Tag Archives: fishing

New Book Tells Story Of Woman Who Co-owned Rivers Inlet Salmon Fishing Resort

Each December we feature the Real Women of Northwest Fishing, and recently British Columbia fishing resort owner Pat Ardley wrote a book about her many years running the lodge with her husband George.

Grizzlies, Gales and Giant Salmon: Life at a Rivers Inlet Fishing Lodge is “the story of a woman who overcame her fears and stepped far outside her realm of comforts, as well as a touching tribute to raising a family and life in BC’s secluded wilderness,” according to Harbour Publishing, which published Ardley’s book last month.


It is available through Amazon and elsewhere.

The following is excerpted by permission from Harbour Publishing.

by Pat Ardley

Our First Crossing

The front of the boat plowed into the huge swell of water, and the wave crashed over the bow, washed up and over the windshield and along the top. I was cringing in my seat, holding on for dear life. We rose up on the next swell and the water moved on, leaving our boat suspended in air. We crashed down into the hollow between swells and the entire thirty- foot length shuddered as it seemed to haul itself back up for breath. I kept wondering how long this boat could take such pounding. The waves were relentless. How long can I take this pounding? I’m sorry, Mom, kept going around and around in my head.


We were running the boat from Finn Bay to Port Hardy for John Buck. He had headed out in his smaller and faster speedboat and was possibly already in town. There had been a terrible storm over the last few days and the fifteen-foot swell was what was left of it as we headed out early in the morning. Because of the poor water condition, we had to go very slow, with the speed barely registering, and we had about fifty miles to travel across Queen Charlotte Sound, which was open water all the way to Japan. By the time we were almost halfway across, the wind started to strengthen and there was a large chop on top of the swells. I wanted to go back. George couldn’t turn the boat around or we would have been swamped between the swells. We were already going as slow as he dared to go but we had to keep some forward speed to control the direction of the boat and keep it from wallowing and possibly sinking. At this point I was thinking, If I die out here, Dad’s going to kill me! Wave after wave crashed over us, and the boat shuddered and shook, squealed and groaned. Or was that last part just me? I couldn’t tell anymore.


While I can’t say that George was exactly happy that we were in this predicament, he was very confident in his ability, and he viewed the waves and swell as a challenge. He has a profound sense that boats are made to float while I had simply acquired a pathological fear of boats and water and drowning. I could taste it. Salty and desperate and I’m sorry Mom, if I’d known this could happen I would never have agreed to be here! The water was a dark, angry grey, and now large whitecaps were forming on top of the waves on top of the swells.

When the waves washed over the top there was a feeling that the boat was going down. Tons of water held the boat like a huge hand pushing down on us. We didn’t talk, we couldn’t talk. The noise of the wind and waves was thunderous. The wind shrieked in the crack in the window that I kept trying to push closed but most of the time couldn’t coordinate with all the jerking and crashing. I kept trying because salt water was forcing its way in with each wave and I was getting soaked with freezing cold water. We pounded with every wave and now the tops were being blown off the whitecaps. Tops are blown off when the wind is over thirty-five miles per hour. “Please make this stop!” was now my mantra. I said it over and over, mixed with “Please send me a skyhook that can pluck me out of this boat and put me on dry land!”


There were no other boats out here. Everyone else must have listened to the weather report. No one crosses the sound when a storm is forecast, which is something I know now, but especially not in a slow boat. The weather can change a lot in the six hours that a normal trip would take. And it did. When we rose to the top of a swell I could just make out the lighthouse on Pine Island through the mist. I knew that just ahead of Pine Island was a stretch called the Storm Islands and then the relative safety of Goletas Channel. I had to hold on for a while yet. I dug down deep inside me and brought out more reserves of strength and determination and started deep-breathing to maintain control of myself so I didn’t end up a pool of jellyfish sloshing around on the floor of the boat. Then I started singing in my head. I was too worn out and still being slammed around to be able to sing out loud. I sang every word to every Christmas song and every folk song and every pop tune that I could remember, and then I sang them again. This deep-breathing and singing is what I now call my “safe place,” which I have gone to many times over the years to get through some pretty harrowing situations.


We were passing Pine Island very slowly, and we were making very little headway. But wave by wave we plowed our way forward and headed into what I hoped would be the relief of Goletas Channel. There is a lighthouse at Scarlett Point, right at the corner of Christie Pass, which leads into Goletas Channel, and as we passed it I could see several people waving encouragement to us from the deck of the tower. The water was different here, with very little swell, but the waves were higher and coming faster. I had hoped for a feeling of safety when we turned into the channel but we were still in danger. We were no longer dropping heavily between swells, but now we were crashing and crashing through the waves. The sky started darkening, and I felt my heart plunge again. How can we do this in the dark?


The last hour of the trip from the channel into Hardy Bay and finally to the dock was agonizingly slow. Every bone in my body was aching, I could hardly hold my head up and I was numb and chilled to the bone. I had not even been able to reach for anything to put over my shoulders to fight the frigid onslaught of spray. It was pitch dark until we turned the corner into the bay and could see the lights of Port Hardy, nestled safely onshore. George’s eyes were fried from focusing so hard on the water and his arms were ready to fall off. Later we discovered a blister that covered his whole hand from working the throttle for twelve gruelling hours. We finally tied up at the government wharf in Port Hardy and stumbled up the dock.

What kind of life had I gotten myself into?

How To Catch Rogue Mouth Chinook

By Buzz Ramsey

If the predictions are correct, and depending on how many Chinook were harvested in the ocean before now, there could be as many as 400,000 Rogue-bound salmon returning to this famous Southern Oregon river. That’s a lot of fish for a river this size, one that originates in the mountains south of Crater Lake, flows past the outskirts of Medford and through Grants Pass before continuing its journey through the Rogue Canyon to the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach.

With a big forecasted Chinook return this year, the Rogue Bay at Gold Beach should be on your radar. Anglers troll from just above the Highway 101 bridge down to the jetties for salmon holding in the cool, ocean-influenced waters. (WILDRIVERSFISHING.COM)

And while Rogue River kings come in all sizes, a few lucky anglers take home 40- to 50-pounders every year. I’m reminded of our son Blake, now in his mid-20s, catching his very first salmon in late summer many years ago here. After a tussle that included his reel falling off the rod and realizing we had no landing net (somehow it blew out of the boat) we ran our craft into the shore where Blake finally beached the fat salmon. Excited, we thought it was 40 pounds; as it turned out, it was 35. Not bad for a boy just 6 years old!

AS YOU MIGHT imagine, the waters of the Rogue get warm in the summer, so warm (it can reach 70-plus degrees) that it mostly stalls the upstream migration of fall Chinook. This causes the salmon to linger in the Rogue Bay, where they wait for temps to cool before beginning to move towards the river’s headwaters.

The fish typically move upstream on the flood tide, but once they encounter the warm river water at the head end of the bay – just upstream from the Highway 101 bridge – they put on the brakes and retreat back into the lower bay, and likely into the ocean, as the tide ebbs.

Blake Ramsey, now in his mid-20s, earned a Rogue River Chinook Salmon Club pin after catching this 35-pounder as a 6-year-old fishing off his dad Buzz’s boat near the bay’s mouth. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Each daily tide, especially big ones, add more and more Chinook to the massive salmon school accumulating in the Rogue Bay. It’s this concentration of fish that results in an annual sport harvest of more than 5,000 fat salmon and draws anglers from around the region to take part in the bounty.

For trollers, the hottest action starts at the jaws when the tide is out, and progresses up the bay as the water floods eastward. The peak bite usually occurs two hours before full flood tide, right in front of Jot’s Resort, which is located on the north side of the river just downstream from the bridge.

Many guides and anglers troll upstream when tides are flooding and downstream as the tide ebbs. Others troll both directions, up and down the bay, when the tide is flooding and back-troll when a big tide causes the current to run. According to guide Sam Waller (541-247-6676), it’s pretty much anything goes when it comes to trolling direction.

The typical trolling outfit consists of a free-sliding weight set-up, flasher, 18-inch weight-dropper-line, and 5- to 6-foot leader with an anchovy, herring, spinner or spinner-and-anchovy combination on the end. The most popular spinner sizes consist of a CV 7 or equivalent size 4 or 5 Hildebrandt and/or 5½ Mulkey or Toman.

Anchovies are king in this fishery, and the baitfish is best rigged with a size 4 spinner blade and trolled so they spin tightly. (WILDRIVERSFISHING.COM)

As for spinner blades used in combination with an anchovy, a size 4 Hildebrandt in genuine 24K gold plate finish is the most popular and many believe the most productive. In most cases 2 to 3 ounces of weight is what works. If the tide is running hard, you may need 4 or 5 ounces.

For best results keep your speed medium to fast and, if possible, troll in a zigzag pattern with your gear just off the bottom, which is where the coolest water and most biting salmon are found. If the bay is crowded, zigzag trolling may not be possible, even though there are times it’s the most effective.

UNLIKE MANY SALMON fisheries in the Northwest, where herring is the most popular and productive bait, most Rogue anglers fish anchovies. The fact is, there are some days the fish prefer herring over anchovies but still the overall ratio is about 90 percent anchovies.

If you fish an anchovy, you may increase your success by rigging it in combination with a spinner blade. Although there are several presnelled rigs available, you can rig your own.

The components you will need for this include a selection of size 4 spinner blades, beads, plastic clevis, old-style paper clips, and selection of single (sizes 1 and 2) and treble hooks (sizes 1 and 2). The single hook is normally snelled as a slip-tie, so you can place a bend in your anchovy causing it to spin; the trailing treble is half hitched to a loop at the end of your leader. The idea here is to use a threader to pull the loop end of your leader through the bait, reattach the treble and place one prong of the treble into the spine of the bait near its tail.

According to professional fishing guide and longtime local angler Andy Martin (206-388-8988), it’s important to angle the head and tail of your anchovy downward when trolling, as doing so will yield the tight spin these kings like best.

The small single hook, rigged as a slider, is then inserted into the head of the anchovy from the bottom up. Some anglers will hold the mouth and gills of their anchovy closed with a thin rubber band, while others use an old-style paper clip reshaped into a “U” to keep the mouth of the bait closed. It’s then that you close the distance between the hooks such that the bait will have a slight bend so it will exhibit a tight spin when trolled. For best results your bait should spin once every second or second and a half.

Many anglers have switched from employing a wire spreader to a free-sliding weight dropper set-up so that if your sinker becomes tangled in the net, the fish can take off without breaking the line.

The Rogue’s known for putting out big kings, though most average 15 to 25 pounds. The fall fishery kicks off in July and has peaked in August in recent years; in 2016, the last year harvest data was available, the river below Elephant Rock just upstream of the bridge yielded 5,078 Chinook. (WILDRIVERSFISHING.COM)

IF YOU HAVE a boat capable of trolling, even a cartopper, this is a fishery you can easily handle, as the water is calm compared to larger rivers and saltwater. The public ramp’s on the ba’s south side, at the Port of Gold Beach; $3 covers launching and parking.

While you may catch a fat Chinook weighing in at 50 pounds or more, most average 15 to 25 pounds. If you do land a fish over 30, take it to Jot’s Resort where they will award you a Rogue River Chinook Salmon Club pin. Our son Blake got one after weighing in his 35-pounder taken near where the Rogue enters the ocean.

For fishing tackle, bait, guides, and local info, contact the Rogue Outdoor Store (541-247-7142) or Jot’s (541-247-6676). NS

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

Team OpporTUNAty Wins Ilwaco Leg Of Oregon Tuna Classic

by Del Stephens, Oregon Tuna Classic

The Deep Canyon Challenge, the first leg of the Garmin Oregon Tuna Classic Tournament Series, is in the books for another year and as challenging as it was going 70 miles to catch fish the event as a whole was a huge success thanks to some great sponsors and a lot of loyal participants.


The Ilwaco Tuna Club member teams took the top three positions then had a strong showing sweeping all but a few of the remaining top 10 spots.


The evening events started right out on a high when Navy Petty Officer 1st. class retired Generald Wilson sang the national anthem to a standing crowd in awe of his voice. He recently sang the anthem for Game 3 of the NBA finals and we were very fortunate to get him to come to both our events this year.


The live auction, bead games and bucket raffles generated well over $60,000 in cash and after expenses will be distributed to the local food banks.

The total amount of fish donated was 4,850 pounds of tuna. There were 52 teams registered and only 27 of them turned in fish.


The next event is quickly approaching and will happen August 24th and 25th with the season finale in Garibaldi where we will crown a series champion. The tournaments have returned to a series again and will only crown one champion this year. The final standings are listed below.

# Team Name Total
1 OpporTUNAty 139.5
2 Team Duckworth 138.65
3 Beastmode- Team Northriver 134.55
4 Fat Cat 130.1
5 Team Scarab 129.7
6 Open Wide and Swallow This 128.25
7 Team Fourtunate 127.4
8 Team Clemensea 126.9
9 Long Shot 125.65
10 GangfishKhan / Smak Plastic 123.75
11 Tuna Quest 123.65
12 Shake and Bake 122.95
13 Fast Cat 122.2
14 Aqua Dominion 121.9
15 2- Dogs 120.95
16 Reel Therapy 120.05
17 Mark Youngblood Sportfishing 118.25
18 Eat Me Lures 117.85
19 Team Fish Witch 117.7
20 Seaworthy 116.55
21 Team Fat Albacore 108.35
22 Starboard Strong 103.2
23 No Quarter Given 95.55
24 Car 54- Team Northriver 83.7
25 ILWU 79.9
26 Team All Spa 50.65
27 Mousture Missile 22.8

Areas 1, 4 Closing To Salmon Fishing After This Weekend


Action: Close Marine Areas 1 and 4 to salmon fishing beginning Monday, Aug. 13.


Effective date: Aug. 13, 2018.

Species affected: Salmon.

Location:  Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) and Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay).

Reason for action: Estimates indicate that anglers will reach quotas for coho salmon in areas 1 and 4. Closing the salmon fisheries early will help ensure compliance with conservation requirements.

Recreational fisheries in both areas would have needed to close prior to Aug. 13 had it not been for transfers of quota by the commercial troll fishery, allowing recreational angling to continue through the end of the day, Sunday, Aug. 12.

Sufficient quota remains for both chinook and coho in marine areas 2 (Westport) and 3 (La Push) to remain open.

Additional information: While Marine Area 1 is open, anglers fishing there can retain two salmon, only one of which can be a chinook but must release wild coho. While Marine Area 4 is open, anglers fishing west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line have a two-salmon daily limit but must release chum and wild coho, while those fishing east of the line have a two-salmon limit but must release chum, chinook and wild coho.

The daily limit in Marine Areas 2 remains two salmon, no more than one of which may be a chinook, release wild coho. The daily limit in Marine Area 3 remains two salmon, release wild coho.


Columbia At Deschutes Mouth, Lower Half Mile Of Trib Closing To All Fishing


The Columbia River around the mouth of the Deschutes River will close to all fishing, including catch-and-release, beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 9 in order to protect summer steelhead that may be utilizing the cooler water provided by this tributary.


At their Aug. 3 meeting, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission directed ODFW staff to amend fishing regulations for the Columbia River near the Deschutes and in the lower Deschutes from the mouth upstream to Moody Rapids. The direction included closing this area to all fishing until river temperatures have stabilized below 68 F. ODFW staff will continue to monitor river temperatures and run sizes throughout the fall to determine when the area can be reopened. This is unlikely to occur prior to late-September.

The closed areas will be:

  1. All waters south of a straight line projecting from the flashing red USCG light #2 upstream to the lower South Channel Range B marker located approximately 3/4-mile upstream of the mouth of the Deschutes;
  2. The lower Deschutes River from the mouth upstream to markers placed on the downstream end of Moody Rapids.


Concerns about the vulnerability of fish to fishing pressure in the mouths of some tributaries of the Columbia River were sparked by the historically low returns of Snake River-bound summer steelhead in 2017. At that time the states of Oregon and Washington adopted unprecedented restrictions to several fisheries to reduce mortality on these fish.

In June 2018, ODFW staff outlined for the Commission a plan to take a comprehensive look at potential thermal sanctuaries throughout the Columbia River. That review process will include a series of public meetings in the fall of 2018 followed by rulemaking in early 2019.

WA Commission To Look At Fee Proposals, Long-term Funding Plan

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission members will hear in the coming days how WDFW staffers want to balance a looming budget shortfall now estimated at $32.9 million as well as put the agency on a more stable financial footing in the future.

While anglers and hunters will focus on the proposed fee increases — 12 to 15 percent across-the-board hikes or a $10 surcharge — what’s notable is that sportsman dollars would become supplementary to a wider foundation of funding, a “transformative concept.”

“The goal is for 50% or more of the Department’s funding to come from a sustainable, reliable, broad?based revenue source. Currently approximately 18% of the Department’s spending is from the general fund,” reads a recommendation from WDFW’s draft long-term funding presentation to the citizen panel.

It came out of the multistakeholder Budget and Policy Advisory group and is described as a “first step” and “set of ideas” to build upon.

But as 2019-21 legislative proposals are drawn up, the agency’s $65.4 million request does lean more heavily on the General Fund than in the past — approximately two-thirds GF-S, one third user fees.

Figures posted for the commission meeting show that the one-time annual surcharge bowhunters, clam diggers and salmon moochers would pay if lawmakers approve next year would raise $20.3 million, the 15 percent hike $18.9 million and 12 percent $16.1 million.

With the failed Wild Futures Initiative in 2016-17, sportsmen bore the entire lift of the package, and coming out of the Great Recession in 2010 one top manager told me WDFW was “making a concerted effort to make itself less dependent on the General Fund.”

The agency’s funding issues are “structural” in that state appropriations, license revenues and ESA requirements are not keeping up with the costs. Last year, after giving it a $10 milllion bump from the General Fund instead of approving Wild Futures, the legislature ordered WDFW to undergo reviews and perform a zero-based budget analysis. It has also identified several million in cuts and efficiencies.

The $65.4 million would go towards maintaining and enhancing fishing and hunting, with $45.5 million from the General Fund, $16.4 million from the license-supported Wildlife Account and $3.6 from the Columbia River endorsement, which needs to be renewed by lawmakers.

After the proposed fee increases were revealed last month, a survey was posted online, and as of the end of July, 556 people had responded.

According to WDFW, 75 percent said that the agency should be supported by the General Fund and that “general taxes should contribute more.”

Other results showed:

• 48% were “very unlikely” to support a fee increase
• 43% prefer across-the-board fee increase while 47% prefer the surcharge
• 62% supportive if no fees, pursue GF-S request

The survey is still up, and you can also comment on them in person this Thursday in Olympia when the commission convenes. Public testimony will be taken during presentations on the proposed 2019-21 operating budget.

The meeting continues Friday with the potential for commission action later in the afternoon.

19.45-lb Chinook Wins 17th Annual South King County PSA Derby

Paul Whitson was the runaway winner at this past Saturday’s well-attended 17th Annual South King County Puget Sound Anglers Derby.


His 19.45-pound Chinook was 5 pounds heavier than the two next closest fish, and scored him $3,500.

Terry Wiest, one of the event’s organizers, says it was the biggest of 100 weighed during a “huge turnout” of nearly 400 participants.

He estimates that 80 percent of the salmon were landed on spoons, 20 percent on hoochies, and though Areas 10 and 13 were included in the fishing zone, Area 11 dominated.

“Most fish at Pt. Defiance and Owens Beach, right off the bottom,” Wiest notes.

The catch was also up over 2017, when 72 salmon were weighed in.

In the kids division, Bryce Johnson came in first with a 14.50-pounder, scoring $300.

Columbia At Tri-Cities Closing For Salmon Fishing

With the lower Yakima running as hot as the ocean off Maui in recent days and preventing sockeye from migrating upstream, state managers are closing the Columbia at Tri-Cities to salmon fishing.


The closure begins Monday and affects the big river between the Highway 395 and I-182 bridges through Aug. 15.

WDFW says the thermal block makes sockeye bound for the upper Yakima Basin more “vulnerable to over harvest” as they stage in the cooler waters of the Columbia waiting for temperatures in their natal stream to drop.

The Yakama Nation has been working to restore sockeye runs in the watershed.

It’s the first warm water closure in Washington this year and follows on a hoot owl restriction on a portion of Oregon’s North Umpqua announced yesterday and closures around tribs on parts of the mainstem Umpqua that went into effect in July.

According to a Department of Ecology statewide conditions report sent out yesterday, the Yakima at Prosser has “often exceeded 80 degrees during the month of July — similar to conditions found off shore of the Hawaiian Islands.”

A USGS gauge shows the river at the Kiona station hit more than 86 degrees July 27.

DOE reports that water temps from 73 to 77 “are considered lethal.”

The last time it was so hot that Northwest fishery managers were forced to restrict angling was during the summer of 2015, at the height of The Blob, but according to DOE, 12 of the 30 hottest daily readings at Prosser recorded since 1990 happened last month.

Nice Coho Biting North Of Columbia Mouth

In a week that marked the opening of the Buoy 10 fall salmon fishery, some anglers enjoyed pretty good coho success on nearby ocean waters.


“I was impressed with the size of the fish. They were as big as they usually are at the end of August,” reported Buzz Ramsey a day after trolling to the mouth of the Columbia.

He and three other fishermen fishing with guide Bill Monroe Jr. limited on hatchery coho in the 7- and 8-pound range.

“By the time Labor Day rolls around, they’re going to be pretty nice fish,” Ramsey says.

It’s believed that coho pack as much as a pound a week on this time of year in preparation for their spawning runs.


Ramsey reports they were running anchovies and cut-plug herring behind Fish Flashes, with the BMK, or Bill Monroe Killer, finish and the latter bait working best.

With overcast skies in the morning and the coho on top, he says that they only had to run out 12 to 15 feet of line at first, but gradually more to get deeper as the day brightened.

He says it was a roughly 60-40 split between clipped and unclipped silvers.

“We had a couple doubles,” Ramsey says.

Just under 214,000 coho are expected to the Columbia, nearly as many as actually returned last year.


While no fall kings were welcomed aboard the boat that day, it’s a different story inside.

“Terry Mulkey got four nice Chinook that morning and three the day before,” Ramsey reports .

The longtime guide was fishing the outgoing tide around the Astoria-Megler Bridge.

Fishery managers expect a return of 375,000 fall kings to Buoy 10 this season, roughly half of the average over the past decade.

Because fewer upriver brights are coming back, there’s a lower harvest rate on the stock, and so the daily limit at the mouth of the Columbia is just one salmonid — Chinook, hatchery coho, or hatchery steelhead through Aug. 24.

After that date, Chinook retention is scheduled to close but the daily limit rises to two salmonids, but only one hatchery steelhead.

Limits and closing dates have also been tweaked in the Lower and Mid-Columbia. ODFW lays them out here.

Ramsey reminds anglers who might venture onto the Pacific for coho to cross the bar a couple hours into the incoming flood tide.

“When the tide’s going out, it can be rough and really buck up,” he warns.

New ODFW Electronic Licensing System Launching For 2019 Will Save $2 Million/year, Agency says


ODFW will launch a new electronic licensing system (ELS) on Dec. 1, 2018 with the sale of 2019 licenses and tags.


With the new system, hunters and anglers can choose to carry their documents electronically (on their smart phone or tablet) and tag fish and wildlife with a mobile app that will work even offline. Or, customers can continue to use paper documents, but will be able to print licenses and tags directly from home using regular paper.

Customers will also still have the option of purchasing licenses and tags at license sale agents (incl. ODFW offices), but no special paper or computer equipment will be needed by these businesses.

The new system is expected to save $2 million annually, thanks to the elimination of specialty paper and computer equipment and overall lower cost of the system.

“Customers have been asking for the ability to carry tags on their mobile phones and for a more mobile-friendly system,” said Curt Melcher, ODFW Director. “We’re pleased this new system will bring both cost savings and an improved customer experience for Oregon’s hunters and anglers.”

ODFW recently published a FAQ about the new system, which covers topics including how to protect paper tags from the elements and tag fish and wildlife electronically. Find the FAQ at, https://myodfw.com/articles/odfws-new-electronic-licensing-system-els and see below.

ODFW’s new Electronic Licensing System (ELS)

Frequently Asked Questions

ODFW’s new electronic licensing system (ELS) will allow customers to store their licenses, tags and validations online on their smart phone or tablet. Customers can also choose to carry paper documents, but will be able to purchase and print these documents from home using regular paper. The new system will also allow for electronic tagging of fish and game using an app that will work even when offline.

When will the new ELS system take effect?

The new system including a mobile app for smartphones and tablets will launch Dec. 1, 2018, when 2019 license sales begin. Some additional functionalities to the system will come later.

Will I still be able to buy licenses and tags at the store and at ODFW offices?

Yes, but stores and offices will not need special computer equipment or paper. They will use the Internet and regular printer paper.

Is the cost of tags and licenses changing due to the new system?

No. Also, customers who have been purchasing documents online or by mail/fax order and receiving them by mail will no longer need to pay a $2 shipping/handling fee because these documents can now be printed at home.

Why is ODFW doing this?

To provide better service to customers, reduce our operating costs and modernize our licensing system. Customers will be able to buy and print their documents directly from home, 24 hours a day, without waiting for them to be mailed like under the current system. Or, customers can choose to buy and immediately use an electronic document, keeping licenses/tags/validations on their smartphone instead of in their pockets. The move to the new system is expected to save $2 million per year, thanks to the elimination of specialty paper and computer equipment and overall lower cost of the system. The system will also allow ODFW and Oregon State Police to look up licensing information while in the field and offline, which is not possible under the current system.

Will the tags/validations I print hold up as well as the specialized paper from the old system?

Yes, with a little extra care, such as keeping them in a Ziploc/plastic bag or some other waterproof carrier.

How do I tag a big game animal or turkey in the new system?

It depends on which option you select at time of tag purchase:

Paper tag: Validate your tag by writing in ink the harvest date/time and Wildlife Management Unit where the harvest occurred. Place paper tag in a plastic bag to protect it from the elements and attach it to the carcass.

Electronic tag (cell phone or tablet): Validate your tag electronically with an app that will work even when offline. Then take the confirmation number from the app plus your name, ODFW ID, Date of Birth, harvest date and write it on anything that will stand up to the elements (like duct tape, trail ribbon or piece of paper in plastic bag), affix it to the animal like a traditional tag and keep it attached to the carcass in transport, as you would a paper tag.

Note that for other fish and wildlife requiring tagging (Western Ore. fee pheasant and salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, halibut), hunters and anglers who choose electronic tagging will only need to record their harvest in the app, which works when you are offline.

How do I record my salmon/steelhead/sturgeon/halibut (combined angling tag)?

Paper tag: Validate your angling tag or harvest card by writing in ink all required information like the species code, mark if hatchery or wild fish (for salmon and steelhead), the location code of where the fish was harvested, the month and the date.

Electronic tag: Use the app that will work even when offline and provide required information.

What happens if my phone dies and I can’t show my electronic license, tag or validation?

Just like today, hunters and anglers will be required to have and display a license and tag upon contact by ODFW or OSP. It will be the hunter or angler’s responsibility to ensure they always have enough battery or an external battery source to power their phone so they can validate their harvest and show their license or tag. Note that even when they are in the field and without cell reception, ODFW and OSP will also be able to see information about licenses/tags/validations you purchased and to check your confirmation number (which indicates you have electronically tagged your big game animal).

Big game hunters using the electronic tagging system must also put a piece of duct tape, trail ribbon or something on their animal (must include their name, DOB, ODFW ID #, confirmation number and harvest date) and keep it attached to the carcass.

How many copies of my paper big game tag, turkey tag, combined angling tag, hatchery harvest card/tag or fee pheasant tag can I have?

Each customer will be allowed to print one tag and it will be unlawful to make copies. Each reprinted tag is unique and only the most recent reprint from the system is valid.  OSP and ODFW staff will have the ability to scan the barcode on a printed tag to confirm it is valid. If you lose your tag and need a reprint, you will need to go to a license sales agent or ODFW office and pay $2 for a reprint.

Will I have to pin my location or provide a photo when I tag my fish or animal electronically?

Customers will have the option of either pinning the location of their harvest or providing the wildlife management unit or fishery location code. ODFW recognizes the potential sensitivity of personal hunting and fishing locations and will be evaluating options to address confidentiality issues associated with the new system. Photos will not be accepted through the ELS reporting system.

Will my information be moved from the current system to the new system?

If you have purchased an annual hunting or fishing license since 2016, have hunting preference points on file or have certifications or other statuses that remain in effect for an extended period of time (such as Pioneer status, disabilities permit, Northwest Goose permit, or license suspension) then your information will be migrated into the new system. Older customer information that does not meet these criteria will be archived in a separate system.

Will the new system use a Hunter/Angler ID like the current one?

The current Hunter/Angler ID will become the “ODFW ID” in the new system. Accounts that are moved into the new system will keep the existing Hunter/Angler ID number, but it will now be called the ODFW ID. Customers whose information did not migrate will need to create a new profile and will get a new ODFW ID.

Will my data be secure?

Yes, the new system will meet all data security requirements, including encryption of personally identifiable information in transit and at rest. Personally identifiable information and financial information will not be collected by or stored in the system that you will interact with to access your license and other products. The information will be stored, using full encryption for both in transit and at rest data, in a separate system that has no direct access point for the general public.

Have license sale agents been told about the new ELS and do they plan to continue to sell licenses?

Yes, ODFW has informed current license sales agent about the new ELS and will be in regular communication with them before and after the launch. It will be up to license sales agents to decide if they want to continue selling licenses. Many retailers have told us they prefer to use their own equipment, which the new system allows, so as not have to print using a special terminal or special paper. One of ODFW’s goals will be to ensure that license sales agents can still be found throughout the state.

Are other states using this type of electronic licensing?

Yes. Several states (including GA, FL, OH, AR) currently provide a paperless tag option. The vendor ODFW is using for the new system (JMT) also manages the license sales system for the states of Idaho and Washington.

ODFW regularly communicates with other state fish and wildlife agencies about best management practices for licensing systems and spoke with 22 other states before making a final decision on the new license sales system.

This online FAQ will be continually updated with new information about the ELS before the system launches on Dec. 1, 2018.