Category Archives: Headlines

Goose Goosed With 1.5-pounders

WDFW reports planting Goose Lake, in Skamania County, with 1,800 cutthroat averaging 11/2 pounds today.

“Should be an awesome fall fishery until the snow falls,” said state fisheries biologist John Weinheimer in a forwarded email.

Goose is in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, just north of the Big Lava Bed. It features a campground.

Here are Forest Service directions to the camp:

From Highway 14 take the Wind River Highway, take road 65 to Road 60. About 8 miles of gravel road to the campground. An alternative way is taking Highway 141 from White Salmon to Trout Lake, west on Forest Road 60. About eight miles of gravel road to campground.


What’s Huntin’ In Washington

Doves, grouse and youth weekend opportunities highlight some of late September’s best hunting around Washington.

Here’s more from around the Evergreen State, courtesy of WDFW’s Weekender:

NORTH PUGET SOUND
Pheasant hunters should note that the department will release pheasants this fall at the Skagit Wildlife Area’s Samish Unit rather than the Headquarters Unit, where a substantial portion of land is no longer suitable for pheasant hunting. WDFW is temporarily moving its pheasant release program to the Samish Unit because an estuary restoration project has returned portions of recreational land on the Headquarters Unit to intertidal habitat for fish and wildlife.

“This is a stopgap solution for this year to address the loss of suitable pheasant release sites at Headquarters,” said Lora Leschner, regional wildlife program manager for WDFW. “We will continue to work toward securing alternative sites in the region where we can permanently relocate our pheasant release operations.” Pheasants will be released several days a week on the Samish Unit from Sept. 25 to Nov. 7.

EASTERN WASHINGTON
Hunters under 16 years of age have a jump on both upland game birds and waterfowl with a special statewide two-day season, Sept. 26-27. Participating young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is not hunting.

About 1,200 rooster pheasants will be released on a couple dozen sites throughout the region for the special youth-only hunting season. Pheasants will be released at several Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program sites, including Sherman Creek in Ferry County; Fishtrap Lake on the Lincoln-Spokane county line; John Henley in Whitman County; Willow Bar and Rice Bar in Garfield County; Hartsock in Columbia County; Chief Timothy in Asotin County; and Mill Creek, Wallula, Two Rivers Peninsula, Hollebeke and Lost Island in Walla Walla County. For information about these sites see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm  or call the WDFW Eastern Regional Office at 509-892-1001. Pheasants will also be released at some “Feel Free To Hunt” and “Register To Hunt” sites, mostly in the south half of the region, found on the WDFW mapping website GoHunt at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt .

“Wild pheasants have been holding tight in cover with water due to the lack of rain in the past month,” said WDFW Upland Game Bird Specialist Joey McCanna. “After several pilot brood surveys north of the Snake River, pheasant broods appear to be up from previous years. We’re cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the season ahead.”

Wild turkey early fall general season (no special permit required) hunting is open Sept. 26-Oct. 9 in northeast and central district units in the region. Dana Base, WDFW northeast district wildlife biologist, said numerous “casual” observations of large turkey broods over the summer suggest this should be a good season. Special permit turkey hunting gets under way at the same time in southeast district units in the region where turkey numbers are also relatively good.

NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGToN
Rich Finger, WDFW Columbia Basin district wildlife biologist from Moses Lake, says the basin is still holding a good number of doves , and depending on the weather, hunting could remain productive through the end of the season Sept. 30.

“Some dove hunters are having success around food plots planted by the Washington Waterfowl Association in the southeast corner of Section Four in the Gloyd Seeps area,” he said. “Hunters can also have success by focusing efforts on roost sites during the evening or harvested wheat fields during mornings and evenings.”

Hunters under 16 years of age have a jump on both upland game birds and waterfowl with a special statewide season Sept. 26-27. Participating young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is not hunting.

Mikal Moore, WDFW waterfowl specialist from Moses Lake, suggests youth waterfowl hunters take time now to scout out hunting spots for that special opportunity. “There are some good concentrations of mallards, northern pintail , and American green-winged teal throughout the state right now, particularly in the Columbia Basin and the Skagit,” she said. “White-fronted geese are also passing through.”

Moore recommends young hunters and their mentors brush up on duck identification, (see ‘Ducks at a Distance’ by Robert Hines, available on the Internet at http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/duckdist/index.htm ), and review the species bag limits in the waterfowl pamphlet available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm .

“Keep in mind that early season ducks have not achieved their breeding plumage yet and many drakes will have female-type coloration,” she said.  “Also remember to report any banded ducks or geese you harvest by calling 1-800-327-BAND or reporting online at http://www.reportband.gov . The band is yours to keep and you will receive a certificate detailing the age, sex, and banding location of the bird.”

Finger noted that in preparation for the youth hunt, WDFW will fill the northwest cell of the Winchester Regulated Access Area (WRAA) with water, starting the week of Sept. 21.  “Our ability to completely fill the basin will depend on the water level in the Winchester Wasteway,” Finger said, “At full pool the non-reserve huntable portion is about 10 acres and can support two to three groups of hunters.”

Such management efforts and assistance by the Washington Waterfowl Association in the Regulated Access Areas have resulted in an increase in smartweed, millet, and other moist-soil vegetation preferred by dabbling ducks, Finger noted.

“We expect this area to attract large numbers of waterfowl this year,” he said.  The Frenchmen Regulated Access Area will not be flooded for the youth hunt because of ongoing management activities, but water will be released prior to the October general season opener. “Desirable, moist-soil vegetation is increasing in this unit but it is not yet producing the abundance of forage resources that the Winchester area is producing,” Finger said. “The Gloyd Seeps area was not farmed this year but will be flooded in preparation for the October opener, as it has been in past years.”

Finger recommends that hunters contact the WDFW North Central Regional office in Ephrata (509) 754-4624) or see the Migratory Waterfowl rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm  for Regulated Access Area locations and restrictions.

About 1,000 rooster pheasants will be released on sites throughout the region for the special youth-only hunting season Sept. 26-27. Pheasants will be released at several eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program sites, including Sinlahekin and Chiliwist in Okanogan County, Chelan Butte and Swakane in Chelan County, and Banks Lake, Steamboat Rock, Gloyd Seeps, Quincy, Warden and Lower Crab Creek in Grant County.

For information about these sites, call WDFW’s North Central Regional Office at (509) 754-4624, or see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm . Pheasants will also be released at some “Feel Free To Hunt” and “Register To Hunt” sites found on the WDFW mapping website GoHunt at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt .

“Wild pheasants have been holding tight in cover with water due to the lack of rain in the past month,” said Joey McCanna, WDFW Upland Game Bird Specialist. “Biologists are reporting good pheasant broods in the Columbia Basin, so we’re cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the season ahead.”

Scott Fitkin, WDFW Okanogan District wildlife biologist from Winthrop, says forest grouse hunting should be fairly good in the Okanogan District based on the abundance of broods noted in the spring and early summer. Blue grouse in particular seem to be in good numbers and are now moving to higher elevations. Berry fields, meadow edges and forested ridges are good places to look, Fitkin says.

Higher elevations are also a good bet for early archery deer hunters. “Despite a meager snow pack, mild temperatures and summer rains have kept many high elevation meadows greener longer this year,” Fitkin said.

SOUTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON
Dove hunting is reportedly excellent in the south end of the Columbia Basin around the Tri-Cities and could remain productive if warm weather holds birds in the area through the season’s end Sept. 30.

Hunters under 16 years of age have a jump on both upland game birds and waterfowl with a special statewide season, Sept. 26-27. Participating young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is not hunting.

About 700 rooster pheasants will be released on several sites throughout the region for the special youth-only hunting season Sept. 26-27. Pheasants will be released at several eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program sites, including Colockum, Millerguard and Cottonwoods on Wenas/L.T. Murray in Kittitas County, Sunnyside in Yakima County, Big Flat and Ringold in Franklin County, and Hill Road in Klickitat County. For information about and maps of these sites, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm  or call WDFW’s South Central Regional Office at (509) 575-2740.

What’s Fishin’ In Washington

Pinks in the rivers, coho in Puget Sound and the Straits, sea-runs in the Cowlitz, Chinook and steelhead on the Eastside, trout in Spokane lakes — there’s plenty of opportunities to be had around Washington this weekend.

Here are some ideas, courtesy of WDFW’s Weekender:

NORTH PUGET SOUND
The bulk of the pink salmon run has moved into the rivers, where anglers have had success hooking humpies. Meanwhile, catch rates for coho salmon are starting to improve, likely signaling the arrival of ocean silvers into Puget Sound.

Some of the best coho harvest numbers were seen at fish checks in central Puget Sound. For example, 214 anglers were checked with 137 coho Sept. 12 at the Shilshole Ramp, while 423 anglers brought home 295 at the Everett Ramp. The following day, 221 anglers were checked with 172 silvers at Shilshole, while 214 anglers were checked with 163 coho at Everett.

Point No Point, Jefferson Head, Possession Bar and Shipwreck should be good spots to hook ocean coho, said John Long, statewide salmon manager for WDFW. Anglers fishing those areas, or other waters of marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, but must release chinook. In Marine Area 9, anglers also must release chum through Sept. 30.

Marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) are also open for salmon. Anglers fishing those two marine areas have a two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon. All chinook salmon must released.

Another option is Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), where anglers have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, but can only keep one chinook. Anglers in Marine Area 7 must release wild coho and chum.

Meanwhile, there’s still time to catch crab but the opportunity is limited. In northern Puget Sound, only Marine Area 7 remains open for crab. Marine Area 7 is open Wednesdays through Saturdays each week through Sept. 30. The region’s other marine areas are closed for a catch assessment.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW’s sport-crabbing website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab ) for more information.

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Sept. 21 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2009 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2010 fishing license. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab . Crabbers who continue to fish in an open area after Sept. 7 should record their catch on their winter catch card which is valid from Sept. 8 through Jan. 2.

In the freshwater, anglers are hooking pink salmon on several rivers, including the Stillaguamish, Snohomish, Skagit and Green.

Elsewhere, Lake Sammamish is open for salmon fishing, with a daily limit of four salmon, up to two chinook may be retained. All sockeye must be released, and fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek.

Lake Washington opens today (Sept. 16) to coho fishing. Anglers are allowed four coho per day (minimum size 12 inches) from waters north of the Highway 520 Bridge and east of the Montlake Bridge.

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

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA
With the ocean salmon season coming to a close, anglers are focusing on the coho fishery heating up along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In addition, more area rivers are now open to salmon fishing, although anglers are reminded of a partial closure on the Puyallup River.

Salmon fishing at Westport, (Marine Area 2), La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) closes Sept. 20, while Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) will remain open through Sept. 30.

However, a portion of Marine Area 3 will reopen Sept. 26 – Oct. 11 for a late-season fishery targeting coho and chinook salmon returning to the Quillayute River system. “The La Push fishery is very popular,” said Wendy Beeghley, WDFW fish biologist. “There’s still fish out there and judging from this year’s overall results, anglers should be successful.”

Anglers heading to the area may want to take part in the La Push Last Chance Salmon derby, scheduled Sept. 26 and 27. For more information, call the Forks Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-443-6757, or send an email to chambers@forkswa.com

Other coastal areas open to fishing include the salmon fishery east of Buoy 13 in Grays Harbor (Marine Area 2-2), which is open daily through Nov. 30, while Willapa Bay is open daily until Jan. 31.

Beeghley advises anglers to check the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm  for specific retention rules, limits and boundary guidelines. Anglers are also advised to check the Fishing Hotline at (360) 902-2500 for updated information on changes in coastal fisheries.

On the Strait of Juan de Fuca, anglers fishing in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will be able to retain two wild coho as part of their two-fish daily limit when the non-selective coho fishery opens Sept. 19-30. All chinook and chum must be released. Starting Oct. 1, anglers in the area may retain one chinook salmon as part of their two-fish daily limit.

Meanwhile, a non-selective fishery for coho and chinook gets under way Oct. 1 in Marine Area 6 (Port Angeles), where anglers will be able to retain one chinook as part of their two-fish daily limit. Through Sept. 30, all chinook, wild coho and chum must be released.

In south Puget Sound, anglers fishing in Marine Area 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island) will be allowed to retain wild chinook as part of their two-fish daily limit beginning Oct. 1. Anglers fishing in Marine Area 13 may also retain wild chinook, but must release all wild coho.

In Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), the daily limit is four coho only. All other salmon species must be released. The same rules apply to Dabob and Quilcene bays in northern Hood Canal.

Anglers are reminded that recreational fishing on the Puyallup River is closed from noon Sundays to noon Tuesdays, Sept. 20-22 and Sept. 27-29 due to public safety concerns and to reduce gear conflicts between sport anglers and tribal fishers. The section closed extends from the 11th Street Bridge in Tacoma to the City of Puyallup Outfall Structure across the river from the junction of Freeman Road and North Levee Road. Recreational fishing will remain open seven days a week upstream of the closed section. The lower section will reopen seven days a week beginning at noon Sept. 29.

Salmon fishing is now under way on the Chehalis River, which opened Sept. 16 from the Hwy 101 Bridge in Aberdeen to the Porter Bridge. The daily limit is six fish. Up to two adults may be retained, but only one may be a wild adult coho . Adult chinook and chum must be released.

Area rivers opening Oct. 1 for fall salmon fishing include the Elk, Hoquiam, Humptulips, Johns, Satsop, Wishkah and Wynoochee in Grays Harbor County; Kennedy Creek (upriver to the Hwy 101 bridge) in Thurston County; the Nemah River in Pacific County; and the Skokomish River in Mason County.

Before heading out, anglers are advised to check the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm for specific regulations.

Anglers fishing in the Quillayute system – which includes the Bogachiel, Sol Duc, Calawah and Dickey rivers – can keep two adult salmon, plus two additional adult hatchery coho as part of the six-fish daily limit.

Recreational crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Sept. 21 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2009 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2010 fishing license. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab .

Those who file their catch reports by the deadline will be entered in a drawing for one of 10 free 2010 combination fishing licenses, which allow the holder to fish for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species.

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON
Anglers are still averaging a coho per boat most days in the Buoy 10 fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River, but the action is shifting to the Cowlitz River and other tributaries below Bonneville Dam.  Several rivers will close to chinook retention Oct. 1, but new fishing opportunities – including a catch-and-keep sturgeon season above the Wauna powerlines – are also on the horizon.

Starting Oct. 1, anglers will be able to catch and keep white sturgeon Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from the Wauna powerlines upriver to Bonneville Dam.

“Fishing opportunities in the Columbia River Basin are again in flux,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “The chinook catch is tapering off, but we now have coho salmon in all of the major tributaries. “That fishery will continue to build through the end of the month, as the sturgeon fishery gets under way above Wauna.”

Best bets for hatchery coho in the coming weeks are the Cowlitz, Lewis, Kalama, Toutle, Elochoman and Grays rivers, Hymer said. Anglers have been catching both hatchery coho and chinook salmon at the confluence of the Cowlitz and Toutle rivers and where the Green River flows into the North Toutle.

Anglers may retain up to six hatchery-reared adult coho on all lower Columbia tributaries with hatchery programs, including the Cowlitz, Deep, Elochoman, Grays (including West Fork), Kalama, Klickitat, Lewis (including North Fork), Toutle (including Green and North Fork) and Washougal rivers.  Except on the Klickitat River, only those fish with a clipped adipose fin and healed scar may be retained.

While coho are expected to be abundant this year, Hymer acknowledges that they can be reluctant to bite. The best time to catch them is after a heavy rain, or when water levels rise, he said. “Nothing cures lockjaw as well as a good hard rain,” he said.  “The action should also pick up when the late-run fish move into these river systems.”

Meanwhile, after a record catch in August, the fall chinook fishery below Bonneville Dam has tapered off in recent days.  Although fisheries for hatchery coho and steelhead remain open, anglers fishing the mainstem Columbia River must now release any chinook they intercept from the Lewis River downstream (see boundary map at http://bit.ly/AF4Qt ).

However, anglers still have an opportunity to harvest fall chinook on the mainstem Columbia from the Lewis River upstream.  One of the best spots should be in Bonneville Pool at the mouths of the tributaries plus in Drano Lake and the Klickitat River, Hymer said.

The Lewis is scheduled to close to chinook retention to protect wild fish, which are expected to return in numbers just above the minimum escapement goals.  Effective Oct. 1, anglers will be required to release all chinook salmon on the Lewis River including the North Fork.  In addition, fishing from any floating device will be prohibited on the North Fork Lewis from Johnson Creek to Colvin Creek.  Also effective Oct. 1, Colvin Creek will be closed to all fishing upstream to Merwin Dam to protect naturally spawning fish.

Several other regulations also come into play Oct. 1 to protect naturally spawning fish. All chinook must be released on the North Fork Toutle River from the Kidd Valley Bridge near Highway 504 upstream.  Adult chinook – but not hatchery jacks – must be released on the Green, Washougal (from Little Washougal River upstream) and the White Salmon River (from ½ mile above the Hwy. 14 Bridge upstream).  Marked, hatchery fall chinook – both adults and jacks – may still be retained on the Grays, Elochoman and Kalama rivers.

“This is one of the benefits of moving toward selective fisheries for fall chinook salmon,” Hymer said. “We need to protect naturally spawning fish, but anglers can continue to catch abundant hatchery salmon throughout the season.”

Looking for something a little different?  Anglers should try fishing for hatchery sea-run cutthroats on the lower Cowlitz River.  Bank and boat anglers stand a good chance to catch these aggressive foot-long fish on bait, lures, or flies.

While fishing opportunities routinely change with the seasons, Hymer admits that a recent influx of mackerel into the lower Columbia River caught him by surprise.  “First Humboldt squid off Sekiu and now this,” he said.  “Mackerel seldom come this far north and this is the first time I can remember fish reported in the lower river.  Ocean conditions are clearly topsy-turvy this year.”

EASTERN WASHINGTON
Snake River steelhead and chinook salmon fishing is slowly picking up. Catch rates are still very low for chinook in the only two open sections for that species – from the Highway 12 Bridge (near the mouth of the Snake River) upstream to the no-fishing zone below Ice Harbor Dam, and from Highway 261 Bridge crossing the Snake River (about one half mile upstream from Lyons Ferry Hatchery) upstream to the no-fishing zone below Little Goose Dam.

Steelhead catches are increasing in the upper river near the Idaho border, and along the “wall” and walkway area upstream of the juvenile fish bypass return pipe below Little Goose Dam.

Glen Mendel, WDFW southeast district fish biologist, reminds anglers that in the “wall” area below Little Goose Dam, the daily chinook catch limit is just one hatchery (adipose-fin-clipped) adult (24 inches or greater) chinook and up to two jack (less than 24 inches) chinook. In the rest of the two sections open for chinook, the daily catch limit is two marked hatchery adult chinook and four chinook jacks either wild or hatchery-marked.

WDFW Enforcement Sgt. Jim Nelson said that some anglers believe they can legally fish with two poles for steelhead and salmon in the Snake River reservoirs behind dams. Washington’s new two-pole option went into effect last month, but waters with anadramous and/or ESA-listed species are excluded from two-pole fishing, as described at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/twopole .

“I think since these reservoirs all carry names like Lake Bryan, Lake Sacajawea, Lake Wallula, some people are confused by the two-pole option, which is available at most of our lakes, ponds and reservoirs,” Nelson said. “Adding to the confusion is the fact that the state of Idaho allows two-pole fishing in anadramous-species waters.”

In Washington, the two pole endorsement is not valid on the Columbia or Snake rivers mainstem, except Rufus Woods Reservoir and Lake Roosevelt.

Whether with one or two poles, Lake Roosevelt is currently producing good catches of big rainbow trout , according to Chris Donley, WDFW central district fish biologist.

“Sprague Lake is also really cooking, too,” Donley said. “But both Roosevelt and Sprague are open year round, so this might be the time to take advantage of the last couple weeks of fishing on trout lakes like Badger, Coffeepot, Fish, and Williams, which all close Sept. 30. Badger, in particular, has some nice carryover cutthroat trout .”

Donley noted September can be really good for yellow perch fishing at southwest Spokane County’s Downs Lake, which also closes Sept. 30. Clear Lake, near the town of Medical Lake, has brown trout biting now and usually produces good catches of crappie and largemouth bass in late fall.  Clear Lake remains open through October.

“Amber Lake is taking off now for cutthroat and rainbow trout fly fishing,” Donley said. “It’s open through November, but the last two months are catch-and-release with selective gear rules.”

NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON
Bob Jateff, WDFW Okanogan District fish biologist from Twisp, reports chinook salmon are still being caught in the Brewster/Bridgeport area on the upper Columbia River. That salmon season is scheduled to close Oct. 15.

“The Methow River trout fishery is scheduled to close September 30th, but anglers should be aware that if incidental steelhead take limits are approached, sections of the river could close early,” Jateff said. “Anglers should avoid targeting steelhead during the trout fishery.”

Jateff also noted lowland lakes fishing in Okanogan County will pick up this month and next as water temperatures cool and trout become more active. Selective gear rule lakes, such as Blue Lake on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, and Big and Little Twin lakes near Winthrop, should all provide good fishing during the later part of September and through October.

SOUTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON

“This is a great time to fish for rainbow trout in the Yakima River upstream from Roza Dam and the Naches River,” said Jim Cummins, WDFW fish biologist from Yakima. “It’s catch-and-release in this stretch and the low flows and mild days make fishing this time of year a real pleasure.”

Cummins says the upper Yakima should produce rainbow trout for both boat and bank anglers. “Water is no longer being released from upper Yakima River reservoirs as the result of the annual ‘flip-flop’ designed to reduced flows where chinook salmon spawn in the upper Yakima,” he said. “Not only does this increase salmon spawning habitat and protect redds from winter low flows, but anglers can enjoy the increased fishing opportunity resulting from the low flows.”

Cummins also noted fishing success for rainbow, cutthroat , and eastern brook trout in high mountain lakes is generally best this time of year.  “You can enjoy mild daytime temperatures, cool evenings, and colorful vegetation and most of the bugs found in July and August are gone,” he said. “Just be aware that some hunting seasons are in progress as you hike in and out of these lakes.”

Lower Crab Limits Among New Rule Proposals

Single-point barbless hooks on the Columbia from mouth to McNary.

Reduce the daily limit of Dungeness crab in all areas of Puget Sound to four from five, but move fishing days to Friday through Monday instead of Wednesday through Saturday.

A complex new “stream strategy” in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to protect waters that act as nurseries for juvenile anadromous fish.

Those are just three of the 103 new sportfishing rule proposals WDFW rolled out today. The agency will hold seven meetings in the next month on all the proposals where the public can discuss the ideas with state staffers.

Other ideas include closing the west end of Sprague Lake to fishing to protect waterfowl, earlier winter closures to numerous Puget Sound steelhead streams, make this year’s Drano Lake bank-fishing-only area permanent, try again to open Spirit Lake at Mt. St. Helens with a lottery drawing, close wild steelhead retention on the Hoko and Pysht, and encouraging the harvest of fin-clipped hatchery summer Chinook over all kings in the upper Columbia.

Meetings will be held:

Sept. 28 – WDFW’s Ephrata Office, 1550 Alder St. N.W., Ephrata

Sept. 29 – WDFW’s Spokane Office, 2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley

Sept. 30 – Carpenter’s Hall, 507 Third St., Yakima

Oct. 6 – WDFW’s Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek

Oct. 7 – Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Room J47, Port Angeles

Oct. 8 – WDFW’s Vancouver Office, 2108 Grand Blvd., Vancouver

Oct. 13 – WDFW Headquarters, Natural Resources Building, Room 172, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia

Every meeting except the one in Port Angeles starts at 6 p.m. The one in PA begins at 6:30 p.m.

The public will also have an opportunity to provide testimony and written comments on the proposed rule changes during the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Nov. 6-7 meeting in Olympia.

The commission will vote on final proposals in February.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

What particular meats could this weekend in the Beaver State yield for you?

Crab, albacore, salmon, salmon, more salmon, steelhead, steelhead, more steelhead, rainbow trout, walleye, crappie, bottomfish and more!

Here are highlights from ODFW’s latest recreation report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Wild coho fisheries opened on the Coos and Coquille rivers on Sept.1.
  • Several area lakes and reservoirs were stocked with lunker trout last week including Ben Irving Reservoir, Cooper Creek Reservoir, Hemlock Lake, Lake of the Woods and Lake Marie. Good fishing should continue.
  • Chinook fishing slowed in the estuary of the Rogue River as most fish holding moved upriver. Look for the numbers of chinook and coho in the estuary to build all week as water temperatures climb in the river.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Trophy rainbow trout are scheduled to be stocked in Coffenbury, Lost, Sunset, Cape Meares, and Town Lakes the week of Sept. 21. This will complete all scheduled stocking on the north coast for 2009. Trout stocking will resume in March.
  • Angling for warmwater fish, particularly bass, should be good. Cape Meares, Lytle, Cullaby, Sunset, Coffenbury and Vernonia lakes offer fair to good populations of warmwater species. Lakes are beginning to cool off. Fishing may begin to slow, although fish often feed heavily prior to entering the winter period.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Coho are returning in such large numbers that ODFW has bumped the bag limit to three fish on the Willamette, Clackamas, Sandy, Molalla, Santiam, Yamhill and Tualatin rivers and Eagle Creek.
  • Trout stocking for Willamette Valley lakes, ponds and streams will continue through most of the year. The schedules are posted at our website. Note the scheduled stocking dates for each pond are set for the Monday of that respective week and may not coincide with the actual stocking date that could occur on any given week day.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • ODFW has temporarily lifted all daily catch limits, possession limits and minimum length requirements for Antelope Flat Reservoir and Walton Lake from Sept. 1 to Oct. 18. Both lakes will close Oct. 18 for chemical treatment to remove illegally introduced bullhead catfish.
  • Along with earlier stocking of legal trout, Kingsley Reservoir has received many excess summer steelhead that have returned to the Hood River.
  • Trout fishing on the Crooked River is picking up. Don’t be afraid to go after them with a dry fly.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Both Miller Lake and Lake of the Woods are open to fishing 24 hours a day, offering anglers a rare opportunity to target cruising brown trout that are most active after dark.
  • The Chewaucan River just above Paisley has been producing good catches of 8 to 12-inch rainbow trout.
  • Watch for fishing to improve on several area lakes and reservoirs as cooler fall temperatures set in.

NORTHEAST ZONE

    • The John Day pool on the Columbia River offers some great late summer and fall fishing for walleye, anglers are targeting the area near the mouth of the Umatilla River. The area also provides world class smallmouth bass angling, the smallmouth go on a fall feeding binge as juvenile shad begin their outmigration which is happening right now.  As water temperatures begin to cool the smallmouth action will continue to heat up.
    • Trout fishing on Magone Lake is picking up with rainbows feeding in the shallows and brook trout staging to spawn near the swimming beach.
    • Steelhead anglers should be checking their gear and practicing their casting because a near record number of steelhead are heading up the Columbia River and will be entering the rivers of eastern Oregon in late September and October.

      COLUMBIA ZONE

      • Action for coho is good at Buoy 10.
      • Fall chinook is still good between Warrior Rock and Bonneville Dam, with an average of 5,700 passing through the Bonneville ladder daily.
      • Coho are showing up at the mouths of tributaries in the Columbia.
      • Walleye fishing is good near Troutdale and in the gorge.

      SNAKE ZONE

      • At Brownlee, drappie fishing has picked up and the fish are heavy.  Red and white jigs are working well. Catfish angling is good with some large fish being taken. Some catfish are dying. ODFW is attempting to do some testing to find the cause. This occurred 3 years ago and was caused by a virus not harmful to humans.  Bass angling has picked up and some nice bass are being caught. Some perch are starting to bite as well.  The water level is 23 feet below full. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.

      MARINE ZONE

      • Tuna fishing continued last week with average landings of 3 albacore per angler coast wide. This is the second best tuna year on record.
      • Between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mt., the ocean is open for salmon through the earlier of Sept. 30 or 7,000 marked coho quota. Preliminary data show that landings averaged about one salmon for every three anglers last week. The daily bag limit is two salmon except closed to retention of Chinook. All retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip and be 16″ or longer.
      • Cabezon retention by sport boat anglers is not allowed effective Sept. 12 through Dec. 31 because the ocean boat harvest cap of 15.8 metric tons has been reached. Cabezon have a high survival rate when released carefully. Shore anglers, including shore-based divers, may continue to keep cabezon.
      • Bottomfish anglers on average continue to land two or three rockfish coast wide. Lingcod landings are averaging one fish per four anglers.
      • Ocean crabbers brought in an average of 5 crab last week.
      • Estuary crabbers in August averaged eight crabs out of Coos Bay and three crabs out of Alsea Bay; elsewhere crabbers averaged between four and six crabs out of Tillamook, Netarts and Yaquina Bays. Crabbing in August was the best so far this year in most sampled bays. The best months for bay crabbing in Oregon are August through November.

      WDFW Buys Yakima Ranch, POCo Wetlands

      At the same meetings that the Fish & Wildlife Commission hired Phil Anderson as the permanent WDFW director, they gave him about 4,050 new acres of land to manage.

      The commission voted to approve the purchase of a 2,340-acre ranch on Cowiche Mountain west of Yakima and 1,729 acres of wetlands and uplands in southern Pend Oreille County.

      The agency will buy the Worrel Ranch from Ron and Leanne Amer for $1,713,800, which was reportedly below the asking price of $2 mil but 10 percent above the appraised value.

      The ranch abuts a segment of WDFW’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area as well as the Cowiche Conservancy‘s Snow Creek Ranch.

      According to WDFW, it will help “protect a large area of high quality shrub-steppe habitat, benefiting elk, mule deer and big hom sheep; and, improve strategies to maintain the wildlife area boundary elk fencing.”

      An elk feeding station is due south of the ranch.

      And following up on 2008’s purchase of a 1,079-acre chunk of ground in the upper West Branch Little Spokane, commissioners voted to spend $5.7 million on phase two of the land buy.

      “This property is strategically located along the West Branch of the Little Spokane River connecting Fan Lake and Horseshoe Lake about 18 miles southwest of Newport,” a WDFW document reads. “The habitats include low-gradient streams intermingled with braided wetland complexes, beaver ponds, lakes, cottonwood galleries, and diverse associated upland habitats composed of aspen, and multiple species of conifer and shrubs. Wildlife utilizing this parcel includes whitetailed deer, elk, moose, black bear, and cougar, blue and ruffed grouse, golden and bald eagles and various hawks and owls. Acquisition of this property will preserve this high-quality habitat and will also help to protect the water quality of Fan and Horseshoe Lakes, which are popular for fishing, hunting, bird watching and environmental education.”

      (WDFW)

      (WDFW)

      The overall West Branch purchase from the Rustler’s Gulch Syndicate will cost $9.1 million, funded by a grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

      The land will be managed as a segment of the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area under Juli Anderson.

      Commissioners also voted to swap 5,100 acres of mostly forestland in Yakima and Kittitas Counties to the Department of Natural Resources for 9,000 acres of shrub-steppe. It’s the first part of a larger effort to consolidate land ownership blocks between the agencies.

      Play Keno Sans Tag, Lose Gun, OSP Warns

      (OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE)

      The Oregon State Police (OSP) and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) will increase their presence in the Klamath County area-Keno Unit this hunting season to help improve the level of compliance among deer hunters.

      OSP estimates that anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of hunters in the Keno Unit are hunting without a valid tag.

      “Western Oregon general season deer tag holders are hunting the Keno Unit when the hunt boundary is the Rogue Unit. We see other hunters attempting to fill tags for their friends or hunting without tags at all,” said OSP Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Randall Hand. “Ultimately, this leads to additional harvest of deer, which reduces the number of tags that can be offered to lawful hunters.”

      Deer hunting east of the Cascades, including the Keno Unit, is managed through a controlled hunt system, meaning hunters need to apply for a tag each year and don’t always draw it. 750 deer tags were offered in the Keno Unit for the 2009 season. Deer hunting west of the Cascades is “general season,” meaning anyone can purchase a tag.

      OSP and ODFW will be using a wide array of tactics to increase compliance in several units. These tactics may include:

      • Wildlife Enforcement Decoys (also known as “Scruffy”)
      • Boundary area signs
      • Information & education campaigns

      Hand emphasized that even with the increased information, education and enforcement efforts, it is ultimately the hunter’s responsibility to know where they are and where the boundaries are for their hunt unit. Descriptions for the unit boundaries are online and listed in the 2009 Oregon Big Game Regulations found at most sporting goods stores and at ODFW offices.

      OSP troopers contacting those hunting deer without valid tags may be cited for a class A Misdemeanor and have their weapon seized.

      Hand pointed out the past success of similar efforts. Thanks to increased enforcement in the Interstate Unit over a four-year period, tag compliance rates increased from 68 percent to 91 percent and the deer buck to doe ratio doubled.

      Salmon Groups Disappointed In Revised BiOP

      (SAVE OUR SALMON PRESS RELEASE)

      Today a broad coalition of businesses, clean energy advocates, and fishing and conservation groups voiced grave disappointment the Obama administration’s decision to follow a flawed Bush 2008 biological opinion for the Columbia-Snake Rivers. The plan has been criticized by scientists and the courts, and runs counter to the advice of Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), more than 70 members of Congress, three former Northwest governors, thousands of scientists, and more than 200 businesses from across the nation. The groups are joined in the litigation by the State of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho.

      NOAA Fisheries today filed documents with the U.S. Federal District Court in Portland, Oregon indicating that the federal government would continue to support an old Bush-era federal salmon plan, with only minor, cosmetic changes. The decision includes support for the Bush-era scientific analysis, legal standard, and disregard for the impacts of dam operations and climate change on salmon.

      Salmon advocates have long argued that this plan remains illegal under the Endangered Species Act and largely ignores the impact federal dams have on listed salmon and steelhead in the Columbia-Snake River Basin. In fact, this plan allows the roll-back of current in-river salmon protections. District Court Judge James Redden has agreed with salmon advocates in challenges to two prior plans.

      “This was a test for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke — on both economics and science — and this plan failed on both accounts,” said Zeke Grader, Executive Director of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “This decision will no doubt leave salmon in the perilous decline they have been in for years and communities up and down the coast and inland to Idaho will continue to suffer. For an administration so set on protecting and restoring jobs, this decision is a huge mistake and a clear signal to fishermen that their jobs don’t count.”

      Commercial and sportfishing representatives from up and down the Pacific Coast sent a letter to Secretary Locke last week urging him to meet with them to begin a dialogue on how to address the Pacific coast salmon crisis that has plague coastal communities over the last eight years. More than 25,000 jobs have been lost due to Columbia-Snake River salmon declines alone, and more jobs continue to be lost as major businesses that rely on salmon close their doors. Salmon advocates expect this new Obama plan to continue the practices of the Bush administration, allowing salmon declines to continue and salmon-related jobs and communities to suffer.

      “Although the Bush administration is gone, unfortunately it looks like its policies will live on for Columbia-Snake salmon,” said Bill Arthur Deputy National Field Director for the Sierra Club. “It’s a bit like the Night of the Living Dead, we keep fighting these failed and illegal salmon plans, but they continue to spring back to life. We had hoped that this administration wouldn’t buy this badly flawed plan pushed by the regional bureaucrats who are opposed to change and fear science and would instead work with us to craft a plan that was both legal and scientifically sound. It’s a grave disappointment to see another zombie plan instead. It’s now time for the Judge to bury this plan for good, and provide a fresh opportunity to get it right for the people, communities and magnificent salmon and steelhead of the Northwest.”

      The administration’s decision allows for a multi-year study — at some point in the future — of what is already a viable salmon recovery option — lower Snake River dam removal — and even then only if already depressed salmon numbers plunge even further.

      Todd True, one of the attorneys for the fishing and conservation groups in the litigation, said, “The government has failed completely to use the last four months of review for a serious, substantive, or cooperative effort to build a revised plan that follows the law and the science and leads to salmon recovery. Instead of the actions these fish need, they are offering a plan for more planning and a study for more studying. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their treatment of major changes to the dams and river operations, which are among the most critical issues for salmon survival and recovery. We look forward to explaining to the Court just how little this latest effort accomplishes. We can do much better — but not by trying to avoid the problems facing wild salmon in the Columbia and Snake rivers.”

      President Obama has made several public statements about protecting sound science. In his inaugural address, the President said that his administration would “restore science to its rightful place…” At the 160th Anniversary of the Department of Interior, he said that he would “help restore the scientific process to its rightful place at the heart of the Endangered Species Act, a process undermined by past administrations[,]” and look “for ways to improve the [ESA] — not weaken it.” The President echoed those statements in a speech before the National Academy of Sciences where he said: “Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over… To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy… [We will] ensure that federal policies are based on the best and most unbiased scientific information.”

      “This Bush salmon plan appears to be inconsistent with President Obama’s public statements about relying on sound science,” said Bill Shake, former Regional Director for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. “We scientists believed the President when he said he would protect science and strengthen the ESA, but Secretary Locke has seemingly allowed political pressure to circumvent a decision based on sound science. The federal agency action today is a true reversal of fortune for the Pacific Northwest economy, for an important American resource and endangered species, for communities that depend on salmon for their livelihood, and those who believe that policy should be based on science not politics. We had hoped for more because fishing families and communities deserve more.”

      Opponents of following the science have called the idea of removing dams dangerous in light of climate change concerns. Salmon advocates, however, point to expert analysis from the NW Energy Coalition and a new analysis from the Northwest Conservation and Planning Council to show that protecting salmon and providing for a clean energy future is both imminently doable and affordable.

      “We truly can have both clean, affordable energy and healthy salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest,” said NW Energy Coalition Executive Director Sara Patton. “It’s not an either/or. We have an abundance of untapped clean energy opportunities, so saying dam removal would lead to large increases in climate emissions is nonsense. The Northwest can show the rest of the country how to right our past mistakes while creating jobs and providing for a better future.”

      Columbia, Salmon Bass: He’s A She

      Two out of every three male smallies caught in the Columbia just below Bonneville Dam, and more than four out of every ten bass landed on the lower Salmon River are gender benders.

      A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey also found that intersex fish are more widespread, both in terms of species and basins affected, than previously believed.

      However, researchers for the federal agency don’t know why some male smallies develop immature female egg cells in their testes, or why female bronzebacks grow beards.

      “This research sends the clear message that we need to learn more about the hormonal and environmental factors that cause this condition in fish, as well as the number of fish afflicted with this condition,” said Sue Haseltine, associate director for biology at the U.S. Geological Survey in a press release.

      “This study adds a lot to our knowledge of this phenomena, but we still don’t know why certain species seem more prone to this condition or exactly what is causing it. In fact, the causes for intersex may vary by location, and we suspect it will be unlikely that a single human activity or kind of contaminant will explain intersex in all species or regions,” she also said.

      For example, said Hinck, at least one of their sites with a high prevalence of intersex — the Yampa River at Lay, Colo.— did not have obvious sources of endocrine-active compounds, which have been associated with intersex in fish.  Such compounds are chemical stressors that have the ability to affect the endocrine system and include pesticides, PCBs, heavy metals, household compounds such as laundry detergent and shampoo, and many pharmaceuticals. Yet other study sites with high occurrence of intersex were on rivers with dense human populations or industrial and agricultural activities, which are more generally associated with endocrine-active compounds.

      While the percentage of intersex smallies varied widely across the US, the rivers with the highest prevelance were the Mississippi at Lake City, Minn. (73 percent), Yampa at Lay, Colo. (70 percent), Salmon at Riggins, Idaho (43 percent), and the Columbia at Warrendale, Ore. (67 percent).

      The area just upstream of Warrendale, at Bonneville Dam, is believed to be the site of buried electrical equipment that is leaking PCBs. Health officials warn fishermen to only eat one meal a month of smallmouth caught from there.

      The

      Snake Dam Removal ‘Last Resort’ In Revised BiOP

      A “strengthened” revised plan for protecting salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River watershed was released this morning by the National Marine Fisheries Service, but it says taking out dams on the lower Snake will only be considered “as a last resort.”

      Still, further study will be done on the question as hydropower operators work to recover 13 populations of ESA-listed salmonids in the massive basin.

      The new plan is in part a response to a May 2009 letter by US District Court Judge Redden.

      A press release from NMFS says in part:

      While the strengthened plan, known officially as the Adaptive Management Implementation Plan, includes further study of lower Snake River dam breaching as a possibility, it is viewed as an action of last resort. Dam breaching studies will be initiated if a significant decline in listed Snake River salmon populations is detected and if an analysis shows that dam breaching is necessary to stem those declines.

      The strengthened plan implements NOAA’s biological opinion in a way that more aggressively protects fish populations from decline from a variety of factors including the effects of climate change and other uncertainties that could emerge over the 10-year life of the biological opinion. The plan includes:

      • Immediate acceleration and enhancement of mitigation actions.

      • Expanded research, monitoring and evaluation to quickly detect unexpected changes
      in fish populations.

      • Specific biological “triggers” that, if exceeded, will activate a range of near and longterm responses to address significant fish declines. For instance, very low returns of
      a species could trigger increased hydro actions, stepped-up predator-control and
      hatchery measures, and possible modifications to existing harvest agreements.

      • Starting immediately, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will prepare a study plan to develop scope, budget and schedule of studies needed regarding potential breaching of the lower Snake River dams.

      “This plan is scientifically sound and precautionary. It is flexible enough to adapt to future changes, specific enough to tell us when immediate actions are needed, and forward-looking enough so that it will remain effective over its ten-year lifespan. For the sake of the people and fish of the Northwest, it’s time to set this plan in motion,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA Administrator.

      The filing of the strengthened plan follows a thorough consideration by the Obama Administration of the 2008 biological opinion and the science on which it is based. The administration listened to the views of federal, state, and tribal representatives; federal agency and independent scientists; and the parties suing the government over the biological opinion.

      The plan also responds to the points raised in a May 18 letter from Judge James A. Redden, who is presiding over the lawsuit.

      The implementation plan accelerates and enhances measures in the biological opinion to reduce harm to salmon, significantly improves efforts to monitor and evaluate the ecosystem and status of the stocks, and establishes significant measures to be taken if the status of the stocks declines.

      The biological opinion is required by the Endangered Species Act to protect the Columbia Basin’s listed salmon and steelhead populations. The strengthened implementation plan was jointly prepared by NOAA and the three federal agencies involved in the operation of the dams: the Bonneville Power Administration, Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.

      NOAA said the biological opinion as implemented through the plan is legally and biologically sound. The agency said it is based on the best available science, ensures that operation of the hydropower system will not jeopardize the continued existence of listed species and ensures an adequate potential for their recovery.