Tag Archives: coho

Study Shows 74 Percent Loss Of Columbia Tidal Wetlands, 85 Percent Up And Down West Coast

THE FOLLOWING IS A NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION STORY

An unprecedented survey has revealed the loss of about 85 percent of historical tidal wetlands in California, Oregon, and Washington. The report, published in PLOS ONE, also highlights forgotten estuary acreage that might now be targeted for restoration.

Where West Coast rivers reach the sea, estuaries serve as critical nurseries for juvenile salmon and steelhead as they make the transition from freshwater to the ocean. They are among the most dynamic and productive habitats known, also supporting migratory birds and a variety of other fish, shellfish, and terrestrial wildlife.

A FEDERAL GRAPHIC SHOWS THE AMOUNT OF TIDAL WETLANDS UP AND DOWN THE WEST COAST, INCLUDING IN SOME OF THE REGION’S MOST IMPORTANT SALMON SYSTEMS. (NOAA)

A team of scientists applied new technologies and data to identify and estimate the historic reach of nearly 450 West Coast estuaries. Their results show that the estuaries historically extended far beyond where they exist now. More than a century of development has erased roughly 85 percent of original vegetated estuarine wetlands, especially around major river deltas.

San Francisco Bay has lost about 85 percent of its original vegetated tidal wetlands, the study found. The Columbia River estuary has lost about 74 percent. While other scientists have estimated losses for these and other well-studied estuaries, this is the first time researchers have applied consistent methods across all 450 estuaries of the contiguous U.S. West Coast.

Mapping Reveals Restoration Opportunities

“Given how valuable estuaries are to so many different species, it’s important to understand how much they have changed and what that means for fish and wildlife that depend on them,” said Correigh Greene, research biologist at NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle and coauthor of the new study.

The lost estuary habitat includes areas that were long ago diked and drained for agriculture, and forested wetlands that had not been widely recognized as estuary acreage, said Laura Brophy, lead author of the study and director of the Estuary Technical Group at the Institute for Applied Ecology in Corvallis, Oregon. Identifying such areas may open new opportunities for restoration of estuary habitat that otherwise might go overlooked.

BEFORE AND AFTER IMAGES FROM THE TILLAMOOK ESTUARY PARTNERSHIP SHOW THE EFFECT OF REMOVING LEVEES AND TIDE GATES NEAR THE MOUTH OF THE TRASK RIVER. (TILLAMOOK ESTUARY PARTNERSIHP VIA NMFS)

“By folding in these areas that may not have been recognized as part of estuaries, we have a better idea of just how important and extensive these estuaries were,” Brophy said. “Now we can see new restoration opportunities that people didn’t realize existed.”

The study’s high-resolution mapping also highlights low-elevation areas at greatest risk of flooding as the sea level rises with climate change. Tidal wetland restoration in these vulnerable areas can re-establish natural processes like sediment delivery. This will help these wetlands remain productive into the future.

Estuaries Once Covered 2 Million Acres

The scientists combined precise elevation mapping known as LIDAR with NOAA water level modeling to establish the extent of tides that define estuary habitat. Based on these maps, they estimated that all West Coast estuaries once covered nearly 2 million acres. This is an area nearly three times the size of the state of Rhode Island.

Scientists have data on the historic and current wetlands in 55 of the larger estuaries. Those estuaries have lost about 85 percent of their original vegetated wetlands. These 55 estuaries represent about 97 percent of historical estuary area on the West Coast, so their losses reflect almost all of the estuary losses.

Since Brophy has studied estuaries for years, she found the losses “dismaying but not surprising.” She said the good news is that fish and wildlife that live in estuaries must be adaptable because of the ever-changing tidal environment. She says “if you give them the chance to move back in, they will literally jump at the opportunity.”

The authors of the study include researchers from NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the Institute for Applied Ecology, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, The Nature Conservancy, Moss Landing Marine Labs, and Pacific Spatial Solutions. The project was coordinated by the Pacific Marine and Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership.

Get a Free NewsLetter Here

Salmon Biting On Lower Puyallup Opener

Salmon fishing action began its transition to Puget Sound rivers with today’s opening of the Puyallup.

Dylan Chlipala was among the anglers on the Pierce County river this morning, limiting by 7 a.m.

DYLAN CHLIPALA SHOWS OFF HIS PUYALLUP RIVER LIMIT. (INSTAGRAM: @DYLANFISHES_PNW)

“Lots of pinks in the river already,” he told Northwest Sportsman‘s Jason Brooks, adding that he’d caught and released around 10 while beaching a hatchery Chinook and wild coho.

Use drift bobbers and enough weight to hold bottom in the silty currents of the glacial river.

“Drift fish bright, size 12 Corkies (red rocket red) with cerise or chartreuse yarn on a size 1 or 2 Gamakatsu octopus hook, soaked with Pro-Cure Bloody Tuna Super Gel, on a 12-pound Izorline XXX clear leader that is 36 to 48 inches long, with a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce cannonball or six-shot slinky, with 15-pound hi-viz yellow Izorline platinum mainline,” Brooks recommends.

The Puyallup is open from the 11th Street Bridge near the mouth upstream to the Carbon, with a daily bag of two adult salmon, release wild kings and chums.

This year’s forecast calls for just over 102,000 harvestable salmon to return to the river, though of course some of those are needed for broodstock and spawning escapement goals.

Night closure, anti-snagging and barbless hook rules are in effect.

Also note that the Puyallup is closed on Sundays through the end of August, then Sundays-Tuesdays in September and October to make room for tribal netting.

“Popular areas on the Puyallup include the K-Mart Hole, which as you might guess is across from the old discount store, now a farm supply store and a Planet Fitness. Access it from the North Levy Road, as you cannot cross the river from the parking lot. Try the banks along the shore near the ‘blue building,’ a large glass building on East Main Street, or under the 5th Street bridge,” Brooks reported for a 2017 issue of the magazine.

This isn’t to say that fishing on Puget Sound is over and you should winterize your boat already.

It’s not — it’s peak pink season throughout the inland sea, clipped Chinook are still biting in Areas 5, 6, 10, 11 and 13, and ocean-returning coho should be moving in soon in better numbers. Track the action through WDFW’s daily creel reports.

But the opening of the Puyallup today, Quilcene tomorrow, Duwamish next week, Nooksack, Skagit and Snohomish on Sept. 1 and Stillaguamish in mid-September add to the options.

Free Fishing Weekend This Sat., Sun. In Oregon

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

It’s free to fish, crab or clam in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 17-18.

 During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon for both residents and non-residents.

“FAMILY TIME IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT,” SAYS TOM SCHNELL, HERE WITH THE REWARDS OF A RECENT DAD-DAUGHTER RHONNA DAY AT PAULINA LAKE, AND YOU COULD ENJOY TIME ON THE WATER WITH YOUR LOVED ONES DURING OREGON’S AUG. 17-18 FREE FISHING WEEKEND. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. If you are fishing for salmon, steelhead or marine species like rockfish, remember to check the Fishing section of the Recreation Report for the zone you want to fish to find the latest regulations.

Look for the latest on fishing conditions and regulations at ODFW’s Weekly Recreation Report, which is updated every Wednesday. Trout and warmwater fishing are ideal for beginners; see the trout stocking schedule to find out when your local pond was stocked with hatchery rainbow trout.

If you’re in the mountains, combine a hike with a fishing trip and hike in to one of Oregon’s higher elevation mountain lakes. These stay cooler in the summer which keeps trout on the bite. See ODFW’s guide to Fishing Oregon’s hike-in lakes.  

If you are on the coast this weekend, ocean fishing for rockfish, tuna and coho salmon has been good. Surfperch can be targeted from beaches and jetties by those staying on shore (see How-to fish for surfperch). Or try crabbing, which is currently open along the entire Oregon coast (reminder to always double check ODA shellfish restrictions before clamming or crabbing).

Get a Free NewsLetter Here

SW WA, Lower Columbia Fishing Report (8-14-19)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River– 1 bank angler had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 1 boat/4 rods had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br – 31 bank rods kept 25 steelhead. 27 boats/73 rods kept 37 steelhead and released 3 steelhead.

NATE SCANLON BEAMS WITH PRIDE AT HIS MOM LARA AND HER ESTIMATED 30-POUND UPRIVER BRIGHT, CAUGHT IN THE BUOY 10 FISHERY ON AUG. 7 JUST ABOVE THE ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE. THEY WERE FISHING WITH GUIDE JOEL HENLEY AND TROLLING A GREEN-LABEL CUTPLUG BEHIND A CUSTOMIZED FISH FLASH AND 14 OUNCES OF WEIGHT TO KEEP THE SETUP “HUGGING THE BOTTOM.” (ANVILOUTDOORS.COM)

Tacoma Power employees recovered 121 summer-run steelhead adults, 68 spring Chinook adults, one spring Chinook jack, 62 spring Chinook mini-jacks, and two Cutthroat trout during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released nine spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River located near Randle and they released six spring Chinook adults and two Cutthroat trout at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood.

To date, Tacoma Power employees have recycled 606 summer-run steelhead to the lower Cowlitz River.

Kalama River – 23 bank anglers had no catch.

Lewis River – 26 bank anglers kept 3 steelhead and released 1 Chinook jack. 3 boats/8 rods released 4 Chinook.

Drano Lake – 5 boats/7 rods kept 1 Chinook jack and released 1 steelhead.

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat above #5 Fishway – No anglers sampled.

Trout:

Merrill Lake – Fishing has been good for rainbow and cutthroat, some browns are being caught.

Catchable Trout Plants:

Lake/Pond Date Species Number Fish/lb Hatchery

MAYFIELD RES (LEWIS) August 6, 2019 Rainbow 2,680 1.34 EELLS SPRINGS

MAYFIELD RES (LEWIS) July 28, 2019 Rainbow 2,648 1.32 EELLS SPRINGS

MAYFIELD RES (LEWIS) July 24, 2019 Rainbow 2,786 1.39 EELLS SPRINGS

GOOSE LK (SKAM) July 18, 2019 Rainbow 1,644 2.30 GOLDENDALE

Warmwater:

Lacamas Lake – Bass and yellow perch fishing has been excellent.

Rowland Lake – Anglers have been catching some bluegill and pumpkinseed.

Swofford Pond – Bass and channel catfish fishing has been excellent.

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/

Buoy 10 

Date Number
of Boats
Number
of Anglers
Chinook
Kept
Coho
Kept
Comments
1-Aug 35 85 3 3 Opener
2-Aug 40 100 7 7  
3-Aug 192 505 45 34  
4-Aug 128 338 35 22  
5-Aug 73 180 47 30  
6-Aug 86 212 85 45  
7-Aug 0 0 0 0 Not Sampled
8-Aug 114 287 129 82  
9-Aug 35 97 31 27  
10-Aug 264 756 217 143  
11-Aug 334 997 82 66  

 

Lower Columbia Mainstem Sport Aug. 5-11

Salmon and steelhead:

Bonneville bank: 14 anglers with nothing
Camas/Washougal bank: 4 anglers with 1 Chinook jack kept
I-5 area bank: No report
Vancouver bank: 23 anglers with nothing
Woodland bank: 50 anglers with 1 Chinook kept
Kalama bank: 42 anglers with nothing
Cowlitz bank: No report
Longview bank: 52 anglers with nothing
Cathlamet bank: 5 anglers with nothing
Private boats/bank: 3 anglers with nothing

Bonneville boat: No report
Camas/Washougal boat: 14 anglers with nothing
I-5 area boat: 7 anglers with nothing
Vancouver boat: 23 anglers with 1 Chinook kept
Woodland boat: 24 anglers with 4 Chinook kept and 1 Chinook released
Kalama boat: 25 anglers with 2 Chinook kept
Cowlitz boat: 24 anglers with 5 Chinook kept and 10 steelhead released
Longview boat: 41 with 1 Chinook kept
Cathlamet boat: No report
Private boats/bank: 11 anglers with 1 Chinook kept and 1 jack released

Sturgeon:

Kalama boat: 2 anglers with 7 sublegals and 1 oversize released
Longview bank: 1 angler with nothing
Longview boat: 3 anglers with 1 sublegal, 2 legals and 1 oversize released

Walleye:

Camas/Washougal boat: 8 anglers with 2 kept and 2 released

Get a Free NewsLetter Here

SW WA, Lower Columbia Fishing Report (8-7-19)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Columbia River and Tributary Fishery Reports July 29-Aug. 4, 2019

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River:

July 29-31– No anglers sampled.

Aug 1-4 – 8 bank anglers had no catch.

FISHING HAS BEGUN AT BUOY 10, AT THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA, AND THAT’S WHERE BUZZ RAMSEY AND BILL MONROE JR. PICKED UP THIS NICE UPRIVER BRIGHT TROLLING AN ANCHOVY BEHIND A FISH FLASH. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream:

July 29-31– No anglers sampled.

Aug 1-4 – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br:

July 29-31– 7 bank rods kept 1 Chinook jack and 1 steelhead. 11 boats/25 rods kept 15 steelhead.

Aug 1-4 – 32 bank rods kept 2 steelhead and released 8 jack Chinook. 27 boats/79 rods kept 35 steelhead.

Tacoma Power employees recovered 228 summer-run steelhead adults, 67 spring Chinook adults, six spring Chinook jacks, 84 spring Chinook mini-jacks, one fall chinook adult, and one cutthroat trout during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week Tacoma Power employees released nine spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River located near Randle and they released one spring Chinook adult and one spring Chinook jack at the Franklin Bridge release site in Packwood. They also released one fall Chinook adult at Gus Backstrom Park in Morton.

To date, Tacoma Power employees have recycled 579 summer-run steelhead to the lower Cowlitz River.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,110 cubic feet per second on Monday, Aug. 5. Water visibility is 15 feet and the water temperature is 45.9 F.

Kalama River:

July 29-31– No anglers sampled.

Aug 1-4 – 2 bank angler had no catch. 2 boats/3 rods had no catch.

Lewis River:

July 29-31– 5 bank rods had no catch. 1 boat/1 rod had no catch.

Aug 1-4 – 7 bank rods kept 2 steelhead and released 1 Chinook. 1 boat/2 rods released 1 steelhead.

Drano Lake: July 29-31– 10 bank rods had no catch. 30 boats/62 rods kept 11 steelhead and released 55 steelhead.
Aug 1-4 – 6 boats/14 rods kept 2 Chinook, 2 Chinook jacks, released 3 Chinook jacks and 4 steelhead.

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – No anglers sampled.

Klickitat above #5 Fishway – No anglers sampled.

Catchable Trout Plants:

Lake/Pond Date Species Number Fish/lb Hatchery

LK MERWIN (COWL) July 14, 2019 Rainbow 1,142 0.80 MERWIN

MAYFIELD RES (LEWIS) July 28, 2019 Rainbow 2,648 1.32 EELLS SPRINGS

MAYFIELD RES (LEWIS) July 24, 2019 Rainbow 2,786 1.39 EELLS SPRINGS

GOOSE LK (SKAM) July 18, 2019 Rainbow 1,644 2.30 GOLDENDALE

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/

Lower Columbia Mainstem Sport

Salmon and steelhead:

Bonneville bank: 12 anglers with 5 steelhead released
Camas/Washougal bank: No report
I-5 area bank: 4 angler with nothing
Vancouver bank: 59 anglers with 1 steelhead kept and 8 steelhead released
Woodland bank: 30anglers with 2 steelhead released
Kalama bank: 58 anglers with 3 steelhead and 1 adult Chinook kept and 8 steelhead and 1 Chinook jack released
Cowlitz bank: No report
Longview bank: 87anglers with 4 steelhead kept and 8 steelhead released
Cathlamet bank: 17anglers with nothing
Private boats/bank: No report

Bonneville boat: No report
Camas/Washougal boat: No report
I-5 area boat: 4 anglers with nothing
Vancouver boat: 19 anglers with 1 steelhead released
Woodland boat: 6 anglers with 1 steelhead released
Kalama boat: 15 anglers with nothing
Cowlitz boat: 10 anglers with 2 steelhead and 1 Chinook jack released
Longview boat: 27 anglers with 2 steelhead kept and 2 steelhead releasd
Cathlamet boat: No report
Private boats/bank: 10 anglers with 2 steelhead kept and 7 steelhead released

Sturgeon:

Kalama boat: 2 anglers with 36 sublegals (really?) and 4 oversize released
Longview bank: 3 anglers with 1 legal released

Walleye:

Camas/Washougal: 7 anglers with nothing

Get a Free NewsLetter Here

From Salmon To Perch To Crab To Derbies, August Has Lotsa Ops: 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

In the blink of an eye, summer has shifted past the midway point but that doesn’t necessarily mean anglers should throw shade on late-season fishing opportunities.

In fact, the horizon looks very bright in August when salmon fisheries come into play at Buoy 10 near the Columbia River mouth, Willapa Bay, inner- Elliott Bay, Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Freshwater fish seekers also can set their sights on abundant yellow perch in many statewide lakes!

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

First off, the pink – a salmon that returns mainly during odd-numbered years and often referred to as “humpies” for a distinct hump that grows on their back near spawning time – forecast is a paltry 608,388 which could be among the lowest runs on record dating back to 1959. Returns soared above 1 million in 2001 and peaked at more than 10 million in 2009. The strong pace continued when it hit 6-plus million in 2011, more than 8 million in 2013 and dipped to 4 million in 2015.

In 2015, the pinks went from bloom to gloom as they faced a monumental drought period and extremely warm water temperatures in rivers. Winter flooding followed leaving very few young pinks to make it out to the ocean where they eventually ran into “The Blob” a large mass of warm water that wreaked havoc on sea life.

That lead to a dismal 2017 with an actual return of around 511,000 (1.1 million was forecasted) pinks, which was less than 82 percent the historical 10-year average.

While the pink forecast is conservative – this summer’s unexpected strong return of chinook and coho – we just might see a late fourth quarter comeback for humpies too. In fact, some early pinks began showing up in catches back in July so don’t give up on them just yet.
“There have been a lot of pinks caught (at Neah Bay and La Push) and many of them are nice size fish,” said Wendy Beeghley, the WDFW coastal salmon manager.

An unexpected large return of pinks were also showing up in other places like Sekiu, outside of the Freshwater Bay closure zone and in open areas off Port Angeles in the Strait of Juan de Fuca as well as the San Juan Islands (which closed Aug. 1 for salmon fishing).
The Puget Sound pink run usually peaks in mid-August, and in southern Puget Sound the last week of August and early September are best.

Pinks aren’t the only game and so far, the coho and hatchery king fisheries have been a pleasant surprise from the coast clear into open areas of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The party lights began flashing for coho in June when places like central Puget Sound (Area 10) reopened for off-the-charts good action on resident coho. Then good king action began happening last month in the San Juan Islands (now closed to fishing in August), Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Tulalip bubble fishery and south-central Puget Sound.

It was the same scenario in the ocean when catches ramped up in late June from Neah Bay south to Ilwaco and have remained good this past month. Most of this is likely related to a strong forecast of 1,009,600 coho to the Columbia River compared to a 2018 forecast of 349,000.

Look for coho success in open areas of Puget Sound and Strait to only get better in August and build to a crescendo in September. In Puget Sound the total coho return for 2019 is 670,159, which is up from last year’s 557,149.

There will be a short inner-Elliott Bay king fishery from Aug. 2-5 and additional days may occur if in-season data shows the run to be stronger than expected. That won’t be the only crowning moment as areas from Whidbey Island south to Olympia have seen an uptick in catches of hatchery kings and should see good fishing this month in places that remain open.

WDFW extended the hatchery king salmon fishery in northern Puget Sound (Area 9), which is open through Saturday (Aug. 3). Central Puget Sound (Area 10) also remains open for hatchery kings as does south central Puget Sound (Area 11). Look for the latter two to produce some stellar fishing heading into this month.

Lastly, before heading out the door, check the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/ for any possible emergency closures this month and also what marine and freshwater areas are open or closed for salmon.

Yellow perch options bloom in the summer heat

There’s nothing better than getting a first-time angler or youth hooked on fishing and yellow perch is one of those prime options.

Lake Washington – which is 20 miles long and covers more than 22,000 acres – is one of those places that comes alive in August for yellow perch.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Their population levels in this large urban lake is very robust and they continue to have yearly strong recruitment and survival rates that won’t make the slightest dent on production.

Most yellow perch average 7 to 10 inches along with some “jumbos” hitting the 11- to 12-inch range.

WDFW experts say it is only a matter of time before the official state record could come from Lake Washington. The current state record of 2.75 pounds was caught by Larry Benthien at Snelson’s Slough in Skagit County on June 22, 1969.

The reason behind this possibility is due in part to the ample feed and room for yellow perch to grow in Lake Washington, which is the second largest natural-bodied lake in Washington. Female perch are the largest and tend to grow much faster (usually maturing in three to four years) and can live if 8 to 10 years.

The best time of the year to fish for yellow perch begins around July when the water heats up, and peaks from August through October.

Look for schools of yellow perch in shallow water, 15 to 35 feet, and close to the shoreline. They will school up in shaded locations just outside the cover of weed beds, milfoil, aquatic weeds and lily pads or under docks, piers and overhanging trees and brush.

Yellow perch are active throughout the day and the only time they seek out covered areas is at night when predators are lurking.

Popular locations to fish are Seward Park; Kenmore log boom and pier; Juanita Bay; Magnuson Park shoreline; Andrews Bay; Newport area and slough; Yarrow Bay; Gene Coulon Park in Renton; Mercer Island near Luther Burbank Park; and off Leschi Park, Madison Park, Stan Sayres Pits and Mount Baker Park. Areas from the Montlake Cut into Lake Union are also good especially off Gasworks Park.

A light-to-medium-action trout fishing rod with a spinning reel attached to 4- to 6-pound test line works best. Use a worm and drop-shot (egg-style) weight attached to a three-way swivel or Sniper Lure Snubs – a colorful tiny 3-inch plastic worm. Live maggots, a skirted crappie jig work well. After you catch your first perch cut a small chunk of the meat or even a perch eyeball as bait.

Other good perch lakes are Sammamish near Issaquah; Kapowsin southeast of Puyallup; Beaver and Pine near Issaquah; Sawyer northwest of Black Diamond; Harts southeast of Yelm; Goodwin northwest of Marysville; Stevens east of Everett; American near Fort Lewis; Angle in Sea-Tac; Desire in Renton; and Meridian in Kent.

Dungeness crab fishing opportunities providing fairly decent catches

The Dungeness crab fishing success has been somewhat better than expected although many are having to still throw back some soft-shelled crabs.

Areas east of Bonilla-Tatoosh Island boundary line (Marine Catch Area 4), Sekiu (5), Port Angeles (6), east side of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2) and northern Puget Sound (9) are open through Sept. 2 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week).

Central Puget Sound (10) is open through this Saturday, Aug. 3. The shorter season is due to an overage in last year’s crab catch.

Hood Canal (12) north of a line projected due east of Ayock Point is open through Sept. 2 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). Areas south of Ayock Point are closed this summer to help rebuild crab populations.

The San Juan Islands (7 South) is open through Sept. 30 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). San Juan Islands (7 North) opens Aug. 15 through Sept. 30 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week).

South-central Puget Sound (11) and southern Puget Sound (13) are closed this summer to help rebuild crab populations.

NW Salmon Derby Series loaded with events in August

The derby series kicked into high gear with the Lake Coeur d’Alene Big One Fishing Derby on July 24-28 seeing a good number of anglers turn out despite the  tough fishing. Top angler in the adult division was Bret Hojem with a 13.54-pound chinook; and top youth angler was Cooper Malcolm with a 9.82 chinook.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Prior to that the Puget Sound Anglers Bellingham Salmon Derby was held July 12-14. A total of 392 adult tickets and 72 youth tickets were sold with 164 chinook weighed-in for the event, which was 10 more fish caught than last year.

Tom Hartley of Anacortes took the top prize of $7,500 with a 21.90-pound hatchery chinook; second was Chris Wilson with a 21.60 worth $2,500; and third was Adam Beardsley with a 20.62 worth $1,000.

Other derbies on the horizon are the South King County PSA Salmon Derby, Aug. 3; Brewster Salmon Derby on Aug. 1-4; Gig Harbor PSA Salmon Derby, Aug. 10; Vancouver, B.C. Chinook Classic, Aug. 17-18; and Edmonds PSA Coho Derby, Sept. 7. The Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby on Aug. 31 has been cancelled due to expected low salmon returns.

Drawing for the grand prize boat takes place at the conclusion of the Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 21-22. New at the Everett Coho Derby is a second weigh-in station located at the Edmonds Marina.

The grand prize $75,000 Weldcraft 202 Rebel Hardtop boat from Renaissance Marine Group in Clarkston will be making the rounds to each derby. The boat is powered with a Yamaha 200hp and 9.9hp trolling motor on an EZ-loader galvanized trailer.

The boat is rigged with Burnewiin accessories; Scotty downriggers; Raymarine Electronics; a custom WhoDat Tower; and a Dual Electronics stereo. Other sponsors include Silver Horde Lures; Master Marine and Tom-n-Jerry’s; Harbor Marine; Salmon & Steelhead Journal; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News; Sportco and Outdoor Emporium; and Prism Graphics. It is trailered with a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado – not part of the grand prize giveaway – courtesy of Northwest Chevrolet and Burien Chevrolet.
In other related news, anglers can also start looking at 2020 with dates finalized for Resurrection Salmon Derby on Feb. 1-2; Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 6-8; and Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 13-15.

Details: http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

Summer is sneaking by quickly so it’s time for me to jump on the boat and get into the fishing action. I’ll see you on the water!

Get a Free NewsLetter Here

$25 Million In Grants Aim To Ease Washington Fish Passage In 20 Counties

THE FOLLOWING IS A JOINT PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE AND THE WASHINGTON RECREATION AND CONSERVATION OFFICE

Migrating fish will soon have access to more than 82 miles of streams in Washington, thanks to $25 million in grants from the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board.

THERE’S A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL FOR FISH PASSAGE, THANKS TO THE AWARDING OF $25 MILLION TO COUNTIES, TRIBES AND OTHER ENTITIES TO REMEDY OLD CULVERTS AND OTHER STREAM CROSSINGS THROUGHOUT WASHINGTON. THIS IS A SKAGIT COUNTY PROJECT THAT’S IN THE DESIGN PHASE AND WILL OPEN 6.31 MILES OF HABITAT FOR E.S.A.-LISTED CHINOOK AND STEELHEAD. (RCO)

The board will fund more than 50 projects in 20 counties to remove fish passage barriers that block salmon and steelhead from swimming upstream to their spawning areas. The most common barriers to fish passage are culverts, which are large pipes or other structures that carry streams under roads. Culverts can be too high for fish to reach, too small to handle high water flows, or too steep for fish to navigate.

“These projects build on previous fish passage investments by the Washington State Department of Transportation, forest land owners, and local governments,” said Tom Jameson, WDFW fish passage manager and chair of the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board. “We’re excited that several projects will focus on watersheds that are particularly good habitat for chinook salmon, which are the main food source for southern resident killer whales (orcas). We appreciate the Legislature’s support so we can continue contributing to salmon and orca recovery.”

A LOW-FLOW FISH BARRIER IN LEWIS COUNTY’S SCAMMON CREEK. (RCO)

Created by the Legislature in 2014, the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board coordinates the removal of fish passage barriers on state, local, tribal, and private land that block salmon and steelhead access to prime spawning and rearing habitat. Funding comes from the sale of state bonds.

“This board represents an incredible partnership that ultimately helps us open entire watersheds where we can make the biggest impact for fish,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “A coordinated approach is key to helping fish reach the ocean, return home to spawn, and get to healthy habitats to feed, grow, and transition from saltwater to freshwater.”

ANOTHER FISH BARRIER IN LEWIS COUNTY THAT WILL BE CORRECTED, OPENING UP HABITAT ON THE MIDDLE FORK NEWAUKUM RIVER. (RCO)

Selected projects went through a technical review committee, which evaluated project proposals based on their coordination with nearby fish passage projects, benefit to salmon and steelhead populations listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, and cost-effectiveness. The committee also evaluated projects based on the severity of the barrier and its location in the watershed, prioritizing downstream barriers first.

The grant program is administered as a partnership between the board, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. The board is named after Brian Abbott, who was a life-long fisherman, avid salmon recovery leader, and spearheaded creation of the board while serving as executive coordinator of the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office.

WALLA WALLA’S TRI-STATE STEELHEADERS SECURED ONE OF THE LARGEST GRANTS AWARDED, NEARLY $1.7 MILLION TO IMPROVE FISH ACCESS ON MILL CREEK. (RCO)

Other board members include representatives from the Washington Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources, Washington State Association of Counties, Association of Washington Cities, the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, the Confederated Tribe and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and Council of Regions.

Below is a list of fish passage projects funded in each county. For project details, visit https://rco.wa.gov/documents/press/2019/FBRBGrantsDescriptions2019.pdf.

Asotin County……………………. $445,300
Chelan County…………………… $982,885
Clallam County………………….. $699,859
Clark County……………………… $155,200
Cowlitz County………………… $1,095,293
Grays Harbor County………….. $590,408
Island County…………………….. $544,718
Jefferson County………………… $397,163
King County……………………. $4,053,264
Kitsap County…………………. $2,561,337
Kittitas County…………………. $2,652,910
Lewis County………………….. $1,606,571
Mason County…………………. $1,180,395
Okanogan County……………. $2,265,251
Pierce County……………………… $90,000
Skagit County……………………. $378,500
Snohomish County……………… $653,483
Thurston County……………… $1,700,000
Walla Walla County………….. $1,785,641
Whatcom County……………….. $889,768

Get a Free NewsLetter Here

Cathlamet Again Kicking Out Lots Of Pikeminnows; Boyer Park Tops So Far

With the Columbia-Snake pikeminnow season just past its halfway mark, Cathlamet is once again serving up plenty of fish for anglers participating in the sport reward program.

“Catch there is over 4,000 fish better than this time in 2018, when Cathlamet was our No. 1 producing station,” reports WDFW’s Eric Winther, who manages the fishery.

AN ANGLER BELOW BONNEVILLE DAM UNHOOKS A NORTHERN PIKEMINNOW. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

“Effort is also up (105 angler days), but fishing is clearly better in the Cathlamet area as angler catch per unit effort is 2.2 fish/angler day better than 2018, 8.6 vs 6.4,” he adds.

Through July 21, 81,345 of the native but salmonid smolt-eating fish have been turned in at stations everywhere from the Lower Columbia to the mouth of Hells Canyon.

Boyer Park on the Snake below Lower Granite Dam near Pullman has accounted for 13,434 of those, with Cathlamet at 12,882, The Dalles at 9,064, Washougal at 7,047 and Rainier at 4,712.

CPUEs are 9.4, 8.6, 4.3, 9.3 and 5.1, respectively.

“The Washougal area is also quietly having a good year in that they are more than 2,000 fish better than in 2018,” Winther notes. “Historically, the best late-season harvest rates — mid-August through September — come from pikeminnow stations located below Bonneville Dam. That means that fishing could get even better later this season at stations like Washougal and Cathlamet.”

For most years this decade The Dalles station has stood head and shoulders over all others, but last year it wilted to just half of 2017’s haul, possibly due to high waters early on discouraging anglers.

Winther speculated that Cathlamet’s surge late last season might have been due to pikeminnows dropping out of low, warm tribs into the mainstem Columbia. Top anglers discovered the abundance and drove up catch rates.

REGISTERED PARTICIPANTS CAN EARN $5 FOR TURNING IN THEIR FIRST 25 PIKEMINNOW THAT ARE 9 INCHES OR LARGER, $6 FOR THEIR 26TH THROUGH 200TH AND $8 FOR 201 OR MORE. MANY ARE ALSO TAGGED AND WORTH $500 APIECE. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

The Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program runs May 1 through Sept. 30 and pays anglers from $5 to $8 per qualifying fish, with $500 for specially tagged ones.

It’s been going on for 29 years as part of a state-federal effort aimed at reducing predation on Chinook, coho, steelhead and other smolts by pikeminnows, which have become more effective at preying on the young fish because of the reservoirs built on the Lower and Mid-Columbia and Lower Snake.

Winther just held a set of free fishing clinics in Longview and Tri-Cities and says that while none are currently scheduled in August, he may do some. Watch his events page for more.

“For people wanting to learn how to catch northern pikeminnow, late season in the lower river is often their best bet,” he adds. “Fish tend to bite better in the late season, perhaps preparing for the long cold winter to come, and many anglers may have given up trying to catch northern pikeminnow due to low success earlier in the season, and this means less competition for finding and catching them.”

So far this season, 2019’s top angler has been reeling in a bit more than $2,000 a week worth of pikeminnow’s. Last year’s high fisherman earned $71,049 for bringing in 8,686 fish.

“Definitely fish to be had,” says Winther. “Just need to get out there and find them.”

Pro Tips: How To Use Yakima Bait’s Rigging Wires

By Buzz Ramsey

When it comes to trolling, anglers do everything possible to eliminate line tangles, which is a big part of why innovative products like divers, bottom walkers, downriggers, and spreaders were invented and remain popular with those trolling for fish big and small.

The latest innovation, for me and other Northwest anglers, is to use heavy-duty wires rigged in conjunction with flashers and/or as weight droppers when employing cannonball-style sinkers in the 4- to 20-ounce range.

YAKIMA BAIT’S RIGGING WIRES COME IN TWO DIFFERENT LENGTHS. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

These new Rigging Wires are not made from thin, wimpy wire but instead .051-diameter stainless-steel wires with three-wrap eyelets and a size 5 stainless snap to facilitate quick attachment.

The wires themselves are available in 10- and 15-inch lengths, which means they measure 11 and 16 inches when you include the size 5 snap.

When trolling for big fish like salmon, I often rig a Fish Flash behind a diver or Free-Sliding Spreader to help attract fish – it works!

How I’m using these is to snap a rigging wire to the end of my Fish Flash and connect it to a swivel and a 24- to 36-inch leader back to my lure or bait.

That way, if I or one of my friends get a tangle, I’ve only got a short leader to straighten out instead of a long one, as the .051 wire (being heavy duty) just won’t tangle around itself.

RAMSEY USES RIGGING WIRES WITH HIS FLASHER AND DROPPER LINE. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

In addition, rigged this way my swivel is about halfway down my leader which forces it to work better than if on the end.

Rigging wires work great as dropper lines as they won’t collapse like mono and, similar to a bottom walker, keep my gear at the right distance above bottom when fish are holding there.

While the above is how I use the all-new Rigging Wires, the applications are many as they are designed to replace monofilament when rigged behind divers, ahead of and behind flashers, for attachment to jumbo-size halibut jigs, and to extend downrigger cable rigging at the weight.

AUTHOR BUZZ RAMSEY AND SON WADE SHOW OFF A BUOY 10 FALL CHINOOK. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Editor’s note: The author is a brand manager and part of the management team at Yakima Bait. Like Buzz on Facebook.

Get a Free NewsLetter Here

Egregious Sekiu Salmon Poacher Fined, Forfeited Boat

An angler who egregiously violated Washington’s salmon regulations last summer was sentenced to pay more than $3,200 in fines, and he also forfeited his boat.

Mark Heinemann, 75, of Bainbridge Island was caught fishing alone off Sekiu with six lines out — all baited with lures with barbed hooks — off two downriggers, claimed he had only caught one fish but was eventually found to be way over his limit with 10 (half of which were also illegal to retain wild salmon) and hadn’t recorded anything on his punch card.

WDFW OFFICER BRYAN DAVIDSON POSES WITH THE BOAT, TRAILER, DOWNRIGGERS, FISHING ROD AND COMMERCIAL FLASHER-LURE COMBOS SEIZED FOLLOWING AN AT-SEA INSPECTION OF MARK HEINEMANN’S BOAT LAST AUGUST THAT TURNED UP EGREGIOUS FISHING RULES VIOLATIONS. (WDFW)

WDFW Region 6 Capt. Dan Chadwick said his fishing setups looked like what you might find on a commercial boat, though added there wasn’t any evidence he was selling his catch.

In late February, Heineman was convicted of 10 counts in Clallam County District Court, including criminal charges for possessing four wild coho and a king during a closed season, exceeding the bag limit on hatchery coho by three fish, and failing to record his catch.

Another 10 charges were dropped, according to Chadwick.

Heinemann’s 23-foot Maxum Cabin Cruiser, worth approximately $5,000, was initially seized at the dock. Later he did not contest its forfeiture to the state, according to WDFW.

While there are some Washington waters that an angler can run two lines for salmon with the second rod endorsement, Sekiu is not one of them.

Barbless hooks are also required on all of the state’s marine waters for salmon.

Wild Chinook or wild coho open weren’t open at the time either, and civil penalties for keeping unclipped salmon run up to $500 apiece.

CLALLAM COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES AND A WDFW OFFICER POSE WITH HEINEMANN’S BOAT. (WDFW)

Heinemann was spotted on Tuesday, Aug. 28, during a joint Clallam County Sheriff’s Office-WDFW patrol of the western Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Officers noticed that his second downrigger was deployed but there was not an accompanying rod with it, nor another angler on board.

When they asked Heinemann to reel up his gear for an inspection, he brought in the line of the rod attached to his other downrigger, but left the ‘rigger’s cable and ball down.

So they asked him to bring them up, and he began to but stopped part way, so they had to ask again, after which he complied “reluctantly,” according to WDFW.

As it came up, Heinemann unclipped a leader from the cable and officers saw it had a bungee attached to a flasher and lure, as did a second that came up with the cable and ball.

When they asked him to bring up the other downrigger, it had three more bungee-flasher-lure rigs.

“I’ve been on the marine unit since 2007. I’ve done thousands of boardings in that time. I’ve never seen somebody run that kind of gear off of a recreational boat,” Clallam County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Eric Munger told the Peninsula Daily News last August.

Heinemann volunteered that he had kept one hatchery coho, which he showed to the officers, though he hadn’t put it on his catch card.

Between the good bite in the Straits at the time, all the gear he had down and his claim to have only one fish, the officers were a bit suspicious.

WDFW Officer Bryan Davidson asked him again if he had any more salmon to show, and after Heinemann denied it, Davidson advised him that he thought there were in fact more on the boat.

From the cabin Heinemann brought out two garbage bags containing nine more salmon, most of which had been cleaned.

HEINEMANN WAS IN POSSESSION OF 10 SALMON, INCLUDING A WILD CHINOOK AND FOUR WILD COHO THAT WERE ILLEGAL TO RETAIN, AND FIVE HATCHERY COHO, THREE MORE THAN WERE ALLOWED. (WDFW)

Game wardens have suggested it probably wasn’t Heinemann’s first try running some much gear, but what led him to decide to break the rules so spectacularly that day last summer isn’t clear.

He hadn’t responded to efforts to contact him through Facebook, nor had he returned a message left with a man who answered his home phone this past Friday.

Get a Free NewsLetter Here