Tag Archives: Washington

None Of Last 3 South Selkirk Caribou Were Pregnant

More grim news about the last herd of mountain caribou known to frequent the Lower 48: Pregnancy tests on the remaining three females all came back negative.

That means the subpopulation of North America’s southernmost caribou is dangerously close to becoming extirpated from Washington and Idaho.

A FEMALE MOUNTAIN CARIBOU STANDS IN A MEADOW AT JASPER NATIONAL PARK, IN CANADA. (THOMAS HARTMANN, WIKIMEDIA, CREATIVE COMMONS 4.0 INTERNATIONAL)

The news has left wildlife biologists wondering what to do next.

“We don’t really know,” said Bart George with the Kalispel Tribe north of Spokane. “We’re trying to figure that out, talking to our Canadian counterparts.”

The only three members of the South Selkirk Herd seen during a three-day March survey, biological samples were taken from the cows during capture and collar operations, and George had been hopeful that they’d been bred the previous fall.

But the negative results now suggest that the other animals all died between late winter 2017’s count of 11 and last October’s and November’s rut.

“I don’t know where we would’ve missed them,” George said of this year’s search.

He points to changed predator-prey dynamics in the heights where the caribou feed on lichen that grows on old-growth timber, which is being logged, opening up browse for deer, moose and elk, which brought up bears, cougars and increasingly, wolves.

George said that the three South Selkirk females are otherwise in their prime breeding years.

“They should have been bred” if there was another bull in the area, he said.

It’s now bitterly ironic, but last fall a maternity pen was constructed specifically for these females to be able to rear calves in a predator-proof enclosure.

Another recent survey found just four mountain caribou in the South Purcell herd, which roams near Kimberley, BC, about 40 miles north of the international border.

George said it’s possible that that quartet — all bulls — could end up together with the South Selkirk trio.

Recent news coverage of the dramatic decline in the herd focused on the word extinction, but that’s not really the correct term.

“If this herd is extirpated, it’s a pretty significant range constriction for southern mountain caribou,” said George.

But he’s still not ready to give up hope.

“We’re still going to be managing caribou one way or another. We’re going to do our best for this herd and try getting caribou back on the landscape,” he said.

Yuasa Reviews Washington 2018 Salmon Seasons, Looks Ahead To Halibut, Shrimping

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

The months are flying by faster than a coho hitting your bait in the prop wash.

It felt like “Yesterday” – an ode to a classic Beatles song – when we gathered in Lacey on Feb. 27 to see what the salmon forecasts had in store for us. Now a season package is “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” – did you say Stevie Wonder? – for anglers to digest and begin making plans on where to wet a line.

The process known as “North of Falcon” (NOF) culminated April 6-11 in Portland, Oregon, and I was on-hand as a sport-fishing observer.

JUSTIN WONG HOLDS UP A NICE KING SALMON HE CAUGHT LAST SUMMER IN THE OCEAN OFF WESTPORT. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

When proposed seasons came to light in mid-March it was like a feisty trophy king tugging on end of a line, which after a long battle unhooked itself at the boat causing the lead weight to smack you right in the eye.

While grief and a swollen black eye set in, you might have been down in the dumps. But, my mantra has been to never whine about what you can’t do or lost (the trophy king in paragraph above), and more on making the most of the present moment.

Life throws you lemons so make sweet lemonade because if you don’t your head will go into a swift-moving tidal tail-spin and turn your fishing line into a messy tangled web of hurt.

The initial good news is environmental conditions – El Nino, warm water temperatures, a “Blob” and droughts – that have plagued us with restrictions going back to 2015-16 appear to be in the rear-view mirror.

Secondly, was the warmth (albeit mixed feelings by some NOF attendees) of unity and transparency between user groups despite a usual difference in opinions over how the whole pie of sport, tribal and non-tribal fisheries was divvied up.

These are signals of “baby steps” in a complicated process that long has been filled with arguments, bitterness, cultural indifference, protests and a fight over that “last salmon” dating back to Boldt Decision.

The true litmus test of how long this “hand-holding” philosophy will last between all parties is essential as we move forward to ensure our iconic Pacific Northwest salmon runs will be around for generations to come. Even more so as we carry the torch of a long-term Puget Sound Chinook Management Plan to the federal fishery agency’s table later this year, which will dictate how we fish from 2019 to 2029 and beyond.

“Now that we’ve finished this process we need to work on being responsible with conservation, habitat issues and simply change our philosophy to create a long-term management plan,” Ron Warren, the WDFW salmon policy coordinator said at conclusion of Portland meetings.

While being mindful of that briny future, let’s go over highlights of our fisheries at hand.

A positive are extended seasons – something that hasn’t happened for several years – for hatchery coho in northern Puget Sound (Area 9) from July through September, and non-select coho in central Puget Sound (Area 10) from June through mid-November. The Puget Sound coho forecast is 557,149.

Another shining star is a South Sound hatchery chinook forecast of 227,420 up 21 percent from 10-year average and a 35 percent increase from 2017.

The northern Puget Sound summer hatchery chinook catch quota is 5,563 – a similar figure to 2017 – and is expected to last one-month when it opens in July.

The elevated forecast is a blessing when south-central Puget Sound (Area 11) opens June 1 especially in popular Tacoma-Vashon Island area. A central Puget Sound hatchery chinook fishery starts July 16 with a cap of 4,743. Area 10 has a coho directed fishery in June at popular places such as Jefferson Head-Edmonds area.

A hatchery king season opens at Sekiu on July 1, and Port Angeles on July 3. Both switch to hatchery coho in mid-August through September.

A summer king fishery in San Juan Islands (Area 7) opens July to August, but September is chinook non-retention.

Late-summer and early-fall coho fisheries will occur in Areas 5, 6, 7, 8-1, 8-2, 11, 12 and 13.

On coast, Ilwaco, La Push and Neah Bay open daily starting June 23, and Westport opens Sundays to Thursdays beginning July 1. Hatchery coho quotas are same as 2017 although chinook quotas are down a decent amount. The popular Buoy 10 salmon fishery opens Aug. 1.

On freshwater scene, a sockeye forecast of 35,002 to Baker River is strong enough to allow fisheries in Baker Lake from July 7-Sept. 7, and a section of Skagit River from June 16-July 15.

The Snohomish, Skykomish and Snoqualmie open Sept. 16 for coho. Sections of Skykomish, Skagit and Cascade open for hatchery chinook beginning June 1. For details on seasons, visit WDFW at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.

Bounty of May fishing options

There’s nothing more exciting than pulling up a pot loaded with prawn-size spot shrimp during a season that begins May 5.

“I am more positive this year on our spot shrimp projections than the last couple of years,” said Mark O’Toole, a WDFW biologist who is retiring May 18 after an illustrious 36 years with the department, and many thanks for your valued input on shrimp and other fish policies!

BIG PRAWN-SIZE SPOT SHRIMP COME INTO PLAY IN THE MONTHS AHEAD AROUND THE PUGET SOUND REGION. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

“In general, last year was another good season with relatively high abundance,” he said. “The catch per boat ended up being higher for all areas.”

Look for good shrimping in Strait; San Juan Islands; east side of Whidbey Island; central, south-central and northern Puget Sound; and Hood Canal. Test fishing conducted this spring showed marginal abundance in southern Puget Sound.

Hit pause button on spring chores since trout fishing in statewide lowland lakes is now underway.

Justin Spinelli, a WDFW biologist says 460,000 trout went into Puget Sound region lakes on top of 500-plus statewide lakes planted with 16,840,269 trout – 2,171,307 of them are the standardized size averaging about 11 inches compared to 8-inches in past seasons.

If you prefer a large-sized halibut then head out on May 11. The Washington catch quota is 225,366 pounds down from 237,762 in 2017, and a bump up from 214,110 in 2016, 2015 and 2014. Dates for Neah Bay, La Push, Westport and Strait/Puget Sound are May 11, 13, 25 and 27. Depending on catches other dates are June 7, 9, 16, 21, 23, 28 and 30. Ilwaco opens May 3 with fishing allowed Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Once you get your halibut fix add some black rockfish and lingcod to the cooler. Ilwaco, Westport, Neah Bay and La Push are open for both, and some Puget Sound areas are open for lingcod.

NW Salmon Derby Series hits pause button

While we take a break from a spectacular winter derby series be sure to keep sight of the PSA Bellingham Salmon Derby on July 13-15.

2018 NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES GRAND PRIZE BOAT. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

More great news is Edmonds Coho Derby on Sept. 8 and Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 22-23 – the largest derby on West Coast – are likely back on “must do” list. In mean time, check out derby’s grand-prize KingFisher 2025 Falcon Series boat powered with Honda 150hp motor and 9.9hp trolling motor at Anacortes Boat & Yacht Show on May 17-20 at Cap Sante Marina. The $65,000 boat also comes on an EZ-loader trailer, and fully-rigged with Scotty downriggers; Raymarine Electronics; custom WhoDat Tower; and Dual Electronic stereo. Details: http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

I’m sprinting out the door with rod in hand so see you on the water!

Despite April Showers, Washington Trout Opener ‘Another Statewide Success’

A 29-inch rainbow trout, 20-minute limit and high catch rates at several lakes in the greater Seattle area were among the highlights of the start of Washington’s lowland lakes season.

THE SPOKANE AREA’S WILLIAMS LAKE WAS AMONG SEVERAL THAT YIELDED 20-PLUS-INCH TROUT, AS WELL AS WDFW DERBY WINNERS, LIKE THIS TAGGED FISH. (WDFW)

“Opening Day 2018 was another statewide success story, although one of the common themes statewide was the weather,” reported WDFW’s Bruce Bolding. “It was gray and rainy off and on, which seemed to keep some anglers indoors, however the other common theme was lots of happy anglers because fishing, for the most part was very good.”

That whopper was caught at Grays Harbor County’s Inez lake while the fast fishing occurred at Skagit County’s Heart Lake.

State biologists say they saw catch rates of 9.8 fish per angler at King County’s Lake Langlois, 8.5 at Snohomish County’s Storm Lake and 8.2 at Lake Ki, 8.1 at Mason County’s Panther, 6.7 at King’s Pine Lake and 6.6 at Whatcom County’s Toad Lake, indicating anglers were able to catch and release fish as they worked towards their five-trout limit.

“The other common theme, which seemed more pronounced than last year, was the number of tagged derby fish that were caught, all across the state,” says Bolding. “This was really great news. There were tagged fish caught in each district throughout the state (with the exception of Region 3, where we have no creel data because there are no Opening Day lakes. There are however, tagged fish in Region 3).”

Here are more details from WDFW on catches, information that can also be found here: https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/lowland/

Chelan County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Wapato Lake 53 72 1.36 1.4 17-inch Rainbow Trout The overcast and rainy conditions off and on all morning (and heavy at times) could have been a factor in how poor the fishing was.
Douglas County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Jameson Lake 40 143 3 3.65 3.6 14-inch Rainbow Trout Cloudy, cool weather. On average, the fish were smaller than last year, but overall, anglers were happy just to be out fishing.
Ferry County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Lake Ellen 14 63 8 5.1 4.5 17-inch Rainbow Trout Rainy weather, but fishing was good. Lots of happy anglers!
Grant County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Blue Lake 42 137 3.3 3.3 15-inch Rainbow Trout Anglers were happy with both the size and catchability of the trout in Blue Lake.
Deep Lake 51 147 43 3.8 2.9 13-inch Rainbow Trout Lots of effort once the weather got better, but anglers were not especially happy about the size of the fish.
Park Lake 62 289 11 4.8 4.6 15-inch Rainbow Trout The number of people increased once the rains stopped and the wind died down. Most fish were 2017 fingerlings. Fat and good fighters. Shore anglers had good success, especially from the dock.
Warden Lake 31 40 10 1.6 1.3 13-inch Rainbow Trout
Grays Harbor County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Failor Lake 42 108 61 4 2.6 22-inch Rainbow Trout The anglers here were happy and there was one Derby-tagged fish caught.
Lake Aberdeen 36 70 91 4.5 1.9 24-inch Rainbow Trout Weather limited participation and length of time fished.
Lake Bowers 26 32 38 2.7 1.2 24-inch, 7lb. Rainbow Trout Kid’s derby brought anglers early, but rainy weather limited their stay.
Lake Inez 34 49 16 1.9 1.4 29-inch Rainbow Trout The catch rate was low but two Derby-tagged fish were caught.
Lake Silvia 5 1 7 1.6 0.2 18-inch Rainbow Trout The wather was rainy and there were very few anglers, with many fishing for only an hour.
Jefferson County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Sandy Shore 28 27 35 2.2 1 25-inch Rainbow Trout Fairly slow fishing and most fish were smaller than 12 inches., however, there were several large Rainbow Trout in the 20-25 inch range. All fish looked very healthy with good fins.
Silent Lake 2 10 5 5 12-inch Rainbow Trout All the fish looked very healthy.
Tarboo 13 13 31 3.4 1 22-inch Rainbow Trout It rained all morning and most of the afternoon, but fishing success was good.
King County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Cottage Lake 57 159 29 3.3 2.8 14-inch Rainbow Trout 1 Derby-tagged fish caught.
Geneva Lake 14 60 5 4.6 4.3 13-inch Rainbow Trout
Langlois Lake 43 176 247 9.8 4.1 16-inch Rainbow Trout 1 Derby-tagged fish caught. Anglers were happy in spite of the rain because almost all of them limited
Margaret Lake 28 81 52 4.8 2.9 12-inch Rainbow Trout
North Lake 13 34 34 5.2 2.6 16-inch Rainbow Trout The surface bite was good for trolling.
Pine Lake 63 182 241 6.7 2.9 17-inch Rainbow Trout 1 Derby-tagged fish caught.
Steel Lake 13 42 3.2 3.2 13-inch Rainbow Trout
Walker Lake 9 40 14 6 4.4 13-inch Rainbow Trout
Wilderness Lake 46 117 92 4.5 2.5 18-inch Rainbow Trout
Kitsap County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Horseshoe (Kit) 15 39 12 3.4 2.6 24-inch Rainbow Trout There was heavy rain from 7:00-10:00 and lighter for remainder of day. One Derby-tagged fish caught.
Mission 24 59 76 5.6 2.5 there was rain for most of the morning, but anglers very satisfied and the fishing was good.
Panther 19 64 89 8.1 3.4 12-inch Rainbow Trout Rain at 7 am, stopped about 10:30. Most anglers were very happy. There was pretty even flow of boats leaving and entering the lake all day. There seemed to be much better succes by boaters than shore/dock anglers. Boat anglers said the fish were easy to catch on hardware (Vibrax spinners, Triple Teasers, Rooster tails, and wedding ring rigs). Very few used bait of any kind. All boaters said they had a very successful day.
Wildcat 25 71 6 3.1 2.8 12-inch Rainbow Trout There was moderate to heavy rain most of day but anglers were very happy with the fishing. It was quite successful, with most anglers limiting fairly easily. Best day of creel sampling ever by the sampler on this lake.
Wye 21 30 40 3.3 1.4 20-inch Rainbow Trout The fishing was generally poor and rain for most of day reduced effort. Bait fishing was not as effecive as lure fishing. Most fish were around 12 inches.
Klickitat County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Horsethief Lake 115 12 3 0.1 0.1 Anglers were very happy about the larger fish. The smallest fish caught was 16 inches.
Spearfish Lake 131 13 1 0.1 0.1
Lewis County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Carlisle Lake 78 77 136 2.7 1
Ft. Borst Lake 73 93 43 1.9 1.3 2 Derby-tagged fish were caught.
Mineral Lake 76 217 151 4.8 2.9
Plummer Lake 15 14 52 4.4 0.9 Anglers reported that most fish seemed small (under 9 inches), which was the reason for the high number of fish released. Most anglers fish from boats.
Mason County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Aldrich Lake 18 68 3 3.9 3.8 12-inch Rainbow Trout There were lots of kids fishing with their parents. The camping area was full for the 3 days prior to Opening Day.
Benson 25 31 31 3 1.1 14-inch Rainbow Trout It rained most of morning and fishing was considered only fair, however most anglers were happy with the good quality of the catchables.
Clara 14 44 5 3.5 3.1 14-inch Rainbow Trout It was rainy most of the day and the fishing was a bit slow.
Haven Lake 14 54 63 4.5 3.9 14-inch Rainbow Trout There were many happy anglers with good success rates from both shore and boats, using both bait and lures. There were some complaints about the weather.
Howell Lake 7 13 1.9 1.9 17-inch Rainbow Trout It was rainy and the fishing was slow but there was one 17-inch caryover caught. There was also and eagle and an osprey joining the fishing effort on the lake.
Limerick 21 31 15 2 1.5 25-inch Rainbow Trout It rained most of the day but there were some larger fish present from the local HOA Derby. The anglers were generally happy with the quality of the fishing.
Phillips Lake 7 10 4 2 1.4 18-inch Rainbow Trout The stready rain and wind seemed to reduce the number of anglers
Robbins Lake 13 34 13 3.6 2.6 20-inch Rainbow Trout There was one 20-inch broodfish caught although the size of the catchables were smaller than last year
Tiger Lake 29 61 36 3.3 2.1 14-inch Rainbow Trout The fishing was good but not great. It rained most of morning.
Wooten Lake 25 94 14 4.3 3.8 15-inch Rainbow Trout The fishing was good and the anglers were happy for the most part, in spite of the rain for most of the morning.
Okanogan County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Alta Lake 20 10 1 0.55 0.5 14-inch Rainbow Trout Heavy rains until 11 a.m. put a damper on catch rates, but anglers were in good spirits. The number of anglers targeting Kokanee really increased from last year.
Conconully Lake 42 83 24 2.55 2 17-inch Kokanee Heavy rains slowed trout catch rates, but Kokanee sizes were great! One angler caught 4 Kokanee (all 16- or 17-inches).
Pearrygin Lake 35 105 20 3.57 3 13-inch Rainbow Trout Fishing was slow before 10 a.m, but it really picked up when the weather cleared.
Pacific County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Black Lake 46 55 11 1.4 1.2 21-inch Rainbow Trout there was light angling pressure and a slow bite.
Cases Pond 18 42 40 4.6 2.3 17-inch Rainbow Trout The weather kept the fishing day short for many anglers.
Pend Oreille County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Diamond Lake 28 43 29 2.6 1.5 23-inch Rainbow Trout Rainy and cool. Fishing was fair, but it seemed that the rain kept a lot of anglers away.
Pierce County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Bay Lake 21 73 10 4 3.5
Carney 16 15 7 1.4 0.9
Clear Lake 52 183 28 4.1 3.5 Fantastic fishing and the fish were large.
Crescent 19 60 38 5.2 3.2
Jackson Lake 4 1 0.3 0.3
Ohop 8
Rapjohn 27 106 45 5.6 3.9
Silver Lake 30 30 49 2.6 1
Tanwax 19 8 4 0.6 0.4
Skagit County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Erie Lake 29 64 5 2.4 2.2 16-inch Rainbow Trout The wet and cold weather conditions made for some slow fishing.
Heart Lake 57 83 110 3.4 1.5 23-inch Rainbow Trout There was one 20-minute limit but there was relatively low effort effort on this lake. The weather could have been a factor.
McMurray Lake 50 38 47 1.7 0.8 17-inch Rainbow Trout In spite of the low effort and catch rate, there were many fish over 12 inches.
Sixteen Lake 28 69 132 7.2 2.5 14-inch Rainbow Trout 1 Derby-tagged fish was caught.
Snohomish County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Bosworth Lake 21 70 27 4.6 3.3 17-inch Rainbow Trout
Echo Lake (Maltby) 12 37 30 5.6 3.1 12-inch Rainbow Trout
Howard Lake 37 82 53 3.6 2.2 17-inch Rainbow Trout
Ki Lake 35 110 178 8.2 3.1 15-inch Rainbow Trout The anglers seemed happy in spite of the rain.
Martha Lake (Alderwood Manor) 31 56 49 3.4 1.8 17-inch Rainbow Trout There were fewer kids than last year, likely due to the poor weather conditions.
Serene Lake 13 27 15 3.2 2.1 14-inch Rainbow Trout
Stickney Lake 18 51 64 6.4 2.8 14-inch Rainbow Trout
Storm Lake 41 111 238 8.5 2.7 14-inch Rainbow Trout
Wagner Lake 12 31 30 5.1 2.6 18-inch Rainbow Trout There were many holdovers caught.
Spokane County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Badger Lake 35 104 24 3.7 3 21-inch Rainbow Trout Participation was good. Fishing was slow due to rainy/windy weather but it improved around 10:00 am. One tagged Derby fish was checked.
Clear Lake 22 18 14 1.5 0.8 20-inch Rainbow Trout A good mix of Rainbows and Browns were caught. There was decent participation but rain and wind were factors. There were also quite a few people fishing from docks.
Fish Lake 32 26 26 1.6 0.8 16-inch Brown Trout Fishing was slow overall. Several 14-15 inch Brook Trout were caught. Low catch/harvest may be due to weather or the dense Yellow Perch population.
West Medical 34 39 3 1.2 1.1 19-inch Rainbow Trout There was a high proportion of larger rainbows in the creel (averaging about 15 inches). A 17-inch Brown Trout and 16-inch Tiger Trout were also checked. Few fry plants were observed. Rainy and windy, but decent number of anglers.
Williams Lake 31 111 58 5.5 3.6 24 & 25-inch Rainbow Trout Lots of happy anglers out enjoying opening day. The 24 and 25-inch Rainbow trout were caught by a mother and son. Busy boat launch despite bad weather.
Spokane/Lincoln County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Fishtrap Lake 50 81 50 2.6 1.6 22-inch Rainbow Trout Pretty good turnout and the anglers were happy the lake has returned to good trout fishing after last year’s rehabilitation.
Stevens County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Cedar Lake 29 59 41 3.5 2 20-inch Rainbow Trout It rained off and on all morning, but fishing was good. Lots of carryovers in the catch. One WDFW Derby tagged fish caught and kept.
Mudgett Lake 25 100 4 4 19-inch Rainbow Trout Good fishing. Most fish larger than 14 inches. Lots of happy anglers.
Rocky Lake 11 32 32 5.8 2.9 21-inch Rainbow Trout Rainy and cool, but pretty good fishing. Everyone was really happy with the size of fish they caught.
Starvation Lake 16 33 5 2.4 2.1 23-inch Rainbow Trout Nice fish, but rain kept a lot of anglers away. One WDFW Fishing Derby tagged fish was caught and harvested.
Waitts Lake 50 123 13 2.7 2.5 19-inch Rainbow Trout Good fishing, but angler turnout was low due to rainy, cool weather. Catch was a pretty even mix of Rainbows and Browns. One WDFW Fishing Derby tagged fish was caught.
Thurston County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Clear Lake 48 123 44 3.5 2.6 Anglers were happy and there were some large trout being caught.
Deep Lake 12 13 18 2.6 1.1
Hicks Lake 43 83 69 3.5 1.9
McIntosh Lake 41 19 19 0.9 0.5
Pattison Lake 26 8 11 0.7 0.3
Summit Lake 29 88 97 6.4 3
Ward Lake 8 5 9 1.8 0.6
Whatcom County
Lake Name # Anglers
Checked
Total #
Fish Kept
Total #
Fish
Released
Avg. # Fish
Caught per
Angler
Avg. # Fish
Kept per
Angler
Largest Fish
(Species/TL)
Highlights
Cain Lake 37 139 119 7 3.8 18-inch Rainbow Trout
Padden Lake 37 84 22 2.9 2.3 14-inch Rainbow Trout The average size of the trout caught today was just over 12 inches.
Silver Lake 194 449 622 5.5 2.3 18-inch Rainbow Trout
Toad Lake 49 172 152 6.6 3.5 16-inch Rainbow Trout

Washington Lowland Trout Lakes Opener Is Saturday!

THE FOLLOWING IS A WDFW PRESS RELEASE

Trout fishing in Washington reaches full speed April 28 when hundreds of lowland lakes – stocked with millions of fish – open for a six-month season.

THE JOY OF FISHING ON THE OPENER WILL PUT A LITTLE SPRING IN ANYONE’S STEP. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

To prepare for the opener, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) fish hatchery crews have been stocking more than 12 million trout and kokanee in lakes statewide.

“Although many lakes are open year-round, the fourth Saturday in April marks the traditional start of the lowland lakes fishing season, when hundreds of thousands of anglers are expected to turn out to fish,” said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW’s inland fish program manager.

This is also the first lowland lakes opener in which those anglers can use the new Fish Washington mobile app to help find a fishing hole near them.

“The Fish Washington app is a planning tool that should be on every Washington angler’s smart phone,” said Thiesfeld. “It is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake in the state.”

To obtain the new Fish Washington mobile phone app, anglers just need to visit WDFW’s website (https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/mobile_app.html), the Google Play store or Apple’s App store.

To participate in the opener, Washington anglers must have an annual freshwater or combination fishing license valid through March 31, 2019. Licenses can be purchased online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license dealers across the state. For details on license vendor locations, visit the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/.

April 28 also marks the start of WDFW’s annual lowland lakes fishing derby, which runs through Oct. 31.

Anglers who catch one of 1,000 green-tagged trout can claim prizes provided by license dealers and other sponsors located across the state. The total value of prizes is more than $38,000. For a list of lakes with prize fish and details on how to claim prizes, visit https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/Home/FishingDerby.

Fish stocked by WDFW include some 2.1 million catchable trout, nearly 125,000 larger trout averaging about one pound apiece, and millions of smaller trout that were stocked last year and have grown to catchable size.

Fish stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the annual stocking plan on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/

Of more than 7,000 lakes, ponds and reservoirs in Washington, nearly 700 have WDFW-managed water-access sites, including areas accessible for people with disabilities. Other state and federal agencies operate hundreds more. Details on water access site locations can be found on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/water_access/.

Anglers parking at WDFW water-access sites are required to display on their vehicle the WDFW Vehicle Access Pass that is provided free with every annual fishing license purchased—or a Discover Pass. Anglers who use Washington State Parks or Department of Natural Resource areas need a Discover Pass. Information on the pass can be found at https://discoverpass.wa.gov/

Before heading out, anglers should check fishing regulations on WDFW’s webpage at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ or consult the Fish Washington app.

WDFW employees and their immediate families are not eligible to claim fishing derby prizes.

Washington Special Permit Application Period Now Open

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

Hunters have through May 23 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington.

HUNTING ON A LATE KLICKITAT TAG IN 2013, BUZZ RAMSEY BAGGED THIS NICE BUCK ON DAY SIX OF HIS EIGHT-DAY SPECIAL HUNT WITH SON WADE. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Permit winners will be selected through a random drawing conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in June. Special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

To apply for a special permit, hunters planning to hunt for deer or elk must purchase an application and hunting license for those species and submit the application with their preferred hunt choices.

Applications and licenses are available from license vendors statewide or on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/. Applications must be submitted on the website or by calling 1-877-945-3492 toll-free.

If purchasing and applying online, hunters must first establish an online account by creating a username and password. Information on how to create a username and password in the WILD system can be found at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/content/pdfs/WILD-Account-Instructions.pdf. Hunters can also click the “Customer Support” link on the WILD homepage for additional assistance.

Hunters who already have a username and password can login to purchase and submit their applications.

Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents, and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age.

The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any bighorn sheep ram, any moose, and “quality” categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

Instructions and details on applying for special permit hunts are described on pages 12-13 of Washington’s 2018 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet, available at WDFW offices, license vendors, and online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/.

Additional information is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/permits/faq.html.

Anis Aoude, WDFW game division manager, reminds hunters to update their phone number, email, and mailing address when purchasing their special hunting permit applications and licenses. Updates can be made by logging into the WILD system. Each year, hundreds of special hunting permits are returned due to invalid addresses.

Results of the special permit drawing will be available online by the end of June at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/. Winners will be notified by mail or email by mid-July.

Cry ‘Hiccup!’ And Let Slip The Dogs Of Spoor

Dr. Samuel Wasser and his dung-detection dogs are set to begin searching for wolves in Washington’s South Cascades, where the number of public wolf reports is growing but no packs let alone breeding pairs are known to exist.

The University of Washington researcher heads up Conservation Canines, which received $172,000 from state lawmakers earlier this year to survey a 2,000-square-mile patch of countryside between I-90 and the Columbia River.

Conservation Canines field technician Jennifer Hartman and dog Scooby collect a sample during carnivore research in Northeast Washington’s Colville National Forest. (JAYMI HEIMBUCH)

Since 1997, Wasser and his rescue dogs have been deployed around the world to help monitor other species, collecting poop the pups find for labs to analyze.

Sending handlers and their canine companions into the woods and meadows around Mts. Rainier, Adams and St. Helens should produce results faster than leaving it to wildlife biologists chasing down intriguing leads or hoping to cut tracks in winter’s snows.

“Our goal is to maximize coverage of the study area, sampling all areas around the same time, within and between seasons to maximize comparison,” explains Wasser.

“Currently, the plan is for a fall and spring sampling, the latter being important to sample for pregnant females. We are still gathering data to identify the best sampling areas. Cost permitting, we hope to have four teams.”

While WDFW’S latest wolf map shows no known packs south of I-90 in the Southern Cascades and Northwest Coast recovery zone, there have been numerous public reports in recent years from the mountains here, as an agency map illustrates. (WDFW)

Wasser has 17 dogs, including Hiccup, who’s also trained to find moose doots.

Which ones are deployed to the recesses of the Gifford Pinchot and south ends of the Okanogan-Wenatchee and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests hasn’t been determined yet, but he’s confident in his pack’s abilities.

“If there are wolves south of I-90, the odds of the dogs locating them should be quite high,” Wasser says. “Colonizing wolves range widely, our dogs can cover huge areas, and their ability to detect samples if present is extraordinary.”

Under the state’s wolf delisting scenarios, there must be at least four breeding pairs here to meet the management plan’s current recovery goals.

If wolves are found, that might decrease the need to translocate packs here from elsewhere in Washington, notably the northeast corner where most territories are full and conflicts with livestock occur annually.

State wildlife managers haven’t been inclined to move wolves around, despite that tool in the plan, but earlier this year Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda) successfully kick-started efforts to at least consider it.

Legislators also asked Wasser to gather data on the effect any wolves in the region might be having on predator-prey dynamics, and if they’re not, establish base-line data for when they arrive.

2017 Saw New Lows For Washington Deer Harvest, WDFW Stats Show

Washington deer hunters had one of their worst seasons last fall, harvesting the fewest animals in more than 20 years.

Part of that was probably due to nearly a new low number of sportsmen who hit the field in pursuit of blacktails, muleys and whitetails, and it could also be a lingering hangover from 2015’s relatively high harvest as well as recent drought and harsher winters.

SNOW FALLS HEAVILY ON THE WALGAMOTT-BELL DEER CAMP IN NORTH-CENTRAL WASHINGTON LAST OCTOBER. THE WEATHER SENT THE HUNTERS HOME WITH TWO AND A HALF DAYS OF SEASON STILL IN HAND — A RECKLESS WASTE OF PRIME TIME THAT LED TO VERY DESERVING SERVINGS OF TAG SOUP THE WHOLE WAY AROUND. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW’s recently released 2017 Game Harvest Report shows that Evergreen State hunters killed just 24,360 deer during the general season, 26,537 when special permits are included.

Both are the lowest harvests since 1997, as far back as state agency’s online records go.

Next closest low marks are 2011’s general season harvest of 26,638 deer and 29,154 when special permits are included.

High marks are 2004’s 39,359 and 44,544, respectively.

Riflemen, who make up the bulk of the state’s hunters, killed 17,113 bucks during September, October and November 2017’s various general seasons.

That’s also a new cellar dweller, and is nearly 2,000 antlered animals fewer than the next closest fall, 2011, when 19,007 tags were notched.

It’s also nearly 13,000 less than the high mark, 30,058 in 2004.

As for overall hunter numbers, those nearly set a new low; 2017’s 106,977 was only a couple hundred more pumpkins than 2006’s 106,751.

It’s actually more remarkable that 2006’s turnout was so low —  I wonder if it might actually have been due to bad data entry — as the number of hunters has been declining for decades in Washington and across most of the country as Baby Boomers age out of the sport.

Looking at five-year averages, WDFW’s stats show a loss of over 30,000 deer chasers since the late 1990s — and nearly 50,000 since 152,840 headed for the woods in 1999.

FIVE-YEAR AVERAGES
1998-2002: 145,000
2003-2007: 132,000
2008-2012: 126,000
2013-2017: 114,000

Other factors in play include more and more private timber companies charging entry fees to access their sprawling acreages, as well as increasing numbers of wolves.

So far the latter hasn’t been shown to be impacting deer populations, according to a WDFW assessment, but perhaps the perception of packs as well as reality that the predators are moving deer around to different areas are affecting hunters.

As for why 2017 was so poor, WDFW game manager Jerry Nelson said it was possible that 2015’s high general season and special permit harvest of 37,963 deer played a role. That was the most since 2005.

A recent presentation he made to the Fish and Wildlife Commission shows a decline of 3,000 deer killed in Northeast Washington’s whitetail-rich District 1 between 2015, the year the four-point minimum came off two key units, and 2017.

“Some speculate about the drought of 2015 being followed by the above average winters of 2015-16 and 2016-17 as being a factor in some locations,” Nelson added.

The latter winter was particularly strong across the southern tier of Eastern Washington.

Bluetongue also hit far Eastern Washington whitetails in 2015, adenovirus muleys in South-central Washington last year.

Nelson said that fewer special permits were issued last year, though not enough to affect the overall harvest.

Still, he didn’t have any good ideas why so relatively few general season hunters went out.

Poking around the numbers myself, I see that sharp drops in hunter numbers can occur two years after really good seasons.

For instance, following 2004’s huge kill, 2006 saw nearly 40,000 fewer hunters head out, if that year’s statistic is to be trusted.

Following 2015’s, 10,000 fewer went out in 2017.

If there are any positives to be had in the data, it’s that general season rifle success percentages have actually been relatively strong in recent years.

The three best deer seasons since 1997 were 2015 (30.6 percent), 2016 (28.8) and 2014 (28.2).

And five of the top six have occurred since 2012, with only 2004’s standout 27.7 in the mix.

On the flip side, 2017’s 22.5 percent was fifth lowest since 1997, with 1998’s 18.7 percent the worst of all, followed by 1999’s and 1997’s 21.2 and 21.6 percents, respectively.

Those three bad years in the late 1990s followed hard on the heels of a very bad winter and new three-point minimums for mule deer.

But now with 2018’s seasons less than five months away, what do Washington deer hunters have to look forward to?

“On the plus side, we have had a mild winter this year, so deer over-winter survival should be good,” Nelson noted.

A WDFW press release out after the Fish and Wildlife Commission approved hunting seasons for this and the next two years notes that “Hunters will be allowed to take antlerless white-tailed deer in game management units 101-121 in northeast Washington. Special permits will be available to seniors and hunters using modern firearms, while other hunters can take antlerless deer during general hunting seasons.”

Commissioners also retained the 11-day general season mule deer hunt in Eastern Washington.

ELK HARVEST, HUNTER NUMBERS ALSO LOW

WDFW stats also show that 2017 elk season was the second worst in terms of harvest since 1997, and it also saw a new low for hunter numbers afield.

As with deer, the two stats point to a correlation — fewer hunters afield are naturally going to kill fewer animals, but permit levels and weather conditions also play a role. The low snow year of 2014-15 may have subsequently impacted elk productivity, and last year saw over antlerless permit levels for the Yakima and Coluckum hunters reduced by more than 2,500. Prime portions of the Yakima Herd range were also under area closures in September due to forest fires.

During last year’s general seasons, 54,638 wapiti chasers killed 3,011 bulls and 1,224 antlerless elk, for a total of 4,235. Add in special permits, and the 2017 harvest was 5,465 animals.

Except for the number of hunters, all those figures are second only to 1997, when 59,015 hunters bagged 2,586 bulls and 1,127 antlerless elk during the regular season for a total of 3,713 animals. Including special permits, that year’s take was 4,919.

High marks over those years include 2000’s 86,205 hunters, 4,519 and 2,260 general season bulls and antlerless elk, and 2012’s regular and permit harvest of 9,162.

Only 3 South Selkirk Caribou Left, Intensive Survey Finds

There may be only three mountain caribou left in Washington’s, Idaho’s and British Columbia’s herd — a 75-percent decline since last year.

RECENT SURVEYS FOUND NO BULLS IN THE SOUTH SELKIRK HERD. (USFWS)

Mid-March’s intensive three-day winter survey found only cows as well.

“It’s a tough situation for caribou in the South Selkirks,” says Bart George, a wildlife biologist for the Kalispel Tribe in Cusick, north of Spokane.

It marks a new low for a herd challenged by large-scale habitat alterations and new predators, wolves, arriving in the heights.

At one time mountain caribou were as numerous as “bugs,” according to a First Nations man interviewed for Last Stand: The Vanishing Caribou Rainforest, a film that made the rounds in the region last summer.

George says that the three cows, which are fairly young animals of seven years or less, were all captured and given GPS collars.

They were also tested to see if they were pregnant.

Those results just arrived in Vancouver and “hopefully” will be available soon, he says, but if the animals are pregnant, that would mean there may still be a bull or two somewhere out there on the landscape, or at least was last fall.

And if the cows successfully bear calves, the herd could possibly rebuild to six later this spring, George says.

If not, managers may need to supplement with caribou from farther north — though that may also depend on what surveys in the Purcell Mountains turn up.

“We’re not going to just let three animals, especially cows, die in the Selkirks,” George vows.

This winter has been pretty solid in this mountainous country, with snowpack at 150 percent of average — “great for caribou” — but it also buried a maternity pen that was built especially for the cows, rendering it useless for protection from predators.

It’s also too late to safely recapture the cows if they are pregnant, George says.

He plans to intensify his monitoring of the herd with a spotting scope, maybe even drones, in hopes of finding that they had calves.

The collars may also lead them to other caribou that somehow were overlooked during the fixed-wing and helicopter surveys last month.

“We were hoping for 12 again,” George says.

As for why the herd’s numbers dropped so precipitously from a dozen in March 2017, he says it’s possible that other members had been hit by an avalanche or there was a vehicle strike on the main highway through the mountains, though he didn’t hear of one.

“We’re still going to move forward as if there are caribou on the landscape, and go ahead with wolf control actions” on the BC side of the herd’s range, George says.

He notes that there’s a collar on one of Washington’s Salmo Pack, which numbers six and overlaps with the ungulate’s recovery zone.

Though the caribou primarily stay in Canada, the southernmost herd in North America still make occasional forays into Washington and Idaho, according to collar data, George says.

 

Correction: The Kalispel Tribe’s name and headquarters were incorrect in the original version of this post. They are based in Cusick, not Ione, further north on the Pend Oreille River.

Details On Washington’s 2018 Salmon Fisheries

THE FOLLOWING IS THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE BREAKDOWN OF 2018 SALMON FISHERIES

Puget Sound
Below is key information for Puget Sound salmon fisheries this year. More details will be available in the 2018-19 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which will be available in June.

CENTRAL PUGET SOUND SUMMER CHINOOK ANGLERS CAN LOOK FORWARD TO A QUOTA OF OVER 10,000 HATCHERY KINGS LIKE THIS ONE SHERRYL CHRISTIE CAUGHT AT BUSH POINT IN 2016. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton): Marine Area 9 will be open July through September with a chinook quota of 5,563 fish, which is similar to last year’s quota. Marine Area 10 is scheduled to be open June through mid-November for coho fishing with hatchery chinook retention allowed mid-July through August. The chinook quota for Marine Area 10 is 4,743 fish, up significantly from 2017.

Baker Lake sockeye: The forecast for sockeye returning to Baker Lake is strong enough to allow for a lake fishery, open July 7 through early September, and a fishery on the Skagit River.

North Sound freshwater: Anglers will have the opportunity to retain wild coho in the Nooksack River and coho in the Skagit and Cascade rivers, where gamefish fisheries have been restored this year.

Skokomish River: A portion of the Skokomish River remains closed to non-tribal fishing this year, due to an ongoing dispute over whether the river is part of the Skokomish Reservation. WDFW will continue to work with the Skokomish Tribe to resolve the matter. The closed area includes the section of river from the Tacoma Public Utilities power lines (near the mouth of the river) upstream to the Bonneville Power Administration power lines (upstream and west of Highway 101).

Marine areas 8-1 and 8-2: Both areas will be open to fishing for coho in August and September. The areas will re-open to fishing for hatchery chinook in December.

Marine Area 7: Anglers can fish for chinook and coho in Marine Area 7 beginning July 1. The area closes after Labor Day to chinook retention but remains open for coho fishing through September. The area re-opens for salmon fishing in January.

Marine areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait): Both areas open in early July (July 1 in Marine Area 5, July 3 in Marine Area 6) for hatchery chinook and hatchery coho. Anglers can retain hatchery chinook through mid-August and hatchery coho through September. Marine Area 6 reopens Feb. 1 while Marine Area 5 reopens Feb. 16 for hatchery salmon.

A WDFW CHART OUTLINES MARINE AREA FISHERY TIMING FOR CHINOOK AND COHO. (WDFW)

South Sound freshwater: Anglers will have the opportunity to fish for coho in Minter Creek beginning Oct. 16. Strong hatchery chinook returns are expected to several south Sound rivers this year.

Southern Resident Killer Whales: The governor and NOAA Fisheries have instructed WDFW to take steps to help recover killer whales. In meeting conservation objectives for wild salmon, the co-managers are also limiting fisheries in areas where southern resident killer whales are known to feed. The adjustments will aid in minimizing boat presence and noise, and decrease competition for chinook and other salmon in these areas critical to the declining whales.

Washington’s Ocean Waters (Marine areas 1-4)
More details on these fisheries will be available in the 2018-19 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which will be available in June.

Catch quotas

The Pacific Fishery Management Council approved a recreational chinook catch quota of 27,500 fish, which is 17,500 fewer fish than 2017’s quota of 45,000. The PFMC, which establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast, also adopted a quota of 42,000 coho for this year’s recreational ocean fishery – the same as last year’s coho quota.

Fishing seasons

Recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho will be open daily beginning June 23 in marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 3 (La Push), and 4 (Neah Bay). Marine Area 2 (Westport) will be open Sundays through Thursdays beginning July 1.  All areas will close Sept. 3 or when the catch quota is met.

In marine areas 1, 2, and 4, anglers can retain two salmon, only one of which can be a chinook. Anglers fishing in Marine Area 3 will have a two-salmon daily limit. In all marine areas, anglers must release wild coho.

Coastal fisheries including Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay
Below is key information for coastal salmon fisheries this year. More details will be available in the 2018-19 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which will be available in June.

Grays Harbor Area

The Area 2-2 Humptulips North Bay chinook fishery begins in August and runs through Sept.15.

The Area 2-2 East Bay coho fishery begins two weeks later than 2017 and is scheduled Oct. 1-Nov. 30.

The Chehalis River spring chinook fishery is scheduled May 1-June 30 while the jack fishery in the lower river runs Aug. 1-Sept. 15.

The Humptulips River is scheduled to be open for salmon fishing Sept. 1-Nov. 30, about two months fewer than last year. Anglers can keep one wild chinook during the month of September but must release wild chinook the remainder of the fishery.

Willapa Bay Area

The season in Willapa Bay (Area 2-1) is similar to last year and is scheduled Aug. 1-Jan. 31. Anglers can keep three adult salmon, one of which may be a coho.
The freshwater rivers in the Willapa Bay area have similar seasons to 2017. Anglers may retain one wild coho.

Columbia River
Below is key information on the major Columbia River salmon fisheries this year. More details will be in the 2018-19 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which will be available in June.

Summer fishery

The summer season on the mainstem Columbia River from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam will be open from June 22 through July 4 for hatchery (adipose fin-clipped) summer chinook. Bonneville Dam to Hwy. 395 near Pasco is open from June 16 through July 31. The daily limit will be two adult hatchery salmonids. All sockeye must be released.

Fall fisheries

During fall fisheries, anglers fishing from the same boat may continue fishing for salmon until all anglers have reached their daily limits in the following areas of the mainstem Columbia River:

  • Buoy 10 salmon fishery will be open from Aug. 1 through Aug. 24 for chinook retention.  The daily limit is one salmonid (chinook, hatchery coho or hatchery steelhead). From Aug. 25 through Dec. 31, anglers will have a daily limit of two salmonids, but chinook must be released and no more than one hatchery steelhead may be kept.
  • Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to the Lewis River will be open from Aug. 1 through Sept. 2 for chinook retention. The daily limit is one adult salmonid. From Sept. 3 through Dec. 31, anglers will have a daily limit of two adult salmonids, but chinook must be released and no more than one hatchery steelhead may be kept.
  • Lewis River upstream to Bonneville Dam will be open Aug. 1 through Sept. 14 for chinook retention. The daily limit is one adult salmonid.  During Sept. 15 through Dec. 31, anglers will have a daily limit of two adult salmonids, but chinook must be released and no more than one hatchery steelhead may be kept.
  • Bonneville Dam upstream to the Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco will be open Aug. 1 through Dec. 31 with a daily limit of two adult salmonids with no more than one chinook and no more than one hatchery steelhead.

Sockeye, chum and jacks

Columbia River anglers are reminded that retention of sockeye and chum salmon is prohibited. Catch limits for jack salmon – salmon that return at a younger age – follow typical permanent regulations and will be listed in the 2018-19 pamphlet.

THE FOLLOWING IS A JOINT PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE AND THE NORTHWEST INDIAN FISHERIES COMMISSION

With low returns of chinook and coho salmon expected back to numerous rivers in Washington, state and tribal co-managers Tuesday agreed on a fishing season that meets conservation goals for wild fish while providing fishing opportunities on healthy salmon runs.

The 2018-19 salmon fisheries, developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty tribal co-managers, were finalized during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s meeting in Portland, Ore.

Information on recreational salmon fisheries in Washington’s ocean waters and the Columbia River is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/. The webpage also includes information on some notable Puget Sound sport fisheries, as well as an overview of chinook and coho fishing opportunities in the Sound’s marine areas.

A variety of unfavorable environmental conditions, including severe flooding in rivers and warm ocean water, have reduced the number of salmon returning to Washington’s rivers in recent years, said Ron Warren, head of WDFW’s fish program.

In addition, the loss of quality rearing and spawning habitat continues to take a toll on salmon populations throughout the region, where some stocks are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, he said.

“It’s critical that we ensure fisheries are consistent with ongoing efforts to protect and rebuild wild salmon stocks,” Warren said. “Unfortunately, the loss of salmon habitat continues to outpace these recovery efforts. We need to reverse this trend. If we don’t, salmon runs will continue to decline and it will be increasingly difficult to develop meaningful fisheries.”

WDFW’S RON WARREN AND NWIFC’S LORRAINE LOOMIS SPEAK DURING A RARE BUT WELL-ATTENDED STATE-TRIBAL PLENARY SESSION LAST WEEK ON WESTERN WASHINGTON SALMON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

A bright spot in this year’s salmon season planning process was a renewed commitment by Indian and non-Indian fishermen to work together for the future of salmon and salmon fishing, said Lorraine Loomis, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

“No fisherman wants to catch the last salmon. We know that the ongoing loss of habitat, a population explosion of hungry seals and sea lions and the needs of endangered southern resident killer whales are the real challenges facing us today. We must work together if we are going to restore salmon to sustainable levels,” she said.

Low returns of some salmon stocks prompted state and tribal fishery managers to limit opportunities in many areas to protect those fish.

For example, recreational anglers will have less opportunity to fish for chinook salmon in both the Columbia River and Washington’s ocean waters compared to recent years. Tribal fisheries also will be restricted in certain areas to protect weak stocks.

In meeting conservation objectives for wild salmon, the co-managers are limiting fisheries in areas where southern resident killer whales are known to feed. The adjustments will aid in minimizing boat presence and noise, and decrease competition for chinook and other salmon in areas critical to the declining whales.

Details on all recreational salmon fisheries will be provided in the 2018-19 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which will be available in late June.

For information on tribal fisheries, contact the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (http://nwifc.org/).

2018 Northwest Spring Turkey Forecast

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

By Mikal Cline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IDAHO BUMPS BAG

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

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

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

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

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

The annual limit is still two bearded turkeys per spring.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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