Tag Archives: steelhead

Columbia Above Warrior Rock To Open For Springers; Cowlitz, Lewis Stay Open For Steelies

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

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today approved a sport fishery for spring chinook salmon on the Columbia River that reflects a significant reduction in the number of fish available for harvest this year.

A SPRING CHINOOK NEARS THE NET FOR ANGLERS FISHING THE WESTERN COLUMBIA GORGE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

According to preseason projections, about 99,300 upriver spring chinook will reach the Columbia this year, down 14 percent from last year and 50 percent below the 10-year average. Those fish return to hatcheries and spawning areas upriver from Bonneville Dam.

In addition, fishery managers are also expecting much lower returns than last year to several major lower Columbia River tributaries, particularly the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers. On the Cowlitz, this year’s spring chinook run is projected to reach just 11 percent of the 10-year average and fall short of meeting hatchery production goals.


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Ryan Lothrop, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said those projections are largely the result of poor ocean conditions, which have complicAted fisheries management in recent years.

“Anglers will still find some good fishing opportunities in the Columbia River Basin this spring, but conservation has to be our first concern,” Lothrop said. “We have a responsibility to protect salmon runs listed under the federal Endangered Species Act and get enough fish back to the spawning grounds and hatcheries to support future runs.”

Although salmon fishing is currently open from the mouth of the Columbia River to the Interstate-5 bridge, spring chinook usually don’t arrive in large numbers until mid-to-late March. The new fishing regulations approved today will take effect in the following areas:

  • Columbia River below Bonneville Dam: Salmon fishing will open March 1 through April 10 on the Columbia River upstream from Warrior Rock boundary line to Bonneville Dam. Anglers may retain two salmon, two steelhead, or one of each per day, but only one salmon may be a chinook. The lower river downstream from Warrior Rock will be closed to fishing from March 1 through April 10 to conserve spring chinook returning to the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers.
  • Tributaries: The Cowlitz and Lewis rivers will also close to salmon fishing March 1 to conserve spring chinook for hatchery escapement needs, but will remain open for hatchery steelhead retention. The Kalama River will remain open to fishing for salmon and steelhead, but the daily limit of adult salmon will be reduced to one fish on March 1.
  • Columbia River above Bonneville Dam: Waters above Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington state line above McNary Dam will open to salmon fishing April 1 through May 5. Anglers may retain two salmon, two steelhead, or one of each per day, but only one salmon may be a chinook.

In all open waters, only hatchery salmon and steelhead identified by a clipped adipose fin and healed scar may be retained.

Along with new area restrictions in the lower Columbia, fishery managers also reduced initial harvest limits for upriver spring chinook returning to the upper Columbia and Snake rivers. If those fish return as projected, anglers in the Columbia and Snake rivers will be limited to a total of 4,548 fish, compared to 9,052 last year, prior to a run size updated in May.

Lothrop noted that this year’s projected return of 99,300 upriver spring chinook is the lowest since 2007, but still well above the record-low return of just 12,800 fish in 1995.

“Experience has shown that warm-water ocean conditions present a challenge to salmon survival,” he said. “As in the 1990s, we have observed that cyclical warming effect during the past few years with similar results. During these times, we have to be especially cautious in how we manage the fishery.”

Anglers are strongly advised to review the rules for the waters they plan to fish, available on the department’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/

Biop Says Corps Must Provide Downstream Salmon Passage At Upper Green River Dam

What goes up must come down, and in the case of King County’s Green River, that requires building downstream fish passage infrastructure at Howard Hanson Dam.

AN ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS AERIAL IMAGE SHOWS HOWARD HANSON DAM ON THE UPPER GREEN RIVER. A BIOP REQUIRES THAT DOWNSTREAM FISH PASSAGE BE BUILT AT THE FACILITY TO AID ESA-LISTED CHINOOK, STEELHEAD AND ORCAS. (COE)

Earlier this month, federal fishery overseers issued a new biological opinion that found the Corps of Engineers had to help ESA-listed juvenile Chinook and steelhead get from the 100 miles of spawning and rearing habitat above the project to the waters below there.

That “Reasonable and Prudent Alternative” to collect the young fish would not only improve the viability of both populations but also help out the region’s starving orcas.


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“Because (Puget Sound) Chinook salmon are an essential prey base for Southern Residents … the higher (Puget Sound) Chinook salmon abundance provided by access to the upper watershed would also contribute to the survival and recovery of killer whales,” NOAA’s biop states.

Downstream passage would also build upon Tacoma Water’s existing facilities that can provide a lift for returning adult salmon and steelhead arriving at the utility’s diversion dam 3 miles below the reservoir, as well as link in with fish habitat work being done in the lower, middle and upper reaches of the Central Cascades river that drains into Seattle’s Elliott Bay as the Duwamish.

“Assuming 75% of the annual production upstream from (Howard A. Hanson Dam) would survive passage and be recruited into the adult population were safe and effective downstream passage provided, we estimate that an additional 644 natural origin spawners would return to the Green River from production areas upstream of HAHD. Adding the potential production from the upper Green River to the 1,288 spawners returning from production downstream from HAHD gives a total Green River escapement of 1,932 natural origin spawners returning to the Green River. About 36% of the Chinook salmon returning to the Green River are harvested,” the biop states.

In a press release, the Engineers’ Seattle District Commander Col. Mark Geraldi said that improving fish passage at its project is “a priority” for the federal agency.

“This is a project we’ve been working on. NOAA Fisheries’ BiOp provides us crucial guidance and design criteria to follow as we forge ahead,” Geraldi said.

WITH THE GREEN-DUWAMISH IDENTIFIED AS A KEY SOURCE OF CHINOOK FOR PUGET SOUND ORCAS, PLANS ARE IN THE WORKS TO NOT ONLY INCREASE HATCHERY PRODUCTION BUT PROVIDE ACCESS AROUND A PAIR OF DAMS FOR RETURNING ADULTS TO GET TO THE UPPER WATERSHED AND SPAWN. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Essentially, the biop tells the Corps to get back to work on a project they began in the early 2000s after consulting with NOAA, spent tens of millions of dollars drawing up, but then “abandoned its commitment to construct them” as Congressional funding ran out in 2011 and wasn’t reauthorized.

That led to a reopening of consultations and downstream fish passage being left out of the Corps’ 2014 biological assessment for operating the project.

NOAA found that that was likely to harm kings, steelhead and orcas and instead came up with the biop’s RPA and a target of February 2031 for the Corps to have the new facility’s bugs worked out and be operating for that spring’s smolt outmigration.

“We’re optimistic that new fish passage at Howard Hanson Dam, with continued habitat restoration in the more developed lower and middle Green River, will boost fish populations toward recovery,” said Kim Kratz, a NOAA Assistant Regional Administrator, in a press release.

Congress will need to provide the funds for the Corps, which is also spending $112 million trap-and-haul facility at Mud Mountain Dam, in the next major watershed to the south of the upper Green.

Lower Columbia, SW WA Tribs, Gorge Pools Fishing Report (2-20-19)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

Salmon/Steelhead:

Mainstem Lower Columbia River

Washington only creel checks:

  • Sec 5 (Woodland) bank – 2 salmonid anglers had no catch.
  • Sec 6 (Kalama) bank – 3 salmonid anglers had no catch.
  • Sec 8 (Longview) bank – 4 salmonid anglers had no catch.

PLUNKING RODS SET UP FOR SPRING CHINOOK LINE A LOWER COLUMBIA BEACH EARLY IN A PAST SEASON. (CHRIS SPENCER)

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 4 bank anglers had no catch.  1 boat/2 rods released 1 steelhead.

Elochoman River – 18 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead and released 6 steelhead.  2 boats/6 rods released 5 steelhead.

Abernathy Creek – 7 bank anglers had no catch.

Germany Creek – 10 bank anglers had no catch.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 21 bank rods kept 1 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br:  13 bank rods kept 1 steelhead.  16 boats/45 rods kept 11 steelhead and released 4 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered five winter-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

All of the fish collected last week were held at the hatchery for broodstock needs.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 9,650 cubic feet per second on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Water visibility is 10 feet and the water temperature is 41.9 F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility

East Fork Lewis River – 32 bank anglers released 4 steelhead.


Concerned about closures in your area? Book the world’s best salmon and halibut fishing in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), Canada. Click HERE to learn more.

Salmon Creek – 8 bank anglers had no catch.

 

  • Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

 

Sturgeon:

Bonneville Pool- No report.

The Dalles Pool- Closed for retention.  No report.

John Day Pool- 5 bank anglers had no catch.

Walleye:

Bonneville Pool- No report.

The Dalles Pool- No report.

John Day Pool- 4 boats/8 rods released 8 walleye.

Catchable Trout Plants and stocking schedules:

Lake/Pond Date Species Number Fish per
Pound
Hatchery Notes
BATTLE GROUND LK (CLAR)
Clark County – Region 5
Feb 04, 2019 Rainbow 2,500 2.1 VANCOUVER HATCHERY  
 
KLINELINE PD (CLAR)
Clark County – Region 5
Feb 04, 2019 Rainbow 2,500 2.1 VANCOUVER HATCHERY

 

 
LK SACAJAWEA (COWL)
Cowlitz County – Region 5
Feb 05, 2019 Rainbow 4,469 2.9 MOSSYROCK HATCHERY
 
 
 
 

 

Group Threatens Lawsuit Over Puget Sound Summer Steelhead

Even as Washington steelhead managers have been making plans to move away from hatchery Skamania summer-run releases in Puget Sound, an environmental group is threatening to sue the state agency over the program.

WDFW RELEASES SKAMANIA-STRAIN SUMMER STEELHEAD INTO RIVERS LIKE THE SKYKOMISH, WHERE THIS ONE WAS CAUGHT ON A RAINY JUNE DAY SEVERAL SEASONS AGO. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

The Wild Fish Conservancy announced this afternoon it was filing a 60-day intent to sue WDFW, saying the stock violates the Endangered Species Act.

The highly litigious organization based in Duvall says that programs operated primarily on the Skykomish but also the North Fork Stillaguamish and Green-Duwamish Rivers threaten five wild populations of Puget Sound summer-run steelhead and are driving them “closer to extinction” by spawning in the wild, reducing fitness.

WFC cites concerns that the National Marine Fisheries Service had in mid-2017 over Skamanias — a 1950s mix of Klickitat River and Washougal River steelhead that came from a state hatchery on the Washougal — but in response to that WDFW in coordination with its ad hoc Puget Sound Steelhead Advisory Group and the Tulalip Tribes last year came up with a plan.


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It would eventually replace the strain in the Skykomish with Tolt River summers instead, but would also take multiple years.

“There’s no expectation to eliminate the existing program until we build up the Tolt,” WDFW’s Jim Scott, a special assistant to the director, told Northwest Sportsman for a story detailing the plan, “and there will be a period of overlap of the programs” before Skamania releases ends.

At last check late last year that plan was still moving forward, so it’s unclear whether it has gathered enough momentum to now be a threat to WFC and thus is forcing it into yet another lawsuit against fishery overseers.

But what is clear is that the 60-day intent to sue appears to purposefully bump up against the timeframe this year’s smolts would be released from Reiter Ponds into the Skykomish, perhaps in an effort to get WDFW to come to a settlement like what happened with Chambers Creek hatchery early winter-run steelhead in 2014.

While it also wasn’t clear from WFC’s intent-to-sue letter what they considered the five populations of wild summers threatened by Skamania summers to be, earlier this year, researchers studying hatchery summer and wild winter steelhead in Oregon’s Clackamas River found the former didn’t affect the latter.

F-f-f-f-free Fishing Days Coming Up In Oregon

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

It’s free to fish, crab or clam in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16-17 of President’s Day Weekend.

ICE FISHERMEN TRY THEIR LUCK AT SOUTHERN OREGON’S DIAMOND LAKE. ANGLING THERE AND ELSEWHERE ACROSS THE BEAVER STATE IS FREE FOR THE FIRST TWO DAYS OF PRESIDENTS DAY WEEKEND. (JESSICA SALL, ODFW)

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.


Concerned about closures in your area? Book the world’s best salmon and halibut fishing in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), Canada. Click HERE to learn more.

This time of year, the best opportunity will be winter steelhead on the coast, stocked hatchery rainbow trout in the Willamette Valley and mid-coast lakes, and ice-fishing in northeast and southeast Oregon.

Look for the latest on fishing conditions and regulations at ODFW’s Weekly Recreation Report, which is updated every Thursday. Also see the trout stocking schedule to find out when your local lake is getting stocked with hatchery rainbow trout.

Washington Bass, Walleye, Channel Cats Would Remain Game Fish But With Liberalized Regs Under Bill Amendment

Walleye, bass and channel catfish would not be declassified as game species in Washington, but the Fish and Wildlife Commission would need to liberalize limits on them in all waters where sea-going salmonids swim.

STATE LAWMAKERS RECOMMENDED THAT LIMITS ON LARGEMOUTH BASS, LIKE THIS ONE CAUGHT AT A NORTHWEST WASHINGTON LAKE, AS WELL AS SMALLMOUTH BASS, WALLEYE AND CHANNEL CATFISH LIMITS BE LIBERALIZED IN WATERS BEARING SEA-GOING SALMONIDS LIKE CHINOOK. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

The House Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources Committee this morning voted 8-6 to amend HB 1579 to that effect.

The bill mostly deals with enforcement of hydraulic codes, but targets the nonnative smolt eaters as part of its suite of changes meant to help out struggling orcas and their key feedstock.

I think we should do everything we can to encourage recreational fisheries to catch as many of those fish as possible so that they’re not predating on Chinook salmon,” prime sponsor Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) said during a public hearing last week.

There already are no size or catch limit restrictions on smallmouth, largemouth, walleye and channel cats in the Columbia below Chief Joseph Dam and Snake and both of their tribs, a move WDFW implemented in 2016 following ODFW’s lead.

Concerned about closures in your area? Book the world’s best salmon and halibut fishing in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), Canada. Click HERE to learn more.

But as written the change would liberalize regulations for the species on Lakes Washington and Sammamish and a host of other stillwaters connected to streams that serve as spawning and rearing habitat for not only Chinook but also coho, sockeye, steelhead, bull trout and other anadromous species.

For instance, Cottage Lake near Woodinville, Big Lake near Mt. Vernon, and Lake Sawyer east of Auburn.

WDFW’s SalmonScape illustrates the scope of other potentially affected waters.

And it also shows ones that may not, at least under the bill as it’s currently written — important spinyray lakes such as Banks, Billy Clapp, Moses, Potholes, Scooteney and Sprague in Eastern Washington, along with Seattle’s Green, Snohomish County’s Goodwin and Roseiger, and Bellingham’s Whatcom.

The state mapping product shows those have not been documented to have salmon present in or above them.

But eventually Rufus Woods and Lake Roosevelt could, if efforts to reintroduce Chinook to the Canadian Columbia go through.

Walleye and smallmouth are primarily in the Columbia system and largemouth are ubiquitous in lakes across Washington, and all can spawn naturally, but channel cats, which tend to only be able to spawn in the warmest of our relatively cool waters, have been planted in select lakes when funding has been available to buy them from other states.

While the issue of how to classify fish that are from the Midwest and elsewhere east of the Rockies is of concern to WDFW and the state’s warmwater anglers and guides, the bill has primarily elicited pushback for the elements strengthening how the agency permits work around water, including repealing all but automatic approvals for residential bulkheads on the saltwater, which can impact forage fish spawning habitat.

Rep. Bruce Chandler, a Republican from eastern Yakima County, called the bill “an imposition of changes that really apply to Puget Sound.”

Chairman Brian Blake, a Democrat who represents Washington’s South Coast, termed it a “work in progress,” but nonetheless asked fellow lawmakers to move it forward.

All eight Democrats voted for a slate of amendments to the bill, while six of the seven Republicans voted against, with the seventh absent.

The bill also would require anglers who fish for smelt in saltwaters to buy a license, a move that would annually yield an estimated $37,400, according to a legislative analysis.

A version in the Senate, SB 5580, had a public hearing yesterday. It was supported by WDFW and tribal and environmental groups, and opposed by building and business associations, with concerns from the state farm bureau.

To go into law, they would have to pass both chambers and be signed by Governor Inslee, and then, at least as far as bass, walleye, and channel cats go, the Fish and Wildlife Commission would need to make the changes to the regulations, though it could be also be done via an emergency rule.

Editor’s note: An earlier version reported HB 1579 received a do-pass recommendation out of committee. In fact, the vote was whether to amend the bill, which occurred. It remains to be given a recommendation.

SW Washington, Columbia Gorge Fishing Report (2-5-19)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

Sturgeon:

Bonneville Pool- 13 bank anglers kept 2 legal sturgeon and released 5 sublegal sturgeon.  14 boats/30 rods released 17 sublegal and 1 oversize sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool– Closed for retention.  No report.

John Day Pool– 31 bank anglers kept 1 legal sturgeon.  9 boats/18 rods released 2 sublegal sturgeon.

FRANK URABECK AND GRANDSON SPENCER EWING GOT INTO A PRETTY NICE GRADE OF WINTER STEELHEAD DURING A RECENT OUTING ON THE QUINAULT INDIAN RESERVATION. (SPENCER EWING VIA FRANK URABECK)

Walleye:

Bonneville Pool- 2 boats/4 rods kept 1 walleye.

The Dalles Pool– No report.

John Day Pool– 16 boats/28 rods kept 18 walleye and released 5 walleye.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Grays River – 10 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.  2 boats/4 rods had no catch.

Elochoman River – 17 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead and released 3 steelhead.  1 boat/2 rods released 2 steelhead.

Abernathy Creek – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Mill Creek – 3 bank anglers had no catch.

Germany Creek – 10 bank anglers kept 2 steelhead and released 1 steelhead.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 26 bank rods had no catch.

Above the I-5 Br:  12 bank rods kept 2 steelhead and released 1 steelhead.  3 boats/6 rods kept 6 steelhead.

Concerned about closures in your area? Book the world’s best salmon and halibut fishing in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), Canada. Click HERE to learn more.
Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered four winter-run steelhead adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

All the fish collected last week were held at the hatchery for broodstock needs.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,920 cubic feet per second on Monday, Feb. 4. Water visibility is 11 feet and the water temperature is 43.2 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

East Fork Lewis River – 18 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.

Salmon Creek – 26 bank anglers kept 3 steelhead and released 2 steelhead.

 

  • Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

 

Trout Plants and stocking schedules:

No, It’s Not Now Legal For Just Anyone To Kill Sea Lions, Even With A Permit

Hold your fire!

A CNN story out yesterday that suggests anyone who wants to lethally remove sea lions in the Northwest just needs to get a permit and kill the pinnipeds in a humane manner is not really accurate.

FIXED IT FOR YOU.

The lede of a story on the website of the cable news network whose hashtag is #FactsFirst states:

“Animal control in the western United States just got more extreme. A new law allows people to kill sea lions that have been devouring the region’s endangered salmon and steelhead — as long as they first get a permit.”

When this reporter inquired of a federal official this morning where and when I could get pick up said permit, I am pretty sure I could hear them slap their forehead via email.

The real story is that a bill passed last month in Congress and signed into law by the president authorized the states of Idaho, Oregon and Washington along with a handful of tribes to take out up to 920 California sea lions and 249 Steller sea lions in certain parts of the Columbia River annually through an amendment to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

ODFW got on Twitter to correct CNN:

And it sounds like CNN will now do a correction.

SW WA Fishing Report (1-23-19)

THE FOLLOWING WDFW FISHING REPORT WAS  TRANSMITTED BY BRYANT SPELLMAN

Sturgeon:

Bonneville Pool- 18 bank anglers released 4 sublegal sturgeon.  25 boats/79 rods kept 13 legal sturgeon and released 1 legal, 151 sublegal and 1 oversize sturgeon.

The Dalles Pool- Closed for retention.  No report.

John Day Pool- 4 bank anglers had no catch.  5 boats/8 rods had no catch.

JIM DEATHERAGE SHOWS OFF A MID-COLUMBIA WALLEYE CAUGHT WHILE FISHING WITH FRIEND JERRY HAN. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Walleye:

Bonneville Pool- No report.

The Dalles Pool- No report.

John Day Pool- 1 bank angler had no catch.  8 boats/14 rods kept 13 walleye and released 6 walleye.

Salmon/Steelhead:

Columbia River Tributaries

Elochoman River – 30 bank anglers kept 3 steelhead.  3 boats/6 rods had no catch.

Abernathy Creek – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

Germany Creek – 12 bank anglers kept 3 steelhead.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream: 33 bank rods released 1 steelhead.

Above the I-5 Br:  18 bank rods kept 1 steelhead.  8 boats/21 rods released 1 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered three winter-run steelhead adults and two coho jacks during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power released one coho jack into Lake Scanewa in Randle, and one coho jack and three winter-run steelhead adults into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 7,720 cubic feet per second on Tuesday, Jan. 22. Water visibility is 10 feet and the water temperature is 44.6 degrees F. River flows could change at any time so boaters and anglers should remain alert for this possibility.

East Fork Lewis River – 26 bank anglers released 1 steelhead.

Salmon Creek – 25 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead.

 

  • Tributaries not listed: Creel checks not conducted.

 

Trout Plants and stocking schedules:

Shutdown Affecting Steelhead Season Planning, Sea Lion Management — Even A Clam Dig

Add Northwest steelheading, sea lion management and a three-day razor clam dig at a national park to the list of things being impacted by the partial US government shutdown, now in its record 26th day.

A NOAA technical consultation on Washington’s Skagit-Sauk spring season and the federal agency’s work approving Idaho’s fisheries permit are on pause, while any new pinnipeds showing up at Willamette Falls get a free pass to chow down, and the Jan. 19-21 Kalaloch Beach clam opener has been rescinded.

Let’s break things down by state.

OREGON

While ODFW can still remove previously identified California sea lions that gather at the falls and in the lower Clackamas to eat increasingly imperiled wild steelhead, new ones must first be reported to a federal administrator who has been furloughed since before Christmas due to the shutdown, according to a Courthouse News Service story.

A CALIFORNIA SEA LION THROWS A SALMONID IN SPRING 2016 AT WILLAMETTE FALLS. (ODFW)

And as native returns begin to build, a newly arrived CSL there won’t face the consequences — at least until the shutdown over the border wall is ended.

“If it carries on it will be a bigger impact on the spring Chinook run,” ODFW’s Shaun Clements told Courthouse News. “Relative to the winter steelhead, they’re in a much better place, but extinction risk for spring Chinook is still pretty high.”

So far four CSLs have been taken out since the state agency got the go-ahead in November to remove up to 93 a year. ODFW had anticipated killing 40 in the first four months of 2019.

IDAHO

Over in Idaho, what seemed like plenty of time early last month for NOAA to (finally) review and approve the Gem State’s steelhead fishing plan before mid-March is shrinking.

STEELHEAD ANGLERS FISH IDAHO’S CLEARWATER RIVER AT LEWISTON. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

“There is about a month of cushion between the expiration of the agreement and when we first expected the permit (to be completed),” IDFG’s Ed Schriever told Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune. “We know the longer (the shutdown) goes on, the narrower the window becomes on the cushion that existed prior to the shutdown. We can only hope resolution comes quickly and those folks get back to work on our permit.”

The work was made necessary by environmental groups’ lawsuit threat that resulted in an agreement between the state, a community-angler group and the litigants that provided cover to continue fishing season through either when NOAA finished processing the plan or March 15.

Schriever told Barker that if the shutdown continues, he would probably ask the parties to the agreement for an extension.

WASHINGTON

And in Washington, there’s now an agonizing amount of uncertainty for what seemed like would be a slam-dunk steelhead fishery.

DRIFT BOAT ANGLERS MAKE THEIR WAY DOWN THE SAUK RIVER DURING APRIL 2018’S FIRST-IN-NINE-SPRINGS FISHERY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Last month, WDFW along with tribal comanagers sent a plan for a three-month-long catch-and-release season for wild winter-runs on the North Sound’s Skagit and Sauk Rivers under the same constraints as last April’s NOAA-approved 12-day fishery.

Before the shutdown, NOAA had some “relatively minor matters” to clear up, so a meeting was scheduled for last week “to resolve the technical questions,” according to a Doug Huddle column for our February issue.

“We have approval to conduct the fishery. We have a set of conditions we have to fulfill as part of that approval. We think we have provided everything asked,” said district biologist Brett Barkdull.

But with NOAA out of the office it will come down to an upcoming policy call “one way or the other” by higher-ups at WDFW based on a risk assessment.

Out on Washington’s outer coast, WDFW is scrubbing three days of razor clam digging at Kalaloch Beach over the Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend.

With federal techs and park rangers furloughed, WDFW had planned on having its staff on the beach to monitor clammers as well as station game wardens on Highway 101, where they do have enforcement authority, if need be.

“We are closing Kalaloch beach to razor clam digging in response to a request by Olympic National Park,” said Dan Ayres, agency coastal shellfish manager, in a press release. “Olympic National Park staff are not available to help ensure a safe and orderly opening in the area.”

Digs will go on as planned this Thursday-Monday during the various openers at Twin Harbors, Mocrocks and Copalis Beaches.

Ayres said that WFDW and the park will consider other openers at Kalaloch to make up for the lost harvest opportunity.

Elsewhere, while Pacific Fishery Management Council staffers are in their offices, that’s not the case for federal participants in the 2019 North of Falcon salmon-season-setting process.

US contributions to an international report on commercial West Coast hake fishing as well as other work handled by researchers at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle is on hold.

A meeting on highly migratory species and another with members of a statistical review committee have been cancelled, though at the moment a third reviewing 2018 salmon fisheries and which is part of the annual North of Falcon season-setting process is still a go.

And NOAA survey ships have reportedly also been tied up to the dock.