Tag Archives: Pikeminnow

2018 Northwest Fish And Wildlife Year In Review, Part III

As 2018 draws to a close, we’re taking our annual look back at some of the biggest fish and wildlife stories the Northwest saw during the past year.

While the fishing and hunting wasn’t all that much to write home about, boy did the critters and critter people ever make headlines!

If it wasn’t the plight of orcas and mountain caribou, it was the fangs of cougars and wolves that were in the news — along with the flight of mountain goats and pangs of grizzly bear restoration.

Then there were the changes at the helms, court battles, legislative battles and more. Earlier we posted events of the first five months of the year, and then June through September. Below we wrap up with October through December.

OCTOBER

Oregon began offering big game preference points instead of just cold, hard cash for those who help state troopers arrest or cite fish and wildlife poachers. The new option in the Turn In a Poacher program awards five points for cases involving bighorns, mountain goats, moose and wolves; four for elk, deer, antelope, mountain lions and bears. While the points all have to go to either elk, buck, antlerless deer, pronghorn or spring black bear series hunts, it significantly raises the odds of being drawn for coveted controlled permits.

OSP SENIOR TROOPER DARIN BEAN POSES WITH THE HEADS OF THREE TROPHY BUCKS POACHED IN THE GREATER SILVER LAKE AREA. (OSP)

The lowest catch station recorded the highest haul when the Columbia-Snake 2018 pikeminnow sport-reward program wrapped up this fall. “It is the first time in the Pikeminnow Program’s 28-year history that the Cathlamet station has been the number one location,” noted Eric Winther, who heads up the state-federal effort aimed at reducing predation on salmonid smolts. With 25,135 turned in there, Cathlamet accounted for 14 percent of the overall catch of 180,309 pikeminnow this year. Boyer Park produced the second most, 22,950, while usual hot spot The Dalles was third with 22,461, less than half of 2017’s tally.

Using DNA from northern pike, USFS researcher Dr. Kellie Carim turned the widespread assumption about where the fish that have invaded Washington came from on its head. “The history we’ve told ourselves, the simplest explanation, is that the fish are flowing downstream from Western Montana,” Carim told us in early fall. “However, what the genetic analysis says is that those in Lake Roosevelt and the Pend Oreille River are closely related to those in the Couer d’Alene drainage.” In other words, a bucket biologist or biologists drove them between the watersheds. Also on the invasive species front, earlier in the year, scientists began to suspect that Sooke Harbor was not the source of the European green crabs showing up in Puget Sound waters but from somewhere on the Northwest’s outer coast.

SPECIALISTS FROM WASHINGTON SEA GRANT AND THE MAKAH TRIBE CONSIDER WHERE TO SET TRAPS IN AN ESTUARY FOR EUROPEAN GREEN CRABS. (WSG)

Oregon and Washington’s Fish and Wildlife Commissions were urged not to roll back the Columbia River salmon reforms by no less than the former governor who got the ball rolling. “There’s absolutely no reason to change right now, it makes no sense,” said Oregon’s John Kitzhaber in one of several short videos that came out ahead of indepth reviews for the citizen panels.

IN A NEW VIDEO, FORMER GOVERNOR JOHN KITZHABER URGES VIEWERS TO MAINTAIN THE COLUMBIA RIVER SALMON REFORMS.

With salvaging roadkilled deer and elk in Oregon set to begin Jan. 1, 2019, the Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted regulations for how the program will work. It’s similar to Washington’s, except that antlers and heads must be turned in to any ODFW office (here are addresses and phone numbers of the two dozen across the state) within five business days and Columbian whitetail deer may be salvaged, but only in Douglas County, where the species was declared recovered in 2003.

Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer resigned after a distasteful photo of him with a dead “family of baboons” surfaced following an African safari with his wife. Fischer initially defended his actions, telling the Idaho Statesman, “I didn’t do anything illegal. I didn’t do anything unethical. I didn’t do anything immoral.” In accepting Fischer’s requested resignation, Gov. Butch Otter stated, “Every member of my administration is expected to exercise good judgment. Commissioner Fischer did not.”

FORMER IDAHO FISH AND GAME COMMISSIONER BLAKE FISCHER OF MERIDIAN RESIGNED AFTER GOVERNOR BUTCH OTTER REQUESTED HE DO SO. (IDFG)

This year’s return of coho to the Columbia River was woeful at best, but there was a glimmer of good news when the Nez Perce announced that the first adult in more than 50 years returned to Northeast Oregon, thanks to a joint tribal-ODFW release of half a million smolts in March 2017. At least 125 had arrived at a weir on the Lostine River as of earlier this month, and tribal fisheries manager Becky Johnson estimated there were 800 more still on their way at that point.

FEMALE COHO TRAPPED AT THE LOSTINE RIVER WEIR ON OCTOBER 26, 2018 — THE FIRST SINCE 1966. (NEZ PERCE TRIBE)

With small, 2- to 3-inch razor clams dominating the population in Clatsop County’s sands, Oregon shellfish managers with support from the public decided to postpone harvesting any until this coming March, in hopes they would be larger by then. On the north side of the Columbia River, Washington’s Long Beach will only see a limited opener this season due to low salinity levels in winter 2017 that affected survival and led to a higher concentration of small clams.

OREGON SHELLFISH MANAGERS SAY ITS NORTHERN RAZOR CLAM POPULATION IS ON THE SMALL SIDE AND SEASON WAS POSTPONED TILL MARCH. (ODFW)

WDFW’s new Director Kelly Susewind hit the highway, the airwaves and the interweb to flesh out his thinking on hot-button fish and wildlife issues, set the tone for what his priorities are going forward, and listen to the needs of sportsmen and Washington residents. He hosted half a dozen meetings across the state, appeared on TVW’s Inside Olympia and did a webinar as the agency tried to build support for its $67 million ask of the legislature in 2019.

It wasn’t just small clams on the Oregon Coast sparking concerns — low early returns and catches of fall Chinook led ODFW to restrict fishing from the Necanicum to the Siuslaw, closing all the rivers above tidewater and reducing limits in the bays from three to one for the season. When subsequent surveys began to show more fish arriving on the spawning grounds, sections of the lower Siletz then Alsea and Yaquina Rivers were reopened, but further south, it wasn’t until late November before ODFW was able to lift gear restrictions on the low-flowing Chetco and Winchuck Rivers.

NOVEMBER

Western Washington tribes launched an ambitious, coordinated, long-term effort to identify and restore key salmon habitats as well as gauge land-use decisions in the region. The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission’s Tribal Habitat Strategy was described by chair Lorraine Loomis as an “effort … based on what we know is actually needed to achieve ecosystem health, not what we think is possible to achieve given current habitat conditions.”

THE COVER OF THE NORTHWEST INDIAN FISHERIES COMMISSION’S NEW “TRIBAL HABITAT STRATEGY” REPORT SHOWS A KITSAP COUNTY CULVERT ON CARPENTER CREEK THAT HAS SINCE BEEN REMOVED, IMPROVING FISH PASSAGE AND ESTUARY FUNCTION. (NWIFC)

Cattle depredations that seemed like they’d never end in Northeast Washington led to essentially three different lethal wolf removal operations ongoing at once, two by WDFW targeting all the remaining OPT wolves and one Smackout Pack member, and one by a producer for any Togo wolves in their private pastures. By year-end at least four wolves had been killed by state shooters in hopes of reducing livestock attacks, and the Capital Press reported at least 31 calves and cows had been confirmed to have been either killed or injured by wolves in 2018, “more than double any previous year.”

LIFE COULD BE WORSE — YOU COULD GROW A BUCK ON YOUR BUTT … OR AT LEAST HAVE A TRAIL CAMERA RECORD SOMETHING ALONG THOSE LINES. THIS UNUSUAL ALIGNMENT WAS RECORDED AT A WASHINGTON WILDLIFE AREA IN THE NORTHEAST CORNER OF THE STATE DURING THE FALL RUT. (WDFW)

Significantly increasing Chinook abundance to help out starving orcas was among the key recommendations Washington’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force voted to forward to Governor Jay Inslee after months of discussion and public comment. Members also urged suspending southern resident killer whale watching for all fleets — commercial, recreational, kayak, rubber dingy, etc., etc., etc. — for the next three to five years. The recommendations were generally supported by sportfishing reps who took part in the task force’s work. “Production needs to be ramped up immediately, and follow the recovery/ESA sidebars in the recommendations,” said Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, who also expressed concern about “organizations who will file lawsuits to fight increased production no matter how thoughtfully done and no matter how dire the need.”

A PAIR OF SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALES SWIM IN INLAND WATERS EARLIER THIS MONTH. (KATY FOSTER/NOAA FISHERIES)

IDFG Director Virgil Moore announced that he was retiring in January after eight years at the helm of Idaho fish and wildlife management and a four-decade-long career in the field, including a year as ODFW’s director. “Working together, Fish and Game and our wildlife resources are in excellent shape and ready to be handed off to new leadership,” he said in a press release. Fellow Fish and Game honcho Ed Schriever was named as Moore’s replacement.

Federal researchers found that one top way to recover Chinook in Puget Sound streams is to restore side channels. Providing space for the young ESA-listed fish to grow as well as shelter from flood flows adds complexity to river systems, increasing its potential value as habitat. The work, some of which was done on the Cedar River, could help answer where and how to get the best bang for restoration dollars. In a related story, for the first time since the project wrapped up in 2014, a pair of kings chose to spawn in a portion of a Seattle stream that had been engineered for salmon to dig redds. “That’s a vote of confidence!” said a utility district biologist.

A SEATTLE PUBLIC UTILITY IMAGE SHOWS A PAIR OF CHINOOK SALMON ON THE GRAVEL OF LOWER THORNTON CREEK, EAST OF NORTHGATE MALL. (SPU)

With the threat of a federal lawsuit hanging over their heads, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted in mid-November to suspend steelhead season in early December. IDFG’s permit to hold the fishery had expired nearly 10 years ago and other priorities had kept NMFS from issuing a new one, providing an opening for yet another low-hanging-fruit lawsuit from the usual suspects. “The loss of that opportunity, even temporarily, due to a lawsuit and unprocessed permit is truly regrettable,” said Virgil Moore in a letter to Idaho steelheaders. The pending closure didn’t affect Washington fishermen angling the shared Snake, and it led one of the six litigant groups to subsequently back out, saying its goal of spurring the feds into action had been achieved. But on the eve of the shutdown, an agreement was reached between a newly formed group of anglers and towns, Idaho River Community Alliance, IDFG and the other five parties. It kept fishing open, closed stretches of the South Fork Clearwater and Salmon, and included voluntary measures.

A LAST-MINUTE AGREEMENT KEPT STEELHEADING OPEN ON THE NORTH FORK CLEARWATER AND OTHER IDAHO STREAMS FOLLOWING A THREATENED FEDERAL LAWSUIT OVER A LACK OF A FISHERIES PERMIT. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

The federal Fourth National Climate Assessment, released over Thanksgiving weekend, painted a rough go of it for fish, shellfish and wildlife in the Northwest. It projected that Washington salmon habitat will be reduced by 22 percent under a scenario that includes continued high emissions of greenhouse gases, razor clamming would decline “due to cumulative effects of ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, higher temperatures, and habitat degradation,” and that more management to ensure sufficient waterfowl habitat would be needed. The report, required by Congress, did say deer and elk may actually thrive due to less winterkill and improving habitat because of increased wildfires, but could also be impacted by “increases in disease and disease-carrying insects and pests.”

ODFW launched its new electronic license program, so easy that even hook-and-bullet magazine editors can (eventually) figure it out. Essentially, the app allows sportsmen to carry an e-version of their fishing and hunting licenses on their phones, etc., as well as tag critters and fill in punch cards with an app that works even offline in Oregon’s remote canyons.

In what would also be a continuing news story in the year’s final month, ODFW received federal permission to lethally remove as many as 93 California sea lions annually at Willamette Falls and in the lower Clackamas. “This is good news for the native runs of salmon and steelhead in the Willamette River,” said ODFW’s Dr. Shaun Clements, whose agency had estimated that if nothing were done, there was a 90 percent chance one of the watershed’s wild winter steelhead runs would go extinct. “We did put several years’ effort into non-lethal deterrence, none of which worked. The unfortunate reality is that, if we want to prevent extinction of the steelhead and Chinook, we will have to lethally remove sea lions at this location,” he said in a press release.

And near the end of the month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 196 to 180 to fully delist gray wolves in the Lower 48. But that was as far as the Manage our Wolves Act, co-sponsored by two Eastern Washington Republicans, was going to get, as at the end of the year it went nowhere in the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works and the incoming chair of the House Natural Resources Committee flatly told a reporter that the panel won’t be moving any delisting legislation while he is in charge over the next two years. Meanwhile, WDFW and the University of Washington began year three of predator-prey research across the northern tier of Eastern Washington.

A TRAIL CAMERA CAPTURED WHAT’S BELIEVED TO BE A SMACKOUT PACK YEARLING PACKING FAWN QUARTERS BACK TO A DEN IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON. (JEFF FLOOD)

DECEMBER

Poor fishing up and down the West Coast in recent years was among the factors that forced the owners of Ollie Damon’s reel repair shop in Portland to close up for good this month, ending the run of a famed name that first opened for business in the late 1940s. “It’s sad for us but we can’t work forever,” said Rich and Susan Basch who bought the shop in the 1990s and used to service as many as 5,000 to 6,000 reels annually, and who said that they’ll miss their customers “immensely” as they also retire.

PORTLAND’S OLLIE DAMON’S CLOSEd ITS DOORS DEC. 29, MARKING THE END OF AN ERA. (OLLIE DAMON’S)

We’ll know a lot more about 2019 salmon expectations later in winter, but the year’s first forecasts came out in early December, with Columbia River managers expecting an overall run of 157,500 springers, 35,900 summer kings, and 99,300 of the red salmon, all below 10-year averages but no surprise given recent ocean conditions. The outlook for upriver brights is similar to 2018, with tule Chinook below the 10-year average, but with spring’s offshore survey finding good numbers of young coho in the ocean and a strong jack return to the river this fall, there is some potential good news for silver slayers.

The poaching of one of Oregon’s rare moose north of Enterprise in November led to a handsome reward offer of not only $7,500 at last check but a guided elk hunt on the nearby Krebs Ranch, a $3,500 value in itself. “The poaching of a moose is a tragic thing,” said Jim Akenson of the Oregon Hunters Association, chapters of which stepped up to build the reward fund. “Especially because our moose population is low – fewer than 70 in Oregon.” This is at least the second moose poached in Northeast Oregon in recent years. Thadd J. Nelson was charged in early 2015 with unlawfully killing one in mid-2014. He was later killed by robbers.

OREGON’S MOOSE POPULATION WAS LAST ESTIMATED AT 75 OR SO. (PAT MATTHEWS, ODFW)

Washington Governor Jay Inslee touted an “unprecedented investment” of $1.1 billion to recover orcas and their key feedstock — Chinook — in his proposed 2019-21 budget. It includes $12 million for WDFW to maximize hatchery production to rear and release an additional 18.6 million salmon smolts, a whopping $205 million boost for DOT to improve fish passage beneath state roads, and $75.7 million to improve the state’s hatcheries (hopefully testing generators more frequently!). Inslee’s budget, which must still be passed by lawmakers, also includes the fee increase but $15 million WDFW asked for for conservation and habitat work was pared down to just $1.3 million for the former.

With the significance of Chinook for orcas in the spotlight of course a mid-December windstorm would knock out power to a state hatchery, and when the backup generator failed to immediately kick in, around 6 million fall and spring fry died. That angered fishermen and killer whale advocates alike, and led to a rare statement by a WDFW director, Kelly Susewind on the “painful loss.” As an outside investigation is launched into what exactly what went wrong, up to 2.75 million fish from a mix of state, tribal and tech college hatcheries were identified as possible replacements, pending buy-in from several more tribes.

SALMON INCUBATION TRAYS AT MINTER CREEK HATCHERY. (WDFW)

Federal, state and tribal officials agreed to a three-year trial to see if increasing spill down the Columbia and Snake Rivers can “significantly boost” outmigrating salmon and steelhead smolt numbers. The agreement came after early in the year U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon ordered spill to occur and Eastern Washington House of Representatives members tried to kill it. Testing begins this coming April — “It can’t happen soon enough,” said NSIA’s Hamilton.

WDFW’S FIRST KARELIAN BEAR DOG, MISHKA, PASSED AWAY LATE IN THE YEAR. HANDLER “BRUCE (RICHARDS) SAID OF MISHKA THAT WHAT HE ACCOMPLISHED IN ONE YEAR WAS AKIN TO WHAT ONE WILDLIFE OFFICER COULD ACCOMPLISH IN A LIFETIME OF WORK,” BEAR SMART WA POSTED ON INSTAGRAM. THE DUO HAD A LONG CAREER OF CHASING BEARS AND HELPING ON POACHING CASES IN GREATER PUGETROPOLIS. ALSO IN 2018, ANOTHER WDFW KBD DOG, CASH, DIED FOLLOWING A BATTLE AGAINST PROSTRATE CANCER. (WDFW)

And finally, and in probably the best news of the whole damn year — which is why we saved it to last, but also because it happened so late in 2018 — the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act was signed into law by President Trump after zipping through the Senate and House this month. With bipartisan leadership from Northwest lawmakers and support from the DFWs, tribes and fishing community among others, the bill essentially provides up to five one-year permits to kill as many as 920 California sea lions and 249 Steller sea lions in portions of the Columbia River and its salmon-bearing tributaries. Not that that many likely will be taken out, but this should FINALLY help address too many pinnipeds taking too big a bite out of ESA-listed stocks and help keep one of their new favorite targets, sturgeon, from ending up on the list too.

And with that, I’m calling it a year on this three-part year in review — read the first chunk, covering January through May here, and the second, June through September, here.

Take care, and happy new year!

AW
NWS

191,000-plus Pikeminnow Removed From Columbia, Snake As Reward Fishery Closes

A larger Columbia Basin snowpack and bigger flows looked like they might impact this year’s northern pikeminnow sport reward fishery, but anglers did well during the just-concluded season, though brought in fewer than last year.

“So that means the 2017 season was a good, solid, above-average season, especially given the high water early in the year, which typically puts a damper on overall harvest,” notes manager Eric Winther.

THE PIKEMINNOW SPORT REWARD PROGRAM OFFERS INCENTIVES TO CATCH THE SPECIES FROM THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA UP TO TRI-CITIES, AND IN THE SNAKE FROM TRI-CITIES UP TO CLARKSTON. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

From May 1 through Sept. 30, 191,218 qualifying pikeminnow were brought in to check stations up and down the Columbia between Cathlamet and Tri-Cities, as well as the Snake below Clarkston.

That’s the third most over the past decade, but a drop off from 2016’s 225,350, which is the fifth most since the program’s inception in 1991 to tamp down predation by the native species on salmon and steelhead smolts migrating through the hydropower system.

The average over that period is 176,000, according to Winther. High mark is 2004’s 267,414, while the lowest was 1994’s 104,536.

Anglers are paid $5 apiece for their first 25 qualifying fish, $6 for their next 175 and $8 each for numbers 200 and beyond. The program resumes May 1, 2018.

Winther says it’ll take awhile to compile all of this year’s data, and the deadline for anglers to turn vouchers in isn’t until mid-November.

But he says it looks like last year’s top fisherman didn’t come close to matching their record haul of $119,341 from 14,019 fish.

The Dalles was the most productive station, with 44,667 qualifying pikeminnows, followed by Boyer Park at 24,037, Columbia Point at 16,227, Cathlamet at 13,386 and Washougal at 12,445.

Average catch on the season was 7.4, with a range from 11.0 at Ridgefield to 1.6 at Umatilla.

A total of 265 tagged fish worth $500 each were turned in.

Effort was 25,959 on the season.

For more details, including fishing maps, check out pikeminnow.org.

 

Snake’s Boyer Park Tops Again For Pikeminnow Removers

Boyer Park on the Snake below Lower Granite Dam maintained its grip as the most productive midsummer spot for pikeminnow for the fourth week in a row with a haul of 1,345 qualifying fish last week.

Though the July 24-30 catch is also down from the previous week, it’s still nearly 575 more than the second best station, Greenbelt, also on the Snake, where 774 were brought in for the sport reward program.

A MAP ON PIKEMINNOW.ORG SHOWS HOT SPOTS AROUND BOYER PARK, WHICH IS BELOW LOWER GRANITE DAM ON THE SNAKE RIVER. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

Coming in third and fourth were two Lower Columbia stations: Cathlamet, with 701, and Kalama, with 510, according to the latest figures from program manager Eric Winther.

Winther also reported that this year’s fishery will now run all the way through Sept. 30. There had been some question whether funding would be available after Aug. 31.

The week’s overall catch was 6,468, down from 7,148.

Lyons Ferry had the highest catch per angler, with 20.2 for the six participants, followed by 17.3 at Giles French and 14.2 at Beacon Rock.

The overall average per angler was 6.3 pikeminnows for 1,024 participants, up about half a fish a fisherman over the previous week.

Six specially tagged pikeminnow were turned in last week, with two at Cathlamet, and one each at Gleason, Chinook Landing, Giles French and Greenbelt.

All totaled, 127,482 qualifying pikeminnow have been removed from the Columbia and Snake since the start of season May 1.

The Dalles has been most productive, with 43,847, followed by Boyer Park at 15,399 and Columbia Point at 14,933.

Average catch is 6.9, with a range from 10.7 at The Dalles to 1.5 at Umatilla.

Just under 210 tagged fish have been turned in.

Effort is 18,548 on the season.

The sport reward program pays anglers from $5 to $8 per pikeminnow, with tagged ones worth $500. The idea is to remove the native species that preys on young salmon and steelhead in the Columbia hydropower system.

For more details, including fishing maps, check out pikeminnow.org.

Pikeminnow Catches Dipping On Columbia, Snake

Pikeminnow catches dropped by more than 1,700 last week over the previous one, with 7,148 brought to stations on the Columbia and Snake Rivers July 17-23.

That figure is also less than half of what it was a month ago but reflective of the typical seasonal lull in the fishery that pays anglers to remove the native species that preys on young salmon and steelhead in the Columbia hydropower system.

THE PIKEMINNOW SPORT REWARD PROGRAM OFFERS INCENTIVES TO CATCH THE SPECIES FROM THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA UP TO TRI-CITIES, AND IN THE SNAKE FROM TRI-CITIES UP TO CLARKSTON. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

For the third straight week, Boyer Park on the Snake below Lower Granite Dam retained its spot as most productive, with a haul of 1,771 qualifying fish,

That’s nearly 1,000 more than the second best station, Greenbelt, also on the Snake, where 787 were brought in, according to the latest figures from program manager Eric Winther.

Coming in third was The Dalles, with 675, then Cathlamet, on the Lower Columbia, with 622.

Giles French had the highest catch per angler, with 15.2 for the 38 participants, followed by 9.3 at Cascade Locks and 8.9 at Boyer Park.

The overall average per angler was 5.8 pikeminnow for 1,235 participants, down about a fish a fisherman over the previous week.

Eight specially tagged pikeminnow were turned in last week, up from five the week before, with three at Columbia Point, and one each at Cathlamet, Gleason, Washougal, The Dalles and Greenbelt.

All totaled, 121,014 qualifying pikeminnow have been removed from the Columbia and Snake since the start of season May 1.

The Dalles has been most productive, with 43,613, followed by Columbia Point at 14,681 and Boyer Park 14,054.

Average catch is 6.9, with a range from 11.0 at The Dalles to 1.5 at Willow Grove and Umatilla.

Just over 200 tagged fish have been turned in.

Effort is 17,524 on the season.

The sport reward program pays anglers from $5 to $8 per pikeminnow, with tagged ones worth $500.

For more details, including fishing maps, check out pikeminnow.org.

Snake’s Boyer Park Again Tops Among Pikeminnow Stations

Pikeminnow catches dipped below five figures for the first week since mid-May, with 8,867 brought to stations on the Columbia and Snake last week.

For the second straight week, Boyer Park retained its spot as most productive, with a July 10-16 haul of 2,762 qualifying fish, more than twice as many as The Dalles, where 1,140 were brought in, according to the latest figures from program manager Eric Winther

A MAP ON PIKEMINNOW.ORG SHOWS HOT SPOTS AROUND BOYER PARK, WHICH IS BELOW LOWER GRANITE DAM ON THE SNAKE RIVER. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

Coming in third was Cathlamet, on the Lower Columbia, with 785, then Greenbelt, outside Clarkston, with 710.

Both the rise of Boyer and downtrending of the overall catch are typical for this time of year.

Boyer Park again had the highest catch per angler, with 11.7 for the 236 participants, down from an even 16.0 the previous week, followed by 10.2 at both Ridgefield and Washougal.

The overall average per angler was 6.9 pikeminnow for 1,279 participants.

All totaled, 113,866 qualifying pikeminnow that have been removed from the Columbia and Snake since the start of season May 1. The Dalles has been most productive, with 42,991, followed by Columbia Point at 14,329 and Boyer Park 12,288.

Five specially tagged pikeminnow were caught last week, down from 15 the week before, but with two at Washougal, and one each at Rainier, Ridgefield and Boyer Park.

The sport reward program pays anglers from $5 to $8 per pikeminnow, with tagged ones worth $500. The idea is to reduce the numbers of the native species that prey on young salmon and steelhead in the Columbia hydropower system.

For more details, including fishing maps, check out pikeminnow.org.

Pikeminnow Catch Tops 100,000 For The Season So Far

Pikeminnow catches have topped the 100,000-fish mark for the season as the sport reward program yielded 10,082 last week, as well as a new top station.

Anglers turned in the most fish at Boyer Park, on the Snake, taking over from The Dalles station on the Columbia, which had otherwise been most productive every week since the May 1 start of the fishery.

THE PIKEMINNOW SPORT REWARD PROGRAM OFFERS INCENTIVES TO CATCH THE SPECIES FROM THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA UP TO TRI-CITIES, AND IN THE SNAKE FROM TRI-CITIES UP TO CLARKSTON. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

According to the latest figures from program manager Eric Winther, 3,065 qualifying pikeminnows came in to Boyer Park from July 3-9, 1,798 to The Dalles and 1,099 to Columbia Point, near the confluence of the two rivers.

Boyer Park also had the highest catch per angler, with 16.0 for the 191 participants, followed by 11.3 at Giles French and 8.9 for The Dalles.

But The Dalles can still account for 41,851 of the 104,999 qualifying pikeminnow that have been removed from the Columbia and Snake since the start of season.

And that’s the most there since the 2006 season concluded.

Fifteen specially tagged pikeminnow were caught last week, with six of those turned in at The Dalles, three at Columbia Point, two at Cascade Locks, and one each at Kalama, Gleason, Boyer Park and Greenbelt.

The sport reward program pays anglers from $5 to $8 per pikeminnow, with tagged ones worth $500. The idea is to reduce the numbers of the native species that prey on young salmon and steelhead in the Columbia hydropower system.

For more details, including fishing maps, check out pikeminnow.org.

Pikeminnow Catches Surge Past 80,000-Fish Mark For Reward Season

Pikeminnow catches jumped sharply over the previous week on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, with 14,540 qualifying fish brought in for the sport reward program June 19-25.

That’s the most so far for any week since fishing began May 1, and 3,500-plus fish more than the 10,950 brought in June 12-18.

Part of the surge came from The Dalles station, which again recorded the highest number overall, with 5,446 checked, up from 3,915 the week before.

A MAP ON PIKEMINNOW.ORG SHOWS THE LOCATION OF TRADITIONALLY GOOD SPOTS, THOUGH IN THIS HIGH-WATER YEAR, THOSE COULD BE DIFFERENT. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

That also brings this year’s The Dalles haul of 37,047 to within, possibly, a week of topping the station’s entire 2016 tally, but fishing has to stay strong to match 2004’s high mark of 54,428.

Action also improved on the Snake, where Boyer Park took in 1,864 pikeminnow, an increase of 50 percent, and Columbia Point Park, at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia, saw 1,472.

Kalama again saw the highest catch per registered angler of the week, with 26 fishermen accounting for 192 pikeminnow, an average of 18.9 fish each, a slight dropoff from the previous week’s 20.0 per.

Other stations seeing relatively high catch per angler include The Dalles (16.1), Bingen (13.8) and Beacon Rock (11.9).

Fourteen specially tagged pikeminnow were caught last week, with  six of those turned in at The Dalles, three at Columbia Point, two at Chinook Landing and Boyer Park, and one at Bingen.

Since the 2017 season started May 1, 83,375 qualifying pikeminnow have been removed from the Columbia and Snake, 83,894 overall.

The sport reward program pays anglers from $5 to $8 per pikeminnow, with tagged ones worth $500. The idea is to reduce the numbers of the native species that prey on young salmon and steelhead in the Columbia hydropower system.

For more details, including fishing maps, check out pikeminnow.org.

Columbia-Snake Pikeminnow Program Catch Nears 70,000

Pikeminnow catches ticked up over the previous week on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, with 10,950 qualifying fish brought in for the sport reward program June 12-18.

Once again The Dalles station recorded the highest number overall, with 3,915 checked, a dropoff of about 900 fish over June 5-11, but this year’s catch to date of 31,563 there has already surpassed nine of the last 10 complete seasons.

A SCREEN SHOT OF A MAP PUT TOGETHER BY THE NORTHERN PIKEMINNOW SPORT-REWARD PROGRAM SHOWS BOAT LAUNCHES AND HOT SPOTS AROUND CATHLAMET, WHERE THE LOWEST CATCH STATION ON THE COLUMBIA IS. DOZENS MORE STRETCH UPSTREAM TO PRIEST RAPIDS DAM, AND UP THE SNAKE TO CLARKSTON. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

Action heated up on the Snake, where Boyer Park took in 1,102 pikeminnow, while on the Lower Columbia, 899 were recorded at Kalama.

Speaking of Kalama, it saw the highest catch per registered angler of the week, with 45 fishermen accounting for those 899 pikeminnow, an average of 20.0 fish each.

Other stations seeing relatively high catch per angler include Washougal (13.7), The Dalles (12.1) and Cascade Locks (11.1).

Thirty-one specially tagged pikeminnow were caught last week, with seven of those turned in at Bingen, six each at The Dalles and Columbia Point, five at Washougal, and one each at Cathlamet, Rainier, Kalama, Gleason, Giles French, Umatilla and Boyer Park.

Since the 2017 season started May 1, 69,195 qualifying pikeminnow have been removed from the Columbia and Snake, 69,340 overall.

The sport reward program pays anglers from $5 to $8 per pikeminnow, with tagged ones worth $500. The idea is to reduce the numbers of the native species that prey on young salmon and steelhead in the Columbia hydropower system.

For more details, including fishing maps, check out pikeminnow.org, and if you’re interested in putting your angling skills to work, check out the June 22 seminar coming to Longview and put on by program leader Eric Winther.

Pikeminnow Program Catch Nears 60,000 Since May 1; How-to Seminar Coming Up

Pikeminnow catches dipped slightly last week from 2017’s top period so far on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, with 10,804 qualifying fish brought in for the sport reward program.

The Dalles station recorded the highest number overall, with 4,818 checked, a bit down from the previous week, but this year’s catch to date of 27,674 there has already surpassed three of the last six complete seasons.

THE PIKEMINNOW SPORT REWARD PROGRAM OFFERS INCENTIVES TO CATCH THE SPECIES FROM THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA UP TO TRI-CITIES, AND IN THE SNAKE FROM TRI-CITIES UP TO CLARKSTON. (PIKEMINNOW.ORG)

Columbia Point Park in Tri-Cities took in 1,191 pikeminnow and Bingen 858.

Highest catch per registered angler was at Bingen, where 56 fishermen brought in 858 pikeminnow, an average of 15.3 fish each.

Other stations seeing relatively high catch per angler include The Dalles (11.9), Washougal (9.9) and Cascade Locks (9.1).

Seventeen specially tagged pikeminnow were caught last week, with six of those turned in at Columbia Point Park, four at The Dalles, two at Cathlamet and one each at Washougal, Beacon Rock and Bingen.

Since the 2017 season started May 1, 58,245 qualifying pikeminnow have been removed from the Columbia and Snake, 58,359 overall.

The sport reward program pays anglers from $5 to $8 per pikeminnow, with tagged ones worth $500. The idea is to reduce the numbers of the native species that prey on young salmon and steelhead in the Columbia hydropower system.

For more details, including fishing maps, check out pikeminnow.org, and if you’re interested in putting your angling skills to work, check out the June 22 seminar coming to Longview and put on by program leader Eric Winther.

 

Rig of the Month– Henny Penny’s Pikeminnow Bait

Story and photographs by Don Talbot

Chicken liver balls are a great bait to use for pikeminnow when you’re sitting on anchor in a hole and looking to draw in hungry fish.

ROTM 2

Step 1

Step 1: Gather the following supplies to make 250-plus chicken liver balls:
• 6-foot-long work table
• Bowl of water and sponge to wet the table
• Scissors
• Five containers of chicken livers
• Five packs of Spawn Net
• Two packs of Miracle Thread
• Attractant


Step 2:
Cut the Spawn Net up into squares. Each pack makes 50 to 60 squares.

ROTM 3

Step 4

Step 3: Wet the table so that the netting doesn’t blow away, and then place the squares in rows up and down the table.


Step 4:
Cut the chicken livers into thumbnail-sized chunks and place each in the middle of a square.

ROTM 4

Step 5

 

Step 5: Grab and twist the four corners of the netting together around the liver.

rotm 5

Step 6

Step 6: Wrap the Miracle Thread around the twisted liver ball end 10 times and pull to break.

Step 7: Cut the tag end of the netting off and place the bait into the chicken liver container.

ROTM 6

Step 7

Step 8: Marinate with your favorite fish oil – this is one of my secret weapons! I use Super  Dipping Sauce in garlic scent.

Step 8

Step 8

 

 

Step 9: Put the loaded containers back into your refrigerator or freezer. I like to keep my liver balls on ice, as I like fresh bait most of the time for pikeminnow fishing.

 

 

HOW TO RIG

ROTM 8

Step 1: Load your reel with 100 yards of 20- to 30-pound braided line, which helps to detect the bite better.
Step 2: Slide a snap swivel up the braid to clip to a 1- to 6-ounce cannonball, and then add a 6mm rubber bead or other bumper to help minimize metal-to-metal noise.
Step 3: Tie a good barrel swivel to the end of the braid and then attach a 3-foot-long, 20-pound-test leader rigged with a size 4 Gamakatsu hook.
Step 4: Barely hook the liver ball so that the fish will hook itself while biting the bait.
Step 5: Dunk in your favorite marinade and cast away. NS