfishing Show, March 5-7, at the Spokane Convention Center. For more information see http://www.greatwesternsportfishingshow.com/Home.html .

NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON

All of the Columbia Basin rainbow trout lakes that open to fishing March 1 are ice-free and ready for good open-water fishing, reports WDFW District Fish Biologist Chad Jackson.

Martha Lake, along I-90 just east of George in Grant County, should be among the best on the opener, likely providing lots of five-fish daily catch limits. Martha is scheduled to be well stocked with thousands of half-pound or better hatchery rainbows.

Other Columbia Basin lakes opening March 1 on WDFW’s Quincy Wildlife Area include Burke and Quincy lakes, southwest of the town of Quincy; Upper, Lower and West Caliche lakes, southwest of George; Dusty Lake, a selective gear rule fishery south of Quincy; and the small “walk-in” lakes – Cascade, Cliff, Crystal, Cup, Dot, George and Spring.

Lenice, Nunnally and Merry lakes, on WDFW’s Crab Creek Wildlife Area just east of Beverly in southwest Grant County, open under selective gear rules March 1. Lake Lenore, north of the town of Soap Lake in Grant County, opens for catch-and-release trout fishing March 1.

Trout fishing further north in the region in Okanogan County had been mostly through the ice on stocked year-round lakes, but safe ice is marginal now with warming temperatures. However, WDFW Okanogan District Fish Biologist Bob Jateff reports that Patterson Lake near Winthrop and Sidley Lake near Oroville still have sufficient ice cover to provide some angling opportunities.  Yellow perch are being caught at Patterson, while rainbow trout are the predominant species at Sidley.

Jateff also reports steelhead fishing is starting to pick up on the Methow and Okanogan rivers. “Warmer water temperatures are contributing to catch rates of one steelhead for every five to six hours of fishing for both lure and fly anglers,” he said.

Jateff reminds anglers that they must retain all adipose-fin-clipped steelhead up to the daily limit of four fish.  He also notes two sections of the Okanogan River will close March 15 – from the first powerline crossing downstream of the Highway 155 Bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Credit Union Building) upstream to the mouth of Omak Creek; and from the Tonasket Bridge (4th Street) downstream to the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch.  Those section closures are to protect natural origin steelhead staging prior to spawning in those tributaries.

The rest of the steelhead areas upstream of Wells Dam will remain open until March 31, but Jateff advises anglers to periodically check for changes on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

Further west in the region, the Wenatchee River, from the mouth to 800 feet below Tumwater Dam, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam, closes to steelhead fishing Feb. 28. The allowable impacts to natural origin steelhead due to angling on the Wenatchee River will be met by the end of February.

Whitefish remains open on portions of the Methow and Similkameen rivers until March 31.  The daily catch limit is 15 whitefish and gear restrictions are in effect. Check the rules pamphlet for all details.

Fishing has been slow recently at year-round Rufus Woods Lake, the Columbia River reservoir on the Douglas-Okanogan county line.

SOUTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON

WDFW district fish biologist Eric Anderson reports that major rainbow trout stocking efforts have started this month in many of the region’s year-round open lakes. Yakima County’s Sarg Hubbard Park Pond and Rotary Lake, both near the Greenway Trail in Yakima, usually receive some of the first catchable-size hatchery rainbows.

Kittitas County’s North and South Fio Rito lakes east of Ellensburg, along with McCabe Pond southeast of Ellensburg and Mattoon Lake in town, should also be receiving trout this month.

Franklin County’s  Dalton Pond, east of the Tri-Cities and about five miles northeast of Ice Harbor Dam on the north side of the Snake River, is scheduled to receive 8,000 one-third pounders and 100 “jumbos” or one-and-one-half-pounders, from WDFW’s Lyons Ferry Hatchery.

When WDFW hatchery crews actually complete trout stocking, the results are posted at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/weekly/ .

Although steelhead fishing in the district has been spotty this winter, it usually picks up in late February and early March, said WDFW fish biologist Paul Hoffarth of Pasco. He reminds anglers that the Columbia River is open for the retention of legal size sturgeon in the John Day Pool (Lake Umatilla) of the Columbia River.

“Sturgeon must be between 43 and 54 inches in fork length,” Hoffarth said. “New regulations went into effect last year changing how sturgeon are measured from total length to fork length.  Fork length is defined as the distance from the tip of the nose to the middle of the fork in the tail, and that’s the length you record on your catch record card, even if the card has the old ‘total length’ column.”

Hoffarth notes the sturgeon fishery in this area will remain open until the quota is reached and closure announced.

SW WA Fishin’ Report

JOE HYMER, PSFMC)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – 35 bank anglers kept 2 steelhead; 6 boat anglers had no catch.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 38 winter-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. During the week Tacoma Power employees released twelve winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and ten winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa. 

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,090 cubic feet per second on Tuesday, February 16. Water visibility is nine feet.

Lower Columbia from the I-5 Bridge downstream – 2 boats/4 anglers near Vancouver had no catch.

A Compact/Joint State Hearing is scheduled for February 18 to consider the 2010 mainstem Columbia recreational spring salmon seasons and modifications to the March-December 2010 lower Columbia mainstem sturgeon recreational fisheries.

Bonneville Pool – No effort for salmonids.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged over 1.5 steelhead per rod.  Bank anglers were also catching some fish.  Two-thirds of the fish caught were wild and had to be released.

John Day Pool – Boat and bank anglers are catching some steelhead.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam – 3 boats/4 anglers near Vancouver had no catch as did 2 bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers averaged nearly 0.7 fish per rod when including fish released.  Bank anglers averaged one kept/released per every dozen rods.  Saturday Feb. 20 is the last day sturgeon may be kept from Bonneville Dam to The Dalles Dam (including tributaries) for the year.

The Dalles Pool – Slow for legal size fish.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers are catching some legals; slow from the bank.

WALLEYE AND BASS

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

The Dalles Pool – The few boat anglers sampled averaged 2 walleye kept per rod.  Some walleye were also caught by bank anglers.  No effort observed for bass.

John Day Pool – Boat anglers averaged 0.4 walleye kept per rod.  Boat anglers were also catching some bass.  No bank anglers were found in the sample.

TROUT

Kress Lake near Kalama – Planted with 20 surplus hatchery adult winter steelhead averaging 10 pounds each Feb. 8.  No report on angling success.

Klineline Pond and Battleground Lake – Both were planted with 1,500 half-pound rainbows Feb. 8.  No report on angling success.

SMELT

Cowlitz River – Lower numbers of smelt were confirmed caught during last Saturday’s (Feb. 13) sport fishery.  If you were around the Kelso Bridge, had waders and a long-handle pole plus a good back and a few hours, some fishers were able to get up to a few pounds of smelt.   Most of the dips were zeros with an occasional ones and twos.  Most of the fish caught were smaller, mature males.

Open only Saturdays Feb. 20 and 27 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Daily and possession limit 10 pounds (about ¼ of a five-gallon bucket) per person.

Mainstem Columbia from the mouth to Bonneville Dam – No reports on any sport dipping success. Through March 31, open 7 days/week, 24-hours/day.  Daily and possession limit 10 pounds per person.

All other Washington Columbia River tributaries – Remain closed.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

A few springers, a lot more steelhead and the late, late, late goose hunt opener in Southwest Oregon highlight weekend opportunities in the Beaver State.

But if you want to stay indoors, there’s the big outdoors show in Roseburg too — we’ll be there giving away free mags and sweet deals on subscriptions (the dagger deal is back!!).

‘Here’s a roundup from OFDW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Steelhead fishing continues to hold up on many southwest rivers and streams.
  • Cooper Creek Reservoir and Lake Selmac have been recently stocked with trout.
  • Several area lakes and reservoirs continue to offer good fishing for holdover trout stocked last fall. These include the Coos County lakes, Expo Pond, Galesville Reservoir, Lost Creek Reservoir and Reinhart Pond.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • A few early arrival spring chinook are being taken on the Willamette River.
  • Winter steelhead fishing is good in the Clackamas and Sandy rivers and Eagle Creek. Steelhead are spread throughout both systems and some good catches have been reported.
  • Sturgeon fishing is good on the lower Willamette River.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Nestucca River: Steelhead angling should be fair to good. Fish are spreading out in the river system, but as flows drop more fish will hold up lower in the system waiting for rain. Look for a mixture of hatchery and wild fish. Drifting lures or bait near the bottom has been productive. With flows dropping, bobber and jigs will be more effective. Spinners are generally a good bet in the upper river also. With rain forecasted through the weekend fishing may improve as flows increase.
  • Siletz River: Winter steelhead angling is slowing but still fair overall. Many hatchery fish have moved into the upper river but some are expected to continue returning through the month. Good numbers of native steelhead are showing up. River conditions for the week should allow anglers to fish the entire river.
  • Siuslaw River: Steelhead angling is good. Recent rains have moved a new group of fish up into the system. Good catches of hatchery and native steelhead are coming from the lower river up to the Whittaker Creek area. River conditions should be good for this week.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • For fly fishers, warm spring-like days have been triggering caddis and blue-wing olive hatches on the lower Deschutes River.
  • Fishing also has been good on the Crooked River.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Ice fishing on Unity and Wolf Creek reservoirs has been very good. But ice conditions are changing so please use caution.
  • Because their water temperatures stay fairly constant throughout the year, both Ana River and Ana Reservoir can offer good winter fishing opportunities.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Anglers continue to report good fishing on the Grande Ronde, Wallowa, Imnaha and John Day rivers.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Sturgeon angling is excellent for boat anglers in the Bonneville Pool.
  • Counting fish released, steelhead fishing is excellent in The Dalles Pool and good in the John Day Pool for boat anglers. Bank anglers are also catching a few fish.
  • Walleye fishing is excellent in The Dalles Pool and good in the John Day Pool for boat anglers.

Columbia Fishing Report

Well … you’d expect a few more springers to turn up in the catch, but the latest from ODFW shows that anglers checked in the Lower Columbia weren’t landing much.

Better bets, courtesy of Jimmy Watts:

* Sturgeon angling is excellent for boat anglers in the Bonneville Pool.
* Counting fish released, steelhead fishing is excellent in The Dalles Pool and good in the John Day Pool for boat anglers.  Bank anglers are also catching a few fish.
* Walleye fishing is excellent in The Dalles Pool and good in the John Day Pool for boat anglers.

Here’s the rest of Watts’ weekly report for ODFW

SALMON STEELHEAD

COLUMBIA RIVER MAINSTEM, Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington Border:  Under permanent regulations this section of the Columbia River is open January 1-March 31, 2010 to the retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead with a daily bag limit of two fish. The retention of spring chinook is prohibited.  Modifications to the 2010 spring chinook fishery will be considered at the February 18th Compact hearing.

Steelhead anglers did well in both The Dalles and John Day pools last week.  Many anglers are plying the water on the lower Columbia in anticipation of the arrival of the 2010 spring chinook run, but success was very limited last week.

Gorge Bank & Boat:

No report.

Troutdale Boats:

No report.

Portland to Longview Bank & Boat:

Weekly checking showed no catch for 36 bank anglers and no catch for 30 boats (69 anglers).

Estuary Boat (Above Tongue Point):

No report.

Bonneville Pool:

No report.

The Dalles Pool:

Weekly checking showed three adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept plus two adipose fin-clipped steelhead and 12 unclipped steelhead released for six boats (11 anglers); and one adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept for four bank anglers.

John Day Pool (Columbia River above John Day Dam and John Day Arm):

Weekly checking showed one adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept plus two unclipped steelhead released for three boats (five anglers); and one unclipped steelhead released for 14 bank anglers.

STURGEON:

Effective January 1-April 30, 2010 the lower Columbia River from Buoy 10 to the Wauna power lines is open to the retention of white sturgeon seven days per week with a daily limit of one fish between 38 and 54 inches (fork length) and an annual limit of five sturgeon.

The Columbia River between Wauna power lines and Bonneville Dam is open to the retention of white sturgeon three days per week (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) during January 1-July 31 with a daily limit of one sturgeon between 38 and 54 inches (fork length) and an annual limit of five sturgeon.

The Columbia River from Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam is open to the retention of sturgeon seven days per week with a daily limit of one sturgeon between 38-54 inches (fork length) and an annual limit of five sturgeon. Effective 12:01 AM Sunday February 21, 2010 the retention of sturgeon in the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam will be prohibited because the catch guideline of 1,400 fish is projected to be reached.

The Columbia River between The Dalles Dam and McNary Dam (The Dalles Pool and John Day Pool) is open for the retention of sturgeon seven days per week with a daily limit of one sturgeon between 41 and 54 inches (fork length) and an annual limit of five fish until the respective guidelines of 300 and 165 fish are reached.

As of February 1, 2010, the cumulative surgeon catch was 390 fish in the Bonneville Pool, 87 fish in The Dalles Pool, and 41 fish in the John Day Pool.  Catch rates really jumped in the Bonneville Pool during the first two weeks of February. Sturgeon angling on the lower Columbia is very slow.  During January 2010, sturgeon anglers on the lower Columbia made 1,700 trips and kept 25 white sturgeon.

Gorge Bank:

No catch for two bank anglers. Effort has been very light.

Gorge Boats:

No report. Effort has been very light.

Troutdale Boats:

No report.

Portland to Longview Bank:

No report.

Portland to Longview Boats:

Weekly checking showed 15 sublegal sturgeon released for 11 boats (36 anglers).

Bonneville Pool Boat and Bank:

Weekly checking showed four legal white sturgeon kept, plus one legal, one oversize, and 43 sublegal sturgeon released for 62 bank anglers; and 35 legal white sturgeon kept, plus six legal, 297 sublegal, and one oversize sturgeon released for 22 boats (60 anglers).

The Dalles Pool Boat and Bank:

Weekly checking showed two sublegal sturgeon released for 40 bank anglers; and 37 sublegal sturgeon released for 11 boats (24 anglers).

John Day Boat and Bank:

Weekly checking showed no catch for 25 bank anglers; and three legal white sturgeon kept, plus three oversize and 28 sublegal sturgeon released for 34 boats (66 anglers).

WALLEYE:

Bonneville Pool Boats:

Weekly checking showed no catch for one boat (one angler).

The Dalles Pool Boats:

Weekly checking showed one walleye kept for four bank anglers and 16 walleye kept for four boats (eight anglers).

John Day Pool Boats:

Weekly checking showed 16 walleye kept for 17 boats (41 anglers).

New Law Targets Feral Swine
ODFW biologists believe it is still possible to eradicate Oregon’s population of feral swine before the population gets out of control and wildlife habitat and agricultural crops are laid waste. To put some teeth in the fight, the 2009 Legislature passed a law that prohibits the sale of feral swine hunts and requires land managers to report and remove feral swine from their property.New rules adopted at the January meeting of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission give land managers 10 days after discovering feral swine on their property to contact ODFW and 60 days to work with the agency on a removal plan that includes a timeline.

“Landowners should contact their local wildlife biologist if they suspect they have feral swine on their property,” said Larry Cooper, Deputy Administrator of ODFW’s Wildlife Division. “We can help them with a removal plan and technical advice.”

Feral swine rooting
Feral swine can “rototill” a hillside in a night, destroying crops, pastureland and stream banks.
Photo courtesy of ODFW

It is legal to hunt feral swine, but opportunities are limited because most of the feral swine identified to date have been on private land, which requires landowner permission. On public lands, swine can be hunted with a valid hunting license. There is no limit or tag required, but on public property all hunting regulations must be followed.

Feral swine are free-roaming pigs, that is, they are not being held under domestic confinement. They are responsible for damage to habitat and depredation of livestock and wildlife as well as disease transmission to wildlife, livestock and humans. Read the Feral Swine Action Plan for Oregon on the Oregon Invasive Species Web site. For information on hunting feral swine .