Category Archives: Headlines

Did Wildlife Watchers Contribute To Elk Hunt Fiasco?

A lineup of elk watchers and their vehicles may have blocked a herd of 80 elk from moving out of a farmer’s field and back to the safety of woods on the north side of Highway 20, compounding a distasteful hunting scene that occurred last Saturday in Washington’s middle Skagit Valley and which has drawn condemnation nearly the whole way around.

Capt. Bill Hebner of WDFW’s North Puget Sound enforcement division says that after a group of archery hunters began to legally stalk the animals in Bill Johnson’s field between Birdsview and Concrete, the elk couldn’t escape across the highway because a line of cars had stopped as nonhunters and hunters alike watched and photographed the scene.

Several of the 58 photos posted by Catherine Anstett on Smug Mug show people out of their vehicles observing the hunt along the North Cascades Highway.

“The elk are wanting to move north across Highway 20, but there’s a line of people blocking them,” says Hebner.

The hunters advanced on the surrounded elk, he says, taking poor shots at “less than lethal areas to the dismay of many,” he says. “It was a fairly distasteful event that occurred in front of a lot of people.”

However, while no laws were broken, Hebner said what happened “violated fair-chase standards and sportsmanlike conduct.”

“I would say the hunters involved in this used poor judgment,” he says, and though he wasn’t on the scene, he says he “talked to other hunters who turned around and left. Everyone should have done exactly that.”

A hunter himself, Hebner says that the hunt was not what traditional archery hunters would consider a good hunt.

“Archers go to great lengths to make humane kills. That didn’t occur here,” he says.

The hunt, a general bow season held in “Elk Area 4941” on the north bank of the Skagit between Highway 9 and Cape Horn Road, has since been canceled because “the harvest objective has been met.”

Asked about that, Hebner says that the goal for the season was a take of ten elk, but by their estimation, hunters have taken 17 so far.

With three weeks left in the bow season, as well as permit muzzleloader and Master Hunter hunts that continued through Jan. 20, a preemptive decision to close the hunt was reached.

It follows on last winter’s unexpected take of an estimated 40 elk in the area.

“We were uncomfortable with that, and more importantly, our comanagers (the Point Elliott Treaty tribes) were uncomfortable with that,” says Hebner.

The tribes as well as WDFW, USFS, DNR, local timber companies, farmers and others have worked for over a decade to bring the Nooksack herd back from a low of 300 animals in the early 2000s.

But last winter’s big snows pushed the elk into areas where they were easily targeted.

“We didn’t want to get into a situation where we overharvested on that damage hunt two years in a row,” Hebner says.

The damage hunt contrasts markedly with a highly successful and popular special bull permit hunt held in the mountains above the Skagit, well away from public view.

But moving forward, the elk will continue to want to come down from the Cascades in winter, the valley-floor herd will continue to expand, and local residents will continue to find their crops and fences and cars damaged by elk.

A solution must be found for “a terrible area to hunt elk.”

“I don’t want to take a chance on this reoccurring, and neither does the community,” says Hebner. “But we still have to address damage issues. We need to work on ideas.”

Master Hunters may be used instead of general-season hunters or other permit holders.

“I’m open to suggestions,” Hebner says.

Plenty Of Big Bulls, Just No Shootables?

Some elk hunters saw plenty of bulls in the hills above Yakima this past fall, but too few of the elk were shootable spikes.

So writes  Scott Sandsberry in an article headlined “WDFW elk regulations not very sporting.”

“I brought up a friend of my grandson from California,” hunter Murvin Mullinax tells the reporter for the Yakima Herald Republic. “He was amazed at all the big branch bulls he saw. He’d never seen anything like that in the wild. He was really thrilled — but we couldn’t shoot a thing.”

The Yakima area has been spike-only bulls for general hunters since 1994, and the overall herd has also been reduced by 18 percent over the past half decade.

Regional wildlife manager Ted Clausing tells Sandsberry that reducing the “principal” of the breeding stock to around 9,500 animals results in lower calf production which ultimately means fewer bulls and cows to harvest.

Weather also affects hunter success; some special permit holders did quite well with their Peaches Ridge tags.

But the bad news for Yakima hunters, as Sandsberry reports, is that, “Hunting success is likely to become even more difficult to achieve in this region, he said, with the game department proposing ‘a fairly major reduction in the antlerless (cow) harvest in the 2010 season.'”

Federal Bio: ‘Wolf Population Doing Fine’

With Montana’s wolf hunt now closed and Idaho’s continuing into March, the federal biologist overseeing recovery of the species in the Northern Rockies tells the Idaho State Journal that the packs have leveled off for the time being.

“This year, we’ll have about the same population as last year,” Ed Bangs of the USFWS tells reporter Sean Ellis. “The wolf population’s doing fine.”

At the end of 2008, the population was 1,650 in those two states plus Wyoming, reports Ellis; hunters had taken 203 wolves through Dec. 21.

Writes Ellis:

(Bangs) says the hunts in Idaho and Montana have not adversely affected the region’s overall wolf population. The hunts, which have been planned for years, were enabled after the region’s wolf population was removed from the endangered species list in May.

Skagit Elk Culling Draws Fire, From All Sides

A Skagit Valley Herald article on an elk hunt east of Mount Vernon and reprinted in today’s Tacoma News Tribune and Seattle Times is drawing quite a few comments in all three papers, on, and at Hunting-washington as well.

Dick Clever’s original story in the Herald on Sunday details how a herd of 70 elk bounced from side to side of cattle rancher Bill Johnson’s field off Wilde Road along Highway 20 the day before as a half-dozen bowmen attempted to legally kill a few animals as Fish & Wildlife enforcement officer Worth Allen looked on to make sure everything stayed on the up and up.

(Allen’s comments on the scene, “This is not hunting,” has been attacked by some hunters as showing a lack of support by the department.)

The elk are there because the Nooksack herd has rebounded from a low of around 300 animals as recently as the early 2000s to around 700 or 800 today. The population has grown since the Point Elliott treaty tribes and WDFW airlifted 80 animals from the overpopulated Mt. St. Helens area. Permit hunts were again allowed starting in 2006 and this season featured a general bow hunt from Nov. 1-Jan. 20 for any elk, a hunt that has since been cancelled.

Writes Herald reporter Tahlia Ganser in an article posted very early this morning, “While the hunting wasn’t illegal, many spectators and others, including hunters who heard about the kills, said it was unethical. And it wasn’t what the Department of Fish and Wildlife had in mind when it opened an elk-hunting area roughly bounded by highways 9 and 20.”

She quotes WDFW Game Division manager Dave Ware as saying that “the hunters ‘lacked discretion’ and ‘took advantage of the situation’ though they did not break the law.”

An emergency rule change notice from WDFW, received shortly before 3 p.m. today, reads, The elk harvest objective for the area has been met and the conduct of hunters has become disorderly and unsportsmanlike.”

(That closure, however, is angering a few tag holders who say season should remain open despite what a few “bad apples” have wrought, a source at WDFW in Olympia says.)

A fuller article by Ganser now appearing on the Seattle Times details how word of the herd on Johnson’s land spread and how hunters reacted.

“The whole thing kind of got out of control,” Johnson tells Ganser.

Photos by Skagit Valley Herald reader Catherine Anstett show the hunt taking place.

Clever’s article states that while the herd’s core range is north of the Skagit, in the mountains, in winter, many move to the lowlands of the Skagit Valley. Some are also making the river bottom their year-round home.

It’s not unusual for elk to live in the lowlands. The behavior has led WDFW to create numerous “elk areas” around Washington as the large animals have increasingly settled near towns and fields.

A big herd lives outside the back door of Northwest Sportsman columnist Dave Workman in North Bend.


Unfortunately, as with the Skagit, these lowland hunts are often done in front of the public. Clever writes that “traffic slowed to a crawl on Highway 20 Saturday as curious motorists passed by the scene.”

And as so often happens today, the culling of the excess elk in an unwanted area was not just played out in front of weekend drivers, but has gone big time online as well.

In the Times comments (up to 68 as of 10:44 this a.m.), there are the typical insults to hunters and counter claims of biased journalism.

hipnotic, who lists their hometown as Tukwila, writes:

The guys out there slaughtering these animals trapped in a field , are the braggers at work . You know the guy with all the Cabellos gear , beefy 4×4 with mud tires , that’s kept spotless and of course the numerous tales of hunting odessey’s in high remote mountains passable only by foot . Well the cats out of the bag now George ! You’ve been Elk shopping in Monroe , havent you ?
Franklin, Lake Stevens, adds:
Reminds me of the gutless so-called hunters I used to see shooting fawns as they wandered around campgrounds. These aren’t men, these are eunuchs. They should circle the pasture and take aim straight across. At least we could eliminate these gutless wonders from the gene pool.Cruel and inhumane and not a sport or a kindness. This garbage needs to be outlawed. Please write to the state game department and let them know what you think of this kind of inhumane slaughter of animals.
Day Trader, Kenmore, says:
I wonder if high-powered bow hunting is the norm for weeding out a large Elk herd in Concrete or just a bunch of bow hunters showing off their new Christmas presents?
red rocket, Seattle, says:
I have been hunting and fishing all my life and have yet to witness a situation like the one in this article. Although it was a legal hunt, the hunters, the farmer, and the WDFW should have done better. I am not pleased.
And ronulus, also in Seattle, adds:
Elk were grazing on these lands for thousands of years before hicks chose to farm it. Why don’t chicken sh##t hunters take their bows and guns and head to Afghanistan, or better yet, hunt each other.
However, some folks do get it, they understand what’s actually going on here, grisly a scene as it is.
Branches11, Edmonds:
I think things would be more clear if the authorities and the article would have labeled this as population management, which is what it was. Hunting and population management are two different things.
PedalPower, Friday Harbor:
Certainly the “cull hunt” on the Skagit farm was not “hunting,” but it was probably necessary, and the meat will not go to waste.
Veritas Maximus, Bainbridge Island:
If this hunt discourages the elk from making a repeat visit, it may be a good thing for all concerned.Wildlife become pests when they lose their natural fear of humans. When humans and wildlife are in the same place, their conflicting interests will lead to conflicts…and invariably the wildlife lose those conflicts.The more that wildlife avoid human areas, the better it is for them.

Now, with that said, we have to leave areas for the wildlife. The insane rapacious development going on everywhere is depleting habitat, and all so Taylor and Buffy can have their McMansion with urban services.

To make things worse, the Taylors and Buffys of the world leave food out for wildlife, thus encouraging them to get close to humans. And the Taylors and Buffys think that it’s cute seeing deer…until the deer eat their vegetation or a deer crashes into Taylor’s BMW.

VM later adds:
The entire reason the elk were there was because the elk decided that human areas were safer for them than the wild where there are cougars.It is better for all concerned if the elk stay in the wild and take their chances with the cougars.Whenever human/wildlife conflicts occur, the wildlife always loses.

It is only made worse by dreamy-eyed urbanites whose knowledge of wildlife comes from Disney movies.

And finally, on the TNT’s comment page, Mcgyver summarizes:
It’s not sportsmanlike but that doesn’t mean it’s not necessary.
True, that.
The elk are there. They’re not wanted. They’ve become a hazard to highway travel. The guy’s farm is not going to go away (and that’s a good thing, trust me, especially if it’s run well).
Hunters — even when it may not seem very sporting — can take care of the problem, for free, and the elk meat will not be wasted.
I hate to get all preachy, but a lot of those posters could use a good dose of that book, How Sportsmen Saved The World, that I’ve been going on and on about here and in the January issue.
The harried reporter may not have been able to fold larger wildlife management concepts into his piece, but the book outlines the reasoning behind what game officials are trying to do.
It’s not always pretty, of course. There will be blood when you shoot things. And hunters will take a black eye over this (and as we devour each other).
Writes Rob on page 9 of a now-double-digit thread on Hunting-Washington:
So there has been a lot of discussion on if the archers should have done what they did, if it was ethical, if it should be condemned, etc.

I guess my comment would be, it all does not matter.  Right or Wrong does not matter, perception matters.  Conducting a circle hunt by a highway with bows that corners an elk herd in a fenced area along with livestock looks crappy.  What happened?  Hunters (all of us) look bad, and the state closes the season with a snarky comment about “unsportsmanlike” “hunters”.  Validating the anti hunter viewpoint.

My gut tells me we have not seen the last of this.  It will have far reaching consequences in terms of new, more complex regulations, reduced hunting opportunities, and lowered public opinions of all hunters.  The actions of a handful will impact us all.  Image and reputation are important.

But adds justhunting on Go Skagit:

I am an archery hunter and I was at the field on Saturday.  I hunted the outskirts of the field, with eight arrows in my quiver.  The only arrow I fired was the one that dispatched the wounded elk, that was next to highway 20 (mind you it was already riddled with four seperate arrows).  It was a disgusting sight for any true-ethical archery hunter to see. I did not want to see the animal suffer needlessly any longer, and neither did the wildlife officer who asked me distpatch said animal.  I recieved no meat, no antlers, and no personal gain.  Just a sincere “thank you” from the wildlife officer, and I left the scene a very disgusted archery hunter.

We’ve got a call in to Capt. Bill Hebner of WDFW’s North Puget Sound detachment for more, but in the meanwhile, the agency is receiving quite a bit of feedback on the matter, as you can imagine. In addition to the rule change notice closing the elk hunt as of yesterday, they’re also sending out this email:

Thank you for contacting the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding the article below that you pasted in the email.  This was actually a general season hunt opened up to the public to reduce the elk herd numbers in this area of the Skagit Valley.  Below I am posting the message from our Wildlife Program Manager, her name is Lora Leschner and she had this to say about the entire incident;

“We at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) share your distress over the recent archery hunt activity in that area.  Although an archery elk hunt was authorized in the area to control elk damage—and thus was technically legal—the hunting behavior was unsportsmanlike.  We at WDFW—along with the vast majority of hunters—support ethical and orderly hunting practices. Unfortunately, this hunt fell far short of those standards.

As a result of the incident, WDFW has closed the archery elk hunt in the area (Elk Damage Unit 4941), effective immediately. WDFW officers are warning hunters that the season is closed.

Elk damage has been, and will continue to be, a community problem in this area.  WDFW wildlife managers made an effort to structure this year’s elk hunting season to reduce damage. The hunter conduct that resulted was not anticipated, and is not condoned by the department.

While there will be a continuing need to address elk damage by reducing the number of elk in the area, we plan to conduct future elk damage hunts through a more-controlled permit system, probably limited to graduates of our Master Hunter Program.  Master Hunters have advanced hunt training aimed at avoiding a situation such as the one that recently occurred along State Route 20.”

If you have any further comments or questions please feel free to contact the Region 4 Wildlife Program at 425-775-1311.

Thank you,

Wildlife Program Olympia

Smelt Subject Of Jan. 6 Meeting


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled a public meeting Wednesday, Jan. 6 in Kelso to discuss prospects for smelt fisheries on the Cowlitz River and other tributaries to the Columbia River in 2010.
The meeting will be held from 6-8 p.m. on the third floor of the Cowlitz County Administration Building at 207 4th Ave. N. in Kelso.
As in recent years, state fishery managers are predicting low returns of Pacific smelt in 2010.  In addition, NOAA Fisheries has proposed listing the species as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).  A final decision on the proposed listing is expected in March.
“Fishery managers are thinking long and hard about what kind of smelt fishery – if any – makes sense in light of the proposed ESA listing,” said Bill Tweit, WDFW Columbia River policy leader.  “Before we begin making those decisions, we’d like to hear what the public has to say.”
Earlier this month, representatives of WDFW and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife agreed on restrictive sport and commercial smelt-fishing seasons for the Columbia River, but delayed decisions about the Cowlitz River and other tributaries.
Sport fishing for smelt on the mainstem Columbia River will be open seven days per week starting Jan. 1, although anglers catch very few fish there.  The ongoing commercial fishery will be restricted to Mondays and Thursdays starting Jan. 1 through March 31.
Columbia River smelt are part of a designated West Coast population that extends from the Mad River in northern California to northern British Columbia.  A scientific review by NOAA Fisheries found that this stock is declining throughout its range, mostly due to changes in ocean conditions.

Disco Derby Cancelled


February 2010 Gardiner Salmon Derby Canceled
> Gardiner, WA – December 18, 2009 – The February 2010 salmon derby on
> Discovery Bay has been canceled, due to an unresolved conflict over
> to the derby. Since 1973, a core group of Gardiner residents ran this
> fundraising event each Presidents Weekend. Early derbies focused on
> Gardiner boat ramp, but they expanded in recent years to additional
> in
> Port Townsend and Sequim. In 2009, over 800 tickets were sold, and
> $16,500 in prizes were awarded. Derby proceeds were contributed to
> Gardiner’s local fire department – over $50,000 since 2006.
> The conflict is over who has the right to run future derbies. In 2009,
> Gardiner residents petitioned to change their emergency response
> leaving Jefferson County Fire District #5 in September to join Clallam
> County Fire District #3, with its new fire station in nearby Blyn.
> (Gardiner
> remains part of Jefferson County.) Gardiner volunteers had expected to
> continue running the annual salmon derby, but this was contested by
> Jefferson County Fire District #5. The matter remained unresolved in
> December, so the Gardiner derby committee has been forced to cancel
> 2010
> event.
> Dan Tatum, a major figure in all recent derbies, is disappointed. “We
> apologize to all our loyal supporters that we couldn’t resolve this
> situation. And we apologize to the volunteers who already did so much
> this year. We should have dealt with this last summer, but we never
> expected
> the problem because the derby association was a local organization
> independent of the fire district.”
> Local restaurants, merchants, and hotels will no doubt miss the
> traffic normally generated by the event. But Tatum thinks the biggest
> impact
> will be in Gardiner. “It just won’t be the same here without our
> The
> same neighbors and local businesses have been coming together each
> We
> drew families of participants from all over the region. The tradition
> spans
> three generations. It’s a waste.” When asked if a derby would be held
> 2011, Tatum shrugged. “Who knows? Running a derby takes a huge amount
> volunteer work and personal contact. Legal headaches have made that
> impossible.”
> The derby had been a feature of the Northwest Marine Trade
> annual Northwest Salmon Derby Series. Since other regional derbies
> expressed interest in taking over the Presidents Day slot, the future
> any
> Discovery Bay derby may be moot. Whatever happens, competitive
> anglers in 2010 will have to be satisfied by impromptu fishing
contests at

Guide/NWS Pen Finds Post-storm Steelies In The Chetco


Following two big winter storms during the second half of December, steelhead fishing is heating up on Oregon’s Chetco River, already producing the kind of results normally seen during peak season.

“The Chetco dropped back into shape today after blowing out Sunday, and there were fish spread out throughout the lower river,” guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing said Wednesday. “We got bites in just about every good run, and hooked five fish. The biggest one was 17 pounds.”
Fishing was also good Friday before the river blew out over the weekend.
“Since a good push of fish arrived last week, there should be decent numbers of steelhead clear up to the South Fork by now,” Martin said.
More than half of the catch so far has been wild fish, an indication of a strong run this season.
“The best fishing has been from the Piling Hole down, but it’s worthwhile to drift from Ice Box or even higher,” Martin said.
With relatively high water Wednesday, Martin’s clients side-drifted the edges of the river.
“We used sploosh balls combined with five-shot slinkies to get down quickly, and used slightly larger-than-normal roe clusters,” Martin said. “All the strikes came on eggs cured in Pautzke’s natural-colored BorxOFire.”
Steelhead fishing typically peaks in late January or early February on the Chetco, so anglers appear to be in store for a great season, Martin said.
The steelhead are averaging a solid 8 to 12 pounds, with fish in the high teens already showing up.
For current reports, check out or call (206) 388-8988.

Whidbey Hunt Ban Heads To Court

Waterfowlers will have their day in court when a suit over the ban on shooting at Deer Lagoon on southwest Whidbey Island is heard on New Year’s Eve.

According to The Whidbey Examiner, the Washington Waterfowl Association and a local resident have sued the county, claiming the  commissioners’ decision earlier this fall was “abitrary and capricious.”

Writer Justin Burnett reports, “It also claims that the commissioners based their decision on hearsay, having no direct evidence that hunting has ever posed a danger to people, pets or property.”

Adds a South Whidbey Record article picked up by the Seattle PI:

The lawsuit says county commissioners adopted the restrictions on shooting at Deer Lagoon — previously a popular waterfowl hunting spot — without conducting ballistic studies that would support the ban.

The suit also says the county sheriff’s office has no records that birdshot has ever jeopardized people, domestic animals or property near Deer Lagoon.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare the ordinance that created the ban “invalid,” and demands that it be repealed.

Burnett’s article details more of the background on the issue, which we blogged about earlier this year.

Northwest OR Steelhead Report

With a little time off over the Christmas holidays, you may find steelhead on Oregon’s Northwest Coast.

Here’s an update on the action, courtesy of ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

ALSEA RIVER: Winter steelhead angling has been hit or miss so far this season. A few pulses of fish have moved in with anglers having some success throughout the river by boat and bank angling. This week is looking to have favorable fishing conditions.


BIG CREEK: Winter steelhead fishing improved after recent rains. Fish are available throughout the stream below the hatchery. This small stream is a good bet during this part of the season. Bobber and jig, spinners, or baits drifted along the bottom all will produce fish.

GNAT CREEK: Winter steelhead fishing is improving as water levels have risen and temperatures warmed up. This is a good early season, small stream opportunity. There is good access near the hatchery. Look for pockets of holding water to find fish. Spinners often draw strikes in these areas. Bobber and jig or small baits drift fished will produce some fish also.

KILCHIS RIVER: Winter steelhead are being caught, particularly in the lower river. A few late chinook are also in the river, but many are close to spawning and should be released. Drift fishing is the most productive when flows are up. Side drifting or pulling plugs from boats has produced fish lately. Use bobber and eggs or shrimp in the deeper holes if targeting chinook.

KLASKANINE RIVER AND NORTH FORK KLASKANINE: A few early winter steelhead are available in the system. Fishing has improved as more fish enter the system and with better angling conditions. Good access is available near the hatchery on the North Fork. Use light gear and approach holes carefully to avoid spooking fish.

NECANICUM RIVER: A few early winter steelhead are available in the lower river. Fish will spread out more with better flows. Drift boaters should be able to float the river now. Bobber and jig or bait is very effective on this stream.

NEHALEM RIVER AND NORTH FORK NEHALEM RIVER: Good numbers of winter steelhead are moving into the north fork. Best fishing has been around the hatchery and the lower river, with some fish being caught in the mile or so just above the hatchery. The entire Nehalem Basin is closed to chinook angling for the remainder of 2009.

NESTUCCA RIVER AND THREE RIVERS: Steelhead angling is fair. More fish are moving into the system. Three Rivers is the best bet until the main Nestucca clears. Drift fishing on the bottom will probably be the most productive until flows recede. Plunking in the travel lanes on the main river is another option. A few early hatchery winter steelhead have been trapped and recycled from Cedar Creek Hatchery. Chinook angling in the river is slow. Fish the deeper holding water low in the system for best chances of hooking bright fish.

SALMON RIVER: Native winter steelhead typically return from December through March. Fair to good numbers of wild winter steelhead should return this season. Good fishing conditions are expected this coming week.

SILETZ RIVER: Winter steelhead angling has been slow to fair so far this season. A mixed bag of fish can be caught this time of year consisting of winter and summer steelhead and possibly a coho salmon. Angling from boat or bank can produce good catches on the right days. Good fishing conditions are expected for the coming week.


SIUSLAW RIVER: Steelhead angling is slow to fair with catch rates being hit or miss. Recent rain events and a good weather forecast should make for favorable angling conditions for the coming week. Anglers should focus on the mid to lower river during the early part of the run.

TILLAMOOK BAY: Angling for sturgeon should be fair to good with increased river flows. Concentrate on the channel edges on the outgoing tides or the first part of the incoming, with sand shrimp the preferred bait.

TRASK RIVER: Steelhead angling is beginning to improve as a few more fish enter the river. Fall chinook are available, but angling is slow. Some bright fish are being caught, but many are dark and should be released. Construction of a new boat slide at the Cedar Creek launch site was completed earlier this fall and is ready for use. Contact ODFW in Tillamook at 503-842-2741 for details.

WILSON RIVER: Steelhead angling should be good when the river clears. Fish will move through and begin to spread out. Fish higher in the system first, then lower as the river drops and clears. Use brighter color lures and slightly larger baits while the river has some color. Look to the edges of the current for holding fish. Chinook angling is slow, but a few new fish moved into the system with recent rains. Many fish are close to spawning and should be released.

YAQUINA RIVER: Steelhead angling is slow to fair in Big Elk Creek but should start to pick up any time. River conditions should be good through the weekend.