Category Archives: Headlines

Invasive Snails Found Off Puget Sound

The latest invasive species to hit Puget Sound has been found at the southern end of the basin. New Zealand mud snails were discovered in Capitol Lake around Thanksgiving.

The lake is now closed to public access to prevent the tiny little snails from being moved around.

“These things are nasty, and if they take over, your biodiversity is gone,” Allen Pleus, WDFW’s aquatic invasive species coordinator, tells KUOW radio.

According to the story, the snails eat algae, starving other organisms that live on it.

A recent survey of the Deschutes River, which drains into the lake, turned up no snails.

The story says the invasive critters are also on the Long Beach Peninsula and Lower Columbia. Biologists may try to drain the lake to kill the snails off during a cold snap.

Rogue CCA Chapter Links Salmonids With Habitat

Members of the Rogue Valley Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association are out catching salmon and steelhead — smolts.

They’re using a big hoop they got from ODFW to collect juvenile members of those species as well as suckers from Larson Creek, on the southeast side of Medford, and move them above a culvert on the stream to access more habitat.

According to Mark Freeman’s article in the Mail Tribune, the fish escape to Larson and other small streams in the basin when flows rise during the winter.

“We’re finding more and more that streams like this are far more important than we originally thought,” Chuck Fustish, an ODFW biologist, told Freeman.

North-central Washington Fishing Report

What’s hot is drifting purple shrimp baited jigs under slip bobbers for Steelhead in the Upper Columbia.  The lower basin of Chelan and Rufus Woods Reservoir should continue to be productive.  At last check, Roses Lake still is completely open water.

On the Upper Columbia this is prime time to catch Steelhead.  Rig a Drennan Float above a Mack Lures Rock Dancer jig.  Bait the jig with a Columbia Basin Baits purple shrimp.  There are a variety of variables.  Location is the first.  Three or four drifts through a likely looking run is all you need to do.  Then you’ve got to move.  Using a bow mounted electric motor is the most effective way to control your drift.  A gas operated transom mounted trolling motor is your second choice.  Remember to control your run back up to the head of the drift to not spook fish.  Second, vary the depth of your baited jig by moving slip knot up and down your line.  Usually, close to but not on the bottom is the ticket.  Third, vary jig color and size.  Sizes from 1/8th to ¼ ounce are typical.  Purple and Black or Red and Black are the most effective colors.  This is definitely ADHD / run and gun fishing.

On Chelan, vary our standard fare of Rushin’ Salmon Wobblers off and flatfish by trolling darting plugs like Silver Hordes at 2.5 to 2.8 mph.  Use those glow in the dark / splatter back colors.  This is a better tactic if you are a lone angler and you are fishing shallower water.  In Chelan, that means water from 115’ to 150’.  Blow back becomes a serious concern at greater depths.

Our Chelan Valley’s little rainbow gem, Roses Lake should continue to produce well until ice up.  I fear that is coming soon with temperatures staying below freezing around the clock.  Do not risk that thin ice.

The kid’s tip of the week is to plan on attending the Sportsman’s Shows in January.  The Tri-Cities Show will be from January 15th thru the 17th.  The huge O’Loughlin show in Puyallup is from January 27th to the 31st.  Both shows will feature kid friendly activities and many informational seminars.

The safety tip of the week is to prepare you vehicle and boat for Winter emergencies. Make sure that you have chains, a jack, a change of clothes, a blanket, something to start a fire with, a working fire extinguisher, a flashlight with good batteries, a shovel, a stocked first aid kit, jumper cables, and a bit of extra food and water.

— Report courtesy of Anton Jones of Darrell & Dad’s Family Guide Service (1-866-360-1523; antonj@aol.com)

News On Oregon Coast Salmon 2010

Bill Monroe of The Oregonian provides an early glimpse at potential Chinook returns to and past the Oregon Coast next summer, a mix of good and bad news.

“Next year’s fall and spring chinook salmon seasons look much brighter, and if offshore chinook fishing can’t resume in 2010, at least continued good coho salmon runs should again bring smiles to salty dogs,” writes Monroe.

However, another low return of Sacramento River Chinook could affect offshore opportunities, he reports.

How To Get Rid Of Pesky Geese

Jeanette McConnell figured that cranking conservative talk radio would get rid of the free-loader Canada geese that have been grazing on her lawn for years and years.

She’s also allowed hunters on her property along the Rogue River near Gold Hill, hosed the birds down with water, flapped her own wings and yelled and screamed at them, all to nearly no avail, reports Mark Freeman of the Medford Mail Tribune in an article today.

Then she said to hell with it and let part of her lawn near the river go to pot — and the problem was solved.

And she’s not alone. Reports Freeman:

McConnell is the latest in the slowly-growing list of Oregonians who are discovering that, if they stop turning natural habitat into wildlife day-spas, the critters will stop treating their property like a vacation destination.

It’s as simple as residents along Roxy Ann Peak, who quit planting roses in black-tailed deer winter range, and riverside residents who actually abide by riparian-protection laws by leaving their streamside vegetation alone.

Keeping even small but critical pieces of Oregon just a little wild is as good for the goose as it is the landowner.

Of course, McConnell’s geese have probably just descended on someone else, but for what it’s worth, it’s an interesting article.

Twilight For A Forks Steelheader

A couple months before Dick Wentworth sent in his 2007-08 catch card, he hung up his rod and reel and quit steelheading.

It wasn’t exactly what I expected to hear when I called the Forks, Wash., man earlier this fall to ask about the secret to his wild success for an article in our November issue. He was among the 17 anglers statewide who turned in a full punchcard that season.

But rather than politely hang up, I held the line – and got an earful.

“The last time I fished was January or February two years ago,” Wentworth says. “Perfect water. No fish. Perfect water. That leaves you cold. I know how to cast. They aren’t there, boys. They aren’t behind the rocks.”

HE SAYS THOSE WORDS with a finality that can only come from long years of knowing the rivers.

Now 70, his roots here (Wentworth Lake, anyone?) stretch back at least four generations, if not more – he claims some Indian blood. He’s been fishing since he was 8 years old, but transitioned into flyrodding in his teens.

“It became too easy. It was nothing to catch fish on eggs,” he says.

He’d heard about how local school teacher Syd Glasso was experimenting with spey flies (think the Heron series and Sol Duc patterns).

“‘That’s neat,’ I thought, so I knocked on his door and asked, ‘How do you do that?’”

Pretty soon Wentworth found himself in Glasso’s kitchen helping the icon rewrap fly lines with lead to get the big patterns down to where the fish were in the cold waters of the Peninsula, according to fly fishing writer Doug Rose.

And he took to the tying bench himself. Winter-run steelhead, springers, summer-runs, fall Chinook, sea-run cutts, surf perch, you name it, if it swims anywhere on the North Coast, it’s bit for the retired telephone employee.

“In the 1950s, it was nothing to have four-, five-, six-(steelhead) mornings on the fly,” he says.

That painting of a big 20-plus-pounder about to hit a fly above the checkout line at the Forks Thriftway? It’s based on one of Wentworth’s notable catches.

He’s landed so many, he says he can tell the differences between steelhead running up the Sol Duc, Hoh and Queets.

That earns him something like “Yeah, sure, kooky Old Man” reactions from biologists.

Or maybe that’s because of his unvarnished opinion on today’s Bogachiel River hatchery steelhead: “They’re not a fish, they’re a rag.”

A RAG ISN’T SOMETHING someone like Dick Wentworth seems like he’d be willing to fish for.

But there’s more to why he hung it all up after a long, successful career.

“I gave up because of all the pressure. You can’t just keep piling on them and expect them to be behind every rock,” he says.

He says there are many factors why the fish don’t return like they used to: a “sick” Pacific, “more anglers, nets, guides, our runs declined, seasons now run year-round.”

Then there’s side-drifting: “It’s so effective, it’s not even funny.”

He would ban bait and make anglers get out of their boats to fish.

And while he says his own rule-change proposals in the past have gone nowhere with the state, shorter retention seasons for wild steelhead and more conservative gear rules for Peninsula rivers are actually among the ideas the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife is mulling for 2010-12 seasons.

Comments will be taken at a public hearing with the Fish & Wildlife Commission this weekend, Dec. 4-5, in Olympia.

In the meanwhile, Wentworth will watch as another winter run starts up the Calawah behind his house, but instead of picking up his fly rod, he’ll be making archery equipment and firing off verbal arrows when reporters come calling.

“There are a lot of things against us,” Wentworth says. “We need to figure out what we can do to improve things for the kids coming up. If we don’t, you’re going to miss out. It’s not going to be there for you.”

For Now, WDFW Won’t Be Merged With DNR, Other Agencies

A plan announced this afternoon by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire on how the state’s natural resource agencies will work together in the future does not include bundling Fish & Wildlife with other departments, although it will be working more closely with DNR and other divisions in the years ahead, spokesmen say.

“With the budget reductions that we’ve had to make and will continue to make in response to revenue shortfalls, it’s imperative for government to work smarter and more efficiently than ever,” Gregoire said today in a press release. “Our natural resource management reforms will make the most of our investments and provide maximum benefits to the public and protection for the environment.”

She ordered the review in the wake of this biennium’s $9 billion budget shortfall.

Craig Bartlett, a WDFW information officer in Olympia, indicated a bit of surprise that his division and others weren’t going to be joined.

Back in September, we half kiddingly wrote that you might one day call his office and get this message: “You have reached the Ecosystem Management and Recreation Agency. If you have a question about hunting regulations, press 1. If you would like to reserve a campground at a state park, press 2. If you have a question about state wildlife areas, please call the DNR.”

That’s because, last spring, Gregoire asked the state’s Departments of Fish & Wildlife, Natural Resources, Parks, Health, Agriculture, Ecology and other groups to come up with ideas on how to reform management of their agencies, reduce costs and improve service delivery.

In early fall, the departments issued a 172-page document that looked at several scenarios combining the 15 resource divisions into one, two, three, four and five agencies. After public review, Gregoire and DNR head Peter Goldmark looked the options over and offered up a mix of fixes.

According to Joe Stohr, WDFW deputy director, their decision focuses more on improving service and customer satisfaction, but it does have several areas where his agency will be affected.

“All natural resource agencies have been directed by executive order to adopt a single set of regions,” he says.

WDFW and DNR both have six regions, but they don’t really match up very well; Parks and Recreation has a dozen or so, but Ecology has just four.

WDFW'S SIX REGIONS

DNR'S SIX REGIONS

PARKS & RECREATION'S MANY REGIONS

DOE'S FOUR REGIONS

In the future, each department’s offices may also be co-located, saving the state money.

Stohr says that some permitting will also be smoothed over — for someone to get one to work in a wetland or in water can require up to 12 different go-aheads from multiple agencies — which will help reduce mailing and meetings.

Biological field work between WDFW, DNR and DOE would also be better coordinated, he adds.

And Stohr says that there will be an effort to identify redundancies in WDFW and DNR’s lands divisions — management, procurement, surveying, etc. The former agency owns around 800,000 acres, the latter 3 million.

“These reform measures will streamline our work, improve coordination with tribal co-managers, and increase the protection of our state’s fish and wildlife resources,” WDFW director Phil Anderson said in the press release.

Other reforms are noted here.

Stohr notes that some of the tweaks are by executive order but others will need to be run through the Legislature, which can also decide it wants to do different things too.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Highlights from ODFW’S weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Over 200 adult, fin-clipped coho were stocked into Galesville Reservoir recently. Anglers can harvest one of these fish per day as a “trout” over 20 inches.
  • Both the Smith and South Umpqua rivers open for winter steelhead fishing on Dec. 1.
  • Applegate Reservoir was stocked this fall with large and trophy-sized trout, which should provide some good fishing during the winter months.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Surplus hatchery summer steelhead have been released in Town Lake. These fish will bite sand shrimp fished under a bobber, medium sized spinners or spoons, or a variety of flies at times. Be persistent as these fish are sometimes very finicky.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Large brood trout were released this week at several Willamette Valley ponds, including Junction City, Walter Wirth, Walling and Sheridan. 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.
  • Winter steelhead should be starting to arrive in the lower Willamette and Clackamas rivers.

CENTRAL ZONE

  • Both Taylor Lake and Pine Hollow have been recently stocked and will offer good trout fishing this winter.
  • November and December can offer fine fishing on Crescent Lake for brown and lake trout until access is limited by snow.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • GRANDE RONDE, WALLOWA, IMNAHA RIVERS AND TRIBUTARIES: Steelhead angling success in the lower Grande Ronde and Imnaha Rivers has declined with recent cold weather and continued low river flows. Anglers averaged  10 hours per steelhead landed during last week’s surveys on the lower Grande Ronde River. The bag limit on the lower Grande Ronde, Wallowa, and Imnaha Rivers is five adipose fin-clipped steelhead per day.
  • JOHN DAY RIVER: Steelhead have entered the lower John Day and fishing is fair up to the Cottonwood Bridge. Fishing is good in the John Day arm. Hatchery/wild ratios are only 25/75 at Rock Creek and Cottonwood but increase to 50/50 in the John Day Arm. Cold weather has settled into the John Day drainage so anglers will encounter less active fish and floating ice will become a problem.
  • UMATILLA RIVER: Steelhead fishing has been good and angler effort has been light, for the week of Nov.23-29 anglers averaged 4 hours/steelhead landed downstream of Threemile Dam. River conditions are low and clear. Steelhead returns to date to Threemile Dam 996. Anglers are reminded the fall salmon season ended on November 30.

SNAKE RIVER ZONE

  • SNAKE BELOW HELLS CANYON DAM: 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.

MARINE ZONE

  • Bottom fishing is good when ocean conditions permit. Ling cod should begin moving into shallower waters to spawn. Divers may find success spearing along rocky jetties for ling cod and black rockfish.
  • A series of minus tides starting around sundown on Nov. 30 will provide clamming opportunities for those with lanterns. Recreational and commercial clam harvesting is open on the entire Oregon Coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. This includes clam harvesting on beaches and inside bays.

Askew, Monroe Tackle Fall Turkeys

Northwest Sportsman columnist Wil Askew went hunting with The Oregonian‘s Bill Monroe for a little post-Thanksgiving gobble-gobble recently.

“It’s much easier to get permission in the fall,” Askew told Monroe in the article. “And you can get out and stalk them a little more because there aren’t many other hunters around.”

Monroe’s story details how they both brought down birds.

WIL ASKEW AND DAUGHTER BRYCE WITH POP'S FINAL FALL TURKEY FOR 2009. (WIL ASKEW)

SW WA Fishing Report

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – At the barrier dam, 47 bank anglers kept 1 adult coho and 1 steelhead plus released 1 adult chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 1,521 coho adults, 74 jacks, 234 sea-run cutthroat trout, 112 winter-run steelhead, 36 summer-run steelhead, four fall Chinook adults and one chum salmon during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 299 coho adults, 20 jacks, two fall Chinook adults, two winter-run steelhead and nine cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, 338 coho adults and 12 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, 260 coho adults and 23 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, and 166 coho adults and eight jacks into the Cispus River above the mouth of Yellowjacket Creek.  In addition, 275 hatchery-origin sea-run cutthroat trout 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 30. Water visibility is seven feet.

Lewis River – On the mainstem Lewis, 6 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead.  At the salmon hatchery, 39 bank anglers kept 8 steelhead and 6 adult coho plus released 8 adult and 1 jack coho.  Four boat anglers released 1 adult chinook, 1 adult coho, and 1 jack coho.

Effective December 16, anglers will be allowed to fish from floating devices from Johnson Creek upstream.  In addition, fishing for hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead opens from Colvin Creek upstream to the overhead powerlines below Merwin Dam.

Klickitat River – 8 bank anglers from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream kept 14 adult coho and released 9.

Ringold – From Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco – An estimated 1,080 steelhead were caught during the month of November. Of these, 811 hatchery steelhead were harvested and 119 wild steelhead were caught and released. Effort and catch has begun to slow as winter approaches.

To date, 2,952 steelhead have been caught and 2,054 steelhead have been harvested.

STURGEON, TROUT

No reports.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSFMC