Tag Archives: colville tribes

Northeast Washington Tribe To Begin Hunting Wolves Off Reservation

The tribes that first began hunting wolves in Washington have expanded seasons to off-reservation areas, a first as well.

The Colville Tribes’ Business Council voted this morning to amend its 2016-19 hunting regs to open the “North Half,” where the Profanity Peak, Sherman, Wedge and Beaver Creek Packs largely run, to tribal hunters.

THE RED LINE REFLECTS THE  FORMER NORTH HALF OF THE COLVILLE RESERVATION, WHERE THE TRIBAL BUSINESS COUNCIL HAS APPROVED WOLF SEASONS. (WDFW)

The hunt will be modeled on those in the South Half, where the quota is around one-fifth to one-quarter of the overall population, according to a Tribal Tribune article out yesterday.

Though it’s highly likely there are more wolves now, the 2016 year-end count reported 16 in the four North Half packs, as well as 12 in two South Half packs that roam into the North Half at times.

But if the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife kills any in the area to head off cattle depredations — the Shermans are sitting on two confirmed calf kills and one confirmed calf injury since June 12, and a fourth attack could lead to removals of one or two members — that could reduce how many are available for tribal hunters to take, according to the paper.

The North Half includes state, federal and private lands in northeast Okanogan County, the northern half of Ferry County and that part of Stevens County north of the Columbia River, where the Colville Tribes maintain hunting and fishing rights and comanages wildlife with WDFW.

“It is entirely consistent with the Tribes’ rights to hunt and fish in that area,” said Steve Pozzanghera, the state agency’s regional manager.

He says that there was “good communication” between tribal wildlife managers and WDFW as the proposal moved towards the business council.

Pozzanghera says that if hunting on the North Half proceeds as it has to the south, the state has no concerns about it impacting the wolf population as a whole.

Wolves in this part of Washington are federally delisted. The Colvilles opened seasons in 2012, though it wasn’t until last fall that one was reported taken. Spokane Tribe of Indians hunters have been more successful.

State hunts are dependent on first, set numbers of successful breeding pairs occurring in the eastern third, North Cascades, and South Cascades and Olympic Peninsula — benchmarks that are nowhere close to being met — and then the Fish and Wildlife Commission changing their status to game animal and approving opening a season.

The Colvilles’ fifth annual wolf hunt in the South Half began Aug. 1 and runs through Feb. 28. Trapping season begins Nov. 1-Feb. 28. The overall limit is three.

Top goals in their wolf management plan, approved earlier this year, are to “1) outline strategies for maintaining viable wolf populations that persist through time, while 2) maintaining healthy ungulate populations capable of meeting the cultural and subsistence needs of Colville Tribal Members and their families.”

The amendment opening the North Half was approved with little discussion except that one member of the council noted that wolves are sacred animals to the Colville Tribes and that elders recalled some taking pups as pets.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:00 p.m., Aug. 3, 2017, with comments from WDFW.

Angler Looks Back At First-in-a-long-time Roosevelt Sturgeon Fishery

Editor’s notes: The following blog was written and submitted to Northwest Sportsman by Rick Itami.

By Rick Itami

As most of my fishing buddies know, I am mostly a salmon and steelhead angler who has pursued the fish all over the Northwest, British Columbia and Alaska over a 50-plus-year period. But poor spring steelhead and Chinook salmon seasons in 2017 made me start looking for alternatives.

When I received a group e-mail from Toby Wyatt, owner/operator of Reel Time Fishing guide service (208-790-2128), reporting good fishing for sturgeon in Lake Roosevelt out of Kettle Falls, Washington, I had to give it some thought … for about two seconds. I scheduled a trip for the following Monday on July 17, 2017. with assigned guide, Shane Reynolds.  Two other clients joined me — Neal Thompson and his 13-year old grandson Ethan from Spokane.

WITH SPRING CHINOOK FISHING A BUST THIS YEAR, RICK ITAMI (LEFT) TOOK A GUIDED TRIP FOR LAKE ROOSEVELT STURGEON. HIS MAY HAVE BEEN THE SHORTEST AT 51 INCHES FORK LENGTH, BUT THE OPPORTUNITY PROVIDED A GREAT FISHERY CLOSE TO HIS SPOKANE HOME. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the opening of the first-ever catch-and-keep sturgeon season in Lake Roosevelt to run from May 27, 2017 through September 17, 2017 [but since closed after July 31]. The daily limit is one white sturgeon and the annual limit is two. A slot limit of 38 inches to 63 inches was also established for the fishery.

Thanks to successful hatchery programs in the State of Washington and British Columbia, the Lake Roosevelt comanagers, consisting of WDFW, the Spokane Tribe and the Colville Confederated Tribes, developed a harvest plan that allows nontribal anglers the opportunity to harvest up to 10,250 sturgeon over the next 10 years.  What a remarkable success story that has been quietly in the making since the early 2000s!

When we met Shane at the Kettle Falls launch at 6 a.m., our anticipation was high because he had been so successful on previous trips, sometimes limiting out by 8:30 a.m. But our day started off very slowly. Unlike most fishermen pursuing sturgeon in the area, Shane does not spend more than 15 minutes to half an hour at any location. For the first three hours, he moved at least six times to different way points in his GPS that he had had success at previously.  But we didn’t get a single bite at any of the locations.

Fishermen in other boats were having the same lack of success as us and most left the river by 10 a.m. But Shane had confidence that he could get us on fish sooner or later and told us not to lose heart. And sure enough, just before 11 a.m., he cruised over an area where he marked some fish and dropped anchor. Within a couple of minutes after all of the rods were set out, young Ethan’s rod tip bounced up and down and he quickly removed the rod from the holder and set the hook. The fish was obviously a nice one that gave the 13-year-old all he could handle. While Ethan was fighting his fish, I hooked and landed a small “shaker” that was below the slot limit and released. After a tough battle, Ethan finally landed his first-ever sturgeon, measuring 53 inches.

Then it was Neal’s turn. Within 15 minutes of Ethan landing his fish, Neal’s rod buried with a good fish that at first we thought might exceed the 63-inch slot limit. But once landed, it measured out at 59 inches — the biggest of the day. I weighed it for him on my digital scale and it registered just under 44 pounds.

All of us had landed a fish at that point, but I still needed to get a keeper into the boat. I didn’t have to wait long. My rod tip started bouncing and I set the hook into a fish I knew right away wasn’t another shaker. After a good fight, Shane lifted the fish over the gunnel. It measured out at 51 inches. All of us were happy with our catches, and Shane said that we averaged higher overall in size than many of his trips.

So what did we learn on this trip? First and most important is that a knowledgeable and experienced guide is worth every penny you pay him. Shane worked hard to find us some fish and his perseverance paid off. He has learned that sturgeon move around in pods in Lake Roosevelt and you just have to keep moving until you land in the middle of one of them. Once you find a group of fish, the action can be fast and furious, as was our experience towards the end of our trip.

Shane started off using squid on some rods and herring on the others. Once we found out that the fish were hitting the squid and not the herring, he baited all of the rods with squid. We fished depths ranging from 30 feet to 100 feet, but we caught all of the fish between 40 and 50 feet deep that day. This, of course, can vary from day to day. Again, Shane just kept changing locations and depths until he finds fish. And finally, Shane proved to us that we should never lose faith and give up as did other fishermen that day. He had confidence he could get us on fish and he kept changing locations within a huge area until we found success.

Finally, Shane said that if you see sturgeon leaping out of the water, you need to pull up and go quickly to that area, because that’s where biting fish will be. We found this to be true also.

After all of us limited out, we caught and released three more fish before calling it quits for the day. The weather was great with temperatures in the low 80s and winds were light to calm.

As I was finishing up writing this article, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced closure of the sturgeon fishery on July 31, 2017. Anglers were apparently too successful and so the co-managers decided on the early closure so that sports fishermen will have the opportunity to fish for sturgeon in Lake Roosevelt in future years.

So if you want to try this new fishery in coming years, I strongly urge you to go out with a good guide before you try it on your own. The area you fish is huge and quite daunting to a first-timer to that portion of the Lake Roosevelt. And don’t do like many do-it-yourselfers and sit in one spot all day. You have to be willing to move every 15 to 30 minutes if you aren’t getting bites.

Shane Reynolds also has his own guiding business separate from Reel Time Fishing and takes clients on salmon, steelhead, walleye and smallmouth bass trips as well as sturgeon trips.  He can be reached at (208) 880-2994.  I have gone out with dozens of guides in the past and Shane is one of the best.

We have to thank the WDFW, the Spokane Tribe and the Confederated Colville Tribes for making this fishery possible. It gives us salmonid fishermen a great alternative when poor ocean conditions, drought, or whatever results in weak runs of salmon and steelhead.

SMOKED STURGEON

By the way, I smoked my sturgeon fillets and they turned out to be outstanding in flavor and texture. Some members of a local gourmet club asked if I would sell some to them. Of course, I said “no”, but I was flattered that they asked.

Guide Rick Hedding from Clarkston, Washington, gave me the recipe several years ago.  The ingredients are few, the process is a bit long, but the result is the best smoked fish I have ever tasted. Here is the recipe:

– Slice fillets into preferred eating size chunks and place them into large aluminum lasagna pans.

– Mix a 26-ounce carton of iodized salt with 2 pounds of dark brown cane sugar, making sure the mixture is evenly blended without lumps.

–  Liberally spread the mixture over the fillets, making sure to cover every part of the meat.

– Place lasagna pans with fillets into the refrigerator for five hours. The salt/brown sugar mix will turn into a thick syrup that soaks nicely into the fillets.

– Put a clean bath towel over a flat surface and cover it with a layer of paper towels.

– Remove the fillets from the refrigerator after five hours, thoroughly rinse them individually with cold tap water and place them on the paper towels covering the bath towel.

–  Pat fillets dry with other paper towels.

–  Wash the lasagna pans using very hot soap and water and dry thoroughly.

–  Place the fillets back in the lasagna pans and place them back into the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

–  Smoke the fillets at 200 degrees F for five to six hours using hickory chips.

Sturgeon Retention Coming To Lake Roosevelt

For the second year in a row, state managers will introduce a new sturgeon retention fishery in Eastern Washington.

Following on 2016’s season in two mid-Columbia pools, Lake Roosevelt is expected to open as soon as July.

“It’s an exciting opportunity that actually should extend eight, 10, potentially 12 years in length,” Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW’s Region 1 manager, told the Fish and Wildlife Commission last month. “It’s an exciting opportunity that we haven’t had for quite some time.”

TACOMA CLOWERS HOLDS A STURGEON FROM NOT FAR DOWNSTREAM OF LAKE ROOSEVELT, WHERE RETENTION WILL BE ALLOWED THIS SUMMER. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

According to the agency’s fish chief Chris Donley, it’s been at least 20 years since the last one. He says there are around 20,000 harvestable sturgeon on tap.

In a press release, he described them as “surplus fish from Washington and Canadian hatcheries that are not needed in the spawning population.”

WDFW says it’s working with the Colville and Spokane Tribes, whose reservations in part border the 150-mile-long reservoir and comanage its fisheries, and whose members have begun angling for the largest fish in the Columbia system.

Donley says that state seasons will be opened after catch sharing and monitoring plans with the tribes are figured out.

“We expect to open Roosevelt sturgeon fishing no later than the first of July,” he said, “so we plan to announce season dates and rules soon.”

FDR’s Sanpoil Arm To Remain Closed Till June, WDFW Reminds

Editor’s note, March 30, 2017, 2:30 p.m.: WDFW emergency rule-change notice tacked on at bottom

WDFW is reminding anglers that due to changing regs, the Sanpoil Arm of Lake Roosevelt won’t open this Saturday.

The fishing pamphlet has the drowned mouth of the Ferry County river opening April 1, but with a Fish and Wildlife Commission decision last December, it’s been moved back to June 1 starting this season.

WITH LAKE ROOSEVELT’S TROUT FISHERY DRAWING INCREASING INTEREST, MANAGERS HAVE MOVED TO PROTECT THE RESERVOIR’S REDBAND RAINBOWS, INCLUDING CLOSING A LARGE BAY WHERE THE TROUT GATHER TO MAKE SPRING SPAWNING RUNS. THIS STRINGER OF RAINBOWS WAS PUT TOGETHER SEVERAL WINTERS AGO BY DYLAN AND GARRETT, GRANDSONS OF READER CHARLIE HISSOM. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

That may disappoint walleye fishermen, but it was part of a set of tweaks to the rules to protect native redband rainbows in the 150-mile-long Northeast Washington reservoir.

With increasing interest in FDR’s superb trout and kokanee fisheries, state and tribal managers were concerned that with redbands already accounted for one-fifth of the rainbow harvest, according to WDFW.

The Sanpoil River is one of the spawning grounds of the unique strain of inland rainbows.

Other changes adopted last December include releasing all trout without a clipped adipose fin from Grand Coulee Dam up to the Little Dalles powerlines, but an end to the maximum number of rainbows that can be over 20 inches.

The agency stocks three-quarters of a million fin-clipped trout to support the harvest fishery on the reservoir.

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

Updates fishing rules for Lake Roosevelt,

Spokane and Sanpoil arms

Action: Updates fishing regulations in the 2016-17 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for Lake Roosevelt and the Spokane and Sanpoil Arms of the 150-mile reservoir to protect wild native redband rainbow trout.

The correct fishing regulations include:

  • Sanpoil Arm (listed as Sanpoil River in the pamphlet): The Sanpoil Arm opens to fishing June 1, instead of April 1.
  • Lake Roosevelt from Grand Coulee Dam to the Little Dalles power line crossing, Spokane Arm and Sanpoil Arm: Only hatchery-produced trout, marked with a clipped adipose fin, can be retained. The daily catch limit is still five trout, not including kokanee. But there is no longer a limit on how many of those fish can exceed 20 inches, as is currently indicated in the WDFW fishing rules pamphlet.
  • Little Dalles power line crossing to the Canadian border: The daily catch limit is now only two trout (marked hatchery or unmarked wild), with a minimum size of 18 inches.

For the complete rule changes, see “Corrections to the pamphlet,” posted at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01818/2016_fishing_regulation_errata.pdf.

Reason for action: The 2016-17 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet does not reflect fishing rule changes that took effect in December 2016. Those changes, approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, are intended to further protect redband rainbow trout at Lake Roosevelt, a Columbia River reservoir in northeast Washington. Redband trout are a subspecies of rainbow trout found in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

Information Contact: Chris Donley, Regional Fish Program Manager, (509) 892-1001, ext. 307.