Category Archives: Headlines

Change Would ‘Alter Foundation Of Angling’

With public comment on a host of sport-fishing rule change proposals coming up before the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission next weekend, Doug Huddle of the Bellingham Herald outlines some of the important issues for North Sound anglers to pay attention to.

“One, if adopted by the commission, will alter the foundation of sport angling for gamefish in this state,” the longtime outdoor scribe writes in yesterday’s paper.

Tuna Limit For WA?

While public comment on a broad range of sport-fishing rule proposals may be the most cantankerous item at the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission’s Dec. 4-5 meeting, there’s another brief that’s just starting to raise eyebrows.

Michelle Culver, director of WDFW’s coastal region, will give a presentation on the status of the state’s offshore albacore fishery.

“The question before the Commission is,” she says, “Do they want to consider a bag limit for recreational anglers? We’re not making a recommendation one way or the other.”


Currently, there is no limit as more and more Evergreen State anglers and an increasingly dialed-in sport fleet pursue the species.

To the south this year, Oregon enjoyed its second most successful sport fishery ever. According to ODFW’s Eric Schindler in Newport, 42,055 were brought back to harbors up and down the coast. Only 2007’s catch of 58,000-plus was bigger.

Culver says she’ll be giving Washington’s Commission background on how other states and NMFS manage the species. In Oregon, basically the daily limit is 25 as part of a mixed bag of pelagic species. California has a split bag: 25 in the north, 10 in the south.

She says that as part of NMFS’s rule-making process for the 2011-13 seasons, albacore issues are being looked at next year.

If NMFS were to adopt a limit, they would ask states to follow suit.

States can be more restrictive than the feds, but not more liberal, Culver says.

While some may bristle at limits, in Oregon, where tuna fishing’s better, very few anglers load the boat. In fact, says Schindler, the average fisherman only brings back four a trip.

But that potential high bag limit is “like a casino,” he notes.

It helps draw customers to charters and coastal towns– even though the odds of hitting a big payout are small.

“The majority of people are never going to get to 25,” Schindler says. “The majority of people are going to be happy with ten or less.”


From what he’s hearing, there’s not really a big push on to impose recreational limits either, but there is some federal concern about commercial efforts on the highly migratory species.

Right now, it’s an unlimited commercial fishery, without trip limits or vessel limitations, he says.

“The jist we’re hearing from NOAA is capping effort, not increasing it,” Schindler says.

Albacore stocks are considered high right now, but the commercial effort on them “is not deemed sustainable going into the future if stock levels go back to average,” he says.

Culver says that if the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission is interested in setting a limit, it could be brought up again at their February or March meetings. NMFS has it on their calendar for June meetings.

‘Anti-vehicle Device’ Found In Wildlife Area


The Idaho Department of Fish and Game recently discovered an anti-vehicle device on Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area south of Lewiston.

The homemade device, a truck tire filled with concrete and rebar spikes, was concealed in an area commonly used for illegal off-roading and was likely placed to discourage this activity. Motorized travel on Fish and Game lands is allowed only on open, established roads.

“We understand the public’s frustration with those who don’t follow the motorized rules, but this is taking it too far by putting public safety at risk,” said Justin Barrett, Fish and Game habitat biologist who manages the area.

Mud-bogging, the ritual of driving vehicles through wet areas has caused significant long-term damage in the area. Mountain meadows and streams are especially appealing to mudboggers because of the availability of water and moist soils, yet these areas are very important for wildlife.

Anyone with information regarding this device or who witnesses illegal off-roading on Craig Mountain are encouraged to contact the Fish and Game office at 208-799-5010.

Much of Craig Mountain was purchased as mitigation for the loss of habitat from the inundation of Dworshak Reservoir. Cooperative agreements among conservation groups and several state and federal land management agencies ensure that public lands on Craig Mountain are managed to benefit wildlife and natural habitats while providing diverse recreational opportunities.

Unfortunately, mud-bogging is not conducive to maintaining habitats suitable for wildlife in this area. In fact, the long-term damage caused by off roaders is one of the main reasons some areas have been closed to motorized vehicle use.

Coverage Of Redden Columbia Salmon Hearing

Here’s a roundup of articles on what came out of yesterday’s hearing in U.S. District Court Judge James Redden’s courtroom.

The Oregonian: Working plan looks closer for Northwest salmon protection

Associated Press: Judge likes NW salmon plan but sees legal flaw

Seattle Times: Federal judge praises new salmon-protection plan

Idaho Statesman: Salmon plan is close, judge says

OPB: Redden salmon decision will take more time

Speeding Stop Yields Poached Buck


Editor’s note: We have our newest entrant into The Dishonor Roll (debuting in the December issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine), one Eric Eugene Burris who allegedly poked this trophy muley during closed season south of Hood River.

An Oregon State Police (OSP) Sunday traffic stop south of The Dalles ended with more than a speeding citation after a trooper found an illegally killed trophy sized buck in the bed of the pickup.  A Portland-area man who is believed to be responsible for killing the deer was also arrested for failure to register as a sex offender and lodged in jail in The Dalles.


On November 22, 2009, OSP Trooper Brent Ocheskey stopped a Ford Ranger pickup after spotting it traveling 79 mph in a 55 mph speed zone on Highway 197 south of Dufur.  As Ocheskey walked up to contact the driver he saw an approximately 250 lb. trophy sized 4 X 4 buck deer in the pickup’s bed shot with an arrow.

Subsequent investigation during the traffic stop indicated passenger ERIC EUGENE BURRIS, age 31, from Portland, is alleged to have unlawfully shot the buck with bow and arrow in the White River Unit, which was closed during the open late season archery hunt.

BURRIS was taken into custody for Unlawful Taking Deer and two counts of Failure to Register as a Sex Offender.  He was also cited for Unlawful Possession of an Open Container of Alcohol.

Operator JOSHUA EDWARD LEPOIDEVIN, age 25, from Portland, was cited and released for Aiding in a Game Violation, Violation of the Basic Rule to wit: 79 mph in a 55 speed zone, Driving Uninsured, and Unlawful Possession of less than an Ounce of Marijuana.

The deer and a compound bow were seized as evidence.

BURRIS was lodged at the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility (NORCOR) in The Dalles.  The NORCOR website does not currently list him as an inmate.

He-Man Spotted Hauling Deer Out Of Woods

I’m going to admit that none of the deer I’ve shot bent the hook at the butcher’s.

Just for fun a couple weeks ago, I nested the rack of my 4×5 whitetail inside the antlers of the admittedly small 21/2-year-old muley I shot last month, and those of a 2-point blacktail inside the whitetail’s.

Even so, without a helper, those and a couple other deer haven’t exactly been easy to drag off the mountain, through the clearcut or up a canyon, in one exhausting case.

That last one was a doe up near Entiat, Wash. Nearly killed me and Dad, even after we cut it in half. The icing on the cake was that when I took it to the butcher, the gal who took my order assumed the deer had rolled to the bottom of the canyon after I shot it rather than being shot there.

Oh, sure, I have a friend who threw a small whitetail spike over his back and hauled it out of the forest, but dead critters are not easy to move. That’s why they invented game carts, sleds, horses and mules!

Which is why a pic I got earlier this week threw me for a loop — He-Man Scott Shafner throwing a full-grown blacktail buck on his back and tramping out of the woods.


True, Shafner should have kept his hunter orange on after he shot the deer near Belfair, Wash., during the late rifle hunt that wrapped up last weekend, but still, it’s a pretty cool feat of strength.

“Scott’s an avid distance cyclist, so his main routine is getting up at 3 a.m. to bike 50 miles or more before work,” explains friend Al Schultz who sent the photo taken by another man in the hunting party, Dave May. “He also jogs and does weight training and exercises …”

“I think in reality he only carried the deer like that for a quarter mile (he actually began jogging with it like that after we dressed it out, he was just stoked!). We dragged it the rest of the way,” he says.

By GPS, they were around 2 miles from the rig, Schultz believes.

Yo, Scott, we got a spot up at Deer Camp if you wanna come up!
POST-SCRIPT: My writer Leroy Ledeboer pointed out another solution — two strong sons. I’ve got one already, and No. 2 is due tomorrow.
“It’s okay,” Ledeboer emailed.  “Get River and (your unnamed son) into weight training early. Then by the time they’re teens, they can be your sherpas.”
“On one great high hunt, my sons and I were way up at about 7500 ft., miles and miles from our vehicle.  We’d been out 4 days, had two boned bucks to pack out and they were really anxious to make it back to the vehicle asap.”
“Their solution: lighten Dad’s load.  I came out carrying a rifle, my sleeping bag and a change of clothes!
“Now, I was still in my 40’s at the time, but the boys were like 18 and 22 – So let ’em each pack a deer and split the rest of our gear.  With a 10 lb. pack I could keep pace.”

Weather Schmeather: NWS Goes Hunting, Fishing

This weekend’s radar had more red and green than a Christmas tree set up for Black Friday, but the weather didn’t halt a pair of Northwest Sportsman hands from getting afield.

Ad sales manager Brian Lull hunted deer on the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula while our resident Troutist, “Uncle Wes” Malmberg, worked Lake Nahwatzel on the Olypen’s southeast side for trout.

“It rained, and it rained, and it rained, and it rained,” says Malmberg. “And then when we got home, it stopped raining.”

But the moist 2 1/2 hours on the 269-acre Mason County lake on Saturday were also pretty darned productive too.

“The black Woolly Bugger kicked ass,” Malmberg says. “We kept ten 13- to 17-inchers for the smoker. Tis the holiday season. Smoked fish makes the best gift. People go nuts over it.”

He was fishing at midday with brother Brett. They were trolling fairly close in, following the 15-foot contour, but running their flies high in the water column.

“The fish were in the top 4 to 5 feet,” he says.

Bait trollers weren’t doing quite as well, and Malmberg reminds, “People gotta remember fish look up, not down.”

The fish, part of an October stocking, were quite energetic too.

“As soon as you hooked up, they came flying out of the water,” says Malmberg.

Lull was trying to bag his blacktail in the Coyle unit, which was open for the four-day any-buck late hunt.

He says he saw eight deer overall, a respectable number for the Westside, and on Friday evening came nearly face to face with a buck, but it quickly disappeared into dark underbrush.

Others were more successful. Al Schultz passed along a couple shots of Scott Shafner who bagged his buck yesterday near Belfair.



SW WA Fishing Report


Grays River – No report on angling success for hatchery steelhead below the Hwy. 4 Bridge.  From the Hwy. 4 Bridge upstream to the South Fork and the West Fork from the mouth upstream to the hatchery intake/footbridge opens to fishing for hatchery steelhead Dec. 1, two weeks earlier than in recent years.

For lower Grays River flows, see

Cowlitz River – Effort and catches are light from Massey Bar downstream.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 3,135 coho adults, 118 jacks, 332 sea-run cutthroat trout, 77 winter-run steelhead, 60 summer-run steelhead, 14 fall Chinook adults and one chum salmon during seven days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 337 coho adults, five jacks, three fall Chinook adults and five cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, 864 coho adults and 52 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, 654 coho adults and 23 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, and 533 coho adults and 18 jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellowjacket Creek.  A total of 408 hatchery-origin sea-run cutthroat trout and one unmarked summer-run steelhead adult were recycled downstream to the Barrier Dam boat launch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,030 cubic feet per second on Monday, November 23. Water visibility is eight feet.

Blue and Mill creeks (tributaries to the Cowlitz) – Lower sections of these streams open to fishing for hatchery steelhead beginning December 1.  In addition, hatchery sea run cutthroats may be kept on Blue Creek.  See the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington pamphlet for details.

Toutle River including North Fork and Green – November 30 is the last day to fish for salmon.

Kalama River – No report on angling success.  Through November 18, four hatchery winter run steelhead had returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.  This compares to nearly 500 fish that had returned by this time last year.

Lewis River – Anglers continue to catch coho though the majority are dark fish which were released.  The first 15 hatchery winter run steelhead of the season had returned to Lewis River traps as of November 18.  In comparison, 52 fish had returned by this time last year.

Flows at Merwin Dam were 8,000 cfs this morning, down from last week’s high of nearly 12,000 cfs.

Washougal River – No reports on angling success.  As of November 18,  twenty-one hatchery winter run steelhead had returned to Skamania Hatchery. In comparison, twice as many fish had returned by a week earlier last year.

For lower Washougal River flows see

Klickitat River – Bank anglers on the lower river continue to catch coho though about half the fish were released.  November 30 is the last day to fish for trout including hatchery steelhead on the Klickitat.  However, salmon fishing remains open below the Fisher Hill Bridge while fishing for whitefish from fishway #5 upstream opens December 1 .  Special gear rules will be in effect for whitefish.


Lower Columbia mainstem from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam – Sturgeon catches have slowed in the gorge.


Swift Reservoir – November 30 is the last day to fish for trout and salmon.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

Redden Salmon Plan Hearing Begins

With rigs towing fishing boats parade outside his Portland courtroom this morning, U.S. District Court Judge James Redden is now hearing arguments on whether the latest plan to protect endangered salmon in the Columbia River system is up to snuff.

He’d invited the Obama Administration to have a looksee before a final ruling. The administration’s submitted plan is said to be “slightly revised” from the Bush-era plan.

Scheduled to attend today is no less than the new head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, believed to be there to bolster the Fed’s case that the plan — Redden’s trashed two previous incarnations — is viable.

The state of Oregon, Nez Perce tribe and others say it’s not.

The importance of today’s event is underlined in an AP article in the San Jose Mercury News:

“Redden holds a hearing Monday that is likely to be the last before he rules for a third time on government plans to manage Columbia River dams to save fish species protected by the Endangered Species Act but in precarious shape for decades. Twice before in litigation stretching back to the 20th century, he’s turned thumbs down.”

The Oregonian is running a live blog from court. Reporter Matthew Preusch says that Redden made this statement after taking a seat:

“This I think is the most significant hearing we’ve had so far, and I really think that with a little more work, we’ve got a Biop.”

The Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, which sides with Oregon and the Nez Perce, fired off a press release before the hearing:

On September 15, The Obama administration decided to adopt a 2008 Bush administration plan — including support for the Bush-era scientific analysis and legal standard — over the strong objections of regional fish biologists, former Northwest Governors, people and businesses across the nation.

NSIA continues to extend an open invitation to the Administration’s newly appointed NOAA Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, to sit down with its business leaders to better understand the devastating economic impacts this plan will cause for their industry, comprised largely of small family businesses.

The Longview Daily News weighed in yesterday with an editorial that says since the Obama Administration’s plan is taking fire from all sides, “that generally tells us the government has it about right.”