Tag Archives: Oregon

Wild, Scenic And Fishy

This fall marks the 50th anniversary of the Congressional act that now protects and enhances 3,000 miles of salmon-, steelhead- and trout-bearing rivers in the Northwest.

By Andy Walgamott

While fishing along the banks of Northwest rivers over the years, I’ve always kept an eye out for heart-shaped rocks, but I never found a good one till this past April.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

I was on the Sauk, hoping to hook wild winter steelhead after federal overseers finally approved a state season, the first time the Washington Cascades river had been open in spring since 2009. It was a glorious day, and I couldn’t have been happier to be back on the water at that time of year.

John Day River, Central Oregon; 248.6 miles of designated wild, scenic and recreational river. Chinook, steelhead, redband rainbow trout, bull trout, lamprey, smallmouth bass. (BOB WICK, BLM)

As I tried my luck below a riffle, two drift boaters worked a slot above it, and when they pulled their plugs in and headed downstream, I bushwhacked my way upstream to the stretch to hit it with my jigs and spoons.

Lower Klickitat River, Washington; 10.8 miles designated as recreational river. Spring, summer, fall Chinook, coho, summer and winter steelhead, rainbow trout, lamprey. (JASON BROOKS)

That’s when I stumbled onto the big, smooth granite heart. Pegging its base with cobbles, I propped it up on a boulder for a photograph next to one of my favorite rivers.

Grande Ronde River, Oregon; 43.8 miles designated as wild and recreational river. Spring Chinook, coho, summer steelhead, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass. (CASEY CRUM)

THE SAUK’S BRAWNY wild winters eluded me that day, but it was still great to be on several of the 12,754 miles of streams that comprise our National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. This fall marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, created by Congress way back in 1968 and signed into law by President Johnson.

North Umpqua River, Oregon; 33.8 miles designated as recreational river. Spring Chinook, summer steelhead, rainbow trout. (BOB WICK, BLM)

Though coming out of an era of increased environmental concerns – the Clean Air and Wilderness Acts preceded it and it was followed by the Clean Water, Marine Mammal Protection and Endangered Species Acts – it takes a notably less heavy-handed approach in its implementation.

Bruneau River, Idaho; 39.3 miles designated as wild and recreational river. Redband rainbow trout. (BOB WICK, BLM)

The act aims to “(protect) and (enhance) the values that caused [rivers like the Sauk] to be designated” through the “voluntary stewardship by landowners and river users and through regulation and programs of federal, state, local, or tribal governments,” according to Rivers.gov. “It does not prohibit development or give the federal government control over private property.”

Bruneau River, Idaho; 39.3 miles designated as wild and recreational river. Redband rainbow trout. (RANDY KING)

There are wild, scenic and recreational rivers in 40 states, and some of the fishiest in the Northwest are included.

Lochsa River, Idaho; 90-plus miles designated as recreational river. Spring Chinook, summer steelhead, bull, cutthroat and rainbow trout, mountain whitefish. (PAUL ISHII)

In Oregon, there’s all or portions of the Chetco, Crooked and its North Fork, Deschutes, Elk, Grande Ronde, Illinois, Imnaha, John Day, Klamath, McKenzie, Metolius, North Umpqua, Owyhee, Rogue, Smith, Snake and Wenaha, among many, many more.

Crooked River, Oregon; 17.8 miles designated as recreational river. Redband rainbow trout, mountain whitefish. (BOB WICK, BLM)

In fact, Oregon just might have the highest percentage of rivers of any state: 2 percent, 1,916.7 miles, of the Beaver State’s 110,994 river miles are wild and scenic.

Rogue River, Oregon; 84.5 miles designated as wild, scenic and recreational river. Spring and fall Chinook, coho, summer and winter steelhead, coastal cutthroat and rainbow trout, lamprey. (THOMAS O’KEEFE, RIVERS.GOV)

In Idaho, 891 miles, including much of the Salmon and its Middle Fork, the Middle Fork Clearwater, upper St. Joe and Owyhee, and Bruneau are listed.

Owyhee River, Oregon; 120 miles designated as wild in Oregon (continues in Idaho). Redband rainbow trout. THOMAS O’KEEFE, RIVERS.GOV)

In sharp contrast, only 197 stream miles in Washington have been designated – unusual when you consider that it’s the wettest state in the West.

Skagit River, Washington; 158.5 miles of designated scenic and recreational rivers. Spring, summer and fall Chinook, coho, pink salmon, winter steelhead, bull, rainbow and sea-run cutthroat trout. (CHASE GUNNELL)

Where listed rivers occur throughout most of Oregon, the Evergreen State’s are limited to the Cascades and include the upper and lower ends of the White Salmon, the lower 11 miles of the Klickitat, and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and its tributary, the Pratt.

BUT AT THE northern end of the mountain range is one of Washington’s best watersheds.

I don’t know how many times state district fisheries biologist Brett Barkdull has answered my question about why the Skagit system is so productive for steelhead, Chinook, bull trout and other stocks by pointing to its headwaters.

North Cascades National Park; the Ross Lake National Recreation Area; the Glacier Peak, Henry M. Jackson and Noisy-Diobsud Wildernesses; the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Out of all that protected federal land flows the wild and scenic Sauk, Suiattle, Skagit and Cascade Rivers and Illabot Creek.

It took many more questions of Barkdull to begin to understand that what looks like a mess – all the logjams, braids and big sunbaked cobble bars on the Sauk – is actually a good thing for fish.

They show a river largely unshackled by riprap and dikes, and allowed to meander as it has since for eons, a sign of a healthy river.

That not many people, farms and infrastructure line its banks make that more possible here, but I’d love it if in another 50 years, when the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act turns 100, more than just one-quarter of 1 percent of the nation’s streams are part of the system.

Mollala River, Oregon; 23 miles proposed as wild and scenic river. Spring Chinook, coho, winter steelhead, cutthroat and rainbow trout, lamprey. (BOB WICK, BLM)

Encounter With A Cougar

An Eastern Oregon bowhunter comes face to face with a lion during last year’s elk season.

By Dan Lyons

There is no way Dad is ever going to find me. If he can even make it up the steep, rugged ridge, it would surely take a host of others to find me, or my body. I hate that he will have a helpless feeling when I don’t respond to him hailing me on my handheld radio. He will be scared when I don’t show up at the truck and don’t come out of the woods.

My kids and my wife – he will have to call them and tell them I didn’t show up. They will be devastated. My friends, and hunting buddies too. They would all feel the pain that always accompanies loss and tragedy. So here I am, deciding at this instant between fight or flight, and having no idea of the outcome of either.

(TIM LAMBERT)

I’VE HUNTED AND been very passionate about it since I was 12. I love everything about hunting, though truth be known, I am not very good at it. I have killed a handful of decent mule deer bucks, a couple whitetail bucks and have a raghorn bull to my credit. Besides a muley that I paid big bucks for through an outfitter in Montana I have had very average success here in the great state of Oregon. Maybe my lack of success is due to the fact that I like the cold beer, the campfire, the relationships with my hunting buddies and the stories as much as I like the actual hunting.

Because it’s hard as hell to draw a good deer or elk tag in my state without waiting five years between opportunities, I figured it was time to try archery hunting. Most units in Oregon don’t require a draw for a bow tag, so you can buy both a deer and an elk tag over the counter. This is probably due to the fact that killing an animal with a bow and arrow is flat out hard. Despite the texts I receive each fall from smiling hunters holding up their bulls, the many stories I hear, and the videos that make it all look easy, it seems the cards are stacked against us trying to outsmart and outduel a cagey bull with a bow. Still, with no rifle tags on the horizon I decided to go for it and give archery hunting a try.

With no rifle tags on the horizon I decided to go for it and give archery hunting a try.

I basically broke the internet doing my research. I went into discussion forums, watched every YouTube video ever made and bought every Primos and Eastman’s hunting DVD in existence. I bought some calls, sprayed some elk piss on my boots, and was ready to rock.

My father has archery hunted for 25 years and although he’s come close many times, he has never been able to close the deal on a bull. But for sure, even at 73 he was fired up to get out there with me. He is the single best person I know and any time spent with him is a good time. Typically, I rifle hunt with six of my lifelong friends, so this trip had a different feel from the beginning, and I liked it. The plan was to leave Portland on Wednesday at noon, get over there, and hunt Thursday through Sunday and then get back to work and the family. A rancher friend rents a bunkhouse near our hunting area, so we hit the easy button and spent the $100 per night to not have to deal with a camp.

IT ALWAYS TICKS me off that most hunting articles never tell you where the author was, so I will tell you. We were hunting in Eastern Oregon, north of the town of John Day at the northern end of the Northside Unit and just south of the Middle Fork of the John Day River. This all went down on Sept. 15, 2017.

Thursday started and ended with results that I’ve become accustomed to. I walked for what felt like 10 miles over large mountains, through beautiful draws, and across what appeared to be perfect elk country, but besides a few does and fawns, we drove back to the ranch without seeing or hearing a single elk. I thought this time of year they bugled like crazy and all you had to do was locate, stalk, and get ’er done. I had, and have much to learn. A touch of whiskey, some great conversation and an early bedtime closed down Thursday and we were stoked to try a new area in the morning that I just knew, for sure, would hold some elk.

There was frost on Friday and it was flat out cold. After a long hot summer, it felt like the first touch of fall. My research had told me that when the temperature starts dropping, these cold mornings really fire the bulls up, so I was eager to get into the woods. They were going to be bugling, fighting, and chasing cows, making it way too easy for us. I was where I wanted to be, at the time I wanted to be there.

A slow, steady, and quiet hunt coupled with a few perfectly executed cow calls on my Hoochie Mama resulted in zero elk seen and zero elk heard, and from what I could tell, there had never been an elk in this area, ever. The only excitement came when a grouse flushed up 5 feet from me, which resulted in only a minor heart attack. Otherwise, it was back to the truck to regroup for an afternoon hunt.

Although still in decent shape, Dad is perfectly satisfied driving the truck around as the pick-up man, maybe walking up the draw and patiently waiting for his opportunity, and he is not beyond a midday nap. After a lifetime of hunting and experience, his passion for killing a bull has waned, but his passion for being out there and being with his son are still on point.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON BROUGHT some wind and some smoke began settling in the valley from a host of wildfires across the state. After seeing a few other hunters in the area, I figured it was time to go to my secret spot, one I was confident no other hunter possessed the required grit needed to get there. Although a difficult hunt that required a straight-up assault of a mountain, the top offered a thicket that I had actually seen elk in before. Of course, that was during deer season, but there had been a good bull in that group, so I figured this mountaintop thicket was what they were calling home. It was on.

I loaded my fanny pack and lined Dad out as to where I would be coming out. I told him I would check in on the radio when I got up there and that it would take three to four hours before I was out. He asked if I wanted to take the .380 pistol to scare off bears and cougars and, because I am a genius, I said no. “I don’t want that extra weight,” I thought.

The mountain was no match for me as my excitement and adrenaline got me to the top. I sat for about 15 minutes, sipped some water, and got myself rested and calm to still-hunt this perfect piece of country and stake my claim on a 330-inch-class bull with a whale tail, huge eye guards and massive antlers that reached to the sky. My cow call was going to be too much for him to resist and I imagined him running in and offering me a perfect broadside shot at 20 yards. In my new camo, although way too small for me, I blended into the landscape better even than the trees and bushes. My dreams were about to come true.

When the temperature starts dropping, these cold mornings really fire the bulls up, so I was eager to get into the woods.

It was hot and hard to be quiet. At 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds, I don’t think I was exactly walking without sound, but I entered the thicket and tiptoed toward my destiny. The trees swayed with the wind now and there was just enough smoke to slightly alter the air and visibility. I snuck into some windfalls. A few game trails crisscrossed the area and I could see a good 30 yards into this elky-looking patch of earth – a perfect spot to sit, work my cow call, and wait. It was playing out exactly as it had in my mind a million times. I backed into a bush, sat down, and blended in perfectly. I nocked an arrow and let the cow call sing its song and bring in my bull. On all the videos I’d watched, the bulls just came rolling in to the hunter, all the while signalling their excitement with loud shrieks of intent.

Nothing. No retorts to my cow call, no snapping of limbs from an approaching bull, no bugles. Nothing but the wind and the eerie calm of this elkless thicket. Thirty minutes was enough, or at least all that I could handle, so I moved my eyes right and carefully scanned my view to see if I could catch a bull sneaking in before I moved on. I scanned center, down in front of me, and slowly scanned left. This is when it all got very real, and it got real quick.

TO MY DIRECT left on the same trail I had walked up and at what I estimate to be 25 to 30 feet sat a cougar, or mountain lion. Whatever you choose to call it, I noticed this one was an adult, it was large, and it scared the absolute sh*t out of me. I’d seen prints, once, but never in my 44 years had I seen a cougar, and now one was standing a pounce away. I was in his domain and from the first instant I knew that he was in control.

Yet for the time being it had no idea I was there. It was sitting like a Labrador with his butt on the ground and both front feet planted firm out in front of him. He was broadside to me and had his eyes fixed up the draw. He no doubt smelled me, or had heard my incredible cow calling skills, or maybe he was out for an afternoon stroll, but either way he was right there and for a few seconds I was frozen. If he turned and continued on his trail, he would run directly into me. Time to make a choice. Only a decent-sized windfall separated us.

With a cougar tag in my wallet I drew my bow back, but because I was sitting, I couldn’t get high enough over the log or one of its large branches that separated me and Mr. Cougar. No shot. It was time to stand and see how this tale would unfold. My eyes didn’t leave the cat as I started to stand. I believed that when I stood he would see me and hightail it out of there and go back to being a ghost.

This is not what he did.

I stood, he squared me up and dropped down, with his belly hugging the ground and his chin maybe an inch off the ground. His eyes were green and they stared right at me. Besides his oddly twitching tail he was perfectly still. To me, he was ready to do what cougars do, which is pounce, grab, bite, rip and kill. It was a good old-fashioned stare-off for 10 seconds and I made the decision that it was time for me to take action versus wait and let him make the first move, which, in my mind meant him ripping my jugular vein out and dragging me to his lair. He was not leaving, he was not scared, and with one pounce I would be dealing with 150 pounds of asskicker and I didn’t see that ending well for me.

I drew my bow back and held the 20-yard pin below his chin. Without a 10-yard pin I had to guess more than I would have liked and due to a slight angle down to him, my only shot was his face or neck. While I want to believe I was holding steady I doubt that was the case. When I squeezed my release, the arrow left the bow and immediately the cat raised his body very slightly. He raised his right front paw and the arrow snuck under his right foot, under his body and skipped safely past his back legs with no contact. A clean miss.

Now I was in trouble.

He took three stealthy steps toward me, his chin still an inch off the ground. While his tail twitched maniacally, I recall very clearly that his body flat out did not move. Rather, this thing floated up the trail toward me, stealthy, quiet, and in control. He was ready to go and he appeared to me ready to kill.

I figured this mountaintop thicket was what they were calling home. It was on.

He took those three steps and stopped. He tucked his ears back, showed me his teeth and hissed like a house cat. He was fierce. It’s important to note that while I am calling him a he, I have no earthly clue if he was a he or a she. Either way, for the first time ever in my life I was scared. I assessed the situation quickly. I was 8 feet away from this son of a gun, holding a bow with no arrow, and absolutely nothing else to fend off this apex critter. With my options limited, I accepted the fact that I was going to, simply put, fist fight a cougar. The odds weren’t good, to say the least.

If I was going down, I was going down fighting, so I yanked an arrow from the quiver and held it in my hand. If he pounced, I could stab the arrow into him and then scream, kick, bite, punch, spit – whatever I could to make him not end me.

He held his ground, which bought me some time. I waved my arms. I yelled, “Get out of here!” three times. He didn’t twitch or move an inch. I pulled my mesh camo mask down from my face so he could see my eyes. He took another slight step toward me. As he showed me his teeth, I remember thinking, “I wonder what he last ate with those things?”

I nocked the arrow and was prepared to pull it back and get one into him on his advance. I just didn’t want to shoot again at this close range because if he pulled his Matrix trick again and dodged my arrow a second time, I felt he would for sure have no choice but to attack. I waited, and I stared back at him, ready for his pounce, and ready for a fight.

I DECIDED TO take a small step backwards. He returned the favor by taking one stealthy step toward me. I took another step back and he obliged again. I knew he was keeping me within a one-pounce distance. I took a third and arrived at a large pine tree. I stepped behind it quickly and peeked around it like you might when playing hide-and-go-seek and he remained in that position, ready to go. I got behind the tree to where he couldn’t see me and hoped like hell he would forget about me. I waited and carefully peered around the tree again. Still there.

I got behind the tree at an angle that he couldn’t see me, then backed up to try to create some space. I picked up a good 10 yards and then looked back toward my new friend. Still there, but now he was standing and no longer in that godforsaken horrible killer pouncing position. I continued to back up and was thankful I could create some space between us.

The angle I’d chosen didn’t allow him to see me, so I decided my time to fight was over and it was time for flight. I put my arrow back in the quiver, turned the other direction, and ran as fast as I possibly could up the trail. I had no idea at the time that the absolute last thing you do when you see a cougar is run. I jumped logs and sprinted uphill, and kept looking over my shoulder, sure he was chasing me. I got a decent distance away and stopped, turned around and again prepared to fight. Back down the trail the cougar was still there, staring at me, standing calmly. I imagine he was laughing at me; my heart was racing at 787 beats per minute, but I could tell his was not. I renocked an arrow. He flicked his huge tail twice, turned to his left and bounded down the canyon, away from me and into the abyss of my thicket. I noticed that his first bound was much longer than the distance that had separated us just moments earlier.

As he showed me his teeth, I remember thinking, “I wonder what he last ate with those things?”

With adrenaline still pouring through me I regrouped and again ran as fast as I could up the trail to the top of the mountain, where it opened up. I might have set a land speed record while doing so, but I remember clearly that I was not tired. My lungs did not burn. I was focused and I was acutely aware of my surroundings. Adrenaline had taken over and offered me some juice I had surely never felt before. I now believe the stories of mothers lifting cars to save their children. There is within us a superhuman element that, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t ever need to experience again.

ONCE I CALMED down and came off the adrenaline rush, I was shaking very badly. I don’t know if I was in shock, or just scared out of my mind, but I remember having to kind of wrap my arms around myself to stop the shaking. I gathered myself and called Dad on the radio.

“How about it, Dad, you down there?”

“Hey Dannyboy! You bet, just having a cold beer, and I found some cool rocks out for a walk.”

“Awesome, Dad, I will be down there in about 20.”

“Sounds good, son, I will have a cold beer waiting for you”

“Copy that, see you in a few”

As I stepped out of the woods he immediately asked, “What the hell happened to you?”

I guess my skin coloring was still somewhere back in my thicket.

We cracked a cold one and sat on the tailgate and I told him every detail of my story. In a way that only a father can, he made me feel comfortable, safe, and he calmed me down without even really trying. Since that day we have talked about it a few times and I can tell it bothered him. I just cannot imagine the pain it would have caused him if that son of a gun had attacked me. I am thankful for Dad every day and thankful for what he has taught me about hunting, and life.

I had no idea at the time that the absolute last thing you do when you see a cougar is run.

When I got home I sat my family down and told the story. My 11- and 9-year-olds were on the edge of their seat. It upset my daughter and my son is still pissed that I missed the one shot I had at the cougar. My wife was also scared, and appropriately did find some humor in it.

A quick google search told me that there has never been a reported cougar attack of a human in Oregon. The article said if you see one in the wild, you should look big, show it your eyes, and yell at it. It went on to say that no matter what, never run. Oops.

In the end it was an experience I guess I am thankful for. It is a hell of a story, one I will tell forever, and I did feel something I have never felt before. Was that cougar really going to attack me? I thought so, but maybe I just surprised him the same way he surprised me. The truth of the matter is, I will hunt that thicket again and I can’t wait to get back in there. When I do, I can promise you just a few things. First and foremost, I will be carrying my 7mm Mag and not a damn bow and arrow, and second, if I do get lucky enough to see a cougar again, I won’t run! NS

USFWS Reviewing Status Of Still-listed Lower 48 Gray Wolves

It’s not just North Cascades grizzly reintroduction that federal wildlife overseers have begun working on again this year. They’re also putting in time on gray wolf delisting for the western Northwest and elsewhere, it appears.

A MEMBER OF CENTRAL WASHINGTON’S TEANAWAY PACK, WHICH ROAMS THE PART OF THE STATE WHERE WOLVES ARE STILL FEDERALLY LISTED, STANDS IN A FOREST. (BEN MALETZKE, WDFW)

Half a decade to the month after first proposing to declare wolves recovered across the rest of the contiguous United States, a process subsequently derailed through lawsuits, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “has begun reviewing the status of the species.”

That’s according to a brief two-paragraph statement emailed to Northwest Sportsman magazine Thursday afternoon by a spokesperson.

“Working closely with our federal, state, tribal and local partners, we will assess the currently listed gray wolf entities in the Lower 48 states using the best available scientific information,” it continues. “If appropriate, the Service will publish a proposal to revise the wolf’s status in the Federal Register by the end of the calendar year. Any proposal will follow a robust, transparent and open public process that will provide opportunity for public comment.”

ODFW’S LATEST WOLF PACK MAP DOESN’T SHOW THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE FEDERALLY DELISTED AND STILL-LISTED AREAS OF OREGON, BUT IT INCLUDES MUCH OF THE EASTERN THIRD OF THE STATE. THE RED LINE  (ODFW)

That could level the playing field, per se, in Washington and Oregon, where wildlife managers and livestock producers operate by different sets of rules depending on which side of a series of highways they’re on.

In spring 2011, Congress delisted wolves in each state’s eastern third — as well as all of Montana and Idaho and a portion of Utah — leaving management there up to WDFW and ODFW.

Meanwhile, federal protections continued in their western two-thirds, where lethal removal is not in the toolbox to deal with chronic depredations.

“Incompatibility between the Washington state management plan and the federal management plan creates a bureaucratic nightmare that leaves communities in Eastern Washington unable to defend themselves against increasing wolf attacks and livestock depredations,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane) wrote to Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in a letter earlier this week calling on his agency to look at delisting wolves.

Regardless of the ranch’s or grazing allotment’s location, both states stress preventative measures to head off cattle and sheep conflicts.

WDFW’S LATEST PACK MAP SHOWS THE DEMARCATION BETWEEN WHERE WOLVES ARE MANAGED BY THE STATE AND UNDER FEDERAL PROTECTIONS, THE BLACK LINE RUNNING NORTH-SOUTH THROUGH EASTERN WASHINGTON. (WDFW)

Later in 2011, USFWS declared the species recovered in the western Great Lakes states.

And then in June 2013, with “gray wolves no longer (facing) the threat of extinction or (requiring) the protections of the Endangered Species Act,” according to then-Director Dan Ashe, the feds proposed delisting them throughout the rest of their range.

But progress stalled, and then came a Humane Society of the United States court case addressing Canis lupus in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“Unfortunately, the delisting of wolves in the Western Great Lakes region was successfully overturned by the courts, which prevented the Service from moving forward with the full delisting proposal at that time,” the second part of the USFWS statement concludes.

Last summer, a federal appeals court decision yielded mixed results, but the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation saw positives, including “(undoing) a number of roadblocks thus providing a path forward.”

Over the years, Washington’s and Oregon’s wolf populations have more than doubled from 2013 levels, largely in the state-managed areas.

And now, USFWS’s big, long delisting pause appears to be over, which will excite some and make others fearful.

Oregon Boaters Caught Way Overlimit On Rockfish

An extra rockfish in the cooler suggested things might be a little fishy aboard the boat coming back into the Hammond Marina one recent evening.

(OREGON STATE POLICE)

Oregon fish and wildlife troopers had initially contacted the four occupants as they returned from bottomfishing at the South Jetty, at the mouth of the Columbia River.

After finding that 21st fish, the officers decided a fuller search of the boat just might be in order.

In a plastic tote, they found the rest of the crew’s booty — 53 more fish, mostly black rocks but also a small lingcod and a cabezon.

Troopers report they cited and released one person criminally for overlimits of black rockfish and lingcod, unlawfully keeping an undersized ling, and closed-season harvest of cabezon.

The other three were also cited and released criminally for overlimits of rockfish.

The 54 extra fish were all donated to a food bank.

The case is reported in the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division’s latest newsletter, for April, and just posted today.

It also includes details on several Winchester Bay crab scofflaws, including one caught with 17 undersize Dungies and another with 10, and a Brookings kayak angler who’d stashed a couple extra lingcod in his gear bag.

There’s also a clam caper with Washington suspects sans licenses but with 41 gapers, a Newport-area angler who claimed to have forgotten his license at home but a record check for which found he hadn’t bothering buying one since 2013, and details on several case resolutions.

Keep up the great work, officers!

‘Free Fishing Season’ Arrives In Northwest With Lots Of Learning, Angling Ops

Oregon kicks off “free fishing season” in the Northwest this Saturday and Sunday, while Washington and Idaho hold their festivities on June’s second weekend.

It’s not only a great way to get lapsed anglers — yo, Uncle Terry, I’ll be by early to head to the lake! — on the water but features a ton of kid- and family-friendly events.

MAEVE, AGE 7, WITH HER FIRST FISH CAUGHT WITH THE HELP OF AN ODFW ANGLING EDUCATION INSTRUCTOR AT TIMBER LINN PARK POND IN ALBANY DURING AN EARLIER FREE FISHING DAY EVENT THIS YEAR. (ODFW)

Here are what ODFW, IDFG and WDFW are planning for their state’s respective free fishing days:

THE FOLLOWING ARE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASES

Fishing is free June 2-3 in Oregon
Learn to fish at events statewide

It’s free to fish, crab or clam in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday, June 2 and 3.

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.

“Free Fishing Weekends are a great opportunity for friends and families to get out and enjoy a day or two of fishing,” said Mike Gauvin, ODFW recreational fisheries manager. “Trout, warmwater fish, ocean fishing, crabbing and clamming are just some of the great opportunities available.”

Look for the best opportunities in ODFW’s Weekly Recreation Report, which is updated every Wednesday.

Oregon State Parks are also free to visit on June 2-3, with day-use parking fees waived both days and free camping on Saturday, June 2 (an $8 reservation is required to guarantee a camping spot).

ODFW and partners are also hosting a number of fishing events around the state. Volunteer angler education instructors will be loaning out fishing gear and giving tips on how to catch and clean fish at most events. For more details and contact information for these events, visit https://myodfw.com/articles/2018-free-fishing-days-and-events

Saturday, June 2

  • Albany, Timber Linn Park Pond, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Alsea, Oregon Hatchery Research Center, 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Ashland, Hyatt Lake-Mountain View Shelter, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Baker City, 203 Pond, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Camp Sherman, Wizard Falls Hatchery, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Chiloquin, Klamath Fish Hatchery, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Clatskanie, Gnat Creek Fish Hatchery, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Detroit, Detroit Lake/Hoover Boat Launch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Diamond Lake, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Eugene, Alton Baker Canoe Canal, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Gaston, Henry Hagg Lake, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Gervais, St Louis Ponds, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Gold Beach, Libby Pond, 8:30 a.m.-noon
  • Hammond, Coffenbury Lake-Fort Stevens State Park, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Hebo, Hebo Lake, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Heppner, Cutsforth Pond, 8-11 a.m.
  • Klamath Falls, Lake of the Woods Resort, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Lakeside, Eel Lake/Tugman Park, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Oakridge, Willamette Fish Hatchery, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Otis, Salmon River Hatchery, 8 a.m.-noon
  • Prairie City, McHaley Pond, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Rockaway, Nedona Pond, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Selma, Lake Selmac, 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Silverton, Silverton Marine Park, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (required to park offsite, see details)
  • Sunriver, Caldera Springs, 9 a.m.-noon
  • Sutherlin, Cooper Creek Reservoir, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Tillamook, Trask River Hatchery, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Toledo, Olalla Reservoir, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Sunday, June 3

  • Gaston, Henry Hagg Lake, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Port Orford, Arizona Pond, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Reedsport, Lake Marie, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Under statute set by the Oregon State Legislature, ODFW can offer eight days of free fishing each year. The other remaining days of free fishing in Oregon coming up this year are listed on page 16 of the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations and are Sept. 1-2 (Sat.-Sun. of Labor Day Weekend) and Nov. 23-24 (the two days after Thanksgiving).

Free Fishing Weekend events in Southern Oregon

ROSEBURG, Ore – Oregonian’s can fish, crab and clam for free during Free Fishing Weekend, June 2-3. Events held around Southern Oregon give families an opportunity to try their hand at landing a trout.

The following events held are Saturday, June 2 unless noted:

Coos County:

  • Eel Lake at Tugman State Park, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. At a series of stations, kids will learn how to identify fish, tie knots, and cast along with fishing courtesy and water safety. Kids 12 and under can have the chance to catch trout out of a net pen. Lunch is provided.

Curry County:

  • Arizona Pond, Sunday, June 3 from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. The annual Elk River Hatchery free fishing event moved to Arizona Pond located 15 miles south of Port Orford on Highway 101 across from Prehistoric Gardens. This event is open for youth age 17 and under and is hosted by Elk River Hatchery and Oregon State Parks. Rods, reels, bait and tackle will be provided for the event, along with ice and bags so kids can take their fish home. Volunteers can help young anglers and Port Orford Rotary is providing lunch and refreshments. A raffle will be held at noon. ODFW is stocking 800 legal-sized and 300 trophy trout. Information: David Chambers, 541-332-7025.
  • Libby Pond, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. This event is for kids 13 and younger. Sign-up for prizes begins at 8 a.m., and the event features lunch, prize drawings, and loaner fishing equipment. Adults are encouraged to help their young ones fish. Help will also be on hand from Curry Anadromous Fishermen, Oregon South Coast Fishermen, ODFW and the U.S. Forest Service who are all sponsoring the event. Libby Pond is about eight miles up North Bank Rd., Gold Beach.

Douglas County:

  • Cooper Creek, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. This popular event has a kiddie pond stocked with trout for kids up to 12 years old, loaner rods and reels, casting lessons, and a fish cleaning station. Once kids go through an education station, they get a ticket for raffle drawings. Free hot dogs and Pepsi. ODFW is stocking 2,000 larger sized trout just before the event.
  • Diamond Lake, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. This fishing derby is for kids 17 and younger. Check-in begins at 6 a.m. at the resort’s Marina. There will be prizes for biggest fish by different age classes so kids should check in their trout for measurement at the Marina by 2 p.m. There will be door prizes and hot dogs in front of the resort after check-out concludes.
  • Lake Marie, Sunday, June 3 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. for kids 14 and under. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Rods and reels will be available, along with help for first-time anglers. Kids can enter a casting contest and get a bounty for picking up litter. Kids can also try out Gyotaku, or fish printing. Hot dogs and soda are free to kids with a nominal charge for adults to help pay for next year’s event. ODFW recently stocked 2,000 larger sized trout for the event.

Jackson County:

  • Fish Lake, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The BLM and USFS will have rods, tackle and bait on a first come, first served basis.

Josephine County:

  • Lake Selmac, 7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Josephine County’s only Free Fishing Weekend event is sponsored by the Middle Rogue Steelheaders and ODFW’s Angler Education program. Rods and reels are available for loan and bait is provided. There’s a fishing contest for the biggest fish caught by youth, donated prizes, a free BBQ 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., and a 50/50 raffle.

All other regulations apply including bag limit and size restrictions. People who already have a combined tag for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut are encouraged to use it as it provides data for fish managers.

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

June 9 is Free Fishing Day

Saturday, June 9th is Free Fishing Day, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game invites veteran and novice anglers of all ages, residents and nonresidents alike, to celebrate the day by fishing anywhere in Idaho without a license. Though fishing license requirements are suspended for this special day, all other rules, such as limits or tackle restrictions, remain in effect.

“Free fishing day provides a great opportunity for novices to give fishing a try and perhaps develop it into a life-long pursuit,” Fish and Game regional fish manager Joe Kozfkay said. “Parents are encouraged to bring their children out for a day of fun fishing excitement.”

Lack of fishing experience is no excuse. At special locations around the southwest region, equipment will be available for use and fishing experts will be on hand to help novice anglers learn the ins and outs of fishing. In addition, all these locations will be stocked with hatchery rainbow trout prior to the special day. Look for the event nearest you and Take a Kid Fishing.

For more information regarding Free Fishing Day, contact the Fish and Game McCall office (634-8137) or the Nampa office (465-8465).

Free Fishing Day Events in the Southwest Region – Saturday, June 9, 2018
Note: pay special attention to event times. Check the Fish and Game website (https://IDFG.idaho.gov) for schedule additions and or changes.

Atwood Pond (Payette) – Registration begins at 8:00am

Hosted by Safari Club International

Council (Ol’ McDonald) Pond – 9:00am – 1:00pm

Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office

Fischer Pond (Cascade) – 10:00am – 2:00pm

Hosted by Lake Cascade State Park and Idaho Fish and Game

Kimberland Meadows Pond (New Meadows) – 9:00am – 1:00pm  

Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office

Kleiner Pond (Meridian) – 9:00am – 2:00pm
Hosted by the Southwest Idaho RC&D Council, Micron Technology and Idaho Fish and Game

Legacy Park Pond (Mt. Home) – 9:00am – 1:00pm

Hosted by the Idaho Fish and Game Reservists

Lowman (10-mile) Ponds – 9:00am – 2:00pm
Hosted by the Boise National Forest (Lowman Ranger District), Sourdough Lodge and Idaho Fish and Game

McDevitt Pond (Boise) – 8:00am – Noon

Hosted by the Boise Police Association and Idaho Fish and Game

Northwest Passage Pond (McCall) – 9:00am – Noon

Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game

Rotary Park Pond (Caldwell ) – 9:30am – Noon

Hosted by Caldwell Rotary and the City of Caldwell

Sawyers Pond (Emmett) – 9:00am – Noon
Hosted by the Gem County Recreation District, Boise National Forest (Emmett Ranger District) and Idaho Fish and Game

Visitor Center Pond (Idaho City) – 9:00am – 1:00pm

Hosted by the Boise National Forest (Idaho City Ranger District) and Idaho Fish and Game

Wilson Springs Ponds (Nampa) – 8:00am – Noon
Hosted by Idaho Fish and Game

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

OLYMPIA – Each year, thousands of Washingtonians go fishing – legally – without a license on “Free Fishing Weekend,” scheduled for June 9-10.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state.

Anglers will also not need a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement, otherwise required to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries. Nor will they need a Two Pole Endorsement to fish with two poles in selected waters where two-pole fishing is permitted.

Also, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). A Discover Pass will also not be required on Washington State Parks lands throughout the weekend, but will be required on DNR lands both days.

“If you haven’t fished in Washington, or want to introduce fishing to someone new to the sport, this is the weekend to get out there,” said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW inland fish program manager.

Options available on Free Fishing Weekend include:

  • Trout in lowland lakes, and in the many rivers opening to trout fishingJune 2 throughout the state
  • Lingcod on the coast.
  • Bass, crappie, perch and other warmwater fish biting in lakes throughout Washington.
  • Shad on the Columbia River.
  • Hatchery steelhead on rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.

New anglers should check online for the “Fish Washington” feature at the department’s homepage (http://wdfw.wa.gov). The site provides details on lowland lake fishing, high lake fishing and marine area opportunities. Catchable trout stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the weekly stocking report on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.

For those who want even more fishing advice, the Fish Washington video page (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/videos) provides “how to” fishing videos designed to introduce techniques to both new and seasoned anglers.

Anglers who take part in free fishing weekend can also participate in the department’s 2018 Trout Fishing Derby and redeem green tags from fish caught over the weekend. Interested anglers should check for details online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/derby.

Before heading out, anglers should also check the current fishing regulations valid through June at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations. In addition, the free “Fish Washington” app, available on Google Play, Apple’s App store and WDFW’s website (https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/mobile_app.html), is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state. The exception, for now, is the app does not yet include information on shellfish and seaweed collection rules.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, it’s still important to check the regulations for other rules such as size limits, bag limits, catch record card requirements and area closures that will still be in effect, said Thiesfeld.

Catch record cards, required for some species, are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors on the WDFW website to locate a license dealer.

 

 

With ‘Much Larger’ Springer Run Back, Lookingglass Creek Opening June 2-23

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

Lookingglass Creek, a tributary to the Grande Ronde River at Palmer Junction, will open to fishing for hatchery spring chinook Saturday, June 2 through Saturday, June 23. The open area is from the Moses Creek Lane Bridge (County Road 42) upstream to the confluence of Jarboe Creek.

LOOKINGGLASS CREEK FLOWS INTO THE GRANDE RONDE RIVER NORTH OF ELGIN, OREGON. (ODFW)

“The Lookingglass Creek Chinook run has surprised us this year with a return much larger than initially expected,” said Tim Bailey, ODFW district fish biologist in La Grande. “This year’s run is expected to be around 1,400 adult Chinook, the majority being hatchery fish.”

Anglers may retain two adipose fin-clipped chinook adults and five adipose fin-clipped jacks per day, with two daily limits in possession. Jack salmon are less than 24-inches long. Anglers do not need to record jack catch on their combined angling tags, but it is illegal to continue fishing for jack chinook once the adult bag limit is met. Unmarked (wild) fish must be released carefully and unharmed.

As with the trout fishery that opened on Lookingglass Creek on May 22, anglers are restricted to artificial flies and lures while fishing for salmon — no bait. “There are bull trout in Lookingglass Creek, and bait fishing could pose a threat to them, so all fishing in the creek is restricted to artificial flies and lures,” Bailey said.

The area open to fishing is bordered by private timberlands owned by Forest Capital and open to public access. Anglers are reminded to respect private property by picking up trash when leaving.

Anglers will need a Columbia Basin Endorsement for this fishery.

For more information, contact the ODFW East Region Office in La Grande at (541) 963-2138.

Oregon Hunting Managers Look To Simplify Regs Pamphlet

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

ODFW is proposing some changes to big game hunting regulations beginning in 2019, the latest in a multi-year effort aimed at simplifying hunting and fishing regulations.

“Hunters tell us the regulations are too complicated, so we are making an effort to simplify whatever we can while still meeting the intent to conserve wildlife and ensure fair chase of game,” said Nick Myatt, ODFW Grande Ronde Watershed Manager, who is leading the effort for the agency.

ODFW will brief the Fish and Wildlife Commission on these changes during the June 8 meeting in Baker City and present final proposals to the Commission Sept. 14 in Bandon. Hunters and other interested parties are welcome to comment by testifying at these meetings or by emailing odfw.commission@state.or.us

A list of some of the major proposed changes follow. The full list is available at https://bit.ly/2spD7KJ

  • Standardize the minimum draw weight for bows at 40 pounds for all big game mammals, which will both simplify the regulation and remove barriers to archery hunting for youth and other smaller-framed hunters. (Currently, minimum draw weight is 50 pounds for elk, sheep and goat and 40 pounds for other big game.)
  • Eliminate the prohibition against decoys with moving parts when big game hunting. Staff believe the regulation is unnecessary and could be reducing cougar harvest.
  • Simplify requirements for legal muzzleloaders while maintaining the intent of a relatively short-range, primitive weapon.  The requirement for muzzleloaders to have an open ignition would be eliminated; the legal bullet regulation would be simplified to, “It is illegal to hunt with or possess sabots or saboted bullets;” and the prohibition on pelletized powder would be eliminated.
  • Change the SW Oregon first-come, first-served spring bear hunt to a controlled hunt consistent with all other spring bear hunts in Oregon.  This change simplifies regulations, may better distribute hunting pressure, and will allow hunters to purchase a point saver for spring bear.
  • Eliminate maximum party size limits for deer, elk, pronghorn, and bear hunts. ODFW believes party size is self-regulating and the regulation unnecessary.
  • Prohibit the import of deer, elk, or moose parts containing central nervous system tissue from any other state or province. (Currently Oregon only prohibits such imports from states/provinces with a known case of CWD. The change will simplify regulations and support Oregon’s efforts to prevent this disease from entering the state.)
  • Limit leftover tag purchases to people who have not already drawn a tag (will require legislative approval). This change would allow more people an opportunity to hunt each year.
  • Streamline limits on non-resident tags so deer, elk, pronghorn, and bear controlled hunts will all have a maximum of 5 percent non-resident tags (will require legislative approval).
  • While ODFW is not proposing allowing mechanical broadheads for big game archery hunters, due to interest in the topic, it will present the issue to the Commission for discussion at the meetings in Baker City and Bandon.

Several other regulations have been reworded to make them easier to understand, including the regulation prohibiting rifle hunting without a valid deer or elk tag during certain time periods and the proof of sex requirements. Other regulations deemed unnecessary or redundant have been proposed for elimination.

If the Commission approves the proposed changes in September, they will take effect for the 2019 hunting season. Changes requiring legislative approval will be considered as legislative concepts during the 2019 legislative session.

Survey Finds Good Krill Numbers Again Off Oregon, But Even More Pyrosomes

An annual spring survey off the Northwest Coast came up with some good and bad news for key stocks.

Krill — hugely important near the base of the ocean food web — and young Dungeness crab numbers were as high as they’ve been in some time, but there are even more pyrosomes off Oregon’s Central Coast and to the south than last year.

RESEARCHERS CALLED THE RETURN OF KRILL TO THEIR SAMPLING NETS “A WELCOME SIGHT SINCE THESE IMPORTANT FORAGE HAVE LARGELY BEEN ABSENT OVER THE PAST COUPLE YEARS SINCE THE ANOMALOUS WARMING” FROM THE BLOB. (NWFSC)

Jennifer Fisher, fresh off a 10-day survey between San Francisco Bay and Newport, reported the findings on the Northwest Fisheries Science Center blog.

“These are the most Dungeness larvae and juveniles we’ve collected in a long time, and we have not seen krill numbers like this since before 2015,” Fisher followed up via email.

That year, 2015, was the height of The Blob — the huge pool of warmer than usual water in the Northeast Pacific that messed things up at sea and on land — and it was also a year after pyrosomes first began to be found in our coastal waters.

By last year, the tropical gelatinous, sea-pickle thingies that are actually colonies of organisms were clogging fishing gear off our coast and even turned up as far north as the rim of the Gulf of Alaska, also a first.

While rockfish were observed feeding on pyrosomes, it’s not clear how their numbers will affect the food web. Another NOAA blog from last October states, “At this point, there are more questions than answers.”

But the May survey answered the question whether they’re still out there.

“The pyrosome catches appear slightly larger and the colonies are larger compared to last year,” reports Fisher.

They can be found starting about 10 miles off the coast, living on the bottom during the day and rising to the surface at night.

PYROSOMES FILL A COOLER ABOARD THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION’S VESSEL, THE BELL M. SHIMADA. (NWFSC)

The Science Center will soon conduct another closely watched spring survey, collecting information on young Chinook and coho off Oregon.

Last year’s produced very low catches while one a couple years ago found very small fish. But the resurgence of krill is a hopeful sign that the food web could be rebuilding coming out of the hangover from the Blob.

Fisher also reported on Science Center’s blog that copepods are in a state of flux between winter warm-water communities and summer, cold-water ones that come with the upwelling.

So what does it all mean?

“The krill is a good sign, but the pyrosomes are not, since they are indicative of warm water,” she says. “And the transitional copepod community is also not a great sign for salmon. But it’s still early in the summer upwelling season, so things can certainly change.”

Record $1.02 Million Raised Through ODFW Raffle, Auction Tags; Money Goes To Access, Research Programs, Conservation Groups

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

ODFW’s 2018 auctions and raffles for 26 special Oregon big game hunting tags grossed a record $1,019,730 this year, breaking the previous record of $882,787 set in 2017. Winners of these tags can hunt during an extended season and in an expanded hunt area.

PATRICK WHEELER FROM HINES WITH A DEER TAKEN IN THE MALHEUR UNIT WITH HIS 2012 SE OREGON DEER RAFFLE TAG. (VIA ODFW)

A total of 145,105 raffle tickets were sold, grossing $380,730 and breaking previous records for raffle sales. Raffle winners were drawn at the Oregon Hunters Association state convention on May 12 at the Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville. See the list of winners at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/hunting/auctions_raffles/raffle_winners.asp

The auction of 13 special big game tags grossed $639,000. The Governor’s combination deer/elk tag went for $78,000, breaking the previous record of $70,000 set in 2016. See the list of auction events and winning bids at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/hunting/auctions_raffles/current_auction_sales.asp

The funds raised for deer and elk tags sold at auctions and raffles go to ODFW’s Access and Habitat program, which opens millions of acres of private land to hunting access and improves wildlife habitat. Proceeds from the pronghorn, bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goat tags help fund research and management of those species.

The sportsmen conservation groups that sponsored the auctions at fund raising banquets of their organizations in the past few months also get to keep 10 percent of the auction proceeds ($63,900). Those groups include local, state and/or national chapters of the Wild Sheep Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Oregon Hunters Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, and National Wild Turkey Federation.

2018 Northwest Spring Turkey Forecast

Prospects look good, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation’s regional turkey biologist. Here are her forecasts for Oregon, Idaho and Washington.

By Mikal Cline

Oregon’s wild turkeys continue to thrive, despite some mortality during the winter of 2016-17. We may notice a missing cohort of 2-year-old toms in the field this year, but in general the populations are quite healthy.

TACOMA CLOWERS OF THE BEND AREA GOT INTO THE DOUBLE BONUS DURING THE 2015 SPRING GOBBLER HUNT IN EASTERN OREGON, A PAIR OF ELK ANTLER SHEDS. HIS UNCLE CARL LEWALLEN SENT THE PIC. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Oregon primarily offers Rio Grande wild turkey hunting, though some Merriam’s still persist in the Cascades. Oregon’s core populations exist in the southwest portion of the state, in the vicinity of Roseburg and Medford. The scattered oak savannas and transitional pine forests offer excellent habitat. Mild winters and early springs contribute to high survival and productivity.

OREGON’S “GOOD OLD” DOUGLAS COUNTY PAID OFF FOR JAYCE WILDER DURING THE 2016 SPRING HUNT. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Take advantage of the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Access & Habitat Program (dfw.state.or.us/lands/AH) if you are struggling to find good hunting access in this area. The Jackson Travel Management Area near Shady Cove is a personal favorite.

Wild turkeys also thrive on Forest Service land from the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, in the northeast corner of the state, over to the Ochocos. The Malheur National Forest is one of my favorite spots to hunt turkeys in Central Oregon, thanks to healthy populations and excellent public access. Wild turkey density starts to thin out in the Central Cascades, but the White River area continues to be a big producer.

SHHH, DON’T TELL THE TRUANT OFFICER, BUT KEVIN KENYON SKIPPED SCHOOL DURING LAST YEAR’S TURKEY SEASON, BAGGING THIS BIRD WHILE HUNTING WITH HIS UNCLE. “TOOK ALMOST 3 HOURS BUT WHEN YOUR TURKEY HUNTING PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE,” NOTED KEVIN’S DAD, MARK. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

ODFW made a concerted effort to trap and transplant overstocked birds this past winter. I believe we can expect some emerging opportunities in South-central Oregon (think Klamath to Lakeview), thanks to this effort. The Ochocos and White River Wildlife Management Unit populations will also benefit from ODFW’s efforts.

The south Willamette Valley, particularly Lane County, is another emerging opportunity for wild turkey hunters, should they be able to secure hunting access.

JACOB HALEY NOTCHES HIS YOUTH TURKEY TAG FOLLOWING A SUCCESSFUL MORNING WITH “GUIDE” TROY RODAKOWSKI IN THE WILLAMETTE VALLEY. (TROY RODAKOWSKI)

IDAHO BUMPS BAG

Spring turkey hunters in the Gem State can now take two bearded birds a day, thanks to a rule change from the Fish and Game Commission earlier this year. 

It’s yet another sign that gobblers are doing well in much of their range across Idaho.

“They’re overrun,” jokes NWTF’s Mikal Cline. It’s going to be a great turkey season in Idaho.”

Commissioners also increased fall hunting opportunities in the Panhandle, Clearwater and Southwest regions, and added youth spring and fall controlled hunts in the Salmon district.

However, the general spring turkey season was closed in Unit 70, in Southeast Idaho.

The annual limit is still two bearded turkeys per spring.

WASHINGTON’S EASTSIDE TURKEY populations are robust, prompting the Department of Fish and Wildlife to propose more liberal fall seasons in some locations. The core population of Washington’s turkeys occurs in the northeast corner of the state, consisting primarily of the Merriam’s subspecies. Colville is the epicenter of spring turkey hunting in Washington, boasting high hunter success rates and a turkey harvest that is an order of magnitude greater than any other turkey management unit in
the state.

HOW JEREMY RACE CORRALLED THREE LITTLE BOYS TO SIT STILL FOR ANY PERIOD OF TIME DURING THIS SPRING TURKEY HUNT IS ANYBODY’S GUESS, BUT HIS NEPHEW CARTER MADE GOOD ON HIS SHOT OPPORTUNITY. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

We are seeing increased nuisance and damage complaints coming from the suburban fringes of Spokane and Cheney, but hunter access remains a constraint. We are also seeing increasing hybridization between Rio Grande and Merriam’s in this area.

JOHNNY HONE DOWNED HIS FIRST GOBBLER WITH A SINGLE SHOT FROM HIS 20-GAUGE SHOTGUN AT 25 YARDS AFTER HIS DAD JOHN CALLED HIM WITHIN RANGE. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

The foothills of the Blue Mountains in Southeast Washington are also a world-class destination, with the towns of Dayton, Pomeroy and Walla Walla serving as gateways for excellent Rio Grande turkey hunting.

The Klickitat River watershed offers the best turkey hunting closer to the west side of the state. Check with WDFW for access opportunities on wildlife areas and industrial timberlands in the area.

THE HARSH WINTER OF 2016-17 MAY HAVE LINGERING EFFECTS ON HOW MANY TURKEYS SPRING HUNTERS SEE IN SOME PARTS OF THE NORTHWEST, BUT OVERALL PROSPECTS ARE GOOD. RICH AND MATT OAKLEY OF VANCOUVER BAGGED THEIR FIRST EVER GOBBLERS IN KLICKITAT COUNTY ON THE SECOND DAY OF LAST YEAR’S HUNT. FRIEND GREG ELLYSON SENT THE PIC. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Turkey hunting in Southwest Washington for the eastern subspecies continues to be a challenge. These flocks have never thrived, but do persist in certain areas, including Lewis County. Tapping into local knowledge is the best way to complete your Washington turkey slam, but you will have to work for it.

KEITH MOEN, THE SUBJECT OF A BIG ARTICLE IN OUR PAGES LAST FALL, HARVESTED THIS SPRING TURKEY A COUPLE SEASONS BACK IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

From Goldendale to the Methow, the east slope of the Cascades continues to hold pockets of wild turkeys, which do seem to be increasing, though there are not rigorous surveys in this area. Again, local knowledge from your district wildlife biologist will help you locate these birds.

MCKENNA RISLEY SHOWS OFF HER FIRST TURKEY, TAKEN IN THE METHOW VALLEY LAST SPRING WHILE HUNTING WITH HER DAD ROB. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

On an interesting note, we have heard evidence that wild turkeys have crossed Snoqualmie Pass and have been seen around North Bend.

Also, WDFW is in the process of updating its wild turkey management plan, including the trap and transplant operational guidelines. Until the plan is approved, T&T operations are on hold. 

Editor’s note: For more on how to hunt Northwest gobblers, check out the April issue of Northwest Sportsman!