Tag Archives: coho

Southwest Washington Fishing Report (10-16-18)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Mainstem from the mouth upstream to McNary Dam

  • From the Buoy 10 line upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco:
    • Closed to angling for and retention of salmon and steelhead.

IN THIS IMAGE DREDGED OUT OF OUR WAY, WAY, WAAAAAY BACK FILE, FALL SALMON ANGLERS FISH THE COWLITZ ABOVE AND BELOW THE MOUTH OF THE TOUTLE FOR COHO DURING THE 2008 SEASON. (CHRIS SPENCER)

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River – No anglers sampled.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 59 bank rods kept 9 coho jacks and released 11 coho jacks.  26 boats/57 rods kept 8 coho, 12 coho jacks and released 2 chinook, 3 chinook jacks, 4 coho and 2 coho jacks.

Above the I-5 Br:  68 bank rods kept 1 coho, 3 coho jacks, 5 steelhead and released 36 chinook, 1 chinook jack and 2 coho jacks. 8 boats/18 rods kept 3 coho, 12 coho jacks, 1 steelhead and released 2 chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 1,225 coho adults, 2,584 coho jacks, 256 fall Chinook adults, 49 fall Chinook jacks, 210 cutthroat trout and 49 summer-run steelhead adults during seven days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 92 coho adults and 197 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle, and they released 101 coho adults and 232 coho jacks at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood.

Tacoma Power released 300 coho adults, 1,176 coho jacks, 38 fall Chinook adults, 17 fall Chinook jacks and 15 cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, and they released 467 coho adults, 890 coho jacks and three cutthroat trout into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,560 cubic feet per second on Monday, Oct. 15. Water visibility is 14 feet and the water temperature is 53.2 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – 28 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead.  2 boats/2 rods released 1 steelhead.

Lewis River – 105 bank anglers kept 1 chinook jack, 7 coho, 5 coho jacks and released 2 chinook, 2 chinook jacks, 2 coho, 3 coho jacks and 2 steelhead.  22 boats/55 rods kept 1 chinook, 3 chinook jacks, 3 coho, 20 coho jacks and released 1 chinook, 3 chinook jacks, 2 coho jacks and 1 steelhead.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Drano Lake – 3 bank anglers kept 1 chinook. 36 boats/84 rods kept 33 chinook, 35 chinook jacks, 2 coho, 2 coho jacks and released 24 chinook, 11 chinook jacks and 1 coho.

Klickitat River – 80 bank anglers kept 43 chinook and 12 chinook jacks, 3 coho and released 2 chinook and 1 coho jack.

Fishing Rule Changes:

  • Grays River:  effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream to the mouth of the South Fork:  release all Coho.
  • West Fork Grays River:  effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream:  release all Coho.
  • Cowlitz River:  Until further notice closed for Chinook retention from the mouth to the Barrier Dam including all lower Cowlitz tributaries, except the Toutle River.  Until further notice, the closed waters section below the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery Barrier Dam is 400’, at the posted markers.
  • Washougal River, including Camas Slough:  Until further notice closed for Chinook retention from the mouth to the bridge at Salmon Falls.
  • Toutle River:  effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream to the forks:  release all Chinook.
  • North Fork Toutle River:  effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream to the posted markers below the fish collection facility:  release all Chinook.
  • Wind River:  from the mouth to 400’ below Shepherd Falls, closed for steelhead retention and closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead.
  • Drano Lake: Effective Oct. 17, 2018 until further notice. Closed to all fishing in the waters downstream of markers on a point of land downstream and across from Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery and upstream of the Highway 14 Bridge.
  • White Salmon River:  from the mouth to the county road bridge below the former location of the powerhouse, closed for steelhead retention and closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead

STURGEON

From the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to McNary Dam including adjacent tributaries – Until further notice, white sturgeon open for catch and release fishing only. Fishing for sturgeon at night is closed.

 

More Details On Controversial Skagit Coho Limit Increase

A state fisheries biologist is defending his coho limit increase on the Skagit earlier this week, a decision that was strongly panned by some in the angling community.

When an inseason update showed 90,000 of the fall salmon would return to the big North Sound river, up from 73,000 predicted last winter, Brett Barkdull was able to double the bag from two to four.

BRAD JOHNSON CAUGHT THIS SKAGIT RIVER COHO A COUPLE SEASONS BACK ON A LOCALLY MADE SPINNER. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

That’s the “normal” limit on these waters when runs are up, a good sign for fish and fisheries.

The change effectively means that fishermen can now keep as many as four hatchery coho, though the limit on wild fish still remains two.

But coming so relatively late in the run, anglers believe that most of the clipped coho are already well upstream on the way to Marblemount Hatchery, so to some it felt like too little, too late — a token offering that will push everyone into the few holes above Rockport for riper fish

Barkdull maintains that the coho are still in “great shape” in the Skagit, though a little darker in the Cascade.

Looking at last year’s escapement report, just 218 had entered the facility as of this week, with the count jumping to 2,200 by the end of October and 5,561 by Thanksgiving. Hatchery managers ended up surplussing 4,869 of those.

Run timing does vary year to year, but so far this fall 1,260 coho have made it to Marblemount, and Barkdull expects a lot more.

“We do not need 15,000 at the hatchery. Huge waste. People should go catch them,” he says.

Fifteen thousand is his own back-of-the-donut-napkin estimate based on downstream test catches.

For Barkdull, who was surprised by outcry, it is a damned-whatever-you-do proposition. He says he is pushed to increase hatchery limits, but when he can do so through inseason testing and management agreements, he gets second guessed.

“Can’t win.”

Yet for others it all felt like just a way for the tribes to get more netting days in, on wild fish.

Barkdull says it wasn’t a trade with the Swinomish and Sauk-Suiattles.

“We are simply following the comprehensive coho management agreement we signed with the tribes. The four, no more than two wilds, is our ‘normal’ limit on the Skagit, so that’s what we went to when coho numbers were updated to the normal range,” he says.

That “normal” limit was in effect during the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons, per the printed regs.

While coho fishing that third year had to be closed when it became clear the fish weren’t coming back, in 2016, when a season wasn’t even in the pamphlet, WDFW was able to open the Skagit via e-reg when joint tribal-state testing found they were abundant enough to allow harvest at the normal level.

That was the year that inseason management was under a white-hot spotlight, with anglers rallying to get WDFW to open rivers via the tool.

On the one hand, it is great that people like us are watching out for salmon runs, as The Blob and its hangover have dealt serious harm to multiple year-classes of fish.

We learned a lesson: If ever there was a time for caution, recent years have shown the importance of banking spawners, and I don’t mean hauling them ashore.

But on the other, the banks that are our rivers are different than financial institutions, as the fishy kind are limited by how much spawning gravel there is to deposit on.

On the Skagit system, there is room for 40,000 adult coho, given habitat capacity and typical egg and fry survival rates, Barkdull says.

His best guess is that 55,000 will try to spawn this fall.

“Plenty,” he says.

Even as anglers like you and I want as many fish back as possible and will limit our trips and take-home to that end, “Realistically, we don’t need 70,000 on the spawning grounds,” Barkdull says.

He says the maximum sustained yield set for the Skagit is 25,000.

ODFW Announces Steelhead, Salmon Rule Changes On Umatilla, Walla Walla

THE FOLLOWING IS AN ODFW PRESS RELEASE

Steelhead fishing on the Umatilla River will be closed from Oct. 15-April 30, 2019 to protect native steelhead.

Also, the bag limit for salmon on the Umatilla River (from the Hwy 730 bridge to the CTUIR reservation boundary approximately 0.7 miles above Hwy 11 bridge) will be lowered from 3 to 1 adult fall Chinook or coho salmon per day and 5 jack salmon per day from Oct. 15-Nov. 30. In addition, 5 mini jack (8-15 inches) coho or fall Chinook salmon can be taken per day in that stretch of the Umatilla River.

Steelhead fishing will also be closed on the Walla Walla River from Dec. 1, 2018-April 30, 2019, again to protect native steelhead.

Estimated returns for both the Umatilla and Walla Walla rivers are expected to be near historic lows, based on returns over Bonneville Dam. The steelhead closure and reduction in the fall Chinook and coho bag limits are needed to ensure enough fish are available for hatchery broodstock escapement to Threemile Dam.

For more information on regulations and fishing opportunities in the Northeast Zone, visit https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/northeast-zone

Fish Commissions Urged Not To Rollback Columbia Salmon Reforms

Ahead of a five-year review and public comment on Columbia salmon and steelhead reforms, fishing advocates are sending out red alerts the tide might be turning in the lower river.

IN A NEW VIDEO, FORMER OREGON GOVERNOR JOHN KITZHABER, SEEN HERE IN A SCREEN GRAB, URGES VIEWERS TO MAINTAIN THE COLUMBIA RIVER SALMON REFORMS. (GILLNETSKILL.COM)

“There’s absolutely no reason to change right now, it makes no sense,” says former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber in one of several short videos posted this month on Keep Gillnets off the Columbia’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

He was instrumental in the 2012 compromise that prioritized developing new alternative nontribal commercial gear in the mainstem, moving netting to off-channel areas near the mouth, and increasing allocation for sportfishers, moves also aimed to help more wild salmon and steelhead — some of which are listed under the Endangered Species Act — get through to upstream spawning grounds.

The reforms have proven contentious, with a major disagreement early last year over ESA-listed Snake River fall Chinook impact allocations, with Washington wanting to move to the planned 80-20 nontribal sport-commercial split but Oregon sticking to 70-30.

In another video, Larry Cassidy, a longtime former Washington Game Commission member and respected conservationist, called the reforms a “smart move”, and said they’re working well and there’s “no reason” not to continue them.

The importance of Columbia Chinook was recently highlighted by a joint state-federal review that found springers, tules and upriver brights among key feedstocks for struggling southern resident killer whales.

The Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, which said in a weekly newsletter last Friday that it’s grateful for Kitzhaber’s continued interest in the issue, is urging its members to check out Gillnetskill.com and asking them to contact Oregon’s and Washington’s governors, Kate Brown and Jay Inslee.

The issue will be before the eight current Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioners during a Monday, Oct. 15, meeting that begins at 8:30 a.m.

Members will get a staff briefing on the reforms and view a presentation that includes color-coded report cards for how well it’s played out in terms of management purposes; recreational, commercial and tribal fisheries; allocations; new gear; and the economic results.

“The report is simply a tool to help commissioners evaluate whether the policy has been a success,” Bill Tweit, a WDFW special assistant, said in an agency press release out earlier this week.

Afterwards there will be an hour-long panel discussion and a chance for public comment.

A meeting agenda says that WDFW staffers will also “seek guidance and next steps.”

Later in the meeting, commissioners will hold their annual get-together with Inslee, and in early November the citizen panel appointed by the governor will meet with its Oregon counterparts on the issue.

With Increased Forecast, Skagit Coho Limit Bumped Up

Editor’s note: Twenty-four hours after sending out the original e-reg for Skagit coho, WDFW issued another correcting two elements: the upper boundary of the affected area (the Cascade River Bridge instead of Rockport) and revised run estimate (73,000 instead of 63,000).

THE FOLLOWING IS A WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICE

Skagit River coho salmon limit to increase

Action:  Increase the daily salmon limit to 4 fish, including up to 2 wild coho. Release chinook and chum.

BRAD JOHNSON CAUGHT THIS SKAGIT RIVER COHO A COUPLE SEASONS BACK ON A LOCALLY MADE SPINNER IN PEARL BUBBLE GUM. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective date: Oct. 10, 2018.

Species affected: Coho salmon.

Location: Skagit River (Skagit County) from the mouth to the Cascade River Road (Marblemount Bridge).

Reason for action: On Oct. 9, WDFW and co-managers revised the projection for returning Skagit River coho to 90,000 fish, up from 73,000. The increased run size allows Skagit River coho daily limits to be raised.

Additional information: The Skagit River from the mouth to 200 feet upstream of the Baker River remains closed to all fishing on Oct. 10 and 11. More information on that closure can be found online at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=2226.

All other rules remain unchanged. Please refer to https://wdfw.wa.gov for further information on seasons.

Southwest Washington, Hanford Reach Fishing Report (10-8-18)

THE FOLLOWING ARE WDFW FISHING REPORTS FROM BRYANT SPELLMAN AND PAUL HOFFARTH

The Hanford Reach fall salmon fishery opened August 16. Angler effort and harvest continues to be strong and steady.  There were 4,874 angler trips taken for salmon in the Hanford Reach this past week. WDFW staff interviewed 2,202 anglers. Based on the data collected, 2,292 adult chinook and 364 jacks were harvested bringing the season total to 6,703 adult chinook, 762 jacks, and 10 coho. Anglers averaged 10 hours per per fish (1.5 fish per boat).

DHEYAA HAMMADI SHOWS OFF A NICE HANFORD REACH FALL CHINOOK CAUGHT OVER THE WEEKEND. HE WAS RUNNING SEAHAWKS PATTERN BRAD’S SUPER BAIT CUT PLUGS LOADED UP WITH TUNA AND WAS FISHING WITH TROY BRODERS. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

The fish counts at McNary have not officially posted through October 7 but based on the available data the fishery will remain open through Friday, October 12. There will be an update as soon as the counts post.

…………………………………..

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Mainstem from the mouth upstream to McNary Dam

  • From the Buoy 10 line upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco:
    • Closed to angling for and retention of salmon and steelhead.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River – No anglers sampled.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 29 bank rods kept 10 coho jacks and released 1 coho jack.  23 boats/47 rods kept 3 coho, 1 coho jack, and released 2 chinook, 1 chinook jack, 2 coho, and 4 coho jacks.

Above the I-5 Br:  34 bank rods kept 1 steelhead and released 6 chinook, 3 coho jacks. 1 boat/1 rod no catch.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 1,100 coho adults, 2,586 coho jacks, 368 fall Chinook adults, 42 fall Chinook jacks, 96 cutthroat trout, and 49 summer-run steelhead adults during six days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 152 coho adults and 336 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle and they released 221 coho adults and 401 coho jacks at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood.

Tacoma Power released 385 coho adults, 1,336 coho jacks, seven fall Chinook jacks and seven cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, and they released 149 coho adults, 431 coho jacks and one cutthroat trout into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,540 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, Oct. 8. Water visibility is 14 feet and the water temperature is 53.6 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – 13 bank anglers released 2 chinook.  1 boat/3 rods, no catch.

Lewis River – 47 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead, 1 coho, 2 coho jacks and released 2 chinook, 1 coho and 1 coho jack.  5 boats/5 rods kept 1 coho jack and released 1 coho.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Drano Lake – 8 bank anglers kept 1 chinook, 2 coho and 1 coho jack.   42 boats/ 116 rods kept 31 chinook, 21 chinook jacks, 6 coho, 2 coho jacks and released 8 chinook, 1 chinook jack and 1 steelhead.

Klickitat River –46 bank anglers kept 16 chinook, 6 chinook jacks and released 1 steelhead.

  • Grays River:  Effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream to the mouth of the South Fork: release all Coho.
  • West Fork Grays River:  Effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream: release all Coho.
  • Deep River:  Effective September 24, 2018 Deep River reopens to salmon and steelhead angling under permanent rules.
  • Youngs Bay, Blind Slough and Knappa Slough: Effective September 24, 2018 Youngs Bay, Blind Slough and Knappa Slough reopens to salmon and steelhead angling under permanent Oregon regulations.
  • Cowlitz River:  Effective September 22, 2018 closed for Chinook retention from the mouth to the Barrier Dam including all lower Cowlitz tributaries.  Until further notice, the closed waters section below the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery Barrier Dam is 400’, at the posted markers.
  • Toutle River:  Effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream to the forks: release all Chinook.
  • North Fork Toutle River:  Effective October 6, 2018 until further notice, from the mouth upstream to the posted markers below the fish collection facility: release all Chinook.
  • Washougal River, including Camas Slough:  Effective September 22, 2018 closed for Chinook retention from the mouth to the bridge at Salmon Falls.
  • Wind River:  from the mouth to 400’ below Shepherd Falls, closed for steelhead retention and closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead.
  • Drano Lake: Effective Sept. 29, 2018 until further notice.  The daily salmon limit remains 6 fish total, of which only one may be an adult.  Drano Lake remains closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead and closed to retention of steelhead.
  • White Salmon River:  from the mouth to the county road bridge below the former location of the powerhouse, closed for steelhead retention and closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead.

STURGEON

From the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to McNary Dam including adjacent tributaries – Until further notice, white sturgeon open for catch and release fishing only. Fishing for sturgeon at night is closed.

Low Salmon Returns Lead To Restrictions On Parts Of Grays, Toutle Systems

THE FOLLOWING ARE EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICES FROM WDFW

WDFW FISHING RULE CHANGE   
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091
http://wdfw.wa.gov

October 3, 2018

Chinook salmon retention to close on Toutle, North Fork Toutle rivers

Action: Chinook salmon retention closes on the Toutle River and the North Fork Toutle.

\ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Effective dates: October 6, 2018 until further notice. 

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Locations: The Toutle River from the mouth to the forks; the North Fork Toutle River from the mouth to the posted markers downstream of the fish collection facility.

Reason for action: Fall chinook salmon returning to the North Toutle Hatchery, located on the Green River, are tracking well below the pre-season forecast and are not currently projected to meet the hatchery broodstock goal. These fish must first migrate through the Toutle and North Fork Toutle rivers. Closing the Toutle River and North Fork Toutle River to chinook salmon retention will increase the number of hatchery fish available for broodstock and help ensure fishing opportunities in future years.

Additional information: The Green River is also currently closed to chinook retention. Retention of hatchery coho remains open on the Toutle, North Fork Toutle and Green rivers. All other permanent rules remain in effect. Please refer to the Sport Fishing Pamphlet for complete rule information.

Information contact: Tom Wadsworth, District Fish Biologist, (360) 906-6709.

Grays and West Fork Grays rivers to close for hatchery coho retention

Action: Closes the Grays and West Fork Grays rivers to retention of coho.

Effective date: October 6, 2018 until further notice.

Species affected: Coho salmon.

Location: The Grays River to the mouth of the South Fork Grays River and West Fork Grays River from the mouth upstream.

Reason for action: The Grays River Hatchery coho return to date is below what is needed for hatchery broodstock. The 2018 return has been influenced by poor ocean conditions and reduced juvenile releases in previous years. Closing coho retention in the Grays River and West Fork Grays River will increase the number of hatchery fish available for broodstock and help ensure fishing opportunities in future years.

 Additional information: Fishing remains open on the mainstem Grays River upstream of the mouth of the South Fork as well as the South and East Fork Grays Rivers under permanent rule as described in the 2018/2019 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.

 Information contact: Region 5 Office, 360-696-6211 *1010

New Website Will Help Track Where Coho Are Dying Early In Puget Sound Streams

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Salmon exposed to toxic stormwater runoff can die in a matter of hours, and scientists are asking for Puget Sound area residents’ help in identifying affected streams to study the phenomenon.

COHO EXPOSED TO STREET RUNOFF ARE DYING AND RESEARCHERS ARE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY. (K. KING, USFWS)

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) and Washington State University (WSU), collectively called the Puget Sound Stormwater Science Team (PSSST), have been studying the effects of stormwater runoff on Pacific salmon species for almost two decades. Working to narrow down the toxic chemicals that are likely responsible, the team is unveiling a new interactive website that lets citizen volunteers help map salmon deaths.

As urban growth and development continues in the Puget Sound region, scientists anticipate that the coho mortality syndrome will expand, and will have significant impacts on wild coho populations. This is where area residents come in- helping scientists identify the extent of the phenomenon, and continue to refine scientists’ understanding at the toxic chemicals at play in affected areas.

“Media coverage of our work last year inspired some members of the public to report observations of coho suffering from the syndrome,” said Jay Davis, environmental toxicologist with the USFWS. “We realized that residents of the Puget Sound region can provide important data to help us document affected watersheds. There are potentially thousands of toxic chemicals in stormwater runoff, and refining our understanding of where and when this phenomenon is occurring can help us narrow our focus and provide an important part to this puzzle.”

The PSSST-developed website includes interactive tools that allow users to view the Puget Sound basin and affected watersheds, and train them to identify coho salmon and report suspected coho mortality as citizen scientists. Although studies with other species are ongoing, initial evidence suggests that coho are particularly vulnerable to the syndrome.

A MAP SHOWS PREDICTIONS FOR WATERSHEDS WHERE COHO WILL LIKELY FAIR BEST AND WORST AS THEY MAKE THEIR FALL SPAWNING RUNS. (USFWS)

Clearer picture of mortality

Coho returning to Puget Sound every autumn are an important food source for many animals, including endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.

In a recently released draft report, the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force created by Washington Governor Inslee recognized the importance of stormwater as a source of pollution in Puget Sound, as well as the need to better understand the impacts of toxics on orcas and their salmon prey.

WSU researchers, led by Jen McIntyre, assistant professor at the WSU-run Washington Stormwater Center in Puyallup, have found that coho get sick and die within just a few hours of exposure to polluted stormwater.

AS FALL’S RAINS RETURN, RUNOFF FROM OUR STREETS AND HIGHWAYS OFTEN GETS FUNNELED INTO WATERS COHO ARE MIGRATING THROUGH, LEADING TO THEIR EARLY DEMISE IN SOME CASES. (K. KING, USFWS)

“Urban runoff contains a soup of heavy metals and hydrocarbons that are highly toxic to fish,” said McIntyre. “Every coho that dies in our polluted urban watersheds before it gets a chance to spawn means less eggs, fewer fry, and fewer returning fish to feed hungry orcas.”

“With this new, interactive story map, citizens along the Puget Sound can help scientists confirm their latest predictions of where coho are in the most trouble,” said Nat Scholz, an ecotoxicologist with NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. “This will help us understand where green stormwater infrastructure and similar strategies to promote clean water and healthy habitats are most needed.”

While the new story map is aimed at coho, efforts to reduce toxic runoff to Puget Sound lakes, rivers, and marine waters will benefit other species as well.

Coho salmon are an important part of the culture, history, and economy of the Pacific Northwest. This iconic species is widely distributed in lowland watersheds that are vulnerable to ongoing and future development. The role of water pollution in the continued decline of coho populations remains poorly understood.

To learn more about how you can help, including identifying and reporting coho mortality, visit: https://arcg.is/0SivbL

NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN EDITOR ANDY WALGAMOTT AND HIS FAMILY HAD A RAIN GARDEN INSTALLED TO CATCH STREET RUNOFF THAT OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE GONE INTO LAKE WASHINGTON’S THORNTON CREEK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Warming To A Very Unwild, Very Unscenic Salmon River

It took me awhile to warm to the Duwamish.

Several years of sharing a bank with it, in fact, and I may never be a fan of the diminished river that flows through Auburn, Kent, Tukwila and Seattle like I am of other waters.

THE DUWAMISH IN TUKWILA, WASHINGTON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Perhaps if I’d grown up in this gritty, highly industrialized part of Pugetropolis it would be easier.

But the Skykomish, Sultan, Wallace, as well as the Sauk, forks of the Stilly, Icicle, the upper Snoqualmie trio and other streams on either side of Washington’s Central Cascades were where I tramped and wade-fished in my younger days, and they became what I know of as “rivers.”

WHERE RIVERS ARE SUPPOSED TO COME FROM. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Nothing wishy-washy about them.

Brawny, emerald-hued streams, bottomed by salt-and-pepper-speckled granite, lorded over by bald eagles.

Gravel bars and plentiful skipping rocks, ever-shifting side channels, the roar of rapids, big downed trees that were no match for the power of relentless currents, logjams, deep eddies, Carrock-sized boulders.

They’re the kind of Western waters that get admitted into the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act as birthright.

BLACKBERRIES ALONG THE DUWAMISH. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The Duwamish?

A guide marker for winter morning and evening flights of crows.

Deceptively brown as it slithers over its silt bed.

Carrier of flotsam, and overgrown by brambles and other invasives.

Damned to indecision, reversing itself twice a day in late summer and fall, and carrying the occasional dead body first towards saltwater, then sending it back upstream as if realizing it would be immoral to dump it in the Superfund zone when the tide changes but not having any better ideas either.

Ahem.

Apparently it’s possible to be an elitist snob about rivers, because that’s what I was, someone who looked down his nose at a stream running a course that geology, a volcano and more than a little help from mankind have dealt it.

But I’m working on it, and salmon fishing has been that path.

DUWAMISH RIVER COHO. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

I WOULD HAVE REMAINED IGNORANT OF THE DUWAMISH — other than it being somewhere underneath one of the many bridges between home and the Columbia — had we not moved the offices of Northwest Sportsman magazine and our other titles from Seattle’s stadium district to an office park a hail Mary away from the river in late 2013.

By then, that year’s pink, coho and kings had long become nutrients, and the chums and hatchery steelhead were in its upper end, so it was too late for any before-work, lunch-hour or after-work casts.

I ignored 2014’s silver run, as I’m admittedly a rather late devotee of freshwater coho (saltwater is something else), so it really wasn’t until August 2015 that I began sniffing around the river with an eye for access points to odd-year humpies.

Fishermen’s paths through the brambles took me down to a foreign water, one with a different smell, a dirty hem line that marked high tide on leaves trailing into the river, and the slickest looking mud you’ll ever see disappearing into unknown depths.

Danish bogman country.

AN ANGLER’S SHADOW ON THE DUWAMISH. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Gingerly, I gave it a go and before long I thought I had figured out how to catch Duwamish pinks, but the fish would soon show me that in fact I did not know very much at all.

Afterwards I began to discover that the river carries an amazing story.

At one time the valley its lower end sidles through was actually a saltwater channel, a sheltered marine passage between what would become the cities of Seattle and Tacoma, according to the Burke Museum.

In those days, returning pinks, kings, coho and chums would have swam past what you might call “SeaTac Island” to enter the Duwamish.

Eventually that channel was filled in by multiple mudflows that came off of Mt. Rainier and gradually pushed the mouth of the river north.

In its Waterlines exhibit, the Burke says that 2,000 years ago, the estuary was right here in Tukwila, somewhere by the Fun Center, the Sounders’ practice facilities, Southcenter Mall, the casinos.

But then a huge earthquake 11 centuries ago lifted the land on the south side of the ominous Seattle Fault by 20 feet, moving the river’s mouth to where it is on Elliott Bay today.

THE SUN SHINES ON THE DIMINISHED DUWAMISH. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

At that time, the Duwamish was a far mightier river, collecting the runoff from a nearly 1,700-square-mile watershed that stretched from Everett, Mukilteo and Mill Creek in the north, to Redmond and Stampede and Naches Passes on the Cascade Crest in the east, to the massive Emmons Glacier on the northeast side of Mt. Rainier in the south.

It was fed by the Sammamish and Cedar Rivers, which drained into Lake Washington and out as the Black River.

And the Black met the combined flows of the Green and White Rivers at Fort Dent to form the Duwamish.

The system was “highly productive” for salmon, according to the Burke, and Native American villages and longhouses once stood near the mouth and along Elliott Bay. The area where Longfellow Creek flows off of West Seattle might have even been the site of a tribal smelt fishery, the museum suggests.

AMONG THE WILDLIFE I’VE SEEN ALONG THE BANKS OF THE DUWAMISH ARE BEAVERS, RACCOONS, WEASELS, KINGFISHERS, WOOD DUCKS AND PACIFIC TREE FROGS. SEA LIONS AND HARBOR SEALS ALSO SWIM UP THE RIVER IN SEARCH OF SALMON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

DUWAMISH COHO ARE NOT THE EASIEST FISH TO CATCH, at least in my experience the past three falls.

It seems like I’ve primarily been engaged in moving product off of the rack at Outdoor Emporium and putting it up on the wrack that is all the submerged obstructions in the river.

Needless to say, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder why coho jump. Just because? The sheer thrill? To shake loose sea lice? Coming up on unexpected underwater obstacles? One after another does seem to leap in the exact same spots, I’ve noticed.

Recently as I was making a steeply slanted bank more hospitable to stand and cast from I came across alternating layers of brown-orange and dark gray soils. I’m no geologist but it suggested flood deposits from different sources.

The farmers who began working the Green and Puyallup Valleys in the late 1800s had differing ideas about where the silty White should drain.

Growers on the King County side would dynamite a logjam to get the river to flow west instead of north, and then farmers on the Pierce County side would blow up a bluff to force it north instead of west.

It went on for decades, with rifle-armed patrols watching warily what the other side was up to.

THE GREEN-DUWAMISH FLOWS THROUGH AN INDUSTRIAL CORRIDOR AND ALONGSIDE RAIL LINES LEADING TO THE PORT OF SEATTLE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Then in 1906, “it all became moot,” reports Washington’s HistoryLink.org. One of Mother Nature’s infamous November atmospheric rivers sent such a flood downstream that it permanently shifted the White into the Puyallup River and its waters now meet Puget Sound at Commencement Bay instead of Elliott Bay.

A decade after losing that major tributary, the Duwamish was abandoned by the bulk of three more — all of the Sammamish and Cedar and nearly the entire Black — when the ship canal was opened and Lake Washington dipped 9 feet.

The Black is now just a trickle but it will periodically and temporarily rise with murky water when a dam releases water from a nearby riparian area. The watershed has shrunk to only 492 square miles.

Meanwhile, downstream, the estuary of the Duwamish was being filled in to make a deeper, better harbor for shipping interests.

Development backed up the valley, like the river itself rises at high tide. Riprap and flood protection levees straight-jacketed its course.

Whistle-stops and burgs became towns, towns became cities — a fake city even sprang up during World War II when the roof of Boeing’s B-17 factory on the lower river was camouflaged.

OIL SHEEN ON PAVEMENT IN A PARKING LOT NEAR THE DUWAMISH. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

No doubt that the bombers that came out of the plant were instrumental in winning the war, but what also came out of the facility in the form of PCBs and other effluents was devastating to the home front and the area was declared a Superfund site. Cleanup there wrapped up in 2015, with a mile’s worth declared “award-winning new habitat areas” by the EPA.

Even as work continues on other polluted sites in the lower river, anglers are advised in nine different languages not to eat resident fish or shellfish.

My family and I have eaten several Duwamish coho the past three falls, and I plan to serve up some more, as sea-going salmon are on the safe list.

I think with the change in the weather this week that is more likely — as long as it doesn’t rain too hard. Even as contaminants are removed from near the mouth, storms are flushing street runoff into the river and it’s now believed that something in our vehicles’ tires is especially toxic to coho.

RAIN FALLS ON I-5 NEAR THE RIVER. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

TODAY MARKS THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and I recently ran a photo essay on Northwest streams protected by the Congressional legislation signed by President Johnson in 1968.

There’s the muscular Rogue and Sauk, the deeply remote Imnaha and Owyhee, and the fishy Chetco and Klickitat.

The Duwamish couldn’t be more different — to fish it is to hear the roar, hammering and squeal of the cogs of the industrial world’s engines in motion — and I doubt it will ever join that prestigious club, but it has helped me see that messy, overlooked, down-on-their-luck rivers are important too.

In recent summers I’ve found myself fretting about its water temperatures, and drawing up plans for fish habitat projects.

And it’s got something else going for it. Earlier this fall, guided by the advice of a fellow angler I met on the banks last year, I caught my first two Chinook out of the river.

DUWAMISH FALL CHINOOK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Duwamish kings were recently identified as among the most important stocks for our starving orcas, as key as salmon from the pristine and well-protected Elwha and Skagit Rivers.

Yes, there are wild and scenic elements of the river — Flaming Geyser — but the portion that I’ve gotten to know is anything but. Yet in doing so I’ve come to appreciate that there are more kinds of rivers. As long as there are salmon and salmon fishermen of all kinds are able to fish its runs, it will help keep the pressure on to clean up and restore the Duwamish. I think we owe that to a river we have so altered.

And now to catch one of its coho.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this mistakenly called Flaming Geyser Flaming Gorge. 

SW WA, Hanford Reach Fishing Report (10-1-18)

THE FOLLOWING ARE WDFW FISHING REPORTS FROM BRYANT SPELLMAN AND PAUL HOFFARTH

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Mainstem from the mouth upstream to McNary Dam

  • From the Buoy 10 line upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco:
    • Closed to angling for and retention of salmon and steelhead.

AUSTIN, LEXI, BRITT AND CORBIN HAN POSE WITH A FALL CHINOOK RECENTLY CAUGHT NEAR TRI-CITIES. IT BIT A SUPERBAIT WITH TUNA BEHIND A PRO TROLL FLASHER TROLLED DOWNSTREAM. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River – No anglers sampled.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 25 bank rods kept 9 coho jacks and released 1 coho jack.  14 boats/33 rods kept 8 coho, 25 coho jacks, 1 steelhead and released 15 chinook, 1 chinook jack, 3 coho, 6 coho jacks and 1 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br:  41 bank rods released 12 chinook and 1 steelhead. 5 boats/13 rods kept 1 steelhead and released 3 chinook.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 986 coho adults, 2,251 coho jacks, 375 fall Chinook adults, 89 fall Chinook jacks, 86 cutthroat trout, 42 summer-run steelhead adults and seven spring Chinook adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 107 coho adults, 174 coho jacks and two spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River near Randle, and they released 120 coho adults, 68 coho jacks, and two spring Chinook adults at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood.

Tacoma Power released 389 coho adults, 1,251 coho jacks, 86 fall Chinook adults, 34 fall Chinook jacks, and six cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, and they released 210 coho adults, 640 coho jacks, five cutthroat trout and three spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,540 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, Oct. 1. Water visibility is 14 feet and the water temperature is 54.8 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – 10 bank anglers had no catch.  2 boats/5 rods kept 4 steelhead and released 1 steelhead.

Lewis River – 69 bank anglers kept 1 chinook jack, 2 coho, 1 coho jack and released 5 chinook, 3 coho and 1 coho jack.  15 boats/39 rods kept 4 chinook and released 19 chinook, 9 chinook jacks, 1 coho and 1 coho jack.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Drano Lake – 15 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.   91 boats/231 rods kept 78 chinook, 33 chinook jacks, 10 coho, 2 coho jacks and released 3 chinook, 3 coho and 5 steelhead.

Klickitat River – 97 bank anglers kept 51 chinook and 16 chinook jacks.

  • Deep River:  Effective September 24, 2018 Deep River reopens to salmon and steelhead angling under permanent rules.
  • Youngs Bay, Blind Slough and Knappa Slough: Effective September 24, 2018 Youngs Bay, Blind Slough and Knappa Slough reopens to salmon and steelhead angling under permanent Oregon regulations.
  • Cowlitz River:  Effective September 22, 2018 closed for Chinook retention from the mouth to the Barrier Dam including all lower Cowlitz tributaries, except the Toutle River.  Until further notice, the closed waters section below the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery Barrier Dam is 400’, at the posted markers.
  • Washougal River, including Camas Slough:  Effective September 22, 2018 closed for Chinook retention from the mouth to the bridge at Salmon Falls.
  • Wind River:  from the mouth to 400’ below Shepherd Falls, closed for steelhead retention and closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead.
  • Drano Lake: Effective Sept. 29, 2018 until further notice.  The daily salmon limit remains 6 fish total, of which only one may be an adult.  Drano Lake remains closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead and closed to retention of steelhead.
  • White Salmon River:  from the mouth to the county road bridge below the former location of the powerhouse, closed for steelhead retention and closed to night fishing for salmon and steelhead

STURGEON

From the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to McNary Dam including adjacent tributaries – Until further notice, white sturgeon open for catch and release fishing only. Fishing for sturgeon at night is closed.

……………………………

The Hanford Reach fall salmon fishery opened August 16. Angler effort continues to increase as well as harvest. There were 5,046 angler trips taken for salmon in the Hanford Reach this past week. WDFW staff interviewed 2,087 anglers this week. Based on the data collected, 2,043 adult chinook and 208 jacks were harvested bringing the season total to 4,411 adult chinook, 398 jacks, and 10 coho. Anglers averaged 13 hours per per fish (1.2 fish per boat), 50% increase compared to the week prior.

An in-season estimate was generated for the Hanford Reach wild return based on fish counts through September 30. An estimated 38,357 wild (natural) origin fall chinook are expected to return to the Hanford Reach. Base on this estimate harvest would be limited to ~6,500 adult chinook, leaving roughly 2,000 adult chinook remaining in the quota. Sunday, October 7 will likely be the final day of the fishery between the Hwy 395 bridge and Priest Rapids Dam.

From Highway 395 to Priest Rapids Dam the daily limit is 6 fall chinook, no more than 1 adult fall chinook. Anglers must stop fishing when the adult limit is retained. Anglers can use two poles if they have the two-pole license endorsement.

The Columbia River from Highway 395 to the old Hanford town site wooden powerline towers opened October 1 to the harvest of Ringold Springs origin hatchery steelhead. Steelhead released from Ringold Springs Hatchery are adipose fin clipped and right ventral fin clipped. The daily limit is one adipose + right ventral fin clipped steelhead. This unique mark (clips) allows these steelhead to be differentiated from upper Columbia River and Snake River steelhead and allows these steelhead to be selectively harvested.