Tag Archives: 2017

Rifle Deer Opener On Par In Northeast WA, Down In Okanogan

Deer harvest was down sharply on one side of northern Eastern Washington, but opening weekend of rifle deer season saw roughly the same success percentage as last year in the other corner.

That’s based on check station data collected by WDFW wildlife biologists.

At Deer Park north of Spokane, Dana Base reported 174 hunters coming through with 38 whitetails and mule deer, up from 101 with 24 in 2016 — 22 percent and 24 percent success rates, respectively.

THIS TALL-TINED FIVE-POINT WAS AMONG THE 14 ADULT WHITETAIL BUCKS CHECKED AT DEER PARK. (WDFW)

As usual, nearly all of the deer were whitetails, including 22 bucks and 14 antlerless animals, but two muley bucks were also checked, including one dandy.

NORTHEAST WASHINGTONN DOESN’T PRODUCE A LOT OF MULE DEER, BUT SOME OF THE BUCKS ARE BIG. WDFW CHECKED THIS ONE AT DEER PARK OVER OPENING WEEKEND. (WDFW)

Base reports that 14 of the flagtail bucks were adults and eight were yearlings.

By comparison, in 2016 there were eight adult bucks and 11 spikes.

Over at the Red Barn in Winthrop, Scott Fitkin and Jeff Heinlen checked 83 hunters and seven deer — and one of those was actually shot down in Douglas County.

That’s the same number of hunters as 2016’s rain-soaked opener, but just 35 percent of that year’s harvest.

NIC BELISLE BAGGED THIS NICE MULEY IN THE OKANOGAN DURING OPENING WEEKEND. HE WAS HUNTING WITH FRIEND KEVIN HARTMANN, WHO SENT THE IMAGE OUR WAY. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

And it’s way down from 2015’s bumper opener, when 101 hunters came out with 39 deer. But that was also an unusually successful campaign that followed on a snow drought and massive conflagrations.

The caveat with the above figures is that the check stations are voluntary and participation probably varies based on hunters’ moods (less likely if unsuccessful, more likely if tagged out).

I’ll add in Susan Van Leuven’s roving checks from the Klickitat Wildlife Area when it arrives.

For what it’s worth, two of the six hunters in our party got their bucks over opening weekend in Okanogan County, but that success rate was not enjoyed by others camping nearby.

AFTER HELPING HIS FRIEND NIC, KEVIN HARTMANN NOTCHED HIS TAG WITH THIS OKANOGAN COUNTY THREE-POINT YESTERDAY. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Rifle deer season for whitetails runs through October 24 or 27, depending on the unit, while mule deer are open through Tuesday, Oct. 24.

“Significant snow forecast for the high country may improve prospects for the second weekend,” Fitkin notes.

WDFW DISTRICT WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST SCOTT FITKIN AGES AN UNUSUAL CRITTER BROUGHT THROUGH THE RED BARN CHECK STATION IN WINTHROP. (WDFW)

2017 Oregon Big Game Hunting Prospects

As they do each year, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has compiled hunting prospects from its biologists for deer and elk herds across the state.

Here’s what ODFW is forecasting for 2017’s hunting seasons:

By ODFW

The winter of 2016–2017 was one for the books. According to NOAA, in parts of Oregon’s Blue Mountains, it was the fourth most severe winter on record in terms of days of snow and daily temperatures. ODFW observed higher than normal mortality in deer and pronghorn herds in Baker, northern Harney and Malheur counties, and some parts of Union County, which led to emergency tag reductions in these fall 2017 hunts. Hunters in these units should expect to see fewer yearling animals (spikes and 2-points) this fall.

A PAIR OF MULE DEER ON THE ELKHORN WILDLIFE AREA. (NICK MYATT, ODFW)

Despite the winter, in most areas of eastern Oregon, deer and elk survival was at or slightly below average. Plus, winter’s snow provided the moisture for a spring green-up and increased forage production when the weather finally warmed up, which should provide some long-term benefits to wildlife.

It could also change typical hunting techniques early in the season for archery hunters in the desert region. “There is a lot of water on the desert and forage is as good as it will ever get,” said Lake County wildlife biologist Craig Foster about conditions in August. “There are many water sources available now so big game are dispersed and don’t have to use a waterhole with a blind on it. My advice is if you get a shot opportunity, take it, as there may not be another one.”

In Western Oregon, the winter was also generally colder and wetter than normal. Several areas set record monthly moisture amounts. Winter conditions also stuck around much later than in recent years. Deer and elk survival rates were also at or slightly below the five-year average in western Oregon.

Unfortunately, the state’s wet weather did not continue into the summer. Most places are currently very dry—which is typical for the start of fall hunting seasons. Several large fires are burning, which will create great big game habitat in the years to come. However, in the short term, hunters are advised to concentrate their efforts elsewhere and stay out of the very recently burned areas.

BAKER DISTRICT (Sumpter, Keating, Pine Creek, Lookout Mt.)

Recent wildfires this summer have remained small and contained throughout the district. Fire conditions are extreme and hunters should check with the land manager (Wallowa-Whitman National Forest or BLM) to find out the latest conditions, as they can change rapidly.

DEER

Over-winter survival was poor in all units with average fawn ratios of 9 per 100 adults counted in the spring. This was much lower than last year’s count of 33 fawns per 100 adults. Adult doe mortality was just above 35% determined from GPS collared deer. The yearling buck component will be reduced drastically this season as a result of the lower survival from this winter. Dry conditions at mid to lower elevations this year will make hunting difficult early in the season. Animals will be the most active early in the morning and late in the afternoon when temperatures cool off. Hunters should concentrate their efforts in areas of good forage near north slopes that provide good bedding cover.

ELK

Elk herds in Baker County came out of the winter in good shape. Bull ratios are at management objective for all units. Calf ratios were above the average in all units. Elk populations in the Keating and Pine Creek units and Lookout Mountain units continue to grow and offer good opportunity for hunters. For the best chance at tagging an elk, get as far away from roads as possible, perhaps by hunting in one of the cooperative Travel Management Areas. Dry conditions this year could make hunting difficult. Animals will be the most active early in the morning and late in the afternoon when temperatures cool off. Hunters should concentrate their efforts in areas of good forage near north slopes that provide good bedding cover.

CROOK DISTRICT (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly)

DEER

Buck ratios remain above management objective (MO) for the Maury and Ochoco units and below MO in the Grizzly unit, with a district-wide average of 19 bucks per 100 does. Last year’s severe winter took a toll on fawn numbers, reducing over-winter fawn survival rates 30% across the district. As a result, there will be fewer yearling bucks available for harvest. Spring and summer conditions have been great, with the heavy snowpack leading to plenty of water available on the landscape. Hunter harvest of deer last fall was about average throughout the district. Throughout the district, deer populations continue to be lower than management objectives due to habitat loss and disturbance, poaching, predation, disease, and road kill.

Archery hunters are reminded that the Maury unit is now a controlled deer archery unit requiring archers to possess a controlled entry buck tag. Hunters can expect to see larger, older age class bucks as a result of these tag reductions. Reminder to pick up a motor vehicle use map for the Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests so you know what’s open vs. closed.

ELK

Elk populations and bull ratios are at or just below management objectives in all three units. Hunter harvest last fall was about average throughout the district. Calf ratios took a bit of a dip due to the severity of last winter, which is to be expected. The abundance of water on the landscape this spring and summer has been great for wildlife. Elk are in good body condition and highly mobile across their range. Depending on weather conditions, hunters should expect to find elk on north-facing and moist drainages and high elevations during archery season and more scattered during rifle seasons. Typically, elk hunting improves as you get further away from open roads. Reminder: Elk bow hunters must now have a controlled Maury Unit bull tag to hunt elk in the Maury Unit.

The Maury and Ochoco units offer the best opportunities for bagging an animal on public land, while the Grizzly unit is mostly private land where access can be difficult. Ochoco unit rifle hunters are reminded the Rager and South Boundary TMA motorized vehicle restrictions will be in effect. Maps of those areas are available on ODFW’s website and from ODFW and Ochoco National Forest offices, as well as signboards as you enter the TMA’s. A majority of public land cow elk tags have been eliminated in the Ochoco unit due to declining elk populations on national forests. Private land hunts for the Ochoco unit are intended to increase elk use on the national forest and eliminate elk staying on private land throughout the seasons.

DESCHUTES DISTRICT (Upper Deschutes, Paulina, North Wagontire, Northwest Fort Rock, Metolius)

DEER

There should be decent numbers of both mature and yearling bucks available in most units relative to the population size. Tough winter conditions resulted in a drop in over-winter survival. Spring fawn ratios are down district wide with a ratio of 27 fawns per 100 does. Buck ratios are near, or above, management objective district wide with a ratio of 18 bucks per 100 does. Last year, both rifle and archery harvest was average. Heavy winter precipitation resulted in more dispersed available water that should help distribute wildlife throughout the district.

ELK

Relative to the number of elk, branch antlered bull opportunity will be decent in the Paulina and East Fort Rock units. Herds are at relatively low densities and cover a lot of country, so hunter success is typically low.

Elk numbers continue to grow slowly in the Cascade units. The Upper Deschutes, Metolius and West Fort Rock units are managed under the general season ‘Cascade’ hunt. Elk densities are moderate, but hunter densities are high in the roaded portions of the Cascade units. For solitude, seek more remote wilderness and roadless areas in the Cascades.

Elk numbers in the North Wagontire (High Desert hunts) are quite variable due to large movements these animals make. The elk are most consistent in their daily patterns near alfalfa fields. Hunters are advised to select their target animal carefully when elk are in open country in large herds to avoid wounding or hitting multiple animals.

GRANT DISTRICT (Murderers Creek, Northside, Desolation)

While the Grant District experienced a harsher winter than past years, deer and elk populations fared well. Throughout the summer, the area saw prolonged temperatures above 90 degrees so animals will be attracted to green forage on north slopes, springs and wet meadows.

DEER

Although deer populations remain below management objectives in all units, we have seen a slight increase over the past 5-6 years. Mild winters and relatively good fawn ratios have contributed to this increase. Good buck ratios were observed last fall with a good proportion of mature bucks. However, spring fawn ratios were a little lower than desired which is likely due to last year’s dry summer and harder over-winter conditions. The lower fawn ratio will cause a slight decrease in yearling bucks available for harvest this year. Last year, archery and rifle hunters had average success and we expect to have similar results this year.

Deer hunters should look for areas where fire has occurred in past 5-15 years as deer tend to favor vegetation that occurs following fires. The Shake Table Fire on Aldrich Mountain is starting to show signs of increasing deer and may be a good place to find a buck.

ELK

Hunting prospects are average for the district. Elk populations are steady or increasing in most of the district and above management objective in all units except W Beulah. We have had reasonable calf ratios and good bull ratios in most of the district. Archery season in Desolation is now either-sex for elk rather than bull only.
Elk hunters should focus on areas with no open roads as elk tend to move away from traveled roads during hunting seasons.

HARNEY DISTRICT (Silvies, Malheur River, Steens Mt, Juniper, portions of Beatys Butte, Wagontire, and Whitehorse)

DEER and ELK

Habitat conditions are generally good and abundant water sources this year should disperse game populations more widely. The risk of wildfire remains a concern. Most of the large scale mega fires in our area occurred in 2012. Wildlife and hunters have been able to adapt by using different areas and pockets of areas within those fire boundaries that have started to recover.

Deer and elk populations are stable to increasing in most portions of the Harney District. Multiple efforts to improve habitat conditions and remove predators have contributed to this. The Malheur River Unit experienced some unusually high winter kill due to the heavy snow pack and prolonged cold temperatures. In response to that, biologist reduced deer tags by 35%. That was the only wildlife management unit in the Harney district that had an emergency tag reduction. Hunting prospects are good for our other units; there are plenty of animals available for harvest for all seasons and weapon choices.

All Harney units are currently below population management objective (MO) for deer although the district is seeing an increasing trend in most units over the past 6-7 years. But all units are above buck ratio MO for deer. They are also above both bull ratio and population objectives for elk.

Statistics are becoming more reliable since the implementation of mandatory reporting surveys, and they show harvest remains stable.

Hunters need to have good maps of the area and are encouraged to visit the county website for maps http://www.co.harney.or.us/huntmaps.html. Make some scouting trips and contact the local biologist to discuss more specifics once you have a better idea of the lay of the land.

HEPPNER DISTRICT (Heppner, Fossil, East Biggs, southern Columbia Basin)

DEER

Deer populations are decreasing in all units. Fawn survival from last year due to the hot dry summer and long cold winter was very poor in all of the units and will result in fewer yearling bucks available for harvest this hunting season. The summer has been very hot and dry with decent forage conditions in the higher elevations and poor conditions as you drop in elevation. Unless conditions change, early season hunters will want to focus on areas of good forage and water.

Public lands hunters in the Fossil unit can hunt the old Wheeler Burn, which is still producing a fair number of deer and is historically a good spot. Public hunters can also hunt the Heppner Regulated Hunt Area in the Heppner unit.

ELK

The elk population for the Heppner is still slightly above MO for the unit and the Fossil Unit’s population is stable. Bull ratios have remained constant from last year for both units. The elk calf ratio for both units remains low this year. While there will be fewer spike bulls than previous years, there are still good numbers of bulls in the forest.

Even though forage conditions are better this year, the dry conditions in the forest have elk condensed in areas that have more water as many of the springs have not recharged from several years of drought. Hunters will increase their success by focusing on north slopes with good grazing available near open water. With predicted cooler weather, elk generally become more active. Hunters are reminded to check fire restrictions which usually include no campfires early in the season.

KLAMATH DISTRICT (Keno, Klamath Falls, Sprague, SW portion of Ft Rock, West portion of Silver Lake, West Interstate)

DEER

Deer populations in Klamath County are stable or slightly decreasing. An above average winter likely contributed to lower fawn survival overwinter, which will effect hunter success on yearling bucks this hunting season. Yearling bucks generally comprise over half the buck harvest. The district-wide spring fawn ratios ranged from 16 to 21 fawns per 100 adults. With the above average precipitation last winter, forage conditions this summer are good.

Hunters should concentrate efforts in areas with healthy understory vegetation or thinned areas that offer good forage availability adjacent to cover, especially if weather remains hot and dry. In the absence of significant moisture before or during the hunt, expect deer to be more nocturnal in their movements and focus on areas within a few miles of water. Summer wildfire activity has been low in Klamath County, though conditions remain dry. Fire related restrictions to vehicle use on roads and camp fires will likely remain in place through much of the early fall hunting seasons.

For all units, buck ratios are above management objectives and a good component of older age bucks exists. The fall buck ratio in the Interstate Unit was highest among Klamath County units, with a measured ratio of 26 bucks/100 does. The Keno and Klamath Falls units are also above buck ratio management objective, however populations in these and all surrounding units remain below objective.

ELK

The Cascade Mountains (that area within Klamath County west of Hwy 97) offer the best opportunities for elk hunting in the Klamath District. The Keno Unit and those areas within the Sprague and Fort Rock Units west of Hwy 97 are included in the general season Cascade elk area. Bull ratios are above management objective and some older age bulls are available. Best prospects are in the Keno and Fort Rock Units. Elk numbers are lower in the eastern part of the county, and seasons east of Hwy 97 are limited entry. Overall population trends are stable to slightly increasing in some areas but below population management objectives like much of the region. Archery hunters will have a bull only bag limit in all units with the exception of the Fort Rock unit east of Hwy 97 where an either-sex bag limit is in effect.

LAKE DISTRICT (Warner, Interstate, Silver Lake, southern portions of Beatys Butte, Fort Rock and Wagontire)

DEER and ELK

With good winter precipitation and a wet spring, water availability is much improved over last year. In forested units, unless there are fall rains, deer will use areas with an abundant shrub component in the understory as this will be the only vegetation with any forage value. In desert units, focus on mountain shrub habitats within a few miles of water.

Deer populations have been consistent over the past few years. Hunting prospects should be fair to good as all units are above management objectives for buck ratios. Deer fawn ratios in the spring were in the high teens or low 20s which is below average and will affect hunter success on younger age bucks. Last season, hunter success was generally average. Fort Rock continues to have low hunter success for the number of deer that summer in the unit, but hunter success and satisfaction was good in all other units.

Fire activity has been moderate this year with a variety of small fires (less than 1000 acres) and only one large fire near Wagontire Mountain. The Barry Point Fire of 2012 has a lot of young shrubs and is providing some good deer habitat.

Some suggested areas to hunt for hunters less familiar with the district:

Beatys Butte: Focus on the high elevations with mountain shrub communities
Warner: For both North and South the forested habitats have more deer, and therefore more bucks, than the desert habitats. If you want to hunt the desert units there is a lot of private land mixed in with the BLM properties which also makes hunting these areas a challenge.
Interstate: Hunt any of the wildfire areas which are predominately south of Hwy 140. North of 140, the edges between private timberlands and USFS properties are good spots to check; these areas generally have high quality feed on the private timber properties and good cover on the Forest properties.
Silver Lake: The Tool Box Wildfire Complex of 2004 is still providing quality shrub habitat and good deer numbers. If we don’t get fall rains outside the fire area, any of the timbered vegetation associated with shrubs in the understory will hold deer.
Fort Rock: Natural openings or old clear cuts with shrubs in the understory are going to be the most productive.

MALHEUR DISTRICT (Whitehorse, Owyhee and Beulah Units)

DEER

The northern half of Malheur County experienced record snow over the winter of 2016-17. Snow began accumulating in early December and remained snow covered through the end of February. The harsh winter conditions had a significant negative impact on deer and pronghorn populations. The overall loss of these herds may not be fully understood until another population survey is conducted after next winter. While the southern portion of Malheur County experienced harsh winter conditions as well, the valley floors melted off between snow events providing wintering wildlife access to forage thus resulting in minimal loss of big game to winter conditions.

In the Beulah unit, fawn ratio (7/100 adults) and over winter adult mortality greater than 25% resulted in a 40% reduction in tags for the 2017 season. Additionally the management objective for the buck ratio has increased from 12 to 15 bucks per 100 does as part of the management objective review which took place in 2015. The combination of winter mortality and meeting buck ratio tag numbers means tags for this unit will remain at the reduced number for the 2018 season as well. As a result of the low fawn ratio, there will be also be very few yearling age class buck in the harvest this year.

Much of the best deer hunting is on public land near the edge of the Malheur National Forest. Other areas within the National Forest that have had recent fires or logging activity can also be productive

In Owyhee Unit, the northern portion of the unit was negatively impacted by severe winter conditions as well. Fawns ratio was 16/100 adults and above average winter mortality on adult deer resulted in a 25% cut in tags for 2017 (2018 tag numbers will remain at the reduced level as well). Wildfire and weed invasion continues to have an impact on the ability of this unit to produce deer. Even though it is a very challenging unit to hunt, hunter success remains above 50% with a majority of the bucks harvested being 3- and 4-points.

East Whitehorse Unit is another difficult unit to hunt if you are not familiar with the unit. Deer numbers are low and they can be widely scattered. The major fires of 2012 continue to have a negative effect. Winter conditions in the southern end of the county were significantly milder that in the Treasure Valley and did not appear to have a negative effect on deer populations.

In the Trout Creek Mountains, the Holloway Fire burned most of this area in 2012, except for the Oregon Canyon and Sherman Field areas. Since the fire, the higher elevations have had decent vegetation recovery. The deer population remains at similar numbers as pre-fire conditions and buck rations are well above 40 bucks per 100 does.

ELK

E Beulah is an elk de-emphasis zone. Tag numbers are high with numerous long seasons to keep the elk population under control. Success rates are poor during early season without access to private lands. Later hunt dates can have higher success if winter conditions move elk to more accessible areas.

Whitehorse and Owyhee units are part of the High Desert hunt area. Whitehorse unit has very few elk. An increasing number of elk have been observed in the northwestern portion of the Owyhee unit. These elk are often observed in large groups and very nomadic which makes them difficult to locate consistently.

MID-COLUMBIA DISTRICT (Hood, White River, Maupin, West Biggs)

DEER

The West Biggs and Maupin Unit have seen a decline in deer numbers the last couple years, with drought and hard winter both taking a toll. Most of the reduction has been due to decreased fawn recruitment, so expect to find less young bucks on the landscape. Buck ratios are the highest in the John Day Canyon, as fewer hunters are able to access much of the landscape. Having a good map to ensure you know where you are is essential.

Deer hunting in the White River unit was poor last year, and is expected to be again this year with buck ratios below management objective. Deer are typically scattered throughout the unit with higher elevation habitats and wilderness areas the best opportunity to harvest a mature buck. There are quite a few deer on the White River Wildlife Area but most of the larger bucks move up into the higher country to summer and then migrate back down when the weather pushes them off the mountains. There are always a few nice bucks that hunters find hidden away in some of the more remote areas. However, hunting pressure can be high on the wildlife area.

Hunters headed for the Hood Unit should pay close attention to land ownership and fire restrictions. Some of the best hunting in the unit is found on private timberlands, and hunters should always check with these landowners to find out the most recent regulations. Historic burns on USFS lands around Mt. Hood have been increasing and deer numbers within the unit as well. Rainy or high pressure weather systems typically increase deer activity and the opportunity to spot a buck.

ELK

Elk numbers in the White River and Hood units are near the management objective and will be found scattered in small groups throughout the units on public lands. Herd numbers have been stable with bull numbers observed were slightly higher than last season. However, heavy cover makes harvesting a bull challenging. Most mature bulls are found at higher elevations, especially during the first season. Hunters often choose to hunt the second of the two general seasons for increased season length and a greater chance of winter weather to improve hunting conditions and success. Bull elk hunting in the Maupin and West Biggs also is general season, but the animals are almost exclusively found on private lands. Gaining landowner permission in that area could result in a successful hunt. The White River Wildlife Area has fair numbers of elk and is open to public hunting though hunting pressure will be high; remember fire restrictions are likely in effect during archery season and a wildlife area parking permit is required.

UMATILLA DISTRICT: (Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, Ukiah, eastern portion of Heppner, northern Columbia Basin)

DEER and ELK

Deer prospects in the Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, and Ukiah Units are good as the bucks/100 doe ratios are continually looking good. Even with our harsh winter with cold temperatures and record snowfall, fawn survival was nearly average. The same scenario played out for elk in these three units; bulls/100 cows are slightly up with spike hunting still a challenge in the Mt Emily and Ukiah Units with the Walla Walla Unit spike numbers looking fairly decent.

Low to mid-elevation forage is drying off quickly due to hot and dry conditions, so deer and elk may be found in higher numbers at or above mid-elevation areas. If early September rains arrive before hunting season, animal retention on national forest lands will increase over recent years, improving the hunting substantially. Additionally late summer and early fall rains will improve the chances for deer and elk to produce well, ensuring plenty of animals available for next year’s hunt.

UNION DISTRICT: (Starkey, Catherine Creek, East Mt. Emily, portions of Sled Springs, and Wenaha)

DEER and ELK

Elk and deer numbers are stable throughout the county, in spite of the tough winter. Adult elk came through the winter well, while calf survival was down. As a result, spike hunters can expect to see fewer yearling bulls this season. All units are at or above MO for elk. Deer numbers are stable, but are below management objective in all units. Hunters may encounter fewer yearling bucks this season due to a decrease in fawn survival over the winter. Controlled hunt deer tags were reduced by 30% as a result of the harsh winter.

Hunter success last year was on par with previous years with deer hunters averaging 30% and elk hunters 30%. Hunters can expect dry conditions in the early seasons that will keep animals closer to water sources such as springs and creek bottoms. Animals move little during warm conditions and hunters will need patience to be successful. The Starkey Unit Travel Management Area is a great place to start for big game hunters new to the area; maps are available online or at the La Grande office. General spike season is a great time to elk hunt in the Starkey unit without the crowds of first season. Look for elk in the steep terrain of the Starkey and Catherine Creek units.

WALLOWA DISTRICT (Wenaha, Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, Snake River, Minam, Imnaha)

DEER and ELK

While deer populations are still low, buck season is expected to be fair in all units. Elk populations are doing well, and hunters can expect good prospects for bull hunting in all units. Deer populations are below MO in all units, while elk pops are above in all units except the Wenaha.

Deer and elk harvest has been stable the last few years. Archery season is expected to be warm and dry as usual, making hunting conditions a little difficult. Archers in the Sled Springs unit need to be aware of motor vehicle restrictions and no camping restrictions on Hancock Timber property during fire season.

The district has not detected any drop in deer or elk populations as a result of wolf activity.

NORTH COAST DISTRICT (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw wildlife management units)

DEER

Black-tailed deer on the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask wildlife management units) survived a very cold, long winter with very little post winter mortality was observed. Deer densities overall are moderate as was the survival of bucks from last year’s hunting season. The best bet for buck hunting will be the Wilson WMU.

There has been a lot of recent clear-cut timber harvest on state forest lands, so be sure to take a look at ODF lands if scouting for areas to hunt deer. Generally, deer densities tend to be highest in the eastern portions of these units. Most industrial forest lands will be open to at least non-motorized access once fire season is over with the exception of Weyerhaeuser lands, most of which will be in a fee access program this fall.

In 2017, the deer bag limit for archery hunters and hunters with a disability permit will continue to be one buck deer having not less than a forked antler.

Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), overall deer numbers appear to be stable to increasing slightly in various areas and buck numbers are fair to good in most areas. The 2016 and 2017 growing seasons were very good which has likely improved overwinter survival. The prevalence of deer hair loss syndrome continues to be present in the district during late winter and into spring and mortalities continue to occur due to this syndrome. The best deer hunting opportunities are the central to eastern portions of the Alsea unit and Siuslaw unit; deer are less abundant and patchy as one gets closer to the ocean.

The Stott Mt – North Alsea Travel Management area provides some walk-in hunting opportunities. Due to private land fire season rules, the vast majority of private industrial forest lands are closed to public access for archery season. Most private lands are not expected to open public access until fire season is officially over as determined by Oregon Department of Forestry, which is typically in October. Hunters must contact the individual companies or check the Oregon Dept. of Forestry website for corporate closures. http://www.ofic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/2017-Closure-Form.pdf

SADDLE MOUNTAIN UNIT

Some areas to look at include Clatsop Ridge, Davis Point, the lower Klaskanine, Young’s, Lewis and Clark and Necanicum Rivers in Clatsop County, and Fall and Crooked creeks in Columbia County. While much of the unit is industrial timber land, most timber companies offer plenty of walk-in access in some areas and open gates for dawn to dusk vehicular access in others, once the fire season is over. See the newly revised North Coast Cooperative Travel Management Area map from ODFW for details.

WILSON UNIT

Clear-cut habitat is increasing, with much of it occurring on state (ODF) forest lands. Areas with recent logging include the lower Wilson River, North Fork Wilson River, Standard Grade, Buck Mtn. and Camp Olson. Deer populations continue to be on the increase, with excellent buck to doe ratios.

TRASK UNIT

On state forest lands in the western portion, look in the Trask River and lower Wilson River basins. On industrial forest lands, the upper portions of the South Fork Trask River and Widow Creek, as well as Cape Lookout and Cape Meares blocks, have a lot of good habitat.

ELK

On the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask) elk populations are only at moderate levels currently, and achieve their highest densities in the western portions of these WMUs. Bull elk hunting this year should be good in the Wilson and Trask due to high bull survival from last year’s hunting seasons. Both WMUs have general season archery and rifle hunting opportunities. The Saddle Mountain also had good bull survival from the last several seasons, but bull rifle hunting is controlled only.

For archery elk hunters, most industrial forest lands will be open to at least non-motorized access once fire season is over with the exception of Weyerhaeuser lands, most of which will be in a fee access program this fall.

In 2017, the bag limit for elk for disabled hunters in the Saddle Mtn., Wilson and Trask WMUs will not include an antlerless elk. Please check the 2017 Oregon Big Game Regulations for details.

Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), elk population numbers are lower than management objectives for all three units. In 2017, the observed bull ratios were below 10 per 100 cows in both the Stott Mt. and Alsea units, and in 2017 the Siuslaw unit is above 10 bulls per 100 cows. The second rifle bull elk season in Siuslaw has a bag limit of one spike bull; the bull ratio there continues to be highly variable year to year but is appearing to be showing signs of increasing. .

In 2017, the elk bag limit for disabled hunters and archers hunting in the Alsea and Stott Mt. Units is “one bull elk.”

Elk will be scattered throughout the units, with larger numbers of elk close to agricultural valleys. Industrial forestlands north of Hwy 20 typically receive lots of hunting pressure, with young tree plantations providing good visibility and some travel management roads providing walk-in access. Forest Service lands south of Hwy 34 have low to moderate numbers of elk, and are much more difficult to hunt in the thick vegetation and rugged terrain. However, during archery season many industrial landowners are closed due to fire season and state and federal public lands may provide the only access for hunting. Hunters should check with landowners before hunting or check the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s website for fire restrictions and closures.

We advise hunters to be aware that Weyerhaeuser may implement a permit/lease program on their lands for the 2018-19 hunting seasons next year and to check with Weyerhaeuser for more information (www.Wyrecreationnw.com )

SADDLE MOUNTAIN

Elk rifle hunting in this unit is all limited entry, but archery elk hunting is through a single general season. Both seasons are managed under a 3-point minimum regulation. Areas with higher elk numbers and open habitat include Tillamook Head, Davis Point, the lower Klaskanine, Young’s, Necanicum and Lewis and Clark Rivers, Ecola Creek, and upper Rock Creek.

WILSON UNIT

Bull elk rifle and archery hunting is through general seasons, and the second coast elk rifle season has a bag limit of a “spike-only” bull. Some popular hunting areas are the lower Wilson River, God’s Valley, Cook Creek, upper North Fork Nehalem River, Standard Grade, Buck Mtn. and Camp Olson.

WESTERN TRASK UNIT

For archery elk hunters the bag limit for 2017 continues to be one bull with a visible antler, and this applies to the entire unit. Like with the Wilson unit, bull elk rifle and archery hunting is through general seasons, and the second coast elk season has a bag limit of a “spike-only” bull. Some popular areas with higher numbers of elk and open habitats include Cape Lookout, Cape Meares, Wilson River tributaries, lower Nestucca River and the Trask River, especially the South Fork.

STOTT MOUNTAIN, ALSEA UNITS

Some popular areas to hunt elk in the Stott Mountain Unit include the South Fork Siletz River, Fanno Ridge, Gravel Creek, Mill Creek, Elk Creek, Euchre Creek, and the mainstem Siletz River. Popular elk hunting areas in the Alsea include the Yachats River, Five Rivers, North Fork Siuslaw River, Big Rock Creek Road, Luckiamute River, Airlie, Burnt Woods, Grant Creek, Wolf Creek, Logsden, Pee Dee Creek, and Dunn Forest.

NORTH WILLAMETTE DISTRICT (Scappoose, eastern Trask, north Willamette, north Santiam wildlife management units)

DEER

Hunters heading to the North Willamette Watershed (Scappoose, north Willamette, eastern Trask and north Santiam Wildlife Management Units) should find good hunting opportunities for black-tailed bucks. An increase in post-season buck ratios in the Scappoose (22 buck per 100 does), and eastern Trask WMUs (30 bucks per 100 does) should increase the number of mature bucks for hunters in the Coast Range. A downturn in the buck ratios in the north Santiam WMU (19 bucks per 100 does) will make finding a legal buck a little more difficult but large, mature bucks are still frequently harvested in the unit. Regardless of which WMU you hunt, the late closure (Nov. 3) of rifle buck season should produce good hunting opportunities during the last few weeks of the season. Deer Hair Loss Syndrome continues to be more prevalent in the Scappoose Unit but only spotty in the low elevation lands in the eastern Trask and north Santiam units.

Hunters are reminded to contact local timber companies to obtain updated access information and check the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s website for fire restrictions and closures. Archery hunters may find many industrial timberlands closed to access due to fire season restrictions. State and Federal lands typically remain open during the archery season and provide the primary hunting opportunities.

Hunter access to the majority of Weyerhaeuser lands in the Scappoose, eastern Trask and north Santiam WMUs will be limited to those hunters who purchased an entry permit. Hunters can obtain a 2017 North Coast Travel Management Area map showing landownership and access opportunities at the northwest Oregon ODFW district offices. The majority of properties in the Willamette Unit are privately-owned and hunters are reminded to obtain permission before hunting on those lands. Hunters headed to the north Santiam have a variety of access opportunities from federal forestland, private timberland and agricultural properties.

SCAPPOOSE WMU

Increased buck escapement from the last two seasons should result in above average hunting this fall. While younger age class bucks typically make up the majority of the harvest, hunters should also find a few mature bucks to keep things interesting. Hunters should be looking for habitat that has a variety of plant components and associated water sources for deer concentrations. Hunters with access to agricultural lands will find higher populations of deer. Some areas to locate deer this fall include Tater Hill, Long Mt., Serafin Point, Burgdorfer Flat, Buck Mt. Bunker Hill, Baker Point, Bacona, and the hills above Pebble Creek.

EAST TRASK WMU

Deer surveys show a good increase in buck ratios and opportunities for deer hunters should be above average this fall in the eastern portion of the Trask WMU. Some of the best hunting is on private timberlands where timber harvest has occurred within the last three to five years. Hunters wanting to experience less road traffic and more walk-in hunting opportunities are encouraged to explore the Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area located west of Henry Hagg Lake. Some areas with good habitat include the upper portions of the Yamhill and Tualatin Rivers, Trask Mountain, Barney Reservoir, Pumpkinseed Mt., Green Top, and Willamina Creek.

NORTH SANTIAM WMU

The north Santiam Unit buck ratios decreased to 19 bucks per 100 does so prospects for those hunters willing to hunt thick cover where deer concentrate should be average this season. Hunters will find a wide diversity of terrain in the WMU, ranging from high elevation meadows, thick old growth forests, industrial forestlands and agricultural fields, so a variety of hunting styles can be accommodated. Whether hunters choose to still hunt, set up a tree stand, rattle antlers or conduct deer drives, scouting will be critical for success. Hunters looking to stay closer to home should consider hunting on industrial forestlands where land managers are reporting deer damage to recently planted conifer stands. Some locations to consider include the upper Collawash and Clackamas Rivers, Granite Peaks, High Rocks, Butte Creek, and Molalla River.

NORTH WILLAMETTE WMU

The long hunting season in the Willamette Unit should provide hunters with a very good opportunity to harvest a deer this season. Deer damage to agricultural crops remains high throughout the northern portion of the unit. Hunters are reminded that land within this unit is primarily privately owned. Hunters need to have established a good relationship with landowners to ensure a hunting opportunity. Hunters can find some public land hunting opportunities in the Willamette River area (http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=194); many of the hunting spots are also listed on ODFW’s Hunting Access Map.

ELK

Bull elk hunting in the coastal mountains of the North Willamette District should be similar to last year in both the Scappoose and eastern Trask WMUs. Overall elk populations in both WMUs are below the Management Objective and antlerless elk tags available to hunters will be similar to 2016 with the exception of a few agricultural damage hunts in the southwest portions of the WMU. In the Scappoose WMU, elk are more numerous in the timberlands of the northwestern and agricultural lands along Hwy 26. In the eastern Trask, elk are widely scattered and can be found near agricultural fields and within the private timberlands.

In the north Santiam WMU, elk populations in the Mt. Hood National Forest continue to decline due to limited forage availability. Hunters will find the majority of elk on the industrial forestlands and agricultural fields at lower elevations. Hunters should concentrate their efforts on these low elevation lands for their best chance of success. Contacting private landowners prior to the hunting season will be the key to finding these elk. Hunters are reminded to always ask for permission before entering private lands.

The majority of Weyerhaeuser lands in the Scappoose, eastern Trask and northern Santiam WMU’s are limited to those hunters who have a lease agreement or acquired an access permit.

SCAPPOOSE WMU

Harvest should continue to be dominated by younger age class bulls but there should be a few mature bulls available for the persistent hunter. Hunting opportunities for antlerless elk will increase slightly due to changes in a few controlled hunt boundaries (North Plains hunts 1-4) in the southwest portion of the WMU. Hunters are reminded that most of the timberland managers within this WMU participate in the North Coast Travel Management Area and hunters should read and follow all posted regulations to ensure continued access. Some areas to consider include Upper McKay Creek, Green Mountain, Buck Mt., and Bunker Hill.

EAST TRASK WMU

Bulls will be widely scattered throughout the WMU and hunters are encouraged to spend time scouting in order to locate elk before the season begins. Late season antlerless elk hunting opportunities will be similar to 2016 to address elk damage concerns in some areas. Hunters that have drawn an antlerless elk tag should still have good success if they can find elk concentrated near agricultural fields and low elevation timber stands. Hunters need to be aware of frequent changes of land ownership in the agricultural-forest fringes and always ask for permission before entering private lands. Hunters wanting to do more walk-in hunting should be looking at the Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area west of Forest Grove as a good option. Other areas to consider include Trask Mt., Stony Mt., Windy Point and Neverstill.

NORTH SANTIAM WMU

Declining elk numbers within the Mt. Hood National Forest will make for poor elk hunting on public lands and hunter success should be average on lower elevation private timberlands. Hunters heading for the Mt. Hood National Forest will find elk highly scattered and difficult to locate. Scout early and often to be successful there. Places to begin scouting include Timothy Lake, Rhododendron Ridge and Granite Peaks. At lower elevations, hunters should explore Butte Creek, Upper Molalla River and Eagle Creek.

SOUTH WILLAMETTE DISTRICT (S. Santiam, McKenzie, N. Indigo wildlife management units)

DEER and ELK

Although the long-term harvest and hunter participation trend has been declining for both deer and elk, over the last couple of years harvest has stabilized and success rates have seen a slight increase. Hunters that are knowledgeable about habitat, take the time to scout, and then hunt hard will have the best chance for success. Populations are strongly tied to habitat conditions and hunting prospects are fair to good in places with high quality habitat. Hunting prospects are poor in lower quality habitats.

Forage is key to good deer and elk habitat. Early seral (brush and forb) forest conditions provide some of the best deer and elk forage. On public lands, early seral habitat is often found in areas burned by wildfire and may be found in thinned areas if the enough trees were removed. On private timber land, forage is best in clearcuts beginning a couple years after the timber harvest.

Access to private timber land is continually changing. Hunters need to ensure they have permission before hunting on private lands. Weyerhaeuser has expanded their fee permit and lease program this year. Hunters that usually hunt Weyerhaeuser land will want to check the Weyerhaeuser website to see if the area they hunt is now included in their fee program.

Elk herds are below populations Management Objectives resulting in reduced antlerless hunting opportunities, particularly on public lands. However, herds are at or above bull ratio Management Objectives indicating opportunities for mature bulls.

Black-tailed deer populations are meeting buck ratio Management Objectives but are below population benchmarks. Rifle hunters typically find the best success in the later portions of the season when the leaves drop and the rut approaches. Archery deer hunters consistently have the best success during the late season.

S. Santiam

The old B&B Fire in the Santiam Pass area continues to hold good numbers of deer but the brush is becoming fairly thick making the hunting a bit more challenging. Still, this is a good early season place to hunt on National Forest lands if the private lands are closed to access. Elk can be found around the edges of the burned area.

McKenzie

The Wendling TMA is still open to free public hunting access and will be in operation from Sept. 30 through Nov. 30. This time period will allow increased access for late season archery, muzzleloader, and youth hunters. The Wendling TMA is a good area for both deer and elk hunting. Refer to the kiosks located at the TMA entry points or call (541) 741-5403 prompt #6 for updated Wendling TMA access information. Please be advised that 2017 will be the last year that the Wendling TMA is in operation. Weyehaeuser, the primary landowner, is withdrawing from the TMA agreement and will be converting their lands into fee access starting in 2018. Hunters should check with the other private landowners for access information starting in 2018.

N. Indigo

In the Indigo, the Tumblebug Fire that burned in the upper Middle Fork Willamette drainage improved deer habitat and the deer population in the area is expected to improve over the next few years. Additionally, the US Forest Service and sporting organizations such as Oregon Hunters Association and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have been hard at work thinning old clearcuts to improving forage conditions south of Hills Creek Reservoir. These habitat projects will help maintain the deer and elk populations in the area. Still, the strongest deer and elk populations occur on private lands where expansive timber harvest results in improved forage. Please remember to check access restrictions before hunting on private lands.

UMPQUA DISTRICT – COOS COUNTY (west Tioga, west Powers, north Sixes, southwest Siuslaw)

DEER

Deer population abundance appears to continue to be stable in Coos County, overall. Deer herd dynamics such as buck ratio is measured after the General Rifle Buck Season concludes each year to indicate how many bucks survived the hunting season and will be available the following season. Surveys conducted after the 2016 season indicate the buck ratio is adequate to provide good opportunities for hunters to be successful in the 2017 season. Based on those surveys, it appears buck ratio in the Tioga Unit is down some but still high enough for a good season if weather is cooperative. As in the past, surveys indicate deer densities are highest in the Sixes and Powers Units.

Hunt for deer in brushy openings, meadows and clear cuts where brush is beginning to grow up. Areas where vehicle access is limited will be the most productive. Scouting before the season will increase your odds of success.

In the past few years there have been some large tracts of private timber company lands that changed ownership. Some of the new owners have different public access policies than past owners. Hunters need to make contact with private landowners and managers to ensure they may access private land where they intend to hunt. In some cases, land owners and managers will charge a fee for access. Luckily there is still a large amount of Bureau of Land Management lands, National Forest land and the Elliott State Forest for hunters to hunt. It is imperative that hunters know what land they are accessing and what the policy is regarding access. A good way to determine whether access is allowed to a piece of land is to look for signs at access points to timberlands. Often these signs will provide information as whether public access is allowed and whether permits are required. If permits are required, there may be information on how to obtain them.

Another issue hunters need to be prepared for is restrictions for access to private lands due to fire concerns. This is especially true of hunters who want to hunt the bow season in late August and September. While the spring was quite wet in Western Oregon, the summer has dried things out. This has resulted in a situation where grass grew well and it is now dry and ready to burn easily. Hunters may find access will be restricted until the fire conditions subside.

ELK

Elk populations are above the Management Objective in the Sixes Unit and close to objective in Powers and Tioga. Bull ratios have been relatively good in all units. Generally moisture retention is best on north slopes and as a result grass growth is best there. Those hunting in bow season should concentrate their efforts on these slopes. Fall rains, when they come, will have an effect on elk distribution in the controlled bull seasons in November.

Often the most important factor that determines where elk will be found is human activity. Elk can be expected to move to places where vehicle and other human activity are minimized. During times of significant human activity, like during controlled bull seasons, human disturbance can be more important in determining elk distribution than food availability. So road closures are often the best places to find elk on a regular basis. Within these areas, hunting may be best on north-facing slopes in the early seasons. A particularly productive habitat type to hunt in the Oregon Coast Range is where foresters have thinned timber stands. Thinning the tree canopy encourages grass and brush growth on the ground, improving feed quality.

In the past few years there have been some large tracts of private timber company lands that changed ownership. Some of the new owners have different public access policies than past owners. As is the case for deer hunters, elk hunters need to make contact with private landowners and managers to ensure they may access private land the hunter intends hunt. In some cases land owners and managers will charge a fee for access. Luckily there is still a large amount of Bureau of Land Management lands, National Forest land and the Elliott State Forest for hunters to hunt. It is imperative that hunters know what land they are accessing and what the policy is regarding access. A good way to determine whether access is allowed to a piece of land is to look for signs at access points to timberlands. Often these signs will provide information as whether public access is allowed and whether permits are required. If permits are required, there may be information on how to obtain them.

Another issue hunters need to be prepared for is restrictions for access to private lands due to fire concerns. This is especially true of hunters who want to hunt the bow season in late August and September. While the spring was quite wet in Western Oregon the summer has dried things out. This has resulted in a situation where grass grew well and it is now dry and ready to burn easily. Hunters may find access will be restricted until the fire conditions subside.

UMPQUA DISTRICT – DOUGLAS COUNTY (Dixon, S. Indigo, NW Evans Creek, Melrose, SW Siuslaw, E. Tioga and NE Powers Units)

DEER and ELK

Deer hunting should be good in the Cascades and Umpqua Valley. Elk hunting in the Cascade Units should be about the same as the past few years.

Despite a prolonged winter season, spring surveys indicate good over-winter survival for deer and elk in the Douglas portion of the Umpqua District. The fawns per adult deer ratios in the Dixon, Indigo and Melrose have been stable to increasing over the last few years. Elk numbers in the Tioga Unit are close to population management objective and doing well. Cascade deer and elk hunters will have better success hunting areas with good cover adjacent to openings. Some of the better wildlife openings are created by clearcuts, thinnings, or wildfire after several years. Hunters need to check weather forecasts frequently as that will play a key role with fire season restrictions and hunting access.

Over the past few years, Western Oregon rifle deer hunters have done fairly well in the Cascade Units (Indigo/Dixon) and recent surveys show that trend should continue as long as the weather cooperates. Cascade elk hunters have averaged about 5% success over the past few years and this year is expected to be the same.

The large amount of fire activity in the district recently will create great big game habitat in the years to come. However, in the short term, hunters may want to concentrate their efforts elsewhere and stay out of the very recently burned areas. Hunters unfamiliar with this area are advised to hunt smarter, not harder. Use Google Earth or Google Map (Satellite layer) to explore the area with a birds-eye view and get an idea of the terrain and vegetation. Get a hold of some good maps from the Forest Service/BLM/Local Fire Protection Association and use them in conjunction with Google Map to locate areas away from roads that will provide you a quality hunting experience. Another good source of information is to view historic fire perimeters online (https://www.geomac.gov/viewer/viewer.shtml).

These maps will give you an idea where large areas have been opened up by wildfire which enhances forage opportunities for deer and elk. Find the food, and you’ll find the game.

ROGUE DISTRICT (Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon, and Sixes)

DEER

Overall black-tailed deer populations remain good in our district, in general the Rogue, Dixon, Evans Creek and Applegate units within Jackson County have mostly a migratory deer population. Within these units hunt in high elevation (4000+ft) during the early half of the season and hunt lower elevation (4000ft) during the late half of the season after deer have migrated. Deer in Josephine and Curry County will be found at all elevations throughout the season.

Big game hunting statistics indicate that all units within Jackson, Josephine, and Curry County had a slight increase in black-tailed deer hunter success last year. The Rogue unit had a success of 20% in 2016 which is up from 19% in 2015. Dixon is up from 27% to 31%, Evans Creek increased from 32% to 34%, Applegate is now at 31% compared to 27%, and the Chetco dropped to 37% from 39%. Most units show an increase in success compared to 2015, however over the past four years deer hunter harvest has remained roughly the same in all five units, indicating that this year should be the same.

ELK

Elk numbers in recent years are lower on most of the public lands and pre-season scouting is very important. As most private timberlands are closed until fire season restrictions are lifted, look for many hunters to be sharing our public lands. The best place to look is on lands with minimal roads and north facing slopes during periods of warm/dry weather.

Cascade General Elk season success rates have been roughly the same over recent years with the Evans Creek success slightly up and the Rogue Unit slightly down. Chetco coastal seasons hunter success was down, with first season at 25% and second season at 10%. Applegate coastal seasons were down in 2016, the first season was only a 1% success and the second season had a 6% success.

King-sized Prize At Westport Derby

The top prize at the annual Westport salmon derby has quadrupled for 2017, from $2,500 to a whopping $10,000, thanks to a generous donation from a small Southwest Washington grocery chain.

An effort to draw more anglers to this coastal town as well as support its charter association, the money is being put up by Shop’n Kart, and to claim that prize, you’ll need to first purchase a derby ticket, fish aboard one of the participating boats and catch the biggest Chinook of the season. Easy sneezy!

Make sure to buy a derby ticket when you fish out of Westport – there’s a supersized prize of $10,000 for this year’s biggest Chinook landed aboard a charter boat. This 30-pounder was caught in June 2014 off the Tequila Too on a trip Kelly Corcoran took. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

King season kicks off July 1 in WDFW’s Marine Area 2.

However, a glance at the Westport Charterboat Association’s winner logs since 2000 shows the largest kings being caught between July 27 and Aug. 27, including a 50-3-pounder (“in the round” weight, meaning gutted and gilled) landed Aug. 19, 2004, during a return of exceptionally large kings that year. That fish was caught by Ann Diehm aboard the Fury, but the honor of putting anglers onto the season’s biggest has been shared amongst the fleet. Last year’s biggest was landed by the Freedom, 2015’s on the Fury, with the Stardust, Spindrift, Playboy Too, Hula Girl, Pescatore, Gold Rush and Ms. Magoo all claiming at least one.

This year will also see a return of a prize for biggest coho, after silver fishing was closed off Westport last year. A cool $2,500 will go to whomever catches that fish.

For more information, see westportgrayland-chamber.org and charterwestport.com, and for in-season updates, scope out Westport Weighmaster on Facebook.

ODFW Looking For Input On 2017 Columbia Gorge, Tribs Steelhead Seasons

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will host a public meeting on May 11 to solicit input for recreational summer steelhead fisheries upstream of Bonneville Dam in the mainstem Columbia River and adjacent streams, including the lower Deschutes and John Day rivers. The meeting that will be held at the ODFW Screen Shop, 3561 Klindt Drive, in The Dalles.  The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m.

COLUMBIA GORGE STEELHEAD ANGLERS LIKE ROGER GUZMAN, HERE WITH A JOHN DAY-AREA SUMMER-RUN, ARE BEING ASKED FOR INPUT ON THIS YEAR’S SEASONS. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Forecasted 2017 returns for Columbia and Snake River summer steelhead are at unprecedentedly low levels and restrictions to recreational fisheries will be necessary. The agenda will include an overview of the 2017 summer steelhead forecast and Columbia River fall fisheries proposals.  Management issues and the season structure for Columbia River sport fisheries (including the lower Deschutes and John Day rivers) will be discussed.

People who cannot attend the meeting can send input to John North (john.a.north@state.or.us), Rod French (rod.a.french@state.or.us), or Tucker Jones (tucker.a.jones@state.or.us)

RMEF Grants To Benefit Habitat, Elk Research In 14 Counties

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $269,750 in grant funding to assist with habitat stewardship projects and elk research in the state of Oregon.

The grants benefit 9,106 acres across Baker, Crook, Douglas, Grant, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Morrow, Tillamook, Union, Wallowa and Yamhill Counties.

NEARLY $270,000 IN GRANTS FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION WILL BENEFIT OVER 9,100 ACRES IN 14 OREGON COUNTIES. (RMEF)

“The Starkey Experimental Forest and Range offers a unique opportunity to study elk behavior, nutrition, population densities, habitat conditions and other elements that can benefit at-large elk populations,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Additional grant funding will enhance elk habitat through a variety of hands-on stewardship work across Oregon.”

Since 1986, RMEF and its partners completed 856 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Oregon with a combined value of more than $56.9 million. These projects conserved or enhanced 792,276 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 90,703 acres.

Volunteers in Oregon raised the funding by hosting chapter banquets, membership drives and other events.

Here is a sampling of the 2017 projects, listed by county:

Grant County—Provide funding to place radio collars on five elk on the Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area so researchers can better understand elk migration from winter to summer range in order to guide future collaring projects and management decisions including harvest timing and allocation.

Lane County—Enhance 299 acres of Roosevelt elk habitat on the Willamette National Forest through a combination of prescribed burning and noxious weed treatment followed by mulching, inoculation with fungi, seeding and planting burned and sprayed areas, and installation of three wildlife water guzzlers.

Union County—Thin 820 acres from the Starkey Wildlife Management Unit on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to create a mosaic of cover and open area to increase forage quantity and quality as a benefit to elk habitat, increase forest resiliency to insect outbreaks and fire, and help restore ecological functions within the watershed (also benefits Baker County); and provide funding for research at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range to determine if elk population performance increases at lower densities which will assist managers to more effectively set population management objectives in order to maximize population performance, hunter opportunity and increase understanding of the nutritional and habitat requirements of mule deer.

Go here for a complete project listing.

Oregon project partners include the Deschutes, Fremont, Malheur, Ochoco, Siuslaw, Umatilla, Wallowa-Whitman, and Willamette National Forests, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and private landowners as well as sportsmen, government, civic and other organizations.

Oregon Controlled Tag Deadline Just 2 Weeks Away, May 15

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Fall may be months away but it’s time to start planning your big game hunt. Don’t forget to apply for a controlled hunt by Monday, May 15 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

Apply online, at a license sales agent or ODFW office that sells licenses, or by mail/fax order. The cost is $8 per application and hunters need a 2017 annual hunting license to apply.
Last year, more than half of the 467,028 applications were submitted in the last week before the deadline, including nearly 74,149 on deadline day. Many hunters wait till the last minute to apply, which can cause long lines at license sales stores and ODFW offices.

HUNTER CJ ZITA (RIGHT) WITH HIS 2016 COLUMBIA BASIN PREMIUM DEER, A FINE MULEY BUCK. (VIA ODFW)

“Get your application in early to avoid the long lines and if you do wait until the last minute, be sure to check store hours where you plan to apply,” recommends Linda Lytle, ODFW license sales manager. ‘Remember you can submit an application online until 11:59 p.m. PT on May 15.”

Lytle also urged hunters to avoid common mistakes on applications. “Double check your hunt number against the 2017 Oregon Big Game Regulations, make sure your party leader number is correct, and check your current preference points at the My Hunter Information page,” she said. “And before you walk out of the store or ODFW office, check your application to be sure it’s correct.”

New this year as part of efforts to simplify the regulations, final tag numbers are already printed in the 2017 Oregon Big Game Regulations. (Previously, big game tag numbers for fall were not formally adopted until June.) Due to the severe winter in parts of eastern Oregon and higher winter mortality of wildlife, there have been some tag reductions for deer and pronghorn hunts in Baker, Union and northern Malheur county units. More information

ODFW limits the number of tags for some hunts (all rifle deer and most rifle elk hunting in eastern Oregon, plus all pronghorn, Rocky Mtn goat and bighorn sheep hunting) to fairly distribute tags and control hunting pressure. Hunters who apply for one of the controlled deer, elk or pronghorn hunts and don’t draw their first choice receive a preference point for that hunt series, which increases their chances the following year.

While the most sought after hunts can take more than 10 years to draw, every hunter has a chance to draw each year. Only 75 percent of tags are awarded based on preference points; the remaining 25 percent are awarded randomly among first choice applicants. Find out more about how the process works on ODFW’s Controlled Hunts page.

2016 Premium Hunt Winners rave about experience

Last year was the first year that Oregon offered “Premium Hunts,” special deer, elk and pronghorn tags with a months-long hunting season that includes both early and late season opportunity. The same number of tags are available this year—one Premium Deer tag in each of Oregon’s 67 wildlife management units, one Premium Elk tag in 59 hunts, and one Premium Pronghorn tag in 27 hunts. (A few elk and pronghorn Premium Hunts include two units.)

Unlike regular controlled hunts, Premium Hunts don’t use preference points, so every hunter who applies has the same chance ever year. Premium Hunts are also considered additional hunting opportunities, meaning hunters who draw one of these tags can still hunt on a regular controlled or general season big game tag. The hunts are open to both residents and non-residents and are not “once-in-a-lifetime” hunts, so hunters can reapply even if they drew a Premium Hunt tag last year. Applications also cost $8 and Premium Hunt tags are the same price as other deer, elk and pronghorn tags.

While the bag limit for Premium Hunts is any-sex, most 2016 Premium Hunt winners took a male animal. Among hunters who reported, 39 Premium Deer hunters took four-point bucks and 18 Premium Elk hunters took six-point bulls.

Second-year hunter Kayla Hathorn of Bonanza, Ore. says “I’ve never seen, or imagined getting any harvest larger than a four-point.” She took a six-point buck in the Sprague Unit.

“The length of the hunt gave me a chance to grow as a beginner elk hunter and I really became a better elk hunter overall,” said Nick Baszler of Creswell, Ore., who took an impressive elk in Sled Springs Unit.

Kent Berkey of Enterprise, Ore. took a very nice mule deer buck in the Imnaha Unit. “I looked at over 60 bucks, all on public lands, and saw two bigger than the one I harvested,” he said.

Tim Mickelson of Independence, Ore. took a “speedgoat” aka a pronghorn in Beatys Butte. “It was so nice being able to hunt speed goats that had not been pressured by other hunters,” Mickelson said. “Thank you ODFW for the unique opportunity to harvest this unique, beautiful, symbol of the American West.”

The most applied-for units for Premium Hunt applications last year were Metolius for deer, Mt Emily for elk and Juniper for pronghorn while the least applied-for were Sixes for deer, Klamath Falls for elk, and Sprague for pronghorn.

See pictures of the winners, hear their stories and learn more at ODFW’s Premium Hunts page or Facebook page. Applications for Premium Hunts are also due by May 15, 2017.

Mayday! Columbia Springer Run Sets New Low Through April

Ever try to start your rig and it just won’t turn over?

R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r.

R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r.

R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r.

That’s what comes to mind this morning as I look at the spring Chinook count.

Faced with high, cold flows pumping down the Columbia, the 2017 run has had a heckuva time getting going. Only 10 through March 15, triple digits not reached till April 8, the thousand-fish mark breached April 21, just under 3,350 through yesterday.

R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r.

A FISHING BOAT RUNS UPSTREAM IN THE WESTERN COLUMBIA GORGE ON THE LAST DAY OF THE FISHERY THIS YEAR. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The collection of emails from Fish HQ with the words “record low” is slowly building towards grimmer signs.

The Bonneville tally through yesterday, April 30, is less than 60 percent of the old record low for the same date, and not even 6 percent of the 10-year average.

R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r.

A total of 3,347 have been counted, well below 1949’s 5,770, the former record low.

And it’s a fraction of 1998’s and 1999’s very low runs in the upper 30,000s, though those appear to have been early-timed returns.

R-r-r-r.

“Weird year. Washington Lower Columbia hatcheries are on track based on the preseason forecasts,” says fisheries biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver. “Willamette only has 16 fish through the falls fishway through April 27.”

“Flows, water temps, and pinnipeds all probably are affecting the counts,” he adds.

It almost felt like the run was going to turn over coming out of April’s second fishery extension. Good numbers were caught, especially below Bonneville.

R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-vrooom-r-r-r.

But in the week after it closed, the count didn’t do much.

Elizabeth Daly at Oregon State University wonders if fishcounting devices at the dam have been affected by water conditions, but she has her doubts that high flows are slowing the progress of springers upstream.

Daly, a senior faculty research assistant at OSU’s and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cooperative Institute for Marine Resource Studies in Newport, was a coauthor of a paper published earlier this year that predicted this year’s springer run could come in well below the forecast of 166,000-plus above-Bonneville-bound fish.

She says the paper didn’t give a specific forecast, but gave a range of 200,000 down to 80,000, based on different indicators.

R-r-r-r-r-r-r.

Bill Monroe had an interesting tidbit in an Oregonian article that came out 10 days ago. He wrote:

John North, a biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Columbia River program, said a rough look at 152 coded wire tags recovered by fish checkers from anglers showed nearly a quarter of the salmon were close to the 24-inch mark.

However, he said, all were 4- and 5-year-old adults.

When this year’s returning adults went to sea as juveniles in summer 2015, The Blob was at its strongest, most destructive for Northwest fish and wildlife.

Offshore surveys found spring Chinook that were “thin, with empty stomachs, just not doing well,” says Daly.

(OSU/NOAA)

“That first year is really critical to survival to adulthood,” she says.

Many probably died, starved or eaten.

Perhaps for some reason this year’s springers are just behaving differently, Daly wonders.

Similar to the adult count, jacks are just 2 percent of the 10-year average. Packed with fat for their long upstream journeys to spawning grounds they’ll visit in summer, maybe springers can afford to wait a bit for better flows.

But on the other hand, steelhead don’t appear to be having issues at Bonneville. Though this year’s return is below the average over the past decade, that rate held steady through April.

This speculation springs to mind: Perhaps a Blob-hamstrung year-class just doesn’t have the strength to swim upstream in the face of such cold volumes of water pouring downstream?

I call this my “have your springer and eat it too” theory.

For the time being, me and Daly will continue watching the dam count — “every day,” she says — hoping there’s some gas in the tank somewhere.

R-r.

2017 Washington Lowland Trout Opener Catch Stats

It was a sunny, mild, blustery, rainy and chilly lowland trout opener depending on where you were fishing in Washington today, as anglers took to the lakes to try and catch their limit of rainbow trout, a tradition that goes back decades, as well as specially tagged fish good for prizes in WDFW’s derby.

Numerous 20-inch-plus rainbows were caught, and Jameson Lake had one of the highest average stringers with 4.37 per angler.

JAMESON LAKES PRODUCED SOME OF THE FULLEST STRINGERS ON WASHINGTON’S OPENING DAY OF TROUT SEASON, AS EVIDENCED BY KALEY BAKER’S CATCH AT THE DOUGLAS COUNTY LAKE. (WDFW)

Here is the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife creel sample summaries for April 22 opener lakes on both sides of the mountains where they had staffers talking with anglers and recording the catches:

Chelan County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Wapato 75 204 50 3.39 2.72 19 inch Rainbow Angler Participation seemed lower than usual, likely due to a concurrent fishing derby on nearby Lake Chelan. However, anglers were very pleased with the numbers and quality of fish.
Douglas County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Jameson 19 83 9 4.84 4.37 24 inch Rainbow Good weather. Anglers were very happy about the 400+ 4-lb. jumbo Rainbows that were recently stocked. Fingerling plants from 2016 showed nice growth with most being 12 – 14″.
Ferry County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Ellen Lake 27 28 17 1.7 1 14 inch Rainbow Water was very high and cold, but the weather was nice today. Overall, angler turnout was low. Slow fishing day for most anglers on this lake.
Grant County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Blue 63 204 2 3.27 3.24 16 inch Rainbow Anglers were met with sunny, but partly cloudy skies, warm temperatures (high of 70F), and calm winds (<10mph). Quality trout fishing returned to Blue Lake in 2017 after an abysmal 2016. Several boat and shoreline anglers caught their limit of trout early in the morning, within an hour, and before WDFW creel surveyers showed up to interview them. Most trout were 11-13″ with a few at 14-16″. There are plenty of trout left to catch through the spring.
Deep Lake 67 165 71 3.52 2.46 15 inch Rainbow 1 derby fish caught
Park 79 245 34 3.53 3.1 16 inch Rainbow Anglers were met with sunny, but partly cloudy skies, warm temperatures (high of 70F), and calm winds (<10mph). Quality trout fishing returned to Park Lake in 2017 after an abysmal 2016. Several boat and shoreline anglers caught their limit of trout early in the morning, within an hour, and before WDFW creel surveyers showed up to interview them. Most trout were 11-13″ with a few at 14-16″. There are plenty of trout left to catch through the spring.
Perch 12 25 30 4.58 2.08 17 inch Rainbow Anglers were met with sunny, but partly cloudy skies, warm temepratures (high of 70F), and calm winds (<10mph). Mostly 11-12″ trout.
Vic Meyers 14 26 1.86 1.86 15 inch Rainbow Anglers were met with sunny, but partly cloudy skies, warm temepratures (high of 70F), and calm winds (<10mph). Mostly 11-12″ trout. No tagged derby trout checked in creel survey.
Warden 32 86 34 3.75 2.69 12 inch Rainbow Anglers were met with sunny, but partly cloudy skies, warm temepratures (high of 70F), and calm winds (<10mph). Catch rates were high, but smaller than normal trout sizes kept some anglers from harvesting them. Most trout were 10-11 inches. No carryovers recorded in creel survey.
Grays Harbor County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Bowers Lake – Vance # 1 32 58 20 2.44 1.81 25 inch Rainbow Kids derby: winer was 7 lbs 9oz. Lots of anglers early, 97 on this lake.
Duck Lake 3 1 0.33 0.33 12 inch Rainbow Windy and rainy on this year-round lake.
Failor Lake 50 121 36 3.14 2.42 26 inch Rainbow The weather conditions were damp but there were shivering smiles.
Ines Lake – Vance # 2 26 37 24 2.35 1.42 24 inch Rainbow Rainy weather
Lake Aberdeen 107 195 121 2.95 1.82 26 inch Rainbow Kibs Derby: lots of happy kids in spite of the rain.
Lake Sylvia 13 29 16 3.46 2.23 14 inch Rainbow Rainy, a few Cutthroat were caught but mostly Rainbow.
Island County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Deer 20 47 188 11.75 2.35 Lots of jumbos, but lower than normal effort – weather?
King County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Cottage 83 190 82 3.28 2.29 18 inch Rainbow Several jumbos caught.
Geneva 43 137 86 5.19 3.19 16 inch Rainbow Lots of big fish, happy anglers and successful eagles and ospreys. A good day for everyone.
Langlois 66 184 168 5.33 2.79 20 inch Rainbow 1 derby fish caught. The weather was calm.
Margaret 24 89 14 4.29 3.71 13 inch Rainbow 1 derby fish caught.
North 74 244 91 4.53 3.3 16 inch Rainbows Nice weather this morning.
Pine 20 45 2.25 2.25 18 inch Rainbow The trout seemed to be in shallow water.
Shady 12 37 12 4.08 3.08 16 inch Rainbow The anglers were happy.
Steel 8 32 4 4 13 inch Rainbow Very busy and happy fishers.
Walker 15 49 8 3.8 3.27 14 inch Rainbow The wind died down by 9 and weather cooperated for the rest of morning.
Wilderness 40 70 28 2.45 1.75 17 inch Rainbow The morning winds died down into a warm, calm morning on the lake.
Klickitat County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Horsethief 6 35 2 6.17 5.83 Not many anglers checked and fishing was slow.
Rowland 52 151 110 5.02 2.9 Excellent quality fish. Shore fishing was slow but boat anglers did well.
Spearfish 4 8 2 2 Not many anglers checked and fishing was slow.
Lewis County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Carlisle 65 48 76 1.91 0.74 Inclement weather –
Ft. Borst Park Pond 60 85 15 1.67 1.42 One Derby fish caught but fishing was generally slow and weather was poor.
Mineral 130 317 290 4.67 2.44 Busy, and anglers were happy in spite of the poor weather.
Plummer 13 22 1.69 1.69 Inclement weather – shore anglers were not catching fish.
Lincoln County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Fishtrap 20 24 2 1.3 1.2 22 inch Rainbow Great weather and lots of people having fun.
Mason County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Aldrich 18 72 2 4.11 4.00 Lots of kids fishing with their parents. Parking lot full, people left to fish other lakes.
Benson 21 52 15 3.19 2.48 18 inch Rainbow Some larger 16-18 inch fish checked. Happy fishers. The rain made a lot of people leave but many came back out when weather improved..
Clara 14 64 2 4.71 4.57 27 inch Rainbow 3 broodstock Rainbow caught and a 10 inch cutthroat from fall fingerling plants
Devervaux 27 73 26 3.67 2.70 26 inch Rainbow Most people were happy with the fishing. There were many limits. Weather turned bad after midday and most people stopped fishing
Haven 15 41 85 8.40 2.73 13 inch Rainbow Happy fishers until heavy rain sent many people home. Some anglers showed up later, when the weather got better. Heard of one derby tagged fish but not sampled.
Howell 9 30 6 4.00 3.33 17 inch Rainbow Fishers happy with catches. Mild morning, but rainy weather after midmorning made a lot of people stop fishing and leave lake.
Limerick 17 32 5 2.18 1.88 5 lb Rainbow derby fish 3 Rainbow checked in the 3-lb range. Weather was mild and fair until midmorning, then heavy rain squalls and wind made most people stop fishing
Maggie 7 18 2 2.86 2.57 16 inch Rainbow Mild morning, fair fishing until rain and wind pushed most anglers off lake. Most boaters and shore anglers quit. A few started fishing again when weather improved towards noon.
Phillips
Robbins 19 84 3 4.58 4.42 13 inch Rainbow Parking lot full all morning, overflow heading to other nearby lakes lakes.
Tiger 48 145 67 4.42 3.02 17 inch Rainbow Mild morning, fair fishing until rain and wind pushed most anglers off lake, most boaters and shore anglers quit. A few started fishing again when weather improved towards noon.
Wildberry 2 10 5.00 5.00 Mild morning, fair fishing until rain and wind pushed most anglers off lake, most boaters and shore anglers quit. A few started fishing again when weather improved towards noon.
Wood 3 5 1.67 1.67 Mild morning, slow fishing. Rain and wind pushed some anglers off the lake.
Wooten 51 140 151 5.71 2.75 Fishing was pretty good in the morning. It rained midday and made a lot of anglers leave the lake. Weather got better towards noon.
Okanogan County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Conconully Lake 40 86 13 2.5 2.15 15 inch Rainbow Everyone was staying warm and having a good time.
Long 4 8 8 4 4 12 inch Rainbow
Pearrygin 75 66 7 0.97 0.88 14 inch Rainbow Weather was chilly.
Round 17 68 15 4.88 4 13 inch Rainbow
Pacific County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Black Lake 34 43 38 2.38 1.26 25 inch Rainbow Derby winner was 7 lbs 1 oz. Rain chased anglers away after the derby ended.
Cases Pond 13 21 20 3.15 1.62 24 inch Rainbow Derby winner was 6 lbs. Smaller fish weren’t biting, only big fish caught.
Pend Oreille County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Diamond Lake 27 35 2 1.37 1.3 22 inch Rainbow Very high water. Slow fishing compared to most opening days. Weather was nice.
Pierce County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Bay Lake 15 50 8 3.87 3.33
Carney Lake 14 11 33 3.14 0.79
Clear Lake 89 156 120 3.1 1.75 18 inch Rainbow
Crescent Lake 48 151 6 3.27 3.15
Jackson Lake 8 9 14 2.88 1.13
Ohop Lake 23 15 2 0.74 0.65
Rapjohn Lake 32 85 37 3.81 2.66 16 inch Rainbow
Silver Lake 42 81 17 2.33 1.93 22 inch Rainbow 22 inch derby fish caught.
Tanwax Lake 27 76 5 3 2.81 17 inch Rainbow
Skagit County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Erie 31 85 15 3.23 2.74 17 inch Rainbow
Heart 48 91 89 3.75 1.9 23 inch Rainbow
McMurray 71 201 28 3.23 2.83 16 inch Rainbow
Sixteen 25 87 21 4.32 3.48 14 inch Rainbow
Snohomish County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Armstrong 36 26 6 0.89 0.72 21 inch Rainbow The fishing was slow.
Bosworth 28 107 154 9.32 3.82 15 inch Rainbow 2 derby fish caught.
Crabapple 11 17 1.55 1.55 17 inch Rainbow
Echo (Maltby) 10 58 47 10.5 5.8 12 inch Rainbow
Howard 30 92 88 6 3.07 18 inch Cutthroat A good mix jumbos and catchables were caught.
Ki 46 135 39 3.78 2.93 15 inch Rainbow
Martha (AM) 34 87 2 2.62 2.56 17 inch Rainbow 1 derby fish was caught.
Riley 34 72 24 2.82 2.12 15 inch Rainbow
Serene 14 26 54 5.71 1.86 14 inch Rainbow A first-time angler caught their first fish. The weather was nice.
Storm 29 61 88 5.14 2.1 17 inch Rainbow
Wagner 21 19 57 3.62 0.9 14 inch Rainbow The wind died down around 9. The were good size.
Spokane County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Badger 16 41 42 5.2 2.6 11 inch Rainbow & Cutthroat Many happy anglers. Mix of Rainbow, Cutthroat and Kokanee
Clear 24 11 8 0.8 0.3 20 inch Rainbow Mostly Rainbows but some Brown Trout were also caught. Most fish were >15 inches.
Fish 32 47 45 2.9 1.4 15 inch Brook Trout Fishing was red-hot 8-10 am but tailed off after 10. All anglers were satisfied. This lake is popular for catch/release.
West Medical 93 61 22 0.9 0.7 22 inch Rainbow High proportion of large rainbows in the creel. Anglers were happy to get out and enjoy the weather
Williams 35 97 40 3.9 2.8 21 inch Rainbow Lots of happy anglers out enjoying the great weather.
Stevens County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Cedar Lake 4 20 6 6.5 5 14 inch Rainbow Anglers limited in 2-4 hours. Weather was nice, but water is still cold.
Mudgett Lake 13 40 4 3.38 3.07 16 inch Rainbow Nice weather. Water temperature was low. Most of the catch made up of catchables with a few carryovers.
Rocky 8 16 4 2.5 2 17 inch Rainbow Fishing was fairly slow this year. Fish ranged between 9-17 inches.
Starvation Lake 25 46 3 1.96 1.84 14 inch Rainbow Fishing was slower than usual. Water was cold and high. Fish looked healthy and fat.
Waitts Lake 13 9 6 1.15 0.69 20 inch Brown Trout Parking lot/boat launch was flooded, dissuading a lot of anglers from launching boats. Very low turnout compared to usual.
Thurston County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Clear Lake 62 239 24 4.24 3.85 24 inch Rainbow Two derby fish caught.
Deep Lake 30 41 19 2 1.37 Two derby fish caught.
Hicks Lake 45 77 33 2.44 1.71 22 inch Rainbow
McIntosh Lake 21 56 52 5.14 2.67
Pattison Lake 29 40 9 1.69 1.38 16 inch Rainbow
Summit Lake 72 212 135 4.82 2.94 Big average size and numerous fish that were 18 inches.
Ward Lake 23 32 26 2.52 1.39
Whatcom County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Cain 32 107 76 5.72 3.34 21 inch Rainbow
Padden 44 122 30 3.45 2.77 13 inch Rainbow
Silver 108 379 37 3.85 3.51 21 inch Rainbow It was a good day to be fishing.
Toad 43 101 102 4.72 2.35 12 inch Rainbow

Countdown To Trout Town: T-3 Days Till Washington Opener

Last night I made a quick pitstop at Fred Meyer to pick up my fishing license.

That’s because, well, I had to renew since it’s a new license year, but I’ve also got plans for Saturday morning and taking one of the Juniors out for trout.

THE 2012 TROUT OPENER WAS QUITE A LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR RIVER WALGAMOTT. HE LEARNED ABOUT THE JOY OF SHOUTING “FISH ON,” WHICH HE SHOUTED THROUGHOUT THE FIGHT WITH A CLEAR LAKE (PIERCE COUNTY) RAINBOW THAT DAY – “FISH ON FISH ON FISH ON FISH ON!” (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

April 22 is the fishiest day in Washington angling, the general lowland opener at a mess of lakes from the coast to the Cascades to Cheney.

RIVER ALSO LEARNED ABOUT THE JOY OF BOATS – ADAM BROOKS WONDERS WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THE WALGAMOTT KID. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW has been busy in recent weeks, stocking them plumb full of rainbows, including around 150,000 pound-on-average trout and 2.3 million catchables, along with millions that were stocked as fry last year and now have reached harvestable size.

RIVER LEARNED ABOUT THE JOY OF TEAMWORK. WHILE ADAM REELS IN ANOTHER, HE AND ADAM’S BROTHER RYAN READY THE NET. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

“These are all high-quality fish that are significantly larger than our regular catchable trout, and those 3-pounders are outstanding fish,” says Steve Thiesfeld, who manages the Inland Fish Program, about several thousand triploids in the mix.

RYAN AND RIVER LEARNED ABOUT THE JOY OF BEING ON THE WATER, STARING INTO ITS MURKY DEPTHS AND WONDERING WHEN THE FISH WERE GONNA BITE – OR MAYBE EVEN COMPLETELY FORGETTING WHY THEY WERE ON THE LAKE THAT DAY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

To find out what’s gone into your lake, check out this year’s stocking plan. Don’t have a lake?!? May we introduce you to WDFW’s handy-dandy LakeFinder website?

ADAM, RIVER AND RYAN LEARNED ABOUT THE JOY OF A STOUT STRINGER – AND NOT TO TAKE THEMSELVES SO SERIOUSLY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The agency is also putting on its second statewide trout derby, with even more tagged fish and prizes — 1,000 rainbows bearing yellow tags, each with a number corresponding to $25,000 worth of prizes, including gear as well as year-long subscriptions to Northwest Sportsman magazine.

THE JOY OF FISHING ON THE OPENER WILL PUT A LITTLE SPRING IN ANYONE’S STEP. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Whether you’re fishing worms under a bobber from the bank, trolling spinners or small plugs from a boat, flailing a good ol’ Woolly Bugger from a pontoon or helping a youngster to catch their first, good luck, and thanks for taking part in the richest tradition in Washington fishing!

WDFW Scrubs April 24-25 Clam Digs; Decision Next Week On April 26-May 1 Opener

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

State shellfish managers have canceled the first two days (April 24 and 25) of a tentatively planned eight-day razor clam dig due to rising marine toxin levels.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will announce next week whether the rest of the dig, now scheduled to begin April 26, will go forward as planned.

BAD MOJO FOR RAZOR CLAMMERS. (NOAA)

Recent tests have found toxin levels at all ocean beaches meet health standards, but the Washington Department of Health has asked for one more test to be sure, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW.

“In the last few days, we’ve seen increasing levels of the algae that can cause domoic acid in ocean water,” Ayres said. “We just want to make sure razor clams are safe to eat before giving the green light on this dig.”

Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. The toxin has disrupted razor clam digs along Washington’s coast over the past two years.

More information about domoic acid can be found on WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/domoic_acid.html.

The department will announce the results of the upcoming toxin test early next week on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.

The proposed dig, along with morning low tides and beaches, is listed below:

  • April 26, Wednesday, 7:09 a.m.; -1.1 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach
  • April 27, Thursday, 7:55 a.m.; -1.5 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Long Beach
  • April 28, Friday, 8:42 a.m.; -1.8 feet, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Long Beach
  • April 29, Saturday, 9:32 a.m.; -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Long Beach
  • April 30, Sunday, 10:24 a.m.; -1.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis, Long Beach
  • May 1, Monday, 11:20 a.m.; -0.8 feet; Long Beach

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2017-18 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.