Tag Archives: chinook

New Technique Turns Up ‘Concerning Levels’ Of 8 Chemicals In Sound’s Nearshore Waters

Researchers recently identified eight chemicals in different Puget Sound waters found at “concerning levels” for fish and other marine life, requiring more investigation.

They include two that come from tires or other vehicle parts; a pair of herbicides, one of which is used to control algae and weeds; Venlafaxine, an antidepressant drug; and PFOS and two compounds found in plastics.

COMMENCEMENT BAY — COLORED UP BY GLACIAL SILT POURING OUT OF THE MOUTH OF THE PUYALLUP RIVER — WAS AMONG THE SITES STUDIED. (WASHINGTON DOE VIA UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON)

That’s according to a University of Washington press release out yesterday.

It said that all totaled, researchers using a “‘non-targeted’ approach” in 2018 sampled 205 different chemicals, including 64 never seen before in the inland sea’s waters, in 18 diverse shoreside locations from Port Townsend to Everett to Hood Canal to Olympia from April through October.

Sites included polluted waterways such as Seattle’s Smith Cove and the Thea Foss Waterway in Tacoma, but also a “relatively clean” spot halfway down the canal.

“With such a wide range, we hoped to see a link between contamination and land use,” said coauthor Zhenyu Tian, a research scientist at UW’s Center for Urban Waters.

A UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON MAP IDENTIFIES THE 18 STUDY LOCATIONS ALONG THE SHORES OF PUGET SOUND. (UW)

Previous studies looked at known chemicals in Puget Sound, but this one used a new technique, high-resolution mass spectrometry, to confirm 75 of the 205 compounds, and those included families you would expect to see — best illustrated by 2016 The Late Show skit with Sammy the (Stoned) Salmon — alongside a suite of other “contaminants of emerging concern,” or CECs — pesticides, herbicides and chemicals in tires.

Particles wearing off tires are also being eyed as suspect in why coho are dying in urban streams before they can spawn.

Of note, the octet were found in specific hot spots, and they didn’t always turn up in repeated sampling.

According to C. Andrew James, another Center for Urban Waters researcher and coauthor, their goal is to identify what compounds matter most from “a biological perspective — how a fish or a shellfish will react” and better understand why those eight are where they are.

Their work was published in late December in the journal Environmental Science & TechnologyCoauthor Edward Kolodziej, a UW associate professor, notes that a “huge fraction” of what Pugetropolites consume ends up flushing down the rivers into the Whulge.

“Everyone thinks chemicals hit the ocean and disappear because there’s so much water in the ocean that the concentrations go way down,” Kolodziej said in the press release. “But if you took the concentration of a chemical in wastewater effluent or storm water, it’s not like you can just divide by total water volume of Puget Sound, and that’s the concentration you’d detect in Puget Sound. The concentration in the nearshore is a lot higher because there hasn’t been enough time for mixing to occur. So exposure levels for aquatic organisms in the nearshore can be much higher than you might expect.”

Nearshore environments are very important habitat for young salmon and their forage.

A separate 2018 study by federal and university researchers on CECs not screened out by wastewater treatement plans found that exposure to medications “may result in early mortality or an impaired ability to compete for limited resources” among, most notably, Chinook.

Yuasa’s 2020 Visions: Halibut Highlights, Blackmouth Openers, First Derbies Coming Up

Editor’s note: The following is Mark Yuasa’s monthly fishing newsletter, Get Hooked on Reel Times With Mark, and is run with permission.

By Mark Yuasa, Director of Grow Boating Programs, Northwest Marine Trade Association

This month marks a time when anglers begin gazing into the crystal ball to see what the 2020 fishing season has in store for halibut, salmon and other fish species.

For starters, the good news is halibut chasers can look forward to a more stabilized fishery in marine areas enabling them to make early plans for the upcoming spring season.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

“In Area 2A (Washington, Oregon and California) we’ve moved in a new direction that started in 2019 and goes through 2022 where quotas remain status quo barring any unforeseen issues,” said Heather Hall, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fish policy coordinator.

“We’ve added a lot more days of fishing up front in 2020 compared to last year,” Hall said. “It helps knowing we have the catch quota available (there was 39,000 pounds leftover in 2019 Puget Sound fisheries) and how our fisheries did last year.”

In past seasons, the sport halibut fishery would open in early May, but in 2020 the proposal is to open the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound (Marine Catch Areas 6 to 10) on April 16.
In those two areas, fishing is allowed Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from April 16 to May 16 and May 28 to June 27, plus Memorial Day weekend on May 22-24.

The western Strait (Area 5) will be open Thursdays and Saturdays only from April 30 to May 16; and Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from May 16 to June 28. Fishing is open daily from May 22-24 on Memorial Day weekend only.

The northern coast off Neah Bay and La Push (Areas 3 and 4) is open Thursdays and Saturdays from April 30 to May 16 and May 28 to June 27, plus Memorial Day weekend on May 22-24.

Just like last year, the southern ports of Westport and Ilwaco (Areas 1 and 2) are open Thursdays and Sundays from April 30 to May 17 and May 28 to June 28; and May 21 only during Memorial Day weekend.

Fishing areas could close sooner if catch quotas are achieved and/or additional fishing dates might be added if quotas aren’t attained.

“The season(s) will last as long as there is available quota,” Hall said. “We aren’t sure what kind of effort and fishing success there will be in that early April opener. It’s been many years since we opened in April so it will be interesting to see how it goes.”

In general, a shift in how the halibut fisheries are devised annually continues to be well received since it provides no last-minute changes or closures that have frustrated anglers prior to 2017 who have made fishing plans well in advance of the dates set forth.

The Area 2A catch quota (includes Washington, Oregon and California) for sport, treaty tribal and non-treaty commercial is 1.5-million pounds, and 89 percent – 1,329,575 pounds – of the quota was caught in 2019.

The total sport halibut catch quota is 277,100 pounds for Washington, and 97 percent – 270,024 pounds – of the quota was caught in 2019.

A breakdown in the sport allocation in Puget Sound-Strait (Areas 5 to 10) fisheries is 77,550 pounds; Neah Bay/La Push (Areas 3 and 4) is 128,187 pounds; Westport (Area 2) is 62,896 pounds; and Ilwaco (Area 1) is 15,127 pounds.

The average weight of halibut in 2019 was 18.5 pounds in Puget Sound-Strait; 17.6 pounds at Neah Bay/La Push; 18.3 pounds at Westport; and 14.5 pounds at Ilwaco.

The International Pacific Halibut Commission meets Feb. 3-7 in Anchorage, Alaska to determine seasons and catch quotas from California north to Alaska. The National Marine Fisheries Service will then make its final approval on halibut fishing dates sometime in March or sooner.

Facts on winter chinook

The holiday celebrations are in the rearview mirror and it’s time to look at winter chinook fishing options, including a few that began this month.

Central and south-central Puget Sound and Hood Canal (Areas 10, 11 and 12) are now open for winter hatchery blackmouth – a term used for a chinook’s dark gum-line. Area 10 is open through March 31; and Areas 11 and 12 are open through April 30.

“There wasn’t a lot of bait around in Area 10 when it was last open (fishing closed on Nov. 12) although we managed to release some bigger sized blackmouth,” said Justin Wong, owner of Cut Plug Charter in Seattle. “We didn’t catch a lot of shakers (chinook under the 22-inch minimum size limit) so that is a good thing.”

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Lastly, consider getting out sooner than later since early closures hinge on catch guidelines or encounter limits for sub-legal and legal-size chinook (fish over the 22-inch minimum size limit).

In central Puget Sound look for blackmouth at Jefferson Head; West Point south of Shilshole Bay; Point Monroe; Fourmile Rock; Rich Passage; Southworth; Manchester; northwest side of Vashon Island by the channel marker; Yeomalt Point and Skiff Point on the east side of Bainbridge Island; and Allen Bank off Blake Island’s southeastern corner.

In south-central Puget Sound try around the Clay Banks off Point Defiance Park in Tacoma; the “Flats” outside of Gig Harbor; Quartermaster Harbor; Point Dalco on south side of Vashon Island; Southworth Ferry Landing; and Colvos Passage off the Girl Scout Camp.

Hood Canal doesn’t garner as much attention in the winter but don’t underestimate what can be a decent fishery off Misery Point, Hazel Point, Pleasant Harbor, Toandos Peninsula, Seabeck Bay and Seal Rock.

Southern Puget Sound (Area 13) open year-round for hatchery chinook is another overlooked fishery. Good places are Fox Point; Gibson Point; Point Fosdick; Hale Passage; Anderson Island; Lyle Point; and Devil’s Head and Johnson Point.

Other choices on the horizon for winter chinook are the San Juan Islands (Area 7) open Feb. 1 through April 15; northern Puget Sound (Area 9) open Feb. 1 through April 15; and the east side of Whidbey Island (Areas 8-1 and 8-2) open Feb. 1 through April 30.

Salmon season meeting dates set for 2020

It’s never too late to begin making plans to be a part of the sport-salmon fishing season setting process. For the moment the early outlook appears to resemble last year’s fisheries with a few improvements, but more details won’t come to light until later next month.

Tentative meeting dates – Feb. 28, WDFW salmon forecast public meeting at DSHS Office Building 2 Auditorium, 1115 Washington Street S.E. in Olympia; March 16, North of Falcon public meeting at Lacey Community Center; March 19, North of Falcon public meeting in Sequim; March 23, Pacific Fishery Management Council public hearing at Westport; March 25, North of Falcon public meeting at WDFW Mill Creek office; and March 30, North of Falcon public meeting at Lynnwood Embassy Suites, 20610 44th Avenue West in Lynnwood.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council will adopt final salmon seasons on April 5-11 at the Hilton Vancouver, 301 West 6th Street in Vancouver, WA.

Specific meeting agendas and times should be known soon. Details: https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/north-falcon.

Oldest salmon derby gets underway

The Tengu Blackmouth Derby – the oldest salmon derby that began prior to and shortly after World War II in 1946 – is held on Sundays 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. starting Jan. 5 through Feb. 23 on Elliott Bay at the Seacrest Boathouse (now known as Marination Ma Kai) in West Seattle.

In previous years, the derby started in October when Area 10 opens for winter hatchery chinook. However, this year’s non-retention of chinook delayed the event to coincide with the Jan. 1 opener. Last year, the derby was cancelled when WDFW decided to shutdown Area 10 just a few weeks after it began.

What makes the derby so challenging is the simple fact blackmouth are scarce around the inner bay during winter months.

The derby is named after Tengu, a fabled Japanese character who stretched the truth, and just like Pinocchio, Tengu’s nose grew with every lie.

In a typical derby season, the catch ranges from 20 to 23 legal-size chinook and has reached as high as 50 to 100 fish although catches have dipped dramatically since 2009. The record-low catch was four fish in 2010, and all-time high was 234 in 1979.

The last full-length season was 2017 when 18 blackmouth were caught and a winning fish of 9 pounds-15 ounces went to Guy Mamiya. Justin Wong had the most fish with a total of five followed by John Mirante with four fish.

It has been a while since a big fish was caught in the derby dating back to 1958 when Tom Osaki landed a 25-3 fish. In the past decade, the largest was 15-5 caught by Marcus Nitta during the 2008 derby.

To further test your skills, only mooching is allowed in the derby. No artificial lures, flashers, hoochies (plastic squids) or other gear like downriggers are permitted. The membership fee is $15 and $5 for children age 12-and-under. Tickets will be available at Outdoor Emporium in Seattle. Rental boats with or without motors are available from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Some Dungeness crab fisheries extended into January

The Dungeness crab season along the east side of Whidbey Island (Marine Catch Areas 8-1 and 8-2) will remain open daily through Jan. 31 – originally it was scheduled to close after Dec. 31.

WDFW indicates crab abundance can support an additional in-season increase to the harvest shares. Managers made the decision to extend the season to offset a closure that occurred between Oct. 23 through Nov. 28 while crab abundance was assessed.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Elsewhere some sections of northern Puget Sound and Hood Canal are also open daily now through Jan. 31. They are Area 9 between the Hood Canal Bridge and a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point (Port Gamble, Port Ludlow) and the portion of Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) north of a line projected due east from Ayock Point.

Crabbers won’t be required to have a Puget Sound Dungeness crab license endorsement or record Dungeness crab retained on a Catch Record Card when crabbing in January in Areas 8-1 and 8-2 and open sections of Area 9 and 12. However, a valid shellfish or combination license is required. The 2019 winter catch cards must be returned to WDFW by Feb. 4.

Sport crabbers are reminded that setting or pulling traps from a vessel is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset.

NW Fishing Derby Series begins next month in San Juan Islands

The future of the revamped series is just on the horizon with three derbies happening in the San Juan Islands (Area 7), which is a winter chinook fishing hotspot.

They include the Resurrection Salmon Derby in Anacortes on Feb. 1-2 (sold out but has a waiting list); Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 6-8; and Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 13-15. Each has a first-place prize for the largest fish of $12,000 to $20,000.

Other events soon after are Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby on March 13-15 with a $10,000 first place prize; and Everett Blackmouth Derby on March 21-22 with a $3,000 check for the largest fish.

New events are the Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby on May 23; For the Love of Cod Derbies in Coos Bay/Charleston areas and Brookings, Oregon March 21-22 and March 28-29 respectively; Father’s Day Big Bass Classic on Tenmile Lake at Lakeside, Oregon on June 21-22; and the Something Catchy Kokanee Derby at Lake Chelan on April 18-19.

The highlight of the series is a chance to win a $75,000 fully loaded, grand-prize all-white KingFisher 2025 Escape HT boat powered with Yamaha 200hp and 9.9hp trolling motors on an EZ Loader Trailer. The boat is equipped with Shoxs Seats for maximum comfort in the roughest of seas; a custom engraved WhoDat Tower; Raymarine Electronics; Burnewiin Accessories; Scotty Downriggers; and a Dual Electronics stereo.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Anglers who enter any of the 20 derbies don’t need to catch a fish to win this beautiful boat and motor package.

A huge “thank you” to our other sponsors who make the series a success are Silver Horde and Gold Star Lures; Tom-n-Jerry’s Marine; Master Marine; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News; Outdoor Emporium and Sportco; Harbor Marine; Prism Graphics; Lamiglas Rods; 710 ESPN The Outdoor Line; Salmon & Steelhead Journal; Outdoor Emporium and Sportco; Bayside Marine; Seattle Boat Company; Ray’s Bait Works; and Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine.

You can get a first glimpse of the new derby boat pulled with a 2019 Chevy Silverado – provided by our sponsor Northwest Chevy Dealers and Burien Chevrolet – during The Seattle Boat Show from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1 at the CenturyLink Field and Event Center in Seattle.

The Northwest Fishing Derby Series is part of the Northwest Marine Trade Association’s Grow Boating Program which serves the NMTA’s core purpose—to increase the number of boaters in the Pacific Northwest.

The derby series is the most visible element of the program, which promotes boating and fishing throughout the region by partnering with existing derbies and marketing those events through targeted advertising, public relations and promotional materials. For details, go to www.NorthwestFishingDerbySeries.com.

I’ll see you on the water soon!

Yuasa Looks Back At 2019 Salmon Seasons, Towards 2020’s

Editor’s note: The following is Mark Yuasa’s monthly fishing newsletter, Get Hooked on Reel Times With Mark, and is run with permission.

By Mark Yuasa, Director of Grow Boating Programs, Northwest Marine Trade Association

The holiday “to do” list has pretty much taken priority over getting out on the water, but if you’re like me that also means it’s time to reassess salmon fisheries in 2019 and start thinking about what lies ahead in 2020.

I had a chance to chat with Mark Baltzell, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Puget Sound salmon manager, and Wendy Beeghly, the head WDFW coastal salmon manager, who provided insight about the future and a somewhat forgetful past.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

“I believe the best way to describe Puget Sound salmon fisheries overall in 2019 is a mixed bag,” said Baltzell. “We had some unexpected good salmon fishing and returns while others were as poor as the preseason forecasts had predicted.”

“Summer chinook fisheries were for the most part better than we expected despite the reduced seasons,” Baltzell said. “Early on we saw some really good chinook fishing in May and June in southern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 13 south of the Narrows Bridge).”

It wasn’t uncommon for Area 13 anglers during those months to hook into a limit of early summer hatchery kings, 10 to 18 pounds with a few larger, off Point Fosdick and Fox Island’s east side at Gibson Point, Fox Point in Hale Passage, northwest corner at the Sand Spit, Toy Point and Concrete Dock “Fox Island Fishing Pier.”
In the past few years, central Puget Sound (Area 10) starting in June has become a hot bed for resident coho – 2- to 4-pounds – and this past summer was no exception to the norm. On certain days you’d find hundreds of boats from Jefferson Head to Kingston and in the shipping lane.

“We had a coho fishery in Area 10 from June through August that was really good and has turned into a successful early summer salmon fishery,” Baltzell said.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

The Tulalip Bubble Terminal Fishery within Area 8-2 opened in June and was another location that proved to be fairly decent for early summer kings in the 10- to 15-pound range.

When July rolled around the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Areas 5 and 6) opened for hatchery kings and was off and on for much of the summer.

The San Juan Islands (Area 7) had a brief hatchery king fishery from July 1-31, which saw plenty of fishing pressure and a much higher than expected success rate.

Preliminary WDFW data during the July Area 7 fishery showed 5,310 boats with 11,739 anglers kept 3,019 hatchery kings (10 wild fish were illegally retained) along with 451 hatchery and 982 wild chinook released. The best fishing period occurred from July 1-14. WDFW test fishing showed the Area 7 legal-size chinook mark rate was 84.6 percent and overall mark rate was 78.6.

The summer hatchery king fishery in northern and central Puget Sound (Areas 9 and 10), started off poorly from July 25-28 due to extreme low tides. Once the tidal fluctuation improved as more dates were tacked onto the fishery catch rates picked up rapidly.
During an 11-day fishing period from July 25 to Aug. 4, the success rate in Area 9 was a 0.23 fish per rod average with a total of 7,779 boats with 17,147 anglers keeping 3,446 hatchery chinook (six unmarked were illegally retained) and released 1,124 hatchery and 756 wild chinook plus 697 coho kept and 747 released. WDFW test fishing showed the legal-size chinook mark rate was around 88.0 percent.

The Area 10 hatchery chinook fishery was open daily July 25 through Aug. 16 and a total of 7,606 boats with 15,900 anglers kept 3,200 hatchery chinook (17 wild were illegally retained) and released 994 hatchery and 1,579 wild chinook plus 2,013 coho kept and 463 released. WDFW test fishing showed the legal-size chinook mark rate was around 50.0 percent.

Summer hatchery chinook action in south-central Puget Sound (Area 11) stumbled out of the gates when it opened July 1 and was peppered with a few glory moments until it closed Aug. 25 for chinook retention. In Area 11, an estimated 12,264 boats with 22,818 anglers from July 1-Aug. 25 retained 212 chinook and released 164 hatchery and 465 wild chinook.

“We saw a lot more legal-size chinook in Puget Sound than the FRAM (Fishery Regulation Assessment Model) had predicted and more legal hatchery fish around than we had seen in past years,” Baltzell said.

In general, the wild chinook stock assessment seemed to be somewhat better in some parts of Puget Sound. Places like the Tumwater Falls Hatchery in deep South Sound even had a few nice 20-pound females return.

Heading into late summer, the Puget Sound pink returns were off the charts good here and there while other pink runs were downright dismal. Salmon anglers chasing pinks managed to find some excellent fishing from mid-August through September.

“In some places it seemed like we had twice the abundance of pinks and others didn’t get as many as we had thought,” Baltzell said. “The Puyallup did really good and a decent number of pinks pass(ed) over the Buckley fish trap and was up into the historical day numbers. But, the Skagit and Stillaguamish weren’t so good for pinks and it was the same for coho too.”

“At this point were going to be OK in places like the Snohomish for coho,” Baltzell said. “Both the tribes and state did all the things necessary to help ensure we’d exceed our hatchery coho broodstock (goals), and that did eventually happen.”

Other locations like the Green River met coho broodstock goals although that didn’t occur until late last month. In Hood Canal, the Quilcene early coho return came back less than half the preseason expectation and the size of jack coho was much smaller.”

“There was a size issue throughout the Puget Sound area and the lower returns had us taking a precautionary move to a one coho daily limit,” Baltzell said. “It was the right move in retrospect and helped us move more coho into the rivers.”

The mid- and southern-Puget Sound and Hood Canal chum forecast of 642,740 doesn’t appear to be materializing and at this point WDFW downgraded the run to almost half the preseason expectation.

“It is really hard for us as fishery managers to pinpoint the cause for all of it,” Baltzell said. “We can point the finger to marine survival and conditions in the ocean like the warm blob that sat off the coast up to Alaska for a while. We also know the Canadian sockeye runs tanked this year and saw it in our own like Lake Washington that virtually got nothing back.”

The ocean salmon fisheries from Neah Bay south to Ilwaco between June 22 through Sept. 30 encountered a mixed bag of success.

“Fishing was pretty much what I expected it to be,” Beeghly said. “The chinook fishery was slow except up north off Neah Bay where it was pretty good this past summer. The majority of chinook we see in ocean fisheries are headed for the Columbia River and their forecasts were down so the poor fishing came as no surprise.”
Close to a million coho were forecasted to flood the Columbia River this past summer and that too was a downer.

“The coho fishing wasn’t quite as good as I had expected, but we saw some decent fishing at Ilwaco and Westport,” Beeghly said. “The Columbia coho forecast didn’t come back like we originally thought but better than the past three or so years. The hatchery coho mark rate was lower than anticipated.”

Coast wide only 51.1 percent of the hatchery coho quota of 159,600 was achieved, and 41.4 percent of the chinook quota of 26,250 was caught.

Areas north of Leadbetter Point saw a coho mark rate of somewhere under 50 percent and Ilwaco where data was still being crunched might come out to be a little higher than that.

Once the fish arrived in the Lower Columbia at Buoy 10 it appeared the catch of hatchery coho fell well short of expectations with a lot of wild fish released although some glory moments occurred early on.

Coastal and Columbia River chinook forecasts should come to light around the Christmas holidays. The Pacific Fishery Management Council preseason meeting will occur in mid-February. That is just ahead of when Oregon Production Index coho forecasts will be released.

As Baltzell rubbed the crystal ball looking into 2020 it still remains pretty foggy at this point but general expectations aren’t rosy.

“It would be fair for me to say that I wouldn’t expect anything much better in 2020 than what we saw in 2019,” Baltzell said. “We have no forecast information at this point but I wouldn’t expect a rosier outlook as far as chinook goes for next year.”

State, federal and tribal fishery managers in 2020 will be faced with a lot of same wild chinook stock issues as in recent past years like mid-Hood Canal and Stillaguamish. Add on top of that killer whale orca issues as well as the pending Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan that has been looming a dark cloud for the past three years with no end in sight just yet.

“If I had to gauge things out my gut reaction is we’ll likely have to take a more cautionary approach again next year,” Baltzell said.

The WDFW general salmon forecast public meeting will occur Feb. 28 at the DSHS Office Building 2 Auditorium, 1115 Washington Street S.E. in Olympia. The first North of Falcon meeting is March 16 at the Lacey Community Center and the second meeting is March 30 at the Lynnwood Embassy Suites. Final seasons will determined April 5-11 at the Hilton Hotel in Vancouver, WA.

Final summer ocean salmon sport fishing catch data

Ilwaco (including Oregon) – 44,297 anglers from June 22 to September 30 caught 4,018 chinook (56% of the area guideline of 7,150) and 53,377 coho (67% of the area sub-quota of 79,800).

Westport – 23,465 anglers from June 22 to September 30 caught 2,336 chinook (18% of the area guideline of 12,700) and 20,221 coho (34% of the area sub-quota of 59,050), plus 700 pinks.

La Push – 2,076 from June 22 to September 30 caught 449 chinook (41% of the area guideline of 1,100) and 1,752 coho (43% of the area sub-quota of 4,050), plus 206 pinks. Late-season fishery October 1-13 saw 240 anglers with 164 chinook (64% over the fishery guideline) and 16 coho (16% of the fishery quota).

Neah Bay – 10,116 anglers from June 22 to September 30 caught 3,895 chinook (75% of the area guideline of 5,200) and 6,223 coho (37% of the area sub-quota of 16,600), plus 869 pinks. Chinook retention closed July 14.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Dungeness crab fishery reopens in Areas 8-2 and 8-1

The east side of Whidbey Island (Marine Catch Areas 8-1 and 8-2) has reopened daily for Dungeness crab fishing through Dec. 31. WDFW says crab abundance remains good indicating that the quota could be increased in-season. Crab pots must be set or pulled from a vessel and is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset.

Dungeness crab fishing is also open daily through Dec. 31 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Areas 4B, 5 and 6); San Juan Islands (Area 7); and northern Puget Sound (Area 9 except waters north of the Hood Canal bridge to a line connecting Olele Point and Foulweather Bluff).

NW Fishing Derby Series hits refresh button in 2020

After 17 wonderful years since the derby series began in 2004, we’ve decided it’s time for a change and rebranded it to the “Northwest Fishing Derby Series.”

Our hope is that anglers will like the direction as we diversify the fish species our events target while boosting the number of derbies to 20 in 2020 up from 14 events in 2019.

New events are the Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby on May 23; For the Love of Cod Derbies in Coos Bay/Charleston areas and Brookings, Oregon March 21-22 and March 28-29 respectively; Father’s Day Big Bass Classic on Tenmile Lake at Lakeside, Oregon on June 21-22; and the Something Catchy Kokanee Derby at Lake Chelan on April 18-19.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

The highlight is a chance to enter and win a $75,000 fully loaded, grand-prize all-white KingFisher 2025 Escape HT boat powered with Yamaha 200hp and 9.9hp trolling motors on an EZ Loader Trailer. One of our newest sponsors of the derby – Shoxs Seats (www.shoxs.com) – has provided a pair of top-of-the-line seats that are engineered for maximum comfort in the roughest of seas.

The good news is anglers who enter any of the 20 derbies don’t need to catch a fish to win this beautiful boat and motor package!

A huge “thank you” to our other 2020 sponsors who make this series such a success are Silver Horde and Gold Star Lures; Scotty Downriggers; Burnewiin Accessories; Raymarine Electronics; WhoDat Tower; Dual Electronics; Tom-n-Jerry’s Marine; Master Marine; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News; Outdoor Emporium and Sportco; Harbor Marine; Prism Graphics; Lamiglas Rods; 710 ESPN The Outdoor Line; Salmon & Steelhead Journal; and Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine.

First up are the Resurrection Salmon Derby on Feb. 1-2 (already 50 percent of tickets have been sold as of Nov. 13); Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 6-8; and Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 13-15. A new website is currently being designed and will be launched sometime in mid-December but for now, go to http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

In the meantime, take a break from holiday shopping and hit up a lake or open saltwater areas for a feisty fish tugging on the end of your line.

I’ll see you on the water!

Southwest Washington Tribs Fishing Report (11-26-19)

THE FOLLOWING WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Washington Tributary Fishing Report Nov 18-24, 2019

Salmon/Steelhead:
Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 5 bank anglers released thee coho.

Elochoman River – 15 bank anglers released one steelhead and one coho.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 18 bank rods kept one coho. 1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br – 15 bank rods kept two coho. 1 boat/5 rods kept one coho.

Kalama River – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

Lewis River – 12 bank anglers had no catch. 1 boat/1 rod had no catch.

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – 8 bank anglers kept four coho and released one Chinook.

? Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

SW WA Fishing Report (11-19-19)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS FORWARDED BY BRYAN SPELLMAN, WDFW

Washington Tributary Fishing Report Nov 11-17, 2019

Salmon/Steelhead:
Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 4 bank anglers had no catch

Elochoman River – 2 bank anglers had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 8 bank rods had no catch. 9 boats/21 rods kept 13 coho and released 1 Chinook.

Above the I-5 Br – 15 bank rods kept one coho and released two Chinook. 3 boats/7 rods released one Chinook and three coho.

IN THIS IMAGE DREDGED OUT OF THE WAY, WAY, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY BACK FILE, FALL SALMON ANGLERS FISH THE LOWER COWLITZ ABOVE AND BELOW THE MOUTH OF THE TOUTLE FOR COHO. (CHRIS SPENCER)

Kalama River – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Lewis River – 15 bank anglers released three coho. 5 boats/12 rods released one Chinook and one coho.

Washougal River – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – 31 bank anglers kept 10 Chinook, 12 coho and released three Chinook and one coho. 4 boats/14 rods kept one Chinook and 18 coho.

Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

NOAA Reports Latest Blob Shrinking Since Late August But Still One Of North Pacific’s Largest

THE FOLLOWING IS A NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE STORY

The vast marine heatwave that spread warm temperatures across the northeast Pacific Ocean late in the summer and fall of 2019 has declined in size and pulled back from the West Coast, possibly reducing its immediate impacts on coastal ecosystems.

N.O.A.A. REPORTS THAT THE LATEST BLOB, OR MARINE HEAT WAVE, THE GIANT POOL OF OCEAN WATER THAT IS ABOVE AVERAGE SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES, HAS SHRUNK SINCE LATE AUGUST, BUT STILL AMONG THE FIVE LARGEST ON RECORD. (NOAA)

It has declined to about half the size and intensity it displayed in August. However scientists caution that the heatwave designated MHW NEP19a remains two to three times the size of Alaska and still retains enormous amounts of heat in the upper layers of ocean. It remains one of the top four or five largest heatwaves on record in the North Pacific in the last 40 years.

“What we are seeing now is a smaller heatwave that is farther offshore, but there is still a very large span of the Pacific Ocean that is much warmer than usual,” said Andrew Leising, a research scientist at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) in La Jolla, California. Leising has developed criteria to detect and gauge the size and magnitude of marine heatwaves. “The question is, where does it go from here? That’s what we’re watching now.”

The edge of the heatwave is now about 1,500 kilometers (about 930 miles) from the West Coast, but still envelops much of the Gulf of Alaska. It no longer so closely resembles the enormous earlier marine heatwave known as “the Blob” that affected much of the West Coast through 2014 and 2015, causing reverberations through the food web.

Low salmon returns to many West Coast rivers in the last few years have been linked to the Blob, which reduced the availability of food when the salmon first entered the ocean as juveniles.

Both the Blob and the current heatwave were large and carried a great deal of heat. But this summer’s warming near the West Coast did not reach as deep into the ocean or last as long, said research scientist Michael Jacox of the SWFSC. “It will be very interesting to compare the two events and their impacts on marine life and fisheries given the different character and timeline,” he said.

Scientists will be watching for effects of the current heatwave on species such as salmon and albacore that are sensitive to ocean conditions, said Elliott Hazen of the SWFSC. “Is this going to be a similar ecological response to what we saw in 2014-2015, not much of a response given we are still recovering, or something quite different?” he asked.

Leising noted that as the Blob of 2014-2015 grew and evolved, it also experienced some weakening in 2013 before regaining strength and then expanding in size. That doesn’t mean the current heatwave will do the same. But it does underscore how much and how fast marine heatwaves can shift and change in response to climate and other factors.

“This marine heatwave is still with us in a big way,” he said. “While it’s not directly impacting the coast as much at this point, we still have a lot to learn about how these events grow and evolve.”

NOAA’s latest North American Multi-Model Ensemble forecasts through May 2020 predict a gradual weakening of the offshore warming. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s November 4 Diagnostic Discussion notes that tropical conditions this fall have been near normal, and this is projected through spring 2020.  If a tropical El Niño event develops this fall or winter instead, it would favor wind, weather, and ocean current patterns that could cause a return of the nearshore warming along the West Coast in winter or spring 2020.

SW WA Fishing Report (11-4-19)

THE FOLLOWING WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Washington Columbia River and Tributary Fishing Report

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 6 bank anglers released six coho.

BARRY DUBNOW SHOWS OFF A NICE MIDFALL CHINOOK CAUGHT ON THE LEWIS RIVER SEVERAL SEASONS BACK. HE WAS HOVER FISHING WITH GUIDE RON HOLT. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 35 bank rods kept one coho and released one coho. 7 boats/20 rods kept 24 coho and released one Chinook and four coho.

Above the I-5 Br – 17 bank rods kept two coho and released 18 Chinook and 1 coho.  1 boat/1 rod had no catch.

Kalama River – 18 bank anglers had no catch.  2 boats/5 rods had no catch.

Lewis River – 19 bank anglers kept two coho and one coho jack.  13 boats/44 rods kept five Chinook, 2 Chinook jacks, 5 coho, 3 coho jacks and released one Chinook and four coho.

Wind River – 1 boat/1 rod had no catch.

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – 16 bank anglers kept seven coho and released two Chinook.

 

  • Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

Lower Col mainstem sport Oct 28-31, 2019

Bonneville bank: 26 anglers with 7 coho kept and 6 Chinook released
Camas/Washougal boat: 5 anglers with nothing
I-5 area boat: 3 anglers with nothing
Woodland boat: 1 angler with 1 coho kept
Kalama bank: 2 anglers with nothing
Kalama boat: 5 anglers with nothing
Longview bank: 2 anglers with nothing
Longview boat: 7 anglers with 3 coho kept

WDFW Says 2016 DOI Opinion On Skokomish Border ‘Factually And Legally Deficient’

Washington state salmon managers are appealing to the Department of the Interior to set aside a 2016 opinion that has kept sport anglers from fishing the lower Skokomish for plentiful Chinook and coho for four years.

Citing research by two outside historians drawing on multiple documents, maps and statements from the late 1800s and early 1900s dug out of the National Archives and elsewhere, WDFW says that a federal Solicitor General reached “an erroneous conclusion” that the boundaries of the Skokomish Reservation stretched all the way across the river to the other bank.

A SIGN POSTED ALONG THE SOUTH BANK OF THE SKOKOMISH RIVER BY THE SKOKOMISH TRIBE WARNS ANGLERS AWAY FROM THE BANKS AS 2016’S RETURN OF CHINOOK TO THE STATE HATCHERY FILLED THE RIVER. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The Oct. 3 letter from WDFW Director Kelly Susewind to DOI Secretary David Bernhardt says the opinion “was issued without
input by Washington State, and our subsequent analysis shows it is factually and legally deficient.”

And it requests that the matter be given immediate attention as the start of the 2020 North of Falcon salmon season negotiations is just a few months away.

“With this new information in hand, I am writing to request that Solicitor Opinion M-37034 be reversed, or at a minimum be withdrawn,” Susewind asks Bernhardt and DOI.

The Skokomish River is important because it sees one of Puget Sound’s larger returns of kings, reared at a state hatchery near Shelton, and is productive from the bank. In the starving orca era, terminal salmon fisheries will be increasingly important.

But with that opinion hanging over their heads, WDFW has had to close its seasons to keep state anglers out of legal limbo with the feds. Fishermen rallied in summer 2016 in protest. The 2017 run saw tens of thousands of Chinook in excess of broodstock needs.

HUNTER SHELTON SHOWS OFF A SKOKOMISH RIVER CHINOOK FROM THE LAST SEASON IT WAS OPEN TO SPORT ANGLERS, 2015. IT BIT EGGS UNDER A BOBBER. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

And so with negotiations with the Skokomish Tribe stalled and raising the issue with the myriad Western Washington tribes at North of Falcon a nonstarter, the agency is now looking for relief from DOI.

While respective of tribal sovereignty, treaty fishing rights and historical links to the Great Bend of Hood Canal, Susewind’s letter just as firmly makes the case that at no time was the entire width of the river part of the tribe’s reservation, nor was it ever ceded to the Skokomish by the federal government before statehood.

That argument is supported by General Land Office Survey plat maps from 1861, 1873 — which in particular paid close attention to the boundaries of the reservation, according to WDFW — 1874, 1885 and 1909, along with what Susewind calls “perhaps the most significant piece of evidence on this point,” an 1874 letter discovered in the National Archives.

It was written in May of that year by federal Indian Agent Edwin Eells, who is described by Susewind as being tasked with attending to the Skokomish Tribe’s “needs,” and sent three months after President Ulysses S. Grant established the borders of the reservation via executive order.

It states:

“The present reservation lies on the North side of the river extending from the mouth about 3 1/2 miles up the river.”

FEDERAL INDIAN AGENT EDWIN EELLS’ MAY 25, 1874 LETTER TO H.E.P. SMITH, COMMANDER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, ON THE LOCATION OF THE SKOKOMISH RESERVATION’S SOUTHERN BORDER STATES IT IS THE NORTH BANK OF THE SKOKOMISH RIVER. (NATIONAL ARCHIVES)

According to Susewind, the correspondence from Eells to H.E.P. Smith, Commander of Indian Affairs in Washington DC, was “apparently never discovered or considered” by DOI’s Hilary C. Tompkins, who authored that 2016 opinion.

“The correspondence clears any ambiguity about whether the local federal Indian agents intended the Reservation to extend across the entire River to its south bank and encompass the River’s full width — they did not,” Susewind asserts.

As for her opinion, Tompkins argued that tribal fishers’ use of weirs “required use and control of the entire width of rivers and their beds.”

She wrote that the 1855 treaty with the tribe and Grant’s order essentially reserved the riverbed along the border of the reservation so that it did not pass to Washington at statehood under what is known as the Equal Footing Doctrine.

At statehood, navigable waters were conveyed to the states by the federal government, an act affirmed in a 1926 Supreme Court decision and essentially upheld in a 2001 ruling that there had to be clear and compelling reasons not to, both cited by Susewind. The Skokomish is considered navigable, in pioneer days to above the reservation’s western boundary.

Tompkins assessment was panned by Dr. Gail Thompson of Gail Thompson Research of Seattle, who stated Tompkins “conducted inadequate research and overlooked much information that would have led to a different conclusion.”

“I conclude that the anthropological and ethnohistoric data do not support the Solicitor’s Opinion that the riverbed adjacent to the reservation was included within its boundaries,” Thompson writes in a 77-page report entitled “Anthropological and Ethnohistoric Information Related to the Riverbed Adjacent to the
Skokomish River.”

“To the contrary,” Thompson continues, “government maps and documents consistently show that the southern boundary of the reservation was located along the north bank of the Skokomish River.”

MAPS FROM 1861, 1873 — LIKE THIS ONE — 1874, 1885 AND 1909 CITED BY A PAIR OF RESEARCHERS CONSISTENTLY SHOW THE SOUTHERN BORDER OF THE SKOKOMISH RESERVATION TO BE THE NORTH BANK OF THE SKOKOMISH RIVER. (GENERAL LAND OFFICE)

Dr. Douglas Littlefield of Littlefield Historical Research in California also looked into the issue, and his 111-page report concludes:

“Based upon extensive historical research in multiple archival sources, governmental reports, and historical newspaper accounts, [my] report clearly demonstrates that federal Indian Agents in Washington Territory expressly did not intend to include the bed of the Skokomish River when they established the boundaries of the Skokomish Indian Reservation. Instead, contemporaneous understanding by Indian Agents as well as other historical observers was that the Reservation’s southern boundary lay along the low-water mark of the north bank of the Skokomish River. The historical evidence in support of this conclusion is substantial and includes U.S. General Land Office survey plats and field notes as well as extensive documentation from the files of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and published annual reports of that agency.”

His “Historical Report on the Skokomish River and the Southern Boundary of the Skokomish Indian Reservation” states the border was defined by federal officials in the Office of Indian Affairs and confirmed by Grant’s order.

Littlefield’s and Thompson’s services were procured through the state Attorney General’s Office.

How this all turns out will be very interesting to watch.

Meanwhile, the work that WDFW has put into challenging the 2016 DOI Solicitor General’s opinion is notable.

The depth of the research, the tone of Susewind’s letter and who else he cc’ed it to — the state’s Congressional delegation, numerous DOI officials, the Skokomish Tribe, the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, and select Olympia lawmakers — lend it a confident air.

Word of it emerged publicly this morning during the Director’s Report to the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

But the question is whether the feds have enough time to review these new facts and make a decision in time for this coming North of Falcon, or when.

ANGLERS CARRY SIGNS AT A 2016 RALLY TO REOPEN THE SKOKOMISH TO SPORT FISHING. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

SW WA, Lower Columbia Fishing Report (10-16-19)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Washington Columbia River and Tributary Fishing Report Oct 7-13, 2019

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 31 bank rods kept 2 coho and released 4 coho adults. 19 boats/61 rods kept 16 coho, 3 coho jacks and released 20 Chinook, 4 Chinook jacks, 28 coho and 1 coho jack.

IN THIS IMAGE DREDGED OUT OF THE EVEN WAAAAAY BACKER FILE, FALL SALMON ANGLERS FISH THE COWLITZ ABOVE AND BELOW THE MOUTH OF THE TOUTLE FOR COHO. (CHRIS SPENCER)

Above the I-5 Br – 32 bank rods kept 4 coho and released 43 Chinook and 1 coho.

Kalama River – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

Lewis River – 48 bank anglers kept 3 Chinook, 1 Chinook jack and 1 coho. 13 boats/38 rods kept 17 Chinook, 4 Chinook jacks and released 3 Chinook and 1 coho.

Washougal River (Slough) – 11 boats/20 rods kept 16 coho and released 1 coho.

Sturgeon:

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 7 bank rods had no catch. 5 boats/13 rods released 2 sublegal and 5 oversize sturgeon.

v Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

Lower Columbia Mainstem Sport Oct 7-13, 2019

Sturgeon:

Bonneville bank: 16 anglers with nothing
Bonneville boat: 3 anglers with nothing
Camas/Washougal bank: No report
Camas/Washougal boat: 47 anglers with 4 legals kept and 6 sublegals and 1 oversize released
I-5 area bank: 3 anglers with nothing
I-5 area boat: 23 anglers with nothing
Vancouver bank: No report
Vancouver boat: 37 anglers with 1 sublegal released
Woodland bank: No report
Woodland boat: 94 anglers with 2 legals kept and 3 sublegals released
Kalama bank: 15 anglers with nothing
Kalama boat: 92 anglers with 2 legals kept and 10 sublegals and 3 oversize released
Cowlitz bank: No report
Cowlitz boat: No report
Longview bank: 9 anglers with nothing
Longview boat: 100 anglers with 1 legal kept and 4 sublegals released
Cathalmet bank: No report
Cathlamet boat:  No report

Walleye:

Bonneville bank: 9 anglers with nothing
Bonneville boat: 2 anglers with nothing

SW WA, Lower Columbia Fishing Report (9-25-19)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Sport Fishing Report Sept. 16-22

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries 

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 27 bank rods kept 1 coho and 1 coho jack. 32 boats/72 rods kept 11 coho, 3 coho jacks and released 62 Chinook, 53 Chinook jacks, 15 coho and 8 coho jacks.

Above the I-5 Br – 8 bank rods released 3 Chinook and 2 Chinook jacks.

KERI WILLARD AND BEAU MEUCHEL HOLD UP FALL CHINOOK CAUGHT ON THE LOWER COLUMBIA IN THE ST. HELENS AREA OVER LABOR DAY WEEKEND. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Lewis River – 36 bank anglers kept 7 coho and released 3 Chinook and 2 coho.  6 boats/18 rods released 1 coho jack.

Wind River – 2 boats/6 rods kept 5 Chinook, 1 coho and released 2 Chinook and 3 coho.

Drano Lake – 17 bank anglers kept 1 coho and released 1 coho jack and 1 steelhead.  20 boats/45 rods kept 18 Chinook, 1 Chinook jack and released 1 Chinook.

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – 32 bank anglers kept 5 Chinook and 2 Chinook jacks.

Klickitat above #5 Fishway – 3 bank anglers had no catch.

Sturgeon:

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 29 bank rods released 3 sublegal sturgeon.  11 boats/37 rods kept 7 legal sturgeon and released 33 sublegal sturgeon.

Bonneville bank: 97 anglers with 4 sublegals released
Bonneville boat: 52 angles with 12 sublegals released
Camas/Washougal boat: 82 anglers with 9 legals kept and 63 sublegals and 9 legals released
Vancouver bank: 12 anglers with nothing
Vancouver boat: 162 anglers with 22 legals kept and 46 sublegals and 39 oversize released
Woodland bank: 36 anglers with 1 legal kept and 1 sublegal released
Woodland boat: 59 anglers with 4 legals kept and 11 sublegals and 4 oversize released
Kalama bank: 40 anglers with nothing
Kalama boat: 161 anglers with 22 legals kept and 38 sublegals and 7 oversize released
Longview bank: 38 anglers with 1 legal kept
Longview boat: 255 angles with 16 legals kept and 18 sublegals and 4 oversize released

Pikeminnow Sport – Reward Fishery Program:

The program operates from May 1 to September 30 in the lower Columbia River (mouth to Priest Rapids Dam) and the Snake River (mouth to Hells Canyon Dam).  http://www.pikeminnow.org/