Tag Archives: fishing

WDFW Launches New Mobile App For Anglers To Check Waters’ Regs

Evergreen State fishing managers are starting to put out word that they’ve launched a new app to help you figure out the regulations for the water you’re on or headed to.

The free Fish Washington Mobile App is available now for downloading onto iOS and Android devices.

Doing so early this afternoon, I learned that the Duwamish River, which flows maybe 80 yards from my desk, is “currently closed to fishing.”

I could’ve figured that out, of course, by looking through WDFW’s 130-some-odd-page 2017-18 rules pamphlet, but this app will be a valuable one for those exploring Washington’s rivers and streams, lakes and beaver ponds, ocean and inside saltwaters without a copy of the regs tucked in their door panel.

“WDFW has been working on this for quite some time, both in Olympia with the app development team and by regional Fish Management Division staff across the state to populate the geo-database with the current rules for waters across the state,” said John Easterbrooks, who oversees fisheries in South-central Washington, in an email message this morning. “As this new tool is refined and expanded, we believe it will largely replace the need for a hard copy rules pamphlet for anglers who carry a smartphone.”

The app actually first became available about two weeks ago, and staffers were handing out info on it at last weekend’s Tri-Cities Sportsmen Show in Pasco.

Easterbrooks says that the soft launch will be followed by a more official release before the big lowland lakes trout opener on the fourth Saturday in April.

He says the app is meant to complement WDFW’s Fish Washington page.

With GPS mode turned on, a geodatabase matches waterways with the regs.

“Tap on a lake or river/creek segment and it will be highlighted in light blue and the current regulation will pop up (drag up to see the full regulation),” says Easterbrooks. “Notifications and emergency rule changes are updated to the database that feeds the app in real-time — useful to the angler who is on the water and wants to check the current rules at his/her location.”

Messing around with the map, I had to chuckle when I saw that a water hazard at Jackson Park Golf Course just down the street from my house is defined as open to year-round fishing under statewide rules.

But just as quickly my jaw dropped upon seeing that Thornton Creek, which flows through said golf course, is open in summer to juvenile anglers.

Hey, I’ve got two juvenile anglers!

The crick is said to hold cutthroat and there is access here and there, though we’ll need to be careful about wading because of the mud snail infestation.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh, yeah, WDFW’s app.

I don’t know if this was operator error or what, but I did get an error message not long after downloading it to my phone, something about my Gmail crashing.

So far the app has a 3.5 rating at the Google Play Store, with basser Brent Davis commenting on Jan. 10, “Great idea, but its super buggy right now. After more developing Ill re rate but for now I’m having problems with it crashing every time I open it.”

On iTunes, Mr. TXSmith gave it five stars, noting, “It’s off to a good start! I like it. It’s a little slow sometimes, but it’s not a big deal. Can’t wait for a hunting app!”

In the meanwhile, the fishing regs app is available, “nearly complete and is useful now,” according to Easty, so check it out when you get a chance.

ODFW Sets Jan. 30 Meeting In Newport To Talk 2018 Halibut Seasons With Anglers

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

ODFW will be asking for public input on the upcoming spring halibut season for the central Oregon coast at a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 30 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the ODFW Marine Resources Program conference room, 2040 SE Marine Science Dr., Newport.

OREGON HALIBUT ANGLERS ARE BEING ASKED FOR INPUT ON THE 2018 FISHERIES OFF NEWPORT — WHERE JESSICA HERBORN CAUGHT THIS NICE ONE IN 2016 — AND ELSEWHERE ON THE CENTRAL COAST. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

ODFW staff will give an overview of the results of the International Pacific Halibut Commission Annual meeting and the resulting quotas.  Then meeting participants will be able to provide input on the number and timing of “fixed” and “backup” dates for the Central Oregon Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain) spring all-depth halibut season.

People who cannot attend the meeting in person can still participate in one of two ways:

·        Join the meeting via GoToMeeting (see details below).

·        Complete an online survey, which will be posted on the ODFW halibut webpage. (Both the online survey and background materials for the meeting will be posted by mid-afternoon on Monday, Jan. 29 on the ODFW halibut webpage http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/index.asp.

·        Anglers may also provide input by contacting Lynn Mattes (lynn.mattes@state.or.us) or Christian Heath (Christian.t.heath@state.or.us) at the ODFW Marine Resources Program, (541) 867-4741.

GoToMeeting DETAILS 

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/554636005

You can also dial in using your phone.

United States: +1 (872) 240-3412

Access Code: 554-636-005

Dalles Pool Sturgeon Retention Closing After Friday

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

The recreational sturgeon season in The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam) will close effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, under rules announced today by fishery managers from Oregon and Washington.

WHILE KEEPER SEASON IN THE DALLES POOL IS CLOSED AS OF JAN. 20, CATCH-AND-RELEASE FISHING CAN CONTINUE. KATIE CRAIG CAUGHT THIS DALLES POOL STURGEON. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

The states decided to close the sturgeon sport fishery based on catch projections which indicate the 100 fish guideline will be achieved by Friday evening.  Catch rates have been high since the season opened Jan. 1, with an estimated 69 fish kept through Jan. 14.

 Sturgeon fishing remains open in the Bonneville and John Day pools, where the guidelines are 325 and 105 fish, respectively.

Retention sturgeon fishing is closed below Bonneville Dam and below Willamette Falls under permanent sport fishing regulations.

Except for specific sanctuaries, catch-and-release sturgeon fishing remains open in all of these waters, even when retention seasons are closed.

Area 10 Blackmouth Limit Upped To 2; Areas 8-9 Reopening Feb. 16

THE FOLLOWING ARE EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICES FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Anglers can keep 2 hatchery chinook salmon in Marine Area 10 beginning Jan. 13

Action: The daily limit for hatchery chinook salmon will increase to two fish in Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton).

Effective Date: Jan.13, 2018 through Feb. 28, 2018.

AREA 10, WHERE CLAY SCHURMAN CAUGH THIS BLACKMOUTH, WILL HAVE A LIMIT OF TWO HATCHERY KINGS A DAY STARTING JAN. 13. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Species affected: Salmon.

Location:  Marine Area 10 within Puget Sound, excluding year-round piers.

Reason for action: Anglers were previously limited to one hatchery chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit to ensure the fishery would remain open for the entire season. Preliminary estimates and fishery projections indicate that sufficient fish remain in the quota for the fishery to remain open through the scheduled season with the increased limit for hatchery chinook.

Other information: WDFW biologists will continue to monitor these fisheries and coordinate with the Puget Sound Sportfishing Advisory Group to determine any further action is necessary. Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2 and 9 remain closed untilFebruary 16, 2018.

The daily salmon limit is two fish. Anglers must release wild chinook and wild coho. Year-round piers are unaffected by this rule change and have a daily limit for salmon of 2 fish, of which 1 may be a chinook..

………………………………………

Action: Marine areas 8-1, 8-2 and 9 will re-open to salmon fishing.

Effective Date: Feb. 16, 2018.

Species affected: Salmon

Location: Marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gamble), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet) within Puget Sound.

Reason for action: Test fishing data indicates there are still numerous juvenile (sublegal-sized) chinook salmon present in these marine areas, although they are approaching legal size. WDFW temporarily closed these areas (November 13through February 15) until more legal chinook become available to harvest.

Other information: WDFW biologists will continue to monitor these fisheries and coordinate with the Puget Sound Sportfishing Advisory Group if any further action is necessary. 

The daily salmon limit will be one salmon, release coho and wild chinook.

Edmonds Public Fishing Pier is unaffected by this rule change and specific regulations can be found in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.

SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report (1-10-18)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ORIGINATED WDFW AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, PSMFC

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Br. downstream:  5 bank rods had no catch.  Upstream from the I-5 Br:  5 bank rods released 4 cutthroats.  No boats were sampled.

YAKIMA BAIT’S JAROD HIGGINBOTHAM PASSED ALONG THIS PHOTO AND REPORT THAT TOBIE STEVENS CAUGHT THIS WINTER STEELHEAD AS WELL AS A LATE COHO USING A MAG LIP ON A SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON STREAM RECENTLY. (VIA JAROD HIGGINBOTHAM)

Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam – No effort was observed for steelhead.

Sturgeon

Bonneville Pool – Including fish released, about 10% of the boat anglers caught a legal size fish.  Fishing was slow from the bank.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers averaged a legal kept per every 7.7 rods.  Bank anglers also caught a few legals.

John Day Pool – Slow for legal size fish.

Walleye and Bass

Bonneville Pool – No effort was found for either specie.

The Dalles Pool – A bank angler caught a couple walleye.  No boat anglers were sampled.  No effort was observed for bass.

John Day Pool – Including fish released. Boat anglers averaged 0.7 walleye per rod.  No effort was observed for bass.

Trout

Recent plants of catchable size to 10 pound rainbows released into SW WA waters.  No report on angling success.

Catchable Trout Plants in the Last 30 Days

Last Updated: January 4, 2018

Lake/Pond

Date
Species
Number
Fish per Pound
Hatchery
Notes

* BATTLE GROUND LK (CLAR)<https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=BATTLE%20GROUND%20LK%20(CLAR)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>

Jan 02, 2018
Rainbow
1,500
2.1
VANCOUVER HATCHERY

* ICE HOUSE LK (SKAM)<https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=ICE%20HOUSE%20LK%20(SKAM)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>

Jan 02, 2018
Rainbow
10
0.1
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

Jan 02, 2018
Rainbow
20
0.2
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

* KLINELINE PD (CLAR)<https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=KLINELINE%20PD%20(CLAR)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>

Jan 02, 2018
Rainbow
1,500
2.1
VANCOUVER HATCHERY

* LTL ASH LK (SKAM)<https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=LTL%20ASH%20LK%20(SKAM)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>

Jan 02, 2018
Rainbow
20
0.2
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

Jan 02, 2018
Rainbow
10
0.1
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

* TUNNEL LK (SKAM)<https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=TUNNEL%20LK%20(SKAM)&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>

Jan 02, 2018
Rainbow
20
0.2
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

Jan 02, 2018
Rainbow
10
0.1
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

Possible Skagit Basin Winter-spring Steelhead Fishery Subject Of 2 Meetings

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

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled meetings to discuss with the public a proposed recreational steelhead fishery in the Skagit Basin, where rivers have been closed to steelhead fishing for several years.

TWO STEELHEADERS FISH THE SAUK RIVER UNDER WHITEHORSE DURING A PAST SEASON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The public meetings are scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. and include the following dates and locations:

Mill Creek: Jan. 12, WDFW Regional Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek

Sedro-Woolley: Jan. 16, Sedro-Woolley Community Center, 702 Pacific St., Sedro-Woolley

At the meetings, state fish managers will discuss a proposal to allow fisheries for wild steelhead in the Skagit, Sauk and Suiattle rivers. These rivers have been closed to steelhead fishing since 2010 due to low numbers of returning fish.

WDFW is proposing catch-and-release recreational fishing for wild steelhead.

“In recent years, we’ve seen more steelhead returning to the Skagit Basin than before we closed the rivers to fishing,” said Edward Eleazer, WDFW regional fish program manager. “Given the low number of steelhead mortalities associated with this sport fishery, we don’t expect it will harm efforts to recover steelhead populations.”

The Skagit Basin steelhead proposal, developed by state and tribal co-managers, is pending approval from NOAA Fisheries.

The federal agency is seeking comments through Jan. 8 on the proposal, which can be found on NOAA’s website at
http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/…/skagit-steelhead_….

If the proposal is approved, the state could allow a sport fishery within the next few months. During public meetings, WDFW will gather feedback on timing for the proposed fishery as well as discuss gear regulations.

Yuasa: ‘Winter Chinook Fishing Hitting Full Stride’

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

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

It’s the start of 2018, and there are plenty of on-water salmon fishing activities to ring in during the New Year!

If you catch my drift this isn’t a time to sit back on the couch in front of a fireplace or TV as winter chinook fishing is hitting full-stride, and the table quality of these fish are like non-other to be had on the BBQ grill.

BE SURE TO CATCH THE SUNRISE AT SEKIU WHEN IT OPENS FOR SALMON FISHING ON MARCH 16. (MARK YUASA)

Keep in mind closing dates on many fishing areas mentioned below could hinge on catch guidelines or encounter limits for both sub-legal and legal-size chinook that often make or break if anglers can fish for hatchery-produced salmon. This unfortunate situation came to fruition in November for two northern marine areas when the sub-legal catch skyrocketed.

On that note, my word of advice is to go sooner than later, which will likely guarantee you more time on the water.

The San Juan Islands (Marine Catch Area 7) opened Jan. 1 with fishing allowed through April 30 for hatchery chinook.

Let me stand on my soap box, and preach to you about island chain being as close as you can get to awesome scenery and wildlife viewing that is very similar to Alaska’s coastline. And let’s not forget there’s a decent chance to catch a quality large-size chinook just minutes from nearby boat ramps or marinas.

A good gauge on success in the islands will occur when anglers hit the water for the Resurrection Salmon Derby – part of the NMTA’s Northwest Salmon Derby Series – on Jan. 5-7 in Anacortes at Cap Sante Marina. This is followed by Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Jan. 18-20. For details, go to NW Salmon Derby Series.

Closer to Seattle is central Puget Sound (Area 10), which has been quietly producing some fair to good action at places like Southworth, Allen Bank off Blake Island, Manchester, Rich Passage, West Point, Jefferson Head and Point Monroe. The closure date for 10 is Feb. 28.

Back in mid-November, northern Puget Sound (Area 9) fell victim to the huge sub-legal chinook (fish under the 22-inch minimum size limit) encounter rate and was shut-down until further notice.

Area 9 was scheduled to reopen for hatchery chinook from Jan. 16 through April 15. Look for blackmouth at places like Possession Bar, Double Bluff off southwest side of Whidbey Island, Point No Point, Foulweather Bluff, Pilot Point, Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend and Scatchet Head.

Areas 8-1 and 8-2 – eastside of Whidbey Island – also experienced a set-back in November, and was supposed to reopen sometime this month and could happen concurrent to the Area 9 opener. Keep an eye out for an announcement on this situation by WDFW very soon.

Don’t overlook, south-central (Area 11), Hood Canal (Area 12) and southern Puget Sound (Area 13), which are all open now through April 30.

Other winter chinook fisheries on the “must go” list are western Strait (Area 5) from March 16 to April 30; and eastern Strait (Area 6) from March 1 to April 15.

New Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan proposed

Salmon politics started brewing on Dec. 1 when fishery managers released the 368-page Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan.

This fishing plan – sent to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries for review – and guides conservation and harvest of Puget Sound chinook salmon from the ocean clear into inner-marine waterways takes effect from 2019 through 2029.

AUTHOR MARK YUASA WORRIES THAT THE OPPORTUNITY TO CATCH WINTER CHINOOK IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS “COULD BE A THING OF THE PAST IF THE PROPOSED PUGET SOUND CHINOOK HARVEST MANAGEMENT PLAN BECOMES A REALITY.” (MARK YUASA)

The controversial plan has raised issues and many in sport-fishing industry are concerned that the plan could adversely affect sport salmon fishing opportunities.

There is an 18-month public comment period, and this will surely be a hot topic of many debates in the months to come. To view the comprehensive plan, go to Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan.

Seattle Boat Show drops anchor Jan. 26-Feb. 3 at three locations

The Seattle Boat Show from Jan. 26 through Feb. 3 is the one-stop place to get your fix on hundreds of fishing boats, informative seminars, and state-of-the-art gear and electronics.

There will be 55 free fishing seminars, and more coverage on a variety of new topics by top-notch experts that will provide anglers with the most in-depth wealth of knowledge on how to catch fish across the Pacific Northwest. For a complete list of all fishing and boating seminars, go to https://seattleboatshow.com/seminars/.

This will also be a time when visitors can check out the NW Salmon Derby Series grand prize $65,000 KingFisher 2025 Falcon Series boat powered with a Honda 150hp and 9.9hp trolling motors on an EZ-loader galvanized trailer. The fully-rigged boat comes with Scotty downriggers; Raymarine electronics; a custom WhoDat Tower; and a Dual Electronic Stereo.

THE 2018 NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES GRAND PRIZE BOAT. (NMTA)

There are 15 derby events in Washington, Idaho and British Columbia, Canada, and the drawing for the grand prize boat will take place at conclusion of the Everett Derby in September or November. For derby details, go to http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

I’ll see you on the water or at the biggest boat show on the West Coast, the great Seattle Boat Show!

 

McNary Pool, Hanford Steelheading Update (1-3-18)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ORIGINATED FROM PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW, AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, PSMFC

McNary Reservoir Steelhead Sport Fishery

The Columbia River from McNary Dam to the Tri-cities reopened for the harvest of hatchery steelhead on December 1. Angler effort has been steady averaging 9 boats and 16 bank anglers per day. There were 1,588 angler trips for steelhead in December.  WDFW staff interviewed 303 anglers in December.  Anglers averaged 14 hours per steelhead, unfortunately most of the fish caught were wild.  321 of the 407 fish caught were wild and had to be turned back. For the fishery (August 1 – December 31) 120 steelhead have been harvested and 346 wild steelhead have been caught and released from 3,779 angler trips.

LIZ BUTOWICZ SHOWS OFF A MCNARY POOL HATCHERY STEELHEAD CAUGHT SEVERAL SEASONS AGO NOW. SHE WAS HER DAD, HOWARD, AND “COUSIN IN LAW” JERRY HAN. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective January 1 the daily limit will increase to two hatchery steelhead per day (see Washington Sport Fishing Rules for additional information).

Hanford Reach Steelhead Sport Fishery (Hwy 395 – Hanford)

Steelhead fishing continues to be slow to fair in the lower Hanford Reach.  Effort has been light.  WDFW staff interviewed 123 anglers in December.  Bank anglers averaged a steelhead for 13.5 hours of fishing in December.  Boat anglers are doing a bit better at 9 hours per fish. An estimated 115 steelhead were caught in December and 92 were harvested. Since the fishery opened on October 1, 286 steelhead have harvested plus an additional 154 steelhead were caught & released from 1,814 angler trips.

Effective January 1 any hatchery steelhead may be harvested.  Daily limit is one steelhead per day.  This year’s return to Ringold Springs Hatchery is estimated at ~900 steelhead.

Longtime Spokane Hook-and-bullet Writer Retires, But Will Continue Reporting

The Northwest hook-and-bullet world is losing another important voice in a key market, though one that fortunately won’t entirely disappear into the Palouse behind his faithful bird dogs either.

Last Friday afternoon, Rich Landers retired as the outdoor editor of the Spokane Spokesman-Review, where he’s been writing since before I even could scrawl my A-B-C’s.

RICH LANDERS (CENTER) LISTENS AS WDFW’S BOB DICE TALKS ABOUT THE 4-0 RANCH UNIT OF THE CHIEF JOSEPH WILDLIFE AREA DURING A TOUR OF THE 10,000-ACRE PROPERTY IN MAY 2015. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Across 41 years, thousands of deadlines and countless words, Landers has covered hunting and fishing, wildlife and water issues, along with a host of other outdoor subjects such as skiing and hiking for much of the Inland Northwest.

And he’s going out on a high note as this year’s winner of the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s 2017 Jade of the Chief award, the organization’s highest conservation honor and which “represents an affirmation of OWAA adherence to, and support of, the principles of conservation.”

He will continue to freelance for the paper, but in the meanwhile, Eli Francovich, who’s been covering schools, youth and breaking news at Spokane’s daily, has been named the new outdoor editor.

There was an outpouring of appreciation late last week on Facebook where Landers publicly announced his retirement, but his final Sunday column wasn’t about himself or a compilation of greatest hits more vainglorious writers might have self-assigned.

Rather, it was on efforts to save the critically endangered South Selkirk caribou herd, which occasionally wanders into Washington.

He wrote that volunteers are gathering lichen to feed pregnant cows that will be herded into a 19-acre maternity pen built in southern British Columbia to protect them during calving from resurgent wolf populations, as well as other predators.

It’s that sort of crossover story that Landers has been writing for ages, while also providing plenty of pieces on hunting and fishing prospects and more, making his space an important bridge between user groups.

You could see that in the comments on his farewell post, as well as in the response from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Rich Landers’ coverage of all things fish and wildlife has been most significant to us at WDFW because his readership includes everybody who recreates in some way in the Northwest’s great outdoors; that means those who don’t hunt or fish are exposed to hunting and fishing stories, and vice versa,” notes the agency’s Madonna Luers, a 33-year veteran of its Public Affairs team and based in the Lilac City. “Rich has kept us on our toes and helped us be responsive, serving as both a watchdog and a scientific ally. I am grateful to have worked with him all these years.”

Dave Workman’s been writing about WDFW and hunting for about as long as Landers, and says he particularly enjoyed Landers’ recent pieces on working with his gun dog Ranger and a profile of an elk hunting partner.

“We haven’t always agreed on fish and game management issues, but he’s managed to turn a passion for the outdoors into a paying job. Can’t beat that!” Workman says.

Over the years Landers and I have traded emails on each other’s work, commiserated on WDFW’s proclivity for 4:55 p.m. wolf news press releases, and the best way to prepare Bolivian llama, among other topics, and finally got to meet each other above the Ronde in the state’s southeastern corner in May 2015.

I’ll readily admit that I’ve also ruthlessly stalked him, checking in on him multiple times a day to see what he’s writing and blogging and Facebooking and tweeting about.

Beyond the competition for scoops and stories — mostly won by Rich, occasionally by me — I’ve paid particularly close attention to his level-headed reporting on wolves.

For this blog I’ve shared more than a few cogent quotes from Landers as he’s given the howling fringes the what-for while accurately and honestly covering wolves’ recolonization and all that comes with it. (And if he’s provided inspiration for a little levity with the overwrought subject, more power to him.)

Indeed, he might as well be secretary-treasurer of the Cooler Heads Club.

Not that members are in demand much in these modern times. Or us.

If Landers and fellow pens were as furry or had fins like some of the critters they write about, they’d be a candidates for Endangered Species Act protections themselves.

True, Mark Freeman’s going strong at the Medford Mail-Tribune, but while Bill Monroe and Wayne Kruse are still freelancing for The Oregonian and the Daily Herald of Everett, they along with Alan Liere at the Spokesman-Review are getting up there in age.

And in recent years we’ve seen Mark Yuasa move on from The Seattle Times and Jeff Mayor from the Tacoma News Tribune, Al Thomas retire from The Columbian, Henry Miller from the Salem Statesman-Journal and Tony Floor from his monthly Northwest Marine Trade Association fishing newsletter, while Scott Sandsberry left the Yakima Herald for health reasons and Greg Johnston and the Seattle PI parted ways long ago.

Last spring the Bellingham Herald discontinued Doug Huddle’s column in favor of outdoors coverage along the lines of:

The wild road to Crystal Mill, a photographer’s dream;
Call of the wild: Minnesota women explore public lands, by bicycle;
Three basic stretches to help you do the splits
Colorado’s Waldo Canyon, a place for serious adventure;
Washington’s Lopez Island in the fall: Hikes, farm stands and fine dining

I’m not going to sit here and say that topics like those don’t have a place, because this no longer is 1957, papers are struggling to catch readers’ eyes, variety is the spice of life, and Landers has done his share of writing those pieces or scanning the AP wire for similar because the press — it needs to be fed.

But our ranks are increasingly as thin as the hair on our heads. The days when a magazine like Fishing & Hunting News could spawn an entire generation of outdoor writers are further and further back.

When one newspaper in a very important location for people like us recently looked to replace their veteran outdoor reporter, they got fresh-out-of-college kids who couldn’t tell the difference between a springer and a summer-run and who equated the job title to mean writing environmental stories.

The latter in itself is not a bad thing, because as Landers recently wrote, “Regardless of the politics, a sportsman who isn’t an environmentalist is a fool, or at least uniformed.”

But more and more, that particular style of reporting aims to tear down fish and wildlife agencies rather than thoughtfully challenge or detail the thinking and methods behind biologists’ and managers’ decisions.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen the expansion of radio and forums and blogs and pages, where sportsmen, experts and bios — retired and otherwise — can debate things.

And all is not lost on the print side.

Amidst our ranks there’s Jordan Nailon — he of the fine coverage of Southwest Washington poaching and Cowlitz steelhead issues — at the Centralia Chronicle, Eric Barker at the Lewiston Tribune and Ralph Bartholdt at the Couer d’Alene Press. Replacing Al Thomas at The Columbian is a Northwest Sportsman alumnus, Terry Otto.

It’s great that local newspapers and editors still put an emphasis on coverage of hunting and fishing. I do appreciate that.

But at the same time, 20 percent of all salmon and steelhead anglers in the state of Washington in 2015 lived in Fairview Fannie’s hometown and backyard, King County, pointing to the importance of a landed hook-and-bullet reporter in major metro dailies.

According to The Seattle Times’, the end of everyday fishing and hunting coverage “was not an easy decision, but one that was necessary considering our evolving readership and limited resources.”

The editors there haven’t done much to show me they still consider our brand of outdoors relevant, however, and that’s disappointing. They’ve been running a steady diet of ski stories this fall instead.

Skiing’s great; I love to ski and haven’t done enough since getting Real Jobs. And I love hiking and photography and mountains and all things outdoors too.

But what I like most of all is an outdoor writer with their head screwed on straight, who knows his or her way around a rod and reel, shotgun and rifle, who has longterm, institutional knowledge of the Northwest fishing and hunting world, and who can see the big picture and transmit that to the masses.

That’s where Landers shines.

Enjoy your retirement, Rich, but don’t let those pups take you too far from the keyboard.

CORRECTION 10:30 A.M., DEC. 7, 2017 Previous reports of Greg Johnston’s “long gone” status were incorrect. While his former paper, the Seattle PI, is a shell of its former self, Johnston is very much still alive and recently published a book coastal anglers may be interested in.

Shopping For Fishing Ideas? Yuasa Shares December Ops, Plus 2018 NW Salmon Derby Sched

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

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

A close peek at calendar made me wince as the holidays are in full-swing with 24/7 Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel and malls filled to the gills with shoppers.

While that is all near and dear to my heart, I’ve also got this holiday free-time addiction called “salmon fishing.”

GUY MAMIYA WHO CAUGHT A 9 POUND, 15 OUNCE HATCHERY CHINOOK OFF SALTY’S RESTAURANT LEADS THE TENGU BLACKMOUTH DERBY HELD EVERY SUNDAY IN ELLIOTT BAY THROUGH DEC. 31. (COURTESY MARK YUASA, NMTA)

No matter what kind of remedy I seek, it just keeps hooking me into getting on my boat. On some mornings, I’ll even tow the boat to the ramp, sniff the air for wind and then make a game-time decision.

In past seasons, December wasn’t just filled with mistletoe bliss, but earmarked a time to go chinook fishing and bring back a couple nice salmon fillets for the holiday dinner table.

Yet, here we are right in middle of another holiday rush, and the choices to wet a line for salmon are rather slim pickings.

Bummed you ask?

We can gripe why December salmon fishing isn’t up to snuff or look at viable options to keeping a rod-and-reel in hand. I unanimously choose the latter.

A top choice is the Clay Banks off the Point Defiance Park area in Tacoma – part of south-central Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 11) open through April 30 – which is often teeming with baitfish, hungry hatchery chinook and protected from prevailing southerly winds.

Tops on my radar screen is central Puget Sound (10), which for the moment is open through Feb. 28, unless an emergency closure shuts it down.

Here one can find plenty of action at places like Allen Bank off the southeast side of Blake Island; west side of Blake Island; Restoration Point; Rich Passage; Yeomalt Point; Southworth; Manchester; and northwestern tip off Vashon Island.

Keep your eyes open at other spots like Hood Canal (12) and southern Puget Sound (13). Further down the pipeline is when the San Juan Islands (7) reopen Jan. 1 just in time to ring in the New Year!

Winter Dungeness crab fishing also remains open daily in some marine areas through Dec. 31, and this can turn you into a “rock star” at the holiday dining table as guests devour a big bowl of fresh cracked crab. It’s time to get on this one!

Look for crab around Whidbey Island; northeast side of Kitsap Peninsula; Camano Island; Mukilteo area; Holmes Harbor; Hat Island; Port Angeles Harbor; Strait of Juan de Fuca; and San Juan Islands. Remember due to a downtrend in crab abundance locations south of Edmonds and Hood Canal – Marine Catch Areas 10, 11, 12 and 13 are closed this winter.

Early salmon fishing closures for Areas 8 and 9

This nice pair of hatchery chinook were caught at Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend in early November before the Area 9 closure on-board the boat of Tom Nelson, host of the Outdoor Line on KIRO 710 AM.

Rewind to Nov. 1 when alarm bells rang left and right, as news came out that encounter rates of sub-legal chinook – those under the 22-inch minimum size limit – were much higher than anticipated.

It was then WDFW fishery managers took a cautious approach to close the seasons on Nov. 13 – two-weeks earlier than planned in northern Puget Sound (9) and east side of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2), which was supposed to stay open through April 30. A decision to close them was inevitable to keep the fishing machine humming again sometime after the New Year.

Ryan Lothrop, the state Fish and Wildlife Puget Sound recreational salmon manager said: “In 2015, we had a lot of sub-legals in fisheries, and we don’t want to impact our winter fisheries happening later on. Most agree that we wait until these fish grow larger, and have a more predictable opportunity.”

I’ve been a huge fan of selective salmon fishing for winter blackmouth dating back more than two decades when state fisheries began mass-marking hatchery salmon.

Their objective was to increase opportunities for sport anglers by being able to distinguish the difference between wild unmarked and adipose fin-clipped chinook in fisheries open at certain periods of the year.

While that was all fine and dandy, a decision by state fishery managers a while back to begin assessing ongoing salmon encounters of both sub-legal and legal-size fish, now makes or breaks if anglers can fish for hatchery-produced salmon.

Each marine area has an “encounter ceiling.” As each area nears the ceiling they’re often faced with premature closures especially when the sub-legal catch skyrockets like it did last month.

This has been a hard pill to swallow by anglers especially since millions of dollars are spent by state, tribal and federal agencies to produce and fin-clip hatchery chinook and coho. The lifecycle of these fish is to constantly feed and grow, and eventually get caught. But, since it’s considered a mixed stock of wild and hatchery fish, and with a Puget Sound ESA listing you get the big picture of the situation.

Data taken from Nov. 1-5, showed 495 boats with 889 anglers in Area 9 kept 240 legal-size chinook and released 1,137 sub-legals for a total encounter rate of 1,377 fish. The guideline for encounters is 11,053 fish putting the fishery already at a staggering 88 percent for sub-legals and 12 percent at legal-size fish.

From Nov. 1-5, 98 boats with 172 anglers in Area 8-1 kept 52 legal-size hatchery chinook (plus five unmarked wild fish kept) and released 67 sub-legal size hatchery chinook for a total encounter rate of 124 fish. In Area 8-2, 165 boats with 315 anglers kept 50 legal-size hatchery chinook and released 65 sub-legal size hatchery chinook for 115. The guideline for encounters in both areas is 5,492 fish putting the fishery already at a staggering 88 percent for sub-legals and 12 percent at legal-size fish.

From Nov. 1-5, 73 boats with 162 anglers in Area 10 kept eight legal-size chinook and released 10 sub-legals for a total encounter rate of 18 fish. The guideline for encounters is 5,349 fish putting the fishery at 73 percent for sub-legals and 9 percent at legal-size fish.

NW Salmon Derby Series debuts 2018 boat and schedule

The Everett No-Coho Blackmouth Derby was held Nov. 4-5 that drew 499 anglers who caught 109 chinook averaging 6.22 pounds (146 fish were caught last year averaging 6.55 pounds). About 70 percent of the fish were caught on first day due to the lousy weather conditions by second day. The winner was Adam Burke who caught an 11.89 chinook and took home a check for $4,000.

The winner of the Northwest Salmon Derby Series grand prize $85,000 fully-loaded Hewescraft boat with Honda motors went to Gary March of Worley, Idaho who fished earlier this summer in The Big One Salmon Derby on Lake Coeur d’Alene. In all more than 4,000 anglers were entered in 14 derbies. The story on March is truly a must read, and can be found at http://nmtablog.blogspot.com/2017/11/northwest-salmon-derby-series-grand.html.

Looking toward 2018 we’ve got some exciting news as we introduce a derby to the series, and our new grand prize boat will be a KingFisher 2025 Falcon Series powered with a Honda 150hp and 9.9hp trolling motors on a EZ-loader galvanized trailer and fully rigged with Scotty downriggers, Raymarine electronics, WhoDat Tower and a Dual Electronics Stereo – a $65,000 value.

The 15 derbies in the series starts off with the Resurrection Salmon Derby on Jan. 5-7 in Anacortes.

Here is the 2018 Northwest Salmon Derby Series schedule:

•Resurrection Salmon Derby January 5-7
•Roche Harbor Salmon Classic Jan. 18-20
•Friday Harbor Salmon Classic Feb. 8-10
•Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby March 9-11
•Everett Blackmouth Derby March 17-18
•Bellingham Salmon Derby July 13-15
•The Big One Salmon Derby July 25-29
•Brewster Salmon Derby August 2-5
•South King County PSA Derby August 4
•Gig Harbor PSA Derby August 11
•Vancouver, B.C., Canada Chinook Classic August 18-19
•Edmonds Coho Derby September 8 (Depends on season setting process)
•Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby September 8
•Everett Coho Derby September 22-23 (Depends on season setting process)
•Everett No-Coho Blackmouth Salmon Derby November 3-4

(The 2018 schedule is subject to change)

For additional derby details, go to http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

Dig into more coastal beaches

The next round of coastal razor clam digs have been approved for Friday through Monday (Dec. 1-4) during evening low tides only.

Digging will be open Dec. 1 at Copalis (minus-0.3 feet at 4:42 p.m.); Dec. 2 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks (-1.1 at 5:29 p.m.); Dec. 3 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Copalis (-1.6 at 6:15 p.m.); Dec. 4 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks (-1.8 at 7:02 p.m.); and Dec. 31 Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks (-1.2 at 5:12 p.m.).

Diggers will find a mixed bag of razor clam sizes – diggers must keep the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition – and the key is if you’re finding small ones in a certain area of the beach don’t be afraid to move to another spot, according to Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager.

Despite the a mixed bag it looks like razor clam diggers are finding oodles of clams on coastal beaches.

“The most recent digs (Nov. 2-5) went well, and we had 27,770 digger trips with 366,484 clams dug,” Ayres said. “That comes out to 13.2 clams per person.”

A breakdown by beaches showed Twin Harbors had 5,268 diggers Nov. 3-5 with 73,215 clams for an average of 13.9 clams per person; Copalis had 4,904 with 52,541 Nov. 2 and Nov. 4 for 10.7; Mocrocks had 3m229 with 47,354 Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 for 14.7; and Long Beach had 14,371 with 193,373 Nov. 3-5 for 13.5.

“The crowds were lighter than we had projected and I’m sure the weather forecast scared away some from turning out,” Ayres said. “The exception was Long Beach, which had more than expected, and the folks did quite well. Down the road we might need to back off at Long Beach, but the other beaches were fine.”

After just two series of digs, Long Beach has harvested 36 percent of the total allowable catch for the entire season.

Another dig is planned on Dec. 31, and more digs for January and February will be announced very soon.

Ayres pointed out they’re not seeing any issues with marine toxins like domoic acid, and are likely past the sensitive time of the year.

“We will go ahead with next digs planned in December, and then reassess to make sure we have enough clams for digs after the New Year and in spring,” Ayres said.

Diggers should check for updates on next digs by going to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.