Tag Archives: steelhead

Northern Pike In Washington Reclassified At Highest Threat Level

Esox lucius is very much piscis non grata in Washington these days.

Northern pike were reclassified as a prohibited level 1 species, the highest designation, by the Fish and Wildlife Commission late last week, a move that will focus more resources on the fight to keep the “highly invasive” species out of the Columbia below Chief Joseph Dam and other state waters.

THE COLVILLE TRIBES CAPTURED THIS 28.2-POUND NORTHERN PIKE IN LAKE ROOSEVELT’S SANPOIL ARM EARLIER THIS YEAR. (COLVILLE TRIBES)

“The gist is that moving from level 3 to level 1 allows for higher level actions to address things, to eradicate them once they get into the anadromous zone,” says WDFW’s Eric Winther.

It means that when pike get into the waters where salmon and steelhead smolts swim downstream of the dam, the governor can declare an environmental emergency, which would trigger a wider mobilization of resources.

It’s another sign of how seriously fishery managers are taking the situation.

Illegally introduced pike have been slowly moving down the Pend Oreille and Upper Columbia over the past 15 years or so and are creeping closer and closer to Grand Coulee Dam.

It’s all but inevitable they will get below Chief Joe, and to that end, Winther has been tasked with coming up with a rapid response plan  and says measures could include gillnetting.

That has already proven to be effective for targeting spawning flats on Lake Roosevelt and Box Canyon Reservoir, where pike gather in spring, he says.

As area tribes, WDFW, public utility districts have teamed up to control pike, knowledge of where northerns go to procreate is increasing.

Winther says other possibilities could include chemical treatments, though he notes rotenoning would be difficult in the Columbia outside of perhaps isolated bays, while long-line fishing is also being considered.

He says that elevating pike to level 1 also means that eDNA tools can be brought into the battle. A newfangled type of early-warning system, essentially the environment — water in this case — can be scanned for traces of pike poo, scales, mucus, etc., etc.

Even as Caspian terns, walleye, harbor seals and other piscovores chomp down heavily on young Chinook, coho, steelhead and other seagoing fish, the relatively early stage of the pike outbreak and their lower numbers mean we’re in a better place than with those other issues.

“Once you’ve got a problem, it costs a lot more to deal with it,” Winther says.

Pike prefer to eat fish with soft rays, like salmonids, which are hugely important to sport and commercial fishermen and tribal fishermen, and more and more emphasis is also being placed on getting more Chinook into the ocean for starving southern resident orcas to eat as returning adults.

Winther says that the state Invasive Species Council will be requesting money for eDNA testing as well.

The change in classification was approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission during its conference call last Friday. It was first reported by the Columbia Basin Bulletin.

Winther says that he hopes to have the response plan out for review by the end of the year.

In the meanwhile, efforts will also be made to increase public awareness about the danger of northern pike through brochures, stickers and sportsmen’s shows.

It’s believed that the fish were illegally introduced into the Pend Oreille River from Idaho’s Lake Couer d’Alene system, where they’d been illegally introduced after being illegally introduced in western Montana waters.

“We’re letting people (who catch one) know to kill it and report it. That helps us get a handle on this,” Winther says.

There is no limit on pike in Washington. As I once advised after a bass angler inexplicably released one illegally placed into Lake Washington, if you catch a northern, “Slash its gills, slit its belly, hack it in half, singe the carcass over high heat.”

KNOW YOUR ENEMY! NORTHERN PIKE ARE BROWNISH WITH LIGHTER, OVALISH SPOTS. THEIR DORSAL FIN IS PUSHED BACK TOWARDS THE TAIL. (MUCKLESHOOT TRIBE VIA DFW)

Editor’s note: The initial version of this blog misreported the new classification of pike as level 3. Rather, they were reclassified as a level 1 prohibited species. We regret the error.

Comment Open For Cooke Sterile Steelhead Seapen Proposal

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM WDFW

Yesterday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) began a 21-day public comment period regarding Cooke Aquaculture’s proposal to farm sterile (triploid) rainbow trout/steelhead in Puget Sound.

ANGLERS FISH NEAR A BROKEN CYPRESS ISLAND NETPEN IN HOPES OF LANDING ATLANTIC SALMON IN THE AFTERMATH OF AUGUST 2017’S DISASTER. (DNR)

The Department posted a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) mitigated determination of non-significance that analyzes the environmental impacts of Cooke’s proposal to transition from farming Atlantic salmon to farming steelhead in several of the company’s existing facilities. These facilities include four net pens located near Rich Passage and Skagit Bay, but in the future may cover three more Puget Sound net pens currently owned by Cooke.

“Given the escape of Atlantic salmon in 2017, we know that there is a heightened sense of concern around the impacts of fish aquaculture in Puget Sound,” said WDFW Fish Program Director Kelly Cunningham. “We want to hear from the public about Cooke Aquaculture’s proposal and our proposed permit requirements.”

In addition to agreeing to farm only sterile fish, Cooke will also need to prescreen any fish destined for net pens in Washington waters to ensure that they are free of disease.

Cooke submitted a five-year Marine Aquaculture Permit application to WDFW in January 2019, and a SEPA Environmental Checklist with supporting documents in July 2019.

WDFW continues to work with its natural resource agency partners to provide oversight and ensure compliance with the terms of aquaculture permits and leases in Puget Sound. Cooke’s proposal would also be subject to additional regulatory review by WDFW’s sister state agencies before the proposed transition could take place.

The public is asked to submit comments by Oct. 22, 2019. The determination, including ways to comment, and supporting documents can be found at: https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/environmental/sepa/open-comments.

Northwest Fishing Derbies Contracting, Expanding With Times

As organizers of a Thanksgiving-week-long steelhead derby are cancelling their event, fishing for different species is being added to a salmon series.

Signs of the times?

“We do think the inconsistency of the fish counts has had an impact on that,” Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director Kristin Kemak reportedly said about a recent decision to call off the Snake Clearwater Steelhead Derby, apparently for good.

DURING MUCH BETTER TIMES FOR BIG B-RUN STEELHEAD, INLAND NORTHWEST ANGLERS FLOCKED TO LEWISTON TO FISH IN THE THANKSGIVING-WEEK-LONG DERBY. (BRIAN LULL)

At one time, the event was billed as the “nation’s largest steelhead derby” and it attracted anglers from wide and far to catch B-runs that pushed towards the 20-pound mark.

“It was once a major fundraiser. Now the efforts we put in to host the event outweigh the financial benefit of doing so,” Kemak also said, according to Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune who broke the news.

TABLES AWAIT PARTICIPANTS IN 2013’S SNAKE CLEARWATER STEELHEAD DERBY, WHEN IT WAS SPONSORED BY A LEWISTON CHEVROLET DEALER. (BRIAN LULL)

Recent years have been tough on the event due to poor returns of steelhead up the Snake. That’s led managers to institute bag limit reductions, closures, reopeners, and 28-inch maximums to protect B-runs, typically larger than A-runs, which only spend a year in the salt.

This season there’s a blanket closure on all fishing for steelhead — even catch-and-release — on the Clearwater and Washington and Idaho’s Snake up to the Couse Creek boat launch in Hells Canyon. The B return is forecast to come in at just 4,500, including 1,700 unclipped fish, and is the lowest on record back through at least 1984, with less returning than hatchery broodstock goals and “no surplus to provide a fishery,” per IDFG.

Above Couse Creek the limit is one hatchery fish a day, 28 inches or less, with anglers required to stop after retaining it or a fall Chinook.

BRENDA BONFIELD OF CUSTOMWELD SPEAKS DURING 2013’S DERBY CEREMONIES. A POSTER BEHIND HER DESCRIBES THE DERBY AS THE “NATION’S LARGEST” FOR STEELHEAD. (BRIAN LULL)

The chamber of commerce instead plans to hold an outdoor cookoff on Saturday, Nov. 16, according to Barker.

Meanwhile, the Northwest Salmon Derby Series announced some “big news” yesterday, including a substantial expansion into the Beaver State.

We’re hitting the refresh button on 2020 series and it will be renamed the ‘Northwest Fishing Derby Series’ that will likely include a spring-time lingcod derby in Oregon and a kokanee-trout derby on Lake Chelan, plus a couple more additions,” Mark Yuasa of the Seattle-based Northwest Marine Trade Association wrote in his monthly newsletter.

Next year’s schedule already lists a pair of late March lingcod and rockfish derbies out of Charleston and Brookings, as well as the recently rejuvenated Slam’n Salmon Derby in the latter port.

The dozen and a half or so events in the series are typically run by local clubs, but entry into any one automatically puts your name in the hat for the derby series’ grand prize, a brand-new boat, with Yuasa announcing that 2020’s will be a KingFisher 2025 Hardtop.

The winner is traditionally drawn at the late September Everett Coho Derby and this year’s $75,000 boat-trailer-electronics package was won by Trevor Everitt.

The series, of which Northwest Sportsman is a sponsor, has also been victim to uncertain runs in recent years, with local sponsors having to call off the Edmonds and Everett events due to coho closures, and organizers of the Brewster derby unsure they could hold theirs — until nearly the last minute in the case of this year.

For those local fishing clubs, it hurts to lose key fundraisers.

With low fall Chinook runs expected on the Oregon Coast, the U Da Man Fishing Tournament decided to cancel their October salmon derby on Yaquina Bay back in June instead of pressure the run, even as doing so would “severely” deplete the organization’s funds to do other fish-friendly projects.

UDM still plans to raffle off a drift boat to try and raise money for those.

Undoubtedly as salmon and steelhead runs come out of the current downcycle, derbies will expand and new ones will come online, but for the moment, some are falling by the wayside while others are looking to embrace other species.

SW WA, Lower Columbia, Hanford Fishing Report (10-1-19)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN AND PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW

Hanford Reach Fall Chinook Fishery Update (Sept 23-29)

Over 5,800 anglers fished for fall chinook in the Hanford Reach this past week. Fishing, both in terms of numbers of anglers and harvest continues to increase. Boats averaged over a fish per boat, 12 hours per fish.

BOB AND BRIAN SUYAMA HOIST A PAIR OF UPRIVER BRIGHTS CAUGHT IN THE HANFORD REACH OF THE COLUMBIA RIVER YESTERDAY. THEY WERE FISHING WITH JERRY HAN AND RUNNING PRO-TROLLS AND SUPER BAITS STUFFED WITH STARKIST TUNA. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

From September 23 through September 29, WDFW staff interviewed anglers from 747 boats (2,034 anglers) and 102 bank anglers with 915 adult chinook, 85 jacks and 4 coho. An estimated 2,536 adult chinook, 231 chinook jacks and 11 coho were harvested for the week (expanded). For the season there have been 15,620 angler trips with 4,570 adult chinook, 495 chinook jacks, and 19 coho harvested. Harvest is tracking similar to last year at this time. (2018 =4,571 adult chinook).

Adult counts of fall chinook over Bonneville are running 45% above last year’s numbers and McNary counts  are running 21% above last year at this time.

In addition to the US v Oregon Agreement, the Hanford Reach URB population is managed under the Hanford Reach Fall Chinook Fishery Management Plan. The population is managed to meet the Hanford Reach URB escapement goal of 31,100 – 42,000 adults (naturally spawning population). Harvest allocated to the fishery is based on in-season return estimates. An in-season estimate is generated weekly beginning September 15 for the Hanford Reach wild component of the return. The estimate is generated based on current passage through the fish ladders at McNary, Ice Harbor, and Priest Rapids Dams and projected migration timing. Based on numbers through September 30, an estimated 44,794 adult, wild (natural origin) fall chinook are expected to return to the Hanford Reach. At 44,794, 9,700 adult chinook are allocated to the Hanford Reach sport fishery. This allocation plus the current one adult daily limit should be sufficient to continue the fishery for the next couple of weeks and potentially through the end of the scheduled season. The next in-season update will be posted October 8.

 

Fishing Report Sept 23 -29, 2019

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 56 bank rods released 1 Chinook and 1 coho jack. 65 boats/159 rods kept 41 coho, 9 coho jacks and released 49 Chinook, 4 Chinook jacks, 39 coho, 13 coho jacks and 1 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br – 36 bank rods kept 5 coho and released 14 Chinook and 2 Chinook jacks. 4 boats/14 rods kept 1 coho, 6 steelhead and released 5 Chinook, 2 coho and 10 coho jacks.

Kalama River – 6 bank anglers had no catch. 1 boat/1 rod had no catch.

Lewis River – 75 bank anglers released 2 Chinook, 1 Chinook jack and 1 coho. 5 boats/11 rods kept 3 coho and 1 coho jack.

Washougal River– 10 bank anglers had no catch. 4 boats/9 rods released 3 Chinook.

Wind River – 12 boats/16 rods kept 1 Chinook, 9 coho and released 1 Chinook, 10 coho and 3 steelhead. Drano Lake – 4 bank anglers had no catch. 15 boats/42 rods kept 28 Chinook, 5 Chinook jacks and released 6 Chinook.

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – 75 bank anglers kept 38 Chinook, 1 Chinook jack, 1 coho and released 1 Chinook. 1 boat/2 rods kept 1 Chinook.

Klickitat above #5 Fishway – 14 bank anglers kept 2 Chinook and released 1 Chinook.

Sturgeon:

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 26 bank rods had no catch. 22 boats/65 rods kept 5 legal sturgeon and released 12 sublegal and 3 oversize sturgeon.

Pikeminnow Sport – Reward Fishery Program:

The program operates from May 1 to September 30 in the lower Columbia River (mouth to Priest Rapids Dam) and the Snake River (mouth to Hells Canyon Dam). http://www.pikeminnow.org/

Lower Columbia mainstem sport Sept. 23-29

Coho

Bonneville bank: 4 anglers with nothing
Camas/Washougal boat: 16 anglers with 3 coho and 3 adult Chinook released
Vancouver boat: 7 anglers with 5 adult Chinook and 1 coho released
Woodland boat: 2 anglers with nothing
Kalama bank: 6 anglers with 3 adult Chinook released
Kalama boat: 17 anglers with 3 coho kept and 2 adult Chinook released
Cowlitz boat: 6 anglers with 4 coho kept and 2 adult Chinook and 1 steelhead released
Longview bank: 1 angler with nothing
Longview boat: 4 anglers with 2 coho released

Sturgeon:

Bonneville bank: 45 anglers with nothing
Bonneville boat: 4 anglers, also with nothing
Camas/Washougal bank: No report
Camas/Washougal boat: 41 anglers with 4 legals kept and 10 sublegals released
I-5 area bank: No report
I-5 area boat: No report
Vancouver bank: 7 anglers with nothing
Vancouver boat: 118 anglers with 1 legal kept and 22 sublegals and 6 oversize released
Woodland bank: 22 anglers with nothing
Woodland boat: 140 anglers with 5 legals kept and 21 sublegals and 1 oversize released
Kalama bank: 19 anglers with nothing
Kalama boat: 140 anglers with 3 legals kept and 24 sublegals and 8 oversize released
Cowlitz bank: No report
Cowlitz boat: No report
Longview bank: 25 anglers with 1 legal kept
Longview boat: 230 anglers with 7 legals kept and 27 sublegals and 5 oversize released
Cathalmet bank: No report
Cathlamet boat: No report

Most Of Washington Snake Closing For Steelhead; Chinook Fisheries Also Reduced

Washington fishery managers shut down steelheading on most of the state’s Snake and modified fall Chinook seasons on the river, all to protect low numbers of wild and hatchery B-runs bound for Idaho.

The changes take effect tomorrow, Sept. 29.

SNAKE STEELHEAD RUNS HAVE GONE FROM GOOD, WHEN THIS YOUNG ANGLER CAUGHT THIS ONE OFF WAWAWAI MUCH EARLIER THIS DECADE, TO BAD AND NOW WORSE IN RECENT YEARS. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

A pair of emergency rule change notices out late this afternoon have the details, but essentially both catch-and-release and retention of steelhead will end from the mouth of the Snake up to the Couse Creek boat ramp, in Hells Canyon.

It’s being done to “ensure that sufficient numbers of both wild and hatchery B-index fish return to their natal tributaries and hatcheries of origin in Idaho,” WDFW states.

It follows on the agency’s previous reduction of the hatchery steelhead limit on the Snake from three to one as this year’s overall run has come in way below the preseason forecast of 118,200 smaller A- and larger B-runs, with just 69,200 now expected to pass Bonneville Dam.

Steelhead fisheries were restricted on the Columbia throughout the summer, and tomorrow, a slate of closures on Idaho waters takes effect.

Inland Northwest steelhead runs have not been good since 2016, with recent years seeing reduced limits and closures up and down the system. This year’s run will be among the lowest on record.

Meanwhile, WDFW is also reducing the fall Chinook fishery on the Snake, again to protect B-runs.

They’re closing it below Lower Granite Dam, except for a 1.4-mile “Lyons Ferry Bubble Fishery” from the Highway 261 bridge downstream.

And they’re reducing the amount of time the waters above and below Clarkston were set to stay open, from through Oct. 31 to now just Oct. 13.

Above Couse Creek, Chinook season continues through Halloween.

BILL STANLEY SHOWS OFF A FALL CHINOOK CAUGHT ON THE SNAKE IN A PAST SEASON. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

“The Fall Chinook return is large enough to continue to allow some harvest opportunities within the Snake River fisheries, while providing protection of B-index steelhead,” the agency stated in an e-reg.

Honestly, even as managers are both trying to protect critically low stocks and eke out fishing opportunity on stronger ones, it’s a bit much to wrap your head around at the end of an 8-5 shift.

Best bet is to refer to the eregs in the links above.

Drano Closing For All Fishing; Ringold Won’t Open For Steelhead

THE FOLLOWING ARE EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICES FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Drano Lake to close to all fishing

Action: Closes Drano Lake to all fishing.

Effective date: Sept. 29, 2019 until further notice.

Species affected: All fish species.

COLUMBIA SALMON ANGLERS ARE OUT ONE MORE PLACE TO FISH FOR FALL CHINOOK THIS SEASON AS WDFW ANNOUNCES THAT DRANO LAKE WILL CLOSE TO ALL ANGLING TO GET AS MANY FISH BACK TO THE NATIONAL HATCHERY ON THE LITTLE WHITE SALMON AS POSSIBLE. GUIDE GERARDO REYES CAUGHT THIS LARGE WILD UPRIVER BRIGHT EARLIER THIS MONTH AT THE LAKE WHICH DOUBLES AS A THERMAL REFUGE FOR SALMON AND STEELHEAD BOUND FOR SPAWNING GROUNDS HIGHER IN THE COLUMBIA BASIN. (FLATOUTFISHING.NET)

Location: In the waters downstream of markers on point of land downstream and across from Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery and upstream of the Highway 14 Bridge.

Reason for action:  The current estimate of fall Chinook salmon that will return to Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery is below the number needed to meet the 2019 broodstock collection goal. Closing the fishing season in Drano Lake will increase the number of hatchery fish available for broodstock and help ensure future hatchery returns.

Additional information: WDFW will continue coordinating with National Fish Hatchery staff to monitor the hatchery return and determine if further fishery modification is needed.

Hanford Reach steelhead fishery to remain closed

Action: Closes steelhead fishing

Effective date: Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2019.

Species affected: Steelhead.

Location: Highway 395 Bridge (Kennewick/Pasco) upstream to the old Hanford townsite powerline crossing.

Reason for action: Through Sept. 24, the 2019 steelhead return is the fourth-lowest return on record since 1962 for both the Upper Columbia River and Snake River. Adult returns of Ringold Springs Hatchery-origin steelhead are currently tracking at less than 50 percent of the 2018 return. The closure is necessary to ensure sufficient numbers of steelhead will be available to meet hatchery broodstock production needs.

Additional information: This year’s return of Ringold Springs Hatchery steelhead is expected to be the lowest return on record over the past 20 years. All returning steelhead will be needed for broodstock to meet the production goal of 180,000 juvenile steelhead scheduled for release in 2021. The Hanford Reach is currently closed to steelhead retention, but was scheduled to open Oct. 1. Under this rule change, steelhead retention will remain closed through Dec. 31.

WDFW Sends $26 Million Request To Gov. For 2020 Legislative Action

Washington fish and wildlife managers submitted a $26 million supplemental budget request to the Governor’s Office yesterday as fee bill and state lawmaker failures have left the agency underfunded in recent years.

One of WDFW’s key piggy banks could dip into the red next March and significantly so the following year because license revenues and funding aren’t keeping up with growing costs, heaped-on responsibilities and dealing with new issues that are cropping up.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT, ALL)

This new money would come out of the General Fund and WDFW hopes it will be ticketed as “ongoing” so it would not have to be reauthorized every year or two.

If approved by next year’s legislature, $6.5 million would go towards maintaining things like production of 4.5 million salmon, steelhead and trout at eight hatcheries, Columbia River fisheries, and Westside pheasant hunting, as well as dealing with problem animals in residents’ backyards and elsewhere;

(Conversely, if they’re not funded, they have been identified as having to be cut to stay in budget.)

$6.8 million would go towards “emerging needs” like monitoring fisheries on Puget Sound and two rivers, including Skagit C&R steelhead, removing more pinnipeds to increase Chinook numbers when a permit is OKed by the feds, and coming up with alternative fishing gear for Columbia netters;

and $12.5 million would go for “unavoidable” items passed on by legislators without funding, including COLAs, and rising costs associated with hatchery operations and attorney fees.

The size of the request is pretty large given the short, 60-day session that will begin in January, and WDFW Director Kelly Susewind acknowledged as much in a press release today.

But he also pointed out the substantial return on investment that state funding of fishing and hunting activities has for the economy, a message to lawmakers as much as ammo for supporters to remind their representatives and senators of.

“We would rather not be in this position of requesting a substantial amount of money to sustain basic, core activities that we know provide such fundamental public value,” he said. “We estimate that for every State General Fund tax dollar invested in WDFW, and leveraged with other fund sources, that fish and wildlife economic activities generate another $3.50 that goes back into the state coffers. We’re seeking adequate, ongoing funding to sustain that kind of return on investment into the future.”

This is all the latest act in a long-running play that began somewhere around the Great Recession when WDFW’s General Fund contributions were cut sharply and which have yet to fully return to previous levels, even as the state’s economy booms.

According to WDFW, less than 1 percent of General Fund revenues go towards itself, DNR, Ecology, State Parks, Puget Sound Partnership and other natural resource agencies, combined.

As for the last license fee increase, it was back in 2011 and bids by the current and former directors to get lawmakers to pass another and help shore up the agency’s finances have not gone over very well.

Some of that is just bad timing — making asks on the downswing of cyclical game and fish populations.

Arguably 2015’s salmon and hunting seasons were among the best of recent decades, but the dropoff since then — when Susewind and Jim Unsworth had their hands out — has been intense and widespread.

Yet even as the Blob and environmental conditions, along with ongoing, multi-decadal habitat destruction, and reduced hatchery production due to operations reforms and budget cuts are largely to blame, many of WDFW’s customers are reluctant these days to pay more for less.

Then there was the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Columbia gillnet vote this past March, as spectacular an own goal as you can kick.

Meanwhile, WDFW’s “structural deficit” grows deeper and deeper. The aforementioned piggy bank, the State Wildlife Account — where every single penny of your fishing and hunting license dollars go, every single one — has gone from a shortfall of $300,000 in the 2011-13 biennium, when the last license fee increase was passed, to $23.2 million in the 2019-21 biennum.

Its cash balance is expected to plunge into negative figures next March and much deeper in spring 2021 if nothing’s done.

A WDFW GRAPH SHOWS PROJECTED REVENUES INTO THE STATE WILDLIFE ACCOUNT, FUNDED BY FISHING AND HUNTING LICENSES. MARCH MARKS THE ANNUAL LOW POINT IN THE LICENSE BUYING YEAR AS NEW ONES ARE REQUIRED STARTING APRIL 1. (WDFW)

It all threatens the fisheries and hunts we still have.

In the end lawmakers have gone with one-time funding patches, but the problem is they’re typically not enough to fill the hole.

For instance, with the agency facing a $31 million shortfall this year and next, Olympia scrapped the fee hike and instead provided $24 million in General Fund money, leaving a temporary $7 million gap — that then immediately ballooned back out to $20 million due to unfunded mandates that were passed on like the cost of living increase for game wardens, biologists, and others.

Still, $24 million is better than nothing and with how it was structured, it “front loaded” WDFW’s budget towards year one of the two-year cycle in anticipation that lawmaker would return and work on it again in 2020.

And that is how we got to today and the supplemental budget request.

Rather than attempt the folly of running another fee bill, the Fish and Wildlife Commission earlier this summer signed off on the proposal.

WDFW is also looking for another $26 million to make capital improvements to its facilities, with about 60 percent of that designated for three hatcheries, and $1 million for a master planning process to boost Chinook production by up to 55 million a year for orcas and which would also likely benefit anglers.

“Our work provides tremendous value to the people in our state,” said Susewind. “The ongoing funds to create a fully healthy agency is critical to our residents’ quality of life, critical to our ability to conserve fish and wildlife, and critical to maintaining sustainable natural resource jobs across Washington.”

A tremendous value at a time of tremendous headwinds and crosswinds and little in the form of helpful tailwinds.

Columbia King Managers Decide Against 1-day Lower River Opener

Columbia fall Chinook managers today reduced the bag limit in the Hanford Reach to one but also passed on a lower river reopener in favor of giving gorge pools anglers continued access to this year’s run.

WDFW and ODFW staffers had recommended opening the big river from Buoy 10 to Bonneville this Saturday for fall kings after the URB component forecast was upgraded slightly, from 159,200 to 167,200.

COLUMBIA SALMON MANAGERS DECIDED AGAINST REOPENING THE LOWER RIVER FOR ONE DAY OF CHINOOK RETENTION. STEVE MEUCHEL AND KARI WILLARD CAUGHT THIS PAIR OVER LABOR DAY WEEKEND IN ST. HELENS AREA. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

That would have coincided with sturgeon retention (above Wauna) and was modeled to yield a catch of 950 kings.

It would also have taken upriver bright, or URB, catch-plus-release mortalities to 99 percent of what managers are allowing this season.

(The fishery was closed earlier this month three days early after exceeding the initial URB allocation for that runsize and stretch of water.)

But during a midafternoon conference call there was only mixed support for the one-day opener, with state sportfishing advisors in favor and the general public not.

Some didn’t have any appetite for all the days anglers would subsequently lose on the Columbia between Bonneville and Highway 395 in Tri-Cities, which would be forced to close much earlier than scheduled to provide the room for the lower reopener.

Dan Grogan of Fisherman’s Marine called that “absolutely ludicrous,” while others talked to issues of fairness and upriver anglers taking it in the shorts for lower fishermen’s opportunities in the past.

It would also cut into apparently better-than-is-being-let-on fishing in the pools, if images from Fish Camp this week and one advisor’s report are any indication.

The call also confirmed continuing concerns on two fronts: tule Chinook broodstock, and steelhead.

WDFW’s Bill Tweit warned that Drano Lake king catches were being watched very closely and it wasn’t clear how long the fishery would stay open.

Managers are worried about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Little White Salmon and Spring Creek Hatcheries collecting enough adult tules for spawning. While the latter facility is seeing good numbers, a lot are also jacks.

As for steelhead, the run has again been downgraded, the fourth time in the past few weeks, now to 69,200, with just 2,500 B-runs expected.

Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission is meeting Friday and could shut down all fishing for steelhead on the Clearwater and much of the shared Snake, and Washington will likely follow suit, Tweit indicated.

WDFW and ODFW were also advised they needed to put out a statement directing anglers to not even catch-and-release steelhead in areas where they’ve been closed to retention due to the low return.

As for Hanford Reach URBs, with only 22,121 wild kings expected to spawn in the free-flowing section of the Columbia — well below the escapement goal of 31,100 — the daily limit will drop from two to one starting Friday, Sept. 20, WDFW announced this morning.

Even though the Reach and the Columbia from McNary downstream are managed under two different plans, it might not have looked very good to have allowed downriver fishermen to intercept 500 or so URBs needed up at Hanford as anglers there see their catch reduced.

In other Columbia Chinook news, yesterday tribal managers OKed six more days of commercial gillnetting in the gorge pools, which will bring the URB catch to 15,375 of the 38,456 available at current run sizes.

SW WA, Columbia, Hanford Reach Fishing Report (9-9-19)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN AND PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW

Fishing Report Sept. 2-8, 2019

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River – 1 bank angler released 1 steelhead.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 5 bank rods had no catch. 8 boats/19 rods kept 3 coho, 1 coho jack and released 1 coho, 1 coho jack, 7 Chinook and 2 Chinook jacks.

Above the I-5 Br – 13 bank rods had no catch. 3 boats/6 rods kept 1 steelhead and released 1 steelhead and 1 Chinook.

JERRY HAN SHOWS OFF A NICE EASTERN COLUMBIA GORGE FALL CHINOOK CAUGHT EARLIER TODAY. HE WAS FISHING WITH TYLER MILLER OF MILLER TIME FISHING. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Lewis River – 35 bank anglers kept 1 Chinook jack, 2 coho, 5 coho jacks and released 1 Chinook. 5 boats/6 rods kept 1 coho.

Wind River – 1 bank angler had no catch. 6 boats/9 rods released 11 Chinook.

Drano Lake – 6 bank anglers released 5 steelhead. 15 boats/33 rods kept 19 Chinook, 2 coho and released 16 steelhead.

Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

Pikeminnow Sport – Reward Fishery Program:

The program operates from May 1 to September 30 in the lower Columbia River (mouth to Priest Rapids Dam) and the Snake River (mouth to Hells Canyon Dam). http://www.pikeminnow.org/

Hanford Reach Fall Chinook Fishery Update (Sept 2-8)

Adult counts of fall chinook over Bonneville are running ~9% above last year’s numbers but McNary counts are 1/3 lower than last year at this time. The first in-season update for the Hanford Reach will be included in next week’s update.

 

SW WA, Columbia, Hanford Reach Fishing Report (9-4-19)

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS FORWARDED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN AND PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW

Fishing Report Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2019

Salmon/Steelhead:

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Mouth of the Cowlitz River to Bonneville Dam – 606 salmonid boats and 124 Washington bank rods were tallied during the flight on Tuesday.

AMANDA WILES CAUGHT THIS FALL CHINOOK AT BUOY 10 BEFORE RETENTION CLOSED IN MID-AUGUST. SHE WAS FISHING IN THE LIPSTICK SALMON SLAYERS TOURNAMENT. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River – 4 bank rods had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream – 16 bank rods had no catch. 5 boats/13 rods kept 1 coho, released 2 Chinook jacks and 2 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br – 14 bank rods released 2 Chinook, 6 Chinook jacks and 1 steelhead. 8 boats/19 rods kept 21 steelhead.

Wind River – 1 bank angler had no catch. 1 boat/2 rods had no catch.

Drano Lake – 2 bank anglers had no catch. 8 boats/16 rods kept 5 Chinook, released 3 Chinook and 17 steelhead.

Klickitat below Fisher Hill Bridge – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Pikeminnow Sport – Reward Fishery Program:

The program operates from May 1 to September 30 in the lower Columbia River (mouth to Priest Rapids Dam) and the Snake River (mouth to Hells Canyon Dam). http://www.pikeminnow.org/

Lower Columbia Mainstem Sport Aug. 26-Sept. 1

Salmon and steelhead:

Bonneville bank: 42 anglers with 1 adult Chinook kept
Camas/Washougal bank:  No report
I-5 area bank:  2 anglers with nothing
Vancouver bank:  278 anglers with 44 adult Chinook kept and 1 released
Woodland bank: 4 anglers with nothing
Kalama bank:  164 anglers with 31 adult Chinook kept and 8 released
Longview bank:  13 anglers with nothing
Cathlamet bank:  1 angler with nothing
Private boats/bank:  No report

Bonneville boat:  55 anglers with 22 adult Chinook and 2 jacks kept
Camas/Washougal boat: 214 anglers with 55 adult Chinook and 3 jacks and 2 coho kept and 4 adult Chinook, 1 jack and 1 coho released
I-5 area boat:  24 anglers with 3 adult Chinook and 1 jack kept
Vancouver boat:  259 anglers with 69 adult Chinook and 3 jacks and 1 coho kept and 1 steelhead released
Woodland boat:  105 anglers with 11 adult Chinook kept and 1 released
Kalama boat:  46 anglers with 8 adult Chinook and 1 jack kept and 2 steelhead and 2 coho released
Cowlitz boat:  75 anglers with 7 adult Chinook and 1 jack kept
Longview boat:  34 anglers with 5 adult Chinook and 1 coho kept
Cathlamet boat:  No report
Private boats/bank:  No report

Sturgeon:

Vancouver boat: 3 anglers with 1 legal released
Longview boat: 2 anglers with nothing

Walleye:

Camas/Washougal boat: 4 anglers with 4 kept

Hanford Reach Fall Chinook Fishery Update (Aug. 26-Sept. 1)

Fishing for fall chinook continues to be slow this month with very light effort. From August 26 through September 1, WDFW staff interviewed anglers from 67 boats (180 anglers) with 8 adult chinook and 3 jacks. An estimated 35 adult chinook and 13 chinook jacks were harvested. Boats averaged 64 hours per fish. For the season there have been 1,614 angler trips with 100 adult chinook, 53 chinook jacks, and 5 coho harvested.

Harvest began to pick up the first week of September in 2018 (see table below).