Category Archives: Headlines

Bass Bounty Fishery Talked About Again

The headline — “Fisheries managers consider bass bounty”  — is a little inflammatory, but an article in the Medford, Ore., Mail-Tribune this past weekend discusses a September 2008 conference where the subject of putting a bounty for bass in the Columbia was discussed.

Managers want to reduce predation on salmon and steelhead smolts, and among the many notions that came out of the conference (see our February issue for more) was implementing a reward program similar to the pikeminnow fishery which pays anglers to catch fish.

However, at that same time, a bass bounty was deemed “biologically unsustainable” and “politically unfeasible,” and while it’s still a “front-burner item,” according to John Ward with the  Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority, he admits it’s not likely.

“Unlike pikeminnow, a program like that for smallmouth bass or walleye is not likely to work, because the biology of the fish and their behavior don’t lend themselves to a program like that we have with the pikeminnow,” Ward told reporter Scott Sandsberry (of the Yakima Herald-Republic).

Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife biologists again bristled.

“They’re grasping at straws. They’re looking at anything they can do to improve salmonid success,” he said. “It’s kind of like, if you’re willing to shoot sea lions, hey, why not whack some bass? They’re going after predators, scapegoating the predators,” regional fisheries manager John Easterbrooks told Sandsberry.

But at least one Yakima Valley bass tournament angler told Sandsberry that he’d be in favor of it — for bass under 12 inches.

“If they did that on bass in the Yakima River, it would actually help the bass population on the Yakima River. Right now, there’s so many small ones that it’s stunting the growth; there’s not enough food for them. It might actually help out the fishery,” James Castillo told Sandsberry.

Rise Of The ‘Mesopredator’

I love the Columbia Basin Bulletin, they have some of the most interesting, mind-bending stories on fish in the Northwest.

Today, they’ve got a piece on a new study by several authors, including Oregon State University professor William Ripple, that takes a look at the loss of top predators around the world, and the rise of “mesopredators.”

A mesopredator would be something like a coyote, which have taken over range once run by wolves, or baboons ruling where big cats once roamed, the article states.

According to CBB, the study found:

— Primary or apex predators can actually benefit prey populations by suppressing smaller predators, and failure to consider this mechanism has triggered collapses of entire ecosystems.

— Cascading negative effects of surging mesopredator populations have been documented for birds, sea turtles, lizards, rodents, marsupials, rabbits, fish, scallops, insects and ungulates.

— The economic cost of controlling mesopredators may be very high, and sometimes could be accomplished more effectively at less cost by returning apex predators to the ecosystem.

— Human intervention cannot easily replace the role of apex predators, in part because the constant fear of predation alters not only populations but behavior of mesopredators.

— Large predators are usually carnivores, but mesopredators are often omnivores and can cause significant plant and crop damage.

— The effects of exploding mesopredator populations can be found in oceans, rivers, forests and grasslands around the world.

— Reversing and preventing mesopredator release is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive as the world’s top predators continue to edge toward obliteration.

NOTE: The original version of this article misspelled Professor Ripple’s last name. And it should be noted that coauthors of the study included Laura R. Prugh, Chantal J. Stoner, Clinton W. Epps, William T. Bean, Andrea S. Laliberte and Justin S. Brashares.

‘Wow’ Factor: 2009 Steelhead Smolt OUTmigration

The water was pretty much the same, but steelhead smolt survival between Lower Granite and Bonneville dams this year was heads and shoulders above the past five years.

Preliminary figures show that nearly 70 percent of this spring’s crop made it over Bonnie. The five-year average is just 40 percent.

“”For those that have tracked this in the past that is a wow,” NOAA Fisheries’ Paul Wagner is quoted as saying in a report in the Columbia Basin Bulletin today.

CBB also reports “unprecendented” smolt survival from John Day Dam through Bonneville, 91 percent vs. the 2003-08 average of 69 percent.

So, why is that? Hard to say, but inside this dense report from Wagner and others at NOAA is discussion about new spill weirs at Little Goose, Lower Monumental, John Day and The Dalles dams.

Idaho Steelhead Limits Jump To 5 A Day


The Idaho Fish and Game Commission Wednesday, September 30, raised the bag, possession and season limit for the fall 2009 and spring 2010 steelhead seasons in the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.

The daily limits, effective October 2 until further notice, for steelhead trout is five, of which no more than three may be 32 or more inches in total length. The possession limit is 15, no more than nine may be 32 or more inches long.

The statewide limits in the fall and spring seasons is 40 steelhead in each, but no more than 20 of those may be caught in the Clearwater River drainage in each season. Anglers who have a permit with reported harvest from the spring 2009 season may purchase a second permit to catch their fall season limit of 40 fish.

Fishery managers estimate the return of steelhead over Lower Granite Dam this fall will be considerably larger than the previous high return of about 250,000 fish in 2001. More than 155,000 fish in this large return will return are A-run hatchery fish destined for the Snake River, the Little Salmon River and in the Upper Salmon River.

Affected waters are:
Snake River
Washington-Idaho border to the Salmon River.
Salmon River to Hells Canyon Dam.

Salmon River
Downstream from Whitebird Creek.
Whitebird Creek to Little Salmon River.
Little Salmon River to Vinegar Creek.
Vinegar Creek to South Fork Salmon River.
South Fork Salmon River to Middle Fork Salmon River.
Middle Fork Salmon River to North Fork Salmon River.
North Fork Salmon River to Lemhi River.
Lemhi River to Pahsimeroi River.
Pahsimeroi River to East Fork Salmon River.
East Fork Salmon to Sawtooth Weir.

Little Salmon River

In contrast to the abundant A-run returns, B-run steelhead returns to Idaho are lower than forecasted. Most of the harvestable hatchery B-run fish are destined for the Clearwater River drainage. The fall season limit in the Clearwater drainage will remain at 20 fish. The daily bag limit is two fish and the possession limit six.

All anglers must have a valid 2009 Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit. Steelhead anglers may use only barbless hooks, and may keep only hatchery steelhead marked with a clipped adipose fin, as evidenced by a healed scar. All other steelhead must be released unharmed immediately.

Anglers should check the 2008-2009 fishing rules book for details on steelhead fishing. For more information on steelhead fishing in Idaho, check the Fish and Game Website

70-, 40-pound Kings

First thing yesterday morning, I was drooling at a picture of a 58-pound Chinook on my screen.

Twenty-four hours later, my mouth muscles once again lost control as I stared at a picture of a 70-pounder.



Tim Peone sent me the latest kong king, a pic of his buddy Dennis Kieffer with a “hefty” Chinook from a recent trip up to Prince Rupert, B.C.

Peone’s wife Tonya and daughter Jade also picked up a nice pair of kings on the trip.



Tim also reports that his boat picked up a 40-pound bright in the Hanford Reach yesterday.

That’s where Jeff Witkowski’s been working out the past week or so, nailing some hefty Chinook,including the below anguses.





Oregon Taking Comments On 2 Marine Proposals


The public is invited to comment on draft rules to establish, study, monitor and evaluate pilot marine reserves at Otter Rock north of Newport and Redfish Rocks near Port Orford.

Three meetings scheduled in October are part of agency rulemaking to establish the two reserves, as directed by the 2009 Oregon Legislature (House Bill 3013).  The meetings are sponsored jointly by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of State Lands and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife manages the fish and wildlife resources of the state. The department’s proposed rules regulate fishing and hunting activities in the marine reserves and marine protected areas, while continuing to allow for certain uses such as scientific research, retrieval of fishing gear that has drifted into the area, and transiting, drifting, or anchoring in the marine reserve or marine protected area.

The Department of State Lands manages the land underlying Oregon’s territorial sea (which extends three miles seaward from Oregon’s coastline) and authorizes uses such as telecommunications cables and pipelines placed on the seafloor. Under the proposed rules, the department would issue authorizations in marine reserves and marine protected areas only for activities focusing on monitoring, evaluating, enforcing, protecting or otherwise furthering the study of these areas.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for managing public recreation and natural resources from low tide landward, normally up to the vegetation line. The ocean shore recreation area is affected by one of the two proposed marine reserves pilot projects: Otter Rock. With few exceptions for things like research, removing or damaging natural materials — rocks, plants, animals or any other natural object — would not be allowed in the rocky, northern section of Otter Rock between extreme low and mean high tide. The area would remain open to the public and pets.

The meetings will be:

* 1 – 3 p.m. Oct. 20, – State Lands Building, 775 Summer Street N.E., Salem,
* 7 – 9 p.m. Oct. 21, – Port Orford Public Library, 1421 Oregon Street, Port Orford,
* 7 – 9 p.m. Oct. 22- The Inn at Otter Crest, 301 Otter Crest Drive, Otter Rock.

Those unable to attend one of the meetings may submit written comments to:

* for comments to ODFW,
* for comments to DSL,
* for comments to OPRD

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will accept comments until Dec. 11, on which date the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will adopt the ODFW rules. The Department of State Lands will accept comments until Nov. 17; their Board will adopt the DSL rules at the Dec. 8 State Land Board meeting. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will accept comments until Nov. 17; their commission will adopt the OPRD rules at the Jan. 28, 2010 Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.

Go Grays For Silvers

Official advice: If you want to catch some of the hardest hitting, strongest battling coho around, get yourself, your Fish Flash and your cutplugs over to the Grays Harbor system.

A friend of mine was out on the bay last weekend and reports really good fishing for uber-chrome coho, and today Tony Floor of the Northwest Marine Trade Association says he expects action will continue good on Grays Harbor and the Chehalis River over the coming weeks.

Here’s more of Tony’s report from his October Newsletter:

“I have been pounding the waters of Grays Harbor during the last week and I can’t stop. That is not a confession as I have no motive to stop. Last Sunday for example, beginning at 10 in the morning, four of us sent our plug cut baits a short distance behind the boat, in 20 feet of water, fishing at mid-depth. Two hours later, 10 hook-ups and 8 jumbo coho salmon, 12-16 pounds were napping together in the fish cooler. How fun is that! Bring on October as I can do any version of the coho shuffle accompanied by classic rock in the key of salmon. And bite, no way, it’s crush! One after another as they continue their aggressive attack on a fast spinning plug cut herring like a 5-year old discovering candy during Halloween.”

“And don’t overlook the Strait of Juan de Fuca as late coho fishing should remain good from Sekiu to Port Angeles. In discussions with Chris Mohr, at Sekiu recently, anglers are not planning to come his way during the first two weeks of this month. Believe me, it will be a real sleeper as this year of a big coho return, which includes above average sized coho salmon, will continue their migration down the Strait of Juan de Fuca well into October.”

In North Puget Sound, we got a killer pic of a nearly 15-pound Snohomish River silver landed by Jon Pulling on Sept. 25 while fishing with guide Jim Stahl.



And state biologist Brett Barkdull says that, with this weather, now’s the time to be on the Skagit and Stillaguamish.

“The coho are showing up and they’re actually biting,” he says. “Rain makes them bite.”

58-lbr Landed On Chetco

Among the emails I’m rolling through this morning, this eye-grabber shot from Northwest Sportsman writer Larry Ellis in Brookings: a 58-pound Chetco Chinook.



It was caught yesterday afternoon in “the bay” by Carl Johnson (right) aboard the boat of Andy Martin (left).

“On the scale, officially 58 pounds,” reports Ellis.  “MONSTROUS.”

Yeah, I’ll say.

The Chetco is open below Highway 101; the stretch above there doesn’t open until Nov. 7.

Razor Clams Opening In Mid-October


The first razor-clam dig of the fall season will get under way Oct. 16 if marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today. Additional digging opportunities are scheduled through Jan. 3

Evening digs are tentatively planned at Twin Harbors (Oct. 16-19); Long Beach and Copalis (Oct. 16, 17 and 18); and Mocrocks and Kalaloch Beach (Oct. 17 and18). Digging at all beaches will be restricted to the hours between noon and midnight.

“The results of our 2009 summer stock assessment show that Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch Beach have had an increase in their total allowable catch, while Copalis and Mocrocks are about the same,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. “This is great news for Kalaloch, which will have harvest opportunities for the first time since spring 2007.”

Kalaloch had been closed due to low clam abundance, but this year’s annual stock assessment shows approximately 3.5 million clams of harvestable size, Ayres said. The National Park Service scheduled the proposed digs at Kalaloch Beach, located within Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at other coastal beaches.

“We’re also pleased to be able to offer folks several opportunities to dig clams on the low tides around New Year’s, which is a very popular time,” Ayres said.

The best time to start digging is an hour or two before low tide, said Ayres, who also recommends that diggers check weather and surf conditions before heading out.

Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2009 annual shellfish/seaweed license or combination fishing license is still valid. Another option is a razor-clam only license available in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW website at

Olympic National Park superintendent Karen Gustin added a safety note for evening clam diggers, especially at Kalaloch. “Kalaloch is considerably more remote than the other clamming beaches, and visitors should be prepared for primitive conditions. With no streetlights or lighted buildings in the area, flashlights or lanterns are a necessity.”

A public meeting conducted jointly with staff from Olympic National Park will be held in Forks to further discuss razor clam populations at Kalaloch Beach. The meeting will be held Wednesday, Oct. 7, 7-8:30 p.m., at the Washington Department of Natural Resources conference room at 411 Tillicum Lane near Tillicum Park in Forks.

Besides the openings announced through Jan. 3, there should also be enough clams on most beaches to allow for harvesting later in 2010, Ayres said.

Tentative opening dates and evening low tides in October are:

  • Friday, Oct. 16 ( 5:50 p.m. -0.5 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Saturday, Oct. 17 (6:38 p.m. -0.8 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Sunday, Oct. 18 (7:23 p.m. -1.1ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Monday, Oct. 19 (8:06 p.m. -1.1 ft.) Twin Harbors

In addition, WDFW has tentatively scheduled four other digs through Jan. 3.

Digs scheduled in November include:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 4 (7:33 p.m. -1.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Thursday, Nov. 5 (8:18 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Twin Harbors
  • Friday, Nov. 6 (9:07 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Saturday, Nov. 7 (9:59 p.m. -0.5 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Saturday, Nov. 14 (4:34 p.m. -0.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Sunday, Nov. 15 (5:21 p.m. -0.7 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Monday, Nov. 16 (6:05 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Tuesday, Nov. 17 (6:47 p.m. -0.8 ft.) Twin Harbors

Digs scheduled December 2 through Jan. 3 include:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 2 (6:32 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors
  • Thursday, Dec. 3 (7:18 p.m. -1.4 ft.) Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Friday, Dec. 4 (8:04 p.m. -1.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Saturday, Dec. 5 (8:51 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Thursday, Dec. 31 (6:16 p.m. -1.1 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Friday, Jan. 1 (7:01 p.m. -1.8 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Saturday, Jan. 2 (7:45 p.m. -1.6 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Sunday, Jan. 3 (8:29 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Twin Harbors

Beaches scheduled to open are:

  • Long Beach , which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.
  • Twin Harbors Beach , which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.
  • Copalis Beach , which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.
  • Mocrocks Beach , which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
  • Kalaloch Beach , which extends from the South Beach Campground to Brown’s Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park.