Category Archives: Headlines

Salmon Groups Disappointed In Revised BiOP


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.


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.

SW WA Fishing Report


Toutle River – Anglers at the mouth of the Green River are catching fall Chinook and hatchery coho.  The first couple hundred coho of the season had returned to the hatchery as of September 9. ffective October 1, all Chinook must be released on the North Fork Toutle River from the Kidd Valley Bridge near Hwy. 504 upstream.

Green River – No report on angling success.  Adult Chinook must be released beginning October 1; however, hatchery chinook jacks may continue to be retained.

Cowlitz River – Lots of effort at the mouth of the Toutle where anglers are catching hatchery coho and some fall Chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 1,651 fall Chinook adults, 382 jacks, 451 coho adults, 15 jacks, 157 summer-run steelhead adults, 60 spring Chinook adults, 17 spring Chinook mini-jacks, 25 sea-run cutthroat trout and two pink salmon adults during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 1,367 fall Chinook adults, 360 jacks, and four coho adults into Mayfield Lake at the Ike Kinswa State Park boat launch, and 324 coho adults, nine jacks, and 37 spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam.  Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife transported three cutthroat trout to the Tilton River and three cutthroat to the upper Cowlitz River basin.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,510 cubic feet per second on Monday, September 14. Flows will be increased to about 4,500 cubic feet per second on Tuesday, September 15.

Kalama River – No fish were sampled during one day of sampling on the lower river last week.  Anglers from the upper salmon hatchery downstream are able to keep hatchery adult and jack fall Chinook  through the end of the year.

Lewis River – Anglers are catching hatchery coho.

Effective October 1, all Chinook must be released on the Lewis River (including North Fork) and fishing from any floating device will be prohibited on the North Fork from Johnson Creek (located below the salmon hatchery) to Colvin Creek (located upstream from the salmon hatchery).  Under permanent rules, Colvin Creek upstream to Merwin Dam closes to all fishing beginning October 1 to protect naturally spawning fall Chinook.

Washougal River – Anglers are catching fall Chinook.  Effective October 1, anglers must release adult Chinook from the Little Washougal River upstream; however, hatchery chinook jacks may continue to be retained.

Drano Lake- Boat anglers are catching some steelhead.  Anglers should note that 6 p.m. Tuesdays to 6 p.m. Wednesdays during October are scheduled to be closed to all fishing during the tribal commercial fisheries.

White Salmon River – No report on angling success.  Adult Chinook must be released from posted markers ½ mile upstream of the Hwy. 14 Bridge to the powerhouse beginning October 1; however, hatchery chinook jacks may continue to be retained.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers on the lower river are catching fall Chinook.

Buoy 10 – Private boat anglers are averaging about a coho per boat on most days.  Effective October 1, anglers will be allowed to keep hatchery coho jacks are part of the salmon and steelhead daily limit.  The daily limit will be 6 fish of which no more than 3 may be adults.  Up to 2 of the adults may be hatchery steelhead.  All salmon other than hatchery coho must be released.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – From September 10-13 we sampled 514 boat anglers (238 boats) with 52 adult and 9 jack fall Chinook, 13 adult coho, and 1 steelhead.  We also sampled 151 bank anglers with 13 adult and 1 jack fall Chinook plus 2 adult coho.

Anglers are reminded that effective today (September 14) all Chinook must be released downstream from a line projected from the Warrior Rock Lighthouse through red buoy #4 to the orange marker atop the dolphin on the Washington shore (upstream of the Lewis River) and upstream of the Rocky Point/Tongue Point Line.  However, fishing for hatchery steelhead, hatchery coho, and hatchery sea-run cutthroats in this area remains open.  A map of the upper boundary can be found at

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers are catching some fall Chinook and coho at the mouths of the Washington tributaries.

Hanford Reach – Catch was higher in comparison with same week in 2008. Last week 69 Adult and 16 jacks were checked from 313 anglers (120 boats) at the Vernita, Ringold, and Waluke boat ramps. Best catches accrued at and around the Waluke boat ramp.  27 bank anglers at Ringold had 2 chinook jacks.  Effort has slowed at the mouth of the Yakima with effort  moving upriver.


Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Light effort and catch continues during the current catch and release fishery.  Beginning October 1, white sturgeon may be retained Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam.  From the Wauna powerlines downstream, all sturgeon must be released through the end of the year.


Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers from Camas/Washougal upstream to Bonneville Dam are catching decent numbers of walleye.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

Isabella Fishing Well For NWS Writer

For the past two days, Northwest Sportsman contributor “Uncle Wes” Malmberg has been catching nice-sized trout at Isabella Lake, near Shelton, Wash.

Yesterday, he and brother Brett hooked an 18-inch rainbow and 16-, 14-, 13- and 12-inch cutts, and as of noon today, they’d hit several more 12- to 16-inch cutts, all on olive Woolly Buggers.

“You don’t have to fish deep; that’s a tip,” says Malmberg.

However, he does say the fishing has been sporadic.

“We put the boat in yesterday at 8 a.m. and had three to the boat in a half hour, and then it died,” he says.

Boat Maker Held In Slaying Of Woman

The owner of a Northwest fishing-boat-building company murdered a 45-year-old woman Friday afternoon on the Long Beach Peninsula, police say.

According to various news reports, officers witnessed Brian Brush, who owns North River Boats in Roseburg, Ore., fire shots into the grass. When they approached the 47-year-old man, he dropped the gun and raised his hands. The body of Lisa Bonney was found, shot in the back.

Reports say she was walking away from an argument with Brush, with whom she once had a relationship but had since filed a protection order.

Brush, who is being held on $5 million bail, is being held on investigation of first-degree murder.

Bonney was a real estate agent on the Long Beach Peninsula.

Brush as well as the boat company are being investigated for wire fraud by the FBI.

Cabezon Closing Off Oregon


Sport boat anglers may not retain cabezon after Sunday, September 13, 2009. Fishing for other bottomfish – such as most rockfish species, lingcod and greenling – remains open.

Cabezon harvest in Oregon has been limited in recent years by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission because health of the stock is uncertain.

Landing data for the sport fishery indicates that the ocean boat harvest cap of 15.8 metric tons for cabezon has been met.

Sport boat anglers may continue to harvest other legal species, but may not retain cabezon in the saltwater boat sport fishery. Shore anglers, including shore-based divers, may still keep cabezon.

“Cabezon have an excellent survival rate when released,” said Lynn Mattes, assistant project leader for marine recreational groundfish fisheries for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Unlike rockfish, cabezon do not have swim bladders and therefore do not suffer from barotraumas (expansion or rupture of the swim bladder when the fish are brought up from deep waters) that can cause stress, injury, and sometimes death in rockfish.”

WDFW Closing Part Of Puyallup R. 2 Days/Week


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is closing the recreational fishery on the lower section of the Puyallup River two days a week through the end of September due to safety concerns.

Recreational salmon fishing on the river will be closed from noon Sundays to noon Tuesdays, Sept. 13-15, Sept. 20-22 and Sept. 27-29 in the portion of the river extending 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. This section of the river flows through the Puyallup Tribe’s reservation.

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.

With a strong return of pink salmon this year, hundreds of recreational anglers are fishing the river, which is also open to tribal fishing two days a week, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for WDFW.

“Unfortunately, we’ve received reports about gear conflicts and other incidents between the two groups, raising public safety concerns,” Pattillo said. “To reduce the safety risk and ensure that the tribe and the state can conduct an orderly fishery, the department is closing this section of the river.”

Pattillo said WDFW enforcement officers will patrol the river to ensure the sport fishery closure is being observed.

Regulations remain unchanged for other sections of the Puyallup River as described in the 2009-10 Fishing in Washington pamphlet available at .

Columbia-Snake Steelhead Forecast Upped Again

Managers today updated this year’s forecast for A-run summer steelhead back to the upper Columbia and Snake River systems to nearly twice what they’d thought it would be at the beginning of summer.

“TAC has updated the Group A steelhead run to 565,000 fish, compared to the preseason forecast of 278,900 fish at Bonneville Dam,” a fact sheet from Oregon and Washington managers released this afternoon reads.

However, they say it is too early to say if the big Idaho-bound B-runs will come in larger than forecast. There’s also a suggestion they may come in below.

The A-run’s size is not surprising because during an 11-day period in mid-August, the old daily record of 14,432, set on August 3, 2001, was stomped every single day save for two. And two days saw nearly twice as many: 28,314 and 34,053 on August 12 and 13, respectively.

Since then it’s dropped to average daily counts for this time of year.

Nearly, 518,000 steelhead have gone over Bonneville Dam through September 9.

“The overall summer steelhead run may be close to the record run observed in 2001,” managers say.

“Add in the catch in the Lower Columbia (July saw a record harvest) and we may be in record territory,” adds Joe Hymer of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

In 2001, over 600,000 steelhead went over Bonneville.

A Big Bull And 3 Big Kings

Stop sending these killer fish and game pics, folks — they’re TOO distracting as I run up against the deadline for my next edition!! How am I ever gonna get anything done when I’m drooling all over my keyboard??!!

Of course, I’m just kidding about not sending shots — you could win big prizes from Hi-Viz and Lazer Sharp — but, my god, the elk yer killing and kings yer catching are something else!

Take the 7×7 bull that came in late yesterday afternoon.

Let me repeat that, a 7×7 bull.

For a first-time bowhunter.

And let me repeat that part too.

First-time bowhunter.

It wasn’t THAT easy, of course, and there was a chance Ted Spencer would never recover his trophy … Abby Spencer picks up the tale:

“First-time bowhunting on the Oregon Coast, Ted Spencer got a 7×7 elk hunting with his dad, brother and family friend.

“They went out on the second day 8/30/09 after opening day for bow elk season. His brother went up the canyon and Ted stayed down below. His brother called it in and it came charging at Ted. He pulled back his bow and fired an arrow at the elk.  He fired a second arrow and the elk took off.

“Ted, knowing that he shot the elk, went on the hunt for the trail.  They hunted for 9 1/2 hours, losing the trail on and off.

“Sick that they hadn’t found it, defeated they headed back to camp for the night allowing the elk time to bed down.

“The next morning, all four of them went out after the trail again. Within an hour Jack Spencer, Ted’s dad, had found the blood trail and they had found the 7×7.”

The money shot:



Then there’s the trio of gorgeous — gorgeous — fall Chinook from the Columbia at Rainier, Oregon, a whopping 75 pounds worth of salmon caught on wobblers and homemade spinners by the Olson clan of Thorpe, Washington. They emailed their shots exactly 2 hours and 25 minutes after I got Spencer’s photos. I’ll let the Olsons’ pics speak for themselves.







I ain’t making ANY guarantees, but I’ll tell you what, Ted’s bull pic has caught the eyes of the Photo Contest Judge. The bowman stands to win a $250 gift certificate from Hi-Viz Shooting Systems.

And the Olsons’ fish pics are pretty nice too. Monthly Lazer Sharp winners get a package of premium Lazer Sharp hooks, swivels, bobbers, baits, scents as well as a Lazer Sharp hat, and in the running for our grand prize, a fishing trip for two up north and $770 worth of Wright & McGill gear for the trip!