Tag Archives: fishing

Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools, SW WA Fishing Report (6-18-18)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORTS ORIGINATED WITH ODFW AND WDFW AND WERE TRANSMITTED BY TANNA TAKATA, ODFW, AND JOE HYMER, PSMFC

Columbia River Angling Report

Salmon, Steelhead and Shad

On Saturday’s (6/16) flight, 113 salmonid boats and 52 Oregon bank anglers were counted from the Astoria-Megler Bridge to Bonneville Dam.  Boat anglers fishing in the Goble to Beaver area, averaged 2.40 steelhead and 0.60 sockeye caught per boat.  Bank anglers fishing the Portland to Westport area, averaged 0.04 Chinook and 0.13 steelhead caught per angler.

STURGEON RETENTION ON THE LOWER COLUMBIA ENDED EARLIER THIS MONTH, BUT NOT BEFORE ELISE PASSMORE CAUGHT THIS ONE ON THE SECOND TO LAST DAY OF THE SEASON BELOW CATHLAMET. CATCH-AND-RELEASE REMAINS OPEN. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for six salmonid bank anglers; and 1,844 shad kept, plus 92 shad released for 176 shad anglers.

Gorge Boats: Weekend checking showed 220 shad kept, plus 50 shad released for five boats (18 anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for three salmonid boats (four anglers); and two shad kept for one boat (three anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekend checking showed four steelhead kept, plus two adult Chinook and two steelhead released for 46 bank anglers.

Portland to St. Helens Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for three salmonid boats (nine anglers); and one shad kept for one boat (two anglers).

Goble to Beaver (Clatskanie) Boats: Weekend checking showed eight steelhead kept, plus four steelhead and three sockeye released for five boats (20 anglers).

Wauna Powerlines to Clatsop Spit Bank: No report.

Westport to Buoy 10 Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for five boats (16 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for 10 salmonid bank anglers; and no catch for two salmonid boats (five anglers).  Shad anglers caught 98 shad for 53 bank anglers, and 12 shad for one boat (three anglers).

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for two salmonid bank anglers; and no catch for 10 salmonid boats (16 anglers).  Shad anglers caught 28 shad for six bank anglers, and 54 shad for two boats (10 anglers).

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for two salmonid bank anglers; and three adult Chinook kept, plus one coho released for 12 salmonid boats (25 anglers).  Shad anglers caught 2,065 shad for 61 boats (200 anglers).

STURGEON

Gorge Boats:  Closed for retention. No report.

Troutdale Boats:  Closed for retention. Weekend checking showed one sublegal sturgeon released for one boat (three anglers).

Portland to Wauna Powerlines Boats:  Closed for retention. No report.

Wauna Powerlines to Clatsop Spit Bank:  Closed for retention. No report.

Buoy 10 to Wauna Powerlines Boats:  Closed for retention. Weekend checking showed 15 sublegal and 15 oversize sturgeon released for one boat (four anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Closed for retention.  Weekend checking showed six legal white sturgeon kept, plus 20 sublegal and six oversize sturgeon released for 42 bank anglers; and 99 legal white sturgeon kept, plus 796 sublegal, nine legal and 22 oversize sturgeon released for 94 boats (253 anglers).

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam): Closed for retention.  Weekend checking showed three legal white sturgeon kept, plus 12 sublegal sturgeon released for 14 bank anglers; and 24 legal white sturgeon kept, plus 228 sublegal, five legal and 14 oversize sturgeon released for 21 boats (67 anglers).

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam): Closed for retention.  Weekend checking showed four sublegal, eight legal and nine oversize sturgeon released for six boats (21 anglers).

WALLEYE

Bonneville Pool: Weekly checking showed no catch for one boat (three anglers).

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed 43 walleye kept, plus three walleye released for 11 boats (25 anglers).

John Day Pool: Weekly checking showed 109 walleye kept, plus 19 walleye released for 30 boats (91 anglers).

Washington Columbia River mainstem and its tributaries sport sampling summaries for June 11-17

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br. downstream:  6 bank anglers had no catch.  Above the I-5 Br:  17 bank anglers released 2 cutts.  25 boat anglers kept 2 adult spring Chinook and 11 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 83 spring Chinook adults, 40 summer-run steelhead,  and one winter-run steelhead during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power also released ten spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa near Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,100 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, June 18. Water visibility is 15 feet and the water temperature is 49.9 degrees F.

Kalama River – 6 bank anglers had no catch. 6 boat anglers kept 3 steelhead.

Lewis River (North Fork) – 15 bank anglers had no catch.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Megler-Astoria Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam – Up to 2 hatchery steelhead may be retained.  Release all sockeye.  Fishing at night is permitted in Washington waters.  Release all adult Chinook through June 21 and July 5-31.

Sturgeon

Bonneville and The Dalles pools – During the one-day retention fishery last Friday, boat anglers averaged just over a legal kept per boat from each pool..   Bank anglers averaged a legal kept per every 7 rods in Bonneville Pool and one for every 4 rods in The Dalles Pool.

Trout

Tacoma Power released 5,200 rainbow trout into Mayfield Lake.  No report on angling success.

Shad

Bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam averaged 4 shad per rod based on mainly incomplete trips while boat anglers averaged just over 8 fish per rod based on completed trips this past weekend.

Nearly 2.6 million shad had been counted at Bonneville Dam through June 17.  .

DOE’s Susewind Chosen As New WDFW Director

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission chose Kelly Susewind, of the Department of Ecology, as the new WDFW director.

KELLY SUSEWIND. (WDFW)

In a phone call immediately after the vote late this morning, Susewind told Commission Chair Brad Smith he was “very excited and very nervous.”

Susewind is something of an unknown and wildcard to Washington’s rank and file anglers and hunters, but the commission supported his appointment unanimously.

He has worked for the Department of Ecology for over two and a half decades, most recently as the director of administrative services and environmental policy.

According to a WDFW press release, he originally hails from the Grays Harbor area and went to Washington State University, where he earned a degree in geological engineering.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve the people of Washington at an agency whose effectiveness is critical to our ability to conserve fish and wildlife resources while providing outdoor recreation and commercial opportunities throughout the state,” Susewind said in the release. “The public has high expectations for WDFW, and I’m excited about being in a position to deliver the results they deserve.”

Pat Pattillo, who retired a few years ago from the agency after a long career in salmon management and who continues to keep a close eye on fisheries as well as advocates for sport angling, was very positive about the choice and the relative speed at which the process had moved along.

“I believe Kelly has the abilities to lead the department and communicate effectively with the many partners WDFW needs to be successful. Leadership from the top of the agency has been missing over the last two years and while capable managers for fish, wildlife, enforcement and habitat kept the wheels from falling off, it has been an agency without a head,” Pattillo said.

He said that Susewind will know whom he needs to establish relations with —  “the public, legislature, tribes and other management authorities.”

“It will take energy and, from what I’ve heard, he has that capability,” Pattillo said.

Rep. Brian Blake,  the South Coast Democrat in charge of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee which sees many WDFW-related bills, said Susewind had his “full support.”

“He is a lifelong hunter and I expect that he will be a force for positive change at DFW,” he said.

Fellow hunter Commissioner Jay Kehne of Omak nominated “Candidate P,” Susewind, for the position and was seconded by Vice Chair Larry Carpenter of Mount Vernon.

Susewind will oversee a staff of 1,800, land base of 1,400 square miles and harness a $437 million two-year budget to hold and conserve fisheries and hunting opportunities and provide scientific rationale for what it’s doing.

He also must deal with a potential $30 million budget shortfall in 2019-21 that could force the closure of the Omak and Naches trout hatcheries and other potential cuts unless the gap is filled by the legislature.

“He’s a good manager, great people skills and a real CEO type,” said Tom Nelson, co-host of a Seattle outdoors radio show on 710 ESPN.

Susewind’s soon-to-be old boss, DOE’s Maia Bellon, tweeted out her best wishes, “Congratulations, Kelly! Thank you for all the hard work and years of service at @ecologywa. We wish you all the best at @wdfw, and look forward to collaborating with you in your new role.”

When the Fish and Wildlife Commission put out its help wanted ad around four months ago, it said the next director would lead the agency through a “transformative” period.

“Obviously the Commission wants to take the department in an entirely new direction.  Change is very difficult, and taking over WDFW is nearly as complex as taking over a federal resource agency, with many of the same challenges,” said Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. “We welcome the new director and look forward to working with Mr. Susewind on conservation and recovery of our fisheries, growing participation in fishing and protecting the jobs in the sportfishing industry.”

Chair Smith said that “the appointment marks the beginning of a new era in the department’s history” and spoke highly of WDFW staff and what they could all accomplish together.

Susewind begins work Aug. 1 and will be paid an annual salary of $165,000.

Nineteen people applied for the position in the wake of Jim Unsworth’s resignation this past winter. That pool was cut to seven in April and then three last month.

One of the three, Joe Stohr, who has been acting director since Unsworth left,  sat at the end of the long table as the members of the citizen panel made their choice known. He was consoled by Smith after the vote, and after Smith phoned Susewind, Smith publicly added, “Joe, you have all of our respect.”

There will be some who will be unhappy that, once again, a new director is coming from outside the agency.

Commissioner Jay Holzmiller of Anatone likened the panel’s last selection to “a kid getting cocky on a bike.”

“We got our knees and elbows skinned up,” he said before casting his support for Susewind.

One of the primary reasons for Unsworth’s departure was his handling of Puget Sound salmon fishing issues. Some hoped that the new director would come from this world.

“On the fish side, I don’t believe anyone thinks salmonid biology is (Susewind’s) strong suit but he’s a real quick study,” said Nelson, who added, “I think Susewind is a strong choice and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

But there were many issues that came to a head during Unsworth’s term,  which also suffered from the bad luck of coinciding with sharply declining salmon runs due to the North Pacific’s “Blob,”  the pool of warm water that has crushed several years of returns.

Mark Pidgeon said that the Hunters Heritage Council and Washingtonians for Wildlife Conservation were welcoming Susewind “with open arms.”

“We think that he will make an outstanding Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. We realize that he is taking over a department facing many crises and he will have many difficult tasks facing him.  Both our organizations look forward to working with him to build a better and brighter future for WDFW,” said Pidgeon.

Among Susewind’s immediate challenges will be that looming budget gap, and as a member of WDFW’s Budget Policy and Advisory Group helping the agency navigate those dangerous straits, Pidgeon advised the new top honcho to “open lines of communications, especially to the hunters and fishers.”

“These users have felt shut out. The best way to bring more money in the coffers is sell more licenses, talk with us and see what we want,” he said.

Pidgeon is also on WDFW’s Wolf Advisory Group.

“I want the new director to know he can call on me anytime.”

Wanda Clifford of the venerable Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, one of the state’s oldest sporting organizations, also extended that offer of help.

“We are very pleased with the hire of Kelly Susewind and look forward to working with with him. We would hope that Kelly will have a better understanding of the hunting community and the number of hunters that put time and funds into our statewide budget. We feel that in the past the thoughts, needs and suggestions  from the hunting community have not been respected when in reality a large part of the department’s budget comes from the purchase of license and tags, and as a user group are often put on the bottom.”

With INWC based in Spokane, from where it puts on the annual Big Horn Show, and in the corner of the state where most of Washington’s wolves roam, you can bet that the predators were on Clifford’s mind as well.

“We also would like to see our new director work on the large wolf issue that we face here on the east side of the state,” she said, and wished Susewind good luck.

Editor’s note: My apologies for misspellings, etc., pain in the butt to report breaking news and reaction by phone on a weekend.

Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools Fishing Report (6-12-18)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORT ORIGINATED WITH ODFW AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY TANNA TAKATA, ODFW, AND JOE HYMER, PSMFC

Current & Upcoming Fishing Opportunities:

*         Spring Chinook angling is open through Friday June 15 to both boat and bank anglers from Tongue Point upstream to Bonneville Dam; and from Tower Island Power Lines upstream to the Oregon/Washington border above McNary Dam, plus the banks only between Bonneville Dam and Tower Island Power Lines.  The bag limit is two adult salmonids.

*         Angling for shad is open from Buoy 10 upstream to Bonneville Dam.

CONNOR THUN SHOWS OFF A LOWER COLUMBIA STURGEON HE CAUGHT ON — GET THIS — PEANUT BUTTER AND SAND SHRIMP. (VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

*         White sturgeon retention is closed from Buoy 10 upstream to McNary Dam but remains an option for catch and released fishing.  Anglers are reminded that spawning sanctuaries are in effect (see special regulations for details).

*         On Friday June 15, Bonneville and The Dalles pools will be open to the retention of white sturgeon (see special regulations for details).

*         The McNary Pool is open to the retention of legal white sturgeon through July 31.  Anglers are reminded that spawning sanctuaries are in effect (see special regulations details).

*         Walleye angling is good in The Dalles and John Day pools.

Columbia River regulation updates for salmon, steelhead, shad and sturgeon can be found above.

Salmon, Steelhead and Shad

Salmonid angling effort was low this past weekend, most likely due to the poor weather conditions.   Boat anglers fishing in the gorge averaged 0.33 Chinook caught per boat, while anglers fishing the Westport to Buoy 10 area averaged 0.09 steelhead caught per boat.  Bank anglers fishing in the Portland to Westport area averaged 0.06 Chinook and 0.10 steelhead caught per angler.

Gorge Bank: Weekly checking showed five adult Chinook kept for 22 bank anglers; and weekend checking of shad anglers showed 2,564 shad kept, plus 51 shad released for 191 shad anglers.

Gorge Boats (below Beacon Rock): Weekend checking showed one adult Chinook kept for three salmonid boats (11 anglers); and 685 shad kept for 11 shad boats (33 anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for one salmonid boat (three anglers); and no catch for one shad boat (two anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekend checking showed three adult Chinook and five steelhead kept for 52 bank anglers.

Portland to St. Helens Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for four salmonid boats (nine anglers).

Goble to Beaver (Clatskanie) Boats: No report.

Wauna Powerlines to Clatsop Spit Bank: No report.

Westport to Buoy 10 Boats: Weekend checking showed one steelhead released for four boats (11 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for five bank anglers.

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam): Weekly checking showed one adult Chinook kept for 11 bank anglers.

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam): Weekly checking showed one adult Chinook released for six bank anglers; and four adult Chinook kept for eight boats (21 anglers).

STURGEON

Gorge Boats:  Closed for retention. No report.

Troutdale Boats:  Closed for retention. No report.

Portland to Wauna Powerlines:  Closed for retention. Weekend checking showed eight sublegal sturgeon released for one boat (four anglers).

Wauna Powerlines to Clatsop Spit Bank:  Closed for retention. Weekend checking showed one legal white sturgeon kept for 17 bank anglers.

Buoy 10 to Wauna Powerlines Boats:  Closed for retention. Weekend checking showed 139 legal white sturgeon kept, plus 244 sublegal, 253 oversize and two green sturgeon released for 121 boats (401 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Closed for retention.  No report.

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam): Closed for retention.  No report.

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam): Closed for retention.  No report.

WALLEYE

Bonneville Pool: No report.

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed 53 walleye kept for 11 boats (23 anglers).

John Day Pool: Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler; and 152 walleye kept, plus seven walleye released for 16 boats (43 anglers).

More Details On That Giant East Strait of Juan de Fuca Halibut

No, Tom Hellinger won’t be sharing his secret halibut spot anytime soon, though he does offer a hint.

“I can give you the coordinates,” says the 59-year-old Puget Sound angler who hooked a true barndoor late last month. “All the way on the bottom.”

SCREENSHOTS FROM A VIDEO SHOT BY ANGLER TOM HELLINGER’S DAUGHTER ALEISHA HELLINGER FROM THE ROOF OF THE BOAT SHOW THE FINAL STAGES OF TOM’S BATTLE WITH THE 79-INCH HALIBUT AND CELEBRATION IMMEDIATELY AFTER BRINGING IT ABOARD. (ALEISHA HELLINGER)

But the Whidbey Island resident is sharing more details of his remarkable catch, a 6 1/2-plus-foot-long halibut estimated at between 254 and 265 pounds.

“It’s pretty humbling to catch a fish like that,” says Hellinger, who likened it to harvesting a trophy bull elk. “They’re pretty majestic.”

Though unofficial, the fish is within 25 to 35 pounds of the state record, caught out at Swiftsure Bank in the late 1980s.

“I was really blessed to be part of that and have my kids be there,” Hellinger adds.

They were out somewhere on the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca on Sunday, May 27.

With his daughter Aleisha Hellinger, son Caleb Hellinger and fishing partner Luke Reid all angling off the back of the 24-foot Hewescraft, Hellinger went up to the bow.

“I told the kids I was going to catch the big one,” he says.

LUKE REID, ALEISHA HELLINGER, TOM HELLINGER AND CALEB HELLINGER POSE WITH TOM’S BIG CATCH AS WELL AS LUKE AND ALEISHA’S 30- AND 40-POUNDERS FROM THE SAME TRIP. (TOM HELLINGER)

With him he took an Okuma SST halibut rod paired with a Tica reel he’d picked up on sale at a boat show and strung with 80-pound T.U.F. Line.

“The cheapest rod and reel on the boat,” Hellinger jokes in a salty three-minute video Aleisha shot.

With a whole black-label-sized herring and large pink squid on a 10/0 Gamakatsu off a spreader bar and nylon leader on the business end, he used 50 ounces of weight to keep the rig on bottom in 100-plus feet of water.

Hellinger says it was only about five minutes after he began fishing that the bait got the interest of something big.

“He set up hard on it,” Hellinger recalls. “He took 50 to 60 yards of line, just ripped it off. I had to thumb it to stop it, then set the hooks again.”

He says the fish felt solid, “like being hooked into a wall.”

TOM HELLINGER POSES WITH HIS BARNDOOR-SIZED HALIBUT, A FISH HE WAS BOTH “GRATEFUL AND THANKFUL” TO CATCH. (TOM HELLINGER)

Calling Caleb over, he handed the rod to him with some instructions.

“I’ve got a nice fish on, so work him nice and slow,” Hellinger counseled. “We’ll see what comes up.”

He said it took about 40 minutes for Caleb to bring the halibut up to the surface.

“It came up like the mothership — flat, flat as could be. Everybody had that ‘oh, my gosh’ moment. This is a barndoor.”

The initial attempt at getting a harpoon into the fish failed.

“The fish came out of the water immediately. I’ve never seen one do that. It did a 180 and ran down the side of the boat and snapped off the harpoon line,” Hellinger says.

He coached Caleb to let it run, but soon his son said he couldn’t fight it any longer and for his father to take the rod back.

“My pleasure,” Hellinger responded.

THE CREW AND THE HALIBUT. (TOM HELLINGER)

This has been a pretty good halibut season for the longtime employee of Freeland’s Nichols Brothers shipyard, with five between he, Aleisha and Reid — “five times more than usual.”

“I consider it fortunate to get one a season,” Hellinger says.

He says there have been some strings of years with none, and that with Washington’s tightly controlled fishery — with its preplanned and staggered retention days that don’t always align with good weather — he’d even been considering whether it was worthwhile any longer to chase them.

But now, with a big one on, Hellinger found a good spot along the gunnel and fought the seabeast for another 40 minutes, the fish’s movements telegraphing up the line and down the rod into his arms.

“It’s a different feel, like a magic carpet ride. When you hook up, you can feel that undulating swimming motion” that differentiates the flat-sided fish from others like large dogfish, he says.

Where the halibut had come up belly down the first time, now it rose head up as its fight waned.

They took another shot at it with the harpoon, and this time the halibut came at the boat.

“It was something else, like a whitewater event, waves coming over the gunnel,” he says.

As Reid and Caleb stood by with gaffs, Aleisha urged caution and encouragement from the boat’s roof as she took a video of the scene.

Both men then got good purchases with their meathooks, and with a three-count, they slid the halibut over the rails into the stern, where it thrashed blood over the white deck.

The celebrations began immediately with high fives, hugs, whoops of joy — and more than a little disbelief about what this was that they’d just fought out of the depths twice.

Indeed, there still be monsters here, and the Hellinger halibut is just the latest bit of evidence that also includes a series of Straits 200-pounders caught in 2010, the 11-foot Hanford Reach sturgeon, the Tripod Buck, the Scablands Buck, the Fife Buck

As they inspected the fish, Hellinger says they saw that his hook had bent to within 15 degrees of being straightened.

“If we hadn’t got him when we did …,” he says, recalling other hooks over the years that have cracked.

Hellinger admits to taking some flak on a Facebook page that he should have let the fish go. An article last year in the Peninsula Daily News by outdoor reporter Michael Carmen shows that that’s common whenever big halibut are landed here.

But this one also led a good, long life and was able to contribute to the gene pool multiple times over the decades.

Even as we’ll never know exactly how heavy Hellinger’s halibut was because of the impossibility of finding a certified scale during the back half of Memorial Day Weekend — a search detailed in the Whidbey News-Times, which broke the story of the catch — it is safe to say that based on standard length measurements for halibut, his single 78 3/4-inch-long fish accounted for more than 1% of the entire Puget Sound poundage landed over the May 11, 13, 25 and 27 openers, according to WDFW stats. It’s also more than 10 times as heavy as this season’s average flattie here.

Hellinger says its head weighed 42 pounds alone. The fish yielded 140 pounds of fillets, he told Q13, as well as 1 1/2 pounds of coveted halibut cheek meat.

“I was just really thankful and grateful,” Hellinger says. “You don’t really realize how rare that is. Big fish are rare. To be an hour from my home and catch something like that is special.”

High Waters Make For Slow Start To Pikeminnow Reward Fishery

The big spring runoff that’s flooding valleys and alfalfa fields in the upper Inland Northwest has also affected the start of the pikeminnow sport reward fishery downstream on the Lower and Mid-Columbia and Snake Rivers, but catches are expected to improve in the coming weeks.

THE PIKEMINNOW SPORT REWARD FISHERY PAYS ANGLERS TO REMOVE THE NATIVE SPECIES THAT PREYS ON SALMON AND STEELHEAD SMOLTS THAT HAVE BECOME EASIER FOR THE PISCOVORES TO CHASE DOWN IN THE COLUMBIA AND SNAKE HYDROPOWER SYSTEM’S RESERVOIRS. (WDFW)

Through June 3, anglers have caught 34,725, less than half of 2016’s start and the fewest of the past five springs to this point of the season.

“High water really hurts our catch rates, although eventually our experienced pikeminnow anglers kind of figure it out and then catch rates pick up,” notes WDFW’s Eric Winther.

He heads up the program that pays participating fishermen on the Columbia between Cathlamet and Tri-Cities, as well as the Snake below Clarkston for removing the native species that preys on salmon and steelhead smolts migrating through the hydropower system.

“The high water really messes with newer anglers trying to learn how to target pikeminnow,” he notes. “It’s hard enough to learn when conditions are good, but when you have nearly twice the flows, it can be downright discouraging.”

Flows at Bonneville Dam have ranged from 350,000 to nearly 500,000 cubic feet per second since the fishery began May 1. Average over the past 10 years is 250,000 to 325,000 cfs.

At this same point in 2017, anglers had caught 47,250 pikeminnow; in 2016, 70,691; in 2015, 63,787; and 2014, 38,745.

Still, the tally is higher than 2013 (29,970) and 2012 (26,882).

Most notably down is catch turned in at The Dalles, which last year yielded 44,667 overall but so far has only given up 9,337 through its traditionally most productive weeks of season.

“The Dalles catch is definitely off from last year,” confirms Winther. “What happened was that lots of anglers went there at the start of the season, conditions were tough, so they spread out and started looking in other areas.”

Catches at Cathlamet, Willow Grove, Rainier Kalama and Ridgefield were all up this May compared to last spring.

“Just when some people are giving up on The Dalles, the water finally starts dropping and catch rates have jumped up. Should she increasing catches for the next three to four weeks as we move into their peak spawn time and river conditions improve,” he says.

The sport reward program pays anglers from $5 to $8 per pikeminnow, with tagged ones worth $500.

So far this season, the top angler has earned $9,617 from 1,057 fish turned in.

The season runs through Sept. 30.

For more details, including fishing maps and info on three free fishing clinics coming up — including one tomorrow in Longview — check out pikeminnow.org.

Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools Fishing Report (6-5-18)

THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL ORIGINATED WITH ODFW AND WDFW AND WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Estuary [white sturgeon] update

On June 2 and 4, estuary sturgeon anglers made 2,964 trips and kept 660 white sturgeon.

DAVE ANDERSON CAUGHT THIS STURGEON IN THE COLUMBIA ESTUARY OVER THE RECENT HOLIDAY WEEKEND. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

SALMON, STEELHEAD AND SHAD

Salmonid angling was fair this past weekend in the lower Columbia River.  On Saturday’s (6/2) flight, 199 salmonid boats and 237 Oregon bank anglers were counted from Tongue Point to Bonneville Dam.  Boat anglers fishing in the Portland to St. Helens area, averaged 0.09 Chinook caught per boat, while anglers fishing from Goble to Beaver averaged 0.11 Chinook caught per boat.  Boat anglers fishing in the estuary averaged 0.15 Chinook and 0.22 steelhead caught per boat. Bank anglers fishing in both the gorge averaged 0.07 Chinook caught per bank angler, while anglers fishing the Portland to Westport area averaged 0.07 Chinook and 0.02 steelhead caught per angler.

Gorge Bank:

Weekend checking showed one adult Chinook kept for 15 salmonid anglers; and 693 shad kept for 93 shad anglers.

Gorge Boats (below Beacon Rock):

Weekend checking showed no catch for one boat (five anglers).

Troutdale Boats:

Weekend checking showed no catch for 11 salmonid boats (29 anglers); and one shad kept, plus 75 shad released for two boats (four anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank:

Weekend checking showed nine adult Chinook, one jack Chinook and four steelhead kept, plus five adult Chinook released for 208 salmonid anglers; and no catch for one shad angler.

Portland to St. Helens Boats:

Weekend checking showed one adult Chinook kept for 11 salmonid boats (22 anglers); and 14 shad kept for five shad boats (17 anglers).

Goble to Beaver (Clatskanie) Boats:

Weekend checking showed one adult Chinook kept for nine salmonid boats (22 anglers); and 72 shad kept for two shad boats (eight anglers).

Wauna Powerlines to Clatsop Spit Bank:

No report.

Westport to Buoy 10 Boats:

Weekend checking showed two adult Chinook, one jack Chinook and eight steelhead kept for 13 boats (36 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam):

No report.

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):

Weekly checking showed four adult Chinook kept for 19 bank anglers.

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam):

Weekly checking showed 11 adult Chinook and two jack Chinook kept, plus six adult Chinook released for 56 boats (151 anglers).

STURGEON

Gorge Boats:  Closed for retention.     

No report.

Troutdale Boats:  Closed for retention.

Weekend checking showed five sublegal and two oversize sturgeon released for two boats (five anglers).

Portland to Wauna Powerlines:  Closed for retention.

Weekend checking showed nine sublegal, six legal and 13 oversize sturgeon released for seven boats (24 anglers).

Wauna Powerlines to Clatsop Spit Bank:  Closed for retention.

Weekend checking showed one sublegal and three oversize sturgeon released for 19 bank anglers.

Buoy 10 to Wauna Powerlines Boats:  Closed for retention.

Weekend checking showed 195 legal white sturgeon kept, plus 321 sublegal, 294 oversize and two green sturgeon released for 196 boats (675 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam):

Closed for retention.  No report.

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):

Closed for retention.  Weekly checking showed two sublegal sturgeon released for three bank anglers.

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam):

Closed for retention.  No report.

 

WALLEYE

Bonneville Pool:

No report.

The Dalles Pool:

Weekly checking showed 87 walleye kept for 18 boats (36 anglers).

John Day Pool:

Weekly checking showed 146 walleye kept, plus 35 walleye released for 40 boats (97 anglers).

SW WA Fishing Report (6-5-18)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS CONTRIBUTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN, WDFW

Lower Cowlitz River (I-5 Br downstream) – 30 bank rods had no catch.

Upper Cowlitz River (above the I-5 Br.) – 55 bank rods kept 8 adult spring Chinook and 2 steelhead.  31 boat rods kept 2 adult spring Chinook and 14 steelhead.

Kalama River – 12 bank and 3 boat anglers released 1 steelhead.

Lewis River (mainstem) – 4 bank rods had no catch.

Lewis River (North Fork) – 15 bank rods had no catch. 5 boat rods kept 5 spring Chinook.

Wind River (mouth) – 8 boat rods kept 2 adult spring Chinook.

Drano Lake – 40 boat rods kept 16 adult spring Chinook and released 2 adult spring Chinook.

Halibut Reopening June 7, 9 In Marine Areas 3-10

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

Marine areas 3-10 to re-open for halibut fishing;
all-depth halibut fishery in Marine Area 2 to close

Action: Marine areas 3 through 10 will re-open for halibut fishing Thursday, June 7, and Saturday, June 9.

ANDIE HOLMBERG SPORTS A BIG SMILE AFTER LANDING HER FIRST-EVER HALIBUT, CAUGHT OFF FRESHWATER BAY NEAR PORT ANGELES. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

In Marine Area 2, the all-depth halibut fishery is closed effective immediately while the nearshore fishery will open seven days per week beginning Saturday, June 2.

Effective dates and locations:

Marine Areas 3-10: Open recreational halibut fishing Thursday, June 7, and Saturday, June 9.

Marine Area 2 (Westport): Close the all-depth fishery effective immediately; open the nearshore area seven days per week beginning Saturday, June 2.

Species affected: Pacific halibut

Reason for action: There is sufficient quota remaining to continue the recreational halibut fishery in Marine Areas 3 and 4 (Neah Bay and La Push) and the Puget Sound region (Marine Areas 5 – 10) on Thursday, June 7, and Saturday, June 9, without risk of exceeding the quota.

Through May 27, the total catch in the all-depth recreational halibut fishery in Marine Area 2 was 41,258 pounds, which is 93 percent of the quota and does not leave sufficient quota to open the all-depth halibut fishery for another day. However, some quota is reserved in this area to allow for a nearshore recreational halibut fishery once the all-depth fishery is closed. The nearshore area will open to recreational halibut fishing on Saturday, June 2, seven days per week until the quota is taken.

The quota will be adjusted to include the remaining quota from the all-depth fishery.

Other information: The nearshore halibut fishery in Marine Area 1 remains open seven days per week until further notice.

These rules conform to management actions taken by the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Information contact: Heather Reed, (360) 902-2487.

Salmon Season–Think Resident Coho–Opens Friday In Parts Of Sound

I’ll admit, I’ve been more of an angler who looks to the Sky than the sea when June 1 rolls around, but not this year.

I’ve been giddy since North of Falcon wrapped up back in mid-April about the upcoming salmon opener on Marine Area 10.

HUNGRY RESIDENT COHO CAN PROVIDE GOOD FISHING IN PUGET SOUND. THIS ONE ATE A SHINER PERCH BEFORE GOING AFTER THE BLOGGER’S BUZZ BOMB. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Coho are fair game in the salt off Seattle, Shoreline, Bainbridge Island and much of the Kitsap Peninsula, as well as Area 11, starting Friday, so you won’t find me up at Reiter Ponds or Cable chasing early hatchery summer steelhead tomorrow morning.

Rather, I’ll be down where the rocks are a little more worn, casting off the beach for resident silvers.

Let’s just get this out of the way now: These salmon are definitely not the size of their ocean-returning cousins that come back in September and October.

But they are snappy, can be plentiful and are definitely pretty tasty.

COHO FILLETS FILL MOST OF THE BLOGGER’S WIFE’S SMALLEST BAKING SHEET. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW and the Squaxin Island Tribe cooperate to release as many as 1.8 million of these coho annually. The salmon are reared at state hatcheries and then transported to the tribe’s netpens way down in deepest Area 13, where they imprint and return to after 18 months.

Can’t say I’m any kind of expert on how to catch ’em — we’ll get to some sharper anglers’ tips here in a bit — but I’ve become increasingly confident off my local beach.

Mainly I huck 21/2-inch chrome Buzz Bombs rigged with a bumper and slightly offset double 1/0 barbless octopus hooks, but will occasionally jump up to the 3X size when I want to get some more distance.

BESIDES BUZZ BOMBS, ANGLERS USE CLOUSER MINNOWS, BROKEN-LIPPED RAPALAS, SPOONS AND OTHER BAIT-IMITATING LURES TO GET RESIDENT COHO TO BITE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

I  also use the diamond-shaped jigs in blue or green pearl, and holographic patterns. Pink has worked in the past as well.

Sometimes I add a Gold Star hoochies to the back end of the rig, and for this season, I got a mess of 2 1/8-inch octopus and 4-inch needlefish skirts from Yo-Zuri that I’m going to try from time to time (especially when Chinook opens in mid-July).

One resident coho I caught from shore last year had a shiner perch in its tummy, so I might try adding some Hyper-Vis+ tape to some Bombs to get that effect.

Cast out, reel up the slack and start jerking the lure back in, reeling down, jerking, reeling down, etc., back to the beach. You don’t really want it down on the bottom, where the hook(s) might snag up on whatever.

I’ve found morning is far better than evening, but there’s no need to be on the beach at the buttcrack of dawn, thank god. There’s a relation to high and low tides, but it isn’t absolute.

Eelgrass and seaweed can be a pain at times as patches of schmutz eddy past.

The Seattle side of Area 10 has a fair amount of public beach access, including Lincoln Park, Alki, West Point, Golden Gardens, Carkeek Park and Richmond Beach, but wading into the waves isn’t the only way to catch ’em.

Northwest Sportsman columnists Jason Brooks and Terry Wiest from down Area 11 way talked about the how-tos from a boat for me recently.

Wrote Brooks for his South Sound article:

COHO AND EVEN resident Chinook can be found at various current breaks, beaches and kelp beds throughout the South Sound. Anglers with boats can launch at the many public and private launches, but Point Defiance and Gig Harbor in Area 11 seem to be most popular. The Point Defiance Boat House also rents small boats with a kicker motor that are perfect for hitting the famed nearby fishing grounds of the Clay Banks and Owen Beach, on the north side of the Tacoma peninsula.

TO TARGET THE coho, as well as sea-run cutthroat, troll small spoons such as the Cripplure by Mack’s, with the treble switched to a size 6 Gamakatsu siwash, or a small Coyote by Luhr Jensen.

A lightweight kokanee or trout rod can make this a very exciting fishery in early June. By midmonth switch over to longer rods, as the resident coho will be putting on weight and some transient fish will begin to show.

Anglers who prefer to fish from the beach have several options in the South Sound. Narrows Park puts you on the long gravel edge of Puget Sound near the bridges on the Gig Harbor side. Another is Sunnyside Beach Park in Steilacoom, at the outlet to Chambers Bay. Penrose State Park is known for its sea-run cutthroat fishing. And if you can find access to a beach on Harstine Island, you will be in a prime location for the Squaxin coho and some native cutts.

Wrote Wiest for his Westsider piece:

With Puget Sound’s ocean-going kings and silvers still out at sea, salmon opportunities are light in June – light outside of the sometimes lights-out resident coho bite, that is.

True, these aren’t big fish – I’d bet they average only a couple of pounds – but they are salmon and they will give you a good fight on light gear in Areas 10, 11 and 13, Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia.

There are two primary ways to target them, from the bank and from a boat. Fly fishermen kill it on the banks using herring patterns. These fish are generally well within casting distance with a two-handed rod. The key here is to vary the speed you strip in with to see what draws a strike.

Buzz Bombs also work from the bank, quite effectively too. Those in white, white and blue, and all-chrome earn attention from coho, which are not slow about hitting them. These fish are higher in the water column, so let the lure settle into the salt only a few seconds before starting your retrieve. The retrieve is not a steady one, but rather a jerk, reel in the slack, jerk, reel in the slack, etc., back to the beach.

From a boat, red-label herring is my favorite, run either with a Silver Horde original Kokanee Hammered dodger or just naked (I prefer the dodger myself). Plugcut the herring, but if you’re good at rigging them, a whole herring can be even better. The key is a super-tight, super-fast drill-bit-type spin.

Another effective way to attract these fish is with a herring spinner, basically a fillet of herring with the same angle as a cut-plug herring at the top so it spins tight. Use super-sticky-sharp hooks, which you should anyway, but with the spinner, there won’t be much to retain the herring once a fish hits. It’s either all or nothing as far as hooking up.

I generally use 2 ounces of lead with 50 feet of line out, as I don’t want my presentation too far below the surface. I run 8- to 12-pound leader with 15-pound mainline between the sinker and the dodger if using one. I like Gamakatsu barbless hooks in red, size 2/0 on the front hook, 1/0 on the trailing hook.

In Area 10, the areas I’d concentrate on include Jefferson Head, Golden Gardens and Duwamish Head. The last is a favorite spot of mine and is basically two minutes from the Don Armeni ramp. Troll in an oval pattern about a quarter of a mile down the Alki side, then come back and go another quarter of a mile towards downtown Seattle. This half-mile stretch almost never lets me down.

I’d stick to the north end of Area 11. Des Moines, Dash Point and Browns Point produce good numbers. Concentrate on water no deeper than 120 feet and, again, stick to the top 20 feet with your gear. The shoreline is your friend. Des Moines and Dash Point are favorites for Buzz Bombers.

On the west side of Puget Sound, Olalla is a fantastic spot for these residential beauties, especially for those tossing a fly or a Buzz Bomb from shore. That’s not to say boaters can’t target this hotspot either, but personally I’d try the aforementioned spots.

The daily limit in both Marine Area 10 and 11 is up to two coho. As always, barbless hooks are required.

Salmon Fishing Closures Announced In BC Waters Across From Washington

Canadian salmon managers have announced a series of closures and reduced Chinook limits in British Columbia saltwaters across from Washington and up the coast, bids to help out orca whales and conserve fish stocks.

A large swath of the northern half of the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Renfrew — opposite Neah Bay — to just west of Sooke — across from the Joyce area west of Port Angeles — will be closed to all salmon and finfish angling from June 1 to September 30.

(DFO)

Waters northwest of Orcas Island in the Gulf Islands and off the mouth of the Fraser River will also see Chinook closures.

(DFO)

“These measures include closures that will help increase the availability of this critical food source for southern resident killer whales,” the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said in a statement. “The closures will take place in three key foraging (feeding) areas.”

While the goal is to reduce fishing boat traffic, it wasn’t clear what might be being done about all the other vessels using the same waters.

DFO also announced that daily limits are being chopped in half on the north coast.

Overall, Canada’s two-pronged move aims to reduce commercial and recreational catches by 25 to 35 percent to boost numbers of kings returning to southern BC’s Fraser River and northern BC’s Skeena, Nass and other streams.

On the former front, it’s part of an international effort to help out struggling orcas.

(DFO)

It follows Washington’s closure of Chinook retention in the San Juan Islands in September, a good month to fish for Fraser-bound fish that are also preyed on by orcas.

WDFW also implemented new voluntary go-go zones along the west side of San Juan Island, a key feeding area for the giant marine mammals, but which were panned by a local angler as a feel-good move that doesn’t address root causes of the orcas’ plight — too few Chinook anymore.

DFO’s moves were also met with skepticism from the Sport Fishing Institute of BC.

“It is clear to see that decisions have been made to appear as though they will make a significant difference to the recovery of SRKW although there is little or no evidence of this,” the organization said in a statement. “While the recreational community has indicated a willingness to participate in measures that can lead to recovery of Chinook (and SRKW), the measures announced today are much more restrictive than the department itself explained was necessary to satisfy conservation objectives.”

SFI said that habitat, predator and “strategic enhancement” work for Fraser Chinook has “gone no where (sic)” and asked whether DFO really thought it could restore runs through the “now tiny exploitation rate associated with recreational fishing? Chinook and all those that depend on them deserve solutions and investment.”

Reacting to the developments, Nootka Marine, located further up the west coast of Vancouver Island from the closure zone, tweeted out a link to regulations for Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlet.

DFO says the Straits, Gulf and Fraser mouth closures will be monitored “to assess the effectiveness.”

A WDFW official says besides the state’s closing of September Chinook retention and the voluntary stay-away areas, no more fishing measures to benefit orcas are anticipated to be implemented this year.