Category Archives: Headlines

Plywood Passage: A $200 Fish Ladder

Two hundred bucks worth of plywood, some metal strips and hard work have turned part of a stream alongside I-5 in Medford, Ore., into an “urban steelhead nursery,” according to an article by Mike Freeman of the Mail Tribune.

He reports that ODFW biologist Jay Doino’s “handmade fish ladder” has opened up a mile of habitat.

“Ooh, he almost made it,” Freeman reports Doino says as they watch a smolt attempt the device. “That’s encouraging that he made it into the second pool even at these flows.”


SW WA Fishing Report, With Prawns/Spinner Combos For Coho!

There’s an interesting note in today’s Southwest Washington fishing report from Joe Hymer at PSMFC: “Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers averaged just over an adult coho kept per rod.  Prawn/spinner rigs accounted for a lot of the catch. Most of the effort is off the mouth of the Klickitat where 70-80 boats were counted each morning this past weekend.”

Wait a minute, I thought, did I read that right — prawn/spinner combos for coho?!?

Can’t be, can it?

I immediately emailed Rob Phillips, the Northwest Sportsman scribe in Yakima as well as all-around Eastside fish/hunt guy. Ever hear of this new rig, Rob?

He responded back shortly: “Yes, I fished it twice last week, and while all the fish (9 in two days) we caught were on plugs — specifically FatFish ½ ounce — I did see several fish caught on prawn spinners off of dropper weights.  Even saw a couple of boats using Fish Flash flashers ahead of the rigs, similar to spring salmon set-up. I think they were doing better at times because they were fishing right off the bottom, while us plug trollers were only getting down 15 feet or so.”

“This is the first year that I have seen much of the bait fishing going on,” Phillips says. “And like any other fisheries, there were times when the bait rigs seemed to work and times when the plugs worked.”

Hymer says the setup has been in use at the mouth of the Klick the past few years.

Here’s the rest of his report:


Cowlitz River – Anglers continue to catch coho as well as some chinook, steelhead, and sea run cutthroats.  Through October 21, nearly 35,000 hatchery adult coho had returned to the salmon hatchery, the highest count to date through at least 1990.

Flows below Mayfield Dam are 4,900 cfs today.  However, flows are expected to increase to nearly 6,000 cfs by tomorrow.

Kalama River – Anglers are catching some coho and steelhead plus a few dark chinook that were released.

Lewis River – Bank anglers near the salmon hatchery averaged just under ½ adult coho per rod when including fish released.  Over two-thirds of the fish were kept.  Some fall chinook (which have to be released) and steelhead were also caught.  Bank angling effort has been heavy around the salmon hatchery.

Klickitat River – Bank and boat anglers averaged a fish per rod.  Majority of the catch were adult coho.   Effort has been heavy on the lower river.

Flows at Pitt are currently 700 cfs which is the long-term mean for this date.  Flows are expected to double by early next week.

Yakima River – Recap by Paul Hoffarth, WDFW biologist in Yakima – The Yakima River salmon fishery closed on Oct 22. An estimated 457 adult fall chinook, 71 fall chinook jacks, 79 adult coho, and 4 coho jacks were harvested in the Yakima River this fall.  Also, 54 adult fall chinook, 3 chinook jacks, 5 hatchery steelhead, and 25 wild steelhead were caught and released. Very little effort or harvest was observed in the river downstream of Horn Rapids Dam.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Most of the effort and catch was in the Camas/Washougal area where boat anglers almost ½ fish per boat when including fish released.  Almost all the catch were coho.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers averaged just over an adult coho kept per rod.  Prawn/spinner rigs accounted for a lot of the catch. Most of the effort is off the mouth of the Klickitat where 70-80 boats were counted each morning this past weekend.

Hanford Reach – Recap from Paul Hoffarth, WDFW biologist in Yakima –     An estimated 6,555 adult fall chinook, 2,080 fall chinook jacks, 10 coho, and 114 hatchery steelhead were harvested by salmon anglers in Catch Area 535 between August 16 and October 22. An additional 159 adult chinook,  127 jacks, 10 hatchery steelhead, and 135 wild steelhead were caught and released.

An estimated 7,089 boat trips were completed for salmon in the Hanford Reach in 2009.  WDFW staff interviewed anglers from 1,376 boats, 19.4% of the effort.

The October 15 return estimate for the Hanford Reach (not including hatchery returns) was 34,103 adult chinook. After harvest, the expected escapement is 27,548, roughly 1,000 chinook below the escapement goal for the Reach of 28,800.  Retention of salmon was closed after October 14 after the in-season return estimate was downgraded from 38,000 to 34,000 on October 10.


Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam – About one in ten bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam had a keeper last week.  Effort remains fairly high with a nearly a couple hundred anglers there during open retention days.  Effort and catch was light on the lower river.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission

NOAA’s San Juan Orcas Comment Period Extended

NOAA-Fisheries has extended the comment period for orca protections in the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound into the new year.

Public comments had been due Oct. 27, but the federal agency has pushed the due date back to Jan. 15.

“We recognize that by extending the public comment period, we won’t have enough time to issue a final rule before the 2010 summer boating season,” a statement on NOAA’s Web site reads. “We continue to believe that it’s important to address the adverse effects of vessel traffic on killer whales in the near future. In light of the requests we’ve received for an extension of the comment period, however, we believe additional public outreach will enhance both NOAA Fisheries’ understanding of public concerns and the public’s understanding of the basis for our proposal. This will also allow time for cooperative efforts to refine the proposal. We’ll work toward adoption of a final rule before the 2011 summer boating season.”

NOAA wants to make a 1/2-mile strip along the west side of San Juan Island a no-go zone for most boats from May 1 through September, as well as bar most vessels from approaching within more than 200 yards or block the paths of the ESA-listed marine mammals in Puget Sound. The agency argues that orcas are affected by boat noises.

“From my viewpoint, closing an area along the shoreline of San Juan Island is not a reasonable solution,” Tony Floor of the Northwest Marine Trade Association wrote in his October newsletter and excerpted in a blog post on our site. “A reasonable solution is to participate and encourage the improvement of water quality in Puget Sound. A healthy Puget Sound is good for Orca, salmon, and the people who live in the great Pacific Northwest.”

Oregon Hunter Working On Hound Hunt Bill

Jess Messner in Redmond, Ore., is quietly gathering signatures to get a hound-hunting initiative on the ballot in 2012, according to an Oregonian article headlined “It’s time to put the dog back in the (cougar) hunt.”

Bill Monroe writes that Oregon’s mountain lion numbers have nearly doubled, from 3,100 to over 5,800, since 1994 when hound hunting was banned in the Beaver State by voter initiative.

“We hunters have successfully managed and funded our wildlife for years,” Messner tells Monroe. “We all see there is a problem that must be fixed in order to save our big-game populations. I looked around and saw that there was no one doing anything about it.”

There are also safety concerns.

Removal of cougars in certain Eastern Oregon units appears to have helped elk herd numbers, according to the article, and ODFW wants to drop the predator species’ numbers down to around 3,000.

Cuts To Columbia Sturgeon Coming?

With state managers “nervous” about declining populations of white sturgeon in the Columbia River, there’s talk of some pretty meaty cuts to sport and commercial fisheries in the future.

Catches of legal and sublegal fish are falling and it’s unclear why, though sea lion numbers are increasing and smelt numbers have dropped substantially, writes Allen Thomas of The Columbian in an article picked up in the Longview Daily News.

“The bottom end is falling out,’’ Washington “sturgeon general” Brad James tells Thomas. “We aren’t getting fish moving up from the smaller sizes.’’

Oregon and Washington managers are working on a new long-term sturgeon compact.

On another front, among the many rule proposals up for discussion on the Washington side is banning the use of shad for oversize sturgeon.

141,645 Pikeminnows Hauled In

Participation was up but catch was down during this year’s pikeminnow reward fishery on the Columbia and Lower Snake rivers.

A total of 141,645 of the native fish were brought into 18 check stations by 29,100 anglers between May 3 and Oct. 11, according to data at

Last year, 158,191 were bonked by 26,097 fishermen, though season was basically a week longer.

But an article in today’s Columbia Basin Bulletin suggests this year’s fishery is still a success.

“…We believe it’s due to the program doing what it was designed to do: reduce the number of pikeminnow in the river,” Russell Porter at the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission told CBB.

Cash rewards of $1,000 per tagged fish may have bumped participation in mid-August, according to the article.

This year’s top “ports” were Boyer Park on the Snake (27,438), The Dalles Boat Basin (16,525) and Greenbelt in Clarkston (11,748).

Last year, $1,125,193 was paid out. The top two anglers, CBB reports, turned in $57,772 and $42,137 worth of pikeminnows and tagged fish.

The program, which began on a trial basis in 1991, aims to reduce the average size of pikeminnows to reduce the species’ overall consumption of salmon and steelhead smolts; it’s estimated that predation has been cut by 37 percent, according to

Beaver Lake Stocked With 1000 2+pounders

WDFW planted Beaver Lake with “eye candy,” 1,008 2-plus-pound rainbows, on Tuesday this week, the earliest the Sammamish Plateau water has been stocked since fall releases began in 2003.

And another stocking is planned in a week or two, according to John Kugan, foreman at the Issaquah Hatchery.

“Nineteen hundred 2-year-olds, probably the second week of November,” he says.

Beaver features a state access and launch on its southeast side, a city park on its southwest shore.

Fish dough baits or worms from shore, or off bottom in the middle of the lake.

Kugan terms the stockers “eye-candy fish” because they’re at the hatchery’s viewing window through the summer. They’re originally hatched at the state’s Goldendale facility then brought over for fattening up.

Asked why not spread the wealth to waters besides Beaver, Kugan says that the rainbows are only allowed to be planted in the Lake Washington watershed due to concerns about IHN, a fish virus.