Tag Archives: coho

SW WA Fishing Report (12-10-18)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 3 bank anglers released 1 coho.

Skamokawa Creek – No anglers sampled.

Elochoman River – 35 bank anglers kept 5 steelhead and released 7 coho jacks.  1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Abernathy Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Mill Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Germany Creek – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 5 bank rods had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br:  12 bank rods released 1 coho jack.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 691 coho adults, 273 coho jacks, 26 cutthroat trout, three fall Chinook adults and four summer-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 106 coho adults and 45 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle and they released 179 coho adults, 61 coho jacks and one cutthroat trout into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

Tacoma Power released 34 coho adults and 44 coho jacks at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood and they released 189 coho adults, 119 coho jacks, one fall Chinook adult and five cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,740 cubic feet per second on Monday, Dec. 3. Water visibility is 11 feet and the water temperature is 49.8 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – 8 bank anglers had no catch.  1 boat/2 rods released 2 coho.

Lewis River – 12 bank rods had no catch.

East Fork Lewis River – 15 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.

Salmon Creek – 31 bank anglers had no catch.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat River –No anglers sampled.

$18 Million Awarded For Washington Salmon Habitat Restoration Projects

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON RECREATION AND CONSERVATION OFFICE

The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board today announced the award of nearly $18 million in grants for projects to restore salmon habitat in an effort to bring the iconic fish back from the brink of extinction. An estimated 75 percent of the funded projects will benefit Chinook salmon, which make up a large part of the southern resident orca whale diet.

EXAMPLES OF PROJECTS FUNDED BY THE WASHINGTON SALMON RECOVERY FUNDING BOARD INCLUDE RECONSTRUCTING A WHIDBEY ISLAND STREAM AT ITS ESTUARY … (RCO)

The Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board today announced the award of nearly $18 million in grants for projects to restore salmon habitat in an effort to bring the iconic fish back from the brink of extinction. An estimated 75 percent of the funded projects will benefit Chinook salmon, which make up a large part of the southern resident orca whale diet.

… ADDING SCREENED WATER INTAKES TO PREVENT FISH FROM GETTING SUCKED INTO FARM FIELDS IN THE CHEHALIS VALLEY … (RCO)

“This funding helps protect one of our most beloved legacies,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Together we’re taking a step forward for salmon, and in turn dwindling southern resident orca whales, while also looking back to ensure we’re preserving historic tribal cultural traditions and upholding promises made more than a century ago.”

… ADDING STREAM COMPLEXITY TO BOTH THE WALLA WALLA … (RCO)

Since the creation of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board in 1999, the board has awarded more than $700 million in state and federal funds to more than 2,650 projects across the state. With matching funds provided by grant recipients, the amount invested in board-funded salmon recovery projects is $987 million.

… AND TUCANNON RIVERS … (RCO)

The Salmon Recovery Funding Board awarded grants to organizations for 95 projects in 30 of the state’s 39 counties. Grant recipients will use this funding to remove barriers that prevent salmon from migrating, increase the types and amount of salmon habitat, conserve pristine areas and replant riverbanks to increase places for salmon to spawn, feed, rest, hide from predators and transition from freshwater to saltwater and back again.

The Salmon Recovery Funding Board funded projects in the counties below. Click below to see details on each project:

Asotin County…………………………. $77,535

Chelan County………………….. $1,006,716

Clallam County…………………….. $762,420

Clark County…………………………. $689,142

Columbia County………………….. $857,484

Cowlitz County……………………… $988,691

Garfield County………………………. $61,450

Grays Harbor County……………. $437,633

Island County……………………….. $217,645

Jefferson County………………….. $475,220

King County………………………….. $645,895

Kitsap County……………………….. $531,047

Kittitas County……………………. $1,172,830

Klickitat County…………………….. $445,035

Lewis County………………………… $964,520
Mason County………………………. $783,956

Okanogan County………………… $849,084

Pacific County………………………. $899,521

Pend Oreille County……………… $342,000

Pierce County……………………. $1,050,095

San Juan County…………………. $277,742

Skagit County…………………….. $1,326,168

Skamania County…………………. $249,916

Snohomish County……………. $1,052,178

Thurston County…………………… $308,390

Wahkiakum County………………. $424,045

Walla Walla County………………. $480,936

Whatcom County………………….. $437,611

Whitman County…………………….. $41,795

Yakima County……………………… $125,715

“We are committed to restoring salmon populations back to levels that support communities and support people,” said David Troutt, chair of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “This funding enables local communities to restore the places salmon live, while also initiating a cascade of other benefits, from less flooding to better water quality, more water in rivers for salmon and other fish, and a boost to our statewide economy.”

Recent studies show that every $1 million spent on watershed restoration results in between 15.7 and 23.8 jobs and up to $2.5 million in total economic activity. The funds awarded this week are estimated to provide up to 470 jobs during the next 4 years and up to nearly $50 million in economic activity. These new grants will put contractors, consultants and field crews to work designing and building projects and restoring rivers and shorelines. It is estimated that about 80 percent of these funds stay in the county where the project is located.

AND ASSESSING THE PURCHASE OF A NEW WILDLIFE AREA IN SOUTHERN WILLAPA BAY, ALL OF WHICH ARE PROJECTS THAT SHOULD BENEFIT CHINOOK AND OTHER SALMON. (RCO)

Some of the projects approved by the board this week include the following:

·         A Tulalip Tribes project to remove the Pilchuck River diversion dam will open up 37 miles of habitat for Chinook salmon and steelhead.

·         A Cascadia Conservation District project near Wenatchee that will create nearly 6 acres of wetland, add nearly 1 mile of side channel and create more places for fish to rest, hide from predators and spawn in the middle Entiat River.

·         A Lewis Conservation District project near Chehalis will help keep fish out of agricultural irrigation intakes in the Chehalis River basin, directly improving the survival of young coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead.

·         A Nez Perce Tribe project in southeastern Washington will remove barriers to steelhead in Buford Creek, opening up nearly 5 miles of potential habitat, 2 miles of which are designated critical habitat.

The board also approved ranked lists of Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration program projects to submit to the Legislature for funding consideration. The project requests totaled nearly $21 million with another $46 million requested for larger projects.

The Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration program is a state capital bond-funded program focused on Puget Sound and Hood Canal, jointly administered by the Recreation and Conservation Office and the Puget Sound Partnership.

“Salmon are the heart of nature’s system in Puget Sound,” said Sheida Sahandy, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. The Partnership’s Leadership Council is the regional salmon recovery organization for most of Puget Sound’s salmon species. “They feed our orca, and they also nourish people. They provide cultural, economic and physical well-being to the entire system. These projects help fulfill our responsibility to sustain the salmon that sustain us.”

How Projects are Chosen

Projects are selected by lead entities, which are watershed-based groups that include tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations and citizens. Lead entities recruit projects and sponsors, vet projects based on federally approved regional salmon recovery plans and prioritize which projects to submit to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board for funding. Regional salmon recovery organizations and the board review each project for cost-effectiveness and to ensure they will benefit salmon.

“With steady checks and balances throughout the process, this bottom-up approach is the backbone of our efforts to ensure a thriving future not only for salmon, but for orcas, other wildlife and ultimately—us,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “It consistently produces projects with widespread support that are rooted in our local communities.”

Why Save Salmon?

Washington state salmon populations have been declining for generations. As Washington grew and built its cities and towns, it destroyed many of the places salmon need to live. In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon as endangered.

By the end of that decade, salmon populations had dwindled so much that salmon, steelhead and bull trout were listed as threatened or endangered in three-quarters of the state.

Those listings set off the formation of the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to oversee state and federally funded investments in salmon recovery.

Grant funding comes from the Legislature-authorized sale of state bonds and from the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, which National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service administers.

Information about the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Recreation and Conservation Office is available online at www.rco.wa.gov.

Nez Perce Optimistic About Snake Basin Coho Reintroductions

By Rick Itami

With salmon and steelhead runs across the Northwest experiencing low run counts in most river systems, anglers these days glom on to any visage of hope they can find.

For us Inland Empire anglers, the Nez Perce Tribe is providing such hope through their quiet efforts to reintroduce coho salmon to the Clearwater River and Grande Ronde River basins.

The Clearwater River Basin

History tells us that the once plentiful Clearwater River coho started declining in the 1800s because of habitat degradation. In 1927, the Washington Water Power Company (now Avista Corp.) constructed the Lewiston Dam to produce electricity and aid in flood control.

The original Lewiston Dam had a fish ladder, but it accommodated only steelhead resulting in the extirpation of Clearwater Chinook salmon and any remaining vestiges of a coho run. A second fish ladder was installed in the early 1950s that seemed to help the Chinook salmon run somewhat, but it was too late for the coho.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game tried to re-establish coho in the Clearwater River Basin beginning in 1962. But that effort was discontinued after only 31 coho were counted at Lewiston Dam in 1969. The Lewiston Dam was finally taken out in 1973 after the construction of Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River caused a reservoir pool that backed up into the lower Clearwater River, rendering the Lewiston Dam ineffective. By 1985, coho salmon in Idaho were determined to be extinct.

The Nez Perce Tribe began working diligently to reintroduce coho salmon to the Clearwater River in 1995. Becky Johnson, Production Division Director for the Nez Perce Tribe’s Department of Fisheries Resource Management, is a key manager in the effort to reintroduce coho salmon to the Clearwater River Basin. Johnson provided the following information about how the Tribe carried out the project.

NOAA’s Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund and the Mitchell Act Program provided the Nez Perce Tribe with more than $5 million since 2000 for the project. The Clearwater River Basin Coho Restoration Project also got a jump-start when the Tribe was allowed to acquire surplus coho eggs from the Lower Columbia River as part of an agreement between Northwest tribes and state and federal agencies resulting from U. S. v. Oregon.

After initial supplementation efforts using Lower Columbia River coho eggs were successful, returning adult coho are now collected at Dworshak National Fish Hatchery, Kooskia National Fish Hatchery and Lapwai Creek. Over the years, the tribal program has grown and now releases 830,000 to 1.1 million smolts annually. Coho smolts are released each spring into Clear Creek and Lapwai Creek, both tributaries of the Clearwater River. In 2014, about 90 percent of the adult coho returning to Lapwai Creek were allowed to spawn naturally.

The final 2014 count of coho salmon over Lower Granite Dam — the last dam the fish have to negotiate before reaching the mouth of the Clearwater River in Lewiston, Idaho — was 18,048 fish. Mike Bisbee, Jr., Tribal Project Manager for the Clearwater Basin Coho Reintroduction Program says the 2014 adult return far-exceeded the project goal of 14,000 returning adults and gave hope for the future of the run.

To the Nez Perce Department of Fisheries Management, the success of the coho reintroduction program helps fulfill its goal of “putting fish in the rivers” to rebuild natural spawning runs and to restore harvest opportunities. This all came to fruition for the Nez Perce Tribe in 2014 and Bisbee says that he and his crew received a lot of pats on the back by Tribal members, both young and old. He and his crew were able to take dozens of excess coho out of the fish trap in Lapwai Creek and give them to Tribal members for the first time last year. In addition, many tribal members were successful harvesting coho individually. The return of the coho salmon has great significance to Tribal members as it helps bring back an important part of their cultural history.

For Clearwater River sports fishermen in Idaho, the reintroduction of coho salmon meant a totally new species to pursue. And some were wise enough to realize that this opened up an opportunity to catch a state record that would permanently put them in the record books.

Ethan Crawford of Moscow, Idaho was the first to set the Idaho record by catching a 9.4 pound, 31-inch female on October 18, 2014 — just a day after the Idaho Department of Fish and Game opened the coho season.

That record didn’t last long, however. On November 9, 2014, Steve Micek from Idaho Falls, Idaho hooked and landed an 11.8 pound coho while fishing with his son Greg. Micek said he hooked the fish on the last cast of the day, using a half-ounce silver KO Wobbler.

He wasn’t impressed with the fight, however, saying the fish “hit like a snag” and was in the net after only a few strong pulls. He attributes the lack of fight to “spawning behavior.”

STEVE MICEK AND HIS IDAHO STATE RECORD COHO, AN 11.8-POUNDER CAUGHT NOV. 8, 2014. (IDFG)

I accidently hooked and landed a nice bright female coho with firm red meat. I say accidentally because I was trolling lighted lures for steelhead early in the morning before sunrise. When the sun came up, I decided to switch to fishing shrimp under bobbers. So I started reeling up my trolling rod with the lighted lure. As soon as I speeded up the retrieve, the fish struck and I happily landed my first Idaho coho that went into the cooler with some steelhead we had caught earlier.

Since many Idaho anglers have never fished for coho salmon before, they naturally have to learn how it’s done properly. Many successful anglers cruised the Clearwater River in their boats until they observed coho salmon rolling on the surface. Then they would throw spoons or spinners like the Blue Fox, twitched jigs, or trolled plugs for them. Favorite colors were silver, chartreuse, pink, cerise and black or combinations thereof.

Toby Wyatt, owner and operator of Reel Time Fishing (208-790-2128), a successful guide service out of Clarkston, Washington says that his clients did well trolling Mag Lips 3.5 plugs in the Doctor Death colors, drifting beads, and casting spoons like the silver Little Cleo or the pink Vibrax Blue Fox spinner.

He said that the bite was never really hot and five to six coho a day was the norm. He targeted the mouths of creeks and hatcheries where coho were released and said he observed a lot of fish that simply would not bite.

Then in 2015, poor ocean conditions caused near record low runs of coho salmon. The low number of adult returns caused the Tribe to miss its broodstock needs for the year which in turn, caused hatchery releases of smolts in 2017 to be low.

According to Johnson, “Once you get into a ‘hole’ like that it can be hard to climb out unless ocean conditions really turn around and are good again.”

In the fall of 2018, Johnson estimates 1,200 to 1,400 adult coho returned to the Clearwater River basin. While this was too low a number to allow for a sports fishing season, she says Tribal staff should have enough eggs to produce the 500,000 juveniles for the Clearwater program that will be released in the spring of 2020.

The Grande Ronde River Basin

With the initial success of the reintroduction of coho salmon to the Clearwater River basin, the Nez Perce Tribe turned its attention to the Grande Ronde River basin.

On March 9, 2017, the Tribe held a ceremony to release 500,000 coho salmon smolts into the Lostine River on the Woody Wolf Ranch just east of the town of Wallowa, Oregon. According to Johnson, coho once flourished in the Grande Ronde River Basin but the fish pretty much disappeared by around 1986.

COHO SMOLTS RELEASED INTO THE LOSTINE RIVER ON THE WOODY WOLF RANCH, MARCH 9, 2017. (RICK ITAMI)

This project is co-managed by the Nez Perce Tribe and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The release was made possible by obtaining Lower Columbia River coho smolts from the Cascade Hatchery on Tanner Creek — the same hatchery from which coho smolts came from for the initial releases into the Clearwater River Basin.

According to Bruce Eddy, Manager of the Eastern Region of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the initial goal for the reintroduction is to have broodstock for 500,000 juvenile coho salmon. When asked when the Department might open a coho season for sports anglers, Eddy said that it may be as long as 10 years, depending on all the factors involved.

The Nez Perce Tribe waited expectantly for the first returning adult coho to the Lostine River weir in the fall of 2018. Then on October 26, 2018, a female coho entered the weir — the first coho salmon to return to the Lostine River since 1966.

As Johnson put it, “It goes without saying that we’re super excited to see these coho return home.”

At the time of this writing, Nez Perce staff had trapped 125 coho that were later released to spawn naturally in the Lostine River.

FEMALE COHO TRAPPED AT THE LOSTINE RIVER WEIR ON OCTOBER 26, 2018 — THE FIRST SINCE 1966. (NEZ PERCE TRIBE)

Johnson says they think about 800 coho bound for the Lostine River crossed Lower Granite Dam, based on PIT tag data.

She adds, “Coho that didn’t make it all the way to the Lostine weir likely are spawning in the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers,” of which the Lostine River is a tributary.

At any rate, it appears that the target return of 500 adults was met in 2018. That’s good news, even though the overall return did not allow a sports fishing season, which wasn’t anticipated anyway.

Johnson sees poor ocean conditions as one of the biggest challenges to the reintroduction of coho salmon. As she puts it, “Warm water, low prey base — not good conditions for salmon and steelhead.”

But looking into the future, Johnson says, “I am optimistic about attaining self-sustaining runs in the Snake Basin. Coho were once abundant here and the habitat in a lot of the tributaries up here is available and vacant. Developing a stock that is able to navigate 500 to 600 miles over eight dams out to the ocean and then have the stamina to migrate home that same distance over those same dams as an adult was the challenge when we started reintroduction in the 1990s. We’ve seen great success with that from our Clearwater program. I believe the greatest challenge now is climate change and tough ocean conditions.”

We sports anglers are cheering the Nez Perce Tribe on in their efforts to restore coho salmon to the Clearwater River and Grande Ronde River basins. Having had a taste of a fishable run of coho in 2014 gives us hope for more of the same in the future for both basins.

In this day and age, when disparate groups are fighting each other over fishing rights and oftentimes driven by selfish motivation, it’s refreshing to see the Nez Perce Tribe forging ahead with substantive actions to bring coho salmon back to the Inland Northwest with little fanfare.

Just as the benevolent Nez Perce Tribe saved Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery from certain starvation in the fall of 1805, we hope they can now bring back sustainable runs of the magnificent coho salmon.

Editor’s note: Rick Itami is an angler and outdoor writer based in the Spokane area. His work has appeared in several Northwest sporting magazines, including ours.

SW WA Fishing Report (12-5-18)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

December 4, 2018

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 9 bank anglers released 2 steelhead.

Skamokawa Creek – No anglers sampled.

Elochoman River – 38 bank anglers kept 6 steelhead and released 4 steelhead, 2 coho and 11 coho jacks.  1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Abernathy Creek – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

Mill Creek – No anglers sampled.

Germany Creek – 6 bank anglers had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 14 bank rods kept 1 coho jack and released 1 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br:  6 bank rods had no catch.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 691 coho adults, 273 coho jacks, 26 cutthroat trout, three fall Chinook adults and four summer-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 106 coho adults and 45 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle and they released 179 coho adults, 61 coho jacks and one cutthroat trout into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

Tacoma Power released 34 coho adults and 44 coho jacks at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood and they released 189 coho adults, 119 coho jacks, one fall Chinook adult and five cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,740 cubic feet per second on Monday, Dec. 3. Water visibility is 11 feet and the water temperature is 49.8 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – No anglers sampled.

Lewis River – 2 bank anglers had no catch. 2 boats/4 rods had no catch.

East Fork Lewis River – 7 bank anglers kept 1 coho.  1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Salmon Creek – 41 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat River –No anglers sampled.

SW WA Fishing Report (11-28-18)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 4 bank anglers released 4 coho and 3 coho jacks.  1 boat/3 rods released 3 coho.

Skamokawa Creek – No anglers sampled.

Elochoman River – 3 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead, 1 coho jack and released 1 steelhead and 1 coho jack.

Abernathy Creek – No anglers sampled.

Mill Creek – No anglers sampled.

Germany Creek – No anglers sampled.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 8 bank rods had no catch.  2 boats/5 rods had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br:  4 bank rods had no catch.  2 boats/4 rods released 2 coho.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 599 coho adults, 528 coho jacks, 63 cutthroat trout, three fall Chinook adults, one fall Chinook jack and three summer-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 89 coho adults and 26 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle and they released 269 coho adults, 292 coho jacks and two cutthroat trout into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

Tacoma Power released 205 coho adults, 293 coho jacks, one fall Chinook jack and seven cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,540 cubic feet per second on Monday, Nov. 26. Water visibility is 12 feet and the water temperature is 51.8 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility

Kalama River – 24 bank anglers had no catch.

Lewis River – No anglers sampled.

East Fork Lewis River – 6 bank anglers had no catch.

Salmon Creek – 15 bank anglers had no catch.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat River –No anglers sampled.

Offshore Survey Finds Improved Young Coho, King Numbers

A federal fisheries biologist is sharing his guarded assessment of 2018’s annual spring survey of young salmon off the Northwest Coast, one that offers a glimmer of hope for future Columbia River runs but also comes as the Pacific continues to give off mixed signals.

A SPRING SURVEY OFF THE NORTHWEST COAST FOUND GOOD NUMBERS OF YOUNG COHO REARING IN THE OCEAN. (NWFSC)

“Our catches make me optimistic, but based on some of the other data we have, I’m only cautiously optimistic,” says Brian Burke, a research supervisor at the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Seattle office in Montlake.

He says samplers found average to just slightly below average numbers of Chinook offshore, which is actually better than it sounds.

“A big improvement from last year,” Burke terms it, pointing to 2017 which saw some of the lowest numbers of young Columbia kings on record.

Juvenile coho numbers were also very low last year, but more were found offshore this spring.

“A large number of coho — much more than average,” reports Burke.

It all might be good news for 2019 and 2020 fisheries, but you can also look at federal and state data for correlations between June yearling catches and subsequent adult returns and find just about anything you want to.

Last year the feds did warn that 2017’s survey could mean poor returns this year continuing into 2019.

The official salmon forecasts and trends for Columbia spring, summer and fall Chinook, coho and sockeye will begin to come out early next month.

Sportfishing industry members huddling with state managers Dec. 11 at ODFW’s Clackamas office to get the scoop will be hoping for good news after this season saw reduced angling opportunities and large-scale closures of the big river.

While ocean productivity does appear to have improved somewhat for salmon relative to 2014 through 2017, it’s not clear whether things are back to “normal,” per se, from the Blob.

“When we see things like pyrosomes and pompano that were never really caught prior to 2014, we know the system has not completely reset from the impacts of the Blob,” Burke says, and cautions, “We are also seeing a potential new blob this year – obviously, the impacts of that are not known.”

There’s much more to the ecosystem than just salmon, of course, and down near the base of the Northwest’s offshore food chain, “friendly faces” — northern coldwater copepods — returned this spring.

They were entirely absent in 2015 and 2016 and might have led to the former year’s emaciated salmon smolts, while their 2017 arrival came very late in the season, according to a report on NMFS’s Newportal blog.

“Whether the improvements we’ve seen in 2018 relative to the prior three years are a trend or just noise, it’s hard to tell,” Burke says. “Results from 2019 sampling should help clarify whether the Blob years were an anomaly or part of the new normal.”

Here’s hoping they were an anomaly and Blob Jr. doesn’t take after its father.

SW WA Fishing Report (Thanksgiving Eve 2018)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 11 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.

Skamokawa Creek – No anglers sampled.

Elochoman River – 10 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead and released 1 steelhead and 1 coho jack.

Abernathy Creek – No anglers sampled.

Mill Creek – No anglers sampled.

Germany Creek – No anglers sampled.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 29 bank rods had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br:  8 bank rods released 2 Chinook adults and 2 coho jacks.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 457 coho adults, 727 coho jacks, 142 cutthroat trout, eight fall Chinook adults, three fall Chinook jacks and eight summer-run steelhead adults during six days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 26 coho adults and 45 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle, and they released 54 coho adults, 77 coho jacks and one cutthroat trout at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood.

Tacoma Power released 84 coho adults, 285 coho jacks, two fall Chinook adults, two fall Chinook jacks and nine cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, and they released 119 coho adults, 275 coho jacks and five cutthroat trout into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,540 cubic feet per second on Monday, Nov. 19. Water visibility is 12 feet and the water temperature is 51.4 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

Kalama River – 35 bank anglers released 3 Chinook adults.

Lewis River – 5 bank rods had no catch.  1 boat/1 rod had no catch.

East Fork Lewis River – 4 bank anglers released 1 coho adult.

Salmon Creek – No anglers sampled.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat River – 11 bank anglers kept 1 coho adult and released 1 Chinook adult and 1 coho adult.

 

SW Washington Fishing Report (11-13-18)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 6 bank anglers had no catch.

Skamokawa Creek – No anglers sampled.

Elochoman River – 7 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead and released 15 coho.

JASON RESSER HOLDS A HATCHERY COHO CAUGHT ON THE KALAMA SEVERAL SEASONS BACK. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Abernathy Creek – No anglers sampled.

Mill Creek – No anglers sampled.

Germany Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 12 bank rods had no catch.  1 boat/1 rod released 2 coho jacks.

Above the I-5 Br:  87 bank rods kept 2 coho jacks, 1 steelhead, 5 cutthroat and released 28 chinook, 2 coho, 1 coho jack and  1 steelhead. 11 boats/24 rods kept 4 coho, 11 coho jacks, 2 steelhead and released 5 chinook jacks, 1 coho jack and 3 cutthroat.

Kalama River – 31 bank anglers kept 4 coho, 2 steelhead and released 2 coho.  3 boats/6 rods released 1 chinook.

Lewis River – 12 bank rods kept 2 chinook and released 1 coho.  17 boats/33 rods kept 1 chinook, 3 coho and 1 coho jack.

East Fork Lewis River – 4 bank anglers released 1 coho and 2 steelhead.

Salmon Creek – No anglers sampled.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat River – 73 bank anglers kept 8 chinook, 1 chinook jack, 10 coho , 3 coho jacks and released 1 chinook and 1 coho jack.

Southwest Washington Fishing Report (11-5-18)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

November 5, 2018

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 THE WAY, WAY, WAAAAAY BACK FILE, FALL SALMON ANGLERS FISH THE COWLITZ ABOVE AND BELOW THE MOUTH OF THE TOUTLE FOR COHO. (CHRIS SPENCER)

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 18 bank anglers released 5 coho.  1 boat/3 rods had no catch.

Skamokawa Creek – No anglers sampled.

Elochoman River – 3 bank anglers had no catch.

Abernathy Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Mill Creek – No anglers sampled.

Germany Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 22 bank rods had no catch.  2 boats/4 rods released 1 chinook.

Above the I-5 Br:  53 bank rods kept 4 coho jacks and released 10 chinook, 4 coho jacks, 1 steelhead and 3 cutthroat.  8 boats/21 rods kept 1 coho and 18 coho jacks.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 935 coho adults, 2,717 coho jacks, 110 fall Chinook adults, 32 fall Chinook jacks, 73 cutthroat trout and 11 summer-run steelhead adults during seven days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released 181 coho adults and 428 coho jacks into the Cispus River near Randle and they released 77 coho adults and 214 coho jacks at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood.

Tacoma Power released 242 coho adults, 1,212 coho jacks, 33 fall Chinook adults, 22 fall Chinook jacks and six cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, and they released 227 coho adults and 879 coho jacks into Lake Scanewa in Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,540 cubic feet per second on Monday, Oct. 29. Water visibility is 11 feet and the water temperature is 54.14 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility

Kalama River – 57 bank anglers kept 2 chinook, 1 chinook jack, 1 coho, 1 steelhead and released 1 chinook, 1 coho and 1 steelhead.

Lewis River – 86 bank rods kept 6 coho, 2 coho jacks and released 2 coho and 2 coho jacks.  15 boats/37 rods kept 1 chinook jack, 7 coho and 4 coho jacks.

East Fork Lewis River – 2 bank anglers had no catch.

Salmon Creek – 6 bank anglers had no catch.

Wind River – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat River – 46 bank anglers kept 2 chinook, 16 coho, 4 coho jacks and released 4 chinook.

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 moth 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.

 

November Weather Schmeather — Too Much To Do This Month On Westside: Yuasa

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 is the time of the year when anglers often deal with torrential rainfall and windy weather situations. Tack on a lack of fishing opportunities for Puget Sound winter chinook and you just might think November is a lost cause.

Such distress could have you crying out the “sky is falling” like Chicken Little aka “Henny Penny,” but no need to dig that deep into the abyss as there are places to go and fish to catch.

KAYAK FISHING GURU BRAD HOLE SHOWS OFF A CHUM SALMON. (BRAD HOLE)

First and foremost are chum salmon who don’t get the respect despite being one of the hardest-fighting salmon species often ripping line off the reel like an angry king.

A preseason fall chum forecast of 1.2-million – 543,000 destined to central, south-central and southern Puget Sound (Areas 10, 11 and 13) and another 500,000 heading to Hood Canal (12) – should be reason enough to get anglers hungry for something other than a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving.

“The chum run this season is decent and similar to preseason forecasts the last couple of years although northern Puget Sound returns – Nooksack, 77,152; Stillaguamish, 21,640; and Snohomish, 26,091 – are poor,” said Marisa Litz, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologist.

A look back to 2017, revealed central, south-central and southern Puget Sound had a return of 584,420 chum; Hood Canal, 1,060,763; Nooksack-Samish, 45,028; Skagit, 7,108; Stillaguamish, 3,749; and Snohomish, 2,707.

“November is when the recreational fisheries really get going at Whatcom Creek (in Bellingham), Hoodsport (in Hood Canal) and Kennedy Creek (in Totten Inlet),” Litz said. “Look for a later timed chum run in Chehalis and Satsop (river systems).”

Estuarial locations are prime staging spots like Johns Creek in Oakland Bay; Chico Creek in Dyes Inlet; Curly Creek near Southworth; North Bay near Allyn; Perry Creek in Eld Inlet; McLane Creek, Eagle Creek south of Potlatch State Park; and the public-access shores off Highway 101 from Eldon to Hoodsport.

Recent WDFW fish checks showed 27 anglers Sunday (Oct. 28) caught 27 chum at Hoodsport in Hood Canal; six anglers caught Sunday (Oct. 28) three at John’s Creek estuary in Oakland Bay near Shelton; and four anglers Saturday (Oct. 27) caught two at Kennedy Creek estuary in Totten Inlet.

In marine areas, anglers will target chum at Jefferson Head; West Point south of Shilshole Bay; Point Monroe; Allen Bank off Blake Island; Southworth; Colvos Passage; Point Dalco off south side of Vashon Island; Point Defiance Park at Clay Banks off Tacoma; Anderson Island; and Fox Island.

Hitting a “trifecta” is a possibility in south-central and southern Puget Sound (Areas 11 and 13) for a coho, chum and hatchery chinook. Note: In Area 13 you must release wild coho.

Those looking ahead should put Marine Catch Areas 8-1 and 8-2 (east side of Whidbey Island) on the “must do list” which reopens Dec. 1 through April 30 for hatchery-marked chinook. WDFW has set a preseason chinook encounter prediction of 5,473 for both areas. The fishery could shutdown if the encounters exceed 80 percent.

Lastly, don’t forget to bring along your crab pots as some areas of Puget Sound are also open daily through Dec. 31 for Dungeness crab.

Late-season trout are viable option

More than 147,000 rainbow trout will be planted in many statewide lakes to keep the good times rolling through the winter holidays.

“Some lakes in (Puget Sound) region will be getting thousands of trout,” said Justin Spinelli, a WDFW biologist.

Beaver Lake is receiving three allotments of 700 to 800 rainbow trout averaging 1 ½ pounds apiece. The first occurred in mid-October, and others are scheduled around Nov. 20 and Dec. 20.

“Instead of dumping all the fish in at one time we have spread out the plants to make the fishery less of a “circus-like” atmosphere and will allow folks to catch fish well into January and beyond,” Spinelli said of the year-round 60.3-acre lake located on the Issaquah Plateau.

WDFW is ramping up plants at Gissburg Ponds and Tye in Snohomish County; Campbell, Clear and Grandy in Skagit County; Black, Long and Offutt in Thurston County; American and Tanwax in Pierce County; and Anderson in Jefferson County.

“We will also stock Lake Goodwin (northwest of Marysville) in mid-December and this has developed into a nice winter trout fishery,” Spinelli said.

For a list of stocked lakes, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/fall-into-fishing/. To view the WDFW weekly plants, go to https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.

Razor clam season off to a good start

The coastal razor clam season opened last month with very good digging success.

From Oct. 11-13, 9,545 diggers coast-wide had 139,005 razor clams. Diggers averaged 14.8 at Twin Harbors; 14.7 at Copalis; and 14.2 at Mocrocks. The daily limit is the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition.

Digging was spotty to fair on Oct. 25 and 27 at Twin Harbors and Copalis; and Oct. 26 and 28 at Twin Harbors and Mocrcocks and that was due in part to rough surf and breezy conditions.

All digs are reliant on testing for a marine toxin known as domoic acid — a natural marine toxin produced by certain types of marine algae. A high amount of marine toxins can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in adequate quantities. WDFW usually gives final approval one to two weeks prior to each series of digs.

Tentative dates are Nov. 8, 10, 23 and 25, and Dec. 7, 9 and 20 at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; Nov. 9, 11 and 22, and Dec. 6, 8, 21 and 23 at Twin Harbors and Copalis; Nov. 24 at Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks; and Dec. 22 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.

For details, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclam.

2019 NW Salmon Derby Series

The 2018 NW Salmon Derby Series ended on a high note and plans for 2019 include 14 derbies in Washington, Idaho and British Columbia. We should have an announcement soon on our new boat/motor sponsor!

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

First up are the Resurrection Salmon Derby on Jan. 4-6 in Anacortes (http://www.resurrectionderby.com/); Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Jan. 17-19 (https://www.rocheharbor.com/events/derby), there is currently a waiting list; Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 7-9 (http://fridayharborsalmonclassic.com/); and Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby on March 8-10 (http://gardinersalmonderby.org/).

For details, go to www.NorthwestSalmonDerbySeries.com.

While many are getting their holiday shopping lists, and dinner or party plans in order, I’ll be gathering my rain gear and heading out the door to my favorite fishing or razor clam spots.

After all there’s nothing like a feisty chum tugging on the end of your fishing line or digging up a batch of tasty razor clams from a coastal beach!