Tag Archives: lake wenatchee

More 2020 Columbia Salmon Forecasts, Outlooks Posted; Sockeye A Brighter Spot

Columbia salmon managers are rolling out more 2020 forecasts and sockeye might be a bright spot next year.

Nearly a quarter million sockeye are expected to return to the big river, with just under 202,000 of those headed for the relatively cool Brewster Pool before departing up the Okanogan/Okanagan.

TYLER FLETCHER SHOWS OFF A PAIR OF SOCKEYE CAUGHT AT WELLS DAM DURING 2014’S FISHERY. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

While forecasters are still dialing in their sockeye prognostication skills, it would be a significant uptick over 2019’s return of 63,222 against a forecast of 94,400. It would also be the eighth largest run since 1980, though still only a third of 2014’s record year.

Lake Wenatchee sockeye anglers could also see a significant bump from this year’s actual return of just 7,900; the prediction calls for 39,400.

As for all-important Columbia spring Chinook, the 2020 forecasts leave as much to be desired as last week’s news of very low predictions for the Cowlitz, Kalama, Wind, Drano, etc.

Managers expect 81,700 upper Columbia and Snake springers, which is about 10,000 more than actually returned in 2019 but also 17,600 less than were forecast.

Along with the annual 30 percent buffer to protect against overforecasting, this spring’s mainstem fishery was constrained by very low returns to the Cowlitz and Lewis, which led to a closure of the Columbia below Warrior Rock to protect springers headed to those two tributaries. Returns to both are again expected to be low.

The Willamette spring Chinook forecast is for 40,800, up a bit from this year’s forecast which didn’t pan out, with only 27,292 back.

The overall forecast of 135,800 springers to the mouth of the Columbia is the fewest back to 1999.

The Columbia summer Chinook forecast is slightly better than last year, with 38,300 expected, roughly 2,000 more than were forecast in 2019 but which also led to no opportunities to target them until later in the season and only in the upper river above Wenatchee.

Anglers are increasingly skeptical of the forecasts, but managers continue to point to very poor ocean conditions as having a strong influence on numbers of returning salmon.  The Blob is back in the North Pacific, maybe not as strong as 2014 and 2015, but still likely impacting prey and marine habitat of kings, sockeye, coho and other stocks.

Managers also put out preliminary word on fall Chinook and coho expectations, and how 2019 shaped up:

2019 Preliminary Returns
• Adult fall Chinook return was predicted to be 349,600 fish.
• Preliminary return is slightly above the forecast.
• Bright jack return appears to be improved over 2018. Tule jack return appears to be slightly improved over 2018.

2020 Outlook
• Bright stocks should be similar to the 2019 preliminary return.
• Tule stocks should be similar to the 2019 preliminary return.
• Ocean conditions between 2015 and 2019 were among the worst observed during the last 21 years and are likely continuing to have a strong influence on the fall Chinook return in 2020.

Columbia River Coho
• 2019 preliminary return is about 30% of the preseason forecast of 611,300.
• Coho jack return to the Columbia River is less than 50% of the recent three-year average.

Tule Chinook power ocean seasons, upriver brights the inriver fisheries. In the Columbia’s Hanford Reach, 30,678 angler trips yielded a catch of 11,820 adult kings, an improvement of more then 3,100 fish over 2018, according to biologist Paul Hoffarth.

The release of the 2020 forecasts and outlooks mark the start of determining how many, if any, fish are available for harvest in the ocean and rivers and setting seasons at North of Falcon later in winter.

Washington Bear Also Slumbered Winter Away In Rarefied Air

There wasn’t a live streaming webcam pointed at it, but Washington had its own high-rise black bear hibernating way up a cottonwood tree this past winter.

The 4-year-old female denned in a niche 28 feet above the ground near Lake Wenatchee, according to Lindsay Welfelt.

WDFW’S LINDSAY WELFELT PEEKS OUT OF A BEAR’S DEN 28 FEET UP A COTTONWOOD STANDING NEAR LAKE WENATCHEE. SHE WAS REPLACING A GPS COLLAR ON THE FOUR-YEAR-OLD ANIMAL AS PART OF A RESEARCH PROJECT. (WDFW)

She should know, as she crawled in with the bruin — albeit, after it was temporarily immobilized.

Welfelt’s an assistant bear and cougar specialist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and says that this particular animal has been monitored for the past two years.

It’s part of a long-term research project she and fellow WDFW staffer Rich Beausoleil are running in this part of Chelan County and across the Cascade Crest in King County’s Snoqualmie area.

ANOTHER LOOK AT THE COTTONWOOD. (WDFW)

“We have been monitoring bears in these areas to look at survival, reproduction, population density, and den site characteristics,” Weltfelt says. “Most females do not reproduce in this area until they are five, so we went to this bear’s den to replace her GPS collar that will last another two years. Hopefully we will document her first reproduction next winter.”

According to WDFW’s latest weekly Wildlife Program report, where a fuzzy image of her den dive first appeared, she and Beausoleil had checked in on 56 hibernating bears, placing GPS collars on 42 and stationed cameras outside 13 dens to that point in mid-April.

A total of 198 bears are part of the study, 73 of which are “on the air,” meaning collared with telemetry.

Speaking of on the air, earlier this year, a male black bear slumbering some 50-plus feet up another cottonwood tree drew widespread interest when Glacier National Park managers trained a webcam on it.

That was deactivated after the bear wandered off, but Welfelt says tree-denning is “relatively common” for the species and that she and Beausoleil have had several hibernate that way.

“The advantage of a den up a tree would be additional safety during the denning period from larger bears or other predators. There is likely also a thermal advantage to keep them off the frozen or wet ground and protection from weather,” she says.

Of note, WDFW’s study bears seemed to stay indoors, if you will, a little longer this winter.

“Bears in our areas generally den for four to five months in the winter, but this year we documented several bears that were in dens up to six months, mid-October through mid-April,” Welfelt says.

A TRAIL CAM CAPTURED THE FEMALE BEAR’S LESS THAN ENTHUSIASTIC EMERGENCE LAST SPRING. (WDFW)

Still, Washington bears should now all be out of their dens and looking for grub.

Welfelt says that WDFW’s bear work now moves towards public education about “the big three.”

“Garbage, bird feeders, and fruit trees — if we could eliminate those attractants, we could virtually eliminate human-bear conflict,” she says.

Wardens Have ‘Multiple Leads’ On Moose Poached Near Lake Wenatchee

Word that a moose was poached, had its head chopped off and was mostly wasted in Chelan County earlier this fall enraged many on Facebook, and they shared the call for tips widely, helping game wardens searching for whomever illegally killed the locally rare big game animal.

“We are currently following up on multiple leads obtained by hunters and citizens that were in the area around the time of the poaching,” says WDFW Officer Blake Tucker today. “We have had quite a bit of help from the public, which is what is going to get this case solved.”

As a hunter, I know it’s the health of the herd that matters the most, not so much the individual animal, and that critters at the edge of their range are naturally few and far between. But this one particularly galls me.

Though there’s not a hunting season here now, one day we’ll be able to put in for a bull permit or two, yet the illegal kill north of Lake Wenatchee may have pushed that further out into the future.

This is one of two main areas of Central Washington where moose are moving to from the core of their range in the state’s northeast corner, where 178 tags were available for this year.

A WDFW map shows a number of citizen observations in the upper Wenatchee River watershed just last year.

WDFW’S MOOSE OBSERVATION MAP SHOWS THE LOCATIONS OF 329 PUBLIC REPORTS IN 2016, 320 OF WHICH CORRESPOND WITH SIGHTINGS OF ACTUAL MOOSE. THE OTHER NINE REPORTS WERE NONSIGHTINGS, IMPORTANT DATA TO ALSO COLLECT TO BETTER DETERMINE POPULATIONS. (WDFW)

It was here that a decade or more ago I first heard of moose in the area: One of my dad’s old coworkers, Neil B., talked about seeing one up the Chiwawa.

That was a sign, it turned out. Moose are not unlike wolves in that young ones tend to disperse in search of good habitat, and they appear to be finding it — and one another.

In 2013, reader Mike Quinn, who hunts this part of the state, began telling me about moose he’d been spotting then capturing on trail cameras.

CHELAN COUNTY BULL MOOSE. (MIKE QUINN/FLICKR.COM)

Subsequent images from Quinn’s cams captured a couple little moose trains moving through the woods — in a 2014 photo, a cow and its bull calf followed by an adult bull, and in a 2016 shot, a cow and two calves.

The moose that was poached earlier this fall — its carcass was found about 50 yards off a logging road in the Meadow Creek area with only the head and a bit of meat taken — may or may not have been one of those animals. It’s a loss to a budding population either way.

IMAGES FROM THE SCENE WHERE A MOOSE WAS POACHED NEAR LAKE WENATCHEE EARLIER THIS FALL. (WDFW)

(WDFW

The aforementioned WDFW map is part of a two-page synopsis of the agency’s public moose survey program for last year, which suggests a high calf:cow ratio among those colonizing the eastern slopes of the North Cascades.

According to extrapolated data from 20 observations in Okanogan County — to the north of Chelan County — one could expect 83 calves per 100 cows there.

Admittedly, the sample size is small, and state wildlife biologists, aided by aircraft and tracking snow on the ground, might come up with a different ratio.

But for what it’s worth, that figure is four times as high as citizen reports for Pend Oreille County, where moose began filtering into the state in the 1950s and where the first few tags were offered in the 1970s.

If they’re that fecund in Okanogan County, it seems probable that those in Chelan County might be doing similarly well — possibly better with one less predator currently in the portfolio.

While Alces alces is often photographed belly deep in ponds, those in this part of the state are actually benefiting from changes on dry land.

The large-scale wildfires of recent decades “have improved moose habitat,” says WDFW, and that’s included the eruption of willows and other browse across blaze-scarred landscapes.

Last month, as we pulled a mule deer buck out of an area that has seen two major fires, there on the ground were the telltale round doots of a moose. A friend found the first such pellets not far away several years ago.

While moose numbers are clearly growing, it’s unknown how many are actually in Chelan and Okanogan Counties. Ironically, biologists need more data from people who don’t actually see any to get a better idea of how many there might be.

“To obtain accurate data, we need more dedicated participants who will not only submit a report when they see a moose, but also report hours afield when they do not see any moose. For example, if you plan to deer hunt for four consecutive days, submit a report for each day you are hunting, whether you see a moose or not,” says WDFW’s moose man, Jared Oyster, in the annual survey report for 2016.

Year-over-year trends are helpful, but knowing how many bulls, cows and calves are in the area will go a long way towards setting up a limited hunt once a big enough herd has established itself.

Unfortunately, there’s now one fewer moose around Lake Wenatchee because some jackass or jackasses poached it, stealing the future from legitimate hunters.

Anyone with information on the case can contact WDFW’s regional office at (509) 662-0452 and ask for Officer Tucker.

Whomever’s guilty faces as much as $9,000 in fines and penalties and up to a year in jail.

Tips Sought About Moose Poached, Wasted Near Lake Wenatchee

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS FROM WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE LAW ENFORCEMENT

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police are investigating the poaching of an adult moose near Meadow Creek, in the Lake Wenatchee area of Chelan County. Only a small number of Moose exist near Lake Wenatchee and there is no established hunting season for them.  The carcass was found in a clearing not more than 50 yards from the road. Only the head and some portions of meat were taken leaving the rest to waste.

(WDFW)

Officers are examining evidence recovered from the scene and reviewing security footage from roads in the vicinity.  They are asking anyone with information to call the WDFW Wenatchee District Office at 509-662-0452 and ask to speak with Officer Tucker. Those who provide information leading to an arrest may be eligible for a cash reward or bonus points for special permit hunting opportunities.

(WDFW8

Killing a moose out of season carries a maximum penalty of $5000 and up to one year in jail, or both.  It also carries an additional criminal wildlife penalty of $4000.

(WDFW)