Tag Archives: columbia river

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

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

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

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

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

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

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

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

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

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

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final summer ocean salmon sport fishing catch data

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

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

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

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

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

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

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

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

NW Fishing Derby Series hits refresh button in 2020

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

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

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

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll see you on the water!

SW WA Fishing Report (11-19-19)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS FORWARDED BY BRYAN SPELLMAN, WDFW

Washington Tributary Fishing Report Nov 11-17, 2019

Salmon/Steelhead:
Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 4 bank anglers had no catch

Elochoman River – 2 bank anglers had no catch.

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

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

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

Kalama River – 1 bank angler had no catch.

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

Washougal River – 1 bank angler had no catch.

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

Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

SW WA Fishing Report (11-12-19)

THE FOLLOWING WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

November 12, 2019

Tributary Fishery Reports

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 4 bank anglers had no catch

Elochoman River – 2 bank anglers had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 84 bank rods kept five coho and one coho jack. 42 boats/110 rods kept 28 coho, 3 coho jacks and released 4 Chinook and 42 coho.

Above the I-5 Br – 44 bank rods kept three coho and released 37 Chinook. 5 boats/15 rods kept five coho, 3 coho jacks and released one Chinook and four coho.

Kalama River – 10 bank anglers had no catch.

Lewis River – 32 bank anglers kept one coho. 16 boats/43 rods kept four Chinook, 2 Chinook jacks, 10 coho, one coho jack and released five Chinook and three coho.

TRAVIS GOTTSCH SHOWS OFF A NICE LEWIS RIVER FALL CHINOOK CAUGHT A FEW MID-OCTOBERS BACK AND FORWARDED BY HIS PROUD UNCLE PATRICK. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – 39 bank anglers kept 15 Chinook, 13 coho, 2 coho jacks and released 15 Chinook and 11 coho.

Klickitat above #5 Fishway – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

SW WA Fishing Report (11-4-19)

THE FOLLOWING WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Washington Columbia River and Tributary Fishing Report

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 6 bank anglers released six coho.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

  • Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

Lower Col mainstem sport Oct 28-31, 2019

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

Hanford Reach, SW WA Fishing Report (11-1-19)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORTS WERE FORWARDED BY PAUL HOFFARTH AND BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Hanford Reach Fall Salmon Fishery

The Hanford Reach fall salmon fishery closed on October 31. For the season there were an estimated 30,678 angler trips with 11,820 adult chinook, 1,321 chinook jacks, and 53 coho harvested.

JASON VOORHEES ENJOYED A PRETTY GOOD FINAL DAY OF THE LOWER HANFORD REACH FALL SALMON SEASON YESTERDAY BEFORE GOING BACK TO THE TRI-CITIES AND SCARING THE SH*T OUT OF KIDS LATER THAT EVENING. OK, THAT’S ACTUALLY TROY BRODERS BEHIND THE MASK, BUT WE CAN REPORT THAT THE FISH WAS HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THE IMAGE — NOT TO MENTION DINNER. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Lots of jacks returning this year which means we should have a good return of three year olds next year in the 6-10 pound range. WDFW will have a complete forecast for 2020 available in February.

Washington Columbia River and Tributary Fishing Report Oct 21-27, 2019

Salmon/Steelhead:
Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman – 3 bank anglers released one steelhead.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 9 bank rods kept one coho. 7 boats/19 rods kept 12 coho and released three Chinook, 2 coho and 1 coho jack.

Above the I-5 Br – 40 bank rods kept two steelhead and released 14 Chinook. 6 boats/17 rods kept four coho and released two Chinook, 6 coho and 1 coho jack.

Kalama River – 7 bank anglers had no catch.

Lewis River – 17 bank anglers kept one coho. 9 boats/23 rods kept 11 Chinook, 2 Chinook jacks, 3 coho and released seven Chinook, 1 coho and 1 coho jack.

Wind River – 1 boat/2 rods released one Chinook.

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – 42 bank anglers kept 30 Chinook, 1 Chinook jack, 25 coho and 3 coho jacks.

Sturgeon:

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 2 boats/7 rods released three sublegal sturgeon.

Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

Lower Col mainstem sport Oct 21-27, 2019
Salmon

Bonneville bank: 37 anglers with 15 coho kept and 4 coho and 9 Chinook released
Camas/Washougal boat: 16 anglers with 3 coho kept and 1 coho and 29 Chinook released
Vancouver boat: 9 anglers with 2 coho kept and 2 Chinook released
Woodland boat: 1 angler with 1 coho and 1 Chinook released
Kalama boat: 3 anglers with 3 coho kept and 1 coho and 2 Chinook released
Longview boat: 7 anglers with 3 coho kept
Sturgeon
Bonneville bank: 9 anglers with nothing
Camas/Washougal boat: 4 anglers with nothing
Vancouver boat: 30 anglers with 1 legal kept and 2 sublegals and 3 oversize released
Woodland bank: 1 angler with nothing
Woodland boat: 13 anglers with nothing
Kalama bank: 4 anglers with nothing
Kalama boat: 33 anglers with 1 legal kept and 8 sublegals released
Longview bank: 12 anglers with nothing
Longview boat: 28 anglers with nothing

It’s Public Comment Season In The P.N.W.: Sea Lions, Wolves, Grizzlies

Editor’s note: Since this blog was posted Monday, Oct. 28, WDFW has announced that the public scoping period for future wolf management planning will extend through 5 p.m. Nov. 15.

As one public comment period closed last week, two others important to Northwest sportsmen will end soon as well.

Tuesday, Oct. 29 is when commenting wraps up on a proposal by the three Northwest states and several tribes to remove California and Steller sea lions in an expanded part of the Lower Columbia watershed, while this Friday afternoon is when the scoping period for postrecovery wolf management planning ends in Washington.

SEA LIONS GATHER INSIDE THE MOUTH OF THE COWEEMAN RIVER AT KELSO, MOST LIKELY FOLLOWING THE 2016 RUN OF ESA-LISTED EULACHON, OR SMELT, UP THE COLUMBIA RIVER. (SKYLAR MASTERS)

Last Thursday saw the second comment period on plans to recover grizzly bears in the North Cascades wrap up following several well-attended meetings in the region.

Following passage of the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act by Congress last winter, IDFG, ODFW, WDFW and the Nez Perce Tribe, Yakama Nation and other tribal partners in the Columbia Basin put in for a permit that would allow removals of sea lions in tributaries with listed salmon and steelhead runs, as well as in the Columbia from river mile 112, around Washougal, up to McNary Dam.

Currently, sea lions are only being taken out in the mainstem at Bonneville.

It’s not a ultimate cure-all for all the woes Chinook, coho, summer-runs and other stocks face — many other species chew on them and fish habitat has been radically altered — but already the ability to remove the marine mammals is showing results at Willamette Falls.

According to a Bill Monroe article in The Oregonian late last week, sea lion predation of winter steelhead and spring Chinook there has dropped by as much as 75 and 55 percent, respectively, since Oregon received a federal permit.

ODFW took out 33 last winter and spring, and that has greatly increased the odds that the ESA-listed steelhead stock will not go extinct, “probably to less than 10 percent,” according to the agency’s Dr. Shaun Clement, Monroe reported.

A SEA LION FLINGS A SALMONID AT WILLAMETTE FALLS. (ODFW)

To comment on the expanded program in the Columbia, go here by tomorrow.

As for Washington wolf management, 5 p.m. Nov. 1 is the deadline to register your thoughts as WDFW looks towards the next phase of the species’ recovery in the state.

There are two options, a scoping questionaire that asks for your age, sex, county of residence, whether you live in a rural, suburban or urban area, whether you identify as a hunter, livestock producer, outdoor recreationist or environmentalist, and a list to check off the topics most important to you in terms of wolf management.

That takes less than two minutes, but another option allows for more submitting more expansive thoughts.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS WHERE COMMENTS ON ITS PUBLIC SCOPING PERIOD ON FUTURE WASHINGTON WOLF MANAGEMENT WERE COMING FROM, AS OF OCT. 17, 2019. (WDFW)

When the Fish and Wildlife Commission met a week and a half ago, wolf managers updated them on how the scoping process was going through Oct. 17, and wolf hunting and wolf-livestock conflicts were the two most important topics among respondents, followed by wolf conservation and monitoring.

Translocation — moving nonproblem wolves from one part of the state to others — was the least important.

Rural residents and outdoor recreationists have been among those participating in the survey in the highest numbers.

Don’t believe your voice counts in public comment?

With WDFW proposing a blanket elimination of daily and size limits on bass, walleye and channel catfish in 146 lakes across Washington (most don’t have the latter two species, but the first are widespread), testimony heard by the Fish and Wildlife Commission at their October meeting had the citizen panel pushing back and asking for a more refined proposal from fishery managers as the state agency tries to follow a legislative directive to provide more forage fish for orcas.

Hanford Reach, SW WA Fishing Report (10-23-19)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORTS WERE FORWARDED BY PAUL HOFFARTH AND BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Hanford Reach Fall Chinook Fishery Update (Oct 14-20)

The Hanford Reach from the old Hanford townsite power line crossing upstream to Priest Rapids Dam closed October 16.  The area from the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco/Kennewick upstream to the old Hanford townsite will remain open. This area is expected to remain open through the scheduled closure on October 31 with a one adult daily limit.

FALL CHINOOK SEASON IS WINDING DOWN IN THE HANFORD REACH, WITH THE UPPER END NOW CLOSED AND THE BOTTOM STRETCH OPEN THROUGH THE END OF THE MONTH. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Angler effort continues to decline as the quality of the fish drops off and hunting seasons open. An estimated 1,806 anglers fished for fall chinook in the Hanford Reach this past week. Fishing was excellent with boats averaging 1.5 fish per boat, 8 hours per fish. From October 14 through October 20, WDFW staff interviewed anglers from 356 boats (844 anglers) and 103 bank anglers with 455 adult chinook and 61 jacks. An estimated 957 adult chinook and 153 chinook jacks were harvested for the week (expanded). For the season there have been 28,818 angler trips with 11,134 adult chinook and 1,208 chinook jacks, and 53 coho harvested.

Washington Columbia River and Tributary Fishing Report Oct 14-20, 2019

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman – 8 bank anglers released 2 steelhead.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 2 bank rods had no catch. 7 boats/22 rods kept 15 coho, 6 coho jacks and released 3 Chinook, 5 Chinook jacks and 20 coho.

Above the I-5 Br – 20 bank rods released 1 Chinook.

Kalama River – 8 bank anglers released 2 Chinook, 2 Chinook jacks and 1 coho jack.

Lewis River – 26 bank anglers kept 3 Chinook.  6 boats/19 rods kept 2 Chinook, 1 coho and released 2 coho.

Washougal River – 2 bank anglers had no catch

Washougal River (Slough) – 6 boats/9 rods kept 1 coho, 1 coho jack and released 1 coho.

Wind River – 2 boats/3 rods kept 2 Chinook and released 5 Chinook.

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – 57 bank anglers kept 13 Chinook, 3 Chinook jacks, 23 coho, 5 coho jacks and released 1 Chinook and 1 Chinook jack.

Klickitat above #5 Fishway – 4 bank anglers kept 1 coho and released 1 Chinook.  1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

 

  •       Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

 

Coho, Sturgeon Reopening On Parts Of Lower Columbia

THE FOLLOWING IS AN OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE

Fisheries managers from Oregon and Washington will reopen the Columbia River to recreational sturgeon and coho fishing.

In a joint state hearing of the fish and wildlife departments from both states late yesterday, fisheries managers decided to open the river for two additional days of recreational sturgeon fishing – Saturday, Oct. 19 and Thursday, Oct. 24 – from the Wauna power lines at River Mile 40 upstream to the fishing deadlines at Bonneville Dam, including the Cowlitz River.

PRIME WATERS ON THE COLUMBIA — IN THIS CASE THE MOUTH OF THE KLICKITAT — WILL REOPEN FOR COHO FISHING OCTOBER 18. HEATHER BAGGLERLY CAUGHT THIS ONE OFF THE WASHINGTON TRIBUTARY DURING 2013’S SEASON. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Approximately 720 fish were landed during the initial three days of the fishery, leaving a balance of about 510 fish on the 1,230 harvest guideline.  Effort and catch rates met expectations for the first retention day but have dropped off sharply since then.

The daily bag limit is one legal-sized white sturgeon and up to two fish may be retained for the year. Anglers are reminded that the annual limit applies to any/all 2019 retention fisheries, including those that occurred earlier this year upstream or downstream of Bonneville Dam.  A legal-sized sturgeon is defined as one measuring 44-50 inches fork length.

Anglers are cautioned to pay close attention to the instructions for measuring sturgeon. Fork length is measured in a straight line from the tip of the nose to the fork in the tail fin with the fish laying on its side on a flat surface and the ruler positioned flat under the fish. (See page 12 of the 2019 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations.)

The states also decided to reopen the mainstem Columbia to retention of coho salmon beginning Friday, Oct. 18, and continuing through Oct. 31, from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upstream to The Dalles Dam. The daily adult bag limit is two coho. Only hatchery coho may be retained downstream of the Hood River Bridge. All steelhead and all salmon except coho must be released. All other permanent regulations remain in effect, including retention rules for coho jacks.  For the area from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam, anglers are reminded that the states previously agreed to allow retention of hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead effective Nov. 1 with a two adult daily bag limit (no more than one steelhead).

For more information and regulation updates, please see ODFW’s Columbia River Zone online.

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

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

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

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

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

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

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

Kalama River – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

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

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

Sturgeon:

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

v Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

Lower Columbia Mainstem Sport Oct 7-13, 2019

Sturgeon:

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

Walleye:

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

Northern Pike In Washington Reclassified At Highest Threat Level

Esox lucius is very much piscis non grata in Washington these days.

Northern pike were reclassified as a prohibited level 1 species, the highest designation, by the Fish and Wildlife Commission late last week, a move that will focus more resources on the fight to keep the “highly invasive” species out of the Columbia below Chief Joseph Dam and other state waters.

THE COLVILLE TRIBES CAPTURED THIS 28.2-POUND NORTHERN PIKE IN LAKE ROOSEVELT’S SANPOIL ARM EARLIER THIS YEAR. (COLVILLE TRIBES)

“The gist is that moving from level 3 to level 1 allows for higher level actions to address things, to eradicate them once they get into the anadromous zone,” says WDFW’s Eric Winther.

It means that when pike get into the waters where salmon and steelhead smolts swim downstream of the dam, the governor can declare an environmental emergency, which would trigger a wider mobilization of resources.

It’s another sign of how seriously fishery managers are taking the situation.

Illegally introduced pike have been slowly moving down the Pend Oreille and Upper Columbia over the past 15 years or so and are creeping closer and closer to Grand Coulee Dam.

It’s all but inevitable they will get below Chief Joe, and to that end, Winther has been tasked with coming up with a rapid response plan  and says measures could include gillnetting.

That has already proven to be effective for targeting spawning flats on Lake Roosevelt and Box Canyon Reservoir, where pike gather in spring, he says.

As area tribes, WDFW, public utility districts have teamed up to control pike, knowledge of where northerns go to procreate is increasing.

Winther says other possibilities could include chemical treatments, though he notes rotenoning would be difficult in the Columbia outside of perhaps isolated bays, while long-line fishing is also being considered.

He says that elevating pike to level 1 also means that eDNA tools can be brought into the battle. A newfangled type of early-warning system, essentially the environment — water in this case — can be scanned for traces of pike poo, scales, mucus, etc., etc.

Even as Caspian terns, walleye, harbor seals and other piscovores chomp down heavily on young Chinook, coho, steelhead and other seagoing fish, the relatively early stage of the pike outbreak and their lower numbers mean we’re in a better place than with those other issues.

“Once you’ve got a problem, it costs a lot more to deal with it,” Winther says.

Pike prefer to eat fish with soft rays, like salmonids, which are hugely important to sport and commercial fishermen and tribal fishermen, and more and more emphasis is also being placed on getting more Chinook into the ocean for starving southern resident orcas to eat as returning adults.

Winther says that the state Invasive Species Council will be requesting money for eDNA testing as well.

The change in classification was approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission during its conference call last Friday. It was first reported by the Columbia Basin Bulletin.

Winther says that he hopes to have the response plan out for review by the end of the year.

In the meanwhile, efforts will also be made to increase public awareness about the danger of northern pike through brochures, stickers and sportsmen’s shows.

It’s believed that the fish were illegally introduced into the Pend Oreille River from Idaho’s Lake Couer d’Alene system, where they’d been illegally introduced after being illegally introduced in western Montana waters.

“We’re letting people (who catch one) know to kill it and report it. That helps us get a handle on this,” Winther says.

There is no limit on pike in Washington. As I once advised after a bass angler inexplicably released one illegally placed into Lake Washington, if you catch a northern, “Slash its gills, slit its belly, hack it in half, singe the carcass over high heat.”

KNOW YOUR ENEMY! NORTHERN PIKE ARE BROWNISH WITH LIGHTER, OVALISH SPOTS. THEIR DORSAL FIN IS PUSHED BACK TOWARDS THE TAIL. (MUCKLESHOOT TRIBE VIA DFW)

Editor’s note: The initial version of this blog misreported the new classification of pike as level 3. Rather, they were reclassified as a level 1 prohibited species. We regret the error.