Category Archives: Headlines

Weather Schmeather: NWS Goes Hunting, Fishing

This weekend’s radar had more red and green than a Christmas tree set up for Black Friday, but the weather didn’t halt a pair of Northwest Sportsman hands from getting afield.

Ad sales manager Brian Lull hunted deer on the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula while our resident Troutist, “Uncle Wes” Malmberg, worked Lake Nahwatzel on the Olypen’s southeast side for trout.

“It rained, and it rained, and it rained, and it rained,” says Malmberg. “And then when we got home, it stopped raining.”

But the moist 2 1/2 hours on the 269-acre Mason County lake on Saturday were also pretty darned productive too.

“The black Woolly Bugger kicked ass,” Malmberg says. “We kept ten 13- to 17-inchers for the smoker. Tis the holiday season. Smoked fish makes the best gift. People go nuts over it.”

He was fishing at midday with brother Brett. They were trolling fairly close in, following the 15-foot contour, but running their flies high in the water column.

“The fish were in the top 4 to 5 feet,” he says.

Bait trollers weren’t doing quite as well, and Malmberg reminds, “People gotta remember fish look up, not down.”

The fish, part of an October stocking, were quite energetic too.

“As soon as you hooked up, they came flying out of the water,” says Malmberg.

Lull was trying to bag his blacktail in the Coyle unit, which was open for the four-day any-buck late hunt.

He says he saw eight deer overall, a respectable number for the Westside, and on Friday evening came nearly face to face with a buck, but it quickly disappeared into dark underbrush.

Others were more successful. Al Schultz passed along a couple shots of Scott Shafner who bagged his buck yesterday near Belfair.

SCOTT SHAFNER AND HIS DARK-HORNED KITSAP PENINSULA BLACKTAIL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

 

SW WA Fishing Report

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Grays River – No report on angling success for hatchery steelhead below the Hwy. 4 Bridge.  From the Hwy. 4 Bridge upstream to the South Fork and the West Fork from the mouth upstream to the hatchery intake/footbridge opens to fishing for hatchery steelhead Dec. 1, two weeks earlier than in recent years.

For lower Grays River flows, see https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/wrx/wrx/flows/station.asp?sta=25B060.

Cowlitz River – Effort and catches are light from Massey Bar downstream.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 3,135 coho adults, 118 jacks, 332 sea-run cutthroat trout, 77 winter-run steelhead, 60 summer-run steelhead, 14 fall Chinook adults and one chum salmon during seven days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 337 coho adults, five jacks, three fall Chinook adults and five cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, 864 coho adults and 52 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, 654 coho adults and 23 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, and 533 coho adults and 18 jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellowjacket Creek.  A total of 408 hatchery-origin sea-run cutthroat trout and one unmarked summer-run steelhead adult were recycled downstream to the Barrier Dam boat launch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,030 cubic feet per second on Monday, November 23. Water visibility is eight feet.

Blue and Mill creeks (tributaries to the Cowlitz) – Lower sections of these streams open to fishing for hatchery steelhead beginning December 1.  In addition, hatchery sea run cutthroats may be kept on Blue Creek.  See the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington pamphlet for details.

Toutle River including North Fork and Green – November 30 is the last day to fish for salmon.

Kalama River – No report on angling success.  Through November 18, four hatchery winter run steelhead had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.  This compares to nearly 500 fish that had returned by this time last year.

Lewis River – Anglers continue to catch coho though the majority are dark fish which were released.  The first 15 hatchery winter run steelhead of the season had returned to Lewis River traps as of November 18.  In comparison, 52 fish had returned by this time last year.

Flows at Merwin Dam were 8,000 cfs this morning, down from last week’s high of nearly 12,000 cfs.

Washougal River – No reports on angling success.  As of November 18,  twenty-one hatchery winter run steelhead had returned to Skamania Hatchery. In comparison, twice as many fish had returned by a week earlier last year.

For lower Washougal River flows see https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/wrx/wrx/flows/station.asp?sta=28B080#sevendaygraph.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers on the lower river continue to catch coho though about half the fish were released.  November 30 is the last day to fish for trout including hatchery steelhead on the Klickitat.  However, salmon fishing remains open below the Fisher Hill Bridge while fishing for whitefish from fishway #5 upstream opens December 1 .  Special gear rules will be in effect for whitefish.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam – Sturgeon catches have slowed in the gorge.

TROUT

Swift Reservoir – November 30 is the last day to fish for trout and salmon.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

Redden Salmon Plan Hearing Begins

With rigs towing fishing boats parade outside his Portland courtroom this morning, U.S. District Court Judge James Redden is now hearing arguments on whether the latest plan to protect endangered salmon in the Columbia River system is up to snuff.

He’d invited the Obama Administration to have a looksee before a final ruling. The administration’s submitted plan is said to be “slightly revised” from the Bush-era plan.

Scheduled to attend today is no less than the new head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, believed to be there to bolster the Fed’s case that the plan — Redden’s trashed two previous incarnations — is viable.

The state of Oregon, Nez Perce tribe and others say it’s not.

The importance of today’s event is underlined in an AP article in the San Jose Mercury News:

“Redden holds a hearing Monday that is likely to be the last before he rules for a third time on government plans to manage Columbia River dams to save fish species protected by the Endangered Species Act but in precarious shape for decades. Twice before in litigation stretching back to the 20th century, he’s turned thumbs down.”

The Oregonian is running a live blog from court. Reporter Matthew Preusch says that Redden made this statement after taking a seat:

“This I think is the most significant hearing we’ve had so far, and I really think that with a little more work, we’ve got a Biop.”

The Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, which sides with Oregon and the Nez Perce, fired off a press release before the hearing:

On September 15, The Obama administration decided to adopt a 2008 Bush administration plan — including support for the Bush-era scientific analysis and legal standard — over the strong objections of regional fish biologists, former Northwest Governors, people and businesses across the nation.

NSIA continues to extend an open invitation to the Administration’s newly appointed NOAA Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, to sit down with its business leaders to better understand the devastating economic impacts this plan will cause for their industry, comprised largely of small family businesses.

The Longview Daily News weighed in yesterday with an editorial that says since the Obama Administration’s plan is taking fire from all sides, “that generally tells us the government has it about right.”

Brinnon Elk-Tribal Case ‘Way More Complex Than Anticipated’: Prosecutor

We had thought we’d hear word from the Jefferson County, Wash., prosecuting attorney’s office last Friday on whether or not she would charge two Port Gamble S’Klallam fish and wildlife officers who detained nontribal elk hunters near Brinnon, but a report in the Peninsula Daily News indicates she is not limiting herself to a time frame in making a decision.

“The issues are way more complex than I had anticipated,” Julie Dalzell told reporter Eric Hidle, adding, “We are dealing with the laws of two separate nations here, and I need to read up on tribal law.”

The two officers, whose names haven’t been released, responded to an incident in early October in Brinnon, well outside the tribe’s reservation. After approaching three elk hunters and one man’s young son at gunpoint, they detained the group for one to two hours.

State Fish & Wildlife officials say that the men were hunting legally on private land they had permission to hunt. One of the hunters, Adam Boling, filed a complaint of illegal detention with the county.

“I certainly believe they went beyond the scope of what their authority was,” Mike Cenci, WDFW’s deputy chief of enforcement, told Northwest Sportsman.

A spokeswoman for the Port Gamble S’Klallams has told NWS that the law showing how those officers had jurisdiction to respond would be revealed after the tribe saw final copies of the state and county’s investigations.

Chinook, Cuttie Cavalry To The Rescue!

Yakima Herald-Republic reporter Ross Courtney details how nearly three dozen biologists “charged” their way through “Lake Naches” earlier this week, saving some 500 young Chinook, trout and steelhead.

BIOLOGISTS REMOVE FISH FROM PART OF THE NACHES RIVER. (WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

They were working in western Yakima County, where a landslide damned then rerouted the Naches River in early October.

OUT OF THE NET AND INTO THE BUCKET. (WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

Courtney reports that the fish were in ponds left behind by construction work, and were removed 6 miles downstream.

THE NACHES VALLEY WHERE THE LANDSLIDE CUT OFF HIGHWAY 410 AND SHIFTED THE RIVER. (WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

ODFW Videotapes Pack Of 10 Wolves

A one-minute, 32-second video posted on ODFW’s Web site shows a pack of 10 wolves moving up a snowy slope in eastern Wallowa County last Thursday.

The video was shot by state wildlife biologist Pat Matthews, and written about in the Baker City Herald today.

“ODFW has been regularly monitoring this pack but until this video was taken, we only had evidence of a minimum of three adults and three pups making up the pack,” Russ Morgan, the state’s wolf coordinator, says in a statement on ODFW’s site. “Pups can be difficult to distinguish at this distance, but it appears there may be as many as six pups in the video.”

There’s a second pack elsewhere in the county, towards the Washington border. ODFW officials will try to count each pack’s pups next month.

“For a pack to be defined as a ‘breeding pair’ (an important step in wolf conservation) it must produce at least two pups that survive to December 31 of the year of their birth. Under Oregon’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, the Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider delisting wolves from the Oregon Endangered Species List when four breeding pairs for three consecutive years have been documented in eastern Oregon,” ODFW says.

THE IMNAHA PACK'S ALPHA MALE, PHOTOGRAPHED LAST AUGUST. (ODFW)

 

Chetco Opener Report: 45-, 35-pounders

A happy-sounding Larry Ellis just called in from Brookings, Ore., with a report on today’s Chetco River Chinook opener: a pair of good-sized kings, 45- and 35-pounders for the boat.

He says the wild fish bit chrome/chartreuse-billed sardine-wrapped plugs — a Mag Lip (formerly the M2-SP) and a K-13 Kwikfish.

He and a fishing partner were fishing just below Loeb Park.

Ellis describes the larger fish as between chrome and colored up, but the smaller one is a “chrome, chrome fish. It looks like it just came in.”

The Chetco is now open up to river mile 10.5, commonly known as the Ice Box hole.

The fishery above Highway 101 had been kept closed past the Nov. 7 scheduled opener due to low water. ODFW managers were concerned that too many fish would be caught in tidewater and mainstem holes, but higher flows have alleviated that threat.

Ellis is now snapping pics, but planned on heading back out to punch a hatchery king to fill out his daily limit on the Chetco.

UPDATE 4:47 P.M. Here’s guide Andy Martin’s report from the opener:

 

The opening day of salmon season on Southern Oregon’s Chetco River produced limits for many of the boats on the water, and some of the hottest action seen in years, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing (www.wildriversfishing.com) in Brookings.
Andy’s group caught its limit within the first hour of fishing, and then caught and released more fish, including a king close to 50 pounds, before arriving at the takeout before lunch.
“There were salmon in every hole and the bite was incredible,” says Martin. “We got two hookups as we were letting line out while running the new Mag Lips FlatFish.”
The Chetco opened Thursday above the Highway 101 bridge after being closed since March. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was concerned about a smaller-than-average return to the Chetco, as well as low flows. Heavy rains earlier this week prompted the opener.
“Thanks to a closure of ocean commercial fishing the past two years in Southern Oregon and California, we were seeing what is turning out to be a much bigger-than-expect run on the Chetco,” Martin said. “ODFW easily got all of its fish for the hatchery, the fishing in the estuary below the bridge was better than normal, and during the opener, there were fish everywhere,” says Martin, who guided a angler to a 58-pound salmon in September during the lower river season, one of the biggest fish in years from the Chetco.
The hot lure during the opener was Worden’s new Mag Lips FlatFish, previously known as the M-2SP FlatFish, in combinations of chrome, chartreuse, green and pink. Andy wrapped the plugs with sardine fillets marinated in Pautzke’s Nectar. The plugs were flat-lined from his drift boat.
Salmon fishing also has been hot on the Smith and Elk rivers. After this weekend’s expected heavy rain, the rivers should be in prime shape for Thanksgiving week.
Guide Randy Wells of Fish Oregon Alaska is heading to the coast to help Andy accommodate customers and groups on the Chetco, Smith, Elk and Sixes rivers. To book a trip, call (206) 388-8988 or e-mail wildriversfishing@yahoo.com.

 

The opening day of salmon season on Southern Oregon’s Chetco River produced limits for many of the boats on the water, and some of the hottest action seen in years, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing (www.wildriversfishing.com) in Brookings.
Andy’s group caught its limit within the first hour of fishing, and then caught and released more fish, including a king close to 50 pounds, before arriving at the takeout before lunch.
“There were salmon in every hole and the bite was incredible,” says Martin. “We got two hookups as we were letting line out while running the new Mag Lips FlatFish.”
The Chetco opened Thursday above the Highway 101 bridge after being closed since March. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was concerned about a smaller-than-average return to the Chetco, as well as low flows. Heavy rains earlier this week prompted the opener.
“Thanks to a closure of ocean commercial fishing the past two years in Southern Oregon and California, we were seeing what is turning out to be a much bigger-than-expect run on the Chetco,” Martin said. “ODFW easily got all of its fish for the hatchery, the fishing in the estuary below the bridge was better than normal, and during the opener, there were fish everywhere,” says Martin, who guided a angler to a 58-pound salmon in September during the lower river season, one of the biggest fish in years from the Chetco.
The hot lure during the opener was Worden’s new Mag Lips FlatFish, previously known as the M-2SP FlatFish, in combinations of chrome, chartreuse, green and pink. Andy wrapped the plugs with sardine fillets marinated in Pautzke’s Nectar. The plugs were flat-lined from his drift boat.
Salmon fishing also has been hot on the Smith and Elk rivers. After this weekend’s expected heavy rain, the rivers should be in prime shape for Thanksgiving week.
Guide Randy Wells of Fish Oregon Alaska is heading to the coast to help Andy accommodate customers and groups on the Chetco, Smith, Elk and Sixes rivers. To book a trip, call (206) 388-8988 or e-mail wildriversfishing@yahoo.com.

Going Rogue, ‘Coho Cowboy’ Style

Mark Freeman profiles how Grants Pass gas station owner and river guide Troy Whitaker figured out how to catch middle Rogue River coho.

In an article yesterday in the Medford Mail Tribune, Freeman writes that few anglers target the silver salmon so far upstream, but Whitaker started to figure out how to be successful at it six years ago while steelheading on the Southwest Oregon stream.

In a word: plugs — but not casting them, as Willamette Valley and Western Washington coho anglers have learned to do.

County Howls About FWC Chair’s Comments

One person’s “honest” assessment of future commercial spring Chinook fisheries on the Lower Columbia is another’s “doomsday address.”

Comments by Miranda Wecker, chairwoman of the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission, in mid-October stirred two of the three Wahkiakum County commissioners to fire off a “sharp letter” to Gov. Gregoire, reports The Daily News of Longview, an article that’s being forwarded around parts of the fishing world this morning.

Wecker was warning lower river communities about possible restrictions next spring, the paper says.

Managers are working on “catch balancing,” moving a larger share of the catch to upriver states and tribal anglers, as outlined by Bill Monroe in The Oregonian. They haven’t fared as well in recent years with later and later runs, and returns as low as 42 percent of the preseason forecast.

The commissioners, whose county reportedly earns 5 percent of its economy from commercial fishing,  contend she’s showed blatant favoritism towards sport fishermen, a charge she does not deny.

The Daily News’ Greg Garrison writes:

When asked Tuesday about that response, Wecker said there’s no question the split is tilted toward sport fishermen.

Wecker explained that sport anglers make about 180,000 trips to the river per year. She told the coalition there are fewer than 50 active commercial licenses on the Washington side of the river.

“It just struck us all as fair to give (sport fishermen) two-thirds of the fish,” she said Tuesday. “To give 50 people a third of the impacts seems to us to not be a reflection of hostility to commercial fishing. That just sounded equitable.”

The paper says commissioners quibble with Wecker’s stated size of the lower river spring Chinook commercial fleet (the article says a WDFW source pins it around 65 this past year) and interpret her comments on the relative health of the Puget Sound commercial fishery negatively.

Wecker, who is from Naselle, just a ways down Highway 4 west of the Wahkiakum County line, tells the Daily News she doesn’t believe commercials will be shut out of the springer fishery, but does say she feels “there are going to be years in which fishing will be very limited.”

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

While all of the lower 101/2 miles of the Chetco River will now be open for Chinook starting tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 19, make no mistake, the Southwest Oregon river’s tributaries remain closed for fishing, reports the Curry Coastal Pilot.

Elsewhere in the Beaver State, here’s a roundup of weekend fishing ideas, courtesy of ODFW’s Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • With some salmon and steelhead fisheries winding down, and poor water conditions slowing others, now is a good time to consider some fall trout fishing on area lakes. Trout fishing on Lake Selmac, Expo Pond, Reinhart Pond, Applegate Reservoir, Agate Lake, Garrison Lake, Butterfield Lake, and Upper and Lower Empire Lakes should remain good well into the fall.
  • Recent rains should also improve coho and steelhead fishing on the middle and upper Rogue River.
  • With recent rains increasing water levels, the Chetco River has re-opened for steelhead and chinook fishing.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Siltcoos Lake: The coho fishery in the lake is under way. Fair to good numbers of fish are moving into the lake. Anglers are having fair to good success however the bite has been sporadic. Trolling or casting spinners or other lures can be effective. Best times are normally early or late in the day and after rain events. The month of November typically produces the best catch rates. Anglers may retain one wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho and 1 jack coho per day. There is a seasonal limit of five wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho per year.
  • Tahkenitch Lake: The lake coho fishery is picking up. Fair to good coho numbers are moving into the lake. Anglers are having fair success but coho in lakes can be very picky and the bite can be sporadic. Trolling or casting spinners or other lures can be effective. Best times are normally early or late in the day and after rain events. The month of November typically produces the best catch rates. Anglers may retain one wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho and 1 jack coho per day. There is a seasonal limit of five wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho per year.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Large brood trout released recently at Junction City Pond near Eugene and Walter Wirth and Walling ponds near Salem should still be available. The fish are 4- and 5-year-old rainbow trout from ODFW’s Roaring River hatchery and range in size from 8 to 18 pounds.
  • The coho run is winding down on the Sandy River, Eagle Creek and the upper Willamette, although some fish should still be available for the persistent angler.
  • The sturgeon bite on the lower Willamette River is improving.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • For fly fishers, the Crooked, Metolius and Fall rivers offer good year-round trout fishing opportunities.
  • November and December can offer fine fishing on Crescent Lake for brown and lake trout until access is limited by snow.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Rainbow and brown trout fishing on the lower Owyhee River remains fair to good, but be on the lookout for (and avoid) brown trout redds in the gravel.
  • Fishing for brown trout on Miller Lake has improved with colder water temperatures. Call the U.S Forest Service office in Chemult for information on access.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Fish for steelhead and coho on the Umatilla River has been good, though many of the coho are getting dark.
  • Steelhead fishing remains fair to good on the lower Grande Ronde, Imnaha, and John Day rivers

SNAKE RIVER ZONE

  • Hells Canyon Reservoir: Approximately 500 steelhead have been put in the reservoir as of Nov. 9 and approximately 1,100 more are expected to go in by the third week of November. These surplus steelhead are considered trout in the reservoir. No tag is needed but only one can be kept per day if over 20 inches

MARINE ZONE

  • Bottom fishing is good when ocean conditions permit.
  • A series of minus tides after dark this week will provide clamming opportunities for those with lanterns. Recreational and commercial clam harvesting is open on the entire Oregon Coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. This includes clam harvesting on beaches and inside bays.
  • Mussel harvesting, from the mouth of the Columbia River closed south of Bastendorf Beach near Charleston to the California border because of elevated levels of paralytic shellfish toxins. The closure of mussel harvesting north of Bastendorf Beach north to the Columbia River is now open.
  • Crabbers in Coos Bay brought in an average of 10 crabs. Other ports report catches between four and five.