Category Archives: Headlines

Hunter Orange Requirement Coming To OR?

Mark Freeman reports that the tragic death of an 15-year-old shot by his uncle while hunting earlier this month appears to be sparking the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Commission to consider implementing a hunter-orange requirement beginning in 2011.

“I’ve hunted in several other states where orange is required, and I’ve never understood why it wasn’t required here,” commissioner Dan Edge told Freeman, a reporter for the Medford Mail-Tribune, adding, “We should go through the public process to see what the hunters think about it. But it’s a pretty compelling argument: Almost everyone killed out there isn’t wearing hunter orange.”

Matthew Gretzon was the young man who was killed. Wearing camouflage, the Salem youth was shot in thick brush while elk hunting Dec. 6 south of Grand Ronde in Yamhill County.

Not everyone agrees with mandatory orange, including the head of the Oregon Hunters Association, Duane Dungannon.

“No one wants to belittle the tragedy, but at the same time, you need to keep some perspective,” Dungannon tells Freeman, adding, “All these incidents could be avoided by showing better judgment in the field. You can’t legislate common sense.”

Freeman points to limited data that indicates hunters who don’t wear camo are more likely to be shot than those who do, and that big game can’t see orange anyway. He says the commission will take comment on the issue in May.

Multnomah Sticker Shock

Allen Thomas of The Columbian details the surprise Washington-side springer anglers will be in for when they dip their boats into the Multnomah Channel in 2010.

Evergreen Staters will now have to buy a new $22 invasive species stamp to fish in the slough on the west side of Sauvie Island.

“So, add the new $22 fee for non-residents to the $106.26 non-resident fishing license fee and $26.50 angling harvest tag and you get a total of $154.75 for Washington anglers who boat into Oregon,” Thomas writes.

While he reports Northwest Sportsman advertiser Jack Glass says that Oregon’s rolling out the not-welcome mat for Washingtonians, a Marine Board spokeswoman says enforcement will begin with warnings before citations.

The new fee is to “will be used to implement a new program involving voluntary boat inspections, decontamination of infected boats and education to stop the spread of unwanted species,” Thomas reports.

Sulfite-heavy Egg Cures Said To Kill Young Salmonids

UPDATED 12-17: Laboratory testing shows that when you feed young salmon and steelhead eggs cured in some bait products that contain sodium sulfites, some die.

So says a study by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and Oregon State University released Wednesday afternoon and sure to stir up the industry.

“Specific mortality levels varied among products and ranged from 0 to 30 percent,” a press release from ODFW says.

While the work has not yet been formally peer reviewed, egg-cure makers are said to be committed to solving the problem, according to ODFW.

No company’s products are mentioned by name, but Scott Amerman of Amerman’s Eggs was briefing anglers on Ifish about it. He writes:

The tests have shown that hatchery raised smolts whose diet is changed to 100% cured eggs (egg cures high in sodium sulfite) have shown mortalityin some smolts in a small hatchery basin test. As of so far we have no idea how this translates to the real world and if smolts in the wild suffer these same effects. It is very unlikely that any fish in the wild will ever be forced to eat 100% eggs only.

Eggs are among the most effective baits for steelhead, Chinook and coho, and are used numerous ways — drift-fished, under a bobber, plunked, back-trolled, with a diver, etc. Anglers use cures to make their eggs last longer on the hook, and to change its color and texture. Prawns are also cured.

According to ODFW, a random sample of commercially available cures were tested. Researchers found that “some juvenile fish died after ingesting some brands. Specific mortality levels varied among products and ranged from 0 to 30 percent. In a second round of studies at OSU, researchers identified sodium sulfite as the ingredient causing the fish to die.”

The investigation was sparked in 2008 “by a group of anglers who were concerned that some of these cured eggs may be toxic to juvenile salmon.”

According to an email sent by Rob Russell last night to the heads of three Northwest fishing magazines and the operator of a popular chat board, as well as posted online on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog, Western Oregon salmon, steelhead and trout fly fishing guide Jeff Mishler is cited as the angler who approached ODFW with concerns.

Mishler is quoted as saying:

“I had heard stories of trout dying from eating cured eggs. Then one day while I was bobber fishing with my Dad, I noticed swarms of young-of-the-year steelhead pecking at our baits. Then we noticed the shoreline. Bait anglers had disposed of their old bait along the beach, creating a fuzzy pink margin along the river bank. Baby steelhead were eating them like crazy, and cutthroat hung behind waiting for an easy meal. It suddenly occurred to me that the poisons in cured eggs could be having serious impacts.”

Sulfites became a common ingredient in egg cures in the 1980s, says ODFW. However, the agency says that it can’t extrapolate the data to say if sulfites have a “significant effect on the overall health of salmon and steelhead populations.”

A study summary reads:

“The researchers initially tested the effects of 4 or 5 commercially available cures in a laboratory setting. This represents a limited sample of the commercially available cures. The cured eggs were fed to groups of juvenile chinook and steelhead held in tanks over a period of 23 days. The researchers also examined whether there were any differences among pre-smolts (juvenile salmon or steelhead that have not yet reached the physiological state known as a smolt) and smolts (juvenile salmon that are undergoing physiological changes to migrate from fresh to salt water). Mortality was assessed following each feeding and all dead fish were autopsied.

The results of these experiments confirmed that some of the commercially available cures caused mortality in both steelhead and chinook juveniles (Figs. 1 and 2). In any given tank mortality ranged from 0-30% during the 23 day period. However, researchers also found that there was considerable variability in the individual sensitivity of the juvenile fish. Some fish died after apparently eating a single egg whereas most were able to persist after 23 day of (presumably) consuming the eggs.

The researchers then focused on determining the likely cause of this mortality. Based on a list of ingredients supplied by several of the manufacturers, sodium sulfite was identified as the most likely cause. Researchers tested this by removing the sodium sulfite from two of the cures that were used in the first round of experiments. Groups of fish were fed eggs that were cured with or without the inclusion of sodium sulfite in the cure. Mortality was again recorded daily. Removal of sodium sulfite appeared to eliminate the mortality (Fig. 3). To confirm this, the researchers also injected cured eggs directly into the stomach (to ensure consumption of a known amount). Injection of eggs cured with sodium sulfite caused 30-35% mortality within a 10 day period. Removal of sodium sulfite eliminated the mortality (0%).

Researchers also tested whether the effect could be minimized by pre-soaking the eggs prior to feeding, as might occur in the wild. The cured eggs were soaked for 0, 30, or 60 seconds, or 10 minutes prior to feeding. There was no difference in mortality for the pre-soaked eggs as compared to the unsoaked eggs.

Conclusions. Based on these results the researchers concluded that some commercially available cures caused elevated mortality in juvenile chinook and steelhead. The mortality is most likely cause by the inclusion of higher levels of sodium sulfite in the cures. It is also highly likely that fish that consume these particular cures in the wild will respond similarly. However, we have no data to suggest that this may be significant at a population level.

ODFW Deputy Administrator of Inland Fisheries Bruce McIntosh says the agency is talking with several of the product manufacturers to address the issue.

“Our emphasis will be on informing anglers, guides and other manufacturers about the risks sulfites pose to juvenile fish,” he says in the press release.

Amerman, the bait-cure maker, adds this advice:

Be aware that there will be groups out there that will want to take these preliminary test results to push for total bait bans or to prove a great impact by the sports fisherman rather than waiting for continued testing to see if these results translate over to the wild which right now no one knows. For now what we as fisherman can do is avoid throwing your fished out baits back in the water after you change it. Small salmon and steelhead are much more likely to eat the small discarded bait chunks than the larger bait chunks many people fish. Discarding any used cured eggs in a safe manor instead of back into the water until more testing is done will be a safer alternative either way for now.

And in bolded text he declares:

Please know that if something in our products is significantly impacting juvenile salmon in the wild, then we the cure companies will whole heartedly take on the responsibility to change these ingredients, the way they are used and hopefully regulated.

Adds Mishler: “The smart manufacturers will simply design new cures that are not poisonous to our fish … Anglers want to do the right thing, and will undoubtedly move toward products that are safe for salmon.”

That said, to some it’s just another example of “death by a thousand cuts,” as Auntie M on piscatorialpursuits wrote. This year, loon advocates proposed a partial ban on lead fishing weights on a dozen lakes in Washington, which some took to mean the beginning of a wholesale attack on the cheapest, best way for anglers to target moving and stillwater species.

Then again, as other anglers have noted, there’s always good ol’ borax for curing eggs.

Sauk Catch-and-Release Steel A No-go?

I heard rumbling a couple weeks ago that my favorite spring wild steelhead fishery, the Sauk, probably would be a no-go in 2010, and a press release this morning from WDFW seems to confirm that.

In an announcement that the meat of the Cascade River was closing Dec. 19 due to a low return of steelhead, there’s also word on the popular catch-and-release seasons for nates on the Skagit and Sauk.

ANGLERS WORK SOME OF THE SAUK'S "LUMBERYARDS" FOR BIG NATIVE STEELHEAD AS WHITEHORSE MOUNTAIN LOOKS ON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

“Because pre-season forecasts for steelhead returns to the Skagit River Basin are down this year, additional fishing closures to protect wild steelhead also are likely this spring,” statewide steelhead manager Bob Leland is quoted as saying.

“Catch-and-release fisheries in the Skagit and Sauk rivers are among those fisheries that likely will not open next spring,” the press release continues.

(REEL DEAL GUIDE SERVICE)

Both Snohomish/Skagit county streams are known for their muscular wild steelies and generally good access. Anglers can do well with everything from spoons to jigs to rubber worms.

The Cascade will be closed from its mouth up to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge until Feb. 1; the hatchery is immediately downstream of the bridge.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Here’s what’s been fishin’ around Western Oregon, according to ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Winter steelhead are starting to appear in many rivers and creeks, including the Chetco, Coos, Coquille, Rogue, Umpqua and Tenmile. Look for fishing to pick up after some good rain helps get fish moving.
  • Warning, thin ice conditions exist on many of the ponds and reservoirs in the Rogue River basin. Anglers should use caution.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Large brood trout were released this week in Huddleston Pond in Yamhill County. 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 onset of warmer weather and precipitation should provide a boost to winter steelhead fishing in the lower Willamette, Clackamas and Sandy rivers.
  • Sturgeon fishing is fair on the lower Willamette River.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • ALSEA RIVER: Winter steelhead are starting to return. This week’s change in weather should move more fish into the river. Best opportunities during the early season are in the mid to lower river. Fall chinook fishing is slow.
  • BIG CREEK: The stream is low and clear, and very cold. Winter steelhead fishing is very slow. Don’t expect fishing to improve until more rain arrives. This small stream is a good bet early in the season. Bobber and jig, spinners, or baits drifted along the bottom all will produce fish.
  • GNAT CREEK: A few early winter steelhead are in the stream, but angling conditions have been poor in the low, clear and cold water. This is a good early season, small stream opportunity. Use light gear and be stealthy when approaching holding water on this small stream, especially after extended dry periods when water levels are low and the stream is clear. There is good access near the hatchery.
  • KILCHIS RIVER:The river is very low and clear. A few chinook were caught after the last high water, but fishing is now very poor. Many fish are close to spawning and should be released. A few early winter steelhead are being caught. Fish low in the system with light gear until more rains raise the river. Bobber and small jigs are ideal in these conditions.
  • KLASKANINE RIVER AND NORTH FORK KLASKANINE: A few early winter steelhead are available in the system. Look for fishing to improve steadily over the next few weeks when angling conditions change. More rain is needed to raise the stream to good, fishable levels. Use light gear and approach holes carefully to avoid spooking fish.
  • NECANICUM RIVER: A few early winter steelhead are available in the lower river. The river is very low, with clear water and cold temperatures.
  • NEHALEM RIVER AND NORTH FORK NEHALEM RIVER: A few winter steelhead are available in the north fork up to and even above the hatchery. Most fish are holding in the lower river while flows are low. The entire Nehalem Basin is closed to chinook angling for the remainder of 2009.
  • NESTUCCA RIVER AND THREE RIVERS: Steelhead angling is slow, but will improve when conditions become more conducive to angling. The water is clear and cold. A few early hatchery winter steelhead have been trapped and recycled from Cedar Creek Hatchery. Chinook angling in the river is very slow. Fish the deeper holding water low in the system for best chances of hooking bright fish.
  • SALMON RIVER: The winter steelhead run in just getting underway. Fair to good numbers of wild winter steelhead should return this season. Anglers should use small baits/lures during the cold and clear river conditions this week. Fall chinook angling is slow. Most chinook have moved up river and are actively spawning.
  • SILETZ RIVER: Winter steelhead are returning to the Siletz. Warmer rain events this week should help to move more fish up river. Chinook angling is slow. Anglers are reminded that the chinook angling deadline has been lowered to Morgan Park and are asked to not target or harass spawning chinook.
  • SIUSLAW RIVER: Some winter steelhead are being caught in the lower sections of the Siulsaw and Lake Creek. This weeks warmer wet weather should move more fish into the system. Chinook catches are slow. Most chinook have or are actively spawning.
  • TILLAMOOK BAY: Angling for sturgeon improved after recent high waters, but slowed as water levels receded and colder temperatures set in. Concentrate on the channel edges on the outgoing tides, with sand shrimp the preferred bait.
  • TRASK RIVER:Steelhead angling is beginning to improve as a few more fish enter the river. Fall chinook are available, but angling is slow. Some bright fish are being caught, but many are dark and should be released. Construction of a new boat slide at the Cedar Creek launch site has been completed and is ready for use. Contact ODFW in Tillamook at 503-842-2741 for details.
  • WILSON RIVER: Steelhead angling has slowed with the low, clear water. Low flows will cause most fish to hold up in the lower river until we get more rain. Chinook angling is very slow. Many fish are close to spawning and should be released. For both species, fish the slower, quieter water until the river rises and warms ups. Lighter gear fished slowly should produce the best results.
  • YAQUINA RIVER: The winter steelhead run is just getting underway. Small numbers of steelhead have moved into the lower river. Look for the next good rain event to push more fish in. Chinook angling is slow. Most fish have or are actively spawning.

map

Welcome to the ODFW
Recreation Reports
Northwest Zone

Fishing | Hunting | Viewing

FISHING

Attention anglers: Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, you will need an Aquatic Species Prevention Permit for your drift boat, canoe or inflatable pontoon boat over 10 feet long. Permits are transferable to other non-motorized boats, but each boat on the water needs a permit. Permits go on sale Dec. 1 wherever ODFW licenses are sold and online. For more information see the news release.

The fall chinook season is nearly over. Many fish are spawning, or are ripe and are about to spawn. Anglers are urged to release fish that are in this condition. Even fish that appear bright can be in spawning condition, and make low quality table fare. Look for soft, rounded bellies on females as a sign of loose eggs and readiness to spawn. Let these fish spawn to help improve future returns.

NORTH COAST LAKES

Trout stocking is complete for 2009. Trout stocking will resume in March.

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.
MID COAST LAKES
SILTCOOS LAKE

The lake coho fishery should pick up this week with the recent warming trend and rain. Many fish holding in the lake are colored up and getting ready to spawn. Slowly trolling or casting spinners or other lures seems to be the most productive. Anglers may retain one wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho and one 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 picking up with the recent change in weather. Most fish in the lake are in spawning colors. Trolling or casting spinners or other lures at a slow retrieve seems to be the most productive. Anglers may retain one wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho and one jack coho per day. There is a seasonal limit of five wild (non-adipose fin clip) adult coho per year.

WARM WATER FISH ANGLING OPPORTUNITIES

The mid coast has numerous lakes or reservoirs which offer good angling for naturally produced warm water fish species, such as large mouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, brown bullhead and crappie. Typically the best fishing is from late spring to mid fall while water temperatures are warm. Tactics such as casting or trolling lures, jigging baits near bottom or using the traditional bait and bobber technique are all productive from either a boat or from shore. Below is a list of lakes near local coastal cities that offer warm water angling opportunities.

Devils Lake (Lincoln City): Offers good trout fishing and provides some angling opportunity for largemouth bass, yellow perch and bluegill.

Big Creek Reservoirs 1 & 2 (Newport): Offers fair largemouth bass fishing, slow to fair angling for yellow perch and bluegill and good year-round angling for rainbow and cutthroat trout.

Olalla Reservoir (Toledo): Offers fair largemouth bass fishing, slow to fair angling for yellow perch, bluegill and brown bullhead and good year-round angling for rainbow and cutthroat trout.

Sutton and Mercer Lakes (northern Florence): Fair to good angling for largemouth bass and decent angling for bluegill, and potential for crappie and brown bullhead. Offers year-round rainbow and cutthroat trout fishing.

Woahink Lake (southern Florence): Can be good to very good for yellow perch and offers fair to good angling for largemouth bass and bluegill.

Siltcoos Lake (south of Florence): A large lake with numerous fingers, lots of shoreline structure and a couple large tributaries. Offers fair to good angling for largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch and brown bullhead. There is good year-round rainbow and cutthroat trout fishing and a good seasonal fishery for coho salmon.

Tahkenitch Lake (south of Florence): A large lake with numerous fingers, lots of shoreline structure and a couple large tributaries. It offers good angling for largemouth bass and yellow perch, and fair to good angling for bluegill, crappie and brown bullhead. There is good year-round cutthroat trout fishing and a good seasonal fishery for coho salmon.

ALSEA RIVER: winter steelhead

Winter steelhead are starting to return. This week’s change in weather should move more fish into the river. Best opportunities during the early season are in the mid to lower river. Fall chinook fishing is slow.

BIG CREEK: steelhead

The stream is low and clear, and very cold. Winter steelhead fishing is very slow. Don’t expect fishing to improve until more rain arrives. This small stream is a good bet early in the season. Bobber and jig, spinners, or baits drifted along the bottom all will produce fish.

GNAT CREEK: steelhead

A few early winter steelhead are in the stream, but angling conditions have been poor in the low, clear and cold water. This is a good early season, small stream opportunity. Use light gear and be stealthy when approaching holding water on this small stream, especially after extended dry periods when water levels are low and the stream is clear. There is good access near the hatchery.

KILCHIS RIVER: chinook, steelhead

The river is very low and clear. A few chinook were caught after the last high water, but fishing is now very poor. Many fish are close to spawning and should be released. A few early winter steelhead are being caught. Fish low in the system with light gear until more rains raise the river. Bobber and small jigs are ideal in these conditions.

KLASKANINE RIVER AND NORTH FORK KLASKANINE: steelhead

A few early winter steelhead are available in the system. Look for fishing to improve steadily over the next few weeks when angling conditions change. More rain is needed to raise the stream to good, fishable levels. Use light gear and approach holes carefully to avoid spooking fish.

NECANICUM RIVER: steelhead

A few early winter steelhead are available in the lower river. The river is very low, with clear water and cold temperatures.

NEHALEM RIVER AND NORTH FORK NEHALEM RIVER: steelhead

A few winter steelhead are available in the north fork up to and even above the hatchery. Most fish are holding in the lower river while flows are low. The entire Nehalem Basin is closed to chinook angling for the remainder of 2009.

NESTUCCA RIVER AND THREE RIVERS: chinook, steelhead

Steelhead angling is slow, but will improve when conditions become more conducive to angling. The water is clear and cold. A few early hatchery winter steelhead have been trapped and recycled from Cedar Creek Hatchery. Chinook angling in the river is very slow. Fish the deeper holding water low in the system for best chances of hooking bright fish.

SALMON RIVER: winter steelhead

The winter steelhead run in just getting underway. Fair to good numbers of wild winter steelhead should return this season. Anglers should use small baits/lures during the cold and clear river conditions this week. Fall chinook angling is slow. Most chinook have moved up river and are actively spawning.

SILETZ RIVER: winter steelhead

Winter steelhead are returning to the Siletz. Warmer rain events this week should help to move more fish up river. Chinook angling is slow. Anglers are reminded that the chinook angling deadline has been lowered to Morgan Park and are asked to not target or harass spawning chinook.

SIUSLAW RIVER: winter steelhead

Some winter steelhead are being caught in the lower sections of the Siulsaw and Lake Creek. This weeks warmer wet weather should move more fish into the system. Chinook catches are slow. Most chinook have or are actively spawning.

TILLAMOOK BAY: sturgeon

Angling for sturgeon improved after recent high waters, but slowed as water levels receded and colder temperatures set in. Concentrate on the channel edges on the outgoing tides, with sand shrimp the preferred bait.

TRASK RIVER: steelhead, chinook

Steelhead angling is beginning to improve as a few more fish enter the river. Fall chinook are available, but angling is slow. Some bright fish are being caught, but many are dark and should be released.

Construction of a new boat slide at the Cedar Creek launch site has been completed and is ready for use. Contact ODFW in Tillamook at 503-842-2741 for details.

WILSON RIVER: steelhead, chinook

Steelhead angling has slowed with the low, clear water. Low flows will cause most fish to hold up in the lower river until we get more rain. Chinook angling is very slow. Many fish are close to spawning and should be released. For both species, fish the slower, quieter water until the river rises and warms ups. Lighter gear fished slowly should produce the best results.

YAQUINA RIVER: winter steelhead

The winter steelhead run is just getting underway. Small numbers of steelhead have moved into the lower river. Look for the next good rain event to push more fish in. Chinook angling is slow. Most fish have or are actively spawning.

Back to the top

HUNTING

OPEN: WATERFOWL (see regulations for dates), FOREST GROUSE, CALIF. QUAIL, COUGAR AND BEAR

Use the Oregon Hunting Access Map to see where to hunt.

Don’t forget to report your hunt results. Anyone who purchases a big game or turkey tag must report hunt results online or by phone. Reporting is required even if you did not fill your tag or go hunting. More information

COUGAR and BEAR seasons go through the end of the year on the north coast. Successful hunters, remember you must check in cougar (hide and skull) and bear skull at an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest and bring them in unfrozen. It’s also a good idea to prop their mouths open with a stick after harvest for easier tissue sampling, teeth collection and tagging. See regulations for details.

Both species are most effectively taken by using predator calls, although one can successfully stalk-hunt bear in the early morning and late evening hours, especially in areas with plentiful food supplies, like abandoned orchards. Around Thanksgiving is when bears usually go into their “winter sleep” or torpor, so opportunities on them will be rather limited from now on.

DUCK and MERGANSER season goes through Jan. 31, 2010. There are special seasons and/or bag limits on certain species, such as scaup, mallards, pintails, redheads and canvasbacks – please check the 2009-10 Oregon Game Bird Regulations for details. In the last few weeks, several thousand migrating pintails, mallards and widgeon have been seen on Tillamook Bay. Best hunting generally occurs during rainy or stormy weather, which forces birds off of the larger bay waters and into the shallows along edges where hunters have better access to them.

NORTHWEST PERMIT GOOSE season is open in Clatsop and Tillamook Counties. Local geese should be plentiful and generally make up a significant portion of the harvest early in the season. However, substantial numbers of migrant geese have already showed up and will continue to increase in numbers as the season progresses.

FOREST GROUSE and MOUNTAIN QUAIL appear to be in decent numbers, based on anecdotal observations in recent months, especially for mountain quail. Ruffed grouse occur mainly in mid-slope and riparian areas, whereas blue or sooty grouse are generally only at the highest elevations, such as ridge-tops. Mountain quail prefer brushy clearcuts, especially those on south-facing slopes in the forest. If you harvest a forest grouse, ODFW is interested in getting samples of wings and the tail for studies related to the age structure of the population. Many ODFW offices have wing/tail collection bags available to hunters interested in assisting in this effort. See page 40 in the 2009-10 Oregon Game Bird Regulations for details.

Although CALIFORNIA QUAIL season is open, the north coast has very limited numbers.

Back to the top

VIEWING

Migratory waterfowl, including ducks and geese, have been showing up on north coast estuaries. The lower Columbia River has some great areas to view them, including the Twilight Eagle Sanctuary off of Highway 30 east of Astoria and the viewing bunker on trestle bay at Ft. Stevens State Park. A drive along Bayocean road west of Tillamook usually offers good viewing along Tillamook Bay. Netarts Bay is a great place to find sea ducks, where they can be seen along the eastern edge of the bay from the paved road. 11/ 10/09.

Pelicans

Substantial numbers of brown pelicans have still been seen in Netarts Bays, on Three Arch Rocks near Oceanside and lower Tillamook Bay. In recent years, a small proportion of the summer population has tried to stay here on the north coast throughout the winter, sometimes enduring brutal storms. Pelicans were just recently de-listed from the federal Endangered Species Act, as their numbers have recovered dramatically in recent years. 12/8/09.

Unusual birds

Unusual birds are occasionally found on north coast beaches, and even further inland, as a result of fall and winter storms. These situations are opportunities to find migrants from Asia or pelagic seabirds that were blown off course by strong west storms.

Jewel Meadows Wildlife Area, Coast Range

Elk viewing has been excellent at Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area. Elk have been visible throughout the day on the Fishhawk Tract. Best viewing times are from 9 a.m. to about noon each day. Visitors should start near the main viewing area and along Hwy. 202 to observe larger herds of females and young. The older bulls are usually found near the west viewing area. The Beneke Tract is also a good bet if the elk are not out along Hwy. 202. Elk are currently being fed a supplemental diet of alfalfa hay on the wildlife area. Staff tries to feed close to the viewing areas on weekends to enhance viewing opportunities. Reservations for the winter elk feeding tours have been completely filled for the three-month season. 12/8/09

Newport Area

The trail behind the Mark O. Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport is a good place to observe shorebirds and waterfowl in the Yaquina estuary.

Tillamook Area

Now that winter is just about upon us, it’s a good time to go out to Netarts and Tillamook Bays for some birding. Especially on calmer days, it’s easy to spot birds on these estuaries that are not seen during the fall and summer months. A variety of grebes, loons, scoters, diving and puddle ducks can be seen along Whiskey Creek Rd along Netarts Bay and Bayocean Rd along Tillamook Bay. Look for the sea ducks lower down in these estuaries, while the puddle ducks prefer the shallower upper portions of the estuaries. If you’re lucky, you might even find Harlequins on lower Tillamook Bay at the Three Graces Rocks near Barview.

Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge west of Oceanside is always home to some type of viewable wildlife. Long gone are the thousands of nesting murres, puffins and auklets. During the winter months, bald eagles and peregrine falcons are common on the rocks, as are a smattering of pelicans, cormorants and gulls. Steller sea lions are also regulars at the refuge, and actually use it as a breeding ground in the summer. These larger, blonder cousins of the California sea lion are still listed as a threatened and endangered species as they have not recovered to the extent that California sea lion has.

Great egrets are large, white wading birds that are slightly smaller than their cousin, the great blue heron. In Tillamook County they can often be seen foraging in the southwestern portion of Netarts Bay, along fields adjacent to the lower Tillamook River, in various parts of Tillamook Bay and the Tideland Road area of Nehalem Bay. The birds typically stay in the area through the winter and into the spring before they disappear to nest in parts unknown. 12/15/09.

Back to the top

Record Coho — Except For The Not-Officially-Weighed Part?

We’re hearing rumblings from the Oregon Coast about a whopper coho caught at Siltcoos Lake, one that purportedly went 26.4 pounds, but was not officially weighed.

If it had — and if that weight is indeed correct — that would make angler Tony Radovich of Florence the new Oregon record holder.

He caught it, according to Dean Hendricks of North Country Lures, Nov. 24, in the lake’s Fiddle Creek Arm.

The current mark is Ed Martin’s 1966 beast, a 25-pound, 5-ouncer, also from Siltcoos Lake, which we mapped for coho in our October issue.

I’ll have more tomorrow, but I gotta take off from work to deal with a dead car battery, relieve the Missus from two hungry toddlers, pick up milk, yada yada yada.

Cowlitz Fishing Report

The returns are down compared to 2008, but last week saw some high notes on the Blue Creek stretch of Washington’s Cowlitz River — nine particularly high-leapin’ notes coming off of just one boat.

Last Tuesday, Jesse Thompson (deckhand) of Duvall and the Ahinas of Lynnwood — 5-year-old Ala Pa’i, who battled  the 14-pound hen he’s hanging onto and Jared and Tyson — tore it up side-drifting shrimp and eggs.

(WOOLDRIDGE BOATS)

They hung ’em while fishing with Bonner Daniels of Tall Tails Guide Service (TallTailsGuideService.com) out of a Wooldridge 20’ AK XL.

That’s a pretty good ratio of fish to angler. A count last weekend found 137 sled-born anglers with 102 steelhead at the trout hatchery, according to data forwarded by Joe Hymer of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

“Forty three bank anglers (almost all at the trout hatchery) kept 10 steelhead,” he adds.

Yesterday, Hymer reported that through early December, 467 metalheads had checked into the Cowlitz, much lower than last winter’s 1,039 for the same period.

But that’s still better than what the Lewis is seeing.

Hymer also reports that Tacoma Power “recovered 840 coho adults, 37 jacks, 203 winter-run steelhead and nine sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.”

He adds that “river flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 8,800 cubic feet per second on Monday, December 14. Water visibility is eight feet.”

SW WA (Not) Fishing Report

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Kalama River – Light effort and catch.

Lewis River – About 1 in 4 bank anglers at the salmon hatchery had kept a hatchery winter run steelhead when sampled last week.  Flows are currently 4,400 cfs, about half the same time last week.

Through early December, hatchery winter run steelhead returns to several Washington lower Columbia hatcheries are lagging behind last year.

Station                 2009                       2008

Cowlitz                 467                         1,039

Kalama                 69                           84

Lewis                    32                           408

Washougal         135                         169

STURGEON

Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam – Light effort and no legals sampled last week.

TROUT

Klineline Pond and Battleground Lake – Both were planted with 2,500 catchable size rainbows Dec. 7.  Depending on the weather/availability of staff/trucks, they are expected to be stocked again before the holidays.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSMFC

Steelhead Cutbacks In WA’s Blues?

As we warned last spring* in Northwest Sportsman magazine, Washington steelhead managers are increasingly uncomfortable with the large runs of hatchery fish back to the Grande Ronde and Tucannon rivers in the Blue Mountains, and they may turn the smolt spigot down in the future.

Rich Landers of the Spokane Spokesman-Review takes the story up in a piece picked up recently by the Tri-Cities Herald.

He reports simmering resentment from Washington and Idaho anglers as “hints” about a cutback emerge. Word is that the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife will hold public meetings on future steelhead plans this winter.

Biologist Glen Mendell, whom we spoke to last winter about this, reiterates that hatchery returns are well above the mitigation goal of 1,500 back to Cottonwood Creek on the Ronde about 2 miles upstream from the Highway 129 bridge and Boggan’s Oasis.

“Reducing the releases from Cottonwood is one of the options for reducing competition between hatchery fish and wild fish on spawning beds,” Mendell tells Landers, adding, “In the past five years, steelheaders have had a really wonderful situation in the Snake and Grande Ronde, but I don’t know whether we’ll be able to maintain it at these levels.”

Stay tuned.

* An earlier version of this piece mis-stated when we first reported on Blue Mountains steelhead cutbacks. While I learned about it last winter while putting together our March issue, I reported on it in our May 2009 issue. AW

Of Frozen Squid And Not-frozen Snails

A pair of invasive species are in the news this cold morning, one dying and freezing on the beach and the other not dying and freezing in a lake.

Oregonbeachconnection.net reports that over three dozen Humboldt have washed up across 100 miles of the Oregon coast in recent days, then frozen into the sand.

“Staff from Seaside Aquarium have received reports of dozens of them washing up, coming in from Pacific City all the way up to Sunset Beach near Warrenton,” the site reports.

So far, 40 squid from 4 to 5 feet long and up to 25 pounds have been reported.

They’re also leaving “really neat squid prints,” as a photo from the Seaside Aquarium shows.

People are warned not to eat the dead Humboldts, but in the article, ODFW’s Brandon Chandler says they’ll make good crab bait. Crabbing opened Dec. 1 on the coast.

At Washington’s Capitol Lake, managers drew down the water to try and freeze and kill recently discovered invasive New Zealand snails. But according to The Olympian, the results were “inconclusive.”

“Biologists found some frozen New Zealand mudsnails and others that may or may not have died from exposure to the frigid overnight temperatures, said Allen Pleus, an aquatic invasive species coordinator for Fish and Wildlife,” reports the paper’s John Dodge.

In an earlier story, Pleus worried about the affect the algae-snarfing snails would have on other species.

“These things are nasty, and if they take over, your biodiversity is gone,” he told KUOW radio.