Category Archives: Headlines

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty, Guilty, Guilty, Guilty


Six people involved in the unlawful taking of four bull elk near Cottage Grove in October 2009 pled guilty to numerous wildlife violations in Lane County Circuit Court. The sentence for the person responsible for shooting the elk includes jail time and a lifetime suspension of his hunting privileges.

Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division troopers began an investigation into the unlawful shooting of four bull elk on October 20, 2009 in the Melrose wildlife management unit south of Cottage Grove.  During the late morning hours the four bull elk described as a 3 point, 5 point, 6 point, and a 6×7 point, were shot on private property south of London Road.  Immediately following the incident, OSP Senior Troopers Martin Maher and Marshall Maher had contact with area landowners who reported hunters trespassed on private lands to retrieve the poached bull elks which were part of a year-round herd.

The investigation identified JOHN K. ATWATER, age 50, from Cottage Grove, as the person responsible for shooting the four bull elk.  The elk season was not open for the unit in which the elk were killed. After shooting the elk, ATWATER was assisted by his son and four others in retrieving the elk by trespassing onto several different pieces of private property. Some of the elk were removed after they drove their vehicles onto the property where the elk were killed.


During court appearances in late December and early January, the six men pled guilty to several charges related to the investigation.  The other men were identified as DUSTIN ATWATER, HOMER RHODES, DAVID PRUITT, BRYAN SHEPARD, and CHRISTOPHER STEVENS.  All are from the Cottage Grove and Creswell areas.

JOHN ATWATER pled guilty to:
* Four (4) counts of Unlawful Take of Bull Elk
* Two (2) counts of Hunting on the Enclosed Lands of Another
* Two (2) counts of Borrowing a Big Game Tag
He was sentenced to:
* Forty (40) days in the Lane County Jail
* 24 months probation
* Ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution to ODFW
* $6,674 fine
* Ordered to forfeit his rifle
* Lifetime suspension of hunting privileges

DUSTIN ATWATER, age 26, pled guilty to:
* Aiding in Game Violation
* Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree
He was sentenced to:
* Fifteen (15) days in the Lane County Jail
* 18 months probation
* Ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution to ODFW
* $892 fine
* 48 month hunting license suspension

DAVID PRUITT, age 78, pled guilty to:
* Aiding in Game Violation
* Loaning Big Game Tag
* Hunting while in violation of Criminal Trespass
He was sentenced to:
* 24 months probation
* Ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution to ODFW
* $2,304 fine
* Complete 100 hours of community service
* 36 month hunting license suspension

HOMER RHODES, age 74, pled guilty to:
* Two (2) counts of Aiding in Game Violation
* Loaning Big Game Tag
He was sentenced to:
* 24 months probation
* Ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution to ODFW
* Complete 60 hours of community service

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS, age 35, pled guilty to:
* Aiding in Game Violation
He was sentenced to:
* 24 months probation
* Ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution to ODFW
* $1,202 fine
* Complete 160 hours of community service
* 36 month hunting license suspension

BRYAN SHEPARD, age not available, pled guilty to:
* Aiding in Game Violation
He was sentenced to:
* 24 months probation
* Complete 100 hours of community service
* 24 month hunting license suspension

At the time of the incident the unlawfully killed four bull elk were salvaged by the troopers and the meat was taken to the Eugene Mission.

Green Closing Early For Steelhead


Close the lower portion of the Green (Duwamish) River in King County to all fishing beginning Jan. 16 and the upper portion of the river beginning Feb. 1.

Species affected: All game fish species.

Location and effective closure dates:

  • The lower Green River from the 1st Ave. South Bridge in Seattle upstream to the South 277th Bridge in Auburn will be closed from Jan. 16, 2010, through June 4, 2010.
  • The upper Green River from the 277th Bridge in Auburn upstream to the Tacoma Headworks Dam will be closed from Feb. 1, 2010, through June 4, 2010.

Reason for action: To reduce incidental mortality of wild steelhead. The 2009-2010 forecast of wild steelhead returning to the Green River is only 458 fish, well below the spawning goal of 2,000 steelhead. This action will reduce the incidental hooking mortalities of wild steelhead.

River Cleanup Planned On Nooksack This Saturday

Following up on volunteer cleanups put on by Sportsmen for the Preservation of our Rivers and Streams in south and central Puget Sound, a fishing guide is organizing one on the Nooksack this Saturday, Jan. 16.

Nick Petosa tells Doug Huddle of the Bellingham Herald, “It’s a positive thing to do as a fisherman. Litter takes away from the aesthetics of the fishing experience.”

If you’re interested, the plan is to meet at the Nugents Corner access site near the intersection of Highways 542 east of Bellingham and 9 northwest of Deming at 11 a.m. for assignments.

Huddle reports that Petosa hopes for bank and boat-borne volunteers.

He also says that Yeager’s Sporting Goods is offering those who help a bonus, an “in-store gift certificate that is equal to the refuse disposal (tipping) fee plus 50 percent of it. If your dump fee was $20, the Yeager’s gift certificate value would be $30. To be eligible, you must both register at 11 a.m. and return to the gathering point to go to the county’s collection station.”

For more, call Petosa at (360) 854-0259.

Meanwhile, Rosendo Guerrero of Sportsmen for the Preservation of our Rivers and Streams announced that he’s teaming up with Trout Unlimited’s Tacoma chapter for 2010. He’ll have a booth at the sportsmen’s show in Puyallup Jan. 27-31.

Guerrero and Sportsmen led cleanups on the Puyallup and Skykomish rivers and won kudos from Gov. Gregoire for their work.

Coyote Derby This Weekend In SE OR

A Southeast Oregon coyote hunting derby this weekend is gaining attention in the press.

The Oregonian and Oregon Public Broadcasting both have stories on the Jan. 16-17 event that will honor a fallen Beaver State buckaroo and coyote hunter.

Opponents say the hunt, held in Klamath, Malheur, Lake and Harney counties with a $50 entry per hunter or $100 per two-man team, will only end up increasing the population of predators, which are hated by ranchers for killing their newborn calves and lambs.

Top prize for the team that brings in the most dead coyotes is a varmint rifle, according to a post by Jamie and Angel Roscoe who announced the derby.

SW WA Fishing Report



Cowlitz River – No report on angling success is currently available.  Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 702 coho adults, 18 jacks and 157 winter-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. During the week Tacoma Power employees released 55 coho adults, two jacks and eight winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and 462 coho adults, 13 jacks and nine winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa, behind Cowlitz Falls Dam.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 12,000 cubic feet per second on Monday, January 11.

The Kalama River winter runs had been about 50% of the last 8 year average. To date, I have handled about 600 hatchery and 70 wild winter fish. The majority of these hatchery fish have been recycled to the lower river for additional recreational opportunities.

Fishing was good during the early part of December and has been off and on since then, mostly due to high turbid flow.

Best catch rates are currently at the deadline in the canyon, however if the river drops this week expect boat success to rise.

There was a lot of boat traffic this past weekend with minimal success.

The canyon produced a few fish and angler effort was high.

The early hatchery fish are still showing in good numbers, with nearly 300 fish worked last week and only about 60 worked today.

The winter brood hatchery fish are starting to show and I expect a stellar return these next few months.

Kress Lake will start to receive surplus hatchery steelhead from the Kalama starting next week.

Lewis River – No report on angling success.  Flows below Merwin Dam were 6,500 cfs today, about half of last week’s high.

The Dalles Pool – Light effort and catch observed last week.

John Day Pool – Bank anglers are catching some steelhead.


Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam – 2 boats/4 anglers in the Longview area had released 5 sublegals.  2 boats/4 anglers in the Vancouver area had no catch as did 4 bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam.

Bonneville Pool – No catch was observed.

The Dalles Pool – Bank and boat anglers were catching some legals.

John Day Pool – Light effort and no catch was observed.


The Dalles and John Day pools – Light effort and no catch was observed.


Recent plants of rainbows include:

Horseshoe Lake in Woodland – 3,027 catchables and 20 brood stock averaging 8 pounds each Jan. 5;

Battleground Lake – 3,001 catchables Jan 6;

Kidney Lake near North Bonneville – 45 brood stock averaging 4 pounds each and 23 averaging 8 pounds each Jan. 4;

Icehouse Lake near Bridge of the Gods – 31 brood stock averaging 4 pounds each and 16 averaging 8 pounds each Jan. 4;

Little Ash Lake in Stevenson – 31 brood stock averaging 4 pounds each and 16 averaging 8 pounds each Jan. 4;

Tunnel Lake (just east of Drano Lake) – 30 brood stock averaging 4 pounds each and 16 averaging 8 pounds each Jan. 4;

Northwestern Reservoir (on the White Salmon River) – 30 brood stock averaging 4 pounds each and 16 averaging 8 pounds each Jan. 4


Washington lower Columbia tributaries – A decision is expected to be made this week whether any fisheries will take place this year.

Reward Offered In Killing, Waste Of 4 OR Deer


Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s help to identify the suspect(s) responsible for the illegal kill and waste of four deer about ten miles east of Paulina in central Oregon.  A reward of up to $500 is offered by the Oregon Hunter’s Association (OHA) for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.


According to OSP Senior Trooper Amos Madison, on January 9, 2010 a rancher in the Rager area about ten miles east of Paulina contacted OSP to report he found two deer that had been shot.  The reporting rancher said the deer were not there the previous afternoon.  Initial response and investigation led to the discovery of a total of four deer were illegally killed and left to waste.  All were does and at least two were pregnant.

Madison believes the deer were shot from Pruitt Road, most likely in the late afternoon / early evening of January 8th with the use of a spotlight.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Senior Trooper Madison at (541) 419-1654.

The reward is offered by the OHA Prineville and State chapters.

Beefing Up The Sturgeon Sanctuary

Sturgeon managers on the Washington side last weekend pitched increasing the size of the spawning sanctuary below Bonneville Dam anywhere from 3.5 to 12 miles, and possibly adding to the fishing closures for the species, according to an article last weekend by Allen Thomas of The Columbian.

Currently, the 5 1/2 miles from the dam down to mile marker 85 are closed for three months in late spring and early summer, but managers want to add to it to help the struggling population, besieged in recent years by sea lions. Counts reveal a decline in the numbers of legal and sublegal-sized sturgeon.

A 12-mile closure would affect fishing all the way down to Rooster Rock, on the Oregon side, Thomas reports.

He adds that managers also suggested making the warmer-water months of August and perhaps September off limits to fishing for the great-fighting oversize fish, already not allowed in May, June and July.

Thomas writes:

The closure is to eliminate the handle of large sturgeon in the area to spawn. There are concerns about the sturgeon spawning population, particularly in light of ever-increasing predation by sea lions … Extending the sanctuary west covers water where the big fish go to recuperate after the stress of spawning.”

The suggestions were made to the state Fish & Wildlife Commission at a meeting in Olympia. Managers are working on a new set of harvest guidelines for the Columbia.

But a “green sheet” presented to the commission notes other actions might be needed to account for increased sturgeon mortality. Discussions at public meetings and with advisory boards have included:

1. Extend the duration of the current sanctuary into April and/or August

2. Extend the lower boundary of the sanctuary downstream

3. Prohibit the use of shad for bait to reduce the effectiveness of the catch and release
fishery targeting spawning size fish

4. Establish a spawning sanctuary in the Willamette River

Bass Confirmed As Dual World Record


After nearly six months of waiting, Japan’s Manabu Kurita is taking his place along side Georgia, USA angler George Perry in the International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) World Record Games Fishes book as dual holders of the All-Tackle record for largemouth bass each weighing 22 lb 4 oz and caught 77 years apart.


Today the IGFA approved Kurita’s application for the fish caught from Japan’s largest lake on July 2, 2009.  The 70-year old non-profit fisheries conservation, education and record-keeping body, received Kurita’s application and documentation on Sept. 19, 2009. The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), was caught from Lake Biwa which is an ancient reservoir northeast of Kyoto.

Kurita, 32, of Aichi, Japan, was fishing Biwa that July day using a Deps Sidewinder rod and a Shimano Antares DC7LV reel loaded with 25 lb Toray line when he pitched his bait, a live bluegill, next to a bridge piling. It was Kurita’s first cast to the piling where he had seen a big bass swimming. He only twitched the bait a couple of times before he got bit. After a short, three minute fight he had the fish in the boat.

Kurita was quoted as saying “I knew it was big, but I didn’t know it was that big.”

But big it was.  Using certified scales, his fish weighed in at 10.12 kg or 22 lb 4 oz.  When measured, the fish had a fork length of 27.2 inches and a girth of 26.7 inches. The IGFA only has line classes up to 20 lb for largemouth bass, so Kurita had no chance at a line class record as well.

IGFA rules for fish caught outside the U.S. allows anglers 90 days to submit their applications from the date of their catch. The documentation was received through the IGFA’s sister association the Japan Game Fish Association (JGFA). IGFA conservation director Jason Schratwieser said Kurita’s application was meticulously documented with the necessary photos and video.

Kurita’s fish ties the current record held for over 77 years by Perry who caught his bass on Georgia’s Montgomery Lake, June 2, 1932, near Jacksonville, Georgia. That 22 lb 4 oz behemoth won Field and Stream Magazine’s big fish contest and 46 years later, when the IGFA took over freshwater records from Field and Stream, it became the All-Tackle record now one of over 1,100 fresh and saltwater species the IGFA monitors.

IGFA All-Tackle records are now free for viewing by the public at  Kurita’s name is now on the IGFA Web site with that of Perry’s and will appear in the 2011 edition of the World Record Games Fishes book…. unless that record is broken this year.

The IGFA announced the decision at its headquarters with a live video feed carried on, one of the most popular fishing Web sites in the world and the official site of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS).

In North America the largemouth bass, and especially the All-Tackle record, is considered by millions of anglers as the “holy grail” of freshwater fish because of its popularity and the longevity of Perry’s record.  That fish undoubtedly helped to spawn a billion dollar industry that today makes up a significant part of the sport of recreational fishing.

Schratwieser said, “The moment Kurita weighed his fish, word spread like wildfire. We knew this would be significant so we immediately contacted the JGFA for more information. Established in 1979, and JGFA compiles and translates all record applications of fish caught in Japan before forwarding to the IGFA.

“It works out well because they not only translate applications but can also contact the angler if more documentation is needed.”

It turned into a lengthy process

“Since the IGFA requires three months from the time of capture before a record can be approved, the official word would have to wait until October 2,” said Schratwieser.

“However, almost right away rumors began to circulate that Kurita may have caught his fish in a ‘no-fishing zone’. In response, the IGFA immediately corresponded with the JGFA to speak with the angler about this issue and to gather information regarding the legality of fishing where Kurita caught his bass.  Official word came back that the location of the catch was not a no-fishing zone, but was an area where anchoring or stopping was prohibited.  This spurred more correspondence with the JGFA and the angler, including affidavits asking the angler if he stopped his boat at anytime.  Again, the testimony and affidavits that came back indicated that the Kurita did not violate any laws and that his catch was indeed legitimate.”

It didn’t end there.

A considerable amount of time and correspondence was to continue between the IGFA, JGFA and Kurita, a primary reason it took so long to come to a decision.

During this time, the IGFA was also besieged with letters and emails from the bass fishing community, said Schratwieser.

“Many were incredulous that the All-Tackle record could be tied from a fish in Japan.  Others beseeched the IGFA to approve the record and give Kurita the credit he deserves.  Still others wanted to know why the entire process was taking so long.  It soon became clear to the IGFA staff that this would be a contentious issue no matter if the record were approved or rejected.

“The IGFA was also sensitive to this particular record because in past years there have been several attempts to sue us over largemouth bass record claims.  Although none of these claims have been successful, they have resulted in considerable legal fees for the IGFA,” he said.

In the end, the IGFA staff concluded it would be both in the best interest of the IGFA and that of Kurita if he submitted to a polygraph analysis. The IGFA reserves the right to employ polygraph analyses to any record application, and this is explicitly stated in the affidavit section of the world record application form.

Again, more correspondence was issued to the JGFA to request that Kurita take a polygraph test.

He immediately agreed.

On December 15, Kurita was examined by a professional polygraph analyst in Japan.  The many questions he was given included if he was truthful about the information reported on the application form and if his boat ever came to a complete stop while fighting his fish.

The results from the polygraph concluded that Manabu Kurita answered the questions honestly and that the catch was legitimate.

George Perry’s 77 year old record was officially tied.

Due diligence pays off

“Six months may seem like a lot of time to determine if a fish ties a record,” said Schratwieser. “Hopefully, people now understand the amount of due diligence the IGFA conducted on this record.  Although we treat all records with equal rigor, the All-Tackle largemouth bass record is nothing less than iconic and the bass angling community deserved nothing less.”

Schratwieser added, “The IGFA wishes to applaud Kurita on his outstanding catch and would also like to commend him on his patience and candor during the entire review process.  We would also like to thank the JGFA for their diligence and tireless assistance in corresponding with Kurita and fisheries officials.”

Biology and bass across the globe; where will the next record come from?

Largemouth bass have also been introduced in many countries but in Japan fisheries officials consider it an invasive species. In addition, because bass are not native and are stocked in Japan, many speculated that the big bass was a sterile triploid.  However when biologists in Japan examined the ova of the big female, Schratwieser said they concluded that the fish was not triploid.

For over 77 years the record stood as bass fanatics theorized when and where the record would be broken. Over the years there have been rumors and unsubstantiated reports of bass that could have tied or eclipsed Perry’s record, but nothing ever passed IGFA criteria.  Some anglers did come close, however.

Schratwieser said the closest came in 1991, when Robert Crupi caught a 22 lb bass in Lake Dixon, California USA, that still reigns as the 16 lb line class record and the third heaviest approved bass record in IGFA history.

“Most people thought that the next All-Tackle record would come from California.  Until Kurita’s tie the seven heaviest bass records behind Perry’s came from California lakes.  Although not native to California, it appears transplanted bass have adapted quite well to the deep, clear lakes and reservoirs and the abundant trout forage found in some of them.

“Little did people know that introduced bass grew big in places besides California, and that there are true monsters swimming on the other side of the world in Japan.”

More on the IGFA and the World Record Game Fishes book

The IGFA has been recognized as the official keeper of world saltwater fishing records since its founding in 1939.  Annually it publishes a comprehensive list of current records of fresh and saltwater fish across the globe in its highly acclaimed World Record Game Fishes book which is divided into all-tackle, line classes, fly, and junior record categories.

The current 2010 edition of the book was released early this week and is only available from the IGFA with a $40 annual membership. The membership also includes on-line access to the most current updated world records on the IGFA web site, six issues of the International Angler bi-monthly news magazine, unlimited admission to the IGFA’s interactive Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania Beach, Fla., plus much more.

To join, or to renew your IGFA membership, go on-line to or call the IGFA headquarters at 954-927-2628.

The IGFA is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making and record keeping.  IGFA members are located in over 125 countries and territories. The IGFA welcomes visitors daily to its expansive and interactive Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum.

Shooting Two Bulls Costs Kelso Man $10K

A man who shot a pair of trophy bulls in Washington’s Blue Mountains – the first illegally filled the tag of his wife back home on the Westside – is out more than $10,000 and can’t hunt for two years.

Christopher Mayeda, 38, of Kelso pled guilty to “unlawful hunting of big game 2nd degree; unlawful transportation of fish or wildlife 1st degree; unlawful purchase or use of a license 2nd degree; and providing false information regarding fish and wildlife,” according to Columbia County District Court, and on Dec. 16 was fined $1,000, and must pay court costs, including a civil judgment for a big game violation, totaling $6,295.

He also paid $3,000 to get his seized pickup truck back, reports the Daily News of Longview.

Mayeda and wife, Tracey, 40, were lucky enough to draw into two of the four muzzleloader tags given out for the Dayton Unit in 2008, and soon after the hunt started, he bagged a 6×6. He slapped Tracey’s tag on it and called her to come get the bull, then went out hunting the next day and killed a 6×7, which he tagged with his own permit, according to the paper’s accounts.

“There’s just a little bit of greed getting involved there,” WDFW warden Bill Lantiegne told the paper in mid-October.

Photos we’ve obtained from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife show the two big bulls.



While charges were dropped against Tracey, two others involved in the incident, Jason M. Ford, 39, of Castle Rock, and Steven A. Hamm, 33, of Kelso also pled guilty and were fined, the Daily News reported.