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NWS Scribe Finds Potholes Walleye

About the same time that tens of thousands of Washington moms and dads were serving up stocker trout breakfasts yesterday, Northwest Sportsman writer Leroy Ledeboer and crew were out cleaning up on walleye.

Ledeboer, of Moses Lake, was “guiding” his old friend Dan Whitmus as well as Paul Ness of Southern Idaho on Potholes Reservoir’s Lind Coulee Arm. They used silver Smile Blade-worm combos for nine walleye.

PAUL NESS AND HIS "GUIDE" AND NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN WRITER LEROY LEDEBOER WITH A MESS OF POTHOLES WALLEYE. (LEROY LEDEBOER)

Ledeboer says the fish ranged from 15 to 19 inches and that Ness, who regulates in Central Idaho for steelhead but hadn’t done much of any walleye angling, did most of the damage.

Ledeboer also kept a sizable hen smallmouth that sucked in a bait too far while they had stopped the boat to fight one of the walleye.

With this weekend’s Rod Meseberg Spring Walleye Classic, the fishing’s turned on at just the right time, Ledeboer notes. Something like 30 boats were in the arm yesterday.

He was back out today and was “plagued” with small walleye though watched another boat do pretty well.

For updates or more information, call Mar Don Resort (800-416-2736), on Potholes’ southwest corner.

SW WA Fishin’ Report

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Spring chinook and steelhead are being caught, primarily from the trout hatchery to the barrier dam.  The first 14 hatchery summer run steelhead of the season were trapped at Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery last week.

Flows have been steady at 3,540 cfs (except for the weekly flushing flow).  A total of 1,280 spring chinook adults have returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator as of April 23.  The 13 year average cumulative total to date is 6.97% of the run (range 1.1 ~ 12.8).  Using average run timing returns to date would convert to a run size of 18,364 to the separator.  The pre-season forecast was 12,500 adults returning to the Cowlitz in 2010.

Kalama River – Both spring chinook and steelhead are being caught.

Lewis River – Some spring chinook and steelhead are being caught in the North Fork; light effort and catch on the mainstem Lewis.

Flows below Merwin Dam were 4,200 cfs today which is slightly less than the long-term mean of 5,100 for this date.

Wind River – Overall one in every three boat anglers caught a spring chinook.  Some fish are being caught by bank anglers at the mouth and in the gorge.

There have been a total of 81 detections of Carson National Fish Hatchery (CNFH) Integrated Transponder (PIT) tagged adult spring Chinook at Bonneville Dam as of April 21.  Applying the juvenile tag rate from CNFH produces an estimate of 6,282 CNFH chinook over Bonneville Dam through April 21.

The final CNFH run size projections at Bonneville Dam, using early and average timing data from 2000-2009, are 10,593 and 21,547, respectively.  The pre-season forecast was 14,000 adults returning to the Wind in 2010.

There have been 80 spring chinook passed at Shipherd Falls through April 21.

For more information about PIT Tag observations, see http://www.cbr.washington.edu/dart/pit_obs_adult_obs_de.html.

CNFH daily counts will be available beginning May 1 via web site and phone. Web site address is http://www.fws.gov/gorgefish/carson/index.html.  Main office number is 509 427 5905.

Wind River from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls upstream to boundary markers approximately 800 yards downstream from Carson National Fish Hatchery (except closed 400 feet below to 100 feet above the Coffer Dam) – From May 1 through June 30, the salmon and steelhead daily limits will be a total of 2 chinook or hatchery steelhead or one of each.  Unmarked chinook may be retained in this section of the Wind. Night closure and anti-snag rule will be in effect.  Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.

Drano Lake – About 40% of the bank and boat anglers at Drano Lake had caught a spring chinook when sampled last week.  About 120 boats observed here last Saturday (April 24) around noon.

There have been a total of 108 detections of Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery(LWSNFH)  PIT tagged spring Chinook at Bonneville Dam as of April 25.  Applying the juvenile tag rate from LWSNFH produces an estimate of 6,756 LWSNFH adult chinook over Bonneville through April 25.

The pre-season forecast was 28,900 adults returning to Drano Lake in 2010.

White Salmon River – Spring chinook are no longer released here but there have been sporadic catches of stray fish based on angler reports.

Klickitat River – Some spring chinook are being caught by bank anglers from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream.

The first few spring Chinook of the year have been counted at the Lyle Falls adult trap.  Trap counts will be updated starting this week on the Yakama Indian Nation website at http://www.ykfp.org/klickitat/Data_lyleadulttrap.htm.

Flow at Pitt were 2,250 cfs today which is close to the long-term mean of 2,330 for this date.

Bonneville Pool – Bank angles just outside of Drano Lake are catching some spring chinook.

The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, just over one in every 3 bank anglers kept/released a spring chinook while about one in six boat anglers had caught a fish. Overall  78% of the fish caught were kept.

John Day Pool – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco: For the week of April 19-25, an estimated 549 adult hatchery chinook were harvested and 138 wild chinook were released. The majority of the harvest were retained by bank anglers fishing the Oregon shore. WDFW staff interviewed 336 salmon anglers this past week and sampled 85 hatchery chinook. For the season, an estimated 748 adult hatchery chinook have been harvested and 154 wild chinook were released.

UPRIVER SPRING CHINOOK RUN SIZE UPDATE

§  Bonneville Dam passage of adult Chinook through April 25 totals 95,512.  This is the highest cumulative count to date since 2003 and the 3th highest count to date since 1977.

§  With the total Bonneville count plus upriver impacts in treaty and non-treaty fishing below Bonneville Dam, 129,679 upriver spring Chinook can be accounted for.

§  The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met today and says it is still too early to update the run size.   TAC will be meeting regularly to review dam counts and harvest data.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from Bonneville Dam downstream – Effort and catches remain light except in the gorge.  A total of 123 boats and 200 bank anglers were counted during the Saturday April 24 flight.  Just under half the boats and over three-quarters of the bank anglers were found in the gorge.

Lower Columbia from the mouth to the Wauna powerlines – White sturgeon may be retained daily through April and from May 22 through June 26.  Daily limit 1.  Maximum size is 54” fork length. Through April, minimum size is 38” fork length.  Effective May 22, the minimum size will be 41” fork length.  Catch-and-release fishing is allowed during non-retention days.

From Bonneville Dam downstream 9 miles to a line crossing the Columbia from Navigation Marker 82 on the Oregon shore through the upstream exposed end of Skamania Island, continuing in a straight line to a boundary marker on the Washington shore:  CLOSED to fishing for STURGEON May 1-Aug. 31.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged a legal per every 2 rods when including fish released.  Bank angling was slow for legal size fish.

From John Day Dam downstream 5.4 miles to the west end of the grain silo at Rufus, Oregon:  CLOSED to fishing for STURGEON May 1-July 31.

John Day Dam to McNary Dam (including all tributaries) – The retention of sturgeon is prohibited through the rest of the year.   Catch-and-release fishing is permitted.  From McNary Dam downstream 1.5 miles to Hwy. 82 (Hwy. 395) Bridge:  CLOSED to fishing for STURGEON May 1-July 31.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged 1.3 walleye per rod while bank anglers averaged 2.6 bass per rod when including fish released.

John Day Pool – Few boat anglers sampled and those that were sampled had no catch.

TROUT

Klineline Pond – 47 bank anglers kept 58 catchable size and 1 brood stock rainbow and released 19 catchable size rainbows.  Planted with 2,000 rainbows averaging 2/3 pound each and 256 averaging 1.5 pounds each last week.

News From TAC

The “Technical Advisory Committee” for Lower Columbia River fisheries met today and decided there wasn’t enough information to open one fishery (commercial springers), but there was enough to close a second (sport sturgeon).

1) Even with the spring Chinook count at Bonneville Dam up to 95,000-plus, TAC “met today and says it is still too early to update the run size. TAC will be meeting regularly to review dam counts and harvest data.”

2) As for the sturgeon fishing at Rooster Rock, a site that has attracted “hundreds of anglers, particularly in recent weeks” and accounted for something on the order of 1,200 of the 1,300 white sturgeon caught between Wauna and Bonneville Dam this year, TAC is recommending closing that starting this Thursday, April 29.

“Angler catch rates have been high in this area, and total catch from the site is substantial,” TAC’s fact sheet reads.

WDFW Schedules May Lake Wash. Sockeye Workshop

In the California Delta, longfin smelt are in so much trouble that they warrant an “uplisting” from threatened to endangered, federal managers say, though they decided against doing so earlier this month.

Six hundred miles due north in Lake Washington, populations of the thin, 7-inch-long silvery fish have grown large enough that in some years they appear to be reducing the survival of young sockeye which fuel a hugely popular Seattle backyard fishery when the adults return.

But there are other factors at play too in why the salmon’s runs aren’t measuring up to what they were in the 1970s and 1980s.

A recently released independent review of the big lake’s natural and hatchery sockeye populations and their productivity talks about what’s going on, and now WDFW wants to talk about the 65-page document’s findings at a public workshop May 26.

“This information provides a starting point for discussions with tribal co-managers, our constituents and other stakeholders about future sockeye salmon management in Lake Washington,” said Jim Scott, assistant director of WDFW’s fish program, in a press release this afternoon. “We’d like to hear from anglers and others interested in Lake Washington sockeye as we look into the productivity of these fish in the watershed and how we currently manage our sockeye fisheries there.”

Fishing for the tasty salmon had reliably occurred every even year between 2000 and 2006, but since then runs have been too low for any seasons. This year’s forecast is for 123,000 to return, well below the current goal of 350,000 spawners.

Among other things, the “Cedar River and Lake Washington Sockeye Salmon Biological Reference Point Estimates,” authored by Scott McPherson of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and James C. Woodey, Ph.D., a fisheries consultant, finds that:

odd-year sockeye are less productive than even-year fish;

fry tend to hit Lake Washington too soon — “before or early in the spring bloom period, potentially placing the fry at risk due to suboptimal food resources for large populations entering in the south end of the lake”;

and that much more study is called for.

The meeting is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at WDFW’s Issaquah Hatchery, 125 W Sunset Way.

Drano Windy, But Hot Today For NWS Pen

A few numbers for you: eight for 15; 30-40; 7,000, 9,000 and 11,000.

What ties them all together? Drano Lake.

With the count at Bonneville Dam blowing up this past week, Northwest Sportsman contributor Andy Schneider hit the Columbia Gorge water today and reports landing six hatchery springers and releasing two wilds.

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY BLOWS -- THE BREEZE AND A WICKED-BIG BLAST OF SPRINGERS UP THE COLUMBIA. BRIAN HAWKINS SHOWS OFF ONE OF THE SIX HE AND TWO OTHER ANGLERS KEPT AT DRANO LAKE YESTERDAY. (ANDY SCHNEIDER)

Fishing conditions were pretty brutal, though, with 30 to 40mph winds howling over the lake and pushing his boat all over.

“It was so windy we couldn’t land most of the fish,” Schneider reports.

He says that when he turned the boat and headed east, the wind was picking up the water in his hot-water box and spraying he and his two fishing partners.

The kings were biting “Green Envy” Mag Lips (all-chartreuse) and prawn spinners with red-and-white blades about equally, Schneider reports.

“When the bite started to slow on the main lake, we decided to pull in close to the western shoreline and troll near the entrance of the lake with prawns.  If anyone has trolled the entrance of Drano, it’s appropriately known as the Toilet Bowl since all you do is troll round and round, waiting for your turn at the ‘sweet spot’, located right at the entrance deadline.

“First pass through the Bowl, Tom (VanderPlaat) hooks up.  Second pass, I hook up and hand the rod to Brian (Hawkins) just to see Tom’s rod go down and I grab that one; DOUBLE!!

“Third pass, Brian is looking for his last keeper, but no love.  Fourth pass, Brian hooks a native.  Fifth pass, Brian finally tags out — DRANO LIMIT!

Schneider says he saw maybe 30 fish caught for the 30 boats braving the gale.

The lake, which is really the drowned mouth of the Little White Salmon River, is open six days a week (closed Wednesdays for tribal netting) with a limit of two adult hatchery Chinook or two hatchery steelhead, or one of each. Also beware the bank-only area at the mouth.

“Thursday’s always the best day,” Schneider says. “The opening-day effect.”

The forecast calls for around 28,900 springers back to Drano — the largest forecasted run in four decades — and Wind River fish come acourtin’ too.

WDFW Green Lights 6-Day Clam Dig

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today finalized a six-day razor-clam dig for the end of April and early May at up to five area beaches. The openings are all on morning low tides, and no digging will be allowed any day after noon.

Beach openings, along with morning low tides, will be:

* Tuesday, April 27, 6:21 a.m., -1.0 ft.: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Wednesday, April 28, 7:06 a.m., -1.4 ft.: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Thursday, April 29, 7:50 a.m., -1.6 ft.: Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Friday, April 30, 8:32 a.m., -1.5 ft.: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks
* Saturday, May 1, 9:15 a.m., -1.0ft.: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch
* Sunday, May 2, 9:58 a.m., -0.7ft.: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch

The National Park Service scheduled the dig at Kalaloch Beach, which is located within the Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at other coastal beaches.

Dan Ayres, WDFW’s coastal shellfish manager, reminds diggers that portions of the beach at Long Beach and Twin Harbors are closed to the public to protect nesting western snowy plovers, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The closed portion at each beach includes the area above the mean high tide line. At Long Beach, the closed areas are located north of the Oysterville Road from the state park boundary north to Leadbetter Point.

At Twin Harbors, the closed areas are located from just south of Midway Beach Road to the first beach-access trail at Grayland Beach State Park. Clam diggers are reminded that the entire northern section of Long Beach is closed to all driving starting at noon each day during this razor clam opener.

“Signs clearly mark the area and instruct people to stay on the hard-packed sand,” Ayres said.

Under WDFW rules, harvesters may take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 taken, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s limit must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers 15 years or older must have an applicable 2010-11 fishing license to dig razor clams on any beach.  Anglers can buy a combination license or an annual shellfish/seaweed license. Also available are razor-clam only licenses in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov .

Licenses can be purchased on-line or at any of the approximately 600 vendors who sell recreational licenses. A list of vendors is at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors .

Ayres reminds prospective clammers that overnight and weekend repairs to Interstate 5 could make it considerably more difficult to get to and from Washington’s coast. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced that repairs to the highway between Lacey and Tacoma will close north and soundbound lanes through September, resulting in traffic backups that could stretch for miles.

Diamond Lake Thawing … A Bit

WEATHERMAN: “And for those of you looking for a little fresh pow, Diamond Lake Resort is reporting 3 inches of snow overnight and winter conditions holding on. And now to Sports …”

SPORTSCASTER: “The resort is also reporting that it’s very unlikely boats will able to launch at the popular Southern Oregon Cascades lake for this weekend’s opener, where tens of thousands of 15- to 17-inch rainbows await — as well as one worth $500 — but there is hope for some anglers still.

A press release sent this afternoon from Rick Rockholt at the resort reads ‘Not all is Doom and Gloom! The lake’s ice covering is very rotten and there is a little open water for bank fishing in front of Diamond Lake Resort. Anglers willing to  venture to the mouth of Short Creek and Silent Creek at the south end of the lake will find about an acre of open water at each. There are the Lake Creek outlet at the north end of the lake. Be sure to read the angling closure signs there.'”

RENTAL BOATS SLUMBER UNDER A LATE-APRIL BLANKET OF SNOW AT DIAMOND LAKE. (DIAMOND LAKE RESORT)

You can watch the lake thaw at diamondlake.net by clicking on the fishing report, or call the marina (800-733-7593 ext. 238) before you go.

And now back to you at the Newsdesk.

BROADCASTER: “Thanks for those reports. In other news …”

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Just in case you’re like just waking up from a coma or something and are wondering where to go fishing this weekend, April 24 (that would be three days from now) is the trout opener in Oregon.

Thousands upon thousands of rainbows are being stocked around the Beaver State for the big day — but before heading to Diamond Lake, Rip Van Winkle, call 1-800-733-7593 ext. 238 because it be frozen.

But it’s not all trout this weekend. Spring Chinook are surging above Bonneville and up the Willamette and Rogue Rivers, and there are steelhead and bottomfish to be head as well.

Here’s more from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Applegate and Emigrant Reservoirs and Garrison Lake all have been stocked and are fishing well. have been stocked and offer some good fishing.
  • Lemolo Lake, Hyatt Lake and Howard Prairie Reservoir open this Saturday and anglers should expect some good fishing.
  • The lower Rogue River continues to turn out chinook, while steelhead fishing has picked up in the Grants Pass area.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Hebo Lake and Battle Lake are scheduled to be stocked the week of April 19. South Lake is tentatively scheduled to be stocked the week of April 19 also if snow levels have receded to allow access to the lake. Fishing should be fair to good in many of the lakes and ponds that have been stocked this spring.
  • A youth angling event is scheduled for Saturday, April 24 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hebo Lake. ODFW and volunteers will be available to assist young anglers wanting to learn about fishing. Adult anglers are encouraged to refrain from fishing the lake immediately before the event to ensure there are sufficient numbers of trout to provide good catch rates for the youngsters.
  • Fishing in most mid coast lakes has been very good so far this spring and should continue to provide anglers with great opportunities well into June. Most water bodies have been stocked several times this spring and at least once with trophy sized trout. Check the online stocking report for specific weeks and lakes to be stocked.
  • Hatchery winter steelhead have been released into Olalla Reservoir several times this spring. Hatchery steelhead are considered “trophy trout” and a hatchery harvest card is not necessary.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel. The best catch rates have been reported from Oregon City upriver to Willamette Falls.
  • Winter steelhead fishing is good in the Clackamas and Sandy rivers and Eagle Creek. Steelhead are spread throughout both systems and some good catches have been reported.
  • A youth angling event will be held Saturday, April 24 from 9-2 p.m. at Trojan Ponds near Hwy. Rainier. All necessary equipment will be provided and volunteers will be on hand to assist young anglers. Call the Clackamas ODFW office for more information at 971-673-6034.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • The Central Oregon Cascades Lakes opener is this upcoming Saturday, April 24. Crane Prairie Reservoir, Wickiup Reservoir, Odell Lake and South Twin Lakes are ice free and accessible and the fishing should be great. Please note, however, that at this time ODFW has been advised that Big Lava Lake, East and Paulina Lakes are still inaccessible as of Tuesday, April 20 and are projected to not be accessible on opening day Saturday, April 24.
  • Warmer days are bringing some good insect hatches on the Deschutes River.
  • Good returns of winter steelhead to the Hood River have produced good fishing and it should continue into early May.
  • Trout fishing is picking up on Lake Billy Chinook with reports of some legal-sized bull trout being caught.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing has been good on the Ana River with reports of hold-over trout being caught.
  • Bank anglers have been having some luck fishing for trout in Klamath Lake.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Willow and McKay creeks open this Saturday and should offer some good early-season fishing.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Spring chinook, steelhead, and shad angling is CLOSED in the lower Columbia from the Buoy 10 line upstream to Bonneville Dam.
  • Spring chinook are beginning to move upstream and should be available in the Bonneville, The Dalles, and John Day Pools.
  • A few legal size sturgeon are being caught by boat and bank anglers in the gorge as well as in the Portland to Longview area.
  • Walleye angling is good in The Dalles Pool.

MARINE ZONE

  • Fishing for rockfish, lingcod and other groundfish is good when ocean conditions allow.
  • The next minus tide series begins April 27 and continues through May 3 providing opportunity for clam diggers. Razor clam diggers should watch for days when the marine forecast calls for combined swell and wind waves of less than eight feet.
  • The entire Oregon coast is now open to recreational and commercial clam harvesting.

Big Changes To McKenzie Trout Fishing

If you’re a fan of trout fishing on the McKenzie River, better read this piece by Mike Stahlberg on the big changes this year in where hatchery fish are going for this weekend’s opener.

The Eugene Register-Guard reporter says there will be new hot spot while a popular stretch will be “something of a dud.”

“You can bet your waders on this turn of events because state fishery managers have overhauled the McKenzie trout-stocking plan for the first time since 1997,” Stahlberg writes.

The river has seen a tug-of-war between fly fishermen who want to keep the pressure off wild redband rainbows and bull trout and the state which plants thousands upon thousands of fish for anglers to catch and keep.

Springer Catch Sets Record

The catch of 29,125 springers in the Columbia River is a new record, according to a fact sheet released by Washington and Oregon salmon managers this afternoon.

It breaks the old mark, set during 2001’s whopper run, by over 3,300.

And angler effort, some 166,000-plus trips from February through April 18, the last day of fishing below Bonneville Dam, was the highest since 2002.

However, the goal of only killing 17,200 above-Bonneville spring kings via wooden shampoos or handling mortality was exceeded by over 5,700 fish.

Managers had wanted to limit the take because of catch-sharing agreements to make more kings available to upriver anglers as well as keep impacts on listed wild stocks down.

As for commercial fishermen, they have caught slightly over 18,000 springers on the Columbia and in the SAFE fisheries near Astoria, including 8,798 upriver-bound salmon.

The combined non-treaty catch of 32,197 upriver springers is well below the management guideline of 38,000, but late this afternoon, managers did close the fisheries in Youngs Bay, Tongue Point, Blind Slough/Knappa Slough and Deep River to commercial and recreational sport fishing for Chinook.

The fact sheet states that passage at Bonneville — 47,721 through yesterday — “is the highest cumulative count to date since 2003 and the 8th highest count to date (1977-current).”

“TAC is meeting weekly to review passage at Bonneville Dam, but it is still too early to make any conclusions regarding run size,” it also reads.