Category Archives: Headlines

5-Steelie Limits A Go On WA’s Snake, Ronde

Last week, the Idaho approved five-fish limits for hatchery steelhead on the Snake, and this week, Washington has followed suit.

The state Department of Fish & Wildlife today announced that starting tomorrow, you can keep five fin-clipped fish a day on all of Washington’s Snake as well as most of the Grande Ronde.

However, on the Snake, no more than three can be 32 inches or longer. This year’s return of B-run steelhead back to Idaho’s Clearwater is coming in lower than forecasted.

The bonus limit on the Ronde is from the county bridge 2.5 miles upstream of the mouth to the Oregon border. (Waters below the bridge are catch-and-release only).

You can thank the massive return of A-runs to the Snake basin for the huge limits. Managers want to remove as many of the excess hatchery fish from the rivers as possible to keep them from breeding with ESA-listed wild steelhead.

But unlike North-central Washington where anglers are required to bonk any and all hatchery fish they catch, it’s only “encouraged” on the Snake and Ronde.

In Idaho, five-fish limits are also allowed on the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

Oregon fishery managers are also considering bonus limits on fin-clipped steelhead. Watch for more news, possibly later this week.

Public Comment Opens On WA Wolf plan

As Washington deer and elk hunters head afield this fall, the Department of Fish & Wildlife will hold a dozen meetings around the state to take public comment on their draft wolf management plan.

Comments can also be submitted online through January 8, 2010,

The meetings will be held:

Tue., Oct. 20 Clarkston Walla Walla Community College lecture hall
1470 Bridge St.
Wed., Oct. 21 Richland Pacific NW National Laboratory auditorium
904 Battelle Blvd.
Thu., Oct. 22 Yakima Red Lion Hotel Yakima Center
607 E. Yakima Ave.
Mon., Oct. 26 Colville N.E.WA Fairgrounds Ag-Trade Center
317 West Astor Ave.
Tue., Oct. 27 Spokane Spokane Valley Center Place
2426 N. Discovery Place
Wed., Oct. 28 Vancouver Water Resources Education Center
4600 SE Columbia Way
Thu., Oct. 29 Aberdeen Rotary Log Pavilion
east of Aberdeen off Hwy. 12
Mon., Nov. 2 Seattle REI store
222 Yale Ave. N.
Wed., Nov.4 Mount Vernon Cottontree Inn Convention Center
2300 Market St.
Thu., Nov. 5 Sequim Guy Cole Convention Center
Carrie Blake Park, 212 Blake Ave.
Mon., Nov. 9 Omak Okanogan County Fairgrounds Agriplex
Hwy. 97 South
Tue., Nov. 10 Wenatchee Chelan County PUD Auditorium
327 N. Wenatchee Ave.

SW WA Fishing Report

I’ll tell you where salmon are biting — at Carrolls Slough, based on on-the-water reports filed by a buddy today — but there are fish chomping on baits throughout Southwest Washington.

Here’s Joe Hymer’s weekly roundup:


Grays River (including West Fork) – Remains open to fishing for salmon and steelhead through October 15.  No report on angling success.

Cowlitz River – Boat anglers on the lower river are doing well on adult coho.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 7,266 coho adults, 470 jacks, 1,461 fall Chinook adults, 300 jacks, 41 summer-run steelhead adults, 97 sea-run cutthroat trout and one pink salmon adult during seven days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 533 fall Chinook adults, 250 jacks, 78 coho adults and 38 jacks into Mayfield Lake at the Ike Kinswa State Park boat launch, 260 coho adults and seven jacks into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, 1,673 coho adults and 38 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, and 659 coho adults and 16 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, Washington.   Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife transported three cutthroat trout to the Tilton River .  The sea-run cutthroat and the pink salmon adult were recycled downstream to the Barrier Dam boat launch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,430 cubic feet per second on Monday, October 5 and water visibility is 13 feet.

Kalama River – Bank and boat anglers are catching adult coho though about half the fish were released.  Bank anglers were also catching a few steelhead.

Lewis River – On the mainstem Lewis, boat anglers are catching adult coho as are bank anglers on the North Fork.  However, about half the fish were released.

Drano Lake – Boat anglers were catching a few summer run steelhead.  Drano Lake will be closed to all fishing from 6 pm Tuesdays through 6 pm Wednesdays during October.

White Salmon River- Bank anglers at the mouth are catching adult coho though a lot of them are unmarked fish that have to be released.

Klickitat River – Fairly light effort and catch during the limited sampling last week.

Yakima River – All ahead slow. Angler effort slowed a bit this past week especially with the windy conditions on Sunday.  WDFW staff sampled 80 anglers with 2 adult chinook and 1 jack.  Estimated harvest was 19 adult chinook and 4 jacks for the week and 39 adults and 4 jacks for the season.

Buoy 10 – Still a few anglers trying for hatchery coho with nearly three dozen boats counted during last Saturday’s (October 3) flight.  No report on angling success.  Anglers are allowed to keep hatchery coho jacks are part of the salmon and steelhead daily limit.  The daily limit is 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 – Boat anglers are still catching some fall Chinook in the area open upstream from the mouth of the Lewis.  Coho are being caught there and in the lower river especially near the mouths of the Lewis and Cowlitz.

Still decent boat effort with just over 200 counted during last Saturday’s flight.  Most of the effort was found in the Camas/Washougal area and at the mouth of the Cowlitz.

Preseason forecasts for Columbia River coho total 703,100 adults comprised of 466,600 early and 236,500 late stock coho.  Currently, the states can account for around 300,000 early stock coho.  It appears the early stock coho are tracking within expectations.  Late stock coho are just beginning to reach counting facilities though almost 13,000 adults had returned to Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery, the highest return to date to that facility since at least 1990.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers are catching a mixture of fall Chinook and coho off the mouths of the Klickitat and White Salmon rivers.  Counts of late stock adult coho at Bonneville Dam are increasing with 3,000-4,000 fish daily the past few days.

Hanford Reach – Last week 847 boat anglers (347) boats kept 374 adult and 115 jack Chinook and 1 adult coho plus released 1 adult and 9 jack chinook.  26 hatchery steelhead were also retained and 28 wild and 1 hatchery origin fish were released.  The Vernita area was the hotspot this past week.

138 bank anglers at Ringold kept 10 jack fall Chinook and 15 hatchery origin steelhead plus released 3 jack Chinook. One hatchery origin and 7 wild steelhead were also released.


Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam – Quite a few legals were kept by bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam on the re-opener Thursday October 1 but slowed by Saturday.  Just over 200 bank anglers were counted there on the opener and last Saturday.

Boat effort was more spread throughout the lower river with 240 counted during last Saturday’s flight.  Outside the gorge, overall catch was low.

White sturgeon may be retained from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only through the end of the year.


Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers are doing well in the Camas/Washougal area.

Great White Haul Results In Citation

Remember that dead 12-foot-long great white hauled back into Depoe Bay in early August? The one that had become entangled in a tuna fisherman’s crab pot and towed into port?

The angler, JJ Robinson of Warren, Ore., who physically pulled the pot off the bottom with the drowned shark attached and then gutted it at the launch, was cited late last week for “unlawful possession of a great white shark” by the Oregon State Police.



It’s a non-criminal fish and wildlife violation with a listed citation bail of $299, basically the same fine an angler would get for retaining and undersized lingcod or fishing in a closed season.

OSP says that Robinson intended to take it home for consumption.

“Our investigation indicated there was no obvious self-initiated attempt by Mr. Robinson to contact any authorities after he caught the shark before bringing it to the port. If our trooper wasn’t at the right place at the right time then we believe he would have unlawfully kept the shark for his own personal interests,” Captain Walt Markee, director of the OSP Fish & Wildlife Division, said in a press release.

A story by Tom Pollack, Robinson’s father-in-law, appears in the October issue of The Reel News. It states that Robinson did call around “to get some direction as to what to do. Every one including the Coast Guard and the Oregon Department of Fisheries did not want to get involved. The decision was made to tow it the ½ mile back to the boat launch.”

After state police seized it, the shark was transported to the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Ore., where last week it was yarded out of the freezer by no less than five people for a necropsy, according to Bill Hanshumaker, an Oregon State University public marine education specialist.

While it would have been better had the shark come to them whole, scientists were still able to extract samples and send them off to over a half dozen universities for further study, Hanshumaker said.

Nitrogen and oxygen isotopes in the vertebrate samples will tell researchers what level of the oceanic food pyramid it fed at — as well as help biologists studying orca whales determine if those marine mammals are feeding on great whites.

“There’s a fairly large vacuum of information on great whites,” Hanshumaker said.

The Eugene Register-Guard did a piece on that here.

Robinson is due to appear in Lincoln County Circuit Court Oct. 8.

State police say that anyone who discovers dead great white or basking sharks should call (800) 452-7888 to report the discovery and obtain further instructions. Both species are off limits to fishing.

Got Coho? The Sandy Sure Does!

I don’t believe I’ll have to beg, plead, borrow or steal any Sandy River coho shots for a good long while.

Rick Allen at The Reel Tackle Shop (503-668-5791) in Sandy bombarded me with a massive shipment of silvers over the weekend.

“Seems like an egg bite and a Corky bite,” Allen says on the shop’s voice message this morning. He also warns anglers to be careful crossing the river.

Here are some of the anglers who’ve been successful on the Portland-area salmon stream recently:









Here’s more on how to fish the Sandy, from Terry Otto’s article in our September issue:

The anti-Clack: This river east of Troutdale tends to get good returns of coho, even in poor years, and this year the river should be full of them. And unlike the Clackamas, the glacier-fed water in the Sandy runs cool even in late summer, so the coho stay bright longer and bite well.
The fish are headed to the state hatchery on Cedar Creek, and now that Marmot Dam is gone, they tend to bolt straight up there.
The low show: Guide Jack Glass of Team Hook-up (503-666-5370) likes to intercept the silvers as they school at the mouth of the Sandy. He’ll be casting lures such as the Blue Fox Vibrax and R&B Spinners, available at Jack’s Snack and Tackle (503-665-2257).
Glass says that if you aren’t getting bites, switch to something else.
“They are finicky biters,” he says. “Be ready to switch and switch again until you find what they want to hit.”
Time a trip: September and October. — Terry Otto

Bass Bounty Fishery Talked About Again

The headline — “Fisheries managers consider bass bounty”  — is a little inflammatory, but an article in the Medford, Ore., Mail-Tribune this past weekend discusses a September 2008 conference where the subject of putting a bounty for bass in the Columbia was discussed.

Managers want to reduce predation on salmon and steelhead smolts, and among the many notions that came out of the conference (see our February issue for more) was implementing a reward program similar to the pikeminnow fishery which pays anglers to catch fish.

However, at that same time, a bass bounty was deemed “biologically unsustainable” and “politically unfeasible,” and while it’s still a “front-burner item,” according to John Ward with the  Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority, he admits it’s not likely.

“Unlike pikeminnow, a program like that for smallmouth bass or walleye is not likely to work, because the biology of the fish and their behavior don’t lend themselves to a program like that we have with the pikeminnow,” Ward told reporter Scott Sandsberry (of the Yakima Herald-Republic).

Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife biologists again bristled.

“They’re grasping at straws. They’re looking at anything they can do to improve salmonid success,” he said. “It’s kind of like, if you’re willing to shoot sea lions, hey, why not whack some bass? They’re going after predators, scapegoating the predators,” regional fisheries manager John Easterbrooks told Sandsberry.

But at least one Yakima Valley bass tournament angler told Sandsberry that he’d be in favor of it — for bass under 12 inches.

“If they did that on bass in the Yakima River, it would actually help the bass population on the Yakima River. Right now, there’s so many small ones that it’s stunting the growth; there’s not enough food for them. It might actually help out the fishery,” James Castillo told Sandsberry.

Rise Of The ‘Mesopredator’

I love the Columbia Basin Bulletin, they have some of the most interesting, mind-bending stories on fish in the Northwest.

Today, they’ve got a piece on a new study by several authors, including Oregon State University professor William Ripple, that takes a look at the loss of top predators around the world, and the rise of “mesopredators.”

A mesopredator would be something like a coyote, which have taken over range once run by wolves, or baboons ruling where big cats once roamed, the article states.

According to CBB, the study found:

— Primary or apex predators can actually benefit prey populations by suppressing smaller predators, and failure to consider this mechanism has triggered collapses of entire ecosystems.

— Cascading negative effects of surging mesopredator populations have been documented for birds, sea turtles, lizards, rodents, marsupials, rabbits, fish, scallops, insects and ungulates.

— The economic cost of controlling mesopredators may be very high, and sometimes could be accomplished more effectively at less cost by returning apex predators to the ecosystem.

— Human intervention cannot easily replace the role of apex predators, in part because the constant fear of predation alters not only populations but behavior of mesopredators.

— Large predators are usually carnivores, but mesopredators are often omnivores and can cause significant plant and crop damage.

— The effects of exploding mesopredator populations can be found in oceans, rivers, forests and grasslands around the world.

— Reversing and preventing mesopredator release is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive as the world’s top predators continue to edge toward obliteration.

NOTE: The original version of this article misspelled Professor Ripple’s last name. And it should be noted that coauthors of the study included Laura R. Prugh, Chantal J. Stoner, Clinton W. Epps, William T. Bean, Andrea S. Laliberte and Justin S. Brashares.

‘Wow’ Factor: 2009 Steelhead Smolt OUTmigration

The water was pretty much the same, but steelhead smolt survival between Lower Granite and Bonneville dams this year was heads and shoulders above the past five years.

Preliminary figures show that nearly 70 percent of this spring’s crop made it over Bonnie. The five-year average is just 40 percent.

“”For those that have tracked this in the past that is a wow,” NOAA Fisheries’ Paul Wagner is quoted as saying in a report in the Columbia Basin Bulletin today.

CBB also reports “unprecendented” smolt survival from John Day Dam through Bonneville, 91 percent vs. the 2003-08 average of 69 percent.

So, why is that? Hard to say, but inside this dense report from Wagner and others at NOAA is discussion about new spill weirs at Little Goose, Lower Monumental, John Day and The Dalles dams.

Idaho Steelhead Limits Jump To 5 A Day


The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Wednesday, September 30, raised the bag, possession and season limit for the fall 2009 and spring 2010 steelhead seasons in the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

The daily limits, effective October 2 until further notice, for steelhead trout is five, of which no more than three may be 32 or more inches in total length. The possession limit is 15, no more than nine may be 32 or more inches long.

The statewide limits in the fall and spring seasons is 40 steelhead in each, but no more than 20 of those may be caught in the Clearwater River drainage in each season. Anglers who have a permit with reported harvest from the spring 2009 season may purchase a second permit to catch their fall season limit of 40 fish.

Fishery managers estimate the return of steelhead over Lower Granite Dam this fall will be considerably larger than the previous high return of about 250,000 fish in 2001. More than 155,000 fish in this large return will return are A-run hatchery fish destined for the Snake River, the Little Salmon River and in the Upper Salmon River.

Affected waters are:
Snake River
Washington-Idaho border to the Salmon River.
Salmon River to Hells Canyon Dam.

Salmon River
Downstream from Whitebird Creek.
Whitebird Creek to Little Salmon River.
Little Salmon River to Vinegar Creek.
Vinegar Creek to South Fork Salmon River.
South Fork Salmon River to Middle Fork Salmon River.
Middle Fork Salmon River to North Fork Salmon River.
North Fork Salmon River to Lemhi River.
Lemhi River to Pahsimeroi River.
Pahsimeroi River to East Fork Salmon River.
East Fork Salmon to Sawtooth Weir.

Little Salmon River

In contrast to the abundant A-run returns, B-run steelhead returns to Idaho are lower than forecasted. Most of the harvestable hatchery B-run fish are destined for the Clearwater River drainage. The fall season limit in the Clearwater drainage will remain at 20 fish. The daily bag limit is two fish and the possession limit six.

All anglers must have a valid 2009 Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit. Steelhead anglers may use only barbless hooks, and may keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin, as evidenced by a healed scar. All other steelhead must be released unharmed immediately.

Anglers should check the 2008-2009 fishing rules book for details on steelhead fishing. For more information on steelhead fishing in Idaho, check the Fish and Game Website