Category Archives: Headlines

Wolf Shot On Palouse Just East Of WA Border

A farmer shot and killed a young wolf on the Palouse just east of the Washington-Idaho border near the small town of Farmington.

The incident occurred in early March, according to regional conservation officer Mark Hill of the Idaho Department of Fish & Game.

The man, believed to be a Washington farmer, was checking out his property about 2 miles from the state line at the time. Hill says the man says he threw a stick at the wolf, but it was reluctant to move.

Hill says that the man claimed his dogs were eager to tangle with the animal so he shot the wolf to protect them.

The officer describes the wolf as a 60-pound female; its carcass was being shipped to Boise.

Hill says the man was issued a warning because he didn’t report the kill within 72 hours as required by Idaho law. However, he was probably not aware of the requirement either, he adds.

It’s not unusual to have wolves on the edge of Idaho’s Palouse, Hill says, but the proximity to the Washington border makes it noteworthy.

The two states do share a pack of wolves, the Diamond group, which denned in extreme Northeast Washington last spring and spent approximately 90 percent of its time in the Evergreen State, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s 2009 report.

Washington has one other confirmed pack of wolves and probably shares a pack with Oregon in the Blue Mountains.

The USFS is investigating reports of wolves above Lake Chelan. A spokeswoman in Spokane told Northwest Sportsman earlier this week that the Department of Fish & Wildlife continues to get reports of tracks, howling, scat and glimpses of animals in Eastern Washington, and says she wouldn’t be surprised to see new packs this summer in North-central, Northeast and Southeast Washington.

The state is working on a management plan to recover the species.

What’s Fishin’ In Washington

(ASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE)

The popular spring chinook season is picking up on the Columbia River, steelhead fishing is going full tilt on the Olympic Peninsula and a pair of razor-clam digs are tentatively scheduled late this month and next.

Rather fish for trout?  More than 30 lakes in the Columbia Basin will open for trout fishing April 1, followed by the statewide lowland lake opener April 24.

Here’s more from WDFW’s Weekender:
NORTH PUGET SOUND

With the region’s rivers closed to steelhead fishing, anglers’ attention has turned to salmon in the marine areas of Puget Sound. Anglers fishing Marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet) have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) is closed to salmon fishing.

Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW biologist, said effort has been light in the region and fishing continues to be slow. “There have been a few blackmouth caught, but overall it’s been a real grind for anglers fishing the waters of northern Puget Sound,” he said.

Thiesfeld said the Strait of Juan de Fuca is the better bet for anglers looking to hook a blackmouth – resident chinook. Anglers fishing marine areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) have a daily limit of one chinook.

Meanwhile, a couple of lakes in King County that are open year-round have been planted with catchable-size rainbow trout . Angle and Green lakes each received 10,000 rainbow trout recently. Check out WDFW’s weekly stocking report for catchable trout on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/weekly/index.htm .

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA

The fishery for wild steelhead is peaking on the northern Olympia Peninsula, and blackmouth fishing is still going strong on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Rough seas have slowed the start of the lingcod fishery, but ocean beaches are tentatively scheduled to open March 26 for a weeklong razor clam fishery.

And just in time for spring break, WDFW is stocking several lakes in Mason and Grays Harbor counties with trout – some weighing up to five pounds apiece.

“Fishing opportunities are really picking up throughout the region,” said Ron Warren, regional WDFW fish manager.  “By the end of the month, there should be something for just about everybody who likes to fish or collect shellfish.”

As local schools count down to spring break, WDFW is planting 5,000 catchable-size rainbow trout in Duck Lake, Lake Sylvia and Vance Creek (Elma) Pond #1 in Grays Harbor County.  Lake Nahwatzel, in Mason County, will receive more than 3,000 catchable-size trout and several hundred coastal cutthroat.

Larger trout, averaging three to five pounds each, also will be planted in the four lakes in time for the spring-break fishery. Vance Creek (Elma) Pond #1, south of Elma, will be open from March 29 to April 4 for juvenile fishers, seniors over 70 and WDFW-licensed anglers with disabilities. The other three lakes are open year-round.

“This is a great opportunity for folks to enjoy early-season fishing during local schools’ spring vacations,” said Richard Ereth, a WDFW fish biologist in Montesano.

Ereth noted that a new daily bag limit is in effect this year on Duck Lake and Vance Creek (Elma) Pond #1. The new limit is five fish, including up to two fish over 15 inches.  When bait is used, anglers must stop fishing after the first five fish are landed, regardless of whether the fish are kept or released.

Meanwhile, steelhead anglers continue to catch – and often release – high numbers of wild fish on rivers around the northern Olympic Peninsula.  On the Sol Duc, 63 anglers reported catching 100 wild steelhead (91 released) and eight hatchery fish during a creel check conducted March 12-14.  Elsewhere, success rates ranged from about a fish to two fish for every two rods.

Anglers fishing for blackmouth salmon in the Strait of Juan de Fuca have also continued to rack up good catch rates.  While fishing has generally been slow elsewhere in Puget Sound, 10 anglers checked five fish in Seiku and 27 anglers checked 13 fish at Ediz Hook during a creel survey March 14.

But those hoping to catch lingcod off the south coast haven’t been quite so fortunate.  Heavy seas kept most boats at the dock for several days after marine areas 1-3 opened for lingcod fishing, said Wendy Beeghley, another WDFW fish biologist.  “Based on the latest reports, they may not be able to get out for another week,” she said.

The minimum size for lingcod in marine areas 1-3 south of Cape Alava is 22 inches, with a daily limit of two fish per angler. In Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores), recreational fishing for rockfish or lingcod is not allowed in waters deeper than 30 fathoms. Marine Area 4, north of Cape Alava, remains closed to lingcod fishing until April 16.  Additional information about the lingcod fishery is available on the WDFW Fishing Hotline (360) 902-2500 or online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm/ .

Those eager for the final word about a razor-clam dig at ocean beaches tentatively scheduled March 26-April 1 don’t have to wait much longer.  Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said the results should be available by Friday, March 19 from marine toxin tests required to make sure the clams are safe to eat.

Prospective diggers should be aware that the proposed dig is scheduled to start on evening tides, then switch to morning tides for the final four days, Ayres said.  “The digs planned this month span the seasonal change, when the lowest tides shift from evening to morning hours,” he said. “So digging will be allowed after noon for the first three days of the opening, but will then switch to morning hours starting Monday, March 29.”

Tentative days, tides and beach openings for this month’s dig are:

* Friday, March 26, (4:29 p.m., +0.1) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Kalaloch
* Saturday, March 27, (5:19 p.m., -0.1) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch
* Sunday, March 28, (6:04 p.m., 0.0) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
* Monday, March 29, (6:35 A.M., -0.1) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Tuesday, March 30, (7:22 A.M., -0.7) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Wednesday, March 31, (8:07 A.M., -1.0) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
* Thursday, April 1, (8:52 A.M., -1.0) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON

Spring chinook salmon fishing is starting to pick up on the lower Columbia River, although anglers are still working hard to catch fish.  During a creel survey conducted during the second week of March, checkers counted 86 adult chinook and three steelhead among the 1,103 boat anglers contacted.  Just one chinook and two steelhead were counted among the 196 bank anglers contacted.

“Spring chinook have been striking in fits and starts, but catch rates should start ramping up any day,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.  “Regardless of how big this run turns out to be, fishing will almost certainly improve in the days ahead.”

Hymer said boat anglers, fishing between Cathlamet and Vancouver, have taken most of the springers hooked so far this year.  Lower river stocks – including some lunkers up to 30 pounds – have accounted for about half the catch, although upriver fish have been increasing in number in recent days.  As of mid-March, the fishery was drawing approximately 600-800 boats to the lower Columbia River on weekend days.  Those numbers are also expected to increase along with more fish and hopefully spring-like weather.

“If you put in some time, there’s a good chance you’ll take home a spring chinook,” Hymer said.  “Boat anglers have better odds, because the river’s so low right now.”

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.  Under regulations established by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon, fishing is now open at the following places and times:

* Buoy 10 upstream to the I-5 Bridge: Seven days per week through April 18, except closed Tuesdays in March.
* I-5 Bridge upstream to I-205 Bridge: Three days per week – Thursdays through Saturdays – from March 18 through April 3.
* I-205 Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam (Bank fishing only): Three days per week – Thursdays through Saturdays – from March 18 through April 3.
* Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam: Seven days per week from March 16 through May 31. Bank fishing only from Bonneville Dam upstream to the Tower Island power lines, six miles downstream from The Dalles Dam.

Anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam may retain one adult spring chinook salmon per 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.

Spring chinook fishing opened March 16 on the lower Wind River and at Drano Lake, although Hymer noted that the action won’t pick up there until more fish pass Bonneville Dam.  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 .  Anglers should be aware of several changes in fishing rules on tributaries to the Bonneville Pool:

* Drano Lake: The anti-snag rule was removed March 16.  Starting April 16, fishing around the outlet of Drano Lake will be limited to bank fishing west of a line projected from the eastern-most pillar of the Highway 14 Bridge to a posted marker on the north shore.
* Wind River: The anti-snag rule has been removed from the mouth upstream to the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge.
* Klickitat River:  Starting April 3, anglers fishing from the Fisher Hill Bridge downstream will be able to retain two hatchery chinook, hatchery steelhead or one of each as part of their daily limit.  Fishing will be open four days per week – Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Below Bonneville, spring chinook are starting to make an appearance in several tributaries, although late-run hatchery winter steelhead continue to make up the bulk of the catch on the Cowlitz and Kalama rivers.  At the Cowlitz Hatchery, 24 adult spring chinook and 225 winter-run steelhead were recovered during the second week of March.  A creel survey that week on the Cowlitz turned up 17 hatchery steelhead and one adult chinook among 44 boat anglers.  Eighty-eight bank anglers had caught 14 hatchery steelhead and released two others.

The odds of catching hatchery steelhead were even better that week on the Kalama River, where 12 boat anglers had caught five fish and released three others.  “Fishing for late-run hatchery steelhead is peaking right now, providing a great fishing opportunity as more spring chinook move into the rivers,” said Hymer, noting that anglers have also been catching some steelhead in The Dalles Pool.

Anglers should be aware, however, that March 15 was the last day to fish for steelhead on Abernathy, Cedar (Clark Co.), Germany, Mill (Cowlitz Co.), Rock (Skamania Co.), Salmon (Clark Co.) creeks and on the Coweeman, Elochoman, Grays, East Fork Lewis and Washougal rivers.

Meanwhile, sturgeon fishing has been slow, although boat anglers have been catching some legal-size fish in the Kalama area as well as in The Dalles Pool, where walleye fishing is starting to heat up along with the weather.  Boat anglers fishing there have been averaging a walleye per rod, along with some bass .

Trout anglers should know that WDFW recently stocked Battleground Lake with 3,000 rainbow trout averaging half-a-pound apiece.  Nine recycled winter steelhead were also planted in Kress Lake on March 10.

EASTERN WASHINGTON

The Grand Ronde River, a tributary of the Snake River in the southeast corner of the region, is providing good steelhead trout action. Steelheading has been reportedly excellent near the mouth of the Grand Ronde and near the mouth of Cottonwood Creek, which flows into the Grand Ronde northeast of Troy, Oregon.

The seven impoundments off the Tucannon River on WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County, which opened March 1, continue to produce catches of hatchery rainbow trout . Beaver, Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring and Watson lakes have been stocked with “catchable-size” (about one-third pound) and “jumbo” (about one-and-a-half pound) trout from the Tucannon and Lyons Ferry fish hatcheries.

WDFW fish biologist Chris Donley of Spokane says some of the March 1-opening waters in the central district are also seeing good action on rainbow trout.  Notable are Amber, Downs, Liberty and Medical lakes in Spokane County. Liberty and Downs recently received more catchable-size hatchery rainbows (see the WDFW Trout Plants at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/weekly/   for details).

Downs Lake, on the Spokane-Lincoln county line east of Sprague, is also already providing catches of largemouth bass .  Liberty and Medical lakes are also producing catches of brown trout .

Year-round fisheries at Sprague Lake, on the Lincoln-Adams county line, and Rock Lake in Whitman County, remain good, Donley said. Sprague is all rainbows and Rock has both rainbows and browns.

Donley also noted Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam, is good for rainbows and kokanee , “if you can find the fish.”

The region’s winter-season fisheries in Stevens County – Williams and Hatch lakes near Colville – offer completely open water fishing for stocked rainbows for the rest of the month. Both close March 31.

Anglers can also pick up lots of information at the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council’s 50th annual Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show , March 18 – 21, at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center. An indoor kids’ fishing pond, where youngsters can learn to cast and actually catch trout to take home and eat, is one of the highlights of this event.  A non-profit organization, the Council donates proceeds from the show to fish and wildlife projects. For more information about the show, see http://www.wildlifecouncil.com/ .

NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON

Over 30 waters in the Columbia Basin lakes open to fishing April 1 and WDFW district fish biologist Chad Jackson says prospects are fair to good.

“With one exception, all these waters are located either within or adjacent to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge south of Potholes Reservoir,” Jackson said.  “Over half are planted with spring and/or fall rainbow trout fry. Although most are in need of rehabilitation to rid them of competing fish species, nice sized trout can be found in many, including Upper and Lower Hampton lakes, North and South Teal lakes, and the Pillar-Widgeon chain of lakes.”

Jackson notes that anglers who plan on fishing the refuge area lakes, especially the hike-in ones, should remember that – with the unseasonably warm weather the Columbia Basin has been experiencing the past month – rattlesnakes may be out earlier and in greater numbers than normal.

Dry Falls Lake, which also opens April 1, is 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 very well 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.

“Some of the Columbia Refuge area lakes also offer excellent fishing for warmwater species,” Jackson said.  “Probably the best opportunity is at 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.

Further north in the region, steelhead fishing in the upper Columbia River above Wells Dam is scheduled to close one hour after sunset on March 31.

“Steelheading can be very good during the month of March as fish become more active due to warming water temperatures,” said WDFW district fish biologist Bob Jateff of Twisp.  “Remember, there is mandatory retention of hatchery adipose-fin-clipped fish up to the maximum daily limit of four steelhead.  And since March 15, there are two section closures on the Okanogan River – one is from the first power line crossing near Coulee Dam Credit Union Building in Omak upstream to the mouth of Omak Creek, and the second one is from the Tonasket Bridge on 4th Street downstream to the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch.  Selective gear rules are in effect for the Okanogan, Similkameen and Methow rivers.”

Several Okanogan County lakes open to fishing April 1.  Jateff says Spectacle Lake, southwest of Tonasket, should produce catches of yearling rainbow trout up to 12 inches, with carryover fish to 15 inches.  Washburn Island Pond, a diked oxbow of the Columbia River near Fort Okanogan State Park, mostly produces largemouth bass with some bluegill available.

Other waters opening on April 1 for catch-and-release fishing are Davis and Campbell lakes near Winthrop, Rat Lake near Brewster and Big and Little Green lakes near Omak.  Predominant species for these lakes are rainbow trout.

“Anglers planning to fish the Winthrop area lakes — Davis and Campbell — should check first as the ice may not be completely melted by the opener,” Jateff said.

SOUTHCENTRAL

WDFW district fish biologist Eric Anderson of Yakima says fishing is still good in the region’s year-round-open lakes.

“We just stocked more hatchery rainbow trout in I-82 Ponds 1, 2 and 3 near Yakima,” he said. “About 2,500 one-third-pounders went into each of those waters this week. More will go into other waters in the region by the end of this month or early next month.”

See the WDFW website for weekly catchable-size trout stocking details at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/weekly/ .

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

“Fantastic steelhead fishing on the Wallowa, Grande Ronde and Imnaha rivers continues,” reports ODFW, but don’t overlook spring break trout stocking in Willamette Valley ponds.

Here are more highlights from ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Winter steelhead fishing has been good on the North Umpqua. Through the end of January over 2,500 winter steelhead had crossed Winchester Dam – one of the highest counts in the last 10 year. Remember only fin-clipped steelhead can be harvested.
  • Many area lakes and reservoirs are being stocked this week in anticipation of Spring Break.
  • March is an excellent month to fish for steelhead in the Elk and Sixes rivers.
  • Anglers have caught some early-season spring chinook in the lower Rogue River and the chinook season will continue to build into April.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Nestucca River: Steelhead angling should be 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.
  • Trask River: Steelhead angling is fair to good. Fish are spread out through the river, including the forks. A few hatchery fish are being caught, but expect more wild fish in the catch as the season goes on. River levels rose last weekend, so fresh fish should be moving in.
  • Wilson River: 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. Good numbers of fresh fish should be entering the system.

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.
  • Trout stocking gets into full swing this week at sites throughout the Willamette Valley.

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 will be stocked with rainbow trout this week.
  • 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 should be available in increasing numbers on the lower Columbia for boat and bank anglers.
  • Legal-sized sturgeon are being caught by 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.

Columbia River Fishing Report

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE)

Salmonid angler effort decreased slightly in the lower Columbia River this past weekend with 603 boats and 183 Oregon bank anglers counted on Saturday’s (3/13) flight.  Catch rates for spring chinook are improving, and should get much better in the coming weeks.

Gorge Bank & Boat:

Weekend checking showed no catch for 11 bank anglers.

Troutdale Boats:

Weekend checking showed three adipose fin-clipped spring chinook kept and two unclipped spring chinook released for 29 boats (62 anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank:

Weekend checking showed no catch for 61 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boat:

Weekend checking showed nine adipose fin-clipped spring chinook and one adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus three unclipped spring chinook released for 100 boats (241 anglers).

Estuary Bank:

Weekend checking showed no catch for three bank anglers.

Estuary Boat:

Weekend checking showed 20 adipose fin-clipped spring chinook and one adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept for 41 boats (93 anglers).

Bonneville Pool:

No report.

The Dalles Pool:

Weekly checking showed one adipose fin-clipped steelhead kept, plus four unclipped steelhead released for 20 bank anglers.

John Day Pool (Columbia River above John Day Dam and John Day Arm):

No report.

STURGEON:

Gorge Bank:

Weekend checking showed eight legal white sturgeon kept, plus one legal, one oversize, and 21 sublegal sturgeon released for 33 bank anglers.

Gorge Boats:

No report. Effort has been very light.

Troutdale Boats:

Weekend checking showed no catch for four boats (13 anglers).

Portland to Longview Bank:

Weekend checking showed no catch for 12 bank anglers.

Portland to Longview Boats:

Weekend checking showed no catch for three boats (nine 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 27 bank anglers; and four legal white sturgeon kept, plus three oversize, and 122 sublegal sturgeon released for 10 boats (29 anglers).

John Day Pool Boat and Bank:

Closed for retention. No report.

WALLEYE:

Troutdale Boats:

Weekend checking showed no catch for one boat (one angler).

Bonneville Pool Boats:

No report.

The Dalles Pool Boats:

Weekly checking showed no catch for five bank anglers; and 14 walleye kept, plus three walleye released for 10 boats (21 anglers).

John Day Pool Boats:

No report.

Spokane Sportsmen Form Backcountry Advocacy Group

Rich Landers details a pair of Spokane sportsmen who’ve formed the Washington chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, a group that establishes — in the Spokesman-Review reporter’s words — “a sportsman’s voice for protecting roadless areas and the traditions they uphold.”

Joe Mirasole and Jeff Holmes say they’re nonpartisan, don’t care what religious views you hold, don’t discriminate between fly guys and bait soakers and have no position on the wolves.

“Those are all distractions from the fundamentals of protecting roadless areas for wildlife and for our kids,” Mirasole tells Landers.

Imagine that in this overly politicized era.

ODFW Closed This Friday

It’s a workday, but ODFW will be closed for business this Friday.

It’s the third of ten furlough days for agency employees as well as those working for numerous other departments as Oregon deals with reduced revenues.

According to The Oregonian, the state saves two million bucks a day when its 26,000-plus workers stay home.

Not everyone’s staying home. The State Patrol will still be out, “prisons remain staffed; courts will operate as usual. And, yes, state liquor stores will keep their regular hours,” reporter Michelle Cole writes.

Estacada Elk Shooter Sought

(OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE)

Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division troopers are asking for the public’s help to identify the suspect(s) responsible for illegally shooting and leaving an elk wounded east of Estacada over the weekend.

According to OSP Sergeant Chris Allori, on March 13, 2010 at approximately 5:45 p.m. OSP Fish & Wildlife troopers Ken Moore and Matthew Fromme responded to a report of an injured elk along Squaw Mountain Road about two miles north of Highway 224.    When they arrived at the scene they found the shot elk alive, lying on the ground and unable to get up.

The troopers had to kill the elk at the scene.  They transported the elk to Shy Ann Meats in Oregon City for processing and subsequent donation to the Portland Rescue Mission.  The donated elk meat is estimated at over 300 pounds.

No suspect(s) have been identified.  Anyone with information is asked to call the Turn In Poacher (TIP) line at (800) 452-7888 or Senior Trooper Ken Moore at (503) 731-3020 ext. 423.

The Oregon Hunter’s Association is offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.

UPDATE MARCH 18, 2010: THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE U.S. AND THE HUMANE SOCIETY WILDLIFE LAND TRUST HAVE ADDED $2,500 TO THE REWARD OFFER.

North-Central WA Fishing Report

(ANTON JONES, DARRELL & DAD’S GUIDE SERVICE)

What’s hottest is the trench bite for Mackinaw on Lake Chelan.  Also hot is the troll bite on Roses Lake for planter Rainbows and Tiger Trout.  And finally, the Upper Columbia Steelhead bite has been spectacular when it’s on.

On Lake Chelan, we have been doing best in the lower basin from Rocky Point down to Pat and Mike’s.  The most productive lure has been the venerable Worden Lures U20 luminous chartreuse flatfish on the downriggers.  We also like flatfish off the outrigger rods, but it has been the little F7 in purple glow that has scored on the biggest fish of the day.  Speeds of 1.3 to 1.6 mph will generate the most bites.  The best of this bite has been from about 8:30AM to Noon.  It is a classic “bankers bite”.

Roses Lake boat anglers have been having some of the best surface trolling that you are ever going to see for Rainbow and Tiger Trout.  They will eagerly bite a trolled or cast 1/8 ounce Worden’s Lures Roostertail.  A Mack’s Lures baited wedding ring will produce fish too, sans attractor.  Also, green and black wooly buggers and muddlers in sizes from 8 to 1/0 with an action disk by wiggle fin in front are effective.  Fish for these guys with 4 pound test line on light tackle.  Put a ¼ ounce sinker in front of them just to get your presentation below the surface.  You too, will call these rainbows, mini-marlin.

GUIDE AL BROOKS WITH A ROSES LAKE LIMIT. (DARRELL & DAD'S GUIDE SERVICE)

The Upper Columbia Steelhead fishing continues to be good on Lake Pateros using baited quarter ounce Rock Dancer jigs from Mack’s Lures.  Frankly, some days are better than others.  See this week’s pictures for a shot of 10 of the 22 steelhead brought to the boat on one of the days during this reporting period.  The season will close March 31st.

UPPER COLUMBIA STEELHEAD. (DARRELL & DAD'S GUIDE SERVICE)

Your fishing tip of the week is to test those knots before putting them in the water.  It is disappointing to lose a fish to a bad knot.

Your kid’s tip of the week is to fit those lifejackets so they are comfortable.  That will alleviate a lot of fussing and their tendency to remove them.

The safety tip of the week is a simple but often overlooked one.  Remember to pull some line so you have slack before fooling around with your hooks or lures.  Hanging on to them with tension on the line can create an excellent hookset, in a body part.  I’ve seen it happen to loads of fingers and one very memorable nose…

OR Halibut Seasons, Sturgeon Protections Approved

(OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Halibut fishing opens in May

The Commission approved a suite of halibut fishing seasons off the Oregon coast recommended by ODFW’s marine staff based in Newport. The largest and most popular halibut fishery is a 200-mile all-depths section of the coast between Cape Falcon near Manzanita and Humbug Mountain south of Port Orford. For this area, the Commission approved a nine-day spring halibut season and a 14-day fall season. The spring season will take place May 13-15, May 20-22 and June 3-5, with extra back-up dates of June 17-19, July 1-3, July 15-17, and July 29-31 available as long as the total catch does not exceed 105,948 pounds. The fall recreational halibut fishing season will take place every other Friday and Saturday from Aug. 6 to Oct. 30 or until the sub-area all-depth catch limit of 141,265 pounds of halibut is harvested. The near-shore season, for ocean waters inside the 40 fathom line, will be open seven days a week from May 1 until Oct. 31 or until the harvest quota of 12,284 pounds is achieved.

North of Cape Falcon, off the coast near Astoria and north to Leadbetter Point in Washington state, sport halibut fishing will be open three days a week, Thursday – Saturday, through July 18 or until 9,405 pounds of halibut is harvested. The summer season in this area will open three days a week, Friday-Sunday, from Aug. 6 through Sept. 27 or the total harvest reaches 13,436 pounds. On the Oregon coast south of Humbug Mountain, halibut fishing will be open seven days a week, through Oct. 31.

The statewide daily bag limit on halibut is one fish, with an annual limit of six fish.

The 2010 harvest limits are 15 percent lower than last year and were set by the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

New measures aim to protect sturgeon

The Commission dealt with several measures designed to protect the state’s sturgeon populations, which have been showing some signs of distress.

Commissioners adopted a statewide ban on green sturgeon, established a new white sturgeon sanctuary in the Willamette River, and extended an existing white sturgeon sanctuary in the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam.

The new Willamette River sturgeon sanctuary extends from the Willamette Falls about two miles downstream to the I-205 Bridge. The revised Columbia River sturgeon sanctuary begins at Bonneville Dam and continues downstream to the upstream end of Skamania Island at River Marker #82. Sturgeon fishing will be prohibited in both sanctuaries May 1 – Aug. 31, during sturgeon spawning season. Fishing for other species such as salmon, steelhead and shad will still be allowed inside the sanctuaries during the sturgeon fishing closure.

The Commission also closed a bank fishing site below Willamette Falls known as the “Oregon City Wall” out of concern that 40-foot cliffs in the area pose a risk to the safe release of sturgeon caught from the bank in this area. The closure takes effect April 1. The closure area is approximately 300 feet downstream of the Oregon City/West Linn Bridge (Hwy.43) extending upstream approximately 1,700 feet. Boat fishing in this area will still be allowed.

Ocean Salmon Fishing Options Out

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Anglers fishing along the Washington coast will see an increase in catch quotas for chinook salmon this summer, although harvest guidelines for coho will be lower than seasons adopted last year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

Three ocean salmon-fishing options approved today by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) anticipate a strong return of chinook along the Washington coast bound for the Columbia River this summer. But the three options also point to a decrease from last year in Columbia River coho returns.

“These options are designed to meet our conservation objectives for wild chinook and coho salmon,” said Phil Anderson, WDFW director. “Using these options as a framework, we will work with stakeholders on the coast and Washington’s inside waters to develop a final fishing package that provides fishing opportunities on healthy salmon runs while meeting our conservation goals for weak salmon populations.”

The PFMC, which establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast, last year adopted recreational ocean fishing quotas of 20,500 chinook and 176,400 coho salmon. This year’s recreational ocean options are:

* Option 1 – 55,000 chinook and 92,400 coho;
* Option 2 – 47,500 chinook and 75,600 coho; and
* Option 3 – 40,000 chinook and 58,800 coho.

Nearly 653,000 fall chinook are forecasted to return to the Columbia River this season, about 234,000 more chinook than the number returning last year. The increased numbers represent strong returns to Spring Creek and other Columbia River hatcheries, which traditionally have been the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery.

“The expected abundance of hatchery chinook salmon should allow fishery managers to structure seasons that enhance fishing opportunities for chinook in the ocean and the Columbia River this year,” Anderson said.

Under Option 1, the PFMC proposed a recreational salmon fishing season this summer that would get under way June 12 in all ocean areas with mark-selective fisheries for hatchery chinook. The selective fishery would run from June 12-30 or until 19,000 hatchery chinook are retained.

Selective fisheries allow anglers to catch and keep abundant hatchery salmon, which are marked with a missing adipose fin, but require that they release wild salmon. If implemented, the mark-selective fishery would be the first in Washington’s ocean waters for hatchery chinook.

For nearly a decade, the mass marking of hatchery-produced coho salmon has allowed anglers to fish selectively for coho in Washington’s ocean waters. Mass marking of lower Columbia River hatchery chinook – known as “tules” – has been under way since the mid-2000s and the PFMC is considering using this management tool in ocean fisheries for chinook, Anderson said.

Under Option 2, recreational salmon fishing would begin June 19 in all ocean areas for both hatchery and wild chinook salmon. That fishery would run through June 30 or until 7,000 chinook are retained. Option 2 does not include a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in the ocean this year.

Starting in early July, retention of chinook, as well as hatchery coho, would be allowed under both options 1 and 2.

Under Option 3, recreational chinook and hatchery coho salmon fisheries would begin June 27 in marine areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) and June 29 in marine areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay). Like Option 2, this option does not include a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in the ocean this year.

While the chinook forecast is up, the Columbia River coho return is expected to be down this year. Nearly 390,000 Columbia River coho are projected to make their way along Washington’s coast this summer, compared to one million coho in 2009 – the largest return in nearly decade.

“This year’s Columbia River coho run, which is well below last year’s return, will challenge fishery managers to develop meaningful fishing opportunities while still meeting our conservation goals for coho,” Anderson said.

As in the past, all three ocean options are based on mark-selective fisheries for hatchery coho salmon.

Chinook and coho quotas approved by the PFMC will be part of a comprehensive 2010 salmon fishing package, which includes marine and freshwater fisheries throughout Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington’s coastal areas. State and tribal co-managers are currently developing those fisheries.

The co-managers will complete the final 2010 salmon fisheries package in conjunction with the PFMC process during its April meeting.

Meanwhile, public meetings are scheduled in March and early April to discuss regional fisheries issues. A public hearing on the three options for ocean salmon fisheries is scheduled for March 29 in Westport.

Fishery managers will consider input from the regional discussions during the “North of Falcon” process, which involves planning for fishing seasons in Washington’s waters. Two public North of Falcon meetings are scheduled for March 16 in Olympia and April 6 in Lynnwood. Both meetings will begin at 9 a.m.

More information about the salmon-season setting process, as well as a schedule of public meetings and salmon run-size forecasts, can be found on WDFW’s North of Falcon website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/northfalcon/ ).