Tag Archives: wdfw

Update From Olympia: Elk Hoof, Beaver Bills Signed, Others On Inslee’s Desk

The first of two elk management bills to pass the Washington legislature this session was signed into law Thursday.

With a stroke of Governor Jay Inslee’s pen, Washington State University was given the lead to monitor hoofrot-stricken wapiti in the state’s southwestern corner, as well as look into the causes and possible solutions to the disease that’s leaving the animals limping.

AN ELK’S HOOF AFFECTED BY THE CONDITION. (WDFW)

Second Substitute Senate Bill 5474, which was sponsored by Sen. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe), was unanimously approved by the Senate and House, and also bars moving elk out of areas with hoofrot.

“It is my hope that with the expertise of the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, working with agency officials, our Tribal leaders, sportsmen, and landowners that we can begin eradicating this horrible pestilence,” said Pearson, chair of the Natural Resources and Parks Committee, this morning.

WDFW will continue to be heavily involved in the effort the agency began in 2009 with the collection of hooves from diseased animals.

Those were sent to WSU and four other university and federal institutions, and in 2014 preliminary results suggested it was caused by treponeme bacteria, a type of dermatitis found in livestock and unfortunately considered highly infectious among free-roaming elk.

That makes it very difficult to control, though an early version of the bill would have licensed state hunters to shoot limpers on site. That was removed after objections from sportsmen and WDFW.

While the question of funding WSU’s elk work remains unresolved as of this writing, WDFW was happy with the final bill.

“We think more effort on elk hoof disease is needed,” said the agency’s legislative liaison Raquel Crosier.

As for the other elk legislation, SHB 1353 directs WDFW and the Department of Transportation to come up with a project to reduce the number of collisions between the Colockum herd and vehicles on area highways.

It calls for a three-pronged approach: increasing general season hunting ops and depredation permits, barring feeding elk by anyone but WDFW, and using cattle grazing to keep elk away from roads and homes.

The bill was delivered to Inslee’s desk April 21 but has not been signed.

Other fish- and wildlife-related bills that have come through the legislature and have been signed by the governor include:

HB 1257, which allows WDFW to move Western Washington beavers around the Westside, where before the dam builders could only be translocated to the Eastside or had to be put down, and;

SB 5761, which exempts the release of certain information about tribal fishermen and shellfish growers from public records act disclosure requests.

The beaver bill has the potential to really benefit salmon and steelhead habitat, as well as provide other wildlife benefits.

Bills sitting on Inslee’s desk include:

HB 1464, request legislation from WDFW and cosponsored by Rep. Brian Blake and others, it aims to expand recreational access to private lands by modifying immunity laws to protect owners WDFW signs agreements with from liability;

HB 1465, shielding the identities of those involved in nonlethal wolf work or depredation investigations from public disclosure requests, and;

HB 2126, which creates a grant program and account for those grants to help fund nonlethal wolf-livestock management in Northeast Washington.

The regular session of the legislature ended last week without a budget deal, but has since reconvened in a special session.

While WDFW’s fee bills — licenses, aquatic invasive species, Columbia endorsement, hydraulic permit approvals — are still alive, their fate largely may not be known until after legislators agree on an operating budget.

On the license side, Republicans in the Senate favor a General Fund infusion where the House preferred a fee hike because of McCleary funding.

There are two other bills of note out there, though action this session seems unlikely now:

Sen. Maralyn Chase’s Senate Joint Memorial 8009 calls on Congress to fund NOAA’s review of hatchery genetic management plans. While a no-brainer for you and I, some lawmakers may have balked at the downstream cost of those approved HGMPs — increased state monitoring of fisheries, which costs money.

And though it was a bit late for this go-around, Senate Joint Resolution 8206, which would add the right to hunt and fish to Washington’s constitution, is still alive for another push next year.

Hanford Site Shed Antler Hunters Charged

The lure of recently shed big buck and bull racks in off-limits land may have been too much for three Tri-Cities men charged with illegally collecting deer and elk antlers on the federal Hanford Nuclear Reservation this past winter.

A local newspaper reports that Isaac Hampton Case, 38, Daniel B. Charboneau, 32, and Stephen M. Dearinger Jr., 31, told a WDFW game warden at the Ringold boat launch Feb. 12 that they were just heading out to “learn” the Columbia River’s Hanford Reach.

THE HANFORD AREA IS KNOWN FOR ITS LARGE, BUT OFF-LIMITS BULL ELK. (USFWS)

But as tipped-off state as well as federal officers watched from concealed locations, the trio allegedly made four excursions onto the well-marked Department of Energy site, bringing back five pairs of deer antlers and one elk rack, according to the Tri-City Herald.

Case allegedly made four trips ashore, Dearinger three and Charboneau one.

If convicted of the misdemeanor offense, they face maximum penalties of a $1,000 fine and three months in jail, according to the paper.

If Charboneau’s name and Hanford rings a bell, it’s because he’s been in trouble before for being at the site.

In October 2012, he shot and killed a very large elk along the banks of the reservation in a no-hunting area, while a friend, Brock Miller, shot and killed two in an upland area nearby shortly afterwards.

As subcontractors working at Hanford, they would not only have known that monster bulls hang out there but also that nobody is allowed onto the federal property with guns or without permission, and hunting is forbidden.

Charboneau pleaded guilty to hunting big game without the right tag, while Miller pleaded to unlawful hunting while trespassing, hunting without tags, and using someone else’s tag. They were both fined $6,000.

Charboneau kept his job, but according to Herald reporter Annette Cary’s story yesterday, while he was listed as employed at the same company in February, he no longer is.

Case is no stranger to fish and wildlife officers either, having had his hunting license suspended for 10 years after a big game violation in the Blue Mountains, the paper reported.

Under a bill signed into law in 2015, antler collectors convicted of illegally entering private property to retrieve deer and elk racks can no longer keep them. Before then, paying the fine for trespassing was considered the cost of collecting sheds that could still be sold for profit.

25-Clam Limit For Long Beach As Digs OKed There, Elsewhere

THE FOLLOWING ARE A PRESS RELEASE AND AN EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Razor clam diggers can look forward to a six-day opening starting tomorrow (April 26) on various ocean beaches and will have an increased daily limit of 25 clams at Long Beach.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has approved the dig on morning tides at four ocean beaches after toxin test results show the clams on those beaches are safe to eat.

LED BY THEIR “RAZOR CLAM MASTER” GRANDFATHER, WALLY SANDE (LEFT), CORBIN, LEXI AND AUSTIN HAN, THEIR PARENTS JERRY AND BRITT, ALONG WITH WALLY’S WIFE CAROL, ENJOYED A GREAT DIG A COUPLE APRILS AGO NEAR WESTPORT, LIMITING IN JUST HALF AN HOUR OR SO. AFTERWARDS, JERRY ALSO ENJOYED CATCHING REDTAIL SURFPERCH ON CLAM NECKS. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

State shellfish managers agreed to increase the daily limit for this dig at Long Beach, which has been closed much of the razor clam season due to elevated marine toxin levels, said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. 

“We wanted to provide diggers with some additional opportunity at Long Beach since we know there are plenty of clams there for harvest,” Ayres said.

The increased limit of 25 clams per day applies only at Long Beach, Ayres said. Diggers at Twin Harbors, Mocrocks and Copalis can harvest the typical limit of 15 clams per day. Diggers are required to keep the first 15 clams (or first 25 clams at Long Beach) they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

Ayres noted the opening coincides with the annual Long Beach Razor Clam Festival, which is held April 29 and 30. For more information, visit the festival website at http://longbeachrazorclamfestival.com/.

The upcoming dig is approved on the following beaches, dates and morning low tides:

  • April 26, Wednesday, 7:09 a.m.; -1.1 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach
  • April 27, Thursday, 7:55 a.m.; -1.5 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Long Beach
  • April 28, Friday, 8:42 a.m.; -1.8 feet, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Long Beach
  • April 29, Saturday, 9:32 a.m.; -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Long Beach
  • April 30, Sunday, 10:24 a.m.; -1.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis, Long Beach
  • May 1, Monday, 11:20 a.m.; -0.8 feet; Long Beach

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2017-18 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.

State health officials recently requested additional toxin tests at all four beaches after increased amounts of the algae that can cause domoic acid were observed in ocean waters. A natural toxin, domoic acid can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.

“The latest round of test results indicate we’re in the clear for digging at all four beaches,” Ayres said.

A decision about possible additional dates in May will be announced following another round of toxin tests next week.

State wildlife managers urge clam diggers to avoid disturbing snowy plovers and streaked horned larks. Both species nest in the soft, dry sand on the southern section of Twin Harbors beach and at Leadbetter Point on the Long Beach Peninsula. The snowy plover is a small bird with gray wings and a white breast. The lark is a small bird with a pale yellow breast and brown back. Male larks have a black mask, breast band and “horns.”

To protect these birds, the department asks that clam diggers avoid the dunes and areas of the beach with soft, dry sand. When driving to a clam-digging area, diggers should enter the beach only at designated access points and stay on the hard-packed sand near or below the high tide line.

More details on how to avoid disturbing nesting birds can be found on the WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.

………………………………………………

April 25, 2017

Razor clam digs approved April 26 through May 1

Action: Opens Razor clam season

Effective date: 12:01 a.m. April 26 through 11:59 a.m. May 1, 2017

Digging is only allowed from: 12:01 a.m. through 11:59 a.m. each day.

Species affected: Razor clams

The specific low tides for this opener:

April 26, Wednesday, 7: 09 a.m., -1.1 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach

April 27, Thursday, 7: 55 a.m., -1.5 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Long Beach

April 28, Friday, 8: 42 a.m., -1.8 feet, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Long Beach

April 29, Saturday, 9: 32 a.m., -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Long Beach

April 30, Sunday, 10: 24 a.m., -1.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis, Long Beach

May 1, Monday, 11: 20 a.m., -0.8 feet; Long Beach

Locations:

Copalis Beach, which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.

Long Beach, which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.

Mocrocks Beach, which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips.

Twin Harbors Beach, which extends from Cape Shoalwater to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.

Reason for action: Harvestable numbers of razor clams are available.

Other Information: The daily limit for razor clams has been increased to 25 clams at Long Beach only and from April 26 to May 1, 2017 only.

Information contact: Dan Ayres (360) 249-4628, Region 6 Montesano

Springer Catch Stays Below Quota But Doesn’t Look Like Enough For Reopener

That good springer fishing on the Lower Columbia that wrapped up Sunday evening was the last on the big river for awhile, at least till a runsize update that’s now not expected until mid-May.

State managers estimate that the recently concluded four-day opener brought the catch to within 423 fish of the upriver quota, and after release mortalities on wild Chinook are factored in and visual stock identifications are double-checked against coded-wire tag data, it’s unlikely there will be any more time on the water for several weeks.

KEVIN GRAY NABBED THIS SPRING CHINOOK OUT OF THE LOWER COLUMBIA ON SUNDAY, THE LAST DAY OF FISHING FOR CHINOOK UNTIL, AT THE VERY EARLIEST, MID-MAY’S RUNSIZE UPDATE. GRAY WAS USING A FLASHER WITH A HERRING BRINED IN GRAYBILL’S SCENT, RUN ON BOTTOM. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

“We’ve got between 350 and 360 fish available for harvest prerunsize update below Bonneville Dam, and that’s not enough to have any kind of opener,” says WDFW’s Ron Roler in Vancouver.

According to the latest stats, from April 20-23 we caught 6,355 adult kings, of which 5,784 were kept, with 75 percent of those coming from the constraining above-Bonneville stocks.

That brought the season totals to 8,947 kept Chinook, including 6,482 upriver fish, over 61,020 anglers trips.

The quota for before the run size is updated is 6,905 Chinook headed for Eastern Washington, Central Idaho and Northeast Oregon streams.

“We were concerned we were going to be over,” says Roler. “That number turned out to be a relief for me and Oregon.”

Nearly all of this season’s salmon have been caught in April, with an estimated 7,772 for boaters, 750 for Oregon bankies, and 379 for Washington plunkers.

Over the final four days, best catch was in the western Columbia Gorge, where 1,192 were brought over the rails of jet sleds fishing above the eastern tip of Reed Island to the boat deadline below the dam.

“I think we’re done in the lower river until the runsize update — that may not be till mid-May,” says Roler, pointing to high, muddy, cold water that gives springers “no reason to hurry” upstream.

The dam count sits at 1,732 through yesterday, just 6 percent of the 10-year average.

Roler does say that it’s likely there will be talks about the springer fishery above Bonneville to the Oregon-Washington border, which is slated to otherwise wrap up May 5.

 

More Than A Dozen Invasive Green Crabs Found At Dungeness Spit

As if 2015 didn’t deliver enough devastating consequences for Northwest fish and wildlife, it may also be to blame for more than a dozen invasive crabs discovered in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca this month.

Allen Pleus at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife suspects that the 13 European green crabs found at Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge since April 12 were rafted across the straits as larvae during that wretchedly hot, drought-stricken, conflagration of a summer, probably from Sooke Harbor, 25 miles to the west-northwest on the south end of Vancouver Island.

EUROPEAN GREEN CRAB. (WASHINGTON SEA GRANT)

What’s worrisome is that this is the largest group found since the first one was discovered in Washington waters late last summer, at Westcott Bay on San Juan Island, and along with others that turned up in a mainland estuary, it is beginning to suggest a potentially widespread invasion by the unwanted species.

The news couldn’t come at a worse time, either.

According to Pleus, state funding for monitoring could dry up after June 30.

And the agency that’s been getting everybody on the same page about the problem, Washington Sea Grant, could be closed down at the end of this month as federal programs are targeted for elimination in national budget proposals.

THE DISCOVERY of the crabs at Dungeness Bay by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was predicted.

A Sea Grant map shows the waters around the spit are one of dozens upon dozens of nearshore habitats with a “high probability” of hosting the crabs that first arrived on the US East Coast in the 1800s and “dramatically” affected the Maine clam harvest and damaged kelp beds from their digging.

A WASHINGTON SEA GRANT GOOGLE MAP SHOWS LOCATIONS NEARSHORE HABITATS IN PUGET SOUND AND THE STRAITS WITH HIGH (RED STAR) AND MEDIUM (ORANGE TRIANGLE) SUITABILITY FOR EUROPEAN GREEN CRABS TO TAKE HOLD. THE WHITE CIRCLE REPRESENTS THE LOCATION OF THE 13 CRABS FOUND THIS MONTH, AT DUNGENESS SPIT. (WSG)

The worry here is what the crabs could do to eelgrass pastures — so important for our salmonids and other fish — and clam beds, if they establish a sustaining population.

That appears to be what has happened in Sooke Harbor, where one was found in 2012.

Dungeness is the third spot in Washington the crabs have been found in just the last eight months.

Not long after the discovery at Westcott Bay, one was literally turned up “by chance” by beach walkers at Padilla Bay in mid-September. Three more were subsequently trapped there.

“While I am pleased that the crabs are not more abundant, it’s somewhat concerning that they are distributed so broadly,” P. Sean McDonald, a research scientist at the University of Washington and affiliated with Washington Sea Grant, told the Skagit Valley Herald last September, adding, “One crab doesn’t scare me. Two crabs really isn’t that bad. What’s scary is large numbers of crabs coming in and settling broadly throughout Puget Sound.”

Asked yesterday how alarming the latest discovery is, Pleus paused, then said it was hard to say.

It doesn’t mean there’s an established population in Washington waters yet, and none of those from Dungeness had eggs.

However, they were a mix of males and females, and it’s only a matter of time until waters warm enough for the spawn to kick off. Getting rid of as many breeders as possible is the key to keeping the crabs in check.

Growing to only about 3 inches across the back, there’s not much meat on them.

AS IT STANDS, Washington Sea Grant director Penny Dalton says that estimates to continue the monitoring program run around $180,000.

Even as her agency is in serious danger of elimination — and in part the subject of a scathing opinion piece in the New York Times today against cuts to it and NOAA’s budget — Dalton’s hopeful money can be cobbled together to keep the program running.

“We’re going to keep trying. We think it is really important. WDFW is too,” she says.

Dalton says WDFW’s Allen Pleus is working the Washington legislature to secure funding for the coming budget biennium.

With a very serious threat looming to the health of Puget Sound, this is no time for state or federal lawmakers to get crabby about funding this work to head off this invasion.

2017 Washington Lowland Trout Opener Catch Stats

It was a sunny, mild, blustery, rainy and chilly lowland trout opener depending on where you were fishing in Washington today, as anglers took to the lakes to try and catch their limit of rainbow trout, a tradition that goes back decades, as well as specially tagged fish good for prizes in WDFW’s derby.

Numerous 20-inch-plus rainbows were caught, and Jameson Lake had one of the highest average stringers with 4.37 per angler.

JAMESON LAKES PRODUCED SOME OF THE FULLEST STRINGERS ON WASHINGTON’S OPENING DAY OF TROUT SEASON, AS EVIDENCED BY KALEY BAKER’S CATCH AT THE DOUGLAS COUNTY LAKE. (WDFW)

Here is the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife creel sample summaries for April 22 opener lakes on both sides of the mountains where they had staffers talking with anglers and recording the catches:

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 75 204 50 3.39 2.72 19 inch Rainbow Angler Participation seemed lower than usual, likely due to a concurrent fishing derby on nearby Lake Chelan. However, anglers were very pleased with the numbers and quality of fish.
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 19 83 9 4.84 4.37 24 inch Rainbow Good weather. Anglers were very happy about the 400+ 4-lb. jumbo Rainbows that were recently stocked. Fingerling plants from 2016 showed nice growth with most being 12 – 14″.
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
Ellen Lake 27 28 17 1.7 1 14 inch Rainbow Water was very high and cold, but the weather was nice today. Overall, angler turnout was low. Slow fishing day for most anglers on this lake.
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 63 204 2 3.27 3.24 16 inch Rainbow Anglers were met with sunny, but partly cloudy skies, warm temperatures (high of 70F), and calm winds (<10mph). Quality trout fishing returned to Blue Lake in 2017 after an abysmal 2016. Several boat and shoreline anglers caught their limit of trout early in the morning, within an hour, and before WDFW creel surveyers showed up to interview them. Most trout were 11-13″ with a few at 14-16″. There are plenty of trout left to catch through the spring.
Deep Lake 67 165 71 3.52 2.46 15 inch Rainbow 1 derby fish caught
Park 79 245 34 3.53 3.1 16 inch Rainbow Anglers were met with sunny, but partly cloudy skies, warm temperatures (high of 70F), and calm winds (<10mph). Quality trout fishing returned to Park Lake in 2017 after an abysmal 2016. Several boat and shoreline anglers caught their limit of trout early in the morning, within an hour, and before WDFW creel surveyers showed up to interview them. Most trout were 11-13″ with a few at 14-16″. There are plenty of trout left to catch through the spring.
Perch 12 25 30 4.58 2.08 17 inch Rainbow Anglers were met with sunny, but partly cloudy skies, warm temepratures (high of 70F), and calm winds (<10mph). Mostly 11-12″ trout.
Vic Meyers 14 26 1.86 1.86 15 inch Rainbow Anglers were met with sunny, but partly cloudy skies, warm temepratures (high of 70F), and calm winds (<10mph). Mostly 11-12″ trout. No tagged derby trout checked in creel survey.
Warden 32 86 34 3.75 2.69 12 inch Rainbow Anglers were met with sunny, but partly cloudy skies, warm temepratures (high of 70F), and calm winds (<10mph). Catch rates were high, but smaller than normal trout sizes kept some anglers from harvesting them. Most trout were 10-11 inches. No carryovers recorded in creel survey.
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
Bowers Lake – Vance # 1 32 58 20 2.44 1.81 25 inch Rainbow Kids derby: winer was 7 lbs 9oz. Lots of anglers early, 97 on this lake.
Duck Lake 3 1 0.33 0.33 12 inch Rainbow Windy and rainy on this year-round lake.
Failor Lake 50 121 36 3.14 2.42 26 inch Rainbow The weather conditions were damp but there were shivering smiles.
Ines Lake – Vance # 2 26 37 24 2.35 1.42 24 inch Rainbow Rainy weather
Lake Aberdeen 107 195 121 2.95 1.82 26 inch Rainbow Kibs Derby: lots of happy kids in spite of the rain.
Lake Sylvia 13 29 16 3.46 2.23 14 inch Rainbow Rainy, a few Cutthroat were caught but mostly Rainbow.
Island 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
Deer 20 47 188 11.75 2.35 Lots of jumbos, but lower than normal effort – weather?
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 83 190 82 3.28 2.29 18 inch Rainbow Several jumbos caught.
Geneva 43 137 86 5.19 3.19 16 inch Rainbow Lots of big fish, happy anglers and successful eagles and ospreys. A good day for everyone.
Langlois 66 184 168 5.33 2.79 20 inch Rainbow 1 derby fish caught. The weather was calm.
Margaret 24 89 14 4.29 3.71 13 inch Rainbow 1 derby fish caught.
North 74 244 91 4.53 3.3 16 inch Rainbows Nice weather this morning.
Pine 20 45 2.25 2.25 18 inch Rainbow The trout seemed to be in shallow water.
Shady 12 37 12 4.08 3.08 16 inch Rainbow The anglers were happy.
Steel 8 32 4 4 13 inch Rainbow Very busy and happy fishers.
Walker 15 49 8 3.8 3.27 14 inch Rainbow The wind died down by 9 and weather cooperated for the rest of morning.
Wilderness 40 70 28 2.45 1.75 17 inch Rainbow The morning winds died down into a warm, calm morning on the lake.
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 6 35 2 6.17 5.83 Not many anglers checked and fishing was slow.
Rowland 52 151 110 5.02 2.9 Excellent quality fish. Shore fishing was slow but boat anglers did well.
Spearfish 4 8 2 2 Not many anglers checked and fishing was slow.
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 65 48 76 1.91 0.74 Inclement weather –
Ft. Borst Park Pond 60 85 15 1.67 1.42 One Derby fish caught but fishing was generally slow and weather was poor.
Mineral 130 317 290 4.67 2.44 Busy, and anglers were happy in spite of the poor weather.
Plummer 13 22 1.69 1.69 Inclement weather – shore anglers were not catching fish.
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 20 24 2 1.3 1.2 22 inch Rainbow Great weather and lots of people having fun.
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 18 72 2 4.11 4.00 Lots of kids fishing with their parents. Parking lot full, people left to fish other lakes.
Benson 21 52 15 3.19 2.48 18 inch Rainbow Some larger 16-18 inch fish checked. Happy fishers. The rain made a lot of people leave but many came back out when weather improved..
Clara 14 64 2 4.71 4.57 27 inch Rainbow 3 broodstock Rainbow caught and a 10 inch cutthroat from fall fingerling plants
Devervaux 27 73 26 3.67 2.70 26 inch Rainbow Most people were happy with the fishing. There were many limits. Weather turned bad after midday and most people stopped fishing
Haven 15 41 85 8.40 2.73 13 inch Rainbow Happy fishers until heavy rain sent many people home. Some anglers showed up later, when the weather got better. Heard of one derby tagged fish but not sampled.
Howell 9 30 6 4.00 3.33 17 inch Rainbow Fishers happy with catches. Mild morning, but rainy weather after midmorning made a lot of people stop fishing and leave lake.
Limerick 17 32 5 2.18 1.88 5 lb Rainbow derby fish 3 Rainbow checked in the 3-lb range. Weather was mild and fair until midmorning, then heavy rain squalls and wind made most people stop fishing
Maggie 7 18 2 2.86 2.57 16 inch Rainbow Mild morning, fair fishing until rain and wind pushed most anglers off lake. Most boaters and shore anglers quit. A few started fishing again when weather improved towards noon.
Phillips
Robbins 19 84 3 4.58 4.42 13 inch Rainbow Parking lot full all morning, overflow heading to other nearby lakes lakes.
Tiger 48 145 67 4.42 3.02 17 inch Rainbow Mild morning, fair fishing until rain and wind pushed most anglers off lake, most boaters and shore anglers quit. A few started fishing again when weather improved towards noon.
Wildberry 2 10 5.00 5.00 Mild morning, fair fishing until rain and wind pushed most anglers off lake, most boaters and shore anglers quit. A few started fishing again when weather improved towards noon.
Wood 3 5 1.67 1.67 Mild morning, slow fishing. Rain and wind pushed some anglers off the lake.
Wooten 51 140 151 5.71 2.75 Fishing was pretty good in the morning. It rained midday and made a lot of anglers leave the lake. Weather got better towards noon.
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
Conconully Lake 40 86 13 2.5 2.15 15 inch Rainbow Everyone was staying warm and having a good time.
Long 4 8 8 4 4 12 inch Rainbow
Pearrygin 75 66 7 0.97 0.88 14 inch Rainbow Weather was chilly.
Round 17 68 15 4.88 4 13 inch Rainbow
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 34 43 38 2.38 1.26 25 inch Rainbow Derby winner was 7 lbs 1 oz. Rain chased anglers away after the derby ended.
Cases Pond 13 21 20 3.15 1.62 24 inch Rainbow Derby winner was 6 lbs. Smaller fish weren’t biting, only big fish caught.
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 27 35 2 1.37 1.3 22 inch Rainbow Very high water. Slow fishing compared to most opening days. Weather was nice.
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 15 50 8 3.87 3.33
Carney Lake 14 11 33 3.14 0.79
Clear Lake 89 156 120 3.1 1.75 18 inch Rainbow
Crescent Lake 48 151 6 3.27 3.15
Jackson Lake 8 9 14 2.88 1.13
Ohop Lake 23 15 2 0.74 0.65
Rapjohn Lake 32 85 37 3.81 2.66 16 inch Rainbow
Silver Lake 42 81 17 2.33 1.93 22 inch Rainbow 22 inch derby fish caught.
Tanwax Lake 27 76 5 3 2.81 17 inch Rainbow
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 31 85 15 3.23 2.74 17 inch Rainbow
Heart 48 91 89 3.75 1.9 23 inch Rainbow
McMurray 71 201 28 3.23 2.83 16 inch Rainbow
Sixteen 25 87 21 4.32 3.48 14 inch Rainbow
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
Armstrong 36 26 6 0.89 0.72 21 inch Rainbow The fishing was slow.
Bosworth 28 107 154 9.32 3.82 15 inch Rainbow 2 derby fish caught.
Crabapple 11 17 1.55 1.55 17 inch Rainbow
Echo (Maltby) 10 58 47 10.5 5.8 12 inch Rainbow
Howard 30 92 88 6 3.07 18 inch Cutthroat A good mix jumbos and catchables were caught.
Ki 46 135 39 3.78 2.93 15 inch Rainbow
Martha (AM) 34 87 2 2.62 2.56 17 inch Rainbow 1 derby fish was caught.
Riley 34 72 24 2.82 2.12 15 inch Rainbow
Serene 14 26 54 5.71 1.86 14 inch Rainbow A first-time angler caught their first fish. The weather was nice.
Storm 29 61 88 5.14 2.1 17 inch Rainbow
Wagner 21 19 57 3.62 0.9 14 inch Rainbow The wind died down around 9. The were good size.
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 16 41 42 5.2 2.6 11 inch Rainbow & Cutthroat Many happy anglers. Mix of Rainbow, Cutthroat and Kokanee
Clear 24 11 8 0.8 0.3 20 inch Rainbow Mostly Rainbows but some Brown Trout were also caught. Most fish were >15 inches.
Fish 32 47 45 2.9 1.4 15 inch Brook Trout Fishing was red-hot 8-10 am but tailed off after 10. All anglers were satisfied. This lake is popular for catch/release.
West Medical 93 61 22 0.9 0.7 22 inch Rainbow High proportion of large rainbows in the creel. Anglers were happy to get out and enjoy the weather
Williams 35 97 40 3.9 2.8 21 inch Rainbow Lots of happy anglers out enjoying the great weather.
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 4 20 6 6.5 5 14 inch Rainbow Anglers limited in 2-4 hours. Weather was nice, but water is still cold.
Mudgett Lake 13 40 4 3.38 3.07 16 inch Rainbow Nice weather. Water temperature was low. Most of the catch made up of catchables with a few carryovers.
Rocky 8 16 4 2.5 2 17 inch Rainbow Fishing was fairly slow this year. Fish ranged between 9-17 inches.
Starvation Lake 25 46 3 1.96 1.84 14 inch Rainbow Fishing was slower than usual. Water was cold and high. Fish looked healthy and fat.
Waitts Lake 13 9 6 1.15 0.69 20 inch Brown Trout Parking lot/boat launch was flooded, dissuading a lot of anglers from launching boats. Very low turnout compared to usual.
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 62 239 24 4.24 3.85 24 inch Rainbow Two derby fish caught.
Deep Lake 30 41 19 2 1.37 Two derby fish caught.
Hicks Lake 45 77 33 2.44 1.71 22 inch Rainbow
McIntosh Lake 21 56 52 5.14 2.67
Pattison Lake 29 40 9 1.69 1.38 16 inch Rainbow
Summit Lake 72 212 135 4.82 2.94 Big average size and numerous fish that were 18 inches.
Ward Lake 23 32 26 2.52 1.39
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 32 107 76 5.72 3.34 21 inch Rainbow
Padden 44 122 30 3.45 2.77 13 inch Rainbow
Silver 108 379 37 3.85 3.51 21 inch Rainbow It was a good day to be fishing.
Toad 43 101 102 4.72 2.35 12 inch Rainbow

Seattle, USFWS Set To Sign ‘Urban Bird Treaty’

Lest I suffer a stroke, about this time of year I have to remind myself that our Departments of Fish and Wildlife have a bit more on their plate than salmon and elk.

A few Aprils ago now I was shocked to receive a press release that declared “At WDFW, every day is Earth Day.” That one sent me off on a deadline-destroying tangent.

This morning it was a Facebook note informing me that WDFW was part of an Urban Bird Treaty Ceremony coming up near me in Seattle.

An Urban Bird WHAT?!?! was my immediate reaction — at least with a few select words edited out for family consumption.

STELLAR’S JAY. (KATHY MUNSEL, ODFW)

Are we like making a deal with the seagulls in return for less freelance fertilization of our streets and buildings?

Does it give pigeons patrolling for food scraps priority over spots to park our vehicles on Capitol Hill?

Will it mean more or fewer featherbrains in government?!?!

No on all counts, it turns out.

The Urban Bird Treaty is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program that aims to “conserve birds in urban areas through habitat conservation, hazard reduction, citizen science, and education and outreach.”

Annually, perhaps as many as a billion birds — primarily songbirds — bounce off our windows with broken necks, and with all that glass and residents, urban areas are a pretty good spot to start making more bird-friendly, not to mention befriend more birders.

So, WDFW’s teaming up with USFWS, the city, Seattle Audubon and other organizations for the signing on May 5 at Lincoln Park, on the way to the Fauntleroy Ferry.

The idea is that as Seattle is part of the Pacific Flyway, this will provide a linkage between other cities that have signed the treaty along it, including Anchorage, Portland and San Fran.

It also attempts to connect city kids with nature, and that’s not a bad thing, done right.

A few years ago I blogged about a study that showed birdwatchers were just as strong conservationists as sportsmen. True, the former folks don’t pay the freight like we have for decades, and that’s a problem. But drawing them into the fold has the potential to be a win.

“Diversified strategies that include programs to encourage both hunting and birdwatching are likely to bring about long-term gains for conservation,” wrote that study’s authors.

Amy and I long ago signed an urban bird treaty, per se, enrolling our property in the backyard wildlife habitat program.

Still no sign of wolverines, but last night a pair of robins were out at dusk noisily calling back and forth in search of dinner, while a crow flew off with something to line its nest, possibly in the big hemlock on our fence line.

A few weeks back we had as many as six bandtail pigeons scouting out the ‘hood, and other recent visitors have included a bandtail pigeon hawk (inside joke), Stellar’s jays, flickers, plus the usual collection of little brown birds.

And I regularly see ducks homing on Barb and Tom Witkowski’s Fly Inn in North Seattle.

No, I won’t be attending the Urban Bird Treaty Ceremony, as I’ve made my peace with the flockers, but it could be interesting for those who do attend.

Just please don’t sign away any more parking spots in Seattle. That would be, er, for the birds.

Countdown To Trout Town: T-3 Days Till Washington Opener

Last night I made a quick pitstop at Fred Meyer to pick up my fishing license.

That’s because, well, I had to renew since it’s a new license year, but I’ve also got plans for Saturday morning and taking one of the Juniors out for trout.

THE 2012 TROUT OPENER WAS QUITE A LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR RIVER WALGAMOTT. HE LEARNED ABOUT THE JOY OF SHOUTING “FISH ON,” WHICH HE SHOUTED THROUGHOUT THE FIGHT WITH A CLEAR LAKE (PIERCE COUNTY) RAINBOW THAT DAY – “FISH ON FISH ON FISH ON FISH ON!” (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

April 22 is the fishiest day in Washington angling, the general lowland opener at a mess of lakes from the coast to the Cascades to Cheney.

RIVER ALSO LEARNED ABOUT THE JOY OF BOATS – ADAM BROOKS WONDERS WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THE WALGAMOTT KID. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW has been busy in recent weeks, stocking them plumb full of rainbows, including around 150,000 pound-on-average trout and 2.3 million catchables, along with millions that were stocked as fry last year and now have reached harvestable size.

RIVER LEARNED ABOUT THE JOY OF TEAMWORK. WHILE ADAM REELS IN ANOTHER, HE AND ADAM’S BROTHER RYAN READY THE NET. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

“These are all high-quality fish that are significantly larger than our regular catchable trout, and those 3-pounders are outstanding fish,” says Steve Thiesfeld, who manages the Inland Fish Program, about several thousand triploids in the mix.

RYAN AND RIVER LEARNED ABOUT THE JOY OF BEING ON THE WATER, STARING INTO ITS MURKY DEPTHS AND WONDERING WHEN THE FISH WERE GONNA BITE – OR MAYBE EVEN COMPLETELY FORGETTING WHY THEY WERE ON THE LAKE THAT DAY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

To find out what’s gone into your lake, check out this year’s stocking plan. Don’t have a lake?!? May we introduce you to WDFW’s handy-dandy LakeFinder website?

ADAM, RIVER AND RYAN LEARNED ABOUT THE JOY OF A STOUT STRINGER – AND NOT TO TAKE THEMSELVES SO SERIOUSLY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The agency is also putting on its second statewide trout derby, with even more tagged fish and prizes — 1,000 rainbows bearing yellow tags, each with a number corresponding to $25,000 worth of prizes, including gear as well as year-long subscriptions to Northwest Sportsman magazine.

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

Whether you’re fishing worms under a bobber from the bank, trolling spinners or small plugs from a boat, flailing a good ol’ Woolly Bugger from a pontoon or helping a youngster to catch their first, good luck, and thanks for taking part in the richest tradition in Washington fishing!

Feds, Tribe Prevail In Elwha Salmon, Steelhead Hatchery Appeal

Federal and tribal fishery overseers have prevailed in a court case involving Elwha River salmon and steelhead that allows for continued use of hatchery fish in the restoration of runs to the north Olympic Peninsula watershed.

After hearing arguments last month, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court’s ruling that the National Marine Fisheries Service had done its homework when approving state and Lower Elwha Klallam production programs for after two dams were removed.

THE ELWHA RIVER ABOVE THE SITE OF THE DAMS. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

“The Ninth Circuit found our analysis was complete and that both NOAA and the (National) Park Service have thoroughly adequately assessed the impacts involved, from the dam removal process to the efforts to recover salmon and steelhead populations,” explained Michael Milstein, a spokesman  for NOAA’s Fisheries Service in Portland.

That analysis was the target of a long-running challenge in U.S. District Court for Western Washington by the Wild Fish Conservancy, Wild Steelhead Coalition, Federation of Fly Fishers Steelhead Committee and Wild Salmon Rivers.

According to federal court documents, they had argued that NMFS’s approval of hatchery programs violated the National Environmental Policy and Endangered Species Acts, and that the tribe’s facility output represented a taking of ESA-listed fish.

But 9th Circuit Court Judges Susan P. Graber, Sandra S. Ikuta and Andrew D. Hurwitz largely agreed with U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle’s earlier ruling, and according to Milstein that “clears the way” for NMFS and its partners to focus on restoring the river, including with hatchery fish per a 2012 environmental assessment that found minimal risk and some benefits from them.

The Elwha restoration is a project on a huge scale, featuring the removal of Elwha Dam in 2012 and Glines Canyon Dam in 2014, freeing up dozens of miles of river and tributaries that flow from the heart of the Olympic Peninsula.

To that end, earlier this spring, WDFW, the National Park Service and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe extended a fishing moratorium on the Elwha through May 2019.

For its part, WDFW doesn’t appear interested in stocking steelhead into the river, as last summer it declared the Elwha a wild steelhead gene bank. The Wild Steelhead Coalition said that designation was the result of “decades of work,” but the tribe’s hatchery means the sanctuary “still does not exist.”

WDFW Scrubs April 24-25 Clam Digs; Decision Next Week On April 26-May 1 Opener

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

State shellfish managers have canceled the first two days (April 24 and 25) of a tentatively planned eight-day razor clam dig due to rising marine toxin levels.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will announce next week whether the rest of the dig, now scheduled to begin April 26, will go forward as planned.

BAD MOJO FOR RAZOR CLAMMERS. (NOAA)

Recent tests have found toxin levels at all ocean beaches meet health standards, but the Washington Department of Health has asked for one more test to be sure, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW.

“In the last few days, we’ve seen increasing levels of the algae that can cause domoic acid in ocean water,” Ayres said. “We just want to make sure razor clams are safe to eat before giving the green light on this dig.”

Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. The toxin has disrupted razor clam digs along Washington’s coast over the past two years.

More information about domoic acid can be found on WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/domoic_acid.html.

The department will announce the results of the upcoming toxin test early next week on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.

The proposed dig, along with morning low tides and beaches, is listed below:

  • April 26, Wednesday, 7:09 a.m.; -1.1 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach
  • April 27, Thursday, 7:55 a.m.; -1.5 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Long Beach
  • April 28, Friday, 8:42 a.m.; -1.8 feet, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Long Beach
  • April 29, Saturday, 9:32 a.m.; -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Long Beach
  • April 30, Sunday, 10:24 a.m.; -1.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis, Long Beach
  • May 1, Monday, 11:20 a.m.; -0.8 feet; Long Beach

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2017-18 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.