Tag Archives: Oregon

North Oregon Coast Beaches Reopening For Digging Razor Clams

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

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announce the opening of razor clam harvesting on the north Oregon coast.

NORTHER OREGON BEACHES ARE REOPENING FOR DIGGING RAZOR CLAMS . (ODFW)

Recreational and commercial razor clam harvesting is now open from the Columbia River to Tillamook Head (south of Seaside). Recent samples taken from the area indicate the marine biotoxin domoic acid has dropped below the closure limit. 

Recreational and commercial razor clam harvesting remains closed from Tillamook Head to the California border for elevated levels of domoic acid toxin. 

Bay clams, crab and mussel harvesting are open along the entire Oregon coastline.

For more information, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA Recreational Shellfish Biotoxin Closures webpage.

Northwest Sportsmen’s, Boat Shows Take Center Stage

Winter days a great time to check out what’s new in fishing, hunting, find deals, get advice at shows around the region.

Along with the big antler racks, the gun raffle he signed up for and the guy with the sparky fire tool thingy, what caught the eye of my youngest son at the fishing and hunting show we attended last winter was a school of fish.

Walleye to be exact.

As a gaggle of anglers began to settle into their chairs by the massive fish tank ahead of the arrival of the next expert speaker, Kiran sidled up to a corner and a few of the bugeyed Midwestern transplants swam over to say hello.

KIRAN WALGAMOTT EYES UP THE DENIZENS OF WALLEYE ALLEY AT THE WASHINGTON SPORTSMEN’S SHOW IN PUYALLUP LAST YEAR. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

He’ll be able to renew his acquaintance with the fish as sportsmen’s show season kicks off in the Northwest, starting this weekend in Tri-Cities.

And surely 2019’s debut of the walleye tank is among the best new displays to come online in recent years as organizers look for ways to entice us hunters and anglers to take a day off work or come in on the weekend to see the sights.

Yes, that may seem in this day and age like a tough sell as we face low fish runs and harder hunting, but I find it invigorating to walk the aisles with fellow sportsmen, not to mention educational given all the seminars to take in.

And if I buy some new gear – expect to see hundreds of new products at some shows – a few scones and maybe book a trip along the way, all the better as I’m supporting our causes and keeping them strong and viable.

This winter features two dozen different shows in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and southwest British Columbia, with about half just an exit or three away on the I-5 corridor and many more in key Inland Northwest cities.

Here’s a quick look at what’s new and interesting at some of this year’s events:

THE AFOREMENTIONED WALLEYE tank was part of the Washington and Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Shows in Puyallup and Portland, and O’Loughlin Trade Shows’ Trey Carskadon called it a “huge hit last year and back again this year with big names.”

“Walleye Alley is an opportunity to learn the ins, outs and places to catch walleye in Washington state and the Columbia,” he says.

ANGLERS AWAIT THE NEXT SEMINAR AT THE WALLEYE ALLEY DURING A NORTHWEST SPORTSMEN’S SHOW LAST WINTER. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Eastside guides Shane Magnuson and Austin Moser will be in heavy rotation on the tank, and the Midwest’s Johnny Candle will be on tap too.

Also returning in late January to Puyallup is the Outdoor Cooking Championship, where the lords of the grill and barbecue pit put their briskets, steaks and hamburgers head to head – or mouth to mouth, in this case – in competition for points in national and international cooking contests.

“It’s a big deal! Last year, we had no idea how big a deal it really was until we started tasting some of the samples – OMG!” gushes Carskadon.

The chefs will also be serving up cooking tips in seminars, joining an absolute plethora of regionally renowned anglers, guides and experts on stage –somehow, 40 hours worth of seminars are packed into each day!

“It’s a true parade of pros with names like Buzz Ramsey, Robert Kratzer, Del Stephens, Glen Berry, Dan Kloer, Johnnie Candle, Brett Stoffel, Terry Rudnick, Brad Hole, Tyler Hicks and many others,” says Carskadon.

FAMED NORTHWEST ANGLER BUZZ RAMSEY LEADS A SEMINAR ON TROUT AND STEELHEAD FISHING. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Those last two gents – Hole and Hicks – will be at the Kayak Fishing Pavilion, exclusive to Puyallup, as angling out of the nimble craft continues to explode in the region and nationwide.

For they and other techy fishermen, there’s a seminar series at Puyallup and Portland in early February that should help new and longtime Garmin owners get the most out of their electronics. In terms of good old-fashioned, hands-on skills, expert Brett Stoffel will be giving advice on how to survive in the wild in case of emergency.

For the kids, local bow clubs Skookum Archers and Sylvan Archers members will be on hand for instruction at Puyallup and Portland, respectively, while the Baxter’s Kid’s Trout Pond is “a perennial favorite” at all three shows (the third, the Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show, is in Redmond, in mid-March), and one which annually yields fish up to 10 pounds.

“A little known fact: The uncaught fish at the end of the show are donated to a local food bank,” notes Carskadon.

Other fun stuff includes the “Fistful of Corkies” game, in which you dip into a bin of the drift bobbers from Yakima Bait, dump them in a cup and if one of those size 12s in fire tiger or whatever has a Toyota logo, fish on! you just won a prize.

“There are hundreds of incredible prizes like coolers, apparel, packs, socks, rods, camp gear and much more,” says Carksadon. “At the very least you’ll leave with a handful of Corkies – for free.”

You also stand a chance to win a gun safe, rifle, tools or boots from Fort Knox, Ruger, Gerber and Danner, among other prizes, via the Head and Horns Competition at all three shows. According to Carskadon, it doesn’t just have to be a critter you harvested last fall; it can be “one your great great uncle harvested a hundred years ago.”

(Speaking of a century ago, see the next page’s sidebar for what was at a 1924 sportsmen’s show in Seattle.)

Specific to Portland in early February is the Leupold VIP Movie Night, a first, and featuring “short hunting movies along with the celebrities that are in them.” At press time the lineup hadn’t fully been set, but Randy Newberg, the well-known public land hunter and advocate, was scheduled, and there will be raffles.

Fellow hunter Steven Rinella and several members of his show will be around for what’s being dubbed MeatEater Sunday “to celebrate this wonderful opportunity to learn how to prepare and cook all kinds of wild game.”

Portland’s own Maxine McCormick will also be holding fly rod casting seminars, representing “a rare opportunity to learn from the world’s best – not the world’s best teen or world’s best female flycaster, but the world’s best, period,” says Carskadon.

Also only in the Rose City, the Englund Marine Bait Rigging lab, with tips on setting up for tuna, halibut, Chinook and other top species from expert anglers, plus what’s known as “Retail Row,” part of what makes the Portland show so huuuuuuuuuuuuge.

Along with many of the same features as the other two O’Loughlin events, the Redmond show will see the new Sportsmen’s Cooking Competition, which organizers have high hopes for. You can also check out how fast of a draw you are for free and then clamber through hundreds of travel vehicles at what’s billed as “Central Oregon’s Largest RV Show.”

Info: otshows.com

THE AISLES MAY BE PACKED AT THE ANNUAL BOAT, FISHING AND HUNTING SHOWS, BUT IT’S ALWAYS WORTH CHECKING OUT NEW FEATURES AND PRODUCTS AT THE 20-PLUS EVENTS HELD EVERYWHERE FROM MEDFORD TO VICTORIA, PORTLAND TO BILLINGS. (SEATTLE BOAT SHOW)

ONE THOUSAND BOATS, 400-plus different exhibitors, 200 free seminars, nine full days, 3 acres worth of boat tech and gear, and two locations. Welcome to the 2020 Seattle Boat Show, slated again for late January into very early February.

Along with all the latest and greatest in fishing boats to drool over, the calling card for this mammoth show primarily held at the Emerald City’s CenturyLink Field Events Center is the huge number of fishing and crabbing seminars led by experts. I mean, if you’re going to have a boat, you should get some use out of it, right?!?

To that end, the Northwest Marine Trade Association, which puts on the show, annually puts together a stellar who’s who lineup of speakers, and this year’s is notable because it includes Del “Tuna Dog” Stephens. He’s one of the driving forces in offshore albacore angling since the fishery exploded earlier this millennium (last season saw Oregon’s sport catch of 100,000-plus destroy the old record). Stephens is on deck the afternoons of Jan. 30 and Feb. 1 to talk about the use of new technology for finding and catching tuna and albie fishing from A to Z, respectively.

DEL STEPHENS WILL LEAD TWO SEMINARS ON ALBACORE TUNA FISHING OFF THE NORTHWEST COAST AT THE UPCOMING SEATTLE BOAT SHOW. (DEL STEPHENS)

Fellow briny blue angler Tommy Donlin is coming back to touch on those fightingest fish in our Pacific waters, as well as halibut, lingcod and Chinook. In fact, salmon are a topic for many other speakers, including Nick Kester, Chris Long, Keith Robbins, Tom Nelson, Kent Alger, Austin Moser, Aaron Peterson and others.

A new speaker this year is Leland Miywaki, who came up with the Miyawaki Beach Popper and who will go deep on fly fishing the salt for coastal cuttroat trout – a wildly overlooked opportunity – and salmon.

And Larry Phillips will wave the flag for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife during presentations on coastal fisheries and a Q&A on the myriad issues the agency is dealing with.

Info: seattleboatshow.com

SPORTSMEN’S SHOWS OF YORE

The year was 1924. There wasn’t exactly a walleye tank on site and probably no seminar speakers either over in Tent 4, but that July did see Seattle’s second annual Sportsmen’s Show, held at the corner of 3rd and Blanchard, not far from the Pike Place Market.

While doing genealogy research last year, my mom discovered an article about the show in the July 12 edition of The Seattle Daily Times, where it was front-page, above-the-fold news.

One of the show’s anchors was the state Department of Game, which had a 15,000-square-foot exhibit with featured a “little brook” running between pens with wildlife, including 11 elk calves captured by “teacher-trapper” Dora Huelsdonk from the Hoh River country, as well as cutthroat and bass.

Along with a mammoth reproduction of Mt. Rainier and Snoqualmie Falls, there were also displays of old shotguns and ammo. That year’s show was set to run seven days and was open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. No word whether fire-starting trinkets were available for purchase, but the event was also a membership drive for the Seattle Sportsmen’s Club. –AW

COMING AGAIN TO Central Washington are a trio of shows in January and February, and among the highlights is the second annual Yakima Bait Yard Sale at the Sundome in Yakima, where you’ll find fishy lures and more at “ridiculously low prices,” according to Shuyler Productions

Between that venue and halls in Tri-Cities and Wenatchee, Northwest Big Game displays will be on tap, along with head and horns competitions and plenty of seminars from local experts like Wayne Heinz, Jerrod Gibbons, Jesse Lamb, Rob Phillips and others on bass, walleye, kokanee and others species.

If you’re looking for some ideas for cooking up your catches and kills, Richy Harrod of Harrod’s Cookhouse will be in the kitchen.

The young’ns can try their luck at North, West and South Lunker Lakes, if you will, at all three shows. The Valley Marine Kids Korner will be at each too. And at Yakima there’ll be a fun trout race on Saturday afternoon. I’d put five on Finny McFinface!

Shuyler reports that its first show of the season, the Tri-Cities Sportsmen’s Show at the HAPO Center (formerly TRAC), will also have an expanded arena that will feature boats, campers, trailers and more.

Info: shuylerproductions.com

AND THE GRANDDADDY shindig in our region, the Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show, will celebrate its 60th anniversary in mid-March, and organizers are making a renowned event even better.

“For the 2020 show we have added a second seminar room and many new outfitters and guides have joined,” reports Wanda Clifford of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.

A CHANCE TO GET YOUR LATEST BUCK OR BULL SCORED AS WELL AS DISPLAYS OF PAST TROPHIES AND STATE RECORDS ARE BIG DRAWS TO SPORTSMEN’S SHOWS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The Big Horn show might be best known for its big bucks and bulls competition – “how it all began,” INWC touts – and as always there will be certified Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young measurers on hand.

There’s also a trout fishing pond, gun raffle, shooting and archery ranges and other kid- and family-friendly things to do.

“The Reptile Man will be joining us for Saturday and Sunday, and Family Day [March 22] will bring free activities for the family,” adds Clifford.

For grown-up sportsmen and -women, ladies night is Friday with half-off drinks.

“We are bringing back our $8 entry off an adult ticket for Thursday, and our She Shed was so successful we are bringing in a Man Cave this year as a raffle item,” adds Clifford.

Info: bighornshow.com/info

For the full list of Northwest sportsmen’s and boat shows, go here.

SW OR Wild Steelhead Retention Back In Front Of ODFW Commission; Decision In Jan.

THE FOLLOWING IS APRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Commission will consider a petition to prohibit the retention of wild winter steelhead on all rivers in the SW Zone next month at its Jan. 17 meeting in Salem.

WHETHER OR NOT TO CONTINUE THE LIMITED HARVEST OF WILD WINTER STEELHEAD ON EIGHT SOUTHERN OREGON RIVERS AND TWO CREEKS IS UP FOR A DECISION BY THE FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION. CARSON AND MATT BREESE CAUGHT THIS HOOK-BENDING 39.5-INCHER EARLY IN THE 2016 SEASON. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Today during the open forum portion of their meeting, they heard from more than 30 members of the public testifying for and against a proposal to adopt a temporary rule to immediately prohibit the retention of wild winter steelhead for the 2020 season. The Commission expressed appreciation for information provided by those who testified, and re-affirmed that they will formally consider the petition as an agenda item next month.

The Commission adopted Oregon’s Conservation Plan for Lampreys today. Interest in lamprey conservation has increased dramatically over the last two decades as concern has grown over their status. The Plan covers four of the state’s native species of lampreys: Pacific Lamprey, Western River Lamprey, Western Brook Lamprey, and Pacific Brook Lamprey and identifies limiting factors, management strategies and research needed to conserve these species.

The Commission also adopted 2020 fishing regulations for groundfish (e.g. rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, greenling). State harvest guidelines are very similar to last year. There will be a 5-fish daily bag limit and a new sub-bag daily limit of 1 copper, quillback or China rockfish (in response to the harvest guideline for these species being met early in 2019 and ending retention in late August). Fishing will be limited to shoreward of the 40-fathom line from June through August, and allowed at all depths from September through May. Commercial nearshore fishery landing limits will also be similar to 2019. In the commercial Black Rockfish Management Areas, daily limits will increase from 300 to 500 pounds in January-February and November-December.

The Commission also:

  • Amended roadkill salvage rules to allow deer and elk dispatched by wildlife law enforcement personnel after being roadstruck to be salvaged by people besides just the driver.
  • Made corrections to minor errors in the big game controlled hunt tables and boundary descriptions from the October Commission meeting to accurately reflect the newly published 2020 Regulations.
  • Formally approved the amended trapping regulations to prohibit the use of snares suspended in trees in the Siskiyou and Siuslaw National Forests and prohibit trapping in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Areas, per previous Commission decision.
  • Approved funding for several Restoration and Enhancement projects to increase fishing opportunities or improve public access and approve some housekeeping updates for rules managing the program.

In response to a judgement related to the Commission’s June 2018 decision to not uplist the marbled murrelet from threatened to endangered, Commissioners voted (4 to 1) to direct ODFW staff to initiate rulemaking to reconsider the uplisting and the status of this seabird. More information about this rulemaking process, including meeting dates, will be announced next year.

The Commission’s next meeting is Jan. 17 in Salem.

Multiple Tips Lead To Citations In Mid-November Buck Killing Outside Sweet Home

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE

The Oregon State Police would like to thank the public for the assistance with information that lead to the arrest of the unlawfully taken buck deer near Sweet Home. The Oregon State Police received multiple tips from the public to identify the subjects involved in the unlawful taking.

(OSP)

On 11/24/2019, Troopers from the Albany office talked to Dallas Loewen-Beutel of Sweet Home, Oregon and Ryan Justice of Foster, Oregon. Subsequent to the investigation, Dallas was criminally cited for Aiding/Counseling in a Wildlife Offense and Waste of Game Mammal. Ryan was criminally cited for Take/Possession of Buck Deer and Waste of Game Mammal. The rifle used to kill the buck was seized as evidence.

(OSP)

Coded Wire Tagged Steelhead Caught In Umpqua Basin Could Be Worth $50

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

Anglers who catch a hatchery steelhead and return the snout to an ODFW collection barrel have a chance to win a $50 gift card if their fish is coded wire tagged. Monthly prize drawings run December through April 2020.

ODFW IS ASKING UMPQUA RIVER STEELHEADERS TO DROP OFF THE SNOUTS OF ANY HATCHERY WINTER-RUNS IN BARRELS AT BOAT LAUNCHES OR THE ROSEBURG OFFICE TO SCAN AS PART OF A STUDY. SCOTT HAUGEN CAUGHT THIS ONE ON THE MAINSTEM A COUPLE YEARS AGO WHILE RUNNING A MAG LIP. (SCOTT HAUGEN VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

The contest is meant to encourage anglers to leave the snouts of harvested Umpqua Basin hatchery winter steelhead in collection barrels at popular boat ramps. Barrels are also in Roseburg at Sportsman’s Warehouse and the ODFW office on North Umpqua Highway. Bags and tags with date and location of harvest are in the barrels.

ODFW scans the snouts for coded wire tags in the second of a multi-year research project to improve winter steelhead fishing in the South Umpqua River. Fish were tagged earlier this year and released in four groups at acclimation sites in Canyonville.

STEP biologist Evan Leonetti wants to know which release timing is the most beneficial to anglers, particularly those fishing the South Umpqua River.

“Those tags tell us which release date and group gives a better return for anglers which is why it’s important to return snouts of harvested hatchery steelhead,” Leonetti said. “The potential to win a gift card is a bonus, and we hope to collect more snouts this year.”

Volunteers with a flexible schedule are needed to collect harvest information from winter steelhead anglers on the North and South Umpqua rivers. That information is used in conjunction with the coded wire tag data to better manage the hatchery fishery. Volunteers are also needed to check the collection barrels.

Volunteers must provide their own transportation and may be working alone or with a partner at boat ramps. The project runs the length of the winter steelhead season, ending about mid-April.

Anyone over the age of 18 who is interested in volunteering should call Leonetti at 541-464-2175 or email evan.leonetti@state.or.us

2020 ODFW Fish, Hunt Reg Books Out; Changes Detailed

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

The 2020 Sport Fishing and Big Game Hunting Regulations are now available in stores and ODFW offices and online at http://www.eregulations.com/

Changes from 2019 are listed in the What’s New section under the table of contents and are identified by yellow highlighted text throughout the regulations.

There are few major changes to the sport fishing regulations, but one is that in 2020, recreational crabbers will be required to mark all floating surface buoys with the owner’s full name or business name and at least one of the following: phone number, permanent address, ODFW Angler ID number, or a boat identification number, such as Oregon boat registration number. Find more information here.

As part of efforts to improve protections for mature spawning-size sturgeon, seasonal Columbia River no-fishing sanctuaries for these fish have been expanded and closure time extended.

Finally, anglers who purchase a two-rod validation will be able to use two rods in the Sandy River and Snake River below Brownlee Dam.

OREGON CRABBERS WILL NOW HAVE TO MARK THEIR BUOYS WITH THEIR NAME AND ANOTHER PIECE OF IDENTIFICATION. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Big game hunters face more significant changes, as improvements to the regulations come into effect for 2020. A multi-year effort has been underway to improve and simplify big game regulations to make them more consistent, simpler where possible, and in tune with current populations and issues.

This year more than ever, hunters who apply for controlled hunts need to carefully check their hunt number. Many controlled hunts have been consolidated into larger areas and/or have longer seasons and boundaries of many controlled hunts were expanded or made simpler. Maps for these hunts will be available on MyODFW.com in 2020.

Hunters should note that hunts that were formally called “centerfire” seasons or commonly referred to as “rifle” seasons, are now “Any Legal Weapon Seasons.” This change was made to make it more clear to hunters that they are not limited to only using a rifle for these hunts; it is legal for hunters to use any legal shotgun, bow, muzzleloader, or handgun. For example, most hunters with a Western Oregon Deer tag typically hunt with a rifle, but if they prefer they can use this tag to hunt the season with a bow instead of hunting the regular archery season.

New for 2020, hunters with access to private land in areas of chronic elk damage can choose the new General Season Antlerless Elk Damage tag as their elk hunt. This new hunt is meant to address chronic elk damage and address increasing private land elk populations.

Several elk seasons east of the Cascades will shift from general season to controlled hunts in 2020 to improve bull ratios and hunt quality. This means hunters will need to apply to hunt Rocky Mtn elk season in the Hood-White River-Maupin-Biggs-Columbia Basin units and in units on the eastern flank of the Cascades (formerly in Cascade elk general season).

Western Oregon general season buck deer hunters will be able to take a spike in the 2020 season as the new bag limit is “any buck with visible antler.” There are sufficient bucks in the population to support increased harvest and the change may also help the buck deer population by allowing hunters to remove deer in poorer condition and the bucks genetically inclined to remain spikes.

Finally, due to a printing error, the Biggs Maupin unit is colored as black and appears to be closed to hunting during general archery season. The unit is not closed and the online version has been corrected.

For more information on the changes to 2020 big game hunting regulations, visit https://myodfw.com/articles/whats-new-2020-changes-big-game-regulations

Editor’s note: This press release has been updated in the second to last paragraph after ODFW subsequently provided the correct unit that was inadvertently colored black in the hunting regs.

Free Post-Thanksgiving Fishing Coming Up In Oregon

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

It’s easy to #OptOutside in Oregon on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving—you can fish, crab or clam for free anywhere in the state!

NO LICENSES ARE REQUIRED TO FISH, CRAB AND CLAM IN OREGON ON NOVEMBER 29 AND 30. JERRY HAN CAUGHT THIS LING RECENTLY OUT OF BROOKINGS. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Oregon Fish and Wildlife hosts annual Free Fishing Days the two days after Thanksgiving. That means on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 29-30, 2019, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement or Two-Rod Validation) are required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon.

Got relatives or friends visiting Oregon from out of state? They can come along, too—non-residents are also free on these two Free Fishing days.

Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. See the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations to find out more.

If you’re planning to fish for salmon, steelhead or marine fish, make sure to check the zone where you are fishing in ODFW’s Recreation Report for the latest on season and bag limits because regulations for these species change in-season.

The Recreation Report comes out weekly and also features the latest on fishing conditions and opportunities, so check it out before you make your Free Fishing Days plans. Beginning anglers can try fishing for holdover trout available where lakes and ponds have been stocked earlier in the year; trout are actively feeding in preparation for winter. Crabbing can be also be good during the winter months.

If you are crabbing or clamming, don’t forget to call the Shellfish safety hotline at 1-800-448-2474? or check ODA’s Recreational Shellfish page to make sure an area is open before heading out. The Oregon Department of Agriculture regularly tests shellfish to make sure naturally occurring biotoxins are not at levels that make crabs and clams unsafe to eat.

For tips on how to fish, crab or clam and where to go, visit www.MyODFW.com

 

NOAA Reports Latest Blob Shrinking Since Late August But Still One Of North Pacific’s Largest

THE FOLLOWING IS A NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE STORY

The vast marine heatwave that spread warm temperatures across the northeast Pacific Ocean late in the summer and fall of 2019 has declined in size and pulled back from the West Coast, possibly reducing its immediate impacts on coastal ecosystems.

N.O.A.A. REPORTS THAT THE LATEST BLOB, OR MARINE HEAT WAVE, THE GIANT POOL OF OCEAN WATER THAT IS ABOVE AVERAGE SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES, HAS SHRUNK SINCE LATE AUGUST, BUT STILL AMONG THE FIVE LARGEST ON RECORD. (NOAA)

It has declined to about half the size and intensity it displayed in August. However scientists caution that the heatwave designated MHW NEP19a remains two to three times the size of Alaska and still retains enormous amounts of heat in the upper layers of ocean. It remains one of the top four or five largest heatwaves on record in the North Pacific in the last 40 years.

“What we are seeing now is a smaller heatwave that is farther offshore, but there is still a very large span of the Pacific Ocean that is much warmer than usual,” said Andrew Leising, a research scientist at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) in La Jolla, California. Leising has developed criteria to detect and gauge the size and magnitude of marine heatwaves. “The question is, where does it go from here? That’s what we’re watching now.”

The edge of the heatwave is now about 1,500 kilometers (about 930 miles) from the West Coast, but still envelops much of the Gulf of Alaska. It no longer so closely resembles the enormous earlier marine heatwave known as “the Blob” that affected much of the West Coast through 2014 and 2015, causing reverberations through the food web.

Low salmon returns to many West Coast rivers in the last few years have been linked to the Blob, which reduced the availability of food when the salmon first entered the ocean as juveniles.

Both the Blob and the current heatwave were large and carried a great deal of heat. But this summer’s warming near the West Coast did not reach as deep into the ocean or last as long, said research scientist Michael Jacox of the SWFSC. “It will be very interesting to compare the two events and their impacts on marine life and fisheries given the different character and timeline,” he said.

Scientists will be watching for effects of the current heatwave on species such as salmon and albacore that are sensitive to ocean conditions, said Elliott Hazen of the SWFSC. “Is this going to be a similar ecological response to what we saw in 2014-2015, not much of a response given we are still recovering, or something quite different?” he asked.

Leising noted that as the Blob of 2014-2015 grew and evolved, it also experienced some weakening in 2013 before regaining strength and then expanding in size. That doesn’t mean the current heatwave will do the same. But it does underscore how much and how fast marine heatwaves can shift and change in response to climate and other factors.

“This marine heatwave is still with us in a big way,” he said. “While it’s not directly impacting the coast as much at this point, we still have a lot to learn about how these events grow and evolve.”

NOAA’s latest North American Multi-Model Ensemble forecasts through May 2020 predict a gradual weakening of the offshore warming. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s November 4 Diagnostic Discussion notes that tropical conditions this fall have been near normal, and this is projected through spring 2020.  If a tropical El Niño event develops this fall or winter instead, it would favor wind, weather, and ocean current patterns that could cause a return of the nearshore warming along the West Coast in winter or spring 2020.

Yuasa: I-5 Fall Trout Releases Boosted, Plus Squid, Crab, Salmon Ops In November

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

We’ve been hanging our salmon fishing lines in the water for more than five months, and I’d like to switch gears and set sights on another exciting opportunity to get through the impending holiday madness.

Yes, take some time to let go of your snobbish salmon attitude and harken back to days when you pursued trout with nothing more than high hopes, a jar of salmon eggs, Power Bait or a container of worms.

Now is the time to hit the refresh button and replay those memorable moments or share it with someone new to fishing.

“We’re trying out a couple of pilot programs, which allowed us to be creative on how we structure trout fisheries in our region, and we’ve kept intact a couple others that have been successful,” said Justin Spinelli, a WDFW biologist in Mill Creek.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Earlier this year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) strategized ways to boost trout prospects at a time when many have holiday plans or shopping on their minds.

According to Spinelli, WDFW hatchery staff had space in some hatcheries and funding to raise thousands of rainbow trout to catchable size (8 to 11 inches) this past spring and summer.

“During this pilot program, we plan to monitor and conduct creel surveys so we can get an idea on participation and success,” Spinelli said. “Keeping fish in hatcheries longer was expensive. We need to make sure for budget purposes that it’s worth our effort to provide this special opportunity.”

WDFW is planting 27,000 rainbow trout along the I-5 corridor in 12 lakes within Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish and King counties.

“I’m really excited and hopefully it leads to getting more people into the sport,” he said. “We’re trying this out in urban centered areas. We know a lot of people in the cities may be interested in getting outside and going fishing.”

Spinelli says this offers easy access to nearby lakes and it’s not too complicated of a fishery to learn, doesn’t take a whole bunch of expensive fishing gear and provides fish that are willing to bite.

Two popular local lakes where late-season annual plants have become the norm are Beaver Lake in Issaquah and Goodwin Lake in Snohomish County.

Beaver was expecting a plant – possibly as soon as this week – of 1,250 trout averaging 2 pounds apiece and another 1,250 just prior to Thanksgiving. Goodwin will receive 5,000 in December.

Here are other scheduled plants (most lakes are open year-round except two have seasonal dates):

King County – Green, 3,600 (1,611 planted last week); Steel, 1,600 (open Nov. 1-Jan. 5 only and 804 were planted last week); and Fivemile, 1,200 (616 were planted last week). Snohomish County – Gissburg Ponds, 2,000; Tye, 2,000; Silver, 2,000 (1,005 were planted last week); and Ballinger, 1,600 (804 were planted last week). Skagit County – Clear, 1,500; and Cranberry, 1,750. Whatcom County – Padden, 1,750 (open Nov. 1-Jan. 5 only and 1,000 were planted last week).

“Some lakes we plant will have fish biting for quite a while,” Spinelli said. “I’m thrilled with this new program and hope we can demonstrate that this can be a stimulus for our trout fisheries at a time when choices of fishing activities are much slimmer.”

The popular “Black Friday” trout fisheries also give anglers a chance to get out and burn off the calories from a Thanksgiving feast. This includes thousands of beefy trout averaging 1 to 1.3 pounds going into more than a dozen southwest Washington lakes.

Clark County – Klineline, 2,000; and Battle Ground, 2,000. Cowlitz County – Kress, 2,000. Klickitat County – Rowland, 2,000. Lewis County – Fort Borst Park Pond, 2,000; and South Lewis County Park Pond, 2,000. Pierce County – American, 2,000; and Tanwax, 1,000. Thurston County – Black, 1,000; Ward, 300; Long, 1,000; and Offutt, 1,000.

Millions of fry-size trout were planted this past spring in eastern Washington lakes that are open from Nov. 29 through March 31. These fish should have grown to catchable size (8 to 11 inches). They include Hatch, 10,000, and Williams, 12,000, in Stevens County; Fourth of July, 80,000, on Lincoln/Adams county line; and Hog Canyon, 20,000, in Spokane County.

Elton Pond in Yakima County open from Nov. 29 through March 31 will be planted with 2,000 trout averaging 1.2 pounds.

Be sure to check the WDFW website for additional lakes open year-round, which are expected to be planted in late fall and winter. For weekly stocking reports, go to www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly.

Other holiday fishing opportunities

This is a magical time of the year with opportunities blooming for squid, salmon and Dungeness crab just to name a few.

Hitting up many Puget Sound piers has become a nightly affair as millions of tasty squid – known in the culinary society as “calamari” – are pouring into Puget Sound marine waterways from Edmonds south to Tacoma.

Squid jigging is good at the Les Davis Pier in Tacoma; Des Moines Marina Pier; Seacrest Boathouse Pier in West Seattle; Seattle waterfront at Piers 57, 62, 63, 70 or the Seattle Aquarium Pier; Edmonds Pier; A-Dock and Shilshole Pier; Point Defiance Park Pier; Fauntleroy Ferry Dock; Illahee State Park Pier; and the Waterman and Indianola piers in Kitsap County.

Night-time on a flood tide are the best periods to catch squid as they’re attracted to lighted public piers. Squid like to lurk in the darker edges of lighted water and dart out into the light on their unsuspecting prey. The WDFW website has a wealth of information on squid jigging at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/squid/.

Salmon chasers still have opportunities in central Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 10), which is open for chum and maybe a late coho through Nov. 15. Target chums around Jefferson Head, West Point south of Shilshole Bay, Point Monroe, Kingston, Allen Bank and Southworth near Blake Island, and the east side of Bainbridge Island.

Southern Puget Sound (Area 13) is open year-round and should be fair game for hatchery winter chinook off Fox Island, south of the Narrows Bridge, Anderson Island and Johnson Point.
Hood Canal (Area 12) is often an underfished location in the winter for hatchery chinook around central region at Misery Point and Oak Head.

A reminder the daily catch limit is two coho, chum or hatchery chinook in southern Puget Sound (Area 13). The daily limit in Areas 10 is two salmon but only one may be a coho (you can retain chum, pink and coho but need to release chinook).

Central Puget Sound (Area 10) and south-central Puget Sound (Area 11) reopens Jan. 1 for hatchery chinook. Northern Puget Sound (Area 9), San Juan Islands (Area 7) and east side of Whidbey Island (Areas 8-1 and 8-2) reopens Feb. 1 for hatchery chinook.

There’s nothing sweeter than having a plate of Dungeness crab sitting on the holiday dinner table and fishing has been fairly good since it reopened back on Oct. 1. Dungeness crab fishing is open daily through Dec. 31 at Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line (Marine Area 4); Sekiu area in western Strait of Juan de Fuca (5); Port Angeles area eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca (6); San Juan Islands (7); and northern Puget Sound/Admiralty Inlet (9) except for waters south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff. The east side of Whidbey Island in Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay (8-1); Port Susan and Port Gardiner (8-2) has closed for crabbing.

Sport crabbers are reminded that setting or pulling traps from a vessel is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset. For more information, go to https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/.

Can you dig it? Coastal razor clam success very good since opening in late September

The coastal razor clam digs have gotten off to a stupendous start and be sure to get some for the holiday dinner table.

The first digs of the 2019-2020 season began Sept. 27-29 at Long Beach and success was excellent with 18,000 diggers taking home 296,000 clams.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

“Digging went really well during the first series opener at Long Beach,” said Dan Ayres, the head WDFW coastal shellfish manager. “It was as close to limits as you can get (the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition is a daily per person limit).”

Digging this week also was off-the-charts good at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. There’s still a last chance on tonight (Nov. 1) at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Copalis (minus-0.2 feet at 10:38 p.m.). No digging is allowed during PM low tides only.

Many night-time low tide digs are planned in the weeks ahead on Nov. 1, 11, 13, 15, 17, 24, 26, 28 and 30 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Copalis; and Nov. 12, 14, 16, 25, 27 and 29 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks. Dec. 10, 12, 14, 16, 23, 27 and 29 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; and Dec. 11, 13, 15, 26 and 28 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Copalis.

Final approval is announced by WDFW about one or two weeks prior to each series of digs and are dependent on marine toxin levels being below the cutoff threshold.

WDFW shellfish managers are saying this could be one of the best seasons seen in quite a while for many digs planned from winter through spring. For details, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/razor-clams.

New name and new events happening in 2020 during the NW Fishing Derby Series

A quick look back at the 2019 derby season saw a total of 6,176 anglers entered into 13 derbies (one was cancelled) which is up from 4,690 in 2018 and there’s plenty of excitement coming up in 2020.

We’ve now hit the refresh button and renamed it the “Northwest Fishing Derby Series” with a tentative 18 derbies scheduled. It will include two lingcod/rockfish “For the Love of Cod Derbies” in Coos Bay, Charleston and Brookings, Oregon in March 21-22 and March 28-29 respectively, and the Something Catchy Kokanee Derby at Lake Chelan in April.

The highlight is a chance enter and win a sleek $75,000 fully loaded, grand-prize all-white KingFisher 2025 Series Hardtop boat powered with Yamaha 200hp and 9.9hp trolling motors on an EZ Loader Trailer. Our newest sponsor of the derby – Shoxs Seats (www.shoxs.com) – has provided a pair of top-of-the-line seats that are engineered for maximum comfort in the roughest of seas.
The good news is anglers who enter any of the 18 derbies don’t need to catch a fish to win this beautiful boat and motor package!

A huge “thank you” to our other 2020 sponsors who make this series such a success are Silver Horde and Gold Star Lures; Scotty Downriggers; Burnewiin Accessories; Raymarine Electronics; WhoDat Tower; Dual Electronics; Tom-n-Jerry’s Marine; Master Marine; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News; Outdoor Emporium and Sportco; Harbor Marine; Prism Graphics; Lamiglas Rods; KIRO/ESPN 710AM The Outdoor Line; Salmon, Steelhead Journal; Rays Bait Works; and Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine.

First up in the series are the Resurrection Salmon Derby on Feb. 1-2; Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 6-8; and Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 13-15. For details, go to http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

In the meantime, take a break from holiday shopping and hit up a lake or open saltwater areas for a feisty fish tugging on the end of your line.

I’ll see you on the water!

Elk Research Benefited By $1+Million From RMEF

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation allocated more than one million dollars in funding to further elk-related scientific research in 2019. Those funds leveraged an additional $6.3 million in funding from other partners.

“Our mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage would ring rather hollow without the constant infusion of up-to-date scientific research,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

CONSTRUCTION OF A FACILITY FOR RESEARCHERS LOOKING INTO ELK HOOF DISEASE BEGAN THIS PAST MAY AT WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY IN PULLMAN AND FUNDING IN PART CAME FROM A $100,000 GRANT FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION. (HENRY MORE JR., WSU/BCU, VIA RMEF)

So far in 2019, RMEF provided funding for 33 different research projects in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. There are also three projects of national benefit.

Below are a few examples of RMEF’s 2019 research endeavors:

California – Northern California elk population and recruitment
Colorado – Impact of increasing human recreation on declining calf recruitment
Idaho – Elk response to motorized roads & trails
Montana – Effects of wildfire on elk forage and distribution
North Carolina – Great Smoky Mountains elk monitoring, connectivity & management
New Mexico – Effects of Mexican wolves on elk, habitat use
Oregon – Southern Blue Mountains elk distribution
South Dakota – Cow elk survival in the Black Hills
Utah – Factors limiting elk population growth in the Book Cliffs
Washington – Assist with construction of elk hoof disease research facility
Wisconsin – Effects of wolves on elk population dynamics
Wyoming – Determine migration pattern of Targhee elk herd in Greater Yellowstone Area
National – Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance applied research grant program

“It is imperative that we continue to work with partners on many fronts and in different locations, as we have for years, to gather all the quantified knowledge that we can about issues impacting elk and elk habitat,” added Henning.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded 35 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 235,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.5 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org, elknetwork.com or 800-CALL ELK.