Tag Archives: trout

Oregon Senators’ Bill Aiming To Protect Owyhee Canyonlands Lauded

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE NORTHWEST SPORTFISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION

The Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association (NSIA) today praised the introduction of Malheur County Community Empowerment for the Owyhee Act by Sen. Ron Wyden to permanently protect more than a million acres of public land in Malheur County, including Oregon’s spectacular Owyhee Canyonlands, as wilderness and some 14.7 miles of rivers as wild and scenic.  The conservation measure, which is cosponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley, would also safeguard the most scenic and ecologically sensitive public land in the region from new mining claims as well as oil and gas development.

AN ANGLER WADES THE OWYHEE RIVER IN SOUTHEAST OREGON. (TIM NEVILLE)

Renowned for wildlife-filled uplands and desert rivers that wind toward the Pacific, the Owyhee Canyonlands in the southeastern corner of Oregon is the largest unprotected, undeveloped area left in the contiguous United States. The region is well known for its blue-ribbon trout fishing and sport fishing.  It is also home to over 200 species of wildlife, including golden eagles, pronghorn antelope, elk, Greater sage-grouse and one of the largest herds of California bighorn sheep in the nation.

“People come from all over the planet to fish in our rivers and to hunt, hike, boat and explore the Owyhee Canyonlands,” said Liz Hamilton, executive director of the  Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association.  “This remote, high desert river canyon teeming with wildlife and fish is a special place that deserves permanent protection. We commend Senators Wyden and Merkley for their commitment to preserving this natural treasure.

“This bill would help keep the water of the Owyhee River and its tributaries clear and pristine for all to enjoy for future generations,” added Hamilton.  “Protecting the Owyhee Canyonlands will help ensure a growing economy.”

Outdoor recreation in Oregon generated $16.4 billion in consumer spending and accounted for 172,000 jobs in one year alone.

A MAP SHOWS AREAS PROPOSED FOR WILDERNESS PROTECTION (DARK BROWN). (BLM)

Efforts have been underway for decades to permanently protect this natural treasure.  In April, Senator Wyden initiated an inclusive process for diverse stakeholders to identify solutions for future management and protection of the Owyhee region.  Participants included sportsmen and women, ranchers, tribal representatives, agency staff, conservationists, and elected officials. NSIA was honored to participate in the effort to nurture the way of life for these small communities, while protecting the grandeur of a region that boasts world class fish and wildlife resources, important cultural resources, unique plant species, unparalleled star gazing and breathtaking scenic views among its many attributes.

“We appreciate Senator Wyden’s commitment to finding a balanced way forward,” said Hamilton.  “It was a long process and not everyone got everything they wanted.  But today we have a conservation measure before Congress that will ensure that this special place will stay as it is for our future anglers, hunters, hikers, and paddlers.  We hope it will be acted on quickly.”

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

Editor’s note: The following is Mark Yuasa’s monthly fishing newsletter, Get Hooked on Reel Times With Mark, and is run with permission.

By Mark Yuasa, Director of Grow Boating Programs, Northwest Marine Trade Association

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

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

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

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

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other holiday fishing opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll see you on the water!

Trout Season Extended Through New Year’s At Recently Stocked Padden, Steel Lakes

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Gamefish season extended at Padden Lake (Whatcom County) and Steel Lake (King County)

Action: Extends open gamefish season to Jan. 5, 2020.

Effective date: Nov. 1, 2019 to Jan. 5, 2020.

ANGLERS IN WHATCOM AND KING COUNTIES GET TO FISH A PAIR OF LAKES THAT WILL REMAIN OPEN LATER THAN SCHEDULED AS WDFW AIMS TO INCREASE TROUT FISHING OPPORTUNITIES IN THE I-5 CORRIDOR THROUGH PUGETROPOLIS. HUGO BACKMAN CAUGHT THIS RAINBOW AT ONE OF THE TWO, PADDEN LAKE, LAST YEAR. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Species affected: All gamefish.

Location: Padden Lake (Whatcom Co.) and Steel Lake (King Co.).

Reason for action: The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) stocked catchable-size rainbow trout in both lakes in late October and will again prior to Black Friday (Nov. 29). These fish and the extension of the fishing season will provide exciting fishing opportunities through the holidays for these lakes.

Additional information: Padden Lake and Steel Lake will be closed to fishing on Jan. 5, 2019. Both lakes will re-open to fishing on the fourth Saturday in April.

No internal combustion motors are allowed on Padden Lake and Steel Lake.

Anglers should also be aware that invasive New Zealand mudsnails (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) were recently discovered in Padden Lake. To prevent the spread of this prohibited species to other water bodies, WDFW urges anyone coming into contact with Lake Padden to inspect and follow the Clean/Drain/Dry strategy on all clothing, gear, and watercraft. For more details on the prevention methods, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/invasive/prevention.

Information contact: Region 4 office, 425-775-1311.

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.

Free Fishing Weekend This Sat., Sun. 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, Aug. 17-18.

 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.

“FAMILY TIME IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT,” SAYS TOM SCHNELL, HERE WITH THE REWARDS OF A RECENT DAD-DAUGHTER RHONNA DAY AT PAULINA LAKE, AND YOU COULD ENJOY TIME ON THE WATER WITH YOUR LOVED ONES DURING OREGON’S AUG. 17-18 FREE FISHING WEEKEND. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. If you are fishing for salmon, steelhead or marine species like rockfish, remember to check the Fishing section of the Recreation Report for the zone you want to fish to find the latest regulations.

Look for the latest on fishing conditions and regulations at ODFW’s Weekly Recreation Report, which is updated every Wednesday. Trout and warmwater fishing are ideal for beginners; see the trout stocking schedule to find out when your local pond was stocked with hatchery rainbow trout.

If you’re in the mountains, combine a hike with a fishing trip and hike in to one of Oregon’s higher elevation mountain lakes. These stay cooler in the summer which keeps trout on the bite. See ODFW’s guide to Fishing Oregon’s hike-in lakes.  

If you are on the coast this weekend, ocean fishing for rockfish, tuna and coho salmon has been good. Surfperch can be targeted from beaches and jetties by those staying on shore (see How-to fish for surfperch). Or try crabbing, which is currently open along the entire Oregon coast (reminder to always double check ODA shellfish restrictions before clamming or crabbing).

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Rainbows And More To Catch On Eastside Trout Opener, Y-R Lakes

Washington’s big late April trout opener is just eight sleeps away and Westside lakes are sure to be packed.

While there may be fewer lowland lakes in Eastern Washington, it’s just as big doin’s as west of the crest, and not just for rainbows.

We checked in with a pair of state fisheries biologists to get their thoughts on how this year’s season will go in two of the best regions on the Eastside.

PHIL REICH HOLDS A NICE RAINBOW HE CAUGHT AT AN EASTERN WASHINGTON LAKE A COUPLE SPRINGS AGO. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

PERHAPS SOME OF THE BEST PROSPECTS can be found in Spokane-based biologist Randy Osborne’s district.

“I would guess that Badger is going to be one of the better trout lakes this spring,” he said about the upper Channeled Scablands lake which was rehabbed in 2015 and then restocked with a very heavy hand. “There’s a lot of fish there to be caught.”

“Williams Lake should fish good as well,” he adds. “West Medical – we killed that after last fall, but it will be stocked with a healthy dose of catchables and broodstock fish to get it going.”

Yellow perch are starting to cut into the productivity at Fish Lake near Cheney, but it still should fish “OK” this season, forecasts Osborne.

He also expects Clear Lake near Medical Lake to be consistent.

Osborne also has two year-round options: Lake Spokane/Long Lake, which has been producing good trout fishing this past winter and last year.

It also has walleye, and he encourages anglers to target them. “We’ve sampled some to 10 pounds.”

And Pacific Lake, north of Odessa, for rainbows.

“I went out there last year and it was crazy good,” says Osborne. “I was just sampling with rod and reel and in two hours caught 36 fish. They ranged from 14 to 17 inches. When the ice gets off, it should be good.”

A WILLIAMS LAKE ANGLER SHOWS OFF A WDFW STATEWIDE TROUT DERBY-TAGGED RAINBOW, CAUGHT ON LAST YEAR’S OPENER AT THE SPOKANE-AREA WATER. (WDFW)

YES, RAINBOWS GET A LOT OF ATTENTION, but they’re far from being the only fish to catch in spring, especially in the Okanogan.

That’s where Ryan Fortier is based, and he gave us his best bets for this season.

“Kokanee fishing has been gaining in popularity, with Alta and Conconully Lake being the two most popular and consistent fisheries,” the WDFW District 6 fisheries biologist says.

“The Alta pressure is getting a bit heavy, but Conconully can handle the larger crowds well. Patterson Lake near Winthrop has a good age-class coming up this year compared to the last five years. The other stocked lakes are Bonaparte, Spectacle and Conconully Reservoir. Palmer is not expected to have a fishery for another two more years.”

On the spinyray front, there are plenty of options too.

“Palmer, Leader, and Washburn Island Pond have been the most popular fisheries,” says Fortier. “There are lots of campers staying at the DNR campgrounds at Palmer and Leader who fish and swim on the lakes. Washburn Island was stocked with some largemouth two years ago and has produced some good sizes.”

But if your sights are set on trout, he has options for those too. He expected Pearrygin, Alta and the Conconullies to produce as usual at the opener last month, and that is likely to continue into May.

“Wannacut near Tonasket has produced the largest fish on average over the previous two summers,” he says.

Unfortunately, Fish Lake, not too far to the south, is “in need of a rehab” to get rid of overabundant bullheads, Fortier says.

It sounds like he expects quality trout waters like Aeneas, Blue, Chopaka and Davis to continue as they have, but there are two other lakes to start plugging into your radar.

“Buzzard (Loup Loup Pass) has been growing in popularity, and Campbell (Winthrop) has received low pressure despite better than usual sizes since the 2014 fires,” he hints.

Speaking of fires, Black Pine Lake high in the mountains west of Carlton was closed much of last summer due to wildfire activity, so it “should probably have some good carryovers for cutthroat when the snow clears in late May,” Fortier says.

And if you’re looking for something a little exotic that affords a chance to break a state record, you could do worse than Bonaparte Lake and its brook-brown hybrids.

SPRING IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TIMES TO CHECK OUT THE HIGHLAND LAKES OF EASTERN WASHINGTON. HERE’S THE VIEW DOWN ONTO BONAPARTE LAKE, WHERE THE SIZE OF TIGER TROUT BORDERS ON BEING “TALL TALES,” ACCORDING TO THE DISTRICT FISHERIES BIOLOGIST. THE STATE RECORD 18.49-POUND HYBRID CAME FROM HERE IN MAY 2015. (USFS)

“The tiger trout sizes reported in the lake have been bordering on tall tales,” says Fortier. “We will try to do a more intense survey this year to get an idea of what has changed and if the rumors are true.”

And don’t forget Lake Rufus Woods! It will be stocked with 22,000 2-plus-pound triploid trout between March and June, according to tribal managers’ plans.

Trout Season Extended At B’ham’s Recently Stocked Padden Lake

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Gamefish season extended at Whatcom County’s Padden Lake

Action:  Extend the fishing season for gamefish at Padden Lake.

TROUT ANGLERS WORK BELLINGHAM’S PADDEN LAKE DURING SPRING. (WDFW)

Effective date:  Nov. 1, 2018, through Jan. 6, 2019.

Species affected:  Trout and other game species.

Location:  Padden Lake (Whatcom County).

Reason for action: The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) stocked 1,100 catchable-size rainbow trout for a Heritage Fishing Day event conducted by the Sportsman’s Alliance Foundation. There are many fish left in the lake and WDFW is expanding the fishery so anglers can enjoy them through the holidays.  

Additional information: Padden Lake will be closed to fishing on Jan. 7, 2019.  The lake will re-open to fishing on the fourth Saturday in April.

No internal combustion motors are allowed on Padden Lake.

Anglers should also be aware that invasive New Zealand mudsnails (https://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/potamopyrgus_antipodarum/) were recently discovered in Padden Lake. To prevent the spread of this prohibited species to other water bodies, WDFW urges anyone coming into contact with Lake Padden to inspect and follow the Clean/Drain/Dry strategy on all clothing, gear, and watercraft. For more details on the prevention methods, visit WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/youcanhelp.html.   

Information contact: Justin Spinelli, Region 4 fisheries biologist, 360-466-4345, ext. 242.

SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report (6-25-18)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORT ORIGINATED WITH WDFW AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, PSMFC

BONUS FACTOIDS – The 4.9 million shad counted at Bonneville Dam through June 24th are the second highest on record.  The record are the 5.06 million fish counted through June 24, 2004.  However, this year’s run still remains strong with 262,000-380,000 shad counted daily at the dam this past week.  The record total of nearly 5.4 million fish counted in 2004 could fall in the next couple days!

A BIG RUN OF SHAD YIELDED WHAT’S BELIEVED TO BE THE SECOND HIGHEST SPORT CATCH SINCE 1969. (ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS)

The nearly 91,000 sockeye counted at Bonneville Dam through June 24 have almost met the pre-season forecast of 99,000 fish for 2018.  In fact, they are the 7th highest on record thru June 24th!

Salmon/Steelhead

Elochoman River – 15 bank anglers kept 6 steelhead.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br downstream:  6 bank rods had no catch.  Above the I-5 Br:  5 bank rods had no catch.   51 boat rods kept 26 steelhead.

Kalama River – 8 bank anglers had no catch.Lewis River (mainstem) – 3 boat anglers kept 1 steelhead.

Wind River – 3 boat rods had no catch.

Drano Lake – 9 boat rods kept 2 adult spring Chinook and 1 steelhead.

Wind River and Drano Lake – At Wind River, June 30 is the last day to fish for spring Chinook above Shipherd Falls. It is also the last day for the two-poles, boat limits, and barbed hooks for both Wind River and Drano Lake. Drano Lake will be open 7 days per week beginning July 1 and the bank only area near the mouth will be open for boats.

Klickitat River – 2 bank anglers had no catch.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Megler-Astoria Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam – Since the hatchery adult summer Chinook opener on June 22, bank anglers from Kalama upstream are catching some fish; boat anglers are catching fish more spread throughout the lower river.  Almost equal numbers of summer steelhead are also being handled.

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Light 85 line downstream – Light effort and catch during the current catch-and-release only fishery.

Trout

4,500 catchable size rainbow trout were planted in Mayfield Lake on June 20.  No report on angling success.

Shad

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Based on mainly incomplete trips, bank anglers just below the dam averaged 4 shad per rod while boat anglers averaged nearly 14 fish per rod based on completed trips the past few days.

Lower Columbia, Gorge Pools, SW WA Fishing Report (6-18-18)

THE FOLLOWING FISHING REPORTS ORIGINATED WITH ODFW AND WDFW AND WERE TRANSMITTED BY TANNA TAKATA, ODFW, AND JOE HYMER, PSMFC

Columbia River Angling Report

Salmon, Steelhead and Shad

On Saturday’s (6/16) flight, 113 salmonid boats and 52 Oregon bank anglers were counted from the Astoria-Megler Bridge to Bonneville Dam.  Boat anglers fishing in the Goble to Beaver area, averaged 2.40 steelhead and 0.60 sockeye caught per boat.  Bank anglers fishing the Portland to Westport area, averaged 0.04 Chinook and 0.13 steelhead caught per angler.

STURGEON RETENTION ON THE LOWER COLUMBIA ENDED EARLIER THIS MONTH, BUT NOT BEFORE ELISE PASSMORE CAUGHT THIS ONE ON THE SECOND TO LAST DAY OF THE SEASON BELOW CATHLAMET. CATCH-AND-RELEASE REMAINS OPEN. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for six salmonid bank anglers; and 1,844 shad kept, plus 92 shad released for 176 shad anglers.

Gorge Boats: Weekend checking showed 220 shad kept, plus 50 shad released for five boats (18 anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for three salmonid boats (four anglers); and two shad kept for one boat (three anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekend checking showed four steelhead kept, plus two adult Chinook and two steelhead released for 46 bank anglers.

Portland to St. Helens Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for three salmonid boats (nine anglers); and one shad kept for one boat (two anglers).

Goble to Beaver (Clatskanie) Boats: Weekend checking showed eight steelhead kept, plus four steelhead and three sockeye released for five boats (20 anglers).

Wauna Powerlines to Clatsop Spit Bank: No report.

Westport to Buoy 10 Boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for five boats (16 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for 10 salmonid bank anglers; and no catch for two salmonid boats (five anglers).  Shad anglers caught 98 shad for 53 bank anglers, and 12 shad for one boat (three anglers).

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for two salmonid bank anglers; and no catch for 10 salmonid boats (16 anglers).  Shad anglers caught 28 shad for six bank anglers, and 54 shad for two boats (10 anglers).

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam): Weekly checking showed no catch for two salmonid bank anglers; and three adult Chinook kept, plus one coho released for 12 salmonid boats (25 anglers).  Shad anglers caught 2,065 shad for 61 boats (200 anglers).

STURGEON

Gorge Boats:  Closed for retention. No report.

Troutdale Boats:  Closed for retention. Weekend checking showed one sublegal sturgeon released for one boat (three anglers).

Portland to Wauna Powerlines Boats:  Closed for retention. No report.

Wauna Powerlines to Clatsop Spit Bank:  Closed for retention. No report.

Buoy 10 to Wauna Powerlines Boats:  Closed for retention. Weekend checking showed 15 sublegal and 15 oversize sturgeon released for one boat (four anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Closed for retention.  Weekend checking showed six legal white sturgeon kept, plus 20 sublegal and six oversize sturgeon released for 42 bank anglers; and 99 legal white sturgeon kept, plus 796 sublegal, nine legal and 22 oversize sturgeon released for 94 boats (253 anglers).

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam): Closed for retention.  Weekend checking showed three legal white sturgeon kept, plus 12 sublegal sturgeon released for 14 bank anglers; and 24 legal white sturgeon kept, plus 228 sublegal, five legal and 14 oversize sturgeon released for 21 boats (67 anglers).

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam): Closed for retention.  Weekend checking showed four sublegal, eight legal and nine oversize sturgeon released for six boats (21 anglers).

WALLEYE

Bonneville Pool: Weekly checking showed no catch for one boat (three anglers).

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed 43 walleye kept, plus three walleye released for 11 boats (25 anglers).

John Day Pool: Weekly checking showed 109 walleye kept, plus 19 walleye released for 30 boats (91 anglers).

Washington Columbia River mainstem and its tributaries sport sampling summaries for June 11-17

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – I-5 Br. downstream:  6 bank anglers had no catch.  Above the I-5 Br:  17 bank anglers released 2 cutts.  25 boat anglers kept 2 adult spring Chinook and 11 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 83 spring Chinook adults, 40 summer-run steelhead,  and one winter-run steelhead during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power also released ten spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa near Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,100 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, June 18. Water visibility is 15 feet and the water temperature is 49.9 degrees F.

Kalama River – 6 bank anglers had no catch. 6 boat anglers kept 3 steelhead.

Lewis River (North Fork) – 15 bank anglers had no catch.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Megler-Astoria Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam – Up to 2 hatchery steelhead may be retained.  Release all sockeye.  Fishing at night is permitted in Washington waters.  Release all adult Chinook through June 21 and July 5-31.

Sturgeon

Bonneville and The Dalles pools – During the one-day retention fishery last Friday, boat anglers averaged just over a legal kept per boat from each pool..   Bank anglers averaged a legal kept per every 7 rods in Bonneville Pool and one for every 4 rods in The Dalles Pool.

Trout

Tacoma Power released 5,200 rainbow trout into Mayfield Lake.  No report on angling success.

Shad

Bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam averaged 4 shad per rod based on mainly incomplete trips while boat anglers averaged just over 8 fish per rod based on completed trips this past weekend.

Nearly 2.6 million shad had been counted at Bonneville Dam through June 17.  .

WA Fish Commission Tightens Mining Rules On Stream Stretch Now Hosting Coho, Steelhead

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

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has changed the work times for mineral prospecting in and around the Sultan and Similkameen rivers to avoid periods when incubating eggs and young fish are present.

WITH THE 2016 REMOVAL OF A SLUICEWAY 9.7 MILES UP THE SULTAN RIVER, COHO AND WINTER STEELHEAD WERE ABLE TO ACCESS THE SULTAN RIVER IN THE GORGE BELOW SPADA LAKE (RIGHT CENTER), LEADING TO TIGHTER CONTROL OF MINERAL PROSPECTING RULES IN THE STREAM. (USGS NATIONAL MAP AERIAL IMAGERY)

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), approved the changes on Friday, April 20. The commission also authorized the department to remove 1 to 1.5 million board feet of timber from the 4-0 Wildlife Area in the Blue Mountains of Asotin County to improve wildlife habitat, restore forest health, and reduce the risk of severe wildfires.

Until recently, a section of the Sultan River in Snohomish County was open to mineral prospecting using a variety of equipment, including suction dredges, sluices, and high bankers, for more than seven months each year.

That changed in 2016, when a fish-passage project at the City of Everett diversion dam opened an additional 6.3 miles of the river to spawning salmon and steelhead, said Randi Thurston, WDFW habitat protection manager.

“Last year, the department adopted an emergency rule that prohibited the use of certain types of prospecting equipment in that area, except during August,” Thurston said. “This year, the commission adopted that new work window as a permanent rule.”

The new rule applies to the use of mineral prospecting equipment in the water, Thurston said.

In a separate action, the commission agreed to expand the work window for mineral prospecting on the Similkameen River to include the month of June from Enloe Dam to Palmer Creek in Okanogan County. That decision was based on a new study by WDFW that found no evidence of incubating trout or whitefish eggs there in June, Thurston said.

“Prospectors urged us to conduct the study, and they were right about the results,” she said.

Under the new rule, the work window for prospecting on the Similkameen River from Enloe Dam to Palmer Creek will extend from June 1 through Oct. 31.

For more information about mineral prospecting in Washington, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/mining/.

State wildlife managers plan to conduct the 4-0 forest restoration project this summer, but work may not be completed until the summer of 2019. Logging operations will be limited by fire restrictions and during periods of high recreational use, including deer and elk hunting seasons, said WDFW forest manager Richard Tveten.

STATE WILDLIFE MANAGERS PLAN TO THIN PORTIONS OF THE 4-O WILDLIFE AREA IN SOUTHWEST ASOTIN COUNTY TO RESTORE IT TO A MORE NATURAL OPEN PONDEROSA FOREST. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

In addition to the commercial logging operation, WDFW will also thin small trees from approximately 250 acres on the 4-0 property, he said. Project managers plan to burn logging debris in slash piles and will notify the public if they decide plan to conduct prescribed burns.