Tag Archives: Oregon

Northwest States, Tribes Apply To Feds For OK To Kill More Columbia Sea Lions

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

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), along with a consortium of state and tribal partners, today submitted an expanded application to lethally remove California and Steller sea lions preying on threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

SEA LIONS GATHER INSIDE THE MOUTH OF THE COWEEMAN RIVER AT KELSO, MOST LIKELY FOLLOWING THE 2016 RUN OF ESA-LISTED EULACHON, OR SMELT, UP THE COLUMBIA RIVER. (SKYLAR MASTERS)

California sea lions — and increasingly, Steller sea lions — have been observed in growing numbers in the Columbia River basin, especially in the last decade. These sea lions prey heavily on salmon and steelhead runs listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including thousands of fish at Bonneville Dam each year.

The impacts come at a time when many Chinook salmon runs are already at historic lows.

The recovery of sea lions since the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) in 1972 is a success story, said Kessina Lee, Region 5 director with WDFW. But that recovery has also brought challenges.

“The vast majority of these animals remain in coastal and offshore waters, but several hundred have established themselves in upriver locations,” Lee said. “Where salmon and steelhead numbers are low, any unmanaged increase in predation can cause serious problems.”

Predator management is a key part of a multi-faceted effort to restore salmon and steelhead populations in the Pacific Northwest.

“For decades, we’ve made strides in habitat restoration, hydropower policy, hatchery production, and fishery management, and we continue to work with our partners to further those initiatives,” Lee said. “Predator management remains an essential part of the equation.”

The application submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) by WDFW and its partners is the first since Congress passed an amendment to the MMPA in December 2018. That amendment, spearheaded by the Pacific Northwest congressional delegation, passed with strong bipartisan support and offers greater flexibility to wildlife managers when determining if a sea lion should be lethally removed in waters that host ESA-listed runs of salmon or steelhead.

“Based on years of experience working within the bounds of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Columbia River fishing tribes contend that predator management is necessary to restore balance to the Columbia River system,” said Ryan Smith, chairman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “Strong partnerships and collaboration with the states, northwest congressional delegation, federal authorities, and nongovernment organizations resulted in this amendment, which applies robust tools to manage sea lions in the lower Columbia River and recognizes tribal sovereignty in that management.”

WDFW and its partners have taken steps to deter California sea lions in the Columbia River basin for more than a decade, but non-lethal measures have proven largely ineffective, driving animals away for only short periods. These hazing measures appear similarly ineffective against Steller sea lions. Non-lethal measures continue to be used as a short-term deterrent when appropriate.

Wildlife managers have conducted lethal removal operations of California sea lions in the Columbia River basin since 2008, when NMFS first issued a letter of authorization under section 120 of the MMPA. From 2008-2019, wildlife managers removed a total of 219 California sea lions that met the federal criteria for removal below Bonneville Dam.

Steller sea lions have not previously been subject to lethal removal.

“Prior to this legislation, wildlife managers were severely limited in their ability to effectively manage sea lions in these areas,” Lee said. “Additional action is required to protect these troubled fish stocks before they are completely eliminated. This is an unfortunate, but necessary step in the salmon recovery process.”

If approved, WDFW expects to begin humanely removing animals under the terms of the expanded application beginning in 2020. The application is subject to a public comment period and review by NMFS. Members of the public can review the application at https://wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2019-06/MMPA-120f-application.pdf.

Other entities submitting the application with WDFW include the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon (CTWSR), The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and the 3.6.D Committee, which includes ODFW, CTUIR, CTWSR, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community, and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians of Oregon.

Volunteers Needed To Help Raise Winter Steelhead At South Umpqua Facility

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

Volunteers are needed to help the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife raise hatchery winter steelhead at Barrett Creek near Winston. This project is an opportunity to work directly with fish and help produce hatchery winter steelhead for anglers.

VOLUNTEERS CARE FOR HATCHERY WINTER STEELHEAD AT A REARING FACILITY ON BARRETT CREEK, NEAR WINSTON, OREGON, IN THE SOUTH UMPQUA RIVER DRAINAGE. (ODFW)

Responsibilities include fish feeding, recording data, cleaning fish holding troughs and inspecting the site. Some volunteers are also asked to respond to on-site alarm systems at any hour. All volunteers must follow protocols to ensure good fish health. Volunteers must provide their own transportation and a high clearance vehicle is necessary as the site is on a steep hill.

“We’ve had some issues in the past meeting our production goals of hatchery winter steelhead for the South Umpqua River,” said Evan Leonetti, ODFW Salmon Trout Enhancement Program biologist. “We designed this rearing project to hold the fish in a cold water area that will help increase their survival and directly benefit anglers.”

Those interested are asked to volunteer for at least three consecutive days. In the past, volunteers have contributed up to two weeks. The project began in late May and runs through September.

Anyone over 18 interested should contact Evan Leonetti at 541-464-2175 or evan.leonetti@state.or.us.

ODFW’s Commission Adopts Updated Wolf Management Plan

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

The Commission adopted a Wolf Plan at its meeting in Salem in a 6-1 vote after hearing from 44 people who came to testify and reviewing thousands of public comments.

OREGON WOLF TRACKS IN MUD. (ODFW)

Allowing controlled take (limited regulated hunting and trapping of wolves) was one of the most controversial topics in the new Wolf Plan. The original Plan adopted in 2005 allowed for controlled take only in Phase 3 (currently eastern Oregon), in instances of recurring depredations or when wolves are a major cause of ungulate populations not meeting established management objectives or herd management goals. While ODFW believed it needed to remain a tool available for wolf management, the department has not proposed any controlled take of wolves and has no plans to at this time.

Commissioners made some changes related to “controlled take” from the proposed Plan.  An addendum was added clearly stating that “Use of controlled take as a management tool requires Commission approval through a separate public rulemaking process” and the definition of controlled take was modified.

Additional minor changes were made to emphasize the importance of non-lethal tools to address wolf-livestock conflict and easy access to this information. Non-lethal measures to prevent wolf-livestock conflict continue to be emphasized in all phases of the Plan, and required before any lethal control is considered.

After some discussion, Commissioners revised the definition of chronic depredation (which can lead to lethal control of wolves if non-lethals are in use and not working) in Phase 2 and 3 from two confirmed depredations with no specific time frame to two confirmed depredations in nine months.

The Wolf Plan will be filed with the Secretary of State and posted on the ODFW Wolves webpage (www.odfw.com/wolves) within the next few business days.

In other business over the two-day meeting June 6-7, the Commission also:

  • Allocated big game auction and raffle tags for 2020.
  • Heard a briefing on the crab fishery and reducing the risk of whale entanglements.
  • Adopted harvest limits for Pacific sardine in state waters for July 2019-June 2020 based on federal regulations.
  • Approved funding for Access and Habitat projects that provide hunting access or improve wildlife habitat on private land.
  • Heard a briefing on proposed changes to 2020 big game hunting regulations as part of efforts to improve and simplify the Big Game Hunting Regulations

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in Oregon. Its next meeting is Aug. 2 in Salem.

Bonneville Shad Count Skyrocketing; Will It Top 2018’s Record 6.1 Million?

Updated: 8:45 a.m., June 7, 2019 with more comments from the Army Corps of Engineers

A record set just last year at Bonneville could soon be broken as the Columbia River’s shad count has surged to highs never seen so early.

Through Thursday, June 5, a whopping 2,875,519 have been tallied at the dam, with 86 percent of those fish — 2.5 million — coming in just the past seven days, a meteoric rise captured by a Fish Passage Center graph.

A FISH PASSAGE GRAPH SHOWS HOW QUICKLY THE 2019 SHAD RUN AT BONNEVILLE DAM RAMPED UP (RED LINE) VERSUS LAST YEAR’S RECORD RUN (BLUE LINE) AND THE 10-YEAR AVERAGE. (FPC)

The run so far has already topped the 10-year average overall return, hit 2.5 million fish four days faster than the next closest run, and set a new best seven-day count ever.

One observer thinks that 2018’s high mark of 6.1 million could be exceeded by 5 million, give or take, at this pace.

However, it’s also early and unclear if the 2019 return will exhibit the multiple peaks across much of June that other years’ returns have. If it doesn’t, this rocket could fall short.

This morning Jeffrey Henon, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers’ Portland District, says the contractor that performs the fish counts for federal dam operators was asked to double check the numbers.

He said that 250,000 shad is the daily capacity of a “crowder” device at the fish-counting station, and counts above that can diminish the accuracy.

In June 2017, what at first appeared to be a 497,000-fish day was revised to 247,366 after a “a technical glitch in (the Corps’) count recording system” was corrected for.

But a short while later Henon called back to say the review had been finished.

“Bottom line, the numbers are accurate,” Henon said.

A CHART SHOWS ALL THE YEARS SINCE 1938 THAT THE SHAD COUNT AT BONNEVILLE HAS EXCEEDED 2.5 MILLION, THE DATE THAT MARK WAS FIRST HIT, EACH RUN’S TOP SEVEN-DAY STRETCH AND THE FINAL RUN SIZE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

It also represents good news for the fishermen who gather on the bank below Bonneville to drift shad darts along bottom, or anchor on seams below there and well downriver to run Dick Nites and other small spoons behind lead droppers.

The bony fish are played for sport and quite a few are taken home to be canned or used for sturgeon or crab bait.

In his outdoor report yesterday, Terry Otto at The Columbian in Vancouver noted that 1,730 were kept last weekend by 212 anglers on the Washington bank in the gorge, with fish also being caught in the Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day Pools.

Nearly 180,000 are already above McNary Dam, over 5,000 are above Ice Harbor on the Snake.

According to the 2019 WDFW and ODFW joint staff report for Columbia spring and summer fisheries, last year’s sport kept catch of 250,000 shad below Bonneville was the highest on record. With low market demand, commercial fisheries are minimal.

Washington anglers won’t need a license to fish for them this Saturday and Sunday as it’s Free Fishing Weekend. There is no size, daily or possession limit on shad.

SHAD SWIM PAST A WINDOW AT BONNEVILLE DAM. (ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS)

Not much is known about the Columbia’s shad or where they go in the Pacific, much less why their returns are surging.

“I don’t have a great answer for that, and I’m not sure anyone does,” says ODFW’s Tucker Jones, who manages the big river for Oregon.

While he and much of the rest of Northwest anglerdom would probably prefer to see daily Chinook, coho, sockeye and steelhead counts as astronomical as those we’re seeing with shad, the nonnative species that feeds on plankton throughout its anadromous lifecycle may be benefiting in part from warmer waters and ocean conditions that negatively impacted salmonids.

While 2004’s and 2005’s big shad runs occurred in years that also saw high overall Chinook returns, that coincidence didn’t repeat last year nor is it expected to this year.

Jones says there’s no research backing this up, but it’s possible that young shad and young salmon could be competing for the same forage in the Columbia and ocean before Chinook and coho switch to a different diet as they grow larger.

LOWER COLUMBIA SHAD COLLECT IN A COOLER DURING A PAST RUN. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Per a species profile put together by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, from 10 million to 20 million shad may annually actually enter the Columbia, with most spawning below Bonneville, meaning the dam count reflects a fraction of the overall run.

Shad can also bypass the counting windows by going through the locks.

Even if no other shad crossed the dam this year, 2019 would still go down as 10th best since shad began to be tallied in 1946, primarily on the strength of the last seven days, which includes the third best one-day count.

While Wednesday’s 412,448 shad was nothing to shake a stick at, the largest daily passages on record occurred on June 5 and 6, 2003, when 504,724 and then 520,664 were tallied.

How high will this year’s run go? Stay tuned.

ELLIE, BOO BOO AND McKENNA SHOW OFF A PAIR OF COLUMBIA RIVER SHAD CAUGHT SEVERAL SEASONS AGO NEAR KALAMA. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Yaquina Chinook Tourney Cancelled To Help Low Run; Boat Raffle Still On

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE U DA MAN FISHING TOURNAMENT

The Executive Board of the U Da Man Fishing Tournament (UDM) has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s fishing tournament that was scheduled for Saturday, October 12th.

CHINOOK CAUGHT DURING 2014’S U DA MAN FISHING TOURNAMENT ON THE YAQUINA RIVER LAY ON A BED OF ICE. LAST YEAR ONLY ONE FISH WAS WEIGHED IN AND THIS YEAR, ORGANZERS ARE SCRUBBING THE EVENT BUT STILL PLAN TO RAFFLE OFF A DRIFT BOAT. (U DA MAN FISHING TOURNAMENT)

Based on information presented by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) staff at a public meeting held on 05-29-2019, returning wild (non clipped) Chinook populations are forecast to be near historic lows on all Central Coast streams in Oregon, including the Yaquina River.

The Yaquina River has no hatchery or salmon enhancement programs. Nearly all Chinook harvested by sport anglers are non clipped.

ODFW is proposing regulations this year that would limit anglers to just one non clipped Chinook a day, with a total aggregate catch of five non clipped Chinook total for the central river zone rivers. The executive board members are confident that ODFW will implement these regulations and agree with ODFW’s decision to do so.

For the past 20 years, the UDM group has worked to protect and enhance the Salmon populations and habitat on the Yaquina River, supported by many community members and local businesses. Last year’s event saw 111 participants with only one Chinook salmon weighed for the winning prize.

While we are disappointed in having to cancel the October event, we feel it would be hypocritical of our group to hold the tournament and put even more pressure on the forecasted low returns of non clipped Chinook salmon.

UDM has purchased a new Willie Drift boat to raffle this year.  The boat will be on display and all tickets will be sold at Englund Marine and Industrial Supply in Newport beginning June 8th. The 17 foot drift boat package includes oars, anchor, 2 inflatable PFD’s and a galvanized Saxon trailer valued at $9950. Tickets cost $50 each and only 200 will be sold.  In lieu of the tournament, the winner will be announced at Englund Marine and Industrial Supply at 12 noon on October 12th.

Funds usually generated by the tournament and the raffle support our projects on the Yaquina River, which include the Port to Port River Clean Up, Coho Ho habitat enhancement, contributions to local schools for wildlife and outdoor projects as well as our scholarship awards to local graduating high school seniors who plan on continuing their education in fields such as marine biology, fisheries and related fields.

Without the monies generated by the tournament, our available funds will be severely depleted. UDM is a small group and a registered nonprofit 501c3. We hope that you will continue to support UDM in these efforts by purchasing raffle tickets.

Where Barbed Hooks Are, Aren’t Now Allowed For Salmon, Steelhead On Washington’s Columbia System

Updated 3:10 p.m., May 31, 2019 with ODFW press release announcing Columbia hook rule change at bottom

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

Anglers on a large portion of the Columbia River and many of its tributaries will no longer be required to use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and steelhead beginning June 1.

In March, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission directed the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to make the use of barbless hooks voluntary for salmon and steelhead fisheries in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

Due to Endangered Species Act permitting with NOAA, WDFW is unable to fully lift restrictions on barbed hooks in some areas at this time, including tributaries upstream of McNary Dam, including the Snake River.

Still, barbless hook requirements on salmon and steelhead fishing are being lifted across a broad swath of Washington waters, including the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 to Chief Joseph Dam, and Columbia River tributaries from Buoy 10 to McNary Dam. Anglers fishing for sturgeon are still required to use barbless hooks.

The restriction on barbed hooks for salmon and steelhead will lift June 1 on the following waters:

A) Barbed hooks allowed for salmon and steelhead:

  1. Blue Creek (Lewis County), from the mouth to Spencer Road
  2. Cispus River (Lewis County)
  3. Columbia River, from a true north/south line through Buoy 10 to Chief Joseph Dam
  4. Coweeman River and tributaries (Cowlitz County)
  5. Cowlitz Falls Reservoir (Lake Scanewa) (Lewis County)
  6. Cowlitz River (Cowlitz County); Barbed hooks are also allowed for cutthroat trout in the Cowlitz River
  7. Drano Lake (Skamania County)
  8. Elochoman River (Wahkiakum County)
  9. Grays River (Wahkiakum County)
  10. Grays River, West Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  11. Kalama River (Cowlitz County)
  12. Klickitat River (Klickitat County)
  13. Lewis River (Clark County)
  14. Rock Creek (Skamania County)
  15. Tilton River (Lewis County)
  16. Toutle River (Cowlitz County)
  17. Toutle River, North Fork (Cowlitz County)
  18. Washougal River (Clark County)
  19. Washougal River, West (North) Fork (Clark/Skamania counties)
  20. White Salmon River (Klickitat/Skamania counties)

B) Selective gear rules still in effect; barbed hooks now allowed:

  1. Abernathy Creek and tributaries (Cowlitz County)
  2. Cedar Creek and tributaries (tributary of N.F. Lewis) (Clark County)
  3. Coal Creek (Cowlitz County)
  4. Delameter Creek (Cowlitz County)
  5. Germany Creek (Cowlitz County) and all tributaries.
  6. Grays River (Wahkiakum County)
  7. Grays River, East Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  8. Grays River, South Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  9. Grays River, West Fork tributaries (Wahkiakum County)
  10. Green River (Cowlitz County)
  11. Hamilton Creek (Skamania County)
  12. Kalama River (Cowlitz County): From 1,000 feet above fishway at upper salmon hatchery to Summers Creek and from the intersection of 6000 and 6420 roads to 6600 Road bridge immediately downstream of Jacks Creek.
  13. Lacamas Creek (Clark County): From mouth to footbridge at lower falls.
  14. Lacamas Creek, tributary of Cowlitz River (Lewis County)
  15. Lewis River, East Fork (Clark/Skamania counties): From mouth to 400 feet below Horseshoe Falls.
  16. Little Washougal River (Clark County)
  17. Mill Creek (Cowlitz County)
  18. Mill Creek (Lewis County): From the mouth to the hatchery road crossing culvert.
  19. Olequa Creek (Lewis/Cowlitz counties)
  20. Outlet Creek (Silver Lake) (Cowlitz County)
  21. Salmon Creek (Clark County): From the mouth to 182nd Avenue Bridge.
  22. Salmon Creek (Lewis County)
  23. Skamokawa Creek (Wahkiakum County)
  24. Stillwater Creek (Lewis County)
  25. Swift Reservoir (Skamania County): From the posted markers approximately 3/8 mile below Eagle Cliff Bridge to the bridge; from the Saturday before Memorial Day through July 15.
  26. Toutle River, North Fork (Cowlitz County):  From the mouth to the posted deadline below the fish collection facility.
  27. Wind River (Skamania County): from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls to Moore Bridge.
  28. White Salmon River (Klickitat/Skamania counties): From the county road bridge below the former location of the powerhouse upstream to Big Brother Falls (river mile 16).

C) Fly fishing only rules still in effect; barbed hooks now allowed:

  1. Kalama River (Cowlitz County): From Summers Creek to the intersection of 6000 and 6420 roads.

This rule will be reflected in the new Washington Sport Fishing Rules Pamphlet on July 1, 2019. Anglers are reminded to check the pamphlet for additional regulations and to learn more about selective gear and fly fishing rules. Anglers can also download the Fish Washington mobile app to see up-to-date regulations around the state. Visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/app to learn more.

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

ODFW today adopted temporary rules to allow anglers to use barbed hooks when fishing for salmon, steelhead and trout in the Columbia River beginning Saturday, June 1.

ODFW adopted the rule so Oregon’s fishing regulations will remain concurrent with Washington in the jointly-managed Columbia River. The temporary rule will remain in effect until further notice or until it expires in late November. For it to become a permanent rule, the Fish and Wildlife Commission will need to approve a rule change, which Commissioners are expected to consider at a future meeting.

Anglers have been required to use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon, steelhead, and trout in the Columbia River since 2013. In March, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a recommendation to make the use of barbless hooks voluntary, and Washington Fish and Wildlife implemented the rule to begin June 1.

Rules requiring the use of single-point barbless hooks when fishing for sturgeon in the Columbia River remain in effect for anglers in both states. 

For the latest on Columbia River fishing regulations visit https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/columbia-zone

ODFW Details Hunt Change Proposals; Legalizing Blacktail Spikes Could Up Harvest

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

Last year, ODFW began a multi-year effort to review and improve hunting regulations.

Many of Oregon’s controlled hunts and season structures were put in place decades ago and mostly untouched through the years. “We have undertaken a complete review of our big game hunting regulations with the goal of making them more consistent, in tune with current populations and issues, and simpler,” said Nick Myatt, ODFW Grand Ronde Watershed Manager who is leading the effort.

AN OREGON HUNTING PROPOSAL WOULD REMOVE THE FORKED-ANTLER REQUIREMENT DURING WESTERN OREGON’S GENERAL BLACKTAIL SEASON. (ODFW)

A number of changes took effect in 2019, and now ODFW has new proposals for 2020. One of the major ideas proposed will be a change in the bag limit for the hunt in Oregon with more participation than any other—the Western Oregon general rifle deer season, which more than 61,000 people hunted in 2017. ODFW is proposing to simplify the bag limit from “one buck deer having not less than a forked antler” to “one buck with visible antler.” All 600 series antlerless deer hunts in western Oregon currently with a “one antlerless or spike deer” bag limit would also change to “one antlerless deer.”

The current bag limit is different from the eastern Oregon deer bag limit, creates enforcement issues, and is not biologically relevant. It is a relic of when western Oregon offered a large number of antlerless deer tags in some wildlife management units. The proposed bag limit change is expected to increase harvest opportunities and success for general season rifle deer hunters by allowing the harvest of spike bucks. While it may result in an increase in buck harvest, there are sufficient bucks in the population to support increased harvest. All but one Western Oregon unit has met or exceeded the benchmark for observed post-hunting season buck ratio in at least two of the last three years.

The change may also help the buck deer population by allowing hunters to remove the bucks genetically inclined to remain spikes. Data shows that some yearling bucks have forked antlers while some 2-year-old or older bucks have spike antlers.

Other eastern Oregon hunts in the 600 series that allow for buck harvest will be moved to the 100 series buck hunts for consistency and to more equitably distribute hunting opportunity by giving each hunter one buck hunting opportunity every year.

General season antlerless elk damage tag pilot program

Over the last few decades, elk populations in many areas have increased on private land adjacent to row crop or irrigated agricultural lands, leading to conflict, economic damage, and reduced hunting opportunity in some units.

ODFW and landowners use a variety of tools to address this damage, including hunting through controlled antlerless elk hunting and damage tags. However, controlled hunts can be inconvenient for hunters who must know far in advance (by May 15) that they will have private land access and want this as their elk hunting opportunity. Damage tags can be cumbersome for landowners and staff to implement. In many areas, overall harvest is still inadequate and private land elk populations continue to increase.

OREGON HUNTING MANAGERS HAVE A NEW PLAN FOR ACCESSING ELK CAUSING DAMAGE ON PRIVATE LAND. (RICK SWART, ODFW)

To address these issues, ODFW is proposing a new general season elk damage tag with an antlerless bag limit for the 2020 hunting season. This tag would replace 19 controlled hunts and the need for landowner damage tags during those timeframes (Aug. 1-March 31 for elk de-emphasis areas and western Oregon, and Aug. 1-Nov. 30 in other areas). The tags would be valid in specific chronic elk damage areas mapped annually by ODFW. Hunters considering this new opportunity would still need to think ahead about permission to hunt on private land for this tag and the tag would be their only elk hunting opportunity.

ODFW also proposes changing a few general bull elk rifle seasons in eastern Oregon (in Hood, White River, and central and SE Cascades) to controlled hunts, both for consistency and because some units are not meeting bull ratio objectives under the general season structure.

Other proposed changes include:

  • Longer, later seasons for pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and Rocky Mountain goat hunts to give hunters who draw one of these prized tags a later opening and more time to hunt.
  • 127 existing hunts being consolidated into 49 hunts.
  • 91 hunt dates expanded, made simpler or made consistent with other hunts.
  • 85 hunt areas expanded to the entire unit or hunt boundaries were made simpler.
  • 57 bag limits made simpler or made consistent with other hunts.
  • Nine new controlled hunt opportunities, including three late season mule deer hunts, two mountain goat hunts, and a pronghorn hunt.

A more complete list of proposed changes is available on MyODFW.com (under Big Game Hunting). ODFW is also hosting public meetings around the state in July to present these ideas and get feedback (meeting schedule will be posted on MyODFW.com in June).

The Fish and Wildlife Commission will be briefed on these concepts at their June 6 meeting in Salem, and make a final decision at their Sept. 13 meeting in Gold Beach when they adopt 2020 Big Game Regulations. Comments on the proposals can also be emailed to odfw.commission@state.or.us

Tons Of Ops For Oregon’s June 1-2 Free Fishing Weekend

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

It’s free to fish, crab or clam in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2.

During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon for both residents and non-residents. Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions.

SHAD ARE AMONG THE PLETHORA OF SPECIES TO TRY AND HARVEST DURING OREGON’S JUNE FREE FISHING WEEKEND. ODFW REPORTS “HUGE NUMBERS” IN THE LOWER UMPQUA, WHILE SCHOOLS ARE ALSO BUILDING IN THE LOWER COLUMBIA TOO. (ODFW)

Look for the latest on fishing conditions and regulations at ODFW’s Weekly Recreation Report, which is updated every Wednesday. Trout and warmwater fishing are ideal for beginners; see the trout stocking schedule to find out when your local pond was stocked with hatchery rainbow trout.

The first weekend in June has long been Free Fishing Weekend in Oregon. (Oregon State Parks are also free for visitors that weekend, with free parking Saturday-Sunday June 1-2 and free camping Saturday.) ODFW and volunteer fishing instructors, State Parks and other partners also host fishing events statewide that weekend, bringing all the gear new anglers need (rods, reels, bait) to try fishing.

See below for a list of events and visit the Free Fishing Weekend page for more information including contact information for each event.

Saturday events:

  • Alsea, Oregon Hatchery Research Center, Saturday, June 1, 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Baker City, Highway 203 Pond, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – noon
  • Bridal Veil, Benson State Park, Benson Lake, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – noon
  • Camp Sherman, Wizard Falls Hatchery, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – noon
  • Chiloquin, Klamath Hatchery, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Clatskanie, Saturday, June 1, Gnat Creek Hatchery, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Park at hatchery only, no parking along the highway.
  • Detroit, Hoover Boat Ramp, Saturday, June 1, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Disabled access available.
  • Diamond Lake, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Enterprise, Marr Pond, Saturday, June 1, 8:00 a.m. – noon
  • Estacada, Small Fry Lake/Promontory Park, Saturday, June 1, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Eugene, Alton Baker Park, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Florence, Cleawox Lake, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Gervais, St. Louis Ponds, Saturday, June 1, 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Gold Beach, Libby Pond, Saturday, June 1, 8 a.m.-noon
  • Hammond, Coffenbury Lake -Fort Stevens State Park, Saturday, June 1, 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Disabled access available.
  • Hebo, Hebo Lake, Saturday, June 1, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Hood River, Lost Lake Resort, Saturday, June 1,  8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Klamath Falls, Lake of the Woods Resort, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Lakeside, Eel Lake/Tugman STP, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Medford, Fish Lake, Saturday, June 1, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Oakridge, Willamette Hatchery, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – noon
  • Otis, Salmon River Hatchery, Saturday, June 1, 8:00 a.m. – noon
  • Prairie City, McHaley Pond, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – noon
  • Rockaway Beach, Nedonna Pond, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Selma, Lake Selmac, Saturday, June 1, 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Silverton, Silverton Marine Park, Saturday, June 1, 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Note there is no parking at Marine Park, so participants must catch a bus from one of several locations in town to get to event, see webpage for details.
  • Sunriver, Caldera Springs, Saturday, June 1,  9:00 a.m. – noon
  • Sutherlin, Cooper Creek Reservoir, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Tillamook, Trask River Hatchery, Saturday, June 1, 8:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.
  • Toledo, Olalla Reservoir, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. More info

Sunday events:

  • Port Orford, Arizona Pond, Sunday, June 2, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Reedsport, Lake Marie, Sunday, June 2, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Best bets Free Fishing Weekend

This time of year Oregon anglers are spoiled with choices. Here are just a few options to consider:

  • In the last two weeks, dozens of waterbodies have been stocked with thousands of rainbow trout, and fishing should be excellent!
  • Cutthroat trout fishing should be good in north coast streams.
  • Huge numbers of shad have been coming out of the mainstem Umpqua, especially neat Cleveland Rapids. Shad enthusiasts should also check out the Coos and Coquille basins.
  • Striped bass are still being caught in the lower Umpqua Basin and on the Coquille River from Riverton to Arago.
  • Breitenbush River will be stocked for the first time this year the week of May 27.
  • Summer steelhead conditions continue to be good on the Clackamas River with the best fishing early and late in the day.
  • Anglers are reporting some spring Chinook being caught on the Hood River.
  • Anglers are catching their limits of kokanee on Wickiup Reservoir.
  • Look for the phenomenal hatch of salmonflies to continue this week on the Klamath River from the Powerhouse to the CA border. Golden stoneflies should also be hatching in good numbers.
  • Fishing has been excellent at Heart Lake, where all fishing methods seem to produce full stringers of trout.
  • The crappie (and mosquitoes) are biting on Cold Springs Reservoir as the fish move into the shallows to spawn.
  • Trout and kokanee fishing have been good on Wallowa Lake.

Bummed By Northwest Fish Runs? So Is This Angler, But He’s Also Exploring New Ops

By Rick Itami

Like many other sport anglers in the Inland Northwest, I am deeply saddened about the drastically diminished runs of salmon and steelhead in our favorite rivers and streams.

For me, 2018 was the worst year in terms of fish landed since I retired in 2003. Fishing was so bad that I cut the number of days on the water by over 50 percent.

Looking forward, the future is not bright. With a new “blob” of warm water developing in the Pacific and the current El Nino, we might be looking at several more years of low run counts.

SPOKANE-BASED ANGLER-AUTHOR RICK ITAMI WITH HIS FIRST-EVER SNOOK TAKEN OUT OF FLORIDA BAY. (RICK ITAMI)

There are just too many negative factors facing our beloved salmonids these days, including pinniped predation, terns and mergansers feasting on outmigrating smolts, continued loss of habitat to human development and other causes.

Then you have our politicians trying to do the right thing, but only succeeding in getting a few days of good press with little real benefit to salmon and steelhead.

And lately, to hear that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission has voted to allow nontribal gillnetting back into the Lower Columbia in the face of low run predictions for 2019, I am getting a sick feeling in my stomach.

I turned 73 years old in April 5 and my window of opportunity for my favorite pastime is narrowing faster with each passing year. And then it hit me: will I die before salmon and steelhead numbers recover to what they were just five to 10 years ago?

The truth is the answer to that question could easily be “yes.”

ITAMI IS MUCH MORE AT HOME IN HIS NATIVE IDAHO, WHERE HE CAUGHT THIS NICE STRINGER OF HATCHERY STEELHEAD, BUT LOW RUNS ARE LEADING HIM TO LOOK FOR OTHER ANGLING OPPORTUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY. (RICK ITAMI)

I STARTED FISHING WITH MY OLDER BROTHER WHEN I was 5 years old. We had a creek fed by natural artesian wells that ran through the middle of our little farm just west of Nampa, Idaho, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game planted rainbow trout in it every year. We spent many happy hours catching 6-8 inch trout in our creek and cooling off in our swimming hole in the heat of summer.

Since then, I have graduated to fishing all over the Northwest, mostly for salmon and steelhead. And in retirement, I was blessed to be able to figure things out to the point that I would catch 50 to 150 steelhead a year and a few dozen Chinook salmon. But that’s all in the past now.

Rather than sitting in my easy chair feeling sorry for myself and other salmon and steelhead fishermen in the Inland Northwest, I have decided to give fishing a rest in my favorite local salmon and steelhead venues and pursue different fish species elsewhere.

Over the years, I have developed a bucket list of fish species that I would like to catch that would require me to travel well outside of the Northwest.

I read some books and watched fishing shows about fishing the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. This got me excited about trying to catch some of the many species available on the Gulf Coast, including redfish, speckled sea trout, tarpon, bonefish, permit, pompano and other species.

During the past two years I have fished almost the whole semi-circle of the Gulf Coast, including the Lower Laguna Madre and Port Aransas in Texas, Barrataria and Venice in Louisiana, Tampa Bay and the Florida Keys. I’ve booked my wife and I a guide out of Grand Isles, Louisiana for another trip to the bayou this fall.

So far I have landed several species of fish I had never caught before such as redfish, speckled sea trout, snook, black drum, sheepshead, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel and sail catfish.

ITAMI ESCAPED COLD INLAND NORTHWEST WEATHER TO WADE-FISH FOR A DIFFERENT KIND OF TROUT WAY DOWN TEXAS WAY, THE SPECKLED TROUT OF LAGUNA MADRE. HERE HE REELS IN HIS FIRST EVER. (RICK ITAMI)

I caught all of these species inshore fishing various flats with local guides. I have come to love flats fishing. My wife feels safe fishing water that rarely gets over 3 feet deep.

While most of our trips were successful, our one excursion to fish for tarpon on the northern pass of Anna Maria Island near Tampa Bay was a bust. On the mid-May 2018 day we landed in Tampa, a tropical depression had formed over the entire state of Florida. We had to sit out torrential rains most of the week.

The one day we got out to fish, the storm had moved the 10,000 tarpon that were in the pass the previous week somewhere out into the vast Gulf of Mexico. We got skunked.

My wife and I went after bonefish on some flats on the east side of the Florida Keys this past February. Strong winds and passing clouds made it difficult to spot the fish in the 1- 3-foot-deep water.

The guide did his job by poling his skiff within range of seven or eight groups of bonefish. Unfortunately, his clients were too slow and inaccurate with the casts in the windy conditions to get the baits within biting range.

But it was a thrill to see bonefish for the first time — some approaching 9 pounds! I didn’t even know they got that big and I will definitely give fishing for them another try.

So far my favorite Gulf fish to catch is the big bull redfish because they get as big and fight as hard as our beloved Chinook salmon of the Northwest.

FOLLOWING 2017’S BAD RUNS, ITAMI HEADED FOR CAJUN COUNTRY — LOUISIANA’S BAYOU — AND BOOKED SOME FISHING TIME WITH GRIFFIN FISHING CHARTERS. (RICK ITAMI)

IF YOU GET THE URGE TO FISH THE GULF COAST like me, I should let you know some of the things I learned.

First of all, no matter where I went to fish it off Texas, Louisiana or Florida I found that the vastness of the flats makes it almost impossible for DIY trips. In most areas, you can find places to rent boats or kayaks, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re unfamiliar with the area.

The exception to that would be Port Aransas, where some friends from Colorado and I caught some nice speckled sea trout while DIY kayaking.

The guides know the areas well and have their local contacts to let them know where the fish are. On most trips, the guides will travel anywhere from 5 to 30 miles from the launch area to get to where the bite is.

Most of the flats around the Gulf coast have hundreds of small cane or mangrove islands — all of which look alike. Even after going out with guides, I know I could never go out on my own and find the spots they took us to. Worse yet, I would undoubtedly have gotten lost in the vastness of the flats.

So finding a good guide is essential. I search the internet for guides with 5-star ratings from trip advisor. I also take note of guides that are highlighted on fishing shows on TV.

However, the latter didn’t work out quite as well as I would have liked in one case. Having seen a guide out of Venice on a popular fishing show, I booked a trip with him for me and my Air Force buddy from Tampa and his son.

The guide told me over the phone that we could stay at his “lodge” for free. That should have raised red flags, but I didn’t delve any further into the state of the accommodations. We drove from the New Orleans airport to Venice and arrived just before dark. We used our GPS to locate the so-called lodge, which was down a dirt road just off the main highway.

At first we didn’t believe the GPS because it landed us at a ramshackle two-story unpainted building that looked like it had been abandoned for years. We contacted the guide and he assured us we were at the right place and that he needed to do a little “cleaning up” before we settled in.

IT’S NOT ALL DOOM AND GLOOM IN THE NORTHWEST — THE OPENING OF STURGEON RETENTION ON LAKE ROOSEVELT NEAR THE LILAC CITY AFFORDED ITAMI, LEFT, A CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE A NEW CLOSE-TO-HOME FISHERY. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

He arrived a few minutes later and let us in. He showed us to a small room with two bunk beds that were unmade and with bedding and other things scattered everywhere. My buddy’s son found mouse droppings on his bed. The guide showed us how to use a vise grips to turn the shower on and off. Unfortunately, it was too late to try to find other accommodations. We were stuck.

The good thing was that fishing was good and we caught a lot of nice bull redfish. But beware of anything that sounds too good to be true.

One of the differences in Gulf Coast guides as opposed to Northwest fishing guides is that they all call themselves “Captain.” Most of them prefer to be addressed as Captain, followed by their first name, e.g., “Captain John”. But they don’t seem to mind us Yankees not observing that custom.

Weather is an important factor in the success of fishing the Gulf coast. Hurricanes, tropical depressions and cold fronts are common in this area of the U. S. So it’s often a crap shoot when you book a guide far in advance of your trip.

Most guides require a deposit when you book a trip, but will return it if weather conditions don’t permit a trip … or allow you to reschedule a trip at a later date. Nowadays, you can look at the weather predictions up to 10 days in advance so you can cancel airline, lodging and charter reservations if things look bad.

If you want to target a specific species, you should let your guide know ahead of time. Oftentimes, the guides will go to different areas of the flats depending on which species you want to pursue. For example, in the Louisiana Bayou country, oftentimes redfish are found in different areas than speckled sea trout.

When my wife and I fished the Florida Keys, the guide took us over 20 miles into Florida Bay where we caught a variety of fish including snook, speckled trout, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, and other species. The next day, we asked him to target bonefish only, so he took us on the Atlantic side of the Keys where he poled us into several groups of bones, as mentioned above.

ITAMI AND HIS GUIDES POSE WITH A NICE GULF COAST CATCH. (RICK ITAMI)

It’s also important to let your guide know ahead of time if you want to catch bull redfish (over 26 inches) as opposed to slot reds (20 to 26 inches). They are usually found in different areas of the estuaries.

I’m not much into to catching sharks or stingrays, but they are often plentiful in the flats and put up a great fight if you want to give that a try.

Speaking of stingrays, I once went out with a guide in the Lower Laguna Madre on the south Texas coast who wade-fished exclusively. I love this type of fishing, but you have to shuffle your feet along the bottom so as not to step on a stingray, which can launch its tail spike into your leg in an instant. This can be extremely painful and lead to horrible infections. A lot of wade fishermen wear special leggings to protect them from stingray strikes.

Finally, while my preference is inshore flats fishing, in most areas of the Gulf Coast you can also choose to fish offshore in the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Here you have the opportunity to catch other species like yellowfin and blackfin tuna, cobia, king mackerel, red snapper, barracuda and other species.

But most charters take out several people at a time much farther from the launch site than inshore fishing and they are usually a lot more expensive. I never keep any of my catch and get seasick at times, so I will probably continue inshore fishing only with smaller groups of relatives and friends.

ITAMI SHOWS OFF A NICE BULL RED CAUGHT IN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA OUT OF VENICE, LOUISIANA. “IT FOUGHT LIKE A CHINOOK SALMON,” HE REPORTS. (RICK ITAMI)

WHILE GIVING MOST OF MY INLAND NORTHWEST FISHING a breather until hopefully the runs of fish return in more respectable numbers, I will not totally abandon it.

Having fished for over 60 years, I have developed a lot of friendships with guides, lodging owners, and cooks and wait staff at great small eateries. So I will fish some of my favorite haunts if for no other reason than to give these wonderful people some business.

And as all avid fishermen know, it’s great just to get out into the stream and take in the beauty of Mother Nature.

Oregon Lawmakers Hear Dire Warning About Willamette Salmonids, Fish Passage Work

Oregon lawmakers heard grim news about the future of Willamette Valley salmon and steelhead runs unless plans to increase fish passage around the Corps of Engineers’ so-called “Big 4” dams are expedited and fully implemented.

ODFW’s Bruce McIntosh warned that the stocks otherwise will go extinct, “likely within our lifetime,” if the federal agency and Congress doesn’t better connect the large amount of fish habitat available in the upper watersheds of the North and South Santiams, McKenzie and Middle Fork Willamette to the rest of the system.

Even as some projects to do that are years behind schedule, important funding to finish the work has been zeroed out starting this fall, he said.

WATER FLOWS THROUGH FLOOD GATES AT LOOKOUT POINT DAM DURING A 2013 TEST TO DETERMINE HOW BEST TO AID THE DOWNSTREAM MIGRATION OF LISTED SALMON AND STEELHEAD STOCKS. A STATE MANAGER SAYS THAT 70 TO 90 PERCENT OF SMOLTS DIE AT THE DAMS. (MARY KAREN SCULLION, CORPS OF ENGINEERS RESERVOIR REGULATION & WATER QUALITY SECTION)

The Corps has operated 13 dams in the watershed starting with the first 50 years ago for hydropower and flood control — preventing $1 billion in damage this spring, it touted — and has provided hatchery mitigation since Congress authorized it in 1951. They’ve also built adult collection facilities.

But the problem is getting young fish hatched in redds in the mountain reaches safely down past the dams. McIntosh says 70 to 90 percent die as they try to navigate through the facilities.

It’s more and more important with listed wild returns at Willamette Falls decreasing since at least the turn of the millennium, from 20,000-plus spring Chinook in the first years of the 2000s to 5,000 last year, and from 16,000 winter steelhead in 2002 to 2000 in 2018.

“Frankly, when you look at that, you can hear the battle drums of endangered species, not just threatened species. That’s the crossroads we sit at now,” McIntosh, the state’s deputy fish chief, told members of the House Committee on Natural Resources in a televised work session (starts at about 1:12:30) yesterday.

Increasing the number of returning wild fish could mean that fishery restrictions can be eased, but if runs continue to plummet, they will only get tighter due to the Endangered Species Act.

Pointing to a slide in his presentation that also showed Grand Ronde Tribe members dipnetting for the first time, McIntosh said, “There’s a whole fleet and economy around the fisheries at Willamette Falls and the Lower Columbia that is at stake here.”

McIntosh did acknowledge the “new actor on the stage” affecting returning salmonid numbers — sea lions that arrived at Willamette Falls in the past decade and which feast on returning salmon and steelhead at the chokepoint.

But he also reported that since ODFW received the OK from the National Marine Fisheries Service last fall to kill pinnipeds there, 34 have been euthanized.

A SEA LION FLINGS A SALMONID AT WILLAMETTE FALLS. (ODFW)

McIntosh said that most of what federal engineers need to do further up in the watershed is included in a 2008 federal biological opinion.

“Frankly, the Corps needs to get about the business of modifying those dams and operations, and Congress must fund them. That’s where we sit today,” McIntosh said.

He allowed that the Corps’ task was not easy, given the nature of the reservoirs, predation in them and how young fish prefer to travel at the surface of the lakes, and that some work has been accomplished.

Adult fish are being trucked around Detroit Dam on the North Santiam and Foster on the South Santiam, for instance, but there’s no way to collect smolts that otherwise have to go over the spillway or through the turbines and hope for the best. However, an “extreme draining” test on Fall Creek Reservoir showed promise for flushing fish and ridding the impoundment of nonnative fish.

THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS FISH COLLECTION FACILITY BELOW COUGAR DAM, ON A MCKENZIE TRIBUTARY. (ACOE)

He also said that other improvements are several years behind schedule, with the completion date at Lookout Point Dam on the Middle Fork — behind which is an estimated 94 percent of the highest quality spawning and rearing waters for springers in that system — now “unknown.”

Eighty-five percent of the best habitat on the South Santiam is behind Foster and Green Peter Reservoirs, 71 percent on the North Santiam is behind Detroit Reservoir, and 25 percent is behind Cougar Dam on a tributary of the McKenzie, he said.

And what’s even worse, according to McIntosh, is that the Trump Administration’s construction budget for Willamette basin work has been “zeroed out” starting this October.

McIntosh also highlighted how the Corps has been backing away from mitigating its dams with hatchery fish and is now producing 20 percent less than in past decade.

“And we frankly suspect there are more reductions to follow,” he said.

He claimed that the feds consider putting out their 4.6 million salmon and steelhead and 750,000 trout to be “discretionary” rather than a line item in their budget.

As the Corps has recently mulled turning over hatchery production in the basin to private vendors, McIntosh said he’s joked with federal staffers that they should turn over their dams to PGE, which saw “significant increase in survival” after it installed upstream and downstream fish passage at its Clackamas River dams.

At a cost of $90 million, 97 percent of juvenile salmon and steelhead now safely pass the facilities, according to the Portland-based utility.

ODFW’S BRUCE MCINTOSH SPEAKS BEFORE THE OREGON LEGISLATURE’S HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES, CHAIRED BY REP. BRAD WITT. (OREGON LEGISLATURE)

“What’s at stake? It’s our legacy. While we fully support the Corps and federal government efforts to restore wild fish to sustainable levels in the valley, they also have a mitigation responsibility, and our message to them is, we will not accept paper fish in exchange for real fish,” McIntosh said.

“When they get about the business of recovering wild fish, we can talk about reducing that mitigation responsibility,” he said.

At the end of the work session, Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) said that he intended to have a letter drafted supporting construction work on the Willamette system to aid fish passage.