Category Archives: Headlines

Area 10, Most Of 9 Reopening, 12 Closing For Crabs


Two marine areas in Puget Sound will reopen to recreational crab fishing Nov. 1, based on summer catch assessments by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) that show more crab are available for harvest.

Starting Nov. 1 at sunrise, Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), and most of Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) will reopen for sport crabbing seven days a week through Jan. 2, 2010. The portion of Marine Area 9 south of a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point will remain closed for the season.

Crab fishing also will remain open seven days a week through Jan. 2 in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (south Puget Sound), where the fishery has continued uninterrupted since summer.

Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal), currently open Wednesdays through Saturdays, will close for the season at 6 p.m. Oct. 31.

Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in marine areas 6 (Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1, 8-2 (east of Whidbey Island) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island), where the summer catch reached the annual recreational quota, said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish policy lead.

“We want to give crabbers as much opportunity to fish as possible, but with great weather this summer, we had a lot of people out crabbing and catch rates were high,” Childers said.

Of the more than 236,000 people that were issued Puget Sound crab licenses, 104,634 complied with the Sept. 21 reporting deadline. That includes 70,172 who filed their summer catch reports online.

“The data we receive is important for managing the Puget Sound crab fishery, which is why people are required to submit catch reports,” Childers said.

To increase compliance, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2008 approved a $10 fine for failure to file a catch report. Crabbers failing to submit their winter reports, due by Jan.15, will receive the fine when they apply for a 2010 Puget Sound crab endorsement.

State fishing rules require that all sport crabbers submit catch reports whether or not they went fishing or were successful in catching crab. Childers suggested that people who have winter catch cards, but do not intend to go crabbing, send in their catch cards now.

Catch record cards may be mailed to WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. The online reporting system will be available Jan. 3-15 at

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6? inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. For more information about recreational crabbing in Puget Sound, see WDFW’s website at

Boise River To Be Stocked With Steelhead


Forget the traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner this year; fresh, smoked steelhead might be on the menu after the big fish are released into the Boise River over the next few weeks.

If steelhead return to Oxbow Hatchery on the Snake River as forecast, Fish and Game anticipates stocking 300 or more of the big fish in the Boise River from Glenwood Bridge to Barber Park the afternoon of Thursday October 29.

Should the run remain strong, additional fish may be released in subsequent weeks.

“We’re hopeful that this year’s hatchery steelhead run will easily allow Oxbow Hatchery personnel to fill their broodstock needs,” said Sam Sharr, Fish and Game anadromous fish coordinator. “Any additional hatchery fish collected at the fish trap will be divided among Idaho Fish and Game, the Nez Perce Indian Tribe and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.”

Besides a fishing license, anglers hoping to tangle with one of the 4- to 10-pound hatchery steelhead need a $12.75 steelhead permit, good for 40 fish.

Though required in other steelhead waters, barbless hooks are not required for Boise River steelhead angling.

All steelhead stocked in the Boise River will lack an adipose fin – the small fin normally found immediately behind the dorsal fin. Boise River anglers catching a rainbow trout longer than 20 inches that lacks an adipose fin should consider the fish a steelhead. Any steelhead caught by an angler not holding a steelhead permit must immediately be returned to the water.

Steelhead limits on the Boise River are three fish per day, nine in possession, and 40 for the fall season.

The fish are A-run hatchery steelhead, returning to the Idaho Power Co.-owned Oxbow Hatchery fish trap below Hells Canyon Dam on the Snake River. Many of the returning steelhead will become part of the ongoing steelhead hatchery program at Oxbow Hatchery as part of Idaho Power’s mitigation.

“We are happy to collaborate with Idaho Fish and Game this year to bring steelhead to Treasure Valley anglers,” said Paul Abbott, Idaho Power biologist. “The best thing about this program is that it eliminates the need for folks to travel to the Snake or Salmon rivers to catch steelhead. Boise anglers will have the opportunity to test their skills right in their own backyard.”

For information about the Boise River steelhead release, contact the Fish and Game in Nampa at 208-465-8465 or check the Website at ;


Clam Diggers Don’t Dig NOAA’s Newport Plans

While Newport, Ore., celebrated the coming of new federal docks this past summer, some coastal clammers don’t dig it so much.

“Oregon clam diggers are going to loose (sic) access to a large portion of the tidal flats associated with the development of the NOAA port facility in Yaquina Bay,” reads a statement from the Clam Diggers Association of Oregon posted on the Coos Bay World’s Web site.

NOAA plans on homeporting their Pacific operations fleet near the Hatfield Marine Science Center in South Beach. Ground was ceremonially broken in  late August.

A link leads to a letter that CDAO president William Lackner fired off to ODFW officials. It states, in part:

1. The diversity of the essential habitat of Yaquina Bay is critical to the marine organisms that are dependant on the ecological productivity in Yaquina Bay for their survival. The list of dependant species is long and not only includes a diverse community of invertebrates but a variety of fish species, the most notable of which are juvenile Chinook salmon, black rockfish, English sole, wolf eels and various perch species. The loss of essential habitat is unacceptable.

2. Any interruption to the biological diversity of Yaquina Bay is unacceptable, especially to and including the negative impact or loss of the eel grass beds associated with the selected site.

3. The loss of recreational opportunity, i.e. crabbing, clam digging and fishing is unacceptable.

4. It is our understanding that there is NO recreational component planned for or will be allowed within the development of the NOAA port facility. Again unacceptable. Combining the NOAA exclusion zone with the areas currently restricted by the state and local agencies severely limits public access to a high percentage of the most desirable areas of the bay and the reason why visitors to the coast choose to visit other bays over Yaquina Bay.



A map on ODFW’s Web site shows clamming areas in Yaquina Bay.

Plywood Passage: A $200 Fish Ladder

Two hundred bucks worth of plywood, some metal strips and hard work have turned part of a stream alongside I-5 in Medford, Ore., into an “urban steelhead nursery,” according to an article by Mike Freeman of the Mail Tribune.

He reports that ODFW biologist Jay Doino’s “handmade fish ladder” has opened up a mile of habitat.

“Ooh, he almost made it,” Freeman reports Doino says as they watch a smolt attempt the device. “That’s encouraging that he made it into the second pool even at these flows.”


SW WA Fishing Report, With Prawns/Spinner Combos For Coho!

There’s an interesting note in today’s Southwest Washington fishing report from Joe Hymer at PSMFC: “Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers averaged just over an adult coho kept per rod.  Prawn/spinner rigs accounted for a lot of the catch. Most of the effort is off the mouth of the Klickitat where 70-80 boats were counted each morning this past weekend.”

Wait a minute, I thought, did I read that right — prawn/spinner combos for coho?!?

Can’t be, can it?

I immediately emailed Rob Phillips, the Northwest Sportsman scribe in Yakima as well as all-around Eastside fish/hunt guy. Ever hear of this new rig, Rob?

He responded back shortly: “Yes, I fished it twice last week, and while all the fish (9 in two days) we caught were on plugs — specifically FatFish ½ ounce — I did see several fish caught on prawn spinners off of dropper weights.  Even saw a couple of boats using Fish Flash flashers ahead of the rigs, similar to spring salmon set-up. I think they were doing better at times because they were fishing right off the bottom, while us plug trollers were only getting down 15 feet or so.”

“This is the first year that I have seen much of the bait fishing going on,” Phillips says. “And like any other fisheries, there were times when the bait rigs seemed to work and times when the plugs worked.”

Hymer says the setup has been in use at the mouth of the Klick the past few years.

Here’s the rest of his report:


Cowlitz River – Anglers continue to catch coho as well as some chinook, steelhead, and sea run cutthroats.  Through October 21, nearly 35,000 hatchery adult coho had returned to the salmon hatchery, the highest count to date through at least 1990.

Flows below Mayfield Dam are 4,900 cfs today.  However, flows are expected to increase to nearly 6,000 cfs by tomorrow.

Kalama River – Anglers are catching some coho and steelhead plus a few dark chinook that were released.

Lewis River – Bank anglers near the salmon hatchery averaged just under ½ adult coho per rod when including fish released.  Over two-thirds of the fish were kept.  Some fall chinook (which have to be released) and steelhead were also caught.  Bank angling effort has been heavy around the salmon hatchery.

Klickitat River – Bank and boat anglers averaged a fish per rod.  Majority of the catch were adult coho.   Effort has been heavy on the lower river.

Flows at Pitt are currently 700 cfs which is the long-term mean for this date.  Flows are expected to double by early next week.

Yakima River – Recap by Paul Hoffarth, WDFW biologist in Yakima – The Yakima River salmon fishery closed on Oct 22. An estimated 457 adult fall chinook, 71 fall chinook jacks, 79 adult coho, and 4 coho jacks were harvested in the Yakima River this fall.  Also, 54 adult fall chinook, 3 chinook jacks, 5 hatchery steelhead, and 25 wild steelhead were caught and released. Very little effort or harvest was observed in the river downstream of Horn Rapids Dam.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Most of the effort and catch was in the Camas/Washougal area where boat anglers almost ½ fish per boat when including fish released.  Almost all the catch were coho.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers averaged just over an adult coho kept per rod.  Prawn/spinner rigs accounted for a lot of the catch. Most of the effort is off the mouth of the Klickitat where 70-80 boats were counted each morning this past weekend.

Hanford Reach – Recap from Paul Hoffarth, WDFW biologist in Yakima –     An estimated 6,555 adult fall chinook, 2,080 fall chinook jacks, 10 coho, and 114 hatchery steelhead were harvested by salmon anglers in Catch Area 535 between August 16 and October 22. An additional 159 adult chinook,  127 jacks, 10 hatchery steelhead, and 135 wild steelhead were caught and released.

An estimated 7,089 boat trips were completed for salmon in the Hanford Reach in 2009.  WDFW staff interviewed anglers from 1,376 boats, 19.4% of the effort.

The October 15 return estimate for the Hanford Reach (not including hatchery returns) was 34,103 adult chinook. After harvest, the expected escapement is 27,548, roughly 1,000 chinook below the escapement goal for the Reach of 28,800.  Retention of salmon was closed after October 14 after the in-season return estimate was downgraded from 38,000 to 34,000 on October 10.


Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam – About one in ten bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam had a keeper last week.  Effort remains fairly high with a nearly a couple hundred anglers there during open retention days.  Effort and catch was light on the lower river.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission

NOAA’s San Juan Orcas Comment Period Extended

NOAA-Fisheries has extended the comment period for orca protections in the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound into the new year.

Public comments had been due Oct. 27, but the federal agency has pushed the due date back to Jan. 15.

“We recognize that by extending the public comment period, we won’t have enough time to issue a final rule before the 2010 summer boating season,” a statement on NOAA’s Web site reads. “We continue to believe that it’s important to address the adverse effects of vessel traffic on killer whales in the near future. In light of the requests we’ve received for an extension of the comment period, however, we believe additional public outreach will enhance both NOAA Fisheries’ understanding of public concerns and the public’s understanding of the basis for our proposal. This will also allow time for cooperative efforts to refine the proposal. We’ll work toward adoption of a final rule before the 2011 summer boating season.”

NOAA wants to make a 1/2-mile strip along the west side of San Juan Island a no-go zone for most boats from May 1 through September, as well as bar most vessels from approaching within more than 200 yards or block the paths of the ESA-listed marine mammals in Puget Sound. The agency argues that orcas are affected by boat noises.

“From my viewpoint, closing an area along the shoreline of San Juan Island is not a reasonable solution,” Tony Floor of the Northwest Marine Trade Association wrote in his October newsletter and excerpted in a blog post on our site. “A reasonable solution is to participate and encourage the improvement of water quality in Puget Sound. A healthy Puget Sound is good for Orca, salmon, and the people who live in the great Pacific Northwest.”

Oregon Hunter Working On Hound Hunt Bill

Jess Messner in Redmond, Ore., is quietly gathering signatures to get a hound-hunting initiative on the ballot in 2012, according to an Oregonian article headlined “It’s time to put the dog back in the (cougar) hunt.”

Bill Monroe writes that Oregon’s mountain lion numbers have nearly doubled, from 3,100 to over 5,800, since 1994 when hound hunting was banned in the Beaver State by voter initiative.

“We hunters have successfully managed and funded our wildlife for years,” Messner tells Monroe. “We all see there is a problem that must be fixed in order to save our big-game populations. I looked around and saw that there was no one doing anything about it.”

There are also safety concerns.

Removal of cougars in certain Eastern Oregon units appears to have helped elk herd numbers, according to the article, and ODFW wants to drop the predator species’ numbers down to around 3,000.