Category Archives: Headlines

Wen. World Issues Opinion On Wolves

The Wenatchee World editorial board wrote it last weekend, and the Spokane Spokesman-Review picked it up today as an “Outside View” — an opinion piece that supports WDFW’s current draft wolf management plan.

Wolves are not optional. We cannot declare the state a wolf-free zone or build an impenetrable wolf barrier along our border to keep out the interloper Canis lupus from Idaho or British Columbia. We can’t pack them up and send them to Issaquah. We certainly cannot send out wolf extermination patrols to do away with them.

In this regard, some of the anti-wolf sentiment expressed so vociferously at the state’s recent meetings in Okanogan and Wenatchee has no serious point. The question is not whether there will be wolves in Washington. The question is how to manage them. For that, the state Department of Wildlife’s proposed wolf management plan seems as reasonable as a plan could be.

Public meetings on the plan, which in part describes recovery as 15 packs in three areas of the state for three consecutive years, wrapped up last week in Wenatchee, though comments are still being taken through Jan. 8.

Currently, Washington has two confirmed packs — the Lookout and Diamond packs in Okanogan and Pend Oreille counties — though it’s possible there’s a third in the Blue Mountains along the Oregon border.

The piece calls BS on allegations that the packs were reintroduced in “secret wolf-by-night relocation scheme, as some claim,” and continues by saying “It is the state’s obligation to protect them until they are plentiful enough to be self-sustaining. Then, when they are removed from the endangered species list, it will be its obligation to manage the population at a reasonable level.”

 

 

 

SW Washington Fishing Report

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Anglers continue to catch a mixture of fall Chinook, coho, and steelhead.  A 41 pound Chinook was caught at the barrier dam last week.  Most of the salmon catch was observed in the upper river.  Flows below Mayfield Dam are increasing and expected reach 8,000 cfs today.  Flows are expected to remain at that level for at least the next week or so.

Kalama River –  More steelhead than salmon continue to be observed in the creel.

Lewis River – Anglers continue to catch coho although the majority of the fish are now being released.  Flows below Merwin Dam were 4,400 cfs which is less than the long-term mean of 6,100 cfs for this date.

Klickitat River – Bank anglers from the Fisher Hill Bridge continue to catch coho although fishing reportedly had slowed some the past few days.  Anglers still averaged over 1.3 fish per rod when including fish released.    A higher percent of the fish caught are being released.

Flows at Pitt continue to range from 750 to 950 cfs the next few days, similar to the long-term mean.

Bonneville Dam – Boat anglers at the mouth of the Klickitat continue to average slightly less than a coho per rod.  Effort has declined with only 10 boats counted there yesterday morning.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam – Catches in the gorge have improved with the higher flows.  Bank anglers just below the dam averaged a legal kept per every 6 rods.  Flows below Bonneville Dam have been between 120,000 and 140,000 cfs the past week.

An estimated 16,100 angler trips in October produced 2,200 legal size fish.  Most of the fish were caught by Washington and Oregon bank anglers fishing just below Bonneville Dam.

TROUT

Silver Lake near Castle Rock – 4,269 catchable size rainbows were planted there Nov. 9.

Courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

Coho Spread Deep Into Willamette Valley

This year’s bumper run of coho up the Willamette is tapering out, but not before salmon have made it as far up as the Gate area on the North Fork Santiam and other rivers around Albany, Ore.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” ODFW fisheries biologist Karen Hans told the Albany Democrat-Herald in an article posted today. “Most of the fish are in the Yamhill and Tualatin rivers, but we have been getting reports they are in the Luckiamute, Santiam and Calapooia rivers as well.”

Through yesterday, 25,034 adult coho and 2,082 jacks have passed over Willamette Falls, around 9,000 more than the previous record, set in 1973, according to the paper.

There were so many fish this year that ODFW bumped the bag limit above the falls to three a day.

Razor Clams NOT Closing On WA Coast

An AP story early this afternoon said that a yearlong closure of razor clamming on the Washington coast would cost local communities $22 million in lost revenue.

Wait a minute, I thought to myself, we’re digging clams right now, what’s going on here? Why are we talking about a closure? That wasn’t in WDFW’s press releases! And what’s this of the algae bloom? Better get to the bottom of this one — and head off any potential confusion.

So I called my clam man, Dan Ayres, a state shellfish biologist based out of the Montesano office.

Right now he’s in “windy, stormy Ocean Shores,” with 300 other marine biologist sorts attending the “Fifth Symposium on Harmful Algae in the U.S.” — and hoping the lights don’t go out.

“We’re not anticipating closing the fishery and we don’t see any blooms in the future,” says Ayres.

The deal is, this morning, the University of Washington and NOAA reported on the results of an economic study that reveals how much closing the October-April razor clam season due to a theoretical harmful algae bloom would cost the towns of Long Beach, Tokeland, Westport, Hoquiam, Ocean Shores, Pacific City, etc., etc., etc.

They say:

Researchers found that harmful blooms of the Pseudo-nitzschia alga threaten coastal counties that depend on the tourism boom associated with the 7-8 month razor clam dig season on the state’s southwest coast.

BAD MOJO FOR RAZOR CLAMMERS. (NOAA)

The new study estimates that during prime dig days, as many as 30,000 people – including families – take advantage of the recreational fishery.

Twenty-two million’s just part of the economic loss too.

“Reduced lodging, transportation, and dining sales would also translate to a direct loss in labor income of $13.3 million to residents of affected areas, including a small commercial fishery,” NOAA reports.

The most recent outbreak that affected clamming occurred in 2002-03.

The next question for NOAA to answer, Ayres says, is why the the blooms occur.

He says they begin in a “big tidal eddy” outside the Strait of Juan de Fuca where upwellings concentrate nutrients in late summer and early fall.

But blooms only occur some years, and it’s even rarer that they are blown to shore by storms.

When they do, however, razor clams take the toxins into their systems and store them in their fat. While the poison doesn’t affect creatures without central nervous systems, the danger to humans leads to closed seasons.

It’s not till the spring spawn that the toxins work out of the clams’ systems, says Ayres.

“The razor clams can’t be eaten until those toxins leave them,” he says.

NOAA’s study updates the value of the fishery, he adds. A 1989 study by the Grays Harbor Development Council estimated a yearlong closure would cost $6 to $7 million, based on diggers spending $25 each per trip, he says.

CB World Reports On Yaquina Clammer’s Concerns

The Coos Bay World writes about Oregon Clam Diggers Association head Bill Lackner’s concerns about the new NOAA homeport planned for Yaquina Bay.

He worries about the destruction of eel grass and recreational opportunities in the bay.

“Eel grass beds are dynamic, necessary for a whole host of marine species. What we’re willing to give up just isn’t worth it,” Lackner tells the World.

He also calls the loss of clamming areas “counterproductive” to tourism.

An ODFW biologist, Bob Buckman, confirms the richness of the habitat where the federal agency wants to build docks near the Hatfield Marine Center, in South Beach. However, the article says that mitigations for the project have yet to be worked out.

The Newport News-Times reports the port could be worth $370 million over its 20-year lease. But Lackner, the World writes,

Just wants to make sure wildlife has somewhere to live, and recreational clamming and crabbing doesn’t die out.

“I’m the only one that beats the drum because I care about clamming,” Lackner said. “Somebody, somewhere, at some point in time has to point this out to them.”

 

Part Of NF Nooksack A No-Fish Zone In Dec. 1

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICE)

Fishing to close Dec. 1 on a portion
of the North Fork Nooksack River

Action: A portion of the North Fork Nooksack River will be closed to fishing.

Effective dates: Dec. 1, 2009, until further notice.

Species affected: All gamefish.

Location: The North Fork Nooksack River from the yellow post located at the upstream most corner of the hatchery grounds, approximately 1,000 feet upstream of the mouth of Kendall Creek, downstream to the Mosquito Lake Road Bridge.

Reasons for action: The Kendall Creek Hatchery in recent years has been unable to secure sufficient eggs from returning hatchery winter steelhead to meet basin production goals.  Closure of the fishery is needed to collect sufficient fish to meet egg-take needs.

Those Damned Salmon

And you thought the 2009 Columbia springer forecast was blown!

A Canadian judge has been picked to head up an investigation into why and how runs of Fraser River sockeye salmon came in at as low as 7.2 percent of the preseason forecast.

Ten million were expected, including 9,000,000 summer stock, according to Northwest Fishletter, but only 1.4 mil came back overall, a paltry 650,000 of which were those summer fish.

However, the Cannucks did get the Fraser pink return right, NFL reports. It came it around 20 million, around 10 percent above the forecast.

The article says that critics of fish farming blame netpens along the young sockeye’s outmigration path up the inside of Vancouver Island … which is also the way that Fraser pinks take to the North Pacific.

NFL also reported yesterday that the Skagit summer/fall Chinook run came in slightly above the preseason forecast of 24,000 (which is at odds with what the state biologist is telling me).

Which is much better than what Columbia Chinook managers came up with. The springer run was just 57 percent of forecast.

Well, there’s always 2010.

Wolf Meetings Wrap Up In Wenatchee

In what has become headcount journalism (guilty as charged), wolf foes appear to have taken the evening in Wenatchee at the 12th and final meeting on WDFW’s draft wolf management plan.

“Speakers who opposed the plan outnumbered those who said they favored it two-to-one,” reports Rachel Schlief in the Wenatchee World today.

The now-familiar thoughts included worries about “the loss and displacement of deer and elk, the economic impact on livestock owners and how the state will ensure funding the plan.”

Schlief also reports on a geography professor from Ellensburg who pointed out that possible wolf range in more densely populated Washington is far lower than in Montana and Idaho, but also quoted a Conservation Northwest staffer, who’s also a hunter, who said the ecosystem balance wolves might help restore was more important than getting “an elk every year” to him.

It’s impossible to say for sure from the news coverage, but looking at headlines, it would appear that those opposed to wolf recovery in Washington outnumbered those who supported during the public comment meetings.

Here are some of the headlines coming out of those forums:

WENATCHEE:  Wolf foes outnumber friends at Fish and Wildlife hearing in Wenatchee

OMAK:  Wolf opponents circle at Okanogan hearing

SEQUIM: Wolf management plan draws big crowd; Few fear the big, bad wolf

SEATTLE: More Wolves, Not Less, Seattle Says

ABERDEEN: Hunters tell state wolves not welcome here

COLVILLE: Wolf plan is unpopular with local residents

YAKIMA: Community voices wolf concerns at WDFW forum

While the meetings have wrapped up, comment is still being taken three ways through Jan. 8:

FAX: (360) 902-2946

Mail: WDFW SEPA Desk, 600 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

Online: http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildlife/management/gray_wolf/mgmt_plan.html

(EDITOR’S NOTE, MARCH 18, 2010: THE HEADLINE FOR THE YAKIMA MEETING WAS INCORRECT IN THE ORIGINAL VERSION OF THIS STORY — HUNTERS TELL STATE WOLVES NOT WELCOME HERE — DUE TO AN EDITING ERROR. OUR APOLOGIES.)

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Here are highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Clamming has been excellent in Coos Bay. There will be some good negative tides near the end of the week.
  • With rain expected this week, anglers on the Elk River can expect some really good fishing for chinook this weekend through early next week.
  • Several area lakes recently received a supplemental stocking of larger and trophy-sized trout. These include Hyatt Lake, Lake Selmac, Expo Pond, Reinhart Pond, Applegate Reservoir, Agate Lake, Garrison Lake, Butterfield Lake, and Upper and Lower Empire Lakes. Trout fishing in these waterbodies should remain good well into the fall.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • SILTCOOS LAKE: The coho fishery in the lake is under way. Anglers are catching some coho which have recently entered the lake. Trolling or casting spinners or other lures can be effective. Best times are early or late in the day and after rain events. The month of November typically produces the best catch rates. Anglers may retain one wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho and 1 jack coho per day. There is a seasonal limit of five wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho per year.
  • TAHKENITCH LAKE: The lake coho fishery is slow to fair. Anglers are catching some coho which have recently entered the lake. Trolling or casting spinners or other lures can be effective. Best times are early or late in the day and after rain events. The month of November typically produces the best catch rates. Anglers may retain one wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho and 1 jack coho per day. There is a seasonal limit of five wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho per year.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing has been improving with declining temperatures and there should be good fishing on several area lakes and reservoirs including Fourmile Lake, Grande Ronde Lake, Lake of the Woods and Thief Valley Reservoir.
  • Rainbow and brown trout fishing on the lower Owyhee River remains fair to good, but be on the lookout for (and avoid) brown trout redds in the gravel.
  • Fishing is closed in all streams unless designated otherwise.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Large brood trout will be released this week at three Junction City Pond near Eugene and Walter Wirth and Walling ponds near Salem. The fish are 4- and 5-year-old rainbow trout from ODFW’s Roaring River hatchery and range in size from 8 to 18 pounds.
  • The coho run is winding down on the Sandy River, Eagle Creek and the upper Willamette, although some fish should still be available for the persistent angler.
  • The sturgeon bite on the lower Willamette River is improving.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Trout fishing on Magone and Olive lakes has been good.
  • Steelhead fishing is good on the lower Grande Ronde, Imnaha, and Snake rivers.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Several area lakes closed to fishing after Saturday, Oct. 31. Be sure check the regulations or reports below before heading out.
  • For fly fishers, the Crooked, Metolius and Fall rivers offer good year-round trout fishing opportunities.

SNAKE RIVER ZONE

  • BROWNLEE RESERVOIR: Perch fishing has been good from shore at Hewitt Park.  Crappie fishing is good also and the fish are heavy.  Pink and white jigs are working well. Catfish angling has slowed but some fish are still being taken. Bass angling is fair.The water level is 30 feet below full and Hewitt Park ramp is accessible. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.
  • HELLS CANYON RESERVOIR: Approximately 500 steelhead have been put in the reservoir as of Nov. 9 and approximately 1,100 more are expected to go in by the third week of November. These surplus steelhead are considered trout in the reservoir. No tag is needed but only one can be kept per day if over 20 inches.

SNAKE RIVER below HELLS CANYON RESERVOIR: Fishing for adipose fin-clipped steelhead has opened and the fishing is very good. The bag limit for steelhead increased to five adipose fin-clipped steelhead per day, with no more than three 32 inches in total length or greater. There are a lot of fishermen in the area, so please use good fishing ethics.

Razor Clam Digs On This Weekend

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICE, PRESS RELEASE)

Action: Opens razor clam season

Effective dates: 12:01 p.m. Nov. 14 through Nov. 17, 2009

Species affected: Razor clams

Locations:

  • Long Beach, which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.
  • Twin Harbors Beach, which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.
  • Copalis Beach, which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.
  • Mocrocks Beach, which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
  • Kalaloch Beach, which extends from the South Beach Campground to Brown’s Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park.

Times:

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

Reasons for action: Harvestable surplus of razor clams are available.

Clam diggers got the go-ahead to proceed with an evening razor-clam dig starting Saturday, Nov. 14. Tentative dates have also been announced for upcoming digs in December and January.

Twin Harbors will open for digging Nov. 14-17, while Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks are scheduled to open Nov. 14-16. Kalaloch Beach will be open for digging on Monday, Nov. 16 only. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) gave final approval after a series of marine toxin tests confirmed the clams were safe to eat.

Digs at all beaches will be held on evening tides, with digging restricted to the hours between noon and midnight. The National Park Service approved the one-day dig at Kalaloch Beach, located within Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at the other beaches.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, advises clam diggers to check weather and surf forecasts before heading out.

“With the rough weather we had during the last opener, digging dropped off significantly as people played it safe,” Ayres said. “On the plus side, there’s likely enough clams remaining in the quota to offer more digs later.”

Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin also reinforced taking night dig safety precautions, especially at Kalaloch.

“Kalaloch is considerably more remote than the other clamming beaches, and visitors should be prepared for primitive conditions,” she said. “With no streetlights or lighted buildings in the area, flashlights or lanterns are a necessity.”

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

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