Category Archives: Headlines

Southwest Washington Fishing Report

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Grays River – From the mouth to the Hwy. 4 Bridge opens to fishing for hatchery steelhead beginning Nov. 15.  The mainstem Grays from the Hwy. 4 Bridge upstream to the South Fork and the West Fork Grays from the mouth to the hatchery intake/footbridge will open for hatchery steelhead beginning December 1 (two weeks earlier than past years).

Cowlitz River – Including fish released, bank anglers averaged an adult coho per every 4 rods while boat anglers averaged nearly one each on the lower river.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 13,556 coho adults, 714 jacks, 293 fall Chinook adults, 34 jacks, 138 summer-run steelhead, nine winter-run steelhead, 40 sea-run cutthroat trout and three sockeye salmon adults during seven days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 538 coho adults, 37 jacks, 150 fall Chinook adults, 29 jacks, eight cutthroat trout and one winter-run steelhead adult into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, 1,378 coho adults and 103 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, and 703 coho adults and 23 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, Washington.  In addition, a total of 126 hatchery-origin sea-run cutthroat trout were recycled downstream to the Barrier Dam boat launch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,900 cubic feet per second on Monday November 2 and water visibility is twelve feet.

Kalama River – Anglers continue to catch some coho and steelhead.

Lewis River – Bank anglers averaged an adult coho per every 4 rods while boat anglers averaged one per every 3 rods when including fish released.  Some Chinook (which have to be released) and steelhead were also caught.

Flows below Merwin Dam have increased from 2,500 cfs to 4,200 cfs.

Washougal River – Generally light effort and no catch observed although nearly a thousand adult coho returned to the hatchery last week and more fish were observed in the lower river.

White Salmon River – Under permanent rules, the section from the powerhouse to 400 feet downstream from Northwestern Dam re-opens to fishing for game fish and salmon beginning Nov. 16.

Klickitat River – Remains excellent for coho with bank anglers on the lower river averaging 1.5 fish per rod while boat anglers averaged one each.  Some Chinook (adults and jacks) and steelhead were also found in the catch.

Effort remains heavy from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream with over 70 vehicles counted there yesterday.  Flows at Pitt were 900 cfs this morning and expected slowly drop over the next few days.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Effort and catch are declining.  Around the Camas/Washougal area just over a dozen boats were counted there last Friday.  Overall boat anglers there averaged a coho per every 16 rods.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers continue to average an adult coho per rod.  There were approximately 65 boats around the mouth of the Klickitat yesterday.

Hanford Reach – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW Fish Biologist in Yakima – An estimated 1,648 steelhead were caught between the Hwy 395 Bridge at Pasco and the old Hanford town site during October. The fishery opened on September 22, ten days earlier than normal.  Total catch to date is 1,873 steelhead with 1,244 hatchery steelhead harvested.  An estimated 226 unmarked hatchery steelhead and 295 wild steelhead have been caught and released.  Boat anglers averaged one steelhead per 6.4 hours of fishing and bank anglers averaged one steelhead per every 7 hours.

Anglers were allowed to retain any hatchery steelhead in October 2009. This rule change (from just adipose and ventral fin clipped fish) increased the percentage of steelhead retained in October compared to prior years. The October catch and harvest are the highest recorded in the past seven years.

WDFW staff interviewed 998 anglers in October representing 28% of the estimated effort.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam – Effort remains fairly heavy in the immediate area below Bonneville Dam.  Nearly 200 bank anglers were sampled there Saturday and 128 were counted during the flight on Friday.  Overall bank anglers fishing just below Bonneville Dam averaged a keeper for every 15 rods.  Effort and catch on the rest of the lower river remains generally light.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

 

Tacoma Power, WDFW Unveil Cowlitz Hatchery Production Tweaks

Win, lose, draw.

There’s a little bit of everything for Cowlitz River anglers in the proposed changes to hatchery salmonid production unveiled by Tacoma Power and WDFW last night in Centralia.

Spring Chinook smolt releases could rise by over 330,000 and summer steelhead by 150,000 under the various alternatives.

Fall king releases could also rise from 5 million to 5.3 million — or drop to 3.2 million. And late winter steelhead releases may drop by some 70,000 or bump up 37,000 from 363,000.

Sea-run cutthroat trout levels may remain at 157,000 a year — or be cut almost in half. But coho production would drop from 1.8 million to 1.1 mil, and early winter steelhead releases could be done for all together.

The proposals are part of an update to Tacoma Power’s fisheries and hatchery management plan for the big Southwest Washington river. Under an agreement on operating the Mayfield and Riffe dams, smolt production is to be cut 20,000 pounds to 650,000 a year, which is reportedly 35 percent lower than it’s been in peak years.

Mark LaRiviere, Tacoma Power’s senior fisheries biologist, says the goal is to recover natural-origin fish populations, while WDFW regional fisheries manager Pat Frazier says that conforming with ESA requirements for listed species in the basin is driving the state’s actions.

The next step, according to LaRiviere, is for the Fisheries Technical Committee — made up of state, federal and tribal agencies, sport and guide groups and others — to give a final recommendation on release levels.

That will be put into an update of Tacoma Power’s existing plan and forwarded to FERC, the federal department that oversees dam licensing.

FERC will also hold public meetings on the updated plan, and could approve, reject or amend it, LaRiviere says.

If the plan speeds through the process, there’s a possibility broodstock collections could be affected as early as next fall, he says, but perhaps not until fall 2011.

Anglers wouldn’t see differences in fish numbers for several years after that.

“The actual affect on adult runs would be three or four years out,” says LaRiviere.

While LaRiviere was happy with discussions with the 45 or so people who turned out last night, Eric Schwartz of the Centralia Chronicle reports that anglers fear what will happen to the Cowlitz’s solid runs of hatchery salmon, steelhead and trout.

“The way they’re going and what they’re saying, they’re heading to eliminate (hatchery) production altogether,” Don Glaser of Barrier Dam Campground just below Mayfield Dam told Schwartz in an earlier article.

For updates — LaRiviere says there’s likely to be another public meeting on the Cowlitz in early 2010 — watch cowlitzfish.net.

Aberdeen: Wolves Unwelcome

According to The Daily World, wolves aren’t wanted in the greater Grays Harbor area.

WDFW officials heard that message in Aberdeen last night during another of the dozen public-comment meetings they’re holding around the state on the draft wolf management plan.

However, two audience members offered their opinions that wolves would aid salmon recovery, and that nonlethal control methods should be considered as more packs come to Washington, according to the paper.

There will probably be more support for wolf recovery at the next opportunity for public comment too. It’s slated for Monday night at REI, 222 Yale Ave. N., from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Other upcoming meetings include:

Mount Vernon, Wednesday, Nov. 4, Cottontree Inn Convention Center, 2300 Market St.

Sequim, Thursday, Nov. 5, Guy Cole Convention Center at Carrie Blake Park, 212 Blake Ave.

Omak, Monday, Nov. 9, Okanogan County Fairgrounds Agriplex, Highway 97 South.

Wenatchee, Tuesday, Nov. 10, Chelan County PUD Auditorium, 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.

Mid-Columbia Sturgeon Meeting

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

A public meeting will be held Nov. 12 to discuss proposed fishing rule changes for sturgeon populations in the McNary Reservoir (Lake Wallula) and the John Day Reservoir (Lake Umatilla).

Specifically, the meeting will include discussions of:

  • New sturgeon rule changes proposed for McNary Reservoir that include reducing the number of months that sturgeon can be harvested, and establishing new sanctuary zones below Ice Harbor and Priest Rapids dams.
  • Options for lengthening the sturgeon sport fishing season in the John Day Reservoir.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12 in the conference room near the visitor center at McNary Dam.

Fishery managers from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will present information on the McNary Reservoir rule changes.  New conservation measures have been proposed to prevent overfishing that sturgeon population and to protect its broodstock.

In the John Day Reservoir, fishing pressure has shifted earlier in the season, resulting in shorter seasons.   Fishery managers from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and WDFW will present information on season options designed to provide a longer fishing season under the available harvest guideline.

During the meetings, the public will have an opportunity to discuss the proposals with WDFW and ODFW staff, and to submit written comments.

Columbia Sturgeon, Springer Meetings Set

(OREGON, WASHINGTON DEPARTMENTS OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASES)

Fishery managers will seek public comments on issues affecting future fisheries for Columbia River white sturgeon and spring chinook salmon at meetings scheduled next month in Vancouver, Wash., and Astoria, Ore.

The two meetings, sponsored by the fish and wildlife departments in both states, are designed to share information on developments that will affect management of those fisheries starting next year.

The meetings are scheduled at the following times and locations:

* Vancouver:  6-9 p.m. Nov. 5, Water Resource Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way, sponsored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
* Astoria:  6-9 p.m. Nov. 10, The Loft at the Red Building, 20 Basin St., Suite F, sponsored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).

WDFW and ODFW scheduled the public meetings as part of their joint efforts to develop plans for white sturgeon and spring chinook fisheries.  Final decisions, including catch guidelines for sport and commercial fisheries, are expected early next year.

“One of the key reasons for having these meetings is so the staff working on these issues can hear from the public,” said Steve Williams, ODFW administrator for the Columbia River and Marine Resources Program.

Fishery managers for both states say new catch guidelines for sturgeon will likely reflect recent declines in the lower Columbia River sturgeon population.  For spring chinook fisheries, new catch guidelines must account for a recent agreement to allow enough fish to pass upriver to meet treaty obligations established by the U.S. v. Oregon court decision.

“We have met with our Columbia River advisory groups about these issues, and we’d like to get additional input from the public,” said Cindy LeFleur, WDFW Columbia River policy coordinator.

Clams To Be Dug Nov. 4-7

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Clam diggers got the go-ahead to proceed with the second razor-clam dig of the fall season starting Wednesday, Nov. 4, on evening tides at two ocean beaches.

Twin Harbors will open for four late-evening digs Nov. 4-7, while Long Beach will open on Nov. 4, 6 and 7 only. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the digs after a series of marine toxin tests confirmed the clams were safe to eat.

Digging at the beaches will be restricted to the hours between noon and midnight. Additional digging opportunities are planned at five ocean beaches in mid-November.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said the department was able to offer the early November digs at Long Beach and Twin Harbors due to the abundant razor clam populations on those beaches.

“With more clams available for harvest south of Grays Harbor, we can offer these digging opportunities in addition to the ones that will include all beaches coming up later this month,” Ayres said.

The best time to start digging is an hour or two before low tide, said Ayres, who also recommends that clam diggers take lights or lanterns and check weather and surf conditions before heading out.

Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2009 annual shellfish/seaweed license or combination fishing license is still valid. Another option is a razor-clam only license available in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various options are available on the WDFW website at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.

Opening dates and evening low tides are:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 4 (7:33 p.m. -1.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Thursday, Nov. 5 (8:18 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Twin Harbors
  • Friday, Nov. 6 (9:07 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Saturday, Nov. 7 (9:59 p.m. -0.5 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors

In addition, WDFW has tentatively scheduled three other digs through Jan. 3.

Dates scheduled in mid-November are:

  • Saturday, Nov. 14 (4:34 p.m. -0.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Sunday, Nov. 15 (5:21 p.m. -0.7 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Monday, Nov. 16 (6:05 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Tuesday, Nov. 17 (6:47 p.m. -0.8 ft.) Twin Harbors

Dates scheduled Dec. 2 through Jan. 3 are:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 2 (6:32 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Thursday, Dec. 3 (7:18 p.m. -1.4 ft.) Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Friday, Dec. 4 (8:04 p.m. -1.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Saturday, Dec. 5 (8:51 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Thursday, Dec. 31 (6:16 p.m. -1.1 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Friday, Jan. 1 (7:01 p.m. -1.8 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Saturday, Jan. 2 (7:45 p.m. -1.6 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Sunday, Jan. 3 (8:29 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Twin Harbors

Beaches scheduled to open are:

  • Long Beach, which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.
  • Twin Harbors Beach, which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.

28 Oregon Lakes Stocked Recently

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

While trout fishing will be closing in most rivers and streams in Oregon on Oct. 31, trout fishing in many lakes and reservoirs throughout the state will be heating up thanks to a supplemental fall stocking program  by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Rainbow trout
The additional larger and trophy-sized trout ODFW has recently stocked in several lakes and reservoirs should offer anglers good fishing through the fall.
Photo by Jessica Sall – ODFW

The agency has been able to supplement its regular stocking program with several thousand larger and trophy-sized trout thanks to a special appropriation from the Oregon legislature. The legislation provided $400,000 for ODFW to purchase additional trout from private hatcheries in order to enhance fishing opportunities throughout the state.

“These fish stocked in October should provide the trout angler with some great fishing well into winter,” said Rhine Messmer, ODFW recreational fishing program manager. “Fall is a time of year when fish are feeding heavily in order to bulk up for the lean winter months, so fishing should be excellent as long as water temperatures don’t get too cool and the weather cooperates.”

This supplemental stocking will resume next spring and will continue through 2011.

The lakes and reservoirs that have been stocked this fall are (by zone):

SW Zone – stocked the week of Oct. 19

  • Hyatt Lake
  • Lake Selmac
  • Expo Pond
  • Reinhart Pond
  • Applegate Reservoir
  • Agate Lake
  • Garrison Lake
  • Butterfield Lake
  • Upper and Lower Empire Lakes

NE Zone – stocked the week of Oct. 12

  • Willow Creek Reservoir
  • Holliday Park
  • Bull Prairie

Willamette Zone

  • Walling Pond
  • Walter Wirth Pond
  • Waverly lake
  • Junction City Pond
  • Dorena Lake
  • Canby Pond
  • St. Louis Ponds
  • Hagg Lake
  • Sheridan Pond
  • Huddleston Pond

Central Zone – stocked the week of Oct. 26

  • Three Creeks Lake
  • North Twin Lake
  • Ochoco Reservoir
  • Haystack Reservoir
  • Shevlen Pond

Methow Buck Take, Age Up

Maybe it was the late start to season and late second weekend, or maybe there’s a storm a’coming to the Methow Valley, but hunters experienced “greatly improved success rates” during the nine-day rifle hunt for muleys that wrapped up Sunday.

“Check station data from both weekends of the season indicated nearly identical hunter pressure compared to last year,” WDFW biologist Scott Fitkin said in today’s Weekender. “But the success rate improved by 88 percent over what we observed last year, despite the issuance of fewer antlerless permits.”

“Later season dates and cooler, wetter weather likely improved the success rate. The average age of harvested bucks was the highest in years, and the body condition of harvested animals appeared to be consistently excellent,” he says.

Washington Deer, Fowl Hunting Report, Elk Prospects

Enough about how me and my partners did at deer camp, here’s how other Washington hunters have been faring — and the outlook for the late-October rifle elk opener on both sides of the hills, courtesy of WDFW’s Weekender:

NORTH PUGET SOUND
Wet and windy weather has made for good waterfowl hunting early in the season, said Don Kraege, WDFW waterfowl manager. “Hunters did well during the first couple weeks of the season because the weather distributed the birds throughout the area,” he said. “There’s more blustery weather in the forecast, and that should continue to improve hunting prospects on both sides of the Cascades.”

More and more snow geese and dabbling ducks continue to arrive in the area, Kraege said. “It’s still early in the migration, but the numbers of birds should continue to increase as we head into November,” he said.

Goose hunts are open through Oct. 29 in the region, and then start again Nov. 7. However, snow, Ross and blue geese seasons in Goose Management Area 1 (Skagit and Snohomish counties) will run from Oct. 17 through Jan. 31 without a break. The duck hunting season also is open through Jan. 31.

Kraege reminds hunters who want to participate in the Snow Goose Quality Hunt program on Fir Island and in the northern Port Susan Bay area that they must have written authorization to hunt for snow geese in Goose Management Area 1 and written authorization to hunt the quality hunt units. Hunters also must possess a Washington small game hunting license and a state migratory bird validation, as well as a federal migratory bird stamp.

For more information on how to participate in the quality hunt program, which is a cooperative project with several local landowners and residents, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/snow_goose .

Upland bird hunters have until the end of November to bag pheasant. 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. Pheasants will be released several days a week on the Samish Unit through Nov. 7.

The early modern firearm season for deer runs through Oct. 31.

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA
“The Williams Creek area south of Raymond is our best elk area,” said Greg Schirato, WDFW regional wildlife manager. “Another good area to look for elk is the North River unit south of Aberdeen.”

The late-buck, black-tailed deer hunting season starts with a modern firearm hunt that runs Nov. 19-22 in western Washington. Following that four-day hunt, archers and muzzleloaders will take to the field Nov. 25 for the late deer and elk season, (Nov. 26 for late-muzzleloader deer season).

The statewide season for ducks, coots and snipe resumed Oct. 24 while goose-hunting reopens Nov. 7 in Management Area 3. Goose management area 2B (Pacific County), under way since Oct. 17, is open Saturdays and Wednesdays only.

Hunters may also pursue pheasant, quail and bobwhite through Nov. 30. An extended pheasant-hunting season runs Dec. 1-15 at Skookumchuck, Fort Lewis, Kosmos, Scatter Creek, Belfair, Whidbey Island (except Bayview) and Lincoln Creek release sites. The statewide forest grouse hunting season continues through Dec. 31.

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON
David Anderson, WDFW wildlife biologist, noted that elk hunters in southwest Washington generally have one of the highest success rates in the state.
“Conditions are looking pretty good this year,” Anderson said. “We didn’t have a severe winter and the recent snowfall is helping to move elk down from the higher elevations.”

EASTERN WASHINGTON
Joey McCanna, WDFW upland game bird specialist, said field checks of pheasant hunters over the season opening weekend in Whitman County – from Penawawa Canyon on the Snake River boundary on the south end to the Revere Wildlife Area on the northwest end – indicate that a total of 63 hunters had bagged 43 young-of-the-year pheasants and 13 adult pheasants, for an average of just under one bird per hunter. “In areas with good cover, hunters were getting several shots at birds,” McCanna said.

The best areas to hunt pheasants are usually along river and stream drainages, from Rock and Union Flat Creek and the Palouse River to the Snake, Touchet, Walla Walla, and Tucannon rivers. Agricultural areas with good habitat conditions – brushy hillsides and draws – are prime, but of course hunters need to seek permission to access private land. Acreage enrolled in WDFW’s “Feel Free to Hunt” and “Register to Hunt” programs can be a good bet, and hunters need to scout out those program signs in the field. McCanna notes that more than 22,000 acres in the south end of the region were recently posted “Feel Free to Hunt.”

Game-farm-raised rooster pheasants have also been released on the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area in Ferry County, the Fishtrap Lake site on the Lincoln-Spokane county line, and several other release sites in the south end of the region. Details are posted on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm .

The modern firearm elk season runs Oct. 31 through Nov. 8 in several units throughout the region. The southeast district is traditionally the best, with the greatest numbers in the Blue Mountains, but only spike bulls can be harvested.

“Calf survival has improved in recent years, but is still 15 percent below optimum levels, which does have a negative impact on the number of spike bulls available for harvest,” WDFW Biologist Pat Fowler said. “The Wenaha sub-herd (GMU-169) still remains below historic population levels, which hurts overall hunting opportunity in the Blue Mountains. But hunters can expect prospects to be similar to previous years.”

WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman said elk hunters should come prepared because there is snow in the upper elevations of the Blue Mountains.

Central district units 124-142 are open for any elk, bull or cow, but private land access must be secured for most hunting. WDFW district wildlife biologists Howard Ferguson and Mike Atamian recently helicopter-surveyed elk in and around Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in the Cheney (130) unit and counted a total of 260 elk – 35 bulls, 146 cows, and 79 calves. That total was down compared to previous years of the same aerial survey, but they also saw a herd of about 100 elk just outside the survey area. Including those animals would bring the count above the yearly average of 316. The biologists are currently attempting a ground count and composition of the herd.

Ferguson reminds hunters the refuge is not open to elk hunting this year, but might be by next fall. For now, private property access permission must be obtained.

WDFW biologist Dana Base says elk are fewer and farther between in the northeast district, but the population does not appear to have been as heavily impacted by the last two winters as white-tailed deer. “Finding elk is the biggest challenge here,” he said. “There’s so much closed canopy forest where they can effectively hide and ‘sit out’ the season.”

Base said that the modern firearm hunting season for white-tailed deer continues through Oct. 30 in units 101-124. Checks of deer hunters just north of Deer Park off Hwy. 395 indicate an average number of hunters and good harvest rates, compared to past years. On Oct. 25, 138 hunters were checked with 15 deer for an 11 percent success rate. Last year on the same weekend, 136 hunters had seven deer for a 5 percent success rate. Late white-tailed deer hunts in units 105-124 will run Nov. 7-19.

NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON
WDFW waterfowl specialist Mikal Moore reports that the waterfowl hunting season opener in the Columbia Basin had mixed success.

“Before the cold weather moves in and ducks start to focus on field feeding, hunters should concentrate on shallow water ponds with abundant seeds,” he said.

Good bets include Gloyd Seeps Wildlife Area off Road 16 and Stratford Road, the Winchester and Frenchman Regulated Access Areas, small potholes associated with the North Potholes Wildlife Area, the Columbia Basin National Wildlife Refuge’s Marsh Unit 1, and Baile Memorial Youth Ranch and Windmill Ranch Regulated Access Areas near the town of Mesa, Moore said.

Moore said goose hunters will find thousands of small Canada geese staging in the Stratford Area, feeding on nearby wheat fields. “The birds are taking off to feed at first light and returning to Stratford Reserve around 10:30 a.m.” she said. “Mixed in with the Canada geese are a few hundred lesser snow geese and the occasional tundra swan.”

WDFW Columbia Basin district wildlife biologist Rich Finger predicts goose hunting will ramp up in November when early season migrant Canada geese (Lesser and Taverners) begin to scatter from their initial staging area at Stratford Lake to alfalfa or grain fields within feeding distance from Moses Lake and the Columbia River.

Finger reminds waterfowlers of lands enrolled in the Corn Stubble Retention Program for public hunting. Fields are typically identified and enrolled during November and locations vary by year. Call or visit the Ephrata regional office for details.

Deer hunting ended Oct. 25 in the region. WDFW Okanogan district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin reports greatly improved success rates measured at the traditional Chewuch deer hunter check stations in the Methow Valley.

“Check station data from both weekends of the season indicated nearly identical hunter pressure compared to last year,” Fitkin said. “But the success rate improved by 88 percent over what we observed last year, despite the issuance of fewer antlerless permits. Later season dates and cooler, wetter weather likely improved the success rate. The average age of harvested bucks was the highest in years, and the body condition of harvested animals appeared to be consistently excellent.”

No reports in yet on how pheasant hunters are faring since the season opened Oct. 24. Hunters who want to take advantage of game-farm-raised rooster releases should see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm for site details

SOUTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON
Mikal Moore, WDFW waterfowl specialist, reports the Yakima Basin is providing excellent duck hunting since the season opener Oct. 17.

Jeff Bernatowicz, WDFW district wildlife biologist, reminds pheasant hunters, whose season opened Oct. 24, that the Millerguard release site for game-farm-raised rooster release has moved to the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area. “Target shooting became a safety problem at Millerguard,” he explained. The new Whiskey Dick pheasant release site is located near Whiskey Dick Mountain, with best access from the Interstate 90 exit 115. Go north 1.2 miles through Kittitas until Patrick Ave., turn right on Patrick for 0.2 mile, left on No. 81 Road, one mile to Vantage Hwy., right on for 6.6 miles to an unmarked gravel road entrance.

The modern firearm elk season opens Oct. 31 and Bernatowicz reminds hunters that game management units (GMU) 328 (Naneum), 329 (Quilomene), 334 (Ellensburg), and 335 (Teanaway) have been changed to a “true spike bull” regulation.

A true spike bull is one with both antlers without branching originating more than four inches above where the antlers attack to the skull.

“The change was made because most of the yearling bulls were being harvested during the general elk season,” he said. “The low recruitment has left the Colockum herd well below bull escapement objectives.”

Bernatowicz also notes an error in the hunting rules pamphlet – GMU 330 (West Bar) is not open to general season elk hunting.

As for prospects, Bernatowicz expects bull harvest to be down. “Our elk calf ratio data collected in February and March was consistently low across the range,” he said. “In the Colockum herd, with a total of 4,000 elk, we have 20 calves per 100 cows and just five bulls per 100 cows. In the Yakima herd, with a total of 9,200 elk, we have 30 calves per 100 cows and 17 bulls per 100 cows. Since calves surveyed in March are spike bulls in the fall, chances of taking one this season are down.”

Michael Livingston, WDFW biologist, says elk hunting in the southeast district is limited to lands surrounding the west and south boundaries of the Hanford Reach National Monument (GMU 372).

“Hunts are geared toward addressing crop damage on surrounding wheat farms, vineyards and orchards,” he said. “Access is extremely limited to either a couple pieces of state land north of Prosser and Benton City and private land through special permit drawings.” Livingston said the best way to secure access is to apply for a special permit through the Landowner Hunt Program. If selected, permit holders are guaranteed a one-day guided hunt.

Most permits are limited to antlerless opportunity for youth hunters, but a few if any elk permits are issued each year. Surveys in January 2009 yielded a total herd estimate of 639 elk with 49 bulls and 15 calves per 100 cows. The high bull ratio is typical for this herd since they can seek refuge on the federal Hanford lands during hunting season. The calf count was below average and was likely a result of the stress the cows experienced from a wildfire that burned in August 2007.

Barthlow’s Coho Spinner-Prawn Rig

UPDATED WITH FRESH FISHING REPORT BELOW: A fishing report earlier this week stated that anglers were dragging spinner-prawn rigs around the Klickitat mouth for coho.

I went, “Wait — for coho?!?”

Forgive me, in my neck of the woods, coho bait is eggs.

I had to get to the bottom of this, so I phoned guide Bob Barthlow (509-952-9694).

“Everything eats shrimp in the ocean,” he points out.

The Yakima Bait and Worden’s Lures pro-staffer says he’s been using this homemade spring Chinook/steelhead rig for silvers more and more the last four or five years, primarily at the mouth of the Wind River, Drano Lake and on the Chehalis River.

The elements include:

* 5- to 6-foot 20-pound Gamma fluorocarbon leader

* Quick-change clevis

* Size 4, 41/2 or 5 Bob Toman blade

* Six or seven 3- to 6mm beads

* 3/0 hook

PRE PS2

BOB BARTHLOW'S PRAWN-SPINNER RIG. (RIVERS NORTHWEST GUIDE SERVICE)

The key, Barthlow says, is to troll it slow – no more than 1 mph – and deep.

“The more we use it, the better it works,” Barthlow says. “Everywhere I’ve tried this it works”

He typically starts the day trolling plugs, but with five rodholders, he’ll also put out a prawn and see what the fish prefer.

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COHO CAUGHT ON PRAWN-SPINNER RIGS LAST WEEK. (RIVERS NORTHWEST GUIDE SERVICE)

It’s worked for fall brights as well, he says.

FRESH FISHING REPORT, THURSDAY, 8:30 A.M: “Bank and boat anglers inside the Klickitat as well as boat anglers outside the mouth averaged nearly two adult coho per rod yesterday!” reports Joe Hymer at PSFMC.

He says that’s based on creel checks.