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What’s Fishin’ In Washington

Trout in Spokane and Basin lakes, Chinook in the Southwest corner, crappie and walleye in Banks, lings and steelies on the Coast and trips at Rufus.

Just a sampling of some of the fish biting now around Washington.

Here’s more from WDFW’s Weekender:

NORTH SOUND

Thousands of anglers are gearing up for the lowland lakes trout opener in late April but many remain focused on the marine areas of Puget Sound, where blackmouth salmon fisheries are still under way.

“Overall, fishing for blackmouth continues to be very slow in northern Puget Sound,” said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. “But a number of anglers that made it out on the water for the recent Anacortes Salmon Derby had a bit of success and landed some large fish.”

A total of 132 fish were weighed during the Anacortes Salmon Derby , which took place March 27-28. Ralph Thomas of Tacoma took home the $15,000 grand prize with his 27.48-pound fish. John Belarde of Woodinville hooked a 25.72-pound salmon that was good enough for second place and $5,000, and Seth Baumgarten of Kirkland was awarded $2,500 for his third-place fish, which weighed in at 24.38 pounds.

“Those are some outstanding blackmouth,” Thiesfeld said. “Anglers definitely have to put in some time on the water, but it can be worth it for an opportunity to haul in a 20-plus pound blackmouth.”

Anglers fishing in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands) – as well 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) – have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Those three marine areas are open through April 30.

Thiesfeld reminds anglers that Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) is open only through April 15. Anglers fishing Marine Area 9 also have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook.

Halibut anglers should be aware that the fishing opener for the big flatfish in most marine areas of Puget Sound has been delayed this year. The later starting date is necessary because of the combination of a reduced quota and excessive catch last year in the Sound.

To ensure that the halibut fishery in Puget Sound stays within the quota, the fishing season in marine areas 6-10 will run from May 1 through May 30. Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will retain its traditional opening date just before the Memorial Day weekend but will close earlier than it has in the past. Marine Area 5 will be open from May 28 through July 19.

The Puget Sound halibut fisheries will be open three days a week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – and closed Sunday through Wednesday except for Memorial Day weekend when they will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Marine areas 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) and 13 (South Puget Sound) will be closed this year to protect rockfish, which may be caught incidentally by anglers fishing for halibut. As in previous years, Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) will remain closed due to low dissolved-oxygen conditions.  For more information on 2010 halibut fisheries, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/halibut .

Freshwater anglers looking to cast for trout will soon have numerous lakes to choose from. The lowland lakes trout season gets under way April 24, when many lakes – stocked with thousands of legal-sized trout – will open for fishing. Information on stocking schedules for rainbow, cutthroat and triploid trout is available on WDFW’s website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants ).

Current regulations for all freshwater and saltwater fisheries are avaiable in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA

April will see the traditional opening of the statewide lowland lakes trout fishing season, the expansion of lingcod fishing on the north coast and at least one proposed razor-clam dig on ocean beaches, pending the outcome of tests for toxins. The tentative dates for clamming are April 16, 17 and 18.

Anglers also continued to catch steelhead in relatively large numbers. Last weekend, 37 anglers fishing the Bogachiel/Quillayute River caught 54 steelhead; all but two were wild. Fishing was also good on the Lower Hoh River, where 65 anglers caught 39 steelhead fish over the last weekend in March. The good fortune didn’t extend to the Upper Hoh, where 38 anglers fished for more than 220 hours, reeling in only six wild steelhead, all of which were released. The retention fishery closes at the end of the day April 15 on the Hoh River, but will remain open through April 30 on the Quillayute River system.

As was the case last year, the weather on Washington’s coast so far hasn’t been very conducive to ocean fishing for lingcod. Anglers have brought in a few 20 to 22 pounders in marine areas 1-3, but the weather has afforded few opportunities to fish, said Erica Crust, WDFW’s ocean port sampler in Westport.

Crust said that a few privately owned boats that did venture out caught their limits of lingcod and rockfish right off the jetty. Charters have had more success. According to Crust, the majority have come in with their limit of rockfish and an average of one lingcod per person.

Typically, many anglers wait until Marine Area 4 opens on April 16 to head out. “Neah Bay is historically a good fishery for lings,” said Crust. “If the weather cooperates, we should see some excellent fishing there again this year.”

Crust reminds anglers that recreational fishing for bottomfish or lingcod is not allowed in waters deeper than 30 fathoms in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) from March 14 through June 15.  However, anglers may retain sablefish and Pacific cod in these waters from May 1 through June 15. Retention of canary and yelloweye rockfish is prohibited in all areas.

The minimum size for lingcod in marine areas 1-3 is 22 inches, while the minimum size in Marine Area 4 is 24 inches. All areas are open seven days a week. Additional information about the lingcod fishery and other bottomfish is available on the WDFW Fishing Hotline (360) 902-2500 or online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

Anglers still looking for blackmouth are running out of time. Marine Areas 5 and 6 will close April 10, although Marine Areas 11, 12 and 13 will remain open through April 30. On the Peninsula, blackmouth anglers are catching a few chinook, but the action has fallen off in recent weeks. At the Pt. Defiance dock in Tacoma only five chinook were checked in the week ending March 28.

Rather dig razor clams ? WDFW is tentatively planning at least one opening in April, provided marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat. All are scheduled on morning tides and digging ends at noon. Tentative dates and tides:

* Friday, April 16 (8:32 a.m., -0.7 ft.) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Saturday, April 17 (9:12 a.m., -0.7 ft) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only
* Sunday, April 18 (9:56 a.m., -0.6 ft) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only

Meanwhile, hatchery crews are stocking lakes throughout the region with tens of thousands of rainbow trout to prepare for the April 24 lake-fishing opener. More information and schedules are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants .

Halibut anglers should be aware that the fishing opener for the big flatfish in most marine areas of Puget Sound has been delayed this year. The later starting date is necessary because of the combination of a reduced quota and excessive catch last year in the Sound.

To ensure that the halibut fishery in Puget Sound stays within the quota, the fishing season in marine areas 6-10 will run from May 1 through May 30. Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will retain its traditional opening date just before the Memorial Day weekend but will close earlier than it has in the past. Marine Area 5 will be open from May 28 through July 19.  For more information on 2010 halibut fisheries, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/halibut .

SOUTHWEST

The spring chinook fishery on the lower Columbia River has sprung into action.  After a slow start, the recreational catch for March shot up to 7,693 fish caught or released – the third highest count for that month since the creel-check program was started in 1968.  More than 2,000 boats and 750 bank anglers were counted during an aerial survey on a recent Saturday, a clear sign that this year’s spring chinook fishery had finally shifted into high gear.

“The run is really starting to ramp up now,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.  “Anglers have been catching some nice fish throughout the lower river.  If you’ve been planning to go, now is a good time to do it.”

According to the pre-season forecast, 559,900 spring chinook salmon – 470,000 of which are upriver bound – will return to the Columbia River and its tributaries this year, the largest run since at least 1938.

Hymer noted, however, that anglers planning to join the spring chinook fishery in the days ahead should be aware of changes in fishing rules and in river conditions.

* Fishing seasons:   April 3 is the last day to catch spring chinook from the I-5 Bridge upriver to Bonneville Dam – at least until fishery managers complete an in-season assessment of the run in early May. However, the spring chinook fishery will remain open from Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge seven days a week through April 18.

* River conditions:   Heavy rain during the last week in March has increased turbidity in some tributaries to the Columbia River. “That makes fishing conditions – especially at the mouths of the tributaries – a little tougher,” Hymer said.  “In general, I’d suggest fishing in shallower water away from river mouths, and trolling with a flasher/dodger to increase visibility.”

Anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam may retain one adult spring chinook salmon a day, while those fishing above the dam can keep two per day. As in previous years, only hatchery-reared fish marked with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained.  All wild spring chinook, identifiable by an intact adipose fin, must be released unharmed.

In a creel survey conducted during the last full week of March, 3,272 boat anglers in 1,396 boats reported catching 658 adult hatchery chinook and six hatchery steelhead.  The 395 bank anglers surveyed that week had 35 adult chinook and two steelhead.  Approximately 71 percent of the fish sampled were identified as upriver stocks.

Anglers fishing tributaries to the lower Columbia are also catching increasing numbers of spring chinook, along with some late winter-run and early-arriving summer steelhead .  The Cowlitz and Kalama rivers are providing some action for both species, although fishing on the Lewis River remains slow, Hymer said.

Few spring chinook were caught above Bonneville Dam through March, but that will certainly change as more fish start moving past the dam, Hymer said.  The fishery is open seven days per week from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam, with a daily limit of two hatchery chinook, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each.  Bank fishing only is permitted from Bonneville Dam to Tower Island powerlines, located about six miles below The Dalles Dam.

Starting April 3, the Klickitat River opens for spring chinook fishing four days per week – Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays – from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream.  The daily limit there, and on the lower Wind River and Drano Lake, is two hatchery chinook, hatchery steelhead, or one of each.

Anglers can check fish counts at the dam on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website at https://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/op/fishdata/home.asp .

Fishing for sturgeon has been slow in the lower Columbia River and in The Dalles Pool, the only area between Bonneville and McNary dams open to sturgeon retention.  Boat anglers have, however, been catching some walleye in The Dalles Pool.

Shell-aficionados should be aware that WDFW is tentatively planning a morning razor-clam dig at Long Beach and other ocean beaches in mid-April.  If marine toxin tests show the clams area safe to eat, the dig will take place on the following days and beaches:

* Friday, April 16, (8:32 a.m., -0.7) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Saturday, April 17, (9:12 a.m., -0.7) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only
* Sunday, April 18, (9:56 a.m., -0.6) Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch only

EASTERN

Early spring fishing continues to be good at lakes that are open in the region. The seven Tucannon River impoundments in southeast’s Columbia County – Beaver, Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring, and Watson lakes – are well-stocked with rainbow trout from WDFW’s Tucannon and Lyons Ferry fish hatcheries.

Amber, Downs, Liberty and Medical lakes in Spokane County are all producing rainbow catches. The access dock was just restored at Liberty Lake, near the town of the same name in the far eastern part of the county. Docks were also just re-installed at year-round Newman Lake, also on the east end of the county, and Eloika Lake, north of Chattaroy in the north end of the county.

Fishing has been good for both rainbow and brown trout at Rock Lake in Whitman County. Anglers are reeling in some nice-size rainbows at Sprague Lake on the Lincoln-Adams county line. And rainbows and kokanee are the catch of the day at Lake Roosevelt.

April 15 is the deadline to register kids five to 14 years of age for the May 1 Kids’ Fish-In event at Clear Lake in southwest Spokane County. The cost is $5 each, which includes a T-shirt, rod and reel, and help to catch up to three rainbow trout. The 45-minute fishing sessions take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairchild Air Force Base access site on Clear Lake. The event is sponsored by WDFW, Go Play Outside Alliance of Washington (GoPAW), Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Spokane Fly Fishers, Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club, Spokane Walleye Club, Fairchild AFB Outdoor Recreation program, White Elephant, Zebco and Eagle Claw.  Registration forms are available at WDFW’s Spokane Valley office at 2315 N. Discovery Place, 509-892-1001; or online at http://www.gopaw.org/kids_fish-in_program .

Steelhead retention on the Snake River and most tributaries ends March 31. Grande Ronde River steelheading continues through April 15.

The single, biggest lake fishing opener is coming up April 24, mostly on waters that were stocked last year with hatchery trout fry that have been growing to catchable-size over the winter. But WDFW fish hatchery crews are also busy stocking lakes with catchables and surplus broodstock in some lakes to boost fishing opportunities on the opener. Watch for this year’s stocking plan to be posted soon on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/reports_plants.html .

NORTH-CENTRAL

The “April Fools” opener on more than 30 waters in the Columbia Basin should provides some fair to good fishing on rainbow trout and other species.

WDFW district fish biologist Chad Jackson says most of the waters opening April 1 are either within or adjacent to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge south of Potholes Reservoir, and over half are planted with spring and/or fall rainbow trout fry.

“Although many of these lakes are in need of rehabilitation to rid them of competing fish species, nice sized trout can be found,” Jackson said.

The Upper and Lower Hampton lakes historically produce quality fishing on the opener for 12-14-inch yearling trout.  Jackson says that while trout size is still fairly good at the Hamptons, total trout abundance is not nearly as good. Last spring Upper was planted with 26,500 trout fry and Lower with 5,000 trout fry.  Lower Hampton Lake also received a trout fry plant of 4,500 in the fall.

“Both of the Hampton lakes were rehabilitated roughly six years ago,” Jackson said, “but sunfish and other warmwater species appear to have established themselves once again.  These species impact trout fry survival by competing for the same food resources.  To confound things, cormorants (fish-eating birds) have been known to prey upon trout in some years.”

Jackson said anglers looking to maximize catch rates should fish Lower Hampton Lake, where they’ll find two different size classes of trout available for harvest — 8-10 inches and 11-13 inches.  Anglers looking to harvest larger fish should hike into Upper Hampton Lake and, if possible, fish it from a small boat or float tube.  Yearling trout in Upper Hampton Lake range in size from 12 to 14 inches.

“Hampton anglers may also want to try Hen Lake,” Jackson said, referring to the small lake connected to Lower Hampton Lake.  Hen Lake receives 750 rainbow trout fry in the spring, and if fry survival is good, they should be around 12 inches in length.”

Jackson said those who traditionally fish North and South Teal Lakes on the April 1 opener should not expect the excellent fishing found there in the past. Both lakes are in need of rehabilitation, but both lakes were also stocked with approximately 5,000 trout fry in the spring. Anglers should expect to catch a few nice12-14-inch yearlings and 16-inch and greater carryovers.

The Pillar-Widgeon lake chain, also opening April 1, includes (running north to south) Pillar, Gadwall, Snipe, Shoveler, Cattail, Poacher, Lemna, Hourglass, Sago, and Widgeon lakes.  Jackson said all are stocked with rainbow trout fry during the spring.  Total trout fry stocked in each lake is as follows:  Pillar – 2,500, Gadwall – 750, Snipe -600, Shoveler – 750, Cattail – 1,500, Poacher -150, Lemna – 450, Hourglass – 300, Sago – 300, and Widgeon – 1,650.  Access to this chain of small lakes is located just southeast of Soda Lake.

“Anglers looking to fish the Pillar-Widgeon lakes should visit either the entire chain or at least three or four of the lakes during their outing,” Jackson said. “If you’re persistent, expect to catch some very nice sized yearling and carryover trout. Shore fishing is available at most of these lakes, but I advise packing a float tube because it will increase your chances for success. Usually the best lakes in the chain tend to be Widgeon, Sago, and Pillar, but don’t ignore the other lakes.”

Jackson says some of the Columbia Refuge area lakes also offer excellent fishing for warmwater species, particularly Hutchinson and Shiner lakes. Since their rehabilitations in 1997, these two lakes have developed into quality fisheries for largemouth bass and bluegill .  Anglers should note that only non-motorized boats are allowed on these two lakes.

Other warmwater fishing options are the Coyote, Bobcat, and Hayes creek ponds located just south of Morgan and Halfmoon lakes.  Jackson says these ponds are relatively small and shallow, so they warm up quickly, and offer good fishing for largemouth bass.  Another option might be Deadman Lake located just off McManamon Road next to Halfmoon Lake.

Anglers who plan on fishing the refuge area lakes, especially the hike-in ones, should remember that with the unseasonably warm weather has rattlesnakes out earlier and in greater numbers than normal.

Also opening on April 1 is Dry Falls Lake, located just northeast of Park Lake within the Sun Lakes State Park southwest of Coulee City. The 99-acre lake is under selective gear rules and a one-trout daily bag limit.

“Opening day success at Dry Falls in previous years was a little slow because of cold weather,” Jackson said. “But this year abnormally warmer air temperatures are heating up the lake much quicker and it may fish better on this year’s opener. I expect anglers to take 13-14-inch yearling rainbows and carryovers up to 24 inches, just like the last two years.”

Brown and tiger trout are also planted into Dry Falls Lake. Jackson reported that a total of 9,900 rainbow, 1,000 tiger, and 1,000 brown trout fry were stocked into Dry Falls Lake in 2009.

WDFW district fish biologist Bob Jateff of Twisp said Spectacle Lake opens for fishing April 1, and anglers can expect rainbow trout in the 10-13-inch range, with carryover fish to 15 inches.  There is a five fish daily catch limit and bait is allowed at Spectacle.  Jateff reminds anglers that when fishing with bait, the first five fish count as part of the daily limit, whether kept or released.

Jateff also reminds anglers that some Okanogan County lakes switch to catch-and-release trout fishing on April 1 — Rat near Brewster, Big and Little Green near Omak, and Davis and Campbell near Winthrop.  Selective gear rules are in effect for all of these lakes and the use of boats with internal combustion engines is prohibited.  Anglers must also use a knotless net to land fish.

WDFW fish biologist Matt Polacek reports the latest creel survey at Banks Lake shows decent catch rates on yellow perch and fair size on walleye . Anglers last surveyed at this Columbia River reservoir southwest of Grand Coulee averaged 3.28 perch that averaged 7.75 inches per hour of fishing. Walleye anglers caught fish that averaged almost 18 inches at a rate of about one walleye for every three hours of fishing. Anglers surveyed also averaged 1.2 black crappie of about 11 inches each per hour of fishing, and about one rainbow trout of about 16 inches for every two hours of fishing.

WDFW fish hatchery specialist Mike Erickson reports recently fishing Rufus Woods Reservoir and doing “very well” near the rainbow trout net pens and other areas in the waterway on the Douglas-Okanogan county line. “This is an outstanding fishery,” Erickson said. “With a group of six people in two boats, we had to work for the fish but came out with limits two days in a row.”

SOUTH-CENTRAL

WDFW district fish biologist Paul Hoffarth of Pasco reminds anglers that steelhead fishing closes March 31 in many areas of eastern Washington. However, a one-mile section of shoreline in the Columbia River adjacent to WDFW’s Ringold Hatchery will remain open through April 15.

“This fishery is open to bank angling only,” said Hoffarth, noting that the daily catch limit is two hatchery-marked  steelhead.

Rainbow trout were recently planted in Dalton Lake, Quarry Pond, Columbia Park Pond (a juvenile-only water), and Marmes Pond in the Tri-Cities area. In addition, Dalton Lake and Powerline Lake will be planted with triploid trout by mid-April.

Hoffarth said fishing for walleye, smallmouth bass, and channel catfish has been slow in recent days, but should pick up in the Columbia River, Walla Walla River, and Yakima River in the next couple of weeks.

April 19 is the deadline to register for the Tri-Cities Kids Fishing Event scheduled for May 1. For more information and registration forms, contact Kennewick Recreation at 509-585-4293 or online at http://www.ci.kennewick.wa.us/Recreational_Services/home.asp .

WDFW district fish biologist Eric Anderson of Yakima reports that all Yakima and Kittitas county year-round ponds are seeing heavy fishing action from earlier hatchery trout stocking.  The I-82 ponds #1, 2, and 3 each recently received nearly 2,500 rainbows weighing nearly a half-pound apiece. See all of the continuing hatchery stocking of local fisheries at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/weekly/ .

As warmer spring conditions advance and more and different fish are biting, it’s a good time to take advantage of the new two-pole fishing opportunity.  Most fisheries in the southcentral region are open to the use of a second pole with the purchase of the two-pole endorsement – $24.50 with all surcharges and license dealer fees, $6.50 for seniors. For a list of excluded fisheries and all the details, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/twopole .

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Giant-ass kokanee are the only fish biting in Oregon these days. There are springers, steelhead, trout, bottomfish and more to be caught.

Here are highlights from around the state, courtesy of the weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Winter steelhead fishing has been good on the North Umpqua. Through mid-February, over 4,346 winter steelhead had crossed Winchester Dam – one of the highest counts in the last 10 year. Remember only fin-clipped steelhead can be harvested.
  • Trout fishing has been good on Applegate Reservoir and Garrison Lake.
  • Spring chinook fishing continues to be pretty good on the lower Rogue River even with the low water conditions. Anchovies have been the hot bait.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • The winter steelhead fishery is nearly over for the season. Many coastal rivers are closed to steelhead angling effective April 1st. Anglers are encouraged to check the regulations for specific river openings.
  • Spring chinook angling opens April 1 in Tillamook Bay, Wilson River, Trask River and Nestucca River. Fishing does not generally pick up until May. The ocean remains closed to salmon angling.
  • Cape Meares, Smith, Tahoe, Lytle, South, Town, and Hebo lakes, and Lorens Pond and Nedonna Pond are scheduled to be stocked with legal size rainbow trout the week of April 5th. North coast lakes on the stocking schedule have all been stocked at least once this spring. Fishing should be fair to good.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Spring chinook are now being taken on the Willamette River and in the Multnomah Channel. Catch success has been variable but will improve soon.
  • Winter steelhead fishing is good in the Clackamas and Sandy rivers and Eagle Creek. Steelhead are spread throughout both systems and some good catches have been reported.
  • Sturgeon fishing is fair on the lower Willamette River.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Haystack Reservoir offers some good spring fishing for 12 to 18-inch rainbow and brown trout.
  • Flows and water temperatures have been good on the Hood River and, as a result, winter steelhead fishing has been good.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • McKay Reservoir opened to fishing on March 1 and should provide some good spring fishing for rainbow trout, yellow perch and brown bullhead.
  • McNary, Hatrock and Tatone ponds have been stocked and are good destinations for young anglers who are out of school for Spring Break.
  • Anglers have been catching both stocked trout and kokanee on Wallowa Lake.
  • The great steelhead fishing continues in the Grande Ronde and Imnaha basins.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Spring chinook are available in increasing numbers on the lower Columbia for boat and bank anglers.
  • A few legal size sturgeon are being caught by boat and bank anglers in the gorge.

MARINE ZONE

  • Bottom fishing is good when ocean conditions permit. Calmer oceans usually mean better fishing success. Lingcod are in shallower waters to spawn. Divers may find success spearing along rocky jetties for ling cod and black rockfish.
  • Herring are spawning in many coastal bays now. Fishing for herring can be great fun with kids using light tackle. Watch for birds diving into the herring schools and try to get in on the action. The aggregate daily catch limit for herring, sardines, anchovies and smelt is 25 pounds.

SW WA Fishing Report

The Columbia’s not the only Southwest Washington river giving up springers these days. So too are the Cowlitz and Kalama.

Steelhead are also biting in the area, as are a few sturgeon and walleye.

Here’s the report from Joe Hymer, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission:

SALMON AND STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Anglers are continuing to catch steelhead and some spring chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 613 winter-run steelhead and 23 spring Chinook adults during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.  During the week Tacoma Power employees released 16 winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and 82 winter-run steelhead and 21 spring Chinook adult into Lake Scanewa behind Cowlitz Falls Dam. 

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,670 cubic feet per second on Tuesday March 30. Flows are nearly identical to the long-term mean for this date.

Kalama River – Anglers are catching a mixture of steelhead and spring chinook.

Lewis River – Light effort and no catch observed.  Flows below Merwin are currently 10,800 cfs, double the long-term mean for this date.

Wind River and Drano Lake – Light effort with only a couple boats at the Wind last Sunday morning; none at Drano.

Klickitat River from mouth to the Fisher Hill Bridge (located about 3 miles upstream from the mouth)- From April 3 through May 31, open Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays only for hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead. Anglers will be able to retain two hatchery chinook, hatchery steelhead, or one of each as part of their daily limit

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week, anglers made 25,438 trips on the lower Columbia and caught 4,874 adult spring Chinook (4,220 kept and 654 released), which brings the total effort to 68,290 angler trips and Chinook catch of 6,682 fish kept and 1,011 released.  The effort and catch totals for March are the among the highest in the history of the creel program (began in 1968).  Only non-selective catch in 1990 (9,000) and the 8,800 fish handled in the selective fishery in 2003 were higher.

Based on Visual Stock Identification sampling, upriver spring Chinook comprised about 70% of the kept catch last week.  Things should slow down some this week with the turbid water, especially in the lower river.

Effort was up from the previous weekend with 2,062 boats and counted during last Saturday’s March 27 flight.  In addition there were 754 bank anglers.

From the I-5 Bridge to Bonneville Dam, April 3 is the last scheduled day to fish for hatchery spring chinook, hatchery steelhead, and shad.  Shad is expected to re-open May 16; salmonids on June 16.  Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge is scheduled to be open for hatchery spring chinook, hatchery steelhead, and shad 7 days/week through April 18.

The Dalles Pool – The few bank anglers sampled had no catch.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Remains slow for legal size fish.  Effort remains fairly light with 47 boats and 70 bank anglers counted during Saturday’s flight.

The Dalles Pool – Slow for legal size fish.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – The few boat anglers sampled did well on walleye.

Idaho Releases Wolf Hunt Stats

Idaho’s first modern wolf hunt ends tomorrow, but state officials released figures from the seven-month season that showed the hunt appears to have been well-managed and, like Montana’s, came in under the quota.

As of yesterday, 185 wolf tags had been notched, 84 percent of the overall statewide limit. Harvest quotas were met in seven of the Gem State’s 12 wolf zones.

Montana’s season closed after two months when 72 of 75 tags were filled.

Both states’ hunts followed last spring’s Federal delisting of the species after 15 straight years of increasing wolf numbers and seven straight years where minimum recovery goals had been met. Lawsuits and Wyoming’s inadequate management plan held up moving wolves out of threatened status.

In Idaho, harvested wolves ranged in size from 54 to 127 pounds, with males averaging 100 pounds, and females averaging 79 pounds. Fifty-eight percent were male; 15 percent were less than a year old.

(Montana’s largest wolf was 117 pounds; the average adult weighed 97 pounds. Fifty-seven percent were males.)

Of the nearly 26,500 tags sold in Idaho, nearly 25,750 were bought by residents while over 675 went to nonresidents. State citizens shot 86 percent of all wolves taken.

IDFG reports that October, which corresponds to general big-game rifle hunts, saw the most shot while January saw the fewest.

“The season has succeeded in halting the growth of Idaho’s wolf population,” Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said in a press release. “It showed that Fish and Game is capable of monitoring and managing a well-regulated wolf hunt.”

IDFG also said that the hunt “showed that fears of wholesale slaughter of wolves were unfounded,” and say that “hunters exhibited good compliance with the rules and with check-in and call-in requirements.”

In recent weeks, Groen has called for “more aggressive wolf management” in the Lolo Zone where elk numbers have declined dramatically in recent years. He cites wolves as a current factor, but notes that habitat, winterkill and bear and cougar predation has played a large roll in the decline from 16,000 animals in the 1980s to 2,178 at last count. Only 13 of 27 wolf tags were filled for the relatively brushy region.

Another 138 wolves were killed in livestock depredation control actions and from other causes.

At year-end, Idaho’s wolf population stood at a minimum of 843 wolves in 94 packs, and 49 packs are considered breeding pairs. The average pack size was 7.8 wolves. A total of 142 wolves are radio-collared.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reports an overall population of “1,706 wolves in 242 packs and 115 breeding pairs” in all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and parts of Eastern Washington and Oregon at the end of last year.

Guide, Anglers On Scene Of Boat Explosion

Spring Chinook anglers raced to the scene of a boat fire and explosion on the Interstate stretch of the Columbia River this morning.

“We were trolling along and heard this big loud boom,” says Capt. Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Then a bunch of debris flew up into the air like 25 feet.”

The incident occurred just before 9:30 a.m. near the west end of Portland International Airport, off Salty’s Restaurant near the Gleason boat ramp.

The boat is described as a “30-to-40 ft. Wellcraft cruiser” by The Oregonian. The paper reports that two men and a woman were taking the boat east to Hermiston from Donaldson’s Marina. They had just fueled up for the trip on the recently purchased craft when the explosion occurred.

“It was right where everybody was fishing,” says Martin of the explosion. He estimates he was within a quarter mile of the scene.

The burning boat quickly sank, he says.

“A bunch of boats pulled up and went racing over,” says Martin. “A bunch of sleds were over there immediately.”

He says they were on the scene four or five minutes before rescue personnel.

The Oregonian reports that the manager of a boat fuel station pulled one of the individuals from the river while bystanders pulled the two others.

This is a tough segue, but Martin reports three springers hooked off his boat this morning, with two in the box. The fish are biting small cut-plug herring, he says.

He’s fishing with Buzz Ramsey and Terry Otto.

“Every now and then we’re seeing one” caught, says Martin, but fishing appears to be slow overall.

Extra Trout Added For Spring Break

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released extra trout in two Willamette Valley lakes this week to increase fishing opportunities for area youths during their spring break holiday.

“With great weather this is an excellent opportunity to get out and take your family fishing,” said Karen Hans, assistant district fish biologist for ODFW’s South Willamette Watershed.

The department released a total of 1,600 fish ranging in size from eight inches to more than one pound into Waverly and Timber lakes.

Waverly Lake is a five-acre lake located north of Albany along Hwy. 99E. Timber Linn Lake is an 11-acre lake located in Albany City Park.

“These are excellent family fishing areas with plenty of bank space, park facilities, disabled access and parking,” said Hans.

The trout stocking program is one of ODFW’s most popular activities. Each year the agency releases more than 1.2 million trout at 96 sites around the Northwest Region.

The program is financed through the sale of fishing licenses.

Guide: Improving Ling, Rockfish Bite On South Coast

(ANDY MARTIN, WILD RIVERS FISHING, PRESS RELEASE)

Lingcod and rockfish action is picking up out of the Port of Brookings. The ocean has been fairly calm, although afternoon winds have shortened the window for getting out.

We’ve been getting limits of nice black rockfish and are starting to find some nice-size lingcod and cabazon. Today’s biggest ling was 38 inches.

(WILD RIVERS FISHING)

Some of the black rockfish we’ve caught in recent days have pushed 5 pounds.

We are getting most of the lings on live baits – either kelp greenling or small blue rockfish, but also have taken a few on large plastic twin tails.

Except lingcod fishing to remain good through May as the spawn continues. Oregon’s lingcod limit is two fish a day over 22 inches, as well as seven rockfish per day.

What’s Fishin’ In NW OR

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE WEEKLY RECREATION REPORT)

NORTH COAST LAKES

Coffenbury, Cullaby, Lost, Sunset, Vernonia, Cape Meares, Smith, Tahoe, Spring, Lytle, South, Town, and Hebo lakes, and Lorens Pond and Nedonna Pond were stocked with legal size rainbow trout last week.

Surplus hatchery steelhead have been released in Cape Meares Lake, Town Lake, Coffenbury Lake, Lost Lake, Lorens Pond, and Vernonia Pond earlier this winter.

MID COAST LAKES

Trout stocking is now in full swing for the season. Most water bodies will be stocked this week. Be sure to check the online stocking report for specific weeks and lakes to be stocked. Many lakes have or will be will stocked with trophy-sized trout.

ALSEA RIVER: winter steelhead

Winter steelhead angling is slow. Most hatchery fish are in the upper sections of the basin. Wild fish can offer fair catch rates this time of year.

KILCHIS RIVER: steelhead

Winter steelhead angling is fair. Recent rains raised the river and brought some fresh fish upstream. The river is dropping and clearing quickly. Use lighter gear and fish the deeper slots for the best results.

NEHALEM RIVER: steelhead

Winter steelhead angling in the main stem Nehalem should be good when conditions allow. The river is high after recent rains. Fishing should hold up through April.

NESTUCCA RIVER AND THREE RIVERS: steelhead

Steelhead angling has been fair to good as the river drops after recent rains. Fish are spread out in the river system. Look for a mixture of hatchery and wild fish. Drifting lures or bait near the bottom has been productive. Spinners are generally a good bet in the upper river also. As the river drops and clears, bobber and jigs will become more effective.

SALMON RIVER: winter steelhead

Native winter steelhead typically return through March. Fair to good numbers of wild winter steelhead should be in the river this time of year.

SILETZ RIVER: winter steelhead

Steelhead angling is slow to fair. Hatchery fish can be found throughout the mainstem but the majority are in the upper river. Wild fish typically make up the bulk of the catch rate this time of year.

SIUSLAW RIVER: winter steelhead

Steelhead angling is slowing. Most fish are now in spawning condition. Fish can be found throughout the basin with fair numbers of hatchery fish around the Whittaker Creek area. Good numbers of native steelhead can also be found throughout much of the basin.

TILLAMOOK BAY: sturgeon

Angling for sturgeon has been slow. Concentrate on the channel edges on the outgoing tides or the first part of the incoming, with sand shrimp the preferred bait. Move around often to find fish if you are not getting bites.

TRASK RIVER: steelhead

Steelhead angling is fair to good. Fish are spread out through the river after recent rains. A few hatchery fish are being caught, but expect mostly wild fish in the catch.

WILSON RIVER: steelhead

Steelhead angling is fair to good. Fishing conditions were marginal after recent rains, but the river is dropping. Boaters on the lower river have done well side drifting. Drift fishing or bobber and jigs have produced for bank anglers.

YAQUINA RIVER: winter steelhead

Steelhead angling is slow in Big Elk Creek. Fair to good catch and release native steelhead fishing should continue through the month.

Did You Win A Free Oregon License?

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Thirty hunters won either a free 2011 Sports Pac or a Non-Resident Hunting License because they applied for a 2010 fall big game controlled hunt by March 15, 2010.

Twenty more 2011 Sports Pacs or Non-Resident Hunting Licenses will be given away to hunters that apply for (and are issued) a controlled hunt application by April 15, 2010.

ODFW and the vendor that manages its license sales system are giving away a total of 100 free 2011 Sports Pacs (for Oregon residents, a $164.75 value) or Non Resident Hunting Licenses (for non-residents, a $140.50 value) to encourage hunters to apply early for their 2010 fall big game hunts. (A Sports Pac includes a Combination Angling/Hunting/Shellfish License, a Combined Angling Harvest Tag, a Validation for Upland Bird and Waterfowl hunting, plus a General or Controlled Buck Deer, General or Controlled Elk, General Cougar, General or Controlled Bear and Spring Turkey Tag.)

The next drawing will take place April 19 and winners will be notified by mail. Hunters unsuccessful in the first two drawings (for hunters that applied by Jan. 15 and March 15) will be entered into this final drawing. Only one entry per hunter is allowed, meaning hunters that apply for several controlled hunts are still only entered once.

Hunters can apply for controlled hunts online, at a license sales agent, at ODFW offices that sell licenses, or by mail or fax order using the application found here or on page 15 of the 2010 Oregon Big Game Regulations.

Mail order/fax applicants should allow 7-10 days for their applications to be processed and issued. Remember, to be eligible for the drawing, the controlled hunt application must be issued, not just received, by the drawing deadline (April 15). Controlled hunt applications can be processed and issued immediately online and at license sales agents or ODFW offices.

The deadline to apply for a controlled hunt is May 15 each year. Most applications are received during the last few days. In 2009, only 68,849 of 426,921 total applications received were processed by April 15, 2009. The high volume of sales activity in the last few days prior to the deadline has led to long lines and slowed or crashed the license sales system at times, causing ODFW to extend the deadline in both 2008 and 2009.

The vendor that manages the license sales system is purchasing the Sports Pacs and Non-Resident Hunting Licenses for the winners. ODFW and the vendor will conduct similar drawings in 2011 and 2012, as part of a three-year pilot program to determine if the incentives are helping with early application. As of March 19 this year, ODFW has issued 47,328 fall big game controlled hunt applications compared to 37,761 on the same date last year.

Some of Oregon’s big game hunts are limited entry, including almost all rifle hunting of deer and elk east of the Cascades and pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and Rocky Mountain goat hunts. These hunts require a controlled hunt application.

Names and hometowns of winners follow:

  • Darren J Page, Albany
  • Aaron Eason, Albany
  • Gerald F Grover, Baker City
  • Robert G Fouse, Bend
  • Travis J Lulay, Bozeman, Mont.
  • Carol A Creager, Coos Bay
  • David R Oswald, Dallas
  • Scott Erickson, Eagle Point
  • Scott T Tedrow, Estacada
  • Shirley J Jones, Eugene
  • James E Balcom, Eugene
  • Carolyn A Dobes, Keizer
  • Sandra L Boro, Keizer
  • Douglas W Williams, Keno
  • Dustin E Shippee, Lincoln City
  • Beverly J Swartout, Meacham
  • Ronald L Kilby, Medford
  • Jason R John, Medford
  • Brian Harris, Monmouth
  • Tommy Davis, Napa, Calif.
  • Leslie Hunter, North Bend
  • Van H Saechao, Portland
  • Mark E Loebner, Portland
  • Dennis D Crawford, Roseburg
  • Thomas J White, Salem
  • Lynn G Johnson, Sheridan
  • Scott S Iverson, Sublimity
  • Robert W Myers, Tigard
  • Susan J Keesee, Tualatin

SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report

COLUMBIA RIVER

(TANNA TAKATA, ODFW)

Salmonid angler effort increased significantly in the lower Columbia River this past weekend with 1,634 boats and 528 bank anglers counted on Saturday’s (3/20) flight.  Catch rates for spring chinook have improved and should continue to be good for the next few weeks.

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for five bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Bank: Weekend checking showed three adipose fin-clipped spring chinook adults, one adipose fin-clipped spring chinook jack, and two adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus one unclipped spring chinook and two unclipped steelhead released for 257 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boat: Weekend checking showed 83 adipose fin-clipped spring chinook and three adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus seven unclipped spring chinook and one unclipped steelhead released for 367 boats (945 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Jones Beach to Clatsop Spit): Weekend checking showed one adipose fin-clipped spring chinook and four adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus one unclipped steelhead released for 90 bank anglers.

Estuary Boat (Puget Isand to Tongue Point): Weekend checking showed 30 adipose fin-clipped spring chinook and two adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus six unclipped spring chinook and two unclipped steelhead released for 70 boats (172 anglers).

Bonneville Pool: No report.

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed no catch for 10 bank anglers; and two adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus five unclipped steelhead released for two boats (four anglers).

John Day Pool (Columbia River above John Day Dam and John Day Arm): No report.

STURGEON:

Sturgeon effort remains light on the lower Columbia River.  Boat and bank anglers in the gorge are catching a few legal size fish.

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed three legal white sturgeon kept, and 41 sublegal sturgeon released for 38 bank anglers.

Gorge Boats: No report. Effort is increasing.

Troutdale Boats: Weekly checking showed four legal white sturgeon kept, plus two oversize and 34 sublegal sturgeon released for five boats (nine anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank: weekend checking showed no catch for five bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats: Weekend checking showed one legal white sturgeon kept and 29 sublegal sturgeon released for six boats (20 anglers).

Estuary Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for three anglers.

Estuary Boats: No report.

Bonneville Pool Boat and Bank: Closed for retention. No report.

The Dalles Pool Boat and Bank: Weekly checking showed one sublegal sturgeon released for 29 bank anglers; and one legal white sturgeon kept, plus two oversize, and 49 sublegal sturgeon released for 10 boats (22 anglers).

John Day Pool Boat and Bank: Closed for retention. No report.

WALLEYE:

Troutdale Boats: No report.

Bonneville Pool Boats: No report.

The Dalles Pool Boats: Weekly checking showed two walleye kept for three bank anglers; and six walleye kept, plus three walleye released for nine boats (15 anglers).

John Day Pool Boats: No report.

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON

(JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Anglers are catching steelhead along with some spring chinook and sea run cutthroats.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 339 winter-run steelhead and 11 spring Chinook adults during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.  During the week Tacoma Power employees released 16 winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and 45 winter-run steelhead and ten spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa behind Cowlitz Falls Dam.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,090 cubic feet per second on Monday, March 22. Flows will likely be reduced to 4,000 cubic feet per second by the end of the week. Water visibility is ten feet.

Kalama River – Anglers are catching steelhead.

Lewis River – Light effort and no catch was observed.

Wind River – Bonneville Pool level is very low making it difficult to launch boats. It’s expected to remain this low at least through April 3rd as the US COE is performing maintenance.

Drano Lake – Light effort and no catch was observed.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 2,909 boat anglers (1,268 boats) with 315 adult chinook and 10 steelhead.  In addition, we sampled 471 bank anglers with 5 adult chinook and  3 steelhead.  Overall, 85% of the adult Chinook and 92% of the steelhead caught were kept.  Of the 260 adult chinook sampled, 59% were upriver stock based on Visual Stock Identification (VSI).

Effort was up substantially from the previous weekend with 1,634 boats and 824 bank anglers counted during last Saturday’s March 20 flight.  At the same time last year, just over 1,400 boats and nearly 500 bank anglers were counted from Buoy 10 upstream to Bonneville Dam.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some steelhead.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Slow for legal size fish.  Effort remains fairly light with 55 boats and 37 bank anglers counted during Saturday’s flight.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some legals.  Fishing is slow from the bank.

WALLEYE AND BASS

The Dalles Pool – Including fish released, bank and boat anglers averaged just over 0.6 walleye per rod.  Some bass were also being caught by boat anglers.

TROUT

Klineline Pond – Bank anglers averaged 2.8 rainbows per rod during creel checks last week.  Planted with 1,500 half-pound plus rainbows March 15.

Lake Sacajawea in Longview – Planted with 4,300 catchable size rainbows March 15.

Leroy Burns Pond in Wahkiakum County – Planted with 3,022 catchable size rainbows March 16.